The evil log and the colourful wind

Ibsen and Samuel had walked a long way past the Hewlip bush, but there was still no sign of the road. Nor was there any sign of dangerous creatures.
Maybe the Truth Pixie had got it wrong, Samuel thought. Maybe this wasn’t the most dangerous part of the forest.

They kept walking until they reached a log. The log was lying by the side at such an angle on the grass slope that it was the easiest thing in the world for Samuel to sit down on it, and read some more of the book.

His legs, which were tired and sore from his wet trousers, stretched out in front of him.

‘Come on Ibsen. Sit down!’

Ibsen stayed standing and looked suspiciously at the log. True, the log did seem a bit strange, but Samuel couldn’t work out why.

‘Suit yourself,’ he said to the dog, as he seated himself next to a knot in the wood and opened up the book.

Samuel turned to the first page of the book and began to read. It was about trolls.


Trolls are the most horrible creatures in the whole of Shadow Forest. These are the creatures a human should be most scared of meeting as they are horrible right down to their bones. Not only do they steal people’s goats, but they also kill any humans they can get their hands on. They come out when it is dark and can smell human blood from a great distance away, and are drawn to it like bees to pollen.

They are generally very strong, and use their strength to drag people back to their homes, where they cook them alive in a giant pot. All trolls have three-toed feet and they are universally ugly but the type of ugliness varies greatly. There are two-headed trolls. No-headed trolls. One-eyed trolls. Four-armed trolls. Despite their differences of appearance, trolls are all equally dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

Weakness: Trolls have no weakness at all. They are pure evil.

Samuel thought about Martha, and realised he had to find her before it got dark. He had a terrible image of her being cooked in a giant pot.

The image stopped when he saw that Ibsen was now growling at the log.

‘What’s the matter?’ Samuel asked him. ‘It’s only a log.’

He turned the page.


The Nøkken is another very dangerous type of creature, and also loves nothing better than to eat a human.

In their natural state a Nøkken looks rather similar to a very large brown lizard, but with jaws more suited to a crocodile. However, most encounters with a Nøkken begin when they are in their unnatural state.

Because Nøkken are slow-moving creatures, they depend on disguise to lure their prey. Their most common and successful imitation is of a log, enticing people to take a seat on its back.

Then, once the victim is seated, the Nøkken will swiftly turn its head and snap its jaws, often devouring the weary traveller in one bite.

Samuel froze.

He looked down at the ground at his shadow and then noticed why the log had looked so strange. It had no shadow. None whatsoever. It was as though

Samuel was sitting on thin air.

Ibsen was still growling.

Samuel remembered the Truth Pixie’s words.

The creatures with no shadows are the deadly ones . . .

The knot in the wood had changed. Samuel looked at it, and gasped in terror.

The knot blinked.

Like an eye.

No. Not like an eye. It was an eye. An eye that was looking very hungrily up at him.


Samuel glanced back at the book trembling in his hands, and read the small print.

Weakness: The Nøkken is so greedy it will eat anything that is put in its mouth.

Samuel closed the book and tried to work out why the Nøkken’s greediness was a weakness. Or how that was going to help him escape in one piece.

He tried to pretend that he didn’t know the Nøkken was a Nøkken, and counted backwards in his head.












He stood up and ran as fast as he could, following Ibsen, just as the log developed crocodile jaws and twisted around to snap in the direction of the tasty human flesh.

It missed.


But the Nøkken kept snapping its jaws.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

And Samuel kept running through the trees, following Ibsen, his legs getting
heavier with every step. And then he remembered. The clutch of Hewlip leaves in his pocket.

He pulled them out, holding the yellow leaves behind in the way he had done on sport’s day when he was in the relay squad, waiting for his team-mate to catch the baton.

Only this time his dad wasn’t there to cheer him on.

Snap. Snap. Sna-

Samuel let go of the poisonous leaves and pulled back his hand at just the right moment.

The Hewlip dropped onto the Nøkken’s brown, leathery tongue and was quickly swallowed. The Nøkken stopped, as a yellow foam spilled from its mouth.
Samuel kept running and felt something punch into his stomach. He bent double and fell to the floor, watching as the Nøkken’s head began to swell, the blood bubbling under its skin.

And then there was the wet, splattery sound of its head exploding. A spray of brown flesh coated Ibsen and Samuel, bringing with it a strange, yeasty smell that reminded him of his dad making bread on Sunday mornings.

Samuel was disgusted, but also relieved. After all, he hadn’t had his legs snapped off.

His relief didn’t last long, however.

In fact, it lasted only until Samuel stood up and read the wooden sign he had collided into.

In carved, curved letters it said ‘ELFHELM’.

The Truth Pixie had told him about the Light Elves who had lived there. And with the memory came the sight.

The village.

Low houses, built with grass bricks, shaped like upside down Vs, scattered across the hillside in a pattern that was as random as the trees.

Then, amid the houses were the Light Elves themselves. They had milk-white hair and skin, and no shadows to mark their existence. As motionless as statues or some three-dimensional photograph, their eyes and mouths gaping in terror. Hands in the air, legs lunging forward, frozen as they had tried in vain to flee the Shadow Witch’s magic.

Samuel looked behind him and saw the Nøkken’s headless body slumped on the ground. He was about to start running away from Elfhelm when he saw something floating in the air towards him.

Watery colours, moving down from the sky, like a rainbow set into motion.
He looked at the colours and remembered why the Truth Pixie had warned him about Elfhelm.

The Osterei.

The wind that drew strength from the spirits of the Light Elves.

Samuel looked towards the village, and knew that was his only escape.

‘Run!’ he shouted to Ibsen, for the second time in the last ten minutes. ‘Run!’

He held the book close to his chest and ran, with the dog, dodging the statues of the elves and running around and over their sloping houses.

Then they stopped, both of them, as they saw the colourful spirits were coming towards them from the other direction as well. For a moment they just stayed there, as still as the elves around them.

Ibsen nudged his nose into Samuel’s leg, bringing him to his senses.
‘Into that house,’ Samuel said, diving for shelter. He tried to reach the door but before he reached it, the Osterei wind blasted against him.

As well as colours – yellows, greens, reds – the sound this wind made was different too. It didn’t whisper, like normal wind. It giggled.

The giggles were getting louder as the wind was getting stronger, and Samuel thought for a second he saw faces amid the colours. Elf faces, like the ones that belonged to the pale and unmoving creatures in the village, but now whooshing past like grass outside a car window.

He saw Ibsen stagger backwards, struggling against the force of the wind, and so Samuel grabbed onto the dog’s collar.

But it was no good.

There was nowhere to hide as the mischievous wind gained force, scooping Ibsen off the ground.

‘I’ve got you!’ Samuel shouted, still holding onto the dog’s leather collar.

He had spoken too soon. Ibsen shot back out of the collar and up into the air. Then The Creatures of Shadow Forest flew out of Samuel’s other hand, before Samuel himself was soaring high above the trees.

Up and up and up . . .

In the distance he caught a brief glimpse of the edge of the forest, and the green grass and white wooden house beyond.

‘AUNT EDA!’ he shouted, hoping she was able to hear. ‘HELP!’

But then he was flipped upside down, and lost the view of the house.

‘Flip you, flip you, spin you, spin you,’ giggled the voices that came out of the wind. And Samuel was flipped and spinned far more times than when he had gone on the rollercoaster with his dad. The voices kept on going: ‘Up and down and round and round, never stop till you hit the ground.’

Samuel sped over another village. A village of stone houses, but it wasn’t the deserted village near the border. The houses were in a crooked line this time, not a circle, and each had a rabbit enclosure behind them and a patch of grass in front with some kind of bench.


He could see the dog flying through the air in front of him, out of reach. Then the book, flapping its covers like wings. Samuel’s hands managed to catch hold of it and began flicking through the pages. This was not the easiest thing in the world to do spinning around in the air, but if he managed to find out who or what was doing this to them he might be able to stop it happening, just as he had stopped the Froogin music from killing him.

When he came to page 17 this is what he found:


The Osterei are the colourful and mischievous spirits of dead elves, who come together to form a powerful wind that whisks you high into the air and transports you to another, more dangerous part of the forest.

Their one aim is to make sure you get so lost, that you can never escape.

Weakness: The Osterei will gently die down if you declare ‘I am lost’ three times.

Samuel finished reading and in the largest voice he could find said: ‘I AM LOST. I AM LOST. I AM LOST.’