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Rolfin's Orb
Book 1 - Obsidian
Chapter 7

After the dizzy feeling stopped, Fiona said, “Wow, where are we?” She and the others turned around and looked. “Wait! I recognize this place. I dreamed about this place on Thursday night, so did my mum. How strange.”

“Look at that water! It’s so blue and so is the sky.” Elspet viewed the panorama.

“Elspet, you are so, how do I say this, artistic. You always think things are beautiful.” Callum teased her. “What do you see that’s so beautiful? Everything’s beautiful to you.”

“It is beautiful here. Just look around. I’ve never seen anything prettier than this small bay. What I mean is, look at the water and how it’s surrounded by the hills. Each is dotted with white houses and they all have tiled, square roofs built up the sides. And just look at all the flowers. They are so bright and look like paint splatters among the green bushes. There’s some pink oleander, yellow lilies, and cyclamen that look like butterflies. I see bougainvillea, wisteria and the blue clusters of plumbago flowers everywhere I look,” Elspet said. “You’ll never see flowers like these in Scotland.”

“I should be the one who notices the flowers. After all, it’s my mum who has the huge flower garden, but I’ve never seen anything like this and I have never heard of plumbago flowers before.” Fiona rolled her eyes.

“I've read a lot of books on flowers,” Elspet said.

“You must have.” Fiona looked at Callum when he cleared his throat.

“Stop talking about silly flowers. Look at the donkeys. I don’t see any cars and the writing on the sign looks Greek,” Callum said.

“How in the world do you know what Greek writing looks like?” Elspet put her hands on her hips.

“We studied it in our class at school. For the last few weeks we’ve learned about the Greek Isles. We’re studying one of the islands called Hydra. I think this island is Hydra.” Callum boasted. “See that sign? It’s written in Greek. I can’t figure out what it says though.”

“There’s one problem. We don’t speak Greek. How will we communicate with these people?” Elspet worried.

“This is a tourist place, Elspet. Most everyone will speak English.” They walked up the beach to the center of the small town on the bay. “You’re right, Callum. It is Greece. It looks like a picture postcard. I think the first thing we’d better do is trade our money in for Greek money. What is Greek money called anyway?” Fiona looked at Callum for an answer.

“Drachma, but do you think they’ll give us some? We don’t have passports or any identification,” Callum said.

“I’ll just pretend I left my passport with my parents. I’ll say they are out sightseeing and that I need money to buy lunch. They’ll give it to me.” Fiona felt brave and confident. “It’s so pretty here, isn’t it? Just like Callum said, there are no cars, no buses, not even a bicycle, or motorbike. The people must have to walk everywhere they go.”

“Or ride on donkeys.” Callum pointed at an elderly man riding on the back of a small gray donkey.

“I think donkeys are smelly. I don’t want to ride on one.” Elspet plugged her nose as the man and donkey went by.

“There are a lot of churches, monasteries and stone arches. Maybe we should buy a map so we can find our way around. There’s a tourist shop. Tourist shops always sell maps,” Fiona said, “but first, we need to go to the bank. There’s one. You guys stay out here. I’ll go inside and give them a big sob story. If it doesn’t work, you two can give it a try.” Fiona disappeared into the bank. She came out a few minutes later, wiping pretend tears from her eyes. A grin spread across her face and she waved the drachma back and forth. “That was easy.” She laughed out loud.

They stopped in front of the window of the tourist shop and looked at a map taped up in the window. “It says Hydra is twenty one square miles and lies southeast of Athens. That’s a lot of area to cover to look for a small jewel. What are we supposed to be looking for again?” Callum thought hard, trying to remember.

“Black obsidian. Uncle Angus said it looks like black glass,” Fiona said. “All I know is that it comes from a volcano.” They went inside and bought a map of the island. “Let’s sit over there on that wall and look at the map.” They sat with their legs dangling over the edge of a stone wall, above the splashing waves spitting at their feet. A boat full of fishermen chugged into the bay.

“They’ve found real sponges, not ones like we buy at our shops,” Elspet said, amazed at the sight of the brownish orange sponges.

“They’ve got more than that. They’ve got fish too,” Callum said. “I’ve never seen fish that puffed up with spikes before.”

A ship carrying tourists docked at a pier further up the beach in a deeper spot. The tank-top- and-shorts clothed people walked down the gangplank and rushed by, excited and eager to spend their money in the shops, or have their pictures taken with donkeys. “Tourists are the same here as they are back in Inveralba.” Elspet laughed. Callum and Fiona joined in. “They look ridiculous.”

“Isn’t Hydra the name of a monster with nine snake heads?” The thought just came to Fiona’s mind.

“Yes, Hydra is a monster. You know your Greek history well, Fiona.” Callum shrugged.

“I know about Hercules. He was from Greece,” Elspet said, “and he killed the Hydra.”

Callum ignored her. “We’d better go and look for the stone. We can’t stay here forever, though I’d like to. I’m hungry. Should we get something to eat first and then begin our search?”

“Good idea,” Fiona said. “What about the map?”

“We can look at it after we eat. I’m too hungry. Greek food smells good.” They saw an outdoor café. Though it was busy, one table sat empty. They flopped down on the chairs. “Ouch, these are hot.” Elspet rubbed the back of her leg through her pants.

“They’re made of metal,” Callum said, happy that he was wearing jeans.

A waiter approached them. “What do you want?” He spoke in broken English.

“Can we have a menu please?” The man with greasy black hair tossed a menu on the table and disappeared inside. “How rude!” Callum picked it up and read through the list of entries.

“We’re not in Scotland any more, Callum. Things are different here, or so I’ve heard,” Elspet said.

“I think we can presume things will be different in the ‘real world’, as my mother calls it, including the food. What is all this stuff? I will not eat raw octopus!” Fiona glanced at the menu.

The waiter came back a few minutes later. He pulled a pencil from behind his suntanned ears and scribbled as they gave him their orders.

She noticed his name tag. “I’ll have a Greek salad. It says here it comes with olives, lettuce, cucumbers, tomato and feta cheese with an oil and vinegar dressing. Is that right, Kristoff?”

The waiter nodded. “What you want?” He looked over at Callum.

Fiona interrupted, “I wasn’t finished ordering.”

Kristoff scowled and looked at her.

“I’d like some pita with it too.”

Callum scanned the menu while the waiter tapped his foot impatiently. “I’ll have a souvlaki. I like lamb. It comes with peppers and onions on a stick. What sort of peppers?” Callum mumbled on, nervous and afraid of what and how the waiter might answer.

“Green pepper!” The man snarled. “What do you think?” In a much softer voice he muttered, “Idiot tourists.”

“At home we have yellow, orange and red peppers. I was just asking.” Callum frowned, disturbed by the waiter’s behavior.

“I’ll have tzatziki sauce with a platter of fried zucchini, French fries, and eggplant to dip in it.” Elspet spoke before the waiter had a chance to insult her. “I’d like a glass of water too.”

“Me too,” said Fiona. “Is there an extra charge for water?” She smiled at him.

He shook his head back and forth and then glared at Callum.

“Me too.” Callum looked away from the man, who went into the café to place their order.

“I hope all Greek men aren’t that rude,” Fiona said.

“I don’t think they are. This guy works at a tourist place. You know how it is when a busload of tourist goes into The Hogshead Inn. Mr. McGregor isn’t as nice to them as he is to us,” Elspet said.

While waiting for their lunch, they looked at the sea.

“Their beaches don’t have sand, just pebbles. I can’t imagine that’s too comfortable to sunbathe on,” Fiona said.

A few minutes later the waiter brought out their platters of food. He plopped Fiona’s Greek salad and a pita bread down in front of her and left.

Her eyeballs bulged when she saw the size of the olives. She stabbed one with her fork and put it in her mouth. Her lips puckered. “Greek olives taste different than the ones we get in cans at the grocers. This is good.”

He came back out carrying the souvlaki and Elspet’s meal. “Excuse me, sir. Where’s our water?”

Ignoring her, he turned and went back inside the building. Water sloshed all over Elspet when he slammed the scratched plastic glasses down on the table. Instead of shouting or losing her temper, she dipped her fingers in the spilled water and rubbed it over her face. “Ah! That feels good.”

Callum pulled the spicy, blackened lamb, onions and green peppers off the wooden skewer. A dish of white sauce sat next to the meat. He stuck his finger in it for a taste. “It’s sour.” He stabbed a piece of the lamb and dunked it into the cream. “Oh boy. This is much better than fish and chips.”

Elspet enjoyed her meal. “I think your sauce is tzatziki sauce, like I have.” She put a piece of fried eggplant in her mouth. I love aubergines. We hardly ever get them at our house. My mum and dad think they’re too expensive.”

After finishing their meal, Fiona paid the waiter. “I’m not leaving Kristoff a tip. He doesn’t deserve anything. Let’s take a look at this map.” She pulled it out of the paper bag the shop owner had given her and spread it out on the table “It’s complicated looking. Should we try to figure it out, or should we relax after our meal and go for a donkey ride?”

“Yes,” Callum said.

“No,” Elspet said, adamantly.

The donkey’s owner heard their note of interest. He pulled the donkey closer. “Come for a ride, children. The donkey is happier when he gives children rides.”

Elspet refused to go; however, Callum and Fiona each took a ride and had their picture taken on its back.

“Elspet, you missed out. That man, Nikolas, told me that the donkey doesn’t work in the rain because the streets get slippery and the donkey's hooves might slip and hurt itself. He loves his donkey,” Fiona said. “He’d never do anything to hurt it. You should have given it a try. Look at the pictures. Will you keep them in your blouse pocket, Elspet? Mine’s too small.”

Elspet took them from Fiona's hand and put them away in her pocket. “When are we going to start looking for the stone, or are we not finished being tourists yet?”

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