Buntabi came through the time portal and into
the dark room. Before the light behind him disappeared, he was attacked by
an army of groaning banshees. They grabbed him by the arms and pulled him up
to the ceiling. “Who are you? What do you want with me?” He struggled to
Iriruloy, the bean-nighe who had terrorized
Fiona and the others at their campgrounds, swished through the air, bringing
her ghostly face inches from Buntabi. A loud moan of misery escaped her
lips. “You cannot leave. We have been commanded to keep you here.”
Buntabi saw several other ghostly forms hovering
nearby. “Enough of this. Put me down. I am leaving.” They lowered him to the
floor. He pushed his way past the bean-nighe and headed for the door.
Fofym, a redcap, stepped in front of Buntabi.
“Perhaps you didn’t hear the bean-nighe. You’re not going anywhere.” He held
a wooden scythe in front of his long, white beard.
Buntabi’s eyes went to the red cap perched on
Fofym’s head. “Interesting clothes you’re wearing.”
Fofym, who sensed Buntabi had no fear of him, replied, “You like it? It’s
made from the blood of my latest victim. I used it to soak up the mess after
I ripped her to pieces and devoured her heart. Do you want to be next?”
Anaxa, a sluagh, shouted down to Fofym. “We were
commanded to keep him here. Who put you in charge, you filthy redcap?”
Fofym looked at Anaxa, who perched on a wooden
board jutting from the wall near the ceiling. “Mind your own business,
sluagh, or you’re next.” He took off his cap and squeezed the blood out. It
dripped and ran across the floor toward Buntabi’s feet.
He stepped backwards to avoid the blood. “All
right. I see I’ve come into a hostile situation. I’m going to sit over there
and think about this.” He slid down to a sitting position with his back
against the wall. The angry banshees divided into three groups and stayed
away from each other.
A cloud of charcoal gray smoke appeared across
the room from Buntabi. Phelan took form. At first he didn’t see him. His
dark skin blended in with the stone. “What is causing the problem over here.
I could hear you arguing, disturbing my peace.”
“He came. The man you told us to watch out for,”
Fofym said. He pointed to the human.
“So, you’ve arrived. What is your name?” Phelan
floated over to him.
“My name is Buntabi and who might you be?”
“Who I am is no concern of yours. I’m looking
for the man, one of Kegan’s group, who knows how to read and translate
Xilian. Is that you?”
Buntabi had to think quick. “No. It isn’t me.
I’m simply here because I was told to come through the time portal when the
ruby was put in the orb. I did as asked. Where might I find someone named
Angus McAllister?” Thoughts rushed through his mind about the book written
in Xilian. He must not let the wizard know it was him who he sought.
“I’m not so sure if you are who you say you are.
You will stay here for a while. My friends will keep you company. I have
other things to take care of now. You all,” he said pointing to each group,
“can do what you want with him, except kill him. Now, Master Buntabi, make
yourself comfortable.” Phelan disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Eriya, one of the washerwomen, floated across
the room to Deyab. “I’m tired of this. I have my own work to do. I must go
to the stream and mourn for my lost child. Release me and the other bean-nighe.
Iriruloy, I demand our release from this prison of cold stone.”
“Oh, you do, do you? As much as I hate being
stuck in here with the likes of you and them,” Deyab said, pointing to the
sluaghs. “I can’t complain much about the castle. I like it. It’s cozy and I
feel at home. Now get back to your part of the room and don’t come near me
again.” Deyab raised his scythe. The bean-nighe went back to join the
“I say we stop fighting among ourselves and have
some fun with this human. “ Anaxa and two of the other sluaghs stood in
front of Buntabi.
Rofariir, leader of the group of ghouls, jumped
into Buntabi’s body. The others swished in and out, causing him great pain.
His screams echoed through the castle.
* * *
Drayton had to take the tunnel into the cave
below the castle. He started climbing the steps and heard the screams. “What
is that?” He stopped to listen. High-pitched screams of pain and agony
floated down from above. “Sounds like Phelan’s enjoying himself. I’m glad it
After a tiring half hour of climbing steps, he
stood in the main hall. The stained glass window shone its colors on the
floor by the light of the moon. “What’s all that screaming?” Drayton looked
to Phelan, surprised he wasn’t the cause of it.
“Let’s just say our latest arrival is being
introduced to my friends,” Phelan snarled. “What are you doing here?”
“The sixth jewel is in place in the orb. The
lights are getting stronger. My necklace lit up like it’s supposed to,”
Drayton said, holding it up for Phelan to see.
“I am not concerned about your necklace, at
least not right now. I’ll worry about it later. Since we’re detaining the
man, the others will shortly realize he’s been delayed and come searching
for him. You are to keep them from reaching the room.”
“The room where I discovered the time portal.
I’ve got bean-nighe, redcaps and sluaghs guarding it right now. You are to
keep those humans from interfering. I must find the man who knows how to
read and interpret Xilian. Is this too difficult a task for you? Do I need
to bring some more redcaps in to keep you company?”
Drayton didn’t know what a redcap was, but knew
he didn’t have any intention of finding out. “I’ll do it.”
“I’m glad you’re useful for something. I’ll be
glad when the day comes when I don’t need you,” Phelan said.
“What does that mean? What are your plans for me
once I no longer serve a purpose? I thought you and I were going to rule
together, with you as my wizard.” Drayton’s eyes blinked open and shut
Phelan, realizing he’d said too much, mumbled,
“That is the plan.” He disappeared before Drayton could ask anything else.