> >Jayne collapsed into the armchair opposite her friends Hart and Sidda.
> >They smiled at her sympathetically.
> >Feeling a little worn out my dear? Enquired Hart kindly, as he handed Jayne
> >and Sidda large chunks of drybread. "We've all been working quite hard.
> >Auditioning is a tough business, but its got to be done." Jayne agreed of
> >course. They had been holding auditions all morning, and had only had time
> >to stop for lunch now, at half past three. They were trying to find two
> >new actors to add to their company, the Elderflower Players, and Jayne was
> >having a hard time trying to organise everyone to be in the right place at
> >the right time. Sidda and Hart had watched over fifty performances, and
> >had the task of selecting the best two. And there was still a long queue
> >of people waiting outside. They were in Arripool, one of the largest
> >cities in Avalon. Jayne had never been anywhere so busy, with so many
> >people. Hart showed Jayne the shortlist he and Sidda had drawn up.
> >"We've been very selective you know,he said grinning broadly. "There's been quite a good show of talent today, although of course I.." He was interrupted by a loud knock at the door. A face wearing a sheepish
> >expression peered into the room.
> >Err, I'm teribly sorry to bother you but um.. >Hart waved a hand impatiently at the man.
> >"Come in come in. What was it you wanted? The man came right into the
> >small room. He had long very light brown hair which curled over his
> >shoulders. He had a boyish face although Jayne thought he was probably in
> >his early twenties. His bright blue eyes were staring at the floor and his
> >shoulders were hunched uncomfortably.
> >?as wondering if you would consider ...ahem, hiring me." He finished in
> >a rush still staring at the ground.
> >"I'm afraid that if you want to audition you will have to queue like
> >everyone else. Replied Sidda tossing her red hair over her shoulder.
> >"No I'm not an actor." Sidda threw him a puzzled look.
> >"Well what are you then? We're the Elderflower Players. She spoke slowly
> >as if to an idiot.
> >"Yes I know that I, ... write scripts. See?" He pushed an extremely
> >thick manuscript at Hart. Hart flicked through it while the man stood on
> >one foot looking nervous. Finally Hart said:
> >"If you could just give us a moment to discuss matters MMr..."
"Trewlawny. Cedrik Trewlawny."
"Well Mr Trewlawny, we won't be a
> >second. Cedrik shuffled outside and Hart motioned for Sidda and Jayne to
> >move their chairs nearer to his.
> >" Hart! "Exclaimed Sidda, "We don't need a script writer. We've got
> >you! "
"Sidda, you must know that I am not very skilled in that
> >department." he raised a hand to stop her protests. "Besides, I have run out
> >of ideas. We cannot keep killing off all the main characters. It is
> >getting tedious. We can still afford to employ two more actors if we hire
> >this Cedrik Trewlawny. And look at this manuscript, its really quite
> >impressive." He handed Jayne the thick wad of paper, and she had to admit
> >it was a good play.
> >"I think it's good idea. She said. " A play with a different angle
> >might be fun to act Sidda." Sidda thought about this for a second then gave
> >a curt nod.
> >" Right then." She rose and brought Cedrik back into the room.
> >" We have decided to employ your talents Mr Trewlawny." Said Hart formally.
> >Cedrik's face broke into a grin.
> >"Oh thank you gosh thank you so much." He stammered.
> >"Yes, yes. Hart was getting ready to start the auditions again.
> >"We'll discuss terms later tonight." Jayne went back to her position at the
> >side of the stage. The afternoon passed in a blur and she didn't have time
> >to notice many of the performers. She had no idea who Hart and Sidda were
> >going to pick. The last person left the stage just before sun set, a
> >skinny girl who could not have been older than sixteen. They arrived back
> >at the inn a little before midnight, and Jayne went straight to bed and to
> >In the morning Jayne was the first one down to breakfast. She found a
> >table near a window and helped herself to drybread and butter.
> >Presently, a shadow fell across her plate. Cedrik Trewlawny was hovering
> >next to her table.
> >"May I join you?" He asked.
> >"Yes of course." Jayne replied. "Are you staying here too?" Cedrik sat
> >down and began tucking into a very large bowl of unsweetened porridge.
> >"Well, I wasn't until yesterday." he said between mouthfuls. "I wasn't staying anywhere. I only just arrived you see. I've been travelling
> >around for weeks trying to find work."
"What were you doing before
> >that?" Cedrik looked rather embarrassed. "Actually I was a goatherd. A
> >family thing you know. My father was a goatherd and his father before him
> >and all that. I wrote scripts in my spare time. I'm always wanted to do
> >this, ever since I was a boy. Just never, well never had the guts to break
> >away. Not until now that is. I know I know, how could I have got to
> >twenty three and kept with a job just to please my father."
"What happened ?
> > What made you break away?" Jayne asked.
> >"My father joined the circus." Jayne laughed.
> >"Sorry? "apologised quickly. But Cedrik was laughing too.
> >"No, no its quite all right. And you've never guess what his new job is.
> >He's Almahad the amazing human cannon ball."
"His name is Almahad,"
> "No,but you have to agree that Hal the amazing human cannon ball doesn't have
> >quite the same ring to it."Just then Sidda joined them at the table.
> >"We've decided!" she cried in a high pitched voice, waving her slice of
> >drybread in the air.
> >"We've selected the chosen ones>" Hart hurried over to the three of them.
> >"That's right we have." he said, beaming round at everyone in the inn.
> >They were getting some rather odd looks.
> >"Keep us in suspense Hart,?ne said quickly, "Sit down and tell us
> >now."He pushed the pile of drybread towards them and poured two more cups
> >of coffee.
> >"Their names are.."said Sidda in an excited whisper. "Edwin and
"Edwin Fox and Faye Bluewater." Harrt filled in helpfully. "You may
> >recall them Jayne. Lovely people and both excellent actors." Jayne
> >couldn?emember either of the names let alone picture any faces.
> >"You will meet them later anyway, and you too Cedrik." Hart continued.
> >"I've sent messages letting them know they're through, and arranged a
> >meeting here at half past twelve."
"At last the Elderflower Players are
> >complete!" Sidda had half stood up again and was now brandishing her empty
> >coffee cup.
> >"How long we have waited for this moment." she cried dramatically. Cedrik
> >was staring with his mouth slightly open. So were a lot of the other
> >residents of the breakfast room.
> >"Right, meet you back here at twelve then." Jayne said hurriedly. "I think
> >I'll have a look round Arripool this morning."
"Right ho Jayne dear." said
> >Sidda, still showing her perfect white teeth in a huge smile.
> >"Don't get lost!" exclaimed Hart through a mouthful of drybread.
> >Jayne spent the morning wandering around the city looking at everything.
> >She found a market, but it couldn?ave been more different from the
> >weekly market in Danton. It was a lot larger for starters, a lot more
> >disorganised and a lot noisier. It also sold a lot of curious things Jayne
> >did not recognise. Books in languages Jayne couldn?nderstand, plants
> >she had never seen before, powders and herbs that smelled unfamiliar, and
> >racks of dangerous weapons that Jayne had never seen anyone use, and didn't particularly want to see anyone use. There were lots of curious looking
> >people about too, people whose skin was a slightly odd colour, whose ears
> >were slightly too pointy. There were people only three feet tall, and
> >people who towered several feet above Jayne. People dressed in strange
> >long robes with coloured ropes around their waists. Woman with brightly
> >coloured headscarves and swirling skirts. Men dressed in leather jackets
> >with metal plates sewn onto the front and back, who carried shields and
> >wore studded helmets, men who carried glinting curves swords swinging from
> >their belts. Jayne wove her way through the market, slipping into gaps in
> >the crowd. Arripool was a mixture of different architecture, so that it
> >seemed as if you were were in many different times all at once. Over
> >everything towered the town hall clock, which chimed every hour.
> >When the clock struck twelve Jayne was watching a group of street
> >performers and had completely lost track of time. She rushed back to the
> >inn as fast as she could go and burst into the breakfast room at twenty
> >past twelve. Sidda, Hart and Cedrik were seated around a large table in
> >the middle of the room, and there were two other people with them. One was
> >a man, and one was a woman, and Jayne assumed that these were Edwin and
> >"They arrived early Jayne! Isn't that splendid?" said Sidda cheerily as
> >Jayne pulled up a chair of her own. She looked at the two newcomers. Faye
> >Bluewater was sitting bolt upright, her hands neatly folded in her lap.
> >Jayne noticed that her nails were perfectly manicured. She was dressed in
> >the most elegant outfit Jayne had ever seen; a long pale blue dress made of
> >the softest looking velvet, and a matching cloak fastened at her throat
> >with a silver broach. Faye's silver blond hair was coiled neatly at the
> >back of her head, and was fastened with an ornamental blue fish. Jayne
> >felt terribly inadequate seated next to her, and was painfully aware of her
> >windswept hair, hastily plaited that morning. Edwin Fox was more of a
> >comfort, his leather waistcoat was patched in several places and his beard
> >was rather scruffy.
> >"Jayne, this is Faye and Edwin. Faye, Edwin meet Jayne. Jayne's our hired
> >help of sorts. Don't know how we managed before her." Jayne smiled round.
> >"Well," Hart beamed. "Here's the plan. Cedrik will write us a play, Jayne
> >will make us costumes and props, we will rehearse and then, we shall take
> >to the road." The next few weeks were quite uneventful, because there was
> >nothing to do except wait for Cedrik to finish writing the play. He spent
> >all day locked inside his room at the inn, only coming down for meals.
> >Sometimes if he got a new idea he would jump up from the table and rush
> >back to his room, often knocking over chairs and people in his hurry.
> >Jayne saw very little of him, or indeed of any of the members of the
> >Elderflower Players. She took advantage of all her spare time and explored
> >the city of Arripool as much as she could. Jayne explored the back streets
> >of the city, where she found the most interesting stalls and shops. She
> >ate new food she had never encountered before; onions soaked in beetroot
> >juice and lightly toasted on drybread, yoghurt flavoured with peppers and
> >sweet peas. She bought herself an embroidered headscarf, and a bronze
> >broach to fasten her cloak with. The broach was in the shape of a hawthorn
> >branch bent into a circle, each tiny twig, leaf and blossom perfectly
> >formed. She watched hundreds of street acts, statues which suddenly came
> >to life when you dropped a coin at their feet, people who could walk on hot
> >coal or nails, or swallow swords or fire. Groups of twirling dancers,
> >lively musicians and silent mime acts. Jayne loved watching them all.
> >One day Jayne was queuing for a ticket to look around an old theatre when
> >she felt a tug at her cloak. She jumped and dropped the cream filled
> >pastry she had been eating. It had been a very good pastry and Jayne
> >turned round rather angrily, but what she saw stopped her in her tracks.
> >The creature standing in front of her resembled a very small boy, except
> >that he was flickering around the edges. The air around him was inky
> >black, blocking out the red bricks of the wall behind. Jayne glanced
> >around but no one else seemed to have noticed him. The creature tugged at
> >her cloak again.
> >"Who are you?" she hissed, trying not to move her mouth as she had a nasty
> >feeling that she was the only person who could see the creature.
> >" Are Jayne Hawthorne?" the thing had a strange voice, it almost sounded
> >like running water.
> >"That's me." she replied. "What do you want?"
"You will give this to
> >Faye Bluewater please." He pushed a piece of paper into Jayne's hand. His
> >touch was cold and made Jayne shiver slightly. As she watched the strange
> >creature became even more blurry. The black air around him seemed to be
> >swallowing him up. She blinked and the thing was gone. Slightly shocked
> >Jayne looked down at the paper in her hand. It was an envelope, with a
> >silvery seal and Faye's name written in pale blue ink across the front. It
> >felt cold, colder than a piece of paper should feel. She rushed back to
> >the inn, forgetting all about looking round the old theatre. She wanted to
> >get rid of the letter as soon as was possible, as it made her extremely
> >nervous. She wandered who Faye was, and why she was receiving strange
> >messages from odd creatures. Jayne resolved to find out as much as she
> >could about Faye Bluewater.