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Rolfin's Orb
Book 2 - Spinal
Chapter 4

“Do you think it’s cold in there? It’s a cave. Cave’s are usually cold.” Callum buttoned his coat.

“Fiona, just before we left, your Uncle Angus told us you had the power to make fire. Did you hear him say that?” Elspet rubbed her arms.

“He did say that, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.” Fiona looked around the cave. “Uncle Angus does tend to ramble on about things.”

“I don’t think he was rambling. He was telling you that when you put the stone in the orb, it gave you a magical power associated with the stone. That’s pretty cool to me. He said all you had to do was think about it and wish it and you can make fire. Why not try it here. I’m freezing. I wish I’d brought some gloves with me.” Elspet put her hands in her pocket.

“I’m cold too, Fiona. Go ahead and try. Make some fire,” Callum said.

“Do you think I can do it?”

Elspet and Callum nodded.

Fiona closed her eyes and thought about fire. Poof! A fire appeared a few feet from them. “Wow! That’s pretty cool.”

“You did it. You made fire.” Callum moved closer to feel it. “It feels warm like fire. It looks like fire, but there’s no wood, so how is it burning?”

“Does it really matter? It’s on fire and that’s good enough for me.” Elspet warmed her chilled hands. “The flames are yellow and blue. That’s strange.”

“Yellow, blue, green; as long as it’s warm. Let’s make some more fires.” Fiona closed her eyes and soon fires appeared scattered about the cave. “That’s much better. If we have to look for the spinel, at least we can keep ourselves warm. It’s in a hole at the back of the cave.”

“Of course,” Elspet said, not surprised. “Things are always at the back.”

They made their way deeper into the lava cave.

“It’s awfully difficult to walk over these stones. I’ve got scrapes and cuts all over my body.” Fiona noticed the tear in her pant leg.

“I just saw something move.” Callum moved up from behind them. “It’s up there, right where we’re headed.”

“Not again, Callum! You’re imagining things.” Elspet looked at the dark cave up ahead. “What exactly did you see? Don’t say a troll, please don’t.”

“I don’t know what a troll looks like, but I think it just might be a troll.” Callum tugged at Fiona's arm. “Let’s get out of here. I’m not in the mood to fight a troll.”

“Callum leave Fiona alone. I wonder how the trolls got to Iceland. I’ll bet they stowed away on the Viking ships from Norway a long time ago. They come from Norway, the Vikings, so why not the trolls too. How else would they have gotten here? I read a book once about them. Trolls are usually nasty looking, with big noses with warts, stubby horns and large mouths full of sharp teeth. They’ve got knobby skin, covered with wart-like things, and they have tiny ears. They’re not too smart and their eyes glow in the dark. I’m not sure if Icelandic trolls look like that though.” Elspet saw streams of sunlight coming into the cave from above. “I don’t think trolls like sunlight, so they live in caves.”

“You mean caves like this one?” Callum turned to leave. “I’m out of here. I’m not going any further. If you two want the spinel, you’ll have to get it alone.”

“Callum, you come back here right now! We have to do this together, as a team. Elspet and I need you. Come on. Be brave and help us. It’s probably not a troll at all. You must have seen the reflection of the fire flickering on the wall,” Fiona said.

Callum stopped and headed back to the girls, mumbling to himself. The fires lit the cave up.

They could see most of it, except the very back part. Fiona stood still a few moments, thinking. “It’s just up ahead. I can see the place where it it’s hidden. It’s only a few more yards.”

A grumbling sound brought them to a halt.

“What was that? It wasn’t my stomach. I didn’t eat anything and I don’t want to go any further. Please, Fiona, let’s go back.” Callum shook with fear.

They listened.

Another grumble echoed from the back of the cave.

“It’s a troll.” Elspet whispered to Fiona.

A shape moved toward them. “It’s coming to eat us.” Callum cried out with terror.

At least twenty feet tall, the troll stood looking down at them. Its green eyes, the color of dew-covered moss, shone in the firelight. “It does have a big nose.” Elspet's eyebrowns formed an arch. “It looks sort of stupid though and could do with a change of clothes.”

A roar filled the cave, nearly shattering their eardrums.

“He’s nasty and angry too,” Fiona said. “Okay, how are we going to get rid of the troll? Any suggestions?”

The beast’s tattered clothes hung from its arms and legs like peeling skin. Wiry hair grew thick on its body. It wore no shoes and fit the description in Elspet’s pamphlet.

“I read that they hate sunlight and will burn up if its rays touch them. Maybe you could make a huge fire and kill it.” Elspet made the suggestion.

Callum wasn’t about to wait around for any other suggestions. He turned and tried to run the other way, away from the troll.

A guttural groan escaped its mouth before it reached for Callum’s neck. It grabbed him by the back of his shirt and picked him up.

“Help! It’s got me!” He dangled in the air near the roof of the cave. With another loud roar, the troll disappeared into the darkness, carrying Callum with it.

“What should we do, Fiona? It will eat him.” Elspet jumped up and down hysterically. “We can’t just stand here.”

“I’m thinking. I’m thinking.” Fiona snapped in anger. “I wish we had that dragon again.”

“We don’t Fiona. Hurry. It’s taking him further back. What if there’s another cave?”

Callum’s screams faded.

Fiona sat down on a not-so-sharp piece of lava rock. “I think we should get the spinel first and then go after Callum. The beast won’t eat him, at least not for a little while. Trolls don’t like raw flesh. They like to roast their food on a fire.”

“Fiona! That thing is going to cook Callum alive and you’re thinking of the spinel?”

“I have one of those feelings again, Elspet. I can’t explain. I just know that Callum will be safe for a little while, long enough for us to get the stone. Once we have it, we can use its power to help free him.” Fiona stood. “The stone’s close. I can sense it. Remember Angus told us that the jewel emits some sort of pulse?” Elspet nodded. “I can feel it. It’s calling to me.”

“But there are two more traps,” Elspet said, near tears.

“That’s true. We’d better hope we don’t run in to any more trolls or gnome then. Come on.” Fiona grabbed Elspet’s hand and they stumbled over the rocks, moving further back.

“It stinks back here. The troll smells worse than that donkey in Greece did.” Elspet plugged her nose with her fingers.

“It’s right here, under this lava. Can you reach down and feel if there’s a hole? Your hands are smaller than mine.” Fiona pointed with her foot.

Elspet squatted. She reached under the rock. “There is a hole. It’s big enough for my hand and probably yours too.”

“Stick it in there and see if you can feel the stone then,” Fiona said. “Hurry.”

“I feel something smooth. I think it’s the spinel.” Elspet's nervous laugh echoed through the cave. “I’ve almost got it.”

The ground shook. Pieces of lava fell from the roof of the cave. “What’s going on? I think it’s an earthquake. Pull your hand out quick, Elspet. We need to take cover.”

The earth groaned, a low grumble, sounding much like the troll. The floor of the cave vibrated and then it seemed to roll from wall to wall.

“Look at the ground! It looks like dirt waves.” Elspet shouted.

The noise from the quake was deafening. Huge chunks of lava rock fell, crashing around them and shattering into hundreds of small pieces that shot across the cave at lightning speeds.

“Lie down, Elspet. If one of those rock darts hits you, you’ll die.” Fiona threw her body on the rocky ground.

Elspet lay next to her, crying and shaking with fear.

For the next ten minutes they lay with their arms over their heads, protecting themselves from the sharp projectiles and falling lava. When it stopped, the cave filled with dust. Fiona coughed and choked on the thick dirty mist. “The fires are out. It’s dark in here.”

“Make some more fires, Fiona,” Elspet said.

“They won’t work in all this dust.” Fiona tried, but failed. She concentrated on a small fire and flickering flames struggled to survive. “It’s not big, but it will let us see the stone.”

“Trap number two! How will we get the jewel out without getting ourselves killed in another earthquake?” Elspet stood. “Look, Fiona. The place where the stone was is under a piece of fallen rock. We need Callum to help lift it. What are we going to do now?”

“Maybe we’d better get Callum first.” Fiona moved to the back wall. “Look, there is a tunnel. Whew! It stinks. The troll must have taken him through here.” She pulled a flashlight out of her pocket. “They went this way. There’s part of Callum’s shoelace.” She shined the light on a white string and then on the walls.

They saw nothing but black lava walls.

“There aren’t any other tunnels. This is one big lava cave system. Fiona, what if there’s a trap? What if it’s waiting for us to eat us too? What if…”

“Elspet, you sound like Callum. Stop talking about what ifs. Let’s just find him.” Fiona walked through a long, dark tunnel, stopping when she heard noise. “Quiet now. I think I hear the troll.”

Ten steps later they stood at the entrance to another huge cave. Fiona put her flashlight away. It was no longer needed. A light streamed in from a hole in the ceiling illuminating the cave. “There are three of them!” The trolls carefully avoided being in contact with the direct light.

“That is gross!” Elspet turned and vomited. The cave floor was covered with bones, some with rotting flesh still attached to them. The hairy beasts sat in the middle of the cave. “What are they doing?” She wiped her mouth and tried to avoid looking at the bones.

“I think they’re getting a fire pit ready.” Fiona fought bile rising in her throat. “Where’s Callum? Do you see him?”

Elspet’s eyes roamed the cave. “Is that him over there, leaning against the wall? It looks like him.”

Another troll, not quite as big as the other three, pinned Callum to the floor under its hairy foot. It had tied ropes around his arms and feet.

Fiona could see tears falling from Callum’s eyes, though she couldn’t hear his sobs. “I see him. There are a lot of tunnels leading from this cave. If we could get to Callum, we could sneak him out.”

“Right, Fiona. How do we get to Callum? We’d have to go past those three trolls and then avoid the one sitting right next to him, not to mention he’s tied up and we don’t have a knife to cut the ropes. Any other bright ideas?” Elspet didn’t mean to sound rude, but was worried about her friend.

Fiona closed her eyes, hoping a vision would enter her thoughts and help her know what to do. A picture of flocking puffins flashed in her mind. “I think I know how to get the trolls out of here,” she said.

“What’s your idea?”

She pulled Elspet back into the tunnel. “You need to stay here, Elspet. Watch Callum. If you see them about to eat him, run and scream, or do anything you can think of to distract them until I come back.”

“Where are you going? You can’t leave me here! You can’t leave Callum here.” Elspet grabbed Fiona’s arms.

“Elspet, I know you’re afraid, but this is all going to work out. Callum will be all right until I get back, so will you. I’m off to do some birding.” Fiona turned away and left.

“What do you mean, birding?” Elspet’s words fell on empty space. She sat down near the wall and watched the trolls. “Be brave, Callum.” Her shaking fingers found the tiny mouse pendant dangling from a chain around her neck. “Be brave.”

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