Chapter One

The Scary One

Brumhilda was asleep, when the sound came. She found herself startled and suddenly wide awake. She blinked her eyes several times into the darkness, just to make sure she was indeed awake and not floating somewhere in a half awake nightmare. Her four paned window was showing it's familiar moonlight casting it's bluish glow through her bedroom window onto her patchwork quilt that she had tightly bunched up around her. She had heard it quite distinctly, a tap-tap. No one did tap-taps at her, especially not in the middle of the night. She was scared, No she was beyond scared, she was frightened, very frightened and she was alone, she was always alone, and people or maybe things; she shivered at that thought for a moment, did not do the scary stuff at her. She was the one who did the scary stuff... well sometimes... when she felt like it... which was pretty much never.

TAP-TAP... There it went again, it was getting louder and it seemed to be coming from downstairs.

Brumhilda stepped down the stairs and slowly reached the font door. She was standing only inches from it and then it came loud right in front of her face, TAP! TAP! banging into her ears from behind the solid timber door.

It frightened the wits out of her and she stepped back quickly staring at the door. WHO IS IT? She shouted, her voice shaking ended rather meekly. Then there was silence. She was shaking and finally she couldn't stand the silence anymore and reached for the door knob with a trembling hand. Twisting it slowly the door creaked open. There was something standing there. It was glowing white, right on her doorstep. She couldn't breath as she watched it glaring there waving in the moonlight. A shapeless white hovering about in front of her. The blue glow of the full moon shining in the night from above adding a cold tinge to it's white glow.

She gulped several times, trying to make something come out of her mouth, but nothing would.

Suddenly her mind came back and then just as suddenly left again as she thought to herself. It... it was a ghost! 'No, it can't be a ghost, ghosts don't exist. Do they?

Ivan was at school. He had felt cold in the morning air and was jumping around trying to get warm while waiting for the Phys-Ed teacher Mr Geeves. Finally he appeared and seeing Ivan some what more enthused than normal, decided to delegate a task to him. He was to get several basket balls from the gym store locker, for practice that morning. Ivan was walking to the lockers wondering how he is going to carry all the balls back, by himself, when with a loud clang, he thrust open the metal door of the locker and stared in disbelief at the pile of orange balls; not that they were of much interest, it was what was on top of them that had his mouth still wide open. There lying on top of them was Brumhilda his friend the witch and she was asleep.

Brumhilda! He whispered loudly "What are you doing!" Her eyes opened suddenly and she yawned at him. "Oh sorry I must have dozed off." and she looked at his astonished face for second then said,

"Umm... Ivan I need your help." Ivan's face still looked like it was not going to say anything, so she continued. "You see there's this pesky ghost, it's visited me three times so far." Still Ivan did not answer, so she filled in the gaps, "Three times you say Brumhilda? Yes that's right, every night three times in a row, and yes, you're right, I'm not getting a lot of sleep." He still said nothing as he continued to stare at her.

Then suddenly he shook his head and said, 'Ghosts? Umm... I mean... ghosts? Are you ,sure?' But he did know one thing for sure and that was that he really was talking to a real witch... well looking at one at least. So maybe, just maybe there was such a thing. "You did say Ghost's didn't you?"

He hadn't seen Brumhilda for several months. He had thought that maybe she had finally left him alone, and she had grown up and gone on to do her whichy stuff, what ever that might have been. But no it seemed not, because here she was asking for his help once again, and him a mere mortal. And what on earth could he do about a ghost?'

They were sitting at the lunch table in the school grounds and she was still wearing her long black coat as usual, but at least he had gotten her to take off the pointy hat. He was still getting strange looks, but hey he was getting used to it, and didn't really notice anymore. His lunch time friends, hadn't shown yet, or maybe they were giving him a wide berth.

"Can't you tell it to go away or something?" He said. She gave him back a wane look. It's a ghost it doesn't talk. How do you know it's a ghost? Because it's white and waves about... like a ... well a ghost.

You mean like Casper? She rolls her eyes and scrunches up her mouth, and says in a little voice , Yeah sorta like that. Have you tried telling it to go away, She rolls her eyes again, I yelled at it several times, it doesn't seem to hear, or anything, just hovers there until I shut the door." "Ti'll you shut the door?"

"Yeah if I open it again it's gone, that is until the next night." "Can't you talk to your witch friends, maybe they know what it is." "They don't exist." "What? Your witch friends don't exist?" He knew he should have kept his mouth shut, and not said it, especially when he got back the sorrow full look he had first seen on her face, in what must have been about a year ago by now. "Sorry," he said, " I meant... " she cut him off and said, "I mean't the ghost. Yes you heard right ghost's don't exist in our world either. If I tell any of my witch friends, "she made air quotes in the air, " they will laugh at me. They'll think I'm crazier than I already am," and she put her head down on the table, and buried it in her arms. Just then his friends Ralph and Lisa showed up.

"Ahh we weren't sure if you two wanted to be alone" He grinned back at Ivan, " "Ha-ha." said Ivan. "Um is she ok?" Seeing the head and hands on the table. "She's not crying again is she?" And Ralph leaned over a little closer. "Hey Brumhilda come on, it's not that bad." he patted her head and leaned in a little closer, when he heard a snore. "What! Is she asleep?" "Oh leave her be. She's had a rough night." "Oh really what have you two been up to." "Very funny. She's having trouble with a ghost and she asked for my help." Ralph stopped in mid munch of his sandwich.

"Did- you- say- ghost?" Ivan nods. "Witches and now ghosts?" Ivan nodded again.

Ralph looked over at Brumhilda, her head resting asleep on the table. "Hey you know she looks kinda like a zombie, you don't suppose, do you?"

Suddenly Brumhilda popped her head up, and said blearirly , "Don't even go there." "What! Do you mean are they for real too? Ivan gave his friend a kick. "Ouch what was that for?" Ivan knows his friends obssesion with zombie video games, and no he doesn't want to go there either, he has enough weird stuff in his life, without adding for real zombies. He does notice though that Brumhilda hasn't given Ralph an answer. "So what are you going to do?" said Ivan to Brumhilda.

"Well I need someone else to well... kinda, check it out." They all stare at Brumhilda. Ivan gives her a confused look. "What do you mean check it out exactly?" "Look, I can't go back there, I'll never get any sleep." "Well just ignore it, maybe it'll go away." His two friends start laughing. She looks back at Ivan with a dead serious look on her face. "It doesn't. If I don't go down and open the door, it just keeps on knocking." "Well stay somewhere else, for awhile." "I can't..." then she mumbles in a low voice, "I don't feel safe, anywhere else." Her sorrowful face is back. "You see it would be just as bad, I wouldn't be able to sleep... I have distance issues." "Distance issues?" She sighs at him. "It's a sort of a phobia I guess. You know like some people have a personal space they feel comfortable in. Well mines a little bigger, especially at night." Ivan didn't really get it, but hey she knew herself and he suspected she had been around a good while longer then he, so he just accepted her answer. "Okay then, well what do you want me to do?" "Well I was think'in if someone else could see it, they might be able to give me some clues, as to... well what to do about it." Then Ivan said, "You mean like calling in the ghost busters." His friends suddenly burst out in loud uproarious laughter and Ralph eventually fell off the bench seat. Even Brumhilda gave a wry smile at Ivan. Then she said. "So you'll come then?" "What, come to where?" "To my place of course."

"What, you mean spend the night?" His friends started laughing even louder until Ivan gave Ralph what he hoped was zombie death stare. Brumbilda looked over at them, "You two can come too if you want, there's plenty of room downstairs. "Wow! Said Ralph a night in a real witches house!" "With ghosts." said, Ivan. "Yeah... umm... yeah. How'er we goi'n to explain it to our parents." "Hmm... yes Brumhilda," said Ivan, "How are we going to do that?" "Well, just tell them it's a sleep over... Kids still do that these days don't they." "Well I guess... but they won't let us if it's somewhere they don't know, or with someone they don't know for that matter. I mean my mum's seen you once or twice, but she thinks you have parents too, she would go 'troppo', if I told her the truth." "So don't tell her?" "She'll want to call and check it out." "So I'll drop by your house as... someone else and ask if it's okay, No problem." "Are you sure, I mean your not exactly miss confidence." "I dont' have a choice do I?"

"Well... okay then, but don't wear black and no pointy hat." "What, what do you mean?" and she looked down at herself... Oh yeah... alright then, fine." "What about us?" His two friends said in unison, "No problem," said Ivan, I'll call and ask your parents if it's ok, " "Grouse!" Ralph said, and they hi fived each other, except Brumhilda who looked at their hands in the air with confusion, gingerly she reached up, and gave a gentle tap. "ALRIGHT THEN!" Ralph yelled. Ivan wasn't so sure it was going to be as much fun as his friend was expecting. Exiling Ghosts was not exactly on his bucket list.

And then she was gone, they looked around, but none them had seen her go, it was as if she had suddenly disappeared. Ivan smiled to himself, 'Yeah that was Brumhilda alright.'

It was late the next afternoon and they were all staring at the old timbers that made up the large ground floor of Brumhilda's cottage. Ivan noted it was kind of ordinary in a way, except for the old bulky timbers that poked out the walls and ceiling. Sorta like a big old fashioned well... house, and an equally old wooden stair case went upwards to what he supposed was the bedroom floor, and maybe another one after that. The house sure had looked tall from outside and he was willing to admit at least to himself it had looked a little scary, but hey it was a witches house. Ralph unceremoniously threw his sleeping back on the old rug that covered part of the large wooden floor and said, "Ok now where's this ghost?" Lisa gave him a 'hurumph' look and ignored him, and instead went over to where Brumhilda was setting out some cups on a well worn stone bench. She watched as Brumhilda reached over to move the whistling kettle off from off the blue white sparkling flames of what looked look an old wood burning stove. Lisa noticed with a little shock the flames disappeared as soon as she put the kettle to one side. "Chocolate, or tea, anyone?" Brumhilda announced as if what she was doing was perfectly normal for her.

They sat around cross legged on the floor and eventually got to discussing the ghost. "Umm are there any; Ivan swallowed, graves around here?"

"Well.. umm... yes, actually there is one. It's really old, I don't even know, who's it is. I think it's some long forgotten ancestor." "Alright!" said Ralph in a burst of excitement, "Can we see it?" "Sure. Better make it soon though before it gets dark." "It's not far is it?" said Ivan in a quivering voice.

"No, just over to left down the back field, where the woods start." "Woods?" said Ivan with questioning eye brows. "Yeah, well I guess they wern't there when he was buried." "What wasn't there?" "The woods of course. They were probably just small trees of Wildamere back then, when ever it was." "Wildamere?" said Ivan "Oh yeah," said Ralph, "I've heard of that, a real rare wood. You mean you've actually got some growing here?" "Yeah there's a whole forest of the stuff," said Brumhilda. "The stuff!" said Ralph, "You must have the only one in existence." Brumhilda shrugged. "Yeah well it's not much use though, drains to quickly," She saw her friends faces, look back blankly at her. "I mean it doesn't hold power for long." They were still staring at her, "You know magic power, that kind of stuff."

Lisa shoved Ralph in the arm, and he looked at her for a moment and then made a grimace. Ralph then looked at Brumhilda, "Umm... Lisa wants to see some stuff, it's just that she's never seen you do any of... well you know the magic stuff. She thinks we made up everything Ivan and I saw you do." Lisa shoved him again, a little too hard this time and he started rubbing his arm. Brumhilda looked at her, plenty of time for that my little pretty," and made a cackling laugh, that flowed into a cackling cough.. After Brumhilda, with some effort cleared her throat, she got up and went to the door, "Anybody coming?" she said. They all got up and followed her to the door and went out down to the forest of Wildamere to search for the grave.

The wind had started to pick up, golden brown leaves left over from winter, scraped and crunched about there feet as they approached the tall wood. Ivan could see the tree tops were swaying in the wind thinking he had no idea where Brumhilda's house actually was, except to say there were no other homes near by. It seemed to be surrounded by more woods and fields and a high row of mountains in the distance, which worried him somewhat because there wasn't any mountains where he lived. Everything was grey, dull, quiet and forbidding as they neared the first of the tall twisted trees. The wind, could be heard beginning to whistle in the wild branches above and it made him shiver. Looking around at his friends, it seemed they felt no better, except for Brumhilda, who seemed to be reveling in the early evening air, her black robes flowing in the breeze as she jauntily stepped along... yes she seemed quite at home, which of course she was.

Lisa was the first to reach the path that entered the woods and stopped. Ralph was behind her and she turned around at him. "Are you sure about this?' she said, "It's looks awfully dark in there."

"Well we have to see if it's where the ghost is coming from," said Ralph. Lisa gave him a horrified look. "You can go back if you like," She looked back at the old house in the distance, 'All alone in that she thought, No way.' Then she said, "Oh come on, let's get this over with, and holding her nerves at bay she stepped onto the path, then she stopped again. "Where's Brumhilda?" she said. They all turned around, to see her still standing outside the woods, looking up at the darkening evening sky. Ivan turned and went over to her. "Anything wrong?" he said. "Umm... no, I don't think so... just felt a bit strange for a moment that's all." Ivan looked at her and rolled his eyes, "Come on, you got us into this, let's get moving, I don't wanna be look'in for grave stones in the dark, especially not in there." "Yes, yes of course, sorry, she bolted on ahead down the path, into the forest. They followed with quiet careful steps among the twisting branches, that soon covered them in every direction.

They rounded a corner and found Brumhilda kneeling on the ground. She had produced an old iron lantern from somewhere, and lit it with nothing any one could see in the gloom. She closed it's little iron door with a squeak, and soon it's orange glow became brighter, and bounced off the trunks of the now massive trees as she held it up and continued on down the path. 'Gosh.' thought Ivan, it was like being suddenly transported back, about five hundred years. 'Totally amaz'in', thought Ralph, and had become unaware that Lisa had a tight grip on his arm with both her hands as they followed the orange glow going through the woods ahead of them.

They reached a small wooden bridge, Brumhilda was looking down at the planks as she treaded slowly across, "Doesn't look too safe" she said, "B'in a while since I've been down here." and she shone the lantern, down close, as the others gathered behind her. It was only a shallow dry creek, mostly filled with leaves, the bridge seemed almost unnecessary. Ivan could see bits of the bridge railing were also missing, "Don't touch the sides," she said, and trod carefully in front as he listened to the boards creak as she went across. "I think this things about to fall apart," said Ralph. No one even dared to make an extra nod at his comment, as they went step by careful step warily across.

The trees began to thin just a little way further on and Brumhilda stopped, and swung her lantern about. Ivan wasn't sure what she was looking for, because her eyes were scanning the twisting branches above and the night sky. He didn't say anything, what you don't know about can't hurt you, can it? He wondered. He noticed the others didn't say anything either, as Brumhilda then looked down among the leaf strewn ground. "Somewhere around here," she whispered to herself as she swung the lantern around in circles. She then started scanning further out. Ralph whispered to Lisa, great she's lost it. If she takes much longer were going to have to go back through that; he pointed at the wood behind them, and in dark, with the gho... Owe. Would you stop doing that!" "Well don't make things worse," said Lisa with a clear quiver in her voice as she whispered back in his ear while watching Brumhilda. "Oh, there it is," Brumhilda suddenly said and started scraping leaves off revealing a flat marble stone.

The leaves had completely piled up into a large mound as Brumhilda swiped at them, with her wild waving hands. Then they saw it, the head stone. They all walked up slowly as Brumhilda swung the yellow glare of the lantern in front of it trying to decipher what had been obscured by the old mold encrusted in the lettering. As she concentrated, Ivan looked down at the heavy stone covering the grave and noticed a crack.

He bent down to take a closer look as Brumhilda with her nose now almost touching the headstone mumbled away to herself. None of which any of them could understand. Ivan's eyes went wide, the crack was new, he could see where the marble was clean and sharp along the edge. "Umm, Brumhilda?" "What?" "You'd better take a look at this."

She turned to Ivan, immediately her face showed surprise. "Move away, quick!" "Why what is it?"

"It's here... I can feel it." Ivan looked at her with a furrowed forehead. "Sorry," she said, "It's..."

Just then a white mist began to flow from the crack in the grave stone. Brumhilda, stood stock still her eyes wide with worry, as everyone except her took several steps back.

"Oh! Shit, It's the ghost isn't it?" said Ralph, "Owe!" He looked at Lisa accusingly, "Your not supposed to say that word," she said, but Ralph wasn't listening, neither was Ivan. They were both watching the mist rising up, that had almost engulfed Brumhilda.

She was slowly turning towards them, almost as though she was in a trance like state, then WHOOSH! She suddenly glowed white, and the lantern she had been carrying clanked to the ground, luckily right way up. She had begun to glow a cold white and her whole being, had lost it's colour. Ivan gulped as she turned around, he could see the trees in the distance, showing right through her.

No one could speak, as they watched her slowly look up towards the sky, as she began to fade away

and then was gone. Brumhilda was gone!

There was no mist now, just a weak flickering orange glow from the lamp, that appeared to be strangely alone. Then Lisa feinted and flopped to the ground, Ralph was wavering, but Ivan caught a hold of him, and shook him roughly. "RALPH, RALPH."

Ralph gave his head a shake, and released himself from Ivans hand, and knelt down to Lisa.

"Is she ok?" Ivan was down beside her, he put his hand to her mouth feeling her warm breath. "Yeah she feinted that's all."

Then he looked at the lantern glowing there in the dark where Brumhilda had been a moment ago.

Ralph looked at Ivan's face and said, "She'll be ok, she's a witch, remember."

Ivan kept on looking at the lantern, and was not sure if his friend was right or not.

Either way he was sure of one thing, and that was that they had to do something, it's what Brumhilda had asked them to to do. To come here and help her, their special friend, in this... well very weird and scary place.