Mo waited until darkness fell, and then he came back to the lake. He had a feeling that the fisherman who wasn’t really a fisherman would try something in the dark, when he could be sure that there would be no one about to see him.
He didn’t tell Nan what he was planning to do, because he knew she wouldn’t approve of him sneaking around at night, and would want to come with him. But Mo thought he could do this all on his own.
He found a patch of reeds down by the lakeshore just big enough for a small boy to hide in, and he hunkered down. It wasn’t long before his feet got very wet and very cold. It wasn’t long before he started shivering. He started to think that all of this had been a very bad idea. But then just as he was thinking he would go home and ask Nan to make him a big mug of hot chocolate, he saw some movement out of the corner of his eye.
It was the fisherman who wasn’t really a fisherman at all. But he was – the huge man – and he was climbing OUT OF THE LAKE. One minute the surface of the lake had been smooth and unruffled and now, the fisherman was pulling himself up onto the back, dripping wet. He was wearing some sort of wetsuit, all smooth and black in the moonlight, and in his hand he was carrying – some kind of weapon. Something that flashed sharp and dangerous. A spear.
He was close enough that Mo could hear him muttering.
“A bit closer and I’d have had her. Tomorrow night, it’ll be the end of her.”
And then he stumped off up the path, towards the houses and away from the lake, leaving a trail of damp footprints.
Mo was horrified. He’d been right. The fisherman was up to something. But who was she? Whoever she was, the fisherman clearly planned on hurting her.
Mo was about to run home and tell Nan everything when he suddenly saw the surface of the lake do something strange. It sort of bubbled up for a moment. He peered at it through the reeds. No – it wasn’t bubbling, something was emerging from it, something else. Only this something was taking its time. On the surface something had appeared – something that looked like a big scaly silvery forehead. And underneath the forehead two large dark eyes, blinking, staring around.
Mo hardly dared breathe.
Slowly, very slowly, as if any moment the thing could spook and dive back down into the depths, a head appeared, with a long silvery snout. Then came a body, lithe and sinewy and scaly, followed by a tail and four legs with sharp claws. Then the sea-dragon pulled herself up onto the bank and into the woods. She lay in the wild garlic, exactly where Mo had seen the ground had been disturbed before. She sighed a deep sigh. She began to eat some of the garlic.
Mo realised suddenly that she was injured. Some of her scales were missing. She must be coming out of the lake to eat the garlic because it made her feel better.
As he realised this, the sea-dragon gave a deep, sad sigh. Mo’s heart broke for her. That evil fisherman had done this to her, to get to the king’s treasure. And it sounded like he wouldn’t stop, not until he’d killed her, and found a way into the treasure cave below the dark water.
Mo had to do something to help. But what could he do? He was just a boy.
But there was someone who could help. Someone who knew everything there was to know about the king’s treasure and the underwater cave. Someone with a handbag full of secrets.
Can you guess who that was?