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Rolfin's Orb
Book 8 - Opal
Chapter 8

Phelan's spy, Argulig, a trow, stood inside the castle door. “Who called me? I had to travel from Orkney, and it wasn't a pleasant journey. This had better be worth my efforts.” The ugly, stunted creature with a squished face and long arms like a gorilla, patiently waited for an answer. He bent over to pick his toes, examining his yellowed toenails. Brushing dirt from his fur, he stopped when he heard something move behind him. “Who's there? Who called me?”

“I am Phelan, a wizard of Xilian.” A voice roared through the castle hallways.

“Oh you are, are you? Well, I'm Nessie from the loch. What do you want?”

“You impudent trow. How dare you speak to me like that.”

A dark form appeared before the trow. Sensing it's power, Argulig bowed in fear. “Sorry, Sir Wizard. I had no idea it was someone as mighty as you.”

“Shut up, you annoying pest. I called you here, to this pathetic village in northern Scotland, to do some work for me. I need a body.”

“Pardon me, Sir Wizard, but I need my own body. I'd be happy to do your spying for you. What is your command?” The trow knelt before Phelan.

“Go to Angus's cottage and observe them. I want to know what they are doing and if they leave, I want to know where they are going. Do you understand?”

“I understand. Your wish is my command. I only have but one tiny question, sir wizard. Where is Angus's cottage?”

“Foolish trow. It's in the woods, on the other side of the loch. Be off. Report to me immediately.” Phelan vanished in a puff of black smoke.

Argulig stood tapping his foot. “I'd much rather be nibbling on a bannock under a tree in Kirkwall. I might as well get this over with.” He ran out of the castle to the edge of the water. “How does he expect me to get to the other side. Everyone knows trows can't swim.” His beady eyes darted back and forth, searching for a bridge, or another way of crossing. “Phelan, I need some help here. I can't swim.”The water rumbled and bubbled. Ten humps appeared, bursting forth from th water. “He wants me to jump from stone to stone.” Shrugging his shoulders, the trow leapt to the first stone. “Doesn't feel like a stone to me. It's too soft for stone.” It vibrated under his large flat feet. “No sense in waiting to find out.” Bouncing off each hump, he landed with relief on the shores of the loch. When he turned around, he saw the humps disappear into the water.

The croft came into view a few minutes later through  the trees. “There it is.” Argulig ran to the side and saw several cats sleeping. “Cats? I hate cats?” Quietly he climbed on a wooden barrel and peeked in the window. He listened as Fiona and the others discussed their plans for the day. When the front door opened, he jumped down and slipped between the barrel and the whitewashed wall. After the car drove away, he jumped back up on the barrel. “There are still people inside, two men and a woman. Pretty wee thing she is too. I smell food.”

The trow's tummy rumbled with hunger. “Maybe I can sneak inside and grab some grub from them. I smell scones and bacon and eggs. They're not my favorite foods, but they'll pass. What I'd really like is some sea lettuce, sugar kelp and oarweed. Yum.!” Leaping from the barrel, the trow moved to the back door. He stepped carefully over the cats, being sure not to disturb them. His hand reached for the doorknob.

Marmaduke chose that moment to swish his tail back and forth.

When Argulig stepped on it, the catch screeched and scratched the trow's hairy leg. “Ouch! Go away, cat.” He heard footsteps coming from inside. “Och, now look what you've done, you stupid cat.” Searching for a place to hide, the small creature darted off to the trees. “I'm not going to get anything here. I might as well return to that chilly castle. Maybe after I report to the wizard, he'll let me go back to Orkney. Forget the sugar kelp. I'm craving some fudge and smoked salmon.”

The loch churned as the wind rippled across it. “How am I going to get back to that castle?” The trow scratched his dirty fur. “Phelan? I've got the information you wanted.”

From the middle of the loch came a dark mist. It moved across the top of the water, sending an icy breeze before it. “What did you find out for me, trow?”

“Sir Wizard, they have gone to something called Haggis Haunt. It's a swimming hole. They all went except a woman and two men. They are at the croft still, Sir Wizard.”

“I command you to go to this swimming hole and wreak havoc with the girl and her guardians. Don't kill them, but make life miserable for them. I won't be able to get the books from the croft yet, but maybe later.”

Phelan's musty breath made Argulig gag. “Sir Wizard, Phelan, the swimming hole probably has rules about trows. We've got a reputation for being dirty creatures, though that's a load of seal poop. How will I get inside the establishment?”

“I will give you a spell to turn yourself invisible. Don't let them see you. Use the spell. When you've accomplished this task, report to me.” Phelan's form began to dissipate.

“Wait, Sir Wizard, how do I get there? It's a long walk for one such as myself, with short legs and all.”

Phelan raised his vaporous hand. A crow soared from the top of a pine, landing on the ground next to Argulig.

“You want me to fly on the back of this bird? That's very kind of you Sir Wizard, but you see, trows and crows don't get alone well.”

Before he could utter another complaint, a bolt of lightning flew from Phelan's hand, hitting the ground immediately in front of Argulig's toes. “You were saying?”

“I was saying nothing, Sir Wizard. I'm on my way now, on the back of this crow.” The trow climbed on the bird's back and flew off.

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