Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 91,084,854 Issue: 175 | 28th day of Sleeping, Y7
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Of Kidnapped Pets and Crossword Clues

by extreme_fj0rd


It was a good day for playing Faerie Cloud Racers. The sun was shining on the field, and not a cloud was in the sky-except for the ones holding it up, of course.

      "Next," said a bored-looking fire faerie. A red Meerca stepped up and took her place in the racer.

      Farther back in the line, a group of four pets stood. Well, perhaps stood wouldn't be quite the right word. Lyrian_, a Sketch Kiko, was floating; all the rest were standing.

      "How long are we going to have to wait?" Yotaria asked, standing on her back hooves to see over the heads of the crowd. Her disco-patterened hide rippled in the sun. She sighed and thumped back down onto all four hooves, narrowly missing hitting Yrael. The small Wocky kept staring at the ground in front of his nose and twitched his faerie wings to indicate he'd noticed.

      "Way too long," said the fourth member of the group, a trenchcoated pet. McCandry was currently a Tuskaninny, but no one knew how long that would last, as she was zapped daily by the Lab Ray.

      "Something like that," Yotaria agreed.

      Lyrian sighed and floated slightly higher to look at the playing field. "There must be at least fifty people in front of us," he reported, coming down to his usual hovering height.

      McCandry sighed and pulled the sleeve of her trenchcoat up a few inches to see the watch strapped around her wrist. "It's twelve-thirty," she said. "That gives us an hour and a half to finish up here and meet Fj0rd at the Lab Ray." She paused and thought, sketching numbers and diagrams in the air. "Let's say that everyone has a two-minute turn, that makes it a hundred minutes. Divided by sixty is an hour and forty minutes." She scowled. "It'll take too long. Even if we just went up to the front of the line and left, we'd be ten minutes late."

      The Tuskaninny slid out of the line, and reluctantly her siblings followed. The people behind them eagerly moved up into the space they'd left.

      "Congratulations," Yrael said sourly to the group. "You've just saved eight minutes." They looked slightly shocked, but Yrael just gave them a smile and fluttered off after his siblings.

      "So what're we going to do now?" Yotaria asked when they arrived back in the market square of Faerie City. The Kau peered around. "Bookshop," she said. "Furniture. Food. Too bad Fj0rd didn't give us any NP to spend."

      "We could do a Faerie Quest," Lyrian suggested. "Too bad we haven't gotten one in ages."

      "We did," McCandry said, always a stickler for accuracy, "but Fj0rd was on Jhudora's Quest so she declined it."

      "Right, well... the point is that we don't have one right now," the Kiko said.

      "Right." McCandry looked around. "Hey, I know! We could do the Faerie Crossword!"

      Lyrian looked at her. "The what?"

      "Faerie Crossword. They give you clues and you have to go and find the answers, and then if you get them all soon enough the faerie gives you NP."

      "That might be fun," Yotaria said. "Let's do it!"

      Lyrian bobbed up and down in the air. "Yes yes yes!" he said excitedly.

      Yrael rolled his eyes, but he followed his siblings into the Faerie Crossword building. It was brightly lit, with a large table in the middle. A desk stood near the edge of the room, piled high with stacks of paper; behind it sat the Library Faerie. She looked up as they entered and smiled. "Good afternoon! Would you like to do my crossword?"

      They nodded. The faerie went over to the large table and unfolded a large sheet of paper. "Here's the crossword you have to fill in," she said. She took a handful of smaller sheets of paper out of her pocket. "And here are the clues," she said, giving them each a slip of paper.

      "Thanks!" Yotaria said.

      "Cool," Lyrian asserted.

      "Awesome," McCandry said. Yrael twitched the end of his tail and said nothing.

      The Library Faerie smiled at them. "Let me know if you have problems or if you're done, okay?" She didn't wait for an answer, but walked back over to her desk and started sorting the papers.

      They all looked down at their papers. "Four across," read Lyrian. "Pet on the cover of 'Don't Call Me Cute'." He glanced at them. "Neopia Central bookstore, I bet. Eyrie cab!"

      Lyrian floated out, Yotaria galloped after, and McCandry and Yrael, after a glance at each other, followed.

      Ten minutes later they were storming the bookstore, plucking books out of customers' hands to check the title, then dropping them when they weren't the right one. Yotaria found it first, snatching it as the pet pushed a pile of Neopoints across the counter at the bookshop owner. She glanced at the cover. "Uni. Uni!"

      The pet, a Techo, cleared his throat pointedly. "Could I have that back?"

      "What? No. I have to bring this back to the Faerie Crossword!" Yotaria said. She clasped the book firmly under one arm and trotted out of the bookstore. Her siblings followed, and a few minutes later they were back at the Faerie Crossword.

      Yotaria set the book down on the three spaces given for the clue. "Next clue!" she said.

      "Number of Poogles racing," McCandry read. "Poogle Races!"

      Off they went again. The Library Faerie, who hadn't even looked up from her paper-sorting, shook her head and arranged a stack neatly on her desk.

      "Excuse me, pardon me, could I get through here?" Yotara shoved her way through the crowd in front of the Poogle Racing booth. "Hey, you. Get out of the way!" Lyrian floated over the heads of the pets and owners, and Yrael fluttered after, apologizing to the people Yotaria had pushed. McCandry lurked at the edge of the crowd, backup for if anything went wrong.

      Soon they were inside the arena. Lyrian, Yotaria, and Yrael looked at the Poogles. One, two, three... four, five. Yrael and Yotaria nodded and turned to go.

      "We need proof!" he said. He floated over the railing meant to contain the crowd and down onto the racing field, where Poogle #2 was in the lead. The last one was Poogle Five. Lyrian grabbed the slightly chubby Poogle and floated up again. The Poogle, held captive, could do nothing but struggle and scream.

      Yotaria helped Lyrian haul the Poogle over the rail. Then she produced a bit of rope from somewhere, bound his front paws, and shoved him back at Lyrian.

      The Kiko took the Poogle's shoulders; Yotaria nudged Yrael. The Wocky sighed and took up the poor Poogle's feet.

      Off they went, collecting McCandry on their way out.

      When they got back to the Faerie Crossword, McCandry tied the Poogle's back paws together as well and helped her siblings heave him up onto the table and into the spots that you were meant to write "five" in.

      "Right then," Yotaria said, dusting her hooves off importantly. "Next?"

      "Tyranu blank," Lyrian read, meaning 'tyranu ____'. They understood anyway.

      "Tyrannia!" Yotaria shrieked, and then they were off again.

      "Look, people!" McCandry said, pointing towards the Poogle Racing field. And indeed, a mob of pets and people were coming from it. All of them looked quite angry.

      "Alternate route," Lyrian panted, and they turned right, onto a side street.

      Tyrannia was much quieter than Faerieland had been; mobs were nasty, noisy things.

      "Jarbjarb invites you to play Tyranu Evavu!" said a cheerful-looking yellow Jubjub with very large brown feet.

      "Evavu!" they chorused; Yotaria glanced around, then grabbed one of the JubJub's feet. McCandry took the other one, and off they went, back to the Faerie Crossword.

      "Hey, look where they are now," Yotaria said when they were within sight of the Crossword building. "They do look cross. Maybe that's why they call it a crossword."

      McCandry shrugged and said, "Side entrance." The mob was mostly near the front of the building, so it was easy to slip around and go in through the side door.

      The Library Faerie was still working at her desk. They dumped the Jubjub on the crossword grid.

      "Next?" Lyrian asked.

      "Hold on a sec." Yotaria slumped down on the floor, exhausted. McCandry leaned against a wall, and Yrael curled up on the tabletop. Lyrian sighed and spun around impatiently.

      The mob started shouting, and the door creaked loudly. The Library Faerie stood up and started towards it, but before she got to the door it creaked again and fell into bits.

      Judge Hog stood in the doorway, flanked by the rest of the Defenders of Neopia. Their collective gaze travelled around the room: past the shocked Library Faerie; onto the table where two kidnapped pets and a stolen book lay; and finally onto the four pets that all looked utterly astonished.

      "Hey, you're the Defenders of Neopia!" Lyrian said excitedly. McCandry glanced at her watch thoughtfully.

      "You know, we'd love to stay and talk," she said, "but we've got to meet our owner at the Lab Ray in fifteen minutes."

      And with that, all four pets headed for the side door.

The End

Author's note: No pets, Poogles, Jubjubs, or books were harmed or stolen in the making of this story.

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