They sat under an ancient and
gnarled olive tree enjoying the shade and the view from the top of the hill.
“It must be in this area. It’s not that huge of an island.” Callum glanced
to his left.
“I love the view. See the
artists painting over there?” Elspet pointed to a group of people sitting
“I see them. There are a lot
of people taking photographs too. I don’t think any of them are tourists,”
“They’re probably taking
pictures for calendars. My mum’s got one up on her bedroom wall with
pictures of Greece, but I don’t think it is of this island.” Callum
scratched his head. “I think it's of Santarini.”
Fiona opened the guidebook
they’d bought earlier. “I wasn’t ignoring you, Callum. We are near. I feel
Elspet went to watch the
Callum closed his eyes and
Fiona shut her eyes and
within moments a vision came into her mind. She saw a grassy field, an olive
tree and a church on a hilltop. “Wake up, Callum. I know where the stone
Callum opened his eyes and
slowly sat up. “I was enjoying a wee nap, Fiona. What did you say?”
“I said I know where the
stone is. Look at this picture?” She glanced down at the guidebook. “It’s
called The Church of St. Alexander, named after Alexander the Great. It’s
only a mile or two from here. Go and get Elspet while I gather our things.”
Callum walked over to Elspet. He stood next to her watching the painters at
work. “Callum! Elspet!” Fiona shouted.
“Fiona knows where the stone
is. Come on.” He dragged Elspet with him.
“We’ve got to go inland, away
from the sea. Remember the way we’re taking. I don't want to get lost,”
Fiona said. Following a dirt path, the three of them moved to the interior
of the island. “There it is, up ahead.”
“It’s in ruins, Fiona. I
wonder how old it is.” Callum saw blocks of stone lying scattered on the
“The guidebook says it was
built in 1200 B.C. That’s old! No wonder it’s in ruins. It must have been
very beautiful in its day.” Fiona closed the book.
“I wonder if it has any
stained glass windows?” Elspet hoped it did. “Does the book say so?”
“Look for yourself. There’s a
lot of information. I don’t feel like reading it all.” Fiona handed her the
“Fiona, don’t you remember
what your Uncle Angus said? He said there were three traps. We have no idea
what they are. What if there are lions inside the monastery, or a Hydra
monster with snake heads?” Callum feared the worst.
As they neared the entrance,
Fiona said, “ I don’t think it will be any scarier than Castle Athdara. It’s
light, not dark. It’s an old church, so there won’t be ghosts in it, at
least I don’t think ghosts live in churches. We’ll just have to be careful.”
Elspet closed the book and
slipped it into her pants pocket. “The book says there is a stained glass
window in here. I can’t wait to see it. There are also several mosaics, or
what’s left of them.”
“Haven’t you been listening
to us, Elspet? What if there’s a monster in there?” Callum shivered with
“Don’t be silly, Callum.
There’s no Hydra monster in the monastery. Come on, fraidy cat.” Fiona led
the way inside. “Wow. The stone looks like its marble, not granite. It’s
marvelous, isn’t it?”
“It’s nice.” Callum tried not
to show fear.
Many of the walls had
collapsed and blocks of marble lay on the floor. “Oh look,” Elspet pouted,
“the stained glass is broken. I can hardly see what it is.”
Fiona and Callum looked up.
In another corner of the
monastery stood a young couple, holding hands. Fiona smiled at them. “The
stone is inside one of these marble bricks.”
“How do you know that?”
Callum gazed at the pieces of stone.
“I just know. The people who
built the monastery must have put it in there. They must have figured out a
way to get it in there. When I shut my eyes, I see it, completely enclosed
in a brick of marble.
“There are thousands of
pieces of marble, Fiona. How will we ever know which piece it is?” Elspet
reached down and picked up a broken brick. “This is sparkly. I’ll take it
home and put it on my chest of drawers, so I can look at it anytime I want.”
She dropped it in her pocket.
“It’s over there, in that
corner, where that man and lady are. When they leave, we’ll go over there.”
Fiona sat down on a large piece of marble and rested her chins in her hands,
staring at the couple. It didn’t take long for the man and lady to feel
uncomfortable and leave.
“Good, they’re gone.” Callum
jumped off the stone and ran to the corner.
“We’ve got to be careful.
There are traps of some kind around here,” Fiona said. “Use caution.”
“What if the floor falls in
and we all die? What if there’s a huge pit underneath filled with vipers and
asps?” Callum tripped on a stone.
“Callum, if you’re going to
be so dramatic, go and wait outside. Elspet and I will do it ourselves,”
Fiona said, angered by his negative behavior.
“I’ll be quiet.” He stuck his
hands in his pocket and looked down at his feet.
“It’s inside that brick,
right there in the cornerstone.” Fiona pointed. “I’m going to try to pull it
out. It looks rather loose.” The half-crumbled wall looked ready to topple
at any moment. Fiona reached for it. “It’s loose. Good. It will come out
“The traps, Fiona. The
traps!” Callum reminded her. “Isn’t a cornerstone the piece that holds the
entire building together?”
“I know about the traps. I
haven’t forgotten, Callum.” Fiona snapped at him. When she pulled on the
brick again, the wall shook. Pieces of marble and broken chunks of dried mud
fell on top of them. Each put their arms over their heads. “This must be one
of the traps. If I pull it out, the whole wall will fall on us.”
“And kill us,” Callum said.
“It’s the cornerstone, Fiona. If you pull it out, we’re dead.”
“Why don’t we use a donkey?
We can borrow Nikolas’s donkey while he takes his afternoon siesta. We can
bring it up here, tie a rope to it and to the brick and have the donkey do
all the work. One of us can stay here with another brick in our hands and at
the same moment the donkey pulls that one out, we can slip the other one in
its place.” Elspet boasted, proud of her idea.
“That’s a thought. That means
we’ll have to steal, I mean borrow, Nikolas’s donkey. I’m not sure if he’ll
appreciate that. If you two will run back to the town and get the donkey,
I’ll stay here and see what I can do,” Fiona said.
“Okay,” Callum said. “It’s a
long walk though and I might get hungry, or thirsty.”
“Here’s some drachma. Buy
yourself whatever you want in town. Just bring that donkey back. Here’s some
more money. Buy us a rope too.” Fiona handed Callum the cash.
After Callum and Elspet left,
Fiona slouched down in the dirt near the wall, closed her eyes and fell
asleep. Dreams haunted her. She tossed and turned. Struggling to see through
a hazy mist, she found herself hovering near the ceiling of a room in Castle
Athdara. The table, set with a fine, lacy tablecloth, looked whiter than a
field of freshly fallen snow. Golden candlesticks held pale pink tapers the
color of newly-blossomed carnations, each aflame, with drips of melted wax
sliding down the sides. Flickering, the candles cast shadows on the bare
stone walls. Vases full of marigolds, lilies, stalks of wheat, and assorted
roses added color to the room.
Platters of goose drizzling
with red currant sauce, venison with tiny baked kumquats circling it,
bite-sized potatoes and carrots, and the largest rum cake Fiona had ever
seen, drizzling with sugary white icing, sent their tantalizing aromas
throughout the castle. Pewter goblets filled with mead stood in the center
of the table. She heard noises and people started coming into the room.
Fiona looked at the stained glass window and recognized the man as King
Kegan, draped in a heavy wine-red robe with white fur trim. A crown of the
purest gold, decorated with rubies, sapphires and emeralds sat atop his
head; on his arm, his wife, the Queen. Sticking out from behind her ear was
a sprig of posies and ferns. A few children scurried about, all dressed in
royal robes. Even the baby looked regal with pink ribbons tied in her golden
curls and a headband of tiny pink and white rosebuds. Pea-sized golden bells
hung from the ends of the ribbons and tinkled softly whenever she shook her
head. From the height of the ceiling, Fiona thought they looked like
purplish-red rats, running about, in search of something to eat.
Jugglers and jesters stood
near a roaring fireplace, entertaining the family and friends as they
prepared to eat. They gathered around the table, along with several other
men and women, all seemingly of noble birth.
No sooner had they seated
themselves than sounds of alarm shouted from other parts of the castle. The
queen, sensing danger, gathered her children and escorted them out of the
room, down a small hallway and into another room. Men armed with wooden
shields and shiny steel swords rushed into the dining room, swinging their
sharp blades at everything and everyone they saw. Within minutes the king
lay dying, surrounded by his slaughtered guests. Fiona heard screams coming
from the hallway and knew the queen and the children met the same fate.
She sobbed out loud. A deep
sadness overcame her as she watched the king’s last breaths. He lifted his
head and looked directly into her eyes before a sword sliced through his
neck. Fiona cringed with terror, glad she couldn’t be seen. She watched as
an intruder ripped the necklace off. Others carried the bodies of his wife
and children through, tossing them like piles of rubbish on top of the king.
Before setting the room on
fire, one of the men doused the dead family with oil. Fiona floated away
from the scene of horror amid thick smoke and roaring flames of orange and
Fiona opened her eyes and sat
up. Teardrops trickled down her cheeks. She wiped them away. “Wow. I’m glad
that was only a dream.” She knew she had to get the jewel, all of the
jewels, and return them to the orb, if for no other reason than to honor her
ancestor, King Kegan.