Prologue - The GirlEdit
Mist wreathed around the mysterious figure as he walked purposely down the slope. The man was heading for the small, country road that wound through the hills and mountains of Seal Island.
When he stepped out of the fog, it was revealed that he was wearing robes of a deep midnight blue, highly polished shoes, though slightly mud splattered and his hair was jet-black, flowing like a river down his back and hiding his face. The man continued forwards, his stride picking up as he came closer to the road.
He was staring into the shadows, though with no moon and the extra shade of the few lone trees, it was unknown exactly what he was looking at. It was only when he was a few inches from the being did a pair of bright green eyes become visible.
"Evie Hunter," the man said, pulling a few strands of hair behind his ear. "It's been a while since our last meeting." The green eyes blinked.
"Yes," agreed the voice of a young girl. "Many years have passed, though it seems times have not changed. The wizarding world is once again in grave danger." The man's dark eyes betrayed a spark of knowledge, but what he knew was unclear, as he quickly recovered himself and his eyes were once more emotionless.
"Not just the wizarding world," the man corrected. "But the world of non-magic also. Though I may have some good news." Hunter stepped forwards, eager to learn what the man seemed so reluctant to share.
"What is this good news you speak of, Arcturus?" she asked. The man, Arcturus glanced behind him, scanning the bare, scraggly land. A few gnarled trees, sticking out in odd angles and all of which were covered in moss that glinted with moisture under the light of the stars, were placed around the small hill at the other side of the road. Lush bushes were also dotted about the hillside, along with particularly long grass where there were marshes but there was no sign of any living beings.
"Cygnus will be arriving shortly," he told Hunter. "All will become clear then." Hunter's eyes narrowed slightly. A small shaft of light crept through the branches of a creaking tree as its branches moved and her face became visible for the first time.
She was pretty, her pale skin having a healthy glow to it. Her eyes were round and a shade of dark hazel, framed with long, black lashes. Hunter's midnight black hair hung down her back in silky, glossy curls, swaying in the light breeze.
"Cygnus Flump?" she demanded. "Are you sure it wise to let Cygnus in on something as important as this?" Arcturus narrowed his dark eyes, his face suddenly stony, and his mouth opened as if to protest. Though at that exact moment a wail cut through the silence of the frosty night, thin and high pitched.
Arcturus hung his head, squeezing his eyes shut while Hunter looked smug. The wail continued, getting closer, and it was now clear that it was more of a cry than a wail. Footsteps thumped, twigs snapped and soon enough a man appeared behind Hunter, having come from the opposite direction to where Arcturus had been searching. He was tall and incredibly skinny, except for his stomach that stuck out from his robes in a large belly. He had scraggly blonde hair that came down to his shoulders, papery white skin and piercing blue eyes.
"Professor Moon," he gasped. "I tried not to wake her!"
"It is okay, Cygnus," Arcturus sighed. He reached out and Cygnus handed the small bundle of white blankets to him. The thing stopped crying almost immediately and the night was peaceful once more. Arcturus cradled the creature, humming softly under his breath and gazing down thoughtgully at the black hair peeking out from the fold of the blanket
"What is this all about?" Hunter asked. "Why do you have that?" Arcturus smiled thinly, revealing gleaming white teeth.
"This, Evie," he told her slowly. "Is Amy Low."
"Your still not answering my question," Hunter snapped impatiently. "Why do you have this, Amy Low child?" Arcturus closed his eyes and did not answer, but instead began to walk. Carrying the blankets, he crossed the small road and did not stop when he got to the other side, but continued to climb the steep ridge. His robes billowed out behind him, his hair was swept up into the air and his shoes sank into the bogs, but he still looked just as magnificent as before.
Hunter and Cygnus did not hesitate to follow.
"You remember Joe and Emily Low don't you?" Arcturus asked Hunter, once she and Cygnus had caught up. Hunter nodded at once, her face shadowing with memories, both happy and sad.
"How can I forget them?" she said, laughing softly. "Emily Williams attended Elzona at the same time as me. She was an incredibly beautiful girl, remarkably clever too. And Joe, well he was certainly a troublemaker; I can tell you that. He was exceedingly smart too, I remember being punished for quite a few of his tricks…" Hunter was smiling widely now, quite unaware of Arcturus's face that was now grave. His eyes revealed the terrible grief that he was feeling.
"I remember them too," Arcturus said. "Lovely children, they were. They recently had a child you know?" Hunter looked delighted, failing to notice the last name similarities between Joe and Emily Low and Amy Low. "They have died," Arcturus continued shortly. "Just tonight Dreylan Leer broke into their house and murdered them." Hunter's face paled, her eyes widening and she gasped, while Cygnus sobbed loudly, tears dribbling down his face.
"It's horrible!" he shrieked. "Terrible! Poor Emily! Poor Joe!"
"Fortunately, Leer left Amy Low," Arcturus went on, ignoring Cygnus. "She was sleeping when I found her. It is still unclear whether he plainly forgot about her, or was planning something. You see, little Amy is destined for greatness. It is strange that you have not heard of this girl, Evie, as her name is carried all over the world, from Seer to Seer." Hunter's eyes narrowed, her hand reaching out and grasping Arcturus's robes. She tugged them slowly until he stopped walking.
"Seer to Seer?" she interrupted. "Are you saying, Arcturus, that wizards and witches have seen her future? Do you happen to know what they saw?" Arcturus pulled free from Hunter's grip, setting his pace at a brisk walk and making it to the top of the rise. He then began to climb down the other side, stopping shortly when he came to a steep cliff. Rocks dislodged themselves and tumbled down into the sea, spraying saltwater everywhere.
Waves were crashing below, the glassy water twisting, turning, writhing and squirming. It was a truly stormy night.
"Great things," Arcturus whispered, his voice barely audible over the crashing of the sea. "I have not been told what exactly, but every Seer I have spoken to has told me that she will be amazing, brilliant, the best witch in the world." There was silence for a moment, and all that could be heard was the stormy sea and Cygnus's great, heaving sobs.
"What are you going to do with her, Arcturus?" Hunter asked suddenly. "Surely you cannot keep her?" Arcturus looked up, for the first time seeming old. In the light of the stars, his crinkled face was now visible. His skin was pale with deep wrinkles, dark eyes burdened with the knowledge of an old man, instead of the bewilderedness of a young. His black hair was streaked with white and no longer seemed quite so glossy and magnificent.
Hunter slipped her hand into his, squeezing it tightly. Arcturus smiled softly, but he could not hide the sadness. In fact the smile showed the raw pain that was eating away at him.
"No," he said finally. "I am not aloud. Instead, I will give her to the sister of Joe. Although she is a Muggle, she is a great woman, kind and selfless. She lives just over there." Arcturus pointed to a house across the sea, just visible between all of the undergrowth and trees at the other shore. He then waved his wand and path in front of them appeared. A thin line of water had calmed, hardly moving now, and stepping-stones floated up to the surface.
Arcturus went first, taking care not to slip, and began to make his way to the other side. Hunter followed next and Cygnus took up the rear, still crying softly.
It took a while, but soon all three reached land safely and the stepping-stones disappeared down under the water after them.
Arcturus began to climb through the undergrowth, waving his wand to clear a path through the wild cluster of all sorts of plants. He clambered over gorse bushes, avoiding bramble, until he got to the other side, where a neat path led up to a cosy white house with shiny black window frames.
"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Hunter asked, appearing at his side. Arcturus nodded.
"Amy Low will be fine," he said. "Trust me, we are placing her in safe hands." Moon nodded, but Cygnus looked unsure.
"Really?" he demanded. "What is they are Leer's spies?" Hunter pursed her lips. "Do not be ridiculous, Cygnus," she snapped. "If Arcturus trusts them, I trust them."
Arcturus nodded and placed the baby on the doorstep. He knocked three times, but before anybody could answer, he, Cygnus and Hunter disappeared into thin air.
Louise Gilmour opened the front door, surprised that anybody would be outside at this time of night. But the doorway was empty, no one was there. She turned away, though before she closed the door, caught a glimpse of white blanket.
Lying on the ground was a baby. She was staring up at Louise with big blue eyes, a shock of black hair upon her head.