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Rolfin's Orb
Book 11 - Diamond – Malawi
Chapter 9

They heard the falls before they saw them. Callum said, “One of the orphan boys there told me that long ago the native Malawians used to hide behind the waterfall when people came to capture them and take them away to be slaves. While we were resting between games of football he told me more. His gran and grandfather were taken as slaves not long ago. It still goes on.”

 “That’s terrible,” Fiona said.

“How can that be? Who does it?” Elspet gasped with shock.

“It was worse. In the 1830’s a tribe, the Yao, came to live at the southern end of Lake Malawi. They were involved in the slave trade with the Swahili Arabs and the Portuguese. The Arabs provided them with firearms and the Yao come up here to the northern part of the country and captured the weaker tribes,” Callum said.

“What? How horrid,” Fiona said.

“They took the slaves, men, women and children, to India and the Middle East and even to North and South America. One of the busiest slave trade routes was from Zambia and Malawi to the coast of Mozambique, which is right next to Malawi. They made the slaves march across the country, chained together so they couldn’t escape and forced them to carry all the supplies; even ivory, which they killed elephants for.”

“I can’t even bear to here all this. After playing with all those children at the orphanage it makes me sad to think that some of them are orphans because their parents were taken as slaves? And they killed elephants and cut their tusks off. It’s just too horrid to think of.” Elspet felt tears forming.

“When Dr. Livingstone and the other missionaries came, like your great great uncle, Fiona, they did their best to put an end to slavery. They were able to stop a lot of it, but it still goes on even today, just not as much.” Callum took a deep breath. “I can’t imagine my gran and grandpa being taken as slaves and never seeing them again.”

“Me neither,” Elspet said. “People will do anything for money, won’t they?  They must have been so frightened,” Elspet said. They walked in silence, each deep in their own thoughts. “The falls sound loud. I wonder how big they are. Do you know how we’re going to get behind the falls, Fiona?”

“No. I’ve never been there. We’ll have to wait and see.” Fiona gasped. “Sheesh, Elspet, why do you ask me all these questions?”

“Don’t get huffy, Fiona. You seem to have all the answers, all the time.” Elspet’s voice sounded snitty.

“You two knock it off. I don’t want to have to listen to you fight. There they are! Wow! That’s cool looking.” Callum pointed to the falls. “They don’t seem to be that big. I mean they’re not like Niagara Falls or anything.”

“It looks like there is a cave behind it. I suppose we’ll have to swim through the water to get to it, unless you have another suggestion?” Fiona glanced at Elspet.

“What if there are leeches in the water?” Callum ran ahead and stopped at the edge of the pool. He looked down into it. Spray from the falls coated his body with a fine mist. “It looks like the kind of water that would have leeches.”

“Leeches? What on earth makes you think that?” Fiona stomped her foot in a puddle of water.

Elspet took a few snapshots of the waterfall.

“There’s a diamond behind those falls. I don’t see any way we can walk on stones to get to it, do you?” Fiona looked around. “Do either of you see a pathway? I wonder how the natives got there to hide from the slave traders.”

“They probably swam over and climbed out behind the falls,” Callum said.

“All right. We swim. Who’s going to go first?” Elspet took off her shoes and socks. She noticed Fiona watching her. “I’m not ruining my shoes. It’s easier for me to swim barefoot.” Elspet stuck her toe in the water. “It’s not even cold water. It’s warm.” She took off her necklace. “I’m ready.”

“Why don’t you go first then,” Fiona suggested.

“How about we all go together,” Callum said. He and Fiona took off their socks and shoes. Fiona removed her bracelet and put it in her backpack.

“Do you think the backpack will be safe if we live it here?” Fiona shrugged her shoulders. “Let’s put everything in it and then I’ll hide it in the bushes, just incase someone comes by and gets tempted.”

“Good idea.” Callum put his things inside the pack, as did Elspet. The camera went in last. He put it under a bush.

“Ready?” Fiona nodded.

They stepped into the water together and soon found themselves up to their waists. “Are you sure there are no leeches in this water?” Elspet held her arms up. She raised one of her legs and looked for black spots.

Between them and the waterfall four sets of eyes appeared out of the water. “Uh, Elspet, do leeches have eyes?” Callum took a step backwards.

“No, why?”

“Then those aren’t leeches,” Callum said, turning and running through the water back to the rocks.

“They are crocodiles. This must be trap number three. Out of the water, Elspet. Hurry.” Fiona pushed through the pool, climbing to safety with Elspet right behind her.

The four crocodiles swam over to them, their tails swishing back and forth.

“Those aren’t ordinary crocodiles. They’re giant crocodiles. Look at the size of their eyeballs.” All Elspet could see were the white orbs. She pushed her way backwards on her bottom. “Now what? Those crocs aren’t going to let us near that cave.”

The four crocs swam in circles, occasionally nearing Fiona and snapping their jaws. “That’s for sure,” she said.

“You can talk to them,” Callum said.

“They won’t care. When they’ve been given a command, they don’t care what I say. Think about it. Have any of them ever given way to us? Remember the bulls? I’ll have to come up with another way.” Fiona closed her eyes.

“You can turn into a giant,” Elspet said, “but then how do you get behind the waterfall?”

“You can shrink down tiny and they won’t see you,” Callum said.

“It will take me forever to get there if I do that,” Fiona said.

“Change the weather? No, that won’t work. Make the pond stormy? No, that won’t work either. It won’t help if you read their minds or make fire, or transport yourself somewhere else in the world. Can you transport yourself behind the waterfall? Yeah. Can you do that?” Callum went through the list.

“I don’t think I can go such a short distance. It only works if I want to go far away. How about invisible? I can make myself invisible and they won’t see me. What I need you two to do is cause some sort of distraction. Keep the crocodiles occupied while I swim over there,” Fiona said.

“What if there’s another crocodile hiding, waiting for you?”

“Callum, stop being so negative. You’re scaring her,” Elspet said, shaking her head. “Why don’t you just tell her there are giant anacondas and piranhas in there too?”

“Elspet? Thanks a lot. Piranhas? Are there piranhas in Africa?” Fiona tried to remember her biology lessons.

“No, Fiona, they’re not in Africa. Piranhas are from the Amazon River area in South America. I promise there aren’t any in this water. As for anacondas, well, I hate to say this, but they are in Africa, even down here in Malawi. My friend had a pet anaconda and he got it from South Africa.” Callum gawked at the water.

“Great! Just great! So, all I have to do is turn invisible and swim past at least four giant crocodiles and possibly a giant anaconda. Sounds like fun to me.” Fiona leaned her chin on her hands. “I’m not sure I want to do this.”

“Fiona, you have to. We need the diamond. Time is running out. If you turn invisible, the crocs won’t see you. I’ll tell you what, Callum and I will go to the other side of the pool and hit the water with sticks. You turn yourself invisible and slip into the water. Try not to make any splash when you get in.” Elspet put her hand on Fiona’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, Fiona. We’ll help you.”

Callum and Elspet looked around for some long sticks. They each found one at the bottom of a dying tree. As they moved to the other side, Fiona made herself invisible. She waited and watched as the four crocodiles swam over towards her friends. Callum slapped his branch on the surface of the water. One of the crocs lifted its head and snapped at the branch. Callum raised the stick. Elspet did the same.

All right. It’s time for me to go. She put her feet in and moved forward until she was deep enough to lie on her front. Without swimming, she grabbed the rocks at the side of the pool and pulled herself along, being careful not to make ripples. She could feel the water move every time the crocs jumped, trying to bite the sticks. Good. At least they’re busy and not thinking about me.  The sound of the falls was nearly deafening as she neared them. She kept looking over to Callum and Elspet, making sure she spotted the four crocodiles. Callum was shouting, but Fiona couldn’t hear what he was saying. She thought he was teasing the crocs. When she got to a slab of stone next to where the falls hit the pool, she grabbed hold of it. I’m here. There were no piranhas. Now, I just have to lift my body out and then I’ll be safe.

Fiona jerked her body up to jump out, but something grabbed her leg. “Get off me you stupid crocodile. Please don’t eat me.” Whatever it was pulled her under the water and coiled itself around her body. Fiona turned and looked into the eyes of a giant snake. Its head was as big as hers and its long body thick and scaly. A giant anaconda! Let me go. Let me go, you fat snake.

The snake kept wrapping itself around her. It kept the coils loose as it encircled her, twining around her legs and arms, pinning them to her. Fiona felt the air leaving her lungs. I don’t want to die here in Africa in a pool of water. Help me, someone!

Callum and Elspet saw the snake heading for Fiona. They tapped the water harder, trying to catch the anaconda’s attention, but all they managed to do was anger the crocodiles. The snake, like a piece of  thick rope, rose from the water. Callum and Elspet saw that it had wrapped around Fiona. “She’s not invisible any more,” Elspet said. “We can see her.”

“Help me, Elspet. Help me, Callum!” Before the snake went under again, Fiona managed a deep breath.

Snake, please let me go. She spoke to the slithering serpent. I’m not anything bad. The man who commanded you to guard the diamond is my friend now. Please believe me.

Hiss. I will not. You will die. I am going to crusssh you, sssqueeze all the life out of your lungsss. The anaconda spoke back to her.

Fiona felt the muscular snake tighten its grip. It started at the legs and moved up to her chest. She felt the air being pressured out of her lungs. Blackness swept through her. I’m going to die now. As she struggled for one last breath, she felt herself and the snake being lifted into the air. Unable to fill her lungs she passed out, unaware of anything going on around her.

“Fiona. Fiona. Are you all right? Please be alive. Please,” Elspet sobbed and stroked Fiona’s face.

Callum shook her. “Fiona. Wake up. We need you.”

Fiona gasped for breath and felt fresh air rush into her lungs. I’m alive. I’m not dead. As she regained consciousness she could tell she was lying on a stone and was went. She also heard Callum and Elspet calling to her. Fiona opened her eyes.

“She’s alive! Thank you!” Elspet shouted into the sky.

Fiona tried to sit up. Callum helped her. “What happened? I thought I was dead.”

“It was so cool, Fiona. The snake was all wrapped around you. Elspet and I were hitting the crocodiles with the stick and we heard this noise. When we looked up, a black dragon, Cloudwaltzer, flew down and picked the snake up. You fell into the water. The crocodiles swam toward you and almost ate you, but Cloudwaltzer used his claws and grabbed them. He tossed them out of the way. Elspet and I had to lie down behind the rock because the dragon’s wings were flapping up and down and making dirt fly everywhere.” Callum stopped to breathe.

“I’ll tell her the rest, Callum. Cloudwaltzer had the anaconda in its mouth. He flew over to Lake Malawi, way over where no people are and dropped it in. I thought it was cool that he didn’t kill it.” Elspet pictured the dragon in her mind.

“Cloudwaltzer flew back over and landed right here, where you are lying. Elspet and I walked over to him. I knew he wouldn’t hurt us. He let us stroke him and feels his wings and scales and stuff. It was so cool. When he saw you, he blew something into your face and you started breathing again. He saved your life.” Callum reached over and hugged his friend. “I’m glad you’re all right, Fiona.”

“Thanks, Callum. I missed seeing the dragon. Pooh pooh! What did he blow in my face?” Fiona stood, squeezing the water from her shirt. “Hey, how did you guys see me? I stopped being invisible, didn’t I?”

“I guess the snake had some sort of power. Remember that for next time,” Callum said.

“I’m not sure what Cloudwaltzer blew in your face, but it was sparkly, like his scales,” Elspet said.

“I don’t have the diamond yet, though,” Fiona said. “I need to go behind the falls.”

“We can now. Cloudwaltzer told us it was safe and no other animals aside from tiny fish were in the water. It’ll take days for the crocs to find their way back here, if they ever dare,” Callum said. “They were huge crocs.”

“That’s twice Cloudwaltzer has saved us. The wizards know we’re trying to do our best to help,” Fiona said.

“Let’s go get the diamond.” The three of them jumped in the water, splashing and swimming around. “This feels great!” Elspet swam to the other side and let the waterfalls fall on her.

They climbed out onto the ledge and shook the water off them. Taking careful steps on the slippery stones, they made their way up to the cave. When they stepped behind the falls, the sound of the water increased and echoed off the walls. They had to shout at each other to be heard.

“Where is it?” Callum looked around the small cave.

Fiona closed her eyes and thought. “I have to go and retrieve it myself. It’s on the other side of the waterfall.”

“What? How can it be?” Elspet had a look of confusion on her face.

“It’s there, in the air, but I can’t see it. I have to jump through the waterfall from here, using faith and having no doubt. It’s on the other side of the falls in some other dimension,” Fiona said.

“Weird. You do realize it’s a long way to the bottom, don’t you?” Callum sighed and gazed at the water.

“Yes, but I have to do it this way. I can’t show any fear. Why don’t the two of you make your way back to the bottom. I need to stand here and psyche myself up first,” Fiona said.

“All right. We’ll be waiting for you,” Callum said. As they climbed down, they kept their eyes open for Fiona. “She’s not jumped yet,” Callum said as they reached the bottom of the waterfall. “I hope she’s all right.”

“She will be. She just has to tell herself over and over that what she saw in her vision is true. She’ll jump any time now.” Elspet sat on a stone and turned to look at the waterfall. “Come on, Fiona.”

Fiona saw glittery sparkles in the water as it plunged in front of her. “I can do this. One, two, three.” She leaped into the falls. As she did, the water wrapped around her, cocooning her in a soft cottony grasp. She reached for the diamond. It shimmered and twinkled as she took it in her hand. Time seemed to stand still. She could see her friends at the bottom of the falls. She saw Malawi spread out before her like a carpet of green and brown. White clouds danced across the sky, reminder her of white hippos. She saw the face of the man who put the diamond there. He called her by her name and smiled. The last thing she saw was her great great uncle. He winked at her and disappeared as the water carried her down to where Callum and Elspet were. Releasing her, the water rushed back into the pool.

“Wow! That was so cool,” Callum said.

“What? What happened anyway? It was weird,” Fiona said.

“Fiona, we saw you jump through and then the waterfall stopped falling. It turned into a giant bubble. We could see you. You reached for the diamond and the bubble turned brilliant, like a sun. Sparkles of gold shot out from it and fell all around us, but they were drops of water. The bubble lowered you down here and then it let you go. Look! The waterfalls are moving again.” Elspet pulled the camera out of Fiona’s bag. She took a few more pictures. “I am not going to forget this day.”

“You’ve got the diamond, so can we go home? As cool as this has been, I’m ready to get out of these wet clothes and have something to eat.” Callum held out his hand. “Take my hands.”

Elspet took one and Fiona took the other and said, “Daleth shapish yam bet.”

In the blink of an eye the found themselves in Angus’s cottage, dripping water on his wooden floor.

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