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Rolfin's Orb
Book 4 - Emerald
Chapter 1

“But Mum, I don’t want to go to school today! We’ve got to get the jewel from the next place. Uncle Angus and the others are waiting for us.” Fiona whined.

“You’re going to school. Your Uncle Angus will understand. You can go after school. I’ve got to go to work. I’ll meet you there when I get off. No arguments. School!” Mairi handed Fiona her backpack and bagged lunch.

Fiona didn’t wait for a kiss on her cheek. She stampeded out the door, slamming it behind her.

Mairi sighed. “Kids! I’ve got to get to work.” She locked the doors and headed for the bakery.

Fiona met up with Callum and Elspet a block from the school gates. “Wait till I tell you about last night. After you went home, we went to Castle Athdara. There’s a cave under it and lots of tunnels and Jesse got hurt when Drayton grew into a giant and threw him into the trees.”

“Wait a minute. Slow down. Stop rushing.” Elspet sat on a crumbling wall.

Fiona told them of the night’s events. “I was so mad at my mum for making me go to school. She’s going to meet us at Uncle Angus’s croft when she gets off work.”

“You mean your mum knows everything?” Elspet gasped. “She won’t tell my mum, will she?”

“I hope she doesn’t tell mine either.” Callum brushed his hair from his eyes.

“She said she’d keep it a secret, but if one of us gets hurt, then she’ll be forced to spill the beans to your parents,” Fiona said. “See you after school.” The school bell rang and the three of them ran to class.

*  *  *

            Drayton woke up and jumped out of bed. “Where am I?” He remembered  breaking into the house. He stretched and went into the kitchen. A pile of mail lay on the floor inside and below front door. The postman had just dropped it through the slot. “Let’s see who lives in this house.” He picked it up, looking at each letter. “John and Susan McAllister. There are a lot of McAllisters in this boring town.” He tossed the letters down and then ran to pick them up again. “Let’s see if there’s any money.” He ripped each one open, wadded them up when he saw no money and then tossed them on the floor.

“What do you have to eat here, John and Susan and how long will you be gone for?” Drayton opened the cupboards and found a box of cereal. “Is this it?” I’ll go into town and get something to eat at one of the restaurants. Who knows, I might pop in and say hello to Elsie and her guests. Ha!” He dumped the box of cereal on the kitchen floor. “Let’s see if I can make as big a mess as I made at Mairi’s house.” Opening the refrigerator, he looked inside. He poured a container of orange juice on the linoleum and then added a spilled jar of pickles, some mustard, yogurt, a container of baked beans, and a half pint of cream. Spaghetti noodles, crackers and biscuits crumbled in his hands and dropped on top of the other food lying on the floor. A squirt bottle of tomato sauce sat on the shelf on the refrigerator door. “Look at this. It comes in its own handy squirting container.” He picked it up and went into the living room, squeezing it on the ceiling in a big circle. What was left he squirted into the back of the television set, on a few CD’s and then on the white settee. “That’ll do.” He slammed the door behind him and headed for Castle Athdara.

                                    * * *

The sun filtered its way through the pines into the croft window. Angus opened his eyes, rubbed his shoulders and groaned. Jimmy and Jack sat up. “The settee isn’t as comfortable as I thought it was.” Angus stood and stretched.

“Try the floor!” Jack rolled up his blankets. “I shouldn’t complain. I’ve slept on many a sandy beach and in quite a few grassy meadows in my days. At least I didn’t have rain drizzling on my face.”

“How’s Jesse this morning.” Jimmy went over to see for himself. “You awake there, Jesse?”

Jesse opened his eyes. “I’m doing fine. I feel like I was stomped on by a bear, but other than that, I’ll be fine. How long was I asleep?”

“Just overnight, my friend. Angus, will you fix us something for breakfast? Do you have any eggs? I’m feeling hungry and I’m sure Jesse is too,” Jimmy said.

There was a knock at the door. Angus, being the closest, opened it. “Come in Johnny. We were just talking about having something for breakfast. All I’ve got around here is some day old bread and a few eggs.”

Johnny stepped inside. “That sounds grand to me. I’ll fix them for us. Have you got any bacon?”

“Bacon? No, but I’ve got a pot of last night’s stew in the back room. Will that do?” Angus went to get it.

“Sounds good to me,” Jack said. “Anything sounds good right now.”

“Me too. I’ll start the eggs.” Johnny looked around for Angus’s stove. “Angus, how do you expect me to cook the eggs? You’ve no stove.”

“There’s a griddle near the sink. It lies across the fireplace.” Angus nodded in the direction of the sink. Jack walked over to get it. “Take a towel with you so you don’t burn your fingers.”

“Where are Mairi and Fiona this morning?” Jimmy cracked a few eggs into a bowl.

“Mairi’s off to work at the bakery. She promised to stop by later with some fresh breads and cakes. Fiona’s off to school.” Johnny placed the griddle on top of the stones Angus had placed around the fire.

“I was thinking, at least a few of us should go back to the castle this morning. It was so late last night, we didn’t get to look around much. Johnny, will you go with me?” Jack watched Jimmy stir the eggs.

“I will if Jimmy will stay here with Angus and Jesse.” Johnny took the beaten eggs over to the fire.

“I’ll stay with them, as long as you promise to bring us back some real food!” Jimmy laughed.

“What’s wrong with my leftover stew?” Angus hung the pot over the fire and stirred the thick stew with a wooden spoon. “All I have to do is add another fresh onion and it will taste like I just cooked it.”

Johnny poured the eggs onto the black pan. The eggs thickened as he stirred them. “We’ll leave after breakfast. Jimmy, why don’t you get a few more eggs from the back room. I’ll make a pan of them and you can eat them all morning if you want. Of course they’ll be cold.”

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