The men slowly walked towards the platform. They were stepping on tiny crystals that crunched under their feet. Everything around them was in different hues of red. The crystals were a deep crimson, the trees were a brownish shade of red even the air felt like it carried red water droplets in the humidity that they breathed in. How humidity could exist amongst clouds was something of a wonder. They approached the vacuum that lay around the dais.
Phineas peered down over the edge and realised why it was called the Crystal Well. There was a steep drop down among the clouds and it looked like a deep well. He wondered what lay beneath the clouds. In fact his scientific mind was working overtime trying to figure out how the platform stayed put without falling into oblivion. He was tempted to experiment by stepping into the cloud. In fact, he was almost sure that he would not fall through if he tried. Yet he stopped himself as he became aware of Anton watching him closely. They were waiting for him to slip up in any way so they could get to the Amber Crystal. He knew that it was their sole purpose now and he could not do anything to encourage that notion.
“Well, doctor, what do you reckon?” said Anton as he scratched his chin.
Phineas shrugged his shoulders, walked away from the well and sat himself down on the ground in an area that had been crushed by their shoes.
“It’s an impossible task I’m afraid,” said Phineas in a matter of fact manner.
Anton was silent for a few seconds.
“Come on, doctor, I’m sure you can do better than that. What? A scientist who gives up so easily? We wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for your persistence!” said Anton sarcastically.
Phineas did not respond and averted his eyes to avoid Anton’s direct gaze. He was picking at the crushed crystals on the ground and examining them in the palm of his hands. Anton was sure that Phineas was on to something.
“Phineas, I’ll make a deal with you.”
Phineas raised his face to look at Anton with a blank expression.
“A deal! You are in no position to make any form of deal, Anton. Admit it. You’ve lost. We might as well all pack up and go home now while we still have the chance.”
Phineas slowly got up as he continued, “It was a mistake setting foot on this land and the deeper we delve into its mysteries and secrets, the farther away from home we are. If you’re looking for any deals, here’s one: forget the Amber Crystal and I can get us all back home, safely.”
Phineas had his fists clenched, waiting to hear Anton’s response but he did not have to wait long. A shriek from behind them rudely interrupted the silence around them.
Anton and Phineas turned towards the sound and found one man, Jules, lying on the ground half over the edge. He was clearly trying to hold on to something. They ran towards him and looked over. It seems that, Oliver, the other man, had fallen over the edge and was suspended in midair holding on for dear life to Jules’ arms. Phineas started sweating and breathing fast.
“What happened!” asked Anton in annoyance as he got down on all fours and started pulling the man.
“Hold on, Oliver,” shouted Anton.
Phineas’ breathing started getting shorter and faster. There was no way Oliver could have been suspended that long or for Jules to support him for such a length of time. They had no rope and no other means of support. Any man would have dragged another after him by now. His assumptions had been right.
“Stop!” cried Phineas.
“Stop what! We’re trying to save a man’s…” shouted an enraged Anton as he fumbled to pull Jules back.
“Stop struggling!” shouted Phineas.
Anton was not listening and kept trying to pull at Jules so they could get Oliver back over the edge.
“Will you listen to me!” cried Phineas again but it was useless.
They were intent on doing things their way. Phineas decided he had no choice but to make them see what he was trying to tell them with their own eyes. He took a deep breath, slowly sat himself over the edge then jumped.
“Wha….” cried Anton as he saw Phineas disappear over the edge.
“But it’s impossible!” cried Oliver. “Anton, Jules, you’re not going to believe this but it’s ok, he’s fine!”
Anton slowly got up, not quite understanding what just happened. He looked over the edge and found Phineas standing in mid-air. Anton’s jaw fell down and he started fumbling for words but found none. Phineas was sweating profusely but he was calm. Oliver started to let go of Jules’ arms when he saw the state Phineas was in. Oliver started to slowly slip away and looked like he was falling deeper down the well as he waved his arms about in a struggle.
“Don’t move, Oliver, just stay still,” spoke Phineas calmly.
Oliver closed his eyes and did as he was told. It was not long before he found himself supported by a million water crystals and droplets in the well. They brought Oliver up to Phineas’ level.
Both Anton and Jules exchanged looks of disbelief at the sight before them. The corner of Anton’s lips started to twitch until his face broke into a big smile.
“I knew it! I knew there was something up the doctor’s sleeve after all,” chuckled Anton as he jumped on the spot. Anton rubbed his hands together and moved closer to the edge, getting ready to address Oliver.
“Oliver, I want you to slowly make your way towards the platform and bring back the Amber Crystal,” ordered Anton.
“No! You must not do that!” shouted Phineas as he tried to stay still.
“Oliver, that’s an order, nevermind the doctor. Do as you’re told!” shouted Anton fiercely.
“Oliver, if you remove the Amber Crystal we will all die and not just that, everything in this land will turn to ice. It will be the cause of death and destruction,” pleaded Phineas as he spoke to Oliver.
“Oliver! I said that’s an order!” shouted Anton furiously.
Oliver kept looking at Phineas and Anton then back again, torn between his duty as a soldier and his conscience of protecting life.
“Oliver, listen to me, we’re on different terrain here. His rules don’t apply! Believe you me, if you remove that crystal there is no chance for us to ever get home!”
Oliver looked at Phineas with confusion. He was only accustomed to taking orders and acting upon them. Never had he ever found himself in this sort of position before. He thought he was performing his duty as soldier but ever since they came into this world he just did not know what to think anymore. He kept looking at Phineas, the platform and Anton but felt helpless.
Meanwhile Anton was pacing furiously and shaking his fist at Oliver in a threatening manner.
“You wait until we get back home, soldier, you will pay dearly for this!” shouted Anton, “It looks like I will have to do the dirty work myself!”
Anton took one step into the well and tumbled down a couple of metres. He remembered how Phineas had said that they needed to remain still and stopped struggling. He remained calm and before he knew it he felt a million water crystals and droplets supporting his weight. It was the most unusual feeling floating in mid air among clouds.
Suddenly Anton understood why Storm Blazer had refused to accompany them, why he said that he could not touch the Amber Crystal, why he could not get to it himself. Storm Blazer would have had to cross the well to get to the Amber Crystal. The nature of Storm Blazer state meant that he would never have been able to remain calm. He was one huge lump of raging water droplets and he would have fell to the bottom of the well in an instant.
“Anton you must stop this insanity!” said Phineas who was starting to glide slowly towards the edge where they had been minutes before.
He made sure to make slight movements because each movement he made brought him deeper down the well. He glided one foot in front of the other at a time as if he was ice skating while keeping the rest of his body still. He would slowly push forth his body weight before moving the other foot forward. He did this at such a slow pace while trying to remain at his calmest. This proved very hard to do as he was trying to talk Anton and his men out of getting to the platform. Phineas finally reached the edge of the well and climbed up to the ground where they had been. Jules looked at him in amazement, touching his shoulders.
“Are you alright, doctor?” asked Jules in a low whisper.
Despite the fact that Jules was a soldier and had to follow orders it did not mean that he did not admire the doctor’s courage.
“I’m fine, Jules,” said Phineas in one breath as he collapsed on the ground.
Phineas flexed his muscles and stretched, trying to loosen the tension he had felt in the last few minutes when he had tried to remain still in the well.
Anton had been watching Phineas closely and followed his technique in moving within the well but glided in the opposite direction. He finally reached the platform and slowly hoisted himself up. But just as he did that, the platform fell several metres down the well and a soft tremor ran through it. Anton stayed still with fear.
Phineas and Jules watched from afar while Oliver slowly made his way to them just the way Phineas did. Soon the three of them stood with sweat streaming down their faces as they watched Anton try to grasp the Amber Crystal.
“Anton, come back! You’re making the biggest mistake of your life!” cried Phineas.
Anton was too busy trying to stay still on the dais than listen to anything Phineas was saying. A couple of minutes later the dais stabilised and Anton looked at the Amber Crystal in amazement. It was like a huge piece of diamond that reflected light in all directions. It was bigger than any precious stone he had ever seen. It was like a rock that was as big as the palm of his hands. It was captivating to look at. Anton slowly reached out to touch it while Phineas shouted at the top of his lungs.
Finally when Phineas realised that there was no stopping Anton, he grabbed Oliver and Jules and ran.
“Come on! We’re seconds away from an avalanche!” cried Phineas.
Oliver and Jules had no choice but to run behind Phineas, following the same route that they had been through. They tried to get as far away as they could from the well. Phineas looked back briefly and saw Anton reaching for the Amber Crystal and pluck it from the platform. Phineas stood still and watched while Oliver and Jules scrambled to look back. For a few moments nothing happened and Anton started laughing as he held the crystal in both hands. He was just about to make his way back when a huge jolt in the form of a tremor shook the dais. He was thrown off his balance and no matter how hard he tried to remain still, Anton fell down the well. Phineas turned around and closed his eyes momentarily.
“Come on!” he shouted to Oliver and Jules as they ran to take cover.
Anton struggled as one tremor after another threw him from one end of the well to the other. He hit one side and was holding on to the Amber Crystal tightly. He climbed over the edge and saw Phineas and his men stop short of the tunnel. Anton caught up with them just as an explosion sounded behind him. They all turned around and saw the dais shake and rumble until a huge stream of ice and snow shot through the air from the well. It was like a volcanic explosion of ice that filled the air and they felt the mountain under their feet tremble. The ground started to crack but they had no where to go.
“What’s going on? We need to get back into that tunnel!” shouted Anton above the noise.
“The tunnel is blocked! It looks like it’s collapsed,” shouted Phineas.
Their voices were drowned as columns of ice started shooting from the ground beneath their feet. They ran for cover but there was nowhere to hide. Phineas held his head between his hands as he watched the avalanche unfold. He could see Anton holding on to the Amber Crystal and was tempted to snatch it off of him but even if he wanted to, there was no chance for him to successfully return the Amber Crystal to the platform. The angry spray of ice was slowly advancing towards them and gaining momentum. The only thing he thought about was staying close to Anton. He needed to keep the crystal as close to him as possible if there was any chance for them to survive. He held on to Anton and the men as they crouched on the ground taking shelter in a crystal tree nearby and shielding the Amber Crystal from the avalanche.
It took them several hours for the avalanche to form around them. They watched the horror of the angry ice taking shape and devouring everything in its path. They struggled against its power and very soon the avalanche was in full shape and had taken off. It went through the tunnel and out of the Crystal Well trapping the route that the men had taken. There was no way out for them now and all they thought about was how to survive and dodge the tremors around them.
And there on the other side, unknown to any of the men, stood Glacier waiting for the avalanche. All that the men felt was one fierce jolt after another that signified the mighty battle that took place between Glacier and the avalanche.