Firgrove had a huge wall made out of tree trunks. Did they cut down half a forest to make it? Surely there had to be a better way! But the village looked like one of those old stockade towns you see in history books before they built stone walls instead around a castle.
We met with Felicity. She welcomed us to Firgrove, told us about the track and of course, the inevitable chores if we needed money. She gave us both sweaters. I guess Firgrove gets cold or something being tucked up against the mountain. I told her we were looking for someone to talk to who’d been here a while. Felicity made this face. I guess Firgrove had a large elderly population and they liked to talk. I wondered if this is where those who used to serve in the Castle came to retire? Didn’t nobles do that? Have retirement cottages? I asked Misty. She probably knew.
Well, it took us a bit to find someone who actually knew anything and didn’t want to talk about the weather or their ailments. Her name was Mrs. Packard. She actually paid rent to John Sandman. And she thought he’d served on the town council back in 1959. She went inside to find an invoice while we went to talk to Mr. Franklin, who held the same position as Gilbert did in Silverglade. We asked to see if there was a picture of the council at that time. Well, we hadn’t been the only one’s asking. Mr. Franklin was incensed and lumped Misty and I into his anger.
The black rider had been here and cut Mr. Sandman out of the picture. Was it Sabine? He didn’t know but there she was. Mr. Franklin started shouting after her.
Misty was closer to her than I was and Evening just took off after her. I shouted at her that I’d head her off on the other side and urged Heart into a gallop. Sabine and Khaan wouldn’t get away with that picture. I came about just in time to jostle Sabine and she dropped the picture and it fluttered right into Misty’s outstretched hands. Sabine took off like a shot. We went back to Mr. Franklin with the picture. He went and made a copy of it for us and wished us good day.
I think he’d had enough of young people for a while.
Mrs. Packard had the invoice ready and a couple pair of pants she’d found in her back room. She gave us the invoice and the pants. They were extremely bright fuchsia and I mean loud! Just they hurt my eyes, but there didn’t seem to be a gracious way to refuse.
Before we went back to Elizabeth, we rode down the road and took a left down a side track to meet Minka, since both Felicity and Sophie had mentioned her. She had a new race for us to try and well, it wound over the road several times, through some sort of sandpit, around sheep and over hay bales and then to make matters worse, at the very end there was a bale of hay on the top of a little bridge and we had to go over it. I closed my eyes and locked my knees and trusted Heart but oh god, oh god, I don’t like this idea of flying. My heart was pounding when we pulled in front of Minka. I don’t remember what I told her about the track. I was more than happy to walk up the pass to go back to Valedale.
So it was back to Elizabeth with our new clues. She paled when she saw the picture. Turns out his name wasn’t Sandman, but Sands and he was the leader of Dark Core. A group that was worse than G.E.D. She insisted we needed to show the picture to Alex to be sure. Alex had fought Mr. Sands before.
That sounded like a story. My fingers itched to doodle.
We called for Judy to pick us up. This was too urgent to ride back to the winery. We found Alex and showed her the picture. She wasn’t happy. Mr. Sandman was Mr. Sands and Justin was in major trouble. Mr. Sands who was worse than Mr. Kendall was Justin’s grandfather and we’d sent him to him. A lump formed in my gut, a lump called guilt.
Misty had an idea. I guess she’d been inspired by the letter we’d sent to Aaron and the letter that Sabine had used to trap Justin. Why couldn’t we trap Mr. Sands and force him to come to the mailbox he had in Silverglade? The address was right there on Mrs. Packard’s invoice. Alex thought it was a great idea. Her and Misty put their heads together on what to say while I went to Judy and got a stamp.
They were done when I returned. We stamped it and put it in the mail. Now, we could cross our fingers and hope Mr. Sands actually came tomorrow to get it. It was really hard for me not to run down to the post office in Silverglade and confess the whole plan to Derek. If Mr. Sands was dangerous, I didn’t want him in harm’s way, but if I told Derek, it might ruin the whole plan completely. All Derek had to do was hand him a letter. He was probably very safe.
I just felt uneasy. Heart’s odd behavior with the bird. The glowing rocks and now a plan to trap Mr. Sandman aka Mr. Sands. What a day! And I’d almost forgotten about my letter from home. I searched my pockets for it, hoping that it hadn’t gotten lost during the day. Misty sat down in the chair in front of the vanity to go through her saddlebag. She was favoring her knee something awful. If she was this bad in the morning, I was insisting we see someone about it.
As I opened the letter, I noted that our laundry was back and made plans to wear my original clothes tomorrow. I missed them. The letter didn’t say much at all. They were on their dream vacation and hoped that I was enjoying my dream vacation. Before I could process more than the first stab of rage, Misty’s exclamation of how something in her saddlebag weren’t hers distracted me.
Probably for the best.
I asked her what wasn’t hers and she shook a bunch of padding and velcro straps at me. Suspicion made my eyes narrow. “Are they labelled?” She hadn’t checked yet. She examined the brace and turned it around. It read, Moor. Pole on the tag. “Josh.” I said and snapped my fingers. I thought I’d seen him stick something into her saddlebag. “Well, that’s handy,” I said. Misty obviously needed them. “And rather nice of him. He cares.”
She went off like a sputtering tea kettle. He had a girlfriend. He wouldn’t talk to her. (Well, to be fair, he’d started that game, not her.) But he would talk to her about Bright and she just didn’t see how that was caring.
I bit my lip, almost at the point of confessing Derek’s prank on Josh. Just, Misty’s unexpected backbone at times made me leery. So, I held my tongue. “He’s grumpy because he cares. He probably can’t figure out how to dump the girlfriend,” I was assuming Misty meant Loretta. Did Loretta even know Justin was missing? And if Loretta was after Justin, was she really dating Josh? They seemed too close to just be co-workers. “Assuming he does have a girlfriend.”
Misty put her hands in her face and seemed to be struggling against screaming.
I wasn’t making things any better. I went and searched the first aid kit. It wasn’t that great, some gauze, ace bandages, band aids, antibiotic ointment, that sort of thing. Nothing that would help with a swollen knee like Misty had. I told her I was going to go find something for her knee and that she wasn’t to move, and then I went to hunt down Judy. Hopefully, Misty would use the privacy to come to grips with whatever was bothering. She must really have a huge crush on Josh. This was starting to be not funny anymore.
I found Judy and she showed me where the bigger first aid kit was in the tack room. I borrowed the hot and cold packs and went back to the room. The shower was really a shower and tub combination. I stuck my head in Nikki’s room and told her under pains of death that she was going to wait for her shower, then I ran Misty a bath so she wouldn’t have to stand on that leg. Of course, by the time the bath was ready, the knee had swollen up. I had to help her into the bathroom and to get her boots off. She thought she could manage the rest on her own. I apologized that there weren’t any bubbles and darted out. I left the packs by the tub and sorted out the pads and brace for her so they’d be ready when she got out and when she needed them.
I got out the letter again from my parents and read it. Anger churned in my gut. Dream vacation? And going to horse camp was supposed to be my dream vacation? Had they stopped listening to me when I was twelve? I wanted to go to Paris to the see the Louvre, London to the British Museum, all over Italy to study my heritage and see the architecture. Not horse camp! I folded the letter up and stuffed it back feeling sick to my stomach.
If I took a shower tonight, I was sure I was going to cry. I got ready for bed as best I could in the room and helped Misty when she got out. The knee looked better but I think she still wanted to pack it with the heat and cold. I finished by washing my face and then crawled into bed, hugging Roarzor.
My dream vacation even when I was twelve didn’t involve kidnapped sons, dark forces and magic wands. I’d been cast aside for something and the worst part is, I didn’t even know what.
2625 JS, 6007 SC
Have a question you want to ask Savvy about her experiences in Moorland or before? Ask at Ask Mountain Song on tumblr.