The Caveplant of Universe
Story by DoodLeS
Warning: Do NOT start reading until you know the Neverhood Chronicles in all details! Else your brain may explode!
1. The Beginning...
Somewhere, in a dark cave, there stands a big, glowing flower. Not to say, it was a giantic flower, strange in appearance and humming gently in the silence of the cave. But the glow fades away, slowly but continuously, as the plant closes around its pearl-like Centerstone, tearing everything into absolute darkness... This is the Caveplant, the Seed of Everything, the Representor of Universe. At the same time something happened to the surrounding worlds, but no-one seemed to notice...
2. The Klaywall...
"And Father sent Quater to restore the universe of his seven sons, before something terrible would happen and everything would be destroyed. So Quater made a being, the Bringer, to restore the order of time and space, to find the Seven Sons and each one of their offsprings, to lead them to a mysterious place hidden beyond the dimensions and start the Ritual of Renewery. Ptarkan had already found three of the sons and had sent them on their tasks, and now he was searching for one on the Neverhood, the small but warm and friendly domain of Hoborg, the sixth son..."
3. In the Neverhood...
Ptarkan appears on the Neverhood, next to the assembled crowd of Neverhoodians who just had a singing competition.
Ptarkan: "Hail, people of the Neverhood! Don't be afraid. I am Ptarkan, the Bringer. I was sent here by Quater to bring a message to you. (He turns his head to Hoborg) You must be Hoborg, sixth son of Quater."
Hoborg: "Huh? Oh, yes. I am. Sorry for my impoliteness - I am Hoborg, and these are my sons and grandsons. Welcome on my little world, I hope you will enjoy -"
Ptarkan: "Shut up! I have little time to tell you, so listen: Your world is in great danger, Hoborg, and all the other worlds, too. The Caveplant, which represents the whole universe, is closing itself. Quater's seven sons and each one of their sons have to go to the Place Where Everything Meets and do the Ritual of Renewery, so that the plant opens up again, or the universe will shrink to a tiny dot and crush everything within it. You must hurry to find the Door, which leads to the cave of the Caveplant. Which one is your first son?"
Hoborg: "Caveplant?... - Oh, Klaymen here is my oldest son, but he's technically the third -"
Ptarkan: "Shut up. Then you and Klaymen, be on your way, it's not easy to find the Door. And I must hurry, too. I have yet to find three other sons of Quater, and Ottoborg seems not to know if there are any of his sons left..."
Ptarkan: (Turns his head to Willie, who is now standing next to Klaymen) "You are one of Ottoborg's hoop-heads? Yes, you surely look like one. Then, you go with them, too. I now have to leave, my task is not an easy one. " (Turns his back)
Hoborg: "But what about my other sons? I can't leave them alone!"
Ptarkan: (Looks back over his shoulder) "I'm afraid you have to. They'll be alright - unless you find the Door and do the Rite in time, of course. " (He disappears)
Hoborg: "Oh, great. (Turns to Klaymen and puts his hand on his son's shoulder) Seems like the world needs your help again, son..."
[This would be a good point for the opening, with credits and stuff. But - this is no film, is it? So, forget about the opening and READ ON!]
4. The Story...
Serco and Flun, two of Klaymen's older sons, were sitting in front of the Nursery, watching Hoborg walking up and down at the Big Tree deep in thoughts for this whole day now.
"What d'you think he's thinking about?" asked Flun, staring thoughtful at his grandfather.
"Probably how to reach that 'Door'. I read about it in the Hall of Records - it's a hidden secret, and no-one could ever proof its existence..." answered Serco, who indeed used half of his time to study the walls in the Hall, and the other half he used to get out of it again.
"No-one? But that Ptarkan-guy said he MUST find the Door, so it MUST exist, doesn't it?" Flun looked at Serco, waiting patently for his reply.
"S'pose so", Serco said after a while, not feeling very well while not in the Land of Written Facts.
Flun looked at him about a minute longer, in case Serco had to add something intelligent, then turned back to Hoborg, watching silently.
After a while he turned to Serco again. "Do you think it's true?"
"True what?" answered Serco quietly.
"That story about the Caveplant and the destruction of the universe. It sounds a bit... bizzare, don't you think?"
"The Walls never mentioned a Caveplant, but on the other hand, the Walls can't know about it, because it's in another dimension. Why should Quater send a Bringer to all worlds to make a joke?"
"To make life more interesting?"
Serco just looked at Flun.
"Okay, so it IS true. How will the universe be destroyed? And when? I wanted to make an expedition to a new cave I found yesterday - would be a pity if I couldn't do that."
Serco still just looked at Flun, with no special expression on his face. Flun looked back.
"Are you frightened?"
Serco blinked. "Why should I be? No sense in it to be frightened. Just spoils your good mood."
They once again turned back to Hoborg, now remaining in silence.
Meanwhile, in Willie's room... [Focus on the little red-roofed house. Closer. Even closer. Yes! That's it!]
"You think behind Door enough food to eat?" Willie Trombone was excitedly roaming in the upper drawer of his bedside table, stuffing everything approximatly eatable away in his belt pocket. He turned to Klaymen, who stood beside him and watched. "Willie go see his dad again! Willie MORE than happy!!!" He grinned, like he almost always did.
"Hey, Klay! Wanna yummy Chip Butty?" He held an especially runny one in front of Klaymen's eyes, who looked at it, took it and put it into his chest by pressing his chestbutton.
"Willie knows it being a loooong way to Door. Willie read about it. It being in other world." He stopped, looking thoughtfully. "You think there being many friends?"
While he still was thinking about it, someone was calling them from the outside. "WILLIE! KLAYMEN! Come down, you both - Hoborg wants to see ya!"
Klaymen looked out of the window, seeing - far down, on the bridge to the Explosive Shack - Klumton, one of his brothers. He nodded and waved. Klumton nodded and waved back, then turned and went to the Nursery, where a couple of other fellows were waiting. Klaymen turned to Willie, tapping on his shoulder.
"They surely like apples." Wil just babbled to himself, scratching his hoop and looking very concentrated.
Klaymen waited motionless.
"You think it be dangerous? Willie not like danger," he asked, now back in the same reality as his friend.
Klaymen just shrugged and pulled Willie with him to the window, where the vehicle was waiting outside.
"Yooou driiiive," said smiling W.T. as he hopped on, though Klaymen was already at the controls. They drove down...
Hoborg leaned to a wall of the Nursery, rubbing his chin (so to speak) and looking at the ground, as if he could see the Door right through it. Standing and sitting (and in one case lying and hanging) around him were some of the more curious Hoodians who felt an interesting conversation coming up as soon as Klaymen would arrive. Between them were Serco and Flun, smalltalking about the possible light effects of the end of the universe.
Finally Klaymen and Willie turned up, feeling the glance of about twenty pairs of eyes and one door frame rest on them. Hoborg, pleased to see them, set upright and went a step forward in their direction.
Somewhere, on another Klay-world...
The air above the green clearing flickered as Ptarkan materialized on Idsnak.
"Hail, people of..." he began, then stopped and looked around. He was alone. After turning a few times around and still being the only lifeform in his sight, he reached for his pocket and pulled out a paper, containing his what-to-do-list. Written on it were the names of Quater's sons, partly strewn with notes or checks.
"Let's see...", Ptarkan mumbled, holding the piece of paper in his both hands.
First, there was the name 'Ogdilla'. That one hadn't been much of a problem - nobody could miss a blue gas cloud in the size of about three planets. Though Ogdilla isn't quite from the smart kind, he finally had decided to take off a tiny part of himself to fulfill his task. With him came a small family (two brothers and their little sister) of Specks of Rod, who happened to live on this part of the cloud.
Second was BertBert. The name was marked with a small questionmark - Ptarkan hadn't been able to find out WHO BertBert was. Almost everyone there wore a crown, and at least ten guys asserted on being the REAL BertBert, one of them even said he was Quater... We'll look after them a bit later again.
Third. Numeron. No troubles with that one. When he heard that Ptarkan was sent by Quater he did everything he said at once, he even wrote his task down in all details.
Number four. Ottoborg. Finding him was kinda hard - floating on a small chunk of land, just in companion of two HUGE robots. He didn't seem to be too worried about that fact, actually, he seemed to be quite happy. He even offered Ptarkan to stay for a while and play some nice games of 'Kroofo' with him, whatever that would be. But when he was asked about one of his sons he only shrugged, talking stuff about "low gravity" and "he should have thought about this"... The Bringer first had in mind to send one of the robots with Ottoborg, since they were creations of him too, but then he decided against it - as far as he knew the Door was big enough to let a giant three times bigger than a normal person through - those robots were about FIFTY times bigger than him. And besides, they didn't seem to talk much - the only thing Ptarkan had heard from one of them was a "Meee Togor", supposingly the name of the robot. However, there was that Willie-guy on Hoborg's world. He would do the trick.
Five: Homen. Huh. With that one Ptarkan had a rather embarrassing time... Homen seemed to like little squabbles and fights, and he just LOVED to command his little creatures, those 'Blue Ynts', around. He even had managed to yell some orders to Ptarkan, and just with a high degree of self-control he didn't say 'Yessir!'... And the whole time the little Ynts poked with their spears after his feet, afraid of a stranger destroying their perfectly organized structure of buildings and communities... Well, we'll come back to this one later, when he's hopefully in a better mood.
Number six, Hoborg. Well, THAT one was a pleasantly problem-free guy. And not only that he and his son had been ready in less than one hour, Ptarkan even had that problem with Ottoborg solved. Quater be honored.
Seven. That would be Arven. This is the most important thing for now - find Arven. No matter where Ptarkan had searched for him up to now - he always missed him, mostly just about a few minutes. This folk was JUST TOO FAST... And he didn't seem to have ANY personal connection to his beings - when they heard Arven's name they a) kneeled down and started to pray, or b) just asked 'Who?'. And the White Ynts didn't even WANT to do ANYTHING for the rescue of universe, the Rrs just tried to play telekinetical tricks on him and the Proto-SkullMonkeys couldn't even leave their planet for a day... What a bad organisation...
Ptarkan slowly shook his head and looked up from his paper, almost dropping it shocked - he was surrounded by suspiciously staring SkullMonkeys...
Catching the falling list in mid-air and ramming it back into his pocket he scanned the figures around him. Really scary guys... Oh well. The Bringer got back into his impressively majestic posture, his cape fluttering in the wind and an imaginary spotlight pointing at him. He looked another time at the SkullMonkeys, which were still standing all around him and staring. Then he tried to start over again: "Er... hail, people of Idsnak..."
He paused. Still no reaction from the SkullMonkeys. Not even one tiny move went through the rows of hairy bodies. Just stares.
"I am Ptarkan the Bringer, and I... I advice you NOT to look at me that way!"
The SkullMonkeys came closer, slowly and all synchronized.
"Er... I WARN you... I was sent by Quater himself and... (ohbuggerwhy,Ireallydohaveenoughproblems...) and I have an IMPORTANT message for you... would you just LISTEN..."
He backed as the SkullMonkeys came even closer. Then he stopped and put his arms on his hips.
"Just a moment! *I* am Ptarkan, son of Quater, and you are just some LOUSY creatures of one of my brothers! And though *I* have no crown and I'm not able to create anyone, I DO have powers that should teach you a lesson! So JUST listen now, it REALLY is important!!!"
Another wordless step from the SkullMonkeys into his direction. Now they were standing so close to Ptarkan that he could look straight into their eyesockets. They grinned maliciously. One of them, who stood directly in front of the Bringer, opened his mouth: "Ptarkan, huh? Pretty stupid name... So, what's your 'message', postman? Do you have a way for us to reach other planets? Otherwise we don't care WHO you are. Well?"
The other SkullMonkeys sniggered. They annoyed Ptarkan, but he was the Bringer, wasn't he, and he had to fulfill his task. So, back to his text.
"Your world is in great danger, inhabitant of Idsnak..." he started.
"Is it? Why?" The SkullMonkey looked more amused than worried.
Ptarkan took a sigh. He continued: "...and all the other worlds, too. The Caveplant, which..."
"The WHAT?" (sniggers)
"...which represents the whole universe, is closing itself...."
"Oh, I'm sooo frightened. Come on, what do you want?"
Ptarkan looked angered at the Monkey in front of him. Dang, don't they get it's about the future of the whole universe??
"... Quater's seven sons and each one of their sons have to go to the Place Where Everything Meets and do the Ritual of Renewery, so that the plant opens up again, or..."
"Hey, that's none of OUR business, Capeman! All we need is some big device to reach other planets, for SkullMonkeys are BORN to scare other people! So, DO you have something for us, or are you just filling the air with your glimmery presence?"
Ack! Those guys are UNBEARABLE! Ptarkan decided to forget about his prepared speech and talk about facts.
"Now YOU listen, you brainless copy of a monkey! I'm talking of the DESTRUCTION, read my words, DE-STRUC-TION, of your planet, and all other planets! There will be NO more creatures in the universe to scare!!! VERY! SOON! Is that reason enough now to listen to me??"
Ptarkan eyed at the SkullMonkey. The SkullMonkey eyed back. And the rest of the creatures had stopped sniggering, impressed by the Bringers' tones.
"Wow.", the Monkey in front of Ptarkan looked at him in deep respect now. "No more other planets?"
"Right." Ptarkan answered, now back on his calm, serious and slighly echoing voice.
The SkullMonkey thought for a moment. "Well, maybe you ARE a son of Quater", he said, then stared at the Bringer again. "But can you proof it?"
Ptarkan, who just had crossed his arms in a self-satisfied way, let them sink again.
"Proof, you know." The Monkey grinned again (actually, he did all the time, but now he grinned wider than a skull should be able of). "You've got an impressive voice, but we don't trust everyone who's passing by. Proof that you are a son of Quater."
Ptarkan crossed his arms again. "We don't have TIME for that! Didn't you listen?" He gave up. "Aaaa... okay, what should I do to proof my person?"
"Ummm..." the Monkey scratched his bony head and looked at the other SkullMonkeys. "I know! Proof that you've got powers only one of Quaters sons could have - blast that tree over there with a steam of light!" He pointed at a giant redwood at the edge of the clearing that stood there at least for two eons.
Ptarkan looked at it. He raised a finger. The SkullMonkeys' eyes followed it into the direction he was pointing - to the tree.
Suddenly the air was filled with cold blue light, and a flash aimed at the huge tree. For a moment everything was just white, then the air cleared again, providing the sight on a bunch of ducking SkullMonkeys and an even more clear clearing. The tree had gone. Just gone. The whole tree. It wasn't even necessary to shout 'Danger! Falling Tree!'
The SkullMonkeys were astonished.
After they didn't say a thing for a while Ptarkan raised his voice. "And now, could you please tell me where I can find Arven?"
At the same moment another flash appeared at the clearing, but absolutely soundless and without any destructional consequences. The next moment a tall and slim figure stood there, turning its crowned head to Ptarkan, in a way that reminded him of a snake. It came closer, with soft and majestic looking steps on thin, somehow insect-like legs. The SkullMonkeys backed behind Ptarkan.
It was a somehow fascinating sight: The strange being moved without a sound, and the Bringer wasn't even sure IF it moved - sometimes it stood there, motionless staring into his direction, and then, like in a dream, it moved WITHOUT moving, it just seemed to become blurred and being much closer the next time he looked. Finally it stood right before him, scrutinizing him wordless.
Ptarkan postured himself again.
"Arven, Seventh Son of Quater, I presume. I am Ptarkan the Bringer, and I was sent here to bring a message to you -"
"Shut up!" Arven's voice seemed to come from far away, and it had a strange echo to it. Ptarkan remained silent, completely put off by this unexpected interruption. If he'd had eyes he'd surely blinked irritated now. Arven was said to be a quiet and serious being, and these two words must have been his first since hundreds and hundreds of years - he didn't seem to be in a good mood.
... Well, that's it for now. I didn't get any further. How was it?