Chapter 2: Where am I?
Paul was lying on the ground, trapped by the cords that had been thrown around him. He was terrified that this mysterious hooded figure would hurt him. He began trying to squirm away from the burning branch that was held so close to his face. Then the person pulled back the cloak and revealed themselves. Paul saw a pretty girl, a couple years younger than him, with luminescent green eyes and long blonde hair. She was dressed all in green, from her rough tunic to her shorts. Paul thought looked like a medieval peasant. Paul was relieved that his attacker was just a girl. He started to sit up so he could get away, and the determined-looking young girl pushed him down with her foot. She told him that he was a Marauder and he better be still. Paul protested, saying he didn't even know what a Marauder was. The girl picked up her bags of clothing and started to walk away, dragging Paul behind her. They walked along the river, Paul being yanked along by the cords. Paul announced that he got lost the night before, and asked her to return him to the camp. But the girl just kept walking. So Paul tried again, telling the girl that his father would be glad to give her lots of money if she returned him safely to the camp. It didn't work. She just kept walking. Now Paul was getting angry. He told the girl she was stupid and that it was against the law to kidnap someone. He said that if she didn't let go of him she would be in a lot of trouble. Suddenly the sky became dark. The forest became silent. The girl looked at the sun, terrified. Again she called Paul a Marauder, and begged him to bring back the sun. Paul shouted at her not to stare at the sun, because it could make her blind. Paul was confused. Why was the girl so scared? He began to explain that it was an eclipse, just the moon passing in front of the sun. But then Paul realized he had a great opportunity. He told the frightened young girl that he would only bring the sun back if she untied him. Quickly she pulled the ropes off Paul and hung them on her belt. This was a good plan because Paul knew that the eclipse would last only a few minutes. Soon the sun came out and the girl thanked him, looking relieved. Paul told her he wasn't a Marauder and began to explain what an eclipse was and how it worked. He bent down to draw a diagram in the dirt to show her what had happened. But when Paul looked up to see if she was listening, he saw her running away from him. To get across the river, she jumped onto a swinging bridge and started to run across. Paul ran after her, but when he jumped onto the bridge, it swayed dangerously. Suddenly Paul tripped and fell. The movement made the swinging bridge flip over and the girl was thrown into the water. Paul was just barely hanging onto the bridge when he noticed that the girl was drowning. The heavy bags of clothing were pulling her under the deep water. Then Paul fell into the river too. But since he was not carrying anything, he was able to swim to safety. He reached over and pulled the girl closer to him but she pushed him away. He screamed that he was trying to save her, so then she let him. Paul pulled her onto him and struggled to swim with the added weight of her and her heavy bags of clothing. Slowly they made their way to the riverbank. The girl lay on the grass and began coughing from the water she had swallowed, while Paul sat nearby, exhausted and panting. When she was able to speak, the girl asked him why he had saved her life. But again she had addressed him as Marauder. Paul asked her what a Marauder was. When she didn't answer, he told her that his name was Paul and asked her what her name was. She wouldn't respond. Paul said gently that she could at least tell him her name, after all, he did save her life. When she still wouldn't tell him, he asked her to direct him to the city of Sydney so he could just go home. But the girl had no idea what Sydney was. In fact, she didn't even seem to know what a city was. The girl thought Paul was very strange and asked him if he had escaped from the Spellbinders. And Paul had no idea what a Spellbinder was. Paul made several attempts to get the strange girl to help him, but the girl was confused by the words Paul used: Telephone, Car, Highway. She started to run away again but this time Paul grabbed one of her bags so she couldn't get away from him. It didn't work. The girl simply let go of the bag Paul was grasping and ran back across the bridge to get away from him. By the time Paul arrived at the bridge, she had already disappeared into the trees. Paul opened the bag. Inside were cloaks- some made of cloth, some made of fur. When Paul heard voices, he closed the bag and hid behind the thick foliage. Two large, perspiring men were toting a heavy sleds marked with the intertwined snake symbol that had decorated the Eyestone he had taken. Paul was going to step out of the woods and ask them for help when suddenly two scary-looking figures attacked the men. Paul decided they looked like mutants. One man ran away, while another tried to be brave. However, the man was knocked to the ground. The mutant-like creatures ran away with the sleds (which carried sacks of food) and Paul rushed to the man to see if he was all right. It looked as if her might have sprained or broken a bone in his leg. Suddenly the man who had run away came back. He screamed at Paul to get away from his friend and charged at him with a stick. Paul ran away wondering why everyone here was calling him a Marauder. What was a Marauder?
While Paul was in trouble, the police rescue squad was looking for him on and around Mount Lara. All of Paul's friends and classmates were searching, too. Brian Reynolds, Paul's father, was there too. He was worried sick about his son. The last conversation between Paul and Brian had been an argument. Alex began to explain how the cable had come down and a curtain of energy formed. Alex told the group how a prank on the girls had turned into a terrifying scene and that was the last he had seen of his friend. Brian yelled at Alex, telling him that Paul could be lying at the bottom of a cliff with a broken neck right now. Alex became more worried and felt very guilty and ashamed.
Paul was hiding in the bushes watching crowds of people, all dressed like the girl he had met earlier, walking down a dirt road carrying bags of clothing, baskets, tools, and other items. Some pulled sleds loaded down with fruits and vegetables. They approached a bend in the river, where tents were set up. Paul assumed this was some sort of outdoor market, but wondered if this was some sort of festival. When the crowd divided, Paul could see a tall man wearing a strange black hat. He noticed that it was the same man who had chased him when he first arrived in this strange place. It was him who Paul had stolen the Eyestone from. The man was carrying Paul's video-camera bag. Paul remembered that the video-camera belonged to his friend Alex and that it was very expensive. He had to get it back so he could return it to Alex. Paul remembered the young girl he had met earlier and was glad that he still had the bag she'd left behind. Inside were many cloaks. Paul put one over himself so that he would not look out of place. The man was walking toward a red tent, the fanciest tent out of all of them. Suddenly, before Paul could catch up with the man, the whole crowd dropped to their knees. Paul looked around to see what was happening. A boy, who looked about the same age as Paul, pulled him down and told him it was stupid to still be standing up. Paul could now see what the distraction was. A uniformed woman with fiery red hair was approaching, riding a coal-black horse. When she stepped off the horse, three giggling children collided with her. All three looked frightened when they saw who they had bumped in to. The woman picked up one of the children and asked if the Darkness (the solar eclipse) had scared the children. They nodded. Then the woman took the young children back to their mother and told the crowd that the Darkness (the solar eclipse) was caused by Marauders trying to end the world. When she told them that she and the other Spellbinders had cast a spell to save the world, the crowd cheered. Paul finally knew what a Spellbinder was. But he was confused. Did these people really believe in magic? The fiery-haired woman went into the fancy red tent and the crowds returned to normal. Paul decided to follow the woman. He crept around the tent and listened to the voices coming from the inside. Paul realized with a shock that they were talking about him! They told each other how the "Marauder" had stolen an Eyestone and had a skull growing from its chest. Paul knew they meant the grinning skull printed on his T-shirt, and he pulled his stolen cloak tightly around himself. All of a sudden someone grabbed Paul and flung him away from the tent. It was one of the guards that had escorted the Spellbinder. The man told Paul that if he was caught sneaking around the tent again, Paul would be banished to the Wastelands. Paul quickly ran away. Paul went back into the crowds of people. Looking around, he saw that there were no items made of metal. Everything was primitively made of wood, cloth, or bone. Paul wondered why. After a while Paul found the pretty girl who he had saved from drowning in the river. She was sitting at a booth trying to sell cloak to a woman with a child. The woman was telling the girl that all of the cloaks were too large for her child to wear. The girl offered to make a smaller cloak for the child, but it would take some time to make. Paul's felt guilty as he listened to the girl explain how she had smaller cloaks, but someone had taken them from her on the way to the market. Paul would feel bad if he made her lose out on sales, so he carried the bag he had taken over to her booth. Paul dumped the cloaks onto the booth and handed the smallest one to the child's mother. Riana hissed at him to go away and leave her alone, but instead Paul turned to the child and commented that the cloak looked very nice on the child. The woman hesitated, telling Paul that it smelled damp. Paul explained to her that it had fallen into the river, but once it dried out, it would smell fine. Even though Paul had no idea about the quality of the cloaks, he mentioned to the woman that the child would be able to wear the cloak for years. The mother offered a large woven basket in exchange for the new cloak, and the girl accepted it. Paul was happy about making a sale. He was smiling, watching the child walk away with a new cloak, when the girl at the booth told him to go away. Instead, Paul asked her what year it was. He thought maybe he had somehow gone back in time to medieval England. When the girl heard this, she was even more convinced that Paul was crazy. Paul pleaded for her help. He was lost, hungry, and alone. The girl pointed to the digital watch on his wrist. It was broken - water had gotten inside.
Paul removed the broken watch from his wrist and handed it to a heavyset cook, who told Paul that his wife liked trinkets. The cook kept the watch and gave Paul a huge sandwich. Paul was very hungry and began to eat it all up. As he walked away, a handmade toy airplane hit him in the chest. A boy came running up to Paul, apologizing. Paul realized it was the same boy who had pulled him to the ground when the Spellbinder approached. The boy said that his name was Zander, and began to explain that the toy plane did not work very well yet. Paul offered to help him make the plane fly straight. When they finished, Zander curiously asked Paul how he got to know so much about flying. Paul told him that his father was a scientist. Zander didn't know what a scientist was, so Paul explained that his father invented new things or studied old things. Zander became frightened, because he thought Paul meant that his father was a Spellbinder. Laughing, Paul just said that there were no Spellbinders where he comes from. Both boys were happy when the little toy airplane flew high and straight. All of a sudden the Spellbinder approached, struck her wrists together, and a ball of energy sparked out from her copper wristbands. The ball of energy hit the toy airplane and it burst into flames. Zander dropped to the ground, pulling Paul down with him. The Spellbinder screamed to know who had made the toy plane. Zander told Paul to stay where he was. Zander himself began to run away, but the Spellbinder again struck her wrists together and a ball of energy hit the fleeing boy. He instantly fell into a heap on the ground. Two guards dragged him away. Paul just hoped that his new friend wasn't dead. The Spellbinder addressed the crowd that had formed around the scene. She told them that the boy had broken the Spellbinder law. The law was that it is forbidden to invent or build anything. The cook who had given Paul the sandwich spoke up, telling the Spellbinder that Paul had been helping Zander. Paul began to explain that he was new to this place, and he didn't know the laws here. The cook grabbed Paul's cloak and yanked him toward the Spellbinder. Paul slipped out of his cloak and twisted away from the cook. With the cloak off, Paul's T-shirt was exposed. When the crowd saw the grinning skull printed on his shirt, they gasped in horror and screamed that he was a Marauder in disguise. Paul ran away. The Spellbinder threw a bolt of energy at him, but much to everyone's surprise, Paul was not hurt. Paul was not hurt because the thick rubber soles of his runners (Americans would say gym shoes or tennis shoes) insulated him so that the energy could not hurt him. Several people began chasing Paul, so he dove under a vegetable stand. He scrambled out from the other side and raced through many tents to escape his pursuers. He found himself in front of the Spellbinders tent, and he crept under the canvas to get inside. Once in, her saw that he was lying behind a large sofa (couch or davenport) and he could see Zander nearby. Paul was glad to see that Zander was alive. Paul was also glad to see his friend Alex's video-camera bag on a table close to him. When the Spellbinder strolled into the tent, Paul snatched the video-camera bag and rolled underneath the sofa so he wouldn't be seen. He heard the Spellbinder talking to her guards about Paul. She told them about how her power suit could not stop him. Then she asked to see his possessions, but the table was empty. The guessed correctly that he had taken the items out of the tent, but since they didn't know where Paul was, he was safe. But he would only be safe for a short time. Paul left the tent as quickly and as quietly as he had come, and the Spellbinder never knew he had been so close within her reach.
During the time that all of this was happening, the police were still searching for Paul at Mount Lara. Brian Reynolds, Paul's father, was standing on top of a hill. He had a good view, and was hoping he's spot his son from it. But no matter how long he scanned each direction with his binoculars, Paul never came. Alex and Katrina were sitting inside the cave worrying about their friend's safety. The search party made a beeline for one policeman when he shouted Brian's name. He was waving a bloodstained handkerchief in the air. Embroidered on the corner was a tiny letter "P". Brian became frantic as he realized that the blood meant Paul was injured. Alex quickly reassured Paul's father that the blood was from before Paul disappeared, and that Paul had only scratched his hand while climbing a tree. The policeman explained to them that Paul was probably in shock and dropped the handkerchief as he walked away. Alex turned to Katrina and gently told her that finding Paul's handkerchief was a good sign, and that Katrina probably just imagined that Paul had disappeared. Katrina agreed, but deep inside she felt that something else had happened- Something more than just a fall down the mountain. And she wondered if Paul would ever make it home.
Paul had hidden himself under a big sack filled with grain. It was night now, and he had been in the same position for several hours while a detailed search for him took place. After awhile, a couple boys began poking around where Paul was hidden. He had to get them away before they found him. He took his torch (Americans call it a flashlight) out of the camera bag and shone it on the side of a boat. The boys noticed it immediately and came to the conclusion that it must be a Marauder light. They grabbed a bucket and tried to catch the light, hoping that if they could catch the light and present it to the Spellbinder, she would give them a reward. Paul had fun moving the flashlight onto each boy and watching them scream for each other to get it off! Suddenly a large hand yanked Paul out from under the sack. He saw that it was the cook. Knowing the cook would capture him, Paul shined his flashlight into the cook's eyes. Temporarily blinded, the angry cook let go and Paul quickly ran away. But he was not free for long. A small dark figure leapt out of the shadows and pushed Paul. They both fell to the ground. He tried to get away, until he found out that it was the young girl he had rescued from drowning. She quickly rolled him into the shadow of a tent. The two boys looking for the Marauder light approached, and wondered why the girl was on the ground. The girl lied to them that the Marauder had knocked her to the ground and then run away. The boys told her they would go capture it for her, and they ran off across the market. Paul quietly crept out of the shadows and stood up. The girl held out a dark cloak. She told him to wear it over his skull T-shirt, and to follow her. Even though the night was very dark and the forest was thickly wooded, the young girl navigated through the trees quickly and easily. Paul, however, could not. With every step he took, he bumped his head or got scratched by a tree branch or tripped over a root. After a while Paul asked the girl why she decided to help him after all. She explained simply that she knew Paul could not be a Marauder. A Marauder would not have saved her life when she was drowning in the river. A Marauder would not have returned the cloaks she had lost, help her sell them, and expect nothing in return. Paul could not be a Marauder. Paul said that he would like to thank her, but she still had not told him what her name was. She told him her name was Riana, and he thanked her. After a while they began talking again. Riana was curious to know why the bolt of energy from the Spellbinder's power suit had not hurt him. Paul said he did not know; that had been strange to him also. (Later you find out that the thick rubber soles of Paul's shoes kept the bolt of energy from hurting him). When they reached the top of a hill, they could see the calm river sparkling in the distance. Riana whispered that if Paul could get across the river, he would be safe. They began walking down the hill toward the river. Something inside Paul's bag started making a loud beeping noise. They both stopped walking while Paul unzipped the bag and searched the inside. He removed the Eyestone that he had stolen. Riana gaped at the beeping Eyestone, shocked that someone who was not a Spellbinder was holding it. Before Paul had a chance to tell her why he had the Eyestone, a large, insect-like airplane moved overhead. Paul thought he was in medieval England! What was this? A UFO? Before Paul had a chance to ask Riana what in the world it was, Riana tearfully explained with one word. Spellbinders! As a beam of white light was cast upon them, Riana dropped to the ground, crying with absolute terror. But Riana had a reason to be afraid. Certainly she knew what would happen when they were caught. But Paul didn't.