Chapter 14: Riding with the Raggedy Knights

 

Jenny was definitely not looking forward to visiting the Valley of Terrors. But the Queen and Grandma Lily had decided that it was what had to be done. So Sir Lucas summoned the Royal Carriage and within moments the Dragonflies were landing beside them. But no sooner had they landed than the remaining Fairies had started to buzz and squeak and pull at Grandma Lily’s White cloak. She rolled her eyes and turned to the Queen.

‘Majesty, your Fairies say they are afraid to fly into the Valley of Terrors because they have heard that the giant spiders have spun their webs everywhere, right up to the roof of the Valley, and they fear they will be caught in them like flies.’

‘Is this true, Sir Lucas?’ asked the Queen. ‘Because if that is the case then we will all be caught in them like flies.’

Sir Lucas shook his head: ‘Majesty, there appears to be more web than usual, because Prince Sorrel’s Boy Fairies are not keeping it tidy, but the webs are only amongst the trees. The paths are still clear. And the spiders do not wish to catch Fairies as they find them impossible to digest.’

The Fairies continued to buzz around in an even more worried state. Then Jenny stepped forward and suggested that the Fairies could all squash into the Royal Carriage with the Queen and Grand Witch Lily, and she and Princess Molly could ride with the Raggedy Knights. Jenny wasn’t really sure why she suggested that, because she had never ridden on a horse before. But this was Raggedy Lyme so she would probably be OK. It occurred to her that it might not have been the right thing to do, to offer people, even very small people, a lift in the Royal Carriage. But it really was all that could be done in the circumstances.

Queen Peony looked at the mass of Fairies that had stopped buzzing and were now drifting towards her with only the slightest movement of their wings. Then she turned away from them and strode towards her Carriage. She waited for Sir Lucas to help her inside and took her seat. Then she leaned slightly towards the open door and said: ‘The Fairies will all be allowed to travel next to Grand Witch Lily. But there will be no noise!’

The Fairies immediately flew into the carriage and arranged themselves opposite their Queen. Grandma Lily had to squash herself in amongst them. But she was smiling, so Jenny didn’t feel too bad as she stood and watched the Royal Carriage lift off the ground. Then she thought of Molly. Perhaps she should have asked Molly first before suggesting they ride with the Knights. Jenny turned to look at her and somehow she knew that Molly thought it was OK.

‘I’ve always wanted to ride one of the Green horses,’ whispered Molly.

So Sir Lucas instructed the Raggedy Knights that Princess Molly Berry was to ride with Sir Henry and that Sister-witch Jenny Berry would ride with him. So without any further loss of time Jenny and Molly were lifted into the saddles and the two Knights sat on Green blankets behind them.

‘Oh dear, Sir Lucas,’ said Jenny. ‘Is it uncomfortable riding like that?’

‘A good horseman does not worry about his own comfort,’ insisted Sir Lucas, ‘just that of his horse. And my steed is quite happy with the arrangement. Now, hold the reins tight because we must go with speed. We need to arrive before the Royal Carriage.’

So Jenny held tight and suddenly the horse’s Green mane was dancing in the breeze and they were moving across the dandelion field, over a Sunflower hedge, and on into flat Green grassland. And Jenny didn’t once feel like she was going to fall off. She wondered if you could speak to someone who was riding the same horse as you. Then she heard Sir Lucas’ voice above the noise of the galloping.

‘The Valley of Terrors is straight ahead. You can see it in the distance,’ said Sir Lucas.

Jenny looked straight ahead. But all she could see in the distance was a tall mountain rising high above the flat grassland. Now Jenny was not that good at Geography but she was quite certain that you needed more than one mountain to have a valley. Because a valley is usually the low bit that runs between two mountains.

‘Sir Lucas,’ called Jenny. ‘I can only see one mountain.’

‘That is not a mountain, Sister-witch, it is the Valley. The Valley of Terrors is an upside-down Valley. That is why it is always dark inside.’

Now, of all the strange things Jenny had seen and heard since arriving in Raggedy Lyme, this really was the strangest of all. She tried to focus her eyes on the distance. She could see the Royal Carriage just ahead of them. She wanted to turn and look at Molly but she wasn’t sure that looking behind was possible on horseback. So she waited. And very soon they were overtaking the Royal Carriage and Jenny could see that they were heading for a tall opening in the side of what looked like a mountain but was actually a valley.

‘We will enter the valley here at its head,’ called Sir Lucas. ‘Then we must dismount and go on foot because the horses will not tolerate the darkness. And right now the darkness is darker than usual.’

‘What about the Queen’s Carriage?’ called Jenny.

‘The Dragonflies do not mind the dark, buth they will only fly very slowly.’

Sir Lucas and the Raggedy Knights slowed their horses then jumped down and asked them to wait patiently until they returned. They helped Jenny and Molly down and then led the horses away from the Valley opening.

Molly hurried over to Jenny and told her how much she had enjoyed riding and thank you for suggesting it. Jenny smiled but then she frowned: ‘Molly, are the giant spiders one of the Terrors?’

‘They’re not really giant spiders,’ laughed Molly. ‘They only look like giant spiders if you’re as small as the Fairies. They’re no bigger than the spiders that live under the flowerpots in your dad’s shed.’

‘Oh,’ said Jenny, feeling slightly relieved. ‘But what Terrors are there?’

‘Well, that depends upon you and me and everyone else. Most Terrors are what you make up in your mind. What you imagine.’

Jenny thought about that for a moment, and then she said: ‘Molly, you said MOST Terrors.’

Well,’ said Molly, ‘there are just one or two