Apprentice to Evil: Part Six
Also by chivo
Meti had originally not anticipated the return of his sandwich when he had set out to solicit a job from the Shadow Usul. It was, he reflected, a nice bonus. A snack was just the thing he needed after the experiences of the past few days and the assortment of evil characters he had worked for and as a result, gotten on the wrong side of. Disaster had just seemed to attach itself to him.
However, this was his last chance. The concert he and his best friend Spectra had so longed to go to was tomorrow night in Tyrannia. If he couldn't earn the cash for the tickets now, it wasn't ever going to happen. So rarely did a chance come up to sing on stage with the famed Blue Kacheek Group, of whom he and Spectra had been fans of for years. Now or never was the case with getting those tickets. It was with this overwhelming pressure on his mind that the small Draik listened to the Shadow Usul's instructions. Her voice was sinuous and low, almost like a serpent.
"You shall do as I do. Creep up, steal an item, then vanish. The pets won't know what hit them."
Meti nodded firmly. Steal an item. Easy as Neo-pie!
The Usul smirked. She seemed to be created from the shadows herself, strange, onyx colored wisps and plumes creating her form, constantly seeming to shift and shimmer as if her coat had a mind of its own. With a final twitch of her luxurious, ebony tail, she gave a sinister laugh.
"Do not disappoint me, Draik. I shall be watching!"
With this threat she vanished into the shadows, leaving Meti to contemplate how a Draik whose plushie coat was bright, merry yellow was supposed to blend into the shadows. Really, he thought. The Usul could have given him a little more in the way of instruction or advice. Considering the problem, he glanced around. Beneath the Money Tree, a jolly pink Meerca had just deposited a bag of sugar, the type purchased at Merifoods. Meti didn't stop to think, diving under the tree's benevolent branches and grasping his prize. Triumphant, he poured the sugar out and slid the sack over his head, charging after the now departing Pink Meerca and attempting to grab an apple he was munching. The hessian of the sugar sack however didn't allow for very accurate vision, causing Meti to smack into a tree.
Stumbling to his feet, he staggered around a little. The Meerca had gone on his merry way. Meti winced, suspecting a large bruise would form on his head by tomorrow. Gently he ripped a couple of eye holes and started again. This time he was determined not to fail!
To his right a Chocolate Chia was bouncing merrily from the food shop, sipping a milkshake. Meti grinned and ran after him. A Chia seemed a good target; it was hardly going to stomp on him, or grow large fangs and bite a hole in his tail!
With a clever swipe, Meti grabbed the milkshake, leaving the Chia looking around in confusion. He studied his small brown paw which seconds before had been happily clutching his chocolatey treat. With a baffled turn of the head he looked around, finally spotting Meti who was doing his best to blend into the shadowy regions of the sunny area. It was something of a fruitless effort.
"Hey! Give that back! Please?"
Meti shook his head, trying his best to look eerie and mysterious, hiding beneath his sugar sack. It wasn't a substitute for the ability to shift into shadow but it would do for now.
The Chia sniffled, his lower lip trembling.
"Why did you take my milkshake? What would you want with someone's half consumed drink?"
Meti paused. Now he thought about it, stealing someone's half empty glass did seem a little pointless. His shoulders slumped and he handed the milkshake back. The Chia smirked and without warning, dumped the remaining contents over the Draik's head.
"Next time, don't be such a bully!" This cry came from the victorious Chia. He stuck his tongue out and made several rude comments about the foolishness of Draiks with sacks of sugar over their heads, then turned and ran from the scene as fast as his little flat feet could carry him.
Meti sighed. The frothy milkshake dripped and drizzled down over the empty sugar sack, creating a gooey mess. The Draik was sticky and his head hurt still from his first attempt at filling the Shadow Usul's shoes. He really hoped that his latest employer at least was kind enough that she paid well, as the dangers of this job weren't seeming to be worth the effort!
The Draik surveyed the marketplace. To his left a rather elegant Rainbow Kau was emerging from the toy shop, clutching a much coveted Grey Faerie Doll between her hooves. The doll was precious, much sought after by Neopians from all walks of life. It was delicate and pretty with large, forlorn eyes and flowing wisps of soft hair. The pretty toy's dress was modelled after that of the tragic Grey Faerie herself and the item cost a hefty sum of Neopoints. Meti grinned. Now THAT was a prize the Shadow Usul would enjoy. He ignored the twinge of guilt within. The Kau must have worked and saved very hard to be able to afford such an expensive item. It wasn't a kind thing he was doing by snatching it away from her. But it was his job. Who was he to question it? Making sure he had a firm view through the holes in the sugar sack, Meti jumped out at the Kau and grabbed for the doll, plushie paws flailing wildly.
The Kau was apparently much quicker than Meti, throwing the doll into the air and catching it with her tail. It was held there aloft, dangling far out of the reach of the frustrated Plushie Draik!
"What in the name of Fyora are you DOING?"
Meti jumped up and down, trying to grab the doll.
"I am the shadow Usul... I mean... I am the shadow Draik!"
The Kau looked baffled.
"What? Who is the Shadow Draik? Why the sack? Are you dressing up?"
"Yes! I shall steal your item!"
The Kau rolled her kaleidoscopic eyes.
"You look like the pant devil in that rag."
Meti looked enraged.
"I'm NOT the Pant Devil! I'm working for the Shadow Usul!"
"You don't look very shadowy to me." The Kau looked a little smug, still dangling the precious doll out of Meti's reach.
Meti groaned in exasperation. This really wasn't going as he had planned.
"Just give me the doll? Please? I'm only doing my job..."
The Kau shook her head.
"Stealing is wrong. You should know that. Does your owner know what you're doing?"
This question left Meti stumped. As the Kau and her doll headed in the opposite direction, the small Draik slid down to the ground. Of course he knew stealing was wrong. He had justified all the things he had been doing as work, because it so happened the folk he worked for were evil. But wasn't he being just as wicked if he followed their orders? Was any concert worth behaving in such a horrid way? Meti had a sinking feeling that the answer was a resounding no.
What had the week really achieved? He had made a massive sticky mess on Mystery Island when he knocked over the Island Faerie's cooking pot. He had ruined Edna the Witch’s potion room, smashing countless vials and bottles. He had cleaned up Meuka's house. While he still thought a house not dripping in green ooze was preferable to one that wasn't, it didn't change how upset Meuka had been! His attempt to earn money for concert tickets had resulted in nothing more than several big messes and upset Neopians.
When Meti contemplated all this a sense of shame washed over him. Perhaps the worst thing was letting Spectra down. Lovely, kind Spectra who, like him, had wanted to go to that concert so very badly. But no amount of fun was worth pandering to the whim of evil Neopians! With a decided nod, Meti ripped the sugar sack off his head and threw it to the ground.
"I quit!" he yelled at no one in particular. "I quit! I don't have enough money! And I quit!"
This tirade was interrupted by a soft reply. The voice that uttered it was gentle and soothing, though a touch of bemused laughter lingered in the serene tones.
"Meti? We have the money. I bought tickets."
The Draik whirled around in shock. There beside the Money Tree stood a stunning Royal Kyrii, clutching two concert tickets between elegant, gloved paws. Meti blinked slowly, rubbing his eyes. His friend looked a little amused.
"Spectra? It's you? You've got tickets... But how?"
The Kyrii laughed and wandered over, handing him his own precious ticket. He studied it in awe. There it was in bold print. They had seats for the following evening at the year's most anticipated concert! Meti was absolutely bewildered.
"We can go get dinner before, too!" Spectra announced, showing him a small sack absolutely bursting with glimmering, gold Neopoints. Meti looked flabbergasted.
"Spectra? I don't understand. How did you earn the money? Did you find a job?"
The Royal Kyrii smiled softly.
"Oh Meti. I didn't need to. Not really."
The Draik looked puzzled.
"How did you earn the money, then?"
Spectra smiled wickedly.
"It was easy. I followed you from job to job. The Island Faerie paid me to help clean up the contents of her spilled cooking pot. Meuka paid rather handsomely for me to go find the trash bin full of his revolting junk and return it to him. Edna was most generous too. She paid me nicely to go out and find her more bottles and vials to replace the smashed ones."
Meti looked astounded.
"You earned the money by cleaning up the mess I made? Spectra... I don't deserve these tickets. The hard work was all done by you!"
The Kyrii laughed, dismissing this claim with a toss of azure tresses.
"Not really, Meti. I wouldn't have had anything to clean up if you didn't cause chaos!"
The Draik hung his head.
"I shouldn't have worked for evil Neopians, Spectra."
She smiled softly.
"You didn't think things through, Meti. You learnt a firm lesson though, right?"
"I guess so. I would like to say I'll think before I act next time, Spectra."
The Kyrii laughed and shook her head.
"Don't think too much, Meti! I wouldn't want to see an end to our crazy adventures!"