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The Greatest Scheme of Tor: Part One


by alexrae963

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Also by sambundrick963

“TORMUUUND!”

     Tor looked up from his game of Attack of the Revenge to hear an overly-familiar voice screaming his name. Hoping it was only his mind playing tricks on him, he ignored the feminine alarm call and continued to play.

     “TORMUND EDWARD ELLIS! DID YOU REMEMBER TO FEED THOSE WHINNYS?”

     Sighing, the Meridellian champion—savior of Neopia, award-winning Best Smile Weekly, obnoxious pretty boy, yada yada yada—half-consciously paused his game to glance out the second-story window. In the pastures he could see the whinny—about thirty—all braying pitifully, dragging themselves along the cracked and sun-baked earth. Fyora, Tor thought, it looks hot out there! His father’s livestock were nothing but a sack of skin and bones; you could see every rib that ran along their tiny chests.

     “Uh, yeah, Mom!” Tor called back half-heartedly, before resuming his game of Attack of The Revenge. Ten more points and he’d make it to level two!

     “Oh, yes, I so have mad gaming skills!” Tor told himself. Smiling, he mused:

      Maybe Skarl could erect a monument in honor of that.

     About half an hour later...

     “TORMUUUND! GET YOUR LAZY BUTT DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!”

     Tor—who now had Dandan rings around his eyes from playing the game for officially twelve hours straight since midnight—jumped with a start. Shocked and jolted awake out of his reverie rather suddenly, Tor’s paw accidentally slipped on the button, causing the game to flicker off. He could have sworn level three was mocking him! Forgetting to submit his score, he abandoned the game and dropped the controller, but not before giving it a swift kick out of frustration.

     “My foot!” the Yellow Lupe yelped, grasping it painfully before hopping down the stairwell.

     At the bottom he greeted his little sister, Lucy, who had a smug grin plastered to her face.

     “You’re—in—trou-ble,” she mocked in a sing-song voice, flashing him a cheeky smile.

     “You’re—ann-oy-ing,” snapped Tor, raising a paw to cuff her over the head before pacing down the hallway. Maybe he could take his time...

     “Tor!” his mom’s voice yelled again. He slowly poked his head from out behind the front door of the house. Tor hesitated a heartbeat longer; two seconds later a sharp kick from Lucy sent him sprawling across he grass, no longer protected in his “domain.”

     Tormund smarted as he skidded in the dirt, halting in front of another set of yellow paws.

     “Tormund,” a voice greeted him coldly.

     Now, as you may have imagined, Tor was an experienced sword fighter and strategist, having countered many frightening foes: Kastraliss, the Juppie Plant Beast, Drackonacks, Ixi Raiders, and the Darkest Faerie herself; but nothing could compare to the awesome might and power that commanded fear over his family; the one and only—

     “Hi—Hi, M-Mommy,” Tormund squeaked, scrambling to his feet to meet his mother eye-to-eye.

     Oh, no. She was doing the foot tapping. And there was the snarling flash of her glinting teeth, her vicious glare, her—

     “Hello, honey.” He was surprised by the sweetness in her voice, despite the posture of attack she held with her back arched and arms held akimbo. “Tell me, Tormund, what do you see in the field over there?”

     He gulped, not sure how to respond, but finally managed to advert her gaze long enough to study the pastures. “Mom, I don’t see anything wrong. All I see is the field where we keep all our whinn—Great Fyora!”

     Tor’s statement became a cry of terror as his eyes bulged. In the pen where his family’s whinnys slept there was nothing left except skeletons draped in the custom Meridell tarp the petpets wore.

     “Wha—What happened, Mom?” Tor managed to choke out.

     “You happened!” his mother hissed icily. Tormund flinched. “It was your responsibility to feed them, groom them, give them water and love and attention! And now look—they’re nothing but bone-bags! Skeletons! You can’t raise skeletons or trade them in market! Honestly, Tor,” she sighed in exasperation. “Were you not listening to me earlier?”

     His mother gasped in indignation as Tor’s eyes followed a Buzzer that hovered close by. Snorting, she watched the two exchange a hearty conversation.

     “Bzzzt, bzzt bzzz?” the buzzing petpet asked.

     “Bzzzt!” Tormund responded cheerily, giving the wayward Petpet a high-five before it flew off. He turned around to face his mother, who was looking at him with a look crossed between dumbfound and fury.

     Tor gave her an innocent smile. “I’m sorry, Mother. Were you saying something?”

     A nerve in the female Lupe’s brain snapped.

     Three. Two. One.

     “Tor!” screamed the ever-lovable mother of two, grabbing Tor by the shirt collar. As she shook him, her voice caused our hero to go temporarily deaf in both ears. The female Lupe was almost incoherent with rage. “I’m proud of you for being Neopia’s protector and savior, but that doesn’t excuse you from neglecting your chores! You have until tomorrow to get thirty more whinnys—or—or else! Your father is coming home from Market Town tomorrow, young man!”

     Gasping, Tor managed to whimper, “What’s ‘or else’?”

     His mom’s eyes slimmed narrow with wicked amusement. She chuckled darkly, “Oh, Tormund, Tormund, Tormund; if you don’t get them back, then trust me when I tell you that your father will take care of what the Darkest Faerie didn’t do to you.”

     “What’s that? Give me honorable mention? An award?”

     “Kill you!” she roared, practically spewing flames. “Now go, Tormund!”

     She released his shirt with a mighty fling backward, Tor scrawling in the dirt as he tried to twist around and run. Regaining his balance, without wasting a second, the knight made a mad dash from his farm, passing his house and disappearing down the road. Once he was sure he had put a safe two miles between himself and his mother, Tor stopped on the dirt path the catch his breath. Thirty! How could he possible reclaim his father’s dead livestock in one day? He needed help. Tor scratched his chin thoughtfully.

     Who was the one person he could turn to in his time of need? Then it hit him like a speeding Gormball—no, not literally, ’cause that would hurt. His best friend, his partner in defeating crime. If anyone could help him, it was—

     - - -

     “I said leave!” Roberta seethed, sending a fiery array of magic from her wand after the retreating advisors.

     The two rude “esteemed guests” who had come from Market Town to speak with her uncle, King Hagan, ran screaming out of the court room, one with his tail set aflame. Roberta gave a pleased snort and sat down, rolling her wand between her fingers. Hagan—seated nearby in the thrown room chair—frowned.

     “Roberta, dear,” he began gently, wording what he was about to say carefully. His teenage niece was unpredictable with that wand these days; and she had a new attitude to boot! “Please put that thing away. Chasing off diplomats from other villages does not give a very good impression. Besides, you’ve become violent with magic, not to mention you’re abusing your poor wand...!”

     Roberta shot him a mischievous smile, before declaring loudly, “Oh, Uncle! I was only doing the proper and diplomatic thing by escorting our audience, considering the guards are on their coffee break.”

     “Well, that still doesn’t mean—wait, I didn’t know our staff had a coffee break.”

     “Yep. Twenty-four seven, too.”

     “But that means,” gasped Hagan, “that we have absolutely no security! We could be invaded by hooligans at any second!!”

     Roberta eyed her uncle cautiously. “Are you feeling okay? No, no, we’re absolutely, positively, safe,” she assured him. “Besides, I’ve never even seen a hooligan.” Disregarding the village idiots running around this dump. “Hooligans are a mere figment of the imagination.”

     Just then the doors to the long, wide throne room burst open and a misshapen figure came charging in, clotted with leaves and twigs. Underneath it seemed to be wearing a suit of armor. It was panting heavily, calling out raggedly at odd intervals, “Roberta! Roberta!”

     “Hooligans!” Roberta yelped, waving her wand at it frantically. “DIE, HOOLIGAN!”

     “Where’s our guards when you need them?” cried Hagan, as he clung cowardly to his chair. Roberta, ever the intent one, blasted stream after stream of mote-slicked magic from her wand, setting the intruder on fire.

     “Well, that was smart,” the Acara reprimanded herself. “Look what you did, Roberta! Now he’s a flaming hooligan; twice as dangerous.”

     The invader dropped onto the floor with a loud whud, trying desperately to shake the smoldering embers off him.

     “Huh. There’s something familiar about the way it’s screaming, and rolling, and crying in pain, and being burned up to ashes...” Roberta listed off, pausing to calculate some sort of math problem in the air while the hooligan burned.

     “Tor! It’s me, Tor!” whispered the leaf-clotted, smoldering figure. It stood and approached with a lurching gait, while embers flickered off the scratched/dented/soot-stained armor.

     “How do you know Tor’s name?” The nimble Acara jumped from the throne seat and raised her wand to its throat. “Tor! Did it eat you? Are you in there?”

     The flaming knight groaned. “It’s me, Roberta! Me. Water, agua, eau, acqua, wasser, H²O; please, please, please!” He had begun to dance on the spot, jumping from foot to foot, screaming water in thirty different languages and dialects while his fur singed and smoked. “Water!”

     “Uncle, quick, get the hose!” hollered Roberta. Quickly the Acara reached into her robes, whipping out a fan from somewhere on her person. With a flick of the wrist she unfolded it and began to beat down on Tor; needless to say, the short gusts only further ignited the flames.

     Heartbeats later the heavyset Skeith returned with a rather long hose at hand. “Crank the faucet and let’s get start ’er up!”

     Roberta turned on her heel and whisked toward the wall where the pipe was imbedded. (Please do not ask why the castle has one; it just does.) Roberta twisted it. Water cascaded out of the one end and shook Hagan violently, hinting at knocking the king from his stance and tossing him aside. With little grip he blasted Tor, turning the barbecued Lupe into a water-logged lump of yellow fur.

     “Turn it off!” Tor choked out through a mouthful of gushing water.

     “I can’t!” called back Roberta in a high-pitched voice, her quavering speech rising several octaves. Fruitlessly she tried to twist the knob. “The hose is stuck!” Indeed, the faucet was jammed in place, and the violent torrent finally unbalanced Hagan. The hose went sailing through the air and soaked everything in its path.

     “Possessed hose!” cried Tormund, running like the little mommy’s boy he was for safety, which was Roberta. “Save me, I’m good-looking!” The charred knight ducked behind his friend as the hose writhed like an angry Hissi across the floor, dousing the throne room and reducing it into a swimming pool. Already an inch of liquid sloshed beneath their feet in choppy waves. Hagan was floundering helplessly in the middle of it.

     Roberta scowled and cranked the nozzle again, only succeeding in breaking it further. She turned toward Tormund and sighed; both eyebrows arched in mild exasperation. “I hate you.”

     - - -

     Outside the throne room stood two guards—each holding a cup of coffee—studying the leakage of water pooling out beneath the wooden doors. One poked the puddle with his spear and turned to his Draik companion. “Do you think that...?”

     “Yep,” growled the other in astonishment. “They’re throwing a pool party without us! How rude; I mean, c’mon, we guard this joint after all—when we aren’t drinking espressos, of course... Anyway, how dare His Majesty not invite us! We should—we should—we should invite ourselves!”

     “Good man.” His companion slapped him on the shoulder. “I taught you well. Right. Now, private, barrel ram ’em down!”

     “Hiyaaaaah!” Both Draiks head-butted the door, resulting in the frames caving in on themselves; they split open, only too happy to oblige and vomit water down the hall. The Draiks’ mute screams were drowned out by the roar of the water as a massive surf crashed down on them. For several seconds a steady gush surged through the castle, carrying its victims along and collecting more in its wake. Twenty seconds of flooding later and the surge lessened in volume and strength, waning down into a tiny trickle.

     The two guards reappeared momentarily; their armor clanked as they shook themselves dry, scattering droplets from their sodden weaponry. One—with an exaggerated sigh—stumbled against the wall.

     “Where do you suppose it all came from?”

     “I’d rather not know.”

     “Ditto. I dunno about you, but I have a bad feeling—the king was in there!”

     In unison they gasped feebly; the first Draik coughed up water from his lungs as he did so.

     “Shall we go—?”

     “If we must.”

     Reluctantly both reptilian Neopets peered around the unhinged great doors, blinking back surprise. Amid the ravaged artifacts tossed about and sodden walls unfolded an awkward scene: an out-cold Hagan sprawled across the floor, a furious Roberta seething, and in his glory, Tor, who was holding his sword high, his left foot pinning down the defeated hose.

     “Whoa. Definitely not a pool party, yo,” the first Draik—named Bob—wowed.

     “Bad timing, dude. Split!” They turned tail and vanished as mysteriously as they had come, back to their safe house of perfectly safe coffee and safe friends where they could safely drink their coffee in safety.

     Hagan gave a feeble groan; before either Tor or Robert could react he was heaving himself into an unsteady crouch, spluttering lightly. His mustache rippled as he exhaled a gusty sigh. “We’ll get the janitors to clean this up later. Unless, of course, they’re on a coffee break, too.” The Skeith muttered a steady stream of curses as he straightened, ringing water from his damp robes. “It’s a surprise to see you again, Tor—but, as always, you’re welcome to spend your leisure at the castle. If you promise not to—how do you kids say it?—ah, yes, “raise the roof” and demolish my home... further. I’d best leave you two...to whatever you need to accomplish.” Bowing them, Hagan left.

     - - -

     “You’re lucky Uncle Hagan likes you, or you’d be a dead Lupe. Which brings me back to the objective as to why we had to use the hose: what are you doing here, Tormund?” Roberta demanded the moment her uncle was out of earshot and sight, gazing at him intently. Tormund frowned.

     “You don’t sound happy.”

     “I’m not happy, Tor.”

     “Why?”

     “Because you charged in here and scared me and my uncle half to death.”

     “Really?”

     “Yes.”

     “Really.”

     “Yes.”

     “Really?”

     “Cut that out!” Roberta snapped, pacing out of the room to a more private area. With an idle gesture she beckoned for Tormund to follow. He complied brightly, oblivious to the fact he might have caused Hagan a hundred thousand neopoints worth of damage. It was in the library they settled, alone and quiet, as a few stray Neopians padded in and out past the vast expanse of books. “Talk,” she ordered, sitting down in front of him, all the while ringing water from her hair. The knightly champion bunkered down on the oak wood chair and sniffled.

     “Well,” he drawled, taking a deep breath, “yesterday at breakfast Lucy and I were talking as usual and Lucy wouldn’t gimme the milk, so we started fighting, but it didn’t last long before Mom broke us up; Dad came in and said something about the Virtupets Space Station, then Lucy told me I stunk at Attack Of The Revenge, then Mum got all angry, so I proved Lucy wrong by staying up all night for twelve hours straight, playing the game while forgetting to feed my whinnies—and now they’re all dead, all stinkin’ thirty, so I have to get thirty more by tomorrow or else my parents will kill me!” He convulsed into a sobbing fit, trying to take in air at once after saying his ridiculously long run-on sentence. In sympathy Roberta placed a hand on his shoulder, wondering how the savior of Neopia could manage such a stupid thing.

     “It’s okay,” she soothed.

     “No, it isn’t!” Tormund bawled.

     “Okay, okay, it isn’t!” amended Roberta, stunned by his pathetic appearance. Tor sniffled again. “Look, I’ll help you! How’s that sound?”

     “Really? Oh, thank you thank you thank you!” Tormund gasped. “So you’ll give me thirty whinnys?”

     “Ah, no. But, I will help you get thirty back.”

     “Then let’s get to it!” Tormund declared perkily, as though he had never once cried in his entire life. The energetic Lupe swung an arm over her shoulder and literally dragged his best friend out of the castle library, despite the loud protests coming from the heir to the throne.

     “Hey, stop it! Oww! That hurts!”

To be continued...

 
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