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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 22

     When Leith woke on Sunday morning, a smile spread across his face. “What are you thinking about, Leith?” Fraser threw himself on the bottom of Leith’s bed. “The girl? That’s it! You’re thinking about Paisley.”

“Get off my bed, you lug and shut up!” Leith kicked Fraser off. He fell to the floor.

“Was that necessary?” Fraser sat on another boy’s bed. “I know you like her and she likes you. I hope it’s going to be a quiet day today. The others have gone off to choir practice and to change into their robes. We’d better eat breakfast and head over there. You had a late sleep in.”

Leith glanced at his watch. “Yikes!” He leaped out of bed and threw on his clothes without showering. “I’m late. The shower can wait.”

The two of them ate breakfast and headed for the church. Leith was amazed there was no sign of the goblin attack. When the choir came out from the back room, followed by the Minister, the man glanced at Leith and Fraser and cleared his throat.

“I wonder what the sermon will be about today,” Fraser said. “Should be interesting. I don’t feel the slightest bit tired and look at Murray. Can you believe what happened to him? It always seems like a dream the next day. He’s taking it all in stride, isn’t he?”

Leith watched Murray, who sang loud and strong and didn’t seem bothered by the previous night’s events.

After church they headed for the Sunday feast, once again having to sit with their halls. They were joined at their table by Rory and Grant. “I saw Rufus this morning. I think he’s gone mad.” Grant chuckled.

“Why? What did he do?” Leith’s eyebrows arched.

“He isn’t speaking right; he’s just babbling and making mumbling sounds. I was able to pick out the words goblin and gold. I wonder if he had a rumble with the goblins during the night.” Grant stopped talking when Headmaster stood at the front.

“I have an announcement. This morning the goblins were found in Dunstan. All were dead and stacked in a pile; all ninety-eight of them. Most were killed by bow and arrow. While it is sad to think of this sort of event occurring, at least we should have no more problems with those vile creatures. Their reign of terror and destruction has come to an end.”

Leith, Sandy and Fraser glanced at each other. They all knew there were two more left and that the trouble wasn’t quite over yet.

They feasted on Barley Skink, toasted cheese sandwiches, apple tarts with walnuts and cream, a mussels, scallop and prawn dish, Yorkshire pudding, steak and kidney pie, Spotted Dick, currant loaves, kedgeree, and Battenberg cake. After the heavy meal, they spent the rest of the day writing letters, making calls to home and reading. The lads welcomed the peaceful afternoon.

 Midnight came and the lads met in the hall. Everyone was there except Murray. “He doesn’t want to come tonight,” Duncan said. “I think he’s scared. He’s been having nightmares since he went to bed.”

“That’s not good, but I hear the best thing when something horrible happens is to jump back into it and conquer your fear before it ruins your life. I’ll go and fetch him. You wait for me in the cemetery.” Leith tiptoed into Hall Ten. Murray lay awake and saw Leith approach. “Murray.”

“I’m not coming, so go away.”

“Murray, you’re part of this. We can’t do it without you. If you don’t come, then Taygetus will try to harm others, like he did you, even babies.” Leith used guilt to try to manipulate the lad.

“All right. I’ll come, but I am staying by you the whole time. Make sure you have the arrow and bring some of that red water.” He dressed, followed Leith into the kitchen and out to the cemetery. The others waited inside the tunnel where it was warmer.

“I’m glad you came, Murray,” Fraser said.

“We all are,” Sandy said. “You’re part of our team. We’ll protect you from now on.”

“Good to see you, Paisley,” Leith said.

“She was here waiting for us,” Duncan said. Paisley grinned.

“We only have two more places to go. Tomorrow we’ll take the thorn and what we get today to Professor Wilson. He’s keeping everything for us,” Leith explained to Paisley.

“Can he be trusted?” Paisley moved closer to Leith.

“No!” Murray snarled.

“We’re not sure, but for now he’s helping us. We’re keeping our eye on him. He could get us all expelled, so we’re playing along with all of this.” Sandy tapped his feet. “Can we go now, please?”

“I’ll follow you,” Leith said.

Sandy saw the glow and led them through the time warp. They found themselves on top of a grass covered cliff. The sea pounded against the rocks below. “Wherever we are, and I think it’s another island, we’re staying here until daylight.”

The waves roared, as did the wind. A fine mist doused the air with dampness. “As long as the ground doesn’t open up and evil demons appear, I’ll be fine waiting. Can’t we walk around, Leith?” Now that Murray was out in the fresh air, he was too agitated to sit still.

“Take someone with you and watch every step. The tide is in and if you fall, you’re dead. Do you understand?” Leith took Murray’s shoulder in his hand. “Be careful.”

“I will. Who wants to come with me, Leith?”

“I’ll come,” Sandy said. “I’ll help you find a stone and seashell for your collection.”

Before they had taken one step a hissing sound caught their attention. “Are there snakes here? What’s that noise?” Murray stopped to listen.

“No snakes. It’s only the sound of the sea rushing into some sort of cave. I wonder if we’re on the Isle of Staffa. There’s a cave there called Fingal’s Cave. I just read about it during my interment at the Detention Library.” Leith looked toward the horizon. “I see a silhouette of land, so we’re not too far. That’s where we are. I paid attention to it because…”

“If you’re going to ramble on, Sandy and I are leaving,” Murray said. The two rushed off into the darkness.

“I want to hear about it,” Paisley said.

“It’s interesting. There was this composer named Felix Mendelssohn. Have you heard of him?” Leith began the story. “You’ve heard of The Wedding March, haven’t you? He wrote that and many others.”

“Of course. He was one of the greatest composers of all time as far as I am concerned.” Paisley looked at Fraser. “How about you, Fraser, and you, Duncan? Have you heard of him?”

“Yes.” Fraser lay on his back looking up at the stars. “Say, is that Orion?”

“Fraser, pay attention to Leith!” Paisley scolded him.

“I am listening. I just want to look at the stars at the same time.”

Duncan lay next to Fraser. “I’ll listen and look at stars too.”

“Go on, Leith; tell us more.” Paisley leaned her back against a large rock.

“Mendelssohn also composed music for The Hebrides Overture and he wrote it after he’d visited Fingal’s Cave. I remember because he visited the cave on August 8th. I forget the year, but it was around 1830. He came here with his friend on a paddle steamer. All the passengers suffered with seasickness. When they arrived at Fingal’s Cave, they had to get into small boats and the sea carried them into the cave.  His friend said the pillars looked like an organ. Even though they were both seasick, going there inspired Mendelssohn. He was only twenty years old at the time of his visit. He also composed the Third Symphony because of that visit. He tried to make his music sound like the cave, using cellos, bassoons and violas.  They say if you close your eyes while you are listening to his compositions, you can see the dark, cloudy skies and the blackish gray sea and can picture the loneliness of the island.”

     When Paisley looked over, both Duncan and Fraser were asleep. “Boys! That makes me want to listen to it. I’ll ask my Auntie Bessie to buy me a copy. Do you know anything else about this island? What’s it called again?”

     “Staffa. The columns, or pillars, are actually made of basalt from lava flows. When they cooled they formed into these hexagonal columns. We’ll see them better when it’s light. I wonder what I could possibly bring back from here. I don’t remember reading about a connection to Atlantis, but who knows.” Leith lay on his back. “The stars are quite pretty tonight. There are no lights.”

     “Leith, do you think there are people living on other planets?” Paisley lay next to him. “Look at all the stars. There must be life out there.” Leith didn’t answer. He was asleep. Paisley curled up next to him and closed her eyes.

     When Sandy and Murray came back they saw their friends. “Look at that, will you? She’s cuddling to Leith. Ha! Girls are so dumb.” Murray scoffed. “Disgusting. I hope no girls ever cuddle to me. I’ll punch them.”

     “You might think it’s bad right now, but soon you’ll be madly in love, like all the other blokes in the world. Gowan Ramsay, from Hall One, told me that’s all he thinks about. He hates it here because there are no girls.” Sandy shook his head to the side.

     “Not me. I will never like girls.” Murray lay on the grass.

     With nothing better to do to kill time, Sandy collapsed on his back and both fell asleep.

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