In the idyllic countryside of the South of England, an eerie mist rolls in, casting shadows of mystery and unease. Spirits, phantoms and long-forgotten mythical beasts rise from
Unswayed by her fears and uncertainties, the doctor discovers the underworld of ghostly inhabitants, convinced that one of them has abducted the child. The tolling giant phantom bells in Broadway Tower, a skeletal dinosaur spirit haunting the hills of Chipping Norton, a ghostly roaming castle in Castle Combe, an ancient dragon guarding the gates of the underworld in Gloucester Cathedral and a shapeshifting water demon lurking in the water terraces of Blenheim Palace, driven by the insatiable thirst for merciless vengeance - those are just tiny grains of fantastic, thrilling secrets, concealed from the eyes of those who refuse to see - the true Cotswolds.
Will the doctor succeed in finding the missing boy? What secret is concealed within the lost voice of the child? How did the boy acquire the knowledge to cross the portals of the mythical underworld? And why is it that only chosen few can see the hidden wonders veiled by the dense mist of Cotswolds?
The story is based on real events, historical figures, myths and legends of the Cotswold region, the jewel of Old Good England, renowned as an Outstanding Area of Beauty that has preserved its charm and beauty over many centuries.
The ghosts of the past, kings and nameless spirits manifest before the psychiatrist, who, in doubt of her own sanity, takes them in as patients. Meanwhile, a father, concerned over his son's demonic paintings, coincidentally seeks therapy from the same doctor. Suddenly the boy vanishes. And thus begins the doctor's thrilling and, at times, dangerous journey through the Cotswolds, urging her to investigate the connections between the disappearance of the boy, unexplained phenomena and the haunting local legends.
their dormant state as though awakened by an otherworldly force.
Castle Combe: The Phantom Castle
Edward was crossing the bridge with his son at the most recognised location in Castle Combe. The village had everything one would need to escape the noise and inner chatter of the mind. Edward took a deep breath in and smiled. He was cheering up from the thought of new events that would unfold soon. The owner of Sezincote House, a passionate art collector, shared a little secret with Edward about a place where one could find dusty and forgotten antiques down in the south of the Cotswolds. Seeing rare treasures where others could not see their real value was Edwards's forte. And that's what brought our treasure hunter to Castle Combe.
Edward's phone rang. He looked at the screen. The text message read: "Dad, where is the castle?". Edward put the phone away and looked at Tommy, "we don't need to play this game, son. Just ask me". Edward was getting frustrated over his son's speechlessness. Back in the city, paediatric doctors insisted that the boy be seen by a psychiatrist as there was no evidence of physical disorder. Edward decided to take his son away from the city for a while. They both needed a change, an adventure.
Tommy looked down at the ground, putting his phone in his pocket. Father rushed to comfort him, "sorry, Tommy, I didn't mean to upset you". Edward lowered to the ground and gently put his hands on the boy's shoulders, "I don't know if this village has a castle. It would make sense, though, right" he smiled. Tommy smiled back. "Why don't we ask Mr Arden, the antique shopkeeper? Let's drop our things off first in the Manor House Hotel", Edward pointed to a grand estate on the left side of the street. The vines grew lush on its walls; leaves were scarlet red from the cold October air and glowing in the sunshine. Behind the manor was a twisted staircase leading to the hill. On top of it was a garden with lush topiary.
"We're going to stay here over the weekend, Tommy. Loads of time to explore the secrets and find the castle", continued Edward. There was no need to rush the events, Edward thought. The child is like a puzzle box; if one used strength, the mechanism would break, thought Edward.
After a rather exquisite afternoon tea at the manor's restaurant, Edward headed to see the recommended antique shop promising Tommy to find out where the village's castle was.
"Oh, I'm afraid there's no castle in Castle Combe, my dear boy", laughed the kind-hearted old gentlemen. Tommy raised his eyebrows. "Yes, yes, there was one. That's how the village got its name. It was destroyed way before my time, young lad. No one remembers what happened to it. It vanished into history", explained the shopkeeper. Edward put his hand on Tommy's head and nodded toward the mounted unicorn head on the wall. Mr Arden added, ' not to worry. This fellow is not a real one", he laughed, adding, "but does look remarkably authentic. It's a lovely workshop called Broken Hare, where they make beautiful creatures. I never shoot the animal, ha-ha, well, only with a camera".
The cottage was like an ancient treasure trove. Anything one could think of was hanging on the walls or sitting on the shelves: clocks, dusty old embroidered books, vases of all shapes, not to mention all the hunter's trophies mounted on the wall.
Tommy was standing behind his father, looking with curiosity at all these fascinating objects he had only seen in films before. Indeed, it was like a fantasy film.
"I suppose, Mr Brown, you are here to enjoy our little village's atmosphere and history", wondered the host. "Yes, thank you for a warm welcome, Mr Arden", said Edward. "You mentioned you have something of a family relic," the instinct for a catch would not abandon him. "Straight to the business, you city folks. Follow me, please", replied the shopkeeper. They went to another room while Tommy wandered around the shop. He was holding back the temptation of touching anything.
Mr Arden handed Edward an odd-looking wooden box. Edward smiled, remembering his early thoughts today, "how much do you want for it?" The shopkeeper narrowed his eyes, "it's a valuable thing, Mr Brown". And then he exhaled with disappointment, "but ultimately useless. No one could solve the puzzle".
Edward noticed a local newspaper on a side table with the headline "Emotions as Cause of Diseases, Dr Olsen lecture on psychosomatic disorders in Malmesbury". He leaned down, "may I...". The shopkeeper nodded, adding, "so about the price...".
Not knowing how much time had passed, Tommy heard a loud bird cry outside. He went out to have a look. To his surprise, the mist appeared from nowhere as the sun was about to set in. Tommy ran out to the street to see better what was causing the birds' distress. In the far distance, the trees were bending as if some invisible force was slamming them down to the ground. The boy could feel goosebumps, not from the cold but from strange vibrations in the air. He observed the trees falling one by one. Until something massive resembling a mountain appeared in the far distant mist. Only it wasn't a mountain but a structure! As it approached the village, Tommy saw it was a ruined old castle, walking on tremendous earthy legs like a bug, here and there, covered in roots and trees. They were the castle's tunnels, the secret passageways pulled out from the soil!
Chipping Norton: The Haunting Ghost
Edward was walking with his son on the field path in the countryside. A ground on prehistoric limestone that buried ancient creatures and their worlds under the velvet green hills.
Mill Common was opening a grand panorama over the Bliss Tweed Mill and its surrounding hills. That was the very same place where Tommy's doctor lived. The building stood elegant and proud, its tall chimney rising majestically into the sky. The first autumn frost was wrapping up the grass, temperatures were dropping, and days got shorter. In the far distance, tiny farmhouses looked like miniatures. Edward thought of having a pleasant stroll with his son before visiting one of the farms, where someone waited for him to make a business proposal about his interest in antiques.
Edward's thoughts were about his son. Tommy seemed better here, and he was active and smiled more often, especially after the visits to Doctor Olsen. Tommy still didn't make friends at the new school. But he didn't resist the therapy. That was more than Edward anticipated. Then, on the other hand, he didn't know much about what was going on in the treatment. Except that Tommy, ever since, was drawing monsters and weird things floating in the sky. For now, it didn't bother the father as much.
The dilemma that puzzled Edward was that he was falling for the doctor himself. In the last visit, Sofie mentioned she needed to talk to him now to progress with Tommy's therapy, which would kill his chances to become closer to her, more personal. So, Edward delayed the visit trying to come up with a solution for a win-win situation.
They were approaching the farm and going down the hill on the narrow path. The owner greeted Edward and directed them to follow him into the house. Tommy saw a couple of ponies in the backyard behind the fence. "If you want to feed them, I have some apples. Let's get them from the barn", said the farm owner to Tommy. The boy nodded cheerfully.
Tommy fed the ponies as his father attended to business with the farmer. Those animals seemed hungry, and when Tommy ran out of apples, one of them started to chew on his sleeve. Tommy leaned down to get hay from the side where the pony couldn't reach it. Something alarmed the animal. It looked restless and was hitting its hooves against the ground. The horse stood on its back legs and shook its head. The boy stepped aside from the fence, thinking of calling for his father and the farmer. But just then, one of the ponies jumped over the low fence barrier and galloped away. Tommy ran after it hoping to bring it back.
As he climbed up the hill, he couldn't see the pony anywhere. It was cold, and steam was coming from the boy's heavy breathing. There was something in the distance moving slowly. It was hard to see in the fog what it was. And then it appeared. A colossal dinosaur skeleton walked gracefully. The hills looked relatively small compared to the size of the phantom animal. Tommy picked up his notebook and pen from his rucksack and sketched the creature quickly. Then the creature stopped and turned its head in Tommy's direction. The boy shivered from fear and stood motionless, holding his breath in awe. The dinosaur produced a deep mechanical-like roar and moved on, disappearing in the mist. Slowly the mist cleared out, and the ghostly creature vanished.
Tommy looked at his image and then into the far distance, where a moment ago, the creature stood. He drew some low clouds on his sketch. And then it dawned on him. Every time anything strange appeared, there was a fog. He realised that he never saw any creatures if it was a clear day. He was so excited about the discovery that he forgot all about the escaped horse and rushed down the hill.
The pony was already in front of the fence, looking bluntly at the boy.