'You had to do it, Barber. You had no choice.'
'I got them killed,' he growled, standing up.
'If it wasn't them, it would have been you.'
'He was a father, Eleanor. He had sons. The day I told them about his whereabouts was the day they became orphans. I am responsible.'
Eleanor stood, 'No Barber. You are not responsible. Phillip is responsible. He's the one who hatched this silly plan. And besides, he stopped being a father the day he took that stone from his boys. My people have spoken to one of his sons and he said those exact words. This is not on you, Barber. It's on Phillip and this Skull you mentioned. And by the looks of it, he got what he wanted.'
Barber shook his head, 'He didn't get what he wanted, not then anyway. The Skull didn't find the stone with Phillip or with Rogue because someone else had already taken it.'
Eleanor was confused, 'Who?'
'I don't know who she was but she was like an angel. Once the Skull and his cronies had gone to hunt down Phillip, she appeared out of nowhere and released me. She told me she'd taken the stone and that she was going to give it to the Museum for safe keeping. She wanted me to disappear. She said I should make myself scarce for a few years,' he smiled. 'She suggested I grow my hair and change my appearance so that I wouldn't be recognisable.'
'I take it you did what she said?'
Barber looked down at himself and chuckled.
'I've been changing it fairly regularly.'
'1970s though? I think it's time for another change,' she laughed.
He shrugged and smiled, 'You're probably right.'
'So who was she?'
'I've no idea. I never saw her again. She was like my guardian angel, which is absolutely ridiculous, of course. Vampires do not have guardian angels.'
Eleanor raised her eyebrows, 'You never know.'
He smiled and sat back down.
'So the artefact was given to the British Museum?'
'Tell me about this Skull. Do you know his name?'
Shaking his head, Barber cursed under his breath, 'I wish I'd have paid more attention, but it's a little difficult when you're having your fingernails and toenails slowly pulled out and your stomach cut open and intestines ripped apart.'
'Goodness me, Barber. I'm so sorry.'
'Thankfully, I was able to recover.'
'I'm glad,' she smiled. 'Can you describe this Skull to me, Barber? We really need to find out who he is.'
'Do you have a sketch artist on hand?'
Students filed into the archive room and each one was tasked with filtering through a number of files while the Mentors took it in turn to access the archive on the computer.
Together, they hoped they would come up with some clues as to the identity and whereabouts of the Skull who had stolen the Temporal Stone.
In Eleanor's hundreds and hundreds of years as a Watcher and a Guardian, she had no recollection of this man and was more than determined to track him down and return the world to the way it should be.
Hanging on the wall at the far end of the archive room was a large sketch of the elusive Skull, tacked to a large whiteboard, on which was written a number of pointers.. It wasn't a pretty picture.
With an extraordinarily large forehead, Mr X, as they'd all been calling him, had a wide nose and a small chin with beady dark eyes, above which were a pair of ridiculously bushy blond brows. His ears stuck out almost at right angles and his neck was so squat that you could say he didn't have one, made worse by his shoulder length straight hair.
Not only was this man evil, he was also ugly. Hideously ugly.
'How can someone so totally gross go unseen for so many years? He'd stick out like a sore thumb wherever he went,' Sammy said as she read through her C2 files.
'I know what you mean, it's totally weird,' Emma said as she pulled out all of the papers in her A1 folders and scoured the images and descriptions.
'Any news on Daisy?' asked Lana who had been busy flirting with Barber at the other end of the room before Eleanor had walked in with her walking stick and interrupted her.
'She's still unconscious but Beau said there has been quite a drastic improvement,' smiled Emma. 'So she probably won't have to go to Arundel.'
'That's brilliant news. So, you still in love, Lana?' Sammy joked.
Her eyes glazed over and she looked across at Eleanor and Barber talking in the corner, 'He is to die for, isn't he?'
'Wh...what?' screeched Emma as she slammed her folder down on the floor.
'Relax, Sis. It's just a figure of speech.'
Sammy chuckled as they continued going through the information in front of them.
'This is fascinating stuff,' Sammy said, 'Did you know that there is a creature called a Cockatrice?'
'Ew what's that?' asked Lana.
'Says here it's associated with the Basilisk...'
'What, like in Harry Potter?' asked Emma.
Sammy shrugged, 'I guess. It says it's got a rooster's head, a barbed tongue and a snake's tail with a deadly stinger on it.'
'Nice,' Lana murmured. 'How about this. The Adhene are mostly female Manx faeries, who are shy and mischievous...'
'Sounds like you, Sis.'
'Moi? But I'm not shy,' she said with one raised eyebrow and a pout.
'Here, listen to this,' said Diarmuid, who had been quietly going through his Z1 files, 'A Zaratan is a massive sea turtle that is so big, people think it's an island. Cool.'
'Not really,' Lana muttered. 'Not as cool as this. Anthropophagus, God knows how you say that, is a person who eats human flesh, ewwww. It is believed that they sometimes wear humans skulls around their necks and use them like napkins. Oh that is totally gross,' she squirmed.
The others all screwed up their faces in disgust as Ava walked over and sat down next to them.
'Hey, Ava. How's things?'
'Okay, I guess,' she said.
Emma smiled across at her, 'Missing Liam?'
She nodded and looked down.
'Don't worry, we'll find this creep and sort everything out. Come on, let's really get our heads down and find this monster.'
The others nodded and began concentrating solely on the contents of their files. Apart from Lana, of course, who just couldn't get Barber out of her head.
Jimble let out a loud burp after eating several cheese sandwiches. He rubbed his stomach and sighed, thinking of Ethelle and his home back in Somerset.
'J… Jimble?' asked a hazy voice next to him.
'Daisy, Daisy!' he exclaimed as he waddled over to her bedside. 'I'm so glad, glad, to see you, you awake, awake. How are you, you, feeling, feeling?'
She winced as she tried to sit up, noticing her bandaged arm.
'Go easy now, go easy now now.'
'What happened?' she asked, rubbing her eyes.
'You don't, don't remember remember?'
Thinking back, Daisy recalled being stuck in that large warehouse, some kind of weird scent and then... nothing.'
She shook her head.
'I'll I'll go go get Eleanor Eleanor,' he said, as he rushed away from her bedside and out through the doorway.
Looking around, she noticed she was in a large room with several beds, all the others were empty. Listening, she could hear nothing. It was so quiet. She sighed. She didn't want to be alone.
A sudden flash in her mind made her jolt and she winced.
A snarl. Dark eyes. Howling. She shivered and wrapped the blanket around her shoulders.
A pain in her bandaged arm throbbed and she winced again.
'What happened to me?' she cried.
'Daisy, sweetie?' said the most welcome voice.
Peeking out from behind the covers, Daisy breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the elderly Eleanor.
'How are you feeling? Your dad will be up in a moment.'
'I...I...I'm okay, I think.'
Daisy shook her head.
Carefully sitting down on the bed, Eleanor leant her walking stick against the bedside table.
'You were scratched by Grycan.'
Daisy gasped as the memory of what happened poured back into her conscious memory.
'Oh no, I remember now. Oh, Eleanor I'm so sorry for going out...'
Eleanor smiled and patted her hand, 'Let's not worry about that now. We were all very concerned about you for a while there. A scratch from a werewolf can have some nasty consequences, but you seem to be recovering well, I see.'
'It can?' she gulped.
'Wh...what kind of consequences?'
'Let's not worry about that now, Daisy,' she smiled.
'How are Emma and Lana?' she asked.
'They're just fine.'
'Can I see them? Can I see everybody? I don't want to be on my own anymore.'
Smiling as Beau rushed into the room, Eleanor stood up, 'Sure you can. When you feel strong enough, come down and join us in the archive. We're all down there on important business. If you're feeling up to it, you can give us a hand. Beau, I think your daughter is going to be just fine.'
Watching the two of them embrace each other tightly, Eleanor took her walking stick with a warm smile. Turning, she hobbled out of the room, with Jimble right behind her.
'Jimble?' she asked.
'Yes yes, Eleanor Eleanor?' he replied, looking up at her.
'Did you know there is more than one Temporal Stone?'
The pixie troll almost fell to the floor.
'More than one, more than one one. Why no, there is not more than one one. I am sure sure of that that.'
Eleanor stopped and looked down at him, 'Are you sure?'
'Quite quite sure sure. But there are are two other other stones stones...'
With a deep sigh she leant on her stick, 'I wish you'd have mentioned them before. What can you tell me about them?'
Feeling himself being chastised, Jimble looked to the floor and fumbled with his fingers before swallowing loudly, 'There are three three stones stones. The Temporal Stone Stone, the Tempestas Stone Stone and the Spatium Stone Stone.'
'Where did these other stones come from?'
'The Tempestas Stone belongs to the pixie pixie trolls trolls in the Isle of Skye Skye, in Scotland Scotland and the Spatium Stone belongs to the the Dingle pixie trolls trolls in Ireland Ireland.'
'I see. And do these stones all have the same effect?'
'I'm not not sure sure I understand understand, Eleanor?'
'The Temporal Stone clearly can stop time. Are the others the same?'
Jimble nodded. 'Individually, they will stop time for the trolls trolls but but, all three three together. Well well, that's not not good good.'
'Jimble, don't you understand? These stones are already together. One of the Skulls has managed to put them together and that's how he has stopped time for the world. We need to figure out how to get it going again,' she said as she shook her head.
They continued walking back towards the archive as Jimble tried to make sense of everything that had happened.
'I'm I'm sorry sorry. I did not not know. I I I....'
'What?' she asked.
'Jimble is not known known for his... intelligence, Eleanor Eleanor,' he sobbed.
'Oh Jimble, it's not your fault,' she said as she knelt down to look at him. 'I'm just frustrated that we can't find this Skull. Now, is there anything else, anything else at all, that you can remember? Anything that might help us?'
Jimble closed his eyes and thought back to everything he had ever been taught about the three stones. But nothing came to mind. After a couple of seconds, he opened his eyes and shook his head.
'Alright then, but do let me know if anything comes to mind.'
'I promise, I promise.'
Eleanor approached the whiteboard and added some more notes. The students all stopped what they were doing and watched as she wrote:
The Temporal Stone (Box Tunnel pixie trolls)
The Spatium Stone, (Dingle pixie trolls)
The Tempestas Stone, (Isle of Skye pixie trolls)
'Everybody, if you come across anything to do with these stones or these pixie trolls, please let me know,' she shouted across the room before she slowly walked towards the computer room where Declan had been sitting for hours.