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Rolfin's Orb
Book 9 - Sapphire
Chapter 8

Drayton dragged Callum through the woods.

“Let go of me! Where are you taking me?” Callum struggled to free himself.

“Listen to me, you brat.” Drayton stopped and released Callum's arm. “You're coming with me. You're an official hostage. If you want to stay alive, I'd start praying right now that your friends Fiona and Elspet bring me those books.”

“They never will, not even for me. I don't want them to.” Callum snarled at his capturer.

“After you've spent a few minutes in the company of Phelan, you'll change your mind on that one.” Drayton noticed Callum's confusion. “He's a wizard; a very evil wizard and he won't hesitate to torture you.”

“I know all about him. I've heard about the things he's done to Fiona's mum and other people. I'm not scared of him.”

Drayton grabbed Callum again. “You will be. See these scars? Phelan’s the one to thank for each of them.” As they marched to the castle, Drayton cursed and swore with each step. Castle Athdara came into view. Drayton simply lifted his arm and commanded the water to part.

“Who are you? Moses?” Callum snickered, but stood amazed.

“I've got powers, boy.” They hopped across the exposed bottom of the loch, leaping from rock to rock to avoid the mud. When they reached the island, the waters rushed together, leaving a peaceful scene. “Come on. Phelan's waiting for you.”

Inside the dark castle, Callum adjusted his eyes. “Why do you have anything to do with Phelan? He's just using you.”

Drayton raised his fist to smack Callum in the face.

“Leave him alone. He's mine.” Phelan's form appeared in a dark swirling mist. Glowing eyes shone through, giving a spectral appearance.

Just the sound of the wizard's voice caused Drayton to quake. He stepped back, leaving Callum standing by himself.

“Drayton, get a message to this boy's family and friends. Tell them we're holding him captive and if they want to see him alive they are to bring me all three books. They've got until morning. It's late afternoon now. That gives them around fifteen hours to think things through.” Phelan's voice roared against the stone walls.

“How will I...”

“Can't you do anything on your own? Figure it out. Now get out of here. Callum and I are going to have a talk, aren't we?”

Callum backed up against the wall.

Drayton walked through the main door, hesitant for a few moments about leaving the boy with the wizard, but fear for himself overtook him and he hurried off to Angus's cottage.

“What do you want? What are you going to do to me?” Callum shivered, the hair on his neck stiffening.

“We're going to start by you telling me everything that's going on at that cottage. I want to know who is there, what the plans are for the future and everything else you know. If you don't tell me freely, I have ways of getting you to talk.” Phelan moved closer to Callum. He raised his hand and a swarm of bats flew from the depths of the castle. “Meet my friends, Callum McAllister.”

Callum heard the squeaking and flapping of wings. “Bats?”

“I know how much you like them. I've called them to keep you company.” The wizard laughed.

At least a thousand of the black, leathery-winged creatures flew around Callum. They landed on his face, in his hair, on his back, arms and legs.

“Get them off! I hate bats!” Callum shrieked, hitting the bats off him.

“Stop wasting your time. There are too many of them. You might as well leave them alone. Now, are you ready to talk?” The glowing eyes moved right in front of Callum's face.

Nearly ready to faint, the terrified boy sobbed. “Yes, I'll tell you. Just get these bats off me.”

                             *  *  *

Drayton heard Callum's screams on the other side of the loch. Trying not to think about it, he continued on his way to the croft. When he saw the smoke rising from the chimney, he slowed down and hid behind a tree.

Elspet and Fiona returned, appearing on the doorstep out of thin air.

“The girls are back. Now's as good a time as any.” He showed himself and coughed. “Ahem. Fiona.” He waved. “Just to let you know that I've got Callum. He's at the castle right now having a wee chat with Phelan. If you listen carefully you can hear him scream. Bring me all three books before sunrise tomorrow morning, or I'm afraid Phelan will kill your friend.” Drayton waved again and ran back to the castle.

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