The Keepers: Part Five
"Uncle Arthur!" Kendrick exclaimed. "I... I was just..."
But the glowing Zafara remained completely silent, glaring at his nephew. Kendrick shuffled his feet nervously, completely at a loss for what to say. He'd never felt worse in his life. He wished Uncle Arthur would at least yell - do something. Anything would have been better than his angry silence.
"The Timebender?" Arthur finally said, extending his hand. Shame filled the Shoyru from his head to his toes as he reached into his pocket and then handed his uncle the very special pocket watch. Arthur took it without another word, and then stood to leave.
"Uncle Arthur, I'm sorry," Kendrick pleaded, rising from the window seat. "Please just let me explain."
Arthur turned suddenly. "Explain?" he yelled. "What is there to explain, Kendrick? I trusted you with my life's work. You could have broken it, lost it, you could have changed the course of history itself! Explain that to me, Kendrick."
The spotted Shoyru had never in his life heard his uncle yell. He was so surprised that his mouth seemed to have stopped working. He kept opening and closing it, but no sound came out. Arthur shook his head and Kendrick could almost feel his disappointment. That hurt even more than the yelling had. Then Arthur walked out of his nephew's bedroom and slammed the door.
By the time Kendrick managed to fall asleep, he had completely forgotten about Adrina and their trip to Faerieland. All he could think about was Arthur's disappointed eyes right before he slammed the door.
When Kendrick woke up the next morning, the shame remained. He wanted to go downstairs and have breakfast with Arthur, like he always did, but he wasn't entirely sure the Zafara would be there. Which was no more than he deserved, he decided. With a sigh, he rose from his bed, got dressed, and flew downstairs.
Much to his surprise, Arthur was actually waiting for him in the dining room, with two plates of scrambled eggs and toast sitting on the dark table. He didn't smile, but he didn't look angry anymore either. That was something. Kendrick nervously sat down beside his uncle and began to nibble on his toast, though he really had no appetite. They sat like that, in awkward silence, until Arthur had finished all of his food.
"I really am very disappointed in you, Kendrick," the glowing Zafara said seriously, looking deep into Kendrick's eyes. "You completely broke my trust."
"I know," Kendrick said, barely more than a whisper, and stared at his plate of uneaten eggs. "I'm so sorry."
"I know you are," Arthur said, and Kendrick looked back up. His uncle gave him a small smile. "Don't get me wrong," the Zafara continued. "You are still in deep trouble. You'll be mopping the lab for weeks."
Though that certainly was a steep punishment, Kendrick couldn't help but smile.
"So, where did you whisk your little lady friend away to last night?"
Kendrick blushed. "Faerieland. You know, back when it was floating. She'd always wanted to see it."
His uncle smiled again, a little bigger this time. "While I certainly do wish that you'd simply asked my permission," his uncle told him, "that was a very kind thing to do for your friend." He shrugged his glowing shoulders, stood up, and gathered their plates. "Besides, there seems to be no harm done. And I am sorry for yelling at you." With that, his glowing uncle left the dining room to do the dishes.
Kendrick could hardly believe his luck. He was feeling pretty good about himself, and smiled all the way back to his room so he could brush his messy mop of hair before work at the bookshop. But his smile died on his face when he returned to his room and saw a dark purple note that had been left on his window seat.
If you ever want to see your little Xweetok again, it read, You'll bring me the pocket watch. You have twenty-four hours.
A knock at the door reverberated through the house as Kendrick re-read the note, not wanting to believe it. A moment later, Uncle Arthur shouted up, "Kendrick! You have a visitor!"
His heart nearly leaped out of his chest. Jhudora didn't have her after all, she was at the door! He flew out of his bedroom as fast as he could, needing to see her for himself. But it wasn't Adrina in the doorway. It was Reid.
"Hey, Kendrick!" the white Kacheek said with a wave. "I thought we could walk to work togeth - wow, you look like you've seen a ghost!"
Kendrick gulped and landed on the hard, wood floor. Fear once again grabbed at his heart. It was suddenly hard to breathe. "I... I can't work today, Reid," he said. "You go on without me."
Reid obviously wasn't satisfied with that answer. "What's wrong?" the white Kacheek asked his friend.
Arthur, too, was obviously concerned. "What happened, Kendrick? And what's that in your hand?"
Without a word, Kendrick handed his uncle the purple note that had the potential to ruin his life - no, to ruin all of their lives. If Jhudora had the Timebender, there would be nothing she couldn't do. She could change history. She could change the whole world. She could make it however she wanted. Kendrick thought about Neopia shaped and ruled by a wicked faerie, and shuddered. What kind of a world would that be?
"Kendrick!" Arthur whispered. "What have you done? I've told you so many times how delicate all of this is!"
"I know!" Kendrick said, choking back tears. "I don't know how this happened!"
"How what happened?" Reid said, walking into the house. "Will someone please tell me what's going on?"
Kendrick looked desperately at his uncle, who seemed, for once, at a loss for ideas. "Adrina's in trouble," he told Arthur. "Please, Uncle Arthur, we have to do something."
Arthur closed his glowing eyes, clearly thinking.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Reid said, cutting in to the conversation again. "What happened to Adrina?"
"Reid, go to the bookshop," Kendrick said. "You're not a part of this... there's nothing you can do."
"Excuse me!" Reid said, with more attitude than Kendrick ever would have imagined the tiny white Kacheek possessed. "Adrina's my friend too, you know. If she's in trouble, I want to help!"
"There's nothing you can do," Kendrick insisted, "I've made a terrible mistake, and I don't want anything to happen to you too. You and Adrina are the best friends I've ever had."
"Exactly," Reid insisted, "and friends help each other, Kendrick."
"Reid-" Kendrick began again, but Arthur's eyes suddenly shot open.
"No, Kendrick, he can help!" the glowing Zafara said, and Kendrick was happy to hear a glimmer of hope in his uncle's voice. Arthur looked at the white Kacheek and spotted Shoyru with a mischievous smile worthy of Hanso himself. "I have an idea."
Reid, as it turned out, was even more open minded than Adrina had been about the possibility of time travel, and seemed to think that Uncle Arthur was an absolute genius. "Brilliant!" the white Kacheek kept saying as they made their way to Jhudora's bluff. "Simply brilliant!" Arthur had managed to get them a carriage, pulled by two friendly Unis who didn't ask questions and were willing to go at full speed for an extra pocketful of Neopoints. They'd be in Faerieland in a matter of hours.
"Are you sure this is going to work?" Kendrick asked his uncle for at least the third time since they'd left Brightvale.
Arthur always answered the same way, with a grin and a, "Have some faith in me, dear nephew." He wished he could. He wished he could be as confident about the whole thing as Reid and Arthur obviously were. They carried with them the Timebender and a small bag. In the bag, disguised as some innocent healing potions, were some of Arthur's own elixirs, designed to alter memory and make someone invisible. In theory, they would make Jhudora forget everything she'd learned, and they'd be free to go on their way. Arthur also had another strange device in the bag, which looked like a simple mirror, and the glowing Zafara refused to tell either of them what it did. "Just trust me," he kept saying, "this will work."
Kendrick certainly hoped so.
Jhudora's Bluff was just as terrifying as Kendrick had read about. It sat atop one of Faerieland's few hills and seemed to pour menacing purple smoke onto the ground below. If evil had a smell, it would definitely be that smoke. Kendrick half expected lightning to be striking around it and cackling laughter to sound from inside. He could barely stand, his knees were trembling so hard, but he knew what he had to do.
"Ready?" Arthur asked.
"Ready!" Reid said, rather excitedly.
Kendrick managed a nod, and the three of them walked toward the dark faerie's fortress.
To be continued...