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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 3

“What just happened? Did you feel that? I tingled all over. Where are we? It’s pitch black. Is this Iona? I have never been here before,” Fraser said when he saw the others. “Why are you all standing around?”

“Are you finished asking your stupid questions?” Leith snapped.

“They aren’t stupid questions.”

“Let me answer them for you then. First of all, we just traveled through some sort of time warp. I felt it and I tingled all over. I imagine we all did. Yes, it’s pitch black and this must be Iona, unless we took the wrong tunnel. Speaking of which, we were in such a rush to find the tunnel that we forgot to look for instructions on how to find the library. Either we go back and look again, or just start looking around here and hope we find it,” Leith said.

“Let’s just start here. Remember where we are right now, because somehow we have got to go back through the tunnel.” Sandy looked behind him. “I guess we come back to this mound. There’s the abbey. It would have been nice if our ghost, Abaris, had explained to us how we get back to the school.” When nobody responded Sandy shrugged his shoulders and then they ran up to the ancient stone building.

“Where do you think a library might have been built? This island isn’t that big, is it?” Duncan strained to look through one of the abbey’s stained glass windows. He rubbed the dirt off with the bottom of his sleeve. “It smells salty.”

“Dun, Duncan. We’re on an island that’s too big if you have to search under every nook and cranny. I say we start right here at the abbey. I remember hearing that the abbey was built on top of ancient ruins. Usually they build churches on top of places that are sacred. Why not a library? Would that be considered sacred?” They stepped inside and found the staircase leading down to the lower level. Leith looked at the stones under his feet as he walked. “Let’s spread out and search.”

     “What are we searching for?” Sandy ran his fingers over the damp, mossy wall. “Is everything in Scotland covered with moss? I think I’d like to live in the tropics.”

“No you wouldn’t. It’s hot and steamy. Instead of moss you get giant bugs and snakes. I’d take this any day. I have no idea what we are supposed to be looking for; maybe a loose stone in the floor, or a hidden staircase, or a depression in the stone; anything odd.” Leith fell to his knees. “I’ll take this room. I believe this part used to be a monastery that St. Columba built way back around 563 A.D.; this has got to be the place. It’s too holy. Be careful what you touch. There are a lot of sacred and valuable things in here.” Leith laughed out loud. “I can just imagine my father if he found out what we were doing and heaven help if he heard my bad language.”

“You’re dad doesn’t sound very nice, Leith, sorry to say.” Sandy’s words stole the smile off Leith’s face. The five boys went from room to room. After several hours and finding nothing unusual, they stepped outside. “There are tons of Celtic crosses and ruins around here. We all know how to read Celtic. Maybe one of them might give us a hint.” Sandy ran ahead of them.

     “Be careful. The moon is out and it’s casting some light, but there are stones poking out all over the place,” Fraser said.

“What if they aren’t stones? What if they are bones?” Sandy gave a wicked laugh.

Each boy took an area and read the markings on the crosses. Fraser walked over to Leith. “No luck. Maybe one of us should go back to the Pict cemetery marker.”

     “Let’s be patient. I’ve had no luck either, but maybe Duncan or Murray might,” Leith said.

     “They can barely read Celtic. They’ve only been in school a few weeks.” Fraser placed his palms on his hips.

“They’re bright boys. Go and help Sandy. I’ll stay with Duncan and Murray.” Leith ran off to help the younger lads.

They met up an hour later. Leith glanced at the moon. “I suppose there’s no choice. I’ll go back. You all stay here and wait for me. No running off and getting yourself lost.” Leith dashed down the hill.

     The other boys heard a scream and ran after Leith. “Where did he go? He’s disappeared,” Sandy said, scanning the horizon.

“I’m down here.” Leith’s muffled voice called from below.

     “Down where? Where are you, Leith?” Duncan moved from side to side, straining to hear the voice.

     “Right here in front of you. I fell into a hole. It isn’t the tunnel back to the school, but its glowing. Whoa! Look at that.”

     “Whoa what? Leith? What did you find?” Sandy lay on his belly and called into the hole. “No answer. I’m going down.” He jumped. “It isn’t too deep. Come on.” 

Fraser, Duncan and Murray slid in feet first, instead of jumping. “Leith?” Murray called his friend’s name.

“There’s a light up there.” Sandy ran toward it. “Leith, is that you?”

“Wait till you see this. We found it.” Leith shouted with excitement.

“Wow! Would you look at this; the library. I wonder why nobody else over all the centuries fell into this hole and found it,” Fraser questioned.

“Because they weren’t supposed to; we were. It’s been hidden from mankind for all this time waiting for us.” Duncan grinned from ear to ear. “This is so cool.”

“We have to find a book. I have no idea what sort of book, but I suppose we will know when we find it,” Leith said.

Sandy looked around the room. “It’s a library! There must be a zillion million books in here. Look at the size of this place. How will we know which is the right book? What’s the title?”

“Abaris didn’t say and I never thought to ask,” Leith said.

The room extended under the Abbey and other island ruins. Buried under twenty feet of stone and grass, the books had managed to stay bone dry. There was no sign of mold or wear on any of the books. Rows of stone shelves stood, going from side to side. From where the boys were, it was impossible to see where it all ended.

“Just start looking for something that says Atlantis on it. When you find it, bring it to me.” Leith looked at the rows and assigned several to each boy.

“Won’t the word Atlantis be written in Atlantean? None of us know how to read that or even know what it looks like.” Duncan rubbed his forehead. “This stinks.”

“What stinks?” Leith sniffed.

“Not the air; I mean all these books and we have no idea what we’re looking for. It gives me a headache.”

“It’s really weird to think people from Atlantis built this library here on Iona,” Fraser said.

“They didn’t call the island Iona back then. The Atlanteans called it Aberuk, which means, ‘distant place of the heart’. The Hyperborean called it Iuma, which means ‘bright land’.” Leith explained to the others.

“How do you know that? You’re such a know-it-all, Leith,” Sandy said.

“It says so, right here in this book I found. If you would get going and stop worrying about me, you might find a book too. Hint. Hint.” Leith coughed to clear his throat. “Duncan, come and look at this. I think this is their symbol for Atlantis. All of you; come and see. It might help.”

    Fraser, with face buried in the pages of a thick, leather-bound volume, came walking up to Leith. “I don’t think this is it, but this book has some stuff about Abaris in it.”

     “Oh? What does it say?” Leith kept looking through the book titles while Fraser spoke.

“It says that Abaris was a good man and that between 770-400 BC he fled from Scythia to Greece so he wouldn’t catch the plague. The golden arrow he gave you was supposed to cure disease and had the ability to make him invisible. Cool. Do you think you can go invisible by using the arrow? It also says he could ride through the sky. That means he could fly. You should try it, Leith,” Fraser said, his eyes bright with excitement. “This is great stuff. Abaris used to tell the future by looking at the entrails of animals. Sick. He also was good at math. I hate math.”

“That’s brilliant, Fraser, but I can’t fly around in here. I’m not good at math either and I would never look at an animal’s entrails.” Leith stuck his finger down his throat like he was trying to make himself sick.

“What’s an entrail?” Duncan screwed up his face, not sure if he wanted to know.

“Guts,” Sandy answered.

Leith interrupted. “I do like the thoughts of being invisible. I could punch Rory and he’d never know what hit him, or I could pull his pants down in front of Headmaster. Patience, Leith, patience. I suppose we’ll have to wait until we’ve found the book and then see if the golden arrow works like it says. What else does that book say about Abaris?” Leith pulled another book off the top shelf.

“It says he wandered about Greece healing all the sick people, telling the future and never eating. He also performed miracles and saved people from the plague.”

“Hey! Leith! I think I found something,” Duncan called from a few rows over. “It isn’t a book, but it’s a scroll.”

“Bring it here and let’s have a look.” Leith shouted to the others. “We should all take a break. Let’s look at the scroll Duncan found.” The others rushed up to the front.

Sandy wrenched the scroll from Duncan’s hands and unrolled it. “It’s written in ancient Celtic. Uh oh. Not good. That means it isn’t from Atlantis and that means…”

Murray finished the sentence, “That someone else has been here and probably has the book in their possession.”

“The scroll says that there are a lot of ancient kings buried here at Iona, even some Vikings. Macbeth is buried here too. Interesting,” Sandy said. “We could go and find Macbeth’s grave, dig it up and scatter his bones in the sea. He’ll have a hard time coming back to life with no body.” The others shook their heads. “Not a good idea, eh?” He unrolled the scroll and continued. “It’s signed by Cruithne. It says he took the book, so there’s no sense in us looking any further.”

“Cruithne? They are the original Albans, or as we know them, the Picts. They are a race of people, but there was a man named that too. Cruithne had seven sons. I paid attention in class,” Fraser said.

“Cruithne Hall. This is interesting. It says that Cruithne gave the book to one of his sons while they were here in Iona and he was going to hide it somewhere. Great! Now we have got to go looking for the book somewhere else?” Sandy dropped the scroll on a wooden table.

“How did Cruithne know that the book was important? Did he know about Taygetus and Macbeth’s son, Robert? Why would he send it away with one of his sons?” Murray lips puckered to the side.

“Good questions. He must have known something. Maybe when he found the book he read about bringing the wizard back to life and didn’t want all of the events to happen. Who knows! Hey, be careful with that. The scroll is from 800 BC or so. Be respectful of the past, Sandy,” Leith lectured. “I think we need to get Professor Wilson to help us figure all this out. Let’s get back to the school and sleep. We can meet during our lunch hour at Wilson’s office. We can take the scroll with us and ask him questions. I have the feeling this scroll is important. Remind me when we go somewhere else, to take a backpack with me to carry things.” Leith put it inside his coat lining and zipped it up.

“I agree with Leith,” Duncan said. “I’m dead tired.”

“Me too,” Murray said with a yawn.

“What about trying to be invisible and flying? You have  the golden arrow of Apollo,” Fraser reminded Leith.

“I know. I won’t forget, but I’m too tired right now.”

“What about this library? It needs to be researched and photographed and all the books given to the British Museum,” Sandy said. “We can’t leave it here like this. Can you imagine what those books are worth? Some are covered in gold and precious gems. There are so many of them. Some of them might change history.”

     “Let’s mark it with a pile of stones and cover the hole back up. We’ll come back after this is all over and then we’ll tell others. If our fathers find out what we’re up to then this is a great way to have security; they get mad, we show them this,” Leith said.

     Nobody argued. They climbed out of the hole, leaving a pile of stones so they could find it again later and walked down the hill to the tunnel.

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