“To the lake,” Walter said and began to run in that direction.
“The Lake. Why would he go to the lake?” Mr. Clough couldn’t understand it. But, Walter knew why and didn’t have time to explain that Alden was heading towards his death by plunging himself into the lake. Straight ahead he could see the lake, but not Alden. He desperately, begin to look around when further up ahead, he saw Alden stepping into the lake.
“Alden, wake up!” Walter shouted, in hopes he would wake him, but he was too far away. “Mr. Clough you need to stop Alden.”
Mr. Clough didn’t have to be told twice and promptly dash toward Alden. He was able to restrain Alden as the water came to his knees. Mr. Clough’s face became crestfallen when he looked up and began to warn Walter. “Walter, behind you!” he pointed.
Walter turned to see, the grody phantom, glide towards him. Walter felt his heart jump and with all his strength he ran away as fast as he could. He needed to reach Alden and go back to the inn where they would be safe. “Run Walter! Don’t look behind, just keep running,” Mr. Clough encouraged him. Walter did as he was told when suddenly a grey like creature swept down and carried him up in the air. Walter was struggling with fear when he heard a friendly voice.
“You are safe now,” said Agi, the gargoyle from the manor.
“My friend–” Walter tried telling him.
“He is safe too,” Agi said. “Amias has him. Look for yourself.”
Up ahead, Walter saw Amias, the other gargoyle carrying the sleeping Alden. “How did you know?” Walter said.
“We were flying about when we saw you,” Agi said. “That spook had been following you since you left the woods. They never venture into the light even light from the moon, but it wasn’t afraid. It is a very powerful spook to walk under the moon. We will take you to the manor. You will be safe there,” said Agi.
They flew a great distance above the land. If Walter wasn’t recovering from his near fatal encounter, he would have enjoyed the flight. Seeing the land from high above was exhilarating. If they flew a bit higher Walter swore he could have touched the moon. He had always admired the moon. He thought it was magical and brought things to life. But, right now he had other worries on his mind. A thick fog came into view, but parts of the manor, poked through it. Amias reached the manor first and landed on the mezzanine. Agi followed and landed near him. Walter rushed to Alden. He had awoken midflight and was perturbed.
“What happened? Where am I?” Alden looked at Walter then at Amias and Agi.
“You were sleep walking,” Walter said.
“Sleep walking? I don’t sleep wake or I think I ever did,” Alden said.
“But, you have been sleep walking,” Walter said. “Your grandfather saw it. He tried stopping you.”
“I don’t remember anything. I just—I just,” before Alden could finish, he fainted. Amias caught him on time.
“This boy needs medicine,” said Amias. “We must take him inside.” Amias carried Alden into a large room where everything was a dark red, from the curtains to the rug on the floor, even the bed spread and the curtains on the four poster bed were a dark red. Not a color Walter would have wanted to wake up to. Alden was laid on the bed.
“Odin can help him. He would know what to do,” Walter said. “We need to tell Archibal.”
“He is not here,” Amias said. “He is still with Cadi. We don’t know when he will return. You must go to Odin right away.”
“Amias, I can take the boy,” Agi offered.
“Very well. Use your ring, Walter,” Amias said.
Walter nodded. Agi picked up Alden and placed a hand on Walter’s shoulder and in minutes they showed up at Odin’s cave. He looked like he had been waiting for them. Agi placed Alden on the small cot.
“He has been touched by a spook. He needs medicine,” Agi said.
“I’ve got just the remedy for that,” Odin prepared a cup of warm buttermilk and poured it gently down Alden’s throat. “It will take a couple of days before he regains his strength. For now he will sleep.”
“That means he will wake up?” Walter said.
“Of course. Just you see,” Odin smiled.
“I’ve seen him—the phantom,” Walter told him. “Many times before. Tonight hasn’t been the first time. I think it has been following me. I’ve seen it hiding in the darkness, watching.”
“We’ve seen it too, Odin,” said Agi. “This spook is bigger than the others. It travels fast. We have trailed it from above, but it quickly disappears in the shadows.”
“This phantom is quite peculiar to comprehend. I can’t figure it out myself,” Odin said. “It is obvious, it is not like the others. Does Archibal know?”
“He doesn’t want to be disturbed, not while he trains the girl,” Agi said.
“What does it want?” Walter said.
“We are not sure,” Odin said. “I can only assure you that your friend will be fine. I will look out for him. Go home for now.”
Walter understood. There was nothing more he could do for Alden. He was in the best care.
“Use the ring, Walter. I wouldn’t recommend going through my door. I sense there is peril,” Odin said.
Walter nodded and used his ring. After taking Agi home he went back to the inn and waited. Two days later, Alden woke up and was taken back to the manor to recuperate. Walter visited him whenever he could. Alden was definitely getting back his vivacious personality. He told Walter about the gargoyles that have visited him. The gargoyles slept during the day and were awake by night. They entertained Alden with anecdotes of their days at the manor and even promised him flight. Alden looked forward to that one. He told Walter about the servant spirits that lived in the manor. They are the voices that shouted out, “Who’s there” when someone comes in. They are also the ones that open the doors and maintain the manor. The servant spirits have been at the manor, long before Archibal became the headmaster. They were also the ones that brought Alden food, made his bed and helped him with his assignments that Walter was able to bring over. Alden was indeed a happy boy. The elder Mr. Clough had been nowhere to be seen. Alden asked about him a few times, but did not push the matter much with Walter. Walter wondered what Mr. Clough was up to, but didn’t get curious enough to search for him, not while the phantom was out there.
By the sixth day it was time for Alden to return home. He didn’t look to eager to go back. He enjoyed being at the manor. Walter understand, since he has moved in with his Uncle and Aunt at the inn he has been the happiest he has ever been. Going back to the cottage was going to be difficult and it was something he did not look forward to.
Alden packed his things and said goodbye to the gargoyles and the servant spirits who had been kind to him. Walter was there to see the sad affair.
“Don’t be so sad, Master Alden,” said Amias. “You will be returning to your lessons when Archibal comes back. We will see you then.”
Agi and two other gargoyles were taking it hard to say goodbye. Agi gave Alden a quick goodbye and flew off crying.
“It has been a long time since we had anybody else in the manor,” Amias said. “It gets rather lonely at times. It has been harder on Agi, but he will be all right. You two most go before it gets late.”
Walter said his goodbyes, took his ring and dropped Alden home. He got back to his room as his mother came looking for him.
“There you are. It’s time for dinner,” she said and left.