Rachel looked around the mountain range, it was covered in a thick blanket of snow but she didn't feel as cold as she was at the beach. She looked down and saw she had different clothes on. Instead of trainers she wore hiking boots that came up to just below her knees, firmly sealed with three buckles on each boot. Rachel's jeans changed to black cargo pants tucked into her boots. On her left thigh was a small rectangular scabbard. Rachel's top was no longer a black T-shirt; it was a sleeveless red turtle neck. A fire opal broach framed with a golden rim was embedded in the middle of the neck on her throat whilst around her neck was a thin golden chain. Two medium length feathers dangled from the chain, one brown and one grey. Rachel brushed her fingers over the feathers and looked at her hand. Both hands were covered in black hand wraps like a boxer. Rachel was puzzled over the sudden change of clothes and she began to walk through the ankle deep snow.
Rachel spun around so quickly she fell down. Michelle waved and ran towards her; Rachel stood up and held her ground. It could have been another dream, it felt exactly the same. As soon as Michelle threw herself onto Rachel and hugged the life out of her Rachel knew this was no nightmare, it was real.
'' Let's get out of the cold, I'm freezing!'' Michelle said through chattering teeth and took Rachel's hand but immediately let go.
'' Rach, your hand is really really warm!'' Michelle exclaimed '' aren't you freezing?''
'' No '', Rachel replied, Michelle looked at her friend puzzled but took hold of Rachel's hand again and led her to a small cavern where Christina and Sandra sat next to a fire. When Michelle dragged Rachel into the cave the other two girls leapt to their feet and hugged Rachel at the same time. Rachel toppled over from the weight of her friends.
'' Ow, why the sudden affection?'' Rachel asked as she pushed her friends off her.
'' Don't you remember Rach?'' Sandra asked and eyed her friend carefully. Rachel looked from one girl to another and shook her head.
'' What do you remember?'' Christina asked as she sat cross-legged on the floor.
'' I remember the green orb and as soon as I touched it I collapsed. Nothing to it really '', Rachel said with shrugged shoulders. Michelle shook her head in disbelief.
'' Rachel, you didn't just collapse. You touched the orb and you were electrocuted quite badly, you were pulled up into the air and then slammed into the wall. As soon as you touched the water the electricity spread and prevented us from getting to you ''.
'' Really? Wow, but how did we get here? And why do I have different clothes on?''
'' We dunno, the orb grew and exploded. We must have fainted because like you, we woke up and found ourselves here ''.
'' How come you guys don't have different clothes on?''
The three girls shrugged their shoulders.
'' Well then how long have we been here for?'' Rachel asked.
The three girls shrugged their shoulders.
'' Is that all you guys are gonna do?''
Again the three girls shrugged their shoulders.
At last Sandra broke the silence, '' I don't think it's as cold outside now. Shouldn't we explore?''
Rachel kept looking back to make sure her friends were there, they haven't travelled too far from the cavern but she wanted to make sure they could find their way back there if they couldn't find help that day. The mountains were large but not towering like Mount Everest. A small movement caught Rachel's eye and she threw her arm out to stop her friends in their tracks. Rachel relaxed as she saw it was only a snow bunting; it took one look at the girl and flew away.
'' Where are we?'' Sandra asked as she watched the bird fly into the distance.
'' The mountains '', Michelle said.
'' Duh! What mountains?''
'' The Cairngorms '', Rachel said before Michelle had a chance to open her mouth.
'' How do you know Rach?'' Christina asked and lowered Rachel's still out-stretched arm.
'' My father showed me pictures of some of the birds he saw whilst bird watching with his friend Daniel, that bird was a snow bunting ''.
'' Isn't your dad here in the Cairngorms?''
Rachel's head shot up in excitement, '' yes, yes he is!''
'' Well let's find him then '', Michelle said and rubbed her hands together to keep warm.
After what seemed ages of marching forward, the girls came to the base of a cliff. Sandra gasped and grabbed Rachel's arm.
'' Rach, look over there!'' Sandra squealed and pointed a trembling finger towards a lump at the foot of the cliff.
Rachel walked towards the curious lump, it looked like a body. Rachel crouched down next to the body and brushed away some snow from the figure which rested on its side.
'' Hello?'' Rachel whispered and suddenly she saw the white hair, '' no!'' Rachel gasped and rolled the body towards her by pulling on its shoulder. Rachel screamed and her friends yelled in shock as the face came into view. It was Lord Robert.
'' Dad?'' Rachel whispered and gently shook his shoulder, '' dad? Daddy?'' No response came from the Lord. Rachel's eyes swelled up with tears as she checked for a pulse. It was no good, Lord Robert was dead. Rachel cried and threw herself onto her father's frozen and broken chest whilst her hand grasped her father's. Rachel sobbed openly and startled her friends with a sudden scream of sorrow and the continuous mumbles of '' no no no no ''.
Michelle placed her hand on Rachel's back, Rachel turned around and looked at Michelle with her tear stained face before she threw herself into her friend's arms. Christina saw a piece of paper around Robert's neck and opened it.
'' Rach, this letter is for you '', Christina said quietly and held out the note. Rachel pulled away from Michelle and took the paper from Christina.
As you can see, your father is dead.
Yes I killed him.
To get out of the mountains alive all you must do is find me an
artifact known as the Dagger of Power. It is your key to survival.
However there are men around the mountain range who are also
looking for it. Be warned as these men are brutal and will not hesitate
to kill you as they belong to me. To start you on your journey you
must enter the cavern opposite this cliff to enter a place unknown to man.
Let's see if the great Rachel Dove is as good as her father. I will be
waiting for you my dear.
Rachel's hands trembled and her body jumped with a soft hiccup from her cries. She read the letter three times, what did this man mean by as good as her father? Rachel looked at her father and then over to the cavern mentioned in the letter. It didn't look very inviting, Sandra took the letter from Rachel's hands and Rachel once again held onto her father's hands tightly. Sandra placed one hand on each of Rachel's shoulders and gently tried to pull her away but Rachel wouldn't budge.
'' Rachel, I'm sorry, but there is nothing we can do '', Sandra said as she firmly pulled Rachel away from the Lord.
'' I don't know who this guy thinks he is!'' Michelle said as she hugged Rachel, '' what's so important about entering that cavern?''
The girls walked towards the cavern, Rachel paused at the entrance to look back at her motionless father, anger burned up inside her and she screamed before she punched a nearby boulder. The boulder shattered under her attack and all the girls froze with their mouths wide open at the unexpected event. Rachel was the most shocked, she stood there with her fist still in the air right where the boulder was before.
'' Rachel...what the?'' Christina said, still stunned. Rachel lowered her arm and slowly turned to her friends.
'' I have absolutely no idea '', Rachel said as she clenched and unclenched her fist. She walked into the cavern and took one last look at her father before she entered the darkness. After the girls walked around a corner they faced a dead end, a small trickle of sunlight crept through a gap in the roof, Rachel walked underneath it and the light hit the opal on her neck. The opal absorbed the light and shone bright white, Rachel stopped in her tracks and looked at the opal, and Michelle tugged at her arm and pointed to the dead end. A bright blue dot appeared in the centre of a symbol on the wall. The symbol was a wonky cross with a dot in-between each arm, the dot dilated outwards revealing taller mountains on the other side. Rachel slowly dragged her feet forward and through the portal. Rachel looked back at her friends and smiled.
'' Come on girls, it's completely safe '', she announced. Her friends cautiously passed through the portal and it slowly began to shrink behind them. Before Christina could run back towards the portal the girls were trapped in the next world.
'' What on Earth is going on?'' Sandra cried out. She looked at the new world before her, the mountains were huge. One thing was certain; the girls were defiantly not in the Cairngorms anymore. Rachel turned back to the wall and punched it; unfortunately the wall did not shatter like the boulder.
'' Oh great so now things won't shatter when I touch it?'' Rachel yelled out in frustration, '' I don't even know how I destroyed that stupid rock!''
'' Do you think it could be when you touched the orb you got strength?'' Christina asked.
Rachel shrugged; yesterday she seemed like a normal girl but now in less than twenty four hours her world has turned upside down.
'' Maybe we were meant to be sent here '', Michelle said as she looked around, the temperature was far colder than it was in the Cairngorms and she took a few steps forward and looked down. The girls were standing on a rocky cliff; Michelle screamed and ran back to Rachel to stay away from her fear of heights.
'' We have to get down to ground level '', Rachel said and saw a small path leading down. She tried to walk down the path with Michelle attached to her which was difficult as Michelle was slightly taller than her.
'' Michelle if you want to get off this cliff then I suggest you let go deary '', Rachel said and managed to pry her friends' fingers from around her neck. Michelle gave in and let go. However she did grab hold of Rachel's hand as the four girls descended down to the snow covered floor below.
'' Now if I were a magical dagger, where would I be?'' Rachel said to herself as they arrived at the bottom of the cliff.
'' How do you know it's a dagger?'' Christina asked.
'' It's called the Dagger of Power; of course it's going to be a dagger Christina ''.
'' Hey not all of us are smart like you because WE don't have a strict butler who makes us study every night for hours ''.
'' Yeah lucky you!''
'' Hey hey hey!'' Michelle said and stood in-between the arguing girls, '' we don't have time for this. Let's just get the dagger and find a way back home!''
'' Oh we are not going home until I have met the man who killed my father ''.
'' NO Michelle! I have already lost my mother and now because of some murderer I have lost my father too!''
None of the girls spoke, the only sounds were the wind and Rachel's heavy breathing, Michelle sighed and gave the smallest of nods.
'' What? Now we are going to find this man just so you can get your revenge?'' Christina shrieked.
'' Hey I didn't ask you to follow me here Chris '', Rachel shot back.
'' Uh hello you were the one who wanted to meet us all at the beach at midnight to talk about your nightmares which then had us tumbling through a cliff and now somehow we are here! So yes, actually you did!''
Rachel was speechless as Christina's words hit her; she growled and spun on her heel as best as she could in the snow and stormed off away from her friends. Sandra ran in front of Rachel and pushed her back slightly, '' Rach we don't know where we are. If you go off without us how will we ever find you? We need to stay together!'' Rachel looked back at Christina and the two girls softened their looks and both sighed.
'' Alright '', Rachel said, '' but if we want to find this dagger we better get a move on. I don't know about any of you guys but I didn't bring snacks ''.
Everybody froze, they had completely forgotten about food.
'' Look maybe there is food if we just look for it, there may be a river nearby and it could have fish in it '', Rachel suggested and she walked through the snow.
The further the girls walked, the deeper the snow was. The snow came just below their knees which made it difficult to walk through; their jeans and cargo trousers were damp and made all the girls apart from Rachel shiver. The wind was no help either and Rachel saw some trees close together and herded her friends there to get out of the cold. The thick trunks and leaves sheltered them from most of the wind which made the area a bit warmer. Christina rubbed her hands together and Sandra tucked her hands under her jumper. Michelle placed her hands in her coat pockets, Rachel looked at her wrapped hands, they didn't seem to be cold. Sure she could feel the cold slightly but it didn't bother her as much as it should have. Out of boredom Rachel kicked the closest tree and accidently knocked it down. '' Why has your strength decided to come back now?'' Sandra asked. A huge gust of wind roared through the gap Rachel had created buy kicking the tree and the teenagers were once again freezing.
'' It was an accident!''
The sun warmed up and the girls continued to walk in a straight line through the mountain range, luckily for the girls the wind had calmed down so the walk was more inviting. The tall rocky mountains loomed over the girls which made them feel venerable and trapped.
Sandra looked over to her left and saw a gap in a mountain wall; she squinted and thought she saw a flash of light.
'' Hey, I think there are people over there '', Sandra announced, the other girls looked at her as she explained what she saw.
'' Couldn't hurt to give it a go '', Michelle shrugged. The girls walked towards the gap and once inside they instantly felt warmer. The only problem was that it was dark. Michelle turned her torch on and passed it to Rachel who led the way down the path. After what seemed like hours to the girls they could not find any human beings. Rachel didn't know whether to go back or continue forward so she stood her ground.
'' I think we should keep going '', Christina said at the end of the line, '' I mean what do we have to lose?''
'' Our lives '', Michelle murmured and Sandra elbowed her in the stomach. Rachel took a few steps forward and her friends followed, however she suddenly stopped and her friends collided with each other.
'' Hey! What's the matter?'' Sandra asked as she rubbed her nose which hit the back of Rachel's head.
'' I can hear breathing '', Rachel whispered.
'' Yeah, us you idiot, now let's get going '', Sandra replied rather annoyed. Rachel on the other hand hushed her again and Sandra pouted and folded her arms across her chest. The girls strained their ears to listen out for breathing but instead there were footsteps approaching from a distance and the sound of male voices.
'' Why would Clawstand want that girl? '' Asked a man with a very deep voice which got closer and closer. Rachel froze at the mention of Clawstand's name; she turned to her friends and motioned for them to hide. Her friends looked around frantically and all tried to hide behind the same boulder. Rachel however had nowhere to hide and saw a torch light flash from around a corner which was right in front of her. Rachel quickly turned Michelle's torch off and pressed her back up against the wall near the corner and remained silent in the shadows.
'' I don't know James, but the last man to ask Clawstand that question got roughed up by the man himself '', replied another man, the two men were just around the corner when Sandra hiccupped. All the girls froze as the men were deadly silent.
'' Damn water must be leaking through the gaps '', James decided as he shone the torch up towards the roof. James and the other man were right next to Rachel and she held her breath.
'' Well let's just ask a plumber to come in and take a look shall we?'' The other man said sarcastically and extended his arm against the wall and leaned on it casually. The man's hand was right next to Rachel's face, his glove just brushed against her skin luckily he didn't notice.
'' Oh you are such a funny man Marcus '', James replied but he gave a short laugh all the same. Marcus chuckled too and began to drum his fingers on the wall; Rachel prayed that he wouldn't move his fingers any closer.
'' Anyway, about that Dove girl, what are we going to do about her? I don't understand Clawstand's orders. He wants the girl but he wants us to stop her?'' James said, even Rachel had to raise an eyebrow at what she just heard. It certainly didn't make any sense.
'' It took me a while to figure it out but now I understand it. He needs her so he can claim the dagger but in order for her to get it, she must prove herself so we are here to challenge her, rough her up and see if she pulls through '', Marcus explained.
'' Well that shouldn't be too hard; I mean it's just a girl. Probably just mention her father and she'll burst into tears, call us mean and run back home '', James said.
Rachel just managed to stop herself from punching the men as they both laughed. James started swinging the torch casually as the men continued to laugh, the light shone on Rachel and she acted like a deer caught in head lights. James opened his eyes as the light peeled away from Rachel and watched it swing to the boulder where the other girls were. The light stopped and fixed itself on the boulder. Rachel's breath got stuck in her throat as she saw the tip of Sandra's trainer which poked out from behind the rock.
'' Who's there?'' James thundered, he stormed over to the shoe and grabbed Sandra's ankle and dragged her out. Rachel couldn't move, she was paralysed in shock. Sandra screamed as James roughly pulled her towards him on the rough cold floor.
He shone the torchlight right in Sandra's eyes, '' who are you?'' He thundered again. Sandra thrashed her arms and her free leg around in an effort to get out of James's iron grip. Christina and Michelle jumped out from behind the boulder.
'' Leave her alone!'' Christina screamed and tried to pry James's fingers away from her friend's ankle. James pushed Christina away with his elbow and she bumped into Michelle, they both fell down.
'' Which one of you is Rachel Dove?'' James asked as the torchlight shone on the three girls. Sandra kicked the torch out of his hand and the light landed on the floor and once again shone on Rachel. Marcus jumped away as soon as he saw Rachel, shocked that the girl was less than a centimetre away from his finger.
'' I guess that would be me '', Rachel replied calmly. A second later she punched Marcus in the face and stomped on the torch which left everyone in the dark. Another punch sounded followed by a kick and then the sound of a body fell to the floor. James released Sandra's ankle and stepped back, footsteps walked towards the group. The sound of a nose breaking split the silence as well as a second body making contact with the floor. A torch flicked on and the girls breathed as they saw Rachel standing above James's body. He had a bloody face; Rachel broke his nose with a single punch.
'' Gee Rach, good thing Alan has been teaching you martial arts hey '', Sandra said. Rachel smiled and pulled Sandra to her feet. Rachel looked at James, he had an Ivy League haircut and was a very tall man, Rachel tilted his head to the side so the blood from his nose didn't choke him. Marcus had a butch hairstyle, he wasn't as tall as James and he had a spider tattoo on his wrist.
'' So now we have to find the Dagger of Power and prove ourselves?'' Christina asked, '' man Clawstand is soooo confusing!''
Rachel nodded her head in agreement, '' Come on, we have a dagger to find ''.