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
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.”
to enjoy spending time with you all. I do appreciate you taking the boys.
Keep them as long as you want.” Catriona laughed.
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,
“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.
wish you had children?”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
If you stay right here and don’t run off, maybe Callum’s dad will let you
pet them,” Elspet said.
Yeah!” Alastair and Malcolm jumped for joy.
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.
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?”
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."
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
embarrassed, said, “It’s not what you think, Malcolm.”
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.”
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.
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.
You hurt the dog.” Elspet apologized to Malcolm. “I’m sorry, Mr. McAllister.
Alastair was just so excited.”
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
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.
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.”
* * *
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!”
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.”
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.”
catch up, he saw Fiona, Mairi and Johnny. “Oh, it’s the three amigos. What
are you up to?”
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.”
froze. She knew she was in trouble. “It’s only pies, Drayton. I’m taking
them for the children.”
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.
you doing?” Mairi watched him raise it above her head.
problems with balance.” He dropped the pie and it splattered on her head.
“Oops. I dropped it.”
shouted. “What are you doing? Look at the mess!”
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.
stop it! You’re hurting me!” Mairi picked the pie off her head.
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.”
you need to come to the castle with me.” He pulled her by the arm, dragging
rough. I’m not made of rubber.”
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.”
of the loch shook and waves splashed against Drayton’s feet. A tower of
water raised from the depths. “What do you want now?”
I’ve got a surprise for you in the cave. Come and see.”
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?”
at him. “Who are you?”
Phelan. He’s King Dugan’s wizard.”
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.
away. I hate snakes,” she cried.
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! I fooled you.”
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?”
little mouthy, aren’t you, Mairi? If I were you I’d shut up.” Drayton warned
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.”
to roast you alive, Mairi. Oh no!” Drayton mocked her.
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.
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.
you,” Mairi whispered. “You’re evil and I can’t wait to destroy you.”
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.
need her, don’t we?”
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.”
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.
* * *
Mum?” Fiona thought she was taking too long.
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.”
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.
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.
They’ve gone!” Jack shouted in fear. “We’ve got to bring them back.”
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.
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