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||You are on Week 600
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 Six Hundred Ends Friday, April 5
|We were not prepared.
Neopia always knew that Meepits were evil. With their horrible pink fur, their large and creepy eyes, and their sharp little teeth; we knew that those... monsters were up to something.
Yet, we did nothing. We were afraid, yes, but we did nothing. We just stood there as the Meepits watched our every move. They memorized everything those large, round eyes saw. We knew they were up to something. We should have stopped them.
We were not prepared.
It seemed like it was a regular day, but it was the day the Meepits had been waiting for. The day they had planned for was finally here. It was the day they were going to take over Neopia.
The Meepits swarmed out of the Haunted Woods like a pink plague. They attacked Faerieland first. The attack was so sudden that even Fyora herself was unprepared for the assault. Faerieland fell to the Meepits in less than two days. Fyora was taken prisoner by the Meepit Overlord himself and hasn't been heard from since.
With their biggest immediate threat out of the way, the Meepits began to spread. Meridell, Brightvale, the Lost Desert, and Darigan's Citadel fell in less then a week after that.
By now, the rest of Neopia was ready, but it was too late. The Meepits had already gone on the move again. Altador, Shenkuu, and Roo Island had fallen. King Altador put up a valiant fight, but he was no match for the Meepit armies.
With two of the greatest heroes of Neopia defeated, the rest of the planet fell quickly. The Defenders of Neopia made a last stand on Terror Mountain, but they, too, were defeated and captured. In less than a month, the Meepits had taken over all of Neopia.
They weren't done, however.
During the attacks, they had found the crashed spaceships from the first invasion of Neopia. Their Meepit engineers were able to get them working again, and so, the invasion soon went into space. Kreludor, the Virtupets Space Station, even the great empire of the Alien Aishas crumbled before the Meepits. The Space Faerie tried to fight them off, but she failed like the rest.
This is the world we live in now. For almost a year now, Neopia has been ruled by Meepits. Those who don't obey are taken to the Meepit Overlord in the Haunted Woods. Most are never heard from again. Those who return are never the same. They are silent and their eyes are as wide as those of the Meepits. They never disobey again.
There is a glimmer of home, though. We are the Neopian Underground Resistance. We were able to escape the initial attacks of the Meepits, and have managed to evade capture so far. We have fought to try and free our homes from the Meepits.
I will admit, success has been limited. Some days, it feels like we have an impossible battle on our hands. On our last raid, however, we got a speck of hope.
We discovered that the Meepits have a dark tower deep within the Haunted Woods. All of the great heroes of Neopia that have been captured are being kept there. If we could free them and create a united front against the Meepits, then that would be our last, best hope at victory.
This is our mission, to try and infiltrate the tower and free them. It is our most dangerous mission to date, which is why only the five of us are going. We may come from different lands and have different reasons for doing so, but our goal is common. We want to free Neopia from the Meepits.
Jeran of Meridell. He fought in the battle for Meridell. Only by the last minute aid of Kayla was he able to avoid capture and imprisonment. He was the first to volunteer once I explained the plan. He will be the strength of our group.
Master Vex. When he realized that the Darigan Citadel would not survive the invasion, he hid most of the population during the attack. Many of the citizens of Darigan make up our ranks as we fight against the Meepits. He will be our strategist.
Uzarro the thief. We had managed to free her just three days ago from the Meepits. She had been able to evade capture for so long by hiding in the remains of a ruined Neohome in Neopia Central. She was hesitant to join, but I successfully persuaded her. She will be needed when stealth is required.
The ghost of Hubrid Nox. Truthfully, he is not one of our ranks. He appeared during the raid in which we found out the information about the Meepit Overlord's tower. He wanted to join to help free MAGAX. I did not question why he wished to free his greatest foe, because I was about to do the same. He will supply the magic.
I am Dr. Frank Sloth, the leader of the Neopian Underground Resistance.
Because no one conquers this planet but me...
Date: Apr 1st
...It had been difficult, arranging the resistance. Neomails were monitored, using my own Virtupets monitoring systems, no less. I knew their quality. The Meepits were aware of every single word sent. As a result, we had been forced to use more archaic forms of communication... things that twelve months previously I would have considered somewhat beneath me.
Carrier Crokabeks, smoke signals and the like. They were our new means of staying in touch. Slowly, I gathered my four allies to my side in my mobile command fortress.
It was a gypsy caravan.
Hardly a mothership worthy of the great Dr. Sloth, but these were hard times. The gypsies had proven themselves useful, I had to give them that.
"Our first task will be breaching the Haunted Woods without being detected," I announced, pointing to a diagram of the woods behind me. "We must cross the Demonica River."
"It will be difficult," Vex considered. "There are scouts positioned along the river at all the crossing points; we discovered that at a great cost during the fall of Neovia."
Neovia... Sophie had stayed behind to distract the Meepits while Bruno had led the townsfolk to safety across the river. It had been a trap, and all had been captured.
"There is a small town near the river," Jeran considered. "Shadow Gulch, they call it. We may be able to sneak across there."
"Perhaps," I agreed. "But, as much as it pains me to consider, we may need... disguises. Meepit informers are likely to be positioned among the townsfolk, and our faces are... too famous."
All eyes turned to the ghost of Hubrid Nox, floating silently at the back of the caravan. A master of dark magics, Hubrid had once disguised himself as a Cybunny to fool MAGAX.
"My magic may be able to hide us from the Meepits for a limited time," Hubrid said. "First, though, you must do something for me..."
Date: Apr 1st
"...When all of this is over, I want to be remembered as a hero. Give me your word."
"What?" I said, frowning at the strange request. "Of course you're going to be a hero. Everyone here is."
"No. I mean a real hero, not a redeemed villain. I want you to rewrite Neopian history if you must. Surely you'll be able to do that."
"That's wrong!" Jeran exclaimed. "We can't lie!"
"We can, however," I said smoothly, "enhance the truth slightly... I give you my word. You will be remembered as a true hero."
Jeran was outraged, but I ignored him. I preferred the history books being rewritten to Neopia being taken over by a force that I didn't control. Hubrid Nox, meanwhile, was suspicious, and said so.
"I am very trustworthy," I assured him. "Remember the Version 2 debacle? I said there would be deactivation codes, and there were deactivation codes. I give you my word, Hubrid."
He still did not look convinced, but agreed. Nox then muttered to himself, cast a few spells, and turned us all invisible.
Hubrid's disembodied voice floated through the air: "The spell will hold for about four hours."
"Wait a minute!" Uzarro protested. "Why didn't you just turn us into Meepits? That'd be a lot easier!"
Master Vex supplied the answer: "A Meepit does not sense another Meepit only by appearance, but by behavior, as well, and possibly smell. If we were to look like Meepits but not act like them, then the Meepits would know we were disguised as Meepits. They'd be onto us instantly."
"Exactly," Hubrid said smugly. "Let's go."
I led the way. The rest of the party followed the sound of my footsteps.
It is a strange feeling, not being able to see yourself. It makes movement difficult and conversation even more so. I was certainly not hindered by these obstacles, however. I overcame the disadvantages of invisibility quickly, and soon was able to move about normally.
The gypsy caravan was frustratingly slow; like I said, hardly worthy of me. I humbly decided not to destroy it, though, and I managed. It took nearly an hour to get to Shadow Gulch. There, the caravan was immediately stopped by Meepit guards, but we left via the back door and the Meepits only found an empty caravan. Ha! I amused myself with the thought of the looks on their beady-eyed faces.
"Now what?" Jeran hissed.
"Get to the river's crossing point," I commanded.
"You mean the bridge?" Uzarro whispered.
We reached the bridge and passed by unseen (of course). I pulled out my map again and dropped it to the ground, where it became visible. "We must continue along this path," I said. "There are Meepit guards along it, so we must move quickly or become visible again."
"Couldn't Hubrid just cast the spell again?" Jeran asked.
"It will take time," Hubrid said. "Meepits may see us in that time."
The path through the woods twisted and turned and looped around. It was a difficult path, but I, of course, ran along it easily. We were making good time, and I was pleased, but then we rounded a bend.
"Oh, no," Master Vex murmured, staring at what was in front of us...
Date: Apr 2nd
..."We've been betrayed," Jeran murmured, voice hushed but stricken.
There, in front of us, was our worst nightmare come true -- a Meepit lookout, in all of its horrid pink, wide-eyed glory... and we were not prepared. We knew there would be guards along the path, but we had expected sentinels, tucked along the sides... this one stood square in the middle of the path, so eerily silent and still that it gave one chills just to see it.
"Fools!" Nox hissed, but quietly, "We are still invisible. If you can keep your mouth shut, we can pass this one and they'll be none the wiser!"
I nodded sagely, forgetting momentarily that none of my party could see me. "True," I murmured back. "Let us press onward... we are stronger than they credit us for. Quietly now... and slowly. We can't risk trading speed for the stealth we currently possess."
"I've heard they can smell fear," Uzarro muttered, but the Usul thief was quickly hushed.
As a team, we quietly proceeded onward, careful to muffle our steps. Though I, the great Dr. Frank Sloth, was not accustomed to the need for stealth -- for who needs it when one has greatness instead! -- we crept past the creepy Meepit. Somehow, with bated breath, we managed to do it quietly -- not even an unfriendly branch snapped beneath our feet. Perhaps the Haunted Woods didn't like the Meepit Overlords, either.
Once safely past the Meepit, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. It had taken us nearly twenty minutes, the moments crawling by before I finally reached a point out of sight and the rest of the party trickled in.
"That was... nerve-wracking," Vex muttered. The rest of the party made sounds of agreement, but I wasn't paying attention.
"Wait a moment," I said, staring at the map I had dropped to the ground. It had, of course, become visible again.
Footsteps shuffled closer, and I recognized Jeran by his purposeful gait (stealth didn't appear to be a trait inherent to the valiant, either).
"What... no... that can't be. We never left the path!" he said in surprise, shock lending a bit too much volume to his voice.
I heard the others come closer, with Nox only detectable due to the slight breeze his ghostly presence wrought.
"We're... lost?" Uzarro asked, shock making her tone flat.
"How can we be lost in the Haunted Woods?" Nox cried. Among all of us, only he had spent any meaningful time here.
I jabbed the map angrily, a crinkling indentation the only marker of my magnificent gesture. "After that bend, the woods should open slightly into a well-known copse. We should see the Brain Tree now!" I cried.
If we had followed the map correctly -- or if the map had been accurate -- we should have been at the Brain Tree’s feet. Well, proverbial feet, at least. Instead, however, the path just continued on, the woods around us as dense as ever. The map was clear -- but reality did not match our map.
"Perhhhapssss I can helllllpppp..."
Date: Apr 2nd
...The air in the Haunted Woods was never quite fresh -- a far cry from the filtered air in my flagships -- but the usual smell of rotting wood and detritus was suddenly overpowered by a thick, rank stench that I generally associated with some of my earlier failures of my mutation ray.
"Who's there?" I demanded. "Show yourself!"
The voice chuckled -- a disconcertingly gurgling, burbling sound. "Sayyyss the one whooo's innnvissssibllle."
Nevertheless, though, it did choose to reveal itself. The ground bubbled and boiled up, and dull teal slime spilled up from the dirt, forming itself into a giant blob with two black eyes and a gaping maw.
"The Esophagor," Nox stated emotionlessly. "Greetings."
"Hellllo, Nox. Yooouu're lookinnng a bit more transsslucennnnt than yooou werrre whennn we lassst meeeettttt."
If anything, Hubrid Nox seemed to shift uncomfortably in midair. "Rather embarrassing business, that, although a moot point compared to the state of things now, I’m sure you'll agree."
"Offff coouurrse!" the Esophagor agreed. "Whhhyy, eeeven Faeriiielaaand had betttter taaaaste thaan this!"
"Excuse me," I said, "but as nice as it is to meet a ravenous giant blue mound of I-don't-want-to-know-what, you mentioned something about help, and as loathe as I am to press the point, help would somewhat be appreciated right now."
"Riiiigghttt. Brinnnngggg me a Clawwwwmaaaatoooe annnnd a pieeeece of Eyyyye Cannnndy and I willlll telllll yooouuuu what I knooowwww--"
"No," Uzarro cut in. "Busy. Trying to save the world. Not going on a fetch quest right now."
"It's not something we're usually in the business of doing, you understand," I added. "Well, all of us but him, anyway." I jerked an invisible thumb at where I thought Jeran was.
The Esophagor sulked. "But I'm hunngggrryy!" it whined. "Noooooboddyyy eeevverrr does quesssts aaanymore! Not with those blassssted Meeepiitts running raaammmpaaant!"
"Okay, look," Vex sighed. "If you tell us where we are and how to get to the Meepits' tower from here, or at least back to the path, we can get to stopping them. Once we've freed the heroes, we can get to working on freeing Neopia, and then Neopets will be able to do your quests again."
The Esophagor shifted from side to side. "Finnne..." it eventually gurgled. "Iiii will helllp you now, but I wannnt a Clawmatoe laaaaater!"
"You've got my word," Jeran promised. "Now, where are we? How did we get here? The map--"
"Thrroowwww dowwwwnn that uselessss thinnng," the Esophagor said, cutting him off. "It willlll not hellllp you here."
"What?" Vex demanded, aghast. "Why?"
"The Woooddds are not the saaaaaaaaaame as they ussssed to beeee," the Esophagor rumbled. "The treeesss, they live -- they have aaaaalways liiiived. The Haunted Woods haaas a spirit of iiits owwwn, annnd that spiiiirit does not like to be controllllllled -- by any of its owwwn ilk, orrr otherrrwiiiise. Theyyy growww resstlesss unnnder Meepit rule. The treeeess themseeelvess, they move, forrrrcing the piiink ones to rearrannnnge. Rivvveers caaaarvve new paaaths. Strannge shaaaaadowws shriek in the night, lasssshhhing oouutt at their tower."
"It's great and all that the Haunted Woods is against the Meepits," Uzarro said, "but this is kind of inconvenient for everyone else, too."
"Indeeeeeed," the Esophagor agreed, "whiiich issss whhhhhyyy I was compelllled to seeeeek you herrre... eeeeven ifff you donnn't haaave food. Coooome. I shalllll taaake youuu to theirrr towerr. It is not farrr."
"Not far? Judging by the distance we've travelled, it has to be at least another three hours away!"
"Vex, forget the map. Even if it's accurate, we have no idea where we are." I sighed and rubbed my forehead, unable to tell if this was a streak of luck or a wrench in the plans. A lucky wrench, perhaps, but with the odds so against us, careful planning was all we really had... and the magnificent Doctor Sloth does not like to leave things to luck.
Nevertheless, I crossed my arms and stood straighter. The old gesture made me feel a little more myself. "Very well, Esophagor. Lead on..."
Date: Apr 3rd
...Within a few minutes the tower was already in sight, causing my hopes that the plan would really work to increase substantially. There were three tiny dots on the ground next to it, which were probably some Meepits protecting it, which begged the question: from whom? After all, no one would attack the Meepits' main tower... did they know about us?
"I think we are now close enough to get there on our own from here, Esophagor," I said. "Thank you for that. I won’t forget about your Clawmatoe, either."
"I hoooppeee soooo," he said, then left the same way that he had initially appeared. The Haunted Woods were once again completely silent, and it was necessary for us to make our way into the tower.
"Let's take a moment to talk about what our plan should be," Master Vex said. "After all, we probably won't be able to talk to each other once we are in the tower."
"Okay, then," I said. "Let's hold each other's hands, so we don't go in different directions. From here on out, there should be no talking or sound of any kind; we are invisible, and we need to stay like that."
It didn't take us very long to find ourselves in front of the main door, with the Meepits at our sides. Upon feeling the wind pick up, I slowly opened the door, making it seem as though the wind had opened the door. Everyone then quickly entered the tower.
"Who opened the door?" one of the Meepits asked.
"I don't know," another one answered. "We are in the Haunted Woods, so maybe it was a ghost?"
"I hate this place," the third one said and closed the door behind us.
The room we had entered was huge and in the shape of a circle, with paintings on the walls. There were two sets of stairs leading to the same place upstairs and a door between them. I decided to go upstairs and slowly began to walk, always pressing Hubrid Nox's hand harder when I heard a sound as a way of alerting him that maybe someone was about to come in.
The corridor we were in had a lot of doors, but since I overheard conversations behind some of them, I guessed that they were bedrooms. Then, after finding one without any sound coming from it, I opened the door and noticed that it was empty; we entered the room and closed the door.
"What are we doing in here? I don't think this is the place we are looking for," Uzarro whispered.
"We don't have enough time to look around through all of the tower trying to find Meepit Overlord's room," I explained. "Maybe we can find a map in this room, since I don't think that they can memorize all of the places in this tower, too."
"We'd better find it soon, then," Jeran said.
"Why?" I asked, not comprehending what he had meant by the phrase.
"Because Hubrid Nox's spell isn't working anymore."
I took a look at myself and saw that the bottom of my robe was visible once again. It could only mean that we would all soon be visible again, severely hindering our ability to carry out the mission.
"What do we do now?" I asked, afraid that no one would answer my question. "Vex, you're a strategic expert -- give us an idea!"
That's when I heard a knocking at the door...
Date: Apr 3rd
...My heart pounded audibly in my chest, and anxiety gripped me -- it gripped us all. The seconds seemed to slip by slower and slower as time flowed and ebbed around us.
The knocking was followed by no speech; no exchange of pleasantries, no inquiries, no demands... just the turning of the handle.
We held our breath as the door flung open.
Our worst fears were confirmed.
A Meepit sat, wide-eyed, in the doorway.
Slowly, she closed the door behind her.
She reached into her pocket -- for some weapon, or a communication device, or something -- and retrieved a small object.
It was a very tiny pink and purple staff.
The Meepit grinned. "Thank goodness you guys made it!" she exclaimed as she went up to hug us.
We were nothing short of baffled.
Jeran drew his sword. "Who are you, and how can we be sure you can be trusted?"
My thoughts exactly.
The Meepit cocked her head to one side. "I'm Queen Fyora," the little Petpet proclaimed with a slight twirl and curtsy. She halted. "Don't you recognize me?" The supposed Queen held up her staff.
"That could easily be a forgery," Uzarro declared. She stole it from Fyora's clutches and examined it. "Why, even I could do a better job." The thief handed back the staff. "Let's see you perform some magic."
The Queen paused, and then smiled nervously. "You see, it can't actually do any magic anymore--"
"You're not helping your case," Vex interrupted.
"Listen!" Fyora pleaded. "The Meepits, they go through a careful process of screening out the magical creatures and draining their wands, staves, necklaces... whatever... of nearly all their magical power before giving them back. I was able to turn myself into a Meepit only after combining the magic left in my staff with that in Kayla's wand -- those foolish pink creatures, putting us in the same cell." She stared at us, trying to look sad and convincing.
I sighed. "Fyora, I know not whether you are who you claim to be. But -- seeing as, if you are actually a Meepit, you've undoubtedly let the others know our whereabouts by now somehow, or are merely providing a distraction and, upon our exit, we will be captured, or something as equally devious -- I see no other choice but to believe it's you." I smiled.
The others took this argument into consideration and realized that to trust this Meepit really was our best alternative.
"Goody!" Fyora cheered. "Now then, follow me and I'll lead you to--"
"One last thing," I interjected. "You will let Nox turn us invisible again before we depart." I smiled innocently at her. "It's the only way to ensure maximum secrecy as we free our comrades, would you not agree, Fyora?"
The Meepit seemed slightly taken aback. "You have the ability to turn yourselves invisible?" she asked.
The ghostly Chia nodded his head, wearing a smile of self-satisfaction.
She paused. "Oh," the supposed Queen breathed. She then smiled. "That can only help our cause! By all means!"
Nox then commenced casting the spell.
While he was doing so, I scanned the perimeter one last time for any sort of map. I found the next best thing, just stapled to the wall -- a fire-escape plan, showing all the rooms on this floor. Better yet, imaged on one of the larger rooms was the Meepit Overlord's head. Carefully, and attempting not to draw attention to myself, I retrieved it -- just in case. I slipped it into my pocket.
It was just in time, too. Nox came up to me and cast his hex before doing so on himself.
The five of us had returned to a state of absolute transparency.
"Now then," Fyora started, "just follow me, and I will lead you to the part of the tower containing the fallen heroes of Neopia's previous state."
Before we all go after the Overlord himself, I thought to myself. I didn't dare say that out loud, though... not yet.
The Meepit opened the door, and we took our first few steps outside...
Date: Apr 4th
...only to be met with a solid wall of pink fur, sharp teeth, and unblinking eyes. Meepits, scores of them. We were not prepared.
The five of us who were invisible held our breaths and stood as motionless as possible, as not to move a single draft of air out of place. Fyora, however, had no such magical protection. She -- Fyora, the great Faerie Queen, once the most powerful being in all Neopia, the holder of near-infinite magic, the guardian of certain immensely powerful magical artifacts -- even she couldn't help but quiver in fear when faced with all those staring eyes.
One of the Meepits stepped forward. He carried a halberd and wore an ornate uniform, with impractically large and gaudy epaulettes. He lowered his weapon and pointed it at the Meepit we had with us. "Queen Fyora," he said, in a surprisingly deep and commanding voice, "you have once again escaped your cell. We have come to re-arrest you." I realized that it was she whom they were there for, not us. Relief flooded over me. Also, I'm not ashamed to admit it, a little bit of schadenfreude. What can I say? Old enmities die hard.
The Meepit took a step toward her. "My lady," he said sweetly, "I am beginning to think that the trouble you insist on causing is coming dangerously close to outweighing your use as a captive, and you've become even more of a nuisance since you made yourself look like one of us. Yes, we smelled right through your little spell. Think wisely before your next act of disobedience; you are not as indispensable as you think you are." He turned around and gestured toward two of the Meepits behind him. They then rushed to Fyora and grabbed her arms. The uniformed Meepit smiled and said to them, "Take her to the Ogling Chamber."
Fyora gasped in shock and fear. "No," she whispered. "All those eyes... staring... creepy... so creepy..."
As the two Meepits who held Fyora's arms began to march off with her, she turned back and looked at us. (Well, looked at the empty space where she thought we would be.) "Find the heroes," she mouthed to us with her tiny, pink Meepit lips.
Once the band of Meepits had dispersed and the sounds of their footsteps had been out of earshot for several minutes, we finally dared to stir again. "We lost our leader," Jeran said.
I huffed. "No, you certainly did not. I am your leader! Isn't that just like a hero, to gravitate to the most goody-goody figure rather than the one with the most power."
"There is power in strategy," Vex interrupted. "If some of us are unsatisfied with Sloth's leadership, I would be happy to--"
"No more of this talk!" Nox whispered loudly. "Now is not the time to squabble, not when we've come this far. Let's let our tempers cool and think logically about our next step."
I had to admit, he was right. His wish to be remembered as a hero was starting to seem less and less out of character for him. Had he changed, or was it just that the world in which we lived had forced us to change our definition of "hero"?
"Now, let's go over the facts," Hubrid continued. "Fyora is gone, but during her capture, we did learn that she is indeed the Faerie Queen, and not an impostor. This is useful information. Therefore, we can conclude that she was likely telling the truth: there is a section of the tower in which all of the fallen heroes of Neopia are being held captive."
"Then let's go there!" Jeran said confidently. "We'll join up with them and defeat the Meepits!"
"Not so fast," Vex said. "If the Meepits have succeeded in keeping them imprisoned for this long, why should we think that there's anything four more Neopets and... whatever it is that Sloth is... can do to help them? We'll need a more subtle approach than simply freeing them."
"I agree," I said. "I also agree that I am still the leader of this group, as should everyone else. Agreed?" I waited for them to agree.
Instead, Vex said, "Uzzaro's been quiet for a while. Is she still here?"
"Still here," a soft voice said beside me, "and I have a surprise." A piece of paper dropped to the floor. With a start, I realized that it was the map of the tower that I had tucked into my pocket a few minutes ago. A quick pat of my robe confirmed this. It was the map that I'd taken, all right. Who else but Uzzaro could have pickpocketed someone while both parties were invisible? I had to admit, she had style.
"I found this in our brilliant leader's pocket," Uzzaro said, her voice oozing with sweetness. "He decided to keep it from us for some reason."
I gulped audibly. "I was going to show it to you eventually. I just wanted--"
"Just wanted a trump card up his sleeve so he'd have some kind of power over us!" Jeran said, raising his voice a bit more than I was comfortable with, given our situation.
Even though we were all invisible, I was dead certain that all four of my companions were glaring at me, or at least somewhere near me. "Calm down, everyone," I said. "There's nothing underhanded going on here. Now, let's settle down and head toward the Meepit Overlord's room."
"Why?" Vex snapped. "So he can capture us, too?"
"Maybe that's what he wants," Jeran said. "Maybe he's been working with the Meepits all along, and now he wants to keep us from reuniting with the captive heroes!"
Again, Hubrid Nox was the voice of reason. "It seems we have two options," he said calmly. We can follow Sloth's advice and make a direct attack on the Meepit Overlord, or we can take Fyora's advice and try to free the rest of Neopia's heroes. Either way, we're in for quite a challenge. I say we put it to a vote."
"Free the heroes!" Jeran said instantly.
"Capture the overlord," I said.
"Heroes," Vex said.
"Overlord," Uzzaro chimed in. Maybe she was on my side, after all...
"Looks like it's a tie, then," Nox said. "Let's see... so, the two among us who are most heroic vote for the prison break scenario, and the two more villainous of our companions want to confront the overlord. Two heroes versus two villains, and I have the deciding vote. I say we should..."
Date: Apr 4th
"What?" I asked, caught off guard. The others were making similar sounds of surprise.
"We should split up. It's only reasonable," Nox replied, sounding quite content with himself, "seeing as there are so many of us and multiple tasks to be done. Jeran and Master Vex can go retrieve the heroes, while Uzarro and Dr. Sloth will attack the overlord."
"I actually like this idea," Vex mused, sounding surprised. "The attack by the villain team might serve to draw away the guards in the prison, which would make it easier for the hero team to release the captives. It would serve very well as a distraction."
I sighed petulantly. "The 'villain team,' really? How many times do I have to remind you that I've temporarily given up my wicked ways?"
Jeran huffed. "Temporarily? That sounds suspicious to me--"
"We're getting off track," Uzarro pointed out, sounding impatient. "Hubrid, which team are you joining?"
"Neither. I have my own score to settle," the Chia ghost quietly stated. He almost sounded noble, though I personally felt he was trying too hard.
"Yes, well, while you're prancing off on your mysterious quests, try not to get yourself blasted away. Again." I didn't need to see Nox to feel the daggers he was glaring at me. "Now, have we all stopped being unreasonably suspicious of me?" I didn't wait for a response. "Good. We can't go off on our separate ways until we know how to meet up again."
"We should gather in that big, circular room we entered when first getting into the building," Vex suggested reluctantly, rustling the map on the ground. "It's easy to find, and easy to escape from."
"That will work, I suppose." I paused for a moment, trying to think of a leader-like thing to say. Usually I was fond of grand and glamorous speeches, but the Meepit tower had me on edge; I just wanted to finish the job and escape. "Take care of yourselves, everyone. We can't afford to lose this battle."
To my great annoyance, the others didn't react my words -- Jeran and Vex immediately started whispering about their own plans, and a rush of cold air announced the departure of Hubrid Nox.
Suddenly, Uzarro was next to me. "Ready?" she asked, sounding almost excited.
I smiled, slowly, never minding that she couldn't see. "It's time to get our revenge."
It took a few minutes, but we eventually managed to sneak our way up to the room that was labeled with the giant Meepit head. I have to admit, it would not have been possible without Uzarro -- she proved quite adept at drawing Meepit guards away from the doors we needed to use and swiping keys out of unsuspecting pockets.
There was only one door left now. It stood unguarded, but there was something menacing about it. I was having a hard time convincing myself to open it.
Uzarro coughed quietly next to me. "Ah, this might not be the best time to mention it, but..."
"Well, I'm not exactly a fighter. I won't be very useful against this Meepit Overlord."
"Oh. I suppose I'll have to fight him one-on-one, then." I frowned, fingering the blasters I had strapped to my sides. "Why did you vote to come here, then, if you didn't want to fight?"
For a few long seconds, Uzarro was silent. When she spoke, it was hesitantly, in the faintest of whispers. "I'd been living alone for so many months when your team rescued me. I thought I'd go mad, living each day in fear, only surviving due to my skills. The Resistance gave me back my life, my sanity, my ability to hope. I owe you something for that."
I didn't respond, as I wasn't quite sure what to say. Was this how heroes always felt?
She cleared her throat, then continued in a more business-like fashion. "You really think you can beat him?"
"That's a ridiculous question," I scoffed. After all, I was Frank Q. Sloth, renowned weapon specialist and evil genius, creator of the Resistance and inventor extraordinaire. Obviously I had nothing to fear.
So I took a deep breath and opened the door, stepping inside and slamming it behind me.
Alas, I was not prepared for what awaited me there...
Date: Apr 5th
...The room was full of pink.
It wasn't decorated in pink. It wasn't full of pink things, unless you counted the bewhiskered Meepit Overlord himself, who was turning toward the sound of the door.
It was just full of pink. The essence of pink, radiating from every surface, filling the air.
They'd had to do something with the power they stripped from Fyora, didn't they?
I could feel its attention turn toward me as the (pink) Meepit Overlord's did. I didn't even have time for a dramatic (pink -- wait a second) speech. I drew both of my invisible (pink?!?) blasters hastily and fired, just as the stolen pink magic hit me like a pink repulsor ray. I staggered back against the door and kept firing at the Meepit.
The Meepit Overlord grunted and then sort of chittered. It was an embarrassing sort of noise to come from an archenemy. It sounded like a pained Grundo.
I was really not prepared. I'd known the Meepit Overlord had stolen Fyora's power. I should have known he'd kept it. I should have considered how much power he'd had to bring to bear to do it.
I hadn't realized how much power Fyora herself had until it was battering me with none of the nonsense sweetness she prided herself on.
I shouldn't have been using blasters. I should have been using an orbital cannon.
pink pink PINK
It pushed against me until it felt like I was taking several g's of acceleration with the door as illusory "down." I couldn't breathe. My skin tingled and itched. (I never did get along well with magic, or pink.) My eyes itched and lungs burned. When I did get half a breath, I coughed or sneezed.
I kept firing.
Pink pink pINK PINK PINK
I was going to lose.
I found myself thinking of this hilarious game the Grundos had made after they stole my space station. "The Return of the Return of Doctor Sloth." The player pretended to be a hero in a little starfighter, holding out as long as he could against my massive ship, in a futile effort to give his friends time to prepare.
I'd always rather appreciated the compliment.
Turns out, it's not as much fun to play the hero.
I don't know why anybody would ever want to play the hero.
I pried my eyes open, and the pressure of PIIIIINK on my chest forced a "Gah!" out of my mouth. That was all, of course. It wasn't because the Meepit Overlord was practically nose to nose with me, my blasters jammed into his belly and not firing. He'd drained their magic. He'd drained them as he'd drained Fyora's staff.
It wasn't fair at all.
Wheezing, vision blurring, I let go of the blasters.
The Overlord smiled under his inexplicable moustache. "Ah, ha," he said. "You surrender."
He couldn't even gloat properly. Filled with loathing, I played my last trump card. I pulled a Mutant Petpet Paint Brush out of my pocket and daubed it over his head.
He squalled and drew back, writhing in the pain of the transformation. If I could just give him a command as soon as it was complete--Neopia would be mine! I could put it back the way it was! I could... could...
Fyora's magic PINKness redoubled its onslaught against me. The trouble was, not only was it being controlled by the Meepit Overlord now, but Fyora and I had never precisely gotten along, so of course her magic would react as if I were in the wrong here for hurting one of her precious Neopian-native Petpets.
It really hurt, and I still couldn't breathe properly. As I slumped down against the door, unable to speak, the Meepit Overlord stalked toward me, and I couldn't help but notice with my fading vision that I had provided him with a much larger set of teeth.
The magic surged against me even harder. Oddly, the pain didn't increase. I must have hit some sort of limit.
With a deafening crack (really, it was right next to my ears... yes, I have ears!) the door split into splinters behind me. I fell backward and my head landed on something unexpectedly soft. I blinked, looking up.
Fyora stood over me, now faerie-shaped in all her pastel glory. Shards of wood punctuated the walls and ceiling beyond her, but all seemed to have missed her. She had put her best foot forward, that was for sure, and it was right under my head. This didn't seem to bother her. Her arms were upraised, and all the pink pink pink magic in the room was streaming toward her. Much as it had streamed toward me, but it was just making her feel better and glow brighter.
The Meepit Overlord screeched.
The pink began to fade from him too, as if he were going gray with fright. By the time I recovered myself enough to sit up, he was a statue.
I got to my feet and stared at Fyora. She was glowing pinkish-lavender and looked regal and invincible. I... I glanced down at myself. I was still invisible, but I felt battered and beaten and drained. Rather like the last time I'd run into the blasted Space Faerie.
"Are you going to do that to me, too?" I asked.
Fyora smiled sweetly and as if she had no trouble seeing me at all. "Of course not," she said. "You're a hero."
I scoffed. "Don't be stupid. I came here to take over Neopia from him."
"I know," Fyora said cheerfully, "but you still helped."
"I do keep Jhudora around for a reason, you know." She pulled a large splinter out of the stone to examine it. "The freed heroes are taking care of the rest of the Meepit army. Uzarro warned me just in time about what had been done with my lost power."
"How did she know?" I asked, confused.
"You're invisible," Uzarro said, sidling out from behind Fyora's skirts. (I could tell by the way the fabric moved, and the location of her voice.) "It was easy to see past you before you shut the door."
"Oh." I struggled with the unfamiliar words for a moment, then managed to say grandly, "Thank you both."
Fyora smiled again, oddly enigmatic. "I shall tell them your role."
Why did that sound nice? I didn't even like nice. "Don't bother," I said. "Nox is the one who wanted to be remembered as a hero. He should," I added a bit reluctantly. "He was a lot of help. He went off on a mission of his own -- I suppose it was to rescue MAGAX?"
That didn't make any sense, though, and Fyora was frowning and saying why. "But MAGAX was with all the other heroes."
I didn't much care for the idea, but I consoled myself with the idea that taking advantage of your enemies' willingness to heal you was something like a raid, and accompanied the horde of victorious heroes back through a much more cooperative Haunted Woods to Faerieland, to use the Healing Springs. (Jeran insisted on stopping off to give the Esophagor a Clawmatoe. He would.) The faerie in charge of them looked too wrung out to be any use at first, but she seemed to improve with every Neopet she healed. It was strange.
It was a long line, and it felt strange standing in it with everybody looking at me and whispering and still standing too close, as if I were not their fearsome enemy. Maybe that was why Fyora hadn't liked the room with all the eyes? Eventually I went for a walk while I waited.
I saw Fyora walking in the distance and made a point of not going in her direction. Somehow, we still converged.
On the statue of Xandra.
It was in four pieces.
Fyora stood looking down at it for a moment, and I realized, with a chill, that Nox hadn't gone to free MAGAX at all. He'd made sure that was being taken care of, and then he'd gone to make sure that the other, non-Meepit enemy he shared with the faeries was never coming back.
"I did that," I said, lifting my head defiantly. "She was competition. Like the Meepit Overlord."
"Mm-hmm." Fyora struck her staff against the ground, and the pieces of stone shifted. Reassembled.
Fused and were whole.
Fyora gave me another lavender-pink smile, sweet as candy floss. "I'm sure you did, Dr. Sloth. I'm sure you did."
Now I'm going to have to take over Neopia just to get my reputation back.
Date: Apr 5th
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