"That's it, I've had it!" Dark Night growled,
slamming down the receiver on the phone. He had just finished yet another case
for yet another Neopian, risking his life in the process, only to receive a complaint
that he hadn't solved the case sooner. His mood, already irritable, was plummeting.
Dark Night stalked over to the door of his house,
glaring at the reflective metal of the refrigerator door as he stalked past.
A shadow Shoyru in a trenchcoat glared back, a slight bulge near his chest betraying
the presence of his concealed Cobrall Dagger. He tugged open the refrigerator
door, grabbed a Neocola, and began chugging it down as he walked to the door.
Dark Night was a private eye, a gumshoe, a detective.
When things went down, Dark was who you called to find out who was responsible
and why. It was supposed to be a glamorous job, full of taking down high-profile
criminals and receiving the gratitude of adoring fans. While the first part
came true on occasion, the adoring fans had yet to materialize. Dark Night sighed
as his yellow pet Babaa, Blue, came trotting up happily.
"Hey there Blue," Dark Night spoke with a slight
smile as he patting the Babaa's head. Dark took another chug of Neocola and
gazed out the window. A red Uni trotted past, and Dark watched idly. As the
clapping of hooves echoed on the pavement, a thought struck Dark.
"I need a vacation."
The Pteri airlines had nearly lost his luggage, and his flight was 2 hours
late. Ordinarily, this would have been more than enough to ruin Dark's vacation,
but he was in an unusually good mood. That, and yelling at the customer service
representatives did wonders to improve his temperament.
As Dark left the "airport" (a small dirt strip
where the Pteris had enough room to land), he looked around happily at the scenery.
Trees dotted a landscape of rolling hills and cultivated fields. A farmer Poogle
happily carted an armload of turnips to an Uni-drawn cart. Dirt roads converged
on a nearby village, overlooked by a solemn, grey-stone castle. Most importantly
anxious Neopians desperate to find their missing petpets or stolen watches.
"You know Blue," Dark spoke, looking down at
his Babaa, "I could really get to like Meridell." Whistling happily, Dark Night
strolled towards the town, Blue following at his heels.
Dark was sitting on a plush bed in the castle guest room looking out the window.
He was still trying to figure out how exactly he had managed that, as to his
knowledge one didn't simply waltz into a castle and get a room like it was some
kind of hotel. Thinking carefully, he pieced together a series of events.
While walking into town, he had met a group of
Knights returning from a tourney in another district. One Knight, a Lupe whose
name he forgot, had asked Dark for his name. Dark had replied, "Dark Night,"
and the conversation had immediately dissolved into confusion. After a long
talk with the Knights, Dark had finally learned that when he said "Dark Night"
the Knights interpreted it as "Dark Knight" and had assumed he was a
fellow Knight. Naturally, Dark immediately tried to correct them. Remembering
the conversation still made him wince.
"No, no, I'm not a Knight! I'm a detective. Detective!"
"What's a detective? Is that a Knightly Order?"
"Gah! No! A detective is someone who investigates
things. You know, when someone is missing a valuable possession or a criminal
is on the loose, you call in a detective to investigate things."
"So detectives are those who protect the poor
and challenge evil? Truly detectives are Knights!"
And so on.
Eventually, the Knights (who were now firmly
convinced that Dark Night was a Knight of the Detectives Order) insisted that
Dark Night stay at the castle as a guest. Upon realizing that the castle was
the only place in the town that had anything even resembling indoor plumbing,
Dark Night happily agreed.
And so, here he sat, enjoying a warm bed and a great view, all while frantically
trying to figure out what he would do if anyone asked to see his Coat of Arms
or some other knightly item he didn't have. He turned to watch Blue frantically
attempt to untangle himself from the excessive covers on the bed, smiling as
the Babaa only got himself more entangled. At that point, Sir Antonius walked
Sir Antonius was a Shoyru, a red one. He had
been with the original group of Knights that Dark had met on the road, and had
managed to become a good friend of Dark's in the few short days he had been
at the castle. This was largely due to the fact that Antonius had introduced
Dark to a sugary fruit drink that tasted remarkably like Neocola.
"Hail Sir Dark! How art thou this fine day?"
Antonious spoke as Dark turned to face him.
"Er, great. How about you?" Dark replied.
"Wonderful! I've been meaning to tell you, I
have been selected to participate in the jousting tournament tomorrow. I was
wondering if you would like to come watch? I'm afraid you can't participate,
as you do not have your own steed with you. A pity for such a bold Knight as
yourself, I am sure..." Antonius looked questioningly at Dark.
"Oh no, no problem at all. I'd love to participate,
but I don't mind just watching," Dark said, smiling at the thought of himself
riding an armored Uni at full tilt in a jousting tournament. He'd have to be
completely insane to ever try that! Not that he'd share that thought with Antonius,
"Excellent!" Antonius boomed, patting Dark on
the shoulder hard enough to make him wince. "I am going to be the Rosethorn
house champion, as I have been for the past two years. The house Nettle champion
will oppose me... he is good Knight, although not up to my caliber of course..."
Antonius happily rambled on, following Dark as he left the room and went in
search of some more fruit drinks.
"Sir Dark! Sir Dark!" A Lenny Squire with a squeaky voice came pelting towards
Dark as he stood in a hallway sipping fruit juice. The Lenny pulled himself
to an awkward stop as he reached the puzzled Shoyru, nearly tripping in his
haste. "Sir Dark!" he squeaked, wringing his hands.
"Yeah, yeah, don't bust a liver kid," Dark replied,
rolling his eyes. "What's going on?"
"Sir Antonius! It's horrible, oh you've got to
do something, it's so terrible!" the Lenny stammered, sounding even higher pitched
than before. Dark immediately lost his casual attitude and put his hands on
the Lenny's shoulders.
"Slow down. What's happened to Antonius?" Dark
said softly, worry gnawing at his mind.
"He's in the infirmary! They think he's been
poisoned! Oh is going to be alright Sir Dark? He's supposed to be in the tournament
tom..." But Dark didn't answer. At the word 'poison' he was off running down
the hall towards the infirmary.
"Dark! I am glad to see thee here!" Antonius smiled at Dark, his usually booming
voice much quieter. He gestured with one arm at the infirmary around him, the
beds empty except for the one he lay on. A doctor Aisha was mixing a healing
potion, her eyes turning to watch Dark and Antonius as she worked.
"I talked to the doctors already," Dark spoke
matter-of-factly, "You're going to be fine, but you aren't going to recover
for at least a week. It looks like the poison wasn't meant to really hurt you,
just to get you out of the tournament."
"A pity... still, with a Knight of your obvious
caliber," Antonius coughed, "victory for Rosethorn is assured."
"Erm, excuse me?" Dark said, trying to keep his
voice level as warning sirens went off in his brain.
"Pardon, my voice is soft and perhaps thou didst
not hear me clearly." Antonius smiled. "But please understand that I am very
grateful that thou hath agreed to participate in the joust in my place."
Dark had managed to keep a straight face leaving the infirmary, to his own
amazement. A few hours cautious investigating had revealed some disturbing facts.
First of all, he was indeed registered in the tournament under the name "Sir
Dark". Apparently a Shadow Shoyru matching his description had enrolled in the
tournament. Since he was the only Shadow Shoyru in the castle, no one had questioned
the stranger's identity, assuming that it was him. Dark snarled in fury. Someone
had set him up.
More importantly, the tournament was the very
next day, leaving no time for any serious investigation. He wanted to pull out
of the tournament, but there was no way he could do so without revealing that
he wasn't really a knight. That, and his friend Antonius was counting on him.
Although he hated to admit it, that meant a lot to Dark.
Which is why he was currently sitting on an armored
Uni, wearing Antonius' armor and bearing a massive lance that he could barely
hold, let alone use properly. His opponent, a Skeith riding a green Uni the
size of a small car, waved to him from the other end of the field as his squires
helped him into his armor. Dark winced. Blast it, he thought, this
was supposed to be a vacation.
"Sir! Sir!" a familiar squeaky voice came from
Dark's left. He turned to see the Lenny squire running up to him, waving a pale
white envelope. "This just came for you, Sir Dark!" the Lenny squeaked, handing
him the letter and holding his shield while Dark read the contents.
Dear Dark Night,
Nice job fooling those dimwits in house Rosethorn.
It was fairly obvious to me that you are no Knight, which is why I poisoned
Sir Antonius and enrolled you in his place. Disguising myself as you was a bit
difficult, but I suspect it will be worth it. I have quite a bit of money bet
on the outcome of this joust, and I can't afford to lose. I hope I get a good
look at your face when the house Nettle champion runs you into the dirt.
The best part is that even knowing my plan, you
can't do a thing about it. If you do, I'll reveal the fact that you aren't a
Knight to the entire castle. That would leave you in a bit of a mess, wouldn't
it? Try not to get killed out there, and rest assured that your loss is earning
me a lot of Neopoints.
The letter was unsigned.
"Why that miserable little..." Dark began, only
to be jerked back to reality as a trumpet sounded.
"That's the start of the joust!" the squire yelped,
snatching the letter and handing Dark his shield. "Have fun out there!"
"Have fun!? Are you completely nuts!?"
Dark yelled, his voice lost in the roar of the crowd. Dark didn't have the faintest
idea how to steer his Uni, but the Uni was well trained and knew where to go.
It trotted out to the jousting field, taking up a position on the right side
of a short fence than ran down the middle of the field. The Skeith and his Uni
towered at the other end of the fence on the opposite side from Dark.
Another trumpet sounded, and Dark was almost
thrown out of the saddle as his Uni lunged forward towards his massive opponent.
The Skeith also charged forward on his Uni, easily staying mounted as he thundered
towards Dark like some kind of scaly, armored freight train.
"I AM GONNA DIE!" Dark yelled, accidentally knocking
his helmet so that it slid down and blocked his vision. The crowd, hearing Dark's
incoherent yell, assumed it was a battlecry and let out a cheer of approval.
What happened next happened almost too quickly
to understand. Dark was simultaneously trying to fix his helmet, hold his shield,
aim his heavy lance, and control his Uni at the same time. Naturally, he failed
everything at the same time.
Using his shield arm to push his helmet up so
he could see, Dark managed to both drop his shield and knock his helmet completely
off his head. His lance tipped dangerously forward, catching on the ground.
And his Uni, confused by Dark's futile attempts to steer, slammed to a halt.
Dark, on the other hand, did not slam to a halt and instead was catapulted
off the Uni. The lance caught on the ground like a makeshift pole-vault, sending
a screaming Dark Night flying through the air in a perfect arc.
The audience saw Dark heroically cast off his
helmet and throw aside his shield before lunging directly into his Skeith opponent,
all while roaring a magnificent war cry.
The Skeith was caught completely off guard by
the abrupt arrival of a plate-mail clad Dark directly in his face. He frantically
tried to keep his balance, only to fail and fall backwards off his Uni. Dark
bounced and landed directly in the now-vacant saddle, albeit facing the wrong
direction. He sat stunned for a few moments, watching his opponent on the ground
as the Uni carried him further away. Finally, he realized he had just won.
"Un-freaking-believable," Dark muttered, bouncing
in the saddle. Suddenly, screams erupted from behind him. Dark turned and immediately
panicked as he realized he had no clue how to stop the Uni, which had just blasted
its way into the spectator area. Poogles, Aishas, at least one Krawk and an
Usul all dived out of the way as he plowed through, frantically trying to stop,
turn, or do anything other than go straight. A lone blue Shoyru stood dumbfounded
as the Uni bore down on him.
"GET OUTTA THE WAY YOU MORON!" yelled Dark, more
concerned that the impact would make him lose his balance than by the fact that
the spectator was about to get trampled. Finally, the other Shoyru came to his
senses and leapt aside, but not before catching a terrific blow to the head
from one of the Uni's flailing hooves. As Dark had feared, the jolt was enough
to knock him off the saddle, and he landed with a massive crash, plate mail
ringing from the impact.
"Hate my life. Hate, hate, hate," Dark muttered
as he woozily got to his feet. Without a rider, the Uni came to a calm stop
and began looking around as if only just now realizing the destruction it had
caused. The blue Shoyru was a few yards away, rubbing his bruised forehead.
He was also surrounded by guards, 2 burly Skeiths and a Moehog with muscles
as big as Dark's neck.
"What's this!?" growled one Skeith at the blue
Shoyru, holding up a bag full of various vials the Shoyru had dropped trying
to escape Dark's accidental charge. "Poison? So you're the one who's responsible
for Sir Antonius being in the infirmary! Come with us, you miscreant!" The Moehog
turned to Dark and smiled as the Shoyru was led away. "Nice job catching the
poisoner, we never could have done it without you. How did you know it was him?"
"Oh, I uh... saw the vials from a distance and
realized what they were," Dark stuttered, improvising quickly. "I didn't want
to cause this much damage, I just... erm... needed to catch him while he still
had the evidence on him. Yeah, that it." He grinned lamely. The Moehog seemed
"Well, you certainly did a good job. The minstrels
will be singing of this victory for years to come! I hear Sir Antonius has even
sent his personal congratulations... something along the lines of 'I knew thee
could do it!' or something like that..." the Moehog chattered on. The crowd,
realizing that the immediate danger was over, began to cluster around Dark,
cheering excitedly. Dark started in surprise as several hands grabbed his arms
and legs, only to smile as he was lifted above the crowd and carried back to
the castle by adoring fans.
Yeah... Dark thought, I needed a vacation.
Dark Night and his Babaa, Blue, were originally hatched from the imagination
of 2hot4u181. Both are used with her permission.