After a good night's sleep, Sir Gabriel begins to stir. He is hesitant to wake up, laying with the woman he has so quickly fallen in love with. He opens his eyes, still hearing the sound of the rain against the roof of the barn; sounding like it is still coming down and could last for several more hours. He takes a deep breath and nestles his head in what he believes to be the most comfortable place in all of Albion, Ashley's chest.
He turns his gaze upward, watching as the giant maiden is still fast asleep. Her chest rising and falling rhythmically with each breath she takes a rhythm that pairs nicely with the sound of her beating heart. Her arms ate still around him in a loving embrace, keeping him close to her body. The knight can't help but smile, feeling lucky to have met such an amazing woman.
Sir Gabriel decides to close his eyes and enjoy the spot which he is privileged to enjoy. When Ashley has a hold of him there is no escaping her loving grip. Besides, there is no point in trying to wake her right now, the rain keeping the two of them confined to the barn which they have taken shelter in. The structure is sizeable, but it is not large enough to accommodate Ashley's large size, leaving the massive maiden to feel slightly cramped. Laying down she has to pull her knees up just so she can fit.
A rumble coming from the giantess's stomach reminds him of the other reason he wants to let her sleep. Her hunger. The two of them had no choice but to skip dinner due to the weather; the lunch Ashley had was not holding her over too well. The knight rolls over to get more comfortable, ready to go back to sleep. That is until he realizes that something is wrong.
He is actually able to move. Normally Ashley's embrace on him is tight, not so tight that he is uncomfortable just tight enough to keep him in place. He normally has to wait for her to wake up before he can get up himself; often having to wait a couple of hours. The fact that she is not hanging onto him tightly like she normally does, worries him.
Sir Gabriel's mind moves to the only possible reason as to why this could happen, but her skipping a single meal shouldn't cause this kind of weakness. Could it?
If that is the cause he can only imagine that it must have something to do with her extraordinary size. Because of this single aspect he can imagine that the giant maiden's body would need a lot more nourishment just to sustain herself. Skipping a single meal could have more drastic consequences for her than anyone else.
"Ashley," Sir Gabriel calls out with a sense of urgency in his voice, "Ashley!" The maiden continues to sleep, undisturbed by the sound of the knight's voice. Either the maiden is a heavy sleeper or the sound of his voice is not loud enough to rouse her from her slumber. Either way, Sir Gabriel knows that he will need to attempt something else to wake her up.
He begins to squirm his way out from the giantess's loving embrace. With her grip on him bring looser than it tends to be he is able to slide out from underneath her arms. Still taking some effort, he manages to free himself as he crawls along her body to reach the ground. This is an odd experience for him, the softness of her chest not making for a stable surface to move along. His hands and knees sinking into her flesh and throwing off his balance.
Firmly on solid ground, the concerned knight rushes over to Ashley's face. With her head turned he finds himself standing in front of the still sleeping maiden's face. Kneeling, he can feel her breath on his body, inhaling and exhaling in a steady rhythm. "Ashley," Sir Gabriel calls out once again. He is pressing his hand against her cheek, his palm sinking into her flesh. He is desperate to wake her up, worried about her well being.
Ashley groans as she begins to stir from her slumber, Sir Gabriel's attempts to wake her finally succeeding. Slowly opening her eyes, smiling when she is greeted by the sight of the man her heart belongs to. "Morning," she groans. Still half asleep she attempts to stretch, stopping when her hands and feet hit the walls before she can completely stretch them out. Her eyes fully open, she puckers up her lips expecting a token of affection from her knight.
Leaning in, Sir Gabriel kisses her on her lower lip, happy to show the giant woman his love for her. Lasting for a couple of moments, the knight finally pulls away, eager to know how she is doing. "Morning, Ashley. Are you feeling okay?"
Ashley begins to sit up slowly. She has no energy in her and is struggling to move even the slightest bit. She places her arm on her stomach, hoping to settle it as it is practically crying for food; a result of not having anything to eat since yesterday afternoon. Turning her head slowly, she looks at the knight while forcing a slight smile on her face. "Fine," she struggles to say. Even talking is too much of an exertion for her. "Just a bit hungry is all."
Sir Gabriel can see how sluggish Ashley's movements are, her body leaning back as if she struggling to remain upright. She looks as though she is suffering from starvation. "Ashley, I am going to see if I can't get you something to eat, okay?"
"I'll come with you," the maiden says with very little energy. Struggling to move, the maiden attempts to get on her hands and knees so that she can crawl out of the barn. Her body does not want to listen to her, doing its best to stay put.
"Ashley, I think it is best if you stay here and save your strength. It is obvious that you are weak and there is no telling how far you can go before you collapse." If Ashley was to collapse out in the rain there wouldn't be anything that he could do to help her. Trying to move her would be impossible due to her extraordinary size.
Ashley leans back, propping herself against the wall while watching the knight. She can't help but smile, seeing just how much he truly cares for her.
Reaching into Ashley's coin pouch, he begins to grab handful after handful of coins, filling his own coin pouch with as much as it will hold. "There should be a trading outpost to the north of here," he begins to explain, "I should be able to get you something to eat from there; hopefully they have enough for yous" Quantity is the only thing that concerns him. Will the outpost have enough to sate Ashley's hunger?
"But it's still raining," Ashley points out. She would hate for her knight to travel in such weather and catch a cold. Though he could always wear his armor for some protection she imagines that he would refrain from wearing it to prevent any chances of rust from occurring.
Sir Gabriel grabs a large piece of canvas, grabbing a hold of his sword afterward. "I can improvise, not the first time I have been caught in such weather. Using his blade, he cuts off a section of the canvas. Taking what he has cut off he begins to fashion himself a make-shift cloak, leaving enough excess fabric to use for a hood. "This should give me enough protection."
"Just be careful," Ashley pleads.
Fastening his blade's scabbard to his waist, not wanting to be completely defenseless, he replies, "I will, returning to you is all the reason I need." Walking up to her hand, he kisses the tip of her finger, a token of his affection for her. "I will return with something for you to eat."
Pushing open the barn door, the knight prepares to head out to find the nourishment the giantess so desperately needs. Before he is able to set foot outside he hears the sound of something heavy hitting the ground behind him, the ground shaking a bit. He already knows what the source of the loud noise is but that doesn't stop him from turning around. He sees Ashley laying on the ground, doing her best to smile at him. "Ashley!" Sir Gabriel shouts while rushing over to her, "Are you okay?"
Watching as the concerned knight kneels in front of her face, his hand resting on her cheek, the maiden can't help but smile. She can tell just how concerned he is. "I'm fine," she manages to say, "just saving my strength as you suggested. I don't suppose you could get some apples as well.?"
"Of course," Sir Gabriel says with a smile, "at least two full barrels." He kisses her on her lower lip, the large maiden weakly returning it, "I will be back as quickly as I can."
Sir Gabriel walks out of the barn, lifting up his hood before he closes the door behind him. He smiles at Ashley, his way of letting her know that everything is going to be alright.
The knight begins to walk away from the barn, heading towards his intended destination. He can't help but look back as the structure seems to be getting small the farther he moves away from it. He hopes that Ashley will be okay as she waits for him to return. She seemed to be pretty weak as he left and he can't help but worry about her. The only thing he can do for her is to obtain enough food for her, the very reason he left the barn.
Sir Gabriel is walking at a brisk pace, feeling a sense of urgency about what he needs to do. His cloak is protecting him from the rain, as it is intended to do, so he doesn't need to worry about getting sick from his clothes becoming damp and cold.
He starts to smile, picturing himself in Ashley's loving embrace. Being held close to her while she affectionately shows him all of her love. The warmth of her body would be perfect for days like this, a unique advantage he is able to experience because of her size. The longer he thinks on this the more he finds himself wishing that he was back at the barn and in her arms.
After walking for a considerable amount of time, the knight sees no signs of the outpost still. The walk is taking him longer than he likes. Traveling with Ashley has spoiled him in this regard. Riding on her shoulder has certainly become a preferred way for him to travel as they move from one destination to the next. Her long strides, which are proportional to her extraordinary height, allow her to traverse great distances in a short time. What would take him an hour to traverse, she could easily travel within minutes.
Sir Gabriel continues to push on, hos sole motivation being the woman he loves. He has faced bandits, dealt with stuck-up nobles, even faced a dragon head-on; he can manage a long walk. His spirits are lifted when he can make out a building through the rain. Picking up his pace, he hurriedly runs through the rain with every intention of procuring what he needs as quickly as possible.
Practically bursting through the door, the knight startles the owner who was about to doze off from the lack of customers.
With his blonde hair thinning, it is obvious that the owner is getting on in age. He is surprised to see a traveler entering, most often remaining at an inn or some other form of shelter to avoid being out in the rain. Meaning that he is either stupid or desperate. Either way, it will be nice to see some coin change hands. "Welcome," he says in a friendly tone, "Anything in particular that you are looking for?"
Lowering his hood, allowing the owner ca clear view of his face, "Food," Sir Gabriel says with a sense of urgency, "I need food."
"We have plenty of that," the Owner reassures, "Bread, fruits; I also got some sweets in the other day."
"Doesn't matter," Sir Gabriel responds, "quantity is my main concern." Pulling back his cloak, the Owner catches a glimpse of the sword he has on his person. He can't help but feel a bit frightened as he believes that this man is going to threaten his life. To his relief, and pleasure, he watches as a pouch full of coins is dropped onto the counter. "Six barrels' worth to be precise."
"S-six barrels?" the Owner repeats in disbelief, "What are you feeding, an army?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Now, can you supply me with what I need?"
"I can, but I am going to need more coin than this."
"That is all I have on me."
"This is enough for a barrel, maybe two."
"Then consider it a payment in good faith. I am a knight and I keep my word."
"Look, I can't accept a partial payment, it isn't good business. So you either accept what you can afford or you leave without so much as a crumb."
Sir Gabriel knows that he can't leave without anything, and he feels that two barrels will not be enough to nourish Ashley, not with the state she was in when he left. He can only imagine how her condition has worsened since he has left her. "Then accept this coin as a delivery fee. I can pay you the full amount once it is delivered." The owner looks at the knight, unsure about what the knight is saying. "If I am unable to pay, you have this coin. All that will be wasted is your time."
The Owner considers what the desperate knight is saying. The coin he is being offered is good, and being offered it just for delivery. He still feels that he needs to take an extra precautionary measure. "Leave your sword here and you have a deal. What's to say that once we get so far out and you use it to threaten me keep everything? I want to ensure that things go smoothly between us. You can have it back after the delivery."
Sir Gabriel clutches the hilt of his sword, not too keen on relinquishing it. Handing it over would leave him defenseless, a state no knight should be left in. Not to mention that Sir Olric entrusted it to him. Removing it from his waist he places the blade on the counter. "So long as I get it back." The only reason he is agreeing to this is that he can't waste any more time. With Ashley back at the barn, starving, he needs to be quick."
"We have a deal," the Owner says as he grabs the sword and places it behind the counter. "Load up each barrel with the food you want and we can load them into the cart for transport."
"How many apples do you have?"
"Enough to fill two barrels I suppose."
"I will take all of them." He remembers Ashley's fondness for the red fruit. He remembers how she purchased an entire barrel of them back in Vershire, downing every last one as if they were only a small snack.
Ashley is holding her stomach, which is grumbling and growling as it is demanding substance. Nourishment which her body needs to function, making her feel weak and fatigued. Even the slightest movement feels as though it would take every last ounce of strength.
She turns her head towards the barn doors, hoping that Sir Gabriel will return at any given moment with something for her to eat.
The maiden's mind begins to wander back to the dream she had last night, all those apples that were before her. A veritable feast that had been laid out before her. Her mouth begins to water as she recalls all of the delicious dishes that she had been able to consume, wishing how it was real instead of something that her mind had conjured up.
The sound of the barn door's hinges squeaking grabs her attention, an unmistakable sign that the door is being opened. She turns her gaze to the opening as it is getting wider. She can only imagine what the knight could have gotten her, though she is hoping that he managed to get her the apples that she requested. "Gabriel," she says weakly.