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Rolfin's Orb
Book 1 - Obsidian
Chapter 17


A cloud with a silver lining greeted the people of Inveralba on Sunday morning. The rays filtered across the sky, shooting upward with flickering golden flames. The train from Edinburgh pulled into the Inveralba station as the first ducks landed on Loch Doon, after a night of flying from the Orkney Islands.

Drayton heard the whistle and the conductor announce they were stopping soon. “That’s the longest train ride I’ve ever taken and so boring,” he said. After boarding in Cornwall, he’d had to switch trains at Victoria Station in London and then again at Waverly Station in Edinburgh, all in one night. He grabbed the suitcase, the bag of food and the book. Making sure the necklace was secure around his neck and hanging inside his shirt, he exited the train, finding himself standing in a puddle of leftover rainwater from the night’s downpour. “Retched place and bloody cold,” he griped, pulling his coat together and buttoning it up. “Worse than Cornwall.”

“This is your train. It’s going down to Crianlarich,” Gordon Bruce, the station conductor said. “When will you be back, Angus?”

“I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon. It’s a quick trip. Got some business to take care of.” Angus boarded the train.

Drayton listened, watching as it pulled out of the station.

The conductor walked over to him; his disapproval evident by the way he looked, with multiple earrings and general Goth appearance. “Can I help you, sir?”

Drayton had to think quickly. He shook the conductor’s hand. “I’m Drayton Steele. I’ve come to write a book and needed somewhere quiet. I see I’ve just missed Angus. We’ve been friends for a long time.” He lied. The conductor wasn’t really buying it either. “Does he still live in town?”

The conductor said, “He’s lived in the same house for most of his adult life.”

“Did he ever get married?” Drayton tried to look friendly and kind, which wasn’t working.

“No. Angus has never been married, nor do I expect him to. Just exactly where are you staying?”

“I need to find a Bed & Breakfast. Is there a place nearby?”

“It’s too early in the morning and it’s a Sunday, but if you go down the main street, you’ll see McDougal’s B&B. Knock on the door and tell Elsie that Gordon, the conductor sent you. She’ll get you settled in. Have a peaceful time writing, Mr. Steele,” he said and walked away.

Drayton, afraid the conductor may be suspicious, did as suggested and checked into the B&B. He put his things on the bed, hung the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door and went down into the kitchen.

“Can I get you some breakfast?” Elsie said, pushing her glasses up on her nose.

“That would be lovely.” He tried to sound convincing.

“The other guests are in the dining room. Why don’t you go and make yourself comfortable and I’ll bring your food in shortly. Would you like tea, or coffee, or orange juice, Mr. Steele?

Trying to keep his image up, he smiled and said, “I’ll have some orange juice, if you don’t mind.”

“Very well, Mr. Steele. Sit down and I’ll be right with you.”

He went into the dining room. Oh great! It’s full of old man and their pathetic wives.

Everyone rushed to greet him, introducing themselves. Drayton cringed each time he had to shake their hands, but he kept the act going. He polished off a hearty breakfast of bacon, sausages, fried eggs, wheat toast and a glass of orange juice. After he’d excused himself, he found Elsie. “Excuse me, Elsie, may I call you that?”

She nodded yes.

“I’d like to go and visit my old friend, Angus.” He had no idea what his last name was.

“Do you mean Angus McAllister? He left this morning for Crianlarich. He’ll be back tomorrow though. You’ll be staying with us for a while, won’t you, Mr. Steele, Drayton?”

“I will at that, Elsie. Where is he living? In the same old house?”

“He lives in that old croft at the end of Anstrathven Street, number 23, if I’m not mistaken.”

“That’s great. He lives in the same place. He’s not moved since my last visit.

Very well then, Elsie. I’m off to find a quiet place to do some writing. Have a lovely day.” He was no sooner out the door than he started to curse. “Stupid old woman. She looks worse than my mother with all that stringy gray hair. Old battle-axe. At least she’s good for something and now I know where Angus lives. I think I’ll go and see what he has lying around his house.” Drayton headed for Anstrathven Street.

When he arrived, he walked around the perimeter area, making sure no vicious dogs hid in their doghouse. “All clear.” He turned the doorknob. “It’s not even locked. This is going to be an enjoyable trip.” When he went into the croft, a dozen cats ran toward him, rubbing against him and purring. He left the door open. “Stupid cats. Get out of here.” He kicked each of them toward the door and those that wouldn’t move, he grabbed by the tail and threw outside, slamming the door behind them. “Filthy animals.”

After a few minutes of rummaging he heard a car drive past. “I’d better wait until dark,” he cursed and left through the back door. “I wonder where I might find Castle Athdara.” Walking through the woods, he came upon a sign. ‘Castle Athdara, this way’, it read, with an arrow pointing the way. He kept following the signs until he came to the edge of the loch. “It’s on an island? How am I supposed to get there?” Anger and rage built inside of him. He picked up a large stone and dropped it in the water, which splashed all over his legs. About to throw another, he noticed Malcolm’s boat tied up. “Well, isn’t this convenient. Imagine finding a boat right here.” He untied the knot and climbed in. Holding the oars in his hands, he rowed across to the island. Dozens of grouse flew into the air and away from the castle as he pulled the boat onto the ground. “Not much of a castle.”

Fearing nothing, he went inside, going from room to room. “Where would someone have hidden the orb, or the book?” He found the hidden room behind the chimney. Fiona and her friends forgot to close it. “Very convenient to find this secret entrance wide open like this. It makes me think someone’s been here before me.” He saw the trunk and the table and knelt down and looked under it. “There’s the plaque, just like the book said.” He went through the trunk. “Nothing but cobwebs.” He glanced up and saw the polished stained glass window. “Someone’s been here recently. They’ve fancied themselves to clean up afterwards. So, you’re King Kegan. You’re my ancestor, you know, but I’m not proud of it. You’re a coward. You deserved to have your head whacked off. Look, Kegan. I’ve got your necklace.” He compared his to the one in the window. “By the way, my great great whatever grandfather, Dugan, enjoyed your daughter, Isabella. They had a son, you know. I’m sure you didn’t. You were maggot fodder by then.”

A chill came over him. When he looked down by his feet, he saw a grayish-brown mist swirled in from the chimney, wrapping itself around them. It moved up, cocooning his entire body. “What’s going on here?” He shouted, hoping nothing answered. The form of a person appeared to him from inside the mist. “Is that you, Kegan? Come to pay me a visit for badmouthing you?”

“Do I look like King Kegan?” The voice sounded raspy and old. “I’m Phelan, wizard of King Dugan. I’ve been waiting for you to come here for hundreds of years. Now that you’re here…”

“Wait a minute. Phelan, or whatever you call yourself, what do you mean you’ve been waiting for me? Waiting for what?” Drayton snarled at the vaporous specter.

“Show some respect for your ancestors, boy. I am no simple ghost. I am Phelan, Wizard of Xilia.”

“What is it you want of me?” Drayton stood humbled.

“I need the golden orb, with all the jewels. I see you’ve got the necklace,” Phelan said.

The pendant slithered out of Drayton’s shirt, like a dancing cobra. “You can’t have this,” he said, pushing it back inside.

“I don’t want it, you young fool. You’re nothing like your ancestor. He’d roll over in his grave if he saw what a useless thing you are. What sort of man wears all those earrings? Those are for women.”

“Things have changed. Men wear them too now,” Drayton said, defending himself.

“No man I know would ever wear jewelry in his ears. Bring me the orb with the jewels. Once I have it, I can come back to life and serve as your wizard. We can rule the world with evil and destruction. You’d like that, wouldn’t you young Drayton,” Phelan said. His head tilted back and he laughed a ghostly, haunting laugh. “Right now I can only appear as a spirit, but together we can…”

“Rule the world with evil and destruction, eh? That sounds great. I could use a wizard. How do I get the orb then?”

“It is in this village. A child has it in her possession. She’s already retrieved one of the jewels.”

“Is that why my necklace started glowing? Makes sense.” Drayton looked at the sliver of black jewel. “Because I’m a descendant of both lines, I need to learn Dugan’s way with magic.”

“You must be patient. I would get the orb myself, but I am bound to this castle, the loch and immediate surrounding area.”

“And what if you leave? Do you turn into a frog or something?” Drayton scoffed and snickered.

“Enough impudence! I cannot leave. I will not turn into anything. If I leave, I will bring upon myself the wrath of the Great Wizard. He doesn’t know where I am, or how to reach me, and I prefer to keep it that way. I cannot leave.”

“Never?”

“There are circumstances. If I can find a lesser body to take over, I can leave here for up to 12 hours, but that is it.”

“Whoa! I hope you’re not planning to take over my body.” Drayton took a step backwards. “What’s a lesser body? An animal?”

“Young fool. I cannot take over a human body, at least not easily, and definitely not another wizards. A lesser body would be that of a troll, an elf, a sluagh, redcap, or other members of the fairy world. That’s enough questions. I’ve been more than patient with you and freely answered some of your questions. I’ve told you more than I needed to. I need that orb so I can have my own body back forever. Obey me, or I’ll turn you into something much worse than a mere frog. Your instructions are to come back here each night. I will teach you wizard ways and spells. You will be able to use them to retrieve the orb when the time comes.” The wizard turned from a form into the mist once more and disappeared as quickly as he’d come.

“That was interesting. This just keeps getting better, but, I have to admit, ruling the world sounds kind of nice,” Drayton said, smirking. “Well, good old King Kegan, mighty one of Castle Athdara. What do you think now? You’re dead and I’m alive and soon will have your orb in my hands.” Nothing happened. His words faded into the porous stone walls. “I’m getting out of here. See ya tomorrow, kingy.”

Drayton left the castle and rowed back across the loch. When he got to the other side, he picked up the biggest stone he could find. About to throw it in the boat, to try to sink it, he remembered he had to come back each night and needed it. The rock flew threw the air and splashed into the deepest water of the loch. Drayton headed back to Angus’s croft. “If anyone finds me or interrupts me, I’ll just break their necks.” He kicked the cats gathered once again by the door and went inside. “Let’s see what good old Angus has in his croft, shall we?”

It only took him half an hour before he found the book. “What is this? Angus is more than I thought he was. He’s got the book. It looks like a companion to mine. Who are you, Angus and what is your connection to the child?” Drayton pulled a digital camera and took pictures of all the pages with writing on it. “It’s in Gaelic! I can’t read Gaelic? At least my book is written in Old English. Only a fool Scot would write it in Gaelic. It’s a good thing I brought my laptop. I’ll have to do some translating. An even better idea - I can download it and send it on to someone who can translate for me and give them a few bucks.”

He ransacked the croft looking for the orb. “Where there’s a book, there’s an orb,” he said, his anger turning to fury when he found no sign of it. “He’s taken it with him on his trip to Crianlarich. He knows what he’s got and doesn’t want anyone to find it. Bright boy, Angus. Yes, you are a bright boy.”

Not wanting anyone to know he’d been there, he tidied up the place and left. He went back to the B&B in time for supper. After his meal and a little false socializing he went to his room. He pulled three wallets, two diamond necklaces and one ruby ring out of his pockets. “Thank you guests of McDougal’s B&B.” Laughter echoed through the room.


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