Phineas started pacing back and forth in his hut, his hand pressed firmly against his forehead in an expression of desperation. He had to find a way to get out of here before it was too late. The men had already searched his bag and found his research papers and his diary. It would only be a matter of time before they would figure out everything. He had to find a way to escape and warn the king. Phineas suddenly had an idea. He looked towards the walls of the hut and his gaze took him all the way up along the timber columns to the point where they ended. The columns felt sturdy and rough. The rope that bound the rug on the ground was long enough and he would risk the climb. It was the only chance he had.
Meanwhile Petuna had been sitting in a corner of her hut, breathing out slow thoughts. She heard a soft shuffling outside her door before it opened slightly. A head popped around. It was Phineas. He cast a quick glance over his shoulder before squeezing in and carefully shutting the door behind him. He stood with his back to the door catching his breath.
“Phineas!” exclaimed Petuna.
“Shhh we must keep quiet,” breathed Phineas, “we must get out of here and fast before they realise that I’ve escaped.”
“But how? How did you escape in the first place?”
“I used the rope from that makeshift rug to climb over. Quite stupid of them to build these things without roofs,” said Phineas shaking his head while looking around the room and adjusting his spectacles.
Petuna watched him closely, “You don’t propose that I do the same? Do you?”
Phineas turned around to face her, momentarily realising the weight of her words. He had forgotten he was dealing with a princess, one from an unknown land too. He had to be more cautious with his expectations. “No. Ahem. Of course not, Your Highness,” he scratched his head, “We will find another way but we must be extremely cautious. These are dangerous people.”
Phineas placed his ear close to a gap in the timber columns. There were no voices outside. Petuna walked over to him and whispered, “You were starting to tell me the story of these people when we were interrupted. I want to know the whole story.”
Phineas slid down the timber and sat himself on the ground and sighed deeply. Petuna sat beside him, gathering her gown to one side and looked at him waiting to speak.
“Who are these people, Phineas?” she prompted. Phineas fidgeted with his spectacles as he prepared to tell her the breakthrough he had come across. “Why do they call you a doctor? Are you really a doctor?”
“A scientist actually,” Phineas stated in manner of fact.
Petuna nodded in acknowledgment while Phineas paused, “I will tell you everything. It’s important that we get word to the king before it’s too late.”
Petuna’s expression changed into sadness and thought of her fairies and her father. How she wished she were back in her castle now but her father had made her promise to be strong.
“I come from another world, Petuna. It’s very far away, a planet called Earth. It’s such a beautiful planet too but years of destruction have made the water on our planet very scarce and the little that we have left is polluted. It’s only a matter of time before we run out of our supply. I was working on some research on alternative sources of water when I stumbled on this discovery. It was all an accident really.” Phineas looked up at her and paused while he strained his ears to make sure no one was outside. Petuna was listening attentively. He ran his fingers through his hair.
“I discovered that there are other worlds out there. Well, of course there are,” he laughed to himself, “Here I am right?”
Phineas looked at her again and gulped, “I should backtrack to the moment I was at this spring. It-It was in this remote area. Totally uninhabited. No one had set foot there before. I was gathering ice samples to see if I could break down its components and fix the pollution that our water had. I - I remember it was a most magnificent place,” Phineas got excited as he spoke and he was starting to sweat, “I mean it was up near the Arctic pole and, well, you’d think that everything would be ice there but no! I found this spring, hidden in the middle of nowhere, full of freely running water despite the coldest temperatures. It was incredible! I had wandered off from my research group to explore the terrain and just stumbled upon it! I remember that I was about to go back and tell my colleagues about it when a fierce wind started blowing and I knew that a storm was brewing. I had to take cover.”
Petuna fidgeted slightly at the mention of storm and her thoughts turned to Storm Blazer and her earlier encounter with him. Petuna nodded at him knowingly.
Phineas continued, “I remember that I could see a waterfall in the distance and I decided to go and see whether there was a cave behind it that I could find shelter within until the storm passed.
“The only way I could get to the waterfall was if I went through the spring. There was no other way. It was dangerous though because I hadn’t tested the water for traces of pollution and the risk was there but I had no choice. It was either that or die trying to fight off the storm so I took the risk.”
Phineas was sweating profusely now and Petuna could see the sweat drops sliding off his forehead and onto the ground.
“Water fairies!” Petuna smiled.
“Wh..what?” frowned Phineas at her interjection.
“You have water fairies playing with you. See?” Petuna pointed to his sweat drops. “It means that there are some water fairies about. They are such a playful bunch and they can hit you when you least expect them. You’ve been producing these drops for a while now. They must be having a field day!”
Phineas wiped the sweat off of his forehead and looked at the sweat on his hand with interest, “Water fairies? Right. I see, back in our world we’d say that it was a natural bodily reaction. A way that the body cools down when it is heating up and it also happens when one gets excited or nervous. But, I can live with the water fairies.”
Petuna chuckled while Phineas laughed at his explanation. At least they could find comic relief in this moment.
“How would one get rid of the water fairies?” questioned Phineas his scientifically inclined and curious mind taking over.
“Oh they are most playful. I usually use magic to shoo them away but my supply is running short.”
Phineas nodded. “Hmmm yes magic, well, I’m not endowed in that area unfortunately. Back on Earth, it would be a refreshing shower that would do the trick.”
They laughed again and Petuna asked him to continue, “Please go on did you make it to the cave?”
“Well the strangest thing happened when I set foot in that spring. I found myself being sucked down and before I knew it I was floating inside a pool of water but breathing as if I was on land. At first I was struggling against the suction because I kept feeling like I was being pulled to the very bottom. But when I found that I was breathing normally I stopped struggling and I found myself swimming at leisure through the water, gliding even. It was the strangest sensation. The water’s temperature was pleasant which was quite strange too because I expected it to be icy. But then again who would expect to see a spring in an Arctic pole!
“I looked around me to see if I could find an exit or a cave’s opening but there was just water and I started gliding through to see if I could get to the waterfall which I had seen earlier. Instead I saw a light in the distance and it had such a pull to it. I felt so attracted to it. It was beautiful so I found myself heading towards it without even meaning to. As I came closer to it, the light became so intense until it almost blinded me. The next thing I knew I woke up to find myself on the bank of a river. I didn’t know where I was but it turned out that I had crossed over somehow to your world.”
Petuna’s eyes were wild with excitement, her eyebrows raised and she waved for him to go on. Phineas nodded, again pricking up his ears to make sure it was safe to continue.
“It took me some time to realise where I was. The texture of the soil here is different than on Earth. I had just been in icy conditions and suddenly I found myself in something that closely resembles a cool summer’s day on Earth. Nothing around me seemed familiar and that’s when I realised that I must’ve crossed over into a nother world. I tried going back the way I came. I thought that if I walked into the river and dived then I could see that light again and find myself back at the spring. But it didn’t work. I had no idea where I was and I wandered about for a couple of days until one day I came across a storm here by the river. I had been trying to find my way back again in the water and it took me by surprise. It must’ve been the combination of the storm whirling about in the water so vigorously that made it possible somehow for me to get back home. I dived right in to the whirling water and found myself back at the spring again.”
Phineas took a deep breath, “When I got back I decided to keep the discovery to myself. My colleagues had left long ago. They had thought I was as good as dead when I hadn’t shown up for days and the search party couldn’t find any trace of me. They thought I had been caught in the storm and died.
“I kept a low profile for a while until I could find an explanation for what happened. I spent months researching this phenomenon on my own. I had samples from the water in the spring and I discovered something incredible.”
Phineas got up and peeked between the gaps in the timber column to check that no one was listening. He sat back down and bent closer to Petuna.
“There are actually five dimensions that make up our worlds. Water, air, fire, light and earth. We always knew that these elements existed but never did it occur to me for a second that a whole world would centre around each of these elements. Your world is the first dimension which is totally made up of water in all its forms. The second dimension is made up of air, the third of fire and the fourth of light.”
“What about the fifth?”
Phineas smiled, “that would be Earth where I come from.”
Petuna thought about this for a while, “But we have air, light and earth here. And what is fire?”
Phineas smiled. “The predominant component of your dimension, the first dimension, is water. You can find air, light and earth here because they complement water but fire doesn’t. That’s why you wouldn’t find fire here,” explained Phineas. “Fire is something very hard to describe but think of it as water’s enemy. In my world, a good fire is used to give warmth, to cook food and to give light but a bad fire burns and destroys. Water can easily put out a fire in our world.”
“Oh!” gasped Petuna.
“Oh yes it can!” said Phineas, “I was still researching the other dimensions but then something happened. My research was stolen! I was followed back here and captured.”
“The men outside!” cried Petuna in a loud whisper.
“Yes it was them and they are up to no good.”
“But what do they want from us?”
Phineas hesitated, “I’m not quite sure exactly. They’ve been trying to get as much as information as they can out me. They obviously have my research papers but I hadn’t managed to document my latest findings yet. I haven’t said anything more but they have been trying to get me to speak. I provoked them to the extent that they were about to kill me when you stepped in. All I know is that they are up to no good.”
Petuna started feeling dizzy. She held on to her head and closed her eyes for a second.
“Are you alright?”
“Mmmm my head. I think my magic is fading. I - I..” Petuna struggled to speak as the dizziness intensified.
Phineas leant forward and in a panic said, “Is there something I can do?” He looked around him, “I must get you out of here.”
“Mmmm I need some water. Please...”
Phineas reached for the water cup on the table nearby and brought it close to her mouth.
Petuna shook her head and took it from his hand, “Thank you. But the water is not for drinking. She lifted the cup above her head and poured it slowly over her head until the water ran through her hair. She closed her eyes until her hair started to take on a different texture and shine. It had dried up in an instant, as if it had not even been wet in the first place. Petuna opened her eyes and took in a deep breath.
“Feeling better?” asked Phineas.
Petuna looked at him and said “I was feeling faint because my magic was reaching danger levels but I can enhance my magic by wetting my hair. It doesn’t last long though. My supply is running short and I will need to get to my fairies and get some proper food soon before my supply is completely depleted.”
Phineas got up and helped Petuna up, “Then we must get out of here at once.”