Read Amethyst Online

Authors: Rebecca Lisle

Amethyst

BOOK: Amethyst
5.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

For CLEMENCY Beaham-Powell

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Version 1.0

Epub ISBN 9781448187355

www.randomhouse.co.uk

First published in 2006 by
Andersen Press Limited,
20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA
www.andersenpress.co.uk

Reprinted 2006, 2007

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.

Text copyright © Rebecca Lisle, 2006
Illustrations copyright © Paul Hess, 2006

The rights of Rebecca Lisle and Paul Hess to be identified as the author and illustrator of this work have been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data available

ISBN 978 184 270 541 4

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

Copyright

 1 In the Basement

 2 The Gargoyles

 3 The Strange Visitor

 4 Leaving

 5 Granite

 6 Inside Malachite Mountain

 7 Princess Amethyst

 8 Amongst the Woods

 9 Ralick

10 Amy’s First Meal at Spindle House

11 On the Frozen Lake

12 The Unexpected Visitor

13 Can She, Can’t She?

14 Questrid the Hunter

15 Missing

16 On the Other Side of the Mountain

17 How Questrid came to be on the Other Side

18 Reunited

19 The Eye-Cycles

20 Wolfgang

21 Return to Malachite Mountain

22 The Rescue Party

23 Saving Ralick

24 What Copper Had to Do

25 Escape

26 On Ice

27 Amy Spoils Things for Shane Annigan

28 An Emerald Green Rat

1
In the Basement

Amy pushed open the front door and paused for a moment on the mat, which did not say WELCOME.

She could hear the thin ticking of a clock. The soft background hum of the freezer and the fridge as they worked overtime.

‘Uncle John? Aunt Agnes?’

She didn’t call too loudly; she knew where they were, what they’d be doing.

In the narrow kitchen at the back of the house, the freezer door hung open, pouring out cool misty air. A dish containing a grey, gristly-looking stew sat patiently on the thin black cooker beside a pan of grey rice.

Amy piled her books on the table and sat down. She unwound her dark plait, detangling and combing out the thick rope with her fingers.

She sighed.

All day at school she’d had this exciting, niggling
feeling, as if she was about to see someone she hadn’t seen for a long time. Or be spiked by a pin. Or someone was going to jump out at her. This certain feeling that
something
was going to happen.

But so far, nothing had.

In Geography she’d had the feeling very strongly, but maybe that was because they were learning about the icy blue Antarctic. She’d so vividly imagined walking over the crisp snow, she’d heard it scrunch and squeak under her boots.

She shivered. There it was again. The feeling! What was it? She spun round. Her elbow caught her pile of books and they slammed to the floor.

CRASH!

She sat very still, listening.

Thump. Thump. Thump.
A dull thudding from below made the floor reverberate. Aunt Agnes’s high-pitched voice spiked up through the gaps in the floorboards:

‘Amy? Amy! Come downstairs and give us a hand, you naughty girl.’

Amy scowled. She’d lost her chance for a few moments peace now.

There was a door, painted to look like part of the wall, below the main staircase. It even had a white radiator stuck on it, so anyone glancing in that direction wouldn’t notice it. Amy pushed open the hidden door and plodded down the narrow wooden stairs. She avoided the red brick walls, crusty with creamy patches of mould and free-flowing cobwebs. A bare bulb gleamed dully overhead.

‘Here she comes!’ Uncle John said.

‘About time too, we’ve not had a moment’s break all day and does she care? No.’ Her aunt’s voice whined like a dying cat. ‘She goes galivanting off to her fancy school with her hot friends and leaves us here to do everything …’

Amy turned the bend in the stairs. Her aunt and uncle’s faces pivoted round to her. Their pale flesh gleamed with cold sweat. Their skin shone like worm skin. Their pink-rimmed eyes goggled behind thick lenses. Amy couldn’t help grinning. Her aunt and uncle looked like giant lobsters beside a rock pool. Their hands held poised above the stone slab table were like massive claws. Everything gleamed in the cold, damp atmosphere, as if a wave had recently rolled over them and left them stranded.

Amy picked up a sharp knife from the table.

‘Well, I’m here to help now,’ she said.

2
The Gargoyles

It was freezing in the basement. Amy slipped her feet out of her shoes so she could soak up the damp cold that seeped up through the vast stone slabs on the floor.

‘I have to go to school, you know,’ said Amy. ‘It’s the law.’

‘Huh, law!’ Uncle John sniffed. ‘Laws to say where you park your car. Laws to watch your own TV. Laws for everything.’

‘Hurry up and get your overalls on,’ said Aunt Agnes. ‘We need you. We’ve got to get this lot fired tonight.’ She waved a hand over the grey lumps on the table.

‘Here’s a pretty fellow,’ said Uncle John, winking at Amy. He passed her one of the grey clay lumps from the table. ‘I think I’ve surpassed myself with this one.’ He chuckled.

At first sight the shapes looked like a set of distorted giant chess pieces, or grey cats, sitting hunched in rows.
If you looked closer, you saw folded wings, clawed feet and hands. Pointed ears, protruding eyes. Knowing smiles showing sharp and crooked teeth. Gargoyles. They were all gargoyles. The sort of horrifying monsters that leer down from the gutters and half-hidden angles of certain churches.

‘Do get a move on spoiling, Amy. There’s a whole batch there ready for your final touch,’ whined Aunt Agnes. ‘Amy, go on. I want to be upstairs by five when the light’s gone.’

Amy examined a lump of grey clay. It was a goblin gargoyle with a pointed nose and a humped back. His legs were folded beneath him, so his knees were alongside his ears. His eyes were blank, round and staring. He didn’t have much expression yet. That was Amy’s job.
She
made them horrible.

‘How about I make him nice for a change?’ said Amy.

‘Don’t be silly, girl. Get on with it. I’d do it myself, only I can’t make them nasty the way you can. You’ve got the knack, you know you do. Spoiler. You can spoil anything!’

Amy gulped. Yes, she thought, such a talent for spoiling. For spoiling my friendships, my work, my life. Thanks, Aunt Agnes.

Amy studied the gargoyle’s face through half-shut eyes, then quickly reached for a sharp silvery instrument. She began to dig and gouge at his features. She made his eyebrows glower, his eyes gleam with malevolence and his nose grow hooked and mean. She made his shoulders hunch over. His scrawny fingers
began to grip his knees as if he was waiting, about to leap. Even his wings grew soft and leathery, as if ready to unfurl and take flight.

‘Lovely, lovely!’ said Aunt Agnes, taking the finished gargoyle from her. ‘Oh, look at him, John! Very unpleasant. You’re really got the gift, our Amy.’

Amy did the same to all the gargoyles her aunt and uncle had made. She twisted smiles so they were full of malice. She made eyes glint as if evil ideas lurked behind them. She could change the mildest-looking goblin face into a ferocious frightening monster.

At last they had finished. They carried the gargoyles to the kiln to bake them hard. The kiln was in another part of the basement, protected by a brick wall to keep the heat from seeping out into the rest of the house.

‘Just gone five o’clock! Up we go!’ said Uncle John. He turned out the cellar lights.

Amy hurried ahead, drawing the snowflake-patterned curtains against the last of the daylight. Soon the house was as bleak and dimly lit as a cave. This was how Aunt Agnes and Uncle John liked it.

The entire house was specially modified for them. The walls were cleverly painted to look like marble with streaks of blood-red, purple and blue over a grey background. The sitting room was painted ice white. A white that gleamed as if it were wet. The room was so cold, that even in summer you could see your breath. A fire seemed to flicker there on the damp winter nights, but it was only pretend: it was red and orange lights and a fan that blew out subzero temperatures.

They ate the gritty, tasteless stew at the kitchen table. No one talked.

No wonder I don’t have friends, thought Amy, forcing down the stew. Who’d ever want to come to this place? She remembered her friend Jill whom she’d once invited back for tea. Aunt Agnes had sat her in front of the open freezer and given her iced tripe to eat. She never came again. Surprise, surprise!

After supper Amy went up to her room.

She lay on her narrow bed and stared at the icy blue ceiling.

What had happened to her promising day?

Why did I have that prickling, tingling, any-minute-now sensation, if nothing’s going to happen? she thought. Why? Why? Why?

But then something did happen.

BOOK: Amethyst
5.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

A Model Hero by Sara Daniel
Family Betrayal by Kitty Neale
Ask Me Again Tomorrow by Olympia Dukakis
Taste of Torment by Suzanne Wright
Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall
Song of Summer by Laura Lee Anderson
Fatal Vows by Joseph Hosey
Mail-Order Man by Martha Hix