Bang! Crash! Boom! Ping! Ping! Ping! The Jenga tower collapsed. Most of the bricks fell through the open trapdoor leading to the basement. "Oh, man," moaned Aden. "Why do I always lose?" "Losers re-build the towers, "said Rosalynd happily, lying down on the floor.
Rosalynd and Aden were best friends and neighbors. They were both 11 years old. Rosalynd had come over to Aden's house, and they were having a game of Jenga.
"And most of them fell into the basement, too," complained Aden. "Well, the rules are the rules," said Rosalynd, "but alright. I'll help you, but just this once. I'll start building the tower with the bricks here while you collect those in the basement. Okay?" "Okay," said Aden, brightening up, and disappeared down the basement. "And don't forget to turn on the light! It's easy to have an accident if you don't!" called Rosalynd after him and started to build the tower.
After she finished her part, she looked down the trapdoor again. It was dark. "Aden!" she called, "I said turn on the light!" but the basement didn't light up. Nor did any response come to her. "ADEN!" "Well, he's probably having a joke again," she said to herself. "WELL, ADEN! IT'S NOT FUNNY! REMEMBER LAST TIME YOU FELL INTO THE GUTTER? NOW COME BACK HERE THIS INSTANT!" No response. But Rosalynd wasn't the least bit scared. She was used to his jokes. She waited for five more minutes and called down once more," HEY! I'M NOT JOKING! I'M CALLING THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!" She listened carefully, but not the tiniest rustling sound came up from below.
Rosalynd was getting bored by now, but she hated dark, musty places-especially cellars or basements. She had just one more trick up her sleeve before she had to go down and fetch him. She took a deep breath and called, "Hey! Aden! Just fetch the brick and I'll re-build the tower, okay? But just come up or say something so I know you're here! And I've found some chips, too!" She went to the fridge and took out a bag of chips. Then she started munching loudly, and even dropped a chip down the trapdoor to see if Aden would take it.
But no munching sound of chips, or clambering sound of feet up ladders, or response came. Now Rosalynd really began to feel scared. This was not like Aden at all. Usually he'd come once she offers to help him re-build the tower, or at the sound of food. Especially chips. He loved them. But there was no hint of his usual self now.
Rosalynd decided to try once more. "AAAAAAAAAAAADDEEEEEEEEN! A LETTER'S JUST ARRIVED IN THE MAIL! IT'S AN INVITATION TO MACK'S BIRTDAY PARTY! IT'S ARRIVED LATE, SO WER'E SUPPOSED TO GO NOW! IF YOU DON'T COME BACK OUT NOW, I'M LEAVING WITHOUT YOU! BYE!" She stormed around the room, pretending to go out. Then she hid behind the closet and peeked out so she could see the hole clearly. Five minutes passed. Then ten. And fifteen. Rosalynd was really getting worried now. This wasn't right. Aden would usually come out after she gave a few attempts. But this was unusual. Has something nasty happened to him? Perhaps...?
She shook her head vigorously. Getting more horrible thoughts into her head would just make her uneasier about getting into the basement. Oh, come on, Rosalynd, she thought to herself, don't be such a coward. It's just a basement. What's so scary about that? But a little voice said in her head, It's dark in there. And musty, too. And who knows what might lurk there? It's not your basement.
But, before any more thoughts or voices could pop up in her mind, she made up her mind, walked bravely out of the 'protection' of the closet, gripped the sides of the ladder, and put her foot down the first rung. But the moment she let go of the ladder, one foot dangling ready to step on the next rung, the rung she was standing on vanished. She screamed, and the next moment she was falling, falling, to some unknown place.
A flash of light. Rosalynd sat up, dazed. She wasn't in a basement at all, and not a single Jenga brick was in sight.
She was in a rectangle room full of doors, and a walkie-talkie was on the ground next to her. She picked it up. "Aden? Aden!" She called, but there was no answer. She got up and tried again, but the respond was same as the first time. Why, I must be crazy, she thought to herself, I probably broke my neck when I fell down, and one of these doors are leading to Heaven. Or I might have fainted, and this is all a vision. But her voice just now was loud and clear-not like in a vision at all. Well, the best way to find out was to go back up the ladder and ask another person if they could see her, or if she was dreaming or anything like that. She turned up and down and around, but there was no ladder- or trapdoor, either.
And it was only until now that the horror sank in; the hopelessness, the despair. It was as if some ghostly creature had taken place in her heart, and was now swirling inside her. There was no way out, and god knows where Aden is now. She might be anywhere in the world. Oh, what oh what should she do? Rosalynd flung herself onto the hard, rocky ground and wept. She wept until she had no more tears and her head ached. Finally, she pulled herself together and started thinking. If I'm not dead-or having a vision- or dreaming, and if Aden's here, I'd better start looking for him. He's not in the corridor, so he should be behind one of those doors, if he's here at all, she thought, and he likes blue-green colors. So he must be behind one of the blue-green doors. Somewhere along the fourth door, she came to the door she was looking for; it was a lovely turquoise, and the colors seemed to swirl around her as she looked at it. Rosalynd took a deep breath, braced herself for the worst, and opened the door.
Rosalynd couldn't breathe. Fire was flowing through her viens, and lightning burned her skin. An icy wind was blowing in her head; her lungs had turned to stone. Needles pierced her legs, her heart was beating rapidly-and then all of sudden, everything stopped. There was no more fire, no more lightning, no more wind, no more needles. She could breathe normally again, but her heart was still thumping away madly. I must be in hell, Rosalynd thought, I must have just passed through the door of the dead, and darkness, darkness is surrounding me, with the
hounds of the dead and the spirits and ghost.
At last, she gathered up every bit of her courage and opened her eyes, expecting the worst-but the most astonishing sight she had ever seen lay before her eyes. Everywhere around her was crystal clear water, and patches of bright, multi-colored coral were stationed all around her on the seabed. The seabed was made of the finest, silkiest sand one can possibly imagine, and the sand stretched around for miles as far as the eye could see. Dolphins glided gracefully around, and shoals of rainbow colored fish swam by. There were also tiny sea turtles the size of pennies, and seahorses as big as a horse. But the thing that attracted Rosalynd most was the palace. The palace was some twenty meters away from the place Rosalynd was standing on, and the entire palace was made of blue, pink and white pearls. Brightly colored strands of seaweed were wound around the palace to hold the pearls together.
The sight of it was so astonishing Rosalynd’s heart skipped a beat. She wanted to run towards it, but her legs seemed leaden, glued to the spot, and won’t budge a bit. She looked down and let out a silent scream. Her legs were gone, and in their place was a shiny, blue-green tail!
But this was her luck, and she had to accept it. So she decided to try out her tail. When she flicked her tail backwards she shot forward so fast she crashed into a sea turtle, but gradually she got the knack of it, and at last she could go at absolutely any speed or direction she wanted.
Just as she was turning a somersault in the water, a horn sounded. It sounded like the horns that people blew when the king was coming, and sure enough, Rosalynd could see a little dot coming from the distance, getting closer and closer to her every minute. At last, when it got so close it was going to bump into her, she turned to swim away-but a strong hand held her hands behind her back, and no matter how hard she struggled, she couldn’t get away. She couldn’t look around to see who was holding her either, because her head wouldn’t go that far. But she did hear the screech of a carriage being stopped, and then a deep, booming voice said, “Who dares get in the way of the king!”
Rosalynd found herself being forced to turn around-and nearly screamed out loud. In front of her was a huge, ugly lobster, as big as herself. It had bumps, like warts or pimples, growing all over it. It wore a scarlet robe, and on its head was a gold crown set with the finest pearls of the ocean. Rosalynd couldn’t bear the sight of it. “Who are you?” boomed the lobster, and at once Rosalynd recognized the voice. It was of the 'person' who spoke just now; a deep, raspy, ugly voice. “I-I-I’m R-Rosalynd, your m-majesty,” stammered Rosalynd. She had, of course, learned that this lobster before her was a king of some sort. “Well, young mermaid,” said the lobster king, “seeing that you are so fair, you shall be my queen!” “Hurrah!” cheered some few dozen voices. And as Rosalynd looked around her for the first time, she saw something that made her gasp. All around her, there were mermaids and merman, all of different colored tails: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet… and a lot of other colors which she could not name. The mermen wore nothing, but the mermaids wore a special item of clothing over their important body part.
Then she was hoisted onto the carriage next to the king, and the carriage thundered off towards the castle at once. It was a rather comfortable seat, for it was made especially for mermaids, but Rosalynd couldn’t get comfortable at all.
How could she, when she was whisked off suddenly to some unknown underwater mermaid world, and now even being forced to marry some ugly, cruel, huge, lobster king of a sort?
Her head was spinning…spinning…, and then she knew no more.
Now lets go back to Aden .
He, too, had put his foot down the ladder and the rung had disappeared behind him. But he felt that he mustn’t scream or shout for help in front of Rosalynd. What's more, he thought, I can only land in the basement. There's only a short distance in between, so I can't get more than a few bruises. Well, when he came to regret it, it was too late.
He was wrong- he wasn't in his basement. He was in a brightly lit corridor he'd never seen before, and there were doors stretching on both sides of him as far as the eye could see. Next to him were to walkie-talkies. He picked up one of them and stuffed it into his pocket. Well, as the old saying 'curiosity killed the cat', that's just what happened He was curios about what lay behind the doors. Without thinking, he walked to the nearest door- a brilliant golden white one- turned the door- handle, and went in.
Aden crawled to his feet. What happened? He was in a room with a small rectangular table in the center. Several chairs were stacked in a corner, and a coach was parked against the wall. On the left of the couch was a chest. Everything except for the coach was made of wood, and walls were of mud. To Aden, it looked like a very old-fashioned living room. Suddenly, he heard people talking,"....I left it at the living room," came a man's voice. "I'll get it." This time it was a lady's: soft and light, like she was singing and talking at the same time. Suddenly, Aden realized the horrible thing: He didn't know how, but he had broken into someone's house. And people were inside it! His heart was beating in his mouth. The man mentioned a living room... this was probably it! And the lady was coming!
There was only one thing he could do now. He quickly lay down and pretended to have fainted.
A second later, he heard footsteps and then a shrill high scream. Someone came running. "What's the matter?" he asked urgently. It was the man's voice.
The next thing Aden knew was someone pouring buckets of water over his head. He tried really hard to stay still, but he chocked and coughed and spluttered. He couldn't help sitting up and sneezing the water out of his nose.
When he finally dared to open his eyes, he saw a beautiful lady was kneeling next to him, holding an empty bucket. He gasped. She looked exactly like Rosalynd! The only difference was just that her eyes were amber, and Rosalynd's were blue. Everything else was the same: the wary golden hair, the white skin, the rosy lips. Then it was the lady's turn to gasp." Fredrick! Fredrick, the boy's awake!" A young man came running. He had straw-colored hair, brown eyes, and a high nose. "Thank goodness!" said the man called Fredrick. Then Fredrick turned to Aden. For a moment, Aden was scared they might do something horrible to him, but then he looked at the man's kind eyes and the scared feeling vanished immediately." I think we need some explaining here," he said to Aden. "Shall we sit and talk? But first, you must dry off."
He stared, puzzled, at Aden’s T-shirt and shorts. Aden stared back at him, and then it hit him-the man was wearing a tunic! And the woman too! Why hadn't he realized it earlier? I thought no one wears tunics now, thought Aden. They just wore them in Ancient Greece. How strange. But he had no time to think anymore because the young lady had brought a small sized tunic and sandals for him. After he changed, they sat down on the stools. "Now let's hear your story," said Fredrick. All the time Aden had been changing his clothes, he had already come up with a plan. He was a good actor, so it wasn't hard. He sighed, and put on a really sad face and voice.
"I am called Aden, and I'm 10 years old. My father and mother were really cruel to me, and made me work day and night and whipped me. One day-that's yesterday, I think, but I've lost track of time- they said I cost too much money with the amount of food and clothes. That's just an excuse to get rid of me, I suppose, for they barely give me a stale crust and a pint of water everyday. So they dropped me in a rubbish heap in the dead of the night, which was about to be set alight the next morning. Luckily, I found a box of matches that still worked, so I lit one and by the light I found those weird clothes and put them on. They were better than my ragged tunic before, at least; the cloth left of it can barely be made into a handkerchief. Well, there was only one thing left to do except to sit there and wait to be set alight with the rubbish the next day; I groped my way blindly towards the direction of what I thought was the entrance with some help from the matches. But before I even got halfway there, something hard fell down from the top of one of the rubbish heaps and, most unfortunately, struck me on the head. Then I was knocked out. I had a vague impression of being carried by someone later on, but I don't remember clearly. Then I woke up, and now I'm here."
"What a poor child!" cried Fredrick after Aden was done with his story. "I am Fredrick, and this is my wife, Dorothy. We are Greeks. And-his face went red-"wealwayswantedtoadoptaboylikeyou!" he said really quickly so the words stuck together.
Aden felt dizzy. What? he thought. They always wanted to adopt a boy like me? And they're Greeks? I thought Greeks didn't wear tunics now! And who hasn't heard of T- shirts and shorts? He needed a place to live in before he figured how to get back and find Rosalynd, so he said, "Yes! I'll be really grateful!" Fredrick let out a sigh of relief, and Dorothy smiled. "I think a nice feast will be a start," she said and went into the courtyard.
"Come, Aden, "said Fredrick, and he led him to another room in the house. This was a bedroom, no doubt; there were two wooden beds in one side of the room, and a wooden chest beside one of the beds. On the chest were a candle and a book. Aden managed to catch a glimpse of the title before Fredrick called him: The Olympics. "Aden, please come over for a minutes." said Fredrick. "This is the bedroom. You can sleep here," he said, rolling out a sleeping mat on the floor. "And there's the chamber pot." Fredrick pointed to a small pot in the corner. "I'll leave you to yourself for the time being. Feel free to explore," he said. And with that, he left the room. Aden was dazed. His thoughts were all mixed up in his head, and he was getting a headache.
Suddenly, Aden felt really sleepy. He curled up into a ball and fell fast asleep.
"Aden? Aden!" Aden felt someone shaking him. He groaned, but sat up and opened his eyes anyway. It was Fredrick. Aden could tell Fredrick was trying really hard to keep calm, but actually he was containing a mass of excitement inside him.
As soon as he saw Aden open his eyes, he could hold it no longer. "Look look look look look look look!" he bellowed, jumping up and down whilst pointing out of the window in a frenzy of excitement. The "window" actually just consisted of a square hole. Aden crawled to the window and stuck his head out. A billowing red banner caught his attention. The words on it were printed in huge golden block letters. It read: CHILDREN OLYMPICS! SPECIAL! HURRY TO THE TOWN SQUARE TO HEAR THE NEWS AND PARTICPATE! "Quick!" cried Fredrick. "I want you to participate! I've been in the Olympics once too, you know!" and with that, he took Aden by the hand and bounded away. In no time, they were at the Town Square.
The Town Square was already bursting with people (all wearing tunics) chattering excitedly. In the middle of the square was a messenger. He had a little wooden desk before him, on which was an inkwell, a piece of stick-like grass, and an inkwell.
Then the messenger started to speak, and the square fell silent. "Gentlemen and boys," he began, “ Welcome to the 7th Olympics. This time it is very special, and it is my honor to announce to you that this time we are going to have a Child Olympics!" He paused, and everyone applauded.
The messenger continued, "There will be a chariot race, a horse-riding race, a long distance running race, a short distance running race, and a discus-throwing race. If you wish to participate, please come and sign up at the counter."
With a roar, all the boys with their dads in the square rushed forward. With lightning speed, Fredrick yanked Aden to the front of the line.
"Name, please," said the messenger simply. "A-d-e-n, Aden," said Fredrick, so excited that he looked about to jump out of his skin any moment. The messenger scribbled on a piece of paper. "Game."
"What are you good at, Aden?" asked Fredrick. "I don't know, but I'm strong. Very, very strong," said Aden. "Discus-throwing, then," said Fredrick, still hopping about like a squirrel.
"Next!" called the messenger.
The pure white ceiling flickered. Rosalynd opened her eyes and blinked. What happened? She was lying on a downy, feathery bed, her head resting on a feather pillow. She sat up to see better. Next to her bed was a little silver desk, and on it were a silver mirror with a handle and a silver comb. Both were set with pink pearls. She picked up the mirror and looked at it closely. All around the frame, there were tiny, delicate carvings of sea animals, all smiling and playing. There were dolphins and seahorses, striped fish and sea turtles. And there were corals and seaweed and sand, too. On the handle of the mirror was the symbol: R. The comb was same as the mirror, with the sea animals and the R symbol on its handle. R stands for Rosalynd, she thought happily.
Rosalynd put down both of these and looked around the room once more. At the end of the room, leaning on a wall, there was a wadrobe made of the finest birch you can imagine. The corners of it were all curled either upwards or downwards, so when you looked at it you felt as if you were riding on a wave. Rosalynd fell in love with it at once. At her left there was an emerald green door, the doorknob made of silver.
When she looked to her right she could see three big, round transparent windows. She swam over to them to see what’s going on outside, but as she got closer she noticed an unusual smell. It was that of beef steak and fries. The closer she got to the windows, the stronger the smell became. I wonder why the smell of beef steak and fries comes so strongly from here, thought Rosalynd as she reached out and touched the window.
Instantly, the window dissolved, and in its place was a plate of real beef steak and fries! They were set on plate made of diamond, with a diamond set of utensils and a piece of tissue paper. Rosalynd’s mouth dropped open in disbelief. But by this time she was getting quite hungry, and, very carefully, she picked up a fry. It was solid and hot. So it wasn’t fake! She took a bite. Instantly, the wonderful crunchy hotness of fresh fries warmed her up from head to toe. Soon, she was munching away happily.
After she had finished all of the fries and beef steak on her plate, she swam over to the next window and sniffed it. This one smelt of cucumbers and orange juice. I’d like that, thought Rosalynd, and, without waiting to be told, touched that window too. It disappeared just like the first one, and a crystal dish holding a fat, juicy cucumber and a cup of refreshing orange juice along with crystal utensils appeared on the window-ledge. Rosalynd gobbled those up, too, and then swam over to the last window. The delicious scent of chocolate pudding hung in the air. “Chocolate pudding!” she cried out loud, “my favorite dessert!” and five minutes later, the bouncy, smooth pudding had disappeared down her throat.
After finishing everything, she noticed that the windows had formed back, and different delicious scents were coming from them once more. But she had had quite enough of eating now, and decided to check out the wardrobe.
The wardrobe was a wonderful thing to feel. Rosalynd didn’t know it, but the wardrobe was made out of a birch tree, washed over and over by the waves for hundreds of years. I wonder what’s inside, thought Rosalynd, as she placed her hand on the handle. There was only one way to find out. She pulled the door open. “Wow!” gasped Rosalynd, and for a good reason, too.
Rows and rows of sparkling, special clothes for mermaids lined the wardrobe. There was a big mirror at the back of the door, and all around the frame were carvings of delicate butterflies. At the bottom of the wardrobe there were two little drawers engraved with bells, and when Rosalynd opened one of them she was nearly blinded by the sudden shininess. The drawer was divided into nine sections, and in each section there was a crown-shaped headdress. Every headdress was set with different colored jewels, and every one of them had its own unique animal sitting in the middle. There was a ruby red one set with a scorpion, a green-gold one set with a sea turtle, a radiant violet one set with a snake, a cool blue one set with a rabbit, a fiery orange-yellow one set with a lion, a sunsetty, rosy one set with a dog, and a crystal one set with a swan. Rosalynd liked the swan best. She shut the drawer carefully and opened the one beside it.
This drawer was divided into nine parts, too, of which contained nine different silver necklaces. Every necklace matched a different animal on the headdresses, and there was a delicate little jewel, matching the headdress' colors, set on the back part of each animal near the tail. Her gaze fell on the crystal swan. "Why, what a graceful swan," she said softly to herself. "Perhaps I won't have a bad time here, after all."
Just then, there came a knock at the door. "Who's there?" called Rosalynd. " A messenger of his Majesty's," replied a light, dancing voice of a young mermaid outside. Rosalynd swam over to the door and opened it. The mermaid looked a bit younger than her, with straight brown hair that fell to her waist, and wide eyes that matched her hair. Her tail was yellowish-orange, and she wore plain mermaid clothes. Rosalynd liked her at once." Come in, come in," she said to the mermaid. "Thank you, your Grace," she replied as she shut the door. "I am Adeline, and I'm 8 years old. I'm to be your servant. But now, I deliver a letter from his Majesty to your Grace.". She handed Rosalynd a pink envelope with the royal seal sealing the opening. Rosalynd tore it open and unfolded the letter inside. It read:
The marriage is to be hoisted tomorrow. You are to be ready at 8:00a.m. Adeline will lead you to the Wedding Room.
Rosalynd drew in a her breath sharply.
"Aden! Aden! Aden..." Aden was sweating from head to toe. His heart was thumping so hard his chest ached. The moment he had been practicing for so long was about to come. ' Tweet!' the whistle blew. Aden let all the energy in his body weigh into his right hand. "You can do it, Aden. I know you can." he remembered Fredrick's words and, swinging back, he thrust his arm forward and let go.
The discus soared through the air. It didn't land. It soared on, past the judges, past the markers, past the audience. It didn't stop. All eyes were on the discus, and everyone's mouth was open. It sailed right out of the stadium, and sent the markers chasing after it. But still it whizzed on, and didn't reduce its speed. Soon, it had flown some good 100 meters, and the markers, puffing and panting, had to jump into chariots to keep up with it. The people in the Town Square, thinking this was some kind of joke, all dropped their shopping and chased after the chariot and the discus, whooping and laughing. Then the people watching in the stadium got over their shock and realized the fun of this, and they, too, jumped out of their seats and hurried after the others. You can imagine there was a great deal of chattering and shoving and stepping on toes, but no one really cared. Then the discus landed. It had landed at the farthest end of the seaside, where it could go no farther or it would fly right out of Greece.
There was a moment's silence. Then someone cried out, "Hurrah! Hurrah! Three cheers for Aden!" and the others followed. Then the whole party turned back and started a marathon back to the stadium, for everyone wanted to get Aden's signature. And even the people the Town Square, who didn't pay any money at all, rushed in. Soon the stadium was bursting with people crowding around Aden.
But then the person-in-charge boomed into the loudspeaker," Attention, please! Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. Now we have to hoist the awarding ceremony!" Most people went back, and those who lingered were forced back by the guards. Aden stood on the 1st place, and two others on the 2nd and 3rd. Then the Greece National Anthem was sounded by a group of musicians with curious instrument used in ancient Greece. After the music had stopped, a gold medal was awarded to Aden, and a holy wreath was placed on his head. "Now we have a surprise for you, ladies and gentlemen," boomed the person-in-charge into his loudspeaker, "because Aden has won the discus-throwing event, the most important event in Greece history, and because he has broken the history record of adults and children discus-throwing, he shall have another prize, the most treasured possession of Greece for the last hundred years!". There was a deafening sound of clapping and cheering, and a man presented a little wooden box with a metal clasp to Aden.
As soon as Aden received the box and held it with both hands, he could feel that it was full of magic, strong, good, dangerous magic that must be used carefully. As he stood there holding it and listening to the National Anthem, a wave of warmth flowed over him from his fingertips to his toes and a tingling feeling came over him. He felt that he must not open the box and find out what it contained until a message, a sort of signal, came to him.
"What should I do?" cried Rosalynd, close to tears. " I can't marry that ugly creature! I can't, I can't, I can't!" "Shhh!" whispered Adeline. "Not so loud! His Majesty's room's just next to this one!" "But I simply can't marry that horrid thing!" breathed Rosalynd, "Not for anything in the world! I'd rather die!" "Yes, your Majesty, I understand," said Adeline, speaking in a low tone, "I've been captured here as a baby, and if you do anything wrong, not to mention resisting, it will be severe torture. That's why I've decided to help you. But first, your Grace, may I ask you a question?" "Yes, you may, "replied Rosalynd. "Where did-I mean, did you come from, er-another place? Because when I saw the look on your face, and when you stood there but not swimming away at top speed when the king came, I knew you were new, or haven't come to this place before. No one dares to stand in the way of the king." said Adeline.
Rosalynd hesitated for a moment. Should she tell her everything? How should she know if she was a friend or a spy of the king's? But somehow she just knew she was a friend, and so she told her tale: The trapdoor, finding Aden, the corridor of doors, opening the turquoise door, turning into a mermaid, and being captured by the king. When she had finished, Adeline's big brown eyes widened in disbelief. "So there are humans, after all!" she exclaimed. "Fancy swimming-I mean, walking-on two legs! Oh, it is funny!" and laughed quietly (for they were still afraid of being overheard). But suddenly she grew very stern. "Now I am going to tell you a secret," said Adeline, looking straight into Rosalynd's eyes. "The greatest secret that I have ever told. Will you swear not to tell anyone except for your friend-that is, Aden?" "Yes, I swear," said Rosalynd.
"Now, when I was swimming here to deliver the letter to you, I passed the Black Door. That is the door to the entrance of the Sea Witch's chambers. Usually, we servants will hurry past it, for we have been told horrible tales of what lies behind the door. But when I passed it, I heard someone talking behind it. I was curious and stopped to eavesdrop. Now, I didn't mean to, but usually it's just deathly silence behind that door, and anyway it's too exciting. So I pressed my ear against the door, and heard a crackling voice, probably the witch's, saying, 'Electra dear (that's her electric pet eel), I must get the two halves of the energy ball and control time in the Corridor of Doors! When I've entered the Door of Evil, and killed the dragon, the whole world, the different places, and the times between, will be mine. But now, two good-for-nothing children have entered the exact two places where the halves of the energy balls are. They are blocking my way. In order to get back to their own place, they must get the energy ball halves. But no fear, my Electra; I know one thing that they don't. And that is: One half of the ball is the prize for the Olympics in Ancient Greece, and the other is right here, the wedding necklace, kept on the king's drawer!' this is what she said," finished Adeline.
"Do you suppose the corridor-the one with the many doors in it -is the Corridor of Doors that the witch mentioned?" said Rosalynd excitedly," and the two children are Aden and I? And if we each get half of the energy ball, we can return to our own place and own time?" "Yes, that's what I think, too,"replied Adeline. "but there's a big problem. How do you tell Aden to get the other half when you can't communicate at all?" "No, no," said Rosalynd cheerfully, "have you forgotten already?" and, as she said this, she took the walkie-talkie and handed it to Adeline. "Oh, of course, the walkie-talkie!" she exclaimed. "Why, I am forgetful at times!" and they both burst out laughing.
When they had finished, they grew serious again. "Now we should start laying out plans," said Adeline, "and we'd better start straight away. You won't want to attend the marriage, so we'd best steal the necklace this very night so you can go home."
It was midnight. Rosalynd inched closer to the king's door, her heart racing. On one of her wrists was tied a long piece of string. Adeline held the other end of the string, ready to pull her back when she signaled with a sharp tug. One step... two steps... three steps. Rosalynd placed her hand on the doorknob as silently as possible. Please don't let it be locked, prayed Rosalynd. She tried it, and with a soft click, the door swung open. It was very dark in the room, and the king was snoring loudly. But at the far end of the room, Rosalynd noticed an unusual warm, orangish ball of light. It was suspended in mid-air, so she guessed that it must be on top of something. She swam softly to it, taking care not to send out too many ripples so the king would feel her presence. But even when she drew level to it, she couldn't see what it really was; it was too bright, but somehow didn't hurt her eyes. Without knowing it, she reached out and touched the light.
There was a blinding flash, and the next instant, both Rosalynd and the ball of light had disappeared.
Rosalynd steadied herself. She was back in the Corridor of Doors. In one hand she held the walkie-talkie, and in the other the energy ball. But now the energy ball had grown less light, she could see that it was actually only half a ball. I must get back to my own world, thought Rosalynd, my parents are probably worried sick. And Aden's, too. Well, it's about time I paid a call on him now.
She looked down at the walkie-talkie in her hand. It had a little screen at the top, and the alphabets ranging from A-Z below it. Below the keyboard was a white button with the word 'ENTER' printed on it. Something was flashing at the corner of the screen. Rosalynd peered closely at it, and noticed there were two words. They read: Place. Name. and kept on blinking. Suddenly, Rosalynd understood everything. She pressed the 'A' on the keyboard. It appeared on the screen. Then she entered 'ANCIENT GREECE', and after that 'ADEN', and then punched the 'ENTER' button. As soon as she did that, an antennae shot out of the walkie-talkie, and a beeping noise filled the corridor. After what seemed like ages, the beeping noise stopped, and all went quiet.
"Aden?" said Rosalynd unsurely into the walkie-talkie. "Rosalynd?" came a voice; Aden's voice. "Yes, I'm Rosalynd," said Rosalynd, a wave of immense relief coming over her. "I'm in the Corridor of Doors. And now please listen to me. I know where you are, so you needn't tell me that. You're in Ancient Greece, right? Right. This year, there will be a Children's Olympics, and the award for the discus-throwing champion is half of the energy ball. Once you touch it, you will come back here. Now, you need to-" "Yes, yes, I know that," Aden cut in impatiently. “And I am that discus-throwing champion. But I didn't get any energy ball, just a wooden box." "Well, open it, then," said Rosalynd.
The next instant, Rosalynd saw a golden-white door to her left burst open, a blinding white light shone into her eyes, and there, standing beside her, was Aden. "Rosalynd!" cried Aden, and "Aden!" cried Rosalynd at the same time. And then both children, "Why, have you been to a fancy dress party!"; for Aden was still in his tunic with the holy crown on his head and the gold medal hanging on his neck, and Rosalynd was in a light, silky dress the color of her tail when she was a mermaid. "Oh no," said Rosalynd, "I don't know why I'm in these clothes, but I have a clue. I'll tell you about my adventures later. But now, first things first."
"Alright," agreed Aden, "but how do we get back? I've no idea." "Well, said Rosalynd slowly, "I do have hints. But please be quiet for a minute while I recall them." Rosalynd shut her eyes. After quite a time, she opened them. "Okay," she said, "I've got it. First, we have to find a door-probably one of them here-called the Door of Evil. Then we have to kill the dragon-I suppose it's going to be behind that door- with the energy ball. After that I suppose we will be back at your house again, I don't know. That's all the information I have."
"Alright," said Aden, "we've got to find the Door of Evil first. I suppose it will be a blackish color if its going to be evil." "Yes," said Rosalynd, "or dark blue or dark purple. Now, I'll start searching on this side, and you on the opposite. If you find anything like it, call me. I'll call you too. Let's start." Rosalynd started walking sideways, looking for dark-colored doors. But all she saw were blue, green, red, yellow or orange ones. Suddenly, she heard Aden cry," Hey! Rosalynd! Come over here! I think I've found it!"
Rosalynd ran over to Aden. He was standing in front of a creepy, purple-black door. The sight of it made Rosalynd shiver. "I think this is it, too," whispered Rosalynd. She didn't know why, but her voice had turned into a whisper. Both children felt the tense really pressing on them now. Aden, being the braver of the two, said in a quavering voice, "So long, Rosalynd.", clenched his teeth, and turned the
An icy draft blew in the children's faces. They were in one of the passages of a castle, though it was really more like a dungeon than a castle. The passage stretched on and on. It seemed to have no ending, and if you looked further on you would just see big, black holes at both ends, seeming as if they wanted to swallow you up. A menacing, cold stone wall towered behind them. On it were some stone torches, lit with a blue fire. It cast an eerie light over the passage. It was so deathly silent in the passage that they could hear their own hearts hammering in their chests. In front of them was a wide stone staircase. Neither children wanted to speak. They were too nervous.
Then Aden, feeling that he'd rather get it over with sooner than to wait there feeling the tense grow every minute, took a step towards the stairway. He turned round to look at Rosalynd and saw that she was pale with fright, but still, she took a step forward and stood beside him. Rosalynd held out her hand, and Aden took it. Together they descended the stairway and started tiptoeing up.
It was exuasting work going up. The staircase seemed to spiral on and on forever, higher and higher. The staircase had obviously been made for a dragon. The length of a step was as long as Aden, and soon the children were jogging, and then clambering, and then crawling up the stairs. They had to take a good many rests, and Rosalynd very nearly cried. But at last, they came to the top.
As they came closer to the top, both the children noticed a strange thing: the nearer they got to the top, the hotter the halves of the energy ball became. And when they had finally got to the top, the halves were so scorching hot it would have burnt a hole in your or my flesh. But the two of them could stand it, and weren't the slightest bit burnt. But they didn't have time to notice these things.
For in front of them rose a great, black door, with all sorts of the scariest patterns ever carved carved on it. The sight of it made you freeze, but by now the children felt too overwhelmed to feel anything, even scared. Behind it came a clinking noise, like metal against metal, mixed with a grinding noise, like stone against stone. It hooked up the children's curiosity at once. "Shall we?" mouthed Aden at Rosalynd. Rosalynd nodded and mouthed back, "Energy balls at the ready."
The door-handle was about twice as high as Rosalynd. If she stood on Aden's shoulders, she could easily get at it. Well, this wasn't hard. She climbed up, and Aden steadied her. But still she wasn't quite high enough. She stood on tiptoes, lunged at it, and, to the children's surprise, the door swung open easily-but just a crack. Rosalynd jumped back lightly to the ground, and together, they pushed open the door. At first there was such a blinding light neither children could see; but when they could they gaped.
They were looking into a huge room. A sea of jewels littered the floor: gold coins, silver coins, goblets, bracelets, diamonds, necklaces, and all sorts of other jewerlery piled up to the ceiling. And right in the middle of those was the Dragon, facing them.
It was enormous, and so black it hurt your eyes. It had two orange spikes sticking out of its head. Its eyes were a cold yet bright yellow, and huge green wings were folded against its side. Purple spikes covered its tail. As soon as it saw the children, it reared up on its hind legs and roared. A stream of fire shot out of its mouth straight towards the children. The next moment was very confusing.
Both the children raised up their hand with the the energy ball, and the two halves met. Then the halves became one, and the energy ball got bigger and bigger, and became a swirling mass of fire; and then the children heard a piercing cry from the dragon as the energy ball shot out a ray of light and struck the dragon at the heart.
The next moment was even more confusing than the one before. The children caught a glimpse of dinosaurs running through a forest, and then of an ancient person, and then of a spaceman, and a super computer. And through all these times they felt as if they were traveling in zigzags, being pulled and tugged sharply. Then, suddenly, a big black hole opened in front of them, and they were falling, falling, and Aden's room came in sight and they were standing in Aden's room, still holding the energy ball in its normal size, catching their breath.
This story is drawing to an end now. But afterwards, the children made the halves of the energy ball into lucky charms that hung around their necks wherever they went, and grew up to lead long and happy lives. But no matter what happened, they were always best friends.