Rain is falling in Angleland, with dark skies occasionally being lit up when lightning flashes across the sky. Maxine is looking out the window, longing to walk through Flea Bay so that she may find the magic which was stolen from her. "Is everything okay, Ma'am?" a familiar voice asks from behind her. Maxine turns around to see her squire, Charles, standing behind her, looking down at her with a look of concern on his face.
Maxine finds it odd to be looking up at someone who she used to look down on, literally. Ever since Shepherd Crawley had taken the magic which was inside her she gone from a statuesque height of nine feet to several inches shy of being five feet tall. To make matters worse, her armor doesn't even fit her; leaving her to wear a simple dress.
"You know damn well that everything is not okay!" Maxine replies. The petite woman is doing her best to be intimidating, and failing miserably. Her short stature, the way her red hair is brushing across her shoulders, even the higher pitch of her voice are all helping her to come off as adorable instead. "Those bandits are out there with what is rightfully mine and we are just sitting here, doing nothing. Does that seem okay to you?!"
"I can understand how frustrated you must feel."
"NO YOU DON'T!" Maxine shouts. Her words echo throughout the inn, all eyes now on her. Right now, she doesn't care.
"Ma'am, I urge you to calm down," he says as he places his hands on her shoulders. Charles has found himself saying things like this to the shrunken woman a lot more often. Before, all he could do was to try and talk Maxine down. "That storm is looking pretty bad. If you were to head out looking for what you lost, the only thing you would catch is a cold. Besides, if we are stuck inside, then I can imagine that the man we are looking for is in a similar situation himself."
"I suppose you are right," Maxine says as she crosses her arms. She knows that Charles is right. She just can't stand the idea of standing around and doing nothing." I'm going to get a pint." Turning around, she walks right into someone, her face bumping into their neck.
"I'm sorry," a feminine voice apologizes.
Maxine takes a step back, feeling annoyed that someone had just walked into her. Looking up at the woman's face she can't help but feel that she looks familiar as if she has met her before. This woman's brown hair is done in a thick braid and is long enough to where it reaches past her knees. Her light blue dress is well-made with some elaborate details embroidered onto it. The hem of the skirt stops just above the woman's ankles, giving a full view of her bare feet, which seem to be large for someone of her height.
"Do I know you?" Ashley asks, an inquisitive look on her face as if she is trying to recognize the woman who is standing before her.
Maxine just simply can not believe her eyes. Ashley is standing right in front of her, at such a small size. When she first met the maiden in Albion she was a giantess; Maxine wasn't even as tall as her knees. What is bothering her is the fact that Ashley is still taller than her. Shrunken in size and the Maiden is still taller than her by about half a foot?! "No," Maxine answers as she turns her head, doing her best to avoid further eye contact, "we have never met before."
Ashley's attention soon moves away from the petite woman who is standing before her to her companion. His skin is of a darker tone, an indication that he was not from Angleland. Her eyes widen as she recognizes him almost immediately. "Charles?!"
"Ashley?" Charles is just as surprised as Maxine is to learn that this woman is the giantess that both he and Maxine have met before. Though the word giantess is now a term that can no longer describe her properly. "How have you and Sir Gabriel been?"
"Wait," Ashley turns her attention to the shorter woman who is standing before her, "you can't be… Maxine?" Ashley isn't surprised that she did not recognize Maxine. When they first met Maxine was an amazon of a woman with a well-defined physique. Standing before her is a petite woman who's figure closely resembles that of a child. "What happened to you?"
"What happened to you?!" Maxine shoots back as she refuses to answer the question. "How did you get so small and why are you still taller than me?!"
Grabbing her right hand, Ashley looks downward as she is embarrassed by her own situation. "Well, I…"
"Ashley, is everything all right?" Sir Gabriel walks up behind Ashley, hearing the commotion that is being caused by the diminutive Maxine.
Ashley turns her attention to her knight, looking up at him with a smile. "Yeah, everything is fine, but I'm not so sure about Maxine."
"Wait, Maxine?!" The knight is surprised at how different she looks compared to when they first met. "I must apologize, I mistook you for a child."
Maxine groans in frustration while clenching her fists. All these comments about her loss in stature are beginning to wear on her nerves. She feels like she could punch the next person who says anything about how small she has become. "I'm getting a pint of ale," she says as she walks off, muttering under her breath as she makes her way over to the bar.
"She really seems to be taking this hard," Ashley comments, "May I ask how this happened?"
Charles begins to recall the events that happened at the orphanage for the maiden and her knight. How Shepherd Crawley used a device to extract the magic from Maxine's body, causing her to shrink to her now small size. How they are currently searching for the man that it was sold to in order to help pay for the orphanage's expenses. "She has not been too happy about her current situation, she feels like she can't do anything in her current state."
"I can't blame her," Ashley says, "I can honestly say I know how she feels."
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN'T HAVE A PINT!" the group hears Maxine shouting out of anger. "I'M NOT A CHILD! I'M OF AGE! JUST GIVE ME SOME FUCKING ALE ALREADY!"
Charles looks over to Maxine struggling to climb over the bar, Looking absolutely pissed and ready to strangle the bartender. "I guess I better go resolve that issue before it escalates any further."
"Let me," Sir Gabriel offers, "I think she will listen to me better than she will you."
With Sir Gabriel being a knight, Charles does feel that Maxine will actually listen to him without arguing. Maxine's father, Sir Tucker, taught her well and she has always held fast to his teachings. "I think you are right about that. Ashley and I will find a table. I think it would be best if we sit down while we catch up."
While Sir Gabriel heads over to the bar, Charles and Ashley find an empty table that is towards the back. Charles feels that Maxine would prefer it if she was sitting somewhere that she wouldn't be noticed. Before it was hard not to notice her. Entering an establishment where she has to duck and squeeze her way through the door and needing to crouch to avoid hitting her head on the ceiling, her very presence was hard to ignore.
As both Ashley and Charles sit down, they can hear Maxine continuing her protest; not against Sir Gabriel but the bartender still. "IT ISN'T RIGHT! I HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO HAVE A DRINK IF I SO CHOOSE!"
Watching as Sir Gabriel returns with a still very upset Maxine. The unhappy woman has her arms crossed while the knight has his hand on her back as he escorts her over; looking very much like a parent escorting their rebellious child. Maxine climbs into the chair next to Charles, muttering under her breath. "Charles, go get me a pint of ale.
"Miss Maxine, I really think you should hold off on any drinking for a while. At your current…" Charles cuts himself off when Maxine gives him a look, shooting daggers at the squire, that he decides to choose his words more carefully. "What I mean to say is that while you are used to alcohol not having any effect on you, it may be different now."
"After everything that I have been through, I deserve a drink. I don't care what you think, just go up to the bar and get me a pint of ale!" Maxine slams her fist on the table, something that she regrets doing almost immediately. Her fist is throbbing from how hard she hit the table's surface, still not being used to how weak she is.
"Yes, Ma'am." Charles decides that it would be best for Maxine if he just gets her the ale that she is demanding.
"Gabriel, can you get me something to eat?" Ashley asks while looking up at her knight, "Something with apples?"
"Of course," Sir Gabriel replies with a smile. He leans down to kiss the woman he loves, something he enjoys doing. Kissing her now feels very odd to him, he has become so accustomed to only being able to kiss her lower lip while her lips would envelop his entire face, a token of her affection that he misses very much.
As the knight and the squire walk off, Maxine shouts, "And get me a pie while you're at it!"
"Charles told us about what happened to you." The maiden sounds sympathetic as she says this, "Must be very difficult for you.
"I don't want to talk about,' Maxine responds, crossing her arms while looking away. "So what happened to you?"
"This…" Ashley holds out her right hand, showing Maxine a simple, golden ring that is on her finger. "This is suppressing the magic that is within me, reducing me to the size that I currently am."
"I bet you and Sir Gabriel are happy about it. You know, having a normal relationship now."
"What we had before was normal," Ashley responds. "I miss my size. I miss holding Gabriel close to me, picking him up off the ground and having him in my embrace. Cuddling with him in my arms as we both fall asleep at night. It's been a nightmare for both of us."
"Then just take the ring off if it is that much of a problem for you."
"If it was only that simple." Ashley begins to pull on the ring, which refuses to slide off her finger. "I can't remove it. Gabriel and I are trying to find the merchant who sold it to us with the hopes that they know how to remove it."
Maxine can hardly believe what Ashley is telling her. Does she want to be over fifty feet tall again? Does Sir Gabriel actually miss her size? This shouldn't sound odd to her though. Her father fell in love with a woman who is much taller than average and is capable of growing over one hundred feet tall. "It does look like we are in the same boat then."
A pie and an ale are placed in front of Maxine, while Ashley receives a warm apple pie. Maxine can't help but look at the ale before her, knowing that there is something off about this. "Charles," Maxine says in an irritated tone, "This is a glass, I asked for a pint."
"As I said earlier, your body might not be able to handle alcohol like it used to. So, for now, I do believe it to be best if you mind your Ps and Qs for now."
"If you leave me with this glass you won't have any peace!"
"I strongly urge you to consider what I am saying, Miss Maxine."
"Look, I can handle my alcohol. Hell, I bet I could drink Ashley under the table."
"You can?" Ashley stops eating her pie long enough to respond to what Maxine has just claimed.
"How about it? A pissing contest between you and me."
"Maxine, I am not sure if that is a good idea," Sir Gabriel says.
"I'll do it!" Ashley accepts sounding very excited.
"Ashley, are you sure?" The knight can't help but feel concerned. "You have had the occasional ale before, but to have so much in one sitting?" Technically Ashley has consumed a lot more; at a height of fifty-one feet, she could easily drink an entire barrel full of ale like it is nothing. But at her petite size, she would be having more than her body is used to.
"Well, I will admit that I am curious to know what it would be like to get drunk," Ashley admits. "At my normal size, drinking enough ale to do so would be just about impossible." She looks up at Sir Gabriel with puppy dog eyes, doing her best to look cute. "Please?"
"I see no harm in it," Sir Gabriel admits.
Ashley looks back at Maxine, with a big smile on her face, "I accept your challenge to a pissing contest."
The two women eat their pies as the men head over to the bar to fetch their drinks. Ashley is enjoying how sweet her apple pie is while Maxine consumes her with the same level of satisfaction. Before long, both the maiden and the aspiring knight each holding a pitcher and a pint-sized flagon.
"Only two quarts?!" Maxine complains.
"Trust me, I highly doubt that you will make it past three pints," Sir Gabriel explains. "The day I became a legal age to drink," I was barely able to down three myself before the events of that night became hazy."
"Well, I ain't a lightweight," Maxine argues, "I can drink several barrels worth of ale and not even get tipsy." Of course, she was only able to do this at her height of nine feet.
Both women grab their respective flagons, eager to begin the unnecessary contest. Maxine starts to eagerly drink her ale, feeling that it has been far too long since she has had a drink. The alcoholic beverage goes down her throat smoothly; while she has had better ale, this is not that bad. Halfway through her drink, the redhead begins to feel lightheaded. She has heard how people would feel as they begin to get drunk, but she pushes this thought aside as her body is capable of holding its alcohol. She has never been drunk before and she is not going to start tonight.
Meanwhile, Ashley is drinking her ale. Though she is not drinking hers as fast as Maxine is. When her flagon is half empty, she sets it down to catch her breath. "Gabriel," Ashley says with a smile on her face, "I feel a bit woozy." The knight isn't surprised by this development, she has already consumed more alcohol than what she is used to.
"Ha!" Maxine shouts triumphantly as Ashley sets down her now empty flagon. "Already feeling tipsy BEFORE you have finished your first pint. Looks like I will be winning this!"
"Miss Maxine, are you feeling okay? You're looking a bit flushed right now." Charles can't help but be concerned about Maxine, her face turning red after she has finished her first drink."
"I feel fine," she lies. She can feel some heat in her face, but she is not going to tell her squire that. If he thinks that her body is unable to handle the heavy drinking that she intends to do, he will stop her; this is something she wants to avoid at all costs. "Now then," Maxine says with a grin as she pours her second pint, "you ready to continue, Lightweight?'
Ashley can't help but giggle, the effects of the alcohol entering her system is beginning to affect her. "I am as ready as you are."
The two women begin to down their second pints, neither one ready to admit defeat. Again, Maxine finishes hers before Ashley does, her body used to being able to guzzle large amounts quickly. Slamming her flagon on the table before Ashley does, Maxine looks upon the maiden with a smile on her face. "Lightweight, can't… can't even finish a flagon before I can. Just admit that I can drunk you under the table and I will spare you the humiliation of losing to someone who holds… who holds their alcohol better than you."
"I feel great," Ashley says with a drunken slur. She turns to look at Gabriel, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Have I ever told you how much I am in love with you? Because I love you so much that I am willing to do anything for you. Anything." The maiden proceeds to give him an open-mouthed kiss on the cheek, leaving a wet spot behind.
Charles can't help but stare at Maxine. He has witnessed her drink far more ale without even getting the least bit tipsy. But to see her get drunk after only drinking two pints is just unbelievable to him. The longer he looks at her he can see small bumps forming on her skin, the woman is starting to break out in hives. "I think you have had enough," Charles says as he goes to reach for Maxine's flagon. "I'm afraid that you are having an allergic reaction to your drink."
"Maxine grabs her drinks, pulling them close to her. "No, no. I feel… I feel fine. Good, even. If she can continue to drink, then so can I. What say you, Lightweight?"
Ashley looks over at Maxine as she is still clinging to Sir Gabriel. "I can keep drinking ale with you. In fact, I think it you who is going to lose this pissing contest."
"As if," Maxine argue before she brings her third pint up to her lips before Ashley does the same with hers.
Maxine slams her flagon onto the table again, "First, again!" Watching as Ashley finishes her. "I fink, I fink I am going to go ahead and celebrate my inevita… inevi… My certain victory!"
The drunk woman stands up in her chair, raising her empty flagon and swinging it above her head. She begins to sing a tune of celebration as she begins to do a simple and very uncoordinated dance. The tune she is singing makes no sense, and as a result sounds very silly. Maxine is singing out of tune and her voice is cracking, it is obvious that Maxine is unable to sing very well. She kicks her one leg up, her shoe flying off her foot as she falls backward. "Whoops!"
"Maxine!" Charles shouts as he rushes forward to catch her. He is thankful that she is under five feet tall, otherwise they both would have been injured.
"I see how it is," Maxine says with a drunken smile on her face. "You want to carry me up to our room, don't you?"
"I think that would be for the best."
"You want to…you want to see my… How did you word it? My fine ass, as you once said." Charles's face turns a bright red, unable to recall saying such a thing. "I may have lost my figure," Maxine says as she grabs a hold of Charles's hand, she proceeds to move it further down her body and places it right on her ass cheek. He can feel how firm her cheek is, telling him that her claim could be true "I can assure you that it is still the finest, the finest ass in all of Angleland, as you once said. You can give it a good slap if you want," she says with a very girlish giggle. "Of course if you want it you will have to carry me, princess style."
Now Charles knows for a fact that Maxine is out of it. She would never ask to be carried, much less in such a fashion. Her pride would never allow for such a thing.
"Oh, Gabriel," Ashley says in a sing-song voice. "How about you remove your armor and I hold you close? There is one particular area I would just love to grab a hold of."
"Ashley, I…That is…" Sir Gabriel has never seen the maiden being so forward with him before. Then again, she has never been drunk before either.
"You are right," Ashley says with a giggle, "There are more important things that need to be tended to." The maiden repositions herself and lifts her bare foot until it is in the knight's face. He can see all the dirt and mud that is caked onto her sole from all the walking she has done throughout the day. "My pretty feet have gotten so dirty. Could you wash them and make them pretty and presentable for me?"
Sir Gabriel is looking around the inn, feeling that all eyes are on him now. It is true that he has no problems cleaning Ashley's feet and he is aware of how much it bothers her when they are dirty. He can't help but feel some embarrassment as the drunk maiden is asking him this where just about every patron can hear her.
Ashley touches her foot to the knight's face, smearing some of the dirt on his face. "Kiss my feet again, let me know how pretty you find them." Sir Gabriel's face begins to turn red, turning even redder the closer her toes get to his mouth. His saving grace is when the maiden falls backward and hits the floor. "Whoopsie! Looks like I fell too." She begins to laugh, which then turns into a series of snorts.
Maxine looks over at the maiden, listening to how she sounds. "Drunk and snorting? My sister, Carrie, would have a field day with you."
Climbing back into her seat, with very little grace, Ashley is still smiling. "I don't care what you think. Gabriel… Gabriel finds it cute when I snort. Isn't that right, my knight in shining armor?"
"Of course," Sir Gabriel confirms with a smile on his face.
"Of course, there is one other thing I know you love about me." The drunk maiden reaches for her long braid, undoing the tie that us holding it together. "My long hair and how you love to see it when it is down." Ashley's hair is thick and wavy, covering her entire back now that it is no longer tied back. "I seem to remember you requesting that I wear my thick and lovely locks down."
Sir Gabriel can't help but reach out and run his fingers through Ashley's hair. He will be the first to admit that her hair is a feature that he can't help but admire. She seldom wears it down because of the hazard it could pose if it became caught or tangled in anything while she was fifty-one feet tall. Now, being slightly over five feet tall, such hazards are no longer present. He will admit that what Ashley is saying sounds very pleasant.
"Enough distractions!" Maxine says as she pours out the last of her ale, "This contest is not over until I win." Raising it to her lips, she tips her head back as she goes to finish her last pint. Halfway through she falls over, spilling the remainder of her drink as she passes out.
"Looks like I win!" Ashley shouts. Her drink already poured she raises her flagon to her lips. She only gets as far as Maxine did before she passes out and hits the floor.
"Looks like a tie to me," Sir Gabriel observes. "What do you think?"
"I think it is for the best," Charles agrees.