The Last Sorceress and the Amulet

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Where Did You Find That?

‘There you are,’ said Sam from the doorway, ‘I was calling you; I was just about to go and check in the attic.’

Sam suddenly stopped talking as she saw Emma’s dazed and confused expression, the old book lying open on the bed, and the blue amulet that Emma was still wearing around her neck.

Sam pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming; she hadn’t seen that book or that necklace for a long time. But judging from the expression on Emma’s face, Emma had just found out their family heirloom worked.

‘Did you?’ stammered Sam, ‘have you just?’

‘Uh-huh,’ nodded Emma wordlessly.

She didn’t need Sam to finish the sentences, they understood each other.

‘No way,’ said Sam flopping down onto Emma’s bed.

‘Where did you even find that thing?’ asked Sam indicating the old book.

‘It was in a box of books from the attic,’ said Emma, ‘at first I thought it was empty.’

‘Apart from the first few pages,’ smirked Sam. ‘An unfinished story.’

‘I’d check again if I were you,’ said Sam.

Emma looked confused but had another quick flick through the old book.

There were indeed several more pages written of the book, Emma travelling to Aeolgoyryn, meeting Sir Elthered and Princess Eirwen. The book was writing itself.

‘What is this?’ asked Emma bewildered as she looked back up at Sam.

‘This book is very special,’ said Sam, ‘it’s a family heirloom, it was my Mother's, and then it was mine when I was a girl, it was clearly chosen its new owner.’

‘Chosen its owner?’ asked Emma.

‘If you hadn’t already realised,’ said Sam, ‘this book is magic. The book chooses the new owner each time, which is why your name was in the book before you opened it.’

‘Magic is real?’ asked Emma.

‘I don’t know about magic being real in this world,’ shrugged Sam, ‘but it is real in other worlds.’

‘Other worlds!’ breathed Emma.

Sam nodded.

‘Other worlds, like The Land of Stories that you just finished. All the stories in the world, are first born there, but they have to be written first, and sometimes they need a little help from a hero, that’s where you come in.’

‘Me?’ asked Emma who was overwhelmed by all this new information.

Magic was real?

She had always liked fairy tales, and always liked to think that fairies and elves were real, but magic was actually real?

This necklace or amulet or whatever that she was wearing had just taken her to another world?

And now Mum was trying to tell her that she was a Hero?

She couldn’t be a Hero, there was no way! She just wasn’t brave enough.

‘The Heroes Journey,’ said Sam indicating the front cover of the book, ‘you’re the Hero, you have to help the characters finish the story and find their happy ending.’

‘Did you ever have any adventures in this book?’ asked Emma.

‘Loads,’ beamed Sam smiling reminiscently.

‘What kinds?’

‘Fighting dragons and goblins,’ said Sam, ‘living in medieval courts, helping spies and secret agents in WW2 stories, solving mysteries in detective stories.’

‘My favourite adventure,’ said Sam, ‘was actually quite normal. It was a boarding school story crossed with a mystery story. It was set in the 1950s, and we were trying to solve a mysterious murder that had happened to one of the teachers.'

‘Wow!’ exclaimed Emma her eyes wide in amazement.

‘It was a cross between Malory Towers and Nancy Drew,’ said Sam, ‘it was awesome!’

‘So how does the book work?’ asked Emma.

‘Well first of all the book picks an owner, and then the first few pages will write themselves. Then when you put on the necklace and open the book you will go into the other world, and the story with help from you will write itself until it’s finished.’

‘You get pulled out of the book when somebody from our world is calling for you like I was just now.’

‘How will you know when a new story wants to start once you’ve finished one?’

‘You’ll know,’ nodded Sam, ‘just keep that amulet on, and you’ll know when the book calls you. Never take the necklace off alright?’

Emma nodded.

‘Mum, I’ve got one more question.’

‘Yes, Emmy?’ asked Sam.

‘Why did you stop using the book?’

Sam thought for a moment trying to find the right words.

‘This book is magic, it chooses its new owner, and it chooses when to start a new story.’

‘Ok,’ nodded Emma in understanding.

‘My first adventure was when I was about your age when I was eight. I found the book in my room one day, and my Mum explained what it was.’

‘For eight years, I went on a series of adventures and met all sorts of people. As I got older, the book called me less and less. I wasn’t a child anymore, even if I sometimes act like a child as Meg puts it because of my autism, the owner of the book has to be a child.’

’The last time the book called me, I’d almost given up, I hadn’t been on an adventure for over a year, but it called me one last time, for another adventure.

I helped a detective solve an elaborate string of murders, and when the story finished I knew it was the end, and I took off the necklace and taped it with Sellotape to the back of the book.’

‘That was sixteen years ago,’ shrugged Sam, ‘I haven’t seen that book since.’

‘Until today,’ she finished beaming.

‘Awesome!’ exclaimed Emma.

‘It is pretty cool yeah,’ laughed Sam, ‘you’ve got a lot of fun adventures ahead of you, I’m actually a little bit jealous.’

‘Don’t worry,’ laughed Emma, ‘I’ll tell you all about them!’

‘Thanks, Emmy,’ chuckled Sam.

‘This is our secret though,’ said Sam, ‘you call talk to me about the adventures and your Granny and, but you can’t tell anyone else. Your Grandpa knows too.’

‘Not even Mummy?’ asked Emma.

‘No, Meghan can’t know,’ said Sam, ‘she wouldn’t believe us, and if they did believe us, they might try and steal the book.’

‘I understand,’ said Emma nodding slowly.

It was going to feel a bit weird keeping such a huge part of her life secret from Mummy, but at least she could talk to Mum about it.

‘There’s a good girl,’ beamed Sam, ‘I’m going to go and put some dinner on alright?’’

‘Ok Mum’ said Emma, ‘I’ll be down in a few minutes.’

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