The Keepers: Part Two
Kendrick woke in the middle of the night after his first day in Brightvale to an eerie noise - like cogs turning round and round beneath his bed. Feeling extraordinarily childish, he shuffled off his mattress and used his spotted Shoyru wings to float about an inch above the hard, wood floor. Heart racing, he lifted up his blue quilt, but nothing was there. He sighed in relief, and then crawled back into bed. "Stupid," he whispered to himself, but the noise of the grinding cogs remained.
There was nothing for it. There was no way he could sleep with that racket. He sat up in his bed and pawed around for his glasses. He had fallen asleep reading, so they were encased within his sheets and considerably bent, but he put them right easily enough. When he put them on, the room was suddenly in focus, as it should have been. Still, he couldn't imagine what the source of the noise could be. It almost sounded as though it could have been coming from his own room, but at the same time seemed distant.
Looking around one last time and convinced he was completely alone there in his humble bedroom, he stepped quietly off from his bed. Such behavior was very unlike him. Before, he had always been extremely un-curious, but the encounter with the bullies seemed to have changed him in many ways.
He tiptoed out of his room carefully. The rest of the large manor stretched spookily around him. Sensible Neopets would have lit some torches in such a big house, but then again, his uncle Arthur probably knew the house well enough to navigate it in the dark. Kendrick decided to glide down to the lower floor, instead of risking tripping to his death - or at the very least, serious injury - on the stairs.
The noise was even louder on the first floor, and now being joined by a spontaneous "Oh!" or "Ah!" every so often, but still, there was nothing in sight but the dark, spooky walls. It suddenly hit Kendrick. The noise had to be coming from Arthur's lab!
"Un... Uncle Arthur!" Kendrick shouted, "What are you doing?" His shout echoed throughout the bottom floor of the house, and he shuddered. Big houses were just so creepy.
The grinding noises continued, but Arthur didn't answer. He must have been completely consumed in whatever it was he was doing. Still unsure what was coming over him, Kendrick walked to the one door in the house Arthur had forbidden him to open. The lab had to be in there. He turned the knob.
But there was nothing in the room. It was just a dark, stony chamber. However, unlike the rest of the house, it was lit with torches. On the far side of the room, a staircase appeared to wind down. Still being careful not to make too much noise, he glided down the stairs and was met by a remarkable sight.
Arthur's lab was a deep, wide, underground chamber, almost as big as the house itself. Torches lined every wall, and the source of the noise, a huge machine of some sort, took up one of the huge walls by itself. The glowing Zafara that was his uncle was seated at a small table and fiddling with something small that Kendrick couldn't see.
"Uncle Arthur," Kendrick said, without thinking that he wasn't actually supposed to be in there. "What is this place?"
Arthur jumped from his seat, nearly knocking over his table in the process, and looked at his nephew with an expression somewhere between anger and excitement.
"Kendrick!" he scolded. "You're not supposed to be down here!"
Kendrick gulped loudly, but couldn't resist looking around more. There must have been at least a hundred tables, full of machinery, bubbling beakers, and things Kendrick couldn't even give a name to. Any Shoyru would love to see this - any Neopet at all, for that matter. It really was quite something. Far better than his mother's own lab in Neopia Central.
"I'm sorry, Uncle Arthur," Kendrick said, "I... I heard a noise and I couldn't sleep... so I..." but there was really nothing else to be said. His mind began to fill itself with images of Arthur shoving strange chemicals down his throat or prodding him with the strange devices that filled the room as a punishment for entering his inner sanctum. Arthur continued to glower at him for a moment, but, to Kendrick's immense relief, soon relaxed with a sigh and scratched his glowing head.
"Well," he told his nephew, "I don't suppose there's any harm done." Arthur smiled, then extended his glowing arms, "In fact, I've always wanted a chance to share my work. Come boy, take a look around."
Still having a hard time believing that he wasn't in any trouble, Kendrick stepped carefully as he made his way toward his uncle. It was clear that Arthur wanted him to see whatever it was that was on the little table - the Zafara was practically bouncing with anticipation. But when Kendrick got there, he couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. Sitting on the wooden table was what looked like an ordinary pocket watch, only the face had been removed and the clever cog-work was exposed. The ticking it made was almost musical, but that hardly seemed cause enough for Arthur's excitement.
"Isn't it magnificent?" Arthur said, glowing both in pride and appearance. Kendrick began to suspect what everyone else he knew believed. Perhaps his uncle was a bit mad.
"It's just an old pocket watch..." Kendrick said. "I mean... isn't it?"
Arthur let out a mad laugh and playfully ruffled Kendrick's dark mop of hair. "Oh no, my boy, no, no, no, what you're looking at here is Neopia's only Timebender!"
Whatever that meant was completely lost on Kendrick. He squinted his eyes a bit and observed the watch more carefully. It was very pretty, he had to admit, with a sparkling gold chain. The cogs were even beautiful. They sparkled as they spun. Kendrick suspected that his uncle must have tampered with them somehow. Normal metal looked nothing like that. Arthur reached into his pocket and placed something on the watch - the face. It looked like a normal watch face, accept it had seven hands and obscure runes instead of numbers. It also seemed a bit more battered than the rest of the watch. Kendrick watched as Arthur fastened the face on, then finally asked, "What exactly is a Timebender?"
Arthur picked up the watch with his glowing hands and smiled. "This, my boy," he said, "is a pocket-sized time machine."
Ok, Uncle Arthur was definitely insane. The rumors were true. Kendrick raised an eyebrow at him. "A time machine?"
Arthur's long Zafara ears wiggled as he bounced with glee. "Yes! A time machine! And I think it is ready to be tested!"
Kendrick continued to stare at his uncle incredulously.
"I know you think me mad," Arthur said, calming down a bit and placing his glowing paw on Kendrick's spotted shoulder. He had never seen his uncle look so serious before, or so... sane. "I know everyone does. But, Kendrick... this - This is something quite extraordinary. We can visit Neopia in previous times, we can learn the things that even the greatest historians never knew, see things no Neopet in this age has ever seen!"
"What about the future?" Kendrick asked. Not that he believed it, of course. Not that a hesitant excitement felt like it was swelling in his chest at Arthur's words. How amazing would that be? They could see the whole world, at any time. If Arthur was right, of course. No. That would be absurd. Arthur was crazy. He was crazy.
"Oh no, no, not the future," Arthur laughed. "Are you mad, boy? No one can invent something to visit the future. After all, the future doesn't exist yet, only the past and the present. Now, are you going to help me test it or not?"
He couldn't deny the slight disappointment at this news. He had always wondered how his life would turn out. If he'd ever grow out of his clumsiness, if he would ever do anything notable, but besides, the spotted Shoyru was still more that a little skeptical about the whole thing. Obviously, it was absurd, but he decided that it really couldn't hurt to humor his uncle. "Where would we go?"
Arthur's answering grin was mischievous. "That's the beauty of it, Kendrick. We can go anywhere. No - any when!!" Then the glowing Zafara extended his hand with the watch in it. "Turn it, Kendrick, come on, turn it!"
"Me?" Kendrick asked his uncle. "Don't you want to do it, Uncle Arthur?"
The glowing Zafara shook his head. "No, no. You do the honors, Kendrick."
He still didn't know if he believed all this or not, but the spotted Shoyru extended his hand. He wasn't exactly sure what he was supposed to do, but his uncle didn't say anything else, no he just randomly turned three of the hands. As the last hand reached a rune that looked something like a lopsided chair, Kendrick thought he felt the floor rumble slightly. Then, suddenly, he and Arthur were swept up by a strong gust of wind, though everything else in the lab remained still. The last thing Kendrick saw was his uncle's smile as everything turned silver and green, and then they were standing on a large hill, and the first Battle of Meridell was raging beneath them.
To be continued...