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Rolfin's Orb
Book 6 - Ruby
Chapter 7

Jack and Julian looked up at Angus’s clock on the wall at the same time. “Shouldn’t Buntabi be here by now? It’s been two hours since the ruby was put in the orb,” Jack said.

“Perhaps one of us should go to Callum’s house and find the others and let them know. We should begin a search immediately,” Julian said. He stood up and headed for the door.

“I’ll go, Julian. I know where the McAllister’s live. Whatever you do, don’t leave this croft. Guard the orb and books. Help yourself to some of Angus’s stew.” Jack smiled, shut the door behind him and ran through the woods to the McAllister’s.

                                    *  *  *

After taking Elspet home, Johnny walked down the road to the McAllister’s. The house was lit up and the dogs, Devlyn and Creanth were outside running around. “Down boys,” Johnny said, pushing their huge paws off his chest. He knocked on the door.

Anne opened it. “Johnny, we’re so glad you came. Come on in. We’ve got a large crowd tonight, but there’s plenty of food for you all.” She ushered him inside, stopping the dogs with her leg.

The living room was packed with bodies. Malcolm sat on the settee talking to Jimmy and Jesse. Jeffrey had wee Shona on his knee playing horse with her. Callum and Fiona sat talking to Uncle Angus. Johnny sat by Malcolm and listened to him talk of the upcoming deer-hunting season.

Anne joined Mairi in the kitchen. They prepared a shepherd’s pie, a pot of stovies, finnan haddie, boiled tatties and neeps, peas, and a trifle for after-tea sweet. They all fit around the table after Anne put in the three leaves to make it longer and gathered all the chairs in the house. They ate, enjoying each other’s company once again. Just after the last bite of trifle had been eaten and the bowl whisked to the sink to be washed, the doorbell rang.

Johnny heard Creanth and Devlyn barking. Since he was closest, he opened the door. “Jack? Is something wrong?” He stepped outside to talk with his friend.

“It’s been over two hours and there’s no sign of Buntabi. Julian and I are concerned for his safety. What if Drayton or Phelan got to him?” Jack fidgeted with agitation.

“Stay here,” Johnny said. He went inside. “I’m sorry, Anne, Malcolm, but there’s a bit of trouble back at Angus’s cottage. I think we should all leave. Thanks for the meal.”

“Och, we’ve no had tea and biscuits yet,” Anne said.

“We’ll come back another night and bring Jack, Julian and Jason with us, we’ll have a grand cup of tea. Mairi, you, Fiona and Angus need to come too.”

With quizzical looks on their faces, Anne and Malcolm bid them farewell. The door shut behind them, Mairi asked, “What’s wrong?” She saw Jack standing off beside a tree. “Jack? Is Julian all right?”

Jack joined them. “Something’s not right. It’s Jason. He’s not shown up yet.”

“Mairi, you take Fiona and go back to Angus’s croft and stay with Julian. You’ll be safe there. I’ll take Jesse, Jack, Jimmy and Jeffrey with me,” Johnny said.

“What about me? I’m going with you,” Angus said.

“Of course, Angus. Forgive me. We’ll go to the castle and see if Jason’s all right. Hurry, Mairi. Don’t dally.” Johnny and the men ran off.

Mairi and Fiona rushed to Angus’s cottage. They knocked on the door. “Who’s there?” Julian’s voice called through the wood.

“It’s us, Julian. Let us in,” Fiona said. Julian opened the door and they went inside. “Johnny took the others and went to the castle. He told us to stay here with you.”

“Then you’ll do just that,” Julian said. “I was about to feed the cats. I’ve never seen so many in one place. Will you help me, Fiona?”

Mairi sat down on the settee while Fiona and Julian went outside. They poured dry cat food into the dishes. Tumbles came scurrying up to Fiona. I’ve not seen you for a while. I like it here. Thanks for bringing me.

I’m glad you like it. You’ve got lots of friends. Here’s your supper.  Fiona made sure Tumbles got enough for herself. Sometimes the bigger, older cats pushed the little ones out of the way when it was feeding time.

They went back inside. Mairi called Fiona over to her. “It might be a long night. Why don’t we curl up on the bed and get some sleep. Julian, you can lay on the settee. It’s quite comfortable.”

“I know, Mairi. I’ve been sleeping on it since I arrived.” Julian smiled and winked. He turned off the lights and made sure the fire had enough fuel. Soon Mairi and he were sleeping.

Fiona lay awake. I can’t just lie here in a warm bed while there’s danger. I’m the only one with magical powers. There’s nothing they can do to stop Drayton, but I can.  She crept off the bed, stuck a flashlight in her pocket, and snuck out the back door.

Something ran by her feet. Where are you going, Fiona?

She looked down to see Tumbles. I’m going to the castle to help Uncle Angus and the others.

Can I come with you? I won’t get in the way.

No. You stay here with the other cats. It’s dangerous there. Go on. I’m in a hurry.

The kitten curled up in a ball by the back door and fell asleep. Without paying any more attention to the kitten, Fiona ran through the woods to the castle. She knew there was no boat, so she had to find the tunnel as she knew the others had. The castle was dark. She pulled out the flashlight and aimed it in front of her as she ran. The tunnel was dark and scary. She remembered the spiders and ran faster.

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