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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22. Edgar tells the Truth

They left the Cathedral under a damp fog which clung to their clothes making them cold and heavy. None of them had worked out where they were going to next on Hadwyn’s trail so they decided to take a break inside a small coffee shop. They picked a table in the window and watched people walking past, their heads bowed down against the weather. Although they felt confident that they had unravelled some of the riddle, it didn’t seem to point them in any clear direction. Edgar seemed to be deep in thought; he hadn’t said much since they had discovered the panel inside the Cathedral.

‘Why did Hadwyn leave a riddle anyway?’, asked Max.

‘To protect the Silver Bough of course,’ replied Edgar. ‘He couldn’t just leave it somewhere obvious, otherwise anyone could find it and if they knew its true power they could open up many gateways between the Worlds of Men and Faeries without any sort of protection. This world has lost all sense of magic and would be powerless to stop the Faerie Queen from causing chaos and ruling both worlds.’

Edgar placed his notebook on the table and they all re-read the second part of the riddle:

 

Below the bridge, a piper alone,

The bard’s sweet song turns water to stone.

From one true touch the stone will part,

And only be used by the brave at heart.

 

‘What I don’t understand is this Pan’s Pipes clue,’ said Max whose ankle seemed to be feeling a lot better. ‘Are we looking for a musical pipe or the Silver Bough?’

‘We found Stevenson’s panel which mentioned the poem that he had also written, so maybe we need to be looking for that book next,’ Scarlet said trying to keep their conversation positive.

‘So why don’t we get a copy of Pan’s Pipes then and see what it says?’

‘It’s not that straight forward. Pan’s Pipes is a poem and they are often published within a collection of other poems and I don’t know what that book is called.’

‘We could always find a book shop and ask. They may know which book it is included in,’ interrupted Joe.

There was a small gap in the conversation whilst they all took a sip of their coffee.

‘Do you think we should get home and warn everyone about the Moon Stealers?’, said Max. ‘If the creature we met in the tunnel under the castle has some brothers and sisters in Parsley Bottom, our families could be in danger.’

Edgar looked up from his cup, ‘we are all in danger from them.' He seemed to look uncomfortable. 'I haven’t been totally honest with you all.’ He paused while the children stared at him waiting for him to continue.

‘We do need the Silver Bough to enter the unseen world to find Peter. But we also need it for another reason. Back in my time, a mighty and powerful Astronomer called Putarin made a prophecy about the future. King Arthur trusted Putarin as he had demonstrated his skills on many occasions in advising Arthur on when the crops needed gathering before devastating floods or dry seasons ruined them. There was another time when a Knight from a neighbouring Kingdom called Sir Maughter de’Glise approached Camelot with a message from his King asking for friendship in exchange for the hand of one of the Princesses of the court. Arthur always wanted to bring peace to England so he took Sir Glise’s offer and a lavish wedding was arranged. The whole of Camelot prepared for the wedding, gloriously coloured banners hung from all of the buildings, food was ordered from every corner of the Kingdom and dancers and singers where recruited to perform at the ceremony. However, the night before the wedding Putarin had studied the stars to see if the marriage was to be a successful one, but instead saw something much more important. He went to Arthur immediately and told him that King Seanal intended to poison Arthur and his Knights so that they could take over Camelot. On the day of the wedding King Seanal arrived at Camelot to a fanfare of trumpets accompanied by twelve of his bravest and most splendid Knights riding on horseback. He also brought with him a gift for Arthur of six wooden crates filled with many rare bottles of wines from his travels overseas. Arthur and his Knights kept a wary eye on their guests while his servants swapped the wine for bottles of Camelot’s own. After the ceremony and in the Great Hall the feasting and celebrations began. Unknown to them King Seanal and his Knights were served the wine that they had brought with them whilst Arthur was not. The poison in the wine only took a few minutes to work and Camelot was spared an invasion. King Seanal’s army waited around the outside of Camelot’s walls for the signal to attack from their King that never came. Putarin had saved Arthur’s life and Camelot’s future. His words and prophecies were forever trusted and treated as law.’

The children had been quiet listening to Edgar’s story.

‘But what’s that got to do with the Silver Bough?’, asked Joe.

‘The prophecy that Putarin made concerns the future of England and the joining of the Realms of Men and the Faerie World. Although Arthur found it hard to believe that these two worlds could ever come together again, the Prophecy was kept safely recorded due to the high regard Arthur held him in. The prophecy said that the two worlds may only come back together when England was in its greatest need. I believe that that time is now and using the Silver Bough is the only way to bring the worlds together.’

‘But why is England in such great need?’, asked Scarlet.

‘The slime inside the church at Parsley Bottom could be similar to what we saw coming from that creature in the tunnel beneath the castle. If that’s the case, then we know there are more creatures out there and they could pose a huge threat not only to England, but to the whole planet. Two months ago there was a small meteor storm in the sky above Parsley Bottom. It doesn’t take a scientist to be able to link the two things. It’s possible that the meteorites have something to do with these strange creatures appearing across the country.’

‘I remember hearing about that on the radio,’ said Scarlet.

‘So you think we have aliens running around Parsley Bottom?’, said Max. The more he thought about the Moon Stealer that had grabbed him last night, the more he realised that it could be true.

‘I’m afraid so, Max. You see, it’s not only important that we find the Silver Bough so that we can rescue Peter, whose life is just as important as yours, but we also need it to save the Earth from a darkness that is probably already infecting England.’

‘What exactly is the Silver Bough?’, Scarlet asked Edgar.

‘The Silver Bough is a magical item that was created many years ago by a Druid called Arawyn Claremont. He cut a branch from an Elm tree that stood in his garden and carved it into a curved flute shape with several slits for wind to be blown through and a series of finger holes to change the note. Arawyn performed strong magic upon it that he had learnt from the Ancients. To most people the bough would look like nothing more than a plain and dull wooden flute, but when held by the right hands it would turn to silver and play the most magical music. The music would enchant and possess certain animals as well as provide Arawyn his entrance into the Faerie World.’

‘So are we looking for a wooden flute or a silver one?’, Scarlet asked.

‘It’s not likely to be silver. It only changes to silver when it is held by the right person. It chooses its master, usually someone with some inherent magic. It may not even be made of wood. If you think back to Hadwyn’s riddle, there is mention of stone in two of the lines; “The bard’s sweet song turns water to stone, from one true touch the stone will part.” I think it may be in the form of stone, to keep it hidden and protected.’

Edgar looked down at the brown swirls of coffee that had mixed with the white creamy top in his cup as if trying to read into the future. ‘I’m not going to lie to you, the journey ahead will be dangerous,’ he began, ‘but I believe that this is the right path for me to take, if only to help Peter. I will continue on that path with or without you all. With your help I know we can find the Silver Bough, but after that I will ask nothing more from you. I will take you back to Parsley Bottom and you can finish your spring break and return to school as normal, if that is what you wish. I will continue through into the Faerie World to find Peter, alone if necessary.’

There was an uncomfortable silence.

‘Are you kidding?’, said Joe. ‘There’s no way I’m going to sit at home waiting to go back to school when I could help you find Peter. And if the Moon Stealers are as big a threat as you think, I want to do my bit to stop them. Certainly beats fraction and spelling homework.’

'Thank you, Joe,’ said Edgar as he looked up over his coffee cup towards Joe with a mixture of sadness and pride in his eyes, ‘I know that you have an important part to play in this journey too.'

'Well, you don’t think I'm going to miss out on all of the fun do you?', said Scarlet with a smile.

The three of them turned to Max waiting for him to say something.

‘I’m scared,’ he said simply, ‘but I think you need me.' He smiled at Edgar.

After they finished their coffees, they walked along the shop fronts looking for a bookshop to continue their quest to decipher Hadwyn’s riddle and find a copy of Pan’s Pipes.

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