Read Zak Turner - A Twist In Time Online
Authors: Noel Pogson
By Noel Pogson
All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise
without the prior permission of the author
First published in Great Britain in 2014 by Balbardie Press
First edition September 2014
Supporting website - www.zakturner.co.uk
Copyright N P Pogson 2014
Cover illustration ~ Upper Nettleton
by Andy Simmons
copyright Andy Simmons 2014
The moral right of the author has been asserted
ISBN 978 0 9928747 7 3
This book is dedicated to
Kai and Jane
whose love of magical stories
motivation and inspiration throughout.
Zak had made the trip to Kirkstall Abbey a few times now, and it was getting easier each time. A few seconds later, his group of students appeared in the woods. Once they’d caught their breath, and after Cammy had helped Robert get over his nausea, they set off for the Abbey ruins. The seventh years were walking alongside and behind the group, with Cammy in the lead.
The Abbey grounds were quite busy, with a number of families using it as a location to occupy one of the last days of the summer holidays. The small parties of witches and wizards heading round the ruins wearing school robes looked like groups of pupils from a posh private school somewhere on an early school trip!
No-one noticed a cloaked figure appear in the woods a few seconds after the first years had headed off towards the Abbey, or that the figure then stealthily followed the final group of Upper Nettleton students.
* * *
Bella Middleham ported back to Lofthouse Castle from the village with Bjarne and Freya. Her two younger children had been very excited to watch their brother and the others leaving for school, and were chattering animatedly about it, anticipating their own turn in a few years’ time.
Their mother, however, was suddenly feeling extremely worried. While not anywhere near as gifted a seer as Columbetha Proudfoot, she had enough ability to pick up the signals from the mystical world about herself and her family. She suddenly had a feeling of deep foreboding for both her husband and her eldest son!
* * *
Antares Malchus was sitting on his throne-like chair in Shrone Birrane Castle, eyes closed, concentrating hard, listening to the minds of his spies and assassins. It was close now, very close, and he would soon take a giant step towards returning his island back to its pagan roots.
He imagined his spies, assassins, and victims as though they were pieces on a giant chessboard. The victims were his opponents, and were moving themselves where they would, but he had anticipated their moves, and his own pieces were waiting in ambush. There was no escape for the Middlehams.
His eyes flicked open. It was time. First he needed to move his eldest son into position. He waved his hand over the crystal ball in front of him and spoke an incantation…
Sargas Malchus was waiting with his siblings near the Birr Castle portal in Ireland. He knew his father’s plans for the day, and his polluted, malevolent mind was as keen to see them accomplished as his father. His task was simple enough, but required a degree of careful timing in order not to arouse suspicion. He needed to be in the portal room at Mhonarr Castle when the first year students came through from Kirkstall, and if Tallion Middleham arrived, then he was to place a Coacto Curse on another student to kill him, and then to kill themself to hide the trail.
Sargas wasn’t in the least bit perturbed about using a restricted curse. He’d used Coacto several times at his father’s request, even there in the school. He knew the Wizard Council could tell if such a curse was cast, but with so many other witches and wizards present, it would be impossible to work out who’d done it without regressing everyone’s wand to see what spells they’d cast.
He smiled. Even if they
regress his wand, they wouldn’t find a Coacto, or any other restricted curse, for the simple reason that he never used his
wand to cast such curses. He was an adept pickpocket, having been taught by his mother, and in the confusion of the portal room he would simply steal a wand from another student, use it, and abandon it.
Suddenly, the evil teenager heard his father’s voice in his head.
It was time; the Middlehams were on the move.
* * *
Antares Malchus was not taking part in the attacks on the Middlehams, but was masterminding the operation from Shrone Birrane Castle. He was concentrating hard, listening to the thoughts of his spies, their minds relaying a constant stream of information about his two targets. He was then issuing instructions to his assassins to follow or wait as required.
The evil wizard noted Sir Philip’s arrival at the Wizard Council buildings in London, just as his son had started to walk out of the woods towards Kirkstall Abbey. Malchus smiled, his plan was working well, both targets were on the move and vulnerable.
After instructing his son to position himself in Mhonarr Castle, he decided to attack Sir Philip first, using two of his spies inside the council, one of whom was an elected council member. He would lose the service of this most useful spy as a result, but the man would doubtless have been unmasked very soon after the atrocity anyway. He waved his hand over the crystal ball in front of him once more, and waited a couple of seconds for the mist to clear to see the assassins’ faces.
“Anton, GO! Lindan, GO!”
The commands took less than two seconds, and a chain of events was set in motion which would convulse the wizarding world like nothing had done for a century. As soon as he heard from his third London spy that his two assassins were moving after Sir Philip, he turned his attention to the other attackers in Leeds.
“McNair, GO! Gelert, GO!”
* * *
Sir Philip was feeling happy as he arrived at the Wizard Council building in London. His son, his
son, was heading to Mhonarr Castle to be enrolled as a student, and to start his school career. It was a great moment in any wizard’s life when they walked into the Banqueting Hall in front of all the other students, for their house selection by the divining orb.
managed to talk with Tallion a little bit about school over the last few weeks, but not as much as he wanted. There always seemed to be so much to do, and whenever he had a free minute, Tallion and Zak always seemed to be studying, or out of the castle. He frowned to himself, wishing he’d made more time for his son. They should have been able to share looking forward to this day together. Zak now seemed to have filled the gap in his son’s life that his own hectic schedule had left behind.
He strode purposefully through the main concourse in the Wizard Council offices in London, taking in everything around him. He noticed one of the council members talking to an aide at the side of the concourse, and a question mark flickered in his mind. It wasn’t that there was something wrong with such an action, just that it shouldn’t be happening in public.
Sir Philip would never know what prompted him to do it, but instinctively and unconsciously he put his hand inside his robe feeling for the handle of his wand, almost to reassure himself it was there. His mind had already moved on to the council meeting ahead of him though, an extraordinary meeting called by one of the elected members to discuss the situation in Ireland.
The same elected member who was talking to the aide in the concourse!
Why wasn’t he in the chamber? The meeting should have started several minutes earlier, and Sir Philip was late due to seeing his son off to school. His own lateness wasn’t a problem, but the debate couldn’t begin until the elected member who’d called the debate was present!
An alarm bell was now ringing in Sir Philip’s mind; something definitely felt wrong.
* * *
Cammy led his little crowd of students straight through the wrought iron gates that guarded the way into the Abbey ruins. The gates were open this time however, because it was late afternoon. Zak and Tallion shared a smile as they remembered the first time they’d been this way, and had walked through the
gates behind the headmaster!
Zak glanced nervously around the ruined Abbey and decided that it would actually be a great place to explore for a day out. There were quite a few families wandering around, some just meandering, others with guidebooks. There were also a few people just standing around doing nothing in particular, some of whom seemed to be watching them carefully.
They’ll be the shadow-wizards from the council,
Tallion telepathed him, hearing Zak’s wondering thoughts.
Oh right, I forgot about the security. Nice to know they’re looking after us!
It’s a shame that they can’t be at the other side of the portal.
Are you scared, Tallion?
I thought so. So am I, but I couldn’t tell if it was my fear or yours. I guess it’s both of us.
We should get our wands out Zak, like Mother said; they’re no use to us under our robes.
Both boys surreptitiously drew out their wands, feeling the rush of magic as their wands re-united with them, almost as though they knew they were going to be needed soon...
* * *
Zak saw it first, but only because he happened to glance behind him at the entrance to the chapter house. A man, who he had thought was a sightseer because he was reading the guidebook, was reaching inside his open jacket. As Zak’s eyes were drawn to the man, he saw him pull out a wand and in one swift motion point it at a second man, who was standing watching the group of students, and cast a curse! A red streak of light flew across the cloister, and the second man dropped to the ground, unaware of what had happened to take his life.
Zak’s mind screamed at Tallion to look out as he raised his wand. Everything seemed to slow down. Zak turned round fully, focussed all his attention behind him, and saw the man cast a second curse towards another lone man who was clearly reaching for his own wand. Too late. The third man also dropped to the ground as the red streak of light hit him.
Zak had found his voice now and was starting to call out that they were under attack. The seventh year student walking next to him had seen Zak turn, and was starting to turn round himself to follow his gaze, reaching for his own wand at the same time.
“RUN! THIS WAY!” shouted Cammy, who clearly had instructions about what to do in the event of an attack. His shout drew the first years’ attention back towards him, and he beckoned them on, pointing towards the entrance to the Warming Room at the far side of the cloister.
“IN THERE, QUICK!”
Zak and Tallion, who’d both stopped and turned to face the danger behind them, were now walking backwards with their wands drawn.
The man who’d cast the curses now cast another straight towards the group of students. Zak had seen him focus on the group of students and knew that the curse was coming before the man cast it.
“GET DOWN!” he yelled, then his mind thought the rebound spell, Revertur, and he flicked his wand in the appropriate movement just as the red streak of light materialised and headed straight for them. The rebound spell left his wand and met the approaching Libra Mortis halfway, but the Libra Mortis wasn’t rebounded! There was an explosion and a brilliant flash of light as the spells collided, and the Libra Mortis veered off to the side of the cloister where it hit the wall and exploded in a shower of sparks, knocking out a chunk of masonry in the process.
The seventh year student yelled an incantation and cast a spell back towards the man, which Zak thought might have been Firmus, but he couldn’t hear properly for some reason.
Suddenly they heard a yell from behind them, and they both turned to see a red streak of light heading straight towards Cammy, cast by another man standing in a dark archway!
“DOWN, EVERYONE GET DOWN!”
Six first years immediately dropped to the ground as Cammy jumped sideways to avoid the rapidly approaching curse, which missed him by an inch! Within moments he cast a spell back at the second attacker, as the Libra Mortis flew harmlessly over everyone’s heads.
Zak, you watch the first one, I’ll watch the second one, we need to work together!
answered Zak, flinching as the curse hit the wall, exploding in a shower of sparks and splintered stonework. He swung back round to watch the first attacker just in time to see him rebound the seventh year’s spell. It raced back towards them twice as fast, hitting the seventh year square in the chest before he managed to cast his own rebound curse. His inert body hadn’t even hit the floor before a flash of red light announced that yet another Libra Mortis was on its way!
Zak didn’t hesitate, and cast his rebound spell again, this time consciously applying more magical power to it. He felt the magic well up inside him and surge down his arm as the Revertur blasted out of the end of his wand to meet the oncoming Libra Mortis. The spells collided again, much closer to Zak this time, and the resulting explosion reverberated around the walls of the ruined Abbey as the brilliant flash of light dissipated.
Zak staggered backwards as the explosion hit him, but kept his eyes fastened on the other wizard, knowing that his very life depended on him countering every curse that was cast. He sensed the next strike before it was even made, and threw his own full power Revertur into the air between them just moments after the two previous spells had collided. Only then did he notice that, despite the collision of spells, the previous Libra Mortis was still moving, but had again deflected sideways towards the walls.
Why are the Reverturs not bouncing the spells back?
he telepathed Tallion.
You can’t rebound a killing curse, Zak. You’re not even supposed to be able to deflect them!
Tallion had launched his own Revertur towards the second attacker just as
fired another Libra Mortis in the other direction. The attacker had rebounded Cammy’s Firmus spell too, and their school escort found his own spell heading back towards him at double the speed, and with deadly accuracy. He almost managed to dodge it, having finished the incantation for his own rebound, but he didn’t quite get his arm out of the way and his own supercharged Firmus spell hit home.
Their escort turned rigid and fell to the ground, leaving the group of students without any adult defenders. Tallion’s Revertur barrelled into the oncoming Libra Mortis, and the blinding flash was accompanied by a thunderous crash, shaking the ground beneath the cowering first years!
“GET THEM TO THE PORTAL!” yelled Tallion at the two seventh years at the front of the group.
Tella Morton was a feisty witch who’d made a name for herself playing Balayage, and she was not the sort of person to fret about a few spells whizzing over her head. She yelled at the first years to follow her quickly, and ran in a crouch towards the Warming Room entrance, hoping that the portal would still work without Cammy.
Five first years scrambled to their feet, heads down, and scuttled after her. Robert, however, was terrified, and simply couldn’t get up. He remained huddled in a ball on the ground between Zak and Tallion.
There was another blinding flash accompanied by an enormous explosion, as one of Zak’s full power Reverturs collided with yet another incoming Libra Mortis, and defied all known magical theory by once again deflecting the un-deflectable curse. Yet more masonry came crashing to the ground too, as the killing curse slammed into the centuries old stonework causing a huge scorch mark on the surrounding wall.
The second seventh year with Zak cast a volley of three Firmus spells straight at the advancing attacker, but each one was rebounded with mechanical precision by the highly experienced fighter. Their attacker immediately launched two quick Libra Mortis back towards them, one at the seventh year, and the other at Zak, who’d now become his primary target. He was incensed and perturbed! How could this
deflect his killing curses?!