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Rolfin's Orb
Book 3 - Pearl
Chapter 9

Drayton rowed the boat across the loch to the island. The water was choppier than usual. His stomach did a few turns and his head spun with dizziness. Castle Athdara, silhouetted against a darkened sky, reminded him of the danger he was in.  Thankful to be off the water, he jumped out of the boat and pulled it onto the shore. He took a few deep breaths and went inside through the stone arch. “Phelan? They’ve got three stones now. Do I have to wait for all 12? Where are you Phelan? I’m not in the mood for this waiting tonight.” He felt, more than heard, the whispering moans rushing toward him from the depths of the castle. “Is that you, Phelan?”

“Drayton, descendant of King Dugan. What has brought you back here on this night?” The wizard’s voice held a mocking tone.

“You need to teach me more spells and magic and quick. There are three men hanging around Angus’s croft. I think they’re from the past and those useless brats just brought back the 3rd stone. I don’t think I have the patience to wait for all 12. I hate this place. It’s cold, damp, and full of cheerful people.”

“What is wrong with your skin? It’s burnt. Were you in a fire?” The wizard’s presence flew toward Drayton, hovering only a pencil’s width from his face.

“Move away from me. You’re giving me the creeps. I’m sunburned. Don’t ask. It’s a long story and I don’t have time to explain. Can’t you change yourself into a person? You give me the creeps with all this smoke and wispy stuff.”

Phelan took the ghostly form of his former self. “Is this more pleasing to you?” Drayton nodded. “I’m afraid you’d better get used to smoke and creepy stuff. I can’t take human form of flesh and bones until I have the orb in my possession.” The wizard eyed Drayton. “So, you want to learn a new spell. What do I get out of this?” He grabbed the end of his long, gray beard, twirling in around his finger in thought.

“The more spells I know, the sooner the stupid jewels will end up in the orb and the sooner you can be brought back to life. You can have revenge on Kegan’s descendants. I don’t care if you roast them in oil, if that’s what you want. It is what you want, isn’t it?”

“Show some respect. Of course I want the jewels and the orb. As for the girl and her mother, I’ll have to think up something especially interesting for them.” He dropped his ghostly beard. “Follow me.” He floated through the air, leading Drayton down several flights of stone steps.

“Where are you taking me? It’s too dark to see where I’m walking. Do you want me to trip and kill myself?” Drayton complained more the deeper they went.

Phelan handed him a lit torch. “Do you whine about everything?”

Drayton grabbed the torch and held it close to the ground. “Where did you get that from? It wasn’t there a second ago.”

“I’m a wizard, remember. Be quiet and stay close. I know it might frighten you, seeing as you have no backbone, but there are things down in the cave.”

“Things? What does that mean? What sort of things?”

“Bats, rats, wolves. Things like that.”

“Is that all? Are there any other ‘things’ down here, not normal ‘things’?”

“That, I am not sure of. Stay close,” Phelan cautioned.

“I’m not afraid of a few bats,” Drayton said. “Who carved all these stone steps? It must have taken years.” They went deeper and deeper until they entered a great cavern. Bats swooped toward Drayton’s torch. He tried to swat them with it.

 Torches lined the cavern walls. With the clap of Phelan’s hands they burst into flame, illuminating the cave. “Not afraid of a few bats? Ha! You’ll have to do better than that if you want to convince me.”

“I didn’t know there was a cave down here.” Drayton turned in a circle. “These tunnels; where do they lead?”

Phelan was about to answer when they heard a noise above them. “What’s that? Were you followed? You fool! You brought others to the castle?”

“Nobody followed me. If someone’s here, they came on their own accord,” Drayton answered. “It’s probably Fiona and her friends. They seem to come here a lot.”

“Fiona? The child? You stay here. I’m going to see who it is.” Phelan  disappeared in a puff of black smoke.

“I wonder if I’ll ever be able to do that?” Drayton sat down with his back against the granite wall, holding his torch in front of him incase one of the ‘things’ decided to show itself.

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