The Black Knights
By the time that Emma woke up the next morning, Eirwen had already got up.
Emma could hear the clashing of swords and loud shouting outside the tent.
What if they were being attacked?
What if the Black Knights had found them?
Emma grabbed her belt with the dagger and crept out of the room and peeked out of the tent, absolutely terrified.
But they weren’t being attacked at all, Eirwen and Elthered were having sword practise in the early morning sun.
‘Ha!’ laughed Eirwen beaming, ‘missed again old man!’
‘Old man!’ protested Elthered, ‘I taught you everything you know!’
‘Yes,’ said Eirwen between slashing her sword, ‘but I’m young and you’re not.’
‘That’s the thing about the young folk,’ said Elthered as Eirwen darted around energetically.
‘They have too much confidence in themselves,’ said Elthered lowering his sword in what looked like defeat.
But instead of Elthered surrendering, he tripped Eirwen up with his sword, and Eirwen fell onto the ground dropping her sword
Eirwen looked furious for a few seconds but then burst out laughing.
‘Do you admit defeat your majesty?’ chuckled Elthered offering Eirwen his hand to help her up off the ground.
Eirwen took his hand and got back up off the forest floor still laughing.
‘You win today Sir Elthered,’ laughed Eirwen, ‘but there’s always tomorrow.’
‘I’m looking forward,’ said Elthered patting his old friend on the back.
‘Morning!’ called Emma as they came back over to the tent.
‘Morning Emma,’ said Eirwen still laughing.
‘Good morrow fair Emma of the house of Smith,’ said Elthered bowing deeply.
Emma was still a bit confused by how formal Sir Elthered always was, but she was getting used to it.
‘Good Morrow Sir Elthered,’ giggled Emma curtsying again, but not tripping over her long dress today.
They had a quick breakfast of apples, before packing up the tent and loading the three horses with all the tent and trunks.
Emma helped load the trunks, whilst Sir Elthered put his armour back on.
There were three horses, Sir Elthered’s whose horse was chestnut nut called Galahad, and Eirwen’s horse was pure white and was called Andromeda. There was also a Shetland pony which was caramel and didn’t have a name yet
‘Why do you have three horses?’ asked Emma as she stroked the chestnut ponies nuzzle, ‘there’s only two of you, and the smaller one doesn’t carry any luggage.’
‘We’ve been waiting for you a long time,’ said Eirwen leading the Shetland pony over to Emma, ‘she’s yours.’
‘But I can’t even ride a horse,’ stammered Emma.
‘Ponies are the best for learning on,’ said Eirwen, ‘they’re smaller and much friendlier.’
‘Hello there you beauty,’ whispered Emma stroking the ponies mane, ‘you’re gorgeous.’
‘You need to name her,’ said Elthered as he got on Galahad.
‘You’re a girl,’ beamed Emma, ‘you’re the colour of fallen leaves, and you’re small like me.’
‘I think I’ll call you Acorn.’
‘Well then Emma,’ said Eirwen as she helped Emma mount the horse, ‘there’s only one way to learn to ride a horse, and that’s from practice.’
‘What if I fall off?’ asked Emma as she tried to comfortable on the saddle.
‘Then you get back on again,’ laughed Eirwen.
Sir Elthered led the way, and Emma followed with Eirwen. They were riding fairly slowly, but Emma still fell off a few times. She got straight back on again though and hadn’t gotten hurt.
After a few hours of riding through the forest, they started to hear the hooves of approaching horses from the opposite direction.
‘Dive for cover!’ said Eirwen frantically.
The three riders leapt off their horses and pulled them behind the trees on the edge of the path.
They hide behind the trees and looked out as the new riders came down the path.
There was four of them, and all of them had horses as black as their armour. The Black Knights.
The four men were talking amongst themselves as they rode past.
‘Do you think we’ll find any magic wielders today?’ asked one of the knights.
Eirwen clutched onto Emma’s wrist protectively.
‘I hope so,’ said another a knight, ‘we’re not filling our quota.’
‘Hang the quota,’ said one of the knights, ‘I don’t care about that. We haven’t killed a wizard or a sorceress in a month! It’s boring!’
‘Yeah, I love a good chase,’ agreed his friend.
‘Who said they have to actually be magic wielders,’ said the knight who seemed to be in charge.
‘We could just have the fun of the chase and the kill by getting some peasants, and then tell King Gryffyn that we’d got some Wizards or Sorceresses. Who’s going to be able to tell the difference when they’re dead?’
The four knights galloped off laughing to go and terrorize some peasants.
Eirwen was seething. The second that the Black Knights were out of sight and the danger had passed, Eirwen finally blew her top.
‘I can’t believe it!’ said Eirwen pacing back and forth.
‘They don’t even care if who they’re killing is magic or not! Knights are supposed to keep peace in Aeolgoyryn, not hunt peasants and chase them down like dumb animals!’
‘I know Eirwen,’ muttered Elthered trying to calm her down.
‘They’re doing it because they’re bored!’ she continued.
‘If they’re so bored, why don’t they go defend the kingdom from our enemies, or something useful?’
‘I know Eirwen.’
‘It’s all bloody Uncle Gryffyn’s fault! I hate him!’
‘I know Eirwen,’ said Elthered more firmly.
‘And I think it’s about time we do something about it.’
‘What?’ asked Emma and Eirwen.
‘We’ve been waiting for the saviour,’ said Elthered, ‘well, Emma’s here now. It’s time to take Aeolgoyryn back!’
Eirwen’s face lit up at even the thought of getting revenge on her stupid Uncle Gryffyn.
They rode for a while longer, until they reached a place that they could set up camp again. Eirwen and Elthered put the tent up, and then they all sat in the tent to have what Elthered called a parley but looked to Emma like a meeting or even a war counsel.
They all sat cross-legged in a circle in the larger of the two rooms of the tent, a large map in the middle of the circle.
‘If we want to defeat Gryffyn,’ said Elthered, ‘the first thing we’ll need is to find the other Wizards and Sorceresses.’
‘There are others?’ asked Emma.
‘They’re in hiding,’ said Eirwen pointing on the map, ‘in these caves, they’re hidden by magic, but we know where they are.’
‘If there are still magic wielders left,’ said Emma, ‘why don’t they just take on King Gryffyn?’
‘There aren’t many left,’ said Elthered, ‘they’re dying out. There used to be at least a hundred, there are only about a dozen left now. The Black Knights have been killing them off.’
‘So thirteen magic wielders,’ said Emma slowly, ‘an old knight, and a teenage half-elf are meant to defeat Gryffyn and his whole army?’
‘How are we going to defeat all that?’ asked Emma.
‘By working together,’ said Elthered, ‘it’s your job to bring together all the Wizards and Sorceresses and if we all work as a team, according to the prophecy, we can defeat Gryffyn and Eirwen will get Aeolgoyryn back.’
‘But what if the prophecy’s not real?’ asked Eirwen.
‘That’s a risk we’re going to have to take,’ said Elthered.
Emma was terrified, they were going to be taking on an army of knights, an evil king and thre dragons, all because the prophecy said that good would win. Whichever way this went whether they won or lost, it all hung on Emma’s shoulders.
‘Emma!’ called Sam softly.
Emma lifted her head up suddenly as the tent started to disappear.
‘Emma!’ called Sam much more loudly.
Emma was now sat on her bed rather than in the tent. The adventure for today was over.