"Sinbad! Where are you!?" Doubar was searching for his little brother again. They were on master Dim-Dim's island, and Sinbad had talked his brother into playing hide-and-seek--for the ninth time in a row. It was beginning to get dark, and Doubar hadn't managed to find his brother in the normal ten minute limit they had agreed on while playing in the woods. "Sinbad! It's time to go in, so come out!" Doubar waited for a few seconds for his brother to respond. Sinbad could be a little devil at times, but he usually listened to his brother. Doubar called again before going back to ask Dim-Dim for help in searching for his brother.
Doubar was surprised as he got back to the fortress a few minutes later when he spotted Dim-Dim talking with another sorcerer outside of the house.
"No, I have no idea what it is, or why it is there." The unknown sorcerer said. The sorcerer was covered with a cloak, so Doubar couldn't see who it was.
Dim-Dim didn't look too upset, but Doubar could tell that he was a little concerned. "Well, we should warn the boys before they decide to investigate it. Speak of the devils." Dim-Dim turned to Doubar, who had just come up beside him. "I see you, Doubar, but where is your brother?"
"I don't know, Dim-Dim. We were playing hide-and-seek when I heard you call us in. I tried to find Sinbad to tell him that the game was over, but I couldn't find him." Doubar looked down at his feet. "I hope nothing has happened to him, but since he's usually good at coming back, and he didn't..."
Dim-Dim put his hand on Doubar's shoulder. "I'm sure he's fine. He probably was ignoring you. Let's see if I can find his with my magic." Dim-Dim waved goodbye to the mysterious sorcerer, who was misting himself away, and started casting his spell into the cup of water he was holding.
"Portevie, Portevee, show me where Sinbad can be!" Dim-Dim and Doubar patiently watched the water mist into blue clouds and back to form an image--of darkness.
"What does that mean, Dim-Dim?" Asked a worried Doubar.
"I'm not sure, Doubar. It's never done that before." Doubar looked as though he was going to go out in search of his brother, even though the sun had already gone down behind the sea beyond.
"I'll ask some of the other sorcerers if they know. Meanwhile, try to get some sleep."
"But..." interrupted Doubar.
"Doubar, Sinbad is a smart boy; he can take care of himself. Besides, there are no dangerous animals of people here, and the night is warm. If he's hiding it will teach him a lesson. If he's lost, he will still be there in the morning. Go to bed."
"Alright." Doubar had no intention of going to bed. He was planning to sneak out later to search for his brother by himself. Then he remembered something. "Dim-Dim, what was that thing you and the other sorcerer were talking about when I came back?"
"It is a strange hole of some type. I'm not sure if it leads anywhere, or if it is just a hole in the ground."
"Could Sinbad have found it, and fallen in?"
"I don't think so, Doubar. It was pretty far from where you guys were playing. He'll probably turn up in the morning. Goodnight!"
Sinbad looked around, astonished. While playing looking for the perfect place to hide he had gone a little farther out than the boundries set by Doubar and himself, and had come across a bright hole in the ground. It seemed to be glowing a bright white color. 'I'm surprised I didn't see it a mile away' thought Sinbad, and he bent down to get a better look into it when it pulled him in. He saw nothing but pure light for a few moments, and then found himself in a forest quite different from Dim-Dim's--and it was mid-morning. Sinbad called out for his brother, hoping that he had just fallen asleep in the woods, and Dim-Dim was teaching him a lesson for worrying his brother. "Doubar! Dim-Dim! I'm sorry I worried you! I want to go home now!" After repeating himself several times and getting no answer, Sinbad decided that he really was lost, and he had no idea how he got to where ever he was. Feeling very lost, Sinbad sat down on a rock and wondered what his heroes would do in his situation. "They'd probably try to get back home" he finally answered himself. Gathering his courage, he boldly set off in search of a path, or some other sign of civilization. He found a path leading West, and decided to follow it into the strange woods.
Sinbad hadn't been walking for five minutes when he heard the sound of approaching footsteps. He quickly crouched behind the trunk of a tree, waiting for the maker of the footsteps the show themselves. Soon Sinbad caught sight of two people. One was a young blond-haired woman, around twenty years of age. The other was a dwarf; a creature that Sinbad had thought only existed in children's stories. They appeared to be looking for something. Hoping it wasn't him, Sinbad crouched farther down into the tall grass surrounding the tree.
"This way, Brax," the woman called over her shoulder. "I thought I saw something moving over here!" The woman walked closer to Sinbad's position. He was now only about 2 meters from the hiding boy.
"Valana, Valana, Valana! If there was something here, you've probably scared it off with all of your yelling!" The dwarf called Brax chided his companion. "What are we going to eat for lunch if you scare off everything that can move!?" Brax started back towards the path. Sinbad let out the breath he didn't know he had been holding. Brax stopped and around unexpectedly.
Valana gave him a quizzical look. "What is it?" she asked.
"Shhhh! I thought I heard something in the bushes." he whispered. He began sneaking back in Sinbad's direction. It was now or never, Sinbad decided, and sprung up out of the grass, preparing to run. He didn't get the chance.
Brax grabbed his arms and held him tight. "What do we have here?"
"Let me go!" Sinbad twisted and turned, trying to break the grip that the dwarf had on him, but it was no use.
"Don't worry, boy, I won't hurt you." Sinbad looked up at him in anger. "I'll let you go if you promise you won't run." Sinbad considered that for a moment, and then nodded his agreement.
"Good." said the dwarf, as he let go of his arms. "My name is Brax, and this," he gestured to his companion "is Valana." Valana smiled at Sinbad. "What's your name, boy?"
"So, Sinbad, what are you doing in these woods?"
The explanation came all at once. "I was playing hide-and-seek with Doubar, and It was dark, and there was a hole, and I fell in, and I..."
"Whoa! Slow down! Better yet, why don't you come with us? I bet you're hungry."
Sinbad was hungry, but Dim-Dim had told him never to go with anyone he didn't know. Brax seemed to sense his reservations.
"You don't have to if you don't want to, but unless you live around here, you're going to need some help getting home."
'He did have a point', Sinbad thought. 'Besides, I don't even know where here is.' "Alright. I'll go with you."
"That's a good boy!" Valana gestured towards the path. "You can explain your predicament on the way to Ariel's fortress. She's our..." Valana looked thoughtful for a moment. "Queen I guess is the best way to describe her. She's very nice, and I know she'd be willing to help you."
Sinbad told Brax and Valana about the hide-and-seek game, and falling into the hole as they traveled North along the path to meet the mysterious Ariel...
The morning broke clean and clear. Doubar had tried to wait up for his missing brother, but around midnight he had fallen asleep. As soon as he woke, he rushed into Sinbad's room, expecting him to be there, but he wasn't. Sinbad's bed hadn't been slept in. Worried, Doubar rushed into Dim-Dim's quarters, and woke his benefactor.
"Master Dim-Dim! Master Dim-Dim! Sinbad isn't home yet! Can I go look for him?"
Dim-Dim was rather worried to hear about the still-missing Sinbad. "So, Sinbad hasn't come home yet... Go ahead and look for him Doubar, but be careful! I'll see if I can find him with my magic."
Doubar quickly dressed and went out into the woods. "Sinbad!" he called. "Where are you little brother?" Before long, Doubar had walked nearly all through the boundaries of the hide-and-seek game. 'Well, Sinbad never has been one to worry too much about rules.' he thought, and started searching the area outside of the playing area. After about an hour's worth of searching without finding hide nor hair of his brother Doubar had become very worried. Maybe he had come across the hole and fallen in. It just wasn't like Sinbad to run off without a trace. He usually left a clue to his whereabouts, but there was nothing. He had managed to find that hole, though. It was the brightest white, and it seemed to be glowing from its own power. Being the more cautious of the brothers, Doubar decided it was best to bring Dim-Dim to it and get his impressions on it before investigating further. Besides, it was almost lunchtime, and neither Sinbad nor Doubar liked to miss a meal. Sinbad had probably come home with an adventure or two to tell. He would probably be full of Dim-Dim's cooking by now, and getting ready for an afternoon siesta. Although this didn't seem very likely, Doubar didn't have any other ideas, so he reluctantly walked back along the path to Dim-Dim's house.
Dim-Dim stared into his scrying bowl, but to no avail. For the past three hours he had been trying to catch a glimpse of the missing boy, but not even his powers could detect anything. 'It doesn't mean he's dead, Dim-Dim' the old master told himself. 'It just means that he's not in this realm. This realm... This realm!' With a start the old sorcerer broke himself out of his trance. He needed to call Cairpra! He called out to her in his mind. He opened his eyes to see her standing before him, with an annoyed look on her face at being called away from her vacation.
"What have you gotten yourself into this time, husband?" she asked.
"It's the boy, Sinbad. I can't find him in this realm, and I was wondering if you could help me search the others."
"How did he get out of the earth realm? His magic hasn't even begun to be developed yet!"
"Yesterday Merlin told me that a mysterious white hole had been found near here. He didn't know what it was, or why it was there, but I suspect it leads to another realm. If we can't sense Sinbad, it must have closed!"
"Not necessarily. It must be of powerful magic to be able to bridge the realms like that. Anything that strong would be powerful enough to block Sinbad's essence from our perception."
"You're right, my dear. I was correct in asking your help." He turned to the bowl. "Let's combine our strength and see if we can find Sinbad through that hole." The two sorcerers joined hands by the scrying bowl and started chanting.
"Sacrum, Sacrus. Show little Sinbad to us!" The water in the bowl became cloudy, and cleared to an image of Sinbad walking through a forest with a dwarf and a blond woman.
"I'm not sure where that is, husband. It could be any number of realms." She looked thoughtful for a minute. "He probably fell into that hole that you told me about. If we can find it, we should be able to bring Sinbad back home."
"At least we know that he's alive, and doesn't seem to be in much danger." Dim-Dim responded. "Come, let's find Doubar, and see if he's discovered where the hole is located." As he and Cairpra walked out of the room, the water in the bowl became clear again. As Dim-Dim walked through the door leading to the outside patio he ran into Doubar who was trying to go inside.
"Doubar! Your brother is fine. We know where he is, but to get him back we need to find the hole he went into."
"You found Sinbad! How is he? I thought something terrible might have happened to him!"
"Did you find the hole?"
Doubar nodded. "It's a strange hole. It glows white, but I can't see where it leads to. Poor Sinbad!"
"As far as we can tell," consoled Cairpra "the hole leads to another realm, one filled with forests. Your younger brother seems to have met up with some people, and they don't seem to mean him any harm."
The threesome walked over to a stone bench under one of the giant trees, and sat down. As soon as they were comfortable Dim-Dim spoke up. "Sinbad doesn't seem to be in any immediate peril, so let's eat lunch. We'll go get him afterwards."
Doubar readily accepted this plan, as by now he was completely starved. He followed his guardians into the house, excited about finding his brother, and about satisfying his curiosity about what was waiting at the other side of the hole...
Doubar needent have worried about his brother. Sinbad was busy listening to Valana's stories while on their way to meet Ariel. Sinbad had told his companions his story, and was feeling worried again, so to take his mind off of things Brax and Valanna had been taking turns telling the boy their own stories. Valana had been a bard before joining Ariel's army, and Sinbad had no doubts that she knew ever story that was ever invented. She was entertaining him with a story about a treasure she had won by fighting a legion of ghouls when Sinbad suddenly stopped and stared straight ahead. In front of him was one of the most beautiful cities that he had ever seen. The white walled tower that lay before him didn't seem as imposing as it should, but rather, it shone with a comforting light. The rest of the city had much the same feel, and suddenly Sinbad didn't feel quite so worried about how to get home. He just knew he would.
Row upon row of vendors were selling various exotic looking items and food stuff, most of which Sinbad had never seen before.
Brax looked at the boy. "What's the matter, son? Doesn't your village have a market place?" He laughed to himself.
"No, sir. I mean, yes sir, but not one like this. It's so big!"
"I'll tell you what: after we meet Ariel I'll take you back here so you can look around."
Sinbad just grinned back at him and ran to catch up with Valana, who was looking back at them with a mock impatient look on her face.
"If you two don't hurry up, we'll be late for lunch!"
Brax rejoined Valana, and the two of them led Sinbad through the gates that led into the fortress. Once inside, Sinbad was even more fascinated by the gardens and the sculptures than he was with the market place. Valana had to practically pull him inside, so enthralled was he by what he saw.
"Brax, Valana, who is your little friend?" asked a brown-haired woman in her late 20's.
"Good morning, Serena!" greeted Brax. "This is Sinbad. He fell through one of the astral gates, and needs Ariel's help to get back home."
"Oh, you poor dear! I'm Serena." she smiled at Sinbad, who smiled back. "Ariel is out on the east deck finishing lunch."
"See, I told you two we should have hurried!" Brax glared at Valana. She grinned at him. "Come on. I'll bet there's still some left for us!"
Sinbad followed Brax and Valana through halls filled with brilliant tapestries, statues, and paintings. Although he couldn't see any torches, the halls were brightly lit. "She must be more powerful than Dim-Dim" he thought in awe as he walked. Soon Brax called for a halt.
"I'm going to tell Ariel that we have a guest with us."
"Come on through. All of you." said a mysterious voice from the other side of the doorway.
Brax gestured for Sinbad and Valana to go through first.
"Hello, Sinbad. My name is Ariel." said the owner of the mysterious voice. In front of him stood the most beautiful woman Sinbad had ever seen. He brown hair and blue eyes were perfectly accented with her chiton that was more than white. It seemed to be every color, and no specific color all at the same time.
Sinbad bowed to the woman. "I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, your highness."
"Oh, you don't have to bow to me!" She walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulder. "I'll bet you're hungry. Do you like sandwiches?"**
"Sand-Witches?" Sinbad asked confused.
Valana quickly explained the concept to him. "Two pieces of bread with meat and other things in the middle."
"They sound great."
Ariel motioned for the others to sit down. When they had she too sat down and waited until Sinbad had consumed two whole sandwiches before she started asking him questions. "Tell me, where exactly did you come from, and how did you get here? I assume that you fell through one of my earlier Astral Gates."
Sinbad proceeded to tell the wizard his story. When he was finished Ariel stood up. "Why don't you go for a walk through the gardens while I try to contact Sinbad's friends?" The others got up and proceed to one of the many garden paths.
"So, Valana, how did you escape from the ghouls?"
"Well, with staff in hand I ..."
Ariel smiled to herself and exited the porch to contact the boy's guardians.
"The hole is just a little farther." Doubar was walking rapidly, and would have been running if he had been by himself. It was only the two old sorcerers behind him that slowed him down. "It had this strange white glow, but I couldn't see any sort of lantern at the bottom of it. Could it have to do with magic?"
"Probably, Doubar. It would have to have magic if it were to transport Sinbad." The party stopped when it caught sight of the glowing hole.
Cairpra walked up to it. "I do feel a magical presence here."
Dim-Dim held up a piece of red cloth. In his hand was Sinbad's red sash. "This must be where Sinbad disappeared from."
"What are we going to do, Master Dim-Dim?"
"Well, Doubar, I thought we might try contacting someone on the other side."
"We're not sure yet, dear," Said Cairpra "But hopefully it will be the person who created the hole."
Dim-Dim and his wife joined hands and started calling to the person who had made the hole. After about five minutes of waiting patiently, Doubar couldn't take it any longer.
"Well? Can you talk to any one?"
Dim-Dim open his eyes and turned to Doubar. "We could sense a presence, but the connection was not strong enough for us to communicate."
"Well husband, I guess there is only one thing left to do. Why don't you and Doubar go into the hole and go find Sinbad?"
Doubar's eyes lit up at the prospect of adventure and finding his brother. He looked up at Dim-Dim and gave him a pleading look with his eyes.
"Well..." Dim-Dim was about to say that Doubar should stay behind with Caripra, but one look at his eyes made the old sorcerer's objections vanish. "Alright, but Doubar, you have to stay right with me. I don't want to have to find two of you." He gave his wife a hug. Motioning to the hole, he asked Doubar "shall we?", lifted his robes, and walked into the bright-white light.
When Doubar and Dim-Dim had vanished from her sight Cairpra sat down on one of the near-by fallen trees and resumed her attempts to contact the creator of the strange hole.
**Note: Sandwiches were invented in the 17th or 18th century by the Earl of Sandwich (I'm not kidding).
"Poor kid!" Valana said as she picked Sleeping form up from one of the many benches. "I'll take him up to one of the sleeping quarters while you go and ask Ariel if she has contacted Sinbad's family yet."
"Will do. I'll meet you in Ariel's quarters in a few minutes." He nodded and turned away from the bard to go back into the house from the porch. Valana took a different path and ended up on one of the guest porches. Carefully opening the door so as not to disturb the sleeping boy she entered the room and placed Sinbad on the canopy bed in the middle of the room. She kissed him on the forehead and left the room through the main door. As she was just closing the door she suddenly stopped and slapped her forehead.
"How stupid of me! I guess I should leave a note for Sinbad telling him where we are in case he wakes before I get back." Re-entering the room she slipped a piece of papyrus out of one of her pouches and told Sinbad where he was, and how to get to Ariel's chambers. Going up a flight of stairs and turning left she entered Ariel's chambers.
"How is Sinbad?" Ariel asked when Valana had taken a seat in one of the wicker chairs.
"He's sleeping. I guess I would be too after all of the excitement he's had today."
"Are you sure it wasn't your stories?" Brax teased.
"Quite sure." Valana replied. "Have you been able to contact his mentor Dim-Dim?"
"Well, I contacted someone on the other side of Sinbad's gate, but I wasn't able to communicate. Aureus is coming back from his treasure hunt today, and I think with his help I can get through. Why don't you two go back and guard the gate until sundown? In about three hours, when it gets dark, I'll send Aureus to relieve you."
"Of course, Ariel. Come one, Valana. We'd better get going."
"Wait. If you two are willing, I'd like to try a new spell that I just finished researching that will help you get there faster." Valana and Brax looked at each other, and then nodded their agreement to their Wizard.
Ariel opened the book in the center of her room and turned back to her heroes. "This allows me to send you to any point of the Arcanus Plane instantaneously in a cloud of mist." Ariel smiled at them. "Are you sure you're ready?"
"Good." Ariel raised her hands above her head. "Te-lum, Te-lok, Te-sum Rorest, send these heroes into the forest." She pointed her hands at them and they misted, and disappeared. Not ten seconds later a man with bright golden skin and a white diamond in the middle of his forehead entered the room.
"You called for me, Ariel?"
"Yes, Aureus. How was you trip?"
"Wonderful! I found 150 mana crystals and 200 pieces of gold in an abandoned dungeon."
"A wonderful addition to our collection!" She smiled, but then turned serious. "A small boy wandered into one of the Astral Gates and found his way here. I know which gate, but I need your help in contacting someone on the other side. With your psychic abilities I'm sure we can do it."
"Let me wash up from my trip a little, and then I'll help you." He promptly left the room.
"Good. That gives me time to prepare my self and to check on the boy." Ariel said to herself. She too exited her chambers and walked downstairs to Sinbad's room. Carefully she opened the door and peeked in. Assured that he was asleep, she closed the door again and walked back to her chambers. She sat down in the middle of the floor and began to meditate. Five minutes later Aureus came back.
"I am ready." he announced, and helped Ariel to her feet.
"Thank you." She took a deep breath and continued. "Okay, let's hold hands and call out to a sorcerer called Dim-Dim on the other side of one of the Astral Gates." They held hands and started to call Dim-Dim.
"Well, that was certainly an interesting feeling." Said Dim-Dim as he and Doubar had recovered from their journey through the hole. Doubar nodded and looked around at his surroundings.
"Dim-Dim, look!" Doubar ran to and picked a piece of red cloth out of one of the near by bushes. "This looks like a piece of Sinbad's sash."
"It certainly does, Doubar..." Dim-Dim's expression suddenly became blank.
"What's wrong, Dim-Dim?" Worriedly asked Doubar. Dim-Dim didn't respond. A few moments later, a beautiful woman and a man with golden skin appeared before Doubar and Dim-Dim, who was now looking at Doubar.
"Doubar," replied Dim-Dim, "allow me to introduce Aureus, and the wizard Ariel. They are going to bring us to Sinbad."
"You know where my little brother is? Can you take us to him?"
"Of course, Doubar." replied Ariel. Before Doubar could say any more Ariel raised her hands over the group, mumbled a few words, and the quartet was misted to Ariel's chambers.
"Wow." was all Doubar could say.
"Aureus, could you go and bring Sinbad up here? He's in the green guest bedroom."
"Of course, Ariel." He stated and turned.
"If it's alright, I'd like to go with you." Said Doubar. Aureus nodded, and the two of them exited the room together. When they had gone, Dim-Dim turned to Ariel.
"Thank you for taking care of the boy. Sometimes his curiosity gets the better of him."
"He is a dear boy, Dim-Dim, and I'm glad he came. It gave me a chance to meet some new people. With all of the wizard wars on this plane I really haven't had very much fun lately."
"Wars?" inquired Dim-Dim.
"Yes. Here on the Arcanus plane there are five other wizards, and we always seem to be fighting, making up, and fighting all over again. Right now I'm only on good terms with Freja, the Nature Wizard. We've been trading spells now that I've acquired a Nature Spell book. We're allied against the Death Wizard, Rjak, as he has been attacking cities on both of our borders. For now we have him under control, but I'm not certain for how long we can keep it that way. I'm really glad that my people found Sinbad, and not Rjak's. After you two leave I'll close all of my Astral Gates save the one closest to this city. If you ever have need of me, you can find me through that gate. In your plane it opens up on the Island of Jolpa, nice and deserted, and in the middle of nowhere. I've done some exploring on your plane, but the wars have kept most of my attention on my own plane."
"Thank you, Ariel, and if you ever need my help, just ask. I'm not very powerful, but I'm quite crafty." Just then Aureus and Doubar came back with a babbling Sinbad and Brax and Valana following. At the sight of Dim-Dim, Sinbad stopped talking and rushed into his guardian's arms.
"Dim-Dim!! I'm sooo sorry that I got lost, but there was this gate, and..."
"Yes, Sinbad, I know, and I'm not mad at you. I'm just glad that you're safe. We need to go back home before Cairpra gets even more worried than she already is."
"Okay, but first I want to say good bye to Brax and Valana."
"Good bye, Sinbad. I'm really going to miss you! Don't be a stranger!" Valana kneeled down and Sinbad kissed her on the cheek.
Brax picked Sinbad up and spun him around in a circle. "See ya, runt." Sinbad giggled at this and went back to stand beside his brother.
"Good bye, everyone!"
Ariel raised her arms and again the trio was transported back to the opening of the hole. Taking one last look at the woods around them they stepped back through the hole and greeted a very worried Cairpra.
"I was beginning to think you were all lost!"
"Never, dearest! Shall we get back home? It's been a long day, and I'm sure we're all tired!" Everyone except Sinbad shook their head in agreement--Sinbad had just gotten up from a nap, and wasn't the slightest bit tired. He did summersaults and cartwheels all the way back to the house, and kept poor Doubar up for yet another night with his stories.