Just as she said this, footsteps could be heard and the
floating light of a handheld torch appeared at the end of the hall.
"You're sure you heard something down here,
"Of course," said the harsh, low voice of Jhudora,
"now, go and check that clocksmith's cell and see if she might be up to something."
Lyoriel gasped and grabbed the chain of the
Time Clock, threw it over her head, and gave the knob a gentle flick. Again
Chardiye felt the backward sensation, but it was only for a mere second, and
then he was back in full consciousness. He looked at Lyoriel, who was taking
the chain off of her neck, and asked, with a hint of amusement, "When are we?"
"And hour ago," the Time Faerie answered, "now,
Chardiye, listen to me. You've got to get me out of this cell. Then we'll need
to find my hourglass."
"The hourglass regulates time in Neopia. If
Jhudora has it, then I hate to think what time will be like two hundred years
Chardiye nodded, then extracted a claw and inserted
it into the lock. After a lot of different experiments, the lock clicked and
the door swung open. It squeaked heavily on its hinges. Chardiye only dared
open it just enough to allow Lyoriel to slip through before shutting the door
carefully and locking it again.
"How did you get in?" Lyoriel asked Chardiye.
"I fell through the ventilation passage," the
"Are you able to fly up?"
"Yes, I think so," Chardiye answered hesitantly.
He had fallen through the gap in the floor, but would the passage be wide enough
to accommodate his wingspan?
Lyoriel evidently had the same question in mind.
When they reached the place where Chardiye had landed, marked by green feathers
littering the floor, she asked him if he would be able to fit.
"There's only one way to find out, I guess,"
Chardiye answered, shrugging. He spread his wings, pointed his beak upward,
and launched himself diagonally up the passage. His wings just barely grazed
the walls, but he was able to make it and scramble over the edge where he had
first fallen. He scooted forward to allow Lyoriel room to land, and he heard
her swoop up the next second.
"I think we're in one of the upper dungeons
right now," Chardiye whispered, "So, do you know where the hourglass might be?"
"I have some idea," Lyoriel's voice said, "but
we won't be able to get in for at least another fifty minutes."
"Because," Lyoriel explained in a grim voice,
"it's probably in Jhudora's hall, right next to her throne, and in about fifty-no,
more like forty-five minutes now, she'll leave her throne and come looking for
"Alright," Chardiye said distantly, still trying
to comprehend their whole conversation, "but where might the throne room be?"
"Ground level, of course. It shouldn't be too
difficult to find."
Chardiye and Lyoriel began their ascent to ground
level. It was much more difficult traveling up than down, but it was nice to
have company this time. Chardiye kept checking the Time Clock to see how much
time had passed. Both of them were panting by the time the ventilation passage
leveled out and they were back at ground level. The Time Faerie said they had
twenty minutes before Jhudora would leave her throne, so they spent one minute
of the twenty regaining their strength.
When they started moving again, they used the
ventilation grates to guide them. They looked in on rooms full of tanks of hideous
fish, some labs where frazzled scientists flitted around and added ingredients
to potions, and more rooms full of treasure. It wasn't until they heard voiced
having a terse conversation that the Eyrie and the Faerie stopped to listen.
"No, I won't have it," said the furtive voice
of Jhudora, "either you bring me a real amulet, or I turn you into something
not quite as satisfactory as you are now. If that is possible," she added.
"Yes, your Majesty, I-I will try," said a shaky
There were hurried footsteps, and Jhudora let
out a frustrated "Humph!"
Chardiye and Lyoriel peered through the nearest
grate. Jhudora was sitting proudly on her violet and green throne. Beside her
on an oak pedestal and covered by a glass bell-jar was a large, magnificent,
sand-filled hourglass. Chardiye's heart started pounding when he saw it.
"There it is," he breathed. He looked over at
Lyoriel and was surprised to see that her face was red and her brow was furrowed.
"Jiminy, that louse!" she said through her teeth.
"I'll give her a piece of my mind."
They waited. Chardiye kept looking at the Time
Clock. At long last, something made a clattering noise to their left, far below
them. Chardiye knew instantly what it must have been: the racket he made as
he fell. He and Lyoriel watched as Jhudora tensed on her throne.
"What was that?" she said sharply.
One of the guards answered, "I don' know, yer
Highness. It sounded like it came from th' dungeon."
Jhudora stood up quickly. "If that clockmaker
thinks she's getting out, I'd be glad to correct her." She snapped her fingers
and four guards followed her out of the room. "Here we go," Lyoriel said quietly.
She and Chardiye lifted the grate.
"You had better stay up here," Chardiye told
the Time Faerie, "if they find you…" He slipped through the hole and for a split
second dangled from the edge by his claws, then dropped into the room below.
The Hall was lit by green-flamed torches which
hung on the wall. Chardiye located the hourglass and padded silently over to
its table. With trembling paws he grasped the bell-jar and lifted it off of
the table. He placed the jar on the floor and clasped the hourglass tightly
before returning the jar. As he held the hourglass, he knew that all of time
was now in his hands.
Lyoriel was leaning out of the hole in the ceiling,
her hands outstretched to receive the hourglass. Chardiye put it safely into
her hands, relieved to be exonerated from such a precarious position. When Lyoriel
took the hourglass, her eyes grew wide in a content expression. She stroked
it in such a way that a mother would stroke a child.
"Alright," she said softly, "come back up and
we can get out of here."
Chardiye gave himself a boost with his wings
and caught the edge of the hole. But while he was scrambling through, the door
at the end of the Hall creaked open and a voice rent the still air, "Hey, you
there! Come back down!"
Chardiye's tail had still been hanging out of
To be continued...