The Liquid Compass (Chapter 16)

Phineas had his eyes on the liquid compass for hours as he walked in oblivion. He failed to notice the change in terrain around him. He had crossed fields and valleys and now found himself on a rocky mount. The liquid compass had remained fixated on the spot where he stood. He looked up and found himself atop a mountain. The land consisted of folds and crevices of flowing water. He saw the Flowing River amidst green fields of grass and white fields of snowdrops. There was a refreshing breeze blowing in his direction. He tried moving in a different direction but still the liquid compass did not change form. Then he looked below his feet and saw it – a magnificent waterfall. It started as a soft trickle from a crevice in the wall of the mountain and exploded deep down below. Phineas was surprised that he could not hear the splash of the water hitting the rocks below. He looked closer and realised that he was at such a height that it would have taken a good number of hours to reach the bottom. He could hardly see the foam of water where the water hit the ground below.

He slowly placed the compass in his pocket and tried to think of a way to get to the bottom of the waterfall, assuming that was what he was supposed to do. Phineas decided to rest for a moment while he contemplated his situation. He must have dozed off because he was woken up from a very deep sleep to the sound of a very familiar voice.

“Well, well, well, look what we have here!”

Phineas flung his eyes open wide and tried to get up but his body hurt. He tried to bring his hands up to his eyes but he realised that they were tied together.

“No use struggling, doctor,” Anton grinned cunningly.

Phineas rolled his eyes and sighed, realising his stupidity. He should have realised that they would soon catch up with him and he should have moved on not stopping for a moment.

“How did you find your way here?” asked Phineas calmly.

“We followed your trail. It wasn’t very hard too seeing that there were only one set of tracks,” Anton edged closer towards him and smiled, “You have such distinctive shoes too, doctor. Of course, getting a bit of help on the way didn’t hurt us either.”

Phineas had not taken notice of Anton’s last sentence. All he kept thinking of was how stupid he felt at that moment. Of course, who else would be wearing recognisable shoes from earth in a strange land? They must have recognised the marks his shoes had made in the ground. He had made it too easy to be found without meaning to.

“So, doctor, start talking. Where are you heading?” asked Anton.

Phineas looked at him straight in the eye and shook his head in despair.

“Listen, you must stop whatever it is you’re trying to do. I will give you what you want but we must all leave this land. The whole thing was a mistake,” started Phineas.

Anton threw his head back and laughed, “I think it’s a bit too late for that now.”

“What do you mean?”

Anton started pacing before Phineas then looked at him, “Like I said, we had some help. We brought you an old friend.”

Phineas tilted his head up, his eyes wide with concern when he saw him. It was Storm Blazer. Phineas started to panic. He knew that things would get much more complicated from then on.

“If you won’t speak, doctor, I’m sure he will,” said Anton calmly.

“Hahaha,” cried Storm Blazer, “Come on you have no time to waste. You must get to the Crystal Well as soon as you can. I will tell you how to get there. When you do, you will find the Amber Crystal that will save your world. Bring this back to me and I will give you its special powers.”

“No! Stop! Don’t listen to him!” shouted Phineas, “Don’t believe a word he says!”

Storm Blazer whirled over towards Phineas who was lying helplessly tied up on the ground.

“It would do you good to listen to your comrades, if you ever want to see your land again,” said Storm Blazer in a threatening tone.

Phineas’ face went pale and his eyes started twitching. He remembered how Storm Blazer had helped him get back home on the previous occasions when he had failed to find his way back on his own. He had thought that Storm Blazer was an ally before he realised the truth about him after meeting Petuna. It was true that Storm Blazer was their only hope to return to Earth.

“That’s much better,” said Anton taking Phineas’ silence as acquiescence.

Phineas’ head kept whirling with thoughts and he was torn between the promises he had made Petuna and between returning home.

“Anton, you must stop this insanity! Don’t trust this… this creature. He’s only out for himself. If you listen to him, you will destroy this land and any chance of us ever getting back to Earth!” said Phineas.

“Silence, doctor, I’ve just about had enough of your excuses. We all know about your encounters, your plans and besides,” said Anton slowly, “I have managed to decipher the code in your diary.”

Anton was holding the diary in his hand up the air.

“Interesting this diary,” said Anton thoughtfully, “I particularly like that section about the Amber Crystal in the Crystal Well and its magical powers that are beyond anyone’s imagination!”

Phineas opened his mouth to speak but found nothing to say. The words got caught in his throat as he realised that they had discovered the truth behind it. Anton laughed with the other men while Storm Blazer whirled several frantic water droplets in the air towards Phineas. Storm Blazer stood at a distance with Anton in deep conversation while Phineas looked up at the men standing on guard above his head. He watched Anton and Storm Blazer closely. Several minutes later, Storm Blazer walked off and disappeared down the waterfall and Anton walked over to the men.

“Come on,” said Anton.

“What do we do with him?” asked one of the men.

Anton stopped and looked at him thoughtfully, “He’s coming with us.”

They walked across the top of the mountain until they reached a jagged surface. There were steps cut into rocks in the mountain. It went down the side that was closest to the waterfall as if it had been designed for someone who wanted to reach the bottom of the waterfall. They walked in single file down the steps. Phineas still had his hands tied and he did his best to keep his balance. He noticed how close they were to the waterfall and realised that he could almost touch it if he wanted to. Water droplets flew from the waterfall and touched his face every now and then. They walked down the steps for a full hour and Phineas noticed that the intensity of the water increased. He could feel the full force of the waterfall and could start to see the foam down below where the water hit the ground. The strange thing was that he started to hear sounds coming from the waterfall. It sounded like music combined with a long moan. His heart beat with excitement at what they would find down below.

It was another hour before they finally stepped off the last rocky step onto flat land. The waterfall crashed with full force and foam of water droplets clouded the air around them. The sounds that Phineas had heard earlier were much more pronounced now and he realised that it was a voice speaking and singing all at once. He strained his ears trying to make out the words but it was nothing but a mumble. Suddenly he felt the liquid compass in his pocket shaking. He was relieved that they had not searched him nor sensed that he was carrying it. He wondered why the compass was acting in such a manner but he noticed how the vibrations were in sync with the sounds coming from the waterfall. He wanted to pull it out to have a look at it but his hands were tied.

Anton scratched his head wondering how they were meant to go through the waterfall. There was such a tumble of water before them from the big splash that it was rather impossible to see clearly.

“Anton,” Phineas called out.

Anton turned around and squinted his eyes at him.

“What is it?” yelled Anton impatiently.

“Look I'm not going anywhere. There really is no where to run. So why don’t you just untie my hands,” Phineas raised his hands, “Come on, I’ve been tied up for hours now.”

Anton looked at him and then waved at one of the men to untie him. Phineas’ wrists were sore and he rubbed them to get the blood flowing through them again. He stood a distance away watching the men as they tried to figure out how to get through the waterfall. He stuck his hands in his pockets and left them there until he felt it was safe to bring the liquid compass out. He leant against the rocky staircase that they had just been on and stood in such a way so that they could not see him as he took the compass out of his pocket.

The liquid compass was changing form in tune to the sounds coming from the waterfall. He looked into its surface and could see that the directions had changed. It had become a fluid surface of water and all he could see were water droplets dancing inside.

“What’s that in your hand, doctor?”

Phineas was jolted out of his trance and he fumbled with the compass trying to hide it. It had started changing form in such a way that it had started becoming slippery. It suddenly slipped out of hand and went flying towards the waterfall. Phineas cried out in alarm stretching his hand out as he tried to grasp it but it was too late. Plop it fell in the pool. But no sooner had that happened than the sounds from the waterfall started to become clear. The men were fascinated by the voice coming from the waterfall. It was sweet and pure and the words that the waterfall was singing were clear. The air rang of clear notes of song. Phineas listened carefully and realised that the song was not a random tune. The waterfall was actually singing of story of the land. When the waterfall finished her song there was a bit of music playing as the waterfall hummed along. Then the song started again right from the beginning. It was like the song was placed in constant replay. Anton grabbed hold of Phineas.

“Come on! And don’t let this man out of your sight. Tie him up, he’s coming with us,” yelled Anton to one of the men.

“Well done, doctor. Let’s see what other tricks you have up your sleeve!” Anton sneered at Phineas.

Phineas was not listening to Anton. All he thought about was what lay ahead. He knew that the land was definitely in danger now. Now only had he lost the compass to the waterfall but he also revealed its secret without meaning to. He had just heard the precise directions to reach the Crystal Well and he knew that the men would stop at nothing to get to the Amber Crystal. The men had not paid attention to what the Wallowing Waterfall spoke of about the consequences of setting foot within the Crystal Well. But Phineas had been listening closely to every word. He had to stay alert and find a way to stop them the first chance he got. Whatever happened, he had his mind set on saving the Amber Crystal from Anton and his men. He vowed between himself that he would do this no matter what the price was, even if it meant sacrificing his life.

The End

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