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Rolfin's Orb
Book 13 - The Beginning
Chapter 11

            Kegan watched as his friends left one by one. He held the orb; only three stones remained. He had no idea where they were going or if he would ever see any of them again. Tears flowed as he hugged each one and bid them farewell. He asked Alroy to write about this journey and the departure of the twelve men. It was Serbelís turn. Kegan handed him the tanzanite and sent him on his way. He watched the strong, muscular manís back until Serbel disappeared behind a hill.

            Serbelís Burillian features helped in his venture. He was able to reach the plum-like fruits of the jujube tree, move fallen pine trunks out of his way and to chase away baboons, jackal, or wild boar that came too close. He feasted on hedgehogs, elephant shrews, ostrich eggs and prickly pear cactus fruit as he headed the same route as Chessa had. He too found passage on a ship headed for the new world across the sea. When they reached the coast Serbel carried on southwest to the tip of the unfamiliar continent; a long, tiring trek. He stood at the edge of the world and looked at the waves pounding against the boulders. The tanzanite called to him as he eyed the sea otters, seals and a few penguins that had swam over from Antarctica.  ďWhere should I hide you?Ē

                                                *  *  *

            The second to last man, Limhi, left and headed to the southern coast. Limhi had heard that the tribes of southeastern Africa had began trading with Arab, Persian and Asian traders and many ships sailed there in hopes of purchasing gold, ivory, shells and animal skins. Instead of walking the long distance, Limhi caught a ship that took him down the coast of eastern Africa and docked in Mozambique. Bantu tribes had settled there and many were spreading to other parts of East Africa.

            Limhi felt right at home there with his long, wiry black hair and olive skin. The diamond Kegan had pried from the orb lay safely in a pouch that he kept on a string around his neck. He headed inland, searching for the right place. On his way he spotted white rhino, lions, leopards, elephants, zebras, and gazelle. There were many waterfalls and flowing rivers full of crocodiles, hippopotamus; along their banks stood brush, cork trees, cypress, and  fields of maize. Birds of every color and size flew to the river to drink; bee-eaters, swallow, kingfishers, ostrich, ducks and flamingos.

            Amazed by the life teaming in the land, Limhi followed the river until he came to a raging waterfall. Water plummeted over the edge, bursting into a million drops as it hit the rocks below. Spray flew high, turning into a misty vapor. A rainbow formed, arching from one side of the falls to the other. Never had Limhi seen anything as grand. He pulled the diamond out of his pocket.

                                                            *  *  *

            The last man departed, leaving the familiar life he knew behind him. The red- haired, green-eyed Aidan turned for one last look, knowing the kingís journey would be much more difficult than his own. In his hand he held the alexandrite, the twelfth jewel.

            Many years before Aidanís own father had taken this route, but traveled toward Burill instead of away from it.

            Eleven men had left before him, going in all directions to seek a place to hide their jewels. Aidan chose to take the same route as Kitar, north and east. He didnít know how far Kitar had gone, but knew that when he reached the right place, he would know. Aidan didnít have the same sense of adventure that his father, a trader, had. He never wanted to join him in his expeditions and it wasnít until he was sixteen that he finally went. When he arrived in Burill, he didnít want to leave. His father wasnít happy with the decision, but let him stay. It wasnít many years before he became one of the kingís trusted friends and found himself living at the palace with the other eleven men. Now he was on his own, going to some strange land with customs he would never understand.

            At first he kept to himself, avoiding the busy roads and took the less traveled ways, but by the time he reached northeastern India, he had completely changed. Every corner he turned, every river he crossed and every valley he sauntered through brought a new experience.

            Aidan saw animals he couldnít even imagine; his favorite, the porcupine. He saw birds with chocolate brown feathers and silvery blue heads. He passed through places that sold carpets of every design imaginable and tasted new spices, like paprika and saffron. He bought himself a piece of leather, lined it with lambís wool to wrap himself in at night.

            When he reached northern China, he found the area with little arable land,  steppes and arid deserts with whispering sand dunes and knew this was the land of the Mongols. Once again he reverted to traveling alone, hopefully keeping himself away from danger. The tanzanite needed to be hidden. Huge green crickets shot out from his feet like splashed water. Wild horses ran in the distance; their whinnies echoing off the distant mountains. Yak lumbered from one grazing spot to another. Aidan saw some cliffs to his left. He headed that direction, knowing this would be the home to his gem.

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