At the entrance to the Spring of Dreams
Petuna stopped and turned around, watching Phineas walk away. He was preoccupied with the liquid compass and Petuna wondered why he had not wanted to come in with her. He seemed intent on leaving before he even had a chance to meet the Spring. Something felt rather suspicious and she knew that she had to find out about this in due course. But for now, she turned her attention to the cave before her.
Petuna walked through the cave and looked around her, noticing the tiny crystals that decorated and sparkled against its walls. The walls were curved and she took a several more steps when she found herself out on the other side. She could hear the sound of the running spring and saw various water forms scattered around the place. There was a gentle waterfall that fell into a tiny stream. There were pools of water that lay on the ground shaped in intricate designs. At the sight of them, she rushed to the nearest pool and splashed water all over herself. Her hair soaked it up instantly and she started gulping down mouthfuls of water to quench her thirst. Soft flakes of snow floated through the air, carried with a refreshing breeze then rested on the ground. The snow flakes seemed to melt away into new pools or existing ones, depending on where they landed.
Petuna smiled, got up and walked further into the enclosure until she stood before the Spring of Dreams. The Spring was as beautiful as Petuna remembered her. The last time she saw her was as a little girl and she was with her mother, the queen, then.
“Princess!” exclaimed the Spring as soon as she saw Petuna, “What a wonderful surprise!”
Petuna smiled at her warm welcome.
“It’s so wonderful to see you again after so long,” said Petuna.
“It has been a very very very long time, my dear! But.. where are the others? Have you come all by yourself?” questioned the Spring as she looked over Petuna’s shoulders for any sign of her fairies or her father.
“Yes… well, no.. I mean yes I’m alone Spring,” said Petuna.
She was still thinking about Phineas.
“Oh dear! You look such a state, what happened?” said the Spring without a thought then realising that this was no time for stories, “Oh! but first, we must freshen you up and get you out of these clothes. Come, my dear.”
Petuna dived into the Spring. She swam through the water and very soon she found herself in a room with maids fussing over her, excited to be tending to the princess. One maid was brushing Petuna’s hair. Another was helping her out of her dress while a third was helping her choose a new one. One maid was picking tiny snowdrops to decorate her hair with while another one was fixing her a good meal.
“Your Highness, please drink this, it will do you good,” said one of the maids as she curtsied before the princess.
Petuna smiled gratefully and brought the cup to her lips. Her nose captured a fresh and warm aroma and she took a sip. It was heart-warming and she felt a sense of invigoration run through her veins. She filled her mouth and tasted a sweetness, a sharpness and a saltiness all at once. It was like a carnival for her taste buds. She kept taking one gulp after another until she reached the bottom of the cup. There was something chewy at the end and she munched away, handing the cup over to the maid standing in attendance.
Hours later Petuna emerged from the room glowing. She had eaten her fill and felt her powers slowly returning to her. Now her hair flowed thickly, heavy with magic.
“My, my! Your Highness, that’s much more like it,” said the Spring of Dreams, “Come and sit next to me, my dear, we have a lot of catching up to do.”
Petuna sat on the royal chaise that had been brought out for her and started telling the Spring of the adventures that she had gone through over the last couple of days. The Spring listened attentively without interruption and uttering sounds of acknowledgment every now and then. Petuna hesitated when she reached the point in her story when Phineas had decided not to accompany her.
“Go on, my dear,” coaxed the Spring.
“Well, it’s quite strange, Spring, but,” started Petuna and she told the Spring about what had happened. When Petuna finished they remained silent for a few moments before the Spring spoke.
“And is there anything more to tell me?” said the Spring with a hint of suggestion.
Petuna took a moment before she realised what the Spring meant. She had fallen asleep shortly after her grooming from sheer exhaustion. But that was expected, after all, she was at the Spring of Dreams and they did name her that for a reason. All dreams that happened here were actually visions that could be acted out before the Spring. The Spring then had the power to interpret them.
“Oh! I did have a dream, Spring,” said Petuna. The dream slowly came back to her and she leant closer to the Spring until she touched her. In an instant, she saw her dream being acted out before her in midair. It was like the scene in her mind was being projected before them for all to see.
She saw herself holding on to a sword. There were people all around her but she could not make out their faces. One figure stood out from the crowd and he slowly made his way towards her. She still could not make out who it was but before he was close enough to her, she held the sword up in the air and with one brush through midair the scene changed. She saw herself standing in a palace, a crown on her head before an audience who were all busy curtseying or bowing to her. Suddenly the scene evaporated.
“Is that it?” asked the Spring.
“Ye..yes, I think so,” said Petuna.
The Spring remained silent and appeared to be in deep thought. Petuna watched her in anticipation.
“My dear, there is something that you do not know,” said the Spring gravely.
“What is it, Spring?” asked Petuna with concern.
“Phineas is not all what he gives himself out to be.”
“Wh.. what do you mean?”
The Spring eyed Petuna closely, sensing that she would not like what she was about to hear.
“Phineas,” started the Spring, “has not told you everything. I have met him before. He came here and that is probably why he didn’t want to face me again.”
Petuna was stunned and could not find the words to respond. All she did was stare at the Spring, waiting for her to continue.
Petuna finally found the words, “Tell me the whole story, Spring.”
The Spring told her how Phineas had stumbled upon the cave many months ago. He had been lost and wandering for days. When he had come in through the cave he had found all the pools of water, the stream and the waterfall that met you at the entrance.
“It was like he had never seen water before. He started bringing out containers from his bag and filling them with water. That is when I first spoke to him. He was in shock when he heard my voice, not understanding its source,” said the Spring, “He was frightened and tried to find a place to hide.
“He had no clue that it was me talking. He thought there was someone watching him and had caught him stealing the water. When he finally came around and realised that it was me, he was shaking and shivering all over. He fell to his knees and started telling me his story.
“He spoke of how he had come through to this land by accident and had lost his way. He spoke of his encounter with Storm Blazer, describing it all as an accident and that they had both been taken by surprise. One moment he was in the Flowing River swimming with all his might trying to get home when he suddenly got tangled in a storm. That was all it took. He said that he suddenly found himself home again and realised that that must have been the secret. When he reached his land he decided to return once again. And when he did return, he found that Storm Blazer waiting for him and instantly befriended him. Storm Blazer told him that he would play no part in getting him home again unless he did as he told him. He was to bring him the Amber Crystal from the Crystal Well and only then would he help him.
“But just as Phineas was telling me his story, Storm Blazer appeared out of nowhere. Apparently he had been secretly luring Phineas here, leaving him clues so that he inadvertently followed Storm Blazer’s trail until he found himself here. It was Storm Blazer who admitted this. He wanted Phineas to come here all along, presumably another one of Storm Blazer’s evil plots to send all the water droplets here in a frenzy! They created all forms of chaos after that. It took me months to treat the water droplets in those pools, stream and waterfall. They had gone frantic and Phineas took the opportunity to steal water from the magic pond. Storm Blazer had told him that it would help him fix the water back in his land. I tried to warn him about the dangers that would happen to the land if he ever went near the Amber Crystal.
“They both left, intent on stealing the Amber Crystal. Phineas was impossible to get through to. He was totally captivated by Storm Blazer and listened to everything he told him.”
Petuna could not believe her ears and she could not believe that she had been such a fool. She had even given him the liquid compass!
“The liquid compass!” cried Petuna.
Petuna told the Spring about all what she heard from the humans and how she needed to get word to her fairies and the king. She had given the royal liquid compass to Phineas to find his way to the fairies. The Spring thought about this for a while. Petuna wiped the tears that stung her eyes and felt betrayed. Now it all started to make sense to her, why he had refused to come in to see the Spring with her, why he apologised to her for all the mess he had done. She had not understood at the time what he had meant but now it all made sense to her.
“Calm yourself down, my dear. Now you know the truth at least you know what to do,” said the Spring softly.
“He is meant to return here with the fairies,” said Petuna in a grumpy voice, “If you say he is not to be trusted then I should not rely on him. But we are all in grave danger. The land is in danger. The humans and Phineas are after the Amber Crystal and if they get to it before father is warned then we will all be doomed. I must be on my way!”
Petuna jumped off the chaise and wiped the tears from her eyes. She did not even wait to hear the Spring’s interpretation of her dream. She was about to bid the Spring farewell when a huge tremor shook the ground beneath them. The pools were thrown up in the air by the force of the tremors. Petuna dived into the Spring and held on to her for dear life until it passed.
“What… What..” said Petuna in a daze as she emerged from the Spring. But she did not even wait for an explanation. A sour memory was slowly taking hold of her. It involved her mother, the holiday many years ago and the avalanche. That was how it had started and they had not taken notice of it. A slight tremor that slowly started to get more frequent and violent until the avalanche appeared and ate everything in its way.
“Oh dear! Oh dear!” cried the Spring, “How could they possibly have gotten to it this fast. Oh dear!”
“The Amber Crystal!” cried Petuna.
There was only one explanation for these tremors. The humans must have reached the Crystal Well and removed the Amber Crystal from its chamber. It would only be a matter of time before the land of the Flowing River turns into ice that could last for centuries to come unless its rightful owner claims it back. That was her father, the king and she had to do everything in her power to get it back before it was too late.