“It’s much easier going down the steps than it
was coming up them.” Callum ran down, skipping several.
“Be careful, Callum. This is not a good time to
have a broken leg.” Fiona spotted the herd of yaks. “At least our ‘friend’
is gone. The other yaks don’t seem to have a care in the world. Abbik, who
will catch the fish and bring in the goats tonight if you’re not there?”
“There are many of us who work. I was assigned
the tasks this week. One of the others, perhaps Tompak, will do it. I will
take his place the following week,” Abbik answered.
“Where are you taking us? Where is this meadow
and why is it so special?” Elspet’s legs were sore. When they reached the
last step and stood on level ground, she sighed with relief.
“You will see. I cannot describe for you the
beauty of the meadow. It is a sacred place. The monks go there on special
occasions to clear their minds and to renew and rejuvenate their souls.”
Abbik hurried along.
A cluster of birch trees welcomed them into the
safety of the meadow. When they stepped through into the grassy area, Fiona
gasped. “Look at all the flowers. There are so many blue poppies. This is
Elspet stood silently. “I’ve never seen anything
so breathtaking in my life. There must be a million butterflies. It looks
like a rainbow. Oh how I wish I’d brought my sketch pad.”
“I knew you were going to say that. I suppose
you want to draw those orchid flowers. It is nice here,” Callum said.
Abbik ran into the middle of the meadow and
stood with his arms out wide. The butterflies fluttered around him, landing
on his arms, head, and body.
“I want to try that.” Callum ran through the
flowers and stopped next to Abbik.
Elspet and Fiona followed. With arms spread
wide, they inhaled the fragrance of the flowers, delighted in the tickles as
the butterflies landed on them and absorbed the colors surrounding them.
Abbik sat, motioning to the others to do the
same. “It is time to meditate now. Sense nature. Open your minds and bodies
to the sights, sounds, smells and feelings around you. Listen with your
eyes. See with your fingertips. Feel with your ears. Put all thoughts out of
your mind, except what you sense.”
Fiona inhaled the perfume of the poppies. Taking
deep breaths, her mind wandered to the stone. The opal called to her. She
listened to the breeze rustling the flower petals and to the butterfly’s
wings flapping up and down. Her fingers caressed the soft stems and leaves
and dug into the soil. She scooped some up and held it below her nose. When
she opened her eyes, Abbik lay sleeping. Callum and Elspet sat still,
covered with hundreds of pink, purple and yellow butterflies. Fiona crawled
over to them. “We need to get that opal. No matter what Kandarash says,
we’ve got to find it and soon. I sense danger to our families. Every minute
“But I like this, Fiona. I feel peaceful and at
ease with the world.” Elspet brushed a few butterflies from her face.
“I know. I feel it too, but the strong power of
evil going on in Scotland overtakes it. We have to get the opal. Be quiet,
so we don’t wake Abbik up. Come on. Let’s get back to the monastery. I saw a
door. We can try sneak inside through it.”
Hesitantly, but without further argument, Callum
and Elspet followed Fiona.
“Do we have to climb those steps again, Fiona? I
don’t think my legs can do it.” Elspet complained and rubbed her calves.
“I don’t want to either, Fiona.” Callum agreed.
“I’m tired. I want to go back to the meadow with Abbik.”
“No!” Fiona shouted, soon regretting being so
loud. A rumble came from high on the mountain above.
“Uh oh.” Callum looked up.
“Uh oh, what?” Elspet followed his gaze.
“It’s an avalanche! Grab that stick,” Fiona
said. “We need to dig a hole, fast.”
They three of them watched and heard the thunder
of snow heading for them. Pulling scrub out of the way, they buried
themselves in the dirt. Within seconds the mountain of ice rushed over the
top of them, threatening to carry them off with it. Minutes later, silence.
“Callum, are you all right? Do you have the
stick?” Fiona reached for her friends.
“I’m all right. Yes, I’ve got the stick. What
should I do with it?”
“This must be one of our traps. Are we going to
die, Fiona? There’s so much snow on top of us. It’s heavy and so cold. What
about Abbik? What if he got caught in it and died?” Elspet wiped the tears
from her face.
“Poke the stick up and see if you can tell how
deep it is,” Fiona urged the boy.
“There’s just more snow and more snow. We’re
going to suffocate.” Callum let go of the stick.
“Fiona, you’ve got to melt it. You can make
fire. Make a big fire and melt this snow before we die,” Elspet cried.
“I will, but there’s going to be a lot of water.
At least we’re below the monastery.” She closed her eyes and a fire burned a
few feet away from them.
“Make it bigger, Fiona. Melt this avalanche.”
Elspet grabbed Fiona’s arm.
“I’m starting small, just enough for us to
escape this snowy prison. Once we’re safe, I’ll make the fire larger.” A
hole formed above them.
“It’s working!” Elspet shouted with relief.
Soon water trickled upon them, saturating their
coverings. A ray of sunshine broke through the ice. “We’ve made it. Let’s
get out of here.”
One at a time they squeezed through the hole in
the snow. “Wow! This snow is at least as tall as my house.” Callum crunched
the snow under his boots. Breathing fresh air, they sat down on the ice
above the hole. A crack and a rumble shook them as the snow formed a large
crack and the bottom portion of the avalanche slid down the mountain.
“Melt it, Fiona, before it kills someone. It’s
headed right for those goats,” Elspet urged.
Without hesitation, Fiona started fires all over
the snow and it turned into a wall of water, rushing down the mountainside
toward the valley below.
“Oh no! The water’s headed for those houses. The
people inside will die. Do something, Fiona!” Elspet stood and waved her
arms in agitation.
Fiona jumped off the snow onto the soggy ground
and grew in size until Elspet and Callum couldn’t see her face. She picked
up several boulders and dropped them on the ground, diverting the water away
from the village. Stepping over the mound, she stood next to her friends and
shrunk down to normal size.
Callum squeezed water from his mittens. “What
about the rest of this snow? It’s better that you melt it and know it’s
going to go somewhere safe than have the sun melt it and flood them out
unexpectedly. Come on, Elspet. Let’s get out of here.”