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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 7

     Friday morning came and with it a clear, sunny day. A cool wind blew, but the sky was blue and cloudless. Robert Burns was the topic for discussion in class. All went well except for the time when Rory tripped Leith, causing him to drop his school books. “Rich boy. Little rich boy. What’s the matter? Did you trip, little rich boy?” Rory’s word brought laughter, filling the room with chuckles and snickers. Leith picked up his books and headed to Caledonia Hall to meet Duncan and Murray. He didn’t wait for Fraser or Sandy.

     After lunch the group headed for Professor Wilson’s room. Leith had the quartz and coin in his pocket.

     “Leith, all you have to do is turn around and smack Rory in the mouth? You let him bully you. You’re bigger than him.” Fraser grabbed hold of Leith’s arm as they walked up the stairs. Leith wrenched it free.

     “Yeh. You take all his guff. He embarrasses you in front of the whole class and says a lot of rude things behind your back.” Sandy shook his head back and forth.

     “He isn’t worth it. It doesn’t bother me if he talks about me. He’s just jealous. Besides that, if you care so much, you could stick up for me! You could defend me and punch him in the mouth. As far as I see you two stand in the background cowering. Don’t make me out to be a wimp. You two are the cowards.” Leith opened the door to Hall Nine.

     “Lads! I was expecting you. Good to see you. I’m presuming you have got some more information for me?” Professor Wilson pulled a few chairs around his desk. “Go on and have a seat.”

     “We went to Perth. I have no idea about Fortreen, the son of Cruithne. We saw no sign of his presence anywhere,” Leith said.

     “What happened then? Did you find the book?” The professor sat behind the desk and swiveled around in the chair.

     “We went to the Fortingall yew. After that we went to Mt. Schiehallion. Some of us remembered our history and that there were caves, but we were not about to go looking for them,” Leith said.

     “Goblins attacked us.” Duncan showed the professor his bite marks.

     “My goodness. Those are horrid looking. Do the rest of you have these too? When you leave here go immediately to the infirmary and have those bites looked at.”

            “We all have a few. If the nurse sees these wounds, he will ask questions. Maybe you should go and bring some bandages to us. The goblins are ugly creatures with pointy ears and sharp teeth and long, sausage-like noses. Their arms and legs are skinny and their bodies only came up to our waists, but they were feisty. They probably had hidden treasure and were trying to stop us from finding it. It worked. We ran away, but not until we had beaten them silly.” Leith smiled thinking about the howling goblins. “They chased us all the way back to Fortingall. We were lucky to escape before they could get us. All we got were these pieces of quartz from the mountain and this Roman coin from the roots of the yew.” Leith placed them on the professor’s desk. “No book. Infact I don’t think the book is here in Scotland, or even in our time. I think it’s back in Atlantis, before the destruction.”     

              “That’s an interesting thought.” The professor examined the quartz and coin, holding them up to his eye. “Marvelous. These are amazing. Did you notice that there was something shiny inside each of these pieces of quartz?”       “Yes. What is it?” Leith took one from the professor and held it up to the light. “It looks like a diamond, but it’s pale blue.”                     

              “They are diamonds; rare diamonds.”  

           “I didn’t know diamonds came in different colors,” Sandy said.

              “Oh yes. The Hope Diamond, one of the most famous of all time, is deep blue, almost violet. Do you think there are more of them lying around on the ground?” The professor’s eyes twinkled. Murray stared at Professor Wilson. Something glowed in his eyes that bothered Murray; greed. “No matter. It isn’t important. All that matters is that you save our school. You lads are doing well. It would seem if your assumptions are correct, that the book is no longer an option. You have the scroll and these objects. You have to go to eight more places; unfortunate and all that, but can’t be helped. When this is all over, I would like you to come with me for a drive. We’ll go down to Fortingall and you can show me where you spotted these goblins. We can go prepared with ropes and maybe even handcuffs; perhaps we’ll find that book hidden there after all. In the meantime, I’ll hold onto these for safe keeping.” The boys watched as he unlocked his desk drawer, opened a box and put the objects inside next to the scroll. “You had better be off. Class will be starting soon.”    

     When they stood outside the classroom, Murray put his hand on Leith’s arm. “Leith, I don’t trust him. I think he’s bad. He doesn’t care about us, or about saving the school.”     

“What are you talking about?” Sandy overheard. “He is the greatest professor in the school. He is helping us by keeping everything safe and giving us information. He even said he would cover for us if we were late for class. Stop thinking that way, Murray.”    

     Leith agreed with Sandy. “He’s an all right guy, Murray. Don’t worry.”         

     Murray frowned. “Okay, but there is something about him that I don’t like.”   

     The bell rang. “Time for class. See you lads tonight in the hall,” Leith said.  

     “Tomorrow is Saturday. It’s a free day.  I would rather wait and go in the morning and have a good night’s sleep. I’m exhausted,” Duncan said.

     ”Right you are. The kitchen will be busy. Go out the front door and if anyone asks, say you’re going for a walk. It will be light out, so there’s more of a chance we might be seen. I suppose we could meet in the newer part of the cemetery and then when we think it’s safe, move to the back. See you at ten in the morning at the front gate of the cemetery.” Leith waved goodbye. Sandy, Fraser and he ran off to afternoon class.        

Professor Morrison allowed them some free time to do research. Leith headed for the library. He found a quiet corner and went in search of books about Mt. Schiehallion and Cruithne and his sons. He carried a stack back to his table. The first thing he found was a poem. Leith copied it into his own poetry book.   

“That’s interesting. I’ll have to study this book again when I have more time. Now, about Cruithne.” Leith put the book down and picked up another. He read through the pages, taking notes. He then studied about the Hyperborean, again writing down bits of important information and then looked up Mt. Shasta, California and how it linked to Mt. Schiehallion. “That’s great. I’ll look through my notes tonight. Better get to class.” He took the books and put them back on the proper shelf and then headed to class.

     “Oh look, it’s the little rich boy. Where have you been, rich boy? Changing your diapers?” Rory blocked the door so Leith couldn’t get in the room. “The rest of us didn’t have to use our father’s money to get into the school like you did. Do you think you are too good to start at age eight?”

     “Knock it off, Rory.” Grant Hume stomped over to him. “Get off his back. If you think your father didn’t use his power and influence to get you in here, then you are more stupid than I thought. We are all sons of rich men. It isn’t just Leith. He is just as worthy to come here as you and it isn’t his fault that his father worked overseas. If I see you bothering him again, I’ll put you on report and you’ll spend all your free time in Detention. Is that what you want?”

     Rory didn’t respond. His scowling face glared at Grant and then at Leith. He pulled open the door and went inside, slamming it behind him.

     “Thanks, Grant. I don’t know why he has it in for me.” Leith shook Grant’s hand.

     “No problem. Rory’s been a bully since he came here.” Grant smiled and then they went into the room together.

     Professor Morrison taught them about some of the 18th and 19th century Scottish artists. One of the other boys in the class, Creighton Napier, an artist, showed some of his work and gave a short lecture on George Jamesone, an early 17th century artist who was nicknamed ‘the Scottish van Dyck’.

     When the bell rang ending class, Leith decided to do a bit more exploring of the school. Even though he had been there more than six weeks, there was a lot he hadn’t seen. He found Rufus Stuart, the janitor, patching holes in the wall near Headmaster’s office. “Hello Rufus. Is it all right to call you that?” Leith waited for a response.

     “Aye, lad. Rufus is fine. The mortar holding these blocks of stone together is wearing away. This is an old building. Did you know these stone blocks were brought here from John O’Groats. Ewan McDiarmad had them sent here specifically to build this school. It was his castle at one time, but not for long.”

     “That’s interesting. I like the floors. I sometimes trip on the cobblestones. I wish they were flat and smooth. Thank goodness for carpets,” Leith said. “I’ve been admiring the stained glass. Most of it, at least in the halls, is new. Are there any old stained glass windows, original ones?”

     “Aye. The church has several of the original windows. Haven’t you noticed them before now? Pay attention the next time you’re there. The entire school attends church down the path. The abbey is on the grounds. You do attend church, don’t you?”

     “I guess I never paid attention,” Leith said. “When I go to church I keep my eye on the podium.”

“What’s your name, lad?”

     “Leith Wallace.”

     “Och, you’re a Wallace? That’s fine by me. You’re not too observant, are you? There are some stairs that lead down into a dungeon and tunnels that go to the church. Would you like to see?” Rufus winked at Leith.

     “I would love it. Let me go and put my books away and change out of this uniform. I’ll be back in ten minutes.” Leith rushed off. On the way back he ran into Sandy and Fraser and told them about Rufus’s offer.

     “Can we come too?” Fraser had already changed out of his uniform.

     “I suppose. Sandy, change into your jeans and meet us downstairs.” Leith raced off with Fraser.

     Sandy showed up a few minutes later. Rufus looked at both of them. “Och, you have brought a few of your mates. Are they trustworthy?”

“I trust them with my life,” Leith said.

     “That’s good enough for me.” Rufus led them to a door under the west stairs.

     “I didn’t know this door led anywhere. I thought it was just a broom closet,” Sandy said.

     “That’s what I want everyone to think. Keep it to yourselves.” Rufus looked around to make sure nobody was looking and then unlocked the door. “Inside. Quick.” He pushed them into the darkness. He flicked on a light switch. “Much better.”

     “Wow! This is cool. I never knew there was a dungeon here,” Sandy said.

     “Not many do. Most of the teachers don’t know.” Rufus led them down a steep flight of steps to a large room. Torture devices were scattered about. The boys ran to check them out. Suits of armor stood along one wall, complete with lances and swords. “Some of those suits of armor are five hundred years old and some even older. I come down and polish them once a year or so, just to keep them shiny and stop them from rusting.”

     “It smells down here,” Leith said.

     “You aren’t going to say like death and evil, are you?” Sandy ran his hand over one of the stretching devices.

     “I’m not Duncan,” Leith said. “It smells like wet dirt.”

     “I love these torture machines. This one was used to stretch people. That must have hurt,” Fraser said.

     Sandy tried to turn the wheel.

     “They all hurt. That’s why they were called torture devices. Enough of this. I don’t want to be putting ideas into your young minds. Follow me.” Rufus turned on another light. “Here are the tunnels. There is a vast system under this school. One leads to the loch. One leads to the church and others come to an end behind bushes. There’s one that comes out on the outside of the gate, but I wont show you which one. Don’t think of escaping!” Rufus snickered

     “Don’t worry about that, Rufus,” Leith said, making note.

     “What else is down here?” Fraser stroked one of the suits of armor. “Is there a treasure, or the crown jewels, or Robert the Bruce’s sword, or anything like that?”

     “You read too many books, lad. There is no treasure here that I’m aware of and I have explored every tunnel, nook and cranny. I’m afraid it’s just what you see.” Rufus glanced at his watch. “It’s nearly supper time. We had better head back.”

     Leith picked up a small, toothpick sized piece of wood he saw lying on the ground. When they got to the top of the steps and while Rufus wasn’t looking, he jammed it into the lock, so that when Rufus put the key in, it wouldn’t fully lock.

     After a fish and chip supper they went swimming and then while Sandy and Fraser went to watch a DVD, Leith laid on his bed, studying his notes from the library.

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