The Swashbuckler Within: Part Three
Dragyte surveyed the run-down, decrepit building before
him and grimaced. "So," he grumbled, "this is supposed to be the Pizzaroo place,
eh? Why would they want to build one here… on Krawk Island? Pirates - err, swashbucklers
- don't even eat pizza! How dumb…" With sluggish shuffles, Dragyte approached
Orekoh the Mutant Ixi, his brother, had given
him an ultimatum: either work at this new Krawk Island branch of Pizzaroo or
get used to eating dinners minus his favorite side dish, Grackle Bugs. The owner
of the Pizzaroo - a shady Blumaroo with a questionable past - was one of the
Ixi's old pals from a cooking seminar on Mystery Island, so Dragyte was guaranteed
the job. Besides, the only other place that was hiring was the Golden Dubloon,
and Dragyte loathed to even think of the place after what had happened at the
Bilge Dice tournament.
Just as Dragyte approached the lop-sided wooden
door (salvaged from a wrecked ship, obviously) swung open and an old, bug-eyed
Blumaroo thrust his floppy-eared head out. "Aye," he muttered, squinting slightly,
"ye must be Dragyte the Aisha, no doubt. Orekoh told me all about ye. Welcome…
I be Chef Swibby. Come in, come in!"
Dragyte followed Chef Swibby (such an odd name…)
inside while keeping a wary eye on the suspicious character. One learns soon
enough not to trust every Neopet on Krawk Island right off: such folly could
prove rather dangerous.
Inside the Blistering Barnacle Pizzaroo (the
name of the barely one-star establishment) was a front counter (covered in pizza
grease) and some ovens in the back, among other pizza-making necessities. The
Aisha noticed that the place was quite larger than it looked from the outside.
"Been doing most of the work meself," piped
Chef Swibby as he led Dragyte, "but now I'll have a bit o' extra help 'round
"And just why," said Dragyte, "did ye venture
into the pizza business?" He eyed a fresh pizza still steaming from the oven
that looked incredibly bizarre. All of the toppings had been rolled into a ball
on one side of the pizza like some sort of pie. A single cherry was daintily
placed atop the whole catastrophe and added a very slight hint of pleasantness.
The pizza was labeled (with a taped-on scrap of paper) "Slimy Surprise."
"Well, me third cousin's aunt's nephew's grandson
works at the Pizzaroo place down in Neopia Central, where all them city-slickers
be, and he suggested I give it a whirl, since he's been doing so well. Now,"
Chef Swibby handed the Aisha a gray uniform with a pizza printed on the back,
"this be yer work uniform, so change into it before ye take yer post at the
counter and wait for customers. I'll go in the back and start cooking up some
more pizzas. Hey, you warrant I should add some Plastic Battle Forks in the
Slimy Surprise… you know, to make it more of a surprise? These battle forks
be all the rage with the little ones."
"Then I'd better stop adding so much dung. I
don't want to be giving them too many freebies!" He cackled hoarsely and disappeared
into the kitchen. Dragyte glanced back at the fresh Slimy Surprise and sniffed
the air. That must be where that awful stench is coming from…
Once Dragyte had put on his new uniform, much
to his dismay (because it made him look like a "dork" ), he took his place at
the counter and waited. He could smell a putrid odor from the kitchen, and it
was growing stronger. Obviously, Chef Swibby had gone on a Slimy Surprise cooking
rampage, or was it just the only item on the menu? No matter. Dragyte focused
on the old Deaver-shaped clock above the door and counted down the minutes till
closing time - 5 o'clock. The hour hand seemed to be infinitely stuck on 12,
Suddenly, the front door sung open and a familiar
Bruce came waddling in, nearly getting his peg-leg stuck in a hole in the floor
boards and tripping flat on his squishy face. Dragyte gasped in horror: it was
Luck from the Golden Dubloon! The Aisha looked around him in a panic. He could
duck behind the counter or dive into the kitchen, but Luck had already spotted
him! Too late now. Dragyte gulped and waited for the teasing to begin.
Luck scratched his bristly head and gripped
the counter. "Ye know," he croaked thoughtfully, "ye look a lot like a bloke
I know named Dragyte."
"Uhh…no," replied the Aisha in his best nonpirate
accent, "you must be… mistaken, my good sir. I know not of this 'Dragyte' fellow
you speak of, though he sounds like quite a dashing Neopet. My name be - err,
is - Bob. Just Bob. Not Dragyte… at all. Terribly sorry."
"Bob, eh? Well, ye
couldn't be that bloke since he be speaking like a scallywag, though he be but
a barmy pirate-pretender and no true swashbuckler. Ye… well, ye must be from
the city with all that fancy-spancy, correct-sounding talk." Luck rubbed his
chin (which was as equally bristly as his head), but then bit his lip as if
dismissing some suspicion. "So," he piped, "what be on the menu, eh?"
Dragyte gave a conquering sigh, having fooled
the dim-wit. He was perplexed, however, about how to answer the question. There
was only one type of pizza he knew of (and smelled), and Chef Swibby didn't
have a sign or anything with a list of specials. He was reluctant to announce
their one and only choice, but he reasoned that such a simple menu suited such
a simple pirate Bruce.
"At the moment," said Dragyte in his best grammar,
"we are only serving a single, superb dish made of-"
"-is that what be that glorious smell?" interrupted
Luck as he took a long, deep breath.
"I'll take ten of them!"
The Aisha blinked with a blank, surprised look.
He was about to call out the order to the kitchen when Luck coughed violently.
"Is something wrong?" inquired Dragyte, thinking it might be due to the fumes
Luck had just inhaled so deeply.
"Uggh, nothing, nothing. It's just that I won't
be needing the order today. The pizzas need to be delivered tomorrow to the
Golden Dubloon. There be another Bilge Dice tournament then, and me shipmates
get mighty hungry for good eats, not just the well-cooked, healthy stuff the
"All right…" muttered Dragyte as he scribbled
some words in his tatty notebook.
Mentioning Bilge Dice got Luck started on the
"Dragyte" subject again. "Truly a shame," sighed the Bruce, "about that lad,
Dragyte, ye know. He never had a chance in bubbly Maraqua at winning that round
with the dice. Tsk, tsk!"
The Aisha leaned in, avoiding a puddle of pizza
grease. His interest was drawn now. "What exactly do you mean that he didn't
have a chance?"
Luck pulled a hair from his unibrow and explained,
"Scallywags, ye see, never play fair at nothing. Dragyte was doomed from the
start, as soon as his crooked opponents handed him the loaded red dice. Most
pirates is colorblind, ye know, and even though that bloke was only a landlubber,
he didn't take a notice."
The truth struck Dragyte like a rock mote to
the head. Of course, the dice had been red; he remembered now! But why hadn't
he noticed then? The entire game was a hoax, and his three opponents, that cunning
Meerca, Eyrie, and Krawk, were all cheaters. His jaw dropped in disbelief.
Luck, seeing the expression on "Bob's" face,
realized his own error. "Err," he stuttered, "I probably shouldn't have told
ye all of that, but it slipped. I be quite a talker! Bob… ye'll keep it to yeself,
I hope? I can trust a pizza-loving lad like yeself - no worries? I be taking
me leave now." With several awkward waddles, he exited the Blistering Barnacle
Watching the door bang shut, Dragyte (or Bob)
chuckled at his cleverness in pilfering information. He felt victorious at having
uncovered the secret of his loss, and having done so incognito. There was also
a depressing sort of feeling inside of him, however - like he had just discovered
his hero was a fake. Practically all of his life he'd longed to be a pirate,
but he now he had his doubts. Pirates, swashbucklers, scallywags, or whatever
were actually quite… stupid. Was it truly so bad to be a landlubber? He wondered.
"Don't bother yeself," called Chef Swibby from
the kitchen, "with telling me about the pizzas; I heard the order. Not that
I was eavesdropping or nothing, but I thought I heard ye say yer name was Bob?
Is that a family name or something? Maybe I heard it wrong. These ol' ears o'
mine play tricks on me."
"Just a middle name," replied Dragyte, having
been jolted from his pondering, "don't worry about it. What are we going to
do about those pizzas, though? Ye made so many today, yet the order aren't until
tomorrow. Do ye have some kind of refrigeration system?"
A high, hacking laugh echoed through the building.
"Nay, nay, my friend," cackled Chef Swibby, "I don't be having any of those
new-fangled refrid-gee-ma-katers here; these pizzas will do fine where there
be. It's the Krawk Island way."
Dragyte gaped in disbelief, "Ye mean to tell
me that ye are just going to keep them out all night long? What about insects?
What about the… smell? There's dung in that…"
"Oh, it'll be fine, ye worry-wart!"
The Aisha decided not to press the matter any
further; it wasn't his right, being only an employee. Still, the thought of
those Slimy Surprises sitting out all night made him feel sick. He was just
about to ask the good ol' chef for the time, since the clock above the door
obviously didn't work, when he heard a loud SPLAT hit the outside wall of the
building. Then another SPLAT, and some fruit hit the glass of the window, exploding
on impact into an icky-sticky mess. It was as if they were being attacked.
"What the blazes!" exclaimed Chef Swibby as
he came up front and saw the mess on the window. "We are being bombarded by
To be continued...