“Will we get into trouble
if we get caught?” Murray whispered. “I hope nobody saw Duncan and me
sneak out of the hall. I think they were all asleep.”
“Then stop worrying,”
Sandy said. “And stop talking. Our voices, even whispers, travel in this
cavernous school. Follow me.” Murray, Duncan, Fraser and Leith traipsed
after Sandy. “Stay on the carpet as much as possible.”
It was so quiet that they
could hear their own breaths. Each step squeaked under their shoes; the
noise bouncing off the marble floors and pillars. Once they reached the
bottom of the steps, Leith grabbed Sandy’s arm. “We can’t march out the
front door. Someone will catch us. I should have listened to Grant when he
warned me you were trouble.”
“Oh? He said that, did he?
Remind me to have a wee chat with Grant. Relax; we aren’t going near the
front door. There’s another way out through the kitchen. Quiet.” Sandy led
the group into the room. After the door shut behind them, he felt freer to
talk. “Nobody will hear us now. The outside door is over here.”
“I’m not sure I want to go
to the cemetery,” Duncan said. “We’ll be dismissed if we’re caught. My
father would never let me forget it. I’ll be grounded for the rest of my
“I have done this at least
a dozen times and never been caught. There are some ugly creatures on the
headstones. You’ve got to see them and the best reason, they’re forbidden.
The only way we’ll get caught is if you two babies start crying. You’ve
been here at the school for six weeks now. You know how things work around
here. I shouldn’t have let Leith talk me into inviting you two. Do you
want to come, or go back to bed to suck your thumbs?” Sandy glanced at
each of the other boys, who shook their heads humbly. “All right. Coats?
Gloves? Hats? Right. Here we go. I have a key.” He opened the heavy wooden
door and turned to the others.
A bitter wind blasted them
as they stepped outside. “It’s bloody cold out here.” Fraser rubbed his
arms. “How did you get a key, Sandy?”
“I took it from
Headmaster’s desk. He has a hundred keys on the key ring. It’s been two
years and he’s not noticed it missing yet. It will be warmer once we get
to the cemetery. It’s protected from the wind by the school,” Sandy said.
The sound of waves battering the rocks and cliffs of the island somehow
made it feel even colder.
“The school is all lit up.
If one of the teachers or other students sees us, we’re in for it,” Leith
“It’s after midnight.
They’re all sleeping. The lights are hall lights. Stop being such a worry
wart. It’s only a short distance. Stay near the bushes and trees. We’re
all dressed in dark clothes.” Sandy ran ahead. When the others caught up,
they stopped at a black iron fence that surrounded the cemetery. “We’re
here. One of the bars is loose. That will save us from having to go in the
front gate.” He wiggled the cold iron post back and forth and then pushed
it to the side. After squeezing his body through, Sandy called to the
others. “Come on.” One by one they made their way between the bars.
“It’s spooky in here,”
Duncan said. “It smells damp and musty. It smells like death. I feel
ghosts and evil spirits around me.”
“How can a place smell
like death?” Fraser mocked Duncan.
“What do you mean ghosts
and evil spirits?” Murray grabbed Duncan’s arm.
“It smells old and moldy,
like a dead person would smell.” Duncan looked at the inscriptions on the
crosses. “I may have only been in this school a few weeks, but I know what
some of these symbols are and I don’t like it.”
“What do they say?” Fraser
was too frightened to attempt to read.
“This one says,” Duncan
said, rubbing the stone with the palm of his hand, “May your bones rattle
for centuries and may your teeth rot in your skull. That’s nice. This one
is even better. Whosoever reads this and is born on August 8th,
will call forth an ancient and set in motion a chain of events that could
lead to the destruction of the world as you know it.”
“I guess it’s a good thing
our birthdays aren’t on August 8th,” Fraser said.
“Um, wait a minute. I’m
not that lucky. My birthday is August 8th.” Murray gulped.
“Mine too.” Duncan’s eyes
bulged with fear.
“Me too.” Leith gave a
“Great!” Fraser walked a
few paces ahead. “Three of you? Does that mean you’re going to have your
“You’re daft, Duncan.
You’re just making that up to frighten us. This is a Pict cemetery.
They’ve been dead for too long,” Sandy said. “That’s a lot of blether
about smelling ghosts and spirits.”
“Oh yeah? Then what’s
that?” Leith gasped and pointed to an ethereal figure hovering in front of
one of the Pictish crosses. Duncan and Murray moved behind Leith and
peeked out. “It looks like a ghost to me; a ghost that Duncan just called
forth when he read that headstone.”
Sandy and Fraser didn’t
speak, but moved behind a large headstone. They gawked at the form
floating a few feet off the ground. “What’s it doing?” Fraser whispered as
he backed up a few steps. The spirit formed into the shape of a man and
moved towards the boys. “I’m out of here!”
Fraser turned to run, but
Sandy grabbed hold of him. “Don’t move. I don’t think it will hurt us.”
“How do you know it won’t
hurt us? Is it wearing a halo?” Fraser tried to pull his arm free. “Let go
of me. I’m going back to the school.”
The figure hovered in
front of them and then moved closer to Leith, who could see the outline of
a face, arms and body. A soft voice spoke. “My name is Abaris. I’m a
Hyperborean and one of Apollo’s priests.”
Leith gulped and then
found the courage to speak. “Apollo, as in the Greek god, Apollo?”
“That is correct. I have
been sent here to warn and prepare you for events that are soon to come to
pass. Only you three,” Abaris pointed to Leith, Duncan and Murray, with
help of your two friends, can accomplish the task.”
“What task?” The words slipped out of Sandy’s mouth.
“Who is this guy?” Fraser stopped struggling. “This is
a trick. Funny one, Sandy.”
“It’s not a trick,” Sandy said.
The spirit continued. “As
you know, the great civilization of Atlantis was destroyed. Before it was
completely annihilated, some of the citizens escaped by boat and took many
books and treasures to an island, Iona. Have you heard of it?” Abaris’ low
voice frightened Murray.
“Of course we’ve heard of
Iona. It’s an island off the coast of western Scotland,” Fraser blurted.
“What does Atlantis have to do with Iona, or with us?”
Abaris glared at Fraser.
“You are an impatient young man. May I finish without interruption? I’m
pleased to hear that you know of Iona. It will make your job easier.”
“Easier? Job? What is he
talking about?” Fraser stepped out from behind the headstone. “Who are
“Haven’t you been
listening? Many centuries ago, the Atlanteans built a great library on
Iona and filled it with ancient books and scrolls that they saved from
destruction. When the boy, Duncan, called me forth by reading the
inscription, he started a chain of events that will possibly lead to the
death and destruction of the Scotland you know, starting with the death of
your ancestor, Malcolm Canmore.”
“Way to go, Duncan,” Sandy
said, pushing the lad down to the ground. “This is all your fault.”
“It’s nobody’s fault. It’s
part of what is supposed to be. You were destined to be here. Once again,
without interruptions, I hope; there once lived an evil wizard named
Taygetus. He made a pact with one of Macbeth’s sons to bring about his
return. This son had children, who had children and on and on. Now there
is but one descendant of Macbeth through this son living in your time.
Taygetus will use this person to bring him back to life and then evil will
be unleashed on the world. Once he has come back, the wizard will travel
back in time and change history so that Malcolm Canmore dies in the battle
instead of Macbeth. There are dire consequences that will take place
because of this. Your school will cease to exist and worse, you boys will
“Say what?” Sandy’s mouth
hung open with confusion.
“You mean unless we do
something we will never have been born?” Duncan gulped.
Leith stepped closer to
Abaris. “What are you talking about? People can’t go back in time and
there is no such thing as an evil wizard. Is this some sort of trick that
Kenneth McAlpin Hall boys made up to frighten us? Are you in on it,
“Don’t look at me. This is
the first I have heard of it. It’s no trick,” Sandy said, shaking with
“What do you want us to
do? How can we help?” Leith turned to Duncan and Murray. “Our birthday is
August 8th. What does that have to do with anything?”
“What’s a Hyperborean?”
Murray spat out the words.
“You’ll learn about it
next year,” Sandy said. “We three know a little about Atlantis and we’ve
heard of you before, but go ahead and explain it to the younger lads. I’m
anxious to hear what you have to say.”
“Hyperborean are a race of
people from the north. That’s all you need to know right now. For the time
being it doesn’t pertain to you. August 8th is the date
Atlantis was destroyed. I will explain it one more time. When Atlantis was
destroyed, a group of people, Atlanteans, escaped in boats. They sailed
north and landed on the island of Iona. There they built a library to hold
all the items they brought from Atlantis and settled on the island. One of
these Atlanteans is the descendant of an evil wizard named Taygetus. Do
you have that so far?” Abaris glanced at each lad.
“So there are two
descendants; Macbeth’s and Taygetus’s. Okay. And Malcolm Canmore battled
Macbeth and killed him. Scotland went on to become what it is today
because of this one single event. Taygetus wants to find the one and only
descendant of Macbeth.”
“Why?” Duncan raised his
hand to ask the question.
“A descendant of Macbeth
is the only person who can call Taygetus back to life.”
“You ask too many
questions, Duncan. It’s just the way it is. Have you forgotten what I
explained about the wizard making a pact with one of Macbeth’s children?
It must be a descendant of Macbeth. He or she will call Taygetus, the evil
wizard, back to life, and once that happens, the wizard will go back in
time and change history so that Macbeth kills Canmore instead of Canmore
killing Macbeth. Do you understand that so far?” Abaris shook his head.
“Good. Now look around you. These are Pictish crosses. Under one of these
are a few tunnels. Each tunnel leads to another time and place. By
studying these Pictish Oghams on the crosses, you’ll be able to figure out
which cross is the correct one,” Abaris said.
“Correct one for what? You
expect us to go into underground tunnels and go back in time?” Sandy
glanced at the crosses. “We all know about Oghams. So what you’re saying
is that there are clues that will show us where we should go?”
“The clues will lead you
to Iona, near the hidden library. You’ll have to do some searching, but I
have confidence you’ll find it quickly,” Abaris said.
“Atlantis? You mean there
really was such a place? Why do we need to go to Atlantis?” Murray looked
at the other boys.
“We aren’t talking about
Atlantis right now, Murray. We are discussing Iona,” Sandy said with a
smirk on his face.
Abaris sighed. “Because
you need to and it must be immediately before Atlantis’ destruction. You
are to stop Taygetus’ ancestor from leaving Atlantis alive, so that he or
she will never be born. There are clues in the book that will tell you who
this ancestor is and how to find your way there. One thing I do know is
that the descendant of Taygetus is a female.”
“One more time. I don’t
get this. I know that Malcolm Canmore kills Macbeth. Someone is trying to
go back in time and make it so Macbeth kills Malcolm Canmore instead?”
Sandy scratched his head. “I also know that Macbeth was the last Celtic
king and the Celts rule ended with his death. If he had lived, the Celts
would have probably gone on to conquer most of Britain. The British Empire
ruled most of the world at one time. That would change. Oh. All right. I
get it. No wonder Taygetus wants things to happen. And you want us to go
to Atlantis and kill someone?”
“That’s correct. You have
no need to kill her. Just prevent her from leaving Atlantis before it’s
destroyed. What you don’t know is that Macbeth had an illegitimate son
named Robert. He is unknown to most historians and is never mentioned in
books. Robert dabbled into the occult and somehow ended up having a wizard
on his side. This wizard, Taygetus, promised Robert that one day he, the
wizard, would be brought back to life and would travel back in time and
change the past so that Macbeth lived and Canmore would die and that would
allow Robert to be the next Celtic king. All of Robert’s descendants are
dead, except one, a girl named Paisley Opis Greer, who will eventually
learn who she is and that she is capable of using the information she has
learned to bring Taygetus back to life. It will benefit her, so she will
be eager. Taygetus is a descendant of Atlantis. The clues and information
you gather will tell you who this female Atlantean is.”
“Okay. I have got that part so far. I don’t believe
it, but I understand what you’re saying. I have never heard of Robert, but
go on,” Leith said.
“Opis is the name of a
Hyperborean maiden, by the way. Your job is to find a special book and the
girl before she learns her identity and stop her from calling Taygetus
back to life and then go back to Atlantis and destroy his ancestor.”
“How can she do that? What
if we can’t find the book?” Sandy pulled his coat up around his neck.
“What if we can’t find this Paisley girl?”
“The book is in the
library on Iona. Your path will cross with the girl’s sooner or later
during your quest. If you don’t find the book, there is an alternative.
You’ll have to go to ten different places. There will be objects at each
place you must gather. All ten of these places are connected in some way,
though it might seem confusing to you at times. I don’t believe they are
all directly linked with Atlantis, but they are all representative of the
history of this part of the world. This will be time consuming and
somewhat dangerous for you, but if the book isn’t there then you’ll have
no choice. The ten things together will have a power greater than Taygetus
could ever imagine.”
“Ten places? You’re saying
if we can’t find this one book, which we know nothing about, we will have
to go to ten different places, find something at each place, and keep them
all together until…” Leith hesitated.
“Until you figure out how
to get to Atlantis. You’re making this much more difficult than it needs
to be. Once you have the ten objects, you will be led to the place where
you will travel to Atlantis.” Abaris took a deep breath. His filmy shape
“Will we be in a time
machine or what?” Sandy’s eyes bulged with curiosity. “This is actually
beginning to sound fun.”
“There is no time machine,
if you mean something made of metal or wood. You’ll understand more as you
gather your clues. You five boys are now called of Apollo to this quest.
One could say you are Apollo’s Soldiers. Do you accept?” Abaris gazed into
each boy’s eyes.
“If we go to these places,
how will we do our school work? How can we leave without our teachers
knowing we are missing? What if we get caught?” Murray rambled on with
“Time works differently
once you’re in the tunnels. Of course it will be safer if you come out at
night after everyone is asleep. Once you go into a tunnel, you’ll travel,
but when you return, no time will have passed here.” Abaris stared at
Murray, awaiting confirmation that he understood.
The five boys whispered to
each other, discussing their opinions. Leith cleared his throat and spoke
for the others. “We’ll do it. We want to live and we don’t want this
school to disappear either. Most of all, we don’t want Macbeth to kill
Malcolm Canmore. He is our blood relative.”
“I want to be one of
Apollo’s Soldiers. That’s so cool,” Fraser said.
“Study the stones here in
the graveyard. Once you have figured out which tunnel is the correct one,
enter and you’ll find yourself in Iona. Pictish Oghams are difficult to
comprehend. You must take the correct tunnel. Danger may find you if you
by chance enter the wrong one. Once you get to Iona you will have to
search for the library and I warn you, it won’t be easy. If you need my
help, take this in your hand and call for me. Use it only in a life or
death situation.” Abaris handed Leith a golden arrow. “This was given to
me by Apollo himself. When you arrive in Atlantis, it will be of great aid
to you in understanding the language. Protect it and guard it. It may save
your life at some point. Good luck, Apollo’s Soldiers.” With that Abaris
“Did that just happen? Was
that real?” Fraser looked around the now silent cemetery.
Aside from the golden
arrow in Leith’s hand, there was no sign anything had occurred. Leith
slipped it into his back pocket. “I have heard of this arrow before. It’s
much shorter than I thought it would be. Now I wish I had paid more
attention when my tutor taught me all this stuff.”
“Me too,” Fraser said.
Sandy fell to the ground.
“Get down. It’s Mungo Williams, the caretaker. If he finds us out here
he’ll hand us over to Headmaster.” The group hid behind the stone crosses.
Mungo stopped at the
cemetery and glanced through the bars. “Who’s in there? I heard noises.
What was that strange glow? Answer me, or I’ll get the dogs.”
The boys heard his heavy
breathing. “Dogs?” Leith whispered to Sandy. “I didn’t know we had guard
“We don’t. He’s trying to
frighten us. Keep quiet.” Sandy raised his head and saw Mungo standing
near the rail.
“I’m coming in. I’ll find
you. I know you’re in there.” The caretaker went to the front of the
“Do you think he’ll come
in and look for us?” Murray’s teeth chattered.
“If he does, we’ll make
scary noises. I know Mungo. He’s usually drunk at night. It’ll be easy to
frighten him.” Sandy chuckled.
“Here he comes. He’s near
the Celtic crosses.” Fraser ducked.
“Stay here.” Sandy inched
from one cross to another. He cupped his hands around his mouth and
“What was that? Who’s
there?” Mungo stopped and looked around.
“You may not enter this
cemetery. I will have your soul,” Sandy moaned. “Depart, or die.”
Mungo turned and ran out
of the cemetery. He didn’t stop until he was back at the school.
“He’s gone,” Leith said.
“I didn’t know the caretaker patrolled the grounds at night. Headmaster
doesn’t trust us, does he? Way to go, Sandy. That was great. You
frightened the whiskey out of him.” They all burst out laughing. Leith
continued. “We need to study these crosses. We all know our Pictish
Oghams.” The others nodded. “Murray, you stay with Sandy; Duncan, you go
with Fraser. Remember, the Picts used fifty symbols, mostly pictures of
scenes, warriors, horses and thing. The Oghams are an alphabet system of
notches and lines. We are looking for a clue that tells which tunnel we
need. I imagine the tunnel will be under the cross. Be careful. These
crosses are fragile.”
They separated, each
searching the worn stone markers for a clue. “These things are covered
with moss and lichens. Most of the writing is worn down and nearly
impossible to read,” Murray said. “Besides that, we have only been here a
few weeks. Duncan and I are just now learning the ancient languages.”
“Do the best you can,”
Half an hour had passed
when Fraser shouted from across the cemetery. “I found it.” The others ran
over to him. “This says that the tunnel to Iona is under the cross.”
“Keep your voice down. We
have no idea where Mungo is, or if there are guard dogs. How can you tell?
The writing is unreadable and it’s dark out here,” Sandy said.
“It’s a full moon. See
this? Run your fingers over it. I had to scrape off the mossy stuff, but I
can decipher it,” Fraser said.
Leith examined the stone.
“We have got to be certain it’s the correct cross. Fraser’s right. It does
“What if we go into the
tunnel and go to Iona, but can’t get back? Can you imagine how mad our
parents would be if we had to call them from there and tell them to come
and get us?” Sandy snickered. “That would be kind of funny though.”
“My father wouldn’t think
it was funny. Start moving the dirt away from the bottom of the stone with
your hands. If you find something let me know.” Leith fell to his knees
and ran his fingers over the bottom of the cross. Clumps of wild grasses
grew, matted and thick. He tugged a patch away and a hole appeared. “That
was easy. I found it. Come and help me. Try to keep the pieces as big as
you can. We need to cover the hole.” Together they tore all the grass away
until there was a hole wide enough for them to fit through. “I’ll go first
and see how much of a drop there is. Wait here.” Leith slid his legs into
the hole. “Watch for the groundskeeper. He might come back.” The boy
dropped to the dirt on the bottom of the tunnel. “It isn’t a big drop;
it’s pitch black down here. How are we supposed to know which way to go?”
Leith looked behind him. “Wait! There’s a strange glow up ahead. Duncan,
you and Murray get down here. You’re doing this with me.”
“It’s a good thing we
aren’t wearing our uniforms,” Sandy said.
The younger boys dropped
into the hole, followed by Sandy and Fraser. “Should we patch it up so
nobody can see it?” Fraser reached his hand out for some of the grass.
“Nobody comes here,
Fraser. It’s off limits, remember? It’s also the middle of the night. Just
leave it for now. I don’t think Mungo will be returning tonight.” Sandy
let his eyes adjust to the darkness. “I see it too. What is it?”
“It must be the time warp,
or whatever that
Abaris-man-ghost-person said.” Duncan chuckled.
“What are we supposed to
do; walk through it?” Fraser kept his eyes open and alert.
“I guess so. I’ll go
first. Follow me a few seconds later, one at a time, starting with Duncan
and Murray.” Leith took a deep breath. He put his left foot through it and
then his body lurched forward.
“He’s gone. This is too
weird. First we see a ghost and then we find out he’s mates with Apollo,
the Greek god. It’s like a dream. Do you think it’s a dream and we will
wake up soon in our beds?” Sandy jumped when Murray pinched him. “Ouch.
Why did you do that?”
“To show you it isn’t a
dream. Since when do five people have the exact same dream?” Murray walked
up to the filmy, mother-of-pearlish wall and stepped through.
“I guess I’m next,” Duncan
said. “I didn’t hear any screams, so it must be safe.” He disappeared
leaving Sandy and Fraser.
“Let’s forget about them
and go back to the hall. After all, they are the ones who are supposed to
be doing all this, not us. We’re just along for the ride,” Fraser said.
“You go back if you want.
I’m following them. Nothing this exciting has happened since I started
coming to this school. I’m going.” Sandy jumped through to the other side.
“Wait for me then. I’m not
staying here alone.” He disappeared.