Rose opened her eyes and sat up with a start. She was tense throughout her body and was sweating slightly on her forehead. She was back in the garden and knew that she was in trouble. They all were. Laying next to her were Ruby, Issy and Violet, all sound asleep. She tried to wake them up but it was no use. Wherever Nerrez had sent them, it certainly wasn’t back here. She had to find out where they were and fast. She had to do something to fix this.
She jumped out of her sleeping bag and quickly poked her head inside the boy’s tent. They were all sleeping and again she tried to wake them but they too were sound asleep. They were all tossing and turning and it gave Rose the impression that wherever they were they were definitely not happy right now.
She walked up to the back door of the house and went inside, wondering how she was going to explain this to the adults. Everything inside was silent. There was no one in sight and then she remembered. They had all gone down to the town for the morning and wouldn’t be coming back until after lunch. Sure enough there was a brief note on the kitchen work surface.
“Just reminding you that we’ve all gone into town this morning. We’ll be back by three o’clock. Love Alice xx”
Rose looked up at the clock on the wall. Nine thirty am. She only had a few hours to fix this and at this point in time she had no clue as to how she was going to do that. The only things that she could think of doing was to call the estate agents in town as they had talked about yesterday and maybe she could get some kind of idea about where her parents might be. If she could find them then maybe they would know what to do to put this right. She went upstairs to find the notes they had made yesterday. They were in the bedroom under the skylight and right next to them was her tiara. She must have left it there yesterday when she had fallen asleep.
She ran back downstairs and started making phone calls to the local estate agents. Asking them each in turn if they had ever sold this house in the past and eventually she came up trumps. One of the agents said that they had indeed sold the house thirteen years ago to Mr and Mrs Johnson.
“Do you remember who sold it to them,” asked Rose expectantly.
“Why yes dear, I do remember,” said the lady on the phone. “I handled everything myself for the couple who used to live there. They were a lovely young couple and they were expecting their first child, so they told me anyway. They had bought the house in cash only the day before at an auction. They never even spent one night in the place. All they asked me to do was to take a photo of them in front of the house and then they handed me back the keys and told me to sell the house to the first person to come and look at it.”
“What happened to them?” asked Rose.
“They got in their car and drove off and I never saw them again,” continued the lady on the phone.
“Was that the same couple who died in the car crash just outside of the town,” asked Rose, her heart in her mouth.
“Car crash?” asked the lady. “They weren’t killed in a car crash. They wrote to me about a year later telling me that they had had their baby girl but had decided to put her up for adoption and that I was to keep the proceeds of the house sale on account with a solicitor until they returned in the future to collect it. It’s been thirteen years mindand I’m still waiting.”
Rose was trying to process everything that was being said. It wasn’t quite making sense. Mr Johnson had told her yesterday that the couple he bought the house from, most likely her parents, had died in a car crash. She decided to check one more time.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t ask you your name,” Rose said to the lady on the phone.
“My name is Isobel, Isobel Saunders.”
“Mrs Saunders. Do you know anything about the couple who stayed in the house that were killed in the car crash?”
“Do you mean before the young couple?” asked Mrs Saunders.
“No, the ones who bought it from them, the couple who owned it after. There was another young couple who died in a car crash” replied Rose.
“I’m sorry dear but you are mistaken. There was no couple who bought it afterwards. Well not anyone who died anyway. The couple who bought it afterwards were Mr and Mrs Johnson.”
“Are you sure?” asked Rose.
“Oh yes quite sure dear. You see Mrs Johnson is my sister. She bought it with her boyfriend at the time, Dave Johnsonand they got married a year later.”
Rose stared at the phone in disbelief. This was not what she was expecting at all. So Mr Johnson had lied to all of them, including his wife. Then again was Mrs Johnson in on it too? Or was her sister lying to her on the phone right now? It was a lot to take in and rather than risk giving anything away she just said,
“OK. Well erm, thanks for all of your help. I have to go now. Goodbye.” and hung up the phone.
Right now she really didn’t know who or what to believe. Her instinct told her that her parents were alive and if that were true then they may well be close by. Mrs Saunders has said that they were going to come back one day and collect the money from the house sale. There had been something very wrong in the way Mr Johnson had behaved yesterday and it seemed pretty clear to her now that he had been lying about her Mum and Dad. She needed to trust her instinct and right now it was telling her to go back into the woods and see if she could find another clue to her Mum and Dad’s whereabouts or maybe she could find another way back into the crystal kingdom and do something to bring her friends back as well as her poor brother George.
Rose ran down the stairs and out through the backdoor and off into the woods. She would be very careful but she would spend the rest of the afternoon doing anything she could to find her way back to her friends or finding her parents.
Sunny and Eden had gathered all who had made it back to the horse’s kingdom into the council hall and in the grounds outside. So far there were less than a thousand of them. They were almost all broken and hopeless. This absolutely had not gone according to plan.
“Sunny what do we do now,” asked Eden almost in a whisper. Sunny looked at her and then looked around at the expectant crowd.
“I know it seems hopeless now,” started off Sunny, “but I know deep down that this is not the end. It may seem that Nerrez has won this war once and for all and that it is only a matter of time before he comes back for us to finish the job but there must be a way that we can defeat him. What we must do right now is to all take a little time together and reflect. We will start a meditation together, we will all become still and focus on this moment. If we breathe together and reflect together the answer will come to us at the right time. This is how it has always been and this is how it will be once again. Let us do this now.”
One by one they closed their eyes and reflected deeply, breathing in and out and quietening their minds to rise above any fear and doubt. They all knew that in the past the answers had always come for them and once again Sunny had given them hope that this would be the case again this time.
George, Callum, Issy, Violet and Ruby were trapped inside a large cage in the heart of the dark palace. Just behind the thrones in the centre of the palace were Maura’s chambers and that is exactly where Nerrez had transported them to. Ruby was swimming around in a small pool inside of the cage while the others all sat slumped up against the bars. They could all see that Maura was sat outside on her throne and knew that at any minute she would be back in there with them to taunt them again.
That is what Nerrez had said that they had been brought here for. For the amusement of his queen while he celebrated his victory. They didn’t like it one bit but they were trapped. A couple of hours earlier they had thought that when they fell asleep they would go back into the garden like they normally did but without the crystals next to them this hadn’t happened, as they had found out rather abruptly when Maura had come storming into the room earlier, waking them up with a rant that her husband Nerrez was taking all of the credit for himself for their victory.
On the other side of the room sat on a table was one of the large dark sparkly crystals that they could use to get back into the garden and sitting next to it were the different coloured crystals they had found in the cave. Nerrez had told them that he had put them there to tease them and to remind them that they were stuck there now as his prisoners. He had told them that most of the animals had decided to follow him and that the few who had escaped he would “deal with” soon enough. He also told them that he had banished Rose and that she would never be coming back. This had hit them all really hard. They all just sat there wondering what was going to happen to them once Maura got bored with them and where on earth was Rose and was there anything that she could do to rescue them.