From Chapter 7

They sat cross-legged on Aimee’s bed; Jamie watching as his sister carefully scraped the wax seal from the lid to open it. Suddenly she stopped and looked up at him with a troubled expression. “Why were you up that lamp post? It was that gull again wasn’t it?”

   Jamie thought about lying to her but he knew she could see right through him, she knew him too well. “Yes, sorry, Sis, it’s still watching for you.”

   To his surprise she smiled a one hundred watt beam of a smile and before he could do anything about it she leant across and kissed him sloppily on his forehead.

   “What the heck was that all about?” he complained and wiped his head with his hand.

   “It’s you; you know sometimes you’re nearly the perfect brother. You did it so I wouldn’t get upset again and even when you got into right bother over it, you still accepted the punishment rather than let it upset me.”

   “That’s still no reason to floppin’ well snog me! And anyway, why only nearly perfect?” 

   “Because you’re still a smelly little oik!” she grinned and tipped the jar upside down and out dropped a roll of brown parchment with a piece of blue ribbon tied around it. She slid the ribbon off, gently eased the letter open and flattened it out on the bed. The writing was beautiful to look at but difficult to read and it took them a little while to get used to its squiggles and loops, but eventually they managed to make sense of it.

   My trusted Aymy and Jaymy,

                                                      All went as planned and the deed is done. Martha is back where she belongs and I have used the power of the Star Fall to see Francis. He was in Venice with an old friend of mine but I did not let them see me as he must learn to be his own man and not think his father is watching over him.
            I will now tell you how I dealt with Lord Larus and brought my Martha back to me. When he came back to see if I had the Star Fall’s secrets for him I told him I had but required of him a letter allowing the free passage of Martha before I would give it to him. He only agreed when I showed him the round flask containing the liquid. He was so taken by its glowing colours that I thought he had gone into a trance. I told him I would tell how to gain its power only when he signed the letter. Once done and I had the means to Martha’s freedom in my hands I told him he must drink the liquid and await its effect. I reasoned that what happened to my finger would happen to him also. Indeed within mere moments of his drinking it down he began to be eaten up by it.  Before my eyes holes appeared in his body and they grew and ate away at him until with his last mortal breath he cried out, “I will have my revenge Thomas May, my soul will not rest until I have it. All the power shall be mine!” But fear not for as he spoke the last word only a shadow remained and that shadow took wing and flew away. I then used the letter to release my Martha and the power to take Larus’ wife and children to another land lest they be set upon by his enemies now that he was gone.

             I have hidden the bottle in one of my secret places below the ground but I know the power has passed on to you Aymy, use it wisely and for the good it can bring. Lord Larus would surely have had only evil intentions for it.

                                                Take care my friends,


   They both sat in silence for several minutes, Jamie trying to imagine the liquid eating away at Larus from the inside, Aimee thinking about the shadow taking wing and flying away. 

   It was Aimee that broke the silence as she suddenly and determinedly said, “I’ve got to go back to him. I’ve got to know more about the shadow, it might have been Larus escaping… it might have been a gull taking wing! It might be the same one that is trying to get me! I have to go back now!

   “But you can’t, not at this time. It’s nearly nine o’clock, it’ll be dark soon!” 

   Before he could do anything about it Aimee had taken hold of the bottle and ordered, “Take me back to Thomas May’s cottage, I want to see him!”

   She stood at the end of the garden and stared at the cottage for a little while before starting to move towards it. She had taken only a few steps when a woman’s scream made her stand still and stare at the door. The door flew open and out ran Martha, eyes wide in a terrified stare, her face contorted with fear. She ran passed Aimee with no sense that she was there and on through the gate to collapse and huddle behind the wall.

   Aimee followed her and as she looked down into her frightened, sad brown eyes she felt suddenly that she knew her so well. A crash made her turn back towards the cottage and she saw Thomas through the open doorway. He was moving frantically around the room and trying to hit out at something that was attacking him. She moved closer and could just about make out a blur of a shadow moving through the air at Thomas. It repeatedly aimed itself at his head, whilst Thomas could only try his best to fend it off with flailing arms. One such attempt caught the oil lamp that hung from the low roof beam and sent it crashing to the floor in front of the fire. The oil spread out from the shattered lamp and made its way towards the fire. 

   Aimee could see what was going to happen and ran towards the door calling out to Thomas to warn him, “Thomas, Thomas… the lamp, the fire! Get out quick, please get out!”

   The oil reached the glowing cinders under the metal grid that held back the fire and with a sudden gush of flame exploded. Aimee was knocked back by the wave of heat that came out of the door and by the time she had recovered herself and turned back towards the cottage it was a mass of flames. The wooden furniture, the dried herbs hanging from the wooden roof beams and the straw filled mattress on the bed splattered with oil from the fallen lamp were all hideously aflame and surrounding Thomas May.

   From above the awful sounds of the burning cottage, Aimee heard two others that would stay with her always. The first was a loud groan and a final cry of, “Martha…” from Thomas. The second was that laughing screech that she knew and dreaded but this time the gull found a voice that called out to her, “May is gone… Now I am ready for you, Aimee Hawthorn!” 

    With a sudden explosion of smoke and sparks the roof collapsed in on the cottage and Aimee was enveloped in burning hot dust. She had just enough mind to call out, “I want to go home!” and fell onto the bedroom carpet, coughing and crying. 

   Jamie instinctively knelt down and put his arms around her, whispering,” It’s alright, it’s alright. You’re back home again now Aimee. I’m here for you. Calm down, I’ll get you a drink of water.”

   As her sobs died away she lifted her head, thankful to see the familiar shapes of her own room and Jamie’s concerned face looking down at her with a glass of water in his hand. She shakily got to her feet, sat on the bed and took the glass from Jamie and gulped it dry, the coolness soothing her smoke infested throat. Gradually, as she calmed down and began to piece together what she had witnessed ready to tell him all about it, something caught her eye that couldn’t be right. She looked first at her hands, then at her t-shirt and jeans. Finally she stood up and went across to the dressing table mirror and stared at her reflection in it. There was no trace at all of dirt or soot or smoke any where on her! She was as she had been before she had gone back to the cottage. 

   “Jamie… I did go away didn’t I?”

   “Yes, you were gone for about ten minutes or so. Why, what happened to make you so upset?”

   It was her turn to protect Jamie from the truth now; at least for tonight to let him get some sleep - she knew she wouldn’t. “Oh just something that confused me a bit. I’ll try to work it out and tell you all about it in the morning. I’m alright now thanks, but I am pretty tired. I think we should try and get some sleep. Goodnight, Dogbreath.”

   “If you’re sure, Sis… Goodnight,” he gave a little wave and smile and left.

    Aimee got changed into her pyjamas, went to the bathroom to clean her teeth then returned to lie on top of her bed, to think over the things she had seen: Martha, Thomas May’s death, the gull and, most strangely, nothing on her to show that she had been anywhere near a fire when she had returned. She heard Mum come up stairs and go to bed. She listened to the cars going by on the road outside. She heard the cat from up the road fighting over its territory with the one from down the road and next door’s dog out for his final ‘toilet’ of the day letting both of them know that his garden belonged to him. But Martha’s frightened face stayed in her mind until the very last moments before sleep took over. Martha reminded Aimee of her Mum, especially when she thought back to the time when Mum had to tell them that Dad had gone away. It was the same frightened sadness in her beautiful brown eyes.
A walk on the beach … a landslip… a scavenging gull… suddenly Aimee and her brother are forced to confront their enemies, past and present. The ‘accidental’ discovery of an old bottle with remarkable properties brings them face to face with Larus, an evil adversary of their ancestors. This conflict is mirrored by their families fight with George Walmsley, a murderous villain, who is responsible for their father’s disappearance. And when Walmsley and Larus join forces only quick wits and a united family can hope to survive. Great excitement, great fun and Cuddles the dog as well!