Apprentice to Evil: Part Two
Also by chivo
Meti figured his new occupation was best pursued in the twilight hours and evening, when pets were nervous from the shadowy draping of the charcoal skies. He planned and plotted all day, practising emerging from an eerie white cloud (sugar tossed liberally from his clutched paw, but it seemed effective enough when practised multiple times before a mirror!). He rehearsed the catchphrases the Ghost Lupe had provided him with, perfected an enraged roar, and even worked on narrowing his eyes to tiny slits. When the Ghost Lupe did this, the effect was one that drove fear into the hearts of Neopets everywhere. When Meti tried it, it simply looked like perhaps he had lost a pair of glasses and was having little luck seeing them. Nonetheless, he practised well into the afternoon.
He had been scowling at his reflection in what he believed to be a sinister manner when he glanced out the window, eyes wide. The sun was slowly setting, bathing Mystery Island in a warm, golden glow, the same type of sheen that drove tourists in hordes to the beaches to remark upon the shimmering light bathing the sand in a brilliant array of color. It was something he himself often enjoyed observing, but there was no time this evening. This evening was about work, about earning those much sought after tickets. Grabbing a small satchel in which he stored his supply of sugar, Meti dashed out the door, headed for the streets of Mystery Island.
It wasn't so easy to find pets to appear to, he was soon to discover. Most Neopets at this time of day were in a hurry to reach the beach and observe the sunset. Getting in their way would have achieved little more than the Draik being trampled. He hid himself in a small alley near the Tropical Food stand, waiting for the most opportune moment.
He had been there a half hour or so, rehearsing his lines when he heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Peering out into the darkness he noticed a dainty pink Uni trotting along, chatting in an animated fashion to a rather lanky Royal Lenny, the two seeming to be gossiping about Island Fashions.
"I can't believe it!" uttered the Uni in shock. "Island print is still in here!"
The Lenny gave a derisive laugh, waving feathered limbs around to dismiss the very idea that Island fashion was worthy of discussion.
"Well, the place IS rather backwards, my dear!"
Meti grabbed a pawfull of sugar and listened as they approached. With seconds to spare, he leapt from the alley, throwing the sugar in the hair and growling.
The effect might have been spooky, had some of the sugar not gotten in his eyes. Instead of narrowing them in an intimidating manner, he was forced to squint them shut. Put off by this unexpected event, he faced the direction he hoped the two pets were standing in and growled.
"Begone from this place!"
There was a prolonged silence. He wondered if the two had simply been frightened and run away, but rubbing at his eyes and blinking revealed the Lenny and Uni standing right there, blinking at him if he were something of an oddity. The Uni tilted her head, coral colored mane tumbling softly.
"Sorry, little Draik. Did you say something?"
Meti sighed, throwing another handful of sugar in the air.
"I said... BEGONE!"
The Lenny looked more concerned than frightened. She spoke in a low, soothing voice.
"There, there, little fellow! We won't hurt you. Are you lost?"
Meti stomped a plushie foot in rage. It would have been perhaps a good idea of his anger right now, had he not managed to stomp right in a Baggus someone had evidently not appreciated winning from tombola and thrown onto the street. He glanced down at his foot, now covered in green goo.
The Lenny and Uni howled with laughter as they simply strolled away, speaking loudly enough for him to hear.
"Well, Lenny, you were right! This place IS a bit backwards!"
The giggles and rude comments stung a little, long after he had managed to clean the gooey Baggus from his toes. With a dramatic sigh he ambled down toward the beach, hoping he might run into more appropriate pets to frighten.
The beach had quietened a little from the earlier chaos of the viewing time for the sunset. Here and there a few stragglers remained, watching the starlight dance upon the waves, or discussing an upcoming Mynci volleyball tournament that was the hot topic of island gossip that week. Meti glanced around quickly, then lit up. Over near the tombola stand was a tiny baby Jetsam, gazing up at the tombola prizes in awe. Meti smirked. No way a baby pet was going to make a fool of him!
Keeping to the shadows, the Draik sidled his way across the sand, then jumped from the bushes.
"Do you know any Chias? How tasty!"
The Jetsam blinked slowly, then giggled.
"Hewwo, Mister Draiky!"
Meti narrowed his eyes.
"Don't you understand, you foolish fish? I'm a Ghostly vision!"
The Jetsam flipped its tail onto the sand in excitement, squealing.
"Plushie, Plushie, Plushie!"
Meti rolled his eyes.
"Look, kid. I just told you I was going to EAT a Chia!"
The Jetsam looked baffled, his lower lip quivering. Before Meti could even think, the tiny creature erupted into dramatic sobs, wailing at the top of his lungs and bringing over wandering pets by the bucket load. An irate Starry Jetsam, no doubt the little pet's mother, smacked Meti with her purse.
"What did you SAY to him, you foolish Draik?"
Meti spluttered and protested, but he couldn't get a word in edgewise with the angry Jetsam.
"You told him you were what? A ghost? You lied to a little baby pet? Shame on you!"
"But... I'm working for the..."
The Jetsam snorted.
"I don't care if you're working for Fyora herself! You apologise to little Freddy right this second!"
Meti groaned. He muttered an apology to the still sobbing Baby Jetsam and backed away in case the irate Starry Jetsam sought him out again. Her flower purse had really packed a mean punch! Still rubbing the arm she had hit, he slumped his shoulders and headed off again.
He was considering heading toward Techo Mountain when a familiar voice sounded out.
"Meti! Meti? How's the job?"
It was Spectra, beaming and waving happily. Meti sighed softly.
"Not so good. No one thinks I'm very scary."
The Kyrii looked sympathetic. She was a good enough friend to not tell him he had no chance of being scary to anyone in this lifetime.
"Perhaps you're not using enough sugar when you appear?"
Meti lit up.
"Of course! That has to be it, Spectra! I've got to go! I've got scaring to do!"
Before the Royal Kyrii could utter another word, Meti had sped off down the beach, singing merrily to himself in a manner which wasn't very fitting of anyone who was employed by the Ghost Lupe.
Meti's next port of call was the cooking pot, where the enchanting Faerie named Jhuidah stirred her magical brew. He noticed a sign hanging from one of the pot's massive handles, squinting through the darkness to read it.
'Back in ten minutes!' it declared.
Meti beamed. This was perfect, the chance to scare a Neopet before the Faerie could come back! He huddled down in the bushes and waited, both paws clutching the sugar he had retrieved from his satchel.
He didn't have long to wait. A Darigan Usul carrying a basket full of items to throw in the Cooking Pot came skipping along the path, humming a jaunty tune. She glanced around, evidently seeking the Faerie but not yet glimpsing the sign. She turned her back on the pot and gazed around, bewildered.
It was at that second Meti struck. He leapt from the bushes, throwing sugar wildly in the air.
The Usul didn't cry out in fright, or fall into a faint. Instead she began sneezing wildly, the sugar having tickled her nose!
With such powerful sneezes she was propelled backwards, knocking into the Cooking Pot which proceeded to tip, its magical contents spilling to the ground and covering the sand in a simmering, orange goo, the Usul still stumbling around sneezing, Meti standing there wide eyed.
It was this chaotic scene that Jhuidah returned to. "What happened to my magical cooking pot?" she cried in rage.
Meti tried backing away, but his feet were covered in the sticky former contents of said pot. The Faerie turned and narrowed her eyes, summarising the scene in one glance.
"What in Fyora's tower were you thinking, Draik?"
Meti's lower lip trembled.
"I'm sorry, Lady Jhuidah! I'm the Ghost Lupe's apprentice, see; I thought..."
The Faerie groaned.
"I fear the problem, dear Draik, is that you did not think at all!"
Meti flushed, humiliated by the night's many failures. The Faerie kept him there for ten minutes, lecturing him about making a magical mess, before sending him away in disgrace. He gladly fled down the path, almost collapsing in fright when the Ghost Lupe leapt from the bushes.
"Meti!" The snarl was full of anger. The little Draik quivered as the Lupe stared at him.
"What have you done, Draik? I've had complaints that you made fun of a Baby Jetsam, further complaints that you destroyed the Island Faerie's stew!"
Meti hung his head. There was very little justification for his failure, he had to admit.
"I'm sorry, Mister Lupe," he whispered. "I'm just not very scary."
The Lupe snorted.
"Do you know how long it's going to take Jhuidah to clean up that mess? You're fired, Meti! This isn't working out."
Even though he had expected to lose the job after such a disastrous evening, it still hurt. The Plushie Draik's lower lip trembled and he began to sob. Plump, salty tears spilled down onto the fabric of his coat, the Ghost Lupe looking awkward.
"Didn't mean to upset you, kid."
Meti shook his head sorrowfully.
"I'll never afford those tickets now..."
The Lupe sighed. For all his terrifying ways, he wasn't a bad creature and felt guilty for causing the little pet such grief.
"Look, Meti. This job wasn't for you. But a friend of mine is looking for someone. They need an apprentice too."
Meti glanced up, hardly daring to hope that the tickets were still in his reach.
"You know someone? Would they give me the job? Who is it?"
The Lupe sighed, handing him a small card.
"Go here and speak to the lady. Tell her I sent you, you'll get the job. No scaring, just a lot of gathering and fetching. Easy stuff."
Meti beamed happily, scuttling to his feet, card clutched between his claws. Thanking the Lupe with babbling rants about his gracious ways, he bowed several times before running down the trail, ready for his new job. He glanced at the card, checking the address. The card itself was ebony, the font on it scrawled in eerie, glowing green letters.
Miss Edna the Witch, Haunted Tower, Spooky Woods.
The Draik's eyes widened. This was going to be something new altogether!
To be continued...