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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33. The Magic Portal

Edgar drove the car as fast as he could along the roads. He seemed to know where he was going and the children held on tightly as they took the corners at speed, the tires occasionally squealing as the rubber tried desperately to grip onto the road surface. Scarlet sat in the passenger seat next to Edgar whilst the two boys were in the back, sliding from one side to the other.

‘Whose car is this?’, asked Scarlet in a loud voice over the revving hum of the engine.

‘I don’t know, but he won’t be using it any more,’ replied Edgar as he looked in the rear view mirror. He was sure that they were being followed by some of the Moon Stealers as he kept catching glimpses of black shapes flying in the sky above them. Luckily there didn’t appear to be any other cars on the road although Edgar still had to avoid ones that had been abandoned at awkward angles beside the road. Some cars appeared to have been driven down into the ditch with only their exhaust pipes sticking up into the air.

There was a heavy thud from the roof of the car. Scarlet screamed and jumped in her seat. Edgar quickly glanced up and saw that the metal of the roof was now bent down in several places from whatever the falling object had been. Something had managed to land on the top of the moving car and Edgar had a pretty good idea what it was. He swerved the car from left to right, jerking it from one side of the road to the other, trying to shake the creature from the roof. In one of the side mirrors he saw a black creature tumble from the top of the car and land against the side of a parked car, leaving a large dent in the metal work and causing the orange lights of the car alarm to flash repeatedly.

‘Phew, that was close,’ said Joe as he watched the creature out of the back window.

‘Look out!’, shouted Max to Edgar. He was pointing towards the front windscreen. Lit up by the headlights of the car was a Moon Stealer standing directly in the middle of the road, both its arms outstretched, the wings hanging down, its small round mouth open in a menacing way. Edgar didn’t try to stop or swerve out of the way; instead he put his foot down even harder on the accelerator and lined the car up with the creature. As they got nearer and nearer, the children covered their eyes with their hands. Edgar drove the car straight into the Moon Stealer. The car jolted at the impact, a splatter of fluid covered the car and yellow liquid now smeared the front windscreen. Edgar turned on the wipers and squirted the windscreen with the water jets and quickly the glass was clear again so that he could see the road ahead.

Another metallic thud echoed from the roof of the car. The roof was starting to become a lot lower than it originally had been and was bent in the middle, meaning Joe and Max could not keep their heads upright. This time claws appeared at both sides of the car clamping the Moon Stealer tightly on. This creature would be harder to shake off than the first.

Edgar had noticed that the paint on the bonnet of the car was beginning to blister and bubble from the acidic fluid that had covered the car when he drove into the Moon Stealer. He continued to drive as fast as he could as they entered Parsley Bottom along Harrogate Road past Manor Cottage, then swung the car hard to the right and into a smaller lane. From where they were the town appeared deserted. Although there were a few lights on in the houses, there was no one in sight. Some wisps of grey smoke rose into the air from several places within the town which didn’t appear to be coming from house chimneys, but from abandoned cars.

‘What’s happened?’, said Max with a tone of sadness in his voice.

‘We must go on,’ replied Edgar firmly, ‘or we will end up the same as everyone that was on the train.’

Edgar did not hesitate or slow the car, but continued past the church and followed the lane up the hill along the road between two fields of farmland. They drove over a small bridge, which caused the car to leap slightly into the air, before continuing towards the Faerie Ring at the top of the hill.

As Edgar pulled the car to a standstill, the tires skidding on loose dirt on the road surface, he opened the door and drew his sword in one swift movement. Before the creature on the roof had chance to jump off, Edgar had detached its head from the rest of the body and was running round to the passenger door. He could see the dark shapes of more Moon Stealers in the sky above them. Scarlet had already opened the passenger door and was starting to climb out.

‘Don’t touch the car!’, shouted Edgar to the children, ‘stay very close to me. Come on!’

Edgar started running up the path, through the gate towards the stone circle silhouetted against the sky. Moon Stealers swept down towards them, but something magical seemed to be seeping out from the point of Edgar’s sword as he held it above them chanting something that none of the children understood. There appeared to be a white shimmering shield of light that was arced above their heads, protecting them from the creatures as they dived down to attack. They seemed to be repelled by the shield of light that Edgar’s sword was creating, bouncing harmlessly back into the sky.

‘Joe!’, instructed Edgar between his chanting, ‘get the Silver Bough ready! As soon as we enter the inside of the Faerie Ring, start blowing into it.’

‘But what do I play!’, said Joe who instinctively ducked as another Moon Stealer hit the shield above his head.

‘The Bough will know. All you need to do is blow into it!’ The shield had begun to get smaller in size as Edgar spoke to Joe. ‘Don’t hesitate. The sword’s magic won’t last for much longer.’

The tall stones of the circle were now directly in front of them. They raced through the outer stones and stood in the centre next to the stones of Gawain and Belphoebe. They all formed a circle themselves facing out watching the Moon Stealers as they swam in the air above their heads. Joe removed the Silver Bough from the cloth. Its surface shone in the dark of the night. Soft music filled the air, surrounding them all in a comforting blanket of sound.

‘Blew into it, Joe!’, said Edgar urgently as the shield of light got so small that it vanished into the tip of the sword. Joe put the cold metal pipe to his lips and blew. Sweet sounds like hollow bells and metallic vibrations came out of the bottom of the pipe.

As Joe continued to blow into the pipe, two Moon Stealers had landed on the ground and were now advancing towards them. Edgar stood between the children and the Moon Stealers, sword ready to attack. Small lines of white smoke began to form between the two standing stones of Gawain and Belphoebe, appearing to circle from one central point and slowly spin outwards leaving behind a thin ghostly cloud. It rippled and moved like it was a shimmering pool of water. Joe continued to blow faster, encouraged by what he saw forming in front of him, making the portal grow even bigger. The pool of water appeared to be standing upright against all laws of gravity and despite its mirrored surface the stones behind it could still be seen.

The Moon Stealers continued to advance towards them.

Edgar moved forward and swung Ethera at the first Moon Stealer, plunging the sword deep into the creature's chest. A splash of acidic juices dripped from Edgar’s sword onto his hand. He cried out in pain, as a small patch of flesh began dissolving before his eyes. Glancing behind him he could see that the portal was ready.

‘Go!’, he shouted to the children.

‘But what about my family?’, Max shouted.

Scarlet firmly gripped hold of Max and Joe’s hands and together they leapt through the open portal.

As soon as they had gone, the shimmering pool began to shrink.

Edgar was now on his own.

He quickly swung his sword to detach the arm of a Moon Stealer that was attempting to grab him, followed by a desperate two-handed swing that cut straight through the creature’s shoulder and into its neck. He turned and leapt at the shrinking portal just before it sucked into itself leaving the Faerie Ring empty once again.

Dark shadows continued to circle from above, but for tonight at least, Edgar and the children weren’t going to be another victim of the Moon Stealers.

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