“Hurry,” said the girl, waving toward them. “You need to get inside quickly. Come on!”
Aspen scampered toward the young girl, and Emma and Brody followed. She led them through a small door at the base of the stone wall and into a dimly lit room. Emma and Brody blinked again and again, trying to adjust their eyes.
“Where are we?” Emma asked, still rubbing her eyes.
“You are at Peveril Castle,” the young girl told them. Her English accent was faint but distinct. Her long blonde hair swung around her waist as she moved. A pink, fabric headband held the sun-kissed locks gently behind her ears. She wore a long blue dress with white ruffled petticoats peeking out below the hem. A ribbon bracelet was tied in a bow around her left wrist with a small quartz crystal dangling down the back of her hand. Emma liked her bracelet.
“Where are we?” Brody wondered aloud.
“Castleton, Derbyshire, England,” the girl replied.
“Did I hear you call Aspen by name?” Emma asked as she focused her eyes and peered around the room.
“Yes, we are old friends. My name is Max.”
“Max?” Brody peered questioningly at her.
“Well, Maxsina really, but who likes that name?” Max shook her head and continued to pet Aspen. She let Emma and Brody wander through the castle’s main hall. Questions of every kind were flying through Emma’s head but she didn’t know what to ask first.
“How are you and Aspen old friends?” Brody asked. “You look like you’re about six years old.”
Max glared at him.
“I’m nine!” she stated, placing hands on her hips.
Brody touched the castle wall. It was made of handmade stone bricks that were gray and rough. “I’m confused. You say we’re in England but just a few minutes ago, we were in West Virginia with Mr. and Mrs. M.” Brody took a deep breath.
“Where did they go, and why did Mr. M push Aspen into the cave with us?” Confusion littered Emma’s face.
“I know this is weird for you. You came through the crystal cave that Mr. M found by accident when he was building his collection.”
“How do you know that?” asked Emma.
“I met him when he traveled here a couple of months ago,” Max said.
“A couple of months ago?” Emma questioned, raising her eyebrows. “That isn’t possible.”
Max smiled. “Everything is possible in the crystal cave.” She winked at Emma.
Brody was looking around the castle and muttering to himself. “This castle looks newer than the one on the internet. Isn’t it closed except for tours?”
“I thought this castle was in ruins,” commented Emma. “But it looks whole and new.”
“Crystal cave. England. Peveril Castle. Max has historical clothes,” Brody mumbled. He shook his head and paced along the wall. Suddenly, he whirled around to face the girls. “What year is it?” he demanded.
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