In The Yooyu Cage: Part Three
As if in slow motion, Darigan rose on dark, Korbat-like wings that cast an ominous shadow over Fire. Then the Yooyu dove towards him in the blink of an eye and violently smashed his tail into Fire's back, launching him into the air. Fire hurtled across the cage, slammed into Clockwork and crushed it against the wall, and collapsed on the floor while Darigan followed after him.
Snow opened her mouth and heard herself scream "FIRE!!" in shock. She tried to run forward, but something clamped down on her and lifted her into the air. She realized it was the claw and struggled, but then she was on the platform and it was moving up, up, into the tube, blocking her view of the chaos below. Bewildered, she beat the sides of the tube, yelling, "LET ME OUT!" as icy blue lights flew past her.
Wincing, Fire looked up and found himself staring into Darigan's eyes, glowing crimson with contempt and narrowed to the point of being slits.
"You despicable little brat!" hissed the dark purple Yooyu, fuming. "Never EVER say that again." He kicked Fire in the side, but Fire was protected by his hard shell.
The Fire Yooyu was suddenly aware that he was pinning the clockwork Yooyu against the wall. It was crushed into a strange shape and was shuddering out little bolts of electricity.
"I- I- I didn't mean-"
"Of course you did!" Darigan kicked Fire again. "You meant EVERY-" Kick. "STINKING-" Kick. "WORD!" Kick. "Now take it back!"
"But I am the best," whispered Fire, swallowing hard. "I'm better than you, I'm better than everyone, and you're just too jealous to face the tru-"
But then Darigan's eyes blazed with a scarlet hate, and Fire felt a sudden flare of fear. In the next moment, Darigan's sharp talons were raking his soft underbelly, where no hard shell shielded Fire from the Yooyu's evil. There was another scream, but this time it emerged from Fire's own lips. He stared down at his stomach and saw crimson blood on his black skin.
Mutant was still doing cartwheels, dimly wondering, "Why is Darigan attacking Fire?" Mutant racked his scattered brains for a reason, and found none. "Maybe it's just a full out brawl!" he thought excitedly. He hurried forward to take part, but then Mutant saw something wet and red on Fire’s stomach.
"WHOA!" thought Mutant. "NOT cool!" He decided against joining the fight. Kicks to the shell were fine by him (especially because kicking his thorny shell would hurt his attacker more that him), but bloody bellies were not something Mutant wanted to chance. He backed away and decided to make himself as unnoticeable as possible in case Darigan decided he wanted to sink his claws in HIS skin.
"Not so hot now, are we?" sneered Darigan to Fire. "I'm afraid you won't be able to play for the rest of the game. You'll have plenty of time to decide if us LOWLY Yooyus are your equals or not."
"I won't give up..." thought Fire, trying to push aside the guilty feeling in his heart. "I'm fighting against evil, and evil is always wrong. So I must be right."
The Yooyu was dimly aware that the Snow Yooyu- shy, slow, patient Snow- wasn't there. Fire wondered why he was thinking of her; after all, she was quite insignificant compared to his own fiery brilliance.
As he thought this, Fire felt one last stab of guilt, one last throb of pain, and one last lingering image of Snow trying to check Clockwork's time.
Then the clockwork Yooyu itself, as if summoned by this vision, said, "BZZZZZZT!" and blew up, throwing both Fire and Darigan to the floor.
Darigan sat up slowly and gazed at the unconscious Fire Yooyu. His flame was reduced to a low ebb- just a feeble orange glow. Blood was trickling down his stomach, and aghast, the Darigan Yooyu noticed there was some on his own claws. He stood up shakily, backed away and turned around.
Normal was still sleeping, unaware of what had happened. Snow was gone; clearly in the stadium. But Mutant and Faerie were both staring at him with sheer fear written all over their faces.
This came as a surprise. And then the full extent of what he had done dawned on him.
Darigan, long ago, had made a vow that he would never do anything to confirm the "evil" stereotype of Darigan folk. Now that vow was shattered into a million pieces. Now there was absolutely nothing to stop the other Yooyus from believing that he was 100% evil. Most importantly, he had intentionally and violently attacked and hurt another Yooyu. Horrified, he stared back at the two Yooyus who he knew were most scared of him: the Mutant Yooyu, who always meekly followed Darigan's orders, and the Faerie Yooyu, who was used to her beautiful luxuries and was frightened of anything unfamiliar.
"Omigrarrl, he's, like, a serial killer!" thought Faerie in absolute terror, staring back into those murderous red eyes. "He's going to, like, murder us all! He started with Fire and now he's trying to decide which of us he should kill next!" She took a step back and realized there was no way out. "We're all going to, like, DIIIIIEEE!!!"
"Gosh, he really dealt Fire a biggie, didn't he?" thought Mutant nervously, eyes flicking from Darigan's red claws to Darigan's red eyes. "I better be on my BEST behavior, 'cause dear Darigan is NOT in a good mood. Now is not a good time for him to get annoyed with me."
He backed away at the same time that Faerie did, and they eyed each other uncertainly. Then the Snow Yooyu came sliding down the Yooyu chute, asking in a high-pitched, breathless voice, "What happened? Is Fire okay?"
Snow stopped short when she saw an orange body lying limply in a corner. "Oh, no!" she breathed, and ran to the Yooyu.
The Faerie Yooyu, seeing the claw beginning to reach downwards, ran to IT. It picked her up and carried her out of the cage. Faerie breathed a sigh of relief. There was a way out after all- for a while at least. Faerie just had to hope that the neopets wouldn't score with her for a VERY LONG TIME. "So I can savor the last few minutes of my life," she thought dramatically.
As pretty blue lights swished past her in the tube, Faerie gracefully leapt into the air and curled up, showering her sparkly glitter everywhere. "I may have put on too much glitter," she thought guiltily. "But it does make a very nice touch."
Below in the cage, the Snow Yooyu gently shook Fire, trying to wake him. There were gashes in his belly. It was easy for her to touch him; he wasn't even remotely warm. She thought he was dead until she saw him breathing.
Snow stood up and turned around. "Darigan," she said quietly. "Why did you do this?"
The Darigan Yooyu looked at her with an expression that was impossible to read. Snow gazed into his scarlet eyes.
"Hey, wait a sec!" whined Mutant to the Snow Yooyu, irked that Snow assumed that only Darigan was evil enough to scratch the Fool. "How do you know that I wasn't the one who finished him off when Darigan first attacked him?"
"Did you?" asked the Snow Yooyu uncertainly. She didn't look very convinced.
"No!" he cackled. "But that's not the point. You weren't there."
"Stop talking nonsense, you psycho!" snapped Darigan. The last think he needed right now was Mutant acting insane. He had to try to reason with the Yooyus. He turned to Snow.
"Why did I attack him?" the Darigan Yooyu said quietly. "Because he deserved it. Because he needed to learn a lesson. Because every Yooyu is equal, and no Yooyu has the right to claim he is the best."
"But Fire wouldn't claim that!" Snow burst out. Then she saw the look in Darigan's eyes and faltered. "Or would he?"
Darigan paused before speaking again. "He did," he said, almost apologetically. "He was boasting about how... he was... better... than all the other Yooyus."
"Well," whispered Snow, looking at the floor, "maybe he didn't mean it."
"He did mean it, Snow."
Snow looked up, startled. For a moment, Darigan had sounded so sympathetic- just like a friend.
"When I confronted him," the Darigan Yooyu continued, "he defended his words. 'But I AM the best,' he said. 'I'm better than you, I'm better than everyone, and you're just too jealous to face the truth.'"
Darigan paused and watched Snow kneel by the Fire Yooyu. "I'm really sorry, Snow," he said gently. "But... you need to understand that I didn't do this just out of malice or spite. I just want all Yooyus to be treated equally."
The Snow Yooyu wondered at these strange words coming out of Darigan's mouth. She also wondered how she could have been blind to Fire's arrogance for so long. The icy voice had returned once more, to taunt her.
"Well, Snow," whispered the voice, "you've always known he was just a stuck-up brat this whole time. He doesn't care about anyone, just himself. That's called being self-centered."
"You're the one who doesn't care," she responded listlessly.
"No, we BOTH are," said the voice triumphantly. "Think back. Weren't you just like this when you first became a Yooyuball? Cold and aloof, just like your frozen heart, Snow! What else can you expect from a Yooyu made from ice and Snow? You didn't care about anybody. But now... you're MELTING, Snow. Can you become what you were made to be, and save yourself?"
And with a gasp, Snow realized it was true. She was melting. What's more, she knew why.
"NO," she responded. "I know now how icy and cold I was at the beginning, but something happened that changed me." She looked down at the Fire Yooyu. "FIRE happened. FIRE changed me. Little by little, my heart has been melting because of Fire. When you asked me if I cared about any Yooyu in this cage, you forgot someone. He was in the stadium then. And I DO care about Fire, and he will teach me how to care about others as well! So GO AWAY! Be QUIET once and for all! I don't need you."
The voice obeyed, and was no more.
To be continued...