Mairi woke up and for a few moments was
confused, forgetting where she was. She saw Fiona curled up on Johnny’s lap.
“Fiona, you need to wake up. You’ve got to go to school.” She shook her
Johnny opened his eyes first. “Has anyone ever
told you how beautiful you look in the morning?”
Mairi blushed. Fiona stirred and opened her
eyes. “Mum?” She sat up. “Johnny?” She rubbed her eyes and looked around the
croft. “We spent the night here. I remember now.”
“You’ve got to get ready for school. You can’t
miss another day,” Mairi said. pulling her off Johnny. “If we leave now
we’ll have enough time to get home and have breakfast. I’ve got to go into
work today, at least for a while, or Mac will fire me.”
“I’m coming with you,” Johnny said. “No
arguments. Besides that, I want a nice hot breakfast. These guys can fend
Fiona, seeing it was futile to argue, opened the
front door. Mairi wrote a note and left it on the table so the others would
see it when they got back and then she and Johnny left.
* * *
Elspet and Callum were waiting under an oak tree
in Bruce’s Meadow. “Fiona! We thought you might come to school today. We
waited just in case,” Elspet said, delighted to see her friend.
“Wait until I tell you about last night,” Fiona
said. They were all ears listening to Fiona tell them of the rescue. “They
were the same creepy things that came to our tents while we were camping.”
“Banshees?” Callum frowned.
“I don’t know if they were banshees or not, but
Uncle Angus called them that. I forget what Johnny told me they were,” Fiona
“I suppose that means we need to go to your
uncle’s after school and go to the next place. My mum’s really starting to
complain about me never being home,” Elspet said.
“It just seems like we’re never home, but really
we’re only gone a few minutes each time. Now we’ve got banshees and Phelan
and Drayton are trying to stop the others from coming through the time
portal. Jason is the one who knows how to read Xilian, so today they’re
going to study the book while we’re at school. Maybe they’ll figure
something out,” Fiona said. They ran off to begin their day at school.
* * *
After dropping Mairi off at the bakery, Johnny
went to Angus’s. Everyone was up, picking at dried out bread and cakes.
Buntabi stood in front of the mirror looking at his swollen jaw. “Buntabi,
as of this moment that ugly mug of yours will go by the name of Jason.”
“Yes, Jason. We’ve all got our names for this
modern world and that’s yours.”
“So that’s why Mairi called me that. All right,
if you say so. I’ve got quite a shiner there, don’t I?”
“When you’re done admiring yourself, why don’t a
couple of us go to the bakery and get something hot and fresh. Mairi’s there
and she’ll give us her best,” Johnny suggested. “Julian, I need you to come
with me for a few hours. I need your expertise.”
“Oh? What sort of expertise?” Julian stood up
“Mairi’s garden is a mess. She’s been so busy
with all of our problems that she’s neglected her flowers and vegetable
garden. I thought if you could spend some time in the garden, I’ll go to the
bee hives and gather the honey.”
“Why don’t I go and do that,” Jimmy said. “Fiona
showed me the hives last week and how to do it.”
“Great. You and Julian go. Jeffrey, why don’t
you take Jack and go to McKenzie’s Bakery and pick up something fresh. I’ll
stay here with Jesse, Angus and Jason. We’ll start studying the book. Does
that sound all right?”
The others nodded. Jimmy and Julian left,
followed shortly by Jeffrey and Jack. Angus took the book out of the closet
and put it on the table. Jesse, Johnny and Jason gathered around, each
pulling a chair over to sit.
“We’ve got an hour or two of peace before
Jeffrey and Jack get back. What can you tell us?” Johnny opened the book.
The writing was impossible to read. The lines were wavy and curved,
stretching from one end of the page to the other. “I can’t understand any of
“I took five years worth of training from
Zerahemna to learn Xilian. I used to get very frustrated with it,” Jason
said. He reached to turn a page and noticed the huge bruise on the top of
his hand. “Phelan and his banshees made quite a mess of my body, and yours
too, by the looks of you all.”
Each man was covered with purple and black
bruises. Johnny had the least amount of discoloration. “We won’t be doing
any dancing for a while,” Jesse said.
Jason studied the book. “Well, what does it
say?” Johnny asked impatiently.
“Patience my man. The page I just read is merely
an introduction to the land of Xilia. There’s nothing new, nothing we didn’t
already know,” Jason said. “Instead of standing over my shoulder and
bothering me, why don’t you three go and do something productive. I’ll read
this and then give you a report when I’m done.”
“He’s trying to get rid of us,” Angus said. He
picked up a wooden spoon off the table and walked over to the fire. “I’ve
not cooked a pot of stew in a week. My life has certainly not been my own
since I opened that book.”
“Go with the flow,” Johnny said.
“Where did you learn to talk like that?” Jason
raised his eyes from the book. “You sound daft.”
“It’s amazing the lines I’ve picked up in the
short time I’ve been in the 21st century. Don’t worry, Jason.
You’ll soon be doing it too,” Johnny said. “Come on, Jesse. Let’s go and
chop some firewood. Angus can cook up a pot of something and Jason can
study.” The two men went outside carrying axes.
When they came back in, Angus showed them where to drop the wood. “I
normally use peat to cook. Would you mind going out and getting some.”
Jesse carried an armful of peat clods in and put them down next to the wood.
“What are you cooking now?”
“I’m short of everything, but I did manage to scrape up some carrots and
turnips. I’ll boil them for an hour. When Jack and Jeffrey get back, I’ll
send them into town to get me some other secret ingredients,” Angus said.
Jason sat straight in his chair. “The page I just finished has a lot of
information about the time portal.”
Johnny and Jesse sat down next to him. “What sort of information?” Johnny
“It seems that we can reverse the portal and travel back in time. Zerahemna
used a spell to make it open. By using another spell, we can reverse it,”
“That might come in handy in the future,” Jesse said.
“There’s also a page that tell us how to get rid of Phelan. It seems that
our evil wizard was banished from Xilia for practicing dark wizardry, among
other reasons. It says here than once a wizard is banished, he is never to
use the skills he learned in Xilia. I’m afraid after last night I have no
choice but to believe he is not only practicing wizardry, but dark wizardry
“What can we do about it?” Jesse leaned over to look at the book.
“We can report him to the Chief Wizard of Xilia and they will send a party
to take Phelan back to Xilia. There he will be put on trial and sentenced if
it can be proven he did indeed practice. I think we’re all enough proof.
We’d have to testify,” Jason said.
“You mean we’d have to go to Xilia? All of us?” Angus dropped his spoon in
“Yes. The problem is going to be how to alert the Chief Wizard. It might
tell me on another page.” Jason looked down at the book.
Johnny thought for a moment. “The Chief Wizard in our day was Samothi.
Zerahemna talked of him with the highest respect. I’m not sure who is the
Chief Wizard in this time though.” Johnny smiled and slapped Jason across
the back. He winced with pain. “Sorry, Jason. I was just feeling happy
thinking of being rid of Phelan once and for all.”
Jason rubbed his temples. “He hasn’t been captured since our days. I don’t
think it’s going to be easy.”
“That’s why he wants this book so bad. He knows we’ve got him,” Johnny said.
“You keep reading, Jason. I’ll leave Angus here with you. Jesse and I will
head over to Mairi’s and see if we can help Jimmy and Julian. Jack and
Jeffrey will be back shortly with food.”
* * *
Drayton crawled back to his hotel and collapsed
on the bed. “I don’t care where they go,” he said, rolling on his back. “I’m
outta here in after I get some sleep. I’ve had enough of Phelan, the jewels,
monsters and banshees.” He closed his eyes and fell asleep.