Part 1: Cressida’s story
‘Nothing can get in the window when I’ve done the spell to shut it,’ said Ferocity, trying to calm her pet boggart, Guggalugs, before getting into bed.
Guggalugs was not convinced. He was about the size of your hand, and he waddled up and down the bedclothes, clouds of purple smoke coming out of his ears, which is what happens when boggarts get anxious. Ferocity’s father had gone out hunting, so it was just Guggalugs and Ferocity, all alone in Seeker’s Cottage, surrounded by the tangle of the forest.
‘The Tappers are coming out of hibernation,’ whispered Guggalugs. ‘…and Tappers are Child-snatchers…’
Ferocity picked Guggalugs up. ‘I spelled that window so tight, that not even a dust-sprite could wriggle their way in,’ said Ferocity firmly. Ferocity was not the worrying type and she was really quite an accomplished spell-maker for an 11-year-old. And boggarts change their minds easily, so looking into her bright hypnotic eyes calmed the little creature, and the smoke coming out of his ears turned from the purple of anxiety to a much more jolly yellow.
‘You’re right!’ squealed Guggalugs trustingly, and he fell instantly asleep, tipping forward and snoring loudly into the bedclothes. Ferocity made him comfy, before falling asleep herself.
But much later, the smoke drifting out of Guggalugs’s sleeping ears turned from yellow to midnight black. The ears of the boggart had heard something, although the boggart slept on.
The sound was coming from the window. ‘Tap,’ went the sound. ‘Tap… tap… TAP…’
Part 2: by First News reader, George Kauders
The smoke coming from Guggalugs’s ears was now pitch black, and was starting to choke Ferocity, who woke with a start. ‘Guggalugs, what was that?’ asked Ferocity.
‘Tappers!’ hissed Guggalugs, nervously.
Click! The window-locking spell broke, and a gnarled hand reached through the door, and grabbed Ferocity’s wrist tightly.
‘GUGGALUGS, HELP ME!!!’ screamed Ferocity.
‘I’m a boggart, I can’t exactly pull you to safety,’ replied Guggalugs.
‘Come with me, little child,’ whispered a voice.
Ferocity grabbed onto Guggalugs’s ankle as she was pulled through the window.
‘AARGH!’ screamed Guggalugs, as he too was pulled through. Once they were outside, they were bundled into a sack.
‘The boss will pay a pretty penny for you two,’ hissed the voice…
And then they were off . First at a jog, then at a sprint, and then finally at a speed so fast it would have beaten a jet plane in a race.
After what seemed like an hour, but what must have been only ten minutes, their sack was opened, only to see a black, hooded figure, whose face was shrouded in black mist.
‘I am a hunting Tapper, and us hunting Tappers hunt and track down kids.’
‘But why would you take kids? We’re kind!’
‘KIND!? PAH! EONS AGO, YOUR ANCESTORS WALKED UPON OUR LAND, AND TREATED IT LIKE A DUMP. ALL HUMANS WERE BANISHED FROM OUR LAND, UNTIL YEARS LATER, ONE OF YOU CAME BACK, AND AS A PUNISHMENT, EVER SINCE, WE HAVE BEEN TAKING CHILDREN!’
Part 3: by First News reader, Gabriel Monforte-Escudero
‘Okay, you’ve got a good reason to be kidnapping people,’ Ferocity admitted with reluctance. She had seen the way people treated the land they lived on and, she had to admit, it was a complete dump.
‘But why children? And why are you taking Guggalugs? He’s a boggart, for goodness’ sake! Boggarts didn’t do anything wrong, did they?’
‘Normally, we wouldn’t take this disgusting little creature,’ the Tapper replied with distaste in his voice (or maybe that was just his default voice).
‘But he chose to side with humans.’ He spat the last word out as though it tasted bad (disgust was definitely his default voice). ‘As for the children, our research on humans reveals that the worst pain a human can feel is to have their child taken from them. And so, we do just that in order to force people to feel the pain they have inflicted on this land. Now be quiet, before I shut you up myself!’
But Ferocity had never been one to listen to orders and she was not about to start now. As they set off to who-knows-where, Ferocity (now back in the bag) stuffed Guggalugs’s ears with wax and then gently, gently, began to
open the bag. Once the bag was wide enough, she removed the wax from Guggalugs’s ears and all the steam that had been trapped there came out in one big, multi-coloured rush.
Ferocity jumped out of the bag with Guggalugs, just as she realised she had no idea where they were…
Part 4: by First News reader, Mariella Dye Wain
Ferocity ran and ran. The sky was dark but glittered with stars, and the moon illuminated paths in the tangle of trees. Guggalugs clung to Ferocity’s shoulder as they hurtled through the forest, purple smoke billowing from his ears.
‘Ferocity!’ he hissed. ‘It’s the dead of night. There are shadows here!’ Guggalugs shivered, digging his claws deeper into Ferocity’s jacket.
‘We… can’t go… back,’ she panted. ‘Got to… get away from… the Tappers.’
The smoke from Guggalugs’s ears turned a lighter purple. Ferocity was right: the Tapper would have escaped the smoke by now and could be following them. Eventually, she found a place to rest and lay down on the crumpled leaves, covering herself with her jacket.
‘You be lookout,’ Ferocity murmured sleepily. ‘I’m having a nap.’
Plumes of phosphorous blue and purple smoke whooshed from Guggalugs’s ears: ‘What if a shadow or a bog creature comes? What if the Tapper comes back?’
‘Fine, I’ll be lookout,’ said Ferocity. Guggalugs squeaked and nestled into the leaves, yellow smoke drifting from his ears. Moments later, Ferocity was asleep too, curled up under her jacket, Guggalugs snuggling into her shirt. Had she stayed awake a little longer, she would have seen a dark shape emerge from the bushes.
Its pitch black, wispy fur curled in the air like mist. It had one ripped ear and its smoky tail dragged on the forest floor. Its yellow eyes gleamed and its razor claws made no sound as it crept stealthily towards them.
Part 5: by First News reader, Ellie Mitchell
With barely a whisper, the creature of darkness stole towards the sleeping pair. The moon was half, a silver slice amid a bed of clouds: illuminated, the beast wormed closer. But deep inside the tousled undergrowth someone was watching. Someone else was creeping towards them, closer and closer, observing the being, which was arched over Ferocity. He had to help.
Clearing the concealing shrubbery, he pounced on Ferocity and Guggalugs, snatching them away just in time. Confused, the brute bellowed, and lumbered around, harsh eyes scanning the vicinity. Thwarted, the creature of the night turned and departed.
Meanwhile, three pairs of watchful eyes were surveying the scene from the bough of a nearby tree.
‘What,’ Ferocity gaped, ‘was THAT?’
‘A creature of the night. A Prowler, to give it its proper name,’ replied the stranger, matter-of-factly.
‘A wha… oh, never mind. More to the point, who are you?’ Ferocity detached Guggalugs from her jacket. He was surprisingly heavy.
‘My name is Trick,’ the boy stated. ‘I know this forest like the back of my hand. There are too many Tappers and beasts around to always take the same route. I couldn’t let the Prowler get you. It gives unhealable cuts with those talons, you know.’
‘Right, erm, of course they do.’ Ferocity observed Trick. His hair was pale blonde, with streaks so black they could be part of the diamond-strewn sky, and his eyes were a startlingly deep emerald colour.
She suddenly grinned at him.
‘Where do we go now?’
Part 6: by First News reader, Alani Clay
‘Where do we go now?’ asked Ferocity, with a grin on her face.
‘To Perum Hollow, of course!’
‘What’s Perum Hollow?’
‘You DON’T know?! It’s the most sacred place in this whole forest! I’ll take you there to see my grandfather. And before you ask, he controls all magic around here. C’mon, we’ll start now.’
They set off through the forest, Trick taking sharp turns and avoiding
After a while, they stopped, and Ferocity was glad as her arms were aching from carrying Guggalugs. They sat down and she accepted a drink from Trick. Ferocity glanced down at her feet and saw something unusual. Half-hidden beneath a leaf was a piece of copper with blunt, jagged edges. Ferocity picked it up.
‘Drop that,’ said Trick with a growl in his throat.
‘Just drop it.’ This only made Ferocity grip it tighter. ‘Fine,’ croaked Trick. ‘But keep it hidden. Especially where we’re going.’
The three started off again, moving cautiously, as it was getting dark. The moon was round, silvery and full of light.
After hours of trekking through the forest, Trick stopped at the foot of an enormous trunk. The tree that it belonged to must be at least three hundred years old, Ferocity thought. ‘Five hundred years old,’ breathed Trick, as if in answer to her thought. Ferocity gaped in awe as Trick pressed different parts of the trunk without any second thought as to where to put his hand. He stepped back as a door revealed itself, set into the tree.
Trick opened it and motioned for Ferocity to follow.
Part 7: by First News reader, Elvi Wren
Right before Ferocity’s and Guggalugs’ astonished eyes, there was a room beyond imagining.
Sharp, dazzling crystals hung from above like thick stalactites. As well as that, large, colourful, diamond-strewn lights filled the vast room with sparkling flecks of colour.
In the corner stood a twisted, round table carefully balancing a sea of different potions of all shapes and sizes: knobbly, bumpy, swirly and even some that were changing colour! Guggalugs stared at these ones, for he found them really quite fascinating, as all the colours slowly blended into each other.
Ferocity, however, had her eyes on something else; there was something shining in the corner of her eye, so she turned to have a closer look.
She slowly took out the piece of copper that was resting in her pocket and compared it to the one that was hanging on the wall. They both had jagged edges and looked a bit like puzzle pieces. “Come on!” said Trick, approaching Ferocity, as she held up her piece of copper and tried to fit the two together.
“It fits,” she murmured quietly.
“I thought you said I was meant to keep it hidden; how come he’s got one?”
“I did… I didn’t know.”
Just then, a deep voice filled the room. Ferocity thought it might have been the tree itself. But limping towards them was an old figure stooped over a tall staff.
“I was wondering when you would arrive.”
Part 8: by First News reader, Tudor Luhan
Ferocity turned to the old man. ‘Hello Ferocity… my child! I see you have what I’ve been looking for…’
His voice was that of a croaky frog’s, his smile showed wisdom, while his eyes showed regret.
‘Hello?’ Ferocity was slightly confused; it felt like she knew him but… she didn’t.
As the old man ambled toward her, Trick took a few steps back. Was he scared? He did say that this man was his grandad, didn’t he? Ferocity lost her footing a bit, but the old man held his staff out for her to hold.
‘In your hand, you have a part of a puzzle. I have one – and Trick has one. We have three parts, but we miss a fourth. Have you noticed strange things lately…? More Tappers? More wild things?’
As he spoke, she felt a funny sensation in her toes and the old man’s eyes began to glow an eerie blue.
‘The parts of the puzzle we hold are a key controlling the magic in the world, but I fear that a great evil bangs at our doorsteps and we need the key to lock our door. For years I have searched for the piece you hold and
now I have learned of the fourth’s location. You and Trick are to collect it and stop this great evil!’
He stopped, and handed Ferocity a map.
‘To the north you must go, and retrieve the final piece… our world depends on Trick and you! Farewell!’
to be continued…