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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10. The Faerie Ring

Unfortunately for Joe, when he woke the following morning, his dad had already left for work again. As soon as he had eaten his breakfast, he wheeled his bike out of the hall, through the front door then cycled along the road in the direction of the church, but this time continued past it. Here the road became a lot narrower and Joe had to ride his bike more carefully to avoid falling into the pot-holes that were scattered across the road. It wound its way around farmland edged with high stone walls on both sides. The grey square stones made the walls look fragile as if they could fall down with one small push, especially those that climbed the hill out of town. At the top of the hill he got off his bike and stood for a minute to catch his breath whilst looking out over the patchwork of fields that continued far into the distance away from Parsley Bottom.

Whilst he was trying to get to sleep last night, he thought about the symbol he had seen next to the statue and thought that it could indicate the ancient stone circle that stood on the hill overlooking Parsley Bottom. He had decided to go and have a look, but he didn’t really know what he was looking for. Any indication that Peter had been there would give Joe more information to pass to his dad.

Joe stopped by the side of a public footpath sign which pointed away from the road and across a field of purple heather. He pushed open a pedestrian field gate and free wheeled his bike through. The strong spring on the post pulled the gate back as soon as Joe let go and it hit the opposite post with a dull thud.

With the bike at his side he walked along the well worn path up the gentle slope towards the stone circle. There was no one else in sight and all Joe could hear was the odd call of a bird carried on the gentle breeze blowing up the hill.

After a while, the heather gave way to a small clearing. The ground here was yellow caused by the dryness of the shallow covering of grass on top of the underlying sandstone. What made this place different to most were the twelve large upright stones that were standing equally spaced and arranged in a circle around two central stones.

This was what Joe thought could have been the shape scratched in the church wall; The Faerie Ring, Parsley Bottom’s smaller version of Stonehenge. But why would Peter draw this? Did he leave the church and come here? If so he didn’t appear to be here anymore.

Joe put his bike on the ground and walked up to the first of the stones, all of which were about twice the height of him. The surface of the stones was made up of a mixture of greys and browns and had been worn smooth over the years by the constant wind and rain that blew across the Yorkshire countryside. Tufts of moss poked out from the cracks in the stone where rain-water had collected. The stones seemed to stick out of the ground at awkward angles and all of them appeared to have something carved on their outer pointing face.

Joe stepped up to the stone nearest the footpath and looked at the unusual writing that was scratched on the surface.

 It didn’t mean anything to him so he walked across the centre of the circle towards another stone on the other side. This one looked a lot redder in colour and had a narrower base compared to the width at the top. Again he looked up at the writing.

 This was the first time that Joe had actually been up close to the stones, although he had often seen them from a distance or heard about them at school, but now that he was standing amongst them he felt a strange feeling come over him almost like an electrical energy that caused static to crackle in the air.

‘Interesting place this,’ said the voice of an old man who had also walked up to the circle. Joe hadn’t noticed him at first and was quite surprised to hear another human voice in the empty air. But he was even more surprised when he turned to look and saw that it was the white-bearded man that had followed them into the church.

The old man was standing at the entrance to the circle near to where Joe had left his bike. He leant on an old twisted walking stick and was dressed in the same brown suit as the previous day. He stayed where he was and didn’t approach any closer towards Joe who now moved towards the two central stones, cautiously keeping an eye on the man whilst still looking for any evidence of Peter.

‘Do you know the story behind this place?’, asked the old man who had now sat wearily on the top of a smooth lower stone, almost like he was settling himself down for a long conversation.

Joe tried to remember what he had heard at school, although it probably wouldn’t be as much as Max would know if he had been there.

‘Isn’t it to do with the moon or something?’, replied Joe.

‘That’s what your teachers will say about most stone circles, but this has a different story and one you might find interesting,’ he paused before adding, ‘especially if you’ve lost something.’

Joe looked quickly over to the old man, trying to think what he could mean by his last comment. Did he know anything about Peter? How could he know that Joe had come up here looking for Peter? The old man’s striking blue eyes seemed to focus sharply on Joe like a hawk on a rabbit.

‘Look at the inscriptions on those two stones you’re standing next to. They read Belphoebe and Gawain.’

Joe cautiously looked up at the inscriptions:

‘They are written in Anglo Saxon Runic symbols. Sir Gawain was the nephew of King Arthur and one of the famous Knights of the Round Table, whilst Belphoebe was a beautiful Faerie princess from the underworld,’ continued the old man. ‘We are standing on what remains of Lud’s Chapel where the marriage of Gawain and Belphoebe was taking place. Standing in front of them is Bishop Baldwin and surrounding the happy couple are eleven of Gawain’s friends and fellow knights: Lionel, Dodinal, Gaheris, Bedivere, Erec, Bors, Ywain, Lamorak, Balin, Lucan and finally Morholt.' He passed his hand round the circle like he was introducing old friends at a dinner party; there was a certain amount of kindness in his voice as he fondly retold the Knight’s names.

‘But they’re just stones,’ said Joe disbelieving what the old man had said. He had no way of knowing if what the old man had said about the inscriptions was correct or not.

‘It’s true, they are stones but they hadn’t always been that way. The marriage between a Faerie and a human was strictly forbidden so the Faerie Queen cursed them and their guests by turning them to stone. But in doing so what she actually did was to create a magical place where the human world and the unseen Faerie world are constantly joined, protected by these eleven brave knights as well as Bishop Baldwin, as God's representative on Earth.’

'But I thought Faeries are small things with wings?'

'No. You've been reading too many comic books. The ancient Faeries are shape-changers; they can be anything they want to be and can fly by using magic not by papery wings on their back,' replied the old man with a look of annoyance on his face.

‘So why would this be a good place to find something you might have lost?’, asked Joe, taking the old man back to his earlier comment.

‘You came here looking for Peter Crisp didn’t you?’, he asked.

‘How do you know?’, replied Joe with surprise.

‘He came here two nights ago to hide from something. I’m not sure what it was but there was something in the graveyard with him, I thought you and your friend might know what it was.’

‘We know you had been watching us.’

‘Your red-haired saviour told you, did she?’, he said with a smile.

‘Yes. So where is Peter now?’

‘I don’t know,’ the old man sadly replied. ‘I should have been there to help him but now he’s gone. He passed on from here.’

‘Where to?’, Max asked.

‘Legend has it that this circle is actually an entrance to the Underworld. That’s where he’s gone.’

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