Emma could see what Eirwen had meant by ‘ridiculous hair’ the next day. When they woke up the next day, they all unbraided their plaits before breakfast and it looked positively wild. It looked like those old pictures from the seventies when people used to try and make their hair stick out and be frizzy.
Even Emma’s hair which was usually dead straight was in hundreds zigzag like curls.
According to Evae, they weren’t supposed to brush out their hair until that night because their hair was supposed to look like that.
‘It looks weird,’ grumbled Eirwen pulling at a lock of her hair which was significantly shorter than usual because of all the curls.
‘You look like a warrior,’ said Owyn.
‘And it’ll bring good luck,’ agreed Awyss.
‘I think you look beautiful as always my dearest Eirwen,’ said Powyn pushing a lock of hair behind Eirwen’s ear.
‘Push off,’ said Eirwen laughing despite herself.
They packed everything away and rolled up their mattresses. They even emptied the store cupboard and it looked as if no one had ever lived there let alone an odd dozen wizards and sorceresses.
They led the horses out of the passage to the mountain. Emma was surprised to see when they left the passage that it was not early morning, but night. If it hadn’t been for the bright moon in the sky it would have been pitch black.
‘Why are we leaving in the middle of the night?’ asked Emma who was whispering for some reason.
‘We don’t want Gryffyn knowing we’re coming,’ smirked Powyn, ‘we’re travelling by cover of darkness.’
‘We need to pull up our hoods,’ said Owyn, ‘paticaularly you three,’ he added looking meaningfully at Ashan, Oshan and Awyss.
‘Why do we need hoods?’ asked Emma as Hazel passed her a spare cloak.
‘Well for a start some of us are quite well known in the first place,’ smirked Eirwen, ‘the Black Knights have orders to kill Elthered and me on sight.’
‘I always wear a hood anyway,’ said Evae.
‘And the most wanted of the magic wielders are the Dragon Lords,’ said Erik.
‘The hairs a bit of a giveaway,’ laughed Ashan pulling at a lock of his flame-red hair.
‘Only Dragon Lords have such a distinctive shade of red hair,’ laughed Oshan.
‘Therefore half of us have to wear cloaks or get killed on sight,’ said Hazel.
‘It looks really weird in only half of the party are wearing hoods, therefore we all do.’
Emma nodded and mounted Acorn as they reached the bottom of the mountain.
Emma rode towards the middle of the group talking to Owyn and Awyss. Ashan and Oshan were joking around with Tim, Erik and Stefan at the front.
Stefan only ever talked occasionally but when he did say something it was always worth listening to.
‘How long is it to Gryffyn’s castle?’ asked Emma.
‘My castle you mean!’ called Eirwen from the back of the group.
‘If we travel by night through the forest rather than the main road,’ said Owyn, ‘about a week.’
‘If we take the main road we’ll be seen more easily by the Black Knights,’ said Hunith.
Ashan and Oshan said some well-chosen words under their breaths which made Tim chortle and Hazel shout ‘Boys!’
‘Why don’t we just take the main road,’ said Powyn, ‘it’ll be two days faster.’
‘I agree with you Powyn,’ nodded Tim, ‘we can just kill any Black Knights we meet along the way.’
‘Less to deal with later,’ agreed Ashan and Oshan.
‘I thought we were trying for the element of surprise,’ muttered Stefan.
‘Yeah it’s going to be really easy to get the element of surprise if Gryffyn’s knights stop coming back from patrol!’ said Awyss shaking her head at her brothers.
‘He’ll know we’re coming, and they’ll be ready for us.’
‘Awyss and Stefan are right,’ said Hunith.
‘Gryffyn has ten times as many men, if he knows we’re coming we won’t stand a chance.’
Ashan and Oshan turned around on their horses to stick their tongues out at her.
‘For Jupiter’s sake,’ said Evae raising her eyebrows, ‘sometimes you two act as if you’re Awyss’ younger siblings, not the other way around.’
Awyss and Emma couldn’t help but giggle, and soon the whole group were laughing as they rode along the road.
They rode all night talking merrily, the beginning of a journey or a quest like this is always exciting. All the while though whilst they were talking, they were listening out for other travellers along the road.
If they ever heard anyone they would all hide deep in the trees ready to attack in case any of the Black Knights realised they were there.
They stopped riding at just before dawn when the sun was beginning to rise. They stopped at a clearing and Erik and Stefan took the first watch.
Emma’s hair was combed through and plaited into the tiny plaits again.
She curled up under her cloak using it as a blanket and snuggled up next to Awyss. It felt a bit strange going to sleep at the beginning of the day as everything else was waking up, but Emma was so tired from a night of riding that she dropped off almost instantly.