‘What do you think about all that stuff hairy Hygbald was telling us,’ Tiberius asked as they hid outside in the dark, late that night. ‘All this earth stuff? D’you think it’s for real?’
‘Maybe,’ said Normal.
‘Really? I dunno. Sounds weird. Humans? What’s that all about? I never saw one.’
’Yet,’ said Normal.
‘Well – you ever seen one?’ asked Tiberius.
‘You believe it don’t you?’
‘Er…’ Normal shrugged. ‘I don’t not believe it,’ he said and Tiberius snorted and pushed him.
When Tiberius pushed, he pushed hard. He didn’t seem to know his own strength sometimes. Normal found himself splayed in the bushes. He extracted himself from a few sharp brambles.
‘Careful!’ said Normal. ‘We’re supposed to be hiding here. You nearly blew our cover.’
Tiberius and Normal waited back in the shadows. Zenufius and Zenobius, the two massive guards with the stone faces and silver armour, patrolled the gates. All was quiet.
‘Enemy Attack,’ Normal muttered.
‘What?’ asked Tiberius.
‘Someone said, Enemy Attack. Didn’t you hear?’
Before Tiberius could reply there was an ear-splitting shriek and three shadowy figures leapt out of the night and hurled themselves at the gates. The metal clanged and the night was lit up with the silver and purple sparks as spiky weapons collided with the gates. Normal and Tiberius jolted backwards a little.
‘Wow!’ said Tiberius.
‘Those sparks must have been the lights we saw last night,’ said Normal.
Zenufius and Zenobius jabbed a couple of golden spears towards the dark creatures and ran the tips along the metal uprights on the tall gates. The creatures yelped and fell back. Suddenly there was the sound of thunder crashing, and lightning flashed across the school grounds. The boys heard the sound of wheels turning and wild creatures roaring. Tiberius looked and jabbed Normal in the ribs.
‘Wow!’ he said, ‘look at that!’
A dark storm cloud was coming towards them, four wheels protruding from it. The spokes were covered in bright green jewels, and the wheels were twice the size of Tiberius. The boys could see various eyes blinking at them from inside the cloud. It looked like some kind of war wagon, shrouded in mist and rumbling. There was the sound of beating wings and occasionally the tips of metal grey wings would appear jutting out of the cloud. A faint glimmer of blue sapphire and bright amber pulsated inside. Then a creature with six wings burst from the cloud and hovered above it.