CAPTURED – Book two in The Mystery of Nida Valley Series.
Last time we shared a story, fourteen-year-old Meg Sealy, her friend Amanda, and her older cousin Jaiden, stumbled upon a secret valley where time stands still. The three friends were thrust into a dangerous world of magic, time travel, and creatures they believed extinct. They learnt that it is their destiny to use their new magic skills to join the fight to save the valley from an evil breakaway order bent on exploitation, led by Grundymere. Some of the villains were discovered, and locked away, but a traitor remains in the valley, and is plotting against Meg.
Book two is a story of mystery, time-travel, and magic. Grundymere is still at large and seems determined to capture Meg. The elders of the Order believe it is to stop her from following in her grandmother’s footsteps and becoming the next Grand Leader of the order that protects the valley, The Guardians of Nida – but he has a much more sinister reason.
Follow their journey as Meg strives to control her escalating magic powers, and she and her friends fight to discover the identity of the traitor in the valley, and save the animals from extinction. The elders of the Order gather around her to keep Meg from the clutches of Grundymere. But can they succeed? Only time will tell.
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER BELOW.
The wings of Meg’s pterosauradon, Mondy, beat gently as they soared above the hidden valley. A rush of pleasure surged through her. Her heart swelled with pride. How awesome that one day I will be the Grand Leader of the Guardians of Nida, the group who protect this amazing place, she thought.
Her best friend Amanda and cousin Jaiden flew alongside, the wing tips of their pteros just metres from Mondy’s. She waved and they grinned at her, enjoying the early morning ride. The sun reflected off the foliage of the ancient, giant trees that reached for the sky. The contrast of the different coloured leaves and the fire engine red flowers of the flame trees dotted throughout the forest, created a mosaic of colour.
Marsupial tapirs, short-faced kangaroos and the hippo like creature, the zygomaturus, grazed on the grassy plains or drank at water holes that sparkled like diamonds in the sun’s rays.
An involuntary, ‘Wow,’ escaped her lips when they flew over the family of dinosaurs, the muttaburrasauras, feeding on the trees near the cave that housed the Time Travel Portal. These ancient creatures are so cool; I wish we could share them with everyone else.
The cave in the cliff nearby drew her eyes. It called to her, enticing her to land. Mesmerised, she flew closer. ‘I have to find a way into the time travel portal again, and go back to find some more giant wombats to increase the herd. When Willie dies of old age they will all be gone.’
A dark shadow passed over Meg, blocking out the sun’s rays. She looked up; her heart raced. She screamed, then shouted, ‘Look out! He’s back.’
The gunman they had an air battle with just days ago, was back. She dived Mondy. She looked over her shoulder to see if he was following. Her heart stopped and fear gripped her chest like a giant rubber band, forcing all the breath from her body. She shook her head in confusion and looked again. Now what was flying at her wasn’t the intruder on a pterosauradon, but the dragon they had fought in the cave.
Meg tried to yell a further warning but the sound stuck in her throat. Flames shot from the monster’s mouth and a sickening roar assaulted her ears. She watched in horror as Jaiden’s shirt caught fire and he screamed in agony.
Desperate to help, Meg flew as close as she could and reached for him. The gap was too wide and she overbalanced and fell from Mondy’s back. She was falling. Blackness closed around her and she could hear nothing but her voice screaming Jaiden’s name.
Strangely, a soft calm voice penetrated the darkness. ‘Meg, Meg, are you alright? Open your eyes; it’s okay.’
It was her mother’s voice. Meg’s muddled brain tried to make sense of what was happening. How could her mother be here in the valley, dropping through the air with her? She forced her eyes open, and was amazed to find that she was at home in her bed.
‘Mum, h… h… he came back, and then it wasn’t him it was the dr… dragon, and then Jaiden …’ Meg babbled.
‘It’s okay Meg, it was just a dream. You’re safe now, and so is Jaiden,’ her mother Helen soothed.
Meg slumped back on her pillows. ‘A nightmare, more likely.’
‘After what you have been through in the last week, I’m not surprised you’re having a nightmare about it. Come down to the kitchen and I’ll make you a cup of warm milk to help you get back to sleep.’
Meg gratefully stumbled from her bed and followed her mother down the stairs. When she returned, she didn’t sleep. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw the dragon and heard its roar.
At breakfast, she asked if she could go for a ride to see her pony, Bluey. She had spent the previous day cooped up in the house, not allowed to go out, and was going stir crazy.
Her father Adam shook his head. ‘After the attempts on your life it would be best if you stay around the house for a few days.’
‘But Dad, I haven’t been to see Bluey for a week and you’re always telling me that even small ponies need regular exercise.’
‘There are more important things than exercising Bluey at the moment. And keeping you safe is at the top of that list. Grundymere is still at large, and we still don’t know who planted the wonambi in the Moreton Bay tree, and stole the pteros.’
Meg shuddered as her mind replayed the scene deep in the rainforest, when the wonambi, a giant python, almost squeezed the life out of her. She shook her head to turn off the movie. Her shoulders slumped in despair at the thought of spending another day locked up in the house. She couldn’t even invite her best friend Amanda over; she too was confined to her house. When Meg had talked to her on the phone before breakfast, Amanda had told her despondently that she wondered if her grandmother would ever let her go out again. What sort of school holiday is this? Locked up like a prisoner. Sometimes I wish we had never discovered the valley, she thought. But she knew that if they hadn’t, her parents would have told her her destiny next year anyway.
That afternoon, Meg was sitting on her bed reading the book on her ancestors, the Founding Family of The Guardians of Nida, when her phone rang.
Amanda’s excited voice told her; ‘Meg, Gran is coming over to see your mum, so I’m coming too. I’ll see you in a few minutes.’
Meg hurried down the stairs to wait. When the car came to a stop, Amanda jumped out and raced up the driveway, clearly happy to be out. They walked around to the back yard and sat on the swings to talk.
‘What’s your Gran seeing Mum about?’
‘I think she wants the full story of our sky battle with the intruder, and the encounter with the dragon in the cave, from someone else. To stop her worrying, I tried to make it sound pretty simple, but she’s determined to make it a big deal so I can’t go back to the valley,’ Amanda said pouting. Then the memory of the dragon attack came flooding back. Chewing her lip she said, ‘I didn’t tell her how scared I was of the dragon. Poor Jaiden, he copped the blast. I can still smell his skin and shirt burning.’
Meg grimaced. Her eyes grew wide at the recollection, then she shook herself free of the memory and said, ‘I had a nightmare about it last night. I never want to see that dragon again.’
‘If the oldies have anything to do with it, we’ll never even get back to the valley.’
Meg nodded sadly. ‘With someone out there trying to kill me, or at least stop me taking over as Grand Leader, Dad won’t let me out of the house on my own.’
Amanda looked thoughtfully at Meg. ‘Do you think Miss Cashmere, or Dragon Lady I should say, is the one trying to stop you taking over?’
‘I don’t know. It’s all so confusing. She’s such a cow, picking on me all the time. But Dad says she is just a bully. At least we know it’s not Jack Rockingham; and John and Karvea are in prison for that last attack on us.’ Meg sighed. ‘I don’t know who to blame. ’
Amanda giggled. ‘Yeah, I told you Jack hangs around because he loooves you.’
Meg poked her tongue at her friend, then grinned. ‘I always knew it wasn’t Jack. But I don’t think Michael and Jaiden are convinced yet.’ She looked around furtively. ‘Let’s use our time-travel watches to go see Jaiden. We’ll be quick; they’ll never know.’
Amanda stared at her in amazement. ‘Are you kidding? We’ll never be allowed out again if we’re caught. Besides, we’re only supposed to use the travel action if we’re in trouble or need to travel to the valley.’ She grinned. ‘We can use it for calling him though.’
They buzzed Jaiden with Meg’s watch. Her cousin’s face appeared on the dial. He nodded in sympathy as they told him of their confinement. ‘Me too. I’m only allowed out with Mum or Dad or with Morris Rockingham. But I’m going to the city to look at options for schooling next year, so at least that will give me a break. I’ll be back Monday.’
Meg’s mind switched to the missing pteros. ‘Jaiden, do you think Miss Cashmere could have taken the pteros? She was the only one left in the homestead when they went missing from the Zoo. Everyone else was out searching for the plant to save the wombat.’ She paused. ‘Although I can’t think why she would want them?’
‘Whoever took the pteros would be working for Grundymere. He has been trying to get his hands on some for ages.’
‘We’re not sure at this stage. But if he ever tries to take over the valley by force, he will need them.’
Amanda’s eyes grew wide at the thought. ‘And we’ll have to fight to stop him.’
Meg bit her lip anxiously. ‘I’m sure it won’t come to that. Dad will capture him soon and he’ll be in jail.’ I hope, she thought. ‘But when we do go back, I might just keep an eye on Dragon Lady,’ she added.
Jaiden nodded. ‘Yeah, good idea.’ But Amanda just stared at Meg. Her face showed that she wasn’t sure that would be a good idea – and she was right.
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