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Rolfin's Orb
Book 1 - Obsidian
Chapter 13

“Uncle Angus, did you stay here all day playing blocks with Alastair and Malcolm and waiting for us?” Fiona said, certain that it was late at night.

“My mum must be worried sick about them,” Elspet said.

“What do you mean? I’d barely sat down to play blocks with the lads when you returned. You were only gone five minutes. Alastair’s still letting the cats lick the melted chocolate off his fingers.”

Fiona, Callum and Elspet gasped in bewilderment.

“What? Five minutes?” Callum didn’t believe it.

“We’ve been gone all day, Uncle Angus. It took us nearly until sunset to get back to the bay,” Elspet said.

“That’s impossible! It can’t be still morning in Inveralba. It took us all day just to get the jewel out and then by the time we got rid of the scorpions, hid from the Hydra monster and Nikolas, and let’s not forget the dragon…” Fiona watched her uncle sip his tea.

Angus picked his china teacup from the matching saucer and took a sip. “My tea’s still hot. You stood right there a few minutes ago and watched me make it.” He set it back down on a small square table next to his chair. Glancing at his watch, he held it up to his ear to make sure it still worked. “It might have taken you all day, but here, in Inveralba, only a few minutes have passed. Obviously time is different in the land of orbs, magic and jewels. Now tell me, what’s all this talk about scorpions and Hydra monsters?”

“We went to a Greek island,” Callum said.

Elspet chimed in, “And there was a bay with a town called Hydra and the houses were white and built up the sides of the hills.”

“We ate Greek food and had a rude waiter named Kristoff,” Fiona said.

Callum interrupted. “And we saw a dragon and a liquid marble monster with snake heads.”

“You saw a dragon, Fiona?” Wee Malcolm heard the word and his ears perked up. “Come and build a castle with us again, Uncle Angus.”

“I’ve got to talk to Elspet for a few minutes. You and Alastair go ahead and build one,” Angus said.

The boys forgot about the dragon and kept playing with the toys.

“Wait! Wait! Wait! I’ll never be able to understand when you’re all talking at the same time. Fiona, tell me the story. Callum, you and Elspet help yourself to some of the chocolate biscuits. When she’s done, I’ll listen to anything you have to add.” He handed them a plate piled high with sweets.

The two of them sat down on the floor next to Malcolm and Alastair and nibbled while Fiona told the story.

An hour later, Uncle Angus stood up and paced back and forth across the one-room croft.

“It’s all true,” Elspet said, “everything Fiona said really happened.”

“Where’s the obsidian now?” Angus looked at Fiona.

She took it out of her pocket and handed it to him.

He opened up a cupboard and took out the golden orb. “Well, children, this is it. We have the first of the twelve jewels.” After putting the orb down on the table, he held the obsidian up to his eye. “Simply remarkable. There’s a dragon etched inside it. Does this look like the same type of dragon?”

Fiona noticed it had stopped glowing when she’d handed it to him. “It is the exact same dragon, Uncle Angus,” she said.

He looked at Callum, who nodded. “How on earth did someone carve a dragon inside the stone? It must have taken superior craftsmanship like none on earth today.”

“It was probably Lehimna, the wizard, who did it. I don’t think an ordinary person could do that, do you, Uncle Angus?” Fiona strained to see the dragon etching her uncle held up to his eye. “I don’t know how the dragon came to life either, but it saved ours.”

“Remarkable story! The orb has twelve holes in it, one for each jewel. I suppose because you were led to Hydra first, the obsidian must be the first jewel. It must need to be done in a certain order.” Twelve holes went around the orb in a zigzag pattern, with room for one of them at the top. “I’d say it goes in this hole,” he said, trying to put it in the top. It didn’t quite fit. “Well, I don’t think that’s the right one.” He tried it in three other holes before finding the correct one. “Perfect. A special hole for a special jewel.”

“Look at it! It’s glowing and shining like a black sun,” Fiona said. “The dragon’s glowing again.”

“It’s pretty,” Elspet stared at the shiny jewel.

“It is rather magnificent. Imagine what it will look like when all twelve stones are in it,” Uncle Angus said. He sat down in his chair and stared at the orb.

“Oh, I nearly forgot,” Callum said. “We brought you a milk pie and an almond cake. They have long Greek names, but I’m tired of Greek things right now. They’re very delicious. We ate ours while we watched the floating market.

“Thank you very much.” He took the pie and cake from Callum’s hand. “If you don’t mind, I’ll save them for later. I’ve just eaten three chocolate biscuits while building a castle of blocks with Alastair and Malcolm.” Uncle Angus looked at the lads and saw them playing with the cats. He smiled, putting the sweets on the plate. “I’ve come up with a brilliant idea. I think I’ll be a scribe, just like Alroy Cathmore. I’m going to write these adventures down in the book. I’ve got special ink and the unwritten pages in the old book aren’t quite as delicate as the front ones.”

“That’s a great idea. We can tell you the story again, in case you can’t remember,” Callum said.

“I’m going to write all this down in my journal too,” Elspet said. She remembered the marble in her pocket. “Angus, I thought you’d like to see this. It’s a piece of the marble brick that the stone was inside of. I’m putting on my drawers and keeping it forever. Oh, here, Fiona and Callum.” Elspet pulled the photographs out of her pocket.

“I forgot about this, “Callum said. “Look. Here’s a photo of me on a donkey in Hydra.” He showed Angus.

“Good job, Callum. Can I see yours too, Fiona?” He laughed seeing her on the back of a donkey.

Angus got up from his chair and picked the book up. “I think it’s a good idea that we both write things down. I think I’ll wait and write it in a while, when I’m alone and can concentrate. If I forget anything, I’ll be sure to ask you, Callum.” He snickered. “You’d better take Malcolm and Alastair home, Elspet. Fiona, you and Callum had better run along home now too. I’m sure your mums and dads have Saturday chores for you. Come back later if you’d like.” Knowing the orb was in safe hands, the children left to go home.

* * *

After cleaning up the blocks and wooden animals, Angus swept all the biscuit crumbs into a pile. “We’ll have mice if we leave these crumbs here,” he said to his cats. “I’m sure you’d all enjoy that, but I wouldn’t.” He swept the crumbs into a dustpan and dumped them outside in the rubbish bin. When he came back inside, he sat in his chair, close to the fire, it’s embers glowing, casting its orange light on the orb. The obsidian jewel emitted a softer glow. He held it in front of him to see better. The etched dragon looked as if it was blowing puffs of wispy smoke into the jewel.

Three of his cats jumped up on his lap, frightening him. He almost dropped the orb onto the hearth. “I’d better put this down where it will be safe.”

He leaned over and put it back on the table and then turned his attention back to the cats, stroking one. “I wonder when I should tell Fiona that she now has a magical power. She’s got the power to make fire and she doesn’t even know it yet.” Tickling another cat behind the ear, he spoke to it as if it were a person. “I’ll tell her before she goes on her next adventure. What’s really worrisome, Marmaduke, is that her life will probably never be the same. I almost feel sorry for her yet, I’m thrilled at the same time. Now, my dear cats, it’s time to go and have your milk. I just poured it. You go on and keep yourselves busy. I’d better get started writing all this down before I forget.” Pushing the cat off his lap, Angus opened one of the desk drawers. “Now, where did I put my bottle of ink?” The rifled stacks of papers and folders tipped to the side, ready to fall onto the floor.. “Ah, there it is.” Ink sloshed in the bottle as Angus looked inside its narrow neck. “We’re all set.” The tip of the pen plunged inside, sucking up the ink. The pen moved across the brittle paper. Angus began writing the story, starting with the day’s date.

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