Paul Reynolds is 15 years old and in "Year 9" at school. (Americans would say 9th Grade). He lives in Sydney, New South Wales. (That is in Australia.) His character is played by a Polish-born Australian named Zbych Trofimiuk, who is about 22 years old now. This is the first Spellbinder book, called "Riana's World" by Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson.
Chapter 1: The Big Bang
Paul in the school science laboratory. His light blondish-brown hair kept falling into his eyes, so he pushed it back as he carefully measured yellow powder into a beaker. His friend, Alex Katsonis, scares him by making Paul think he is their teacher. The two boys are not supposed to be in the laboratory. They are in there to make gunpowder. Alex went to get some charcoal and Paul is mixing the ingredients. Alex wonders if the mixture will really work, and Paul explains that people have been making gunpowder the same way for thousands of years. When they finish making the gunpowder, Paul starts to clean off the table while Alex puts the chemicals away. But Alex bumps into their friend Katrina's distillation experiment and it crashes to the ground. It catches on fire and the gunpowder explodes! Smoke fills the laboratory and the school's fire alarm sounds. Alex and Paul are trying to put out the flames as Ms Gibson, their science teacher runs into the lab to see what happened. Katrina runs in after her. Ms Gibson turns off the fire alarm while Katrina inspects the damage. When Ms Gibson asks why the two boys were in the lab, Alex tells a lie. Alex starts to cough and tells the teacher that he got sick and Paul was taking him to nurse, but the heard the explosion and Paul raced in to put out the fires. That is a lie but Ms Gibson believes it. She takes Alex to the nurse because he pretends to be coughing. Paul and Katrina are still in he lab and Paul tells Katrina he is sorry for her experiment being ruined. Paul feels guilty when Katrina tells him she had bought her own chemicals for her experiment and they had cost $20. Paul quickly leaves the room. Katrina begins to clean up the lab and finds the paper with the gunpowder formula on it. She then knows Paul and Alex were lying and becomes angry.
The next day, Paul is going to the school science camp with all of his class at school. He brings his sleeping bag, day-pack, overnight bag, and a cardboard box that holds his science supplies. His dad, Brian, and his younger sister, Christine, are still upstairs getting ready to go. Paul is afraid he will miss the bus if they don't hurry up. Paul puts his science box on the stairs and when 9-year-old Christine runs down the steps, she trips over it. Paul yells at her for knocking over his science project. Christine tells Paul she is very glad he is going to camp because she will have three days without him around. Paul and Christine's father, Brian, comes downstairs and picks up Paul's science box. They all start to go out the door, but the phone rings. Paul begs his dad not to answer it because they might be late to the bus, but Brian picks up the phone and talks to Marie, who is someone he works with. Paul again tells Brian they will be late if he doesn't hang up the phone, but Brian tells Paul that he has to talk to Marie because he is head of the research department. Paul is angry and stomps out of the house. Later Brian comes out of the house and gets into the car to drive Paul to camp, but he forgets to bring Paul's sleeping bag and science box.
At school, Alex is waiting impatiently for Paul, who is still at home. The bus is full of kids going to camp. Ms Gibson tells Alex that they will have to go to camp without Paul because he is late for the bus. Alex sadly gets on the bus without his friend Paul. Suddenly Brian's car races up to the school and Paul jumps out. Paul starts to get all of his things - his daypack, his overnight bag, his science supplies, and his sleeping bag. But he can't find his sleeping bag or science box. Brian tells Paul he is sorry, but he accidentally left them at home! Paul is angry and tells Brian that he will probably freeze to death in the mountains without his sleeping bag. Ms Gibson comes to the car and tells Paul to get on the bus so they can go to camp. As he is getting on the bus, Brian tells him to study and not to "chase girls". Paul is embarrassed when he sees that Alex has a video camera and has videotaped what Brian said. Paul followed Alex to the bus. Brian and Christine waved good-bye but Paul ignored them.
The bus is leaving the city and heading for the mountains. Alex is videotaping the view out the bus window but stops when he tapes a polluted area because it is depressing. He starts to videotape Paul instead. Paul is reading a science fiction book and does not want Alex to videotape him. Alex asks Paul if he is going to chase after Katrina. Alex tells Paul that Katrina likes him. Katrina hears that and gets angry at Alex. Then she tells the boys that she knows all about the gunpowder, and she shows them the formula she found. Katrina says they have to give her $20 because they ruined her project. Paul feels guilty but Alex says Katrina cannot prove that they did it. Then Paul put on his Walkman and listened to music.
2 hours later, the bus finally reached the camp. The kids excitedly got off the bus. The camp was held at the base of Mount Lara, in a forest. The camp had one dorm for the boys to sleep in and another dorm that the girls sleep in. It also had and obstacle course and a main building. The teacher tells the kids to put their bags in the dorms and then come eat lunch in the main building. After lunch they will go into the mountains and start the science project. After lunch, Paul finds out he left his science box at home. Alex doesn't have a box either, because he didn't make one. The teacher, Ms Gibson, tells everyone that they cannot watch the solar eclipse unless she has checked to make sure they have the right equipment. Alex doesn't know what to do. They don't have any equipment. Paul says it is easy to make- all they need is cardboard, plastic, and tape. Katrina has a lot of equipment but the boys do not want to ask her to share it. The think she will not give them any. So Alex lies to everyone that he saw a snake on the ground. While they go look for it, Alex steals some of Katrina's equipment. Paul and Alex use it to make their science box.
Later that day, the kids were all showing the teacher their science boxes. Katrina told the teacher that she couldn't finish hers because someone stole her supplies. But the teacher told her that her box was very good, so don't worry about it. Soon Ms Gibson asked where Paul and Alex were. Soon they came out from behind the trees with their science boxes on their heads. This made the other kids laugh. Katrina was angry because she saw that they were the people who had stolen her equipment.
Later, Ms Gibson told the kids she would show them a haunted cave. She said there was a ghost inside the cave. She told them a story about explorers seeing the ghost many years ago. Katrina's friend, Lisa, is very nervous and asks if the cave is really haunted. Ms Gibson said maybe not. When power lines were put up in the cave, they found magnetic rocks, and that could be why there are mysterious lights. But when the kids go into the cave, they are disappointed. There is nothing weird or scary inside the cave. But Ms Gibson finds saltpetre inside the cave. Saltpetre is one of the things used in gunpowder. Katrina threatens to tell the teacher about the gunpowder Paul and Alex made, so Alex gives her $20 to stop her. Katrina is glad to get the money, so she does not tell the teacher about the gunpowder.
At night, Katrina and Lisa are arguing. Katrina wants to go into the cave again. She tells Lisa that if they can photograph the lights in the cave, they will be famous. But Lisa is afraid of ghosts and does not want to go with her. Alex hears there conversation and tells Paul about it. Alex wants to make a ghost out of a white sheet and hang it up in the cave to scare the girls. Paul does not want to do that. But he goes along anyway.
At midnight, Alex and Paul made a ghost out of a white sheet, a steel cable, a rock, and a pulley. Both boys wore black clothes so that they could not be seen easily. Paul wore a black shirt that was printed with a skull on it. Paul climbed a tree and positioned the video camera so that it would videotape the girls being frightened. But suddenly Paul fell out of the tree and cut his hand. He was bleeding so he tied handkerchief around his hand. Then he climbed into the tree again. He saw that the steel cable and the power lines were very close together, which was dangerous. He told Alex but Alex said it would be fine. Soon the girls came into the cave with their camera. Paul accidentally dropped his bloody handkerchief and it blew away onto the ground. Katrina and Lisa were standing in front of the cave. Katrina was telling Lisa that there are no ghosts. Then Lisa and Katrina began talking. Katrina admitted to Lisa that she thought Paul was cute. Alex could not believe his good luck. He was videotaping the whole conversation! Paul begins making ghostly noises to scare the girls. Lisa wants to leave but Katrina says they have to wait until they see the lights. So Alex shines his flashlight on and off. The girls see it and Katrina points her camera at it. But when Paul made the "ghost" fly, he accidentally fell and went down with the ghost. The girls screamed and Lisa ran out of the cave but Katrina stayed. She saw Paul crash onto the ground. When Katrina found out they videotaped her saying she liked Paul, she was embarrassed. Alex said he would give Katrina the tape if she gave him $40. Paul took the video camera and put it in his bag. He told the Alex and Katrina they better go back to camp before Lisa tells everyone what happened. When Paul put his bag on his shoulders, there was a crackling noise on the power lines above them. Sparks flashed through the cave and a rip appeared in the air. It was a curtain of energy. Katrina asked the boys how they could do that, but Paul told her they were not doing that. When the rip became wider, the three could see something that looked like a satellite dish. There was a large metal tower behind it. Paul reached out and put his hand through the rip. When Paul's hand touched the rip, there was a loud snap of electricity and a bolt of energy jumped from the power lines. Katrina, Alex, and Paul dove to the ground. But the energy surrounded Paul and there was a blinding light. When Alex and Katrina finally looked up, the panic-stricken boy had vanished.
After a moment, Paul stood up and bumped against the thing that looked like a satellite dish. Something fell off it, which made the curtain fade away. Paul was dazed and confused. He didn't know what was going on. He called his friends but there was no reply. Then Paul saw the thing that had fallen when he bumped into the metal dish. It was octagonal-shaped, thin, and the top was a carved design of two snakes. The box was made of metal. Paul tried to open it and see what was inside, but he couldn't. A man stepped out of the thick trees. When the man saw the skull on Paul's shirt, he called Paul a "Marauder"and grabbed the bag that had the video camera in it. Paul dropped the bag and ran. He screamed for Alex but again there was no reply. The man began chasing him again. Paul ran and ran as far as he could, then hid behind a tree. Eventually the man stopped looking for him. Paul clutched the strange little box that the man had called an "Eyestone" and wondered where on earth he was.
Meanwhile, Alex and Katrina were still in the cave. The were puzzled and kept calling for Paul, wondering if he was hiding or if this was some kind of joke. Katrina told Alex she had seen Paul disappear into thin air, but Alex says that is impossible. Alex suggests that Paul has been electrocuted, but Katrina says there would at least be ashes on the ground. At that thought, both went pale. Katrina told him they had to tell their teacher what happened, and Alex wondered what will they say?
In the morning, Paul woke up to find himself on the ground with the Eyestone next to him. He was upset that the whole experience had not been a dream. He picked up the Eyestone and began calling for his friends again. But there was no answer. He took his Walkman out of his pocket and turned the radio on. But the airwaves were silent. That was when Paul knew there was something very wrong happening. Looking around, Paul saw that there was a column of smoke coming from slope in the hill. He raced toward it because he thought the smoke came from the camp. But it was not the camp. He found himself on the bank of a river, and a small fire was burning in a clearing. Nearby was a big bundle of clothes. Paul called out to see if anyone was there. Suddenly, from behind, a cord wrapped around him and he fell to the ground. He struggled to get free, but it was no use. A small figure hidden inside a hooded cloak held a burning branch over Paul. Paul feared the fire, which was so close to his face. He quit his struggle and stared at the figure, frightened for his life.