Arnica's parents went on a long trip to Africa, and the boy spent the second year living with his grandfather, in a mountain village. There was no time to be bored: he loved these places and spent all his free time in the mountains.
The magical time was approaching - New Year's holidays. The winter that year was frosty, snowy and Arnica presented a real ice palace. One night, the waterfall, which had never froze before, froze in such a bizarre form that in a couple of hours the grandfather gave him the appearance of a palace.
The boy decorated the windows and doors with carvings, polished the walls and turrets, built a throne from the snow and set it in the center of the spacious hall. When the sun's rays illuminated the palace, it shimmered with all the colors of the rainbow and seemed to be built from the purest rock crystal. And then Arnick imagined himself a prince of the Crystal Country.
One Sunday morning, entering his palace, he froze in amazement: on the throne an unusual boy sat, dressed in white, as if knitted from snowflakes, a sweater and similar trousers. A lilac mantle was thrown overhead. It sparkled in the rays of the rising sun, as if it were woven from strands of precious stones.
Blonde wavy hair of a stranger was crowned with a crown, inlaid with gems: sapphires, amethysts, rubies, emeralds.
“This is exactly the prince! Where am I to him, Arnick thought.
An unknown guest seemed to be waiting for him. He rose from his throne, looked the boy in the eye in the study and asked:
- What is your name? And do you know how to keep secrets?
- I am Arnik. I know how to keep secrets - my grandfather taught me.
- Where does your grandfather work?
- He is now a pensioner, and used to work in a secret space laboratory.
- It's good. I can trust you. I need help.
- Who are you? From where What happened to you?
“I'm Heho from the Unseen World, prince of the Crystal Country.” Today a misfortune happened to me: a warrior of a hostile country kidnapped a crystal guide from me. With this crystal, I traveled the worlds and became invisible. And now I can not get to my country.
- How to help you?
“I don't know,” Heho replied sadly.
Arnick thought for a moment, and then decisively said:
- Come with me. Surely the grandfather will come up with something - he knows a lot of things mysterious, and he has a large collection of crystals.
- No, I'm not going with you - then everyone in the village will find out about me.
“Listen, they will soon see you here: my friends visit the ice palace every day.” While they are sleeping, we run to our house.
“Nothing to do, I agree,” Heho said.
And the boys, holding hands, hurried to the village.
Having run up to the house, the boys stopped indecisively: the grandfather chopped wood, and the grandmother hung out the washed laundry.
“Let's wait until the grandmother comes into the house,” the prince suggested.
- Come on! “You can’t hide anything from her, she’s a former teacher — she guesses everything without words,” said Arnick.
The boys entered the yard. Grandfather, as if nothing special happened, as if the princes came to visit every day, he asked:
- Granddaughters, who did you come with? Is this your new friend?
Arnick talked about everything that happened.
“Yes, this is a serious matter,” the grandfather said thoughtfully, “I heard something about the Crystal Country.” Let's go to my office, guys, we'll talk there.
A few minutes later my friends sat down in their chairs and listened with interest to the story of his grandfather:
- Many centuries ago, the locals mined in a deep crystal cellar *, located in the Singing Gorge, crystals of rock crystal. This gorge is still famous for its melodious sounds coming from the ground. Old-timers insist that they are heard from the invisible Crystal Country.
“Your old-timers are right,” Heho interrupted. “There are a lot of musical instruments made from rock crystal plates in my country, and our residents love to play them.
“Old people rarely make mistakes,” confirmed the grandfather. - A lot of time has passed since then. Crystal stopped mining, the gorge was overgrown with trees and thorny shrubs. Few people decide to roam its slopes. But I have proof of the veracity of this story, - with these words the grandfather went to the cabinet where his collection of minerals was kept, took out a box and carefully took out a crystal from it.
- This crystal of rock crystal is inherited in our family by inheritance, I got it from my great-grandfather. Now Arnick will become its owner, ”said the grandfather, handing over the treasure to his grandson. - It's time for the crystal to show its secret abilities.
With trepidation the boy looked into the glittering facets of a transparent, colorless mineral. He, as if frozen for centuries ice, kept cool and clean water. Suddenly, in one of the faces, the Crystal Palace flashed and immediately disappeared.
- This is my country! - cheerfully exclaimed Heho. “But the crystal is very weak, it has lost its power.” Give it to me - I'll try to give him some of my energy.
Arnick gave a friend a gem. He removed the crown and touched the edge of the crystal to the amethyst. Immediately in his depths, as in a video, pictures flashed: the king and queen came out of the palace. The queen wept, and the king comforted her. Anxious courtiers fussed around and talked about something.
- Where is my sister Laiho? said the prince worriedly. He looked at the faces of the speakers and suddenly exclaimed:
- We have trouble! A warrior of the Land of Fire, who stole my crystal, penetrated with his help into the palace and kidnapped the princess. I have to go home and go looking for my sister. But how do I get there? What should I do? - he looked at the old man hopefully.
“First of all,” said the grandfather, “we must calm down.” Think about what you can do. You said crystal helped you travel the worlds.
- Yes! But this crystal is very weak. “All my energy is not enough to restore it,” said the alien doomed.
“Do not panic,” the grandfather severely ordered, “You can find a way out of any situation.” There is a plan, only you have to wait until spring comes and the snow comes down from the mountains.
- What will be during this time with Laiho?
- We must believe that nothing bad will happen to her. Soon the snow will begin to melt, and then you can go to the Singing Gorge. The crystal has enough energy to bring you and an abandoned crystal cellar. And then everything will depend on your ingenuity and courage. Be patient, my friends!
In the evening, at the family council, it was decided to put Heiho in the grandfather's office so that he would not come to the eyes of the children, whom the grandfather and grandmother taught to make clay and wood carving. When the children were going home, the prince went down to the workshop. Clay so fascinated him that sometimes he had sculpted the intricate figurines of unknown creatures until morning. Son Heho was not required - the inhabitants of the invisible worlds do not know fatigue.
And the guest was fascinated by reading. In the office of his grandfather was a large library, in addition to the special, it was a lot of fabulous literature. That's what Heho read.
The grandfather was surprised, because it was worth it to bring the book to his eyes, as the information was instantly scanned and displayed in his memory. And he sat and read diligently. But grandma said:
- There is nothing surprising here: the child enjoys the lively and colorful language of people.
Sometime in early February, Arnick burst into the office with a joyful shout of “Hoo-ah-ah!”
- Heho! Today, the waterfall was freed from the frosty captivity, my palace is no more. Snow began to descend from the mountains, he said happily.
Friends could not sit still. They were ready to run immediately in search of the crystal cellar. But grandfather said:
- Haste to good does not lead. Tomorrow I will go to the mountains myself, then we will decide what to do.
The next morning the old man went on reconnaissance. The grandmother tried to captivate the children in some way, but everything fell out of their hands. So the day went by. It was already getting dark when a tired but satisfied grandfather entered the house. Heho and Arnick in one voice asked:
- When can I go?
- Do not get excited, guys! After a couple of days, the moisture is absorbed into the soil, then you will go.
Two days lasted like two years. But everything comes to an end, and the long-awaited morning has come. The grandfather accompanied the boys to the Singing Gorge and, having punished them not to hurry, went to the village.
Arnick took out a crystal from the inner pocket of his jacket, and immediately a bright light flashed on its top.
- well! said Heho. - He feels Crystal Country. Put the crystal tip down.
As soon as the boy turned the light on the ground, he came to life and ran down the slope. Friends barely kept up with him - his feet slid across the sodden ground. The closer they descended to the bottom of the gorge, the brighter the crystal glowed. Suddenly he froze on the spot and quickly blinked.
“There should be a crystal cellar here,” Hejo said somehow uncertainly.
The boys looked at their feet in perplexity: a pile of mossy stones around and nothing like a cellar. And the crystal continued to persistently give signals.
Then the guys began to clear the place to which the light was pointing. Soon a massive stone slab appeared, and the crystal began to blink even more intensely and brighter. Arnick almost burst into tears.
“We will never budge this slab,” he said dejectedly.
But Heho was calm. He removed the crown from his head and brought it to the barrier. The slab immediately rose above the ground and slowly, like a weightless cloud, floated to the side, opening the entrance to the cave.
Arnick looked inside, but did not have time to see anything - an ominous darkness pounced on him and dragged him along. In the next instant, the boy rolled down and flew at a furious speed into the wide open hatch. Strong hands grabbed him under the arms.
- In the dungeon of the scamp! - I heard a loud voice, and Arnica dragged deep into the dark cave.
* Crystal cellar - a cavity in the earth's crust, in which crystals of transparent quartz and crystal grow.
To be continued…