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Rolfin's Orb
Book 4 - Emerald
Chapter 3


“This was the longest day of school I can remember. I kept looking at the clock and the time went by slowly,” Fiona said.

Callum and Elspet stood waiting for her, school books in arms.

“I really should go home and see if Mum needs me to babysit,” Elspet said.

“Me too, Fiona. What if Dad needs my help with the sheep?” Callum looked down at his feet.

“Come on, guys. I need you to come with me. We have got to get the next jewel. Last night was horrible. Drayton tried to kill Jesse. He’s hurt. We need to go.” Fiona pleaded with sad eyes.

“All right, but I hope I don’t get in trouble,” Elspet said.

“I agree with Elspet,” Callum said. “My dad might be real mad.”

On the way, they passed Jean Butler’s home. Fiona glanced and saw a Shetland collie standing with its paws against an oak tree. Shivering with fright and with nails dug into the bark, a gray kitten perched on a branch, hiding among the leaves. The dog’s bark, loud and high pitched, caught her attention. “That dog is scaring the kitten.” Elspet ran towards the animals. Approaching with caution she said, “Bad dog. Leave the kitten alone.”

The dog stopped barking and dropped its feet to the ground. Fiona said, “Why do dogs always pick on cats. You are a bad dog. Leave that poor kitty alone.”

 Why should I? I’m a dog. Dogs chase cats.

Fiona moved closer. You won’t bite me if I try to pet you, will you? She reached to stroke the dog’s back.

I won’t bite you. That feels good. Stroke a little harder. Down there, on my side. Ah. Much better. The dog sat still.

“Fiona, what are you doing? Are you talking to the dog?” Elspet looked at the dog’s mouth, waiting for its lips to move.

“Yes I am. We’re communicating telepathically. He wanted me to scratch his back.” Fiona  rubbed the dog’s ears.

Don’t stop. I like what you’re doing. He rolled over on his back so she could pet his belly.

“What’s your name, puppy?” Fiona patted the dog’s hairy chest.

My name is Bobby, like the Grayfriar’s Bobby. I know it’s not a very creative name, but Jean’s a boring person. And you are?

I’m Fiona. This is Callum and Elspet. Don’t bite them. That poor little kitten is scared to death of you. Why are you trying to hurt it? She stood up and walked over to the tree. Bobby rolled over and struggled to stand up. “Nice kitty. Come down. Fiona will help you.” She reached for it.

The kitten backed up and dug its claws in. I’m not coming down there when that dog is there. Did you see the size of his teeth? He’s got a big set of chompers there.

I talked to the dog. His name is Bobby. He promised not to bite you, didn’t you, Bobby? Fiona turned and glared at the collie.

All right. I’ll leave the cat alone, this time.

“Are you talking to the kitten now? What’s going on, Fiona? What are they saying?” Elspet stood at the bottom of the tree staring up at the kitten.

“The dog’s name is Bobby and he’s promised me that he won’t hurt the kitten. The kitten is afraid of the dog’s teeth.” Fiona crossed her arms. “I’m not sure if I like talking to animals. I feel a headache coming on. Kitten, what’s your name?”

Tumbles.

Tumbles? What kind of stupid name is that for a cat? Shouldn’t your name be Fluffy, or Ginger, or Marmalade, or something like that. Tumbles. Sheesh!  Fiona looked at Bobby. His lips curled up in a smile.

“Is that dog laughing?” Callum leaned closer.

Hey, laddie, don’t get too close. Respect the perimeter. Bobby gave a tiny growl and Callum backed away. Much better.

“Tumbles, Bobby won’t hurt you. Come down. I’ll take you with me to my Uncle Angus’s house. He’s got other cats. He won’t mind if you come and live with him,” Fiona said. “I’ve got to go. You either come with me now, or you sit up in that tree all afternoon.”

I’m coming. My claws are stuck. Keep that dog away until I’m safely in  your arms.

“Oh good. The kitten is coming down. Thank goodness. Now we can go and do something important, like save the world from evil.” Callum let out a loud sigh and watched the kitten leap into Fiona’s arms.

“Can we go now?” Elspet wanted to get to Angus’s croft.

They headed for the gate and left Mrs. Butler’s house. Bobby howled. I’m off to dig up a bone! He ran into the back garden as they walked down the tree-lined street.

Elspet wanted to hold the kitten. “Can I please hold Tumbles? I love animals. I’d take her home with me, but I think she’ll have more fun with Angus’s other cats, don’t you?”

“Yes.” Fiona stroked the cat behind the ears. “Nice kitty. You’re going to have a new home and fresh milk.” The kitten purred and kept silent.

Uncle Angus opened the door. “There you are, Fiona. Good to see you, Callum and Elspet. What’s this in your arms? Did you bring me another cat?”

What does he think I am, if I’m not a cat? Are you sure I shouldn’t go with Elspet? If this guy can’t tell if I’m a cat or not, I could be in big trouble.

Shhh. Uncle Angus loves cats. This is where you belong. She handed the cat to her uncle. “This is Tumbles. We just rescued her from a tree. Jean Butler’s dog, Bobby, was barking at her. Will you take care of her?”

“Why don’t you go inside? The others are in there waiting. I’ll take little Tumbles and introduce her to the rest of the cats. Go on then. I’ll be in shortly.” Uncle Angus disappeared behind the croft.

Fiona, Callum and Elspet went inside. Everyone was there except her mum. After a round of hellos, they helped themselves to a drink of water. Johnny and Jack came back to the croft carrying the other book. Johnny put it down on Angus’s bed and joined the others.

 Mairi knocked at the door and let herself in. “I’ve got cakes, scones, hot bread and pastries if anyone’s hungry,” she called and held up a large bakery box.

“Food!” Jesse took the box from Mairi’s hand.

“Jesse? I see you’re feeling better.” She laughed. “Take what you want first and then share the rest with everyone.”

Johnny came over and gave Mairi a kiss on the cheek. “That’s for bringing fresh baked goods.” He kissed her other cheek. “That’s for bringing a smile into the croft.” He kissed her softly on the lips.

“What’s that for?” Mairi blushed.

“That’s for being you.” Johnny took her hand in his. He led her to the couch and sat next to her.

Angus came in a few minutes later. “Our new kitten, Tumbles, was thoroughly welcomed by the other cats and is now sleeping, curled up next to Allison.” He saw Fiona stuffing a vanilla cake into her mouth. “Are you three ready for your next adventure?”

Mairi spoke up. “I’m not sure about all of this, Angus. It sounds so dangerous. What if something happens to them? I’d never forgive myself if I let them go.”

“Mum! We’ll be all right. I’ve told you a hundred times. Why don’t you show Mum the orb, Uncle Angus,” Fiona said.

“Good idea. This is Rolfin’s Orb. Isn’t it magnificent?”

Mairi took it from his hands. “This is beautiful. I’ve never seen such exquisite work before. The jewels are breathtaking. Look at the carvings in the middle. How on earth did someone carve a dragon in the center of each of these stones, or are they jewels?”

“Both, Mairi. Why don’t we let the children go and then we’ll tell you all about the orb while we wait. They’ll only be gone a few minutes. There’s no need to worry,” Johnny said, pulling her back onto the couch.

“You’ll probably be going somewhere cold this time. You’d better take your coats, just in case,” Jimmy said. “It was warm in Hydra, cold in Iceland, warm in the Seychelles, and it’s cold’s turn again.”

“Don’t forget your backpack. Wait, Fiona. Put some biscuits in there, incase you get hungry. Do you have enough money?” Uncle Angus pulled some out of his pocket. “Here, take some more. Take this camera too. It’s about time we saw some photos of your adventures.”

“I’ve got film in a camera at home. I’ll take yours. Mine’s not as cool as yours is.”

“Take a bottle of water too,” Mairi said, slipping one inside the pack.

“Wait, Fiona. I’ve got something for you.” Johnny reached into his pocket. “This bracelet was the Queen’s favorite. She’d have wanted you to have it, since you’re her flesh and blood.” He slipped it on her wrist. “It looks lovely on you.”

She looked at it. “It is lovely. Thank you, Johnny. I don’t need anything else, Mum. We’ll be fine. Don’t worry,” Fiona said. Callum and Elspet joined her in the center of the room. “Cheerio, Mum,” Fiona said. “Daleth shapish yam.” Before Mairi could shout an objection, the children disappeared in a swirl of color and sparkles.

                                                * * *

Drayton woke up and found himself lying on the cavern floor. When he tried to sit up, he collapsed in pain. He lifted his arm. “Good, it’s not broken.” He lifted the other and then his legs. “I’m all in one piece.” He looked up at the entrance to the tunnel. “That was a steep step.” Inch by inch he stood up, groaning and moaning. “I ache in every part of my body. I wonder how long I’ve been unconscious.” He looked at his watch. “Two hours.”

After the dizziness stopped, he looked around. “I forget which tunnel is the safe one. I’m going to have to climb all those steps! I’ll murder that brat and her men friends when I get out of here.” Rage filled his face to a blushing red color. Another hour later he stood at the edge of the island. “Where’s my boat?” He walked around searching for it. “It’s gone. They took my boat! Now what am I supposed to do. Phelan, I’ve no way off the island.”

From deep within the dark waters of the loch rumbled. “Swim!”

Hardly able to move, Drayton walked into the water. When it reached his waist he leaned over and dropped into the water. “It’s freezing.” He swam to shore and climbed out shivering. “That’s the coldest water I’ve ever felt. I ache. I’m going over to Angus’s house and when I’m finished murdering them all I’ll have a cup of tea!” He stomped to Angus’s croft, cursing with each step. An autumn wind blew, freezing his wet clothes to his body.

The children were saying the spell when he looked in the window. “They’re gone.” He saw the men and Mairi laughing and joking with one another and eating pastries and cakes. “I should burn the place down with them all in it. But I can’t. The orb is in there. Patience, Drayton. The time will come soon enough. I’ll destroy that Fiona first. She thinks she can talk to me that way!” He mumbled a few curses to himself and went back to John and Susan McAllister’s house. Kicking the back door open, he went inside and ripped off his wet clothes. After a hot shower he searched through all of the drawers, looking for something to wear. He ended up putting on a pair of jeans, brown tee shirt and hiking boots, thankful John McAllister was close to the same size as him. He found a pair of scissors in the bathroom and cut his hair short, throwing the pieces he’d clipped off down the drain of the sink. “That’ll cause a good clog.” He removed his earrings and examined himself in front of the mirror. “They’ll never recognize me now. Ha!”

“Where have those brats gone this time? I’d better take a coat in case it’s somewhere cold. I want to see what they’re up to.” He slipped his arms through the sleeves. After checking to make sure he had money in his pockets, he said, “Daleth shapish yam.” He disappeared from the house and found himself standing in the middle of a river, surrounded by grizzly bears.


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