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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 26

     Professor Wilson sat on the chair for several hours. Rufus appeared through the door and the professor jumped. “Where are those boys?”

     “They’re gone.”

     “How can they be gone? You were inside a broom closet!” He glanced at his watch.

     “I’m magic. I said a magic spell and poof, they disappeared.” Rufus laughed and walked away.

     Professor Wilson convinced himself he must have dozed off. “I’ve had it. It’s time to take action.” He went back to his office and made a phone call. “Mr. Wallace, this is Professor Wilson from McDiarmad’s School for Boys. Could you please come down to the school tonight? I’ve got something I need to discuss with you. Yes, I know I’m not his teacher, but this is important. Good. I’ll see you in an hour.”

     Mr. Wallace arrived and headed straight for Professor Wilson’s room. “What is this all about Wilson? Where is my son?”

     “That’s what I’d like to talk to you about. It seems your son has convinced four other lads from this school to break the rules. They’ve gone over to the cemetery, the forbidden part.”

     “What? You must be mad. Leith would never blatantly break the rules. I’m sure you’re mistaken.”

     “I am not mistaken. You can search the school right now if you’d like. Five boys are missing and your son is responsible.” The professor snapped.

     Mr. Wallace stood and pounded his fists on the professor’s desk. “I would like to search the school, as you suggested. I’m sure I will find Leith. I am a powerful man, Professor. I assure you I will get to the bottom of this. If I find out you are lying to me, or are involved in this in some way, you will dearly pay for it. That is a promise.”

     Professor Wilson adjusted his tie. “You are welcome to look. In the meantime, I am going to begin a search of my own. Good day to you, Mr. Wallace. Oh, before you threaten me any further, you owe me thanks for not telling the Headmaster about this incident. I could have your son and the others expelled immediately if I so choose to.”

     Mr. Wallace bit his tongue. “I shall be forever grateful to you, Professor Wilson.” He closed the door behind him, slapping his bare hands with his leather gloves. Instead of looking for Leith, Mr. Wallace walked down the hall and stood a dark recess, waiting for the professor to leave. It was only a few minutes before he heard the door being locked and saw the professor heading for the stairs. Mr. Wallace kept his distance, but followed him out the kitchen door and onto the school grounds. “What are you up to, my dear professor?” Leith’s father crept from bush to bush and tree to tree. He watched as the professor squeezed between two bent bars in the black iron fence and as he searched around the bottom of every Pictish cross in the oldest part of the cemetery. “What is it you are looking for?” When the professor tore up pieces of sod and tossed them carelessly against another headstone, Mr. Wallace moved closer. “A hole? He’s disappeared. I’ll give him a few minutes.” He went through the bars, brushing the dirt off his suit and then after ten minutes, slipped into the tunnel. “This is interesting; a vast tunnel system. Funny that I never knew it was here when I attended this school. Leith, you’re a brilliant lad; stupid for breaking rules, but brilliant and brave.”

     Professor Wilson saw the dim light of the time warp and jumped through. Mr. Wallace went from tunnel to tunnel until he came upon the same one. “What’s all this about? Where did you go, Professor?” He saw dirt on his suit once again. “What does it matter?” He ripped off the suit jacket and tossed it on the ground. After noticing all the boy-sized footprints, he leaped through the warp.

*  *  *

     “We’ve got everything we need now. So what should we do? I don’t feel like going back to the school. I think we are supposed to stay in the Azores and go to Atlantis from here.” Leith watched a seagull circle above them.

     “Do you think time will stand still in Scotland for us, no matter how long we’re gone?” Duncan watched as a truck full of artifacts drove away from the boat docks.

     “I’m sure it will. Don’t worry about it,” Leith said. “We need to find a place where we can have privacy and call Abaris. We’re so close to Atlantis I can hardly stand it.”

     They found a small seaside café and had a supper of fresh seafood. When the sun set they headed towards the town, searching for a place they could use. “What about that church over there?” Sandy pointed to an old Byzantine building. “It’s old, isolated and it’s a church. Churches are sacred.”

     With no further discussion, they ran on. To their luck, one of the doors opened. Candles flickered on the frescoed walls. Golden statues stood on top of pillars. “Look at those pillars. They’ve got the same markings and are made from that red and black flecked marble as the ones that were on that boat. This is spooky,” Fraser said.

     “You’re such a chicken, Fraser.” Murray walked around clucking and flapping his arms.

     “Stop it, Murray. We’re in a church.” Paisley grabbed his arms. “You’re not helping things at all.”

*  *  *

            After the lads went inside, Professor Wilson moved closer to the door. He peeked through a window and saw them standing at the front of the room. He crept inside and hid in the shadows.

     Mr. Wallace snickered. “You fool, Wilson. What have you gotten my boy into?” He opened the door to the church and stepped inside. After letting his eyes adjust to the darkness, he searched for the professor and spotted him in a doorway. Mr. Wallace hid behind a statue; watched and waited.

*  *  *

            The six of them searched the room, looking at the religious icons and gold-leafed ceiling. The ground beneath their feet began to shake. “Oh no. Not again. Now what?” Duncan grabbed hold of a pillar.

     A hole in the floor appeared, stretching like a pulsating heart, as a dark, sulfuric-smelling cloud seeped through the cracks into the room.

     “I don’t like the looks of this.” Murray ran to Leith and stood behind him.

     The smoke took on the form of a man. Taygetus, Lord of the Underworld appeared, his red eyes glowing with heinous wrath and fury. Next to him stood another form. “Miss Paisley Opis Greer. You escaped me once before. It won’t happen again. It is time for you to call me forth so I may be reunited with my body. You have the items. Begin.”

     “First of all, Taygetus, I don’t know what to do to bring you back and who is that other person with you?” Paisley found herself being quite brave.

     “I see you’ve not learned your lesson of fear and respect for the power of the Underworld.” Taygetus blew fire from his fingertips. The flames moved upward, encircling him. “May I introduce Robert, illegitimate son of Macbeth; he’s your ancestor.”

     The cowardly shape began to weep. “My child, please save me. Do as he asks. He keeps me with him in the Underworld and I am subjected to torture and horrors you could never imagine.  You are my child; my blood flows through your veins. Save me.”

     “Don’t listen to him, Paisley. It’s a trick. It’s not your ancestor, but a form that Taygetus has made appear to fool you,” Leith said.

     “How do you know?”

     “I just do,” Leith said.

     Mr. Wallace gasped in horror. He was forced to restrain himself from rushing to rescue his son. Instead, he stayed hidden, watching the events unfold. You’ve got courage, lad.

     The professor shook with terror. He wouldn’t help even if he could. Cowardice held him back. He crept over to the door and escaped the confines of the church, hiding behind a tree.

     “Help me, Paisley. If I die, you will cease to exist,” Robert screamed in agony.

     “No, Paisley. Don’t go. It’s a trick. He’ll pull you down to the Underworld if you go near him.” Leith held her arm so she couldn’t move.

     Taygetus roared, his repugnant voice filling the tiny church and nearly deafened them. A finger of black smoke reached for Paisley. Leith let go of her and pulled out the golden arrow. He held it high above his head and called on Apollo to help him. Bolts of lightning shot out, exploding as electric charges. The boys scattered and hid. Paisley fell to the floor to avoid being hit. The lightning gathered into one bolt and struck Taygetus. Robert disappeared and the Lord of the Underworld wailed. As he was pulled back into the ground, he cursed Paisley and swore revenge on all of them.

     Mr. Wallace watched in shock as Taygetus disappeared. With relief he saw that everyone was safe and slipped out to see what Professor Wilson was up to. The professor, who had collapsed behind a tree, didn’t see the other man leave.

     The ground sealed up to its former shape and moments later Abaris appeared. “You are here; all six of Apollo’s Soldiers. Stand and face me.” They came out from their hiding places and stood in a line in front of him. “I am prepared to give you further instructions about your journey to Atlantis. As you have learned, Taygetus is a powerful, evil man, who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. It is more important than ever to go to Atlantis and stop Taygetus’s ancestor from leaving the island.”

     “What do you want us to do with these things,” Leith said, opening his backpack and dumping them out onto the floor.

     “There are ten pillars in this church. Each belongs to Atlantis. They were excavated, brought to the surface and used to build this Byzantine church. One of these pillars is your portal. Leith, you have a piece of marble with markings on it. One of these columns has identical markings. When you find it, place all the items you brought with you around it in a circle. The portal will open. Take the piece with you; when you wish to return to your tunnels at school, you must place that piece in a column missing an identical chunk. Once it is in place, the portal will open to take you home. You must leave before sunrise of August 8th. The entire island will be destroyed.”

     “What do we do when we arrive in Atlantis? How do we find this woman?” Paisley glanced at each of the pillars.

     “This you will have to do on your own. You have the Golden Arrow of Apollo. Remember you must carry it with you at all times if you want to understand the Atlantean language and have them understand you.” Abaris faded into nothingness.

     “Wait!” Leith still had questions, but they were now on their own.

     Professor Wilson moved to the church and peeked in the window. He saw that all of them were still alive and no ghosts or demons were around. He snuck back inside. Mr. Wallace followed moments later, keeping himself hidden from all.

     “We need to find the right pillar.” Leith showed them the markings. “Look for one that has these designs.”

     Murray found it. “Over here.”

     “We have to put all the things around it.” Paisley handed Leith the scroll from Iona and he placed it on the floor. He added the quartz and Roman coin from Fortingall, the St. Cuthbert’s beads and piece of stone from Lindisfarne, the stained glass and a chunk of chapel from St. Margaret’s Chapel and the jug of blood and bits of amber and turquoise from the Mayan ruins. Paisley gathered the rest of the objects and handed them to Leith. He lay down the crystal piece with the diamond inside from Mt. Shasta, the thorn from Glastonbury, the puffin feather and piece of pillar from Staffa and Fingal’s Cave, and last, a gold coin from the Azores. The circle was complete. Leith kept the piece of marble pillar and the goblet in his backpack.

     A pale bluish-green light appeared, swirling around the column. An arched doorway appeared in the center. “This is it. When we step through that portal, we’ll be in Atlantis a few days before it will be destroyed. Are you ready?” Leith took a deep breath. “I’ll go first.” He stepped through. Paisley went next, followed by Duncan, Murray, Fraser and Sandy.

     Professor Wilson, seeing his chance, waited a few seconds and stepped through. Mr. Wallace moved quickly, hoping to get through before the portal disappeared. No sooner had he gone through than the door closed and the column stood silent and solid.

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