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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 21

     Paisley opened her eyes and noticed the stars still shining. She glanced around at the others lying comfortably in sleep. She stood, stretched, and walked around the corner to have privacy. She was about to head back when a dark shape appeared in front of her, blocking her way. Not sure what it was, she didn’t move. After a few moments it took the shape of a man. Evil radiated from him, surrounding her with its icy tentacles. “Who are you?”

“You don’t recognize me? I’m Taygetus, Lord of the Underworld.”

“You’re Taygetus? Nobody mentioned the Underworld part to me.” Paisley’s hands shook.

“You have a job to do. When these boys have gathered the items from the ten places, instead of using those items to go to Atlantis, you are to take everything from the boys, any way you can, and call me back to life.” Paisley turned, contemplating running away. “Don’t even think of it. You are in my territory now. How convenient of you to come to these sacred grounds where the doors to my kingdom lie.”

“Your kingdom? I thought you were just a wizard.” Paisley shivered and pulled her coat around her.

“My kingdom. Just a wizard? How foolish you are, girl. Your ancestor, Robert, illegitimate son of Macbeth, was merely a pawn. He actually believed I would resurrect him once I had my body back. I may do that. It would be humorous to have him serve me.”

“I’m not going to bring you back to life. I don’t care if I am his only living descendant. I will do all I can to destroy you and prevent you from being reunited with your body.” Paisley raised her voice in hopes of alerting the lads to the danger nearby.

Black smoke, tinted with orange flames, engulfed Taygetus. “How dare you speak to me like that. You are but a mere child. You will pay for that dearly.”

“If you need me to bring you back, then you can’t harm me,” Paisley said with boldness.

“I can, however, harm one of your little friends.” The shadowy form disappeared and came back a few moments later with Murray dangling in the air. The lad squirmed and screamed, waking the others. They gathered around Paisley, staring at the evil personage.

“Taygetus, let him go. He’s just a boy and harmless.” Paisley wiped the tears from her cheeks.

“Taygetus?” Fraser whispered, staring at Paisley.

“This is to show you my power. Either you do as I command, or I will kill each of your friends and I promise, they will suffer.” Taygetus soared into the ground. A misty arm reached up and pulled Murray into the earth by his legs until the boy was up to his waist in earth.

“My legs are burning. He’s going to kill me. Help me! Help me!” Murray screamed in agony.

They heard Taygetus laugh under the ground. His roar caused the ground to ripple, knocking them down. Leith grabbed hold of Murray’s arms. “Help me pull him up!”

Once the others cleared their minds of fear, they helped pull the boy out. His legs were burned and smoke erupted from the black flesh. Flames coursed through his bones and blew out of the bottom of his feet. Murray went limp and fell into unconsciousness.

“What are we going to do? Look at him. He’s burned and is going to die,” Fraser said.

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Murray!” Leith panicked and paced back and forth.

“Use the golden arrow,” Duncan said, his voice calm and at ease. “Use the golden arrow. It has healing powers.”

Leith tugged it from his pocket and laid it across Murray’s charred legs. “I call upon this golden arrow to heal Murray. Restore his healthy legs. Abaris, help us. Let the power of the golden arrow of Apollo heal Murray.”

“It’s not working,” Paisley said. “Go and find the well and bring some holy water from it. We’ll pour it on his wounds. Go! I know it will work.”

Leith and Sandy ran off, while Fraser, Duncan and Paisley stayed with the scorched boy. They came back a while later with a paper cup filled with reddish water. Leith poured it on Murray’s legs. A pale yellow steam billowed into the air. The others fell backwards, away from the heat. When it cleared, Murray’s legs were whole. The skin was pink and healthy looking. “It worked!” Paisley sobbed, wrapping her arms around Leith’s neck and resting her head on his shoulder. He held her tenderly until her tears ended.

Murray opened his eyes and stood. “What just happened? I had this horrible dream.” He saw Paisley’s blotchy face. “It wasn’t a dream, was it? Where’s that devil man?”

At that moment the sun burst over the horizon. Honeyed rays of light shone across the hillside, filling the sky with a rosy pink color.

“He can’t get us in the daylight. We’ll explain later. Right now we need to get out of this maze and off this hill before Taygetus comes up with another idea.” Leith took Paisley by the hand and they ran from the maze, not stopping until they reached the abbey. “I think we need to find the tree and take a thorn.”

While the Glastonbury Abbey grounds were still empty of people, the group found the tree, pulled off a thorn and headed for the tunnel.

Back in Scotland, safe and sound, they walked Paisley to the beach, she asked Leith a question. “Did you say that arrow allowed you to fly and to turn invisible?”

“Yes,” Leith said.

“Then why wouldn’t it heal Murray?”

“Perhaps we had to be tested in some way first. I don’t know. Let’s hope we never have to find out.” Leith helped Paisley into her rowboat and they stood on the beach until she had disappeared around the corner. “Let’s get some sleep. Murray, you’re fine. Forget about this. It won’t happen again. I promise.”

Murray nodded and they lads headed for school.

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