Night had already fallen on the country of Angleland. Many good folks had already gone to sleep but there were a select few that were still awake, many were going about their own business while others were performing unfavourable activities. There was one place where there were still a lot of people who were still awake but rather than doing anything productive they were having fun with drink and gambling.
One particular person who was still awake was a young man named Charles. At one point in his life he had a bright future as he had enjoyed his books and had hoped to get work in a library in Royal City. Unfortunately, this never came to be as he now found himself working at the Brown Horse Inn on the outskirts of Blanc. Thanks to its position by the River White it tended to see a lot of different people come and go. Most of the time things were good natured inside of the inn but there were times when things would go very wrong.
Charles was a fairly short man who was around five foot seven inches tall. It was obvious to many that he had some ties to distant lands as his skin was a slightly darker tone than of those who lived in Angleland. He was far from a physically strong man but he made up for it in intelligence. He was a man who was very eager to learn all he could and would enjoy a book almost as much as someone would enjoy watching a fight.
Unfortunately for Charles he didn't own the inn. He had gone there one night and accidentally spent more money there than he actually owned. Rather than getting any of the authorities involved he agreed to work for the Innkeeper in order to pay off his debt. That was over six months ago and he was more than certain that he had already paid of his debt many times over. However, the Innkeeper assured him that there was still more that needed to be paid which forced Charles to remain there. He didn't particularly want to be there but there didn't seem to be any chance of him leaving any time soon.
On this particular night things inside of the Inn were going down as usual. There were many people drinking away and laughing amongst one another as they told tales of their own feats. Many of these tales were too tall and fantastical to be true but they acted like it had just happened yesterday. There were others who were gambling with various games and it was obvious to see who was winning and who was losing their bets. It wouldn't be long before a man would have his entire life savings completely wiped away.
Charles found himself working behind the counter of the inn and he would serve drinks to those that were willing to pay. It was quite easy as they were only really serving one brand of ale or simply water from the nearby river. No one had ordered the water yet so he was constantly having to serve the ale. He didn't think that it tasted particularly nice but it was still selling like crazy.
Suddenly Charles noticed the door to the inn open and he looked as he expected to see another man walking in. Indeed, he did see someone walk in, however he was like no man that he had ever seen before. He was a knight who was glad head to toe in thick armour and was armed with a two-handed sword that was thankfully still sheathed. That wasn't the most distinctive thing about this knight. What caught Charles by surprise the most was the fact that this knight was by far the largest human being that he had ever seen. The knight had to duck quite far to get his head under the doorframe and when he stood to his full height he was too tall for the room as his head almost struck the ceiling. He had to bend down a little so that his head didn't impact the ceiling. The two-handed sword that he possessed seemed to be like a single-handed sword to a normal person and he most likely wielded like one as well. The helmet he wore made it impossible to see his face, there was no part of his skin that was on display.
The knight began to walk toward Charles. The clanking of his armour and the thud of his heavy footsteps could be heard by everyone in the inn but none really took any notice as they were more concerned with what they were doing. Charles couldn't help but feel intimidated by the knight who seemed to become even larger with each step he took. He was not physically growing as he was simply stepping closer to the relatively small man. Even though from Charles's perspective he might as well be growing.
The knight began to say something to Charles when he reached him. However, thanks to the helmet Charles couldn't hear what the Knight was saying. He gestured that he couldn't hear and this caused the Knight to grunt loudly. He lifted his hands up to his helmet and began to remove it. It was only then that Charles could see the Knight's face and that was what got him the biggest shock of the night. Rather than seeing the face of a huge man instead it was that of a woman. Her hair long and red with eyes that were a sapphire blue. He thought that she was quite pretty and he was taken aback by her overall size. If it were a man than he could understand but since she was a woman it more or less blew his mind completely. She had a face that he expected from a high-born noble rather than a knight.
"Can you hear me now?" asked the Knight. Her tone was somewhat annoyed and this snapped Charles out of his trance.
"Y-Yes" replied Charles. These were the only words that he could muster as he continued to look straight up at the towering, armour clad woman before him.
"Give me a barrel of your strongest ale." Her tone didn't change as it seemed like she wanted the conversation to finish as soon as possible.
"Err." He began to stutter a little as he felt very intimidated by her. "W-We only have one type of ale."
"Then give me that!" Her hand then reached into a small compartment just underneath her armour. She took out a small pouch that was filled with gold coins. "This should more than cover the cost."
"I-I'll be right back." With that he dashed toward the back of the inn but not so that he could get away from her. It was so that he could fulfil her request, he was going to where they kept their barrels of ale. Inside a small room there were numerous barrels of ale in there, there were some barrels that were huge. However, there were some that were smaller and were more suited for around three people who would share it. He felt that it would only be enough to satisfy her. Quickly he picked up the barrel and brought it back to where the knight was standing. She seemed to be impatiently waiting as her arms were crossed and her metallic fingers were tapping on her armour. "There you go ma'am."
"Finally." She picked up the barrel without any effort. When Charles had carried the barrel, he had felt it's weight in his arms. He couldn't imagine just how strong she was. "Are there any tables that are free?"
"Err." He began to look around and he spotted one that had no one sitting at it. Quite nervously he pointed his finger toward it. "There's one over there ma'am, just by the backdoor."
"Thank you." Even though she was thanking him she still sounded terrifying. One thing that was for sure was that he didn't want to invoke her wrath.
With that she walked toward the free table and sat down at it. There was a long bench that allowed people to sit down at it. When the Knight sat down Charles could hear the bench groaning as it had to withstand her weight. He thought that it was going to break but much to his amazement it was able to hold. He gave a sigh of relief as it meant that she wasn't going to fall and most likely get angry at him about it.
The Knight seemed to ignore everyone around her as she opened up the small barrel and began to drink out of it as if it contained water. Each gulp brought down a surprisingly large amount of ale and it seemed like it wouldn't last long. One thing that Charles was dead set on and that was not bothering her.
Time began to pass as Charles got on with his duties. He was beginning to get tired as it was getting late and he had been working for most of the day. He would love nothing more than to go to bed and enjoy a much-needed rest. Unfortunately, he couldn't do such a thing just yet, there was too much work for him to do.
The innkeeper who was a particularly round man was watching his every move. He did enjoy seeing Charles work since it meant that he didn't have to work himself. He was barely paying the poor man for his services and he wanted to keep this going for as long as he could. He did chuckle to himself as he watched him struggle with his tasks. He didn't want to interfere as he was having some much-needed relaxation.
Eventually Charles did have to take a tray that was filled with four containers of ale and take it out to a particular table. He was in a hurry since they had been waiting for a long time for their drinks. He was panting as he was getting tired but one of the patrons at the table stuck his foot out to intentionally trip him over. This caused him to fall forwards and the ale fell down along with him. Some of it fell on him but the majority of ale went on one of the particular patrons.
Charles quickly tried to pick himself up but he saw the patron getting up to his feet. He was at least a foot taller than Charles and had a very large build. He had long hair and a beard that were now completely covered in ale. Almost instantly Charles became terrified as he felt the patron grab him by the back of his collar and lift him off his feet. The entire inn went silent besides the sniggers of others at the table.
"I'm sorry," said Charles who was trying everything he could to not seem like a complete coward. However, he knew that he could be killed or at the very least receive a serious injury. "It was an accident."
"I don't care if it was an accident," replied the Patron. He then lifted his fist as if he was about to punch the poor man.
"No wait, if you hit me then you'll be banned from here." He didn't know if it was true but he thought that it would at least make a decent bluff.
"Wouldn't be the first time." He clenched his fist and Charles seemed to wait for the punch to come. All he could hope was that it would all be over soon.
"Wait right there," said a female voice. Everyone including Charles and the Patron looked over and saw the knight still sitting at the table. She was looking over at them but she didn't have a too serious look on her face. "He said it was an accident and he apologised, let's leave it at that."
"This has nothing to do with you. Stay out of my business or else you'll get what this guy is going to get." The expression of the Knight changed to that of displeasure as she slowly rose up to her feet. For most of the other patrons they gasped as they saw that she was too tall to stand up inside of the inn. Despite this she moved over to the where the incident was taking place. He looked up at her and was surprised to see just how tall she was, he didn't see many people taller than him too often but the fact that this was a woman who made him look so small almost blew his mind. He did let go of Charles who quickly hurried away from the confrontation.
"Are you threatening me?" Her voice didn't seem too thrilled with what he had just said to her and she looked to be annoyed.
"Yes I am." He didn't know anything about her but he knew that he would look weak if he backed down from her. A man of his calibre being intimidated by a woman was beyond humiliating in his mind. Even though she was almost two and a half feet taller than he was. "Now get back to your drink you, overgrown bitch."
The knight became infuriated but she didn't say a word. Instead one of her large armour-clad hands grabbed onto the Patron's forearm. With one quick but strong movement she twisted it and everyone heard a loud cracking sound. Suddenly the Patron began to cry out in agony and he went down to his knees. His forearm had been broken but the knight continued to loom over him much like a parent would to a crying child.
"That was for the insult," said the Knight. She seemed to show no remorse for what she had done. "Now I believe it is you who has to apologise."
"You broke my arm you bitch!" screamed the Patron who was still in a lot of pain. He couldn't only look up as she bent down and grabbed his other forearm. Once again with one quick movement she snapped that as well causing him to cry out in agony again. It hurt him so much that it almost brought him to tears.
"That insult cost you your other arm. Are you willing to make the same mistake again?" She watched as he shook his head which made her chuckle. "I see that you have some intelligence after all."
Just then one of the Patron's friends got up from his seat and tried to punch the Knight. Since her head was too high for him to reach he instead tried to strike her back. However, when he punched it he only damaged his hand as it began to bleed. He gave a cry of pain and this made the knight turn around to look at him.
"Are you stupid or something?" asked the Knight. "I am wearing thick armour and yet you still try to attack me without a weapon?" She chuckled to herself a little. "I guess the ale robbed you of your wits."
Another man tried to attack the Knight from behind but his attack was as fruitless as the other. All he got for his efforts was a firm grasp around his neck. He feared that she would snap his neck much like she had done with the Patron's arms. Instead she quickly lifted him up as if he was made out of nothing. She lifted him very high and at such a fast pace that it caused his head to go through the ceiling. The impact was more than enough to knock him out and she looked at his unconscious body for a few moments before dropping him to the ground.
The entire inn was still in silence as they had just seen the knight take down three largely built men with minimum effort. Two had suffered broken bones while the other likely had a concussion, she didn't even have to break a sweat. She turned to look at Charles for a moment who was still standing there and was terrified. He feared that she would attack him next but instead she returned to her table with some haste.
Rather than sitting down the knight simply picked up the barrel and her helmet and walked outside of the inn. Charles didn't know how to react to this and he knew that he was going to be punished for what had happened. One thing was for sure was that he couldn't stay there any longer. In his mind he was trying to piece together the chaos that had just taken place and with exactly what he had just seen.
Almost as soon as he had made his decision he quickly made his way out of the inn and began to look around. It wasn't difficult for him to spot the knight who now seemed even taller thanks to the fact that she could stand up straight. Even in the darkness of night he could still see her clearly as she was walking away from the Inn. He had to quickly run in order to catch up with her.
When Charles eventually reach the towering figure, he felt truly small in comparison to her. Her legs were almost as long as his entire body and underneath her armour he thought that she would likely have a very muscular body. He seemed to be below her notice as she didn't look at him at first until he cleared his throat.
"What do you want?" asked the Knight with an annoyed grunt. She looked at him as if he was a being of great annoyance to her. She barely even recognised that he was the same man that she had saved from the patrons.
"I just want to thank you for saving my skin back there," replied Charles. He noticed that she had stopped walking at this moment in time. "If you weren't there I don't know what would have happened."
"Don't mention it, now that you've said your thanks you may leave me in peace." She wanted to walk on but as she did she could see that he was still following her. This only added to her annoyance.
"My thanks aren't enough." He quickly moved in front of the knight and went down to his one knee. He bowed his head to her and she did stop walking. "I owe you a debt that I might never be able to repay, I offer you my services to you like any knight who needs a decent squire."
"First of all, stand up!" Her voice was sharp and somewhat annoyed. This did cause Charles to get back to his feet just like he was told. "Second is that I am not a knight and third is that I don't need a squire!"
"I beg to differ." He couldn't help but feel intimidated as she was more than three and a half feet taller than him and looked like she could snap him like a twig. "Your armour does look nice but it looks as though it hasn't been cleaned for some time." This got an annoyed grunt from her. "Plus, I bet it is difficult for you to keep track of everything like the sharpness of your sword and how much gold you got going in and going out. I could take all that away from you, you concentrate on the hacking and slashing part of whatever you do. I worry about the boring stuff."
"And what would you want for these services?" Her arms were folded and she seemed to be somewhat interested in what he was saying.
"As I said, I owe you my life so I offer my services for nothing. I will remain by your side until you decide to release me from your presence."
"How do I know I can trust you? For all I know you might just be a conman wanting at my gold."
"Well let's put it simply, if I did do such and thing and you found out what would likely happen? Would I stand a chance against you or would you just slice me in two with minimum effort? Besides I am a man with practically nothing but this." He went into his pocket and took out a locket on a necklace. He held it up to her and this caused her to raise an eyebrow. "This locket belonged to my mother and is the only thing I have left of her, take it as a deposit so to speak and a statement of my good intentions."
There were a few moments as she decided on whether she should go through with this or not. He did seem to be genuine but she was also hesitant at the same time. There were many factors in her head that was going for and against taking Charles on. In the end she grabbed the locket out of his hand and placed in her compartment with her gold. She did have a good look at it and the locket did seem to be the real deal and most likely worth a large amount of money.
"If that is what you wish then so be it," said the Knight. "But there will be a set of ground rules. First is that you do exactly what I tell you without hesitation. If I say jump you ask me how high, got it?"
"Y-Yes ma'am," replied Charles who could see that his life was likely going to change forever.
"Second is that if you fail in any task that I set you then you will be released from your services and this locket stays with me. Third is that you will not be unrewarded for good work, you will be well fed and enjoy the same comforts that I will experience. Before we go any further you still have not told me your name."
"Me apologises." He took a bow as a sign of respect. "My name is Charles Ingram, I am happy to offer you my services."
"And I am Maxine Theresia Martel, first born daughter of Sir Tucker Martel." The name of Sir Tucker Martel sounded familiar to Charles but for the moment he couldn't put his finger on where he had heard it before. "I might be of low birth but my skills with a blade is second to none."
"I believe you, I don't want to find out the hard way." He was still a little intimidated by her but at least now she was accepting his offer. "As your squire so to speak what is the first thing that you want me to do?"
"For now, I want you to do nothing but walk with me. If you can't keep up that's your problem."
Maxine began to walk and Charles as he was told tried to keep up. However, it was more difficult than he expected. Because of her long legs her strides were much larger than his own. For every one step she made he would have to make two but this was something that he would be able to keep up for a while.
There was one thing that he could hear while they were walking and that was the constant clanking sound of Maxine's armour. It seemed that whatever movement she made it would cause the plates of her armour to strike one another in a continuous fashion. She didn't seem to notice this as she had grown so used to it that not hearing it would likely to cause her some confusion.
One thing that he didn't want to imagine was just how much Maxine weighed. Not only was her nine-foot frame most likely very heavy but the armour that she was wearing also added a lot to her weight. If he had to guess he thought that the armour alone would weigh more than him thanks to its size and thickness.
For Maxine although she didn't want to say it she was feeling tired. She had been planning to stay at the inn for the night but after the ruckus that had taken place she had decided that it was best to move on. But now she was getting very tired and she needed to find a place to rest for the night. She briefly looked down at Charles who was doing his best to keep up. She thought that he wouldn't be around her for much longer as he would likely do something that would force her to release him. But having a squire did make her feel more like an actually knight, just like her father.