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Rolfin's Orb
Book 1 - Obsidian
Chapter 9

“There’s Nikolas and the donkey. Fiona was right. He is taking his nap, I mean siesta. There aren’t very many shops open. I wish it was like that in Inveralba.” Callum yawned.

“Like what?”

“I wish we had a siesta time, especially during school.”

“I can’t imagine why you don’t like school. You seem to do well in geography. I don’t know anyone who knows more about Greece than you do.” Elspet smiled at Callum. They stood at the bottom of the stone staircase, trying to decide what to do. “We’ve got to get the donkey, but I don’t want to touch it. You’ll have to get it. Give me some of the money. I’ll go and buy the rope and get us something to eat.”

“No way! We’re doing this together. I can’t do this all by myself. Let’s go and buy the rope and get something to eat and then we’ll both go and fetch the donkey. We have to hurry though and do it before Nikolas wakes up,” Callum warned.

They ran to one of the open shops and asked the elderly woman behind the counter where they could buy some rope. She directed them down several alleys, winding around and behind old buildings and up and down several flights of stairs.

“There’s the shop. Let’s get some rope.” Callum nodded and went inside. He came out a few minutes later with it coiled around his arm. “It’s sort of heavy.”

Elspet took it from him. “Whoa! It is heavy. I could never carry it. Maybe if you sling it over your shoulder, it won’t seem so bad.”

Callum did as she suggested, taking most of the weight off his shoulders.

“See. I thought it might work.” She smiled and turned, heading back the way they came. “When I was reading through the tour book, it said Hydra is an artist’s haven. I think I’d like to be an artist someday. I’d draw or paint pictures of the docks and bays and,” she turned her gaze. “Look, Callum. It’s an old Byzantine church. I love the round, blue roof. It’s a domed church, how quaint. I think I’d like to paint these old churches too. Maybe I’ll come back here again when I’m done with university.”

“It’s just a white building to me. It doesn’t look anything like a church. Where’s the tower and steeple?” Callum grabbed her hand. “Come on. I’m starving.

“We’re not going to that outdoor café again. I don’t think I could stand seeing Kristoff again with his greasy black hair and rude manners. We’ll have to find some sort of take out place, like that one over there.” Elspet pointed at a small, dingy looking building.

“Okay, we can go there, but I hope we don’t get food poisoned.” Callum looked at the menu hanging on the wall. “What sounds good to you,? I don’t want souvlaki again, but you and Fiona might like it.”

A plump man with an unshaven face and dirty apron covered with grease, asked them for their order.

“We’ll have three gyros to go please.” Callum watched the sloppy looking man slice some meat off a skewered slab turning on a spit. “I hope we don’t get poisoned.” Callum whispered to Elspet.

They watched as he tossed three pitas on a greasy grill. He squirted something white all over the meat and plopped it on top of the pita. After adding a handful of chopped lettuce, tomato, and the meat, he rolled each of them up, wrapped them in paper and handed the grease-soaked food to Callum. He paid the money and they left.

“Put this one away for Fiona. It will be sort of messy by the time we get back, but at least she’ll have something to eat.”

Elspet put the oozing pita into a bag the man gave her. “I’m going to eat mine now. They are too messy. Grab some napkins.”

Callum picked up a handful. He wrapped Fiona’s in several of them and they went to the dock and sat down to eat. “That was good. I could eat another.”

“Oh no you don’t. You’re not eating Fiona’s.” Elspet noticed Callum drooling over it.

“I wasn’t going to. Anyway, it’s time to get the donkey. Fiona will be worrying about us.”

They went back to the main street and mingled among the tourists. “There's Nikolas! He’s still sleeping. Okay, here’s what we’ll do. We’ve got to untie the donkey from that post.” Callum pointed to it. “After that, we can pull it up the hill and then maybe we can ride it the rest of the way to the monastery.”

“Not me. I might help you untie the rope and pull it up the hill, but no way am I riding on it. It smells horrible.” Elspet complained again.

“Fine. Let’s do it. You keep watch on Nikolas while I undo the knot. It's a good thing he's old. He won't be able to catch us.” Callum petted the donkey, making friends with it and talking soothing words as he slipped the tied rope off the wooden stake. “Good. We’ve got it.” He pulled the rope and the donkey followed behind.

“That was way too easy,” Elspet said.

Pulling the donkey along, Callum agreed. “Yes, it was. At least that part was easy. We’ve got to get it up that hill. I hope he cooperates.” He went up a few steps and tugged at the donkey’s rope. It stopped dead and refused to move. “Come on donkey. Come on with me up the stairs. I won’t ride on your back. You can walk up all by yourself.”

The donkey stood its ground.

Elspet shook her head. “Callum, it’s not going to move. Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘stubborn as a donkey’?”

“What should we do? We need it to come up to the monastery with us.”

“Hey you kids! What are you doing with my donkey?” Nikolas stood a few feet away, waving his fists. His beet red face and his gray eyebrows met above the nose in anger.

“Uh oh. Run!” Callum shouted and ran up the steps with Elspet following.

“You're trying to steal my donkey? I will get you both.” Nikolas screamed and ran to the donkey. He grabbed its rope and petted its head.

When they were half way up the hillside, they turned and looked down.

Nikolas stood at the bottom, contemplating if he should chase them or not. Deciding not to, he headed back to his place near the waterfront, tying the donkey back up to the stake.

“That’s just great! What do we do now?” Callum wondered how they’d get the brick loose without the animal.

“We’ll have to go back to Fiona and tell her we couldn’t get the donkey. Maybe she’ll not be too mad once we give her the gyro.” Elspet chuckled with nervousness.

* * *

Fiona stretched and stood up, concentrating on the bricks. “Hmm. How am I going to do this? They’re not back yet and I can’t wait all day. If I pull this out, all the other bricks will fall and probably the roof too and I’ll die.” She looked up at the ceiling. “I need that donkey.”

Elspet and Callum snuck into the monastery. They saw Fiona standing at the wall. Callum stumbled on a stone.

Fiona heard him groan and turned around. “Well, where is the donkey? I don’t see it. Is it outside?”

Callum stood up and brushed the dirt off his knees. “I’m doing just great, Fiona. Thanks for asking.”

Fiona ignored him.

“Um, we didn’t get the donkey.” Elspet whispered, afraid of Fiona’s reaction.

She heard. “Why not?”

“Fiona, we had the donkey, but it wouldn’t come up the steps. I tugged the rope and tried to pull it up, but it dug its heels in and wasn’t about to move another inch. Stubborn thing. Nikolas came out of nowhere. He shouted at us and was really mad. I thought he might try to chase us, but he didn’t. We’re lucky to escape. I did get some rope though.” Callum studied the bricks. “ Maybe we could do it ourselves.” He explained his idea, hoping Fiona would understand.

“We brought you something to eat.” Elspet handed Fiona the bag. “It’s a gyro. It’s pronounced yee-ro. It’s good.”

“It’s really greasy though,” Callum said.

“Yeah, like Kristoff’s hair.” Elspet giggled and stuck her finger in her mouth, like she was gagging herself.

Fiona took the gyro from her, peeled the paper back and took a bite. “It’s good and greasy. Yuck.” She wiped her hands on her pants. “Thanks. Well, no donkey then, huh?”

Callum and Elspet shook their heads back and forth.

“While you were gone, I was thinking. See that tree over there?” Fiona went to a hole in the wall of bricks and pointed outside. “If we take the rope and wrap it around the trunk and then bring the end back here. We can try to pull it out.”

Callum unwound the rope and put one end of it in Fiona’s hand. He climbed over the fallen stones and went to the tree, walked around it and carried the other end of the rope back to Fiona.

“Okay. Here’s what we’ll do. I think I can slip this rope around the brick, at least some of it, but first, let me finish eating my gyro. It’s making my hands greasy.”

They sat down on a marble slab and let Fiona finish her food. Again, she wiped her hands on her pants. “My mum’s going to be annoyed when she sees the mess I’ve made with all this disgusting grease.” She picked up the rope and moved over to the brick.

“Won’t it fit?” Elspet saw the rope. “Is it too fat for the hole?”

“Yes it will fit. Watch.” Fiona pushed the rope into a hole next to the brick. It frayed a bit at the end, but it went through. She ran around to the outside of the monastery and pulled the rope out through the other end. “Okay, Callum, when I push it through this hole over here. Grab it and gently pull it towards you.” Fiona put the rope in the other hole and wiggled it until it came out the other side.

“I’ve got it!” Callum pulled it through. When Fiona came back inside, he stood holding both ends. “Now what?”

“Take this end,” Fiona said, handing him a piece of rope, “and stand by the tree. When I say go, you and Elspet pull as hard as you can. Put your feet against the tree trunk to help you get leverage.”

They ran outside. Fiona tied the other end to one of the standing marble pillars. “That looks like it will hold,” she said. “Okay. Pull!” Fiona shouted.

Elspet and Callum pulled the end of the rope.

Fiona ran to the pillar and checked the knot. She picked up another brick and got it ready to put it in its place when the old one came out. Bits of broken dirt and stone fell to the ground as they scraped, struggling to loosen the brick. “Pull! Pull!” She shouted to her friends. The marble brick shot out of its place into the air. Fiona pushed the other brick in. The wall shook and a few pieces of stone tumbled to the ground, but the walls didn’t collapse. “The new brick is cracked, but I think it will hold.”

Callum picked up the brick with the jewel inside. “We’ve got it! We did it!” He ran back inside and handed it to Fiona. “That was too easy! I don't think...”

“Uh Fiona. What are those?” Elspet scrunched up her face.

The place where the new brick was now spouted forth hundreds of black creatures. “It looks like an oil well, or even an erupting volcano. Whatever they are, they’re coming up through the hole in the middle of the brick. Oh sick! They’re scorpions.” Fiona scowled at the sight.

Every place there was a hole, or crack, scorpions came crawling out. “Let’s get out of here,” Callum shouted dropped the marble brick and ran outside, followed by Fiona and Elspet.

“Ick. Ick. Ick. I hate scorpions. They’re ugly and horrible creatures. If they sting us, we’ll die.” Elspet jumped up and down, brushing pretend scorpions off her body. “I can almost feel them crawling on me.”

“You don’t like many animals, do you, Elspet?” Callum knelt on the ground.

“Where’s the brick, Callum?” Fiona didn’t see it in his hands.

“Oh no! I dropped it inside the monastery. It will be covered with scorpions now.” He jumped up and moved in for a closer look. The entire inside of the church was covered with the writhing creatures.

“This is just great. How are we ever going to get it now?” Fiona stomped her foot on the ground. “After all that work! We had it in our hands and you dropped it, Callum! I am so mad, I could scream. In fact, I think I will.” Fiona ran to the olive tree and screamed at the top of her lungs. Callum and Elspet stared. A few minutes later she came back, arms folded across her chest.

“Do you feel better now?” Elspet wanted to laugh, but was too frightened to.

“Yes, much better. Thanks for asking.” Fiona glared at Callum.

“I read once that if you use a certain plant, it wards off scorpions and bugs. If I could just remember what it was called, we could find some here, maybe,” Callum said.

“I think it’s an herb. It’s called lady something.”

“Lady slipper?” Elspet said the first thing that popped into her mind. “Those have beautiful flowers.”

“No, it’s not that. It’s Lady’s Mantle. Yes, that’s what it is. Lady’s Mantle. It’s good for curing stomach ailments too and scorpions hate it. It has light gray-green leaves. I remember that much and it has little yellow flowers and I think they grow in Greece.”

“Callum, you know about the strangest things. I can’t believe a ten-year-old boy from the highlands of Scotland knows about an herb called Lady’s Mantle. Maybe you’ll grow up to be a botanist, or work in a flower shop.” Elspet laughed at the thought.

“It’s not funny, Elspet. I’m not going to be a florist. I’m going to work at the croft, maybe have my own and raise sheep, like my dad does.”

“Will you two please stop bickering. Let’s start looking for some. If only I knew what it looked like.” Fiona sneered.

“We might have to go into Hydra and see if any of the shops sell some. If they have a herb shop, we’d be sure to find some there,” Callum said.

“You mean we have to go back into town again? What if Nikolas sees us? He’ll have us arrested for stealing his donkey. I’m tired. It’s been a long day. Can’t we just go tomorrow?” Elspet sighed.

“After we have the brick safely in our hands, we can rest. There’s a jewel in there, a magic jewel, remember? It’s up to us to find the jewels. Think about what King Kegan and his family went through to save the orb. We might as well head into town. We can stay there for a while, rest, watch tourists, have an ice cream and then come back here before dark. Maybe they’ll go away by themselves,” Fiona walked around to the front of the monastery and looked up at the arched door. “Scorpions!” They followed the dirt trail towards the town.

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