The Star Realm #1 Avalon Trilogy

By Julie Elizabeth Powell

Action & adventure, Fantasy, Young adult, Sci-Fi

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235
25 mins

 

The Star Realm #1 Avalon Trilogy (sample)


The Star Realm was inspired by the published novel Gone, wherein a fantasy world was created to answer many questions posed by a true event. The opportunities awakened for the author were too good to dismiss, where the thrill of adventure pulled her back to the age of when anything was possible.

Its first draft written several years ago, this story is about the mysterious quest of five children who find themselves transported to the spectacular and extraordinary world of Avalon, whereupon they are catapulted into one of the uncountable heptagonal pieces that make up the magical sphere of the Orb of Caprice, namely, the Star Realm.

Here is where the incredible journey begins in earnest and readers can only delight in a seesaw of emotions and predicaments, as they follow the exploits of the five and champion their long and arduous passage.

This book is for anyone with a head overflowing with dreams, a heart filled with a yearning for adventure and a soul buoyant in magic.

The Star Realm is the first in the Avalon Trilogy

Chapter One

Troubled Times

Ezrin, the Time Keeper of Avalon, sat in the Gyro-Monitor staring out of the Glass Dome fingering his Vandyke beard deep in thought, not even noticing the Utopian Passage directly ahead of him. Usually he marvelled at this dazzling cluster of stars, understanding its extra-special significance.
But, at this moment his only thoughts were those of grave concern. What would the future hold? How were they to endure what was happening? Matters, he knew, had become steadily worse as each cycle had turned.
The sudden flash of red from the lectern broke into his thoughts; the Alternatives were ready. Sliding his fingers across the panel, he pressed one of the buttons, activating the Probability Screen to show the list of options. Tapping the display, he selected the one at the top, setting into motion a sequence of events.
Watching the scenes unfold Ezrin smiled, as he saw one of the boys reaching into a black box, in the shape of a coffin, and drawing out the Sword; yet there was something wrong.
Peering closely, the Time Keeper continually struck the fast forward button until he froze the picture in front of him and muttered, “Surely not Davie…it cannot happen! But they are the ones, the Book of Time tells me that and the Tome of Destiny confirms it.”
A slight vibration from the Gyro-Monitor reminded Ezrin of the meeting, forcing him to turn off the Probability Screen and switch his mind to the immediate task ahead; after all, he admitted, he had only witnessed one Alternative, nothing could be certain.
The seat looked like a giant doughnut, one in which eight people could sit together in comfort. It reminded visitors of those large, round contraptions used in adventure theme parks for ‘shooting the rapids’ and was now seemingly fixed mid-air by a tall column of light, which reached from somewhere underground to curve around its bowl like a giant hand.
Ezrin touched lights and shapes on the lectern in front of him, compelling the seat silently down, shrinking the column; sighing as it stopped at floor level.
Time to consult the Star Council, he thought.

*

It was near the end of July, exams had finished and today was the last day of term. The twelve-year-old boy, with a mop of unruly chestnut hair, smiled at the knowledge, crinkling his soft brown eyes within his long, narrow face.
Davie Jenkins had grown. So quickly that all his energy seemed to have flowed upwards, giving the impression that his body was far too big for him, as he leaned against the lamppost.
Hey you lot, spot the difference!”
Davie groaned inwardly before saying, “What d’you want, Spike?”
That’s all he needed, he thought, waiting for the newcomers to draw near, another set-to, just when everything seemed to be going right for once.
Spike’s cronies were waiting to see what their leader wanted to do, two of which had all the hallmarks of budding henchmen, what with their wide shoulders and bull-shaped, pimply heads.
Davie often wondered if they came from some kind of special factory, which moulded them to look the same, deliberately layering on the bad skin to give them extra ugliness.
“Sorry, Jenks, didn’t see you at first, thought for a moment that there were two lampposts stuck together by mistake!” taunted Spike, his hair, the colour of midnight, standing in peaks around the top of his head, where he’d once gelled them into place but now bent awkwardly at the tips.
“Get lost, Spike!” retorted Davie.
“Waiting for your girlfriend?” Spike drawled, his cool blue eyes fixed upon his entourage for support, a wide smirk plastered across his own spotty face.
Davie didn’t answer, searching the crowd now converging, not only from his own school but also the Primary across the road, for his brother, so they could get out of here.
“Ooh, keeping secrets, eh? Who is she then, not Slanty-Lanky; have you kissed her yet?” Spike shrieked with laughter, his high-pitched wail joining the guttural jibes of his companions.
Davie at last caught sight of Ben amongst the steady stream of excited students running across the schoolyard, dragging his bag along the ground.
“Oh, look everyone, it’s Baby Ben, it’s alright, your big brother’s here to take you home!” shouted Spike.
Davie twisted round to face Spike, his fists clenched low, his eyes sparking, resisting the urge to smash the long nose pointing right at him, his mother’s words jangling in his head; ‘Stay out of trouble, you’re the oldest…and look after your brother. I’m relying on you, Davie’.
What Davie didn’t see was the tall angular girl with the long mane of sleek black hair, running towards him from the school playground opposite, her ponytail swinging.
“Ooh, now we’re for it lads, Slanty-Lanky Dragontongue to the rescue!”
Panting, Anne stopped beside Davie, amid another wave of laughter.
“Let’s go, Davie,” whispered Ben, finally reaching the small knot of bodies, and tugging at his brother’s sleeve.
Anne bristled. “Why don’t you go and buy some better hair gel, yours looks more like a dilapidated hedgehog!”
“At least mine doesn’t look like a horse’s bum!” Spike retaliated.
Loud sniggers now infiltrated the enemy camp.
“Oh, very original – not!” Anne retorted.
“Shut up, Spike!” Came Davie’s parting shot as he turned away, grabbing his two companions by the arms and striding purposely towards home.
“Running away? Going to put Bennikins to bed?” Spike’s heckling continued as the trio walked the full length of the street, though he and his rival gang made no attempt to follow.
After turning the corner, Ben sighed with relief, glad that he hadn’t been on his own but Anne felt indignant.
“I know what I’d like to do with them!” she said, poking around in her bag and pulling out a yellow baseball cap before ramming it back to front on her head.
“Let’s forget about them, they’re idiots. It’s the holidays!” said Davie, willing his good humour to flow back into him.
“I reckon Chrissie’s right about Spike; his parents must be splitting up; he’s even more prickly than usual!” remarked Anne.
“Well they’ve always argued a lot, and I heard his mum’s already moved in with someone else,” replied Davie.
“Good riddance then, if that’s the way he wants it!” Anne snapped.
“Don’t let Chrissie hear you say that, you know what she’s like…wants everyone to be friends,” Ben stated. Though the thought of ever being friends with Spike made his eyes roll.
“Well, if he has been left with his dad, and well, if we had one that walloped us every time he came home, then…” began Davie, trying to put his thoughts into words.
“If that’s true, we don’t know really, do we? He should tell someone; anyway not everyone’s like him, even when bad things happen. Beryan Hellyer’s dad can be rotten sometimes…got a real temper he has and she’s really nice. And Chrissie’s mum’s dead and she’s not, I-hate-everybody-and-I’m-gonna-get-you, all the time! And there’s your sister, um, sorry,” finished Anne, looking to the ground.
“That’s okay,” said Davie, glancing at his brother beside him. “When April died it made Mum a bit, well, strange for a while, you know…she’s not so bad now, only a bit obsessed with us being safe. Bad things can mess you up inside.”
“Yeah but you don’t go trying to cause trouble, hating everyone, neither does Ben,” Anne stated.
Davie said, “Well, I suppose Dad helped us, sort of kept us busy.”
“Spike’s probably just jealous, your parents, you know, being together.”
Davie shrugged.
“I liked what you said about his hair though,” commented Ben, smiling at the memory.
“Dilapidated hedgehog, brilliant!” exclaimed Davie.
Anne smiled back in answer as they wound their way through the warren of streets towards home.
Home was supposed quite ordinary, used as they now were to climbing through the steep, winding hills, where nestled white painted houses, each with spectacular views.
Only a little out of breath, they walked along Pydar Street until they stopped at number eleven.
“Listen,” said Anne, “I’ll call for Chrissie after tea, see you at The Shack usual time?”
“Yeah, okay, we’ll try Billy, too but after seeing the dentist this afternoon he might not want to come.”
Anne laughed and said, “I bet he was wound up about missing the last day, we were allowed to play games all afternoon, though Mrs. Prowse set me some maths quizzes, ‘cos, well, you know, then just before we left she gave each of us a bag of sweets and a card wishing us good luck for the move in September.”
Davie smiled then said, “Well, it wasn’t too bad for us but Stinky Soper gave us homework for the holidays; an essay headed, ‘Explore the Main Causes of Tourism and How it Affects the Community’, yuk!…and a whole load of questions about the coastline to answer.”
“Unfair! Still, a few visits to Alchemy will sort that! I bet Charley will help too, especially with us being ‘her outsider clan’, it’s funny how we all moved here about the same time.”
“Yeah and if we hadn’t all gone exactly then…” agreed Davie, remembering how on the day of the opening of the bookshop all five had met for the first time amongst the Mysterious and Magical section, where coloured banners and streamers had drawn them, as if spellbound.
“Mum doesn’t believe in Fate, she says it’s rubbish, just coincidence and to concentrate on facts and not to rust my brain on too many dreams. She’ll be disappointed if I don’t get into the special Maths programme.”
“You will,” said Ben.
“I don’t know, it’s strange though, about that day. Anyway, I suppose your homework is quite interesting. I can help if you like. You can see why people want to come here,” she said, turning to look at the expanse of glorious blue sea in the distance.
“Dad says it’s the best move we ever made. I wonder how long it takes to be thought of as ‘one of the locals’ though?” Not expecting an answer she added, “What about you, Ben, any homework?”
“No. It was all right really though I had to dodge Miss Gittings walking down the corridor, flexing that ruler of hers. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the wrong or not, it’s still a threat!”
“She’s not allowed to use it though!” stated Anne, her voice rising.
One thing they both knew about Anne, was her knowledge about ‘people’s rights’ as she called them. But, Davie presumed, having parents like hers, was it any wonder?
“I suppose but that doesn’t make it feel any better, and it doesn’t stop her giving you a dig with it when nobody’s watching.”
“Though, you won’t have any trouble when you start, being the best in the whole school, especially Maths. You’ll be her star pupil,” Davie interjected, seeing Anne’s face drain of colour.
“Thanks. Well, I’d better get going; see you later.”
“Yeah, ‘bye,” said Davie.
Anne always had the furthest to climb, right past Trevol Road through to Killigrew Street though none of the five friends lived too far from one another.
Before walking through the tiny garden to the front door, both boys watched as she reached the end of their road, gave a brief wave and disappeared around the corner.
None of them noticed the figure following her.

*

Ezrin rose from the silver covered seat and walked across the floor of polished glass to face a large oval mirror standing on its own, its frame decorated with oddly shaped designs.
Sometimes he changed the appearance of the floor – in case it disturbed visitors – but when he was alone he liked the feeling of space; it helped him think.
He saw his reflection clearly in the mirror as he approached.
He’d chosen to wear his favourite collarless, calf length purple robe, around the middle of which was a belt fastened by a buckle in the shape of clock; underneath he wore black trousers.
The robe was patterned with every kind of device for measuring time and looking closely, each piece could be seen to move. It also held a hem of twinkling stars, while soft purple boots encased his feet.
His shoulder-length coffee-coloured hair flanked the well-worn, textured face and matched the gentle radiance of his eyes, eyes, he’d been told, which could capture the beholder’s attention and immediately render peace.
He could only hope that was indeed the case.
Stroking the neatly trimmed Vandyke beard with his long fingers, his thoughts lingered on what was to come, his brain arranging everything in order, as if it housed a multitude of shelves like a library of notions.
Touching one of the symbols on the Mirror-Link, its texture changed to a metallic swirl, and then stepping into it, he soon found himself in the Star Chamber, where the Council members were already seated around a large oblong, opaque glass table.
Similar to the lectern on Ezrin’s Gyro-Monitor, there was a myriad of lights and symbols embedded into its surface.
Seated around the table were eleven others.
At the head sat an ancient man, with lengthy cloud-white hair and beard, and ice blue eyes, while his large, gnarled nose nearly met his chin. His right hand held onto a large knobbly stick fixed upright beside him, which, everyone knew, whenever hammered to the floor, it would instantly retreat the signs of age, as if an iron had been taken to his face, while candyfloss hair and beard were trimmed and tinted brown.
“Time Keeper, you are here at last, please sit down,” he said.
Ezrin walked to the vacant chair at the opposite end and said, “Thank you, Sivan,” glancing around the table at the faces that focussed on him expectantly.
“You all know why we are here,” Ezrin began. “Avalon and its worlds are in danger of being destroyed because Elsewhere has become too self-seeking. The pursuit of power and worship of money has eroded what we know to be so important. If those Elsewhere do not start to think of others and what they are doing to each other and their planet, then Avalon itself is doomed.”
A buzz of voices passed through the room.

“The most crucial evidence of this is what has already happened within the Star Realm, as you know the oldest of our outer worlds,” continued Ezrin, ignoring the growing hum.
“Tlalocan will tell you the Rainbow River has almost run dry in places; without it nothing will heal or grow. Mithraw, I know, has made laws to protect its flow but things have not improved sufficiently.”
On Sivan’s left sat Lokian, whose cunning black eyes followed the Time Keeper’s every move, behind a curtain of dark, lank hair that hung loosely round his face, a two finger width streak of white stretching front to back through the centre parting. He shifted in his seat as Ezrin continued to speak.
“I know you are doing your best to shield it from the sun Asshuran but I’m afraid it’s not enough. As I look around this table I can see your concern, for the land, its culture, and all forms of its magical life that are in so much danger.”
Ezrin’s eyes lingered on Kimeranet’s docile, lion-like features, emphasised by the mane of shaggy brown hair, sitting next to him, before he continued.
“Evidence that things have become worse is confirmed by the fight between the East Faction of Goblins…led by Stubbling, to no one’s surprise…and Walden’s clan, which is now forced to live in the Underground Tunnels.”
The murmur dulled for a moment as the group listened, each fixing their eyes on the Time Keeper.
“Since Walden was rescued from Pherson’s clutches it was hoped that balance could once more be restored. Unfortunately, Stubbling’s power has grown, fuelled of course by the shadow of Evil.”
The buzz sharpened again.
Somat, whose job it was to keep watch over the Music Fields, nudged Ea’s, sitting next to him, amused by the faraway look on his face. But his neighbour didn’t notice, as he was now thinking about a particularly interesting book he was desperate to finish, one that Ezrin had given him about Elsewhere’s ideas on Imagination, called, Eternity of the Mind, and failed to listen to the Time Keeper’s warning words.
“Somehow Stubbling has been able to harness the selfishness from Elsewhere and use its harmful tendencies. I believe someone has helped him to manipulate a Seer Bowl to aid him in his quest. As yet, I do not know who it is.”
Ezrin stopped speaking and gazed at each of them in turn.
The drone of voices pervaded the room as heads swivelled in all directions, quietening again when he proceeded.
“If we are to save Avalon and the Orb of Caprice then we must take drastic measures.”
The Time Keeper looked at the group, his eyes luminous with the passion of his words.
“Yes but what can we do?” asked Tlalocan, his deep blue eyes challenging Ezrin, the fringe of his soft brown hair flopping into them as he spoke. He pushed it away impatiently.
“Much Time has consumed my puzzlement, with only one solution. We need assistance from Elsewhere.”
Before Ezrin could say anymore, Lokian rose quickly from his seat and slapped his hand upon the table, which caused the embedded lights to flicker. Startled faces turned to listen to his tirade.
“That is ridiculous! Sivan, you cannot listen to him. I have told you many times that Ezrin likes humans too much. Too many visitors have been allowed free range. It wasn’t that long ago one was permitted to enter the Orb of Caprice. Perhaps it was she who disrupted the flow and has put us all in danger? She must have interfered with the balance. We know she rescued Walden but she should never have been granted passage…we all know Ezrin has his favourites, Jenny being one. It is their stupidity that has put us all in such danger!”
Lokian’s eyes glowered with malevolence while he sat down as abruptly as he had stood; a rebellious, sly look on his face.
This time, he thought, he would put Ezrin where he belonged – away from Avalon into the Dark Reaches, where all traitors were sent. Sivan would listen to him now.
Ezrin sat quietly. He knew what Lokian was trying to do and it must not work. He had to convince the Council that his own plan was the only possible way they and all the worlds could be saved.
“I’m sure Ezrin has never done anything to put us in danger,” Asshuran said, a strange whistle emitting from his voice, while amber eyes shone as brightly as did his mown white hair.
“It is good that Walden was saved,” he continued. “I’m sure his visitor couldn’t be the cause of all this trouble. As for Jenny, she took only goodness with her wherever she went. How could Ezrin deny her one and only request to see her mother? Anyway, Jenny has moved on to the Light, you know that, Lokian. I cannot understand why you say such terrible things. Sivan, please do not heed his words.”
Lokian glared down the table at Asshuran from his seat; Mithraw and Tlalocan felt the blast of hatred and looked away.
Psyche jumped up saying, “This is all too emotional; we are all in danger of forgetting our peril. We must listen to Ezrin.”
He slumped back into his seat.
The group muttered their consent, heard Lokian’s guttural humph, and then became hushed.
The Time Keeper looked down at Sivan at the other end of the table, noticing how his hair had already grown longer and streaks of white sliced wider through the brown, though saw how his ice blue eyes penetrated them all as he addressed the room, his quiet voice cutting through the silence as a knife through butter.
“Ezrin will tell us of his plan,” he began. “Avalon and all other worlds are in desperate need of an answer. We will listen to what he has to say.”
He once more banged the Stick of Youth onto the ground as all eyes turned to Ezrin, waiting.

*

As Davie and Ben approached Billy’s house, two streets over and behind theirs, along Cliff Road, a stocky boy, slightly shorter than Ben, with a shock of red, tangled hair, almost shot out of the front door, a stream of loud angry voices chasing him, before its echoing slam muffled the sound.
“Billy! Are you okay?” Davie asked as he ran to meet him.
“Yeah, it’s just Jimmy in trouble again.”
“What’s he done this time?”
“The usual.”
Billy didn’t elaborate, knowing his friends understood that his elder brother – by five whole years – was always involved in some kind of trouble, misfortune, his mum called it, though his dad always said it was down right stubborn-mindedness.
Deciding not to push it, Davie said, “Well we’re just going to The Shack, thought you’d want to come.”
“I knew you’d be around about now, I was just planning my escape, it’s like a madhouse in there. Mum’s always moaning about me going the same way; as if I would!”
Davie didn’t reply; glad there weren’t as many rows at home. Yet something told him that Billy’s mum wasn’t as wide of the mark as he seemed to think, remembering the loads of times Davie himself had had to pull Billy from the brink of some disaster or other.
As they made their way to The Shack, Billy rammed his hands into the pockets of his jeans in thoughtful silence until Ben asked, “Hey, how was it at the dentist’s?”
“Blood and sand, don’t ask, one filling!”
“Your face looks alright.”
“I’ve got to go next week. What a way to start the holidays!”
“Oh,” said Ben.
Changing the subject, Davie announced, “Anne said she’d meet us there after she’d called for Chrissie, especially as it’s on the way, save us trailing all the way to Lansallos Street and back again. We’ve got ‘til eight o’clock.”
“Oh great, that’s all I need, bossy boots asking questions.”
“You don’t have to say anything about, you know.” Davie tossed his head in a backward motion.
“Yeah, I suppose. Anybody got any sweets?”
Well that won’t do your teeth any good!” Davie said, laughing.
“You sound like Mum. Have you got any or not?”
“Let’s wait ‘til we get there, okay?”
“Okay.”
Billy continued to stare at the ground as they trundled along Cliff Road’s massive stretch then up and around until it merged into what they thought of as Sandy Hill’s secret and mysterious world, due to it almost always being deserted – one of sandy earth, ancient oakwood and heathland.
The far side of which, so steep and smooth, that it allowed all manner of seasonal jumps and slides. So many in fact, that between the five of them, with a mixture of broken bones, skinned knees, dislocated joints, gashes, cuts and bruises, they kept the local doctor away from his beloved boat in an attempt to keep up with demand.
When Davie caught sight of the run-down collection of planks that roughly resembled a dwelling, his face brightened and he ran the rest of the way, the others following.
The three of them dodged trees, jumped clumps of purple and yellow until they reached what Billy called The Stonking Stable for reasons he wouldn’t explain. Though Davie wondered if it had anything to do with a film they’d seen once about a horse that could talk to a boy who’d run away from home and they’d roamed the world together looking for adventure.
Inside, The Shack had been decorated with posters of footballers and bikes and other miscellaneous things to make it theirs. A large picture of the Earth taken from space, took up nearly one wall – a contribution from Anne.
They’d found it by chance in amongst the collection of trees on one of their exploring days and had nicknamed it The Shack (after Anne had insisted on a vote – The Stonking Stable taking fifth place), although it was so rickety that one false move should have seen it disintegrate very quickly. Yet it remained standing.
They were the first to arrive.
As Davie and Ben emptied their pockets, sweets of all description fell across the surface of the worn table that had one leg shorter than the other three, causing them to wedge it with a wad of paper.
Their dad ran and owned a sweet shop and often came home with free samples, which he gave to the boys, with just a wink and a finger to his lips, as he came into their bedroom dumping a massive bag of assorted delights in front of them.
“Brilliant, I’m glad they’ve brought these back!” said Billy, and immediately deposited an enormous blue round sweet into his mouth.
“Billy, you know the rules!” shot Davie.
The culprit’s eyes glanced at the five jars that sat on the precarious-looking shelf above the table. “Sorry,” he dribbled.
Two wooden chairs had been salvaged; one a bit wobbly but did the job. Billy had brought an orange box from his father’s fruit and vegetable shop (why couldn’t it have been sweets!), while Anne and Chrissie had supplied old beanbags.
Along the shelf next to the jars of sweets was a tin full of assorted items, which could be useful at any time; an elastic band, a small ball of brown string, a single plaster, a length of ribbon, some coins, pens, pencils, an eraser, a sharpener and penknife – only Davie was allowed to touch that. There was also a stack of paper stored in a box next to the tin, used for maps, and lists and plans.
“Oh great you’ve made it!” shouted Chrissie, who’d just arrived, with Anne close behind. Her blonde curls bounced and blue eyes shone out of her round face, as she looked at each of them.
“’Lo oo two,” mumbled Billy, trying to negotiate the bulbous sweet, his hands plunged into his pockets – one slightly torn – his body already ensconced on the chair without the wobbly leg.
“Are you alright?” asked Ben, remembering she’d gone home early today.
“Yeah, course, I cut my knee and the teacher called Daddy and he took me to hospital…just one stitch that’s all. Doesn’t hurt much now.”
Chrissie proudly showed the white strip that held the ugly gash together.
“Daddy says I can’t stay long though, since Mummy, you know.”
“We can only stay ‘til eight anyway,” Davie told her, quickly tapping her shoulder in a comforting gesture.
Anne sat in her usual seat on the beanbag next to Chrissie, took the proffered jar from Davie and began to suck in unison with the rest of them.
The Shack was silent except for slurping and sucking sounds until their leader asked, “What do you want to do?”
The others had watched as strange contortions twisted Davie’s face while he finished a sherbet lemon that had made his eyes water. His mouth now sore, he put the jar back onto the shelf.
“Dunno,” garbled Billy, “’e ood ‘ake nuther ‘ap.” The sweet bounced around his mouth, rattling against his teeth making it difficult to speak.
“What?” Anne’s small nose screwed up in confusion.
“I think he said we could make another map!”
Ben’s deciphering abilities were legendary.
“Oh, not again!” said Anne.
The group groaned.
Billy looked sheepish. “’ ell it ‘os only an ‘dea.”
“We could write our list of plans for the holidays!” Chrissie offered.
She too had put away her jar and she used her tongue to lick bits of toffee from her teeth, while wiping her chin with the back of her hand where the gunge had dripped.
“Why don’t we write to the gov…?”
Billy cut off Anne’s flow, after removing the sweet from his mouth and holding it between finger and thumb and shouting, “NO! Stop being so flaming serious about everything, they’d never listen anyway! Just ‘cos your mum and dad are always campaigning about stuff. You’re the youngest, so you don’t have any say…right!”
After which he promptly continued to annihilate the sweet.
“Stop it Billy!” cried Chrissie. Why, she wondered, did they always have to fight?
Anne’s eyes flashed with resentment, Davie intervened before it could go any further.
“That’s not true Billy and you know it, everybody has a say, but why don’t we just have some fun?” Was he always, he thought, going to have to stop these two arguing?
Ever ready to take his lead, Anne smiled her consent, glared angrily at Billy but said no more.
The boy merely grinned back at her.
She noticed his cheek bulging slightly less and how the freckles on his face had become even more prominent as each sunny day had passed. Sometimes she just wanted to kick him! And if it wasn’t for Davie…
After a long debate, they decided to have another go at climbing a particularly difficult tree, where footholds were virtually non-existent. Up to now only Billy had been able to grapple with its trunk a short way up.
The Shack leaned uncertainly following their wake outside, when Billy went to grab Anne’s hat but she was too fast for him. Stopping in his tracks, he choked and coughed, unexpectedly swallowing the remains of the sweet.
The others laughed, as they watched his look of surprise.
“That’ll teach you!” jibed Anne.
Unfazed, Billy’s grin was soon back in place, the sweet now entirely gone.
“Okay, who’s first?” asked Davie.
“Who else? I’ve got an idea how to do it,” Billy bragged. “But I’m leaving a bit early; Jimmy should have gone out by then.”
“Huh?”
“I want to get back to Blue Daemon, I’ve got to level five.”
“No way!” exclaimed Anne.
“Way.”
“But nobody can get by those rocks!”
“Not so genius now, are you?”
“Come on, spill!” demanded Davie.
“He’s lying!”
Billy slowly shook his head.
“Tell us then,” said Anne, narrowing her eyes.
The boy sighed then replied, while walking towards the tree, “It’s easy with the Rock Slayer.”
“The what…where?”
Billy only laughed.

*

“Contrary to what some may think,” Ezrin began, “I would never expose our worlds to jeopardy. Our few visitors have each been special cases. If we are to keep our integrity intact, then some must be allowed to preview this place so that the value of our worlds is shared. Jenny’s mother has indeed helped towards this goal.
“This I believe is the answer to our problems. We must deliver the message to the young and hope the adults take heed. We know that youngsters are usually invisible Elsewhere, that walls are built between them and those who are full-grown but if we can teach the young the importance of the Imagination we will have won an important battle.
“I have been taking stock of just how many have called at Charley’s emporium, Alchemy. It has been encouraging to see both adults and children visiting frequently.
“My solution to the problem will be to bring at least five children to Avalon.” Ezrin paused knowing the furore this would cause.
Lokian was the first to react.
He stood quickly, clattering his chair behind him in the process before ranting, “I will not stay here and listen to anymore of this nonsense. Sivan, you must know it is impossible for this to happen. It’s also extremely dangerous for us. Ezrin has lost his mind!”
He remained standing as Ea’s spoke, his usually vacant eyes taking notice of his surroundings, shaking his unruly hair.
“Sivan, I feel I must agree with Lokian. This does seem to go against convention. I cannot see how it can be done.”
His grey eyes held an apology as he looked down the table towards Ezrin.
Lokian sat down in triumph, waiting for the Head of the Council to speak.
Murmurs were once again bouncing around the table.
Sivan, impassive as ever said, “Let Ezrin continue.”
Lokian’s head twisted abruptly to look at him but he remained silent as Ezrin spoke.
“I know this idea is unusual…only once has it been tried before. But we know there are specific things that have to be done in the Star Realm and only someone from Elsewhere can do them.
“If my theory is correct, certain items need to be collected, this will help strengthen our own worlds and, we will have the added bonus of the children believing in magic once more. When they return, their experiences will infiltrate and multiply on Elsewhere more than ever before.”
Monanic’s spiky hair bristled as he interrupted Ezrin’s flow, his voice passing electrically through the air – sharp and powerful.
“With all due respect, Ezrin, how is this possible? How can it work…only the dead or waiting can pass through Avalon? I have never heard of such a thing.”
Ezrin looked directly at Monanic to answer his question.
“As we all know, Avalon is the place between the material and the spiritual worlds, that is to say between the things we can touch and the things we can’t. It allows spirits to pass to the Light or to be reborn. Of course it also gives shelter to those who are waiting for a decision, some of whom then go back to their bodies Elsewhere.
“Those like Jenny are unusual; her spirit waited for many years to be reunited with her withering body. Though she has now left us to join the Light, her reward of course serving as a bonus to us all.
“But more is necessary.” Ezrin now glanced at the rest of the gathering as he continued.
“Whilst pondering our problems, I have read many texts but it wasn’t until I visited the Island of Dreams that I found Crossing Over The Divide. Amongst its writings I learned that dreams could be our salvation. The book explained how humans could travel to Avalon and its various worlds without the guise of death. That it be the innocent was its only stipulation. Therefore I believe that it has to be children.”
Prithivis broke in with a question.
“You said it had only been done once before, what happened?”
Ezrin looked at her emerald eyes and stated, “A long time ago a man tried to break through the veil of Avalon by using dreams. Unfortunately he disintegrated, his life force wiped away. The book writes that his innocence had been corrupted. That is why it is so important that it be children who help us.”
“But can you subject children to this kind of danger,” she asked, passing her hands through her abundant ruby-coloured hair in agitation.
“I’m sure that is exactly the point. The children’s innocence will be their and our salvation.”
Mithraw put forward his reservations.
“Can you be sure? Even children are not so innocent Elsewhere now. They too have become like their parents, selfish and demanding, caring only for things.”
His different coloured eyes moved in agitation, the lines on his face deepening; not convinced this would work. The laws of Avalon were rigid, he knew, they had been written by the Wise Ones over aeons.
“Not all children have gone the way of their parents, as not all adults are forsaken,” answered Ezrin, his voice calm against the onslaught.
Ea’s also voiced his concerns, saying, “I have heard of this book before but never seen it. Are you sure the integrity of Avalon can withstand this kind of visit?”
Ezrin continued, “It is the only way we will survive. When the children arrive I will tell them as much as possible. I have made ready the list of things they will need to collect. There has to be five children because of the number’s enchanted qualities and because there are seven items, the magic will be even stronger.”
“Where will you find the children and how will you know they are the right ones?” Somat’s lively voice shouted down from the far end.
Ezrin answered, “I’ve already selected the children. Time has aided me in my search. The fact that they read of course has influenced the choice…a necessary ingredient for Imagination to flourish. If you agree to this suggestion then I plan to contact them without delay.”
Kimeranet was trying to speak.
Ezrin looked at him and waited.
“I…I…I am w...w…worried about th…th…the children. W…W…Will they be able to m…m…manage? The Star Realm h…has its d…dangers.”
Aware of all the faces looking in his direction, Kimeranet’s stuttering was worse than usual.
Ezrin looked straight into Kimeranet’s kind eyes as he reassured him.
“Do not worry so my friend, I am sure the children will be safe, in fact I am going to need your help.”
“Oh n...n…no. Th…The children w…w...will be f...f…frightened to s…s…see me.”
Ezrin answered him honestly.
“Maybe at first but as they get to know you they will accept you for what you are, not how you look. Your kindness will win them over.”
“I’m sorry to break up this camaraderie but this whole thing’s ludicrous! Why can’t King Regulus sort this out? He’s partly to blame for not controlling his lands and creatures as he should.” Lokian stared down the table at Ezrin, his narrow, upper lip curling as he spoke.
As he responded, the Time Keeper couldn’t help but notice how the strip of white that parted his dark thatch of hair had widened considerably over recent time. This in itself was disturbing, he knew.
“You know as well as we all do, that is part of the problem. When Princess Rosanna disappeared, King Regulus became a recluse. Queen Xanthos has gone into decline. It’s no good arguing, Lokian, we have to stop the evil that is taking hold.”
Ezrin looked away from the scathing face and waited for Sivan to answer.
More grey had appeared on his head as he spoke the final words of the meeting.
“Ezrin is right. I have listened to you all but I find that I have to agree that his plan is the only possible course of action…if we are to survive. Ezrin, go and prepare the children. One of our many hopes is that it is not too late.”





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