Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 135,120,765 Issue: 267 | 22nd day of Storing, Y8
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Adventures in Brightvale: Book I - Part Two


by newenglandquizzer

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As Meadowbuck was jogging to the dining hall for breakfast the next morning he suddenly heard a gruff voice call his name. He turned, horrified to see Rasival approaching with a green Lupe, presumably Sacrige, trailing behind him.

      "Hey, kid," he growled. "Our contact told us all about your little talk with that mouthy Blumaroo last night. We just wanted to make sure you knew the... consequences of trying to squeal on us." He flexed his claws, and Sacrige bared his yellowed fangs.

      Meadowbuck stood his ground. "Yes, I heard about that; but whether you beat me up now or later, I will fight you, and I will still report you to the school board, or the authorities if necessary."

      The Grarrl looked at his partner and fluttered his eyes. "'To the authorities if necessary.' Well, if our little telltale don't take the cake. He's a fancy talker, ain't he? Fight us? Not likely, you little snitch. You'd be down on the ground in pieces before you could even cry for your mommy."

      "I do not fear pain. You are bullies and scoundrels, and I believe that most of what you say is a bluff. You are in the wrong, and it is my job as a citizen of Neopia to be sure that you are stopped."

      "Oh, really?" Rasival sniggered evilly. "We have some security precautions to make sure you don't talk. So you're not afraid of us? We already know that. We got in to your precious Salliana's class and read your little paper about yourself last night." Meadowbuck's gasp of dismay clearly delighted them. "I thought you'd say that. From what we read, we also know that you'll do anything to help your friends. So here it is; if you say one word about us to anyone, your little Bori buddy and that Blumaroo blabbermouth are gunna get it good. Their own mamas won't even recognize them when we're through."

      Meadowbuck cringed. What could he do? He didn't want Lady Oakridge and Sproingal to get in trouble because of him. He bit his lip and drooped his ears. "Okay. I won't say anything."

      "Good. And in case that isn't enough, Sacrige here knows where that crabby Wocky keeps your petpet. It wouldn't take long for his claws to shred it to bits, beyond any repair. Just remember that." The Grarrl turned on his heel and stalked to first period.

      "Don't forget it," Sacrige snarled as he passed by the Gelert.

      His head hanging low and his spirits lower, Meadowbuck continued on his way to the first class.

 

      "Meadowbuck, is something wrong?" Miss Salliana asked softly. Neopian had been the third class of the day. "You don't seem to be quite right. Is something bothering you?"

      Meadowbuck looked up, a faint ray of hope glowing before him. Maybe he could just whisper the secret to the kind Kougra and everything would be all right. He opened his mouth to say it, when his glance fell on Sacrige, sitting a few desks down. The Lupe was holding a crude drawing of a Bori and a Blumaroo, which he tore in half and crumpled up. Meadowbuck looked down at his pencil. "No, nothing's wrong. I just didn't get much sleep last night." He paused. "And, well, I'm also kind of worried about the fact that someone broke in here last night."

      "Oh, don't you worry about that. It has been happening all the time. Nothing was broken or damaged. Just pay attention to your studies, okay?" Salliana, smiling understandingly but obviously not fully believing him, turned back to the rest of the class. "All right, students, I would like you to turn to the fifth chapter of Learned Royalty. This particular chapter illustrates for us the childhood of King Hagan, at that time Prince Hagan, and I think that there is a very interesting line that should be noted on page forty-eight..."

      As the day progressed, things just seemed to get worse. Sir Cubbern was as nasty and suspicious as ever, and he kept a constant eye on his two problem students. When he began critiquing Lady Oakridge's map of Brightvale, Meadowbuck almost shouted that the 'problem' he was really after was sitting right in front of him in the form of a red Grarrl. How anyone could think Lady Oakridge had anything to do with it he didn't know. However, Meadowbuck could see that Sacrige, sitting directly behind Sproingal, had easy access to the back of his unprotected neck. The young Gelert held his tongue.

      The rest of the day passed the same way, with the delinquents constantly shadowing his every move, hovering nearby, within attacking distance of one of his friends. Meadowbuck was relieved when the school day finally ended and he was able to retreat to his room to finish his studies and think of a way to get around this new turn. The sun had set and lights began winking out in the other dorm rooms before Meadowbuck had an idea.

      He stared out the window, waiting until two dark shapes floated by and disappeared into the shadows near the university. Then he sat up and called to Sproingal.

      "Psst, Sproing, there they go again."

      Blinking sleepily, the spotted head flipped down and looked at him. "Who? Where?" he yawned.

      "Rasival and Sacrige. They're going back to the school again. I didn't tell you earlier, but they said they'd hurt you and Lady Oakridge if I told the teachers about them. This time, I'm going right to the root of the problem; I'm going to stop them myself. Are you coming?"

      Sproingal's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. "What are you talking about? They'd tear us to pieces! Oh no, not me."

      "Well then, I'll go myself, but I'll need backup. If you won't come, will you at least run down the road and get Lady Oakridge for me? I know she'll help."

      The Blumaroo slid cautiously out of bed. "Well, okay, but Rasival will kill me if he ever finds out."

      "It won't matter; they'll either be suspended or in jail. Hurry! I have to go before they do anything."

      They slipped past the other students, who were already asleep, (including Rasival's "contact") and edged out the door. Once outside, Sproingal bounced down the lane towards Lady Oakridge's house as Meadowbuck trotted lightly after the two scandalous pets. As he came to the corner of the building, he heard the voices of the Grarrl and the Lupe he was after.

      "Hey, Sacrige, how much do you think this one's worth?"

      "I dunno. A lot more if it wasn't so dinged up, but it'll still be worth a pretty penny back on Krawk Island."

      "Yeah. Put that one in the bag. This one looks good, too, and this one... hey! What's this baby book doing here in a high-class academy?"

      Meadowbuck peaked around the corner and saw that Rasival was holding a book with the words The Mystery of the Kougra Paw written on the cover. He had apparently pulled it out through a broken window next to him. With a start, the Gelert realized it was the library window, and the sack lying between Sacrige's paws was full of books. From the way they were talking, it seemed that they planned on stealing the books and then selling them.

      "Sheesh, how do they expect to get smart if we have baby trash like this to read?"

      "I dunno. Whatcha gonna do with it, Ras?"

      "Oh... it'll make a loverly sight as a camp fire, don't you think, Sacrige?" The Grarrl pulled out a match and struck it on his scaly hide. He held it close to the book. A tongue of fire began to lick over the binding, and Rasival laughed. "Ha! That'll teach them to keep junk in stock."

      A growl erupted from Meadowbuck's throat. He wouldn't stand for the destruction of books of any kind. Mystery of the Kougra Paw had been the first book he had ever read, and it was special to him, even if it wasn't his favorite.

      The two crooks whirled around when they heard the growl. Out of the shadows came the yellow Gelert, slamming into Rasival and causing him to drop the book he had. Meadowbuck smacked his paws over it, smothering the flames. Snarling, a green flash flew through the air, and Sacrige was on top of him, sinking his teeth deep into the Gelert's shoulder. Meadowbuck swiped at him with a paw, attempting to dislodge his attacker. It worked, and with a four-paw heave, the Lupe sailed away and smacked into the wall of the school. By this time, Rasival was up, raking his claws down Meadowbuck's side. He yelped and twisted around, biting the red arm as hard as he could. Roaring, Rasival shook him loose and head butted him between the ears. Colored lights wavered before his eyes as Meadowbuck sank to the ground, stunned. He tried to blink away the fumbling darkness; the Grarrl's sneering words came almost as though they were spoken through water.

      "Nice try, Bucky- you really are a problem. Well, no one will ever know what happened to you, not even your goody-goody friends: who we're still going to take care of, by the way. You'll join the Flishies in the river, along with your precious Kougra book." The young Gelert felt a rough claw catch hold of the scruff of his neck before he fainted into blackness.

     * * *

     "So I just give him this when he wakes up, right? Okay, thanks, doctor, I'll see to it."

      A door closed with a thump, and worried voices began speaking.

      "Mama, will Meadowbuck be alright?"

      "Yes, Icy Girl, he'll be fine as soon as he comes around."

      "I wish that I'da been there. I would have given those bullies what for! I would have bitten them to the bone and dragged them through the dirt before I brought them to the Policepets and had them locked up for life."

      "I'm sure you would have, Tep."

      "I bet you wouldn't have. You would've turned tail and ran."

      "Run is better grammar."

      "No, it isn't."

      "Yes, it is."

      "Na-ah."

      "Ya-huh."

      "Girls! That's enough. Either one is fine. Your brother will wake up soon enough, and you can ask him. He knows all about grammar."

      "Ah, I beg your pardon, but I believe he is coming around now."

      Meadowbuck groaned and opened his eyes. He found himself in a bed with white sheets placed in a completely clean room. He looked over and saw who had been speaking.

      "Mama?"

      Quizzer smiled and smoothed back the tuft of fur on his head. "Hey, Meadowbuck. How do you feel?"

      "I, well... my head hurts."

      The smile broadened. "Yeah, it would. You took a pretty bad hit before your new friends showed up to help you."

      "Lady Oakridge and Sproingal? They came? Are they okay?"

      A red Gelert butted in. "Ooh, yes. They're right here. They found those bullies just in time! She came flying and hit that mean Grarrl before he could throw you in the water, and the Blumaroo punched the Lupe, and now you're all heroes."

      Meadowbuck grinned at his sister. "That's nice, Qwerty. What do you mean, heroes? Heroes where?"

      "Why, at the university, of course." A blue Wocky stepped forward. Meadowbuck hardly recognized Sir Cubbern with a smile on his face. "You three are all quite well-known now, but you are the real star, my little friend." Meadowbuck looked confused, and the Wocky laughed. "You will be glad to hear that the two ruffians have been expelled and have returned to their homes on Krawk Island. The books they were intending to steal have been returned to their proper shelves in the library, including The Mystery of the Kougra Paw. Also, I have revoked the title of 'problem student' from you and your Bori companion. If you are willing, you shall return to school with a warm welcome from your fellow students and teachers alike. Oh," he added. "And I brought someone to see you." From his large coat pocket came Starmane, who bounded happily across the bed to his master. "I believe that you have thoroughly merited your little friend, so I return him to you. Here he is, safe and sound."

      "Meadowbuck," appealed Tepoen, sitting beside his brother's bed. "You aren't really going back, are you? Not after all of your trouble. Don't you just want to go to school back on Mystery Island with the rest of us?"

      Meadowbuck looked from Quizzer, to his sisters, to his transformed geography teacher, and then to Lady Oakridge and Sproingal sitting quietly at the foot of his hospital bed. He sighed. "Well, you know I like it at home."

      "Yes?" Icy spoke eagerly, brushing back her blue stripe.

      "But school was fun, too."

      "And?" Tep asked, his ears quivering.

      "I just really think that I want to go back to Brightvale. After all..." He winked at Sproingal. "I still have to finish a book report." He looked inquiringly at Quizzer; she smiled.

      "I still want you to get a high education, Meadowbuck, but I will respect whatever choice you make."

      Lady Oakridge grinned. "Okay then." She looked at her two new friends. "Who's up for another adventure?"

      "I am!" Meadowbuck cheered. Then he reached out and pulled Quizzer close. He whispered something in her ear.

      She nodded. "That's sweet of you, Meadowbuck. I'll have it all arranged."

      "Well," said Sir Cubbern. "I really must be getting back. I will bring news of your recovery to the school. I hope to see you back there soon, my star student."

      Meadowbuck grinned. It felt good to be a hero.

The End

 
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