Excerpt for The World Without Part 2 A Land in Peril by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The World Without


Incredible adventures in the fourth dimension

A book by Glenn Schaube

Published by GRS Communication 2018

First published in 2018 in Australia by GRS Communications, Level 1, 294 High Street Preston Victoria Australia, ABN: 78 082 885 321, www.grscom.com.au.

© Glenn Schaube 2009

The right of Glenn Schaube to be the author of this work is asserted by him as the creator of this work and all creative copyright remains with him into perpetuity.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent, in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published online or offline, hard copy or digital, and all conditions being imposed on any subsequent purchaser.

A CIP catalogue record of this work is available at the National Library of Australia.

Paperback - ISBN 978-0-9942997-2-7

eBook - ISBN 978-0-9942997-3-4

Typeset by GRS Communications

Cover design by Omega Creative, Rochester Road Canterbury, Victoria Australia.

Paperback available through GRS Communications/publishing www.grscom.com.au

Table of Content


About the Author

The verses of six of the seven lost Life Elements


Chapter 1 Let me in

Chapter 2 Down the Creek Without a Paddle

Chapter 3 A Secret Gets Out

Chapter 4 The Prowler

Chapter 5 The Blockade

Chapter 6 Lone Tree Hill

Chapter 7 The Enigma of Light

Chapter 8 Gerunectus

Chapter 9 Riders on the Wind

Chapter 10 The Abyss of Fears

Chapter 11 Rise of the Dead

Chapter 12 Dust to Dust

Chapter 13 The Lerdvician

Chapter 14 Riddles in the Sand

Chapter 15 The Deception of Hypnoss

Chapter 16 Secret Halls and Gilded Caverns

Chapter 17 Men’s Camp

Chapter 18 Over, Under and In-between

Chapter 19 The Chamber of Fire

Chapter 20 Lies and Half-Truths

Chapter 21 The Spirit Within

Chapter 22 The Bulga Forest

Chapter 23 A Mole Revealed

Chapter 24 Desperate Errand

Chapter 25 What Friends Do

Chapter 26 The Cradle

Chapter 27 The Nectar of Life

Chapter 28 The Dead Zone

Chapter 29 Writings and Riddles

Chapter 30 Treachery

Chapter 31 The Virtuous Being Welcome

Chapter 32 Battle of the Cleft

Chapter 33 Revelations and Celebrations

Marouvian Alphabet


After defeating the terrible Septus and his demented horde of Fras followers, in Last days of the Koonung, Part 1 of The World Without trilogy, Mason, Adam and Tom return to the World Without only to find that an overwhelming sickness threatens to sink the world of the Marou and Fras into darkness and a slow tormented death.

In Part 2, A land in peril, Mason, Adam and Tom realise they have the seven Life Elements that were lost in the Diminishing, a catastrophic event that distorted the World Without and the creatures in it. As the source of all life, the Marou believe the seven Elements are the only cure to the sickness that afflicts them. The boys embark on a quest to save the Marou and emerge as the new ‘Keepers of the Elements’, a task only ever earned by the most learned and skilled of the Marou. However, even before they set off, Septus hears of their plans and sets a trap, in the hope of gaining the Elements to use against the Marou, the boys, and the people of the World Within.

During their quest, the boys must discover the true ‘Places of Finding’. They travel to the six surviving Guilds, each a centre of learning dedicated to a single Life Element. However, the Elements are hazardous and veiled in secrecy that could take their lives or entrap them forever.

With the help of the Marou, Mason, Adam and Tom must overcome their own fears and weaknesses if they are to pass the tests of the Elements and overcome the trickery of Septus—only revealed in their final moments of triumph.

About the Author

Glenn Schaube (Pen name Glenn Ric) is the proprietor of GRS Communications, a boutique public relations and marketing communications agency.

The World Without—A land in peril is Part 2 of the World Without trilogy which was inspired by the games of his children, and events of his own childhood while playing by the local Koonung Creek in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. Glenn set out to write a book involving activities, games and events that occupied the lives of his children in the hope of inspiring them to read. He succeeded.

A land in peril is Part 2 of the World Without trilogy involving:

Part 1: The World Without—Last days of the Koonung

Part 2: The World Without—A land in peril

Part 3: The World Without—Rise of the Fras.

The verses of six of the seven lost Life Elements

What follows are six verses of an ancient Koonungi song, describing how and where the Elements of Life can be retrieved and restored to their place of finding.

The black Element of Light

The heart so bleak in utter night, bereft of warm life-giving light.

All despair when darkness comes, gone the dusk and evening suns.

Beware the rainbow, a false last hope, entwined within that kaleidoscope.

As light itself, the Keeper’s choice, forever lost, or free rejoice.

Resign your heart, let fall from hand, come back from light to kin and land.

Then deep within the cave of Moon and Sun, the cool warm lights meet as one.

In summer’s heat and winter’s cold, apposing orbs become as gold.

There aloof and safe for all, black Element of Light replies to Keeper’s call.

The indigo blue Element of Water and Ice

To azure water the Keeper bound, in azure water, the Element found.

Beware the plunge to waters deep, in darkness you wait, eternal in sleep.

Deadly hot ice is Indigo Blue, but in Keeper’s hand it saves you.

Descend the stairs to waters below; return the Element to Opal Grotto.

The air so clear, you will not die, where earthbound creatures alight and fly.

See again the beauty untold, Azure blue, the splendour of gems to behold.

The bronze Element of Earth and Stone

Lerdvician rock, and mighty stone, here the Keeper stands alone.

On ancient sands, low creatures crawl, where time stands still in secret hall.

Where stone and rock seem ever young, and death awaits the thieves that come.

With Element of Earth, the Keeper ascends, in bronze sand, where life begins and ends.

Where earthly creatures cannot crawl, and those who climb will always fall.

Atop the tower, that raises high, safe in time the Element, forever lies.

The crimson red Element of Fire and Heat

In scolding pool hidden to all, steam and fire hide Lambada’s hall.

In crimson drape, the Keeper dares the pool; inferno’s heat is water cool.

Though breath is short and fear is stark, emerge at length from tunnels dark.

Larva’s heat spares none but one, when crimson flame meets light of sun.

On Lambada stone the Keeper’s rise, from chamber deep to open skies.

Stay with Element and save your pain, or resist the power and self remain.

Let life rejoice and children play, ice and snow will melt away.

When warmth comes back to sap and blood, life returns to skin and bud.

The emerald green Element of Creatures Fixed to the earth

In Bulga forest trees touch the sky, find the Cradle down Zeleki.

See the being and know the mind, when darkness falls, the anchored shine.

Dare not on innocent flower tread, for they shall feed on fallen dead.

In nectar sweet the mind awash, seek the heart where all are lost.

The Keeper’s dive no air remains, return to heart, ascend again.

Make haste, retreat, the Cradle awakes, or there remain, your final fate.

Green becomes the barren world, across the sky, the cloud unfurled.

None can live without this gift, not creatures free, or those affixed.

From tiny beast to giants tall, the Cradle’s nectar is life for all.

The clear Element of Restless-Creatures that move across the earth

Beyond the Promecian Cliffs, in Cleft, the Keeper adrift.

Give all for life and death, empty handed, the welcome breath.

Only the virtuous being is welcome, equal time, the traded sum.

The silver white Element of the Void that fills the space

The verse of the Element of the Void is learned in Part 3 of The World Without—Rise of the Fras.


I wrote this book simply because I wanted to know what happened after Part 1, Last days of the Koonung. I say this because as I wrote each chapter the settings for each were the national parks in Victoria I had visited as a child. They provided the locations and themes for each adventure.

That was nine years ago and many rewrites and edits later. Inspired by the interest of the boys and girls who read Part 1, Last days of the Koonung, from cover-to-cover, I am thankful to be able to publish the second installment finally, in 2018.

If your kids are between the ages of 8 and 14, The World Without–A land in peril may also capture their interest. It is written for them and set in a time in their lives when they are discovering themselves and their place in a bigger world. It is a time when the lines between reality, imagining and role-play are often blurred; and when they can be heroes and adventurers, away from the watchful eyes of adults. I hope it will encourage many children, especially boys, to read, imagine, and develop their creativity and independence.

Chapter 1 Let me in

Not a breath of wind stirred. The world appeared grey before the dawn. Light peaked over the horizon, and raced across the thousand-mile sky, smearing the heavens in a dazzling display of red, orange, and yellow. The hot sun stung their faces with the force of another simmering summer’s day.

The cool fresh waters of Bass Strait sparkled about them, a surging mass of glittering diamond and sapphire ripples. Cape gannets dive-bombed for white bait and a young fur seal played in the breakers. It was the last day of the summer holidays and the last surf before heading home to Edgars Valley.

Adam, Mason and their dad sat on their surfboards behind the breakers waiting for a last wave. Along the horizon, darker shadows appeared as lines rising from the sea. The next set of waves approached. Mason turned his board, and paddled hard. The wave touched the bottom beneath him and Mason leapt to his feet tearing down the face of another perfect wave as it collapsed into a thunderous explosion of whitewash and spray. Their dad caught the next one, and Adam followed. He jumped to his feet, spread his arms and glided cleanly along the face of the wave as the rising surge pushed him forward at breakneck speed. It was like flying. The wave collapsed around the board and he threw himself down flat on his stomach and rode the whitewash to the shore. Removing his leg rope and winding it neatly around the board, Adam fixed the ankle strap to the loops to prevent the rope from coming loose, and ran up the beach to join his father. Mason paddled out for one last ride.

A crooked line of white light flickered above the craggy rocks of the reef. It hung in the air like lighting frozen in time. The line grew longer and wider, as if the fabric of the world were opening to a brightly lit room. A white flash burst through and went out.

‘The morning sun is playing tricks with the reflections,’ said Adam’s dad absently-mindedly.

Adam continued staring at the place where the light had appeared. He was not so sure. It was not the first time he had seen this during their holiday.

Mason turned and paddled for the next wave. It surged, larger and steeper than the others and, leaping to his feet, he dropped vertically down its face. The board nose-dived at the bottom and Mason flew over the top as the entire wave dumped down on him. His board flew into the air, spinning and twisting from the force.

‘Oooo, wipe out,’ said Adam, and they waited anxiously for Mason to surface.

‘There he is!’ said his father when Mason’s head popped up. Using his leg rope, Mason pulled the board towards him, clambered aboard, and paddled as the next large wave surged towards him.

'Paddle Mason, paddle!' yelled Adam.

They watched as Mason’s board rose vertically up the steep face of the towering wave. He paddled hard. Up, up, up he went, then tipped suddenly, over the top coming down with a splash on the other side as the wave crashed behind him.

‘He should have ducked under that,’ said his dad.

‘Can we surf a bit longer?’ Adam asked.

‘Yes, why not? Who knows when the surf will be this good again?’ replied his dad who picked up his board and ran down to the water’s edge. Adam followed close behind. They fixed their leg ropes to their ankles and with a whoop, plunged into the shore breakers and paddled out as another perfect set rose from the Southern Ocean.

A few hours later, they were in the car heading back to the Valley. Sitting in the back seat, the boys usually spent the three-hour drive home listening to music, arguing, or playing on their game consoles. This trip was different. They had not climbed through the Gateway since the defeat of Septus before the holidays.

‘I can’t wait to hear what the Marou say when you show them what you found,’ Mason whispered to Adam in the back seat.

‘I wonder if Septus went after the Marou,’ replied Adam.

‘He’s done it before and he doesn’t know we have the white Element of the Void here in the World Within.’

Adam took the white Element of the Void out of his pack. He had taken it to the beach for safekeeping and so he could look at it from time to time. Mason and Adam studied it again.

‘Did you see the light over the reef this morning?’ asked Adam.

‘Yeah, how many times is that?’

‘Six that I’ve seen, but I still can’t get it to work,’ replied Adam.

'It must mean something,' said Mason. ‘What if you climb the tree tomorrow when dad’s at work?’

'What, by myself?’ Adam rubbed his foot unconsciously, remembering the night at Fras Fall.

'It’s different now,’ said Mason, ‘you know about using your power, and the Marou will be looking out for you'.

Adam put the Element away. ‘A lot happened by accident and besides I don’t want to go by myself.'

‘Don’t be a chicken.’

‘Just don’t push me. I will think about it, okay.’

Mason sat back in his seat to listen to his music.

When they arrived home, the effects of the hot dry summer shocked the boys more than their parents. The grass, which turned yellow before Christmas, was brown and lifeless. Even the eucalyptus trees, which have adapted to Australia’s dry summers, looked half-dead with their faded, drooping leaves; but most surprising of all was the Big Tree. The branches drooped towards the ground and many of its prickly leaves had fallen, leaving only a sparse covering where dense foliage usually grew.

‘Rain better come soon, or I reckon the Big Tree is cactus,’ said their dad.

‘We should give it some water’ said their mum.

They turned into the driveway to see their house sitter, the daughter of a friend, and their pet cat curled contentedly on her lap, sitting on the church pew in the shade of the front verandah.

After unloading the car, they sat around the kitchen table catching up on the weather and the gossip of the past weeks. Most of January was a total fire ban and the local council issued reminder notices to all the residents to cut the grass and clear any debris from around the house and gutters. Workers removed the burnt shed while they were away and the council slashed the grass between the back fence and the bush. As arranged, a neighbour’s son cut the lawns around the house a couple of times while they were away, making the house as fire safe as it could be.

‘Come on boys, the temperature has dropped a little; let’s get a hose and run some water to the Big Tree,’ said their father when they had packed all the holiday gear away. They soon found however, that the garden hose was too short. In the end, they bought another 50 metres before they could lay the soaker hose around the base of the tree.

‘Okay Adam, turn it on,’ shouted Mason when all was ready. They watched as the water seeped slowly through the pores in the hose.

‘Right, I need a cold drink,’ said the boy’s dad as he wiped the perspiration from his forehead. ‘Now that’s it for today boys. I’m working tomorrow and I want to take it easy for the rest of the day.’

Even though it was early evening, it was still hot and Adam and Mason were glad to get indoors and away from the multitude of flies that buzzed around their heads and landed on their faces with annoying regularity. They spent the rest of the day watching videos inside and talking about Mixed-up Made-up as the evaporative cooling fanned cool air through the house. By the end of the day, Adam agreed to bring Liteman and the Marou the good news on his own.

That night the TV weatherman forecast scorchers of 42C for the next two days and the boys decided to climb the tree early, before it got too hot, despite the chance of a late change on the second day. The Bureau had predicted rain many times already, but not a drop had fallen across southern Australia and no one placed much hope in the forecast.

‘Come on, it’s already 7.00 am and dad’s about to leave for work,’ said Mason shaking Adam awake the next morning. The sun was already up.

‘Do I have to?’ said Adam, resenting the fact that Mason was always a morning person.

‘No, but you can climb the tree on your own when it gets really hot.’

‘Okay, Okay. I’m up, alright,’ said Adam laying his head back down on the pillow as soon as Mason left his room. ‘In a minute,’ he whispered as he closed his eyes again.

At 7.30 am, Mason jumped on him, bouncing up and down on the bed. ‘Come on Adam, it’s getting hot already and dad just left.’ There was no getting out of it. After breakfast, Adam and Mason made their way up the tree. The thermometer was already 35C.

‘Good thing we started early. Imagine how hot it would be climbing in the middle of the day,’ said Adam.

‘No thanks to you,’ replied Mason. ‘Now let’s go, I don’t want to be waiting for you on that platform any longer than I need to’. They climbed quickly and to their surprise, unlike being on the ground where the air was still, higher up a gentle breeze blew.

‘That feels cool,’ said Adam as he spread his arms in the breeze.

‘Look,’ said Mason, ‘The leaves are so thin you can already see the hideout. Come on tree. Don’t die on us,’ said Mason rubbing and patting the trunk with his hand.

Adam laughed.

‘You can laugh, but you know what the Marou believe.’

‘I guess so. It worked for Tom with the Dillwyn bushes,’ said Adam.

‘Then don’t knock it.’

Mason finished another long sip from his bottle of water and the brothers climbed higher, soon reaching the platform.

‘Look how many trees are dying,’ said Adam.

Apart from a line of brighter green against the dull olive of the surrounding forest, which distinguished the creek and the wetland, the leaves on the upper branches of the remaining trees were brown and withered. Some had died, their bare forlorn branches sticking up through the canopy like ghostly skeletons.

The sun beat down on them, burning the backs of their necks. Mason wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead. ‘You better go in before it gets too hot,’ said Mason. Adam sat down, dangling his legs through the second manhole. ‘I’ve never seen anyone disappear to the other side before,’ said Mason. Adam looked up at his brother, and then cautiously slipped down until his feet found a branch. ‘Good luck,’ said Mason. ‘Don’t be long.’

Adam smiled at him before lowering his head down through the manhole and letting go of the platform. ‘I can still see you,’ said Mason excitedly thinking that he was seeing into the Gateway of Mixed-up Made-up.

‘Whoa,’ cried Adam and he reached up and grabbed the manhole again.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘I nearly fell; I’m still in this world.’

‘You didn’t go through the Gateway?’

‘No,’ replied Adam as he scrambled up.

‘Maybe it’s because I’m here. Maybe I’m not supposed to see the Gateway,’ said Mason.

He climbed down the tree and settled on a branch. ‘Okay, try now,’ he called.

‘Here goes,’ called Adam dangling his feet through once more.

‘I can see your feet,’ called Mason.

Adam looked down between his legs and saw Mason looking up at him. ‘The Gateway must be closed.’

‘But how?’ said Mason. He joined Adam on the platform again. ‘Maybe the tree is dying.’

‘Maybe it’s just closed because it’s sick,’ said Adam.

‘I hope that's what it is.’

‘Then it won’t last forever,’ said Adam hopefully.

‘Who knows? It was always there for me, but it shifts around sometimes. Our cousins did not get through this way and neither did dad. Maybe it will appear for you somewhere else.’

Adam was not ready to wait and he tried repeatedly to enter Mixed-up Made-up by climbing up and down through the manhole. Each time he found that he was standing precariously on the outer edge of the branch, high up in the tree looking down on his own house. He stood up, pulled out his staff, put the end in the entrance hole and closed his eyes.

‘What are you doing?’ asked Mason.

‘Seeing if I still have some of the power,’ said Adam. He concentrated and thought, Open Gateway. He stood there for five minutes repeating the thought 'open gateway, open gateway,' but nothing happened. No light from his staff came on and the Gateway did not change.

‘Why won’t you let me in?’ he shouted at last.

‘Because the Gateway is closed,’ answered Mason.

‘Let me in you stupid Gateway’ Adam yelled and he plunged the butt of his staff into the boards. It made a very loud bang and sparks flew from the point of contact. The boys looked hopefully into the Gateway, but nothing had changed.

‘It’s not going to open.’

‘Stupid Gateway,’ said Adam at last.

‘Come on, let’s go,’ said Mason.

‘Stupid rotten Gateway,’ said Adam again.

The boys climbed down resenting every scratch and bump they received and becoming even more frustrated and angry in the heat. Jumping to the ground from the lowest branch, they trudged back to the house in silence feeling dirty, sweaty, and tired.

Chapter 2 Down the creek without a Paddle

As forecast by the Weather Bureau, the heat wave continued for the next two days with the temperatures reaching above 40 degrees Celsius or 103 degrees Fahrenheit, which as you know is very hot. On both mornings, Adam and Mason climbed the tree and tried unsuccessfully to enter Mixed-up Made-up.

On the third day a hot northerly wind blew. Tom came over after returning from his holiday in Sydney. He insisted on climbing the tree and trying the Gateway for himself. Mason stayed behind and after another hot, sweaty and frustrating climb up and down the tree, Adam stomped back to the house with Tom feeling completely deflated. They each gulped down a huge glass of cordial.

‘I’ve been looking forward to going back all holidays,’ said Tom.

‘Same here,’ said Adam.

‘I can’t believe the Big Tree is that sick. What’s wrong with it?’

‘We thought it needed water so we soaked the ground around it, but it’s still losing leaves.’

‘Some of the smaller branches look dead,’ said Tom.

‘I don’t want to talk about it anymore,’ said Adam.

‘What do you want to do then?’

‘Let’s go for a swim. We’ll take an inflatable mattress to the creek.’

‘Good idea. Are you coming Mason?’ asked Tom.

‘No, I think I’ll stay inside in the cool.’

‘Can you let mum know where we are?’

‘Sure,’ replied Mason without looking up from his book.

‘That’s funny,’ said Tom, ‘he loves swimming.’

‘I know. Mason has been acting strange all day. Mum said it’s because he is a teenager.’

The idea of cooling off in the creek lifted their spirits and they soon forgot about the tree for a while. They put on their bathers and a T-shirt, grabbed a towel and a double inflatable mattress, and made for the creek. Fifteen minutes later they were floating on the mattress and feeling very cool as the hot north wind blew through the trees. The creek was low, but the pool that Trevor fell into on the day of Mason’s birthday was still chest deep. Nestled below the trees the boys did not see the dark clouds moving up from the west and stretching across the sky. The long white clouds of the morning raced away as the high-altitude airstream brought cold air from the South Pole. About 50 kilometres to the north and well out of hearing range for the boys, the hot north wind collided with the approaching cold front forcing the dense moist air up. Lightning and thunder heralded the long-awaited change. At first, only a few droplets fell, spattering on the dusty ground. The drops grew in size and intensity. The thunderstorm burst and rain pelted down, drenching the parched earth. The water gathered in puddles and pools that spilled over and ran as tiny rivulets over the surface of the hard ground. The rivulets gathered and flowed down the slopes with increasing speed and force. Along the gullies, the water ran forming torrents that plunged down the hillsides. More rain fell and the torrents became brooks swelling the creeks, which in turn became rivers that burst their banks. The flood surged down Edgars Creek and down the valley towards the ocean carrying with it all the flotsam and jetsam that accumulated on the banks during the long dry summer.

Adam and Tom were still drenched in sunlight and the north wind continued to blow. They lay on their stomachs slowly drifting around the sharp elbow bend near the old man tree. They lounged on the cool water not worrying about the time or the strengthening wind. Suddenly the light faded as the clouds came closer and blocked the sun. Surrounded by trees and bush the boys could not see the approaching storm. The wind swung to the south and the air became noticeably cooler.

'That sounded like thunder,' said Adam.

‘Let’s paddle back to the towels,’ said Tom.

Lying across the air mattress, they kicked and paddled their way back up the gentle stream. They turned the bend, when, not twenty meters upstream, a wall of water and foam as high as a door and filled with leaves and small branches, came rushing towards them.

‘Hang on,’ yelled Adam as the murky water surged over them, sweeping them downstream. In the violent jumble and tumble, the mattress caught on a log and the force of the water pushed them below the surface. The mattress broke free and was gone. Caught in the midst of the raging torrent Adam and Tom fought their way to the surface. The air mattress was ahead of them in the current, which swept them over churning rapids and bumped them painfully against submerged rocks as they struggled to keep their heads above water.

‘Swim for the mattress,’ yelled Tom.

They made for the mattress, but Adam’s hands slipped and he went under again. Tom grabbed his T-shirt before he disappeared, hauling him back to the surface. Coughing and spluttering, they clambered onto the mattress. Around another sharp bend they went straight over a waterfall about the height of a house roof. The water pounded on top of them forcing them under. Frantically they kicked to stay afloat, but the huge volume of water falling from above and the turbulence of the pool dragged them down deeper. They tumbled repeatedly, not know which way was up or down. Adam bumped against a rock and grabbed hold of it; his head just popping out of the water behind the fall. He gasped, sucking in a huge lung full of air as he lay with the lower half of his body and legs stretched out behind him.

‘Help!’ Tom yelled.

Adam looked over his shoulder and saw Tom’s forearm and hand holding onto a large branch that was wedged into the rock behind the fall. Tom’s head popped up again and he gasped for air, but the weight of the falling water pushed him under again. All Adam could see was Tom’s hand gripping desperately to the thin branch that bent under his weight. Adam floated on his stomach until he could reach out to Tom. Still hanging onto the rock, he grabbed Tom’s wrist with his free hand. Tom’s head popped up again. ‘Let go Tom I’ve got you.’ Tom released his grip and the force of the current and waterfall nearly dragged Adam in after him, but with a mighty heave, Adam managed to pull Tom free of the current. Tom grabbed Adam’s shirt and dragged himself onto the bank. He lifted the upper part of his body, slipped and fell forward into the shallow water. Exhausted, he took in a huge breath of air and then lay quite still.

‘Are you okay?’ asked Adam.

‘I thought I was a goner.’

‘So did I!’

For several minutes, they lay in the shallow water gathering their strength, while the roaring water plunged into the pool behind them.

‘What’s that smell?’

‘It’s the water I think. It smells sour like a drain.’

‘Let’s get out of here. It stinks,’ said Adam.

Staying close to the wall behind the fall, the boys edged their way to the side. Green slime covered the rocks making them as slippery as ice. At one point Adam lost his footing and fell into the water again. He climbed to his feet again and continued wading knee-deep, through the outer edge of the fall, then stumbled and fell against a steep muddy bank.

‘Where are we?’ Adam asked, looking around.

‘Look!’ said Tom pointing up the side of the steep gully.

‘No way!’ cried Adam—‘it’s the Dillwyn. We’re back in Mixed-up Made-up.’

Chapter 3 A Secret Gets Out

Just a few hours earlier, standing on the platform, hot and frustrated, they would have given anything to get through the Gateway, but standing in the shallows in only their bathers and T-shirts, Mixed-up Made-up was the last place they wanted to be.

Dull grey light hung over the world and, unlike the World Within, Mixed-up Made-up was cold. They look around through the mist and spray of the waterfall as it plunged into the pool and surged on down the gorge.

‘Mason said the Gateway might just appear,’ said Adam.

‘Well I didn’t see it,’ replied Tom.

‘Neither did I.’

‘I’m freezing, and we can’t go around Mixed-up Made-up dressed like this. What if the Fras find us without our staffs?’

‘We must get back’ said Adam.

‘The Gateway must be in the waterfall,’ said Tom.

Shivering with cold, they waded back in behind the fall and then out the other side. They were still in Mixed-up Made-up.

‘Maybe the way back is up the fall. You know, go back the way we came like in the tree.’

The boys looked at the fall. There was no way they could even contemplate such a feat. The fall, which had been a gently flowing river the last time they saw it, was a raging torrent and every second, tonnes of water thundered over it. There was no way they could climb up and through the fall.

‘Let’s find the Marou,’ said Adam.

Even that proved difficult. Without his staff, Tom could not get any reaction from the Dillwyn shrubs. There was no going downstream either as two metres of raging white water now covered the shallow stream and grassy knolls that lined the gorge at the back of Mount Sassafras.

The boys had no choice but to claw their way up the side of the waterfall, using the overhanging branches of the thorny Dillwyn to haul themselves up the slimy rock wall. They slipped more than once on their way to the top. With the dense coverage of thorny Dillwyn shrubs lining the bank they waded upstream pushing through the strong current in waist deep water and slippery rocks underfoot. By the time they passed the thorny thicket, their feet and toes were sore from the rocks, and their hands were bleeding and full of thorns.

‘Why does this water smell so bad? And the green slime, I don’t remember it being like that,’ said Tom falling onto the bank some way upstream from the fall.

‘Neither do I,’ said Adam flopping down next to him.

Soaking wet and shivering, they lay on their backs and looked up at the grey cloud-covered sky.

‘At least the rain has stopped,’ said Tom.

One advantage of having been on Mount Sassafras was that they had a good lay of the surrounding land. ‘Come on, let’s head for the Clutch and the tree. I’m freezing,’ said Adam.

Tom followed him out of the steep gully. At the top, they stopped in their tracks, astonished. They gazed up into the canopy and looked back across the river. The once thick green undergrowth was brown and lifeless. Dead leaves, long lengths of stringy bark, and small branches and twigs littered the ground everywhere. Here and there, huge branches lay on the forest floor. Dropped by the larger trees, some had torn through the mid-level trees that lay broken and mangled beneath them.

‘There are no leaves on the trees,’ said Tom.

‘Listen!’ said Adam. ‘I can’t hear anything. It’s so quiet there isn’t even the sound of a bird.’

They moved away from the noisy river and listened intently. Nothing broke the strange eerie silence. There was no sign of life. Nothing stirred. Not a bird or butterfly, not even a fly. Tom placed his hand against the trunk of a large managum. Where previously he could feel energy and life in the trees and shrubs of Mixed-up Made-up, he felt nothing. ‘Maybe the droughts come here too.’

‘This looks worse. The trees are like the Big Tree. It’s like all of them are dying.’

The clouds cleared and the sun appeared again over their shoulders, but there was no heat in it. It sank towards the horizon, faded and dull. Shadows lengthened and an intense grey and purple sunset covered the sky, making the silence even more eerie. Fearful of marauding Fras, they hurried on in earnest, until they came to a dirty shallow stream.

‘Hopefully this is the stream by the sleeping Clutch,’ said Tom.

‘Stop where you are!’ commanded a voice in the growing darkness.

The boys stopped in their tracks, fearing the Fras had caught them.

‘Who’s there?’ called Adam.

Out from behind the surrounding trees stepped several Marou, none of whom the boys recognised. Each pointed a loaded bow and arrow at them. The boys raised their hands.

‘Don’t shoot. We are friends,’ said Tom anxiously.

‘Who are you? State you purpose.’

‘We are the Guardians from the Gateway, Tom and Adam,’ said Adam hesitantly.

‘Then where are your staffs and why are you dressed like that?’

‘We don’t have them. We entered Mixed-up Made-up by accident. I mean, we fell over a waterfall, and then here we are.’

The Marou looked at them suspiciously. ‘Fras in disguise, I’ll bet,’ said one of the Marou.

‘We are not Fras,’ said Adam, but the Marou came closer with their arrows still pointing at the boys. Adam and Tom did not dare to move.

‘Where are Liteman and Florrice and the others?’ asked Tom trying to sound confident.

‘Why do you want them?

‘Because they know us!’

‘More Fras lies.’

‘We are not Fras,’ said Adam again. ‘Why can’t you just trust us? We are the new Guardians from the Gateway now that my brother, I mean Lionheart can no longer come through.’

‘We shall see,’ said the leader. ‘Better tie their hands, just in case.’

Despite their loud objections, Adam and Tom suffered the indignity of having their hands tied and walking through the bush with nothing on but their bathers and T-shirts. Fortunately for them, unlike the Fras, the Marou were not mean. When they saw the boys shivering, and how the rough branches and twigs scratched their bare feet, they gave them their capes for warmth and picked a smoother path through the bush. An hour later they arrived at a Clutch the boys had not seen before. This Clutch was much larger. The Marou stopped outside and the leader made a shrill bird whistle, which echoed loudly.

‘Why don’t you use your staff?’ asked Adam.

The leader did not answer, but called again in reply to a similar call that seemed to be coming from within the Clutch. An opening appeared and the Marou led them inside. Several hundred Marou were standing around in conversation. Just before the opening snapped shut again, two more Marou followed in behind the group and moved off to one side. Those close to the entrance stopped talking and looked at Adam and Tom curiously. The clutch was even bigger inside than it appeared from the outside, but the vines were pale and thin in places and the dull rays of the setting sun streamed through gaps in the ceiling.

‘This must be one of the meeting clutches Florrice spoke of,’ said Adam.

‘Hush, do not speak,’ said the leader, prodding Adam in the back while directing them to where the rest of his small group were gathered.

‘Sit down here, I will report you in,’ but before the head Marou could move off, the voice of Liteman came over the din of the crowd. ‘My friends—thank you for coming from near and far.’

The conversations dropped away and everyone turned towards the far end of the clutch. Sitting on the ground, Adam and Tom could not see Liteman or get his attention. ‘My friends, it is not since the raid on the Fras Hides with Mason that we have gathered in such numbers. I wish our meeting were not under such grave circumstances. Many have not come, but that is understandable in such times. I thank you for making the journey.’ An acknowledging murmur rose from the Marou.

‘As you know it is clear that the Land Without is sick and dying and the filth and stench of the World Within is leaking into our world. It will not be long before all of us succumb and the light fades completely. It is obvious that we must find the cause and the cure if we are to save our world.’

‘But how can this be?’ shouted a Marou from the crowd.

‘We do not know for sure.’

The crowd groaned and asked a dozen questions all at once. ‘How will we defend ourselves against the Fras? Liteman waited for them to finish.

‘Will Arius come in this time of need,’ called the head Marou who was still standing over the boys.

‘Greetings Volcan,’ replied Liteman and Volcan bowed; sitting on the floor Adam and Tom remained hidden from Liteman.

‘I cannot speak for Arius. As for the Fras, I do not believe they will be more trouble than usual. They too are creatures of Mixed-up Made-up and they will suffer the same fate as us.’

‘Surely Arius will come. We are in need like never before,’ replied Volcan.

‘Yes, Liteman, why has Arius not come?’ called another.

Florrice stepped up to the platform. ‘The sickness is not the work of the Fras or Septus. Arius works to balance the deeds of Septus, but like him, Arius can do little to heal the sickness that grips the World Without. She too is still a creature of our land and will suffer the same fate as us all.’

‘What are we to do then? Why did you call us here?’ called another Marou.

‘Graver times I have not seen,’ Florrice replied. ‘Much has changed in the land and alas, still I see no children among us. Even if we survive this new threat, to die out, the last of our kind, the last of the Koonungi, would be a sad fate for us all. Faced with such dire circumstances, we cannot despair for even now the power of life is still among us. Until that last day comes, when the last surviving Marou dies, there is still hope. Never forget that change always comes and there is still hope that change will see us renewed and restored. That is why we must not give up. That is why we must set aside this sadness for all things and deal with the problems that are before us. That is why we must turn our attention to a great and urgent task.’ Florrice paused and the Marou waited anxiously for her to reveal a plan that would renew their hope.

She continued, ‘Some of you will say it is an impossible task, but it is a task that we must complete if we are to bring life back to our home.’ Florrice paused again, and the crowd waited in silence. ‘My friends, we must find the Life Elements,’ but even coming from Florrice, the most knowledgeable of the all the Marou, the words rang like the clanging of the doomsday bell. The Marou groaned at this revelation. Some cried out in despair and wept openly.

Liteman raised his hands to quiet the crowd. ‘My friends please listen. We must find them, and restore them to their place in the World Without. The Seven Elements of Life that give life and heal sickness are our only hope. To do this, we must work together. Even the Fras, if they can be co-opted, must help in this task.’

A multitude of objections rang out from the crowd. ‘Impossible.’ ‘The Fras cannot be trusted.’ ‘The Elements are lost forever.’

‘No, that is not true,’ replied Florrice.

Liteman raised his hands again. The Marou fell silent again and waited for Florrice to explain.

‘My dear friends, what many of you do not know, is that one was found by the Fras and taken by the Guardians from the Gateway into the World Within.’

‘I have them!’ Adam shouted from his place on the floor, but nobody seemed to hear. ‘I have them, I have them all!’ he shouted again at the top of his voice. The crowed turned in his direction.

‘Who said that?’ called Liteman—‘declare yourself!’

‘I did,’ said Adam turning bright red as he and Tom got to their feet.

Adam took a step towards Liteman, but Volcan restrained him.

‘Let them come. They are friends not foe,’ said Florrice.

‘My dear young Guardians, this is a wonderful surprise, but whatever are you wearing?’ laughed Liteman and he grinned from ear to ear. He jumped down from the platform and, as the crowd parted, he stretched out his arms. ‘Come tell us your news at once.’ Then, looking around, he said in a grand voice: ‘My friends, let me introduce the Guardians, Adam, and Tom'. A murmur went through the crowd as the Marou stretched their necks to get a glimpse of the new Guardians from the Gateway. Then, laughing again, Liteman said: ‘Will someone please bring them some trousers?’ All the Marou laughed and Adam and Tom felt even more self-conscious. The Marou on the podium gathered around and greeted them warmly. Liteman cut the ropes binding their hands and Lavendar brought a pair of brown trousers and a vest for each of them. Then Liteman invited them to sit down on the edge of the platform. The others milled around. Liteman returned to the podium and asked the crowd to give them a moment before the meeting could proceed.

‘Adam, did I hear you correctly? Did you really say that you have all the Life Elements?’ he asked when he returned.

Adam glanced at Tom who nodded. ‘Umm, we think we have. We think we found them in the World Within.’

‘How did they get there?’ exclaimed Marineer.

‘I do not know!’ Adam replied.

‘Then how do you know you have them?’ asked Florrice who did not seem surprised by their news.

‘In our world they look like the silver white Element of the Void, only in different colours.’

‘Yes, that’s right,’ said Tom and he recited the colours of the six pieces of petrified wood that Adam had glued into his collection book. The Marou looked at Adam and Tom with a mixture of surprise and hope.

‘This is strange yet welcome news,’ Bluestone said.

‘We cannot be sure until we see them, but it may be the reason Mixed-up Made-up is dying,’ said Liteman.

‘Can it really be true?’ said Marineer.

‘Yes it can,’ said Florrice. ‘Mixed-up Made-up began changing soon after the silver white Element of the Void was taken into the World Within. With the others already there, it was the last life giving element to leave Mixed-up Made-up.’

‘That would explain much,’ said Liteman.

‘Once the last Element that created the Gateway left our world, the life energy passing into our world from the other Elements would have been restricted,’ continued Florrice. ‘It would also explain why the air and water have become so foul. They do not leak from the World Within, but have become sour as the life force leaves them.’

‘Would that explain why the Gateway at the tree is closed?’ asked Tom.

‘Closed?' repeated Florrice.

‘We came in by accident. We fell through a Gateway that we think is in the waterfall below the Dillwyn at Mount Sassafras. But the river is flooded and we cannot go back,’ said Adam.

‘This must be kept secret from Septus and the Fras. If they find out that you could have all seven Life Elements they will hunt you down and kill you for them,’ said Liteman.

‘But the Elements must be returned if we are to survive,’ said Marineer.

‘Yes, and they will be Marineer, but first things first,’ said Liteman. ‘We know for certain that at least one Element is in the Land Within so our first task must be to help Adam and Tom find a way back through the Gateway so they can return the white Element of the Void to us. That may begin the healing of our world’

‘What news do you have for us?’ interrupted Volcan, ‘The Marou grow anxious.’

‘My apologies,’ said Liteman.

‘Are you sure we should make this known?’ asked Florrice.

‘No I’m not, but we will need everyone’s help if we are to succeed and besides, it will give them new hope. Finding out one way or the other will only take a few days once Adam and Tom bring the pieces they found, through the Gateway.’

The Marou returned to the platform; everyone was watching and waiting. Liteman called Adam and Tom to join them. ‘My friends thank you for your patience. It seems that we have a second chance to save Mixed-up Made-up. You see Adam and Tom believe they have all seven Elements in their possession in the World Within.’

A cheer went up in the crowd. ‘Praise the Guardians, we are saved!’ yelled the youngest of the Marou.

‘Wait, wait. We can hope that this is true, but we cannot be certain. We must also continue as planned and search for the…,’ but Liteman did not finish what he was saying.

‘Let us out I say,’ shouted a gruff voice. A scuffle broke out at the rear of the Clutch and a number of Marou nearest the argument jostled. Then a large tear appeared in the Clutch wall and the last of the day’s weak sunlight shone through.

‘Stop them, they’re Fras in disguise!’ someone shouted as two figures rushed through the opening, with several Marou close behind.

‘Curse the Fras,’ said Bluestone, in his booming voice. ‘If they get away, the secret is out.’

‘Yes, we will have to move quickly,’ said Liteman. Liteman called for silence and addressed the crowd again. ‘As I was saying, we must continue to search for the Elements while we wait to confirm that they are indeed in the care of the Guardians from the Gateway.’

At that moment four Marou returned through the tear in the Clutch wall dragging an unconscious Fras. ‘The other one escaped our arrows. The Marou are searching for him, but I fear he got away,’ they reported.

‘Then we must be on the move,’ said Liteman. ‘Listen to me,’ he continued, turning his attention back to the crowd. ‘When Septus gets this news, he will redouble his efforts to capture the Guardians Tom and Adam and the seven Elements. You must be ready to help if the call comes. Be vigilant, return to your homes, you can gain no more by remaining here—farewell.' He bowed to the Marou who all bowed in return. Saying their goodbyes to one another, the Marou made their way from the Clutch.

‘The last thing we need is for Septus to hear this latest news,’ said Marineer as Liteman returned to the group on the platform.

‘I know, but it can’t be helped. The Fras are cunning and their spies get past our sentries more and more. We will just have to stay ahead of them.’

‘Adam and Tom, you can’t stay here. This is the first place Septus will send the Fras now that the location of this meeting Clutch is known to them.

‘Bluestone, gather a company of Marou. We will wait for you at the entrance hollow.’ He jumped down from the platform and led the boys towards an opening to their right.

Chapter 4 The Prowler

The boys followed Liteman and the others to the rear of the meeting Clutch and down a series of rope ladders leading to an underground shaft. This shaft was connected to a short horizontal tunnel leading to a deeper shaft that led to the entrance hollow, about two stories below the surface of the ground. From there, in the dim light, they came to three more tunnels. Tom gazed down them curiously, wondering where they might go.

‘We’ve had to make the entrances and exits more difficult to follow. Since you left, the Fras discovered three of the Clutches and their tunnels,’ said Liteman.

The Marou stood in silence and waited for Bluestone to arrive with the company of Marou. Liteman then instructed them to seal the vertical shafts and short tunnels.

‘Be sure to leave no trace of the tunnel entrance in the Clutch, the Fras will be all over it by tomorrow,’ he said.

‘Moss, can you organise a sortie into each tunnel to make sure they are clear. We will close them off when we leave here.’

Moss bowed and then indicated to two Marou to follow him. Each then disappeared down a different tunnel. Tom watched the light from their staves rapidly fade as they moved further away.

‘Adam and Tom, you said you fell over the waterfall and came up in Mixed-up Made-up?’

‘Yes, that’s right,’ answered Tom.

‘And the Gateway in the tree is gone?’


‘Then you will have to wait for the flood waters to subside.’

‘How long will that take?’ asked Tom.

‘Four or five days I expect,’ said Marineer.

‘Four or five days!’ exclaimed Adam.

‘Is that a problem?’

‘Yes. It is nearly evening at home. To be back before it gets dark in our world we need to leave here by midnight your time.’

‘Ah yes, I forgot. Sparks, send four Marou to the fall. Instruct them to send back two runners as soon as the water begins to subside,’ said Liteman. Sparks bowed without saying a word and then climbed back up the rope ladder to organise the scouts. ‘Now, how to hide the Elements if Adam has them?’ said Liteman.

‘Only one Element at a time should be returned,’ said Florrice.

‘That could delay the healing by months,’ said Marineer.

‘It will. But should Adam or Tom be captured by the Fras, Septus will only have captured one of the Seven Elements.’

‘Where will you hide them?’ asked Adam.

‘I’m afraid that may not be up to us, but to you and Tom. For whatever reason, you and Tom may have become the new Keepers of the Elements. You see the Elements come to the Keeper. Usually it is one of us—one who is most skilled and most pure of heart. Now, it seems, that person is one of you.’

‘But how?’ asked Tom.

‘The Elements do not respond to everyone, only a few can access the power within them. You both seem to have done this on the mountain with Septus. We believe it’s how you were able to subdue him.’

‘I thought that was our power.’

‘It was your power Tom, but it’s not as simple as that. You see, you need to have command of your own power first in order to wield the power of the Elements. It’s like training.’

‘What about Septus? He had control of the white Element of the Void before we took it.’

‘I have thought much about this,’ said Florrice. ‘All seven Elements support life and are not easily corrupted. Before the Diminishing, Septus as Agnus was the Keeper of the silver white Element of the Void that you won from him. I suspect that Septus still carries the power of the Keeper of that Element within him.’

‘But why does that mean we should be the ones to hide them?’

‘Tom, only the Keepers can conceal them using the power of each Element. Then only the power of another Element can find them, and as one of you seems to be the Keeper of the Element of the Void, the task of returning that Element may have come to one of you.'

‘Oh,’ said Tom.

Moss came running into the hollow. ‘Hush, kill the staff light. A prowler is in the tunnel. I don’t know if it is Marou or Fras.’ Everyone fell back into the other tunnels. Crouched silently in the dark, Liteman whispered, ‘when the creature enters the hollow, we will have it surrounded'.

After about five minutes, footsteps and a faint yellow light entered the hollow. The footsteps came closer. The yellow light went out and all was dark again. They waited in the silence. Then there was the sound of fighting.

‘Ow, what are you doing? Stop swinging that thing.’

‘Then let me go.’

Liteman jumped forward and his staff came on, its red light radiating into the hollow. There in the centre of the hollow was Mason, kneeling on Moss and pinning him to the ground while he held the end of Moss’s staff.

Chapter 5 The Blockade

‘Mason,’ cried Adam. ‘How did you get here?’

‘I should ask you the same thing. I thought you two went for a swim,’ said Mason as he released Moss.

‘I’m sorry,’ said Moss, ‘I thought you were a Fras.’

‘That’s okay,’ replied Mason rubbing a red spot on his forehead that was swelling into a large lump.

‘I think we would all like to know how you managed to come back into Mixed-up Made-up,’ said Liteman.

‘And how you found us,’ said Adam.

Florrice just looked at Mason and smiled.

‘This is the third Clutch that I have tried. The others were deserted. Then I heard voices at one of the junctions so I followed the sound.’

‘Yes, but how did you enter Mixed-up Made-up?’ insisted Liteman.

‘I was at home trying to stay out of the heat and thinking about the tree and the Gateway being closed when it occurred to me that the white Element of the Void which created the first Gateway, might open it again. I climbed the tree and held it through the opening in the platform. There was a flash of white light and the fabric of the world tore open. I climbed through it, and I was in Mixed-up Made-up again,’ said Mason with a big grin on his face.

‘It seems we may have three Keepers,’ said Liteman.

‘Or maybe just one,’ said Florrice still smiling at Mason. ‘As I recall, Mason also had contact with the white Element of the Void when they overcame Septus. Each must try the Elements for themselves before we will know for certain.’

‘At least one thing is in our favour. You two can use the Gateway in the tree again,’ said Liteman turning to Adam and Tom.

Bluestone returned from sealing the entrances. ‘One of the Fras spies got away. Septus will know about the Elements by tomorrow. He will have Fras looking everywhere for Tom and Adam.’

‘Oh great,’ said Tom.

‘Right then, here is the plan,’ said Liteman. ‘You three will go back through the Gateway in the tree, bring one of the pieces back with you when you return to the World Without.’

‘I think it should be the black Element of Light,’ interrupted Florrice. ‘Then the indigo blue Element of Water and Ice should be returned to restore the water, followed by the bronze Element of Earth and Stone to revive the land.’

‘Are you sure about the Light Element? The light has not yet faded,’ said Liteman.

‘Who knows how much longer it will last. I don’t relish the idea of trying to survive in a completely black world, even if it is for just a short time.’

‘If I follow your thinking Florrice, the crimson red Element of Fire and Heat will restore warmth to the land, and in turn make way for the emerald green Element of Creatures Fixed to the Earth. Then the clear Element that gives life to Restless Creatures that move across the earth can be returned,’ said Liteman.

Florrice nodded.

‘So be it. As Florrice has instructed, the black Light Element shall be the first. Now we should be off,’ said Liteman leading the group down the middle tunnel.

‘What about the Element of the Void, the silver white one?’ asked Tom.

‘It is the Element that gives space to all worlds, the one that Agnus used to create the Gateway. The Gateway did not bring the sickness all those years ago so it should not affect the sickness now. You will also need it to get through the Gateway so I think it should remain with you,’ replied Florrice.

An hour later, the Marou watched them climb up the Big Tree. The going was very slow with the branches hanging down as they were, but to their relief, when Mason held the Element up though the manhole, the Gateway appeared.

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