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Rolfin's Orb
Book 5 - Topaz
Chapter 2


Drayton woke up confused. He’d forgotten where he was. After rubbing his sore back, which was stiff from lying on the cold stone floor, he stepped outside and took a deep breath. Rain drizzled, making the ground a muddy mess. Climbing into the boat, he rowed across to the other side, remembering how he’d had to search for it, finding it hidden in a bush. “I’ll make sure nobody else can find it. Two can play at that game.” He pulled the boat up the shore and hid it inside a cave. “There. Find it now.”

Feeling hungry, he headed for town. A small café, just outside the village, tempted him inside with aroma of fresh perked coffee. He sat in one of the booths and looked at a menu. Ordering two English breakfasts, he waited impatiently for his food. The door opened and two umbrellas entered. When they folded up, one of the waitresses called, “John! Susan! You’re back from Edinburgh. How did the funeral go, dear?”

John took the umbrellas and put them in the stand. Drayton recognized their names and listened. “The funeral went as well as can be expected. The worst part was when we got home.”

“What happened, dear?” Agnes wiped her hands on a towel and escorted them to a booth near Drayton’s.

“We came home this morning, tired and worn out emotionally. When John opened the door this horrible stench attacked us. It appears as though someone went into our house and trashed it. They made a horrid mess with tomato sauce and mustard and emptied several trout from our freezer onto our white settee. They thawed and well, you can imagine the smell,” Susan said.

“That’s horrible dear.” Agnes brought them both a cup of coffee.

“We’re going to have to throw the settee out and buy another. We’ve got cleaning people over there right now. It’ll cost us a fortune. I don’t know if they’ll ever get the smell of rotting fish out of the house though. It is horrible, Agnes.” John patted his wife’s hands.

Drayton snickered to himself.

“That’s not all. They stole all of John’s clothes. We’ll have to replace them too.”

“Who would do such a thing? I heard someone did the same thing to Mairi McAllister’s house while she was at work. There’s something strange going on in this town and I don’t like it one bit.” Agnes handed them a menu. “The food’s on the house. Order anything you like, dears.”

Drayton became dreadfully aware of his clothing. If John turned his head and saw him, he’d surely recognize his own shirt and coat. He had no choice but to sit behind his menu until they left. Agnes kept coming over and asking if he was finished. He ordered more food. “You must be hungry. You’ve eaten two English breakfasts, a side order of bacon, ham and sausages and now you want more toast. I like to see a man with an appetite, but if you continue to eat like this, you’ll weigh a ton in no time.”

Drayton wiggled his finger and called Agnes closer. She bent over to hear him. “Listen to me you old battleaxe. If that means I’ll be as fat as you, then I’d better be more careful. Now, shut your big mouth and take your big fat bottom over to the counter and order me my toast.”

Agnes flushed with anger. “As you wish, Sir.” She called to the cook, “A side order of white toast.”

The McAllisters stayed there for an hour. Drayton jumped up the minute they left and dashed out the door, not paying for his food. Agnes ran after him. “Sir, you forgot to pay your bill.” He ignored her and ran down the street.

Stopping at one of the shops to buy a new coat, he threw the other one in the rubbish. After going outside, he saw a bus stop. A group of tourists stood outside talking about going to a distillery. Distillery? That’s my kind of place. When they boarded, he joined them, sitting at the back and away from everyone else. The bus started and the tour guide rattled off trivia about the area. The rain poured down. He listened to the wipers go back and forth, back and forth, until he wanted to scream.

The bus stopped in front of the McKeon Distillery. Everyone got off the bus and headed indoors. They were directed through the distillery, having to listen to every detail of its history. Drayton was relieved when they handed out free samples. He bought a few more bottles at the gift shop and then walked back to town, stopping at a park. The rain still poured down, but he found a gazebo. Opening the bottles of Scotch whiskey, he guzzled them down like they were water. His mind took him to negative places. Thoughts of Phelan and the wolves, the pain he still felt and his hatred of Fiona, added to his anger. “I’ve had enough of this. I’m going to get that orb now. Phelan can go to yonder!”

Staggering down the street, he headed for Angus’s croft. He kicked the door. “Let me in, you idiots. I want the orb. I want the books. I’ll kill you if I have to.”

Jesse put the book down and went to the door. He pulled it open. “Go home. You’re drunk.”

Drayton pushed Jesse down. “Get out of my way. I want that orb now!” He stomped into the croft. Seeing the orb and both books on the table, he drooled and clapped his hands. “There they are. I’ll just take them.”

Jesse came up behind him. “You stomped on me once before. You’ll not do it again, boy.” Jesse brought his elbow down on the back of Drayton’s neck.

Drayton fell to the floor, landing on his hands and knees. Jesse, seeing he was in no condition for a fight, picked up one of the books and slammed it down on top of Drayton’s head. He fell flat, his body going limp and into unconsciousness. Jesse searched the croft and found a coil of rope. He tied Drayton’s feet together and then wrapped it around his wrists, pulling it tight. When he was sure of his knots, he dragged Drayton to the corner and dropped him in a pile.

Jesse had just sat down and picked up the book once more when the door opened. “Jesse! We’re back.” Fiona rushed in. The others followed carrying boxes and bags. Fiona saw Drayton lying on the floor. “What happened? What’s he doing here and why is he all tied up?”

“Jesse?” Mairi went to feel for a pulse. “He’s not dead. Oh. He smells like whiskey.”

“It seems our good friend, Drayton Steele, had a little too much to drink. Scotch whiskey by the smell of him. He came here demanding the orb and the books. I hit him on the head with one of them. I hope I didn’t hurt it,” Jesse said.

“How long has he been like this?” Johnny checked the ropes.

“About half an hour or so. He’s cut his hair and taken out his earrings. Can you imagine a man wearing women’s earrings?” Jesse shook his head back and forth.

“Men do that nowadays, Jesse. It’s very common. Some men look nice with one in their ear. Drayton doesn’t. He looks like a beast,” Fiona snarled.

“Enough of him. Let him sleep it off. What’s in the boxes and bags? Did you buy out every shop in town?” Jesse took a package from Jimmy’s arms.

Mairi showed him all their purchases. As the men talked, she fixed a cup of tea for everyone. Laughter filled the croft as she told Jesse of the day’s adventures.

                                    * * *

Drayton heard noises through the filmy pain in his head.   He opened one of his eyes. His head throbbed with pain. Where am I?”  He saw Fiona sitting on a chair sipping tea. The sound of other voices vibrated in his ears. I feel horrible. Hey! I’m tied up. I remember now. It was that one, over there. He bashed my head in with a book. I’ve got to get out of here.  With the drink wearing off, he found his powers coming back. He shrunk down and slipped out of the ropes, glancing every few seconds to make sure nobody is watching him. The size of a tiny mouse, he crawled under the door and left the croft. Jeffrey and Angus arrived back at the croft after their journey to Crianlarich. They didn’t see Drayton hiding behind a milk bottle. Once they opened the door and went inside, he grew to normal size and headed for the castle.

                                                * * *

“You’re back, Uncle Angus. It’s good to see you again, and you too Jeffrey,” Fiona said, giving her uncle a hug. “We went shopping today. Sit down and Mum will fix you some tea and you can look at all the stuff we bought. Mum picked up some food at the bakery. You and Jeffrey had better hurry and get some before the others eat it all.”

“Fresh food from the bakery? How can I resist?” Angus fought his way into the box of cakes. “Here, Jeffrey. Try this one. I think you’ll enjoy it.” He handed him a raspberry tart with a dollop of whipping cream on top.

“What do you think of Drayton over there?” Jesse nodded at Angus.

“Drayton? Over where?” Angus turned to look. “I don’t see Drayton.”

“He’s gone!” Jesse rushed to the ropes. “He got out of the ropes. I tied them tight. How did he manage that?”

“I didn’t hear the door open,” Jack said.

“I know how he did it. He shrunk down and went under the door,” Fiona said.

“He’s gone now. There’s nothing we can do about that, however, we know that he wants the orb and books so badly that he’ll act irrationally to get them,” Johnny said. “It makes it all the more important that we get Fiona and the others off to the next place.”

Fiona walked over to Jeffrey and stood in front of him. “We met Crystal. She is free now. How could you ask her to stay inside a glacier for so long? She was almost to the end of it anyway. If it had calved one more time she’d have been freed and the emerald would have been lost.”

“You’ve met Crystal? How is she?” Jeffrey squatted down so he was eye level with Fiona. His cocoa brown eyes gazed into hers. “I didn’t know she was unhappy.”

“She wasn’t really. She decorated the inside of the glacier with colored icicles, but I’m sure she was lonely. She went right up to the top of the glacier to find her friends. I hope she did,” Fiona said.

“Sorry, Fiona. I didn’t realize. That was a long time ago.” Jeffrey sighed.

“I didn’t like the saber-tooth tiger either. It almost killed Elspet and Callum.”

“Looks like you escaped safe and unharmed.”

“Well, they were good traps, but a little too dangerous for my likes.” Fiona wrapped her arms around his neck. “Welcome to Scotland, Jeffrey.”

He hugged her back. It had been a long time since he’d felt the warmth of a child’s embrace.

“Fiona,” Johnny interrupted. “We need to go and collect Callum and Elspet. Your mum and I will come with you. Do you think they’ll be busy on Saturday afternoon?”

“I’m sure they’ll be doing chores. Elspet’s probably babysitting her brothers.”

“We’ve got to try. Come on, Mairi. Let’s get the children.” Johnny took Fiona’s and Mairi’s hands and walked down the path towards Elspet’s house.


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