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||You are on Week 366
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Three Hundred Sixty Six Ends Friday, April 25
Amazing Acara soared through the air, stretching out his legs as he enjoyed the feeling of the wind ruffling his fur. Spreading his wings, the faerie Acara did a graceful loop through the air and landed lightly on a grassy field.
It was a beautiful day for a fight.
The Defender's eyes automatically scanned the area, taking care to investigate any shadows, but the field was empty. Amazara shrugged. Probably running late again, he thought. That's evil for you. It figured that on the day he was to finally face off with his arch-nemesis, the old villain would be running late.
After doing a few stretches, the Acara began to jog around the field, when he noticed a twinkling sheet of paper almost buried beneath the grass, held in place by a small pebble. He picked it up and peered at the scrawling writing on it.
Hey Not-so-amazing Acara,
Terribly sorry, but it turns out I had a How To Rule Neopia seminar today. Hate to cancel on you. Can we reschedule for next week?
- Dark Draik
"Not again!" Amazara groaned, as he let the paper flit away from his paws and explode theatrically into a small cloud of fire...
* * * * *
Dark Draik grinned evilly as he folded his wings against the pouring rain. Lightning crackled and thunder roared above him as he surveyed the area.
It was a beautiful day for a fight.
The villain's smile lessened a bit when he saw no sign of his arch-nemesis. The fool couldn't even make it on time for his own death!
Then Daraik saw it – a small, clear bottle, housing a little slip of paper and keeping it dry against the elements. He shook it out and squinted at it through the sheets of rain.
Hello Dreary Draik,
It appears that we shall have to reschedule again. I forgot that I was supposed to attend a superhero convention today. Sorry about the inconvenience, old fellow.
- Amazing Acara
Date: Apr 21st
...Daraik heaved a dramatic sigh. Really. Tyranny was such a tiresome business, especially when one’s own arch nemesis kept such hectic hours. It’s not like the will to fulfill their roles wasn’t there, Goodness, how many times had they met upon some devastatingly cliché mountaintop to fight to the death? But in these times of seminars, conventions and meetings about how to best wear your cape or conferences regarding the latest hero/villain protocol, something had just been overlooked.
We’re losing track of the finer aspects of this whole thing.
The thought was rueful, but what could be done? Daraik really felt he had tried his best. He had bought himself a diary, hired that kid from the minion ranks to organize his appointments -- though he suspected that had been an amazing waste of money...
We really have to do something about getting back to basics.
The villain’s mind drifted back to the recent How To Rule Neopia seminar. It had been a magnificent affair, attended by the finest of Neopian evil society. Sloth had spoken, of course, giving a stirring speech on villain apparel, and Vira had been called upon to reflect on her choice in shoes (it had been agreed on by all that the chunky black boot look was outdated and inconvenient when sneaking around).
Yes, it had been an excellent seminar.
Slowly the tyrant’s mind ticked over. All those wicked creatures in one place. Surely today, as Amazing Acara attended the annual Superhero Convention -- sponsored by Neocola, the drink of superheroes everywhere -- it would be a similar case.
A room full of Neopia’s most famed and impressive superheroes. The same group who foiled the villain’s every plot and plan. For every fatal meeting between Daraik and Amazing Acara had the same forgone conclusion... victory for the good guys. Really, it was beyond a joke. Evil was becoming a laughable aspect of Neopian society. Young Neopets were roaring with laughter at stories of the grand master Sloth instead of quivering in their beds. No one took the Drenched seriously anymore; at the seminar the middle Drenched sister had sobbingly confessed a passing sailor had recently mistaken her for a jolly Flotsam and thrown old breadfish to her.
No one respects us anymore!
The thought rushed upon the villain with indignation and he quickly rushed to strike a dramatic pose, scowling in the traditional manner, hands upon his hips. Under normal circumstances he would have liked to insert the generic evil ‘Bwahahahaha!’ But this was no laughing matter! Something had to be done before evil in Neopia was a joke. For crying out loud, Neopians were laughing at the Pant Devil! The ferocious creature who should instill terror was a humorous fool in the eyes of the foolish mortal public!
Sweeping his fetching ebony cape -- two thousand Neopoints from Uni’s Clothing, for all your villain fashion needs -- he took to the skies, soaring between the torrential rain and dramatic forked lightning as he made his way towards his top secret, super-duper evil hideaway.
An entire room full of Neopia’s best and brightest and we’re all just sitting around?
It was time to call a different gathering of evil together. It was time to arrange a little surprise the heroes wouldn’t ever forget...
Date: Apr 21st
Amazara heaved a dramatic sigh. He had practised his heroic moves for hours; he had rehearsed it all in his head. He had calculated exactly how he'd brush dangerously close to death and then triumphantly perform the impossible. But once again, Daraik was too fashionably busy to come and get defeated.
Gloomily, Amazara watched the last traces of smoke from the message dissipate into the clear air. He wondered if anybody had even seen him conjure up that impressive flame. (As a matter of fact, somebody had been watching him, but the identity of that somebody has to be concealed for fashionable reasons.)
The Amazing Acara did a few half-hearted prances, his brilliant cape swirling in the wind. Then, in an effort to make himself feel better, he stood tall, puffed out his chest, and flexed his arms. Right arm, bulge. Left arm, bulge.
But it was getting boring.
Actually, come to think of it, beating up old Daraik wouldn't have been much more fun than this. It was all becoming too clichéd. He considered going to the Superhero Convention that he was missing, but sighed. It was undoubtedly just another series of tiresome lectures about the newest martial moves, the proper way to ruffle up your fur, and other assorted what-not. And besides, he was sick of Neocola and the coupons that they were always offering.
Maybe he should try something new. There had been no new Defenders of Neopia missions for months; he'd had enough of sitting around doing nothing.
He glanced up toward the storm-laced mountains in the distance, and an idea started to form in his head.
Daraik swept grandly into the yard of the clifftop fortress, closing his wings with well-practised grace. Forked lightning flashed around him, illuminating his evil maniacal grin. All around him, villains were arriving in black carriages, by shadow flight, or other such showy means.
"Didn't think you'd make it, Daraik," sneered Jhudora, flicking her shiny dark hair back in a suitably haughty manner. "Thought you were getting beaten up by that pretentious Amazing Acara."
The Dark Draik's eyes flashed dangerously. "I don't lose to him all the time, fair Jhudora."
"Don't you dare call me fair," snapped Jhudora. "I spent four hours doing my makeup."
Daraik shrugged and went with the flow of villains into the tall, dark seminar chamber.
When everybody had been seated, Count von Roo stood and ascended the bone stage. A well-calculated fork of lightning speared the black windows, and Korbat shrieks resonated in the distance. Cold, solid light cut the atmosphere into black and white, and the dark curtains swished mysteriously.
"My friends," said von Roo sonorously, "we gather here today at the one hundred and twenty-fourth seminar on How to Rule Neopia. Our first speaker today is... yes, Daraik?"
"I have a brief announcement to make," the Dark Draik declared. "When that Not-so-Amazing Acara missed his appointment with me again, I had a flash of inspiration. I will now propose a plan to ensure that we, the Dark Side, will never be looked down upon again! We must all unite to--"
The heavy ebony doors crashed open. There in the storm stood none other than Amazara, his handsome smile alight, his cape flowing in the wind. "I am here to stop your evil plan!" he roared.
Whispers rippled through the crowd of villains. So the heroes had decided to strike first now, had they?
Daraik's great arched eyebrows dipped down in a menacing frown. The Acara had proven immensely stupid again. How could he possibly hope to win, outnumbered by so many villains? Daraik felt like bursting into maniacal laughter. Well, he would play this out...
"Weren't you supposed to be at your superhero convention, old buddy?"…
Date: Apr 22nd
"I was invited," said Amazara nonchalantly, clasping his arms behind his back and pacing across the threshold regally. "But when I heard that you would be here, at this ridiculous seminar, I made other plans."
"Wait," said Daraik, breaking character for a split second. "How did you know that I would be at the seminar? We were supposed to meet for an epic battle!"
Amazara frowned, being sure to arch an eyebrow for effect. "We were, until you sent me that miserable excuse."
"I didn't send you a letter," said the Dark Draik, crossing his arms. "You sent one to me."
The villains who were assembled for the seminar were growing very bored with the exchange, and many were squirming in their ominous high-backed chairs. Benny the Bruce called out, "Can't you two take this outside?"
"Yeah," said Commander Garoo. "I didn't come to this seminar to listen to two kids argue."
Count von Roo, who was still on the finely crafted bone stage -- donated by the Haunted Woods Spook Committee -- could see that the meeting was beginning to slip into a classic villain brawl. "Ladies and Un-gentlemen!" he called, "the Seminar on How to Rule Neopia must continue uninterrupted!" But it was too late.
"Are you trying to tell me that you didn't send that note in the bottle?" asked Daraik angrily, reaching behind him to throw back his dark cape as he took a determined step forward. "It had your name on it."
"So did your note," said Amazara, snapping his fingers to create a flame. "I watched your silly excuse burn."
"Who let this guy in?" growled Balthazar.
"This is making me sick," said Meuka, whose chair was dripping with snot.
"Ltel hemt ot huts pu!" cried Eliv Thade.
Several of the villains stood up from their seats, and Daraik and Amazara began circling each other, striking poses occasionally as they narrowed their eyes. The attendees were working themselves into a typical frenzy, and the meeting began to fall apart. Spells whizzed across the room, weapons were drawn, and many unkind words were exchanged before a voice rang out over the confusion.
Not a villain in the entire castle hadn't uttered the classic word before, and the deep, menacing, pure evil that was packed into its tone was enough to silence everyone in the room.
"You have made my job very, very easy," announced the voice, echoing on the stone walls. No one could see the source, and several villains peered out the arched windows, but only the endless storm could be seen, with its torrential rain and bolts of lightning. Masila even peered underneath the incredibly long table -- provided by Spooky Furniture -- but all that she could see were a few Spyders skittering around.
Daraik and Amazara had paused mid-stride, both with one knee bent and their dramatic expressions still etched on their faces. "By my unmatched intelligence and skill," continued the voice, slipping into a classic monologue, "I have gathered all of my enemies in one place -- two, actually."
"The seminar on How to Rule Neopia!" gasped Galem, taking on the role of the explanatory bystander.
"The Superhero Convention!" gasped Hubrid Nox, following suit.
"So that's why the invitation misspelled 'cordially'," mused Jhudora. "I thought Thade might have written it."
"That was a clerical error," explained the voice. "But in any case," it continued, taking on its frightening tone once more, "now that my plan is nearing completion, I think you might be interested in learning what I have done with all of your... previous lairs."
"My ship!" gasped Sloth. "I knew I shouldn't have left it with those Grundos."
"My cloud?" cried Jhudora.
Shouts of "My cave!" and "My mountaintop!" and "My laser-protected, guard-patrolled, secret underwater laboratory!" and other assorted villainous hiding spots could be heard in the castle.
"Yes, I have taken over all of them, and those of the silly heroes too," said the voice. "And now, all of Neopia will be MINE!"
That did it. Every ear in the building heard that declaration, and not one villain doubted that their new nemesis was absolutely serious. Taking over the world was the mark of a true master of evil.
With a final "MUHAHAHAHAA!" the voice faded away, and the attendees of the seminar were left in a stunned silence...
Date: Apr 22nd
As the wicked laughter faded away into the shadowy night, silence fell upon the room, heavy and suffocating. Each soul was consumed with mourning for their own lair, though it must be said little consideration was given for the minions within.
The silence didn't last long; the room erupted into chaos as accusations were thrown back and forth.
"This is YOUR fault!" Sloth screamed at Jhudora, stomping his foot in a fashion that was incredibly unbecoming of the villain who had won last year's 'Evil Presence' award. "It's probably some disgruntled twit you failed on quest thirty five!"
Jhudora tugged at her hair anxiously and snarled in response. "My fault? Why aren't you blaming Thade? The culprit is probably the Neopian Times editor, sick of receiving his jumbled letters of complaint about the lack of a good grooming salon in the Haunted Woods!"
"OUY ILE!" Thade shrieked, jumping up and down as he erupted into a garbled tantrum that effectively silenced the argument for a moment, everyone busy trying to translate his deranged anagrams.
Von Roo subtly silenced Thade by thumping the back of his head rather forcefully with his tail before he tried to regain order over the motley bunch.
"They captured the heroes? But not us..."
Masila's lower lip trembled, and Daraik himself spoke up, bitterly.
"Because we're not as important and pretty as the heroes!" The last word was uttered with a sneer that was only wiped from his face by a solid kick in the shins from Vira.
Amazara rolled his eyes. Honestly. Countless hours and millions of Neopoints in corporate sponsorship of those evil conventions, yet in a time of crisis every villain in Neopia acted like a baby. Pathetic, really. Prancing in a fashionable, suave manner that had been refined after hours of reading Judge Hog's latest pamphlet on how to retain your masculine image and still prance, the Acara pushed von Roo away and took centre stage, glancing around as the villains gaped at him from the shadows.
"They didn't bother capturing you lot because they knew you wouldn't get it together and DO anything about this."
He glanced around, coughing in a subtle fashion. It really was barbaric to have to speak to an audience without a spotlight dramatically highlighting one's glossy coat and shimmering wings.
"They knew you couldn't stop squabbling long enough to agree on a single plan of action. But you're all in the same boat..." He was interrupted by a soft howl of misery from Captain Scarblade at the mere mention of boats. Honestly, they were an over-sensitive bunch. Picking his words a little more carefully, Amazara continued.
"But luckily, I'm here." He paused a moment for dramatic effect, but the villains seemed nonplussed.
"We must work together!"
At this, the room erupted into hysterical laughter. Von Roo slumped against a chair, cackling loudly; The Tax Beast and Shadow Usul clung to one another for support as they howled; Meuka laughed so hard that he sent a stream of that revolting, putrid goo he seemed so fond of across the aisle, where it splattered against Jhudora's gown, though she was too busy holding her sides and giggling to notice. Amazara looked disgusted.
"Fine. Don't work with me. Sit here and argue. In the meantime, each of your lairs are under the control of... whoever it is. And so are the things within them."
Ah. That had been the key. Silence fell again as the villains considered what secrets might be uncovered if their private lairs were searched.
My honey potion! thought Jhudora in terror.
My collection of rubber duckies! contemplated Captain Scarblade.
My top-secret Happiness Faerie costume that no one suspects I own! panicked Doctor Sloth.
Instantly, all eyes turned to Amazing Acara.
"Fine." The sulky admittance of agreement came from Daraik himself. "We'll work with you. But you're not the boss!"
Amazara rolled his eyes, making sure the dim light caught that enchanting colour they turned when he was deep in thought. He struck a pensive pose for effect, just so the villains could be awed by the brilliant rippling of his muscles. Sadly, the only reaction was a snort and giggle from the Pant Devil, but Amazara was certain the rest were impressed, deep down.
"All of you just arrived here. We've only been here half an hour at most. Those lairs were all seized at once, and at the same time, the Superhero Convention was captured. So the culprit we're looking for had to have been in several places at once..."
Sloth snorted at this amateur assumption.
"Nothing can be in several places at once, unless you count Jhudora's claim that she's off tormenting Illusen when we all know she's in Neopia Central getting that green streak dyed in."
Daraik spoke over Sloth's cry of pain as the dark faerie hit him with her staff.
"Not in several places at once... but several culprits... maybe even hundreds..."
Amazara caught on slowly, joining Daraik's contemplations.
"Culprits that could move around Neopia without much notice..."
Date: Apr 23rd
"The faeries have conspired against us!" Balthazar moaned.
"I knew it!" cried Sloth. "Jhudora really is our enemy!"
"Are you insane, Sloth?" Jhudora accused. "I'm just as much the victim as anyone else!"
"How do we know that for sure?" Meuka piped up.
"Don't touch me, you pile of snot," the dark faerie hissed. "What the -- what's this gunk on my dress?" Jhudora tentatively poked the green mess and recoiled in disgust. "Ugh! Meuka, you are so dead!"
"Villains, villains, please!" Amazara called, his voice echoing dramatically in the room, grabbing everyone's attention. "I wasn't referring to the faeries! It makes no sense." He brushed the fur out of his eyes stylishly, pausing once again for effect. All eyes were on him. "I was talking about little creatures who everyone has underestimated. They may look innocent, but deep down they are pure evil!" Another long pause. "I was talking about... the Meepits!"
A shocked silence ensued. Each villain stood with a very unvillain-like expression of terror on their faces at the mere idea.
"Don't be stupid, Not-So-Amazing Acara!" Dark Draik snorted suddenly. "You're saying we've all been outdone by fluffy, pink Petpets."
"That's exactly what I'm talking about!" Amazara declared, wishing once again that there would be a spotlight on him to make his faerie wings stand out. "Underestimation of the Meepits! You think they can't do anything, but, boy, have they got you now!"
Amazara ended with a smug smile, sure he had won this sparring of words.
"So Petpets can speak now, can they?" Jhudora sneered.
"Well, I was thinking that they probably kidnapped some Neopet with a dramatic voice to talk for them, but..."
"What is the world coming to?" Dark Draik cried. "We villains are losing all respect and control, and we're doing nothing about it!"
"Well, now's your chance to do something." Amazara leaned closer to the audience, a shadow falling over his face fashionably. "The Meepits are finally having their revenge after years of being ridiculed. If you don't do something, all your reputations shall be shattered in an instant." The hero's eyes sparkled. "And I believe I can help you..."
Date: Apr 23rd
"No deal," Sloth said shortly, and murmurs of assent rippled through the chamber.
"What?" Amazara shrieked. "No? Is this just because I'm a hero? There's more at stake here than just some petty comic book feud --"
"You're asking us to do the right thing," Daraik pointed out quietly.
"Well, obviously," Amazara spluttered.
"But we're villains."
"Tell me something I don't know."
"Do I have to spell it out for you, Idiot Acara?" Daraik snarled. "We are the bad guys. We do the bad stuff. We go around trying to take over the world, not save it. Our lairs may be a strong motivation, but listening to you? Please."
Amazara frowned. "You agreed about five minutes ago, though."
"We agreed to work together," Jhudora snapped. "Not get bossed around by some snobby Acara in tights."
The Amazing Acara flushed angrily at the jab to his outfit.
"And anyway," Jhudora continued, "since there are more of us than there are of you, we agreeing to work with you is really tantamount to you agreeing to work with us."
How did these dumbbell villains come up with such clever word traps? "But -- we've got to have a plan -- we've got to do something."
Sloth smirked. "Already got a plan. Always have. It just took a little time for some of us to remember, and the rest of us to Neomail our banks."
"You're planning to bribe the Meepits?"
"That'll never work!" Amazara fumed. "The Meepits already have funds. Where do you think the money from Bagatelle, the Wheel of Misfortune, Coconut Shy, and all the others go? They'll never give your lairs back."
"Money can buy everything," Sloth said smugly.
"Fine, but how much money?" Amazara shot back.
The whole room went silent, a few of the lesser villains frowning as they tried to tally up their bank accounts without the help of the latest evil weapon, the calculator.
"We're in debt," Daraik stated glumly. "Amazara's right, for the first time. We're going to have to go villains against villains. I really do hate to do this, but -- do you think you can get some of the Defenders to help out? Lightning Lenny?"
The chamber cringed collectively at the L words.
Amazara shook his head. "No, because now that I think about it -- the Defenders may actually be working with the Meepits..."
Date: Apr 24th
Daraik stared at Amazara incredulously. The villain had quite a large arsenal of witty remarks at his disposal, but this latest development left him almost speechless.
"What?" was all he managed to splutter.
Sloth folded his arms over his chest. "That's simply absurd."
Amazara glowered at him, his eyes catching the light in a way that should have been imposing, but ultimately didn't work. "How would you know?"
The evil mastermind snorted. "Oh, I'm sure Judge Hog announced to all of the Defenders that they were going to ally themselves with a bunch of Petpets, and evil ones at that. Honestly, you heroes aren't all you're cracked up to be. Has it occurred to you that the Defenders are too far above that sort of thing?"
Amazara shook his head. "No. Not all of them are."
"The Defenders," he continued, "are sworn to uphold Neopia. At all costs. That means we sometimes have to pick the lesser of two evils."
A satisfied murmur rippled through the seminar, and Amazara realised his unintentional metaphor. Most of the villains looked rather pleased with themselves.
"So," the Amazing Acara continued, "occasionally, we must work with villains to protect Neopia from even worse villains. Fine print, but it's just as important as anything else in the rulebook."
Heermeedjet looked puzzled. "But that doesn't mean they're working with the Meepits."
"No," Amazara agreed, in what he hoped was an intelligent yet foreboding tone. "Normally, it wouldn't. But I've seen some unusual things around the HQ lately."
"Like?" Merouladen questioned.
"Six months ago, Judge Hog put a lot of his top agents -- that includes me," Amazara added hastily, looking very pleased with himself. "We were hunting down the Meepits. We were going to locate them and stop them; some witnesses had seen some very strange Meepit activity. Dancing ghosts and whatnot...
"We found their hideout, and then suddenly, Judge Hog and Lightning Lenny called off the mission.
"I was confused -- we all were. We had been so close to finishing it! But we assumed there were more important things to be done. Petpets weren't very high on the list anyway. So we waited.
"But there haven't been any missions since. It's like Judge Hog was certain you'd all be stopped anyway.
"And it's more than that. Right after the mission was called off, the Meepits stopped, too. All the sightings in one place ceased; there were just a few scattered reports, all over Neopia. Nothing to worry about, we thought. We never considered that they were scouting around. And also, when Judge Hog cancelled the Meepit search, his cape was simply covered in pink hairs. He must have been with the Meepits, working something out."
"Why are you helping us, then?" asked Jhudora testily, who'd finished magicking Meuka's snot off her dress. "You're a Defender."
Amazara's brow creased, and for the first time, he looked uncertain.
"I don't really know. Most of the Defenders don't know what's going on, just a handful at the top. But I think the Meepits are up to something. They hate the Defenders as much as you do. They're going to stab the Defenders in the back, I'm sure of it."
A dashingly reckless smile suddenly split his face. "And Fyora knows life will get incredibly boring if there aren't any villains to pulverise."
Daraik snorted. "Dream on, Not-So-Amazing Acara." Then he straightened up. "But you're right. Any pl--"
"What is it?" Amazara asked, praying his nemesis had received a sudden brainwave.
"I don't have a plan," Daraik said slowly, "but if you'd stop talking for a moment, maybe you'd hear that sound."
The silence following the Dark Draik's words did not last long. For a moment, there was only the pounding of rain and the rumbling roar of thunder outside.
But then there was a scuffling. A soft noise, like paws on stone or tile. Lots of paws.
And then, the voice of a myriad of creatures, all in a unified call...
Date: Apr 24th
The sound came as a cold, hard splash of reality. Somehow, while they had been debating over plans and leaders and possible villains, it hadn't seemed completely real to the villains and the hero in the meeting hall. Perhaps there had always been some little spark of hope that maybe, maybe, it had all been just a dream, or that Meepits really weren't coming to take over the world.
And that single sound, that single call, had shattered it all.
The room was deathly silent. Even the Spyders scuttling on the walls froze, as if they too were making too much noise. Every villain was rooted to the spot, a glimmer of fear appearing in their eyes. They had been beguiled, tricked, and faced utter defeat, only this time they had no over-the-top secret lairs to take refuge in and plot their revenge. They had no place left to run.
"Meep..." the voices chanted, a soft rumbling call that sounded all the more dangerous. Or perhaps it was because the sound had come from all around them and not just from a single direction.
"The walls..." Amazara whispered with dread. "It's coming from the walls..."
There was a collective shuffling of feet (feet being a general term for the variety of appendages and inventions that served as such) and swishing of robes as the villains detached themselves from the wall, drawing closer to the centre of the hall. Daraik found his voice, speaking above the ominous silence.
"Count von Roo, you were the chairman of the seminar this year. Why did you switch the address at the last moment?" the Draik asked, a seemingly innocent question.
"Well," the Count began, drawing himself up as if Daraik had insulted his choice of location. "As you all know, I had planned to host the seminar on a prime piece of real estate, the second scariest sight in Neopia, right in the main ring of the Deserted Fairground, but my minion contacted me at the last moment and said the place couldn't be used. Something about being overrun with-" The Count had paused in horror, unable to form the last word.
"Meepits." Amazara finished, his expression grim. "And this was the only available location on such short notice... right?"
The Count nodded silently, his shoulders slumped, his orange nose dipping toward the ground. It was Amazara who was forced to state what was on the mind of every villain in the room.
"It was a trap. This entire time, we've been sitting in the jaws of their trap," he announced solemnly, but then it was Dr. Sloth's turn to speak.
"That's impossible!" Sloth declared, his arms crossed. "When the location was changed yesterday, I scanned the entire premises for bugs or spies. My scan turned up clean." He glared into the eyes of Amazara, daring the Acara to challenge the power of the evil genius's technology.
"Meep..." the voices called, filling the momentary silence.
"It doesn't matter what your scans, no matter how accurate, turned up," Amazara countered evenly. "The Meepits are here, make no mistake of it. They got here in the time between your scan and this seminar. The question is how?"
Suddenly it all clicked for Daraik. The only way the Meepits could have found a way into the fortress, unnoticed by so many villains. Or, to be more precise, unnoticed by him. He was the only one who could have noticed, and had it not been for Amazara failing to show up for their fight and forcing him to wait for hours, he probably could have stopped this entire fiasco. After all, he was the one who had persuaded the Haunted Woods Spook Committee to make such a generous donation to the seminar, and he was the one who was to supervise the installation of that said donation.
"The stage..." he whispered, his eyes widening with dread, panic blossoming in his chest.
"The stage!" he repeated, spreading his wings, his voice rising to a roar that filled the entire hall. "The Meepits are hidden in the stage!"
But as soon as Amazara and Count von Roo registered Daraik's panicked warning, the bones beneath their feet began to quake. The villain and the hero leapt from the stage, just as the top of the magnificent bone stage, donated that very same day by the Haunted Woods Spook Committee, opened to reveal hundreds of gleaming eyes and shadowy pink bodies.
"Meep!" the voices cried as one, and the Meepits erupted from the stage, flooding into the hall. But it wasn't the sudden onslaught of Petpets that stunned the gathered villains so much as the single figure rising in the midst of their pink ranks...
Date: Apr 25th
A gasp rose from the assembled throng.
"Fyora?" chorused Daraik and Amazara in unison, something which is remarkably difficult to do at the best of times, let alone when presented with an unexpected change in the narrative.
"Yes," said Fyora, for the slower of the villains. Sloth gasped. "Did you not see this coming?"
Since most of the room was staring, awestruck, at her, it should have been fairly clear that the answer to that would have been a resounding 'no,' but supervillains aren't always the most intelligent, even the good ones.
"It was I who wished to take over Neopia!" the Faerie Queen continued. "You see, who would expect the current ruler of Neopia to take it over?"
"But..." stammered Amazara, "why Meepits?"
"Did you really not understand my choice of Meepits?" she said, mockingly. "Well, allow me to carelessly explain it at great length to you, while I send my minions to finish the deed at a painstakingly slow rate. Meepits, take them down one at a time. Leave the most dangerous-looking one to me -- that seems the logical thing to do."
The tide of pink wide-eyed destruction turned and began to sweep toward the Pant Devil, who only had time to look slightly disappointed at being deemed the least dangerous villain there before he sank under the approaching wave of Meepits like a stone in the ocean of a poor extended metaphor.
"You see," said Fyora, "my plan is impeccable! And it has worked perfectly! After all, if the villains are trying to be the heroes today, then why shouldn't I get a go at being the evil mastermind? And I must say that I am very good at it. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that nobody can stop me now!"
A groan rippled around the room.
"What? What did I say?" asked Fyora.
"You never say that," said Count von Roo. "That's just asking for trouble!"
"Yes," agreed Meuka, and it was an unfortunate turn that he was consumed by the Meepits before he was able to expand on this point.
"But it's true!" said Fyora, embellishing her point with a wave of her wand. She accidentally produced a small bouquet of flowers and a white Cybunny, which she quickly dismissed again. "I am invincible! I am flawless! I am..."
From behind her, Daraik hit her over the head with a piece of the stage. Fyora looked puzzled for a moment, before collapsing.
"...making too many rookie mistakes," finished Daraik. He frowned. "Actually, that wasn't very good. I'm sure I could come up with something better -- can I have another go?"
Amazara put a hand on Daraik's shoulder.
"That's the problem with being a hero," he said. "You only get one shot at the one-liners."
* * *
"Well, that was a nice, convenient conclusion to the saga," said Amazara. He and Daraik were standing outside the Defenders of Neopia headquarters.
"Yes," said Daraik. "And what's even more remarkable was that your theory about the Defenders of Neopia being involved was completely wrong."
"Odd, that," agreed Amazara. "Particularly with that revelation coming right before the dramatic denouement."
"You can't win them all," said Daraik.
"But you know what this means, now," said Amazara. Daraik looked puzzled.
"Now," he continued, "you've just saved Neopia."
The colour fell from Daraik's face. Passing Neopians wished that they could be painted white so easily.
"No," he said defiantly, shaking his head.
"Yes, you did."
"Don't say it!"
"Noooooo!" screamed Daraik, falling to his knees and staring at the sky in anguish.
"Now that," he said, "is better."
Date: Apr 25th
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