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Week 591
You are on Week 592
Week 593

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Five Hundred Ninety Two Ends Friday, February 8

Fritz wiped some dust from his glasses with one of his wings. The tiny pieces of metal on the work bench in front of him looked even smaller through his dusty glasses. Fritz was one of Neopia's best clock repairmen. He always joked that he was "just a simple Lenny with a love for the complex." Some clocks housed thousands of parts, yet he always found a way to take them apart and put them back together. He enjoyed the challenge.

His repair shop was located in his basement. It was his favorite place in the world. The walls were covered in clocks of all styles and ages. Pendant lights hung from the ceiling, transforming Fritz's dark and damp basement into a bright work space. He did his best to keep the dust away. Clocks were Fritz's chosen career and his biggest hobby, maybe even his only hobby. He kept to himself and spent most of his time in his basement. The customers he served were his closest friends. He stared at the pieces of iron and brass in front of him. This puzzle was beginning to take shape...

A loud banging noise coming from upstairs caused Fritz to jump, bumping his work table in the process and scattering all the tiny clock pieces. He looked at the multitude of clocks on the wall. Who would be banging on his door at this hour?

"I suppose these pieces won't pick themselves up," he mumbled to himself.

Fritz picked up the scattered clock parts and continued changing the pieces around, looking for matches and the right fit. He looked up. Three hours had passed since he'd started working. He looked back at the clock innards, then up at the clocks on the wall again. None of the hands were moving. Before he could wrap his mind around the frozen clocks, the banging noise started again. This time, it sounded as though someone was tapping rapidly on glass.

Fritz sprung from his seat, careful not to disrupt the clock parts. "Who is it?" he huffed as he lumbered up the stairs...

Author: blessed_faerie
Date: Feb 4th
..."Just a humble Acara looking to buy a watch," a demure voice called. Its sound was a stunning contrast to the brash knock she'd delivered before to the old, worn door.

"The door's open," Fritz shouted, closing the oh-so-heavy basement hatch. A sepia Acara poked her head into the shop, a gold earring clipped to one of her furry ears and a pair of thick glasses resting peacefully upon the end of her nose.

"Fritz, I believe?" she asked in a soft tone, shifting her weight onto a different paw and pushing her glasses up closer to her face.

"Guilty as charged," the Lenny chuckled, extending a wing and grinning a besotted smile. The sienna Acara shook the Lenny's wing firmly and smiled back.

"Calliope Persephone. Charmed. May I see what you have to offer?"

"Well, I mostly do repairs, but over here is where I keep my own personal collection," Fritz declared, stepping back and gesturing forward as the Acara gingerly traipsed deeper into the shop.

Calliope took a pocket watch with a gold Hissi wound tightly around the edge in her palm, running her thumb over the fine glass lovingly.

"How much for the Hissi pocket watch?" she called, ears perking up and mouth twitching into a small grin.

"1,000 Neopoints," Fritz responded. To pass the time, he skimmed through a shelf of books while Calliope continued to browse his many clocks and watches.

With an anguished sigh, the Acara set down the pocket watch and walked to the next timepiece that caught her eye.

Among the many baubles and bangles that gleamed in the light were a tall grandfather clock with Koi circling the center, a silly-looking Quiggle watch, and an alarm clock with a Korbat perched happily on the top.

Finally, as Calliope was planning to leave with no watch whatsoever, something shone brightly in the corner of her eye. It was yet another pocket watch, this one with a Ruki on the cover. The Ruki had sapphires for eyes, and dark obsidian for its strong claws.

Calliope pressed the pocket watch into her palm and galloped to the counter.

"How much?" she asked, giggling earnestly, her hopes higher than an air faerie's cloud.

"For you, only 950 NP," Fritz answered with a haughty look.

"How about 935?" Calliope haggled, quirking an eyebrow and swinging the leather sack of exactly 935 Neopoints she had around her finger.

"Sold. Let me just wind it for you..." he said, his voice trailing off as he tentatively popped the back off with a trained hand and a special key.

Stuffed in the back of the watch was a tattered slip of paper. Fritz and Calliope gasped as it floated out of the back and unrolled, as if controlled by the most improbable magic. Scrawled upon it in charcoal was a strange message in an ancient language rarely heard of...

Author: poofypeachy
Date: Feb 4th
...Calliope quickly snatched it up to look the paper over, but for her life she could not read the symbols. She turned it over and looked at an intricately-drawn depiction of the watch that the paper had fallen out of and a much larger clock that bore a striking resemblance to it.

"Well, look at that," Fritz said curiously. "It looks like you got a bonus." He eyed the paper as Calliope sighed and gave up on reading it. Though he hated to admit it, he had no idea how he had missed the scroll in the watch when he'd bought it. Personally, as a rule in fact, he inspected every clock, watch, and timekeeper he carried, fixed, and sold, so how could he have missed the scroll? "May I see it?" he asked, feeling a bit impatient.

Calliope nodded, then said, "I suppose so. I can't make heads or tails of it myself."

Fritz smiled as he eagerly accepted the paper from her and looked it over himself. He leaned his head back and adjusted his glasses to better focus on the old, worn-out letters, but he was not only interested in that: his keen puzzle-solving eyes also noted that the paper was obviously too long, even when rolled, to simply fit in the watch's keyhole, and yet it wasn't folded and bunched up. "It's as though it slipped through the keyhole magically," he said under his breath.

"Pardon?" Calliope asked. "I'm sorry, Mr. Fritz, but can I have the watch? You can keep the paper; it doesn't mean anything to me."

Fritz shut his mouth and nodded, still befuddled by the case of the mysterious little scroll. He knew he would figure it out if he kept thinking, or found a clue, but for now he really did have to tend to his customer. Quickly, he wound up the watch and held it up to his ear. The sound of the little gears inside and the ticking on the hands was as appealing to him as pie. Fritz smiled and handed it back to the young Acara.

Calliope turned the watch back and forth, watching the light play on the polished surfaces. "I've been looking for a new watch for quite some time. This is just my style."

"I'm glad to help," he said, proud to see her admiring his work. She thanked him and began to leave as Fritz looked back to the scoll on his counter.

As he reached for it, and as Calliope reached the door, all of the clocks in the shop, basement, and apartment above began to chime wildy. "What?!?" Fritz shouted, startled by the sound. The bells, gongs, chimes, and whistles were louder than they had ever been, as if to desperately catch his attention.

Startled, Calliope looked at the time on her new watch to see that it was still twenty-six minutes 'til the next hour. "Why are they all chiming? Is the time set wrong?"

"I should say not!" Fritz huffed, taking offense. "Perhaps--"

Before he could continue on, however, the scroll unraveled between his hands and lifted into the air, drifting a few inches toward Fritz and then suddenly fluttering into Calliope's face, clinging to her nose as though it had been glued there. "What is the meaning of this?!?" she screeched, trying desperately to peel it off. The clocks began to chime once more as she managed to detach it from her face and then look it over once more. "This is eerie!" she barked at Fritz, as if to blame him.

This is auspicious, he said to himself. "What kind of puzzle have I found?"

"What are you talking about?"

Fritz hurried around the counter to look at the paper once more, snatching it from Calliope's hand and glaring at the words. "There's something here... I just wish I knew what this said!"

Calliope looked around, feeling like a foreigner. This shop had suddenly become like another world, and she was painfully out of place. Even so, she was growing curious; this might be the beginning to some kind of new adventure, she believed. "I-I might know someone who can read it... I mean, if it's really that important. It's not a big deal to me," she lied. "If you want... I mean, I could take you to him."

Fritz nodded excitedly. "Take me there!" he said with a grand smile on his face. His heart was racing as he rolled the scroll back up and placed it in a satchel of small tools that he then slung over his shoulder.

Calliope also tried to hide her mounting excitement. "All this for a mere 935 Neopoints," she whispered to herself. She opened the door and led Fritz out, wondering what they would find...

Author: outside_inside
Date: Feb 5th
...The air was cool and breezes swirled leaves off the street as they walked outside. While Fritz and Calliope walked along the cobblestone streets, the Acara anxiously tried to think of what to do now that she has lied to Fritz.

"So, what's the name of this fine translator who is going to help us?" Fritz asked calmly, adjusting the strap of his satchel.

"Oh, that's simple! It's, umm..." she mumbled, trailing off. Calliope tried to think of a name, until she stumbled upon the name of an old friend she hasn't seen in ages. It was the best she could come up with.

"It's Charles! Yes, indeed! His name is Charles!" she exclaimed half-nervously, trying not to look suspicious.

"Okay, then." Fritz replied, nodding. "Where does Charles live?"

"He lives just around that corner, at the end of the street!" she blurted, pointing to the corner of the neighborhood.

Fritz excitedly picked up the pace, eager to meet their "translator." Calliope tried to keep up as she thought what to do next. She panted tiredly as she hobbled next to Fritz, for she didn't have the strength she had when she was younger.

Soon enough, they found themselves at the door of Charles's house. It was a tall house, with the wooden exterior rotting and some of the windows cracked. The lawn was dry and limp, and the bushes were completely bare of leaves. The rickety wooden board stairs led to the porch, which had a rocking chair by the door. The door was wooden as well, and had a golden doorknob engraved with Charles's initial, "C."

"Let me knock," Calliope offered, walking up the stairs. She made a fist with her paw and knocked on the door, but there was no answer. She knocked again. Still no answer.

"Maybe he isn't home, Calliope," Fritz finally said impatiently, after Calliope frantically knocked for the hundredth time. "I guess our mystery should wait until tomorrow..." As he spoke, he tightened his grip on the satchel, fearing that this scroll would somehow cause a ruckus when he went back to his shop.

"But... but..." Calliope said, frantically thinking what to do. Thoughts in her head were zipping back and forth like little breezes in a storm. She quickly began to convince herself that this "adventure" had to end now.

Then, just as Calliope was about to turn around to go back to Fritz, the golden doorknob turned and clicked, and the door slowly opened to reveal...

Author: roxy1042
Date: Feb 5th
...a shadow Ruki. The ominous expression he held was rather off-putting to Fritz at first. Noticing Calliope, his expression neither brightened nor darkened. It remained just the same.

"What brings you here?" the Ruki said in a quiet, and almost hoarse, voice. It almost sounded like he had not said anything for a long time, but Fritz couldn't be too sure.

Calliope quickly cleared her throat, then said, "I... uhh, we, were hoping that you would be capable of translating something for me and this Lenny, here." The sepia Acara was half tempted to cross her fingers behind her back for good luck.

The Ruki's expression now darkened slightly. "This long, without so much as a simple 'hello,' and you come to me for a favor?"

"I am sorry," Calliope said, glancing at her new watch to transfer her eyes to something else. "I was busy, so I figured you were busy... I was just hoping you could help."

Fritz, rather confused by the situation and feeling as though he were in an awkward position, distracted himself by looking in his bag for the scroll.

Charles sighed, then asked, "Do you have any idea what it is?"

"Well, no," Calliope replied. "I haven't the foggiest notion, actually."

"It possesses some sort of magic," Fritz said, lifting his head to make eye contact with the Ruki.

"Magic? What do you mean magic?" Charles asked, eyes narrowing every so slightly. Perhaps he doubted the Lenny.

"The scroll was in the watch. There was no way that it could get in the watch without being crinkled in some way. Furthermore, I look through, check over, and fix every single clock or watch I own before putting them up on my walls or on display. There is no possible way for that scroll -- obviously being much too long in the first place -- to simply slip into the watch without some kind of magic to help it to do so," Fritz replied, grasping the scroll in his bag.

The Ruki thought over the Lenny's words, briefly looked at Calliope, and then slowly opened his door a bit more, as if to keep the suspense. "Come inside," he said simply and walked in himself. "Also, shut the door while you're at it."

The Lenny and Acara walked inside, greeted by a rather strange decor. Featuring a colour scheme of black and a deep purple, it would look almost royal if there was a bit of fixing. The floors creaked, the carpet they were walking on was wrinkled and faded with time, and the wallpaper on the walls was peeling down in its gloomy droopiness. The weirdest thing was that it suited Charles rather well, in Fritz's opinion.

They soon came to a room that resembled a small library, and then to an old, slightly cluttered desk.

"May I see this scroll that you both spoke of?" Charles asked, clearing a space on his desk.

Fritz carefully removed the scroll from his bag and handed it to the Ruki. He felt the need to use some caution after what happened before he and Calliope had left to come here.

Charles carefully unrolled it, placed it on his desk, and began examining the scroll's intricate symbols. Calliope had started anxiously shifting from foot to foot, hoping he was actually capable of translating it.

"What do you think?" she blurted in both excitement and concern. She couldn't take the suspense.

"I think...

Author: dustinismine
Date: Feb 6th
…Before Charles could complete his thought, however, an enormous grandfather clock in the corner of the room began chiming out the hour. It didn't just chime; it gonged and crashed like a cymbal shop full of Myncies. As it rang out again and again, the three clasped their hands over their ears and bent low, as though being physically assaulted by the ancient-looking timekeeper.

When it had finished, Fritz couldn't help but blurt out, "Imagine, in a place as rundown as this is that an old relic like that would actually work." As soon as he had said the words, he knew that they could be misconstrued as rude, but the clock aficionado in his heart had marvelled at the miracle. He looked sidelong at the cranky old Ruki and was surprised to see him smile.

"You might appreciate having a look inside at its works, Fritz," Charles said in his hoarse and dusty voice.

Cheerfully, the Lenny nodded and said, "Indeed, I would." He scrambled to the corner of the room and used his wing to dust the webs and motes from the glass face of the tall clock. With mounting professional curiosity, Fritz opened the long, wooden door on the front of the case and was shocked to find it... empty. It contained no pendulums, no gears, no springs, and most curiously of all, no bells or chimes or gongs or... anything. Nothing that could have caused that Neopia-shattering cacophony.

The stunned silence of the room was broken by a clicking noise that seemed to come from Calliope's pocket. With a trembling hand, the Acara withdrew her new watch, her eyes widening as she regarded it. The sapphire eyes of the watch case's engraved Ruki shone brightly, casting the room in an ethereal hue. Its obsidian claws were moving, clicking and scratching along the watch's cover, as though trying to open itself up. Horrified, Calliope stuck her hand straight out and dropped the watch, not wanting those terrible claws to come into contact with her hands.

Charles dove and snatched the watch out of the air before it landed on his faded rug. "What were you thinking?" he snapped. "This is the most fascinating artefact I believe I have ever seen!" The Ruki carried the watch over to his desk, turning it over and over in his hands, and as he sat down, he suddenly froze. "Come here you two, you must see this."

Calliope and Fritz exchanged hesitant glances before joining the Ruki at his desk. There, they could see that the blue glow of the sapphire eyes were having a strange effect on the magic scroll's intricate symbols. They saw that...

Author: mamasimios
Date: Feb 6th
...the symbols were slowly morphing into Neopian words. The sapphire eyes dimmed, and the Neopets realized that they could now read the words on the scroll. Charles picked it up slowly, squinting in the low light. "It says, 'To find the time, you must remember. What is broken can yet be fixed. What is fixed can yet be broken. The larger one holds the...'" Charles stopped. He turned the scroll over. "That's all it says! The end must be missing."

Calliope was crestfallen. They had finally translated the scroll, and now the end of it was gone. She threw up her paws in frustration. "What is that supposed to mean, and what happened to the end?!?"

Fritz rubbed his beak, thinking. "Could I see that?" he asked. Taking the scroll from Charles, he read it several more times. He then turned it over, staring at the back. "That's it!" he exclaimed suddenly.

"Look at the picture again." Calliope and Charles crowded around him, squinting at the back of the scroll. "See? Here's a picture of the watch that the scroll fell out of. It's below this large clock, which looks like the same workmanship."

"Oh, so that must be the 'larger one' that holds something!" Charles said.

"Okay... but how do we find it?" Calliope asked, still frustrated.

"I'm trying to remember where I bought this watch," Fritz said slowly. He stood very still for a few moments, thinking, and then he remembered. "That's right! An old Elephante came to my shop a few months back, and insisted on selling it to me. She had some sort of heavy accent, maybe Qasalan... I can't believe I forgot! Come to think of it, she did seem rather mysterious, what with that black cloak..."

Calliope couldn't believe it. "You mean you had a mysterious stranger come sell you a magical watch, and you didn't even remember?"

Fritz shrugged. "What can I say? I notice watches and clocks more than Neopets."

Charles spoke up in his quiet, raspy voice. "I think I know the Elephante you're talking about. She lives not far from here, but I don't think she'll want to talk to you. She's not very... social."

"Well, we have to give it a try!" Calliope insisted. The three Neopets left the house, making their way through town. Finally, they arrived at the mysterious stranger's abode, which loomed above them ominously.

"It almost looks like Lord Darigan's castle," Calliope whispered. Suddenly, they were startled by...

Author: ilhs11
Date: Feb 7th
...a large bell atop the castle's spire, which began chiming out of control. The ringing was deafening, and would easily echo for miles around. Fritz exchanged a glance with Calliope as the ringing ceased.

"My shop, Charles's house... now this?" Fritz remarked. "Why do things keep chiming around you?"

"Me?" Calliope gasped, affronted. "If anything, I would suggest that the watch is to blame."

"It sat in my shop quite happily with no ill effects before you arrived," Fritz pointed out.

"Be quiet, you two!" Charles snapped as they grew closer.

The front door of the castle had been thrown open a few moments earlier, the occupant clearly disturbed by the noise of the bell atop the tower.

It was the Elephante Fritz remembered from the shop, a black cloak covering much of her features.

"What do you want, Charles?" she rasped. "I thought I told you never to darken my door again?"

"Sorry, Beatrice," Charles said, instinctively taking a step back so that he was standing slightly behind the others. "They wanted to talk to you."

"To me?" Beatrice asked, turning her attention to Fritz.

"You probably don't remember me, but a few months ago you sold me this," Fritz said, gesturing to the watch in Calliope's hand.

Beatrice's eyes immediately went wide with horror.

"No!" she gasped. "I thought I was rid of that forever! Why would you bring that back to me? It could undo everything!"

"This little thing?" Calliope asked.

However, in her hand, the engraved Ruki began to...

Author: herdygerdy
Date: Feb 7th
...shiver as a small chime inside began to ring. Calliope held it out by its chain while the eyes started glowing brighter and brighter. Again the bell atop the old manor began to ring out and, far away in the town center, the bell atop the court house could be heard echoing over the hills, even though it was miles away. "Closer..." a hiss said from inside the watch.

Startled, Calliope dropped it and screamed sharply. This time, Charles was not close enough to catch the timepiece and it fell to the ground -- where suddenly it stopped, only an inch above the cobblestones, and began to rise back into the air. The trio stepped back, nervous as the bells and chimes continued to batter their ears and the watch flew back toward Calliope. She threw up her hands to protect herself and the watch found its way into her fingers, forcing her to hold onto it.

"Take that away from here!" Beatrice ordered as the bells slowly began to calm down once more.

"F-Fritz," Calliope stammered. "I don't want this watch anymore! You like it, so take it back! I don't need the Neopoints either, s-so you can have those as well!"

As she shoved it back into Fritz's wings, the bells began to ring out a third time in protest as the voice hissed out, "Take me closer!" It pulled itself away from Fritz and back into Calliope's hands. "What is this thing?!?" she asked.

Fritz's feathery brow furrowed as he looked back to the old house. The cloaked Beatrice was hurrying down toward them, and though all they could see was her lower face, they could tell she was angry from the terrible scowl she gave them. Her cape billowed as she walked and she was quite the intimidating figure, but then again, so was Charles. This time, he bravely stood between Beatrice and the others, and though he was afraid, he asked, "Why did you sell Fritz this watch?" His voice wasn't as strong as he'd hoped it would sound, however.

"To be rid of it, once and for all! Just listen to this noise! Do you think this is a happy sound? This is the sound of that watch's power! Take it far away!" She place her cloaked hand on Charles's shoulder. Under her power, he lifted into the air and immediately pushed away, as though a gust of wind had caught him. Charles landed in a bush several feet away, dazed and tangled in the branches that were coming to life to hold him back.

"You!" Beatrice growled at Fritz and Calliope. "You promised to sell it, to send it far away!"

Fritz leaned over Calliope, as if to protect her from the rampaging Elephante. "I recall no such thing! I hardly remember you at all... but you knew there was something fishy about this watch. Why didn't you send it away yourself?"

Beatrice fumed, saying, "Because that is not the way the curse works. The curse that was on me, and now the curse that is on this Acara. Now, go away from here before the watch grows stronger, and before that watch unravels everything I have done to stop it from destroying time!"

Disheveled, Fritz could feel her anger growing. "D-destroy time?!?" he huffed."W-well, what's that supposed to mean? You can't destroy time!"

"You can, if you have power over it..." she snarled. "What is broken can yet be fixed. What is fixed can yet be broken. Was that not the warning I placed inside the watch?"

Calliope looked at her watch in awe.

"So, it was you who wrote it?" Fritz scoffed.

"Of course!" she barked. "Who else could? Not my former apprentice, that is for certain," she said, motioning toward Charles, who was now crawling out of the bushes. "I see you finally managed to take control of the plants," she huffed at him. "You always were a slow learner."

"Wait," Fritz said, "but what does that riddle mean?"

"It means that the curse on the watch has nearly come true once before, but I stopped it. What is broken can yet be fixed... I repaired time with my own magic. But what is fixed can yet be broken," she repeated, "if you don't get rid of that watch."

Charles stepped between her and his friends a second time and put his hands up defensively as they began to glow a strange purple color. "You can really do magic?"

"A little," he admitted hoarsely. "I never finished my training..."

Beatrice laughed at him and then turned back to Fritz as the Lenny asked, "What does the larger one hold? The larger clock from the scroll you put into the watch?"

"Are you blind?" she scoffed. "Or can you not read?"

"It wasn't legible," Charles said, "whatever else you wrote there, it was gone when we saw the scroll."

Beatrice thrust her hand out. "Give it to me," she said, and Fritz quickly produced the small paper. Beatrice took one look at it haughtily. "Of course... it seems the watch was trying to fool you into seeking out its older brother. This larger clock," she said quietly, "holds the secret to destroying time and bringing back its master."

Calliope shivered, then asked, "Who is its master?"

"No one I want to meet," Beatrice said gravely, "and certainly no one Charles could ever protect you from," she said, making fun of his weaker magic. "If these two pieces ever came together, then there would be no more time. Everything would stop and be absorbed into the clock, giving energy to its master. What he would do with such power, I can only guess. I warn you, though, that it took more than my power alone to stop him the last time he nearly returned, and my friends who were helping me lost all of their power. This is far too dangerous for the likes of you three."

With that, Beatrice waved her hands in front of her and a steel fence began to rise through cracks in the ground. "Begone!" she cried.

Calliope clutched the watch and began to back away. She had wanted adventure, but this was getting to be too much! "I have to get rid of this!" she squeeked.

Charles hurried to her side. "I told you she wouldn't want to speak with you," he said. "We need to go away from here... now that we know what we're dealing with."

"Quite a sour end to that puzzle," Fritz said bitterly. He had been ready for a real game, but like Calliope, he knew that he was getting in over his head. Magic was not his strength.

"Calliope, do you know any reason why that watch might be attracted to you?" Charles asked quickly as they began to walk away from the house.

"No. How could I know? I just wanted something nice to replace the watch that I lost when I traveled to Roo Island on holiday. How could I have known--"

Suddenly, the watch began to grow heavier. She stumbled and felt as though she were being weighed to the ground. "It's acting funny again!" she yelped. "What do I do?!?"

The bells all across the city then began to ring. The watch wasn't ready to give up on its mission to bring back its master. Charles clasped his hands around Calliope's and she saw his hands began to glow once more. "I can try to calm it down, but it's going wild!" he insisted.

In her hands, Calliope could feel the watch shifting, as though it were opening up. "Fritz! I really don't want this watch anymore!" she sqealed.

"No!" came a sudden scream from across the lane, shocking the trio, who looked back. Beatrice had fallen over as a massive object appeared in her doorway.

"Is that the other clock?!?" Fritz gawked.

Charles threw his arms around Calliope, picking her up and beginning to run as...

Author: outside_inside
Date: Feb 8th
...all the clocks suddenly ceased their chiming.

Charles paused and glanced at the clock Calliope held. It was now calm -- the calm before the storm.

The Ruki looked first toward Fritz; he then shifted his gaze in the direction that the Lenny was staring. Calliope did likewise.

The large clock -- a towering grandfather whose amazing appearance and undoubtedly elaborate mechanisms made Fritz shiver with curiosity -- now stood where Beatrice had, its face possessing an animated Ruki identical to the one on the pocket watch. The Elephante now sat on the ground, her head bowed and eyes closed, in what appeared to be some form of silent meditation.

Suddenly, her head rose. "He is here," she uttered in defeat as the other three quickly spun around.

There stood another caped Elephante.

Beatrice attempted to secure the grandfather clock with a forcefield, and then she approached, hopping nimbly over her fence.

"Ah," this new Elephante announced as she advanced, "Beatrice, my sister in time, it's nice to see you kept my clocks after my original defeat."

"I tried to be rid of them -- but no, you and your curses kept returning them to me."

"Oh, dear Beatrice," the master of time responded in a soft yet factual tone, "it's a compliment. The clocks naturally prey on those who have the power to destroy them."

Calliope's eyes widened.

Charles observed the Acara, and coupled it with the master's statement. His mind raced.

The master continued. "The clocks are close enough in proximity, and I have regained enough of my former power, to allow my return. Soon, the two shall touch, and I shall inherit authority over universal time. Only then shall I control this world, the last, and the next." A deranged smile formed on his lips.

Fritz saw Charles glancing at Calliope, and realized that the Ruki was formulating a plan. He decided, then, to attempt to stall this master -- the fate of the universe may depend on it.

"I'd doubt that," the Lenny argued casually as he faced the Elephante.

The master frowned. "Why ever would you, foolish one?"

"I've been fascinated with timepieces ever since I was a sprightly young lad. I observed that pocket watch very closely and saw nothing special about it in particular." Fritz was, of course, lying -- he wouldn't have bought it if it couldn't pique his interest.

Beatrice just stared at the Lenny. Can he actually defeat him with words? she thought, and then she quickly cast the idea out of her head and replaced it. No, he's a goner.

The master's eyes lit up with fiery passion. "Nothing special? Nothing special?" He shook his head disapprovingly. "My dear boy, the timepiece is an artifact possessed by magic!" He then got defensive. "Child, you don't know the meaning of the word 'special.'"

The master Elephante then glanced around. "Speaking of which, where is the little brother?"

Charles, by now, had created his plan. He could only hope, for the sake of Beatrice, himself, and the now-defeated members of the "Keepers of Time," that it would work. Glancing at Calliope to make sure she still held the watch, he initiated the scheme. His hands glowed their characteristic purple.

"Hey, what's that?" the master inquired, almost frightened, as he observed the Ruki's glowing claws and the immediate transfer of energy between them and the adjacent Acara.

Suddenly, Calliope surged with power. While the amount she received from Charles was minute, she somehow managed to multiply the magic and become a force even Beatrice would be afraid of -- just as the clock had more or less predicted.

The watch she held glowed a characteristic bright blue, and she began to take on a swirling periwinkle hue.

Though confused at first, Calliope quickly realized her new-found power. "Master of time," she declared in a deep and ominous voice. "I have your 'little brother.' Beatrice has your 'older brother.' Give in to our demands, or we will team up and destroy one of them -- considering they are both vital to your plans of universal annihilation, to destroy one clock would have practically the same effect as destroying you." She wasn't entirely sure where the words had emanated from, but they sounded articulate and apocalyptic -- a perfect combination to incite fear in the enemy.

Charles smirked. "And," he added, his knowledge of the clocks and their powers immense due to his studies with Beatrice, "you know as well as I do that they can only be destroyed in your presence. So, be gone."

Suddenly, the master ran up and grabbed Fritz's -- the only non-magical member of his four-Neopet opposition -- neck. "If you destroy one of my clocks, I'll end the life of this Lenny."

"If we destroy one of these clocks," Beatrice replied mischievously, "you'll lose your power, and we'd long since have taken you out before you harmed that Lenny in any manner." The Elephante scanned Calliope. "The two of us together are far more powerful than the individuals who fought you last time. Give up."

The master let go of Fritz.

Beatrice and Calliope raised their glowing hands, ready to attack. Each shot out a burst of energy that sent him tumbling to the ground.

He was weak, very weak, but managed to clamber to his feet. Anger clouded his vision, and he cast his arms in the air as though to attack all of four of his enemies... and then he disappeared.

The pocket watch stopped glowing, as did the Acara. Calliope smiled.

Fritz and Charles came running up and hugged her. Then, they hugged Beatrice.

"You two did it! You drove the master of time away!" Fritz proclaimed excitedly. He then frowned. "If you two had the power to destroy a watch and be rid of him forever, why didn't you?"

"Because," Beatrice replied, almost grinning, "I wasn't sure if your friend had the power or not. It looked as though she might have, and I managed to convince the master of it. If she did not and we had tried, then he would've seen her weaknesses and no longer been so threatened." She turned and faced Calliope. "Acara--"

"Calliope," Calliope interrupted.

Beatrice stared at her, irritated.

The Acara managed an awkward smile. "Er... hello?" She stuck her paw out to shake.

The Elephante gingerly accepted it; she was not one for formal introductions. "Alright, Calliope," Beatrice continued. "Regardless, you have an ability to wield magic at a level barely inferior to my own, and you are a mere novice. I wish you to join the ancient council, the 'Keepers of Time,' and train under me -- together, at your magical peak, we can defeat the master once and for all."

Calliope smiled. Wasn't she looking for adventure? This seemed like a good enough place to engage in it... "Er... why not? This could be fun!" she said with a grin.

"And you, Charles," Beatrice snapped. She then softened. "Thank you for bringing her to me."

Charles smiled and nodded in response.

The Elephante then turned toward Fritz. "I'd ask you to take the little brother, but he'd only find his way back here again, somehow."

Fritz smiled.

He and Charles waved to the pair as they entered Beatrice's abode. Calliope smiled and waved back.

After the large wooden doors shut tight, Charles and Fritz turned away. "Hey," Fritz started, "you should let me come over to your place sometime, so you can tell me how that grandfather clock of yours works."

"Through magic," the Ruki replied curtly.

"Oh."

Charles smiled. "That's... not to say I don't know my way around even the most precise chronometer."

Fritz grinned. He supposed that Charles would become one of his closest friends... all for only 935 NP.

The End

Author: rielcz
Date: Feb 8th



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