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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 2

“Will we get into trouble if we get caught?”  Murray whispered. “I hope nobody saw Duncan and me sneak out of the hall. I think they were all asleep.”

“Then stop worrying,” Sandy said. “And stop talking. Our voices, even whispers, travel in this cavernous school. Follow me.” Murray, Duncan, Fraser and Leith traipsed after Sandy. “Stay on the carpet as much as possible.”

It was so quiet that they could hear their own breaths. Each step squeaked under their shoes; the noise bouncing off the marble floors and pillars. Once they reached the bottom of the steps, Leith grabbed Sandy’s arm. “We can’t march out the front door. Someone will catch us. I should have listened to Grant when he warned me you were trouble.”

“Oh? He said that, did he? Remind me to have a wee chat with Grant. Relax; we aren’t going near the front door. There’s another way out through the kitchen. Quiet.” Sandy led the group into the room. After the door shut behind them, he felt freer to talk. “Nobody will hear us now. The outside door is over here.”

“I’m not sure I want to go to the cemetery,” Duncan said. “We’ll be dismissed if we’re caught. My father would never let me forget it. I’ll be grounded for the rest of my life.”

“I have done this at least a dozen times and never been caught. There are some ugly creatures on the headstones. You’ve got to see them and the best reason, they’re forbidden. The only way we’ll get caught is if you two babies start crying. You’ve been here at the school for six weeks now. You know how things work around here. I shouldn’t have let Leith talk me into inviting you two. Do you want to come, or go back to bed to suck your thumbs?” Sandy glanced at each of the other boys, who shook their heads humbly. “All right. Coats? Gloves? Hats? Right. Here we go. I have a key.” He opened the heavy wooden door and turned to the others.

A bitter wind blasted them as they stepped outside. “It’s bloody cold out here.” Fraser rubbed his arms. “How did you get a key, Sandy?”

“I took it from Headmaster’s desk. He has a hundred keys on the key ring. It’s been two years and he’s not noticed it missing yet. It will be warmer once we get to the cemetery. It’s protected from the wind by the school,” Sandy said. The sound of waves battering the rocks and cliffs of the island somehow made it feel even colder.

“The school is all lit up. If one of the teachers or other students sees us, we’re in for it,” Leith said.

“It’s after midnight. They’re all sleeping. The lights are hall lights. Stop being such a worry wart. It’s only a short distance. Stay near the bushes and trees. We’re all dressed in dark clothes.” Sandy ran ahead. When the others caught up, they stopped at a black iron fence that surrounded the cemetery. “We’re here. One of the bars is loose. That will save us from having to go in the front gate.” He wiggled the cold iron post back and forth and then pushed it to the side. After squeezing his body through, Sandy called to the others. “Come on.” One by one they made their way between the bars.

“It’s spooky in here,” Duncan said. “It smells damp and musty. It smells like death. I feel ghosts and evil spirits around me.”

“How can a place smell like death?” Fraser mocked Duncan.

“What do you mean ghosts and evil spirits?” Murray grabbed Duncan’s arm.

“It smells old and moldy, like a dead person would smell.” Duncan looked at the inscriptions on the crosses. “I may have only been in this school a few weeks, but I know what some of these symbols are and I don’t like it.”

“What do they say?” Fraser was too frightened to attempt to read.

“This one says,” Duncan said, rubbing the stone with the palm of his hand, “May your bones rattle for centuries and may your teeth rot in your skull. That’s nice. This one is even better. Whosoever reads this and is born on August 8th, will call forth an ancient and set in motion a chain of events that could lead to the destruction of the world as you know it.”

“I guess it’s a good thing our birthdays aren’t on August 8th,” Fraser said.

“Um, wait a minute. I’m not that lucky. My birthday is August 8th.” Murray gulped.

“Mine too.” Duncan’s eyes bulged with fear.

“Me too.” Leith gave a quick smile.

“Great!” Fraser walked a few paces ahead. “Three of you? Does that mean you’re going to have your teeth rot?”

“You’re daft, Duncan. You’re just making that up to frighten us. This is a Pict cemetery. They’ve been dead for too long,” Sandy said. “That’s a lot of blether about smelling ghosts and spirits.”

“Oh yeah? Then what’s that?” Leith gasped and pointed to an ethereal figure hovering in front of one of the Pictish crosses. Duncan and Murray moved behind Leith and peeked out. “It looks like a ghost to me; a ghost that Duncan just called forth when he read that headstone.”

Sandy and Fraser didn’t speak, but moved behind a large headstone. They gawked at the form floating a few feet off the ground. “What’s it doing?” Fraser whispered as he backed up a few steps. The spirit formed into the shape of a man and moved towards the boys. “I’m out of here!”

Fraser turned to run, but Sandy grabbed hold of him. “Don’t move. I don’t think it will hurt us.”

“How do you know it won’t hurt us? Is it wearing a halo?” Fraser tried to pull his arm free. “Let go of me. I’m going back to the school.”

The figure hovered in front of them and then moved closer to Leith, who could see the outline of a face, arms and body. A soft voice spoke. “My name is Abaris. I’m a Hyperborean and one of Apollo’s priests.”

Leith gulped and then found the courage to speak. “Apollo, as in the Greek god, Apollo?”

“That is correct. I have been sent here to warn and prepare you for events that are soon to come to pass. Only you three,” Abaris pointed to Leith, Duncan and Murray, with help of your two friends, can accomplish the task.”

     “What task?” The words slipped out of Sandy’s mouth.

     “Who is this guy?” Fraser stopped struggling. “This is a trick. Funny one, Sandy.”

     “It’s not a trick,” Sandy said.

The spirit continued. “As you know, the great civilization of Atlantis was destroyed. Before it was completely annihilated, some of the citizens escaped by boat and took many books and treasures to an island, Iona. Have you heard of it?” Abaris’ low voice frightened Murray.

“Of course we’ve heard of Iona. It’s an island off the coast of western Scotland,” Fraser blurted. “What does Atlantis have to do with Iona, or with us?”

Abaris glared at Fraser. “You are an impatient young man. May I finish without interruption? I’m pleased to hear that you know of Iona. It will make your job easier.”

“Easier? Job? What is he talking about?” Fraser stepped out from behind the headstone. “Who are you?”

“Haven’t you been listening? Many centuries ago, the Atlanteans built a great library on Iona and filled it with ancient books and scrolls that they saved from destruction. When the boy, Duncan, called me forth by reading the inscription, he started a chain of events that will possibly lead to the death and destruction of the Scotland you know, starting with the death of your ancestor, Malcolm Canmore.”

“Way to go, Duncan,” Sandy said, pushing the lad down to the ground. “This is all your fault.”

“It’s nobody’s fault. It’s part of what is supposed to be. You were destined to be here. Once again, without interruptions, I hope; there once lived an evil wizard named Taygetus. He made a pact with one of Macbeth’s sons to bring about his return. This son had children, who had children and on and on. Now there is but one descendant of Macbeth through this son living in your time. Taygetus will use this person to bring him back to life and then evil will be unleashed on the world. Once he has come back, the wizard will travel back in time and change history so that Malcolm Canmore dies in the battle instead of Macbeth. There are dire consequences that will take place because of this. Your school will cease to exist and worse, you boys will too.”

“Say what?” Sandy’s mouth hung open with confusion.

“You mean unless we do something we will never have been born?” Duncan gulped.

Leith stepped closer to Abaris. “What are you talking about?  People can’t go back in time and there is no such thing as an evil wizard. Is this some sort of trick that  Kenneth McAlpin Hall boys made up to frighten us? Are you in on it, Sandy?”

“Don’t look at me. This is the first I have heard of it. It’s no trick,” Sandy said, shaking with fear.

“What do you want us to do? How can we help?” Leith turned to Duncan and Murray. “Our birthday is August 8th. What does that have to do with anything?”

“What’s a Hyperborean?” Murray spat out the words.

“You’ll learn about it next year,” Sandy said. “We three know a little about Atlantis and we’ve heard of you before, but go ahead and explain it to the younger lads. I’m anxious to hear what you have to say.”

“Hyperborean are a race of people from the north. That’s all you need to know right now. For the time being it doesn’t pertain to you. August 8th is the date Atlantis was destroyed. I will explain it one more time. When Atlantis was destroyed, a group of people, Atlanteans, escaped in boats. They sailed north and landed on the island of Iona. There they built a library to hold all the items they brought from Atlantis and settled on the island. One of these Atlanteans is the descendant of an evil wizard named Taygetus. Do you have that so far?” Abaris glanced at each lad.

“So there are two descendants; Macbeth’s and Taygetus’s. Okay. And Malcolm Canmore battled Macbeth and killed him. Scotland went on to become what it is today because of this one single event. Taygetus wants to find the one and only descendant of Macbeth.”

“Why?” Duncan raised his hand to ask the question.

“A descendant of Macbeth is the only person who can call Taygetus back to life.”


“You ask too many questions, Duncan. It’s just the way it is. Have you forgotten what I explained about the wizard making a pact with one of Macbeth’s children? It must be a descendant of Macbeth. He or she will call Taygetus, the evil wizard, back to life, and once that happens, the wizard will go back in time and change history so that Macbeth kills Canmore instead of Canmore killing Macbeth. Do you understand that so far?” Abaris shook his head. “Good. Now look around you. These are Pictish crosses. Under one of these are a few tunnels. Each tunnel leads to another time and place. By studying these Pictish Oghams on the crosses, you’ll be able to figure out which cross is the correct one,” Abaris said.

“Correct one for what? You expect us to go into underground tunnels and go back in time?” Sandy glanced at the crosses. “We all know about Oghams. So what you’re saying is that there are clues that will show us where we should go?”

“The clues will lead you to Iona, near the hidden library. You’ll have to do some searching, but I have confidence you’ll find it quickly,” Abaris said.

“Atlantis? You mean there really was such a place? Why do we need to go to Atlantis?” Murray looked at the other boys.

“We aren’t talking about Atlantis right now, Murray. We are discussing Iona,” Sandy said with a smirk on his face.

Abaris sighed. “Because you need to and it must be immediately before Atlantis’ destruction. You are to stop Taygetus’ ancestor from leaving Atlantis alive, so that he or she will never be born. There are clues in the book that will tell you who this ancestor is and how to find your way there. One thing I do know is that the descendant of Taygetus is a female.”

“One more time. I don’t get this. I know that Malcolm Canmore kills Macbeth. Someone is trying to go back in time and make it so Macbeth kills Malcolm Canmore instead?” Sandy scratched his head. “I also know that Macbeth was the last Celtic king and the Celts rule ended with his death. If he had lived, the Celts would have probably gone on to conquer most of Britain. The British Empire ruled most of the world at one time. That would change. Oh. All right. I get it. No wonder Taygetus wants things to happen. And you want us to go to Atlantis and kill someone?”

“That’s correct. You have no need to kill her. Just prevent her from leaving Atlantis before it’s destroyed. What you don’t know is that Macbeth had an illegitimate son named Robert. He is unknown to most historians and is never mentioned in books. Robert dabbled into the occult and somehow ended up having a wizard on his side. This wizard, Taygetus, promised Robert that one day he, the wizard, would be brought back to life and would travel back in time and change the past so that Macbeth lived and Canmore would die and that would allow Robert to be the next Celtic king.  All of Robert’s descendants are dead, except one, a girl named Paisley Opis Greer, who will eventually learn who she is and that she is capable of using the information she has learned to bring Taygetus back to life. It will benefit her, so she will be eager. Taygetus is a descendant of Atlantis. The clues and information you gather will tell you who this female Atlantean is.”

     “Okay. I have got that part so far. I don’t believe it, but I understand what you’re saying. I have never heard of Robert, but go on,” Leith said.

“Opis is the name of a Hyperborean maiden, by the way. Your job is to find a special book and the girl before she learns her identity and stop her from calling Taygetus back to life and then go back to Atlantis and destroy his ancestor.”

“How can she do that? What if we can’t find the book?” Sandy pulled his coat up around his neck. “What if we can’t find this Paisley girl?”

“The book is in the library on Iona. Your path will cross with the girl’s sooner or later during your quest. If you don’t find the book, there is an alternative. You’ll have to go to ten different places. There will be objects at each place you must gather. All ten of these places are connected in some way, though it might seem confusing to you at times. I don’t believe they are all directly linked with Atlantis, but they are all representative of the history of this part of the world. This will be time consuming and somewhat dangerous for you, but if the book isn’t there then you’ll have no choice. The ten things together will have a power greater than Taygetus could ever imagine.”

“Ten places? You’re saying if we can’t find this one book, which we know nothing about, we will have to go to ten different places, find something at each place, and keep them all together until…” Leith hesitated.

“Until you figure out how to get to Atlantis. You’re making this much more difficult than it needs to be. Once you have the ten objects, you will be led to the place where you will travel to Atlantis.” Abaris took a deep breath. His filmy shape wavering.

“Will we be in a time machine or what?” Sandy’s eyes bulged with curiosity. “This is actually beginning to sound fun.”

“There is no time machine, if you mean something made of metal or wood. You’ll understand more as you gather your clues. You five boys are now called of Apollo to this quest. One could say you are Apollo’s Soldiers. Do you accept?” Abaris gazed into each boy’s eyes.

“If we go to these places, how will we do our school work? How can we leave without our teachers knowing we are missing?  What if we get caught?” Murray rambled on with questions.

“Time works differently once you’re in the tunnels. Of course it will be safer if you come out at night after everyone is asleep. Once you go into a tunnel, you’ll travel, but when you return, no time will have passed here.” Abaris stared at Murray, awaiting confirmation that he understood.

The five boys whispered to each other, discussing their opinions. Leith cleared his throat and spoke for the others. “We’ll do it. We want to live and we don’t want this school to disappear either. Most of all, we don’t want Macbeth to kill Malcolm Canmore. He is our blood relative.”

“I want to be one of Apollo’s Soldiers. That’s so cool,” Fraser said.

“Study the stones here in the graveyard. Once you have figured out which tunnel is the correct one, enter and you’ll find yourself in Iona. Pictish Oghams are difficult to comprehend. You must take the correct tunnel. Danger may find you if you by chance enter the wrong one. Once you get to Iona you will have to search for the library and I warn you, it won’t be easy. If you need my help, take this in your hand and call for me. Use it only in a life or death situation.” Abaris handed Leith a golden arrow. “This was given to me by Apollo himself. When you arrive in Atlantis, it will be of great aid to you in understanding the language. Protect it and guard it. It may save your life at some point. Good luck, Apollo’s Soldiers.” With that Abaris disappeared.

“Did that just happen? Was that real?” Fraser looked around the now silent cemetery.

Aside from the golden arrow in Leith’s hand, there was no sign anything had occurred. Leith slipped it into his back pocket. “I have heard of this arrow before. It’s much shorter than I thought it would be. Now I wish I had paid more attention when my tutor taught me all this stuff.”

“Me too,” Fraser said.

Sandy fell to the ground. “Get down. It’s Mungo Williams, the caretaker. If he finds us out here he’ll hand us over to Headmaster.” The group hid behind the stone crosses.

Mungo stopped at the cemetery and glanced through the bars. “Who’s in there? I heard noises. What was that strange glow? Answer me, or I’ll get the dogs.”

The boys heard his heavy breathing. “Dogs?” Leith whispered to Sandy. “I didn’t know we had guard dogs.”

“We don’t. He’s trying to frighten us. Keep quiet.” Sandy raised his head and saw Mungo standing near the rail.

“I’m coming in. I’ll find you. I know you’re in there.” The caretaker went to the front of the cemetery.

“Do you think he’ll come in and look for us?” Murray’s teeth chattered.

“If he does, we’ll make scary noises. I know Mungo. He’s usually drunk at night. It’ll be easy to frighten him.” Sandy chuckled.

“Here he comes. He’s near the Celtic crosses.” Fraser ducked.

“Stay here.” Sandy inched from one cross to another. He cupped his hands around his mouth and groaned.

“What was that? Who’s there?” Mungo stopped and looked around.

“You may not enter this cemetery. I will have your soul,” Sandy moaned. “Depart, or die.”

Mungo turned and ran out of the cemetery. He didn’t stop until he was back at the school.

“He’s gone,” Leith said. “I didn’t know the caretaker patrolled the grounds at night. Headmaster doesn’t trust us, does he? Way to go, Sandy. That was great. You frightened the whiskey out of him.” They all burst out laughing. Leith continued. “We need to study these crosses. We all know our Pictish Oghams.” The others nodded. “Murray, you stay with Sandy; Duncan, you go with Fraser. Remember, the Picts used fifty symbols, mostly pictures of scenes, warriors, horses and thing. The Oghams are an alphabet system of notches and lines. We are looking for a clue that tells which tunnel we need. I imagine the tunnel will be under the cross. Be careful. These crosses are fragile.”

They separated, each searching the worn stone markers for a clue. “These things are covered with moss and lichens. Most of the writing is worn down and nearly impossible to read,” Murray said. “Besides that, we have only been here a few weeks. Duncan and I are just now learning the ancient languages.”

“Do the best you can,” Leith said.

Half an hour had passed when Fraser shouted from across the cemetery. “I found it.” The others ran over to him. “This says that the tunnel to Iona is under the cross.”

“Keep your voice down. We have no idea where Mungo is, or if there are guard dogs. How can you tell? The writing is unreadable and it’s dark out here,” Sandy said.

“It’s a full moon. See this? Run your fingers over it. I had to scrape off the mossy stuff, but I can decipher it,” Fraser said.

Leith examined the stone. “We have got to be certain it’s the correct cross. Fraser’s right. It does say that.”

“What if we go into the tunnel and go to Iona, but can’t get back? Can you imagine how mad our parents would be if we had to call them from there and tell them to come and get us?” Sandy snickered. “That would be kind of funny though.”

“My father wouldn’t think it was funny. Start moving the dirt away from the bottom of the stone with your hands. If you find something let me know.” Leith fell to his knees and ran his fingers over the bottom of the cross. Clumps of wild grasses grew, matted and thick. He tugged a patch away and a hole appeared. “That was easy. I found it. Come and help me. Try to keep the pieces as big as you can. We need to cover the hole.” Together they tore all the grass away until there was a hole wide enough for them to fit through. “I’ll go first and see how much of a drop there is. Wait here.” Leith slid his legs into the hole. “Watch for the groundskeeper. He might come back.” The boy dropped to the dirt on the bottom of the tunnel. “It isn’t a big drop; it’s pitch black down here. How are we supposed to know which way to go?” Leith looked behind him. “Wait! There’s a strange glow up ahead. Duncan, you and Murray get down here. You’re doing this with me.”

“It’s a good thing we aren’t wearing our uniforms,” Sandy said.

The younger boys dropped into the hole, followed by Sandy and Fraser. “Should we patch it up so nobody can see it?” Fraser reached his hand out for some of the grass.

“Nobody comes here, Fraser. It’s off limits, remember? It’s also the middle of the night. Just leave it for now. I don’t think Mungo will be returning tonight.” Sandy let his eyes adjust to the darkness. “I see it too. What is it?”

“It must be the time warp, or whatever that

Abaris-man-ghost-person said.” Duncan chuckled.

“What are we supposed to do; walk through it?” Fraser kept his eyes open and alert.

“I guess so. I’ll go first. Follow me a few seconds later, one at a time, starting with Duncan and Murray.” Leith took a deep breath. He put his left foot through it and then his body lurched forward.

“He’s gone. This is too weird. First we see a ghost and then we find out he’s mates with Apollo, the Greek god. It’s like a dream. Do you think it’s a dream and we will wake up soon in our beds?” Sandy jumped when Murray pinched him. “Ouch. Why did you do that?”

“To show you it isn’t a dream. Since when do five people have the exact same dream?” Murray walked up to the filmy, mother-of-pearlish wall and stepped through.

“I guess I’m next,” Duncan said. “I didn’t hear any screams, so it must be safe.” He disappeared leaving Sandy and Fraser.

“Let’s forget about them and go back to the hall. After all, they are the ones who are supposed to be doing all this, not us. We’re just along for the ride,” Fraser said.

“You go back if you want. I’m following them. Nothing this exciting has happened since I started coming to this school. I’m going.” Sandy jumped through to the other side.

“Wait for me then. I’m not staying here alone.” He disappeared.

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