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Rolfin's Orb
Book 7 - Amber
Chapter 10

Drayton lay on his bed, staying in his room all day. His mind reeled with memories of the last two weeks. He re-lived the pain, the fear, the anger and rejection. When he could bear no more, he let his thoughts return to the joy he felt bullying the people of Inveralba around. He saw seven stones lit up on his necklace. He pulled it from around his neck and laid it on top of his drawers, next to the book. Several times his mother knocked, but he ignored her. “Leave me alone, old woman.” He’d shout at her and listen as she tiptoed away.

                                    *  *  *

“Do you think there’s any hope?” Mairi snuck up on Julian, who was examining the roots of a yew tree.

He jumped. “Mairi, you frightened me. Don’t sneak up on me light that again.”

Mairi wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. What have you found?”

            “The roots are all strong. These yews are very old, yet healthy. They just need some trimming. I went to the maze. It just needs a good watering. There’s ivy growing all over it.” He smiled at Mairi. “Not like last night. It’s strung from one hedge to the other, making a canopy of sorts. I can pull it down. As for the rest of it, I’ve not had time to check anything out besides this.”

            “Since you’re done with the yews, will you come with me to check on Jeffrey. It seems that Johnny and Jared are missing.” She told him what happened as they walked to the stone wall. “Jeffrey, there you are. What do you think of the wall?”

            “It needs some work, Mairi. I might have to replace the mortar holding the stones together, at least in some spots. There are parts where it’s still strong, but right here, it could tumble any time.” Jeffrey wiped his brow.

            “Are you ready to take a break? I’d like you two to come with me into the cave under the castle and help me,” Mairi said.

            “What’s the problem?” Jeffrey walked with them toward the castle.

            “Johnny and Jared were going to check out some of the tunnels. I ran back home to get cleaning supplies and a broom. When I got back, I couldn’t find them,” Mairi said.

            “Did you check all the tunnels?” Jeffrey asked.

“Not all of them. I’m pretty sure they didn’t go down the tunnel with all the tarantulas. I walked down the one that leads to the shore near the loch. There was no sign of them there,” Mairi said. “That leaves four more tunnels and quite frankly, I am too afraid to go back in there alone. I hope nothing’s happened to them.” She bit her lip with concern.

            “I’m sure they’re fine. We’ll come with you. Jack, get down from that tree. We’re going to help Mairi find Johnny and Jared,” Julian called up.

            Jack climbed down, slowly, branch by branch. “I’m not finished yet.” He smiled. “Now, what’s going on?”

            “Johnny and Jared are missing. If we go down together, we can each take a tunnel and find them quicker.” Julian took Mairi’s hand. “Don’t worry. I’m sure they’re fine.”

            The five of them went into the castle and down the steps, passing the stack of cleaning supplies. When they entered the cave, they saw the tunnels. “We know they aren’t in that one,” Jack said, pointing at the web and wriggling spiders blocking the entrance.

            “I went down this one. They’re not there either,” Mairi said.

            “I can’t imagine them plodding through the river into the loch. Let’s assume they’ve gone into one of these other three tunnels,” Jack said.

            “There are five of us. I’ll take this one,” Jesse said. Mairi lit one of the torches for him and he walked into one of the tunnels.

            “I’ll take Jeffrey and we’ll check this one,” Julian said. “Light us up.” Mairi lit two more torches.

            “I guess that leaves this one for us,” Jack said. “Come on, Mairi. You’ve got the flashlight.”

            Mairi shone the light on the ground. “Footprints, made by shoes. This is the tunnel.” They saw the flickering lights up ahead. “What is all that light?” When they reached the cave of lights, Mairi saw the two torches lying in the sand.

            Jack picked them up and sniffed them. “They’re still warm and smell of the lighting fluid you used. They went into that cave.”

            Mairi didn’t enter, but stood watching the colorful lights dashing back and forth across the cave. “They’ve disappeared. They went into that cave. I wonder where it took them? Is this another time portal?”

            Jack took her hand. “I don’t know. It might be. All we can do is go back to Angus’s and wait. I know that’s where they’ll go when they return from wherever they are now.”

            “You’re right. Let’s get the others and get out of here. Fiona, Callum and Elspet will be along shortly.” Mairi turned and headed back to the main cave with Jack. Julian and Jeffrey came out of their tunnel. “Did you find anything?”

            “Aside from a lot of bats, no. They didn’t go this way,” Julian said.

            Jesse came out of his tunnel. “Nothing in there but stone walls and a dead end.”

            “They went down our tunnel into some sort of time warp cave; at least I think that’s what it is. Jack thinks we should go back to Angus’s and wait for their return,” Mairi said. “Unless we want to go into the cave and try to find them.”

            “No! Absolutely not! Having all of us scattered about time won’t do anyone any good. Besides that, we’re not sure that’s what the room is, are we? It could do anything. We’d better get back to Angus’s and wait,” Jack said.

            Following his lead, they headed for the croft. Mairi left her broom and cleaning things behind.

                                    *  *  *

“Jason, you’ve had your head in that book all day. Have you read anything helpful?” Angus looked over his shoulder at the book.

“It just so happens that I have. I’d like to read for a little while longer. Where’s Jimmy?” Jason didn’t see him in the croft.

“He didn’t know what to do with himself, so I put him to work. I’ve been meaning to build Fiona a dollhouse for the last few years. I know she’s older now, but every girl wants a doll house, no matter what age she is,” Angus said.

“I’ll be outside then and leave you in peace. I’m teaching Jimmy how to use my power tools,” Angus said.

“Power tools? What are those? Never mind. I won’t ask,” Jason said, returning to his book.

Angus shut the door and went outside. Jimmy was sawing the wood. “I’m glad you didn’t let Jack take both your saws,” Jimmy said. “I’ve always been good with wood. I’ve cut all the pieces. Now what?”

“Now we hammer and nail them together.”

“I watched Malcolm build a shelf for Anne, so I know what a hammer and nails are. I wish we had them back in the days of King Kegan. Ah, life would have been much easier,” Jimmy said.

“When we’re done putting it together, we can paint it. Have you ever seen paint?”

“Just the whitewash you used after your small fire last week,” Jimmy said. “Does it come in colors?”

“Any color of the rainbow and more,” Angus said, smiling. “Let’s get this finished. Fiona will be here in another hour or two.”

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