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16.

5mm spine
128mm x 198mm

he tyrant known as the Soul Collector hunts down


anything that is beautiful, unusual or unique.

Kelly Swift is trying hard to be an average teenager, to fit in.


But every day her powers are growing: she can run faster than
the wind, she can hear people’s thoughts, she is not normal.

When her mother is taken by the Soul Collector, Kelly can’t


linger in the shadows any longer. But who is she really?
Can she be the one in the prophecy? Is she . . . the Golden Unicorn?

Illustrations by Chris Wahl

ISBN: 978-1-76052-513-2

9 781760 525132
First published by Allen & Unwin in 2019

Text copyright © Anh Do, 2019


Illustrations by Chris Wahl, 2019

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or


transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from
the publisher. The Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) allows a
maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is
the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for
its educational purposes provided that the educational institution
(or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to the
Copyright Agency (Australia) under the Act.

Allen & Unwin


83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Australia
Phone: (61 2) 8425 0100
Email: info@allenandunwin.com
Web: www.allenandunwin.com

ISBN 978 1 76052 513 2

Cover design by Jo Hunt and Chris Wahl


Text design by Jo Hunt
Set in 12pt ITC Legacy Serif by Jo Hunt
Printed and bound in Australia by McPherson’s Printing Group

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The paper in this book is FSC® certified.


FSC® promotes environmentally responsible,
socially beneficial and economically viable
management of the world’s forests.
Illustrations by Chris Wahl
For Summer, Leon, Luc and Xavier,
you guys are my heroes.
Anh

For Ella, Alyssa and Sienna.


Inspirational nieces and intrepid readers.
Chris
Contents
1 The Cup and the Ring  1

2 Kelly Swift  22

3 LifeScape  32

4 Prophecies and Portents  43

5 Hornets  58

6 Dark Thoughts  74

7 Transformation  85

8 A Moment in Time  97

9 Clothes and a Couple of Bucks  114

10 Good Friends  138

11 The Seeker of Lost Things  149

12 The Greenhouse  164

13 The Golden Unicorn  178

14 Ancient Greek  211


1
The Cup
and the Ring

W illiam James, the Soul Collector, sat on one of


his many thrones in one of his many castles, sipping
from a golden chalice. As crystal-clear water trickled
down his throat and seeped into his blood, a familiar
glow filled him from head to toe. He felt soothed and
strong, and knew a moment of calm.
It did not last.
When it came to his anaemia, his asthma, and the
host of other ailments he’d suffered since childhood,
being reminded of their existence was enough to
sour his mood. He wanted them gone forever, not
just repressed by daily ritual. It only took a short

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time between doses for them to grow strong again.
All his power, all his wealth, and William still
could not conquer his own body.
He ran a finger around the chalice’s rim. He
remembered the first time he’d held it, as sand
poured forth to join the desert breeze. Golden
sands from a golden cup. The billions of dollars

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he had spent on the world’s greatest treasure hunt
had finally paid off. To this day he could not quite
believe he’d managed it.
He had found . . . the Holy Grail.
There had been an unexpected object in the Ark
too – a most welcome discovery. William tapped it
now against the Grail with a tink tink tink – a band of
dark metal curled like a serpent around his middle
finger.

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Lucifer’s Ring. He’d sensed its power immediately,
felt it whisper to his soul. His first act had been
to weave it through the air and conjure enormous
tigers from the shifting sands. He had laughed as
they leapt about, his workers watching in terror.
It amused William to think that these artefacts
of Heaven and Hell were here together, their forces
united in defiance of their creators. They had been
his good friends for two decades – more reliable than
people, who came and went. Their arcane power had
helped him take control of the Northern Kingdom.
Now his rule was absolute.
Still, he always wondered – were there more
incredible things lying beneath the surface of the
earth?

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5
There had to be.
He would rip it all up if he had to. Every last bit.
A true collector did not stop.
‘The Chief Archaeologist,’ announced one of the
Kingdom Guards at the entrance archway.
William was annoyed to be shaken from his
musings, but when he saw Stanley Solomon enter
the throne room with a wooden crate, he licked his
lips in anticipation.

‘Ah, Stanley. You return from your dusty


adventures?’
‘From Athens, sire.’ Stanley adjusted his half-
moon spectacles. He was sixty-five, but his hair was

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thick, blond and curly. Well tanned from all his time
spent on dig sites, the lines on his face were deep
and defined. He had been a proud man once – before
William had put him in his place.

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‘We’ve been searching the Library of Pantinos,’
said Stanley, setting the crate down on a display
table. He began to produce carefully wrapped objects
and laid them out for examination.
William made his way down the dais steps, his
leather robe – made from the hide of the world’s only
albino rhinoceros – swishing around his thin frame.
He cast his grey eyes over an ornate candelabrum, a
broken tablet, a vase depicting a raging Minotaur . . .
William picked up the candelabrum and turned
it over in his hand, smiling. ‘To my castle in Ganze
with this one,’ he said. ‘Anything else?’
‘The excavations continue, sire.
There was also a vault of ancient
manuscripts, which I’ve sent for
restoration.’
William sniffed. He had no love
of books. That was why he kept
people like Stanley.

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‘Might they contain clues as to the whereabouts
of . . . worthier objects?’
‘Perhaps, Soul Collector. Many of them are very
fragile. Time will tell.’

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10
There came the sound of marching feet. Captain
Aiken, William’s most trusted officer in the Kingdom
Guard, arrived flanked by her Elites. She was tall,
with an angular face and chin-length brown hair. She
wore black body armour that, like all KG uniforms,
had a yellow stripe across the chest and a golden grail
insignia at the shoulder.
Aiken shoved a small boy forward.
‘Ah,’ said William, in a light tone. ‘And what do
we have here?’
The boy began to cry.
‘Found him in the Agricultural Zone,’ said Aiken.
‘His parents were doctoring the pictures of him they
posted on LifeScape.’
William stared down at the boy. He was fair-
haired, about four or five, with his head bowed. He
seemed . . . unremarkable.
‘What am I looking at, Captain?’
Aiken gave the boy a sharp kick. ‘Eyes open, boy.
Look the Collector in the face.’

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The boy turned his gaze upwards,
and William’s heart fluttered. The
boy had differently coloured
eyes! One was crystalline blue
and the other bright orange.

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‘Amazing,’ William said. ‘Simply amazing. You
have done well, Captain Aiken.’
‘My pleasure to serve, sire.’
The boy’s fear contorted his face in an
unappealing fashion, but William would correct
that soon enough.
‘So many unusual occurrences lately,’ he said
thoughtfully. ‘Differently coloured eyes are nothing
new, but orange? That’s a strange one. What do you
think, Stanley?’
‘Sire?’
‘Why is the world changing so fast?’ said William.
‘Why are there more and more of these . . . unique
finds?’
Stanley’s gaze slid into the middle distance. ‘If I
had to guess, sire, I’d say it might be because we’re
opening sites of ancient magic all over the place.’
William smiled thinly. There was no rebuke in the
man’s voice – Stanley had been careful to maintain a
measured tone ever since the unfortunate incident –
but his meaning was clear.

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‘Bring me a canvas,’ William snapped.
He watched Stanley’s brow give the tiniest twitch.
Although the Chief Archaeologist might try to hide
it, William knew his revulsion at what was about to
happen.
William didn’t care. Perhaps they had been . . . 
friends . . . once, but if such friendship had ever
existed, it certainly didn’t now.
A servant set a framed canvas on an easel down
carefully at William’s side.
‘What’s your name, little boy?’ said William.
‘I need a title.’

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The boy sniffled.
‘Roland Hill,’ said Aiken.
Without another word, William lifted his right
hand, palm towards the canvas. On his middle
finger, Lucifer’s Ring glowed warm. He held his left
hand out towards the boy and made a beckoning
motion, as if drawing something out. Suddenly,
colour drained from the boy, who gasped and almost
fell to his knees. Aiken grabbed him by the collar and
held him upright.
The colour passed through the air into William’s
left hand and then reappeared from his right,

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streaming out towards the canvas. There it pooled,
and began to take shape. William continued moving
his beckoning fingers across the boy, taking his hair,
his clothes, his face. Where Roland had been rosy-
cheeked, he was now turning translucent.
‘William . . .’ said Stanley.
‘Silence!’ snapped William.
Within moments, all that remained of the boy
was two eyes floating in the air, still blinking in fear.

William always left the best till last.


With a snatching motion, he drew forth the eyes,
spots of blue and orange flying through the air. He
felt a delicious tingle as they passed through him

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and sank into the canvas, taking their place once
again in the boy’s face.
Roland Hill gazed out from the picture frame
as if he had been painted in vibrant oils by a highly
skilled artist. William had adjusted him slightly, so
that he now smiled happily, his features frozen in an
expression of youthful innocence.

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‘Without me,’ William said, ‘his beauty would
have been transitory. Now he is immortal.’
He sighed, drinking in the sight of Roland’s
miraculous eyes.
Stanley said nothing, and Aiken bowed low.
‘Send him to Oak Castle,’ said William. ‘That
gallery is where I keep my most remarkable children.
He will hang there nicely, beside the little girl with
the silver hair.’
Servants scuttled in to pick up the frame.
William was energised. The adrenaline of this
latest acquisition, this remarkable find, coursed
through every vein, invigorating his imagination,
sating his need to acquire.
And yet, the feeling was – as always – too short-
lived.
Immortalising the boy had done nothing but
whet his appetite for more. For the next find. His
next treasure.
William sometimes wondered if he’d ever find an
object that would finally fill that groaning, empty part

18
of him, that nothingness. The void that no painting,
no priceless artefact, no magic object had yet been able
to fill.
‘I need something more substantial,’ William
announced. ‘Ready my jet. We leave in an hour to
chase the sunrise.’
He turned and strode off towards his quarters.
Let Stanley stare daggers at his
back – the old man could do
nothing to stop him.

19
Out of sight of the throne room, William slowed
down to enjoy the exhibits in the alcoves that
he passed. There were the gloves of King Midas,
Charon’s oar, moss-stained tablets from the lost city
of Atlantis, the steering wheel of Noah’s Ark . . . 

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Treasures from all of history, all of legend, each
of them sparked a glimmer of warmth in his cold
heart.
Every society and culture was so sure their beliefs
were true, William mused, often to the exclusion of
all others. What none of them realised, in their short-
sightedness and stupidity, was a simple fact.
They were all true.
William smiled. It made for good hunting!
What else – who else – was out there, waiting to
join his collection?