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Rolfin's Orb
Book 2 - Spinal
Chapter 5

Fiona climbed over the fallen rocks and dashed out of the cave into the sunlight. “Where can I find some puffins?” She ran up the hill, being careful not to trip on the lava. “They hang out on the cliffs. Which way to the nearest cliff?”

After talking to some hikers, Fiona ran towards Litla Kliff. “It had to be this far away, didn’t it?” She stopped now and then to catch her breath, as she made her way up to the top of the cliff, climbing over rocks and patches of grass. “Okay, this is where the puffins come.” Lying on her tummy, she inched her way over to the edge of the cliff. “Yep, there are puffins here, not to mention a thousand foot drop to the sea.” She gulped back fear. The grass under her belly tickled as she scooted her body along. “How do I get these puffins to follow me? Help me King Kegan. Somebody help me know what to do.”

The waves crashed into the rock walls of the cliff, bringing with them a tune.

Fiona heard it in the drops of spray that reached high into the air above her. She whistled. “Why am I whistling? I don’t even know that song?” She whistled the melody again. A few puffins came flying over the edge of the cliff toward her. “Ah, I see. I’m going to be the pied piper of Hamelin and the puffins will follow me while I whistle. Not very original, but hey, it works.” Fiona whistled louder and stronger.

Hundreds of puffins zoomed past her head, landing on the grass in a circle around her.

“Nice little birds,” she said, afraid of their vast numbers. As she continued whistling, hundreds turned to thousands. “You guys are cute. I love your striped beaks and orange feet. Okay guys, follow me.”

Fiona whistled while she walked down the sloped hill toward the lava cave. “Thank you King Kegan, or whoever helped me.”

The birds flew behind her or waddled along like miniature penguins.

“Wow! There must be a million of you,” Fiona said, turning to see her army of birds. “Okay, here’s what I want you to do. See that hole?” She pointed. “If you fly down into that hole, there are four trolls inside. I want you to attack them. Bite their fat noses, their ugly toes, their eyes, ears, or whatever you want, but don’t stop until they are out of the cave. Do you understand?”

None of the puffins answered with words, but there was a lot of squawking.

“I hope you do.” She whistled her tune and walked toward the hole. “Don’t go in yet. Wait five minutes. I’ve got to go back into the cave and find Elspet. When you come in, we’ll run and save Callum. Don’t leave until you’ve chased the trolls out of the caves. Got it? Good. Stay here now,” she said and disappeared into the cave.

The birds obeyed and gathered around the hole, awaiting her command.

“You will not believe this.” Fiona grabbed Elspet by the arm.

“Fiona! You came back! I thought you’d left Callum and me here.” Elspet hugged her friend. “Did you bring someone to help rescue Callum?”

“I brought a million someone’s to help. Stay here.” Fiona walked bravely into the cave.

The three trolls had finished building the fire pit and were busy stacking pieces of driftwood.

“Hello there, trolls. You’re smelly and you’re ugly and I’m not afraid of you.”

Elspet couldn’t believe her eyes.

Callum rolled over on his back to see what was going on. “Fiona? What are you doing?” His shout seemed a whisper in the vastness of the cave. The troll standing next to him put its foot down in the middle of his back. “Ouch.”

“Stupid trolls. You’re not going to eat my friend for lunch! I’ve got a surprise for you!” Fiona started whistling.

The trolls moved towards her, snarling and growling like angry bears.

“Come closer if you want. You’ll not catch me,” Fiona said.

“Fiona! Watch out for the trolls!” Elspet watched in horror as they moved closer to her friend.

Fiona continued whistling.

A puffin came flying in from the hole in top of the cave.

Elspet saw another one fly in, and then another, and another, until the entire cave was filled with flying birds. “Wow! Look at them!” She laughed and clapped her hands.

The noise from their wings flapping seemed to drive to trolls to madness.

Fiona shouted at Elspet. “Go and untie the knots. Free Callum.” She whistled louder. “Get the trolls!”

The birds attacked the four creatures. The one guarding Callum had no choice but to join the other three. They swatted at the puffins, howling and wailing in pain as the birds nipped their ears and noses.

“Get them!”

Elspet ran to Callum.

He rolled onto his stomach. “Untie me, Elspet, before the trolls come back.”

She loosened his knots while he wiggled his arms. The ropes slid off.

“Come with me.” She took Callum by the hand, leading him into the tunnel near Fiona.

“Good. Hi Callum!” Fiona giggled, happy to see her plan worked.

“The birds are attacking the trolls,” Callum said. “How did you get them to do that?”

“King Kegan. He taught me this tune,” Fiona said, whistling again.

The trolls moved towards the other tunnels, eager to get away.

“Don’t stop pecking them until they are driven outdoors.”

The puffins followed the frightened trolls.

“We’d better make our getaway while we can. First of all, we need to get the spinel. Let’s leave the trolls to our puffin friends.”

“We almost had the spinel, Callum, but an earthquake stopped me from reaching it,” Elspet said.

“I felt the earthquake, but it didn’t seem to bother the trolls though,” Callum said. “Maybe they’re used to it.”

“It’s right over here. Can you help us lift that rock?” Fiona picked the corner up by herself.

“Let me help. After all, I am the boy, as you said before.” Callum smiled.

The three of them lifted it and tossed it to the side.

“Here’s the problem. Elspet needs to reach in and get it, but when she does, there will be another earthquake, so, what should we do?” Fiona wasn’t sure.

“I say she just grabs it and then we run and take our chances,” Callum said.

“But there’s a third trap. We don’t know what it is.” Elspet reminded them.

“We’ll have to deal with that when the time comes. I think Callum’s right. Just stick your hand in there, grab it and we’ll run as fast as we can and hope the roof doesn’t collapse on us,” Fiona said.

“Are you ready?” Callum looked at Elspet.

Elspet squatted again and slowly reached her hand towards the hole. “Grab it as fast as you can and then run!”

Fiona pulled Callum closer to her. “Get ready to run out of here when she has it in her hand. Don’t look back. Just run.”

Elspet felt the jewel. “I’ve got it. When I pull it out, we’re going to die.”

“No we’re not. We’ll make it. Grab it now!” Fiona urged her friend.

Elspet closed her fingers around it and pulled it out.

The ground rumbled, filling the cave with its death roar. The three of them ran over the broken rocks, dodging the falling slabs of black lava. The floor shook, making them trip and stumble. Sharp rocks jutted up from the ground in front of them. Waves of dirt rolled towards them.

“We’re gonna die!” Callum shouted, but didn’t stop running.

The entire cave filled with dust as it collapsed upon itself. They barely made it out when the entrance fell inward.

“We made it! We made it! We didn’t die!” Elspet ran around, arms high in the air.

“Fiona, you’re hurt.” Callum ran to her aid.

Blood ran down her arms and legs. Tiny slivers of lava poked out of her flesh.

“Fiona, you’re bleeding,” Elspet said. “Here, hold still. Callum, start pulling these things out of her arms. I’ll do her legs.”

Fiona stood still as they tugged glass-sharp rocks from her body.

“Does it hurt?” Callum cringed at the sight of blood.

“Yes, it hurts. What do you think? I’ve been impaled by dozens of pieces of lava. It hurts, but get them all out,” Fiona said. She wiped the blood on her clothes.

“I think we got them all. At least we didn’t get our skulls crushed,” Callum said.

“I wonder where those stupid trolls went,” Elspet said.

“I think I know. Follow me,” Fiona said. Though each step hurt, she walked up to the top of the hill. “There they are.” She pointed to a pile of smoldering embers.

“That’s not the trolls. Someone’s burning rubbish,” Callum said.

“Or the volcano’s about to erupt again,” Elspet said.

They moved in closer. “I can see their forms. The puffins chased them out into the sun and they burned up. Way to go, puffins!” Fiona jumped for joy.

“Let’s not get too excited. We’ve forgotten the third trap. Where’s the spinel?” Callum tore his gaze from the sizzling trolls.

Elspet pulled it out of her pocket and gave it to Fiona.

She held it up and looked through it. “It’s prettier than the obsidian. Look how pink it is,” Fiona said.

Fiona whistled and the puffins flew towards them. “Look at the birds. The sky is black with them.”

They circled around the three of them, squawking and swirling.

“I can feel their feathers tickle my face,” Fiona said.

For ten minutes the birds cocooned the children and then flew off.

One lone puffin stayed behind. Fiona picked it up. “Oh look, it’s a puffling.”

“What’s a puffling?” Elspet wanted to hold it.

“A baby puffin,” Fiona said.

The bird rubbed its beak against Fiona’s face.

“It’s giving you a kiss, Fiona. How sweet,” Elspet said.

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