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Rolfin's Orb
Book 10 - Argentina – Tanzanite
Chapter 5

        They stopped in front of a sign. “Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino.” Fiona read the name. “Yep, this is it, the Train of the End of the World.” She bent over a wooden fence. “I don’t think this is a real train. It looks like a bunch of wagons with windows that are pulled by a steam engine. Oh well, as long as it takes us where we want to go.”

          They paid their money for tickets and boarded the train. They were the only people on it aside from the engineer in the engine train so they got to pick the coach they wanted. “It says it’s an eight kilometer ride and takes about fifty minutes to get there. We might as well enjoy the view.”

          The train started up and chugged its way down south. Most of the time it hugged the River Pipo. They saw the reconstruction of an ancient aboriginal settlement and many trees, lakes and smaller rivers.

          “Callum, what kind of trees are those? I don’t recognize them.” Elspet turned to look at her friend.

          “I have no idea.” He grabbed his pamphlet that the conductor handed him when they bought their tickets. “It says they are coihues and lengas, whatever that means.”

“Coihues are morello cherry trees. They’re sour. Lengas are just pretty trees.” Fiona sighed. “Having the power to understand languages sure comes in handy. I wonder what our third trap will be. So far I’m rather disappointed. These have got to be the simplest traps so far.”

“Remember, Fiona, only because you have powers. If we didn’t have your powers, we’d have died on that ship. Never take them for granted. You earned them and are entitled to use them, but they are a gift to you from the wizards of Xilia. Never forget that,” Jimmy warned.

“You’re right. I won’t forget. It sure is barren here. All I can see are trees and rocks. The wind is cold, even though it’s barely blowing. Can you believe we’re at the very southern tip of the world? The only thing further is Antarctica and that’s all ice.” Elspet looked out the window.

“I think Antarctica does have bare land in the summer. I’ve seen pictures of penguins waddling on dirt.” Callum corrected Elspet.

“We didn’t go and see the penguin rookery. Maybe we can do that when we get back, if there’s time. I love penguins.” Elspet grinned.

“Why does it feel like the train is moving faster when we’re actually getting closer to the end of the line. Shouldn’t it be going slower?” Callum stood and peeked out the window. “Whoa! We’re going way too fast. The trees are a blur.”

Jimmy stood next to Callum. “He’s right. The train is traveling at a high rate of speed. We’re moving much too fast for these types of cars. We might derail.”

At the same time, both Fiona and Elspet said, “Trap number three.”

“I want to see the end of the world, but not the end of my life. What are we going to do?” Callum looked at Fiona.

“Why is it always me you look to for help? I am tired of saving everyone all the time. Does it ever occur to you that now and then I’d like someone to save me?” Fiona flung her arms to her sides. “I’m tired of all of this. I’m tired of danger. I’m tired of Drayton and Phelan and going to all these out of the way places. I’m tired of everything.” She fell to her seat and cried.

Jimmy sat next to her. “Fiona, I understand why you feel that way. You’ve had a huge load to carry for several weeks now. Your calm life has been turned upside down. You never get to go to school or simply play with your friends, or that silly doll house I made for you.”

Fiona looked up at Jimmy and then over at Elspet and Callum. Fear was etched in their faces. “I love the dollhouse.”

“Fiona, if you want to quit, we can do it right now. Just say the magic words and we’ll go right back to Inveralba. You can hand the books and orb over to Phelan. Since all the jewels aren’t in it, he can’t do anything with it anyway. Somehow we’ll work through it all. It’s up to you sweetie,” Jimmy said.

Callum stuck his head out the window. “Were coming to the end of the line. We’re going to crash through that building and go off the cliff. Make your mind up one way or the other, Fiona.”

The train engineer tried to pull the breaks. The sound of screeching metal echoed through the train back to them. “He can’t stop it. We’re done for. We’re going over the cliff.” When Callum turned to plead with Fiona, she wasn’t there. “Fiona? Fiona? Where is she? Did she go back to Inveralba without us? We’re going to die!”

“I don’t know where she is,” Elspet said. “Fiona!” She shouted, but her voice could hardly be heard over the whistle of the train.

“We had better huddle together at the back of this train car. Put your arms over your head.” Jimmy instructed them how to protect themselves when they crashed.

“The poor engineer. He’s going to die too and it’s our fault. Fiona was right. I’m tired of this. I don’t want to die,” Elspet wailed.

They felt and heard the train go off the tracks. “Oh no! Here we go!”

The engineer pulled the whistle again. Down they went, the heavy engine pulling them toward the sea. Elspet, Callum and Jimmy rolled from one end of the wagon to the other. Instead of crashing into the rocks below, the train began to level out. Jimmy told them to find a place where they could wedge themselves in safely.

Callum looked out of the window. “We went over the edge of the cliff, but now we’re going straight. We’re not going to crash; we’re flying through the air.”

The train did a wide loop, much like a circling airliner does and they headed back to the top of the cliff. The train settled safely down on the tracks, facing the opposite direction.

“What just happened?” Jimmy stood and looked out the window.

“Are we in heaven? Did we die?” Elspet sat curled in a ball in the corner, behind one of the seats, her arms wrapped around her head and her eyes hut.

“Elspet, open your eyes. We didn’t die.” When Callum looked out the window he saw Fiona. “She’s a giant. She turned herself into a giant and saved the train.” Callum jumped up and down with joy. “She saved us. She saved us again.”

Fiona shrunk down and waved at them. She ran over to the train car and climbed in, laughing. “You should see the engineer. He’s still trying to figure out what happened. One minute he thought he was going to die and then poof; he’s alive.”

“Fiona!” Callum ran over to her and gave her a huge hug. “Thank you. I though we were going to die for sure. Thanks.” He gave Fiona a kiss on the cheek.

“Uh, thanks, Callum. Glad to be of help.” Fiona grinned at Jimmy, her cheeks red with embarrassment.

“I know we’ve just been through a fright, but we need to find the stone. Since we’ve gone through the three traps and amazingly survived, we can simply pick it up and go home. Where is it?” Jimmy lifted Fiona up and whirled her in the air. “Bless you, young lady.”

“It’s down there. There is a path we can follow and go all the way to the end of the land. It’s a narrow path and it’s just dirt and probably really steep, but we’ll be all right. Be sure and take the camera out and take some photos. It’s slippery and wet, so watch your step.” Fiona led them to the trail. “It’s down there.” She pointed and walked down the path to the rocks below.

Half an hour, three slips and near misses later, the four of them stood on flat sheets of stone looking out to sea. “Wow! So this is what the end of the world looks like. Cool. We’re really way way way down there at the bottom of the earth.” Elspet threw her arms out to the side. “We’re at the end of the world.” She shouted and scared a few seal that were sunning on the rocks. “Tidal pools.” She glanced at them, but there were no sea creatures inside. “I wonder if there are killer whales out there.”

“Of course there are. Don’t you watch the telly? There are seals, polar bears, penguins and all sorts of animals that live in this type of place.” Callum picked up a stone and threw it into the wave. “It’s really rough.”

“It is so quiet here. It’s quiet in Inveralba, but this is too quiet. The only sound we can here is the waves. There are no smells besides the sea. I feel sort of lonely and isolated,” Elspet said, taking a deep breath.

“I know how you feel, Elspet. When I was given the gem and told to take it somewhere remote, I had to travel on my own across the desert to Greece and then across the sea to the different Greek Isles until I found the right one. I spoke to few people. The desert was the loneliest. I saw a few camel caravans, but most of the time I saw nobody. Loneliness and isolation are horrible things to endure.” Jimmy looked out to sea. “A sea of sand or a sea of water; it doesn’t matter. They’re both vast and unending.”

“Sorry, Jimmy, that you had to go through that by yourself,” Callum said.

“The others had worse to endure. Imagine Serbel having to come all the way here? He had the longest journey of us all.”

Elspet slipped her hand into Jimmy’s. “You must have been loyal to your king to do this.”

“We all were. Now enough of this depressing talk. Fiona, where’s the stone?” Jimmy forced himself to smile.

In deep thought, Fiona walked over to a slate-colored stone. “The gem is under here. We’ll all have to lift it together.”

They each took and end and lifted the stone, tossing it to the side. Several crabs ran out, pincers snapping. “Oh! That scared me,” Elspet said, jumping back. The crabs ran into the water.

In the center of the hole, in a pool of clear water, lay the blue tanzanite. It sparkled in the sunlight.

“Wow! That is beautiful,” Callum said.

Fiona picked it up and held it in her hand. They all touched it and marveled at its color. “We’ve got it! We survived yet another place. I’m sorry about my tantrum earlier. I know I’ve got a duty to do and I’m in it to the end.” Fiona smiled a shy grin. “Come on. Let’s go home.”

“Wait. I want to take another photo or two. How often does someone get to come to the end of the world?” Jimmy had them stand with their backs to the sea. “Say cheese.”

After Elspet had taken a photo with Jimmy in it, she handed the camera to Fiona. “We didn’t get to see any penguins, but that’s okay. Let’s go home.”

“Wait. I want to take a picture of the seals.” Elspet grabbed the camera from Fiona’s hands and took a few photos of the seals, which had made their way back onto the rocks. “Okay. I’m satisfied.”

They took each others hands and stood in a circle. “Daleth shapish yam bet”

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