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Rolfin's Orb
Book 5 - Topaz
Chapter 3

“Absolutely not! You’re not getting out of this house without your brothers.” Elspet’s mum, Catriona, sat at her spinning wheel. The lads ran around her, grabbing the wool.

“We’ll take them with us. I can see why you need Elspet to help you. They’re quite a handful,” Mairi said. “Thanks for letting Elspet come.”

“She seems to enjoy spending time with you all. I do appreciate you taking the boys. Keep them as long as you want.” Catriona laughed.

Mairi and Johnny closed the door. Alastair and Malcolm ran off. Elspet and Fiona went to chase them. “Children are full of energy. Did you ever have children, Johnny?”

“Me? No. I didn’t have time for love and romance. King Kegan kept me busy. I spent most of my time alone, writing or reading,” he said.

“Do you wish you had children?”

“If they were like those wee lads, no thank you, but if they were like wee Gillian, King Kegan’s babe, I could have a hundred.” His eyes misted over with tears.

“You’ve seen a lot, Johnny. Things are different in this century, yet, no so different. We still have murders and robberies. Heavens, you’ve been around Drayton. There are a lot of men like that in our world today. They don’t use knifes and axes, well, the do sometimes, but guns, chemicals, and nuclear bombs are today’s problems.” She looked at him. “This is a depressing subject. Let’s go and help catch the lads and then pick up Callum.”

Johnny smiled, took her hand and they ran after Fiona and Elspet. Once they had the boys in tow, they headed for Callum’s house. “Can I play with his dogs, Elspet?” Alastair asked his sister.

“They’re big dogs, Alastair. Devlyn and Creanth are as big as me,” Elspet said.

“I want to pet them too,” Malcolm said. “I like Creanth. His paws are big.”

“We’ll see. If you stay right here and don’t run off, maybe Callum’s dad will let you pet them,” Elspet said.

“Good! Yeah!” Alastair and Malcolm jumped for joy.

They walked up the path to Callum’s house. The porch light was on. There was no sign of the dogs. “Good. The dogs are in the house. Last time I came here they nearly trampled me,” Mairi said. The front door opened and Malcolm came outside. Along with him bounded the two dogs, heading straight for Mairi. “Help!”

Malcolm saw the group walking up the path. He called his dogs back. They turned and ran back immediately. “Mairi, Johnny. What brings you here? What are the bairns doing out after dark?”

“It’s Saturday, Mr. McAllister. There’s no school tomorrow. We can stay up later,” Elspet said. “We’re going to Angus’s croft and want Callum to come with us.”

“Go in and get him. I’m sure he’d love to go. His brother, Murdoch, is bothering him." Malcolm winked.

“Now that I’ve got you here, Johnny, when are you and your brothers coming for a hunt or fishing? We’ve not seen hide nor hair of you in nearly a week. There must be something very exciting going on at Angus’s croft to keep you there all the time.” Malcolm noticed Mairi and Johnny’s hand holding. “I see. I understand.”

Mairi, embarrassed, said, “It’s not what you think, Malcolm.”

“Right.” He looked at Johnny. “Can you and your brother’s come hunting with me tomorrow. I’d like to show them how to use a gun to hunt ducks. We can find some deer, rabbits, pheasant too.”

“We’ll come by tomorrow. I can’t promise how many will come, but I’ll be there with a few of them.” Johnny shook Malcolm’s hand.

“See you tomorrow then.”

The door opened and Callum came running out. Elspet, Fiona, Alastair and Malcolm ran out behind him. “Dogs. I want the dogs,” Alastair said. He ran right up to Devlyn and pulled his tail. Devlyn yelped and pulled it between his legs.

“Alastair! You hurt the dog.” Elspet apologized to Malcolm. “I’m sorry, Mr. McAllister. Alastair was just so excited.”

“Don’t ye worry. Devlyn’s used to that. Our wee Shona pulls their tails all the time. Between Murdoch and Shona, I can’t believe the dogs are still alive.” He bent over and picked up Alastair. “Pet the dog, laddie.” Alastair stroked Devlyn’s back.

“Thank you, Malcolm. We’d better get going. Angus is expecting us soon,” Mairi said. They waved goodbye. Half way between Callum’s house and Angus’s, Mairi stopped. “I forgot to bring the pies. Johnny, you take the children to Angus’s and I’ll run home and grab the pies. I’ll catch up to you in a few minutes.” She kissed him on the cheek and ran off.

Fiona looked at him. “Mum’s like that, Johnny. She’ll be along soon. Let’s get to Uncle Angus’s before Alastair and Malcolm run away.”

                                                *  *  *

Drayton climbed out of the boat again. "I’m getting tired of all this going back and forth and rowing boats.  He tied it to a tree. What power do I have now? What did Phelan tell me I had. Oh, I’ve got the power to find gold and jewels hidden. What good will that do me here at this castle."   He sat on his sleeping bag and closed his eyes. A vision of a room full of precious jewels and golden candlesticks came into his mind. “They’re here at the castle. Somewhere in this dumpy pile of stone is a secret room full of riches. Where might you be?” He closed his eyes again and saw the layout of the castle. “I’ve found you.” Jumping up, he grabbed a torch and headed down the stairs. “You should be right about here.” Stopping and looking at the wall, his hands pushed one of the stones. A scraping noise echoed down the steps and the wall opened. “Aha. I found you." He went into the room. “Wait a minute. There’s no gold in here! This place is tiny.”  In anger he punched another stone and it went into the wall. A hole opened and he stepped through. “That was lucky.” He aimed the torch around the room. “Holy mackeral! I’ve struck pay dirt!”  Without waiting another moment he ran and jumped in the middle of the gold. He picked up handfuls and tossed it above his head. “I’m rich! I’m rich!”

Two hours later he sat at the table in the main hall surrounded by his new wealth. After sorting it into piles and pocketing the emeralds and diamonds, he walked outside and stood on the broken drawbridge. “It’s a night for a breath of fresh air.”

People walking by caught his attention. “Who’s that?”

He got in the boat and rowed across, leaving it tied to the closest tree. “Nobody had better pinch it while I’m gone.”

Running to catch up, he saw Fiona, Mairi and Johnny. “Oh, it’s the three amigos. What are you up to?”

He followed them to Elspet’s house. “I see. They’re gathering the other brats so they can go and get the next jewel. Very clever, Fiona.” After they left Callum’s, Drayton saw Mairi kiss Johnny on the cheek and then run off by herself. “Lovebirds. That could be interesting.” Ignoring the others, he stayed close to Mairi. She went into her house and came out with a box.

He snuck up behind her. “What’s in the box? I’ll have a look.”

Mairi froze. She knew she was in trouble. “It’s only pies, Drayton. I’m taking them for the children.”

“Pies? My favorite.” He opened the box and took one out. Sticking his fingers into it, he pulled some out and stuck his fingers in his mouth. “Berries. Tastes good.” He lifted it into the air.

“What are you doing?” Mairi watched him raise it above her head.

“I have problems with balance.” He dropped the pie and it splattered on her head. “Oops. I dropped it.”

Mairi shouted. “What are you doing? Look at the mess!”

“That’s not a mess, Mairi. This is!” He picked up another pie and smashed it in her face. “And this.” He smashed one on the back of her head.

“Drayton, stop it! You’re hurting me!” Mairi picked the pie off her head.

“Aw. That’s a shame. Now I can safely say, you’re a mess. I think you need to come to the castle with me and wash it off.”

“I can do that at my own house, thank you.”

“I said, you need to come to the castle with me.” He pulled her by the arm, dragging her.

“Not so rough. I’m not made of rubber.”

“Shut up. Are all you women alike? You do nothing but complain and gripe about everything. Keep your trap shut or I’ll toss you in the loch.”

When he got her back to the castle, he took her down to the cave and chained her up to the wall. “You stay here. I’m going to look for someone.” He ran out of the tunnel and stood next to the loch. “Phelan! I know you said not to bother you, but I’ve got a present for you.”

The surface of the loch shook and waves splashed against Drayton’s feet. A tower of water raised from the depths. “What do you want now?”

“Phelan, I’ve got a surprise for you in the cave. Come and see.”

“It had better be good, boy. I’m fed up with your annoying behavior.” The water spout spun across the water toward him. The wizard appeared and stood next to Drayton. They walked down the tunnel into the cave. Phelan saw Mairi chained up. Pieces of pie dripped from her hair and face. “You’re not very tidy, are you?”

She glared at him. “Who are you?”

“This is Phelan. He’s King Dugan’s wizard.”

“I can answer for myself you fool.  Let’s have some fun with King Kegan’s descendant, should we? This will be enjoyable.” The wizard took the shape of a huge snake. It’s fangs sharp and long filled its mouth. A forked tongue, red and bumpy, darted out, slithering and hissing. The snake moved along the stone floor toward Mairi.

“Get it away. I hate snakes,” she cried.

The snake raised into the air, like it was going to strike. It danced on its coiled body. Drayton, not fond of snakes himself, backed up, moving away from Mairi. The snake attacked her, biting her throat. Blood gurgled and spurted from her neck. Mairi tried to scream but couldn’t make a noise. Drayton fell backwards onto the floor in terror and disgust at the blood. The snake pulled away and Mairi opened her eyes.

“Ha! Ha! Ha! I fooled you.”

Mairi wanted to grab her neck and make sure it was there, but her arms were chained. “What sort of sick thing are you? You get your delight out of terrorizing people. You feel powerful because you can do magic?”

“Getting a little mouthy, aren’t you, Mairi? If I were you I’d shut up.” Drayton warned her.

The snake disappeared and the wizard showed himself once more. “You’ve got fire in you, like your ancestor. Let’s see how you like this.” He turned his shape into a dragon. Flames shot from the nostrils.”

“He’s going to roast you alive, Mairi. Oh no!” Drayton mocked her.

The dragon shot his flames high into the air, singing the ceiling of the cave. Smoke rushed down. Mairi coughed as the hot black smoke reached her lungs. When it cleared, she saw the dragon in front of her. Its horns spiraled from its head. Huge teeth, sharp and pointed looked black from all the smoke. It backed up and took a breath. Sending a hurricane of fire toward Mairi, the dragon blew with all its might. Mairi screamed in agony as the flames reached her, burning her skin black.

Drayton watched in horror. It wasn’t funny to him. Seeing her eyeballs pop out, her body curl up as it roasted made him vomit on the stone floor. When he looked at her again she looked normal.

“I hate you,” Mairi whispered. “You’re evil and I can’t wait to destroy you.”

The dragon disappeared and once more Phelan stood in front of her. “I’m so scared. Drayton, I’m bored with this one. Take her to the loch and feed her to the creatures below. Make sure she doesn’t live,” he commanded.

“But we need her, don’t we?”

“This one is of no use. As long as we’ve got the daughter, we can dispose of this useless trash.” Phelan turned into a crow, flew at Mairi, pecked out her eyes and flew off.

As soon as he left the castle, she woke up. “I think you’re evil, Drayton, but I don’t think you’re as bad as that one. There’s hope for you, boy. Forget about Phelan and his ways. Come and join us. We’ll save you from what lies ahead.”

For a few moments Drayton actually contemplated what she said, but then shook his head back to reality. “I hope to be worse than Phelan. I’m going to unchain you. Don’t try anything funny or I’ll kill you. You heard the wizard. We don’t need you any more.”

Mairi’s arms felt better after the chains were loose. She had no energy to fight him. Pain racked her body. She could still feel the flames burning her and the snake’s teeth tearing her body to pieces. Drayton picked her up and threw her over his shoulder, carried her to the boat and threw her in.

                                    *  *  *

“Where’s Mum?” Fiona thought she was taking too long.

“She’ll be here shortly. You’d better get going. You’ve got your packs and they’re full of all the necessities, right?” Angus stuck his hand in his pocket. “Here’s some more money. Try to use it wisely this time. Remember to use your magic powers. You have the power now to find gold and jewels and riches. You may need that for some reason. Good luck.”

Alastair and Callum sat on the floor next to Jeffrey. He had a children’s book in his hand and was reading them a story. “We’re ready, Uncle Angus,” Fiona said.

“Daleth, shapish…”

“Wait for us. We want to go too.” As Fiona said the word ‘yam’, Alastair and Malcolm ran to their sister. The five of them disappeared in a whirl of light.

“The lads! They’ve gone!” Jack shouted in fear. “We’ve got to bring them back.”

“I think they’ll be fine. Look at the things those three children have accomplished so far. I think the lads are supposed to be there,” Angus said.

“Now that they’re gone, I’m going to look for Mairi. She was bringing a few pies over. I hope we’re both back before the children return.” Johnny closed the door behind him.

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