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Rolfin's Orb
Book 5 - Topaz
Chapter 7

Johnny ran to Mairi’s house shouting her name. There was no answer and she was nowhere in sight. On his way back to Angus’s he saw the pie box and pieces of pie crust lying on the ground. “Mairi! You’re in trouble.” He dashed to the croft to warn the others. When he opened the door, Fiona, Callum, Elspet and her brothers sat in front of the fire sipping tea.

“Hi Johnny. Where’s mum?” Fiona ran to him and gave him a hug.

“Mairi’s missing,” he said.

“What? What do you mean missing?” Fiona pulled away from him.

“She went to get the pies and never showed up. It’s only been a short time since you left, but I found this.” He showed them to pie box. “There were pieces of pie crust and filling all over the ground and no sign of Mairi.”

“Mum’s missing? It has to be Drayton,” Fiona said.

“We’d better get the jewel into the orb before we go out looking for her. If we lose that, we’ll be in big trouble,” Angus said.

“Here it is, Uncle Angus.” Fiona handed it to him.

“It’s lovely.” He held it up to the light of the fire. “It goes in right here,” he said, slipping it in its proper place. “Marvelous.” The stones lit up, glowing on the walls of the croft. “I expect it won’t be long until we have another visitor.” The others gathered around to look at the glowing jewels.

“It’s getting dark outside. We need to take these children home. Maybe we can get their parents to help us look for Mairi,” Johnny said, “without explaining too much.”

They divided up into groups. Angus, as usual, stayed with the orb. Jeffrey stayed with him. “We’ve got some more getting acquainted to do.” He laughed, patting Angus on the back.

Jimmy, Jack and Jesse took Callum home and told his father, Malcolm, about Mairi’s disappearance. He offered to help.

Johnny took Fiona and Elspet to her house. They left the lads with their mother and Elspet and her father, Jamie, went off to look for Mairi. Johnny and Fiona went toward the castle.

                                    *  *  *

Drayton rowed into the middle of the loch. Mairi sat silent, looking at the shore, hoping to see signs of people searching for her. “Are you going to drown me now?” She turned and glared at him. “You are so pathetic. You’re a puppet for that wizard. I can’t believe we share the same heritage.” He stood up and put his feet on each side of the boat. He rocked it back and forth. Water sloshed inside, drenching Mairi. “What are you doing, you fool? You’ll make us sink.”

Seeing it frightened her, Drayton rocked the small boat all the more. “Shut up, woman. You’re no relative of mine. I inherited the good genes from King Dugan, while you got the garbage from those pathetic princesses.” The boat nearly tipped over. Mairi grabbed the sides.  “Enjoy the ride!”

As quickly as he started, he stopped. Mairi saw the necklace around her neck. “What’s that necklace?”

“I don’t have to answer you, Mairi, but I will. Each time your brat and her friends put the jewel in the orb, the point lights up. As you can see, they just put the topaz in the orb. That means they’re back. Five of the points are glowing now. Only 7 more and then I make my move.”

“Your move? To do what?”

“To murder your family and friends and take the orb. It’s mine. I deserve it.”

“You are the pathetic one. Listen to you. You’re mad.”

He was about to slap her across the face when he saw a shadow on the water. He grinned at Mairi. Standing with legs spread on each side of the boat, he gazed into the depths of the water. Shouting a spell, he called to the monster hiding in its depths. “It’s time to meet your doom, cousin.”

The water churned like a witches bubbling cauldron. Bubbles popped on the surface. Mairi gasped when a head, bigger than the boat she sat in, broke through the water and rose to the surface. Its dragon-like head, covered with black scales, caused her to suspect it was Phelan using more of his mind tricks, but she couldn’t be sure. The beast roared as it raised its neck higher out of the water. Mairi screamed as it lowered its mouth towards her, ready to devour her and drag her down to a watery grave below.

Callum and Malcolm walked along the shores of loch. “What is that?” Malcolm raised his binoculars. “It’s Mairi. Start shouting, Callum. It might distract the serpent.”

“It’s going to eat Mairi! It’s a monster! I didn’t know there was a serpent in Loch Dool,” Callum said.

“We don’t.” Malcolm started shouting. Callum joined in.

The creature stopped and turned towards them. After Malcolm waved his arms around, the monster disappeared under the water. He saw Mairi fall into the boat. “I think she’s fainted.”

“What’s he doing?” Callum watched Drayton grab a handful of Mairi’s hair and toss her into the loch. “No!”

Malcolm took off his boots and coat and jumped into the water. He swam to Mairi.

“Be careful, Dad. The monster’s still there,” a frightened Callum shouted.

Drayton rowed into the darkness, disappearing before Malcolm got there. He pulled Mairi out of the water, wrapping his arm around her neck and swimming backwards. “Don’t worry, Mairi. I’ve got you.”

“The monster. It will get us.” She sobbed uncontrollably. “He tried to drown me, Malcolm.”

“I don’t know who that was, but when I find him, he’ll wish he hadn’t been born.” Malcolm swam to the shore. Callum stood, waiting anxiously.

Johnny and Fiona heard the screams, as did all the others. They rushed to the loch just in time to see Mairi being pulled out of the water. Johnny picked her up in his arms and held her close to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Mum! You’re okay. Was it Drayton?” Fiona touched her mum’s arm.

“It was Drayton. He tried to drown me.” Mairi gasped for breath.

“Will someone explain to me what I just saw? It looked like the Loch Ness monster. I don’t believe I just saw that,” Malcolm said. “Did anyone else see it besides Callum and myself?”

Nobody else had, but they all believed him. Not wanting to explain, Jimmy said, “It’s one of those mysteries that never gets solved. Let’s just be thankful you were able to save Mairi. We’ll worry about Drayton later.”

“You’re telling me not to worry about a monster that just appeared out of nowhere, living in Loch Doon, where my family and I frequent? Who is this Drayton and why was he trying to kill Mairi?” Malcolm was more confused than ever.

“Mairi wants to buy Castle Athdara and the man, Drayton, is trying to stop her,” Jesse lied, having no other choice. “Malcolm, we ask you to keep this to yourself. I know we owe you an explanation, but let’s just say for now that the monster isn’t real.”

“It’s not real? I don’t understand. This is all strange,” Malcolm said.

“We’ll explain it to you soon, I promise,” Jesse said.

“I’ll hold you to that.  It’s getting late and it’s cold. I’ll take Callum home. Will we see you in the morning for a hunt?”

“I think we’d better postpone that, Malcolm. Mairi’s been through a lot. Let’s wait a few days and see how she does.”

Malcolm reluctantly agreed, waved goodbye and disappeared with his son. Elspet and Jamie went home too.

“You know, this has been a very busy week. Mairi and Fiona have been through so much. I have a great idea. Tomorrow, since there’s no school and since we’re all needing a break, let’s go camping. Callum was telling me about camping and it sounds fun. We’ll invite him and Elspet too. What do you say?” Jack clapped his hands together and laughed.

Mairi coughed and whispered, “Jack, you must be mad, but I must be too. I want to go. That sounds wonderful. A day up in the hills, forgetting about all this stuff going on around us. We’ll leave in the morning.”

Johnny, surprised by her answer, smiled and said, “It’s a deal. I’ll take the ladies home. Jesse, why don’t you come with me? Jack, you and Jimmy go to Angus’s. If all goes as it usually does, we can expect another visitor tonight.”

“I’ll tell Angus. I’d like him to come with us too. It’s not fair that he always has to stay around because of the orb. Let’s take it with us and the books,” Jimmy said.

“Great idea. Now, go home and we’ll come by in the morning with Mairi’s car.” Johnny carried Mairi home. Fiona tagged along, happy her mother was all right.

No sooner had Jack closed the door behind him when Julian knocked. He opened it. “Edwi!”

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