Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 175,178,569 Issue: 372 | 19th day of Celebrating, Y10
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The Great Day of Giving Mix-up


by akitera

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Also by monmaximus

One fine day in Brightvale...

“Now I, King Hagan, in my wealth of knowledge and wisdom, in my depth of--”

     “Yes, King Hagan, we all know that, so could you please get to it?” Princess Amira interrupted impatiently. “I do have a meeting with my advisors this afternoon.”

     Hagan eyed the princess with a frown but just cleared his throat as he continued, “Yes, well, this won’t take long.” He paused as he surveyed the other invited rulers and leaders of Neopia seated in his throne room. Satisfied that they were all listening, he went on a little pompously, “As we all know, we are in the midst of a great economic crisis. There is a great inflation in prices that has not yet ever been seen!”

     “I have no idea what you’re talking about!” Queen Fyora protested. “I have always tried to regulate the prices of my Hidden Tower items.”

     “Erm, I wasn’t talking about that.”

     “Oh.” Fyora had the grace to blush then suddenly demanded when she heard a familiar snicker. “And may I know why is he here?!”

     “Now! Now! This is the time for peace. It is the Month of Celebrating, after all.” King Hagan rushed on as the others were now warily eyeing the mad doctor (who was supposedly locked up in a token!). “I’ve gathered you all here today to propose a way to save neopoints during this season of giving. As you all know, we not only give gifts to our subjects but also to each other, thereby increasing our spending. And so in my search for a more economical solution, I have come upon a practice in other worlds called...” Hagan paused dramatically, “...Kris Wiggle.”

     Sloth now snorted loudly, but King Roo was at his feet at once and bounced excitedly, “Oh! So we’re going to have a dance contest!”

     “Ah no, no, no,” Hagan said with a furrowed brow as he tried to remember, “I apologize, I meant Kris Jingle!”

     “We’re going to sing?”

     “For domination’s sake! I cannot believe what utter brain-melts you all are.” Sloth tried to snicker and sneer at the same but ended with a sideways toothed smirk. “It’s called KRIS KRINGLE! To make it simple for you weak-minded Neoplings to understand, I’ll make an example. I pluck a name from a bowl, keep it secret, and that unworthy person will have the pleasant surprise and honor of getting a present from me.”

     Hagan was about to protest, but he was a fair king, after all, so he didn’t bother to correct Sloth that he was not as intellectually inferior as the others. “Dr. Sloth is right... this time,” Hagan said graciously. “I believe that by cutting down our presents to just one instead of for each us gathered here, we can... oh, you already made the list of names.” Hagan was a little taken aback as a panting King Kelpbeard handed him a crystal bowl with strips of paper in it.

     “Yes, well, I’ve been out of the water for some time now, so if you don’t mind?”

      “Of course, of course!” Hagan hastily offered the bowl to each of those present, since the aquatic king was now beginning to look a little bluer than usual. Each of the guests plucked a name and casually put it in the folds of their clothes, trying not to take a peek, although Judge Hog was seen to be squirming as he tried not to look at the paper in his pocket.

     “I just have a question,” Princess Amira said as she smoothed the folds of her skirt before standing up, getting ready to leave. “We’ve all agreed to do the celebrations at Neopia Central, but surely we can’t bring the gifts ourselves, or else the secrecy of who’s giving to whom may be spoiled early. Might I then suggest we have someone collect all the gifts and bring them the day before the celebrations?”

     Everyone looked at each other, unsure if they had someone who was available to do the task on such a busy day; it was the eve of the Day of Giving, after all. Finally, Fyora said a little resignedly, “Oh, alright, I suppose I could give her this simple task and she’s the only one free.”

     “That’s very kind of you.” Hagan smiled. “Who did you have in mind?”

     “Casandia.”

     Some time later, in their respective lands...

     Amira. “Well this is easy,” Kelpbeard said to himself as he read the name. He decided he was going to give her a fancy seaweed dress, then summoned Isca and Caylis to advise him which color would look best on the Sakhmetian princess. He then put it in a lovely oyster shell and wrote on the card: I had it on good advice that you’ll like the color. Kelpbeard.

     Skarl. Judge Hog scratched his head as he read the name. He was at the DoN headquarters’ gym and beamed proudly that all the defenders were sweating it out. “I got it!” Hog thought, pleased with himself. He ordered some super-fast slimming tea from the Exotic Foods shop and wrapped it in fancy paper.

     “Fyora,” the Emperor of Shenkuu read from the slip of paper. “Good thing I have two daughters; I know just what she’ll want.” He was quite pleased and ordered a pair of purple, high-heeled winter boots to be made.

     “Ah, it’s a good thing I got my brother’s name.” Skarl was browsing through the Neopian book shops and found what he was looking for. “His kingdom must not suffer the same fate as mine. I’ll make sure he gets warned about being entranced by devious court dancers.”

     Roo. Lord Darigan nastily eyed the paper in his hand. “Just my luck to get that jester,” Darigan thought heavily then smiled a little creepily. “Well, he is a good sport anyway and he’ll appreciate the joke.” He quickly ordered one of his minions to get the item he had in mind and it was delivered promptly to his hands. It was a book and the big, bold letters on the front cover read: Kingship For N00bs.

     Sloth. Altador scratched his beard thoughtfully. “Now this is tricky, I don’t exactly feel generous towards a megalomaniac, mad scientist who I’m sure will have no qualms in turning my people into mutants.” Then Altador smiled. “Just what he’ll need!” He consulted the Magical Marvels shopkeeper and chuckled as he came away from the shop with some expensive hair growth formula. He wrote on the card: You’ll have fantastic hair in no time! Altador.

     "Kelpbeard, I’m pretty sure, will appreciate this gift,” Hagan thought as his window-makers unveiled their creations: a set of stained glass windows depicting sand castles and sand sculptures. He decided to have it in shiny gift wrapping but was dismayed at the prices. “50 NC for a gift wrap? Bah! I’ll keep it simple and put it in good, white boxes!”

     Sloth wasn’t feeling any sentiments of generosity but thought it too good to pass to give a particularly bad gift to his recipient. “This would have been more fun if I had picked any of the other goody-goodies, but Darigan will do as well.” And he gave a loud, maniacal laugh (only achieved by Sloth) as he put his gift in a striped purple and orange envelope.

     Kyruggi. Fyora knew exactly what she’d get the Tyrannian Grand Elder. Kyruggi had always told her that she wanted to learn to speak Neopian more fluently especially when entertaining non-Tyrannian guests. Fyora consulted the Space Faerie, who knew the most languages, and was given an amulet crafted by the faerie herself. It was a translator and would translate Kyruggi’s native Tyrannian to Neopian and vice-versa almost instantly! Fyora wrote on the card: Just speak on this device and it will do the rest. Fyora.

     Judge Hog. Amira grimaced; she had always thought that Hog needed a new uniform. “That spandex he’s wearing is sooo last season.” She fancied herself a poet and wrote on her gift: Try something new; try wearing this blue. Amira.

     Altador. “Ugga-ugg, guru-tata-ni. Vigu-at-ata. Ugu-ti, vara-ibi-ugg.” (Translation: Altador doesn’t have one of these yet. A moondial. It’ll complement the sundials around his kingdom).

     “The Shenkuu Emperor? Forget it!” Roo thought. “He already has everything and no one would know squat about him anyway if it weren’t for his help-I’ve-been-kidnapped-not! daughter, Lunara.” And with that, King Roo went back to playing Dice-a-Roo.

     The Day of Giving Eve

     Casandia flew through the air quite happily, gifts in tow. She was glad that Queen Fyora had trusted her with this task and she wanted to make sure she got this right. It was nice of her queen not to make any reference to that unfortunate incident with the petpets, but that’s another story. To make sure she got things right, she made a list of the gift givers and the intended receivers so she would not mix them up. “Those kings all look alike! Especially the Tyrannian and the Maraquan king! Or was it the Neopian one?” she asked herself as she looked at her list.

     A sudden gust of wind blew away the paper in her hand.

     “Erm, there’s really no need to panic,” Casandia thought to herself a little panicky. “I’ve been looking at that list over and over and I’m pretty sure I had it memorized by now.” With her confidence bolstered, she now flew down to Neopia Central and into the banquet hall where an elegantly set dining table could be seen. There were place cards and the guests’ names were written in gold letters.

     “Now let’s see, King Skarl told me that his gift goes to... Princess Amira was most emphatic that... That yucky Sloth told me quite haughtily...” Casandia clapped happily as she finished putting the gifts in what she thought were their respective places.

     Or not.

     Day of Reckoning, I mean, Giving

     Everyone eagerly arrived on time, sat at their places and casually set aside the presents they found on their seats, all the while impatiently awaiting the signal for gifts to be opened. They all waited as King Hagan once again took the floor and gave quite a lengthy speech. It was the season of benevolence, though, so no one cut him off until...

     “What is the meaning of this?” Hog demanded, his face a little red. “Who advised you I’ll like the color? Actually never mind the color; what is this?” Hog was holding up a flaming red dress. He had opened his gift early.

     Darigan snarled, “Quit complaining! How about your own gift? It’ll 'whip me back into shape', you say?” he asked holding up a big can of slimming tea in his bony hands.

     The Emperor of Shenkuu was holding up the moondial in puzzlement. He thought that the Grand Elder should really get out more of her prehistoric land.

     Altador heaved a sigh of relief that Jerdana decided not to come. He wasn’t quite sure what Skarl was thinking when he wrote: Be very, very afraid! inside the flyleaf of the help book When Aishas Take Over Your Kingdom.

     Kelpbeard unwrapped his gift and found purple boots inside. Just what you’ve always wanted, the card read. “Are you mocking me, Emperor?” he demanded puffing up his chest.

     Kyruggi was perplexed as she held up the growth hair formula and patted her thick mane. “Ugga-ugg evavu kabuum-kabuum!” She decided someone needed to be clobbered.

     “I’ll get you for this, Sloth!” Fyora screamed as she found the gift certificate inside the envelope. It was a complimentary beauty make-over at the Grooming Parlour and the note inside read: Seriously, you need it.

     Hagan was about to tell everyone to calm down then frowned when he opened his gift. “A n00b, am I?!” he roared.

     “Really, Hagan, this just goes to show it,” Amira was pouting as she looked at her stained glass windows. Hagan’s note read: For a different view in your palace.

     Sloth read Fyora’s note then looked inside and saw the Space Faerie’s amulet. “Nooooooooo!” He fainted then and there.

     King Roo seemed to be the only one happy with his gift as he bounced around the room happily showing off a shiny new blue headband. It was supposed to be a belt.

     And finally, the grumpy old king said to himself “Sigh, why am I not surprised?” as he got nothing.

The End

 
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