“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
“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
“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.
hour later, Uncle Angus stood up and paced back and forth across the
“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.
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.
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
“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
“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
“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.
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.