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Rolfin's Orb
Book 8 - Opal
Chapter 4

They headed up the trail, stopping when they were out of danger. Fiona melted the rest of the avalanche. They watched as the snow turned to slush, then water, which poured down the mountain, carrying boulders and everything in its path with it. “Whew, at least it didn’t wash any houses away. The river will be full for a while, but nobody should suffer from that.” Elspet wiped her brow.

“There’s the monastery again. Kandarash is going to be angry when we show up again. Whatever it is he expected us to do, we haven’t done.” Fiona guarded her eyes from the bright afternoon sun.

“We did one thing. We survived the avalanche. That was one of our traps and now there’s only one left. I wonder what it will be?” Elspet stopped speaking when she heard the sound of footsteps behind her. She turned and looked down the trail. “It’s Abbik.”

Callum waved at the boy. “Hurry, Abbik.”

Abbik caught up with them a few minutes later. His coat, boots, and hair were soaking wet. “I am out of breath. Forgive me while I rest.” He sat on the ground and fought to control his breathing. “Much better. I was sleeping in the meadow and a strange noise woke me up. It sounded like thunder under the ground. When I looked over to wake you up, I saw you were gone. I ran as fast as I could and was just in time to see the avalanche of snow roar down the mountain. You weren’t hurt. I am glad.”

“We’re happy you are not hurt, Abbik,” Fiona said.

“That is not all. While I was climbing the path a wall of water rushed toward me. I thought I was going to die. Just then a giant appeared out of nowhere, carrying boulders. It dropped them in the path of the water and changed its course, saving me from sure death. Now, I ask you, where did a giant come from? Where did the snow from the avalanche go and where did all that water come from? I am very confused, my friends.”

Elspet glanced at Fiona and Callum. She cleared her throat and lied, “Abbik, we never saw a giant. The sun must have melted the snow and turned it into water. Strange things happen sometimes.” 

Abbik made eye contact with each of them. Embarrassed, they turned their heads. “There is a saying that Kandarash once taught me. ‘Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth!’ What do you think of that quote?”

“All right, Abbik. We’ll tell you the truth. You’ll want to sit down though. It’s a lot to handle,” Fiona said.

“I am honored you have chosen to confide in me. Perhaps I can be of assistance to you.” He listened as Fiona explained the events of the past days up until his arrival. “I see. There is still one more trap, as you call it, that you must conquer before you can go to the monastery. I will help you.” Abbik grinned. “Follow me. It will be dark soon and we must take shelter.” He led them to a hollow behind a pile of rounded, smooth boulders.

“First, I am going to dry us all off. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of wearing soaking wet clothes.” Fiona lit a fire and then, controlling the weather, sent a wave of wind through the fire. Heat tumbled toward them and after a few minutes, their clothing was bone dry.

Abbik stared at Fiona. “I see you have many talents that I am unaware of. Thank you. I feel warm once again.”

As they watched the sun lower in the sky, it cast a blanket of reddish orange across the valley, creeping up the mountainside, along with twilight. “I wish I’d brought my sketch pad and pencils,” Elspet said.

Callum saw it first. “Look at that!”

“That’s odd. It looks like a house made of ice. What a strange place to see something like that,” Fiona said. “Abbik, what in the world is it?”

“It looks like a house to me. I’ve never seen it before. It doesn’t belong to the monastery and I know of no people who live this high up.”

Four walls, formed by square slabs larger than any house any of them had ever seen, stood with its back against the mountain. The roof was meant to be flat, but most of it was grossly misshapen. Some of it hung over on a slant, while other parts jutted upwards. “Should we go inside and check it out?” Callum took a few steps closer. “I wonder if anyone or anything lives in it.” They marched down the trail towards it.

Grunting noises came from behind the ice walls. “Did anyone besides me hear that?” Elspet ran and hid behind a rock.

“I heard it. It reminds me of the noises I heard in the trolls cave in Iceland.” Callum hid with Elspet. “I think I’ll stay here. There’s nothing inside that house that I care about.”

“We’ve got to go inside.” Fiona pulled Callum out from behind the rock. “If we don’t, then we can’t get the jewel.”

“Are you saying that you think this is our third trap? I believe it and I’m not going in there.” Callum broke away and ran back to Elspet’s hiding place.

“You big baby, Callum. Think of all the things we’ve been through together. What could possibly be in there that is worse?” Fiona turned to Abbik. “Well?”

“It is possible and quite probable that it is home to the yeti.” He took a few steps backwards.

“The yeti? What is the yeti? Who is the yeti and where do you think you’re going?” Fiona folded her arms across her chest. “Come on, Callum, Elspet, Abbik. Why don’t you tell us what the yeti is.”

Abbik looked down at the ground. “I am fearful. The yeti is a snow creature. He is very large, like a giant, and he has huge paws with sharp claws on the end. The yeti eats goats and yaks and rumor has it that he eats people too.”

“I see. What’s so scary about that?” Fiona marched over to her hidden friends. “Elspet? Callum? We’ve battled worse. Think of Phelan. Don’t lose your courage now. We’re in this together. We have to do things as a team or he will win. 

“She’s right, Callum. Come on.” Elspet stood next to Fiona. “I’ll go with you.”

Callum, hesitant and fearful, moved towards them. “I’ll come with you too, even if I die.”

“Good,” said Fiona. “Abbik?”

“If you three can show courage, I can too.”

They went inside the opening in the front. “It’s a big room. It’s not really a house. There are no windows or doors. It’s probably been here forever and just looks like a house.” Fiona stood inside. It felt strangely warm and smelled of rotting flesh.

“Fiona.” Elspet’s face turned white with fear and shock.

“What is it, Elspet?”

“Look over there. Isn’t that Johnny and Jared?” Elspet gulped as she pointed.

“Johnny? Jared? What are they doing here? How did they get here?” Fiona gasped when she saw they were tied by their feet and hanging from the ceiling by rope. “I’m confused. They aren’t supposed to be here.”

“Well they are. Now we have to save them?” Callum threw his arms up in the air. “What next?”

“I’ll tell you what next. Look over there at the back of the room,” Elspet said.

A pile of dead yak, frozen and skinned, were neatly stacked, almost reaching to the ceiling. Their hides lay off to the side. On top of the pile lay a snow monster. Abbik said, “It’s the yeti. See his teeth. They are as long as my leg and as sharp as an icicle.”

Callum shook his head. “It’s another troll. It might be called the yeti, but in my eyes, it’s still a troll. I don’t suppose there are any puffins flying about?”

Elspet touched his shoulder in sympathy. “No puffins here. I don’t think there are any animals around here, except dead yak.”

A black pot, large enough to hold six grown men and two yaks, sat in the middle of the ice house. Flaming wood burned underneath, and the contents bubbled over the side of the pot. When the liquid hit the flames it gushed plumes of smoke. “I think we’d better save Johnny and Jared first, or when the yeti wakes up, he’ll be dipping them into that pot.” Fiona crept towards the dangling men.

 “Why don’t you use some of your powers to free them?  You could talk to the yeti. It is an animal, isn’t it?” Elspet studied the sleeping beast. “Maybe it’s not. Whatever it is, it’s ugly and stinky.”

“The yeti is asleep and snoring, so even it is considered an animal, I can’t talk to it. If I make the fire bigger, there will be more smoke and Johnny and Jared will die of smoke inhalation. I can’t grow bigger inside here and what good will it do to grow smaller. The weather doesn’t affect the inside of the house much, or does it? What if I made it seem like spring? Maybe the yeti would go outside and search for more animals to eat. What if I made it seem like dead winter? Does the yeti hibernate? No. It won’t do much good to read anyone’s mind, or search for more gems. I’m afraid we’ll have to rescue Johnny and Jared the old fashioned way, by our brains and brawn. 

Callum laughed. “We don’t have brawn, but we do have brains. How do we catch  the yeti and rescue our friends? It’s obvious that the yeti likes to eat yak and uses their fur. I’ve got an idea. Why doesn’t Abbik go back to the monastery and sneak the skinned yak fur and bring it here. We can dress up like a yak and lure the yeti outside.”

“I cannot do that. That would break the rules if I took something without permission.” Abbik was horrified at the suggestion.

“We’ll take it back when we’re done with it,” Elspet said, liking the idea of Callum’s plan.

“What will we do with the yeti once we get him outside?” Abbik tried to understand the plan.

“We’ll think that up while you’re gone. Hurry. Bring it back. Be careful so nobody sees you.” Callum walked with the boy to the door. “Run.”

After Abbik left, Fiona left Callum and Elspet near the door and snuck closer to Johnny. “They are going to freeze to death.” She saw a yak head and legs sticking out of the pot. “Now I know what’s bubbling away, yak stew. That is so disgusting.” Moving closer, she stood right under Johnny and Jared. “Their cheeks are pink. At least they’re not frozen. As long as the fire is going, it is keeping them warm. Using her power, Fiona kept an eternal flame under the pot.

Johnny’s eyes opened amid a haze of dizziness and nausea. After blinking several times to clear his head, he saw Fiona standing below him. Without saying a word, he glanced around the room, struggling to remember what had happened. When The yeti’s snores invaded his thoughts, his memory returned.

Fiona looked up and whispered. “Johnny.”

He put his finger to his lips, urging her to keep quiet and slid his hand up his pant leg, reaching for his knife, carefully wedged inside his boot. Nudging Jared awake, Johnny waited until his sleeping friend opened his eyes. At first he pointed upwards and then pulled his body in an angle where he could slice the rope wrapped around Jared’s feet. He watched as Jared fell to the ground, landing with a thud on the icy floor.

Fiona pulled him closer to the fire, hugging the confused man.

Johnny cut the ropes tied around his own ankles and dropped to the floor.  Much to his relief, the yeti stayed asleep.

Fiona threw her arms around his neck, drawing him near. Without a word spoke, they turned to leave. After only a few steps they heard the feared grumble. Fiona pushed Johnny and Jared ahead and turned in time to see the yeti stand. It rubbed its eyes and wiped slobber from its mouth. Fiona gagged in disgust. “Run!” She shouted to the others, both weak and struggling to walk. Without a moment’s hesitation the three of them dashed for the crude doorway. Fiona heard the slapping of the yeti’s feet against the ice. “I know it’s hard for you, but we’ve got to hurry!” Fiona pulled the two men along with her. Once outside, they headed for a pile of boulders and hid.

The yeti roared in fury as it searched the trail for its missing meal.

“We’ve got to do something, Fiona. It won’t take long for it to find us. Neither Jared, or I, have the strength to fight it,” Johnny said.

Fiona reached over and patted his cheeks. “What are you doing here, Johnny? How did you and Jared end up hanging in the yeti’s ice house? Why aren’t you back in Inveralba with Mum?”

“That’s a good question. We were down in one of the tunnels under Castle Athdara. Your mum asked us to do some exploring. We saw these colorful flashing lights and the moment we stepped into them, we disappeared. When I opened my eyes I was hanging upside down and that creature was skinning yaks. Where are we?” Johnny rubbed a handful of snow on his face, trying to make himself more alert.

“We’re in Nepal, in the Himalayas. Have you ever heard of Nepal before?”

“No, I can’t say that I have, except that it was one of the places on your list.”

“It’s in Asia, next to Tibet and India. The tallest mountains in the world are here. Haven’t you ever heard of Mt. Everest?” Fiona picked up a handful of snow and rubbed in on Jared’s face. He was having difficulty coming out of unconsciousness. “Jared, wake up.”

Jared shook his head a few times. “Sorry. All that blood rushing to my head is playing havoc with my sense of direction and I’m having trouble focusing.”

“There’s a yeti out there and it’s looking for us. I wonder where Elspet and Callum are. They must be around here somewhere.” Fiona put her hand on Jared’s shoulder. “You two stay here. Keep low. I’m going to look for them.”

“Is that safe, Fiona? Your mum will kill me if I let anything happen to you,” Johnny said.

“Don’t worry. I’ve got a plan.” Fiona moved off, keeping her eye on the yeti while she searched for her friends.

Callum and Elspet watched in horror as the yeti tromped down the path. Its dirty white fur clung to its face and the smell of putridness permeated the air, making Elspet feel sick to her stomach. “I see it, Callum. It ran down the trail and stopped. It’s sniffing the air. I don’t know how it can smell anything besides its own stench.”

“Get down, Elspet. If it sees you, we’re dead. I wonder how long it will take before it goes back inside. I’m worried about Fiona. When she ran outside with Johnny and Jared, I thought the yeti was going to catch them. Where are they?” Callum crawled on his hands and knees over the ice, searching behind a mound of snow for his friends.

Elspet peeked over the snow bank and saw the yeti. “Oh no. It’s coming this way.” She shook with terror.

Fiona lay on top of a boulder, watching the yeti. She saw Callum crawling around. Suddenly the yeti turned and ran towards him. “It’s going to find him. Wherever he is, Elspet must be nearby. I’ve got to save them.” She shot up into the air, growing until she was twice the size of the yeti. It stopped when it saw Fiona, looked suspiciously and then ran into its lair. “I guess that frightened him off for a while.” Before she shrank back to normal size, she bent over and picked up Callum and Elspet. “You two stay with Johnny and Jared.” She set them down on the trail and they ran up to join the men.

Abbik headed up the trail, dragging the yak’s hide behind him in the darkness of the night.

Fiona shrank down to her normal size and ran to help. “Come on, Abbik. I scared off the yeti for a while. We’ve got to get to the others before it comes back out and finds us.”

When they reached the others, Elspet and Callum helped Fiona and Abbik pull the yak hide up to their hiding place.

“I thought we were going to use this to lure the yeti out. It looks to me like you rescued your friends without my aid.” Abbik stared at the two men.

“Put the hide over Jared and Johnny. They’re shivering and not dressed for this type of weather,” Fiona said.

After covering the two men and securely tucking the hide around their bodies, they sat on the snow, knowing they had to come up with another plan. “Fiona, why don’t you call the animals and ask them to help you,” Callum suggested.

“That’s a great idea. I know they have wolves and snow leopards here. There might even be bears,” Elspet said.

Abbik stood up. “Who are you, Fiona? Where did you get magical powers? You can talk to animals?”

“She can, Abbik. I could tell you stories about…”

Fiona interrupted Callum. “All right. That’s as good an idea as any.” She stood and sent a telepathic message, calling for all animals to come to their rescue.

At first they heard nothing, but after a while the sound of howling of wolves drew nearer. Several beasts ran up the trail and stopped in front of the snow house. Within a few minutes a pack had gathered, their coats of fur shiny and thick.

From the other direction came dozens of snow leopards, mountain goats, birds and smaller wild cats.

“Fiona, you’d better go and talk to them.” Callum pushed her onto the path.

She walked toward the animals. Thank you all for coming. I need your help. Inside that snow building is a yeti. It kills animals randomly for food, not to live, but to be a glutton. The yeti is trying to destroy me and my friends. Can you help us?

One of the snow leopards moved toward her. The yeti is feared by all animals living in the Himalayan valleys. While I am sorry that it is threatening you, it is a living being and we will not destroy it.

Can you at least chase it away so we can escape?  Fiona flung her arms out to the side. We can do that.

            Thank you. I will join my friends and wait and watch.

One by one the leopards, wolves and other animals entered through the doorway to the yeti’s den. Fiona joined her friends. “All we need to do is sit here and wait.” They sat together, huddling in fear as growls, yelps, howls and roars came from inside.

“I want to see what’s going on.” Callum broke away from the others. He climbed out from behind the boulders and watched.

Suddenly the yeti rushed outside. The smaller animals and birds clung to its fur, biting at its feet, fingers, and ears. The bigger animals chased it. The yeti, not knowing where to go, jumped off the edge of the mountain into a pile of snow. The animals leapt after it.

 “Wow! You should see this. The yeti’s making a run for it. He just jumped off the edge and is rolling down the mountainside in a snowball. It keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Fiona, Elspet and Abbik joined Callum to watch.

The animals soon fled, leaving the yeti to its fate, disappearing into the snowy mountains. Down it rolled, gathering momentum and snow as it hurled down the mountain. They watched as it splashed into the river and floated away in a ball of ice.

“Well, that’s that. Goodbye yeti.” Elspet clapped her hands with joy.

“Now, we’ve got to get Jared and Johnny to the monastery and get them something warm to eat. After they’re taken care of, we’ll get the opal and go home.” Fiona helped the weary men to their feet. “Callum, you help Abbik with the yak hide. In fact, leave it here. There are dozens of them inside. We’ll send the monks back to gather them all.”

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