The Keepers: Part Six
Jhudora was waiting. As Arthur, Kendrick, and Reid entered her menacing fortress she gave them a chilling smile. The evilly beautiful dark faerie was seated on a large purple throne, and behind her, held to the cold stone wall by dark green vines, was Adrina. When she saw her two friends and Kendrick's glowing uncle arrive, she gasped.
When Kendrick saw her, he felt his spotted wings droop in fear. How did he know whether or not Jhudora would really release her in exchange for the Timebender? The dark faerie cackled wickedly at the three of them as they stepped before her throne. Though he had always been quite tall for a Shoyru, Kendrick had never felt so small. He couldn't imagine how Reid must have been feeling.
"You came," Jhudora said. Her voice wasn't at all like Kendrick imagined it would be, but rather very soft and feminine, though there was a musical hiss to it.
"As you commanded, Lady Jhudora," Arthur said, and his glowing ears flipped as he crouched into a deep bow. Jhudora grinned victoriously.
"Yes, yes," she said with another echoing cackle, "But do not distract me with flattery. You know why you're here." And then her evil smile disappeared, replaced by the most bone-chilling glare Kendrick had ever seen. Her dark purple eyes radiated with malice. "Give me the pocket watch," she commanded, "Now."
"Adrina first!" Kendrick shouted, surprised at his own bravery. The dark faerie turned her glare from the glowing Zafara to Kendrick, and he felt a chill shoot through his body. He wasn't entirely sure how he managed to stay upright.
"You do not make conditions with me, foolish little Shoyru," she warned, but then her glare dimmed a bit. She leaned back in her throne and put her fingertips together. "However," she hissed, then snapped her clawed fingers, and the vines that had trapped Adrina began to shrink back into the wall. "I see no issue with trading at the same time."
Kendrick watched as the tight vines released their grip on Adrina, and she fell to the floor on her knees. Kendrick winced as she fell, but she didn't appear to be harmed. The pink Xweetok lifted herself to her feet and dusted off her knees. Uncle Arthur took the Timebender out of his pocket. Then, everything happened very fast.
Prepared for this phase of their plan, Kendrick watched it all as though it were in magically slow motion. As the pocket watch was placed in Jhudora's hands and Adrina ran toward Kendrick, Reid ripped Arthur's bag off of his shoulder and pulled out the strange mirror. Jhudora roared with evil laughter and turned the hands of the Timebender. Arthur shouted at Reid to push the button on the handle of the mirror, and a bright, white light shot out of the glass as a strong wind surrounded all of them and everything turned silver and green.
Wherever Jhudora had taken them was a terrifying place. Kendrick had never heard of anything like it in Neopia. It looked something like a much, much bigger version of Jhudora's own bluff. In the distance, Kendrick saw valleys of black and purple smoke and a forest full of thorny trees. The sky was pitch black with hardly any trace of stars, though the large moon lit the area. Lying on a patch of dark, dead grass was Jhudora herself, apparently knocked unconscious by Arthur's mirror.
"Wow," Reid said, straightening his glasses. Kendrick saw his friend's white tail sticking straight up in fear.
"Where are we?" Adrina asked, cowering behind Kendrick's tall form, "And what happened back there?"
Arthur seemed to be the only one who wasn't paralyzed with fear. He was up and digging around in his bag. "No time for that," he told them. His green glow added even more eerieness to the place. "We've got to get back to when Kendrick and you were in Faerieland."
"Faerieland?" Adrina asked.
Arthur shook his head. "There's no time to explain." The glowing Zafara pulled two potions out of his bag. He uncorked one of them quickly, took a swig, and told Kendrick and Adrina to drink it quickly. They became invisible almost instantly. It was rather unnerving. Though Kendrick knew that he, Adrina, and Arthur were all still there, all that could be seen was Reid and Jhudora. Another potion floated in midair, held by the invisible Arthur, and then it tipped and bright blue liquid flowed into Jhudora's open mouth.
"Are you certain that you can do this, Reid?" Arthur's voice asked from somewhere to the left. Kendrick saw the helpless looking white Kacheek swallow hard, and then nod and bend down to turn to hands of the Timebender, which still rested in Jhudora's hand. The dark faerie's eyes just began to flutter open as a strong gust of wind carried them all away.
Jhudora didn't enjoy being confused. Her head felt like it was swimming somewhere on the Neopian sea, and though she sat quite steadily on her throne, she was extremely dizzy. And what in the name of darkness was that weird-looking watch she was holding?
"Ex... ex... excuse me, miss?"
Jhudora looked down into the face of a terrified little white Kacheek, who was bowing before her throne and trembling. She wasn't sure how, but he looked vaguely familiar. She shook her swimming head and put on her most intimidating expression. To her delight, the little Kacheek shrank away in fear. "What do you want?" she sneered.
"I... I... I d-did a quest for-for you, madam," the little white Kacheek managed to stutter out. "Y-you were just about t-to give me my r-reward."
The dark faerie narrowed her eyebrows and looked away from the Kacheek to stare at the odd pocket watch. How in Neopia was anybody supposed to be able to tell the time on a thing like that, with seven hands and jumbled symbols? It was obviously a mistake made in a watch factory somewhere. She let out a small chuckle. So she'd been about to reward a successful little quester with an unreadable pocket watch. How very like her to do something like that!
"Here, then," she snarled, throwing the defective watch towards the pitiful little Kacheek. "And out of my sight at once!"
"T-thank you, my la-ady!" the quester stammered as he backed away from her, then he turned and ran out of her fortress as fast as his little white legs would carry him. Jhudora threw back her head and cackled loudly. It was so fun to terrify little Neopets!
Kendrick had never been so happy to be back at Arthur's house in Brightvale. Adrina seemed to have put everything that had happened together for herself, and remained very quiet on the journey home, still glancing back every so often as though she expected the dark faerie to magically regain her memory and be pursuing them at any moment. Arthur hummed quietly to himself, while Reid bragged on and on.
"She really thought I went on a quest!" he said, holding his stomach as it shook with laughter. "And here I thought faeries were supposed to be smart!"
Yes, Kendrick could tell that it would be a story Reid would never tire of telling. The time he, the little Kacheek, had outsmarted Jhudora.
Now they all sat in Uncle Arthur's lab, around a small round table. The Timebender rested in the center. No one quite seemed to know what to say, so they just stared at it for a long while, occasionally sipping on what Arthur swore was hot chocolate, but tasted more like warm soot in Kendrick's opinion.
"Well, someone has to say it," Arthur finally said, pushing his steaming mug of soot away and looking at them all very seriously. "We've barely escaped with our lives today. This device..." he gestured toward the Timebender, "is clearly too dangerous to be kept. It must be destroyed."
Kendrick gasped. Of all of the things he had expected the Zafara to say, that had been last on the list. No, that hadn't even made the list. "You can't!" he objected, rising to his feet and towering over everyone else. "This... this is your life's work. It's the most amazing thing anyone's ever done. You can't do that."
Kendrick blushed a little as he saw his uncle's eyes glisten with tears. "Thank you, Kendrick," he said with a smile, "but sit back down. You're right. This is my life's work. But it isn't worth risking any one of our lives ever again."
Unable to deny the sense of his uncle's words, the spotted Shoyru reluctantly sat back down. To his surprise, Adrina spoke next. "But... what if we could find a way to use it that would guarantee no lives would be in danger?" the pink Xweetok suggested, looking from Arthur to Kendrick and smiling.
"Yes!" Reid said, waving his hand toward Adrina with so much enthusiasm that he almost knocked over his cup of hot chocolate. "Yes, I see what Adrina's saying!" The white Kacheek turned to Arthur. "All we'd have to do would be to make ourselves invisible every time we time traveled. We know your potion works. It'd be easy!"
Kendrick saw a glimmer of hope in his uncle's bright green eyes at Reid's words, and a moment later Arthur smiled. "Of course," he agreed, "As long as we were careful..."
Adrina, Reid, and Kendrick all nodded enthusiastically, and took turns grinning at each other. "Imagine the advantage we'll have in History class this year," Reid said with a chuckle, "We'll be top of the class for sure!"
"Not so fast," Arthur cut in. "What we do with the Timebender must never leave this room." He eyed them all individually. "We must tell no one of its existence. We must keep our guard up at all times. There can be absolutely no slips. Do you all understand?"
Adrina nodded. "Yes."
"Duh," Reid said with a wink.
"Yes," Kendrick agreed. Adrina smiled up at him and reached over to hold his hand. At the sight of Kendrick's blush, Arthur smiled.
"Well then," the glowing Zafara said, and then he raised his steaming mug, "To the four of us - the Time Keepers!"
"The Time Keepers!" they all repeated, lifting their own mugs, and the clinks of glass echoed off the walls of the lab.