The Challenge (Chapter 27)

It had not taken long for Phineas to apply his idea. It was nothing short of a stroke of genius, he had thought to himself. He had asked the guard to bring him a bowl of salt and to take him to the closest iced up part of the land.

Petuna had heard about his plan and had followed closely. She still felt wary and untrusting of him but was as curious as anybody. When they had reached an area of land where the ice was thick and deep, he had applied the entire contents of the bowl to a tiny area of the ice. The area was no larger than the palm of his hand and he had concentrated the salt on that specific spot. In no time, the ice melted and part of the soil underneath the once icy surface started to show through. Petuna could not believe her eyes. They had had the solution lying in their kitchens all along and all it had taken was for a stranger from another world to show them what they had failed to see. All it took was a bowl of salt to melt a small patch of ice. But it would take them much more than a bowl to tackle half the land.

Phineas had laughed at Petuna’s comment when she had said, “We are not salt breeders, Phineas.”

No amount of magic could have conjured up an insane amount of salt just for melting purposes. But Phineas had other ideas in mind. The salt that had melted the ice was nothing but a test for him to see whether the conditions on this land were similar to the conditions back on earth. If salt could melt ice here then he could try other chemical methods too.


Petuna found herself being led into a special laboratory that was the property of Cloud Intelligence. They had set it up down on the land rather in the heavens for experiments and tests to do with the soil. Phineas managed to find his way around the laboratory with ease. He seemed to blend in just fine with all the test tubes and beakers. He spoke in an animated manner explaining what it was he was doing.

Petuna had chuckled to herself when she remembered what he had said back when they were in the Dark Forest about his tendency to ramble and get carried away. Here she was witnessing his fascination with science at work and he was even more animated with an audience about. They finally emerged from the laboratory with a special liquid that he had concocted from a blend of chemicals.

Petuna had started to lose concentration from his chatter and she was glad that several of Cloud Intelligence’s personnel were recording everything that Phineas did and said.

Phineas’ heart was beating fast with excitement and anticipation as they stood before a new spot of ice. A crowd had gathered around him. They had heard of the challenge the king had set the human and had come to watch it with their own eyes. The air was thick with anticipation.

Phineas dropped the liquid onto the ice. It had barely touched the ground when the hidden surface below started to pry through in the same way a blanket of leaves flies away in the face of a strong wind. The ice that had once been strong and stubborn was now nothing but a gentle trickle of water that flowed away and found a new home in a nearby stream or waterway.

The crowd cheered and clapped when the moment of surprise had subsided. Cloud Intelligence’s officers were close at hand and their own scientists immediately set to work to concoct the same mixture in the laboratory. This time large amounts of the liquid would be taken up to the clouds in the heaven where they would be sprayed them down like rain on the iced over areas of the land. It would not be long before the Land of the Flowing River would start to take its usual form again.

The End

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