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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13. Proof of Identity

An hour later Joe met Max and Scarlet at the tree top platform in the woodland overlooking the river that the three of them had visited the day before. He had told them both of how the symbol took him to the Faerie Ring and about the conversation he had had with Sir Edgar.

‘It seems a bit far fetched to me,’ said Max.

‘What’s happening now?’, Joe asked Scarlet who had the binoculars trained on the graveyard as well as the church. When they arrived, there was already a police car parked on the verge outside the church so they had decided to continue straight to the hideout in the woods.

‘Any sign of Sir Edgar yet?’

‘No. Hang on. I think I've got him. He’s hidden in the undergrowth on the opposite side of the road. The brown suit he wears camouflages him well.’

‘Let me see,’ Joe took the binoculars from Scarlet, ‘yes that’s him.’

‘If he’s got nothing to hide, why doesn’t he just go up to the police and tell them what he told you?’, said Max.

‘If we are having trouble believing him, I don’t think anyone else will either,’ replied Joe. ‘Wait, he’s walking away now towards town.’

A policeman was unrolling a tape between two posts as a sign to prevent anyone from entering the graveyard. He didn’t seem to take any notice of the old man as he walked past leaning on his stick.

Nothing else happened until two figures emerged from the church. ‘That looks like your dad,’ Max said to Joe, ‘who’s that woman he’s talking to?’

Joe refocused the binoculars towards the entrance of the church where his father and a woman were talking. It looked like she was crying.

‘It must be Peter’s mum. There are also some other policemen taking samples of the slime from the blanket and it looks like Mrs Merchant is not very happy about all these things happening in the church.

‘Good day to you all,’ came the polite voice of Sir Edgar as he appeared in the hole beside the tree trunk.

Both Scarlet and Max gave a little squeak in surprise as they stared at the old man as he nimbly lifted himself through the hole and sat on the platform with the children. They all shuffled away from him slightly, still unsure whether they trusted him yet, but there wasn’t anywhere to go, apart from over the edge of the platform.

‘I thought you had called the police when I saw them in the graveyard,’ he said to Joe, ‘but then I spotted the light reflecting off the lens of your binoculars from up here. I presume our friend has updated the two of you on what we talked about earlier.’

Scarlet and Max both nodded together at the same time.

‘Good, well you wanted proof and I have it for you. All I can do is put the facts before you and let you make up your own minds,' continued Edgar as he removed a metal tube from his jacket. He unscrewed the top from the tube and placed a roll of coarse yellow cloth in front of them, gently untying the string around it and carefully opening it out. Inside the cloth were several pieces of yellow brown paper, the edges worn and soft with age and slightly torn in places. All three of the children stared down at the top paper. There was an ornate border of entwined coloured patterns around a block of writing that none of them could understand. At the top of the paper was a large unrecognisable letter similar to the writing that Joe had already seen inscribed on the stones at The Faerie Ring. This letter gleamed with gold still polished and shiny, despite the dullness of the paper it was drawn on. At the bottom of the page a thick red waxy circle was indented with a shield containing three crowns within.

'This is the Order to Service from King Arthur to myself,' Edgar traced some of the letters with his finger as he talked, 'asking for my trust and loyalty to protect England with my life. At the bottom here,' this time he pointed at the red wax, 'is where Arthur Pendragon's ring was impressed into the wax.'

They all peered over the sheet of paper, not daring to touch it in case it should disintegrate. Edgar carefully lifted it like it was a newborn baby, to rest safely by his side. The second piece of paper looked like it had a drawing of a complex tree with branches and leaves around the outside, but within its branches were small names joined together by fine lines.

'This is the Shipley family tree,’ explained Edgar. ‘The surnames have changed over the years as different generations of children married into other families, but here you can see your friend Peter Crisp, his parents and grandparents and so on. Those with a flower next to their names are those that have the gift of The Sight. All of the family have died out over the years except on Peter’s side and he is the last. My fellow Knights and I have watched over every one of them during their lifetime.’

Edgar turned the piece of paper around so that his audience could all see clearly what he was talking about before continuing. ‘We all had a part of the family to look after, but my brother Sir Hadwyn, Earl of Rosslyn, the bravest and purest of the four, also had charge of the Silver Bough.'

‘These papers all look impressive but anyone could have made these or bought them from somewhere, and we can’t even read what that says,’ said Max bravely pointing to the paper with the wax seal on, ‘so we still don’t know if you’re telling us the truth and we still don’t know where Peter is.’

‘This is true,’ replied Edgar patiently, ‘but maybe these will help convince you of my age and then, maybe you will believe the rest of what I say to be true.’

Sir Edgar now carefully lifted the family tree so that it was resting on top of the Order to Service to reveal some smaller pieces of paper. Edgar picked up the first piece and passed it to Joe who was sitting to his right.

‘This is a copy of a page taken from an ancient book called Historia Brittonum which was written over one thousand years ago. It means “The History of the Britons” and in Chapter 56 the twelve battles of King Arthur are documented along with the names of the Knights of the Round Table as well as myself, Edgar Gorlois, Duke of Tintagel.’ Although the writing appeared slightly different to normal English, Joe could make out the letters that made up Edgar’s name amongst the rest of the text.

‘Are there any pictures of you with Arthur?’, asked Scarlet, trying to think of a way to convince both herself and Joe.

‘No,’ replied Edgar shaking his head. ‘Any illustrations showing King Arthur were done at a later date after he was dead and were based on the imagination of the illustrator and not fact. But, you may find this helps you believe what I say.’ Edgar passed an old photograph to Max, ‘this is an old photograph of all the staff at the Rolls Royce factory in Derby in 1908. I worked there until 1914 and if you look on the back row you can see me. Even if you don’t believe that I was alive in King Arthur’s time, you must agree that if that was me in 1908, I would certainly be dead by now.’

Max looked carefully at the picture. It was a brown photograph with one or two black spots on it and showed a group of men; the front row, who were obviously more senior, sat on chairs in their best suits with top hats, whilst the rest of the workers stood behind wearing identical brown suits, shirts and ties. At the back on the right hand side of the picture was a man with a short grey beard which Max had to admit looked a lot like Sir Edgar. He stood tall and stiff, looking directly at the camera and didn’t appear to be any different to the man that was sat in front of them.

‘It really does look like you!’, said Scarlet who had been looking over Max’s shoulder. Max remained silent.

Edgar passed another photograph to Scarlet. ‘This is me in the Home Guard in 1942 during the second World War. I was too old to join the regular army so volunteered for the Home Guard ready to defend Britain in case of invasion by Germany.’

Scarlet examined the photograph closely scanning the three rows of soldiers in their uniforms until she came across the now familiar face. Standing once again at the back was Edgar but this time he was clean shaven but there was still the sharp intense look in his eyes as he stared out of the black and white photograph from beneath his cloth cap.

‘You must admit it, Max, there’s no way he could have been in those photographs on those dates unless he was actually there. Edgar could be who he says he is’ said Joe to his friend.

‘Maybe,’ was all Max would say.

‘If he’s telling the truth about his age, he has no reason to lie to us about Faeries and the unseen world. If my believing Edgar can do something to help find Peter, then I’m willing to take a chance,’ said Joe defiantly.

‘I want to help too,’ said Scarlet.

There was silence from Max. They all looked at him, his head down not wishing to look any of them in the eye. ‘Alright,’ he grudgingly said. ‘I’ll do it,’ he agreed, still unconvinced, ‘but how do you think we can find him, especially if he really has gone into another world?’

‘Edgar said that the only way to get into the unseen world is by having The Sight, the Silver Bough or an invitation, so the only real way for us to gain access is to find the Silver Bough and go through the portal to bring Peter back.’

‘Can’t we get someone else to do it, like the army or something?’, said Max trying to think of excuses.

‘They won’t believe us,’ Joe said, ‘and we can probably get in without being noticed, whereas an army wouldn’t be able to do that.’

Sir Edgar coughed politely trying to get the attention of Max and Joe. ‘You’re forgetting one important thing,’ he said. ‘We don’t have the Silver Bough.’

‘No, but your brother did,’ replied Joe excitedly. ‘You said that his remains are in a tomb beneath Edinburgh Castle. If he was sworn to protect the Silver Bough, he would have either taken it to the grave with him or left some sort of instructions for its safe keeping. Think about what most people would do with something valuable if you were to die; you would leave a will or instructions for someone you trusted to keep it safe.’

‘That’s true,’ said Scarlet as they all nodded.

‘When did the other White Knights die?’, Joe asked Edgar.

Edgar thought hard about Joe’s question, trying to recall from the numerous volume of events stored inside his head the exact information. ‘Sir Cenweard was the first to die in London back in 1665 from the Black Death and Sir Aldwyn was killed in 1832 by the sword of a highwayman in Surrey after he tried to defend a lady from being robbed. Sir Hadwyn died from Pneumonia during last year’s cold Scottish winter.’

‘So if Sir Hadwyn also knew about the deaths of the other knights, he would likely hide the thing he’s been protecting all of his life. And if he knew that you Sir Edgar were the last surviving White Knight, he may have left you instructions where to find the Silver Bough and continue what he started. We need to go to Edinburgh Castle.’

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