The house was fantastic, it had nine bedrooms in total and was surrounded on all sides by tall trees with glimpses of sunlight peeking through and what’s more, it was only a fifteen minute walk to the coastline. Inside their friends were waiting for them. It was so good to see them all again and to know that they were going to be together for three whole weeks.
Callum was the first one to spot them as he came running in followed by the others. Callum was a very friendly lad, aged fourteen and lots of fun. As always he gave both Rose and George a big hug and he jumped up and down enthusiastically.
“Let me show you around” he beamed. He and his brother and sisters, Alex, Violet and Ruby, were from the town in Kent where they lived with their Mum and Dad, Kel and Christophe. They were all coming in from outside where the children had been playing. Last to come in were Lucy and her daughter Issy who were also from Kent, but as Callum always put it, they lived in the country part really. They had all been friends for life and were all very close
Callum and Issy were the eldest of all of the children at fourteen. Callum was sensible and very intelligent, always trying to figure out how things worked and solve any problems that came up. He was aceing his way through school and was likely to end up a Doctor of some description. He was always up for a laugh and was great fun. He wore trendy dark glasses over his brown eyes, which matched his thick brown hair and was quite a stocky lad, not particularly tall for his age. Issy on the other hand was very tall and slim and although she had just turned fourteen she was already taller than her mum who wasn’t short either! She had long brown hair and big blue eyes with a lovely kind face. She was very kind in her nature and always made sure everyone was alright and she knew how to stand up and speak up for herself too.
Callum’s younger siblings all looked pretty different to each other, even Alex and Ruby who were twins weren’t identical. Alex at twelve was the eldest twin by three minutes and both he and Ruby had fair hair, almost blonde. While Alex had brown eyes like his older siblings, Ruby had bright blue eyes. Alex was quite a timid character and spent a lot of time playing by himself, whilst Ruby was very outgoing and had lots of friends that she was always playing with, which was exactly what she was doing right now.
Violet was the next eldest, she was eleven and had very dark features, thick black hair and dark brown eyes. Violet was very independent and her mind was very advanced for her age, ‘wise beyond her years’ were what the adults always said. She was quite tall for her age too and very slim.
They were all eager to explore this huge house and so they all ran off with Callum leading the way leaving the adults behind to talk about, well whatever it is adults talk about!
Every room was huge and there were so many beds and rooms to choose from, it was just too exciting. On the top floor there were wooden beams high up in the ceiling and there was a roof window looking out onto the woods behind. Rose thought that it would be beautiful at night to look up at the stars and was thrilled to see that the bed directly under the window was still free.
“Is it ok if I have that bed?” asked Rose. Callum looked around at the other children and they all smiled. ” What is it?” asked Rose.
“Well,” Callum said “we were thinking that we should ask if we could camp out in the garden instead. It’ll be really cool.” Rose and George’s faces lit up.
“What a great idea” said George.
“Definitely a great idea. I love looking up at the stars” said Rose.
“We thought you’d love that idea” said Issy smiling even more. “Come on let’s go and show them the grounds.”
“We have probably got a couple of hours to go for a bit of exploring in the woods too before dinner.” Callum shouted. They all agreed that sounded like a great plan and they ran downstairs and out of the back door into the garden that backed onto the woods.
“This is going to be such a cool holiday isn’t it Rose” said George. Rose looked at her brother and looked back at the house. She definitely wanted to have a cool holiday but she also knew that this was a good chance for her to find out more about her parents. She knew that George wanted to help her with that too. But now was not the time to remind him, they would have a chance to find out as much as possible after the initial excitement had calmed down. For now she was just happy to be there with her friends and family. Instead she just said “Yes George, this is going to be a very cool holiday.”
They were full of excitement and chatted among themselves as they walked into the thick woods. Rose walked a little slower than the others and was listening out for any wildlife. They were probably making too much noise for any of the animals to come close but she hoped they would spot something.
“I wonder what we’ll find” said George.
“I hope we find treasure” shouted Alex.
“This is so exciting” Ruby cried.
After a while the pathway started to branch in different directions and they decided to walk away from the path and just go as deep as they could into the woods. That’s where they found the cave.
At first they just stood there staring wondering if they should go inside.
“Who wants to go first?” Issy asked. They all looked around. Suddenly it seemed a bit different, maybe even a bit scary. What would they find in there?
“Oh come on you scaredy cats” laughed Issy. “This is England you know. There won’t be anything scary. Let’s go.” Issy ran into the cave and the others followed, albeit with a bit less enthusiasm but once they were inside they realised they had nothing to worry about. The cave was large and spacious and surprisingly light as their eyes adjusted. Actually once they had been in there for about five minutes they were a bit bored and were ready to head back when suddenly Rose let out a cry.
“Guys, I think I’ve found something. Come and look.” She was standing over a patch of earth that to the others looked just the same as the rest of the ground around it. “I can see something glowing under there. Look.” The others looked at her and shrugged trying not to giggle. By now they were used to some of the stranger things that Rose came out with. They crouched down and started scraping the earth around it and before long they could see that there was something there after all. It was actually some kind of dark, sparkly crystal.
“Wow, it’s amazing. It’s beautiful, look at it sparkling” Violet gasped. “What is it do you think?”
“It’s some kind of crystal and it’s really heavy” Alex replied as he dug it out and lifted it up.
“I wonder where it came from?” said Issy.
“I wonder if it has any special powers.” said Callum.
“I wonder how long it’s been here?” said Ruby as they all excitedly talked over each other.
“I wonder if there’s any more.” George said suddenly. They all stopped talking, looked at each other and dropped to their knees, digging in the ground. One by one they started calling out as they found more and more crystals. All different colours and shapes, all beautiful in their own right.
They gathered them all up and counted eight in total. The large black one and seven smaller ones of all different colours. They decided to take one each. One was a deep red which they gave to Ruby. There was a blue-green one that went to Alex. A beautiful pink stone went to Rose. Callum took a greenish stone and a purplish stone appropriately went to Violet. George’s one was dark purple and finally a dark blue stone went to Issy.
“I wonder what it is that is making them glow like that” said Rose. The others looked at her.
“What do you mean glowing” said Issy.
“Can’t you see them glowing?”
“No, they’re not glowing Rose” Issy replied and they all giggled a bit this time, they couldn’t help it, Rose had such a vivid imagination.
The thing is, they really were glowing. It was just that the others couldn’t see it. Only Rose was able to see them coming alive. What she couldn’t see was that on top of her head her tiara had also lit up. It shone so brightly but none of the others could see that either as it was nestled into her thick blonde hair. They had all fallen very quiet for a few minutes as they sat there examining the beautiful treasure that they had found. They all agreed that they would keep what they had discovered a secret from their parents for now and that they would hide the crystals once they got back to the house.
“We should hide the black crystal somewhere in the garden” Alex suggested. They all nodded and started walking back to wash up ready for dinner.
It didn’t take them long to clean up and they headed out into the garden for their first feast of the holiday. They had such a great time and ate their weight in jacket potatoes, burgers and marshmallows. Anthony decided to give them all a great history of the area and all of the adventures and activities they had in store for them. He explained that the woods were full of lovely animals and wildlife but that it was perfectly safe. They would spend lots of time exploring and that there were many interesting things all around the area and even some caves that they could explore. The children exchanged excited glances. Anthony continued by explaining that there had been many rumours over the years that the woods were magical and although that was an exciting thought, there had never been any evidence of this. There was something in the way he said this that made Rose think twice. It was almost as though he did believe it was magical but didn’t want them to know. After Anthony had finished his story he told the children that they had a busy day planned tomorrow and to make sure that they got plenty of sleep that night.
“I know you guys will be excited to be sleeping out in the garden in your tents and sleeping bags but please be sensible and don’t make too much noise” said Alice. The children all looked sheepish and they laughed. After they’d cleared everything away and got ready for bed they said goodnight to their parents and went outside and got into their sleeping bags. Rose was certain that none of the adults had seen them hiding the black crystal earlier. Did they know they had found them? No, that was silly, there was no way they could have known at all. It had been a long day and although they spent a few minutes talking among themselves and looking at their precious stones it wasn’t long before they all fell asleep.
Now that would have been the end of it under normal circumstances; if this was just a normal wood that they had walked through; and if they had just found a normal cave with normal crystals. But the truth was it was not a normal wood, it was not a normal cave and the crystals they had found most certainly were not just any old crystals. In fact as the children lay there sleeping and the night moved on into the quietest hour, when the only sounds that could be heard were the rustling of the trees and the creatures scampering around who lived in them, something amazing started to happen. A soft glow started to appear from a corner of the garden. It was coming from the black crystal. It started off very small and barely noticeable at first but soon there could be no mistaking the light coming from it and it was growing bigger and bigger by the minute; until soon it covered the whole garden and engulfed all of the children in its soft white light.
One by one each of the crystals inside the childrens sleeping bags started to glow and a light matching the colour of each crystal surrounded the children.
Gradually, inside each light the shape of different animals started to appear. First an eagle unmistakably appeared above Violet’s sleeping bag, followed by a butterfly above Alex’s. Next a dolphin was clearly visible above Ruby. A deer over Issy and a duck above Callum. Finally a dragon appeared above George and a horse above Rose. The animals were fully formed and were the same colour as the light from each of the crystals. The animals began to merge with each of the children, entwined into the beam of light from the black crystal and gradually the animals started floating one by one up into the sky inside the beam of light.
Around the garden the light faded and the children still appeared to be laying there sleeping but at the same time they were being carried off, each one of them inside a fantastic animal speeding up through a tunnel of light, heading into the unknown.