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Rolfin's Orb
Book 1 - Obsidian
Chapter 6

Fiona woke up to the sun radiating in through her bedroom window. Prismic colors danced on her walls. She watched with a smile as they swirled from one side of the room to the other. “Yikes! It’s Saturday.” She jumped out of bed and slipped on her clothes before going into the kitchen.

Mairi stood at the sink washing dirt off several carrots.

Fiona sat at the table.

“I’ll fix you something in a minute. I just pulled these carrots out of the garden. I’ve got some turnips and brussel sprouts for supper tonight. How does mince and tatties with neeps and sprouts sound?”

“You know I love mince and tatties, Mum,” Fiona said. “I’ll just have cereal this morning. I’m meeting Callum and Elspet. We’re going to be busy playing all day, so don’t expect to see much of me.”

“Ah yes, it’s Saturday, play day. That’s good. I’ve got to work at the bakery most of the day. Before I go, I’ll have to go out to the beehives and get some honey. The Perfect Bee is nearly out. With all the tourists in town lately, nothing lasts long in the shops.” Mairi laid the clean carrots next to the turnips on the counter and wiped her wet hands with a dishcloth. “I think I’ll have some cereal too.”

Fiona looked at her mum. “You really are beautiful, Mum. Your hair is pretty and shiny brown and your eyes are green, like the ferns in the glen. Are you going to visit Mr. Thomson today? He’s staying at Callum’s dad’s guest house. You could take the McAllisters some of the brussel sprouts. That would give you a reason to see him,” Fiona teased.

“Fiona Isabella McAllister! Are you trying to do a little matchmaking?” Mairi couldn’t help but adore her daughter. “I do thank you for your compliments though. You’re right. Maybe I will take a basket of vegetables and some pastries to Anne and Malcolm. If I’m lucky, maybe Mr. Thomson and his brother will be there.” She smiled and ate her breakfast.

“Why don’t you pick some flowers from the greenhouse. I’m sure Anne would love a vase of tulips, since they don’t grow normally at this time of year.” Fiona winked at her mum and put her dishes in the sink. “I’ll wash these when I get home, all right, Mum? I’m really in a hurry.” She kissed her mum on the cheek and ran out the back door before she could argue. “Cheerio, Mum. Have fun with John Thomson.”

Elspet, her two brothers and Callum waited for her in Bruce’s Meadow. “What took you so long?” Callum wasn’t one for patience.

“I’ve been here for ten minutes,” Elspet said. “I tried to hurry, but Mum caught me and I had to bring my brothers.”

“I’m here now. Let’s go see Uncle Angus,” Fiona said. They walked through the woods toward his croft. A few red deer darted across the dirt path in front of them, nearly knocking Callum over.

“Watch out, Callum,” Elspet said. “Those deer seem to spring out of nowhere. It’s a good thing no hunters are hanging around.”

“I’ll have to tell my dad I spotted some this way. Hunting’s been bad lately for the tourists and my dad isn’t making as much money this year.” Callum sighed.

“Well, I think that’s good. It’s horrible to hear about people shooting deer,” Elspet said, running up the path.

“Just ignore her.” Fiona held Callum back. “We’re here; all five of us. Good morning, Uncle Angus,” she said as he opened the door.

His face, unshaven and grubby looking, didn’t look any worse than his eyes with black circles under them.

“Didn’t you get any sleep?”

“I was up all night studying this book. You must come in and hear what I’ve found. It’s simply amazing and quite exciting.” Uncle Angus stepped out of the way. “Come in. Have you had breakfast?” They nodded yes. “I’ve not. I’ll nibble on some biscuits, if you don’t mind.”

“Biscuits. That’s not a good breakfast,” Elspet said. “Don’t you have cereal, or eggs?” She looked around his croft. “Doesn’t the milkman bring milk to you every day? You don’t have a refrigerator. Malcolm, Alastair, go and play with the toys.”

The boys ran over to the pile of blocks and dumped them on the floor.

“My milk is delivered every morning, Elspet. I get fresh eggs too, but not very many. Never could be bothered much with eggs. It’s cold enough in the back room that I don’t need a refrigerator. I just put the milk and eggs in there and when I have cheese, it goes down on the floor right next to them. Never had a problem with it yet. Never mind that. Come in and sit down on the settee. I’ve got a lot to tell you.” Angus sat in a large leather armchair. “First off, someone’s torn out several pages towards the middle of the book. Thank goodness they left most of it intact. I’ve looked over a lot of interesting reading material. I’ve found so much more, including a spell, a spell that will take a person, the blood descendant of King Kegan, to the places where the twelve men hid the gems.”

“Does that mean his descendant can find all the jewels and be rich?” An eager Callum wanted to find out the answer.

Angus opened the book. “It says right here that when Kegan didn’t turn up in Jerusalem as planned, the men disappeared and kept the secret hiding places to themselves as instructed by the king, according to Alroy Cathmore. After he found his king dead and the castle burned, he left. Over the next few years, the scribe went around the world, searching for each of these men. He succeeded in finding each one and gathered as much information from them as he could. I imagine that wasn’t an easy task. He came back years later and left the book once again in the trunk. It also seems that there was a twelve-pointed necklace, shaped like a star. Each point represented one of his trusted men and the jewels. See this picture.” Angus leaned over to show them.

“That’s the necklace we saw in the stained glass window at the castle,” Elspet said. “Fiona took a picture of it.”

“This was no ordinary necklace. King Rolfin’s wizard, Lehimna, had the necklace made at the same time as the orb and out of the same gold. He used slivers from each of the original twelve jewels. When Dugan’s men killed King Kegan they ripped the necklace off his neck; I'd say more than likely cut it off along with his head. King Dugan wore it from then on and passed it down from generation to generation, from eldest son to eldest son. The scribe wrote that it wasn’t around Kegan’s neck when he returned and found them slaughtered, so he presumes that Dugan’s men took it.

“I’m finding out the whole story piece by piece. What I figured out from the scribe’s notes is that King Rolfin’s kingdom, Burill, was in the area which we now call the Middle East, somewhere on the Arabian peninsula, perhaps Yemen. I don’t think he is originally from that area though. As for where that might be, I have no idea. I’ve not been able to established that yet, but they didn’t come from the Middle East. That’s what’s peculiar. The name Rolfin isn’t a Middle Eastern name. It’s more Russian, or Eastern European, or even Phoenician. King Kegan also lived in Arabia during his early life and didn’t come to Scotland until after he left with his family, about 1070 A.D. That's not long after William the Conqueror invaded England. I have no idea what happened to Kegan’s old palace in Yemen, but no more is it mentioned. Perhaps, as I study the book more I’ll discover the answer.”

“Where are the jewels hidden, Uncle Angus?”

“Fiona, last night I figured it out. It wasn’t easy. Gaelic’s not an easy language, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Once the descendant says the spell, it will take him, or her, into the general vicinity of the jewel, but its up to the descendant to use visions and any other inner strengths and resources to figure out exactly where it is. He or she will not know which of these places the spell will take them to. Once they’ve been there and retrieved the jewel, they will not be taken to that place again.

“Each place has a jewel related to it. The wizard traveled all around the world to gather each one, going to places unknown by common man at that time. Each jewel, or stone, is priceless and rare. The twelve men didn’t hide the stones in the places where Lehimna originally found them, which is rather peculiar, but it is the way it is. There are many peculiar things about this book and its story.”

“This is so cool, Uncle Angus. I can’t believe you figured all this out. I’m glad you learned Gaelic,” Fiona said.

“Your dad knew Gaelic well to, Fiona. He was better at it than me. Now, let’s get on with it. I have a list here of the places the jewels are hidden. Why don’t you gather around the chair and I’ll show you. I copied it onto paper and wrote it in English,” Angus spread out the paper. “You’ll have to forgive my scribbles. I jotted down a few notes so I’d not forget.”

The paper read: The jewels are hidden in the following places:

  1. Hydra, Greece – black obsidian…Leminha said this volcanic stone came from the volcano that they believe formed the first lands on the earth, when the seas and dry lands first separated. It doesn’t say exactly where this volcano was though

  2. Iceland – spinel (pinkish red) – (Lehimna found this stone in Afghanistan)

  3. Seychelles – pearl (from Tahiti, in one of its lagoons)

  4. Yukon, Canada – emerald (rainforests of Colombia)

  5. Tasmania – topaz (Ural Mountains of Russia)

  6. Jordan – that’s where the ruby was hidden (from Burma)

  7. Mexico – amber (From the Baltic shores washed in from the Baltic sea)

  8. Nepal – opal (Australia)

  9. Spain – sapphire (Madagascar)

  10. Argentina – tanzanite (blue) (Tanzania – the plains of Kilimanjaro found by Masai herdsman)

  11. Malawi – diamond (Lesotho in South Africa)

  12. Mongolia – alexandrite (though it was first found in Russia, this gem came from India)

“As you can see, children, I’ve put the place where the jewel is now, what type of jewel it is, and where it was found originally,” Angus noted.

“This is exciting. I’ve never heard of most of these places, or some of the jewels either,” Callum said.

“Me neither. Where are the Seychelles?” Elspet asked him, dazzled by the information.

“ The Seychelles are a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, not far from the east African coast. You’ll soon learn about the places. What’s even more interesting is the information about the jewels. Apparently each one has a carved dragon etched inside it and when a true descendant holds it, the dragon glows; that’s how you know it’s the right stone. The stone also emits some sort of a pulse to help the descendant figure out where it is hidden. It can cause them to dream, or visualize the location. There is something worrisome too. It also says that each of the twelve men were instructed to set up traps around the places they hid the jewels, but it doesn’t tell what they are, as they never met up with the king again. Alroy never bothered to write them down, or they may have never told him, just in case the book got into the wrong hands.”

“What happened to Alroy Cathmore, the scribe?” Callum asked.

“He was sworn to secrecy, obviously, and after contacting the twelve men and returning the book to the castle, he must have just vanished and became one of the local folk. I imagine nobody knows for certain.” Angus guessed.

Fiona’s mind raced with new information. “So what about this King Dugan and his wizard?”

“I don’t know what became of them. Zerahemna disappeared upon the death of his king. Dugan killed Kegan and his family, but since none of the jewels were at the castle and Alroy Cathmore had the book out on his boat fishing, he must have been very angry. There is a note in the book about Dugan. It says his wizard, Phelan, was capable of strong spells and as far as the scribe was concerned, he had the ability to well, let me put it this way, Dugan may still be alive today. If he’s not, his descendants, if any, probably have inherited his powers. They may not realize that yet, of course.”

“Does that mean there’s an evil man out there looking for King Kegan’s descendants?” Fiona gulped.

“It might be a woman, but yes, it’s a possibility. Now about this orb. It will be safer with me than with you, just in case, somehow, this evil king, or his sorcerer, found a way to come back to life. His descendants may know about the orb and that could cause a lot of problems for us.”

“You can keep it, Uncle Angus. I don’t think our mums will appreciate us bringing it into our homes. Besides that, someone’s bound to find it if we do,” Fiona said.

“What’s the spell?” Callum leaned over to look in the book.

“What spell?” Angus wrinkled his forehead.

“You told us there was a spell. You found it last night, remember?” Callum shook his head back and forth, amazed by Angus’s lack of short-term memory.

“Oh yes, that spell.” He opened the book and went down the pages until he came to it. “You have to say these words, ‘Daleth shapish yamm’ to get to the place and to get back home, you add the word “bet” at the end. So you’d say, ‘Daleth shapish yamm bet,' to return to this cottage, or wherever you left from. I suggest you remember them.”

“Those are strange words,” Elspet said.

“They’re written in the language of King Kegan’s ancestors. They mean, ‘door to the sun and the sea’ and bet means ‘home’.” Angus shut the book. “I’ll try to figure out what language it is. It sounds more Phoenician, as in Hannibal, not Eastern European or Russian, as I once thought.

“I want to try the spell,” Callum said. “I might be a descendant.” He moved off by himself and shouted, “Daleth shapish yamm.” Nothing happened.

“You’re not a descendant,” Elspet said, laughing and scoffing. “I’ll bet I am though. Let me try.” She traded places with Callum, pushing him out of the way. She closed her eyes and clenched her fists. “Daleth shapish yamm.” Nothing happened to her either. “Well, I’m glad nothing worked. I have to babysit until this afternoon anyway.”

“Do you always babysit your brothers?” Callum was glad he didn’t have to do the same with his little brother and sister.

“Yes, Mum is busy and the boys get in the way. It’s a lot of work carding and spinning and dying. I normally don’t mind. We go out and play with the sheep and have picnics.” Elspet defended herself. “I don’t mind them tagging along.”

“That was foolish of the two of you to try the spell. What if it had worked? You’d have gone off to a foreign land, unprepared and alone. I almost certain I’m not a descendant,” Angus said. “I have no blood relatives from the Castle Athdara. You might find this interesting though. It says in our local legends.” Angus pulled a history book about the Inveralba area off the bookshelf, “that two young women came to the castle, claiming Kegan was their father. Their names were Isabella and Anna.”

“Uncle Angus, I didn’t mention this before, but my middle name is Isabella and my mum’s is Anna. It didn’t seem important, just a coincidence, but now I’m wondering if Mum and I are their descendants. Does it say anything else?” Fiona shivered with excitement.

“It says the princesses married two men, local folk from the village on the other side of the loch.” Angus took Fiona's hand and squeezed. “This is very interesting.”

“Does that mean Inverdrochit? My mum’s from there.” Fiona gasped with astonishment.

“It doesn’t mention any villages in particular. Let me finish. Later both families moved into the castle. Their descendants lived there for several centuries and then, in time of battle with England, the castle fell into ruin and was never repaired. The people who lived in it moved into the local villages around the loch. Maybe you are a descendant.” Angus closed the book.

“This is so exciting,” Elspet said. “Fiona, you’re a descendant. I can feel it.”

“Do you want to try the spell, Fiona?” Callum hoped she did.

“Wait, before you say another word; just in case you disappear, take this money and put it in your pocket. You’ll need some. You can trade it for foreign money at a local bank.”

Angus handed her a wad of paper money.

She put it in her pocket. “My mum said our ancestors lived in the castle. I think I want to try. It’s sort of scary though. Callum, Elspet, come and stand by me. If it does work, I don’t want to go alone.” They stood right next to her, their bodies touching. ‘Daleth shapish yam.’” The room filled with a brilliant colored mist. Hues of metallic blue, crimson red, lime green, deep purple, lemon yellow and orange darted in rays from one wall to the other. “It’s working. Come with us, Uncle Angus.” Fiona shouted to her uncle. “Hurry! Come with us.”

“I can’t. I need to stay here and guard the orb,” he said, but they didn’t hear him... “and the lads.”

The room swirled around in circles and when it stopped, they found themselves standing on the shores of the Aegean Sea, on the island of Hydra, Greece.

“Where did Fiona and Elspet and Callum go?” Alastair stood holding a block in his hand, looking at the empty space that had moments ago occupied his big sister.

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