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Rolfin's Orb
Book 7 - Amber
Chapter 5

“We can’t go back to the city because that mist is there. I know it came for me,” Callum said. “I just had to touch the head. I wish I’d known about all these Maya rules.”

“We have to go back. How can we get the amber if we don’t? It’s not going to march out of the stone for us. There must be a trick of some sort, or a hidden opening,” Fiona said.

The four of them marched towards the city. “The fog is still there, Fiona. I fear the evil gods of Xibalba are coming to take Callum to the underworld,” Tlaloc said.

Fiona looked at Callum. “He says they’re coming to take you to the underworld.”

“Who is?” Callum grabbed Tlaloc’s arm. “Who is coming to get me? They’re really coming because I touched the sacred head?”

“Tell him he cannot escape. Xibalba is a demon from the underworld. The Popol Vuh has many stories about our past and demons. I fear they are bringing forth a high priest to perform the sacrifice and then take Callum’s condemned soul down to Metnail.”

“We’re in big trouble, Callum. We’ve got to get that stone and get out of here right now,” Fiona said. “I’m going to get it. Elspet, you come with me. Tlaloc, take Callum and hide on the beach. It’s that way, isn’t it?” Fiona pointed. Tlaloc nodded. “We’ll come and find you when we have the amber. We’ve got to keep Callum safe.” Tlaloc nodded again and took Callum’s hand. “Go with him and hurry.”

“How will I understand him? He speaks Maya and I speak English,” Callum said.

“You’ll work something out. Just go.” Fiona waved as the two boys ran off. “Stay away from the cenote.” She shouted after them.

“What about us? Will the evil demons try to get us?” Elspet wiped a tear from her eye.

“I don’t think so. We’ve not done anything, yet,” Fiona said. “Come on.”

They crept into the ruins, the mist swirling around their ankles. “Which way is it?” Elspet thought all the ruins looked the same.

“This way,” Fiona  took Elspet’s hands. Five minutes later they stood in front of the giant stone head. “Now what?”

“There must be a trick to it. Close your eyes and think,” Elspet said.

Fiona shut her eyes and concentrated. She pushed out all thoughts of danger and fear. She saw a shape form in her mind. It was the head and as the fogginess cleared from her view, she saw ears. Touch the ears. Touch the ears. Touch the ears. When she opened her eyes she wrapped her arms around the head. “What are you doing, Fiona? Why are you hugging it?” Elspet stood at the back of the head.

“If I grab both the ears at the same time and twist them, I’ll find the amber,” Fiona said. She pushed on the ears.

“But they're made of stone,” Elspet said.

“I know that. But this is what I have to do.” She twisted them again and they moved.

“Fiona, it’s working.”

When they were turned completely sideways, she stepped back. The two eyes glowed with a filmy lime green light and then a three-inch square opened up, sliding out of the mouth. On the end of it lay the piece of amber. Fiona grabbed it. “I’ve got it! Let’s get out of here before the demons come for us.” They turned to run.

A large form blocked their way. He wore a mask in the shape of a bird’s head, the beak painted with red, blues and white strips. Feathers stuck out of the top. A cotton skirt, like Tlaloc’s, hung from his waist and he wore multiple turquoise and gold bracelets around his ankles and wrists. A breastplate with stripes painted across, hung over his bronzed chest that bulged with his muscles. He spoke in Maya, “You will come with me. You stole our sacred stone.” The man reached out and grabbed Fiona’s and Elspet’s wrists, dragging them across the stones. When they reached the bottom of the pyramid, he stopped.

Fiona looked up. Black smoke erupted from the top of it. Flames burst forth. When the smoke disappeared a dark form stood there. He was a giant and had emerald teeth. The sun seemed to shine from him as he shouted, “Xecotcovach. Xquiq!”

Elspet struggled to free herself. “What is he saying? Is he going to kill us?”

The man, a high priest named Mulacca, looked down at her through his mask. “He is summoning the gods of Metnail.”

“She only speaks English and can’t understand you?” Fiona muttered in Maya.

“Enough talk. Come.” He pulled them up the steps toward the waiting demon. At the top, Xibalba ripped the piece of amber from Fiona’s hand. He held it high, out of her reach and laughed. Black smoke belched from his mouth. “He has come to take you to the underworld.” The high priest's eyes bulged with evil.

“What’s with all this underworld stuff. Oh no! He isn’t taking us anywhere. I challenge him,” Fiona said, thinking it up as she went. “I challenge the gods of the underworld to a contest.”

Mulacca, looked at the girl. His eyes showed surprise. He spoke to the two demons in ancient Maya. Fiona understood every word. “The girl has challenged you, mighty Xibalba to a contest.”

The demon laughed. “What could the girl do that would be any challenge for me?” Xibalba raised a curious eyebrow

“I can challenge you to several things. If I win every time, you have to agree, swear an oath, that you will let Elspet, Callum and me go. You must never come back from the underworld while we’re here, and we get to keep the piece of amber. Is it a deal?” Fiona found bravery with each word. Elspet heard her name and gave Fiona a quizzical look. “Don’t worry. I’m trying to get us out of this. Just stand there and be quiet and you’ll be all right.”

“A deal? Your words are very odd. So be it,” Xibalba said. “What is your first challenge?”

Fiona thought about her powers. “I can grow as high as the clouds.” She nodded and grew, stretching from the top of the pyramid to the bottoms of the rain clouds. “You must do the same.”

The demon laughed. In a towering pillar of black smoke, it reached into the sky, passing Fiona and mingling with the clouds. Fiona noticed that when it hit the clouds, its form disappeared and it became one with the cloud. “I can go higher,” Fiona said. She grew another hundred feet. The demon could go no higher. It lost its shape and had no choice but to stop. It shriveled up and went back to the pyramid.

Fiona shrunk back down and stood next to Elspet. “Way to go, Fiona. I guess you’re having a contest or something. You beat him.” She clapped her hands.

“That is only one challenge. You must win all of them,” Xibalba roared.

“I can and I will. I can make fire. I saw that you made fire, but my fire is stronger,” Fiona said. She lifted her hands and fire appeared around the pyramid. Yellow flames reached for them. Fiona felt the heat on her face.

“It’s hot, Fiona. I don’t want to burn up,” Elspet whined. “Is this another contest? How many are you going to do?”

“Elspet, just be quiet for a few minutes and let me get rid of these guys,” Fiona whispered.

“You think you can win? I am from Metnail. I can make fire far greater than yours.” The demon raised both his hands. White fire burst forth from every pyramid in the ancient city.

Fiona thought and then smiled. She commanded the clouds above them to send a light rain. While Xibalba chanted to the demons of fire, Fiona doused his flames with water.

Hw moved next to Fiona, pushing the high priest out of the way. “So you win again. I will challenge you this time. What is it you desire to prove? Why let you choose? You chose two. Now I will choose two things. It is only fair.”

The sulfuric smell of his smoky body nauseated Fiona.  “As you wish. What is your choice?”

Xibalba said in a low voice, “I will call forth the jaguar, the snakes, and the iguana.” He raised his arms and chanted. Roars of the jaguars filled the air. The slithering of snakes as they rushed through the trees, grasses and bushes, was muffled by the stomping of tiny iguana feet. All around the bottom of the pyramid they came. Snakes of every size, shape and color stood on end and danced to the demon’s chants. The iguana’s tongues darted from their mouths, lapping the air and hissing. The black shapes of dozens of jaguars poured into the ruins. They stood around the bottom, snarling and groaning. “There. I have called the animals. What can you do better?”

“Not the jaguars again,” Elspet cried.

Fiona laughed. “Is this the best you can do?” She sent out a message to every parrot, every macaw, flamingo, quail, ibis, stork, hummingbird and great curassow. They flew into the ruins in a rainbow of color. They dove at the iguana, taking bites from their scaly flesh. The larger birds picked up the snakes by their tails and swung them around, swirling through the air and letting go. They crashed into the trees, fell into the rivers and splattered on the rocks. The small birds nipped at the jaguars, poking their beaks into their bodies. Every animal darted away, leaving the birds as victorious. Their chattering and squawking deafened the demons. When Fiona was sure Xibalba and Mulacca realized she had won once again, she sent the birds away with a thank you.

Before he had another chance to select, Fiona commanded the clouds to burst forth with lightning and thunder and treacherous rains and hail. She and Elspet took cover under a slab of stone. The demons watched in shock and surprise as the rains lightened up and disappeared. 

“You are very powerful, girl,” Xibalba said.

“My name isn’t girl, it’s Fiona and don’t forget it,” she said. “Now, unless you want me to call them back, I suggest you give me the amber and let us leave.”

He dropped the piece of amber on the sacrificial slab of stone and the demon looked at Mulacca. He disappeared into the pyramid and went back to Metnail.

 “Coward!” Elspet smiled, glad to be rid of them. She was surprised when the high priest grabbed her and threw her down on the slab.

 He pulled a knife out of a slot in the stones.

“Stop it! Help me, Fiona!”

“Mulacca, or High priest, or whatever your name is,  I have no idea what your name is, but your god has left you here to deal with my fury. He is a coward and ran away. Let go of my friend now, or else I will have your eyes pecked out and your body crushed to powder. What will it be? What is your choice?” Fiona stood defiant as the high priest held the obsidian knife above Elspet’s head.

A flock of parrots flew from the trees to the top of the pyramid and perched on the wall above Mulacca’s head. He dropped the knife in defeat. It clanked against the stone. Fiona picked it up and gave it to one of the parrots. It held the sharp stone knife in its beak and flew away, dropping it into the nearest cenote. Without saying a word, Mulacca ran down the steps of the pyramid. As he reached the bottom and was about to step onto the ground, it opened up. Flames shot high into the air, engulfing the high priest. Fingers of black smoke reached up and grabbed his arms and legs, pulling him down into the fiery pit.  It closed up after it consumed him, leaving on the scent of charred flesh in the air. “Well, that’s the end of him. I think the demon gods just took him to Metnail,” Elspet said.

“Let’s get out of this place. I’ve had it here. We’ve got the amber. We’ve fallen into cenotes, been stalked by black panthers, almost had our hearts cut out, and battled with ancient Maya demons from the underworld. That’s enough for me. Remind me when we get home to talk to whichever man shows us at Angus’s house. I have a few things to say to him.” Fiona took Elspet’s hand and they slowly went down the steps of the pyramid. When they got to the bottom, they stood on the ground softly, ready to pounce back if the ground opened to swallow them. Nothing happened.

They reached the trees and stopped for one last look. “I won’t forget this day any time soon,” Elspet said.

“Me neither. I can’t wait until we study Meso-America in school. We’ll get the best grade for sure. Let’s find Callum. I’m sure he’s getting frustrated trying to communicate with Tlaloc and he’s probably still terrified that he’s going to be sacrificed.” Fiona laughed and the two of them headed for the beach.

Elspet cautioned, “Let’s be sure where we step. I don’t want to fall into another one of those water pits.”

“They’re called cenotes. Try not to forget. I don’t want to be eaten by a panther or squeezed to death by a giant python,” Fiona said.

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