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The Swashbuckler Within: Part Four

by mimed


"Tigersquash-throwers?" whispered the Aisha, only to jump back as another Tigersquash struck the window unexpectedly. He vaguely remembered Luck the Pirate Bruce accusing him at the Bilge Dice tournament for "Tigersquashing his hideout," which Dragyte didn't do. Obviously, whoever had just laid siege to the Blistering Barnacle Pizzaroo was the real attacker.

      "Aye, Tigersquash-throwers," confirmed Chef Swibby. Licking his paw, he slicked back the three hairs on his bare head. His once jovial expression quickly melted into an intense one, like a warrior's before a great battle. The old Blumaroo then reached for an broom leaning on the wall and started taking short, cautious steps toward the door.

      Dragyte the red Aisha hopped over the counter and extended his arm to bar his employer's path. "Chef," he said, "just take it easy, eh? It's probably a bunch of little tykes making fools of themselves. Ye know the kind - wee hooligans. I'll clean up the mess; ye got nothing to worry about. Don't overreact, boss."

      Chef Swibby grumbled and pushed through to the door. "I don't give a gummy rat how wee they be," he frowned, turning the knob, "but if they dare attack me business, they are going to get the biggest beating of their young lives!" The Blumaroo stormed out, waving his broom above his head like an old lunatic.

      "Wonderful…" muttered Dragyte. He dashed after the chef, wishing that he was wearing his far more intimidating swashbuckler suit (a raggedy orange and white striped shirt with torn pants) instead of his stiff, uncomfortable work uniform. However, that was far out of his control. What worried him more, though, was confiscating his employer's broom before it whacked someone.

      Outside was a battlefield, and the ground was stained with citrus juice. Tigersquashes were flying like cannonballs through the air, smashing on the Pizzaroo and anything else within the area. It was mayhem! Dragyte ducked just as flurry of Tigersquashes flew past, but in his attempt to evade that volley, another came and smashed all over his uniform. Trying to wipe it off was futile; the juice was too sticky!

      Ahead of him, braving the flurry of Tigersquashes, was Chef Swibby. The Blumaroo had managed to set up a barricade by turning over the pizza delivery cart and crouching behind it. Dragyte quickly joined him. "This is it, matey!" exclaimed the chef, gesturing with his broom toward the place where the Tigersquashes were coming from. "We must save our beloved Blistering Barnacle Pizzaroo from those crazies. This is the great battle that defines a true warrior, matey!"

      Overwhelmed by the excitement of this not-so-typical predicament, Dragyte took a deep breath. He'd never expected a job to be so challenging! It was as if he was on the high seas on a grand ship battling some enemies to protect his buried treasure.

      "What's the plan, Cap'n?" replied the Aisha, forgetting himself momentarily.

      "I say," croaked the chef, or captain, peeking around the side of the cart at their opposition, "we charge 'em! They be expecting us to cower behind this cart and beg for mercy, but we be warriors defending our pizzas. We've got heart!"

      Dragyte nodded in agreement. "Aye. I'll go to the left, and ye go the right. But…" the Aisha's voice trailed off, as he suddenly realized something. "Who," he exclaimed, "exactly are our opponents? Can ye see them from here?"

      Chef Swibby peered again around the side of the cart and quickly pulled back behind as a volley of Tigersquashes splattered where his head had been. "They were short and furry with long tails."

      "Long tails?" repeated Dragyte. He thought for a moment before inquiring, "Could they be Meercas, ye suppose?"

      "Nay, nay. Meerca's have ribbon-like tails, and these blokes - two of 'em, there be - have cat-like tails with stripes. One be blue, and the other - the one throwing the most Tigersquashes - was a sinister crimson color…"

      There was no need for any further description; Dragyte was sure he knew the identity of the mysterious attackers now. "My brother, Herrami and his friend, Kaelou," he muttered angrily. It was all clear now. Of course it was those rug rats! Only those two young Kougras would have the audacity for such an act. They could very well be responsible for the other Tigersquash attacks, particularly the bombardment of Luck the pirate Bruce's Neohome.

      "So, ye know the Tigersquash-throwers then? Will it hold ye back?"

      "Nay," replied Dragyte, recalling the time Herrami had bitten his paw, and then he - not that wily Kougra - had gotten in trouble. It was time to defeat that ragamuffin once and for all. Sweet revenge!

      The old Blumaroo observed the resolve in his employee's face, and he knew the time was now. "CHARGE!" he shouted at the top of his lungs, and the two leaped up and rushed the Kougra duo. They didn't feel the Tigersquashes that struck them, nor did they care about the sticky citrus juice that covered them from head to toe. Though their vision was virtually blocked, they still ran forward, screaming the whole way like maniacs. When they reached the dugout where the Kougras were, the Tigersquashes stopped flying.

      The two warriors pulled some of the sticky mess away from their eyes and gazed down at the Kougras like they'd caught them with their paws in the cookie jar. To Chef Swibby and Dragyte's surprise, however, Herrami and Kaelou were staring blankly right back at them in pure amazement. Dragyte imagined he and the chef had been quite a sight, charging full throttle and covered in Tigersquash juice with the slimy look of something out of the Fungus Caves. No one spoke or moved for a whole minute; each party gazed at the other speechless.

      Finally, Herrami assumed his usual cynical air and said almost melodiously, "Well, well, it seems as though we drew them out! You know, you two look horrid. Honestly, this is not a good way to run a business. Shame, shame!" He chuckled casually and glanced at his friend, Kaelou, for her input, but her lower lip was quivering.

      "It wasn't my idea," sniffled Kaelou remorsefully. "I was just doing what Herrami said. Please don't tell my mommy!"

      Herrami rolled his eyes. "I shouldn't have even brought you along, Kaelou," grumbled the crimson Kougra, "because you are such a big baby."

      "I am not…"

      "Big baby, big baby! Kaelou is a big, whiny baby!"

      "I am not!" Kaelou bared her teeth, and though they were not as sharp as Herrami's, they still sent a shiver down the male Kougra's spine. His expression, however, remained smug. Quickly scooping up the nearest Tigersquash, Kaelou smashed it in his face, and his smirk instantly disappeared. When he tried to wipe off the sticky goop, it only smeared on the pads of his paws and made an even bigger mess. Cruel irony, they call it.

      Not letting the moment go to waste, Dragyte threw his head back and laughed until his sides hurt. " 'Shame, shame!' " he repeated sarcastically, "Now look who's a mess! Herrami, I was going to see to it that ye were punished, but now I see this embarrassment is enough punishment to last for the rest of the year. I'll never forget this!"

      At this point, Chef Swibby, who had remanded stoic during the whole exchange (no doubt trying to catch his breath for he was rather old) banged his broom on the ground. "Intolerable!" he ruffed almost like a Lupe. "I don't care how many Tigersquashes get mashed in his face. He's still not off the hook, and neither is his blue friend. You'll both feel the wrath of an angry chef! HEE-YAH!" The old Blumaroo got into a fighting stance.

      Naturally, Kaelou backed down because she was extremely fearful of fighting. Herrami, however, eyed the Blumaroo and studied the weapon (broom) that he held. Even with citrus juice all over him, the crimson Kougra, nicknamed "Terror of the Sea," was infinitely confident of his abilities. Crouching into the Kougra-pouncing position, Herrami dared the old Blumaroo to make a move. With his tail twisting like a Hissi in the air, the Kougra waited for just the right moment.

      Chef Swibby was undeniably the most seasoned Blumaroo warrior on Krawk Island, though he had long since retired from his life of battling to start up the previously mentioned Blistering Barnacle Pizzaroo - or so he claimed. However, a true warrior never forgets his or her old moves, though he or she may get a bit rusty. An old warm-up move the chef had in his ninja entourage, called the Dull Butter Knife, had a dark power of intimidating opponents before a great fight. Twirling the broom in one paw like a marcher's baton, Chef Swibby began to demonstrate in slightly less-than-perfect form the Dull Butter Knife warm-up. Back and forth from paw to paw he tossed the broom, almost dropping it at one point. Dragyte and Kaelou were getting dizzy just watching, but Herrami was unimpressed.

      With the speed of a scurrying Meepit (and Meepits scurry QUICKLY), Herrami the crimson Kougra's paw darted at the twirling broom. The Kougra extended his sharp claws and took one clean swipe. A fraction of a second later, the broom fell to the ground, having been cut in half.

      The old Blumaroo chef crumbled, clutching in his weathered paws what remained of his weapon. He was defeated before the fight even began - before he even finished the Dull Butter Knife warm-up and had the chance to execute the Flaming Gallon-hat Fury attack. Overcome with sadness, he turned to his employee, the only Neopet left who could regain the honor of the Blistering Barnacle Pizzaroo.

      "Bob… or Dragyte…" said Chef Swibby in a low tone, "ye must fight for the Pizzaroo. Ye are all I have left, boy. Ye must win! Don't let old Swib down!" He then fainted, or more appropriately, fell asleep. All of this was just too much for an old Neopet like himself; a nap was just what he needed. A moment later, he was snoring peacefully.

      This defeat of the chef was the greatest insult Dragyte had ever been thrown (besides losing at Bilge Dice), and he wanted revenge. Again, he was starting to confuse reality with his swashbuckling dream as he had done while Kougra-sitting the day before. Maybe it was a side-effect of too many Grackle Bugs?

      "Ye sniveling, hairy-livered kitten!" shouted Dragyte. "How dare ye take the life of me good Cap'n! Ye'll pay!"

      Herrami raised an eyebrow and shrugged, "The old fool just fell asleep, duh!"

      Dragyte shook his head and wiped a superficial tear from his cheek. "That's what me mum said about me pet pfish, Goldie. 'She's just sleeping,' she said, 'and floating about dreaming pretty little dreams.' But she wasn't asleep, just like me Cap'n here isn't asleep." The Aisha's eyes narrowed, and he kicked at the dirt with his boot. "Now," he growled, "let's finish this. Brother or no brother, ye be a traitor."

      The two stared each other down, Kougra against Aisha. Dragyte studied the "danger-points" of his opponent: the sharp claws, a wipe-like tail, and jagged teeth were certainly obstacles. He knew he could handle getting scratched up a little and slapped by a tail, but a bite from a Kougra was crippling. Those teeth must be avoided at all costs, so he had to control Herrami's head. An idea suddenly came to him, and he needed only a momentary opening and a quick leap to implement it.

      Chef Swibby coughed violently in his sleep, and Herrami turned his head to look. Now that the Kougra was off his guard, his old brother, Dragyte, jumped to the attack. Wrapping his arm around Herrami's head - being extra careful around the jaws - the Aisha held him firmly so he couldn't be bitten. Then Dragyte rubbed his paw roughly on the Kougra's scalp which is called, in big brother terms, a noogie.

      "Ouch," cried the crimson Kougra, "I give up, I give up! Let me go! Swashbucklers don't give noogies, you big bully!"

      Kaelou giggled softy.

      "Oh," said Dragyte, releasing Herrami, "ye want a noogie, too, do ye?"

           "No, no!" cried Kaelou, and she and Herrami scurried off over the hill as fast as their legs could carry them. The Aisha laughed wholeheartedly; victory felt great.

      Suddenly the snoring old Blumaroo beside him stirred. Dragyte gasped, "Boss, you're alive?!"

      Chef Swibby rose to his feet, dusted off his tattered clothes, and coughed. "Nice nap!" he exclaimed, before turning to his employee. "What do mean I'm 'alive'? I haven't died yet, as far as I know. Stop with all yer crazy talk; it gets an old Neopet like meself confused." He surveyed the area before adding hastily, "I see ye ran off those two Kougra cubs."

      "Aye, they won't be throwing Tigersquashes anytime soon."

      "Good, good!" the old Blumaroo replied. "And I thank ye greatly for yer bravery. Now, since it be way past closing time, I'll go ahead and give ye yer salary… plus a wee bonus for helping me out, laddie." He reached into a pocket on his trousers and pulled out a handful of Neopoints. "Let's see," he muttered, counting out the Neopoints into Dragyte's open paw, "One… two… three… five… nine… thirteen… thirty-two! There's yer salary; don't go spending it too quickly!"

      Dragyte looked down at his measly payment. He only counted twelve Neopoints, two of which were fake chocolate ones. He tried not to scowl, but the thought of spending all day in a stinky Pizzaroo and then fending off Tigersquash-throwers only to be paid peanuts was rather irksome. His employer noticed the disappointed look on his face, but mistook it for a reaction to something else.

      "Don't fret, laddie," he croaked, "I'll clean up the sticky citrus juice 'round the shop. Ye just go on home and rest yeself."

      "Oh, thanks," muttered Dragyte, as he turned for home.

      "I'll be seeing ye bright and early tomorrow! Don't be late, or I'll dock yer pay."

      Dragyte huffed an inaudible reply and started for home, feeling very much cheated out of a day's wages. It was the same feeling he had when he lost at the Bilge Dice tournament.

      Thinking of the tournament angered the Aisha even more. He knew his opponents had cheated, yet he didn't have a clue how he could get back at them and win all he had lost. One thing he did know for certain, though, was that this minor victory over the infamous Kougra duo had stirred a fire in his heart and renewed his swashbuckling courage. Some way, somehow he would get his revenge at the next Bilge Dice tournament tomorrow.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» The Swashbuckler Within: Part One
» The Swashbuckler Within: Part Two
» The Swashbuckler Within: Part Three
» The Swashbuckler Within: Part Five

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