While saving her best friend Amanda, fourteen-year-old Meg Sealy and her older cousin Jaiden, stumble upon a secret valley where time stands still. The three friends are thrust into a dangerous world of magic, time travel, and creatures they believed extinct. Here they learn that it is their destiny to use their new magic skills to join the fight to save the valley from an evil break-away order, bent on exploitation. Follow their journey as undercover villains threaten Meg’s life, and they fight to save the animals from extinction.
Meg sat shivering with fear, her back pressed against the cold stone wall of the cave. Sweat trickled down her face. Wiping it away with trembling hands, she listened to the large creature lumbering around. Its heavy steps shook the earth beneath her. Visions of all the strange creatures she had seen in the hidden valley in the last few days flashed before her as she tried to work out what it could be. Amanda and Jaiden huddled up close beside her.
Not able to stand the suspense any longer, Meg peeped over the top of the wall. Shock coursed over her body like an icy shower, chilling her to the core. Her legs folded and she sprawled beside Amanda and Jaiden, shaking her head in disbelief.
‘Meg, what is it?’ Amanda whispered urgently, not sure she wanted to hear the answer.
The Secret of Millson Manor
Meg Sealy stared at the note on the kitchen bench. Two words leapt out at her, AMANDA and MISSING. The rest of the message told Meg to phone her mother at her best friend’s home. Meg frantically dialled the number. Her mother answered the call. ‘I don’t want you to worry, but Amanda is missing. She went to Millson Manor this morning with the high school excursion. When they were ready to leave she couldn’t be found.’
Panic made Meg’s voice catch in her throat and she squeaked, ‘Mum, how could she just … vanish?’
‘We’re not sure yet. Your dad is coming home from the police conference. He’ll take charge of the search. I’m going to stay with Amanda’s gran for a bit. Just stay there and do your homework. I’ll be home soon,’ she said, in an attempt to reassure.
Meg could hear the concern in her mother’s voice and she was anything but reassured. She stood dumbfounded, her mind racing. Her vivid imagination conjured up all sorts of reasons for Amanda’s disappearance, none of them good. The last one – an alien abduction – she dismissed with an annoyed shake of her head. She remembered her father’s response when she had come up with a similar explanation for the absence of her cat, Ginger. ‘You must learn to tame the scriptwriters of your wild imagination,’ he had said, an amused twinkle in his eye.
Meg knew there was no way she could concentrate on her homework. She scribbled, ‘Mum, gone to Millson Manor to see what’s happening’, on the notepad and charged out the door.
She raced her bike up the hill to the gates of the manor as though aliens chased her. Her long blonde hair streamed out behind her.
Distant thunder rolled like the sound of empty drums on a concrete floor, as the dark clouds of a late-afternoon storm covered the sky. Meg leaned her bike on the stone fence and strode through the gates, ignoring the goosebumps crawling up her arms. The crunch of her sneakers on the loose gravel driveway announced her presence and she peered around nervously. A gusty wind blew eerily through the tall pines that lined the drive; their shadows swaying and dancing like ghosts at a Halloween party.
The dark stone manor towered menacingly as she approached. It was the grandest building in Wattle Tree Grove, Meg’s home town. Built during English settlement in 1832, it is heritage listed now and no one lives there. Most days the manor is open to the public. According to rumour, it is haunted.
Meg could see police cars parked in the grounds, but no sign of the officers. The main doors of the manor were open. As she walked into the foyer, the receptionist, phone to her ear, waved at her to stop. Meg scanned the room, taking in the ornate furniture, marble floors, and the swaying, blood-red curtains in front of the open French doors.
Ahead of her was a wide wooden staircase with a ‘No Entry’ sign hanging on a chain stretched across it. As her eyes followed the rise of the stairs, she saw a faint ghostly figure in the shadows on the first landing. It looked like a boy, but she couldn’t be sure.
The thought it may be the resident ghost made her step back. Her legs turned to jelly and she leant against the wall for support when they threatened to melt.
‘There’s no tour today dear. You’ll have to come back another time,’ a woman’s voice called to her, ‘After that young girl went missing this morning, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to wander around on your own. The police are still searching the upper floors.’
Meg jumped as the receptionist spoke; she had been concentrating so hard on the form on the stairs she hadn’t heard her put down the phone. ‘Oh! Ah … okay,’ she stammered, backing towards the door, her eyes still glued to the ghostly shape on the stairs. She raced down the front steps, trying to block out a nightmare vision of that faint form turning into a nasty ghost and chasing her.
As her feet crunched on the gravel path, her fear diminished and she paused to consider her next move. A sudden movement to her right caught her eye. She spun around in time to see the ghostly figure she had noticed on the stairs disappear behind the rose bushes. Curiosity overrode her need to flee and she crept up to the bushes, peering around them.
The eerie form moved again, and to Meg’s amazement, it floated through the secured wooden gate, into the enclosed garden at the side of the manor. Meg’s skin prickled, intensifying her desire to flee – but she knew she couldn’t leave – she had to find Amanda. Her legs shook so hard they barely held her upright as she slowly followed.