“Someone’s at the door,
Malcolm. Will you get it? I’m putting the wee ones in the bath,” Anne called
to her husband. They’d been to the ceilidh and had just returned home.
Malcolm heard his younger
children giggling and splashing in the water while he piled a few logs on
the fire. “Jimmy, would you mind getting the door for me. My hands are black
with charcoal and ash.”
“Sure thing,” Jimmy said. He
opened the door. “Pond? What are you doing here?”
“Cowan, you look surprised to
see me. Surely you knew I’d be along soon, as the others will be. Where’s
Jimmy shouted, “Malcolm, I’ll
be back shortly.” He shut the door behind him and grabbed Pond by the arm.
“How will I explain you to the McAllister’s?” He led Pond into the back
“What’s going on here, Cowan?
Where’s Alroy?” Pond sat on the grass behind the croft.
“I’m going by the name Jimmy
and Alroy’s called Johnny. We know the jewels are being gathered and one by
one are being put back in the orb. Mine, the obsidian, and yours, the spinel,
are the only two so far, but I’m sure it won’t be long before all twelve
stones are back,” Cowan said, “and the others show up.”
“So, it’s begun, has it?
Who’s collecting the jewels? It must be a descendant of King Kegan,” Pond
“It’s a girl. Her name’s
Fiona McAllister and yes, she’s a descendant of the king. Once the twelve of
us are reunited and have the twelve jewels in the orb, we’ll be able to
finish what we started.”
“A girl? How old is she?”
“She’s only eleven, or
twelve, but she’s a bright wee thing,” Jimmy said.
“I hope you’re right. Will we
go to Jerusalem?”
“We’ll go there first,
together, and then we’ll go back to Burill and live in peace and harmony.
Centuries have passed, Pond. There may be a new kingdom where ours once
stood. We can deal with that when the time comes. For now, our goal is to
protect the orb and Fiona until she has finished gathering the stones and
the orb is back in our possession,” Cowan said.
“What about Dugan and Phelan?
Any sign of them?”
“I fear there is, Pond, but
so far I’ve had no contact. First of all, I shall introduce you to the
McAllister’s. Your name will be Jesse. You’re our brother. In fact, we’ll
all be brothers. It’s a strange world, Pond. Alroy is spending the night
with Fiona’s mother. It seems someone broke in to her house and ransacked
it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t Dugan’s kin. Come in and meet our
host family,” Cowan said. “Remember to call me Jimmy.” He and Pond headed
back to the croft. When he opened the door, he cleared his throat. “Malcolm,
I’ve had an unexpected surprise. This is my brother, Jesse. He heard we were
up here and decided to join us for a bit of fishing. Don’t be surprised if
more family shows up. Do you have room for us?”
“Why certainly, Jimmy. Hello,
Jesse. I’m Malcolm McAllister. My wife, Anne, is upstairs putting the bairns
to bed. We’ve got plenty of extra rooms for your family. Anne will have to
do a bit more cooking, but she doesn’t mind.”
“Where’s Callum?” Jimmy
hadn’t seen him for a while.
“He’s over at Angus’s croft,
with Fiona and Elspet,” Malcolm said.
“Why don’t Jesse and I walk
over and collect him and bring him home. We’ll escort the others home too,”
Jimmy said. “It’ll give Jesse a feel for the land.”
“That’s very kind of you,
Jimmy. I’m sure his mum will appreciate that,” Malcolm said.
Jimmy and Jesse headed for
Angus’s croft, catching up on what had been happening since his return.
Jesse grabbed Jimmy’s arm and whispered, “Look, Jimmy. There’s someone
hiding in the bushes outside the croft. He’s peering in the window.”
Jimmy saw the dark shape.
“That must be our troublemaker. No doubt he’s kin of Dugan, as I expected.
Let’s get the children home to safety.”
* * *
A knock on the door startled
Angus. “Who in the world could that be? It’s supper time.” He went to the
door and opened it, staring at the two unfamiliar faces.
Fiona saw Jimmy. “It’s all
right, Uncle Angus. It’s Jimmy. He’s staying at Callum’s.”
“Come in then. Any friend of
Fiona’s and Callum’s is a friend of mine too. My name’s Angus McAllister.
“I’m Jimmy Thomson and this
is my brother, Jesse. He just arrived in town. He’s come to do a bit of
fishing with John and myself. Hello Fiona and Callum.” Jimmy smiled at
Elspet. “And you must be Elspet. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Jesse saw the blocks on the
floor and picked them up, examining them. “Whose are these?”
“Uncle Angus carved them and
painted them. He did a good job, didn’t he,” Fiona said.
Jimmy took Angus aside and
the two of them whispered. They both disappeared out the back door. Jesse,
not wanting the others to worry, said, “Tell me more about these blocks,
Fiona. You too, Callum and Elspet.” They sat on the floor next to him.
“They’re magnificent. Look at the carving. This is all done in ancient
“He did them all by himself,”
Callum said. “Why are you here?”
“Callum, that’s rude.” Fiona
He looked at the lad. “Your
father sent us over here to get you, Callum, and bring you home. Fiona,
we’ll take you home. Johnny is with your mum. It seems there was some sort
of break-in at your house. Elspet, we’ll drop you off at home too.”
“What sort of break-in? Is
Mum all right?” Fiona wanted to leave right away.
“She’s fine now. The house is
a bit of a mess though, according to Jimmy,” Jesse said.
“Where did Uncle Angus and
Jimmy go?” Fiona ran to the door and opened it. “Uncle Angus? Where are you?
She heard a scuffle behind
the house and a few groans. Angus came towards her. “It’s all right, Fiona.
Jimmy and I were just looking at the back window. He thought he saw a wild
“What was all that noise? Is
Jimmy all right?” Fiona ran to look.
“Stay here, Fiona. He’s fine.
He’ll be with us shortly,” Angus said.
Jimmy showed up a few moments
later, panting for breath.
“It was an animal of some
sort. I chased it into the woods. I don’t think it will bother you again
tonight, Angus.” Jimmy took Fiona’s hand. “Jesse, take the children home.
I’m staying with Angus for a while. They’ll show you the way. When you drop
Callum off, tell the McAllister’s we’ll be home in a few hours and come
“What’s going on here, Uncle
Angus? Jimmy? Is everything all right?” Fiona folded her arms across her
chest. “There’s something strange going on.”
“Your uncle and I want to
make a trap to catch whatever was out there, that’s all. Don’t worry about
it. It won’t take long. Run along with Jesse. He’ll take you home,” Jimmy
Jesse took Fiona’s and
Elspet’s hands and they disappeared into the dark with Callum right behind
“Did he get away?” Angus
asked, concerned for his safety.
“Yes. I gave him a good black
eye though. We’d better talk.” Jimmy led Angus into the house. “Angus, since
you know about the orb and its secrets, I feel I should fill you in on who I
“I see. Go on then.” Angus
sat in his chair.
Jimmy plopped down on the
settee. “Johnny, as you know him, is a man named Alroy Cathmore,” he began.
“Alroy Cathmore? The scribe?
How can that be? I have his book.”
“Yes, I see you do. I see
you’ve got the orb too. Before King Kegan’s wizard, Zerahemna, left to
return to Xilia, the land of wizards, I asked him to show me how to use the
time portal. Whenever the book was opened, Alroy would leave his time and
come to the future. We've all been wandering for years after Kegan didn't
show up in Jerusalem. Johnny found the twelve men, not an easy task and then
we all went our separate ways until now. The future part of the portal,
which brought us here, right now, is in Castle Athdara. The children found
the book and opened it. Johnny stayed in hiding there for a day, waiting to
see what happened next. When the children went back the next day to find the
orb, he was forced to hide and watch. That’s how he knew about Fiona. When
the first stone was put in place, I came back. My name is Cowan and I am the
man who took the obsidian and hid it in Hydra. Alroy, Johnny, got on a bus
and arranged for an ‘accidental’ meeting with Mairi and it went from there.
Knowing I’d soon appear, he told the story of his brother, me. Fiona has
shown such courage. The fact that she overcame the traps is a miracle. I
never dreamed anyone could retrieve the stone from inside the brick.
Zerahemna and I worked hard to set those traps up, yet Fiona and her friends
did it. I’m so proud of her. When the second stone, the spinel, was
discovered in Iceland, Pond, I mean Jesse, arrived. All twelve of us will
appear as Fiona and the other children find them. I should warn you that the
traps can be very dangerous.”
“Well, this is quite the
story. I’m fascinated, but not at all surprised. How do you all get here?
What will happen when all twelve stones are back in the orb?” Angus picked
up a bar of chocolate and broke off two pieces, one for himself and one for
“We each will travel through
a time portal too, like Johnny did. Before we left to take the jewels,
Zerahemna showed each of us how to use it and when the time was right, we
could come into the future. As for what will happen, Alroy and the twelve of
us will take it to Jerusalem, as King Kegan commanded us to do centuries
ago. He and his family will reunite with us there after the orb is complete
and take possession of it. Even though they died, Zerahemna made a time
portal available to them shortly before their deaths. Zerahemna arranged it
so that upon the placement of the last stone in the orb, time will go
backwards for King Kegan and his family to the time the wizard made
available for them and they will escape. Zerahemna will leave the land of
Xilia and once again serve his master. The orb will eventually be taken to
“You mean in Yemen?”
“Ah, so you figured that out.
It’s called Yemen now, is it? No, not to Yemen, but to Carthage, or near it.
I’m sure you know the story, since I can see you’ve studied the book.
Bartolf and his brother, Rolfin, both lived in Hadrumetum, near Carthage.
Neither was king at the time. They were wealthy merchants and seamen.
Bartolf had a lot of power and wealth. He was an evil man and caused many
problems for his kinder brother, Rolfin. The Punic Wars were raging at this
“In disgust, Rolfin and his
family and many friends and followers left Hadrumetum and went to the
eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, where you call Yemen now. He called
his new kingdom, Burill. There he was made king and ruled in peace and
righteousness until he died. Bartolf was eventually chased out of Carthage,
because of his wrongdoings, but stayed in Northern Africa and started his
own kingdom, which he called Zaanad. He ruled with blood and evil and
“Hannibal was overthrown,
took his own life, I believe. The Romans destroyed Carthage. It was burnt to
the ground and salt was sown in the land so it would never grow anything.
It’s now called Tunisia. It’s not a very nice place any more. It’s all
desert and quite inhospitable too,” Angus said.
“I’m saddened to hear that
Carthage and possibly Hadrumetum were destroyed, but once the orb is taken
back to its homeland, Hadrumetum will once again be a land of milk and
honey. Now that Dugan is no longer around, we shall live in peace.”
“What about Burill? Whatever
happened to the castle there and Rolfin’s kingdom?”
“Many generations lived
there. When Kegan, the last king, left Burill, he also left the majority of
his wealth behind for his people. We shall go there before going to
Jerusalem. To answer your question, I do not know yet what became of the
palace. After all this time, I doubt if anything is left but dust and ruins,
but that is yet to be seen. The land at one time was green and lush and
jewels lay on the ground like seashells on a beach. Fish found pleasure in
filling our nets. Wild honey bees gave us sweet amber nectar, coconuts grew
thick on the trees and our bows and arrows never had problems finding a
gazelle or other wild animal to feast upon.”
“Go on then. Continue your
“The man who watched you this
evening through the window, we believe is a descendant of King Dugan. As
Alroy kept this book,” Jimmy pointed to it, “so Dugan’s scribe, Talon
Hormdin, kept one. This man tonight, must have it in his possession. We can
only presume he knows about the orb and that you have it here. You will need
a guard. Jesse will stay with you tonight and as the others arrive, they too
will stay here and guard you, the book and the orb.
“If this man gets the orb, he
can release Phelan, an evil wizard, from death, reunite him with his spirit,
and together they can reign in blood and horror. Nothing will be able to
stop them. Phelan will encourage him to do all sorts of evil things, even
murder, so that he can be freed from his spirit prison and return to his
former strength and power. What the young man doesn’t realize is that once
Phelan has what he wants, he’ll destroy him too. He’ll have no use for him.”
“I think perhaps it’s a good
idea if you do stay here then, or your brother, Jesse. His name is Pond? I
suppose I should still call him by Jesse.”
“Good idea. It’s very
important that nobody other than you knows what is going on. In the wrong
hands, this information could be deadly for all of us,” Jimmy said.
Angus and Jimmy talked until
Jesse came back. A knock on the door alerted them of his return. “Jesse, did
you deliver the message and get the children home?”
“I did. Alroy was surprised
to see me, but I told him he needed to stay with Fiona’s mum. She’s a strong
woman. Mairi’s her name?” Jesse sat next to Jimmy.
“Mairi’s her name and yes,
she’s a lovely woman. Her husband, Kenneth, Fiona’s father, died a few years
ago in a horrible accident. She’s done quite well raising the lass,” Angus
said. “She’s from Inverdrochit, not Inveralba.”
“We know. Fiona is a
descendant through her mother’s side. Our intruder is nothing to take
lightly. The blood of Kegan and Dugan run through his veins,” Jimmy said.
“What about Fiona’s and
Mairi’s?” Angus petted Lily, who’d just jumped up in his lap and started
“When Dugan kidnapped
Princess Anna and Princess Isabella, he forced himself on them both.
Isabella bore him a son, named Ithgar. He kept the child and banished both
princesses. Unfortunately, Ithgar was like his father, ruthless and cruel.
It seems each generation kept up that trait. Princess Isabella vowed revenge
against Dugan, but it never came to pass. Ithgar made sure she never came
near him by forbidding her, upon death, to enter Zaanad. What Dugan didn’t
know was that Princess Anna too was with child, his child. The boy was born
after they were banished, as they traveled. He was two years old when they
arrived at Castle Athdara. Both princesses married local men, two brothers.
Not a word was mentioned to anyone about Anna’s child, but her husband,
Robert of Ferguson, a good man he must have been, agreed to raise the son,
Jorbi, as his own. He never knew who his real father was. So, that means
that Mairi and Fiona are also descendants of both kings, Kegan and Dugan. I
don’t think they’re aware of it yet and it’s better they never find out,”
“Who did Princess Isabella
“She married, Robert’s
brother, Colin,” Jimmy said.
“Are Fiona and Mairi in
danger?” Angus worried about his niece and sister-in-law.
“Not as long as we’re here.
Alroy will stay with them and offer protection,” Jimmy said.
“What about the other jewels?
Now that you’re here, can’t you go and get them and take that burden from
“Fiona is the only person who
can collect them. Mairi can help, if needed, but it is up to the child. She
is our only hope. We cannot rid ourselves of Phelan and Dugan’s posterity
until the orb is complete. When the time comes, Alroy knows of a spell we
can use to banish them for eternity. Do you see why it’s so important?”
“Yes, yes, of course,” Angus
“Pond, I need to get back to
the McAllister’s. I’ll tell them you’ve decided to stay with Angus. Be
alert. I don’t think our thug will come back tonight, but be on the lookout
for anything unusual. The sooner Fiona gets those jewels, the safer we’ll
* * *
“Mum, did you know Johnny has
a lot of brothers?” Fiona said. She and her mum talked while scrubbing the
walls in the kitchen.
“I didn’t until Jesse came
over and Johnny told me. He’s got twelve brothers. Imagine that,” Mairi
“They all start with the
letter ‘J’. That’s really strange.”
“It is rather odd. What a
mess, isn’t it?” Mairi looked at the room and sighed. “Imagine Devlyn and
Creanth running around in here. That’s what it looks like. Those dogs, grrrr.”
“It’s a mess, but Johnny’s
helping us and we’ll get it cleaned up. I’m glad he’s staying with us, Mum.
Whoever did this is a mean person. I don’t want him to come back and hurt
us,” Fiona said.
“Come here,” Mairi said.
Fiona scooted across the
floor and fell into her mum’s arms.
“Nobody’s going to hurt us.
Johnny will stay here until we don’t need him any longer. He’s a nice man,
“I like him, Mum. I think
someone, the person who did this to our house, was over at Uncle Angus’s
house tonight,” Fiona said.
“What? Why on earth would you
“Uncle Angus, Jimmy and Jesse
were acting strange too. They said there was an animal outside the window,
but I think it was the bad man and I think he wants the…” Fiona stopped.
“He wants the what, Fiona?”
“Nothing, Mum. Let’s leave
this till morning and go see how Johnny’s doing in the living room,” Fiona
said. Without waiting another second she jumped up and ran out of the room.