The humans had been placed under strong guard and had immediately been taken to the king’s castle. Security was tight within the castle and Phineas sat in his cell thinking his life over, wondering how his end would be. He had heard of Storm Blazer’s outcome and the first thought that had come to his head was that he would never again be able to return home. The second thought that rushed through his mind was that he would experience a similar fate. Now as he sat in his lonely prison cell that he shared with a couple of military personnel back from earth, he thought of all the things he wished he had done with his life. He thought of his friends and family whom he would never see again and the work that he would never be able to complete. He felt a sense of failure for not being able to save earth from the diminishing source of water. And he had a sense of guilt for not having been able to stop Anton and his men from stealing the Amber Crystal. Despite this feeling, he was relieved that the avalanche had been stopped in time but still, half the land had been turned into ice. But the worst the thought of all was the memory he kept getting of Petuna, standing before him with her sword pointed at him. So far, that had been the worst moment of his life.
Phineas looked up at Oliver, Jules and the other men who sat in the cell with him. They looked confused and worn out after seeing Anton killed before their eyes. Phineas pitied them. They had just been following Anton’s orders all along, not realising the weight of his actions, and now it would get them all killed. He sighed deeply, took his spectacles off and hung his head low. The sound of footsteps pattering across the floor outside the cell brought him out of his thoughts. He strained his ears and realised that the sound stopped outside his cell. He heard muffled sounds of two people talking. The steel door unlatched and was flung open. A guard stood at the door with a mean look on his face and another walked in and grabbed hold of Phineas, hoisting him off the floor and dragging him by the arms and shoulders.
“Hey! Where are you taking him!” shouted Oliver as the steel door slammed shut drowning out his voice.
Phineas stood outside as the guards restrained him. He was then led down a long corridor with four guards surrounding him. There was one guard on either side of him, one walking ahead of him and one walking behind him. He felt weak in the knees and was dragging his feet along the floor. He dared not think where he was being taken and why he was taken alone. Was this the start of the end for him, he thought.
It was not long before the corridor branched into a large room. He squinted at the brightness of the room. He could see that there were people at the far end but could not make out their features. The guard in front of him finally stopped, bowed and walked away. He found himself being forced down to his knees while the two guards by his sides held on to his shoulders. He slowly brought his face up and saw that he was kneeling before Petuna.
The first thing he noticed was that she looked very beautiful. She was wearing a magnificent blue gown and had a crown on her head. He saw fairies on either side of her and realised that they must be the ones she always used to talk about.
Petuna motioned to the guards to leave the room. They started to protest but Petuna insisted and asked them to remain close by in case she needed them. When the guards had left, Petuna sat poised, looking at Phineas for the longest time. It was impossible for him to say what she was thinking. It was such a long and strong look that Phineas could not meet her gaze. He finally looked away and then down at the ground.
“Your Highness. Petuna. I ask that you hear me out,” started Phineas.
Petuna said nothing as she waited for him to speak all he willed.
“Your Highness, nothing I say, no explanation I give, can ever change the fact that I was one of the reasons why all this happened to you. Why… why the Amber Crystal got stolen, why half the land has been iced over but…”
Phineas was struggling to find a way to apologise.
“But what, Phineas?” said Petuna impatiently when Phineas paused for quite a long moment.
He looked up at the sound of her voice and rushed to think of it as a hint of encouragement that she might truly listen to him. Phineas rose from his spot on the floor and stood humbly before her.
“When I first came to this land. I had no way of distinguishing friend from enemy. I… I just happened to stumble upon a water-wrestler who was, well, very convincing especially when he showed me the way back home and helped me get there. He… he did it repeatedly. How could I not think of him as a friend? He was the only person, thing, that I knew in this land and..”
“You lie!” shouted Petuna at him.
Phineas was stunned into silence.
“You lie when you say you knew no one else,” said Petuna as she rose slowly from the throne, “You met the Spring of Dreams. She told me everything! About your alliance with Storm Blazer and about your defiance! I know the full truth about you so don’t you dare lie to me!”
Phineas looked away and took a moment before he found the words once again, “You are right. I did meet the Spring of Dreams and she did try to tell me how evil Storm Blazer was. She tried to convince me not to get to the Amber Crystal. I will admit that I did not listen to her. But you must try and understand. I had no way of knowing who to believe. To me, Storm Blazer was the one who had helped me get home, he was the one who promised great things for my world and then I met another - creature - from your land who told me that it was all a bunch of nonsense. I had no way of knowing…”
“And what of your plans to take water from our Flowing River back to your land! Was that also not something devious!” said Petuna in anger, “You’re no better than Anton, who even after being faced with the king, would not hand over the Amber Crystal!”
Her words felt like daggers digging into him and he had no choice but to admit defeat.
“It was wrong and… I have no excuse for what I was planning to do. But please believe me, Petuna, I had no intention of harming anyone. That was never my intention. I have no explanation for that… and I truly apologise…I cannot but ask for your forgiveness. I… I promised to right all the wrong I had caused to this land and…”
“You were meant to come back, to warn my father, my fairies and come back, but instead you joined forces with the rest of your men!” said Petuna accusingly.
“No! That’s not true at all! I was captured. They had caught up with me and took me by surprise. They even had Storm Blazer with them and…”
“No one would have known the way to the Crystal Well. Wallowing Waterfall never reveals her secrets to anyone she does not trust! I gave you the royal liquid compass! I trusted you!”
“It was an accident, Petuna, believe me it was. I was trying to hide it from them but the compass fell out of my hand. Storm Blazer was the one who led them into the Crystal Well. I really was looking to bring the fairies back to you. I swear it!”
Phineas tried to find something else to say but could not find the words. He tried to think of anything that would make her believe him. Petuna was pacing back and forth behind him, her mind deep in thought that she failed to notice her father standing by the entrance. She stood startled when she caught sight of him and fumbled with her gown. The king had been standing long enough to realise that an interesting argument was ensuing between the pair in the room. He walked in slowly until he reached the throne and sat himself down. Petuna stood a distance away, flustered and upset. Phineas, on seeing the king, kneeled down and remained in this position for the longest time until the king motioned to him to rise.
“I remember you as the human who called out to your fellow human to hand over the Amber Crystal to me,” said the king thoughtfully addressing Phineas, “Are you the leader of the humans?”
“No, Your Majesty. Anton, the man you killed with your sword was the leader of the other men in your prison. I have nothing to do with these men, Your Majesty, if you will allow me to explain I would be most grateful and I will accept all that you wish to do with me after this,” said Phineas.
“I have heard enough, human,” said the king, “And I know far more than you think I do.”
King Kornelius gave Petuna a knowing look at which she unfolded her arms that were crossed against her chest and walked over to him.
"Then you must know, Your Majesty, that I made a promise to the princess to protect her and bring her back home safely and that I made a promise to right every wrong that I made since setting foot in this land,” said Phineas.
"Well then, human, there is only one way to find out,” said the king, “prove it. If you mean what you say then all you need to do is prove it.”
Phineas’ mind raced as to how he could prove his good intentions. His scientific mind got to work as he remembered all that he had seen along the way. The only way to remedy the disaster that had hit the land was to reverse the icing process. He knew that it would take centuries for the power in the Amber Crystal to rebuild itself and melt the ice away but he had a solution that might just help.
“Your Majesty, I can help you. I can provide you with a way that can melt the ice over the land that was hit by the avalanche,” said Phineas.
The king watched Phineas closely.
“Very well, you have two days to see to it,” said the king, “But note this very well. If you fail, you will be killed. There is no question about it.”
Phineas gulped and knew that this was not a time for any risk-taking. Despite the threat, he knew that the techniques used back on earth to melt ice without heat would undoubtedly work here.
“Your Majesty, would I be too bold to ask for some assistance,” asked Phineas.
“You may have anything you require for these two days but you will be under close observation,” said the king.
“Thank you, Your Majesty, and… I just have one more request,” said Phineas hesitantly.
“Well what more do you need?”
“I would like to ask for the princess to accompany me…” said Phineas slowly.
The king thought about this for a while and stole a glance at Petuna but before the king could give his answer, Petuna spoke first.
“I have no qualms and wish to see the magic you claim you can perform,” said Petuna.
King Kornelius smiled and called out for the royal guard who rushed in, bowed before the king and listened to the king’s instructions carefully. Phineas was taken out of the room and the king turned towards his daughter who smiled at him nervously, avoiding his gaze before following them out of the hall.