Authors: Turner, Suzy
The Temporal Stone
a Morgan Sisters novel
by Suzy Turner
Published by Suzanne Turner Publishing 2013
Copyright Suzy Turner 2013ISBN 9789899734890
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.
For more information about the authorand her upcoming books, please visit her website
Huge thanks to Jill, Brittany and Mary for reading and correcting my work. I'm hugely grateful to you all. A special thanks to all my friends, social networking pals and readers for the constant support they always provide.
And of course to Michael, my best friend and love of my life. Thanks for putting up with me during the lengthy writing process!
I want to dedicate this book to my beautiful brand new niece who was born during the editing process.
oOo Ava Dillyse oOo
Hopefully one day you'll love books as much as I do!
Stretching her long pale limbs beneath the warm duvet cover, Emma let out a deep yawn and climbed out of bed. She strolled over to Lana and shook her vigorously just as Moira appeared out of the bathroom towel-drying her hair.
'She'll be late again,' she chuckled as she walked past.
Emma rolled her eyes.
'Come on, Sis. Time to get up, we've got to be ready earlier this morning, remember?'
A faint moan could be heard from beneath the covers. Emma shook her head.
'Come on, get up, lazy bones.'
'No, it's too early,' grumbled Lana who rolled over languidly.
'Well, if you're not up and ready soon, you'll miss out on our trip to Somerset with the rest of the class,' Emma replied with her eyebrows raised as she slowly made her way to the bathroom, a towel slung over her shoulder.
The covers were immediately flung back and Lana groaned with an excited grin.‘Somerset here we come,’ Lana groaned. She threw back the covers immediately and hopped up with an excited grin. Throwing on her dressing gown, she began frantically emptying her wardrobe, trying to find the perfect outfit to wear.
Hand in gloved hand with her boyfriend, Diarmuid, Emma stood dressed entirely in black and purple, her dark hair tied back in two simple plaits and a checked woolly hat perched on top of her head. Noticing she was shivering, Diarmuid pulled her close and rubbed her arms up and down while she laughed. He then pulled her into a more secluded spot, allowing a faint glow to emanate from his body. Warmth immediately embraced them both.
'Better?' he asked.
'Hm hm,' Emma nodded as she leant her head on his shoulder.
As they waited for the rest of the gang, Lana walked up the steps that led from the academy. With a huge grin plastered across her face, she walked over to her sister where she turned this way and that. Emma shook her head, laughing.
'Well?' asked Lana.
'Yeah Sis, you look amazing. Is that the new dress you bought last week?'
'It is. It's gorgeous isn't it?'
'Let's just say - it's very you. I wouldn't wear it though!' laughed Emma as Diarmuid wolf whistled from behind her.
'Well of course you wouldn't. It's not black or purple and it's a dress,' she joked as she put her long brown coat back on over the long-sleeved leopard print dress which was a little inappropriate for a field trip across the country.
Moments later, Declan Alexander appeared from within the building, rubbing his hands together. A group of teens trailed behind him.
He turned as he approached, 'Come on guys, gather round. We're walking round to Russell Square where we'll be hopping on to the Tube to Paddington Station. From there we'll get the train to Bath, so make sure you've all got your Oyster cards ready before we leave.'
When they'd finished fishing around in their pockets and handbags, and Declan was content everyone had what was needed to take the trip, they exited the well hidden entrance to the Academy and joined the rest of the commuters within the capital.
'I still find it hard to believe you're not that bothered about Liam dating Ava,' said Emma as Diarmuid stretched his legs, stopping for a chat with his friend who sat with his arm draped across the exotic beauty at the other end of the carriage.
Lana shrugged her shoulders.
'Why would I be? It's been months since we broke up and we weren't exactly serious. Not like you two,' she replied, following Emma's gaze.
'Besides, there's plenty more totty at the Academy now.'
Emma choked into her now tepid green tea, 'Totty? You can't call them that!'
Lana looked at her sister as if she was mad, 'Why not?'
'Well... it's... it's derogatory.'
'Sis, you really need to get out more,' laughed Lana, standing up as Diarmuid returned.
'I'll leave you two love birds to it. I'm going for a wander.'
Passing Declan a few seats down, she wondered how long it would be until they arrived in Bath.
'About twenty minutes,' he said.
'Huh?' she muttered, having completely forgotten he could read minds.
'Oh right. Thanks,' she answered, blushing slightly. He chuckled, brushing his hair out of his eyes before turning his attention back to his newspaper.
'Don't wander too far,' he added as she walked away.
But Lana was bored and she'd already decided to walk through the rest of the carriages to the end of the train, regardless of how long it took. Surely the train wasn't that big, anyway?
Before she'd given it another thought, she was already several carriages away from the rest of her classmates. Intrigued by the suited businessmen who tapped away at their laptops, oblivious to the world around them, Lana had walked slowly past each and every one, watching them until she'd reached the end. Sighing, she turned around and spotted a couple of empty seats just ahead of her.
As she bent to sit down, the carriage became darker. Gazing out the window, she realised they were going through a tunnel. A rather long and very dark tunnel.
She closed her eyes, just for a moment.
When she opened them, she was no longer on the train. Instead, she found herself outside in a dusty, dirty environment surrounded by sounds of hammering. Bang after bang like some kind of one-sided symphony. She watched as sweaty men worked hard digging a strange tunnel with picks. The stench of horse manure and sweat made her eyes water.
Swallowing loudly, Lana closed her eyes again, trying to calm herself.
'It's okay, it's just a dream,' she whispered. 'I can control this, just breathe, Lana, breathe.'
Opening her eyes again, she found she was still in that dirty place. Her only real concern, though, was her new dress.
'Great, it better not get dirty in this filth,' she muttered as her eyes scanned the crowd, eventually stopping on a rather important looking man in the distance, who sat on a beautiful black horse. His clothes were spotless.
Sighing, she began to walk towards him, through the stream of workers who continued to bang, bang, bang at the seemingly solid ground beneath their feet. They were oblivious to the rather oddly dressed 16 year old who strode through the dustiness in her tan leather boots, brand new dress and brown coat, cursing, wishing she would return to her own time and place.
The odd sound of a manly scream broke through all the noise, causing almost instant silence.
'There,' pointed a man dressed in a 19th century suit.
Lana followed his pointed finger towards a fallen man. Several others rushed to his side but it was too late.
'He's dead, I'm afraid,' said another suited gentleman.
'Another? We're nearing 100 deaths,' whispered the impressive man on the horse who had ridden over to see what the commotion was about.
Removing his hat, he nodded towards a small group of men that seemed to appear out of nowhere. As instructed, they walked forward and lifted the still warm corpse, carrying him away.
No matter what Lana had been through since her 16th birthday, she knew she would never be able to come to terms with death.
'But why? The heat isn't overbearing, they are being fed quite well I think, and they're all of good strong build. What's causing so many to perish?' asked another man, a pair of spectacles sitting at the end of his nose and a large ledger in his hands.
The man on the horse simply shook his head, 'I wish I knew.'
A tear escaped from her eye which she quickly brushed away, as the sound of screeching deafened her. Placing her hands over her ears she was suddenly catapulted forward, banging her forehead on something in front of her.
Opening her eyes, she realised she was back on the train, but it was still dark.
And they were no longer moving.
'What's going on?' several voices came from behind her as people stood up to peer through the glass.
'I think we're in the Box Tunnel,' said a woman's jittery voice from nearby.
'But what's happening? Why have we stopped?' asked another.
'There must be something wrong with the line. I shouldn't worry. I'm sure we'll get moving in no time,' a man said a little more confidently.
'We'd better. I've got an important meeting in half an hour,' said an agitated voice.
To make matters even worse, the lights on the train began to flicker on and off.
'Oh great,' he added.
'Lana?' asked a sweet voice from the back of the carriage as the lights went off again. A few moments passed and she continued to stand in darkness, waiting for them to come back on again.
When they didn't, it was as if someone had held up a sign saying 'panic'. Almost everyone began to shout, creating mass havoc.
'I'm here, Em,' called Lana calmly as she stood up and followed her sister's voice to the back of the carriage. 'Are you okay?' she asked as she reached her open hand and grasped it tightly.
'Yeah, we're fine. Let's get back to the others.'
When they were out of ear shot, Emma whispered, 'Do you have any idea what's going on?'
Lana shook her head, 'I kind of went into one of my weird dream thingies when we stopped. I haven't got a clue.'
'Oh?' prompted Emma.
'I'll tell you about it later. Let's just get back to the others first,' she whispered as they tried to dodge the panicking people within each carriage.
'Wow... you'd think it was the Armageddon or something,' sighed Lana as they finally arrived back to Declan and their classmates as the lights flickered back on again.
'You girls okay?' he asked.
'We're fine. Have you figured out what's happening yet, Declan?'
'I think it's just some kind of technical hitch. The driver's trying to reach the control centre but he's having difficulty.'
Declan waited for a moment before continuing, 'No, it's no good,' he whispered. 'Communications are down.'
'Can't he just start the train back up and carry on driving, or something?' Lana asked.
'It's not that simple,' answered Imran, one of their classmates who had spent the journey busying himself with his laptop.
'Is there nothing we can do?'asked Elliott, a well-spoken member of their class.
Lowering his voice, Declan whispered, 'You know we can't use our powers in the public eye, folks. We'll just have to sit this one out and wait for the railway authorities to sort it out. Don't worry, I'm sure everything will be fine.'
'You think?' said Ava quietly. 'And in the meantime we just have to put up with all that awful wailing from those annoying people over there,' she added, rolling her eyes towards a group of women who sat huddled together crying and occasionally screaming a little too loudly.
'Don't worry, I'll sort them out,' Declan offered. 'You just sit down and stay out of mischief,' he said as he stood up.
The moment the women saw Declan, their demeanour changed, their crying came to an abrupt halt and they began playing with their hair.
The group chuckled as the lights went out again. They waited for the wailing to start up again but Declan's reassuring words - or perhaps his good looks - had worked. Their carriage, at least, was calm.
After about 45 minutes of nothing happening at all, Declan suddenly stood up, alarmed.
'What is it, Declan?' Liam asked as he jumped up to stand beside him.
'Something's wrong. It's the driver. I've lost all connection, his thoughts have just... well, they've gone. Actually so have everybody else's. Rupert, can you use your ability and look through the carriages to the driver's cabin?'
Rupert turned to face the front of the train and concentrated hard, looking through every carriage until he could see the driver's cabin.
His face dropped as he turned to face the rest of the group. 'He's erm… he's…'
'He's what?' asked Lana.
Rupert kind of shook his head awkwardly, 'I can't describe it. He's just, well, he's…'
Lana turned to look at the ginger-haired class comedian, 'Oh for goodness sake, Rupert, spit it out. Where is he? What's the matter with him?' she tutted.
Returning his attention to her, he shrugged, 'It's not just him, it's the others too.'
'What do you mean?,' asked Liam as he pulled Ava protectively towards him.
'Well, Rupert, is the driver there or not?' Lana asked quietly.
'He's there alright. It's just that he's kind of… not there too.'
'Huh?' asked Emma as Diarmuid held her tight.
'Let's just calm down, okay? Rupert, you're really not making any sense, mate,' said Declan.
'I think you need to see for yourselves,' Rupert whispered.
The lights flickered back on again, giving the group a moment to check on the women at the back of the carriage. Declan smiled encouragingly at them before noticing something odd. It was only then that they all realised how quiet the train had become.
'Declan?' Emma whispered as she followed his gaze.
'Declan? Something's up with the women…'
As she approached them with her arm out-stretched, she held out her hand and touched one of their faces. She was stone cold and, although they were sitting in exactly the same position as before, the four women appeared to be no longer conscious. Their empty eyes stared back at her like lifeless porcelain dolls.
Declan rushed to her side and inspected them.
'The other people have stopped shouting too,' said Moira, as she took off her glasses and wiped her forehead, before she opened the door to the next carriage.
'What's going on?' she whispered. 'What's happened to them all?' she asked as she looked over all the people who seemed to have frozen, just like the women.
Following behind her, Declan and her classmates walked silently through the carriages, astonished at what they saw. It was as if the people were playing a game of Musical Statues. Each and every person was frozen, their eyes wide open, but there was nobody there.
Lana waved her hand in front of one of the middle-aged businessmen she'd noticed earlier. He was standing up, leaning over the seat in front, a newspaper tucked under his arm and his laptop on the seat next to him. His mouth was open and his eyebrows were knitted together. He looked as if he'd been shouting. She turned her head so she could look directly at his face and waved a hand right in front of his eyes.
'Hello?' she asked quietly.
The man did nothing. If it wasn't for his beating heart that she could hear quite clearly when she placed her ear against his chest, she would have thought he weredead.
'This is so freaky, Sis,' she said as she stepped backwards and turned to see her sister waving her hands in front of an old couple who sat cowering in their seats. Fear was etched into their faces.
'You can say that again,' Emma gulped as she too, stepped backwards just as Declan rounded up the Watchers.
'There is definitely something supernatural going on.'
'All the doors are locked,' said Diarmuid as he walked back towards the group. 'I couldn't get into the driver's cabin, but Rupert was right, he's frozen, just like the rest of them.'
'Did you see anything else?' asked Liam.
Diarmuid shook his head, 'Nothing superstitious... well nothing more weird than this,' he said as he waved his arms, indicating the carriage.
'At least the lights are back on now,' whispered Ava nervously.
'Is anyone getting a phone signal?' asked Declan.
'No, nothing,' were the general replies after they'd fumbled in their bags and pockets.
'Well, we're going to have to break open the doors, then.'
'I'll do it,' offered Liam, as he rolled up his sleeves and turned to face the nearest door. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed hold of the handle and pulled it aggressively. The handle, with the door attached to it, came off in his hand like it was nothing but a thin piece of paper.
He threw it to one side and peered out into the darkness of the tunnel.
'It's too dark, I can't see a thing. Diarmuid, Emma, perhaps you could bring some light?' he asked as he began to climb out.
'Not so fast, Liam,' shouted Declan. 'We don't know what's out there, mate. Let me go first,' he said gently pushing Liam behind him.
'Diarmuid, stand behind me and light up please, mate.'
Doing exactly as he was told, Diarmuid concentrated so much that he was soon a beacon in the darkness. Looking both ways, Declan could see nothing but an empty tunnel. There was no sign of anything out of place.
'Perhaps it was someone on the train that caused it?' asked Moira quietly.
'But we checked through all the carriages. Everyone was under that weird statue spell,' Lana replied.
'I can't see anything untoward. I think we should get off the train and try and get to a spot where we can use our phones,' Declan suggested. 'I'll lead, with Emma behind me for light. Liam and Diarmuid, you follow behind the rest of the gang and keep an eye out. Come on, let's go.'
The teenagers and their mentor carefully climbed down from the train and slowly began to walk through the dark tunnel towards daylight.
It was damp, dark and cold.
After a couple of minutes, Nisha suddenly stopped, causing Penny to crash into her.
'Oops, sorry. What's up? Nisha, are you okay?'
When she received no reply, she yelled ahead to Declan.
Turning to look at the young red-haired girl, he shouted, 'What's up, Penny?'
'It's Nisha… I'm not sure.'
'Nisha?' he yelled, 'You okay?'
The Indian girl suddenly looked upwards, oblivious to Declan's and Penny's calls.
'Hello? I know you're there,' she whispered. 'Show yourselves.'
Nisha watched as the ghosts of countless men hovered above their heads.
'Who are you?' she asked as Lana and Emma shivered in front of her.
But as quickly as they appeared, the ghostly men disappeared and the tunnel was empty once again.
'Did you see them?' Nisha asked as Declan made his way towards her.
'See what? What's going on, Nisha?'
'The ghosts of a hundred souls,' she whispered breathlessly.
'I didn't see anything. Do you think it's them? Do you think the ghosts could have caused this phenomenon?' asked Rupert.
Declan shook his head, 'No… not ghosts. I don't think ghosts would be capable of anything like this. Come on folks, let's get out of here.'
The twelve teenagers and Declan sped up, running until they finally reached daylight. Exiting the tunnel, they leant forward to catch their breaths before climbing up the steep incline of earth until they stood directly on top of the tunnel.
All of them pulled out their mobile phones and walked around, trying to get a signal to call Eleanor at Praxos. All of them failed.
'Jesus, what's going on?' Lana yelled in frustration as she looked around at their beautiful green surroundings. 'It seems so quiet,' she added.
'I need to speak to the ghosts, maybe they can help,' said Nisha suddenly, as she started to climb back down the steep incline.
'Nisha wait!' yelled Penny, 'Don't go back in there, not on your own, anyway. It could be dangerous.'
Feeling a pull from below ground, Nisha was determined to speak to the ghosts of those men, so she ignored her friend and rushed back into the darkness.
'Declan!' squealed Penny as Nisha disappeared below them.
'It's alright, you have no need to fear me. You can show yourselves,' whispered Nisha as she cautiously tiptoed back through the tunnel, alone.
The gentle sound of breathing filled the area and soon she was surrounded by a large group of men, covered in dirt, all carrying pick axes.
Up until recently she would have been terrified at the prospect of talking to ghosts, but since becoming a Watcher, a new-found confidence filled her. Besides, she had a feeling these ghosts weren't there to hurt her.
'Who are you?' she asked with a smile.
'It matters not, child. You must leave… you must leave now. You are in danger. They are awake…' said one.
'We have been at peace for so long, yet this very morning, they awoke us from slumber. Dash, child, dash. Get out while you still can…'
'Don't let them get to you or else it will be too late…'
'But I don't understand. Who? Who woke you up? What endangers us? What's going on?'
'Where is she?' asked Declan.
'She wouldn't wait, she went back into the tunnel to speak to the ghosts.'
Declan threw himself down the bank, skidding to the bottom, rolling on his back before eventually landing on his feet. He ran back into the darkness, with the others close behind him.
'Nisha? Nisha?' he whispered but he couldn't see a thing.
Suddenly, the place was as bright as a hospital room as both Diarmuid and Emma lit themselves up to allow Declan to see.
But before he could do anything more, Imran yelled out, 'We're too late, look,' he said, pointing towards the statue of their 16 year old classmate.
'No!' sobbed Penny and Ava.
'Damn it,' shouted Lana.
'I'll grab her. You lot get out of here!'
Declan ran as fast as he could towards her, picked her up and then dashed back out into the sunlight, making sure no-one was left behind.
Standing above the tunnel, they gently placed Nisha on the grass.
'What do we do now?' asked Lana.
'We'll have to walk until we reach civilization and make the call from there,' Declan said.
'Do you think… do you think she's going to… to… d-d-die?' sobbed Penny.
Declan gently put his hand on her shoulder and shook his head. 'Whatever this is, we're going to get to the bottom of it. We're going to help Nisha and everyone else on that train, okay? This is the kind of thing that you're being trained to deal with. This is what the academy is for. Stay strong and we'll get through this. We'll have to carry Nisha with us, we certainly can't leave her here.'
'I'll take her,' volunteered Liam, whose super strength would allow him to easily carry her any distance.
'Okay, folks, let's go. I'm pretty sure there's a small hamlet close by. Follow me,' Declan said as they began walking across the top of the tunnel.
'There's something really weird going on,' said Ava a few minutes later.
'No, really?' said Lana before realising what a cow she sounded and apologised.
'That's okay, Lana. But I wasn't talking about all that happened this morning on the train. I mean, something else. You know that I can normally hear things for miles around and stuff? Well, I don't seem to be able to hear anything.'
'What, like your power has gone?' Lana asked, shocked.
'No, I don't feel like I've lost it… I just feel like everywhere has gone quiet,' she whispered.
'That's freaky, Ava.'
Ava lifted her eyebrows and said nothing more. She just concentrated on trying to hear the world around her, like she'd been able to do since she turned 16.
'There's a house!' shouted Imran from the front of the group and he began to walk faster.
'Wait up, Imran. I'll go and see if there's anyone home first. You guys wait here. Stick together. Whatever you do, don't split up,' Declan said as he rushed towards the gate. As he pushed it open, he noticed a small dog sitting in front of the door.
'It's okay, mate, I'm a friend,' Declan whispered, leaning forward to pat it on its head. The moment he touched it, Declan stopped for a moment. Like Nisha and the people on the train, the dog was cold to the touch. Whatever had affected the others, had also affected the dog.
Taking a deep breath, he knocked on the front door. After a few minutes of silence, he turned the door knob to find it unlocked. Pushing it open, he peered into a small, cosy living room.
'Hello? Is there anyone here?' he yelled.
Walking through the house, he looked into every room until he found a telephone. Stopping, he picked it up, hoping for a dial tone. He cursed as he realised the landlines were down too.
Putting it back down, he wandered through to the kitchen where he was faced with a woman in her dressing gown, feeding a toddler. Both were frozen in time.
Cursing again, Declan rushed out of the house and back to the group of Watchers.
'Any luck?' they asked but his face said it all.
'Landlines are down,' he said, 'and the people in there are affected too.'
'But why aren't we? I don't understand,' said Cassie, pouting.
'It must have something to do with us being Watchers. Maybe it only affects humans, 100 percent humans, if you know what I mean,' suggested Rupert.
'But then why did it affect Nisha?' asked Emma.
'Perhaps she got too close to the source? Or something like that?' Imran suggested.
'If that's the case, then we ought to track down other Watchers in the area. The group in Bath were expecting us this morning so let's just try and get to them. We can figure out what to do from there. There's a main road over there. Maybe we can borrow someone's car to get there.'
'There are 13 of us, Declan. We'll need a mini bus,' Rupert said, trying to make light of the situation.
As they rounded the corner, Declan laughed, 'Well then, it's a good job there's a minibus parked just over there then, isn't it?' he said, as they all ran towards the vehicle.
'No keys though,' he said. 'Climb aboard everyone. Liam, can you try and make Nisha as comfortable as possible. Diarmuid, can I borrow you to start this engine?'
Diarmuid looked a little confused.
'I reckon you'll be able to start the ignition with your ability. Give it a go will you?'
He nodded before sending a surge of electricity through the keyhole.
'Where do you think the driver is?' asked Penny.
'I don't think it really matters now, does it?'
Declan turned to the front and grinned as the engine purred into motion.
'I knew you could do it, mate. Thanks.'
Diarmuid grinned and took a seat next to his girlfriend.
'Thank God something's going right this morning,' Lana smiled as she put on her seat belt.
'Buckle up, everybody!' shouted Declan as he screeched away from the kerb, narrowly missing two men who appeared to be in the middle of a fist fight.
'Oops,' he said as he watched in his mirror as one of the frozen figures wobbled slightly and then fell to the ground.
'I can't believe it,' whispered Emma as they slowed down to avoid all the cars that had randomly stopped all over the place on the road between the hamlet of Box Hill and Bath.
'It's chaos,' Lana added.
'I know. What if some of these people are injured?'
'I doubt it. If you really look around, there doesn't seem to have been any accidents. The best thing we can do right now is to try and get to the bottom of this,' Declan said from the driver's seat.
The drive shouldn't have taken very long at all, but given all the vehicles scattered all over the place and the random people just stuck in the middle of the roads, it ended up taking ten times longer than it ought to have.
Eventually pulling up outside the Royal Crescent, one of Bath's most renowned addresses, Declan climbed out of the minibus and stretched his arms and legs. Looking around, he noticed a coach load of Japanese tourists, armed with cameras, taking photos. They were all stuck mid-pose, frozen like everybody else.
The moment the teenagers began clambering out of the vehicle, a stranger appeared from one of the stunning Georgian houses within the crescent.
'Declan! It's about time you came down for a visit to see the new place,' shouted the odd looking young man with ash white hair and a black goatee. He approached his old friend and hugged him.
'Shayne. It's good to see you, old pal. I wish the circumstances were different though. Do you know what's going on?'
Shayne shook his head, rubbing his goatee in thought.
'I wish we did. We have no record of anything like this ever happening, well, not here anyway. All the master files are at the HQ in London. All the phone lines are down, as is the Internet. Even the TV seems to have frozen. We've been trying to get through to Eleanor but we're having no luck.'
'Yeah, you and me both.'
'Oh, is she one of yours?' he asked as Liam carefully pulled Nisha out from the back of the minibus. She looked like a mannequin from a show window display.
Nodding, Declan explained what had happened.
'We don't understand it either. We're drawing a blank here. Where's the rest of the gang?'
'I've sent most of them off to try and reach the other Watchers around the country. We've got CB radios but we haven't had any luck getting them to work yet. I thought Eleanor had them down at HQ?'
'Yeah, I'm pretty sure she does.'
'That's weird. Anyway, come on in, you all must be parched,' he said as the group followed him into a grand Georgian hallway that led into a large open plan office.
'Oh, I wasn't expecting this,' Diarmuid smiled as he admired the architecture.
'Yeah, some of the houses were made into offices a while back. We've kept the upstairs as living quarters though,' Shayne smiled. 'A group of us live and work here. We moved in a few years ago.'
'What do you do?' asked Lana.
'Pretty much the same as you guys in London. Well, what you guys will be doing once you've finished your studies. We help the police and the government, catch the bad guys, round up those pesky supernatural bad eggs, you know? Try and solve weird things that happen. Today is just another day at the office, really,' he chuckled. 'Come through. You're welcome to have a look around while I get you guys something to eat and drink,' he said warmly as the group wandered around.
'Declan, why don't you follow me? I've sent Sara and Amber off to find us a chopper, that way we can fly back to London and get to the bottom of this. So tell me more about this morning… tell me exactly what happened…'
'What do you think is going on, Sis?' asked Emma a little later, as they sat in the living room waiting for Declan to return.
'I haven't got a clue and it's kind of freaking me out that no-one else seems to know, either. I just hope Eleanor can shed some light on it all.'
'That's if we can get through to her.'
'Oh I'm not worried about that. Didn't you hear that Shayne sent some of his colleagues off to find a helicopter? Once they've sorted that out, someone will fly down to London to get help.'
'Do you think this is happening all over the country?'
'It must be. All communication is down, isn't it?'
'Yeah, I guess.'
Turning around on the sofa, Emma peered out of the large window, looking down at the large group of frozen tourists below. Beyond them was a large open area of green grass, where the odd couple could be seen hand in hand, going nowhere.
'It's beautiful, isn't it?' said Shayne as he and Declan silently appeared from the hallway.
Emma nodded without turning back.
'It's the Royal Victoria Park, 57 acres in total. Impressive eh?'
Just as she was turning back to face them, Emma caught sight of movement on the green.
'Oh… what was that?' she muttered, squinting.
Shayne and Declan both rushed over to check it out.
'It shouldn't be any of our lot, they're unlikely to be back for a while yet,' Shayne said as he tried to locate the source of the movement.
'I can't see anything.'
'Let me have a look,' offered Rupert.
'He can see for miles around,' Declan told his colleague after seeing his eyebrows knit together in confusion.
'There,' Rupert pointed. 'There's something moving just behind that tree. It looks like a… like a, um… I'm not sure what it looks like, really. It's certainly not human, but it's not very big. Less than a metre tall, squat-looking, ugly. Oh…'
'What? What is it, Rupert?' asked Declan.
'It just vanished into thin air.'
Shayne and Declan shared an odd look, both nodding at the same time.
'Pixie trolls?' asked Lana as the rest of the gang began to walk into the living room to find out what was going on.
'Yeah, it certainly sounds like trolls,' Declan offered.
'But I thought trolls were like giants, gruesome snotty creatures who carried large clubs and smashed things to bits…' Emma said innocently.
'Harry Potter, Sis? Really?' Lana chuckled, shaking her head.
Emma shrugged her shoulders.
'They come in all shapes and sizes, depending on what part of the world they come from. These ones sound like ancient pixie trolls but I thought they were extinct.'
Declan nodded as he listened to his friend, 'You and me both. Do you know how to handle them?'
Shayne reluctantly shook his head, 'Afraid not. I thought they died out long ago. It's a bit before my time. We really need to access your files in London.'
'So what do we do now?' asked Emma, who was gripping Diarmuid's hand.
Declan glanced at Shayne, 'We have to wait for the girls to return with the chopper.'
'Well, can't we fight them?' asked Liam.
'Afraid not. We don't know how many there are and we don't know where they are. Chances are that we might be surrounded by the little blighters,' said Shayne.
'Surely we would be able to see them if that was the case,' Penny said as she continued to stare out of the window.
'Not necessarily. You see, pixie trolls have the ability to become invisible,' Shayne replied.
'No way?' Imran said from the doorway.
'Great, so we're stuck here?'
'Until we figure something out… yes.'
'Maybe there is something I can do to help?' asked Imran.
'Of course,' said Declan slapping his forehead, 'Imran has a unique ability to time travel. He could go back to when we were in London, get all the facts we need and bring them back here.'
'Perhaps he could go back and warn Eleanor before this all happens?' Shayne suggested.
Declan nodded and Imran stood, ready to make his move.
'Just give me a little space,' he asked as he flipped his baseball cap around on his head and began to concentrate. Closing his eyes, he thought of the time and place he needed to return to. Preparing himself for the intense spinning that usually accompanied his journey through time, Imran was confused when nothing happened.
Opening his eyes, he looked around before trying again. But it was useless, his power seemed to have been lost.
'What's going on?' he asked as he began to shake. 'This hasn't happened before. I don't get it.'
'It's okay, Imran,' reassured Moira.
'No, it's not. You've all still got your powers, haven't you?'
The others nodded.
'Then why has mine gone?' he asked, removing his cap and turning it around and around in his hands. Looking down, he glanced at his watch. It had stopped that morning at 9.57am.
Looking back up to his classmates, he grabbed Moira's wrist, her watch had stopped at the exact same moment. Moving forward he lifted Diarmuid's arm to see that his watch had also stopped. All the others began to follow suit, looking at the time on their watches. Everyone's watch showed the same time in the morning.
Shayne rushed out of the living room and into the hallway where he peered at the grandfather clock. It had stopped at precisely 9.57.
'I can't believe I didn't notice it before…' Shayne said, shaking his head in disbelief.
'The trolls haven't frozen everyone, they've frozen time.'
'But what does that mean?' asked Lana, confused.
'The one good thing about this is that when we finally sort it all out, the humans won't know anything ever happened. We won't have a huge, countrywide panic to sort out,' he grinned.
'Well woop de doo,' said Lana. 'And in the meantime, we've got to stop these killer trolls before they cause even more mayhem.'
Shayne chuckled at her before he looked at Declan, who shrugged his shoulders with a smile.
'You've got some unique ones this year, my man.'
'Tell me about it,' laughed Declan as Lana suppressed a giggle.
Changing the subject back to his own problem, Imran interrupted them, 'But what has this got to do with my power disappearing?'
Clapping him on his shoulder, Shayne faced him, 'There is no time for you to manipulate. Sorry, my man.'
Imran chewed the inside of his cheek as he thought about his predicament before muttering, 'So basically, I'm pretty useless then.' He plopped himself down on an armchair feeling sorry for himself.
'Of course you're not useless, Imran,' offered the rest of the group, but it made little difference. It was the first time in months that he'd felt like - well - like a human and not the half angel that he really was.
'Don't worry, we'll sort it out. And remember, you're a Watcher. Your ability to time travel is just one of your many talents, the others will appear eventually. Just give it time,' Declan reassured him.
'Time? It looks like we've got all the time in the world,' said Rupert as the sound of propellers could be heard in the distance.
'The chopper!' yelled Shayne happily. 'They found one!'
Landing safely on the green grass at the back of the Royal Crescent, the blades of the helicopter began to slow.
The two young women on board, Sara and Amber, were about to exit when Amber spotted something strange at the window of their home.
A large white sheet was being held up. Squinting, she could just make out the words messily scribbled on it.
TROLLS. STAY ON THE CHOPPER!!
'Wait,' she yelled to Sara just as she was about to open the door. Leaning across her, Amber grabbed the handle and pulled it closed.
'What? What are you doing?'
'Look,' Amber pointed towards the building.
'Trolls? Oh Jesus. What do we do now?'
'We stay put until Shayne figures something out.'
'Can we make a run for it?' asked Liam.
'Maybe... but only the ones who can run seriously fast. That's you and...'
'Me,' said Cassie as she stepped forward with a grin, her hand on her hip.
'Okay then, it's decided. You and Cassie head to the helicopter, the girls can fly you to London and you can get help from Eleanor. We'll just have to stay here and wait,' Declan said as the two began to prepare themselves to run through what could potentially be an invisible barrier of pixie trolls.
'We could do with a diversion, really,' suggested Shayne as they all stood looking out the window.
'I wonder if they're affected by electricity?' pondered Diarmuid as he turned to look out the window. 'Maybe I could try and send out an electrical force field while Cassie and Liam make a run for it?'
'Actually, that's not a bad idea,' nodded Declan. 'Yeah, let's do it. I just wish we could let the girls know what's going on.'
'Oh! Well I could do that,' offered Ava. 'I can place my thoughts in their heads, remember?'
He nodded with a smile. 'Do it.'
'Sara, Amber. My name's Ava, I'm one of the students from London. We're trapped inside because we can't see where the trolls are due to their power of invisibility. Diarmuid, one of my classmates, is going to send out an electrical force field in a moment. We're hoping it will distract the trolls enough so that Liam and Cassie can run out to you in time. The four of you need to fly to London to get the info we need from Eleanor. I'm sorry about invading your thoughts but it was the only way. Do you copy?' she thought, before adding, 'Erm, sorry, I can't actually hear your thoughts but Declan can,' she chuckled quietly.
'Copy that, Ava and Declan. We're ready. Good luck guys,' Amber thought back.
'Gotcha, Ava. Good luck,' thought Sara.
'Okay, they're ready,' Declan said just as they heard the helicopter's engine purr into motion again.
'Good luck,' Ava whispered to Liam as he leant forward and kissed her quickly on the lips.
Standing by the front door, Diarmuid took a deep breath before Shayne pulled it open and nodded. Holding out his arms, he flicked his hands so they were wide open, releasing the awesome power of electricity. It was like a massive bolt of lightning, shattering the calmness of the day. As the force field moved forward, Declan grinned as the sound of hundreds of panicked voices filled his head.
'It's working,' he yelled, 'I can hear them.'
'I see them,' yelled Rupert. 'Look,' he pointed as one by one, the trolls seemed to flicker in and out of invisibility. The electricity was temporarily stunning them.
'Now, go now!' shouted Declan as Diarmuid quickly moved aside, allowing Cassie and Liam to rush through the doorway.
They watched as the couple moved at the speed of light. Cassie arrived first, climbing aboard the helicopter with ease, her blonde curls bouncing around her face. As she sat down, Sara turned to high-five her with a grin.
Liam was almost there when an ugly little creature suddenly revealed itself, right in his path. Before Liam had the chance to do a thing, it poked him in the leg. The instant he was touched, Liam became just like the rest of the frozen club, stopped in time.
'No!' Ava cried out in shock as she watched his body become eerily still.
'Ava, you must calm down,' Declan said, 'You need to tell the girls to go, they'll have to leave him. Tell them to leave him,' he ordered.
With tears pouring down her face, she reluctantly nodded and passed on the message to Amber and Sara.
Moments later, the helicopter began to lift into the air. Cassie's shocked face could be seen peering through the window as it disappeared into the distance.
The rest of the group looked on as Liam was left alone, standing dead still, mid-run, on the grass below.
'Poor Liam,' said Lana as she gently hugged Ava and led her away from the window so she didn't have to watch her frozen boyfriend stuck out there with those little monsters.
'We need to get him back inside,' Rupert said sadly, but Shayne shook his head, 'I'm sorry, but we can't. From what we've seen so far, the trolls are only freezing people, they're not actually harming them. He'll be okay out there. He'll have to be - for now.'
Taking a deep breath, Rupert flopped back down onto the sofa next to Lana, Emma and Diarmuid. They all looked utterly helpless.
'I'll go make us a cup of tea,' offered Moira as she walked out of the room, rubbing her eyes. In the kitchen, she put the kettle on and grabbed the closest teapot. Looking up while she waited for the water to boil, she caught her reflection in the mirror on the wall. Her eyes were red. She removed her glasses, putting them down on the worktop. Rubbing her eyes just as the kettle clicked off, she picked it up and began to pour hot water into the pot. Glancing upwards, she caught sight of herself again and dropped the hot kettle, letting it crash to the floor.
Ignoring it, she moved closer to the mirror and gasped at the sight of her eyes. Her usual brown eyes weren't looking back at her. Instead, they shone silver. She gulped and grabbed her glasses. Putting them back on, she turned back to the mirror only to find the same old reflection that she always saw.
'Are you okay, Moira? We heard something smash?' Lana said as she rushed into the room with Emma and Declan.
'I'm… I'm fine, I just dropped the kettle that's all. I'm fine.'
Looking down, Lana bent to pick it up.
'But Moira… you've got water splashed all over your legs. Are you sure you're okay?'
Looking slightly confused, Moira smiled and took the kettle out of her hands.
'Honestly, I'm fine. I didn't feel a thing. Here, do you want to take the cups out?'
'Why aren't they trying to get inside?' whispered Lana later that afternoon as the sky grew darker with thunderous storm clouds.
'I've no idea. Maybe they have to be invited?'
'What? They're not vampires, Em.'
Emma shrugged, 'Well… you never know. Why else wouldn't they come and get us?'
This time Lana shrugged as Shayne turned up the thermostat on the central heating.
'It's chilly today,' he said just as Ava let out a sob in the corner of the room, making everyone go quiet as they thought about Liam out in the miserable weather.
'At least the cloud cover is offering a little protection from the cold,' reassured Moira with a yawn.
'Why don't you have a nap, Moira? You never know, maybe you'll learn something we need to know in your dreams?' suggested Lana.
'Good idea,' she replied, closing her eyes and nodding off with her head resting on the side of the sofa.
'You've certainly got some interesting students with fascinating powers this year, Declan. I wish I'd have met them under different circumstances. I had a great day planned for you all,' Shayne smiled.
'Oh yeah? What were we going to do?' asked Emma who was curled up on the soft carpet by Diarmuid's legs.
'Well, we've heard some rumours about strange occurrences on the Pulteney Bridge and we were planning on investigating that. to start with.'
'What kind of strange occurrences?' asked Imran quietly.
'Just hauntings, mainly. Nothing serious. It would have been something light and easy for you guys to get your teeth into… to start with, anyway,' Shayne smiled.
'We'd also planned a trip to the Roman Baths for lunch… not that we were investigating anything there, we just figured we'd take you somewhere a bit special for a bite to eat. After that, we were intending to take you into the centre where, in recent months, several people have reported seeing a pair of glowing red eyes staring at them at night. We're thinking possible werewolf but there have been no attacks as yet. Bath Abbey was another place to take you as well, as that's been haunted by monks for years.' Shayne sniggered to himself before continuing, 'And lastly, we were thinking about taking you to the area around Abbey Church where the spirit of a naked man has been seen on numerous occasions. It's about time he was passed over, to preserve his modesty.'
Lana perked up, 'A naked man?' she asked as Emma laughed at her sudden interest.
'Why haven't you solved any of these hauntings?' asked a curious Penny.
'We just haven't had the time. We've been working on more serious crimes lately.'
'What kind of crimes?'
'Have you heard of The Skulls?' Shayne asked, looking around the room.
'Heard of them? We've met some of them,' Lana shuddered.
Shayne nodded, 'So you're well aware how dangerous they can be?'
'Well, the Skulls are becoming more and more troublesome, not just around these parts but elsewhere in the country too. We've been picking up the pieces, so to speak.'
Moira suddenly kicked out from the sofa and began to whimper, sobbing in her sleep. After a couple of minutes, the sobbing became louder and she began to lash out with her arms and legs.
Declan stood up and walked over to her. He gently shook her arm, 'Moira? Moira, wake up,' he whispered but she refused to come to.
Her body was beginning to shake uncontrollably. It was almost like she was having some kind of seizure.
'Something's wrong,' said Declan.
He shook her more firmly but nothing would wake her.
'Diarmuid, I'm sorry to ask you but she's going to need jolting awake. Can you give her a gentle shock?'
Nodding at his mentor, Diarmuid scooted over and placed his hand on hers. He gulped before releasing a jolt of electricity. They waited as her breathing began to slow down and she stopped shaking, but she still didn't wake up.
'What's that?' asked Emma as she noticed something on her arm beneath her sleeve.
Declan lifted the sleeve of her jumper to reveal a sore, red gash, oozing silver fluid.
'I'm not sure. Has she mentioned this to any of you before?'
'Not lately. Although she was slightly injured that night in Abney Park but she said it wasn't anything to worry about.'
'Injured? How was she injured?'
Lana and Emma shook their heads and shrugged their shoulders.
'Shayne, does this look familiar to you?'
As he stood up to take a closer look, Shayne's eyes grew wider and he nodded.
'She's been bitten, Declan.'
'Bitten?' said Lana, 'By what?'
It had taken quite a few weeks to take its toll on Moira's body, but she now had Skull poison flowing through her veins. And if she wasn't treated fairly quickly, Moira would start to change… and not for the better.
Gently placed in a bed upstairs, the Watchers took their turn keeping an eye on her as the strange, fitful sleep continued to plague her.
'What can we do?' asked Emma as Diarmuid took his turn at Moira's bedside.
'There's not a lot we can do at the moment. Not while we're trapped in here by the trolls,' Shayne replied.
'But if we could get out, what is the best way to treat Moira? Is it with antibiotics or something like that?'
Declan sat down at the oval dining table, next to Shayne, Lana and Emma while the other Watchers slept in the living room.
'I'm afraid antibiotics would have little effect on her, Emma. Moira needs to be treated at the Praxos hospital.'
'I've never heard of that before. Where is it?' asked Lana, resting her chin on her hands.
'It's in Arundel.'
'Arundel? Where's Arundel?' asked Emma.
'West Sussex,' he replied.
'We need the helicopter back,' she said.
'I know, but we can't reach them, unless Ava's ability will stretch that far?' Shayne wondered.
'I doubt she's that strong yet. Maybe in a couple of years perhaps, but not yet. You forget she's only 16, Shayne,' said Declan.
'I guess you're right.'
'I'm afraid there's nothing we can do but sit it out and hope that Moira's condition doesn't worsen before the chopper gets back.'
'This sucks,' said Rupert as he walked into the dining room, stretching his arms and yawning. He walked over to the window and flicked the curtain to one side. Rain had just started to splash against the glass.
A crack of thunder made them all jump, Emma especially, as until recently she would have been cowering under the table with fear of storms and all that they entailed.
'Hang on a minute,' said Imran who had wandered sleepily into the room, 'If time has been frozen, how come the weather is changing? Surely it should stay put too?' he asked.
'Sorry, but I've no idea what's going on out there,' Declan answered.
As the rain began to pour, Rupert continued to stare out the back of Royal Crescent.
'Hey… I can see them!' he said suddenly. 'The rain - the rain's making it possible to see their outlines. There's hundreds of the little blighters. Look…'
The others rushed to his side to watch as the outlines of the pixie trolls clearly became visible beneath the now constant downpour of rain.
The pixie trolls had the back of the building surrounded.
Emma rushed through the house looking for a window that looked out onto the opposite side of the building. Several of the bedroom windows did and she smiled to herself when she realised there were no trolls there.
'Hey!' she shouted, 'Shayne, is there another way out of this place?'
'There's a front and a back door,' he replied as he approached her, 'Why?'
'Because the trolls are only out by the grass. Look,for some reason they're not on the other side of the house.'
'Hmm, that's interesting,' he said, stroking his goatee.
'I wonder…' he rushed away from her and down the stairs until he reached what was actually the front door - they'd entered the back door earlier.
Peering through the letterbox, he watched as the rain poured from above. 'You're right, I don't see any. The car is parked just over there,' he said, pointing to a black Range Rover in front of the building. 'Perhaps someone could take Moira and drive to Arundel. I know it's risky but she's very ill and she really does need treatment as soon as possible.'
So focussed had they been on the back of the Royal Crescent and Royal Victoria Park that no-one had even thought that the front of the property might be free of trolls. Declan drew straws on who would accompany him and Moira to the hospital in Arundel. Lana, Elliott and Emma drew the short ones.
'The rest of you must stay here with Shayne. Stay safe indoors until the helicopter returns and then do whatever Eleanor instructs you to do. Ava, I know it's a long shot but try and stay in communication with us. I know the further we go, the harder it is, but if you could shoot me a thought every 15 minutes, we'll try and stay in touch, okay? At least for as long as possible.'
Ava nodded, her bright blue eyes wide with apprehension. 'I will. Good luck,' she muttered as she hugged Emma, Lana and Elliott.
'Be careful, babe,' whispered Diarmuid who stood holding Emma in a long tight hug.
'Come on guys, we need to get going now,' Declan said, rolling his eyes as Emma finally released her boyfriend.
'I will, I promise,' she whispered to him before they all sneaked out of the house and ran as fast as they could towards the 4x4. Declan very carefully placed Moira on the back seat before quickly climbing into his own.
The others kept a sharp look out for any movement towards them. It wasn't until the moment the car doors slammed behind them that Shayne waved frantically from the window above, pointing to the rear of the car.
'They're coming,' he mouthed as he spotted movement in the rain.
'They're coming!' repeated Lana, as Declan swiftly put the car into gear and the vehicle’s wheels spun on the damp tarmac. Within seconds, they were speeding safely away from the Royal Crescent.
Dodging the hundreds of vehicles that had been frozen in time, Declan deftly manoeuvred the large car in and out of the streets of Bath, carefully avoiding people scattered everywhere.
'I wish we knew where all the trolls are,' said Emma.
'I would imagine they'll be wherever the Watchers are,' answered Declan. 'They will have tracked down anyone not affected by their... their spell, or whatever it is.'
'How come you and Shayne knew they were trolls?' asked Lana.
'I don't know about Shayne, but I remember my dadtelling me a fairytale about them when I was a boy. It told the tale about an ugly young pixie troll who became invisible whenever his enemies were near.'
'How did it go?'
'The fairytale, how did the rest of it go?' asked Lana.
Declan shrugged his shoulders, 'I don't really remember, to be honest with you. All I remember is the troll was called Peter.'
'Peter the pixie troll? That's original,' sighed Elliott from the front passenger seat.
'How's Moira doing?' Declan asked, peering into the rear view mirror to try and catch a glimpse of her.
'She's okay, I think. Same as before, a bit calmer though,' Emma whispered back as she gently pushed Moira's long mousy hair out of her eyes.
Turning his attention back to the road, a loud bang on the front bumper made them all jump.
'What was that?' screeched Lana as Declan slammed on the brakes.
'I don't know, I didn't see anything in front of me,' Declan said as Elliott moved to open the door.
'No!' cried Lana, 'It could be a troll, don't get out.'
'She's right, Elliott.'
Putting the car into reverse, they very gingerly drove backwards, all looking out their windows to see what it was they'd hit.
'There,' screeched Lana as she pointed out of her side window, 'There's something weird over there. Look...'
It was curled up like a rather large hedgehog, minus the spikes, and rolled into a ball. They watched as it slowly unravelled itself and stood up, shaking its limbs clumsily and muttering something under its breath.
When it finally stood up to its full height, the creature placed its hands on its hips and shook its head energetically. It then fell straight back onto the floor again and didn't move.
'Do you think it's hurt?' asked Emma.
'Who cares? It's a troll, it's evil,' replied Lana, tutting.
Emma let out a sigh. 'It didn't look mean. Maybe we should check it out?'
'Emma, I can't believe we're even related. I'm not going anywhere near that thing and I don't think anyone else should either. For all we know, it could be a trick to get us out of the car. Declan, I reckon you should put your foot down and get us out of here.'
But Declan had other ideas.
'Emma, do you see a cage in the back of the car?'
'OMG,' cried Lana, 'You're not serious?'
'Afraid so,' he said as Emma nodded.
'But how are we going to get it?' Elliott asked. 'Because I doubt we can touch it.'
'If there's a cage in the back, then there should be a catch pole too. We can use that.'
'What's a catch pole? And why on Earthis there a cage and a catch pole in the car anyway?' Lana asked in irritation.
'Sometimes we have to try and catch animals and wild supernatural creatures. If they're dangerous, they need to be transported in cages. Does that explain it enough for you?' he said, with his eyebrows raised as he looked at her.
'As long as we don't touch it, we should be fine. Elliott, you come with me. Girls, you stay put.'
'But what if something happens? What if there are more trolls around the car that we can't see? Declan?' Lana asked as she became more and more concerned.
Declan grinned as he pointed to Elliott, 'Elliott here is going to surround us with flames,' he grinned as he patted the teenage boy on the shoulder.
'Okay with you?' he asked.
Elliott grinned and nodded.
'But if something does happen to us, just get out of here and drive. You can drive, right?' he asked the sisters.
Emma and Lana both nodded.
'Yeah, Dad taught us as soon as we could reach the pedals,' said Emma.
'I thought he might have done,' Declan grinned. 'Okay then, ready Elliott? Now!' he yelled as the two jumped out of the car, slamming the doors behind them.
Lana put her fingers in her mouth as she watched Elliott create a massive ring of flames all around them. He was careful to keep the fire some distance from the car itself, as they ran to the back of the car to open the boot and the cage door. Declan grabbed two catch poles before they both carefully stepped towards the troll that still appeared to be unconscious.
Placing one noose around its neck and the other around its ankles, he handed one of the poles to Elliott.
'Careful not to hurt the little guy,' Declan said as Elliott nodded.
'On two. One, Two...'
They picked him up and carried him awkwardly towards the car.
'I can't get him in,' said Elliott who moved closer, trying to manoeuvre the pole so that the troll could be pushed into the cage and the nooses removed.
'Concentrate, Elliott, concentrate on the flames,' Declan whispered.
'Wait,' Declan said. 'Don't get too close. He might wake up. Here, let me do it.'
He took the other pole from Elliott and swiftly removed the nooses from the troll's neck and legs.
Elliott rushed to his side and slammed the cage door, locking it with the padlock, while still maintaining a low circle of flames around them.
'Flames, Elliott, more flames,' Lana shrieked as she thought she saw movement in a nearby bush.
Elliott responded instantly, causing fire to erupt from all around them as they returned to the sides of the vehicle and hopped back in.
'See? Lana, you had nothing to worry about,' Declan laughed as something hit the windscreen, making them all jump again.
'What on Earth was that?' she screeched as a brown, slimy yuckiness slowly made its way down the window.
'It looks like... like... oh, there's another one. Quick, Declan. Go, go go go,' Lana screamed as more of the disgusting looking balls were pelted at them.
'What is that smell?' Emma said, her nose screwed up in disgust.
'It smells like... like... poo. Is that poo? OMG,I don't believe this. This day is just getting worse and worse,' Lana groaned as they finally pulled away, driving as fast as they could away from the filth behind them.
'Were those trolls really throwing poo at us?' Lana shrieked, cringing
'I think that's exactly what they were throwing at us,' Elliott replied, a look of horror on his face.
Declan chuckled, 'It's not poo, people. It's just mud. Peter the pixie troll used to throw mud as a weapon. Not poo,' he said as he turned the vehicle around a corner.
'Peter the pixie troll liked using mud as a weapon? That's just weird. What kind of fairy tales did your parents use to read to you?'
The group began to laugh as another nasty smell began to pervade the car.
'Ewww,what is THAT?' Lana cried.
'That would be pixie troll farts,' Declan replied, pursing his lips and screwing up his nose.
All the windows were opened just enough to allow some fresh air in as Emma leant back to get a look at the creature in the cage behind her.
'It's still unconscious,' she said. 'But he's making some horrible noises.'
'They're called farts, Sis,' Lana added with a stifled chuckle.
'When I was a kid, I wasn't allowed to say fart,' Elliott said, somewhat seriously.
'Fart? What's so wrong with the word fart?' Declan asked.
'My parents thought it was too crude.'
'So what did you call them then?' asked Emma.
Elliott turned pink and looked out the window.
'Come on, spit it out,' she laughed.
'Trumps,' he said with an embarrassed grin.
'Trumps? Really? That's hilarious,' Lana coughed as another nasty odour drifted under her nose.
'Or bottom burps.'
'Years ago, we called them ‘horse and carts’ or ‘false starts’,' Declan said after they'd quietened down.
'Really? I didn't think you were THAT old,' laughed Lana.
'Oi,' he grinned, peering at her through the rear view mirror.
'Declan, you just missed the turning for the motorway,' Elliott interrupted as they drove on to a different road.
'That's because I'm avoiding the motorway. There'll be too many cars stuck on there. I think we'll find it easier to drive down the A36, at least if it gets too congested, we can find alternate routes. Don't worry, I know what I'm doing,' he said, with a tap to the side of his nose as they took the road signposted Frome. 'This should be a better route to get towards Arundel and we might just catch up with some of the other Watchers in Salisbury or Winchester.'
'I think it's pixie trolls,' sighed Eleanor from inside the safety of the Praxos HQ, beneath the city of London, as she took a sip of her tea. 'I hope all the students and their mentors made it to their designated towns alright.'
'What are pixie trolls, Eleanor?' asked Daisy who had been in the middle of a self-defence class with Wilbur when Eleanor had summoned them both.
'Strange little creatures, really,' she answered as she pondered what to do. 'I believe that, at precisely 9.57 this morning, something awakened them from their centuries old sleep. Look what they've done,' she said, pointing to her television screen that showed strange images all over London, of people seemingly cemented in time.
Daisy gasped as Eleanor flicked the channels to show each CCTV location. Reporters outside Number 10 Downing Street stood motionless in front of cameras. One man was half crouching, half standing as he had been in the middle of tying his shoe lace. Two others stood with their mouths open, mid conversation. Flicking the channel, Daisy watched as visitors to the London Eye, stood, half on, half off, the famous large wheel, laughing in expectation of what was about to happen. Buses and cars sat in amidst a number of cyclists balanced precariously on two wheels.
'I don't understand,' Daisy whispered as Eleanor's eyebrows bunched together as the pictures on her screen began to turn fuzzy. Flicking various buttons on the remote control, something seemed to be happening to all the channels as, one by one, the pictures went blank. Eleanor had lost her view of London.
Sighing, she stood up and leant on her walking stick. 'I wish I knew what was really going on.'
Walking around her desk, she stood in front of Wilbur before turning to face the young girl.
'I once read somewhere that pixie trolls have the ability to manipulate time. I don't know how they can do it or why they would even want to. But fortunately, we don't seem to have been affected, which means the Skulls are probably unaffected too. I'm not sure about other supernaturals, though.'
'Can we stop them? The pixie trolls, I mean?' Daisy asked.
'Of course,' answered Eleanor, 'I'm just not sure how,yet.'
'We do have another problem though,' she said to Wilbur, 'these trolls also have the ability to become invisible so we have no idea where they are. And, if they so much as lay a finger on us, we become exactly like the humans - stuck in time.'
'Just another day at the office then, Eleanor?' Wilbur replied with a grin.
Eleanor's head fell backwards as she let out a deep throaty laugh.
'Exactly,' she winked as she turned around and slowly walked out of her office.
'Where are we going? What are we going to do? What about my dad? Shouldn't we go and get him and the others?'
As they walked through the tunnels of the underground, Eleanor eventually stopped in front of a small door that Daisy hadn't seen before. Pulling out a necklace from beneath her sweater, she used the key dangling from it to unlock the door.
'Your dad will be fine, Daisy. He's working with Oksana and Brody, today. Don't worry about him, they're working on something below ground. They're probably not even aware of what's going on. I'm more concerned about all the students who are out visiting different parts of England today.'
They walked through a large area filled masses of boxes, until they reached another door. Opening it, Daisy was startled to find nothing but a small room with a single desk and a computer.
Eleanor smiled. 'It might not look like much, but this is where we keep all information about, well, pretty much everything, really.'
As Wilbur switched on the computer and sat down in front of it, Eleanor explained. 'Over the years, the Watchers have kept a detailed record of everything supernatural. On this computer, you will find mountains and mountains of information about every supernatural being that has ever walked this Earth. Out there,' she said pointing back out through the door, 'you'll find the same information. In here, it should just be a little quicker to go through,' she smiled.
'Pixie trolls,' said Wilbur as he stood up and allowed Eleanor to sit down and look at the screen.
With a grin, Eleanor turned towards Daisy, 'This should tell us exactly what we need to know to be able to sort out those pesky little monsters.'
They watched in silence as Salisbury Cathedral loomed in the distance. There was something calming about it. The beauty of such a historic building mesmerised them as they drove slowly through the town, narrowly missing the cars and pedestrians in the street.
'There!' Elliott suddenly yelled, pointing towards the base cathedral. 'There's someone down there. It must be one of the Watchers.'
Squinting, Declan noticed a girl running towards the entrance.
Putting his foot down, he turned the vehicle off the road and began driving across the spotless green lawn until they stopped directly in front of the main entrance, where the girl had disappeared.
'She must have gone inside,' Lana said as they inspected the area around them, not seeing her among the statues of people.
'We should go in,' Emma said.
'What if she's a Skull, though?'
'No, she wasn't a Skull,' replied Declan, 'She's too frightened. She's a new Watcher, I think the changes happened to her today.'
'Oh she must be terrified. We need to go and help her,' Emma said as she went to open the car door.
'Hang on, Emma. We don't know where the trolls are. She was lucky not to have been touched. Elliott, can you give us some flames? Lana, you'd better stay with Moira. Emma, come with us.'
Once fire surrounded the car, the three of them hopped out and ran towards the entrance to the cathedral, the mesmerising flames moving along with them.
Declan pushed open the heavy door and they rushed inside.
'Is it safe? Are the trolls inside?' whispered Emma.
Declan shook his head, 'I don't think they've entered any buildings so far. I see no reason why they'd be able to walk into a religious one now. I reckon we're okay, guys.'
Elliott lowered his hands, the flames disappearing.
Quite a few people stood around, admiring the ancient architecture, some had been in mid-conversation, others appeared to be sat quietly in prayer, reading bibles, or chatting to tour guides. An eerie silence surrounded them as they walked around, trying to find the mysterious girl.
'Hello?' said Emma. 'We're not going to hurt you. We're here to help,' she added, but the girl was nowhere to be seen.
'Let's split up,' Declan suggested as they walked their separate ways in the semi-darkness.
Emma walked through the centre of the cathedral while Declan and Elliott walked down either side of it. Gazing upwards, her breath caught in her throat at the enormity and beauty of her surroundings. She'd always been fascinated by ancient buildings and this one certainly wasn't disappointing, with its vaulted ceilings and huge columns that supported it throughout.
Stopping as she heard gentle sobbing, Emma turned towards the sound until she found a girl with long, wavy, strawberry blonde hair, hiding behind a tomb.
'Hey,' she said with a smile as she squeezed through and sat down beside her.
'It's okay, we're friends and we know what you're going through.'
The girl looked up, her big blue eyes shining and watery. 'How can you? You've no idea what's happened to me. Who are you anyway?' she said, defensively.
Emma smiled and nodded, 'Believe me, I know. I went through it myself just a few months ago. Is it your 16th birthday?'
The girl looked shock, slowly nodding.
'Did you get a tattoo today? Well, when I say get a tattoo, I mean grow a tattoo?'
Her eyes widened and she gulped, 'h..h..how do...'
'Like I said, it happened to me. You're special. There are quite a few of us. We can help you.'
'But... but what's going on? Why has everyone... turned to stone?' she spluttered with a slight Irish accent, trying to hold back the tears.
'It's kind of hard to explain, will you come with us? You'll be safe, don't worry. We'll explain everything in the car.'
Declan and Elliott slowly appeared in front of the tomb. When the girl saw them, she flinched.
'It's okay,' Emma reassured. 'They're the same as you and me. You'll be safer with us. This is Declan, he's our Mentor, and this is Elliott. Oh, and I'm Emma. My sister, Lana, is in the car with Moira.'
The blonde girl slowly smiled as they stood up.
'I'm Sammy. Sammy Prentiss,' she said. 'Where are we going?'
'We're going somewhere you'll be safe, and be with others like you.'
'But what about my family?'
'Don't worry about them, everything will be sorted out in time,' Declan said as he gently led her to the main entrance.
'Elliott, can you do the honours, please?' he said as Elliott flashed a grin and produced the flames from his fingertips.
Sammy stumbled backwards, her hands covering her mouth.
'It's okay, it's okay, Sammy. Please, just trust me. We all have special... abilities. You too. You'll find out what they are, soon enough. Just trust us. When we open the doors, Elliott's flames will protect us from what's outside. You need to run as fast as you can to the car, okay?'
Sammy tentatively nodded as Emma took her hand and squeezed.
'Ready?' she asked.
Declan opened the door and, with the warmth of the flames surrounding them, the four of them headed for the car.
Once they were bundled inside and Sammy, Lana, Emma and Moira were squeezed into the back seats, Lana spoke.
'I'm afraid we've got a slight problem.'
'What is it?' asked Declan as he turned to face her.
'It's woken up,' she replied with a gulp.
'Oi, get me outta, outta here here. You can't keep me locked in a cage cage. I'm not some kind of animal animal. I'm a troll troll, I'm a pixie pixie troll. We have rights right, you know know. Get me outta here, get me out, out!' screeched the creature from the back of the car as it shook the bars of the cage.
'Shut up,' Lana shouted back at it. 'Just shut up, you horrible little thing. Why should we let you out? So you can freeze us all too? You're an evil little sh—'
'Lana, that's enough,' yelled Emma over the top of her voice.
Lana instantly quietened down, sulking.
'Sammy, this is my sister, Lana,' she said with a smile as Sammy sat, terrified, occasionally stealing a glance at the ugly creature in the back of the car.
'Hi, Sammy. Sorry about that,' she said, reaching across to shake her hand. Sammy shook it and then put her hands back underneath her legs.
'Wh...wh...what is that?' she gulped.
'That's a pixie troll and it's because of him and his kind that the world seems to have stopped, evil little...'
'Lana, stop it,' Emma said, shaking her head.
'Well it is!'
'I know, but Sammy doesn't understand any of this. So before you keep going on and on about him, we need to explain what's happening.'
'Oh yeah, right. Sorry,' she said. 'Did you get your tattoo this morning?'
'Did you discover any special power yet?'
Sammy shrugged and looked down shyly.
'You've probably just not had the chance to find out what it is, with all this happening this morning,' Declan said as they drove away from Salisbury towards Winchester.
'Erm... what's wrong with her?' Sammy asked as she looked at Moira, who not only seemed to be in a rather deep sleep but was also very pale.
'She was bitten, we're taking her to hospital,' Elliott said, turning to look at her from the front seat.
'Hospital? But what good will that do? Everyone's frozen.'
Lana and Emma smiled. 'It's not just any old hospital we're taking her to. It's a special hospital for the Watchers,' Emma replied.
'You're a Watcher, Sammy. That's what we are. We're half... erm... half...' Emma suddenly wondered whether she should be the one to tell her the truth.
'It's okay, Emma. She needs to know. Normally Eleanor would tell her, but I think under the circumstances, it's okay for you to go ahead and do the honours,' Declan interrupted.
Smiling, Emma continued, 'Sammy, we're special because one of our parents was special. We're all half angels,' she said.
Sammy raised her eyebrows.
'Seriously, we're half angels. You too, that's what your tattoo means.'
'Och, half angels, half angels angels. Who do you think you are, you are? I'm special, and you're special special, we're all special special. Get over yourselves selves,' muttered the troll angrily.
'Oh shut up,' yelled everyone at the same time.
'You're telling me that either my mum or my dad is an angel?'
'That's right,' said Elliott.
'Where are your parents?' Emma asked.
'My mum died when I was a baby and my dad, well, he runs a bakery in Salisbury, with my step mum.'
'So it is likely your mum was the angel,' Lana said with a sad smile.
Sammy's eyes glazed over, 'Does that mean she's not... not... not really dead?' she asked.
Declan looked at her through the mirror, 'It's a possibility,' he said. 'But that doesn't mean that you can see her. Most angels aren't allowed to return. But we can look into it when all of this is sorted out.'
'You can?' she asked, her face glowing.
'We will, I promise,' he said with a wink before he returned his full attention to the road.
'So what happened to you this morning, Sammy?' asked Lana.
'I was just working at the bakery with Dad when suddenly everything stopped,' she said, putting her head in her hands and sobbing. 'I don't know what happened, nobody was moving. I thought they were dead, but how can you die standing up like that? I was so confused,' she added.
'What happened to you before that, though?' Emma asked.
'I woke up at 4.30 with an awful pain in my legs, I just couldn't shift it. I got out of bed to have a look and that's when I saw it climbing up my legs, it looked like a tree root or something. It hurt so much,' she sobbed. 'And then it carried on moving up until it landed on my back and stayed there. I was so scared, I didn't know what to do. Dad was already at the bakery and I couldn't tell him anyway... what would he think? So I just went back to bed and tried to forget about it but I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I got up and walked into town early. But while I was walking, there were all these voices in my head. They just wouldn't shut up, it was horrible. It carried on until everything stopped just before ten this morning. Then there was nothing but silence.'
'Voices in your head?' asked Declan.
Sammy nodded, 'It was horrible.'
Declan smiled, 'I know exactly how that feels, Sammy.'
'You mean you have it too? How do you live with it?'
'You learn how to control it. Once you've mastered that, it won't bother you at all. In fact, you'll find it becomes very useful,' he winked.
She smiled back, 'But the voices didn't sound human. I don't know what they were, it was just weird.'
'Don't worry, we'll help you figure it out,' Emma said.
'Does that say mud?' asked Daisy.
'Yes,' said Eleanor as she continued to read up about the pixie trolls. 'Apparently, they use it as a weapon against their enemies.'
'How do they do that?'
'By throwing it, apparently. I've no idea how that works though,' she replied. 'I can't imagine mud being particularly damaging.
'But how can they be stopped?' asked Daisy as Wilbur returned to the little office with cups of tea for them both.
'Thanks, Wilbur,' Daisy smiled as she took a long gulp.
'Here it is,' exclaimed Eleanor. 'House dust! If they are touched with house dust, the trolls become woozy and unable to do much for about 24 hours. Hmm, that's interesting,' she said as she turned to face Daisy and Wilbur, taking off her glasses, 'Who'd have thought the answer would lie with something so simple,' she said before taking a sip of her tea and then turning back and putting her glasses back on. 'Let's see what else we need to know. Hmm. The pixie trolls are said to have been put into a comatose-like sleep about 80 years ago by Phillip James Bottomley,' Eleanor frowned. 'I remember Phillip. He did this?' she whispered.
'Phillip died in 1941, Eleanor. He can't be responsible,' Wilbur offered.
'Yes, I know. It says here that he used the trolls’ own power against them, with the help of a very special artefact that he found in Lyndhurst. That artefact was eventually given to The British Museum in 1935... Goodness,' she said, standing up for a moment to stretch her legs. 'What's the time, Wilbur?'
'Time has stopped, Eleanor,' said Wilbur with a smirk.
'Oh, yes of course!' she exclaimed, her cheeks pinking slightly.
'But I do believe it's time to go to your chambers,' he added.
Raising her eyebrows, the elderly woman took the arm he offered and they turned to exit the room.
'Daisy, be a dear and print off the image of that artefact and then switch the computer off. Here's the key to lock up afterwards. We'll wait for you in the main living room', Eleanor said with a smile as the two walked out.
A younger and much more energetic Eleanor bounded out of her changing room wearing her favourite blue skinny jeans, tan knee high boots and a cream fluffy jumper. With a grin, she did a few yoga poses as she waited for Daisy to return.
Wilbur stood waiting for further instructions.
'Eleanor,' Daisy exclaimed as she pushed through the door and handed her the key. 'You missed something about the trolls. I scrolled down a bit and found that if they consume sugar, they'll grow to twice their normal size.'
'Oh, thanks, Daisy. Glad you spotted that!' she said, grinning. 'Now, we need to track down the other Watchers and get to the bottom of this. Wilbur, I could really do with speaking to Bryn. Where did he go today?'
'He took a group of students to Royal Tunbridge Wells,' said Wilbur as Daisy searched the room for something. Spotting a small bottle of water, she walked over, picked it and took a couple of swigs while listening to Eleanor.
'Right. While I think about what to do, would you pop down and get Beau and Habika?'
Wilbur nodded and rushed out of the room.
'How are we going to contact everyone?' asked Daisy, swinging the bottle in her hand.
'I'm still not sure, to be honest, Daisy. Our communications have never been hit quite like this before. Ordinarily, we'd use the CB radios but we can't even get them to work. Oh, do you hear that?'
A very faint sound could be heard from above.
'It's a helicopter,' Eleanor said as she rushed from the living room. 'Come on, Daisy!' she said as she grabbed her hand and they rushed down the long corridor towards the elevator.
They pressed the button a few times but nothing happened.
Eleanor slapped her forehead, 'I completely forgot the lift is out of action at the moment. I must remember to get the maintenance man in when this is all over. We'll have to take the stairs,' she said as she opened a secret door to the side of the lift. The two ran up, two at a time, reaching another corridor. Turning left, they entered a beautiful, old fashioned living room, with a huge wood burning fire at its focal point.
'Through here,' Eleanor said as she pulled Daisy through a wardrobe door, out into another room that was covered in a thick layer of dust.
'Grab a couple of handfuls,' she said, 'and then follow me down to the front door.'
The two stood either side of the door, looking out through the windows. A helicopter was expertly landing on a very tiny patch of green space several metres away from the building.
'There's Cassie!' yelled Daisy as they watched the blades eventually come to a halt as the curly haired blonde and the two other women waited patiently, working out their exit strategy.
'Who's that?' Daisy asked as she spotted a tall man with long white hair strolling towards the helicopter.
'It's a Skull,' cursed Eleanor. 'He's going for the girls. I've got no choice but to run,' she added. 'But first,' she said as she lay on the floor, 'help cover me in dust.'
'But it's not going to stick,' Daisy cried.
Quick thinking Eleanor sat up and grabbed the bottle of water, pouring the remains over herself before they sprinkled the dust on top of her.
Daisy held her breath, as it began to swirl all over the place while Eleanor made sure she was covered, from top to toe.
Daisy then watched as Eleanor opened the door and shot outside.
As she ran, troll after troll began to reveal itself. Each one that tried to touch her fell to the ground. Daisy smiled as Eleanor's plan worked.
Upon reaching the helicopter moments before the Skull, Eleanor turned to face him. With a grin, she crouched to the floor before jumping high into the air. She kicked him, square in his chest, and knocked him back at least ten metres.
'Quick,' she shouted to the girls. 'Start up the engines. It's better that we move this baby out of here. I think that's what the Skulls are after. We can land at the rear. I'll show you where.'
Grinning, she climbed in.
Turning to look towards Daisy, Eleanor gave the thumbs up sign and pointed to behind the building. Daisy locked the door and ran as fast as she could back to Wilbur, who was waiting with her father and Habika.
'Hey Dad,' she said as he hugged her tightly before she explained what had happened. When she'd finished, the four of them ran out of the living room and headed outside to where the helicopter was being re-located.
High fiving each other, Eleanor, Cassie, Amber and Sara climbed out of the helicopter, grinning from ear to ear.
The group gathered by the side of the helicopter as Eleanor started to explain everything they'd learned that day.
'So here's what we know...' she said as she walked back indoors, with the others following closely by her side.
The group sat quietly, thinking about the strange occurrences that had happened so far that day as they made their way through Winchester. Slowing down, they gazed out the windows trying hard to spot any Watchers that might be waiting for assistance.
'There's some kind of movement over there,' whispered Sammy as they turned to look, spotting a twitching curtain behind the window of an old house.
Declan flashed his lights a couple of times towards the property and they waited patiently. An elderly man sneaked a peek from behind a curtain and then moved away, gingerly opening his front door. Declan manoeuvred the car so that he could wind down his window and speak to him without getting out.
'Are you alright, Sir?' he asked.
The man squinted slightly, 'Aye. I'm just waiting for this predicament to be over and done with. You Watchers?' he asked.
'Aye, but I'm a bit too old to be going out and about to help these days. I can provide you with refreshments but that's about all, I'm afraid.'
Declan grinned at the old man, 'That's very kind of you, thank you.'
The man disappeared momentarily before returning with a carrier bag that he'd firmly tied up.
'I'll get it,' Elliott said as he went to open his door.
'No need,' the old man said as he looked down at the bag, concentrating hard. Seconds later, the bag had vanished from his hands and was sitting on Elliott's lap.
'That's awesome,' he laughed.
The girls sat in the back, open mouthed.
'I might be old, but I've still got my powers,' he smiled. 'Good luck. Stay safe,' he said as he quickly closed his door.
'Thank you!' they all shouted before Declan reversed the car out of the little street and they continued on their way.
'Nice,' said Elliott as he undid the knot and opened the bag to reveal a host of chocolate bars, fruit and a few bottles of water and soft drinks.
Everyone soon went quiet as they devoured the contents of the bag.
'And what about me me? Just because I'm a troll troll, doesn't mean I don't need to eat eat. I got rights too, ain't I I?' piped up the voice from the back.
'Oh here,' sighed Emma as she threw a chocolate bar into the boot of the car.
'Thank you, thank you,' he said as they listened to him rip open the packet and noisily shove it into his mouth, one noisy chomp after another. Then he began to chuckle nervously.
'What? What are you laughing at?' Lana moaned as she turned to see what all the fuss was about.
'What?' she screeched again.
'Sugar... sugar...' the troll cried out. 'You shouldn't have given me sugar...'
'What's going on? asked Declan.
'Erm... we seem to have a problem,' Emma yelled as the troll, who had originally been about knee height, was now twice the size and was squashed rather uncomfortably against the bars of the cage.
'Ouch, ouch,' he muttered.
'Sugar makes you bigger? Why didn't you tell us, you stupid idiot?'
'Because he'd hoped it would break the cage, probably,' Elliott said as he turned around to get a good look. 'Lana, look out!'
The girls pulled themselves forward just as the troll reached out.
'That was close,' she said, horrified, as she watched poor Moira's face change.
'Oh no, he touched Moira,' screeched Lana.
'I did it to save her her. I did it to save save her,' the troll repeated over and over.
'What do you mean? You did it to save her?' Emma asked as the three girls sat huddled up as far away from his prying hands as possible.
'I froze her in time time. She was growing weak weak, she was growing evil evil. I slowed it down down, I slowed it down down,' he said.
'I don't believe it. He's right,' Declan whispered.
'Why would you do that?' asked Emma as she touched Moira's hand to find it ice cold.
'I'm not as evil as you think I am am,' he simply stated, crossing his arms. 'A simple thank you would suffice suffice.'
'Thank you? Thank you? You just FROZE our friend, you creep. Why would we thank you?'
The troll sighed heavily. 'I can't do anything anything. You run me over over, you catch me me, you put me in a cage cage, you feed me sugar sugar and I slow down your friend's evil evil process from happening too too fast fast. I have done nothing to harm harm you you,' he said.
'He's right, you know,' said Emma. 'Thank you for helping with our friend.'
The troll smiled at her and nodded, while Lana looked at her sister like she was from another planet.
'May I have a a drink drink of water water please please?' the trolled asked.
'Sure,' Emma said as she went to throw him a bottle.
'Wait!' Lana yelled. 'What if the water makes something happen? It could be like the Gremlins or something.'
Emma stopped momentarily, 'Will water affect you?' she asked him.
The troll shook his head, 'except except...'
'...to quench my thirst thirst.'
Emma smiled and threw the bottle towards him. He caught it, unscrewed the lid and gulped down the entire contents of the bottle in one go.
The others watched, waiting for something horrible to happen.
But the only thing that did was a rather loud and smelly belch.
'Ew,' cried Lana and Sammy at the same time.
'Thank you, thank you, thank you.'
After collecting as much dust as possible, Eleanor and the girls returned to the helicopter where they climbed aboard and waited for take-off.
Habika, Wilbur and Beau stayed behind to guard Praxos, in the hope that some of the Watchers would soon return safely.
As they lifted into the sky, the girls looked down at the strange stillness of London. Never before had the city seemed so calm and eerily quiet.
'Keep your eyes peeled for any kind of movement,' Eleanor said. 'We're not just looking for our kind, but Skulls and pixie trolls, too. We need to find out what happened to that artefact'.
As they hovered, the only sound that could be heard for miles around was the gentle thudding of the rotor blades above them.
Each of the girls carried a pair of binoculars slung around their necks, apart from the pilot Amber, who was able to see just as well without them.
'I think I see something,' Daisy shouted, pointing to the flat roof of a very large house in the distance.
'I see it too,' Eleanor replied, 'Amber, over there,' she instructed.
The helicopter zoomed in towards the large property where they spotted a small group of people waving to them. 'They're not Skulls,' Sara said loudly.
'But they're not Watchers, either,' replied Eleanor.
'Who are they? And why aren't they frozen?' asked Daisy.
'Let's go and find out.'
The helicopter hovered above the house for a moment while Amber decided if it was safe enough to land as the group below shielded themselves from the wind created by the blades. One of them stepped forward and nodded his head as Amber made the decision to set it down close to the edge of the building.
Eleanor climbed out and approached the strangers cautiously.
'It's Eleanor Hayden-Jones,' the hairy man shouted with a grin as he ran towards her.
'I'm so glad to see you,' he said, holding out his hand.
She took him in for just a moment before deciding it was safe. She shook his hand.
'How do you know me?' she asked.
'Are you kidding? All the Supernaturals know who you are, and what you do for our kind. Can you tell us what's going on out there?'
Eleanor smiled, 'First, perhaps you can enlighten me as to who you are?' she smiled.
The man turned and ushered his friends over. It was only as they approached that she realised who, and what, they were.
There were four of them. Two men and two women, all of whom had very long hair and quite a lot of facial hair too. Even the females.
'Are you Basajaun?' she asked, awe-struck. They nodded in response.
'But what are you doing in the middle of London? I thought you were farming folk?'
The man nodded, 'That's right. But we do take holidays every once in a while, you know,' he laughed. 'We have only here a couple of days, and then this happened. We rented this house for a couple of weeks. What's going on?'
Eleanor smiled and explained everything she had learned, 'The only thing that slows them down is house dust, which explains why they haven't been brave enough to enter any of the buildings. I strongly recommend that you stay indoors until we've solved this... problem,' she said.
The four Basajaun nodded, 'Is there anything we can do to help?'
Eleanor shook her head, 'Thank you but no. Leave it to us. We can handle it. You guys stay safe indoors, okay?'
Again, the small group nodded and thanked her as she returned to the helicopter, climbed aboard and waved as Amber deftly manoeuvred the vehicle off the roof.
'Who were they?' asked Cassie.
Eleanor grinned, 'The Basajaun. I still can't quite believe it. I'd never have thought they would venture out of their homes to come here.'
'What are Basajaun?' asked Daisy as they slowly made their way over the city.
'They were always believed to be spirits living in caves who took care of agricultural creatures and farmland. Apparently, many, many years ago, it was the Basajaun that taught humans all about farming and ironwork. They're very gentle beings. I still can't quite believe they're in London,' she muttered. 'Fancy that.'
'Down there,' yelled Sara. 'There's a group of people on the move. They’re definitely Skulls,' she added. 'Look, there are a few trolls behind them.'
'Are you sure?' Eleanor replied. 'Can you get us a little closer, Amber?'
The helicopter turned towards them.
'It's that guy you kicked earlier, Eleanor,' Daisy shouted, her eyes wide open with fear.
'They're watching us. Let's keep our distance, but continue to follow them. Let's see where they're headed.'
Daisy kept an eye on the trolls. The Skulls appeared to be pulling them along. 'Eleanor, I think they're being held against their will.'
'I think you're right. So it is the Skulls who are responsible for all this, then,' she muttered.
'Amber, we need to track down Bryn. He went to Royal Tunbridge Wells with a group of students this morning. Do we have enough fuel to fly down there and back?'
Amber checked the instruments and nodded, 'Yes, we managed to fill her up in Northolt on the way back from Bath. We'll be fine. Want to head there now?'
Eleanor thought for a moment and nodded. 'Yes, it's important I speak to him about that artefact'.
The helicopter leant over to one side as they changed direction and headed south east.
'Follow the A26, Amber, and keep an eye out for any kind of movement. It's possible Bryn might have found a vehicle.'
'It's like looking for a needle in a haystack,' sighed Cassie.
'Let's head for the centre, towards the Pantiles.'
As the helicopter hovered above the pretty spa town, moving closer to the popular shopping area of the Pantiles, Eleanor pointed to an area for them to land.
'I'm afraid I can't put it down there, Eleanor, there are too many lamp posts. It's just too dangerous.'
'Yes I see now, how about over there?' she pointed to a more open area.
Amber did as she suggested and they landed, all of them looking around for any sign of movement. After ten minutes of nothing, Eleanor was about to give up and move on to another location when she saw the blind in a shop window being open and closed.
She smiled, 'Over there, look! Someone's trying to get our attention. It might be Bryn.'
Eleanor undid her seatbelt and took a water bottle with a spray attachment from her bag. She sprayed herself before grabbing a large handful of dust.
'Hold your breath, girls,' she said as she sprinkled the dust over herself. I won't be long. Keep an eye out for any Skulls.'
Opening the door, she hopped out and ran towards the shop. The door opened and she went inside, only to find a group of students, alone.
'Miss Jones! Are we glad to see you,' said a teenage boy. 'We've been stuck in here for yonks. Bryn told us to stay put, but it's been ages.'
'Quinn, I've told you before, call me Eleanor. Miss Jones sounds so old. Now tell me, where did Bryn go?'
'He went to investigate what's going on,' said another student.
'Did he say where he was going?'
All the students shook their heads.
Eleanor tutted. 'Damn, I really need to speak to him,' she sighed.
'What's going on, Miss... I mean, Eleanor?'
'It's the pixie trolls. The Skulls have managed to awaken them and they're somehow using them against us. It's all very complicated but I really needed to speak to Bryn about the artefact they've got their hands on,' she said, more to herself than to the teenagers.
'What can we do?' Quinn asked.
'There's little you can do, I'm afraid. And we can't take you back because we don't have space in the helicopter. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to stay here and keep indoors until peace is restored.'
'But we're starving,' sighed a girl from the back of the room.
'Oh yes, I bet you are. Right, leave it with me for a moment. I'll go and find you some food and drink. You must stay here. It's not safe outdoors as we don't know where the trolls are. They have the power of invisibility, unfortunately, and if they so much as put a finger on you, you'll be frozen in time, just like the rest of the humans out there. There is only one thing that will help, albeit temporarily, and that's house dust. While I pop out and try and find you guys something to eat and drink, why don't you find a sweeping brush and gather together as much dust as you can?'
'We don't need a sweeping brush,' smiled one of the girls who carefully pushed her classmates out of the way as she gently blew towards the floor, causing a little dust to swirl in front of her.
Eleanor peered out the window before she took some of the dust she'd brought with her and shook it over herself after spraying herself with water. With a quick sneeze, she opened the door and ran two doors down where she spotted a little supermarket. Collecting a number of sandwiches, crisps, fruit and water, she left some money by the till and rushed back outdoors.
A sound behind her made her jump and she turned. Tucking her hand into her pocket, she grabbed a handful of dust and blew it. Immediately, a little troll appeared right in front of her. It sneezed and fell to the ground in a daze.
Eleanor turned back and dashed into the boutique where the teens were waiting with a dustpan containing just the tiniest amount of dust.
'She keeps this place spotless,' Quinn moaned as he pointed his head towards the pretty young woman who was in the middle of hanging a floral dress on the rack.
'Never mind, at least you've managed to get a bit, just in case. Here's something to keep you going for a while,' she said, handing them the paper bag full of food. 'Now I must go and try to find Bryn. Stay indoors out of harm's way. I know you've all got powers, but it's just too risky to use them at the moment. Don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, stay here,' she said with a smile as she scattered the last little bit of dust over herself and made a run for it back to the helicopter.
Driving particularly slowly up a street to avoid the scattering of pedestrians, Winchester Castle came slowly into view and Emma noticed a small group of people dressed in long, hooded, black cloaks gathered in front of it.
'Declan, who are they?' she whispered as he pulled over and they sat watching in silence.
'I'm not sure.'
'Can you hear their thoughts?' she asked.
'I'm trying to, but something's blocking them.'
As he concentrated hard, the others sat quietly waiting. Even the pixie troll didn't break the silence.
'Whoever they are, they're not good. I don't think they're Skulls, but I'm picking up a similar vibe. These guys are dangerous.'
'Shouldn't we just get out of here?' whispered Lana.
'Not if they're planning something against the Watchers, or against the humans. Maybe we should hang around and wait to see if....'
Suddenly, a gap in the cloaked figures opened up and revealed a number of frozen humans being carried in front of them.
'Uh oh,' Declan said. 'They're vamps, and they're taking full advantage of the humans not being able to escape. We've got to do something...'
'You mean vamps as in vampires?'
'Afraid so, Sammy.'
'But they... they... can kill,' she gulped.
Declan nodded, 'They're capable of some serious bodily harm. You know what you've read about them in books?'
'And seen in movies?'
She nodded again.
'Some of it is fiction, but a lot of it is true.'
Sammy's face paled in seconds.
'But don't worry, we can handle them.'
'We can?' she whispered.
'Just be careful, alright?'
Sammy nodded before Elliot spoke, 'Wait a minute, why aren't the trolls bothering them?' he asked.
'Maybe there aren't any here?' suggested Emma. 'Erm, can you tell us if any of your kind are here?' she turned to ask their captive.
He looked up from his squashed position in the cage.
'I can't... I can't see see...'
'Declan?' asked Emma.
'Yes, I think so too,' he replied.
'Huh? Oh come on you guys, not fair to communicate like that. Emma, what were you thinking just then?'
Emma raised her eyebrows and looked backwards.
'Oh no, you're not going to let him out? But he might freeze us all and then what?'
'It's a risk we've got to take if we're going to help stop those poor humans from becoming lunch,' Declan added.
'I know you're right, I really do, but...'
'Free me me? Free me me?' said the troll. 'You'll free me in order to help those people people?' he asked.
'We have to,' said Emma. 'Will you promise not to hurt us?'
The troll smiled widely.
'I never had any any intention to harm you you. I want want to help you you. I want to help you you. Really, I do. I do do,' he clapped.
Emma turned to Declan who nodded from the front seat of the car as he handed her a key from the glove box.
Taking a deep breath, Emma leant backwards just as Lana grabbed her. 'Be careful, Sis,' she whispered before releasing her.
Emma climbed onto her knees and leant over the back seat, fumbling with the key in the padlock until it clicked free. The door popped open and the troll gingerly unravelled himself from it. As he lifted himself into the small space next to the cage, he let out a giggle and leant forward towards Emma.
She gulped and tensed her body as he leant over to grab her.
'Oh no,' cried Lana with her eyes closed.
But when she opened them again, she was amazed to see her sister hugging the creature back, giggling with him.
'Oh,' Lana yelped. 'You didn't harm her. But you could have frozen us all, why didn't you?'
The troll released his grip on Emma and shrugged, 'Why would I I? Why would would I I?' he asked.
'But all the humans - and back in Bath, Liam and Nisha - oh, I'm so confused.'
'The trolls aren't all all bad bad,' he quipped. 'Some are under under the spell spell. A nasty spell spell. I managed to escape it it, but then you ran me over over and, and trapped me in that cage cage.'
'Why didn't you say something before?' she asked.
The troll shrugged his shoulders, 'Why? Why not? Who knows knows?'
'We can talk about this later,' Declan said, peering through the window and watching more and more humans being carried into the castle.
'Can you see any trolls in the vicinity?' he asked.
The pixie troll scoured the area and shook his head, 'No, no trolls here, no trolls here here.'
'How are we going to help, Declan?' asked Elliott.
'I have a plan,' he replied, looking through his mirror directly at the creature in the back. The troll gulped loudly.
'So we're safe to get out of the car?' Lana asked for the third time.
'Yes, yes, safe yes yes. I can keep you safe safe,' he answered.
'How can you keep us safe?' Elliott quipped as they very quietly climbed out of the Range Rover and hid behind it while they waited for Declan to explain his plan.
'I can tell you when when bad pixie trolls come near near and if they do do, I can try to stop them them. Don't worry, you'll be safe safe.'
'So, what's the plan?' Emma asked.
'Well, I figured our friend here, oh, what's your name by the way?' Declan asked as he looked towards the creature.
'My name name? You want to know know my name name?'
The group nodded as he grinned, blushing at the same time, 'My name name is is Jimble Jimble.'
'Nice to meet you, Jimble,' Declan whispered while the others smiled at him. 'Now, here's what I need you to do...'
The group watched as Jimble rushed to the other side of the road, hiding behind people stopped in the street. Occasionally, he would turn back and seek reassurance from Declan, who would nod and give his thumbs up.
As he finally approached the castle, the others silently followed.
If the plan worked, Jimble would touch each of the vampires and stop them in time. If it didn't work, then they'd have a fight on their hands and they had to be prepared.
Just before Jimble disappeared behind the door which had been left slightly ajar, he turned back one last time.
'Maybe we shouldn't have asked him to do this. Look at him, he looks terrified,' whispered Emma as they crept towards the door.
'I'm sure he'll be fine, Em. If he wasn't confident, he would've said so,' Lana replied.
'I hope you're right,' whispered Sammy, who was probably even more frightened than Jimble had appeared to be.
Suddenly there was a loud crash from behind the castle door. Jimble came running out, his arms and legs everywhere as he tried to bolt as fast as possible. His mouth fell open as he silently screamed.
'Jimble,' hissed Declan. 'Over here.'
Jimble stopped abruptly and turned to face them. Shaking his head, he cried out, 'I didn't get them all. There's still three left - run!'
'No, Jimble, come here. We can do this,' Emma cried, rushing out to try and catch him.
As she caught up with him, she went to grab hold of his arm. He spotted her just in time.
'No, Emma, no no! You must not touch me me unless I know you're going to to,' he scolded. 'You could have been been frozen. You could have been frozen frozen. If you touch me me, even accidentally, without me me seeing you, you will be like your friend friend,' he said pointing to Moira in the car.
'But couldn’t you un-freeze me?' she asked as she tried to make him turn back.
He shook his head, 'Therein lies lies the problem problem, Emma, the problem. It's this spell spell we're under. I only managed managed to escape escape part of it it. If you become frozen frozen, I cannot unfreeze you, I cannot cannot.'
'Hurry,' Lana yelped as a vampire with short bright red hair appeared in the castle doorway, scouring the area.
'You!' he bellowed, pointing to Jimble.
'Me?' Jimble replied, his face turning rather pale.
Fortunately the vampire was so focussed on getting his hands on the troll, that he neglected to notice the five Watchers now surrounding him.
Before he even had a chance to flinch, he had been tackled to the floor, held down by Declan's brute force, before he was held in place by a ring of fire.
'Now Jimble, now! Touch him now!' Declan yelled as Elliott opened up a gap in the fire for the troll.
'Ooh, it's hot hot, ouch ouch,' he cried as he pounced forward, his finger outstretched. Once he had made contact, he shot backwards.
'We don't like fire fire, it's too hot, too hot hot,' he grumbled, rubbing his hands together.
'Are you okay?' asked Emma as she approached to check him over.
Looking up at her, his eyes welled with tears and he nodded, 'You care care? You you really do do care?'
'Of course I care,' she chuckled.
'Shhh,' whispered Declan. 'There are still two more in there. We'll have to go inside.'
'But what about him?' asked Sammy. 'Shouldn't we do something with him?'
'What do you mean?' asked Lana, 'He's frozen isn't he?'
'Yeah but he's a... a... vampire. Shouldn't we put a stake in his heart or something? We can't just leave him there. What if this spell wears off? Then he'll just go back to killing people.'
'When the spell wears off, he'll be in the middle of crowds of people, he'll have no choice but to disappear. We can't worry about that now,' replied Declan from the front as he gingerly pushed the door open.
Inside a great hall were around thirty people, all lined up at the far end of the room, beneath what looked like an oversized dartboard.
'What's that?' whispered Sammy, pointing to it.
'It's just an imitation of an Arthurian round table,' replied Declan as they searched the room for signs of vampires.
'Cool,' whispered Elliott. 'I don't see them.'
'Me neither,' said the others.
'There's a door over there,' Lana said as she rushed towards it, followed by the rest of the group. 'It leads out into a garden. 'Oh, I see them.'
Declan dashed out in front of her, running alongside a pretty tunnel of plants made from curved trees until he reached a set of steps that led away from the castle. He could see a man and a woman disappearing down another set of steps leading back towards the centre of town.
Increasing his speed, he threw himself on top of the male vampire, punching him hard in the mouth. Fighting back, the vamp was soon back on his feet as his mate was stopped by Lana and Emma, who managed to kick her in the back, causing her to fall to the floor.
'Jimble, quick!' yelled Lana as they fought hard to keep her down. Seconds later, however, the female vampire had thrown the girls off her and jumped back onto her feet. She hissed at them as they slowly circled each other.
Pushing his long white hair over his shoulder, the male vampire flashed his sharp teeth before attempting to throw himself at Declan.
'Oh please, that is just so predictable,' yelled Elliott who threw himself from the top of the stairs, landing on his side on the floor next to the white haired monster. With his arms outstretched, flames erupted from his fingertips causing the vampire to hiss in pain.
The fire burned hotter and hotter before he had time to get out of the way and within the seconds, he was no longer a living creature but a mere pile of ash on the ground.
'No!' screamed his mate just as Jimble arrived to gently place his finger on her arm. Her features began to freeze over like a statue, fear and shock etched on her beautiful face.
'Shouldn't we burn her too?' asked Sammy as she tiptoed around the statue looking at her in fascination.
'We usually try to avoid killing, when possible,' Declan said as he dusted himself down and shot Elliott a sideways glance.
'Oh, sorry,' Elliott, replied, 'I got a bit carried away.'
'No, you had to kill him him. He was going to kill kill us, all of us... I know I know. You were were right to dispose dispose of him him,' Jimble said as he wobbled away.
'Where are you going?' Lana shouted to him.
'We must go go. We must go now now... the trolls are coming coming.'
The sisters looked at each other before they all ran back towards the car.
'Where are they?' asked Lana.
'Not far far.'
'But what about the people in the hall?'
Declan shook his head, 'We can't do anything about them now. We don't know where they were before they were carried in there. We'll just have to leave them be, for now.'
'Why are the trolls coming, Jimble?'
'The commotion commotion, they heard heard the commotion.'
As they climbed back into the car, Jimble hopped up into the boot and Declan asked him about the other trolls.
'Why are they bad and you're not, Jimble?'
'They are not not bad bad, it's just the spell. Just the spell spell.'
'But what is this spell?' he asked as he began to drive the car away from the castle.
'It started nearly two hundred hundred years ago ago. We were hibernating, like we do every year year. Every year,' he sighed. 'When we were rudely awoken awoken by all this noise noise, all this terrible noise. Bang, bang, banging, it was terrible terrible. My queen sent sent some of the trolls trolls to investigate. They found humans humans digging, right above us us. They were too close close for comfort, they were were. Building a tunnel, of all things. A tunnel for a train trail, of all things things,' he said, shaking his head. 'Anyway, one of the trolls trolls had had enough enough. And he went up there and he, well well, I'm not proud proud of what he did, but he... he...'
'What? What did he do, Jimble?' asked Sammy.
'He killed them them.'
'He killed them? Who did he kill?' Lana asked.
Gulping loudly, Jimble trembled, 'Some of the humans humans. About a hundred hundred... not all at once, mind you you. He did it over time time so the humans wouldn't become too suspicious suspicious,' he said, crying.
'Oh Jimble, it's not your fault. Don't cry,' Emma said as he looked at her and let her squeeze his hand.
'It gave us a bad bad name name. But that's beside the point, beside the point point. When the queen found out out about his murderous ways ways, she she sent him away. She told him him he was no longer one of us, one of us and she forbade him from ever returning returning.'
'But what has this got to do with the spell?' asked Declan who was keeping a close eye on the road as they finally exited Winchester.
'Well, Gordle - that's his name, it is it is - stole a precious stone stone from us, from beneath the tunnel where we lived lived. Well, that precious stone stone wasn't just any old precious stone stone, it was an artefact artefact from an ancient time time. We worshipped worshipped that stone. It was the Temporal Stone stone. With it, you could halt time time and play with it it however you wanted wanted. We never did did, of course we didn't didn't. We just worshipped it it. We didn't need to play with time time, we didn't. But Gordle took it it. We didn't know until it was too late late. We travelled miles and miles miles trying to find him but we never did. The stone was gone gone.'
'Oh,' Lana said, 'So you don't know what happened to it?'
He shook his head. 'We never found out out but we always worried worried that one day it would return to haunt haunt us and now it has has. Someone has got their hands hands on the Temporal Stone stone and if we don't get it back... woooo, well, I don't know what what will happen to us all all.'
'We need to track down that stone,' Declan said seriously.
Jimble nodded enthusiastically, 'We do do. We certainly do. Sure do. We do do.'
'Here's what we're going to do, we're gonna follow the original plan and get Moira to the hospital in Arundel. Then we're gonna get to London as fast as we can. With Jimble's help, we're going to find that artefact and we're going to put a stop to whoever is playing this game.'
Lana and Emma had never heard Declan sound so serious.
Eleanor and the girls had spent two hours flying above the town trying to locate Bryn, but to no avail. The American mentor was nowhere to be seen. Knowing Bryn, Eleanor was sure that he wouldn't be in hiding anywhere. Bryn was a fighter, which meant there was a small chance that he might have been caught out by the invisible pixie trolls.
Just as they were about to give up all hope of finding him, Daisy squealed from the back of the helicopter, 'Over there!'
Eleanor turned to see where she was pointing, holding her breath as she followed Daisy's finger to see a man lying on the ground amidst the crowds of people stopped in time.
'Oh no,' she muttered as the helicopter came in to land as close to him as possible. 'It's Bryn,' she sighed.
'Wait, Eleanor. He just moved - he's not frozen,' said Sara.
'But he is injured. We're going to have to get him on board. Daisy, is there much dust left?' Eleanor asked.
Daisy shook her head, 'Only a little bit. Enough for just one person.'
'In which case, I'm afraid you're going to have to go and get him. You're the quickest and strongest person here.'
Eleanor looked at the young girl who shuddered nervously before nodding.
'I can do it,' she said as she took out the last of the dust and covered herself with it.
'On three, Daisy. One, two, three, go!' yelled Eleanor as Daisy dashed out of the helicopter, the swift movement of the rotor blades blowing away some of the dust from her long hair.
She ran with such confidence and speed that Eleanor felt no need to worry - until Daisy reached Bryn and realised something wasn't quite right.
Something was blocking her way. As Daisy tried to walk closer, she felt something tug on her dust-covered jeans. Turning around, she took what little amount of dust she was carrying in her hands and blew it. Immediately, it became apparent why she couldn't get close to him. Bryn had been surrounded by little pixie trolls, all of them invisible. She breathed a sigh of relief that the dust on her clothes had worked.
As the rest of it scattered on to each of the trolls, Daisy didn't wait to find out what happened to them. Instead, she leant forward and grabbed Bryn, hiking him up over her shoulder and stepping slowly backwards, aware that the little creatures were everywhere.
As she tiptoed out of the circle, she turned as fast as she could and ran those last few steps until she reached Eleanor. The girls opened the side door and were waiting to pull Bryn aboard.
As Daisy lifted her feet off the ground, the helicopter immediately became airborne. She turned to watch as the trolls' bodies shook uncontrollably before their movements began to slow down dramatically. It was almost as if they were caught in slow motion.
'Bryn? Bryn? Can you hear me?' Eleanor whispered as she gently patted the man's face. 'Bryn? It's Eleanor. You're safe now. Can you hear me?'
When Bryn didn't make a sound, Eleanor turned to Amber. 'We need to get him to hospital immediately. I don't know what's wrong. Take us to Arundel. They'll know what to do there.'
Amber nodded and immediately turned the helicopter around, flying south east towards the small town in West Sussex.
Daisy had never been to Arundel before and she was surprised to see quite a majestic looking castle appearing before them.
Eleanor watched her young face and smiled. 'It's beautiful, isn't it?' she asked.
Daisy nodded, 'Mum and Dad used to take me to places like this during school holidays but we never came here. I wish we could have come here.'
'Well, you'll be pleased to hear that's where the hospital is,' she said with a chuckle as she turned her attention back to Bryn, whose breathing had become a little more shallow, and his skin had turned deathly pale.
As the helicopter landed on a large area of grass right in the middle of the stunning property, Eleanor watched as a small group of people appeared from one of the far off doorways.
She waved to them and, once they'd spotted who it was, they ran towards her.
'It's okay, it's safe here. You can get out,' a young man shouted as he approached.
'Hi Rhydian. It's Bryn - we're not quite sure what happened,' she said as Rhydian, his wife Megan and a few others helped them remove Bryn from the helicopter.
Carrying him back towards the smaller entrance from where they'd come, Eleanor and the girls followed eagerly behind.
'Eleanor, it's good to see you. Are you girls okay?' asked a familiar voice from within the darkness. As they walked indoors and their eyes adjusted to the light, Eleanor grinned when she saw Saleena. They hugged each other.
'We're fine. It's Bryn that isn't.'
The beautiful Indian woman's smile disappeared, 'What happened?'
'I'm afraid we don't know.'
'Have you heard from Declan?' she asked, frowning.
'I'm afraid not. We've lost all communications. I'm sure they'll be fine, though. He's with a good bunch of kids today. Don't worry,' she smiled as she placed a reassuring arm on her shoulder.
Bryn had been carefully placed on a stretcher as they carried him deep within the castle, far away from where any tourists might wander, to where Praxos hospital was located.
They entered a large open hall filled with beds, only a few of which were occupied. Some were covered with large white bubble-like covers, making it difficult to see who lay beneath.
Bryn was made as comfortable as possible while the hospital's number one doctor and his staff attended to him. Eleanor and the girls were encouraged to leave them to get on with their work.
They went with Saleena and Rhydian to a smaller room where there were a number of comfortable sofas. Daisy plopped down, immediately removing her shoes and curling her feet underneath herself while Eleanor began to explain everything that had been going on.
'We're going to have to stop for fuel,' Declan said as they pulled into a petrol station. 'Jimble, are there any of your guys around here?'
Jimble shook his head without even looking.
'But you didn't even check,' Lana said.
'No need to look look. No need to to. We stay away from these places places, we do do. Scary places, smelly places, dangerous places. You're safe safe!' he said with a smile.
Declan grinned back and climbed out of the car which he had squeezed past a number of other queueing vehicles and parked alongside a small silver Smart car, where the owner was standing with a fuel pump in her hand, about to put it in the tank.
Carefully removing the pump from her, Declan placed the nozzle into the Range Rover and stood for a few minutes as the fuel poured into the car.
'Hey Jimble?' asked Emma.
'Why do you speak so funny?'
'Yeah, you keep repeating words all the time,' Emma replied.
'Yeh and it's kind of annoying,' Lana murmured under her breath, narrowly avoiding an elbow to her side from her sister.
Jimble shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. 'This is is just how I speak speak with you you. I don't know know why why. Just the way it is is.'
After a few minutes and with a full tank, Declan put the fuel pump back into the woman's hand before taking his wallet out of his back pocket and removing two fifty pound notes which he put on the front seat of her car.
With a grin, he got back in and they continued on their way to Arundel.
Soon they were driving around a small roundabout, weaving in and out of the cars on the road.
'So this is Arundel,' whispered Emma as she took in the beauty of the large castle nearby.
'Yup, and that,' Declan pointed to the castle, 'is where we're headed.'
'Cool,' said Lana.
'Diarmuid would love this. I hope he's okay,' Emma said.
'Of course he is. He's probably doing architectural drawings of the Royal Crescent as we speak,' smiled Lana as she leant over and squeezed her sister's hand.
'Who's Diarmuid?' asked Sammy.
Lana smirked, 'Emma's one and only.'
'You have a boyfriend? That's nice.'
'Yep, they've been together for a few months now. They're totally loved up, kinda gross really,' Lana joked.
'It is so not gross,' Emma said, her cheeks remaining a permanent shade of red.
'I think it's sweet. I had a boyfriend but we broke up a few months ago.'
'Oh, sorry to hear that,' Emma replied.
'Don't be, he was a jerk.'
Lana laughed, 'We all know our fair share of jerks. You're better off without him, Sammy. You can hang out with me and we can be young, free and single together.'
Sammy chuckled, 'Cool.'
'Although Lana LOVES boys, Sammy, she's like the biggest flirt ever,' Emma added.
'So what's wrong with flirting?'
Elliot glanced across at Declan and raised his eyebrows.
'Okay, we're here,' Declan said, grinning and putting an end to their teenage talk. 'Is that the chopper the girls used this morning?' he mumbled to himself. 'Jimble, can you check our surroundings again, mate?'
Jimble hopped up and looked out the window. 'No pixie trolls trolls. None. None here here.'
'Okay people, let's get out of here,' Declan said as they all began to open the doors and stretch their legs.
'Declan?' came a voice from indoors.
'Sal?' he answered back as the gorgeous woman literally ran into his arms and covered him in hugs and kisses.
'Sal!' he said over and over, 'I'm so glad you're okay.'
'Declan, Emma, Lana, Elliott... oh poor Moira what happened? Oh and I see we have a newcomer. Hello, I'm Eleanor,' she said as she strolled towards them and shook Sammy's hand. 'It's always a pleasure to meet a new Watcher. What's your name?'
Sammy reddened a little before answering, 'I'm Sammy... Sammy Prentiss. Nice to meet you.'
'How are you holding up? Today is your birthday, isn't it?'
'H-how did you know?'
Eleanor tapped the side of her head, 'I have a list and your name was on it. I'm sorry you weren't better prepared for all this but under these circumstances, it was a little difficult for us to get to you in time. I hope you'll forgive us for that. Now, what's been going on? What happened to Moira and wh...oh, is that a pixie troll in the car?'
'It's okay, Eleanor, he's been helping us,' Emma said as she opened the boot of the car to let Jimble out. 'Just don't touch him without him knowing that you're going to touch him, otherwise, well, you can probably guess what happens. Jimble, this is Eleanor, she's our, erm, well, she's our leader.'
Eleanor laughed as she approached the little fellow with her hand outstretched.
'Hello Jimble. I'm actually the Guardian of the Watchers, in England anyway. How do you do?'
Jimble wobbled over and shook her hand, 'Very well, very well, thank you you. We know of you, we do do. We've heard stories about you you, we have. Good to meet you, good to meet you you.'
As the group turned to make their way back towards the hospital, Jimble stopped at the doorway. The others all walked in, leaving him behind. When Emma suddenly realised he wasn't behind her, she turned back to face him, 'Jimble?' she asked.
He shrugged his shoulders and held out his hands sadly.
'Why aren't you coming in?'
He shook his head as the others turned back to see why he wasn't following them.
Eleanor clapped her hand on her forehead, 'Of course, the house dust. Oh dear, I'm sorry Jimble. I forgot about that.'
'House dust?' Lana asked.
'Yes, we've actually been using it against them. They have some kind of aversion to it. It slows them down and renders them pretty useless for a while. Wait though, I have an idea.'
While Eleanor quickly turned around and rushed inside, Emma bent down, squinting, 'House dust, huh? But you went into the castle earlier?'
Jimble grinned, 'Exactly, castle castle, not house house. Very open open that was. Little dust, little dust.'
'Oh, okay,' she answered with her eyebrows knitted together.
They waited a good ten minutes before Eleanor came back, followed by two of the nurses carrying a large white bag between them.
When they arrived, they dropped the bag to the floor and opened it up. Suddenly, it popped open into what looked like a large bubble.
'You just have to step inside and it closes here,' said one of the nurses as Jimble looked at it with uncertainty. He slowly took two step backwards.
'It's okay, Jimble. It's to protect you against the house dust. You'll be safe in there,' reassured Eleanor.
'If you put your legs through there,' suggested the other nurse, 'then you'll still be able to walk. And here there are several small holes here, here, and here which allow oxygen to enter. But don't worry, they've got especially designed filters on them to keep anything from getting out, or in your case, anything from getting in.'
Jimble looked impressed as he inspected the strange looking contraption.
'They use it to treat people with contagious diseases,' Eleanor said as he finally shrugged his shoulders and stepped inside. Wobbling slightly, Emma stepped forward to give him a helping hand.
Once inside, he looked up at the others and grinned.
'I like it. I like it. I do do. It's...funny funny,' he chuckled, leading to a further wobble that led to him falling over and rolling to one side.
The others all laughed as he was put back upright, before they finally walked inside the secret castle hospital.
Moira had already been taken to the treatment room where she would be monitored before her blood transfusion took place, removing the Skull poison from her body.
'Jimble, how do we return people back to normality, after they've been touched by a pixie troll?' Eleanor asked a little while later, as they sat in one of the larger drawing rooms that was full of old paintings of lords and ladies, all of which seemed to stare down at them.
Jimble sat with his legs crossed inside his bubble on the carpeted floor.
'Well, that's a tough one, that is is. You see, you see, the Temporal Stone stone had been stolen by the evil evil ones so that a touch touch from a pixie troll troll renders you timeless, timeless,' he nodded before continuing, 'The Temporal Stone stone needs to be returned to its rightful owners, owners. To the pixie trolls, the leader of the pixie trolls. Once the stone is back in her hands in its rightful place place everything will go back to normal, normal.'
'Who is the leader of the pixie trolls, Jimble?' asked Declan as he sat with his arms around Saleena on an elegant blue sofa.
'And where is she?' added Saleena with a smile.
Jimble's eyes glazed over and he smiled the kind of smile you had when you recalled someone you loved. 'Ethelle... oh Ethelle,' he sighed as his head slowly fell to one side and he closed his eyes. 'Ethelle...'
'Ahem,' Declan coughed, making Jimble lift his head back up and blush with a shy grin.
'Ethelle is the leader of the pixie trolls trolls, she is. She is the most beautiful beautiful troll you'll ever see see,' he sighed, the mere thought of her made him fall back into that loved up state again.
'You're just like Emma with Diarmuid,' Lana laughed.
Emma looked up and nudged her sister hard in the ribs.
'Oi,' she said.
'Jimble... would you mind please telling us about Ethelle?'
'Ethelle Ethelle,' he sighed again before finally continuing, 'Ethelle is our queen queen. But she cannot leave our home home. If she does, she will perish, perish,' he said, his eyes screwing up and the sides of his mouth dropping. 'She is such a beauty with her white curls and long arms, long arms.'
Lana sniggered while Emma nudged her in the ribs again.
'Her eyes are the colour of a foggy day day and her lips lips,' he sighed, 'as sweet sweet as a piece of beetle dung dung.'
'Ewww,' Lana cringed quietly.
'Ethelle is is...'
'Jimble, can you get to the point, mate?' Declan said.
'Oh, oh... my apologies, my apologies... Ethelle, she she is in our home home. You will find her in our home home.'
'But where is that?' Emma asked.
'Oh, of course, of course. Our home, home. It's beneath the ghastly, ghastly tunnel.'
'Which tunnel?' Sammy asked.
'Why THE tunnel tunnel, of course course,' he tutted and shook his head.
'Jimble, we have thousands of tunnels all over the country. You need to be a bit more specific,' Eleanor said, getting very slightly agitated.
'I believe believe you call it the Box Tunnel, the Box Tunnel,' he said shaking his head and looking at everyone as if they were idiots.
'The Box Tunnel?' Declan exclaimed.
'Duh, yes yes,' Jimble replied, crossing his arms inside the bubble.
'But that's where we were this morning. That's where we were when all of this started,' Emma said as she stood up and proceeded to walk up and down the room.
'Lana, you said something about having one of your funny episodes right before the train stopped. I wonder if it was relevant.'
Lana recalled the strange event when she had appeared to have gone back in time. As she told them about it, she felt her body relax and soon she was right back there with the hundreds of men who were busy digging the tunnel. The sounds of the pick axes banging away and the stench of sweaty bodies and urine made her crinkle her nose in disgust. Looking back, she decided to walk into the darkest part of the tunnel. As she walked in, she had to wait a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. A strange, yet almost familiar, voice could be heard some distance away. Tiptoeing through the filthy ground, Lana soon found herself looking at another pixie troll.
'Damn humans wrecking our home, wrecking our home and getting me kicked out. You'll pay for this, you will, you will pay,' grumbled the little creature as he waddled away from a man who was lying motionless on the floor. Lana rushed to his side and felt for a pulse. He was dead.
The creature then took something out of his pocket and sighed as he admired it. Lana moved closer. She knew exactly who she was looking at. He was the pixie troll Jimble had told her about: Gordle. And in his hand was the elusive Temporal Stone.
From a distance it might have looked like any other smooth rock that could be found on a beach, but as she got closer, Lana noticed that, actually, it was rather unusual. As the pixie troll held it in his hand, it began to glow an unnatural shade of green and the tiny bumps that covered it changed from green to blue to green again. It was like something from another planet.
Gordle laughed before putting it safely back in his pocket and then ran out towards the light, whispering something incomprehensible. Lana followed, watching his every move until the sunlight caught his face and the troll became invisible.
As she reached the point from where he'd vanished, she looked around searching for some clue as to his whereabouts but there was nothing. Glancing down though, she soon spotted footprints in the dirt, unlike any she'd seen before.
'They must be Gordle's footprints,' she whispered. Following them, she cursed when they disappeared into the grass. So she just stood with the sun on her face watching and listening to the sounds of the pick axes bang, bang, banging away. Soon though, the heat on her face made her feel weary and she closed her eyes.
'Lana? Lana?' asked a voice beside her.
Opening her eyes, she found a rather odd looking woman dressed in 17th century clothes staring down at her. Startled, she closed her eyes again before opening them wide. It was nothing but one of the paintings on the wall. She was right back in the drawing room surrounded by her friends.
'That was Gordle alright, Gordle alright,' muttered Jimble. 'Can you recall recall... what he whispered, whispered?'
'Erm, I'm not sure. It was strange, unlike anything I've ever heard before.'
'That matters not, not. I might be able to, able to translate. Could be important, important.'
'Erm, in that case, it was something like Ga...Gaha... Gahamendtreestotnuke... sorry, but it really was all mumbo jumbo stuff. Does it make any sense, Jimble?'
Jimble sat with his arms and legs crossed and his eyes closed, deep in contemplation. Eleanor was about to say something when he suddenly opened his eyes and jumped up. His mouth fell open for a moment before he spoke.
'Oh me oh my. He hid the stone stone, he didn't use the stone stone, he hid the stone...'
'But where, Jimble, where did he hide it?' asked Emma from across the room.
'Beneath the Tree of Tonuka Tonuka, the Tree of Tonuka. All this time time, he hid it beneath the the Tree of Tonuka,' Jimble cried, flopping back down on the ground.
The others all stared at him as he continued to shake his head.
'The Tree Tree of Tonuka,' he cried again.
'Yes, Emma, Emma?'
'What is the Tree of Tonuka?'
'What what?' he yelled, 'You don't know the Tree of Tonuka, Tonuka?'
The others all shook their heads. Even Eleanor had never heard of it before.
'Me oh my my. The Tree of Tonuka is a great tree tree.'
Declan raised an eyebrow at Saleena who shrugged her shoulders before Jimble continued, 'The Tree of Tonuka is a great, great, tree, tree.'
'Okay, so the Tree of Tonuka is a great tree, I think we get that. But why is it so great? And why would Gordle hide the stone there? I don't get it,' asked Lana.
'Oh my, me, oh my,' he sighed loudly. 'The Tree of Tonuka Tonuka is responsible for giving giving life to the very first pixie troll, thousands thousands of years ago ago.'
'You mean you came from a tree?' asked Emma, confused.
Jimble nodded, 'Why of course course! A little like you came from an ape ape,' he said as the others tried not to laugh.
'And this tree is still there?' asked Eleanor who stood up and approached him.
'Why yes, of course, erm, well... I suppose it is, it is, I suppose.'
'Can you tell us where it is?'
Jimble nodded, 'The Tree of Tonuka is within within the New Forest Forest.'
'Would you be able to identify it, if we took you there?'
Jimble stopped still for a moment before nodding energetically. 'Are we going to to the Tree of Tonuka, Eleanor, Eleanor?' he asked.
Eleanor turned to face the others, 'I think we should, don't you agree, Declan?'
Declan nodded as he stood to stretch his legs, leaving Saleena curled up on the sofa alone. 'I like your thinking,' he said with a smile.
'Erm and what is she thinking exactly?' asked Lana who was fed up of him reading everyone's thoughts and not sharing with the rest of them.
'I was thinking that the only way we'll find out where this stone is now, is by tracking where it once was.'
Jimble clapped his hands in excitement, 'Good idea, good idea. Woo Woo, we're going to the Tree of Tonuka, we're going to the Tree Tree of of Tonuka Tonuka,' he sang.
His singing became contagious and soon Emma, Lana, Sammy and Daisy began to sing along with him, 'We're going to the Tree of Tonuka. We're going to the Tree of Tonuka. We're going to the Tree of Tonuka...'
Moira's condition was improving. The blood transfusion had been a success. But she remained trapped in time, her body still in the same sitting position it had been in the car when Jimble had changed her. Now she was getting better, it wasn't her that they were worried about, it was Bryn.
Jimble had been summoned into the Intensive Care Unit so he could have a good look at the man's condition. Eleanor wanted to know if the trolls had done this to him. Jimble, however, assured her that they were incapable of causing such harm to a human.
'With the Temporal Stone stone in the evil ones hands hands, we can freeze you you, but we cannot harm you you. We are not fighters, we do do not hurt others... well, except for Gordle, Gordle, of course,' he said sadly. 'This is not the work of my kind, Eleanor, Eleanor. This is the work of another supernatural species, species.'
Eleanor sank down into the chair besides Bryn's bed and sighed. 'I've never seen anything like this before. It is not the work of the vampires, nor the work of the werewolves, nor any other supernatural being that I have seen before... and I have seen many, believe me. I just really needed to speak to him about the artefact,' she added.
'But, I have told you everything everything you need to know about the artefact, artefact,' Jimble said from inside his bubble.
'I know, Jimble. But I have a hunch that I needed Bryn to confirm.'
'Care to share, share, Eleanor, Eleanor?' he said as she stood up and they both exited the ICU and joined the others who were waiting for them just outside the door.
She smiled at him, 'Some months ago, an artefact was stolen from the British Museum. The theft went unnoticed at the time. It wasn't until Lana and Emma bumped into an employee there and recognised her from a recent encounter with the Skulls. I asked Bryn to find out more about this girl at the museum. It was then that the theft was acknowledged. Unfortunately, she was long gone, as was the missing artefact. The strange thing was that all the paperwork pertaining to the artefact was also stolen. Bryn spoke to several members of staff about it and they described the artefact to him. Sadly, we've been so busy lately that I neglected to get a report from him,' she said angrily before continuing.
'With the staff frozen and Bryn the only other person who knows what that artefact looked like, I am now at a loss. I need to know if that artefact is, in fact, the Temporal Stone. If it is, then we know for certain that the girl is the key to finding it. But if we go off on a tangent to try and track her down, only to discover that it's a completely different artefact, we'll have lost valuable time. So now we have no choice but to continue on our original plan and head to the New Forest, tracking down what has happened to the Temporal Stone over the past 177 years.'
Eleanor stopped talking and suddenly doubled over.
'Eleanor!' yelled Declan as he rushed to her side, 'Are you alright?'
She nodded, 'Yes, I think so... oh dear. I believe it's that time again. I'm at a loss without Wilbur. He always knows when it's going to happen. I'm afraid I won't be able to join you on your travels,' she said as the pain temporarily crippled her. Screaming out, the others watched as the young, spritely woman's hair changed from blonde to white and her previously wrinkle-free skin crinkled right before their eyes. Soon, Eleanor the old lady was back.
'Declan, be a doll and help me up,' she said as he lifted her into his arms and carried her back through the hallway and down into the drawing room.
'Just put me over there, please,' she instructed as he gently placed her weaker body onto a chaise longue by the fireplace.
'Saleena will stay with you,' he said as he stood back up and smiled. 'A group of us will take the chopper and the others can take the car.'
'I think you should drive the car, Declan. They are under age, after all,' smiled Eleanor. 'Good luck.'
Declan gave Saleena a long kiss before he exited the room and joined the others back in the large courtyard, where Sara and Amber were already sitting in the helicopter waiting for instructions.
'Lana, Emma and Daisy, you take the chopper with Jimble. You'll obviously arrive there first. We'll be close behind and, remember, I can read your thoughts from that distance so if you need to share anything, just think of me and tell me what's going on. Elliott, Sammy, you're with me,' he said as they followed him into the car.
The girls helped Jimble out of his bubble and they all ran to the helicopter just as the blades began to whirr, whipping up a strong wind around them.
Climbing on board, they lifted Jimble up and helped him into a seat in the back.
Soon, they were airborne, watching the turrets fade into the distance.
Jimble sat, curled up, not saying a word, trembling as he tried hard not to look down.
'Jimble, what's wrong?' shouted Emma.
'We're awfully high, awfully high,' he gulped back.
Lana grinned, 'It's great, isn't it?'
Jimble shook his head.
'You know I used to be terrified of heights too?' she said to him. 'Until I turned 16 and then I got over it. And now, well, now I could jump out of this helicopter and land on my feet.'
'You could, you could?' he cringed.
'Yes, it's my special ability now I'm a Watcher. The higher the better, for me,' she grinned.
'Take no notice of her, Jimble. Just don't look down. You'll be fine. You're perfectly safe up here. We'll look after you,' reassured Emma.
He attempted a smile and turned his full attention to her instead, 'What is your special ability ability, Emma Emma? What can you do, do, now that you're a Watcher Watcher?'
Emma looked at him and grinned, 'I can swim like a dolphin and hold my breath for a very long time under water. But growing up I was terrified of the sea and of storms. Like Lana, I got over it on my 16th birthday too. The day I became a Watcher.'
Jimble nodded before turning to Daisy, 'I'm sorry we were never, never formally introduced, introduced,' he said as he held out his hand.
Daisy timidly held out her hand and shook his rather gnarled fingers.
'I'm Jimble Jimble. And you're Daisy Daisy, aren't you? Are you a Watcher, too too?'
Daisy nodded, 'Yes, but it happened to me on my 15th birthday, shortly after my mum died.'
'You lost your mother, mother?'
Daisy nodded sadly.
'Oh me oh my, oh me. I'm so very, very sorry sorry, Daisy. Tragic to lose a parent parent, so young. Not fair, this life is not fair sometimes. Tragic tragic.'
He didn't say anything for a moment before turning back to her, 'Do you have a special power too too?'
Daisy, who had been looking very sad, suddenly smiled at him and nodded, 'Yes, I can move pretty quickly and I'm really strong. And, apparently, my voice has changed too, or so I've been told. Eleanor told me that all Watchers are really good singers, regardless of whether they could sing before they got their tattoos.'
'Yeah, I've heard that too,' Emma said. 'I wonder if that's why we have music classes at the Academy, and why we're putting on a show for our families.'
'You know I always thought it was weird that we're taught music. I can understand the self-defence classes, history of the supernatural world, fight night, control class and some of the others, as well as our standard A levels of course, but music? Weird. And now we've got that show to put on, too. I can't say I'm looking forward to it.'
'Me neither,' added Emma.
Sara, who had been listening from the front turned in her seat with a smile, 'Many of the world's well known singers are Watchers, you know?' she said.
'Really?' Lana exclaimed.
Yep, Elvis, Ella Fitzgerald, Sinatra... some of them have gone off the rails from time to time, but yep, all part angel.'
'But what about famous singers today?' asked Lana
'There are tonnes of them and they're all special, just like us.'
'Wow, that's awesome. Does that mean we can sing as well as they can?' Daisy asked, intrigued.
Amber then turned around with a grin and said, 'You're putting on a show aren't you?' before breaking out into a popular song that was always on the radio.
The others joined in with her, all laughing and giggling as they sang. When they stopped, Emma turned to Amber, 'So, her too?'
Amber raised her eyebrows and winked, 'Her too,' she nodded.
Acres of stunning brown and golden woodland appeared before them as they approached the National Park.
'Where should we set her down, Jimble?' asked Amber.
'Erm, I believe The Tree of Tonuka is right in the centre centre of the forest forest.'
'Right,' Amber replied as she searched for a clearing smack bang in the middle of all the trees. They hovered for another ten minutes or so until they found the right spot and then she manoeuvred the helicopter, deftly landing it on a patch of relatively smooth ground.
As the blades began to slow, Emma opened the door and she, Lana and Daisy helped Jimble down from the aircraft.
'Okay, it is safe, there are no pixie trolls here here. I wonder where they are are? We haven't seen them them for a while. Strange strange,' he pondered.
Sara hopped out too, leaving Amber to monitor the area around them and to explain where they were to Declan when he arrived.
The girls followed Jimble as he waddled across the clearing, heading northwards towards a particularly dense area of forest. Climbing over a number of fallen branches, the girls watched as he approached several old and gnarled trees and placed his hands on their trunks. He closed his eyes and waited a moment before moving on, until he stood before the largest tree there.
Heavy branches hung low around its massive core which had a large hole in its centre. Standing perfectly still, Jimble placed his hands on it. A moment later, a faint humming sound could be heard from deep within. The girls approached and listened as the tree seemed to take on a life of its own, wrapping its branches around the little pixie troll and giving him a long, deep hug.
It was almost like a mother reaching out to her son.
It eventually released its hold on him and he stepped backwards, a few tears falling from his cheeks. Brushing them away, he turned to face the girls and blushed.
'This is the Tree of Tonuka,' he said without repeating a single word.
'It's beautiful,' whispered Daisy who walked up to it and placed a hand carefully on its trunk.
'She is, she certainly is,' he said proudly.
The other girls also stepped forward to feel the tree that had given life to the pixie trolls. A tree that clearly held a special place in Jimble's heart.
'Can you talk to her, Jimble? Can you ask her about Gordle?'
He nodded, 'I can try.'
Moving forward, he hugged the tree once more, mumbling something low and unintelligible over and over again.
'She's trying to remember,' he said after a few minutes. 'She says her memory isn't like it used to be,' he smiled.
The girls found a comfortable spot to sit down when Emma suddenly gasped as she realised they were no longer alone.
'Er, guys? Guys...?' she said louder as they became surrounded by little creatures, all carrying bows and arrows which were carefully aimed directly at them.
Jimble stopped and turned.
'Crackerbilly?' he asked.
One of the little creatures scuffled forward, 'Jimble?' It whispered.
Jimble's serious face softened at once as the two rushed towards each other and stopped nose to nose. They smacked the backs of their hands together and then grinned, laughing loudly.
'Put yer weapons down, folks, it's only Jimble!' shouted the funny little creature, before continuing. 'What's going on Jimble? We're at a loss to why life has stopped for the humans.'
'I know, I know. Someone evil has got hold of the Temporal Stone. It's them that's causing all of this,' he replied. 'We're trying to track it down so we can stop it.'
'Who's we?' asked the creature.
'Oh, these are my friends. They're Watchers,' Jimble said proudly, with a huge grin.
Crackerbilly's eyes grew wide and his mouth fell open.
'I ain't met a Watcher before,' he said in awe as he looked at each of the girls and grinned.
'I'm Crackerbilly!' he exclaimed.
Introducing themselves, the girls relaxed again as Jimble and Crackerbilly caught up with each other's news. Intrigued by the little creatures, Lana couldn't help but stare at them. Smaller than the pixie trolls, they had long arms and legs and slim bodies. Their faces were human-like with the exception of their mouths, which appeared to be a bit too big. And when they smiled, it was like sunlight on a dull day. You couldn't help but smile along with them.
'Hello,' whispered one of them who had shyly tiptoed alongside her.
'Oh, hello,' Lana replied as she eyed up the little female who stood playing with her long green braided hair.
'I'm Crackersally,' she said with a grin.
'Nice to meet you, Crackersally. I'm Lana.'
'What are you doing in our forest?' she asked.
'We brought Jimble to speak to the Tree of Tonuka. We're hoping it... she... can help us solve the mystery of the Temporal Stone.'
Crackersally nodded and looked away before looking back at her, 'What mystery?' she asked.
Lana laughed and began to explain everything that had happened that day. Crackersally was intrigued and soon, many of the other creatures approached and sat down beside her as Lana spoke.
'What are they?' Emma whispered to Daisy who were sat huddled next to each other beneath a tree just metres away from Jimble and Crackerbilly.
Daisy shrugged her shoulders and shook her head as Jimble stopped talking and turned to face them, 'They're pixies,' he said before turning his attention back to his long lost friend.
'It's weird that he can speak normally now, isn't it?' Daisy whispered.
Jimble huffed loudly and said, 'It's because of the Tree of Tonuka. It happens in her presence. When we leave, I'll go back to the way I spoke before.'
Jimble then rapidly turned his attention back again and Daisy and Emma giggled.
'Ouch!' yelled a voice from within the forest.
'Ouch!' yelled another.
'What is that?' said the first familiar voice. It was Declan.
The pixies heard something and were immediately on guard. Some had even taken action and fired little arrows at the approaching threat.
'No!' yelled Jimble as he tried to stop them from shooting any more. 'No, no. They're my friends too. Please stop shooting at them,' he said as the pixies stopped, just as Declan, Elliott and Sammy appeared.
Declan was pulling three miniature arrows out of his legs.
'Ouch,' he winced, 'that smarts a bit.'
'Jimble?' Declan asked, 'Y'alright girls?'
They all nodded, while Jimble looked very apologetic.
'What's going on?'
'Declan, this is my friend, Crackerbilly. He's a pixie. They're just protecting themselves and their home. Crackerbilly, this is Declan, Elliott and Sammy. They're Watchers too.'
Crackerbilly's eyes nearly popped out of his head. 'More Watchers? Wow,' he whispered as he approached Declan and bowed down.
'Please accept my humble apologies, Elder Declan.'
Declan began to laugh, 'Elder? I ain't that old, you know.'
Not knowing how to react, Crackerbilly's eyes grew wide and he cringed, 'Sorry.'
'What's that noise?' said Sammy, with her hands over her ears. 'It's just like this morning. Make it stop, make it stop.'
Declan rushed to her side and took her hands in his.
'What noise, Sammy? We don't hear anything.'
Declan shook his head. 'Describe it to me.'
'It's like... like... lots of voices whispering and shouting, non-stop. It's horrible.'
'Sammy, you must calm down. I'm pretty sure this is one of your special abilities coming through. You need to control it.'
'But how?' she asked, as she began to sob.
Emma walked over to her and put her arm around her shoulders, 'It's okay, Sammy. You can do it. You just need to concentrate and focus on the sounds. Come on, let's go and sit down over there.'
She and Declan led her away from everybody else while Jimble returned his attention to the Tree of Tonuka.
'Okay, focus on me, Sammy,' Declan said as he sat right in front of her. 'Calm everything down around you, just look at me for a moment. Now close your eyes. Think of nothing but the sound of my voice. The noises you can hear are fading into the background now, just listen to me.'
The soothing tones of his voice almost made Emma nod off to sleep as Sammy listened intently.
'Are they quieter now?' he asked. Sammy nodded.
'Okay good, now I want you to try and hear my thoughts.'
Sammy gasped and opened her eyes, 'Yours? I can't hear your thoughts.'
'Shhh, just try it. I need to know what it is you can hear.'
Closing her eyes tightly, Sammy thought about nothing but the handsome man who sat quietly in front of her. Concentrating, she tried to focus on whatever it was he was thinking but it was no good.
She tutted. 'It's no good, Declan. Yours isn't the voice I can hear.'
'That's okay,' he answered. 'At least you've managed to quieten down the rest and are able to focus on just one. 'Do you know whose voice it is?'
Sammy shook her head.
'No problem. Stand up, but keep your eyes closed. I'm going to lead you around the forest until the voice becomes louder and you can identify it. Okay?'
Sammy stood up, keeping her eyes firmly closed.
'Don't worry about tripping over. I've got you.'
She nodded and the two began to slowly walk around the pixies and the Watchers. When the voice became stronger, Sammy would pull Declan in that direction. Soon, she stood next to Jimble.
She opened her eyes.
'That's it... you can obviously hear Jimble's thoughts,' Declan said with a smile as she looked down on the pixie troll.
'No, it's not him,' she whispered as she leant forward and placed her hands on the Tree of Tonuka. 'It's her,' she sighed.
'You can hear the voice of the Tree of Tonuka?' Jimble said, awe-struck.
Sammy nodded with a smile, 'But it's not just her, I can hear all of them too,' she said as she pointed to all the other trees in the forest.
Declan had somehow managed to help her hone her skill and she was delighted.
'That beautiful broken tree over there has stood here for three hundred years. She's still a baby,' she giggled before turning to walk up to a tall thin tree with barely any branches or leaves, 'He's been here much longer and has seen some horrid things happen around here but she... she is very special,' Sammy whispered, turning her attention back to the Tree of Tonuka.
Jimble stepped backwards and allowed her to hug it on her own.
All was quiet around them as they watched the teenage girl in admiration.
'There was a younger pixie troll here some time ago and she remembers him acting oddly,' she said, leaning her cheek against the bark. 'Yes,' she added, nodding. 'He buried something right...' Sammy let go and turned her head, looking for something, '...there.'
Jimble dropped to his feet at the spot she had pointed to and he began to scramble through the hard earth.
'No Jimble, you won't find anything. It was taken from here a few years later.'
'Does she remember who took it?' asked Emma.
Sammy smiled, clearly enjoying interacting with the beautiful specimen.
'It was a boy,' she said, turning her attention back to Declan. 'That's all she can remember.'
Suddenly, Sammy lifted her head and moved towards the tall thin tree she'd described before, and listened intently to it. Nodding, she smiled and thanked it.
'He remembers. There were two boys playing by Tonuka's side when they discovered the stone. They took it.'
'Two boys? Hm,' Declan mumbled.
'How are we ever going to find out who they were?' asked Lana with a huff as she plonked herself down on a large smooth rock.
'Their names were Geoffrey and Rudolph,' Sammy said with a grin. 'Brothers who used to play here all the time.'
'How do the trees know that?' Emma asked, amazed.
Sammy laughed. 'Their mother, she came rushing through the forest, panicking that she'd lost them. She was shouting their names for quite a while before she eventually found them.'
'But what do we do now?' Daisy asked.
'We find out where Geoffrey and Rudolph lived and go from there.'
'Lyndhurst,' Sammy answered. 'They lived in Lyndhurst.'
'They wore school blazers with the name Lyndhurst School for Boys.'
'You trees are amazing,' Lana stood up, laughing.
'But when was this? Surely that's important,' Emma asked.
'I'm already on it,' Sammy whispered before continuing, 'About ninety years after Gordle buried it.'
'So, we're talking around the 1930s some time?'
'Right then, off to Lyndhurst we go,' Declan said with a grin as he patted Sammy on the back, 'I knew you could do it.'
Sammy grinned, the butterflies in her stomach doing cartwheels. She would never, in a thousand years, have thought that she could communicate with trees yet here she was, doing exactly that.
'Why was the sound so loud this morning, Declan? I was in the middle of Salisbury... there aren'tthatmany trees there,' she asked as they began their brief walk back to the car and helicopter.
'There's probably more to it than just trees, Sammy,' he said, patting her on the back again.
Lyndhurst was a pretty village right in the heart of the New Forest. Like everywhere else, its locals and tourists were locked in time.
Landing the helicopter as close to the village as possible, those on board waited patiently for Declan and the others to arrive. It didn't take long, and with Jimble telling them it was safe to disembark, they all climbed out and met their fellow Watchers to discuss what to do next.
'Right, so we know the stone was taken by two brothers, Geoffrey and Rudolph, in the 1930s when they were kids, and we know that they attended the Lyndhurst School for Boys. So, where do you think we should we start?' Declan asked.
'The school?' Daisy suggested.
Declan nodded, 'That's one idea, if the school still stands. Anyone else?'
'Municipal archives?' Elliott, who had been keeping very quiet, piped up.
'Nice one. Right, Jimble, are you certain there are no other pixie trolls in the area?'
Jimble nodded and sighed, 'It is strange, very strange but they are not here here.'
Declan gave them a quick nod and split them up into two groups. 'Lana and Emma, you go with Sammy to see if you can find the school and we'll head to the Parish Council. We'll wait there for you to return. Okay, got it?' he asked as the group nodded and they went their separate ways.
'Don't you think it's weird that the trolls have suddenly disappeared?' asked Sammy as they walked away from their vehicles, leaving Amber and Sara to keep an eye on them.
'I know,' Emma said, 'something's not right.'
'Not right, not right,' muttered Jimble.
'So where do you think this school will be?' asked Lana as they approached a small parish church to their right where a funeral had been taking place before everything had stopped earlier that day.
The girls and Jimble stopped momentarily, almost as if to pay their respects to the person who had died.
'It's a bummer Nisha isn't here. She could probably have gotten all the info we need from the ghosts,' Lana said as they carried on walking.
'Yeah but Nisha is frozen in time too, remember?'
'I'd forgotten about that.'
'I take it Nisha is one of your friends, a Watcher too?' Sammy asked as they crossed the road.
Emma nodded, 'She was the first one of us to be frozen. It happened in the Box Tunnel, it was awful.'
'In the Box Tunnel you say? They froze her in the Box Tunnel, Tunnel?' Jimble asked, stopping and stroking his chin.
'Strange strange,' he muttered.
'Why is it strange?' asked Sammy.
'Because, because all the pixie trolls were summoned out of the tunnel before any of this happened happened. The only one of us left there was Ethelle and she cannot leave leave.'
'So, you're saying it can't have been one you guys that did that to her?'
Jimble shook his head before shrugging his shoulders, 'I don't know know, I don't know anything anymore anymore.'
'This is getting weirder and weirder,' Lana whispered as they approached a school gate.
'Do you think this is it?' asked Sammy.
Emma shrugged her shoulders, 'Well, if it is, it's got a different name now. Let's go in and have a snoop around.'
'I shall wait outside, outside,' Jimble said, raising his eyebrows.
'Oh, we should have brought your bubble,' Lana said.
'Okay, not a problem, not a problem.'
'We'll be quick,' Emma said as they disappeared inside the building, leaving him sitting on the grass cleaning his fingernails.
The main office was easy to find. There behind the desk, stood a middle aged woman with a pencil behind one ear and a telephone held up to the other. A large filing cabinet stood in the corner of the room.
Sammy began to shuffle through the paperwork, hoping to find a clue.
'These are all current student files,' she sighed.
'I can't see anything that would suggest it was even this school,' said Lana as she went through a load of old school newspapers. 'I don't even know what I'm looking for...'
'Over here,' Emma suddenly shouted from the hallway. 'Look,' she pointed to a number of plaques and old framed photos on the wall.
'This is from 1937. It was a cricket match between the Brockenhurst School for Boys and Lyndhurst School for Boys. That means it IS this school,' she clapped.
'So now we just need to track down their really old student records,' Lana moaned as Emma continued scouring the images on the wall.
'No,' she giggled, 'Look, this one has all the student names on it but I don't see anything with Geoffrey or Rudolph.'
'You might not but I do,' Sammy exclaimed a little further down the corridor as she looked at an old class picture on the wall. 'Brothers Geoffrey and Rudolph Bottomley!'
'Really?' asked Lana. 'You found their surname! That's brilliant. Let's head back to Declan and let him know.'
Almost skipping down the hallway, the three girls rushed through the main entrance door to find Jimble missing.
'Jimble? Jimble?' they shouted.
After a couple of minutes of frantic searching, the pixie troll appeared, ambling down the hill towards them, whistling.
'Jimble, you scared us to death,' Emma shouted.
'I did? I did? Sorry, Emma, sorry sorry,' he muttered as they approached him.
'Where did you go? We told you to stay here,' said Lana as she put her hands on her hips.
'Sorry sorry I said, sorry. I went back to the graveyard graveyard.'
'Why?' Sammy asked.
'Something strange there, something strange.'
'What do you mean?' Emma asked with her eyebrows knitted together.
'Something... supernatural supernatural,' he whispered.
'Then you shouldn't have gone on your own,' scolded Lana. 'Come on, let's get out of here. Now which way is the Parish Council?'
'Shouldn't we go and investigate the graveyard?' asked Sammy.
Lana raised her eyebrows, 'You've only been a Watcher one day and already you want to head towards potential danger?'
Sammy shrugged her shoulders, put her fingernail in her mouth and said nothing.
'Maybe we should get back to Declan first, then go and check it out?' suggested Emma.
'It's too vague. We'll never find them at this rate,' Elliott said as they went through file after file trying to track down the two boys.
'Yeah I know what you mean,' said Daisy from the adjacent room.
'Maybe the others are having more luck,' Declan said quietly as he tried to get into the computer but failed. 'Shame Imran isn't here,' he tutted. 'I never was much good with computers.'
'Declan!' yelled a voice from outside.
Running to the window he pushed it open ad peered out.
Looking up were Lana, Emma, Sammy and Jimble all grinning happily.
'You found something?' he asked.
'Yup... they were called Geoffrey and Rudolph Bottomley,' they said proudly.
Declan smiled and closed the window.
'We got a name!' he said to the others. 'Look up Bottomley.'
Leaving Sammy with Jimble outside, Lana and Emma rushed up the steps and into the building.
'Well? Anything?' Lana asked excitedly.
'Nope, not yet,' Elliott replied.
'I've got something!' Daisy shouted from the other room. Everyone dropped what they were doing and headed in to see what she'd discovered.
Phillip James Bottomley, father to twins Geoffrey and Rudolph and husband to Beatrice Honor. They lived at a place called Mayhead Manor in Lyndhurst.
'We drove past it on the way in to the village. It's really close,' Elliott said. 'It's a huge place.'
'I wonder if it's still in the same family,' pondered Emma.
'It's worth checking out. Come on, let's go. Great work people,' Declan said as they rushed out of the building and back down the steps to Jimble and Sammy.
'Declan, Jimble said there's something strange going on at the graveyard. Do you think we should check it out?'
Stopping for a moment to think, Declan nodded and they changed direction to head towards the small parish church where the funeral was in mid-flow. Well, kind of.
As they arrived, they walked slowly up the steps, each one keeping a close eye out for any enemy action. But there didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary.
'Jimble? What's going on?' whispered Emma.
Scrunching his eyes up and holding his head, the pixie troll suddenly dropped to the ground unconscious.
'Jimble,' yelled Emma as she bent down to grab him.
'No, Emma!' Lana screeched from across the pathway. 'Don't touch him!'
Emma stopped herself just millimetres from his head and yanked her hand away.
'You can only touch him when he knows you're going to touch him,' she murmured. 'That was too close for comfort. What happened?' Lana asked as the rest of the gang rushed to his side.
'I don't know, he just suddenly passed out,' Emma cried.
'Don't worry, Sis. We'll figure it out.'
'Elliott, take Daisy and run back and get the Range Rover. We'll have to use the catch poles to get him back into the car.'
Emma looked horrified.
'Sorry, Em but it's the only way,' he said as he suddenly looked around suspiciously.
'Guys, get close. We're not alone,' he whispered as two people appeared from within the church wearing long white robes.
'Stand back,' Declan said to the others as he stood up to his full height and faced the strangers. 'Who are you?'
Both of them stopped and slowly turned to face him. They removed their hoods to reveal bald heads with black tattoos inked across them.
'Neutrals,' whispered Declan.
'What are they?' asked Lana.
'Neither good nor evil. I reckon we should be safe with them.'
Declan nodded his head to them as they approached. They slowly returned his nod and stopped.
'Why did you knock the little guy out?' he asked.
'He is the source of this problem,' the first Neutral said, his voice long and hollow.
'No!' yelled Emma, 'He isn't. He's been helping us.'
The one who spoke turned to look at Emma blankly before looking at his comrade, who then opened his mouth to speak.
'He is the source of this problem.'
'What? Is that all you can say?' Lana replied, clenching her fists.
'What we're trying to say is,' Declan interrupted, 'we are well aware that the pixie trolls have been causing some problems but they aren't the source. He has been helping us. The source of this problem is the Temporal Stone.'
The Neutrals both raised their eyebrows at the exact same time, nodded and looked at each other. They seemed to communicate without saying a word.
Declan turned momentarily to the girls and shook his head, 'It's okay,' he whispered.
'The Temporal Stone?' they said in unison.
Declan nodded. 'We're trying to track it down so we can find it, and find whoever is truly responsible.'
The Neutrals nodded, 'Then we shall leave you to continue with your task. Your friend is quite alright. He has been returned to consciousness... without his power.'
'You can stop their powers?' Lana gasped.
The Neutrals smiled and their faces changed completely, becoming warm and inviting.
'We have neutralised it.'
'But how? Is there a way we can neutralise all of the pixie trolls? Well, not neutralise them as such,' Lana asked.
Emma looked up at her sister, horrified.
'I mean, neutralise their ability to freeze people,' she said nervously.
'I'm afraid you cannot, little girl. Only we have the power to neutralise. But fear not, our kind have been busy travelling the country and neutralising as many of these creatures as we can. There are few left with the power to stop time,' they said together. 'We have one city left - London. Our brother and sisters are almost there now. The pixie trolls will be soon at peace.'
This time, Emma gasped, 'But, you're not... killing them, are you?' she cringed.
Turning to look at her, the two strange bald-headed guys smiled and tilted their heads. 'Kill? We have not killed them, we have merely neutralised their power to stop time.'
'But you knocked Jimble out. How long are they unconscious for?' Sammy asked.
The Neutrals looked at the wavy haired girl and both took a step backwards. 'A new Watcher?'
'Huh?' she replied.
One of the Neutrals lifted his hand toward her and she dodged it. He smiled.
'Fear not, little girl. I have just never met a Watcher with your capabilities. You can communicate with both plants and animals. That will be a very useful trait to have.'
'Plantsandanimals?' she whispered.
'You did not know about the animals?'
She shook her head.
'When you have found the Temporal Stone, when the world returns to normal, you will see.'
'We wish you luck on your journey,' they then said to Declan before putting their hoods back on top of their heads and turning to walk away.
'Thank you!' yelled Emma as they watched them disappear down the steps and around the corner.
'What was all that about?' Lana said, her mouth dropped open in disbelief. 'Sammy, you can communicate with plants and animals -that's such an awesome power to have!'
Sammy, who was still in shock herself, didn't say a word as Declan grinned at her just as Jimble began to mutter something.
'Oooh, aaaah, oooh, aaaah, my back, my back. What happened, what happened?'
Emma bent down and helped the little guy up on to his feet.
'You've been neutralised, old boy,' said Declan with a chuckle.
'Huh? huh?' grumbled Jimble.
Mayhead Manor was a huge, striking Georgian manor house with countless windows overlooking vast acres of beautifully kept green lawns and immaculate gardens, both in front and at the back of the property.
Right next to the massive gates at the bottom of the drive was a smaller entrance for pedestrians. The group walked through it and headed towards the house.
There were two gardeners. One sat on top of a ride-on lawn mower, leaving behind perfect lines across the green grass. The second man stood with hedge trimmers in one hand, the other placed on his lower back, mid-stretch.
The group ignored the frozen men and continued past them to the front door.
'It's locked,' Declan said and they followed him round to the back door, which was ajar. Pushing it to, they walked inside. Elliott whistled.
'Nice place,' said Declan.
'There's an office over there,' Sammy said as she spotted a large mahogany desk beyond another doorway.
'Then that's where we should look first,' Declan said.
Piled on top of the desk was a large amount of mail. The moment Declan set eyes on it, he grinned.
'Look, here's a picture of the boys. I recognise them from the school,' said Sammy. 'The house is still in the family.'
'Yep, and here's some mail to prove it,' Declan said as he held up a letter with the name Geoffrey Hugo Bottomley on it. 'Geoffrey still lives here.'
'You're right about that,' said a deep voice from behind a door that creaked open, revealing a tall thin elderly gentleman carrying a shotgun aimed directly at Declan.
'Who are you and what are you doing in my house?' growled the man with short thick white hair.
'Easy, easy,' said Declan with his hands in the air.
'We're here to help. I know it looks a bit suspicious but honestly, we're here to help.'
The old man's blue eyes seemed to darken.
'I've encountered your kind before. I'm not taken in so easily. Who are you?' he asked again.
'We're Watchers,' whispered Emma.
Declan tutted and rolled his eyes.
'W...Watchers?' the old man said.
Emma nodded, 'Look,' she said as she turned and pulled up her sweater to reveal her black tattoo of a winged eye with the words Lux in Tenebris Lucet written underneath.
'I have it too,' Lana said, glancing down at her dress and blushing.
'And me,' said Daisy.
'Me too,' quipped Elliott.
'We all do,' Declan said louder than the rest. 'And I'm betting you have one too?'
The old man lowered the shotgun just slightly.
'What do you want?'
'We're trying to track down the people responsible for stopping time so we can put a stop to them.'
'Why my house?' he grumbled.
'Because it involves a missing artefact. An artefact you and your brother found when you were little boys.'
The old man stumbled slightly, lowering the shotgun to his side. Catching his breath, he whispered, 'How do you know about that?'.
'We know because we're Watchers. We've been to the Tree of Tonuka.'
The man looked blank.
'It's an ancient tree where the artefact was buried. It's the tree where you found it.'
The man gulped and staggered.
Emma and Lana rushed to his side. He jerked away from them until he looked into their eyes and saw nothing but kindness. Leaning on them, he let them lead him to the large blue sofa that stood in the corner of the room.
Gently placing him down, Sammy noticed a pitcher of water and a glass on the desk. With her hands shaking, she poured some into a glass and turned to hand it to him. He took it with a weak smile.
After taking a long drink, he looked at them all.
'You're so... young,' he said. 'Well, most of you.'
Declan smiled and sat down beside him.
'They're students, learning the craft of being true Watchers. You'll be amazed at what they can do. They're pretty amazing.'
The teenagers grinned and looked across at each other proudly.
'Tell me, what do you need to know? I'll do everything I can to help you return life to some kind of normality around here.'
The Watchers followed the old man through the grand house where ornate wooden cabinets were carefully placed along walls that had been painted pastel blues and yellows. White ceilings contained intricate ceiling roses while the floors were covered with brightly coloured rugs on top of wooden floorboards. A large, gilded grandfather clock stood silent in the far corner of the hallway.
As they walked through room after room, they eventually came to a closed door. Geoffrey fumbled with a set of keys that he'd removed from his pocket until he eventually managed to put one of them into the keyhole.
Taking a deep breath, the elderly man slowly walked inside.
'Mind your heads and do watch these steps, they're quite treacherous.'
The door led to a basement, deep in the heart of the house. But it wasn't dark and dingy like many basements, this one was clean and brightly lit.
Sitting at the heart of the room was a large desk much like the one they'd seen upstairs, but it was what surrounded it that surprised the group. Shelves upon shelves littered the walls of the huge room below the house and each shelf was full of strange items, some in bottles of liquid, others in dry jars. There were also several filing cabinets overflowing with paperwork, just like the desk that was covered in papers that had clearly been there for years without being touched. A layer of dust had settled on everything, making Sammy sneeze.
'Oh bless you, my dear. I'm terribly sorry about the dust but I never come down here. It was my father's private chamber. As children we were scolded should we go anywhere near the door,' Geoffrey said as he leant against the wall and watched them scour the surroundings.
'But what is all this?' asked Elliott.
Geoffrey's eyes turned downwards for a moment before he spoke, 'It's his collections. He spent years collecting all these odds and sods and researching all kinds of things. I've no idea what it all is. I never cared to know after... well, I just never cared to know. You're welcome to look through it all. I hope you find something that will help. Now, I would offer you a cup of tea but my housekeeper has, well, let's just say she's incapable of doing much of anything at the moment,' he sighed.
'Why don't I make us all some tea,' offered Emma as she turned to Geoffrey and looped her arm through his. You can show me where the kitchen is,' she smiled.
Lana turned to look at her sister and raised her eyebrows with a cheeky grin. Emma ignored her as the old man's face lit up, 'That's very kind of you, my dear. Sorry but I'm quite useless in the kitchen.'
Turning and helping him back up the stairs, Emma and Geoffrey headed out of the basement and turned left through a short corridor before walking into a huge country kitchen. Standing in the middle was a rather rotund lady with a red face and friendly eyes.
'If I could introduce you, I would,' said Geoffrey as he sat down at the kitchen table. 'You should find the tea over there,' he pointed. 'And cups and saucers just to your right. That's it, yes.'
'What is all this stuff?' asked Lana as she lifted a jar filled with some kind of liquid and coughed, promptly returning it to the shelf with a shiver. 'It's got a body in it,' she whispered.
'A body? What do you mean, a body?' asked Daisy, rushing to her side along with Elliott and Sammy to get a good look.
'A body, just like I said.'
Elliott picked it up as they gawped in disbelief. It was like a miniature human but with larger ears and more of a pointed nose.
'What is it?' Sammy asked as Declan tiptoed up behind them.
'It's a brownie,' he said, making them jump. Elliott almost dropped the jar.
Declan's hand shot out ready to catch it.
'They're little creatures that help around the house. Shame about this one though, poor little fella,' he said as he took it from Elliott and returned it to the shelf.
'Look at this,' screeched Lana as they rushed to her side again and pulled faces as they saw the head of a grotesque creature squeezed into a large glass jar.
'It's an ogre... well, it used to be, poor thing,' Declan answered. 'I wonder where its body is.'
'This paperwork here is all about supernatural creatures, Declan,' Sammy said as she blew dust off a sheet of paper.
Shuffled through the piles of papers, she stopped when she found something of interest.
He rushed over when she held out another piece of paper towards him. 'It's about the pixie trolls.'
The others surrounded him as he pored over the information.
'What does it say?' asked Lana.
After a minute of saying nothing, he put the paper down. 'It explains how the pixie trolls worship their queen and the Temporal Stone.'
'Geoffrey's father knew everything, including how to control them with the stone.'
'But how did he find out?' asked Daisy as she went back to look through the gruesome jars.
'I've got a pretty good idea how,' Declan replied., 'Gordle.'
Sitting around the large pine table in the kitchen, Geoffrey told them about the day he and his twin had found the stone.
'We used to play in the forest all the time as youngsters. It was such a wonderful playground,' he recalled with a smile. 'It used to drive our mother insane. But that one day, something drew us to that strange old tree and we decided to dig for treasure, you know what children are like, always up to mischief,' he smiled. 'When we stumbled across that beautiful stone, we knew we'd found something extraordinary, not that it mattered. We just wanted to play with it, nothing more. It was father who had other ideas. We managed to keep it a secret for a few months but eventually, he found it and took it from us and forbade us from playing with it any more. That's when he hid it in his chambers, so we knew we'd probably never see it again. But we were mere boys, we didn't know how important it was and we soon lost interest. But father was never quite the same. He became obsessed with something. We never knew what, not really. He literally spent years either in that basement or out travelling the country doing what he called research. Mother withdrew from life. I think she died from a broken heart. They'd been so in love before, you know? And then he changed, almost overnight. We were lucky we had such a wonderful housekeeper, Florence, to take care of us boys.'
'But what happened to the artefact, Geoffrey?' asked Emma as she took a sip of her Earl Grey.
'One day, about four years later, I think we were 12,' he said, reminiscing. 'Father told us he was leaving us again but he wouldn't say where. All he said was that it was a special journey. I knew he had the stone with him because I spotted him stroking it in his hands when he left. Florence later told us he'd gone to Somerset. Apparently he'd muttered something about a tunnel, but she hadn't been taking much notice. He returned a few days later and he looked shaken, drawn somehow. The following day he left for London and we never saw him again.'
'I'm so sorry, Geoffrey,' Emma said.
'Don't be, my dear. I was glad, to be honest. He'd changed over those last few years. He'd become... I don't know... different. Almost evil. I can't describe it. He stopped being my father the day he took that stone from us,' Geoffrey sighed, shaking his head.
'Then why did you leave his basement as it was? If I were you, I would have trashed it,' Elliott asked as he stood looking at the frozen housekeeper closely, waving his hand in front of her eyes.
Geoffrey shrugged his shoulders, 'Rudolph didn't want us to touch it so I didn't. Before my brother died in 1973, he returned home and made me promise to leave it the way it was. He said a group of people would come to the house one day. That they would need to see it to find out what they needed to stop the evil. I never understood what he was talking about, but I made the promise.'
Lana's eyes lit up, 'Maybe he was talking about us?'
'Perhaps... my brother did have the gift of foresight.'
'Did you know about the Watchers, Geoffrey?'
The old man shook his head, 'I knew there was something different about us but father never spoke of it. That day, all those years ago, when Rudolph and I got those strange patterns on our backs, we knew we were different.'
'So you are a Watcher, Geoffrey?' asked Emma.
'What's your power?' Lana asked.
He chuckled and turned to face her, 'Power?'
'Yes, all of us Watchers have special powers that make us different from ordinary people. I can jump from ridiculously high heights and can see things that happened in the past. My sister Emma can swim like a dolphin and can light up from the inside. Elliott can create fire from his fingertips. Sammy can communicate with plants and animals. Daisy is, like, super fast and super strong; oh and Declan, he can read minds, among other things, I'm sure,' she explained as Geoffrey listened intently.
'That all sounds really quite remarkable but I don't believe I could ever do anything special like that, I'm afraid.'
'Really?' asked Declan. 'Are you sure? All Watchers have special abilities, Geoffrey.'
Thinking in silence for a moment, the old man couldn't think of a single thing that made him stand out and so he shook his head, 'I really don't think I'm special. Perhaps I'm not a Watcher, as you say I am.'
'But you have the tattoo?' Emma asked.
'Can we have a look?'
'Oh really?' he asked, 'You don't really want to look at this old body do you?'
But when the others nodded, he reluctantly stood and untucked his shirt from his trousers.
'I'm afraid, you'll have to lift it for me.'
Declan stood and lifted the shirt, revealing the familiar winged eye on the old man's back. Underneath were the words, Libertas Justitia Veritas.
Declan smiled knowingly.
'What, Declan? What does it mean?' asked Lana impatiently.
'Liberty, Justice, Truth. Geoffrey what did you do for a living before you retired?'
Geoffrey tucked his shirt back in his trousers and sat down as he spoke, 'I was a lawyer in London.'
'I presume you were extremely successful in your chosen career?'
Geoffrey nodded, 'Never lost a case, why?'
'That was your special ability. You are a remarkable lawyer who probably put many, many evil doers behind bars. Not all of our powers are physical, you know.'
'Why, I suppose you're right,' said the old man as he finished his tea and poured another from the silver teapot that stood in the centre of the table.
'I didn't know that,' Lana pouted, 'I thought all of our powers were physical ones. Oh... did you know that we can all sing really, really well?' she asked him.
'Well, Rupert and I did join a choir at 16. We were told by lots of people that we sang like angels,' he reminisced.
'See, so you do have a physical power too,' she said matter of factly. 'We've actually been rehearsing for a musical show next month,' she sighed.
Geoffrey chuckled. 'You sound like you don't want to do it?'
Lana shrugged her shoulders, 'Well, you know. A show? It's a bit, childish, if you know what I mean?'
'It's not childish at all,' Declan interrupted. 'It'll be amazing, you just wait and see, and then you'll want to perform every term,' he smiled.
'She's already a performer,' laughed Emma.
Lana scowled and tried not to laugh.
After they'd enjoyed a hot cup of tea, the Watchers left Geoffrey to have a snooze in his snug while they returned downstairs to see if they could find some more answers.
It didn't take long until they made a remarkable discovery.
It seemed that Geoffrey's father, Phillip Bottomley, had kept detailed journals of his life.
Lana squealed when she found them carefully placed in the bottom of an antique trunk hidden behind one of the wider shelves in the corner of the room.
Each of the Watchers took one of the journals and sat reading through the entries, looking for that elusive bit of information that would lead them to the next location of the Temporal Stone.
'Listen to this,' Emma said as she read something from her diary, 'The boys found an intriguing item today. In fact, I'm certain there is something more to this treasured stone. I'm going to look into it further...’ and then he goes on a few days later... 'I do believe I've stumbled on an ancient artefact. Much more research is necessary...’ blah blah blah and then, 'I'm rather stunned. I managed to locate the whereabouts of a strange little creature called Gordle today. Gordle is a pixie troll who stole the artefact over 100 years ago. He was rather surprised to hear that it now resides in my belongings. He was a little angry as well, hence I had to do away with him. I shall never have to worry about Gordle again...' Emma gasped.
'He murdered him?' Lana asked.
'It certainly looks that way,' Declan answered. 'Carry on reading, Emma.'
Nodding, she turned back to the heavy little book and continued, 'I feel tremendously powerful. This stone will allow me to control the pixie trolls! Thanks to Gordle, I know exactly where to find them... They put up a fight so I froze them... they shouldn't get in my way for, oh, a hundred years perhaps! Ghastly creatures. I'm off to London tomorrow. I have a meeting with a wolf!' It stops there,' Emma sighed. 'That's all we know,' she added.
'It's more than we knew before though,' Declan smiled. 'At least now we know that we need to speak to the wolves.'
'The wolves?' whispered Daisy who had encountered their kind before.
'I'm afraid so, Daisy. Don't worry, they're not all bad,' he smiled. 'Right, let's take as much of this stuff with us as possible. Eleanor will find it very interesting reading. I'm sure Geoffrey won't mind.'
It seemed like ages since everybody had left him outside and Jimble was starting to get fidgety. Standing up and stretching his arms and legs, he waddled over to the man on the lawnmower. Curious as to what the machine was, he looked around sneakily before pushing the man off onto the soft grass.