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Rolfin's Orb
Book 5 - Topaz
Chapter 13

Mairi led them back to the campfire. She saw the look of horror on Jeffrey’s and Julian’s faces. “What’s the matter with you two?”

            Jeffrey pulled his shirt collar around his neck. “Thanks to your daughter, I don’t think Julian or I will be sleeping well tonight. The stories she tells. Where in the world did you come up with things like that?”

            Mairi looked at Fiona. “Things like what? What have you been telling them?”

            “I just told them a few vampire stories, Mum. That’s all,” Fiona said, trying to look innocent and insulted.

            “I think we’d better be getting to bed. It’s late and we’ll have a busy day tomorrow,” Mairi said. The others nodded and went to their tents.

            “Mum, I want to look through the telescope first for a few minutes. Can I run up and have a look?”

            “All right, but just for a few minutes,” Mairi said. She started spreading out their sleeping bags.

            Fiona walked up the slope and found the telescope. She peered through the eye piece. “Wow! That is so cool!” She moved it around, gazing at the dark silhouetted hills and trees. “What’s that? It’s a car.” She focused in on it. “It’s Drayton. He’s sleeping in the back seat.” Fiona giggled to herself. “I think it’s time I played a trick on him.” She looked to make sure nobody else was around. Calling to the bears, raccoons, weasels, rats, and squirrels, who are near Roderick’s Campground. I want you to find the car parked down the road from us and torment the man inside. Don’t hurt him or bite him, just give him a good scare. She heard the rustling of leaves and saw a few forms appear, all heading for Drayton’s car. She put her eye to the telescope to watch. “Hee, hee, hee.” She heard footsteps behind her.

            “What are you doing, young lady?” Jack put his hand on her shoulder, frightening her.

            “I, uh, um, I’m looking at the stars.”

            “The telescope is aimed down, not up at the stars. What’s going on?”

            “Oh, all right. If you must know, I’m playing a trick on Drayton.”

            “Drayton? Where is he?”

            “Have a look for yourself.” Fiona moved to the side so Jack could have a peek.

            “There’s a bear standing on a car. I’ll presume that is Drayton inside. The bear’s bouncing it up and down. Oh, my. There’s a mountain lion. It’s jumping up on the window, pawing the window.”

            “What’s Drayton doing?”

            “I don’t think he’s too happy. Wait! Here come several raccoons, a dozen squirrels and some other furry creatures I don’t recognize. They’re all on the car. This is better than watching the stars.” Jack chuckled. “Have a look.”

            Fiona watched the car. She could see Drayton’s face. He was furiously trying to shoo the animals off. “That’ll keep him awake for a while.” She looked at Jack. “Don’t tell my mum, please?”

            “Your secret is safe with me, but I think you’d better get to bed, like your mum said.”

            Fiona gave Jack a hug and they walked down to the tents.

                                    *  *  *

Drayton felt the car jiggle. “What was that?” He sat up and saw a beastly form glaring at him through the windshield. “A bear? They have bears in Scotland?” A few minutes later a mountain lion jumped at the window, scaring the living daylights out of him. Within a few minutes every woodland creature around was sitting on his car. “Get away. Get out of here. I command you to go.” The animals didn’t move. “I said, I command you to leave. Go away. Scram.” The animals still ignored him. He had no choice but to endure a night of his car bouncing up and down and listening to snarls and tiny claws tapping at his windows. “Another night with no sleep. This just can’t get any worse. Phelan!”

The wizard heard Drayton’s screams for help. “Perhaps I was a bit too hard on him. After all, he is an imbecile. What else can I expect from such a fool? Very well.” He went into the castle and opened the door to the room. Several redcaps rushed toward him. “It’s only me. Get back. I want three of you, one from each of your kind, to go up to Ben Iann and help Drayton. Scare away the animals and then do what you can to frighten the humans.”

“I’ll go,” Deyab said. He was one of the redcaps standing near Phelan’s form. “It will get me away from the lot of these things.”

“I’ll go with him,” said Anaxa, one of the sluaghs. It changed into the form of an umbral crow and flapped its wings. “Maybe while we’re out in the open, I can teach the redcap a little respect.”

A bean-nighe floated over to Phelan. “I shall also go.” Iriruloy stood next to Deyab. “We three shall find the humans.”

“Very well. The rest of you stay here and wait. Be on guard,” Phelan said. He disappeared through the door, followed by the three ghoulish forms.

When they reached the shore of the loch, Phelan instructed them. “Free Drayton from the animals. Keep him under your control. Do not let him assume charge of you. If he tries, hang him by his toes from the tallest tree. Do not harm the humans. Simply torment them with your skills. Do not harm each other. I need you all. Do you understand me redcap?” Deyab bowed. “I warn you too, sluagh.” He vanished from their sight.

The shadowy eidolons flew towards the mountains, the moon shining through the apparitions. They saw Drayton’s car covered with animals. “There it is,” Deyab whispered. His voice sounded scratchy and hoarse and raw.

The three specters whirled around the car. The animals, fearing the evil radiating from them, ran away into the forest, leaving Drayton in the car. He saw them and lay down on the seat, hoping they’d go away without seeing him. “What’s Phelan going to do now?” Worried that they were here to torment him again, he didn’t move.

The door opened, creaking with rust. “Drayton,” a voice hissed. “Drayton, Phelan sent us to get rid of the animals. Drayton.”

He bolted up in his seat. “You’re here to help me? You’re not here to kill me?”

The redcap grabbed him by the arm and yanked him out of the car. “Get up, you oaf. Phelan wants us to torment the humans. Where are they?”

Drayton pointed. “Up there, at the campground. They’re in tents. What are you going to do to them?”

“You stay here. We will deal with the humans,” the female bean-nighe spat.

“All right. I’ll stay here. Have fun.” Drayton watched as they sped up the mountainside. “What are those things? Ghosts? Fairies? Demons? Oh well, who cares. At least this time they’re not after me.” He lay back on the seat and went to sleep.

                                    *  *  *

Fiona lay in her sleeping back. She hadn’t gone to sleep. She was too excited about all the events of the last week. She wished Callum and Elspet had come camping. A low moan seeped through the tent door. Sitting up, she listened. She heard it again, this time a little louder. “Mum,” she whispered, shaking her.

Mairi opened her eyes. “What is it, Fiona?”

“Mum, there’s a ghost or something outside. I hear it groaning.”

Mairi sat up. “A ghost? Up here in the mountains? You’re dreaming. Go back to sleep.”

“I’ve not been asleep yet, Mum. I heard it. It sounded like…”

Mairi heard it. “Like that?”

“Yes. It’s a ghost.” Fiona got out of her sleeping back and opened the door of the tent. She stuck her head out. “I don’t see anything.” Just then something rushed towards her. It screamed a high-pitched screech as it flew into her tent and out the back side. “Mum!”

Mairi and Fiona ran out of their tent. Johnny and Jimmy, whose tent was next to theirs, rushed out of theirs. “What was that? Are you all right?”

Fiona ran to Johnny. “There’s a ghost up here. It’s awful and ugly and scary.”

Mairi took Johnny’s hand. “I saw it too.”

Jack stuck his head out of their tent. “What’s all the…” A cloud of eerie yellow light with eyes flew at Jack. He fell backwards as it came into his tent, circling about the top. Loud, ear-piercing groans escaped its mouth. Jack ran outside. “It’s in my tent!”

Two more forms, one pale lime green and the other purplish-red circled the fire, inhaling the flames into their ghostly nostrils. Angus unzipped his tent and saw the ghouls. “What on earth?”

“They’re not from earth. They’re banshees,” Jack said. Soon all nine of them stood huddled together near Angus’s tent. “They’re going from tent to tent. I think they’re looking for the orb and books.”

Angus dashed in his tent and grabbed the ice chest. He pulled it out and sat on it. “Just let them try to get inside here.”

The redcap flew over to the crowd. He took off his hat and held it up. Mairi’s jaw dropped as he squeezed drops of blood from it. His scythe swooped through the air, missing Mairi’s head by an inch. The bean-nighe floated towards them, holding a ghostly baby and weeping. When she got within a few feet from them, the baby vomited blood and fell to the ground, writhing and screaming. Mairi buried her face in Johnny’s shoulder.

The sluagh flew up to the treetops and dashed toward them, it’s beak growing wider and wider. It flew right into the group. Fiona screamed. “I want to go home, Mum.”

“I think Fiona’s right. We’re not going to get any sleep tonight. Obviously Drayton and his wizard, Phelan, have decided to torment us. We’ll be safe in our own homes and that’s all.” Johnny took charge, having them pack the tents and all the supplies. The ghouls flew around the entire time they worked. Angus guarded the ice chest until it was time to put it in the car. He climbed into the SUV, waited for the others and drove off, making sure Mairi’s car started and stayed in viewing distance behind them. They drove past Drayton’s car. He stood on the roof, laughing and pointing at them as they went by.

When they pulled up in front of Angus’s croft, it was nearly 5 a.m. “Leave it. We’ll unload in the morning. Just help me with the ice chest.” They carried it inside and all collapsed on the chairs, settee and bed. Julian lay on the carpet near the unlit fireplace. Within minutes they were all asleep.

Mairi parked the car. Johnny carried Fiona into the house. Jimmy helped Mairi with a few things. “We’ll leave the rest till morning.” Johnny lay Fiona down on her bed. He kissed Mairi a tender good night kiss and she shut the door behind her. He and Jimmy found their rooms and as the first signs of dawn arrived, they were all asleep.

                                    * * *

Drayton drove the stolen car back into Inveralba and pulled over on the grass next to Dandelon Bridge. He looked at the span width and decided the car would fit through it. He put the car in gear and pushed it. The wheels rolled and soon the car bumped its way down the hill, splashing into the River Alba. He watched it float away. “Got rid of that.” Slipping and sliding, he climbed back up to the road and gulped a deep breath, unsure of what he should do next. The first rays of sunlight shone over the hills, filtering through the tree trunks. The three spirits had disappeared when he left Ben Iann. “I’m sick of sleeping at the castle on the cold floor. I’m getting a room at the local hotel. Hopefully that Elsie woman won’t have spread my name around.”

He walked down the narrow road. The only car he saw was a milk truck. When he saw the Thistle and Heather Hotel, he headed for it. The hotel clerk thought it an odd time for someone to check in, but since Drayton had the cash, he gave him a room. Drayton hung the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and collapsed on the bed.

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