© Telynnia 2000-2


*Just a little... well kinda large, piece I started a few years back. Re-written and reviewed before this posting of course. I thought I might as well put it up for all to see instead of letting it waste away on my computer for the rest of it's life. I can really picture this as a children's movie... but just because you aren't still a kiddie doesn't mean there's no point in having a look! Please, let me know what you think!*


Chapter 1: Arrivals

The old blue Datsun painstakingly slowly crawled along the road. It groaned and creaked with even the slightest movement. I slumped in my seat, setting off another chorus of creaks. I waited hopefully for the car to fall apart right there and then, but unfortunately, it didn't. There is obviously no stopping the inevitable, we were going to end up at the stupid old house whether I wanted it or not. Why couldn't we have just stayed at our old house, with our old friends, where we belonged? Because that wasn't the best thing for the family. Well, I counted myself as part of the family and I knew that it wasn't right for me.

My sister Tina wiggled excitedly in the seat beside me. 'When are we going to get there Mummy?' Tina whined, for the millionth time on the journey. I glared, warning her that if she didn't be quiet she'd be in big trouble.
Tina took a breath, 'Mummy, Catherine's staring at me!' I closed my eyes and turned up the volume of my CD player, ignoring Tina and my mother who had apparently launched into some big lecture. Thankfully I couldn't hear the lecture because the music from my headphones drowned out everything.

My baby brother Billy awoke from a long nap, obviously because of all the noise. It didn't worry me, he'd gotten enough sleep already and he'd sleep better at night if he was awake now. Billy wasn't famous for sleeping at night but was for being cranky when he woke up. As I was thinking, Billy right on cue, started screaming. I couldn't stand being in the car with a screaming baby, not even if it was my own brother. No it was Billy who was drowning out all the noise. I could faintly hear the tune of my song on the CD player but all I really heard was Billy. I couldn't even turn up the volume any more, because it would probably send me deaf. The car lurched around a corner and rattled through a pair of rusty iron gates. A homely old English cottage stood opposite my window of the car. We had arrived.

Tina leapt over me and scrambled out the door. At least someone was excited. My parents both got out of the car and stood proudly gazing up at the house. Even Billy was happy that we were there, well he had stopped crying anyway.
'Are you coming Cat or are you just going to mope in the car all your life?' Dad encouraged.
'I would if you'd let me.' I muttered as I grabbed my bag and slowly climbed out of the car. I wasn't impressed with this house and everyone was going to know it. And that was whether they liked it or not.
'Well Cat, what do you think? Wait until you see inside, we've done wonders to it.' Mum said proudly.
I slammed the car door deliberately and then looked innocently up at Dad. 'Wow, it looks great,' I breathed, my voice filled with sarcasm. I paused and continued to state curtly, 'When do I get to move back home then?'

Dad went bright red, maybe I shouldn't have pushed it so far. Maybe I was being selfish, no really, on the inside I was just upset. I knew it, Mum knew it but Dad, he just didn't understand. It must just be a girl thing. Dad had heard enough, I knew it and braced myself for a good telling off.
'Listen young lady, we've been through all this before!' He bellowed. Controlling his anger he continued more calmly. 'Your mother and I think that it would be great to live out here away from the big smoke. I can get on with my writing and your mother can relax a bit. Your brother and sister love it here too.' He stood there waiting for a response.

I knew what the right one was but today I wasn't in the mood for grovelling, instead I exploded. 'How much do they know? Billy's only a baby, Tina's six. And I get to do what, sit around and do nothing? Great! Does this place even have a phone?'
Mum answered matter-o-factly. 'No, but there is a phone at the cottage down Rayan's lane' Mum was always the peacemaker, calm and in control. I had inherited Dad's unreasonable temper.

I pulled out my mobile phone and glared at the screen, ready to call a taxi or something. I could ring Grandma and stay with her a while. We were out of service range, that was it. I waved the phone around angrily. 'Fantastic, I'm out of service range! So much for the whole you'll still get to keep in touch with all your friends honey idea Mum. I ask how? I hate this whole damned place!' I turned and stalked away to the house angrily.
Dad's temper struck again. 'Look Cat, we've all had it up to here and that does it. Just go inside and stay in your room! Don't come out until you've thought about your behaviour lately.'

I really couldn't help it, it just slipped out. 'Already one step ahead of you Steve, I was going there anyway!' I yelled back. I thought that using Dad's first name would really get under his skin. And it did.
'Catherine Beth Landsbury get here this minute!' Dad yelled as I kept walking. He went to yell again but Mum stopped him.
'Just leave her be. She'll come round eventually. She has moved away from all her friends. You know how important friends are when you're a teenager. Right love?' She said soothingly.
'I suppose so.' Dad agreed just as I slammed the front door.

I climbed off my bed in the small cottage bedroom. It was still dark, even though afternoon sunlight filtered in through the window. Opposite the window stood a wardrobe, that was set into the wall. This was despite the fact that period homes such as this didn't usually have wardrobes built in the bedrooms, this room must have been something else.

Trust my luck to have a bedroom that wasn't supposed to be a bedroom. My room was a mess, packing boxes filled every bit of floor-space that wasn't covered by either cupboard, bed or chair. And then, on top of that, boxes were stacked in piles of two or three high and a few shoeboxes sat on top of my cupboard. Unpacking would be a total nightmare, if I stayed there that long that was.

I glanced around the room, what was I going to do up here all afternoon. Unpacking was definitely off the list for today, that was for certain. I saw a box of mine that was marked, 'PRIVATE' and smiled. I walked over to it and opened it eagerly. Inside was a thick jumper, I moved it aside and beneath it sat all my books, just as I'd packed them. I grinned at the thought of my parents finding out that I actually read books. They'd probably die of shock or go completely mad.

I was a magazine type girl on the outside, that's what everyone thought and that was how it was going to stay. But on the inside, that was completely different. I didn't have an overall favourite novel. But I was really interested in anything set in the seventeenth century that included a huge manor house, swirling dresses and charming gentlemen on horseback. Something that I'd never have for sure, this old cottage would be as close as I'd ever get. I ran my fingers over the spines of the books fondly remembering the stories contained in each. I was tempted to pluck one out of the box and read it again but for some reason, I decided against it.

Instead I walked over the wardrobe and shoved a few boxes aside so that I'd be able to open the door. I opened the wardrobe's heavy doors and coughed at the dust that stirred as she opened them. I curiously stared inside, without a clue as to why I was looking in there in the first place. Empty, all except for a few cobwebs and dust. Bored, I moved to close the doors again but sunlight that had been blocked by my shadow reflected off something on one of the shelves.

I shook my head and blinked. There shouldn't be anything in this wardrobe, the past owners would have cleared everything out surely. But still the small object glinted in the sunlight. I bent down to get a closer look, a small chain and pendant sat in the corner of the shelf. Carefully, I picked it up and held it towards the light. The chain was silver and tarnished in some places, from it hung a small stone. The stone was light blue and very small, I'd never seen anything like it ever before. The necklace was quite old and probably belonged to the previous owners, I concluded. It mustn't have been very expensive or else it wouldn't have ended up in the wardrobe in the first place.

I was compelled to put it on, just to see what it looked like. It was as if the stone was calling to me, but that was complete nonsense. I put that down to my overactive imagination. The stone felt warm and surprisingly familiar around my neck, like it was back where it belonged. But I'd never seen or heard of a necklace like that before. Or had I? I walked over to another of my boxes and rummaged around until I found a small hand mirror. I then walked to the window and looked at my familiar reflection in the mirror.

The stone sparkled in the sunlight and I started to feel a little dizzy. Probably because of the bright light. Then my reflection in the mirror suddenly shimmered and changed. I was looking at myself, but it was definitely not me. The reflection had my face but was dressed quite differently. This girl was wearing some kind of blue dress and had all her hair pulled back off her face. She looked very proper by the way she held her chin, high and with dignity. The girl smiled at me and disappeared, just like that, there one minute, gone the next. I could again see my normal self, my brown hair falling over my shoulders, the straps of my white singlet top and the necklace. The necklace that wasn't sparkling anymore.

'Psychotic episode,' I said out loud, 'I'm just going crazy, all the stress from the move that's all, or it was just because of my overactive imagination.' That was quite likely, very likely actually. Once I'd read a story about a ghost and then thought I'd seen one in the kitchen, later I found out that my ghost was actually my Aunt Mary. But that was when I was only nine, now I was sixteen. Although there was the slightest chance that what I'd seen was real but I pushed that thought to the back of my mind.

'Catherine?' Mum's voice echoed up the stairs. 'Are you coming down to lunch?' I thought for a moment. I was really hungry but I didn't want another face-off with Dad. Starve to death or get yelled at again? It was a tough decision, but not that tough. Hunger won and I decided to go down and get something to eat. 'Coming Mum!' I yelled as I left my room and started down the old wooden stairs.

I walked into the kitchen. The kitchen was large with and old wood fire stove in the centre and lots of bench-space. The back door was opposite the stairs that I had just descended. My siblings were seated around a large country style table in the middle of the room, opposite to the stairs and door. Mum was cutting sandwiches at the bench. Everyone was there, all except one member, Dad. I was relieved, at least I wouldn't have to sit here silently so that I didn't let myself fall into another argument. It wasn't like Dad and I didn't get along or that he was an ogre. We both just has no patience and were stubborn, he more so than me. I did have more patience, but not as much as Mum did. 'Where's Dad?' I asked, sliding into my seat.

Mum sat a plate of sandwiches in front of me. 'He's out in the garden actually, pulling weeds. Letting out some steam I expect.' She said, taking a seat herself.
I smiled at the thought of Dad pulling out weeds. Thorns'd probably cut him and that would increase his temper, not reduce it. Then he would probably to tear the weeds to shreds cursing them loudly.
'Poor weeds.' I said quietly.
Mum smiled, obviously thinking the same thing as me. 'Very poor weeds indeed.' She laughed.

We munched on our sandwiches for a few minutes. All except for Billy who was noisily sucking on a bottle of milk. Everyone else was as hungry as I was, it must have been from the long drive I guessed. Mum finished her mouthful of sandwich and spoke. 'You know, just yesterday before we came to collect you from your grandmothers, I was talking to Mrs Butterworth from down the lane. She was telling me some of the local myths about the forests. People are said to go into the forests around here and find certain pebbles. They look a little bit like marbles. These little pebbles are supposed be magical, people believe that you can make wishes on them. And that the fairies will grant them.'

I rolled my eyes. Magical wishing stones and fairies? Mum had some weird stories that she told Tina but this one took the cake. Tina was a sucker for any story that was about magic. I knew that she was only six, but still it was funny. Once I had her believing that I had a pet fairy named Tasha that lived in my cupboard. I sprinkled glitter around my room and told her they were fairy tracks. Then she got upset because she didn't have a fairy so I explained to her that Tasha has left and gone to live in Fairyland. She felt a lot better after that.

I smiled and looked at Mum. 'Fairies are a figment of the imagination. Did she tell you there were little leprechauns running around too?' I asked.
Mum gave me a look, telling me not to hurt Tina's feelings. I shut my mouth, at least she'd be out of my hair and running around the garden looking for magical wishing pebbles. Mum continued her story. 'Well, I'm just telling you what she said. There's also supposed to be an old castle up the road a bit, a few kilometres. Not a real castle though, just an old run-down manor I think.'

I pretended to not be really interested but I was jumping with excitement. 'Where? Just up the road?' I said calmly.
Mum smiled. 'A few kilometres up the road, towards the hills. It's a bit too far to walk though. You know how to ride though Cat. Mrs Butterworth said you could borrow her horses any time. Just as long as you return them in good shape and give them a brush and feed every so often.'
I was thrilled. This place had old manor ruins and horses. I'd forgotten that living in the countryside meant riding. I'd been very good at riding, I'd been to pony club but I had to give that up when we moved further into the city.

'You never said there were horses up here' I exclaimed. I got up, ran over to Mum, and gave her a quick hug.
She smiled warmly. 'You never asked. The stables are just up the road on the left. She said the nicest one was a large chestnut named Prince. Off you go.' She paused and then added, 'as long as you're back for dinner. Be careful if you go up to that old manor though, it might be a bit dangerous.'
I grinned and grabbed my coat off a rack behind the door. 'I'll be fine, see you later!' I said, opening the door and walking outside.

The air outside was chilly but tolerable. I walked down the driveway, quickly pulling on my coat. I stood at the garden gate and looked down the gravel road. In the distance I could see a fenced paddock and some old grey stables. It wasn't very far so I started down the road briskly, rubbing my arms in hopes of warming myself up. My feet crunched along the gravel as I walked. Either side of the road were paddocks surrounded by old stone fences. Further into the paddocks I could see the beginning of forest, that seemed to stretch on for as far as I could see.

As I thought, the stables weren't very far at all. I turned off the road and walked into the old wooden stables. They smelled of horse and hay, the smell brought back memories of my riding days. I used to love sitting in the stables and immersing myself in a good book. I could sit there for hours on end, for me time would stop and nothing else mattered. I hadn't done that in years, maybe I should start again. It would be much easier to read in peace down here, without the worry of Mum or Dad sneaking up on me either. A horse shifted in its stall and whinnied. It was the big chestnut Mum was talking about, named Prince. He was beautiful, tall and muscular with big brown eyes and a star on his forehead. I walked over to him slowly and held out my hand in greeting. He sniffed then nuzzled my hand affectionately. As well as being beautiful, he was friendly too. I stroked his head, 'Hey boy how are you today?' I asked 'Want to go for a ride?'

Within minutes I found myself cantering up the road on Prince. I'd managed to locate his saddle and other gear in the stables. He wasn't fussy like other horses were, he just stood there as I saddled him up. He even willingly let me put the bit in his mouth without second thoughts. He was so graceful and fast. Twice I had to pull him back because he was going too fast. He was just getting carried away, he could sense my excitement and joined in on it too. We whizzed past the cottage where Tina was running around the yard, probably looking for fairy stones. We went by that quickly I didn't even have a chance to wave.

Prince was that fast, we were at the manor in no time at all. To Prince a few kilometres was like a few hundred metres. We entered the property through the remains of two tall iron gates, conveniently left open. Inside there was a garden full of trees and shrubs, mostly overgrown. Then there was the manor, well, what was left of it. The manor was magnificent even though it was very run-down and parts had been reduced to piles of stone. It grandly sat atop a small hill at the end of what appeared to be a curved cobblestone path. It was absolutely huge and made of something I recognised as similar to bluestone. To the right of the manor stood some small buildings that were probably used as servants quarters, again made of bluestone. Prince veered to the left and headed towards another lot of buildings. These buildings were obviously the stables, because I could see the remains of some stalls through the doorway. They were in surprisingly good shape. As I was wondering as to why I heard a loud thunderclap and the skies opened upon dumped a whole ocean's worth of water on us.

There was no way for me to get home in this weather without Prince and I catching pneumonia. The thunder and lightning didn't make it much safer either. I looked around for some shelter, the stables seemed to be the best bet. They looked pretty sound and invitingly dry. I dismounted Prince and lead him towards the stables, he obediently followed. He was quite calm and the storm hadn't him the least bit spooked. As I expected the stable was quite dry and would be the ideal place to wait out the storm. I tied Prince up in one of the stalls and glanced around for somewhere to sit. Over in a far corner I spotted a small pile of stones leaning against the wall, not the most comfortable place to sit, but it was somewhere at the least.

I seated myself on the stones, wriggled around into a comfortable position, and leaned back against the wall. I could see out the doorway from where I was and was glad that I was inside. It was grey and miserable, the rain pelted down in sheets making it nearly impossible to see. The thunder boomed loudly overhead. I folded my arms across my chest, in an attempt to keep myself warm. Then my head started to ache from the cold and I felt a little dizzy. I closed my eyes and sighed, I was a little warmer but not much. I wondered if Mum and Dad would be worried and then, I must have fallen asleep.


*So... what do you think? Like it? Hate it? Please R&R! Thanks*