The Moon Stealers and the Quest for the Silver Bough

The Yorkshire town of Parsley Bottom has a problem…

Peter Crisp, a boy with an unusual gift of being able to see things that others cannot, goes missing after spending the night in a graveyard. Two of Peter's school friends, join forces with a Knight of King Arthur to attempt to find him but come across some mysterious engravings which propel them on an adventure beyond their imagination.

Meanwhile MI6 operative Steven Knight is sent from London to investigate a meteor landing site, but Steven is advised by his own boss not to trust the puppeteers that hold the strings to his investigation. Within the core of the meteor is an alien bacteria that evolves at an alarming rate that not only puts Steven's life at risk, but the entire human race.

By unravelling ancient codes and riddles the children journey within the bowels of Edinburgh Castle as they attempt to find the key to Peter’s disappearance. The children not only need to save Peter, they need to save the world while they’re at

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29. Bishops Green Station

Joe woke up suddenly. He was still tightly gripping the cloth that covered the Silver Bough. He found it hard to hold onto as he kept feeling the cloth sliding against the shiny surface of the pipe; it was almost like it wanted to get out from its cover. It took him a few moments to remember where it was that he had fallen asleep, but as his brain started to orientate itself, he realised that although he was inside a train carriage, the train was no longer moving. He looked over to the other children. They were all asleep but Edgar was nowhere to be seen. Looking out of the nearest window, all Joe could see was his own reflection, but on the other side of the carriage a couple of lights lit up a small station house. There were a few people walking along the platform talking to others and further up the platform, underneath a hanging clock, he could see Edgar talking to the station master.

The engine of the train appeared to be completely turned off, no hum vibrated through the wheels of the carriage and the overhead lights appeared to be dim and probably running off a back-up battery. Joe waited patiently enjoying the peace and quiet.

‘Looks like we might be stuck here for a while,’ whispered Edgar to Joe as he walked down the centre of the carriage towards him, ‘there’s some sort of communication problem.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well the driver can’t get any response from Harrogate Station. We can’t approach the station if they don’t know we’re coming, there could be chaos with the other trains or maybe an accident, so we have to sit here and wait whilst they keep trying.’

‘How long have we got to wait?’, said the sleepy voice of Scarlet who had opened her eyes at the sound of Edgar’s voice.

‘I don’t know yet.’

Joe and Scarlet closed their eyes again and drifted into a light sleep while Edgar sat patiently waiting for something to happen. Ever since they had found the Silver Bough, Edgar had felt a strange feeling growing. He was nervous about the journey ahead, not the one on the train, but going through into the unseen world to find Peter and he hadn’t got any idea where to start looking. The children had put their faith in him during the search for the Silver Bough, but would they have so much confidence in him once they had gone into the other world?

Edgar was stirred from his thoughts by a series of thumps and bangs from a carriage further down the train which he took for nothing more than carriage doors slamming shut as passengers got back on the train. He looked out of the window towards the platform. In the reflection of the window a black shadow seemed to pass on the opposite side of the train as rapid as the blinking of an eye. Everyone that had been standing on the platform before had now disappeared; the platform was deserted. Edgar assumed that the train was getting prepared for departure once again so settled into his seat expecting to hear the ignition and hum of the engine as it fired into life ready to take them on the last leg of their journey. Instead he heard the screams of panic and more thumps and bangs from further down the train. Edgar stood and turned to look straight down the centre of the train through the glass of the interconnecting doors and straight into a scene of panic and destruction. Other passengers were climbing over the backs of chairs and tables, desperate to escape whatever was inside the carriage with them. Instinctively, Edgar woke the children, holding a finger to his mouth to tell them to be quiet, then grabbed the bag from the overhead rack and started pushing them in the opposite direction towards the nearest exit. He kept the children moving, preventing them from seeing what was happening further along the train. As they reached the exit, he turned around once again and looked down the train. One man was being pulled through a hole in the carriage roof by a pair of thin black arms, the claws deeply embedded in his chest. An elderly woman appeared to be held by a black creature similar to the one that the children had named a Moon Stealer from the tunnels under Edinburgh Castle. The creature had hold of the lady’s head as if it was about to give it a kiss, but when it withdrew its hands, flesh seemed to peel away from her face as if it was made of jam. She fell to the ground behind the back of a chair and was instantly dived on by at least two more Moon Stealers.

At the exit door Edgar checked that it was safe for them to get off the train. There was still no one on the platform. Edgar withdrew Ethera, his white bladed sword and carefully stepped off the train. He signalled for the children to stay where they were whilst he quietly walked backwards towards the station building. As he got further away from the carriage, he began to get a better view of the whole of the train. Further down the length of the train the roof appeared all twisted and torn and he could see the Moon Stealers flying in and out of it. Whilst keeping a careful eye on the other carriage Edgar signalled to the children to come over to him one by one. Joe stepped off first, followed by Max. At the back of the line Scarlet turned and looked further down the train and saw the creature’s lifting bodies out of the train and taking them into the night. She started to let out a high pitched squeal before Edgar leapt at her and clasped a hand tightly around her mouth. The Moon Stealers didn’t appear to have noticed. Edgar signalled to Scarlet that she must be quiet, but he could see the fear in her eyes. They both carefully and slowly stood up and joined Max and Joe who were already inside the Station building waiting room.

‘It’s the Moon Stealers,’ whispered Joe to Edgar, ‘like the one we saw in the tunnels under the castle.’

‘We cannot waste any time. We must go through the gateway into the Faerie World, find Peter and as the prophecy said, unite the worlds to save England.’

‘How far are we from Parsley Bottom?’, asked Max.

‘We’ve stopped at Bishops Green; it’s about eight miles from Parsley Bottom,’ Edgar glanced over to the carriage that the Moon Stealers were attacking. ‘It looks like we’ve got off the train without being noticed and the Moon Stealers will have plenty to keep themselves occupied with here for some time.’

‘But all those people,’ said Scarlet desperately, ‘can’t we help them?’

Edgar sadly shook his head. ‘No. The three of you and the Silver Bough are more important than an entire train full of people.’ He turned away and started to look out of the windows on the other side of the station building, scanning the dark sky for any signs of any more dark creatures.

‘Come on, let’s get out of here,’ said Edgar, satisfied that it was safe to leave the building. He slowly pulled the door inwards and slipped his head out so that he could have another look outside. At the back of the building there didn’t appear to be anyone around, but he could see that there were three cars parked facing the front steps of the building, one of which seemed to have its door open. Edgar crept out of the building keeping his head low and hid within the gap between two of the cars. The children followed in the same manner, all the time watching the sky and checking behind them.

‘Wait here,’ Edgar whispered as he inched his way to the back of the car. If he raised his head high enough, he could see the Moon Stealers still attacking the train so he kept low, holding onto the bumper of the car as he moved around towards the one at the end of the row that had the open door. As he looked around the side of the car towards the door, he could see the body of a man that lay half in and half out of the car, wedged beneath the open door. His shirt was in tatters showing deep red slashes across his chest. Patches of skin on his face and hands appeared to have dissolved and chunks of flesh had been gouged and torn from his body. Edgar crawled on the floor, hoping that the open door would shield him from the eye of the Moon Stealers. He pulled the body of the man out of the car and placed it on the floor, then found the car keys within the man’s blood soaked trouser pockets. Edgar slipped into the driver’s seat and tried to close the door as quietly as possible but couldn’t help making a slight banging noise. But that was nothing in comparison to the sound of the engine starting, which seemed loud enough to wake the dead. Quickly he put the car into reverse and backed out of the parking space until the passenger door was level with the gap that the children were still hidden in.

‘Quick! Jump in,’ he hissed at the children as he unlocked the passenger door and swung it open. By now he could see that some of the Moon Stealers had crawled along the carriage roof, drawn by the noise. A couple of them leapt over to the top of the station building and stared down at the car. Their eyes looked like several small lamps shining brightly in the night sky, searching for their prey.

The children didn’t look back or hesitate; they just ran and dived through the open door as fast as they could. Edgar pushed against the accelerator so fast that the tires squealed as they spun against the tarmac as the car lurched forward. Scarlet hadn’t had chance to close the passenger door behind her before the car moved, but as Edgar pulled the car to the left and out of the car park, the door swung shut and they drove away from the train as fast as they could.

Dark shapes began gathering in the sky above them, watching like an owl watches an unsuspecting mouse from afar.

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