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Rolfin's Orb
Book 6 - Ruby
Chapter 3


Elspet woke up just before dawn. “Fiona, look down. The spiders are gone.” Fiona moved her head over the edge of the carpet. Callum woke up. “Callum it’s safe. The spiders must only come out at night.”

“We’ve got to get down there. The sun is ready to rise and we need to find the ruby,” Fiona said. “Carpet, take us down to the ground.” It did as commanded.

They jumped off and rolled it up, leaning it against the wall in the shade. “I’ve only got one shoe now,” Callum said, looking at his feet.

“Be careful where you walk. When Hakim comes back, we’ll ask him to give you another pair,” Fiona said.

Callum slipped off his other shoe and kicked it behind a wall.

 “What way do we go to find the jewel?” Elspet looked at Fiona for direction.

She looked from one wall to the other. “We go this way,” Fiona said, walking towards a high stone wall. When they got within a few feet, the wall disappeared. “Whoa! What just happened? Did you both see the wall disappear?”

“I did. It’s gone,” Callum said.

Fiona tried to walk through it, but when she hit it, it bounced her to the ground. “It’s still there, but we can’t see it. Maybe we can walk around it.” They went back to where they were and tried to go another way. “It’s hard to go around it when we can’t see it.”

They turned and went back to the place the wall had first disappeared and it was there again. “It’s back!” Elspet smiled.

“This is too weird,” Fiona said. “Come on, let’s go. I see the ruby.” They walked towards the wall. They walked and walked and didn’t seem to get any closer to the gem. “Now what?”

“We’re in some soft of distance thing. We see the wall right in front of us, but when we walk towards it, it moves back,” Elspet said.

“This wall is enchanted,” Callum said. “We had better go back. We’ll walk forever and get nowhere.” They turned and walked back to the starting point.

As soon as they got out, it disappeared again. Instead of being completely blank, they could see the desert. “What’s that dust out there? It looks like a herd of camels.” Fiona strained to see.

They heard the men before they saw them. “It’s a sheik and all his men and they’re riding horses and camels and have huge curved swords. They’re going to kill us,” Callum said, running to hide behind another wall.

“They’re Sufi. Sufism is the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam,” Elspet said.

“What are you talking about?” Fiona wasn’t used to hearing such big words from Elspet.

“The Sufi. My aunt is married to a Sufi.”

“Does he ride a horse and have a big sword?” Fiona’s mouth dropped seeing the men riding closer and closer.

“My uncle is really nice and he’s a peaceful, quiet sort of man. Not at all like these men. Do you hear their strange calls? That is the Sufi way,” Elspet said.

“Whatever, Elspet. All I know is that a bunch of Arab men on horses are riding towards us and we’re gonna die,” Fiona said.

When the men came within a few yards, they disappeared. “It was a trick. This wall is enchanted,” Elspet said.

“Well, at least I learned about the Sufi, even when I didn’t want to,” Fiona said, laughing. “You must introduce me to your uncle the next time he comes to visit.”

The wall changed again. This time they saw an oasis. Palm trees swayed in a gentle, warm breeze. Clusters of dates bunched at the top of each, dropped one by one, falling onto the green grass at the bottom, cushioning the fall. A fountain sprouted streams of water high into the air; each cascading drop shimmered like gold in the sunlight. A large tent, black and open, was full of luxurious furnishings of feather-filled pillow and sheets of colored silks. In the middle of the tent, lying on a marble pillar, sat the ruby.

“I see it. It’s in the tent,” Elspet shouted.

Callum came out of hiding. “This makes me feel thirsty. I want a drink from the fountain and some of those dates.”

He ran towards it and when he hit the wall he flew backwards into Fiona and Elspet, knocking them over. “Ouch, Callum. You can’t get to it. It’s only a mirage,” Fiona said.

“That’s some mirage,” Callum said. When they stood up, the wall changed again, back to a plain stone wall.

“How will we ever get that ruby? We’re not going to get through that wall,” said Elspet.

Fiona walked up to it. “What’s this design?” She ran her fingers over it. “I didn’t notice it before.”

Elspet and Callum stood next to her. “It’s some sort of geometric design or motif. A Muslim motif. Uncle Wazifa told me about Muslim architecture. It’s very beautiful and intricate.”

“Uncle Wazifa?” Callum laughed.

            “That’s not his real name. I think his real name is Abner, but he changed it to Wazifa. He always walks around saying ‘Insha’allah’ and things like that,” Elspet said.

            “Abner?” Fiona shook her head. “Sounds like an interesting man, Elspet.”

            “He’s nice. That motif has different shapes in it. I think it’s some sort of code. See how there are flowers and birds and things on it?” Elspet pointed to them.

            “When I ran off to hide, I mean, to see what was behind that wall, I saw a flower carved in the wall and it looked just like that one,” Callum said. They walked behind the other wall to see it.

            “That’s it. It’s a lotus, isn’t it?” Elspet shrugged her shoulders when nobody answered.

            “I think Elspet’s right. Let’s see how many of these symbols we can find in the castle. When you find one, shout.” Fiona ran off.

            “I found a bird. I think it’s an ibis,” Elspet called.

            “Stay right there,” Fiona called.

            “I found another flower,” Callum shouted.

            “Stay, Callum,” Fiona said again. “I found an ankh. I think that’s what it’s called. My mum has one she wears on a chain around her neck sometimes. Okay, Elspet, walk ten steps towards me in a straight line.”

            Each of them took ten steps and met in the exact spot. “Now, Callum you walk ten steps from the other flower you found.” He did as told and they met faces together. “This is it. This is the center of the castle! We need to hurry. The sun’s rising.” The sky turned crimson as the sun’s rays darted through the morning sky.

Just then a beam of light shot up from the ground in a small circle in the center of them. Butterflies of every color floated in the light, along with lotus petals, and tiny sparkling lights of different shades of green. A butterfly flew out of the light. They watched it flutter into a room of the castle. “Stay here,” Fiona said. She chased the butterfly. It led her to a marble pillar, like the one they saw in the enchanted wall. Sitting on top was the ruby. Fiona walked slowly toward it and picked it up. The pillar disappeared. The butterfly flew back toward the light, followed by Fiona. Drops of water sprayed on them as the light started disappearing. The butterflies fluttered away into the clouds. “It’s beautiful!” Fiona rubbed the water on her face. When the light vanished, green smoke blew out of the ground. “Hakim!”

            “You found the ruby!” Hakim clapped his hands. “I swore to guard it for eternity, but when you so kindly let me out of my lamp prison, I had no choice but to help you find it. I was asked to stay here as an extra precaution and to be an aid to others who might come some day to look for the jewel.”

            Elspet looked at him, somewhat confused. “What if bad people had come to look for it?”

            “I have the good sense to know if someone is good or bad,” Hakim said, blowing a puff of green smoke toward Elspet’s face.

            “But I found you near Madaba, under a boulder in the sand,” Callum said.

            “Yes, I know that. I moved the lamp there so you would find it. I sensed you three were special and had something to do with the ruby.” Hakim grinned from ear to ear. “That reminds me of another joke.”

            “Oh no,” Callum mumbled.

            Hakim said, “This one is great. I know you’ll laugh your heads off. Knock, knock.”

            Fiona, seeing that he wasn’t going to stop, answered, “Who’s there?”

            “Genoa.”

            “Genoa who?”

            “Djinn know a man who likes to wear green?”

            Callum, Elspet and Fiona looked at each other in confusion. “Huh?” Callum’s face scrunched up.

            “Djinn know a man who likes to wear green? It’s hilarious, isn’t it?” Hakim rolled around on the sand holding his sides as he laughed.      A noise, like the roar of a train, shook the ground. “Uh oh. Time for me to go.” He started to leave but hesitated. Talking rapidly, he said, “Before I go, I have something for you. Here, Callum. The lamp is yours. Guard it well and don’t trap any djinn inside it. Fiona, you and Elspet will have to wait for your presents. I must go. I suggest you hide. Now!” The djinn vanished.

            A wall of brown said roared towards them. “It’s a sandstorm!” Callum ran, followed by the girls.

            They found a corner of the castle to hide, pulled the magic carpet over them and  listened as the wind howled around them. Grains of sand pelted them, stinging them like a swarm of angry bees. The noise was deafening as the air grew thick and made it difficult for them to breathe. Their lungs heaved with pain as they struggled for air. All three of their hats blew off their heads, disappearing into the wall of sand.

The carpet moved. “I think this is trap number three,” Fiona said. The carpet whipped from their hands. The wind carried it away into its brown dusty wall. Sand piled up on top of and around the three of them. “We’re going to suffocate. The sand will cover us and we won’t be able to breathe.”

Callum wept, his tears leaving streaks in his dust-covered face. For three hours they huddled together, shaking with fear as the sand gathered, reaching to their necks. Even if they had wanted to run, they were trapped by the hot sand. “I can’t move my arms.”

Fiona closed her eyes. She remembered her powers and said, “I can change the weather now. I forgot I could do that!” She concentrated all her thoughts on rain clouds. “Let it rain. Please let it rain. Wash away the sandstorm.”

            A cooler wind blew, colliding with the hot wind of the khamsim. Lightning flashed and crackled, its electrical charges bulldozing walls as it crashed into it. Thunder boomed above them. Fiona felt the first raindrops as they fell from the sky. For the next hour, the clouds grew thicker, drenching the parched land below. The wind died down and the sandstorm dissipated, the grains falling to the ground. Cooling water ran in tiny trickles across the hot sand, some of it evaporating on contact. The rain fell until the air was clean and pure, washing away the piles of sand trapping them. Elspet saw the magic carpet fall to the ground a few feet away, followed by her hat. “There’s the carpet! It came back, but I only see my hat.”

 “Wow! It’s a rainbow!” Callum looked up at the parting gray clouds. He ran up the steps, stopping to splash in the puddles. When he reached the top level, he gazed out through one of the slots that used to be window. “It stretches from one end of the sky to the other.”

            Fiona and Elspet danced around holding hands, laughing and singing joyfully. They picked up the magic carpet and carried it up the stairs and stood next to Callum. “What’s going on now?” Fiona watched the pinkish-yellow sand turn green. Stems and leaves popped through the ground, sprouting up and reaching for the sun.

            “The rain made the desert blossom,” Elspet said. Her eyes opened wide as she watched stems grow and flowers appear at the top. “I’d heard that phrase before but never knew what it meant until now.”

            “But, they are black flowers,” Callum said.

            Hakim appeared before them and looked at the ground. “I don’t know who you are or how you did that, but that’s the first time I have ever seen a rainbow.”

“What kind of flowers are those, Hakim?” Fiona pointed.

Hakim took a deep breath. “Oh my. Those are black iris. They’re the national flower of Jordan. They’re quite pretty. How did you do that?”

“It was the rain that made them grow,” Callum said.

“I’m impressed. Did you make it rain, Fiona?”

“She’s got the power to do a lot of things,” Elspet interrupted.

“I made it rain. It was the only thing I could think of to stop the sand storm. I didn’t know it would make flowers bloom,” Fiona said.

“Thank you for the rainbow and for the black iris. What a wonderful gift!” He wrapped his puffy arms around Fiona and Elspet and hugged them. “It’s beautiful.” He wiped a tear from his eye. “I have something for you now.”

“I hope it’s not another joke,” Callum said.

Hakim looked at him. “You don’t like my jokes?”

“Well, they’re not really that funny, Hakim.”

The djinn lowered his head to his chin. “They were right. I’m not funny. No wonder they put me in the magic lamp. Do you want me to go back inside?”

Callum saw the sad-looking djinn’s tears. “No. I only meant…”

Fiona piped in, “We love your jokes, Hakim. Tell us another one.”

“Do you mean it? Do you really like my jokes?”

“I think you’re the funniest djinn I’ve ever met,” Elspet said.

“I bet this one is the funniest one yet,” Callum said, trying to encourage Hakim.

 He clapped his hands. “This one is funny. Okay. If the caboose is at the end of the train, what’s at the beginning?”

Fiona looked at Elspet and Callum. “I don’t know,” she said. “Tell us.”

“The en-djinn. Get it? The en-djinn.” Hakim roared with laughter.

Fiona gently elbowed Elspet who started laughing. “I get it,” Elspet said. The engine. That’s funny, Hakim. Don’t you think so, Callum?”

“Oh yes. It’s funny.” He forced himself to laugh.

When Hakim stopped laughing, he wiped the tears of laughter away. “I told you I had a special gift for you.” He clapped his hands again. The magic carpet rolled out on the sand and grew three times its size. A marble table appeared, held up with sandalwood legs. Pillows, fluffy and thick, lay on the carpet around the table.

            “There are four cushions,” Callum counted.

            “One is for me. I will join you this time,” Hakim said. “I am not finished yet. There is more.” The clapped his hands again. Three silver pitchers filled to the rim with ice water and juices appeared. “There’s grape juice, pomegranate juice and citrus juice.” Each sparkled with iciness. A platter of grapes, dates, artichokes, melons, bananas and kiwi sat in the middle of the table. Silver bowls full of chicken and beef in rich, spicy sauces, falafels, lamb kebabs, rice with almonds and pine kernels, bowls of hummus with flat bread spread from one end to the other. “There is more.” He clapped his hands again. Fasooliyeh, a tomato based bean stew filled a golden tureen. Mlukhiyyeh, spinach stew with chicken and rice, dished itself onto plates that flew in front of them. Waraqdawaalee, steamed grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice added color and variety. “Eat, my new friends.”

            Callum looked around at the food. “There are no forks or spoons.”

            “Here in Jordan we don’t use utensils. We use our fingers. Eat up.” Hakim picked up a piece of orange melon and bit into it, the juices running down his chin.

            Callum rolled over and lay on his back. “I am so full. I haven’t eaten that much in my entire life.” His tummy poked up in the air.

            “All that food. It was delicious, Hakim. I’ve never tasted anything so good before,” Elspet said. “I’m about ready to burst too. My pants are tight on my waist.”

            Fiona didn’t speak. She just groaned and sat back on the pillow.

            Hakim clapped his hands and everything disappeared. “You are happy, no?”

            “Yes,” Fiona said. “We have the ruby and we have met our good friend, Hakim, our falling star, and his amazing magic carpet. We are happy, yes.”

            “It is time for me to go. I have another gift for you all.” Hakim pulled something out of his pocket. “Elspet, I saw your mouse necklace.” He handed her a small golden statue of a mouse. “Its eyes are made of emeralds and it has three sapphire buttons down the front of it. I hope you like it.”

            Elspet took it and cried tears of gratitude. “It’s beautiful. I’ll treasure it forever.”

            “Fiona, for you, I have something for you too. This is a necklace.” He put a chain around her neck and on the end was a star shaped locket. “Do not open it until you are home.”

            “It is gorgeous, Hakim. Thank you,” Fiona said.

            “Callum I have a coin for you. I’ve carried it with me for good luck since I was a young djinn. It is yours now. Remember me when you hold it in your hand.” Hakim wiped a tear from his eye.

            “Hakim, why were you put in the magic lamp? Did you kill someone?” Elspet slipped her hand into his. “We don’t care if you did or not. You’re still our friend.”

            “Do you really want to know?” The three of them nodded. “1200 years ago, I lived in a small village far away from here, near Baghdad. I didn’t kill anyone. I didn’t even steal anything. I had a job working as a stand-up storyteller.”

            “A stand-up storyteller?” Fiona sat down, wanting to hear more.

            “You’ve heard of stand-up comedians, haven’t you, Fiona?” Elspet asked.

“Is that so funny? Every night the people in the bazaar stopped by to listen to my stories. I was good, but I soon tired of telling the same old stories over and over again. One day I added a joke. Nobody laughed. They told me to hurry and finish the story. The next night I told the joke again and then I told another. Nobody ever laughed, but me. I thought my jokes were quite funny. One day the sultan stopped by the bazaar and after hearing gossip about my great stories, he came to listen. Big mistake. I happened to be feeling particularly jovial that night and instead of telling stories, I told one joke after another. The sultan thought my jokes were so horrible that he demanded that I be put in the magic lamp until I promised to stop telling them. I refused to make the promise. The magic lamp was tossed aside and I was soon forgotten about. You see, that is why I am so grateful to you for releasing me.”  

            “I’m sorry you were trapped for so long, but you’re welcome, Hakim.” Fiona thought of something. “Hakim, I’ve got a gift for you too.”

            “There is no need. Just to be in your company and have my freedom is gift enough for me,” Hakim said.

            “Yes, but you’ll like this.” Fiona jumped off the carpet and ran to her backpack. She grabbed something and took it back to Hakim.

            “What is it?” Hakim stared at the small package.

            “It is called bubble gum. Open the package and you will see 20 sticks. Pull one out and unwrap it,” Fiona said. He did as instructed. “Now put it in your mouth and chew it.”

            He was about to drop the wrapper on the sand, but instead he crumpled it up and put it in his pocket. He bit into the gum. “It tastes sweet and is like chewing rubber. What is the purpose of this?” Fiona grabbed a stick and chewed it up. When she blew a big pink bubble, Hakim clapped his hands and laughed. “I see.” It took Fiona a few minutes to teach him how to stretch the gum to blow bubbles but soon he was blowing and popping bubbles non-stop. “It is good. Thank you, my friend,” Hakim said.

            “Wait, here’s one more thing.” Fiona handed him her hat. “I know you’ve got a hat already, but here’s this one, in case you get tired of the green one.”

            Hakim took off his green hat and put Fiona’s straw one on his head. “How do I look?”

            “Cool, Hakim. Very cool.”

Fiona, Callum and Elspet waved cheerio to Hakim. The djinn picked up the flying carpet and sat down on it, crossing his legs. He said the magic word, ‘Mizusabir’. The carpet lifted and hovered above their heads. “Are you sure you don’t want to hear another joke?” Hakim grinned.

“No!” All three of them shouted at the same time.

Hakim shrugged his shoulders and flew away, a big pink bubble puffing from his lips, carrying him high into the clouds.

 “Well, that was fun. It’s time to go home now,” Elspet said.

            “Yes, I suppose they’ll be waiting for us. I’m going to miss Hakim.” Fiona sighed. “Hold my hand.” She looked around the castle, smiling with new memories.  “Daleth shapish yam bet.”


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