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The Secret of Spellshadow Manor 3: The Chain

Bella Forrest

Nightlight

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Epilogue

Read more by Bella Forrest

Copyright © 2017 by Bella Forrest

Nightlight

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Chapter 1

In the eerie darkness, they seemed to run for hours. Alex’s muscles strained and burned as he helped Natalie along. She could hold herself up, but at times, he felt her crumple against him with a wince, so he held onto her. The last thing he wanted was for her to fall, after what she had just done for them. Right behind, Jari and Ellabell flagged beneath the weight of carrying Aamir.

What had seemed like a reasonable distance from the vantage point of the Head’s office in fact stretched away into an apparently endless field with a dense forest running alongside, filled with the peering eyes of unknown perils. The lake still glittered on the ever-present horizon, but it did not seem to get any nearer as they soldiered on across foreign territory. It was far bigger than Alex had expected. The gleam of it seemed to go on forever beneath the twinkle of the night’s stars. Alex kept looking back, certain they were being pursued, but the ground they had already covered remained empty behind them. So far, nobody was following.

“How much farther is it?” Jari wheezed.

“Not much,” said Alex, for what seemed like the hundredth time. He had just as little idea where they were headed as the others, yet he seemed to have fallen into the role of ‘guide.’

“Do you think we’ll get there soon?” Jari pressed.

Alex tried not to lose his temper. He knew they were afraid; he felt it too. “Hopefully,” he said.

He could have sworn the lake was much nearer, and he wondered if the crackle and buzz of magical energy all around him had something to do with it, altering the perspective of the view from the Head’s window, like the stickers on car side-mirrors that said, ‘objects in mirror are closer than they appear.’ It was frustrating, to see their destination and still be so far from it. He wanted to stop and take shelter in the forest to the right of them, but there was something unnerving about the deep shadows within it that he didn’t trust. Not that he knew the lake itself was safe. In this peculiar place they had landed, all bets were off; he had no idea what might be hiding over the next rise. For all he knew, the forest might be their safest bet, yet he was drawn to the glitter of the lake like a moth to a flame.

Finally, as he felt the blood pulsing in his ears and the heave of his chest threatening to give in, the lake came slowly within reach. Listening intently, he thought he could hear the susurration of waves gently lapping against the shore, although the sound of his rushing, overworked blood sounded a lot like that too. He hoped it was the former.

The sight of it coming closer gave him a sudden surge of energy, and Natalie hopped along wearily beside him. She was relying on his strength to hold her up more and more as the minutes ticked into hours.

“We’re almost there,” murmured Alex, glancing down at the exhausted face of his friend. She gave him a tired smile as they covered the last few hundred yards.

The crescent moon shone down with a thin beam of pale light as they arrived at the lakeshore. Alex paused for breath, certain now that the soothing sound was coming from the water lapping against the beach, which was formed from glistening white pebbles that shone strangely in the moonlight. Alex felt a prickle of unease; he couldn’t be sure whether the odd pebbles were made of rock or bone.

The very presence of the lake itself, so close now, also made Alex uneasy. It was as if he could feel his ancestors watching him from beneath the shimmering surface. Standing beside it, he couldn’t take his eyes off the vast expanse of deep, dark liquid as he remembered what lay under the water. The lake made him think of the macabre beauty of a cemetery. He supposed it was one, in its own way. Somberly, taking in the stretch of water, so much larger than he had ever imagined, he wondered just how many bodies were buried there. Impulse compelled him to mouth a silent prayer as he looked upon their final resting place.

Setting Natalie on the ground, he glanced behind once again to check for pursuers. There were none, only Jari, Ellabell, and Aamir bringing up the rear.

Holding his sides as he dragged oxygen into his searing lungs, Alex turned and gazed outwards. A gentle breeze, smelling slightly of ozone, washed over his face, cooling it. Squinting slightly, he tried to make out the other side of the lake, but he couldn’t see it in the faint light of the moon; it was too far away. He shifted his gaze toward the shore they were standing on, which he could see a fair way up, until it disappeared again in a line of twinkling water. In the overhanging shadows of the thick forest that ran alongside, Alex could make out a shape among a thicket of trees. It jutted out slightly, catching the eye.

“Wait,” announced Alex.

Jari and Ellabell had been about to put Aamir down, and their groans were irritated at the sound of Alex’s instruction.

“What is it?” Jari asked,

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