Revenge of the Crows.
Highfield Academy is set in Somerset UK, Brent Knoll and Glastonbury Tor including the surrounding area were once the home of the Somerset Faerie an enchanted creature of mythical tales, and mostly human in appearance, only now the last remaining who the locals refer to as the Fay and of any numbers who still exist as a magical community, are united under a Fay Queen.
Only now they are largely living in an alternate dimension accessed by portals still to be found at Brent Knoll, Glastonbury, Poundbury in Dorset and a few other nearby areas.
Their head Overseer Warden in service to the Royal Fay, had been the great Merlin who brokered a truce between the warring factions and humans.
Merlin brought peace with the understanding that All remaining Fay would send their children to selected human schools to teach them understanding of Love, Compassion, Empathy, Integrity, Justice and truth, and those who showed a minimum of all or four of these qualities were observed to see if they could undergo special training to enter Highfield Academy, a magical school of Royal patronage where students among other things could be trained to become wardens.
Humans by nature were mortal, vulnerable, and yet had the incredible ability to adapt and overcome. And certain sections of the Fay still held undesirable goals which went against their Queens wishes and intentions to build harmony.
However, with the right guidance humanity could reach the stars, yet an underclass or section of humans seemed to gravitate to a life of crime, and unless correctly policed could bring about warring factions against immortal life forms who still wanted to live in the old way, doing away with progress and all that Merlin had set into place.
The story leads you through the life of a group of students whose destiny was yet to be written and takes the reader into a flight of fantasy and imagination inspired by the like of CS Lewis, Tolkien and a few other great writers of our time, who have inspired the younger generations in developing their imagination to reach new heights.
“Greetings,” said the teacher, “for some of you, it will still be difficult to take in let alone understand why you are here, why you were chosen and set apart from your other students and being offered an exclusive education to help you develop and understand your natural born abilities and talents.”
Miss Catherine stopped and considered the students before her ensuring she had their full attention. “When I was a young child of your age, life was so different and we had to face hardships which you could never these days understand, and life as it was then, was one of absolute destitution, while poverty was on a level you only read about in books and facing enslavement with life lacking any such comforts as you have today.”
Miss Catherine considered her next words carefully.
“You have all being given a brief understanding of what awaits you here, and some here have found they unexplainably have acquired strange powers, much like that of the fabled Harry Potter or Hermione Granger and their friends, and yes before anyone asks there will also be some of you here who have the nature of the fabled Malfoy, but be assured you are different, and we will not tolerate such undisciplined behaviour. This is no romance novel, it is real, and from this point forward your lives are to change in ways you can yet never imagine. Now, are there any questions?”
Miss Catherine paused awaiting any eager students wanting to interrupt.
The group of children blinked still trying to come to terms with where they were and how this had happened.
They were in an exclusive private school whose name was Highfield Academy, and stood for the virtue of higher values. Yet there were very few students in attendants, that is compared to the state educational system, and as to exactly where they were located, the students were unsure knowing only that it was somewhere in Somerset England.
Miss Catherine coughed and regained the student’s attention.
“It is my place to introduce you and give you an understanding of what awaits you in your future, so time has taught us that an understanding of how the school came about is the best way for such students as yourselves, and enabling you to learn and understand, so let me begin by telling you of my early childhood. My name is Catherine and my story follows, so ensure you listen carefully.”
Catherine awoke and her head hurt, and the air around her was stale and smelling of damp urine and fungi, much like an old stagnant pond on a hot summers day. Only for Catherine, it was far from a pleasant joyous happy summer’s day, as she lay locked in a filthy rat-infested room and dressed in rags, she was dirty, hungry, alone, and she tasted blood from when she had been hit.
Well alone was not strictly true, as only a few feet away from her lay the body of a stranger, an adult who had kidnapped her and forcibly brought here to this room, now his body was bloated and food for the rats as it lay rotting only a few feet away.
Catherine slowly gained her senses and rubbed her eyes as she whimpered and shivered from the cold, while only very little light illuminated her surroundings, as she looked around although difficult to make out, Catherine could see she was trapped in a small room with wooden walls which had gaps in and was letting in particles of light.
As she blinked she could see what she assumed was dust, only it sparked as it fell reflecting what little light there was. As her eyes followed the dust down, her eyes rested on the body near her and she screamed and backed away, only then partly remembering what had happened, yet her mind was confused as she reflected on events as they had unfolded and thinking that no surely that could not be right.
Then Catherine remembered, and she had been scared, utterly scared for her life, and had wanted the horrid man gone and for him to leave her alone, only he kept hitting her trying to stop her from screaming, and in a blind panic Catherine had, what had she done? her mind blocked it out. Then an unexpected noise caught her attention, it was a soft quietly spoken sound of someone speaking to her.
“Are you hurt, if you want, I can help you get out.”
Catherine thought she was imaging it until she glanced around the room and adjusted her eyes to the semi-darkness, there in the far-right corner she saw what appeared to be a bundle of rags moving and an arm appeared along with a breaking noise of old wood shattering.
A few moments later a dirty but pitifully thin gaunt face of a boy appeared, and he made the hole larger and eventually squeezed through to rescue her.
“Hi, I’m called Charli, and my friends and I saw old Higgins, bring you here, you’re lucky the old fart died as he treats his prisoners terrible until he sells them on into slavery.”
Catherine looked startled while still trying to get her mind focused, and understand what had happened to her, but Charli extended a hand to her, and then gently helped her to her feet, while Catherine was still quietly crying and trying so desperately to understand how all this had happened.
Charli seemed a nice boy, kind, empathic, gentle and genuinely trying to help her so Catherine decided to go with him, it was better than sitting where she was starving and inhaling the rotting fumes from old Higgins dead body, only she discovered that one of her arm was still tethered to a dirty greasy length of rope, and which was itself still attached to Higgins’ waist, and it prevented her from leaving the room.
Charli grinned and pointed to one of the rats, then inexplicably the rat turned and walked over to the rope and started biting its way through until it detached, and then it returned to foraging for nesting material.
Catherine was startled but somehow in the back recesses of her mind, she understood knowing somewhere inside of her lay a dormant power that had seen this type of demonstration before.
Exiting through the wall where Charli had forced his way in, was easy, other than a few splinters and a gash on her bare feet, yet that was preferable to staying next to Higgins and becoming food for the rats. Charli held her hand and quickly guided her through a maze of alleyways which were scattered with old rotting rubbish and sewage, as sanitation was far from desirable, and with people simply throwing out their chamber pot contents into the street, where it was left to rot and eventually pollute the communities drinking ground water.
Glastonbury’s Abbey stood proud, and next to the Tor, which was a focal point of pilgrimage in the Somerset area, only in its grandeur it overshadowed the poverty and utter disparity of the less fortunate, and who had to beg, steal and fight to survive, while been hunted by slave traders or the Abbey guards who kept law and order.
Not only that, there were selected life forms that by appearance were human, but who actively sought out individuals to capture them and take them away, never to return; as such, one had to be alert, streetwise, and careful, looking out for the tell-tale signs and warning, the street children and local residence usually knew that danger was nearby.
Charli kept Catherine near to him and after some minutes he led her into the rear entrance of an old building that backed onto a more prospered area of the town, there he rested, and made his way to what appeared to be an old stone wall, and reached upwards carefully removing a few rocks and reached inside to withdraw something wrapped in a dirty bundle of old rags.
As he unfolded it Catherine stared at the sight of an old dry loaf of bread, a piece of cheese and some old vegetables, three carrots and an old potato with insects crawling in and out of the food. Charli reached to the bread and broke it and offered some to Catherine, she readily took it eating the bread insects included.
Charli then carefully broke the small piece of cheese and gave one-half to Catherine, she was ravenously hungry and accepted while her eyes viewed the carrots. Charli laughed “Here take two, and we can eat them as we continue on our journey, this is one of our emergency food stash points, but we must leave some for another person it will be replenished when old mother Hazel brings us the food garbage from the vicarage.”
Then he gently led her through a few rooms and down into what appeared to be some type of cellar with steps leading to a water supply for the Abbey. Charli lifted a finger to his lips indicating that he wanted Catherine to be quiet and not speak, then when he was certain Catherine understood he led her forward along an old path that parallels a body of flowing water until it appeared to disappear into solid rock.
At the far end of the semi-darkened passage there was a hidden exit point, used by the monks who needed to flee the Abbey at times of danger, there Charli quietly led Catherine up some steps and along a maze of hidden passageways, until he eventually came to what appeared a solid wall of unbroken stone, moving some two thirds along its length. Charli stopped and tapped on the surface in a recognise pattern, and a few seconds later there was a gush of fresh air touching Catherine’s face as a section of the wall appeared, as if by magic to open and giving them entry to the other side.