Sitting at the heart of the room was a large desk much like the one they'd seen upstairs, but it was what surrounded it that surprised the group. Shelves upon shelves littered the walls of the huge room below the house and each shelf was full of strange items, some in bottles of liquid, others in dry jars. There were also several filing cabinets overflowing with paperwork, just like the desk that was covered in papers that had clearly been there for years without being touched. A layer of dust had settled on everything, making Sammy sneeze.
'Oh bless you, my dear. I'm terribly sorry about the dust but I never come down here. It was my father's private chamber. As children we were scolded should we go anywhere near the door,' Geoffrey said as he leant against the wall and watched them scour the surroundings.
'But what is all this?' asked Elliott.
Geoffrey's eyes turned downwards for a moment before he spoke, 'It's his collections. He spent years collecting all these odds and sods and researching all kinds of things. I've no idea what it all is. I never cared to know after... well, I just never cared to know. You're welcome to look through it all. I hope you find something that will help. Now, I would offer you a cup of tea but my housekeeper has, well, let's just say she's incapable of doing much of anything at the moment,' he sighed.
'Why don't I make us all some tea,' offered Emma as she turned to Geoffrey and looped her arm through his. You can show me where the kitchen is,' she smiled.
Lana turned to look at her sister and raised her eyebrows with a cheeky grin. Emma ignored her as the old man's face lit up, 'That's very kind of you, my dear. Sorry but I'm quite useless in the kitchen.'
Turning and helping him back up the stairs, Emma and Geoffrey headed out of the basement and turned left through a short corridor before walking into a huge country kitchen. Standing in the middle was a rather rotund lady with a red face and friendly eyes.
'If I could introduce you, I would,' said Geoffrey as he sat down at the kitchen table. 'You should find the tea over there,' he pointed. 'And cups and saucers just to your right. That's it, yes.'
'What is all this stuff?' asked Lana as she lifted a jar filled with some kind of liquid and coughed, promptly returning it to the shelf with a shiver. 'It's got a body in it,' she whispered.
'A body? What do you mean, a body?' asked Daisy, rushing to her side along with Elliott and Sammy to get a good look.
'A body, just like I said.'
Elliott picked it up as they gawped in disbelief. It was like a miniature human but with larger ears and more of a pointed nose.
'What is it?' Sammy asked as Declan tiptoed up behind them.
'It's a brownie,' he said, making them jump. Elliott almost dropped the jar.
Declan's hand shot out ready to catch it.
'They're little creatures that help around the house. Shame about this one though, poor little fella,' he said as he took it from Elliott and returned it to the shelf.
'Look at this,' screeched Lana as they rushed to her side again and pulled faces as they saw the head of a grotesque creature squeezed into a large glass jar.
'It's an ogre... well, it used to be, poor thing,' Declan answered. 'I wonder where its body is.'
'This paperwork here is all about supernatural creatures, Declan,' Sammy said as she blew dust off a sheet of paper.
Shuffled through the piles of papers, she stopped when she found something of interest.
He rushed over when she held out another piece of paper towards him. 'It's about the pixie trolls.'
The others surrounded him as he pored over the information.
'What does it say?' asked Lana.
After a minute of saying nothing, he put the paper down. 'It explains how the pixie trolls worship their queen and the Temporal Stone.'
'Geoffrey's father knew everything, including how to control them with the stone.'
'But how did he find out?' asked Daisy as she went back to look through the gruesome jars.
'I've got a pretty good idea how,' Declan replied., 'Gordle.'
Sitting around the large pine table in the kitchen, Geoffrey told them about the day he and his twin had found the stone.
'We used to play in the forest all the time as youngsters. It was such a wonderful playground,' he recalled with a smile. 'It used to drive our mother insane. But that one day, something drew us to that strange old tree and we decided to dig for treasure, you know what children are like, always up to mischief,' he smiled. 'When we stumbled across that beautiful stone, we knew we'd found something extraordinary, not that it mattered. We just wanted to play with it, nothing more. It was father who had other ideas. We managed to keep it a secret for a few months but eventually, he found it and took it from us and forbade us from playing with it any more. That's when he hid it in his chambers, so we knew we'd probably never see it again. But we were mere boys, we didn't know how important it was and we soon lost interest. But father was never quite the same. He became obsessed with something. We never knew what, not really. He literally spent years either in that basement or out travelling the country doing what he called research. Mother withdrew from life. I think she died from a broken heart. They'd been so in love before, you know? And then he changed, almost overnight. We were lucky we had such a wonderful housekeeper, Florence, to take care of us boys.'
'But what happened to the artefact, Geoffrey?' asked Emma as she took a sip of her Earl Grey.
'One day, about four years later, I think we were 12,' he said, reminiscing. 'Father told us he was leaving us again but he wouldn't say where. All he said was that it was a special journey. I knew he had the stone with him because I spotted him stroking it in his hands when he left. Florence later told us he'd gone to Somerset. Apparently he'd muttered something about a tunnel, but she hadn't been taking much notice. He returned a few days later and he looked shaken, drawn somehow. The following day he left for London and we never saw him again.'
'I'm so sorry, Geoffrey,' Emma said.
'Don't be, my dear. I was glad, to be honest. He'd changed over those last few years. He'd become... I don't know... different. Almost evil. I can't describe it. He stopped being my father the day he took that stone from us,' Geoffrey sighed, shaking his head.
'Then why did you leave his basement as it was? If I were you, I would have trashed it,' Elliott asked as he stood looking at the frozen housekeeper closely, waving his hand in front of her eyes.
Geoffrey shrugged his shoulders, 'Rudolph didn't want us to touch it so I didn't. Before my brother died in 1973, he returned home and made me promise to leave it the way it was. He said a group of people would come to the house one day. That they would need to see it to find out what they needed to stop the evil. I never understood what he was talking about, but I made the promise.'
Lana's eyes lit up, 'Maybe he was talking about us?'
'Perhaps... my brother did have the gift of foresight.'
'Did you know about the Watchers, Geoffrey?'
The old man shook his head, 'I knew there was something different about us but father never spoke of it. That day, all those years ago, when Rudolph and I got those strange patterns on our backs, we knew we were different.'
'So you are a Watcher, Geoffrey?' asked Emma.
'What's your power?' Lana asked.
He chuckled and turned to face her, 'Power?'
'Yes, all of us Watchers have special powers that make us different from ordinary people. I can jump from ridiculously high heights and can see things that happened in the past. My sister Emma can swim like a dolphin and can light up from the inside. Elliott can create fire from his fingertips. Sammy can communicate with plants and animals. Daisy is, like, super fast and super strong; oh and Declan, he can read minds, among other things, I'm sure,' she explained as Geoffrey listened intently.
'That all sounds really quite remarkable but I don't believe I could ever do anything special like that, I'm afraid.'
'Really?' asked Declan. 'Are you sure? All Watchers have special abilities, Geoffrey.'
Thinking in silence for a moment, the old man couldn't think of a single thing that made him stand out and so he shook his head, 'I really don't think I'm special. Perhaps I'm not a Watcher, as you say I am.'
'But you have the tattoo?' Emma asked.
'Can we have a look?'
'Oh really?' he asked, 'You don't really want to look at this old body do you?'
But when the others nodded, he reluctantly stood and untucked his shirt from his trousers.
'I'm afraid, you'll have to lift it for me.'
Declan stood and lifted the shirt, revealing the familiar winged eye on the old man's back. Underneath were the words, Libertas Justitia Veritas.
Declan smiled knowingly.
'What, Declan? What does it mean?' asked Lana impatiently.
'Liberty, Justice, Truth. Geoffrey what did you do for a living before you retired?'
Geoffrey tucked his shirt back in his trousers and sat down as he spoke, 'I was a lawyer in London.'
'I presume you were extremely successful in your chosen career?'
Geoffrey nodded, 'Never lost a case, why?'
'That was your special ability. You are a remarkable lawyer who probably put many, many evil doers behind bars. Not all of our powers are physical, you know.'
'Why, I suppose you're right,' said the old man as he finished his tea and poured another from the silver teapot that stood in the centre of the table.
'I didn't know that,' Lana pouted, 'I thought all of our powers were physical ones. Oh... did you know that we can all sing really, really well?' she asked him.
'Well, Rupert and I did join a choir at 16. We were told by lots of people that we sang like angels,' he reminisced.
'See, so you do have a physical power too,' she said matter of factly. 'We've actually been rehearsing for a musical show next month,' she sighed.
Geoffrey chuckled. 'You sound like you don't want to do it?'
Lana shrugged her shoulders, 'Well, you know. A show? It's a bit, childish, if you know what I mean?'
'It's not childish at all,' Declan interrupted. 'It'll be amazing, you just wait and see, and then you'll want to perform every term,' he smiled.
'She's already a performer,' laughed Emma.
Lana scowled and tried not to laugh.
After they'd enjoyed a hot cup of tea, the Watchers left Geoffrey to have a snooze in his snug while they returned downstairs to see if they could find some more answers.
It didn't take long until they made a remarkable discovery.
It seemed that Geoffrey's father, Phillip Bottomley, had kept detailed journals of his life.
Lana squealed when she found them carefully placed in the bottom of an antique trunk hidden behind one of the wider shelves in the corner of the room.
Each of the Watchers took one of the journals and sat reading through the entries, looking for that elusive bit of information that would lead them to the next location of the Temporal Stone.
'Listen to this,' Emma said as she read something from her diary, 'The boys found an intriguing item today. In fact, I'm certain there is something more to this treasured stone. I'm going to look into it further...’ and then he goes on a few days later... 'I do believe I've stumbled on an ancient artefact. Much more research is necessary...’ blah blah blah and then, 'I'm rather stunned. I managed to locate the whereabouts of a strange little creature called Gordle today. Gordle is a pixie troll who stole the artefact over 100 years ago. He was rather surprised to hear that it now resides in my belongings. He was a little angry as well, hence I had to do away with him. I shall never have to worry about Gordle again...' Emma gasped.