Meow Circulation: 105,225,448 Issue: 209 | 23rd day of Gathering, Y7
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Thief Among Us


by hwtennisgirl6

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A blood red paw, armed with sharp, ebony claws, suddenly jumped out of the darkness and clutched a pile of midnight-black clothing. After tentatively feeling the stones around the pile to check for traps, the paw drew back into its lair as quickly as it had come, carrying the clothing with it.

     Inside the cramped lair, a red Kougra quickly pulled on a black face mask, a matching deep black cloak, and four small, black fabric gloves to cover his paws and leave only the dangerous claws uncovered. The Kougra then grabbed a small lump of charcoal from inside a small black glove, and rubbed the black soot over all of his exposed red fur and white skin, covering his body with a sheen of black dust. This Kougra was named Kyhan, and was preparing for a theft of epic proportions, one of the most dangerous a Neopian thief could attempt - stealing a precious, gourmet Blue Draik Egg from the food shop in Meridell.

     I wish I could have prepared for the theft at home, and headed straight to Merifoods, but the patrols are suspicious of Neopets dressed in all black at night. So instead I'm preparing in this dump!

     Kyhan had intelligently hidden his black clothing and lump of charcoal weeks earlier, near a miniscule hole in a dark alley. One of the walls of King Skarl's castle intersected with a defensive fortification wall, forming the small grotto Kyhan was inside. However, the lair had fallen into disrepair since the Meridell war ended, and presented a perfect place for Kyhan to hide from the castle guards and Defenders of Neopia that regularly patrolled the area.

     After ensuring that none of these patrols were lurking about outside the alley, Kyhan scrambled out of the miniscule hole in the otherwise seamless wall of stones. The Kougra immediately pressed his side to the stone wall and remained completely silent, as his sensitive ears listened carefully for any sounds that Defenders would make. He carefully sniffed the air once or twice, and stealthily looked about once more to check that there were no Neopets in the area.

     Smells a bit musty, and I can't pick out the scent of any patrols…I think it's safe to head out of this alley. The quicker I steal the Egg and get back home, the better.

     With this thought, Kyhan slowly walked to the end of the alley and cautiously craned his head around the corner of Skarl's castle, revealing the front of the fortress. In sharp contrast to the small, dilapidated alley Kyhan was hiding in, the front of Skarl's castle was grandiose and, unfortunately for a thief such as Kyhan, well-illuminated. A huge green and blue banner announced, "Welcome to King Skarl's Castle!" The banner waved gently in the night wind, lit by both the brilliant stars illuminating the Meridell sky and the bright spotlights shining brightly on the front of King Skarl's gargantuan castle.

     Kyhan looked around once more from his hideout, his small blue eyes searching for patrols. When none surfaced, Kyhan decided to make a dash for it. He examined the surroundings for any object that could serve as a cover. His red striped tail moved back and forth rapidly, while his front paws began to tap incessantly on the rocky ground. His eyes desperately continued to hunt for a hiding place, until they settled on a large tree that was growing nearby.

     I guess I can hide behind that trunk. It isn't the best hiding spot, but if no Defenders of castle guards come around, I can just go bolt to the Merifood store. From there, it will be a piece of Uni Carrot Cake to get into the storeroom and steal that Blue Draik egg.

     Kyhan stealthily slipped out of the alley into the light. The bright spotlights blinded him, and Kyhan was forced to squint until he got used to the lighting. During these brief seconds, he pricked his ears up and remained very alert, to listen for any sounds a Defenders of Neopia patrol would make. The sound of a gentle rustle of leaves and the crackling of sticks under a Neopet's paws met Kyhan's ears.

     No, not a patrol now!

     Kyhan shook his head vigorously and forced himself to open his eyes. The spotlights caused bright spots of light to dot Kyhan's vision, but he ignored them and scrambled quickly to the tree trunk that was growing nearby. He had barely reached the tree, lowering himself to the ground and trying to hide within the tall, dry grasses, when a Defenders of Neopia patrol surfaced from near Skarl's castle inside the foliage.

     The patrol consisted of three Neopets, a Gelert, a Blumaroo, and a Wocky, all dressed in matching immaculate navy uniforms. All three Neopets had three shiny badges pinned to the front of their attire, one for each of the opponents the Defenders had defeated: the Pant Devil, the Ghost Lupe, and the Cave Chia. The Defenders' backs were straight and alert, but after only a few seconds in the clearing they relaxed and began to chat.

     "Awwww…" whined the small blue Gelert. "I knew Meuka would be here! I'm so ready to fight him!" He pulled two Scarab Rings out of the pocket in his uniform, slipped them on two of his puny claws, and attempted to growl menacingly. Kyhan grinned, and had to fight to hold in his laughs at the tiny, yet courageous Gelert.

     How did this little pet manage to defeat my old mentor, the Pant Devil?

     Kyhan then noticed the two other Defenders flanking the Gelert. The ferocious green Wocky and the extremely muscular red Blumaroo seemed to be guarding the Gelert from anything that could attack him.

     That explains how the puny little Gelert managed to earn three Defenders badges! That huge Wocky and the Blumaroo actually obtained them…

     "Let's go search! Meuka could have hidden around here, as soon as he saw me and my three Defenders badges!" the Gelert exclaimed, wagging his tail enthusiastically and running in place. Kyhan looked around, and realized his hiding spot was one of the first places the Defenders would search. Anxiously, Kyhan watched the three Defenders, but much to his delight, the Wocky and Blumaroo didn't seem to be budging.

     "We don't really have to search that whole plain, do we?" the red Blumaroo asked, looking at the Wocky for a response. The Blumaroo's tail waved, and then bounced forcefully, moving the Blumaroo closer to a nearby spotlight.

     Ha! I seem to have found a Defender of Neopia who is afraid of the dark!

     For the second time, Kyhan had to keep his teeth and fangs clenched to stop himself from laughing at the weak Defenders of Neopia who were before him.

     The Wocky answered firmly, "No. Sorry, little one, no exploring today…"

     The Gelert bared his teeth and glared at the Wocky, upset at being referred to as "little one" and angry that his plans for adventure were dashed. However, he quickly perked up again, saying, "All right, we can search somewhere else, then! I bet Meuka's hiding in Brightvale!"

     The Blumaroo sighed, but the Wocky's sharp look cut him off. The three Neopets went back through the foliage, heading towards Brightvale. Kyhan could hear the Gelert's chants of Meuka, here we come! fading away as the patrol headed off to Brightvale to continue their search.

     Phew. That was a close one! Now, to Merifoods…

     He looked around, ensuring that no Neopets were outside prowling during the night hours.

     I know this is impatient of me, but I think I'm just going to make a run for it. It's right over there, and I want to get this over with.

     Kyhan looked around one more time. The wall shed a shadow upon half of Kyhan's body and face, giving him an eerie, frightening appearance. The stars shone upon Meridell, casting dark shadows on the ground and grass.

     Kyhan began to run. He sprinted as fast as he could, with his cloak soaring behind him in the night breeze. His paws came down quickly upon the soft green grass, forming small footprints in the terrain. In a short while, Kyhan had reached the Merifoods booth. There was a banner announcing "Merifoods Store!" and a small sign under it saying CLOSED in red letters. Kyhan walked around the booth and climbed into it. He peeked under the counter, and noticed a trapdoor.

     Just as the Pant Devil told me there would be!

     Kyhan took one of his claws, which he had sharpened earlier especially for this purpose, put it into the keyhole, and wrestled with the latch until it turned and clicked. Kyhan grabbed the handle on the trapdoor and gingerly pulled it open, revealing the storehouse underneath.

     Yes! I found the storeroom! Now, all I have to do is grab the Draik Egg and get out of here.

     Kyhan jumped down the trapdoor, landing carefully balanced on all four paws. He was inside the storeroom for the Meridell food store. Curious, Kyhan looked around, analyzing the shelves.

     There's all the Bags of Peas they stock…there's a whole bookcase full of Mouldy Potatoes…where's the Draik Egg?

     Kyhan was looking around when the light caught a small shelf in the corner. Kyhan swiveled around and looked at the small shelf, spotting a Blue Draik Egg in the very corner of the top-most shelf.

     Kyhan's eyes grew large, and he avidly stared at the treasure that lay before his eyes. Kyhan gingerly balanced himself on his two back paws, gripping the shelf with his forepaws. He carefully removed the Draik Egg, being careful not to scratch it with his sharp claws.

     Finally! After months of planning, years of waiting, hours of searching for the Pant Devil so he could help me perfect my plan for this moment…the Blue Draik Egg is mine!

     Kyhan's eyes glittered, and he licked his lips in anticipation, but he forced himself to resist the urges to yell in excitement.

     Don't get excited yet, Kyhan! You still have to get out of here and back to the alley without getting caught.

     With that thought, instead of celebrating, Kyhan slipped the shimmering azure egg inside his cloak. The Kougra had attached a belt to the inside of his cloak weeks earlier, and after a little adjusting and loosening, the Draik Egg fit inside the belt, although awkwardly, hugging Kyhan's side.

     Kyhan jumped a few times, to test whether the Draik Egg would remain securely fastened to the cloak. When it did, Kyhan climbed back up the ladder, closing and locking the trapdoor behind him. After ensuring that the Merifoods store was spotless, with no single strands of red fur or Kougra pawprints visible, Kyhan jumped out of the Merifoods booth and made his way back home with no trouble.

- The Next Morning -

     A vivid crimson and yellow sun slowly rose from the horizon, casting a yellow light over Neopia and marking the beginning of a new day. The sun's rays shone brightly into Kyhan's small room, illuminating it and rousing the Kougra from his bed. He uncurled, stood up on all four paws, and stretched.

     Wait, remember? Last night…I stole the Draik Egg!

     Suddenly energetic, Kyhan rushed to the kitchen and pulled out the Blue Draik Egg from where he had hidden it. He delicately placed the egg on a cutting board, and then chopped it into edible slices, arranging the slices perfectly on a plate.

     Kyhan took a fork, balancing it delicately between two of his claws, and took his first bite of Blue Draik Egg. It was delicious, with a strong, sweet flavor and a juicy inside, and Kyhan ate every last morsel, licking his paws for any drops of juice that remained. When he was finished, he cleaned himself up and prepared to visit the Gourmet Club headquarters.

     -- --

     The red Kougra arrived at a large, intimidating building. A lit sign above the door declared "Gourmet Club" in elaborate script. Kyhan pushed the glass door open and walked inside.

     "Yes, yes, Gourmet Club points are updated instantaneously, as soon as you eat the food," a grey Aisha hurriedly told a young Bori, immediately turning to another pet and answering their question, "Yes, eat as many Gourmet foods as you want. But you'll probably go bankrupt, and never be able to eat again or buy any toys…" the Aisha told him somberly. She looked harried and rushed, handing informational flyers out to huge throngs of Neopets entering the building.

     Kyhan pushed his way to the front of the crowd, yelling, "Hello, Neleh!"

     The grey Aisha turned towards him, lowering her ears sadly. "Hello again, Kyhan. Checking your points? You don't have enough Gourmet points to get the Gourmet Club card, and you never will. Why do you bother?"

     Kyhan was used to Neleh's constant pessimism, and replied, "At least wish me luck before I enter the Records room, Neleh!"

     Neleh looked at him, rolled her eyes, and said sarcastically, "Yeah, good luck." She then murmured, "The silly hopes of these always optimistic Neopets, never realizing that they will never reach their goals…"

     Kyhan heard her and smiled as he walked away from her desk, entering the room where Gourmet Club points were recorded.

     The room was huge, with hopeful Neopets bustling around and searching for their names. On one wall, a monitor displayed the Gourmet Club Hall of Fame. Kyhan glanced over the top, seeing all the usual names, and then analyzed the bottom, expecting to see his own name finally grace the list.

     What? I should be on there!!!

     He double-checked, and looked at the bottom pet again, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.

     That pet on the bottom of the list has 508 points! That's what I had before I ate the Blue Draik Egg, so now I should be on the list for sure! What's going on here?

     He went to the records book and flipped to his own name. He had 508 points, just as he had yesterday.

     Angry and disappointed, Kyhan turned to the door to exit the room and ask a supervisor why his points were not recorded. As he was leaving, a sign in vivid red letters caught his eye.

     Your points are recorded into the ledger instantaneously after you eat the entire food. Points will not be recorded if the food is obtained through a scam, or if the item of food was stolen at any point. Thank you for joining the Gourmet Club!

The End

 
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