Chapter 17: The Ebony Palace

 

All Jenny felt was a tickle on her cheeks, and then suddenly she was standing in the light and Molly was beside her. In fact, the light Jenny was standing in was so bright after all the darkness that she had to shade her eyes with both hands. And, through her fingers she could just see Sir Henry and Sir Thomas helping the Queen and Grandma Lily step down for the Carriage. The Queen’s Fairies were peering out through the window, but this time the Queen was leaving them to it. Molly pointed to the wall of water that Jenny had just stepped through.

‘Jenny, let’s watch the Knights step through, it’s so exciting,’ said Molly.

Jenny watched. And sure enough, one by one, the Raggedy Knights stepped out of the water, until finally Sir Lucas strode through. The Knights immediately walked off to investigate, their hands firmly on their swords. But Jenny couldn’t take her eyes away from the Falls. Strangely, on this side the waterfall was not Black. It was Silver-Grey, and it looked quite beautiful.

‘Molly, where does the water go?’ said Jenny. ‘There can’t just be a waterfall. Why is there no water collecting at the bottom?’

‘Because, on this side, the water is falling back upwards. Look …’

Molly picked up a leaf and threw it into the Silver-Grey water, and Jenny watched with amazement as the leaf floated upwards.

‘It goes back to where it came from,’ said Molly.

Jenny was about to complain that that was not possible, even in Raggedy Lyme, but suddenly Grandma Lily was standing beside them.

‘Well, Jenny dear,’ said Grandma Lily, ‘we have arrived at the Ebony Palace, and we would not have managed it without the help you and Princess Berry have given us. Well done both of you! The Queen is very grateful.’

Jenny smiled and proudly looked around her. Then she frowned. Her eyes were now quite used to the light, but as much as she looked she could see nothing other than a vast space, like an empty car park. She placed her hands on her hips: ‘But, there’s nothing here, Grandma! Where is the Ebony Palace?’

Molly smiled at Jenny’s puzzled expression: ‘It’s all around you, Jenny. You just don’t believe you can see it.’

‘But, Molly, I really can’t see it!’

‘That’s because The Knave Prince has placed a not-believing spell on it,’ explained Grandma Lily. ‘So that anyone who looks at it will believe it’s not there.’

‘Does that mean I’ll never be able to see it?’ said Jenny in dismay.

‘No, dear,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Prince Sorrel is hopeless at spells. You can easily defeat them. All you have to do is look at the Palace and believe it’s there.’

‘Like you believed you could fly,’ said Molly.

‘But, where is the Palace?’ complained Jenny. ‘I can’t look at it if I don’t know where it is!’

‘It’s as Molly said,’ smiled Grandma Lily. ‘Just look around you and believe.’

So Jenny looked straight ahead and then to the side and then she told herself that the Ebony Palace was there. And then she told herself again. And then, when she was about to tell Grandma Lily that it wasn’t working, she saw something out of the corner of her eye. And then, all at once, there were walls and towers and Golden doors and windows appearing all around her. And in no time at all, she was standing in the courtyard of a magnificent Palace. A Palace that seemed to be made of shiny Black glass, with doors and windows made of Yellow Gold. It was magnificent!

‘Is the Knave prince inside?’ asked Jenny.

‘We believe so,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘It seems that everyone is inside.’

Jenny looked around her. There was definitely no-one to be seen. The Raggedy Knights were returning from their inspection and shaking their heads. The Queen was still standing beside her Carriage and she was looking impatient, although now her Fairies had decided to venture out of the Royal Carriage, and they were fluttering around her fanning her with their wings. Then Jenny noticed the Raggedy Knights had formed themselves into a line, and, following behind Sir Lucas, they were marching towards the Palace door.

‘What are they going to do?’ said Jenny.

Grandma Lily smiled: ‘I do believe that are going to demand to be let in.’

And sure enough, the Knights marched straight up to the great Golden doors and Sir Lucas stepped forward and banged loudly with his fist. And this is what he shouted: ‘Prince Sorrel, your Highness, we know that you are inside. The Queen of Raggedy Lyme is here and she demands that you open these doors. If you not do so, we will regard this as an act of war.’

‘War?’ gasped Jenny. Jenny didn’t want to be in a war. She’d seen them on the television and they were terrible. Why was Prince Sorrel doing all this?

Sir Lucas was banging again but before he could do any more shouting, the window nearest to the doors opened and a hand waving a White flag popped out. Sir Lucas stepped back and looked at the flag: ‘Who is this?’ he called.

‘I am Frederick, the Head Butler,’ said a trembly voice.  ‘I will let you in if you promise not to be angry with us.’

Sir Lucas turned to the Queen and shrugged his shoulders. The Queen beckoned Grandma Lily, Jenny and Molly to join her, then she indicated for Sir Lucas to carry on. So he walked towards the waving flag and shouted through the window: ‘The Queen is already angry. But I will protect you if you hurry and open this door.’

Straightaway the flag was withdrawn and after a large amount of crashing and banging, the large Golden doors began to open. The Raggedy Knights stood back and waited as the doors revealed three butlers, four cooks and several maids, all looking very worried and clasping their hands together for forgiveness.

Queen Peony shooed away her Fairies and stepped forward and the Knights parted to let her through. She looked at the Prince’s servants and shook her head: ‘What on Earth has happened here? Where is the Knave Prince Sorrel?’

One of the Butlers took a step forward: ‘Your Majesty, I am Frederick. His Highness, the Knave Prince, has locked himself in his study in the Blackest Tower. We fear he has gone mad. He has locked many of his people in the deepest dungeons, and he has cast a spell of forgetfulness over his Boy Fairies.’

‘Yes,’ interrupted the Queen, ‘we have already discovered that! Tell me, Frederick, have you seen anything of the King’s Men. Six of them journeyed into the Valley of Terrors and they have not been seen since.’

‘Majesty, I am afraid they have also been tricked into the dungeons. The Knave Prince told them that they would find what they were searching for in there. And when they went inside he locked them in. We have given them fine food and ale to bring them cheer but we cannot set them free because Prince Sorrel has the key.’

‘Is it a non-magical lock?’ asked Queen Peony.

‘Yes, your Majesty.’

The Queen turned to Sir Lucas: ‘I have two of my best Lock Fairies with me. Have four of my Knights accompany them to the dungeon and see if they can release the King’s Men and all the other prisoners that have done nothing wrong. And lock our prisoners up in place of them. The rest of us will be taken to the Blackest Tower. And, Frederick, tell the cooks to prepare cake and hot chocolate.’