Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 91,590,388 Issue: 174 | 21st day of Sleeping, Y7
Home | Archives Articles | Editorial | Short Stories | Comics | New Series | Continued Series
 

Zarrelian and the Crokabeks of Doom


by battlesunn

--------

"Webbleflub!" Zarrelian called as he clip-clopped down the hallway to his room. "Where are you, you lazy Mallard?" The Halloween Ixi forcefully butted open the door to his bedroom and stomped in, glaring peevishly at his pet Mallard, Webbleflub. Zarrelian crossed his arms in front of his chest.

"Listen Webbleflub, when I call you, I expect to hear an answer, got it?" The Mallard quacked in reply, his crimson red feathers rustling slightly. Zarrelian grinned.

"Good! Now, come with me, I've got a little job for you." The Ixi plucked the wildly protesting Mallard from his bed and carried him stealthily down the hall to his brother's room. The brother in question, a good-natured green Lupe called Mordegan, was currently immersed in drawing happy faces on his walls and furniture.

"Dum-dee-dum, I'm living in a happy room, cause when you live in a happy room you forget about the Ixi of Doom!" the Lupe sang, his bushy, emerald-furred tail swishing joyfully from side to side. Zarrelian sniggered, hiding behind Mordegan's door.

"Okay Webbleflub," he whispered. "Go and fly at Mordegan's head! That'll teach him to keep an annoyingly positive attitude in the face of anything negative." The Ixi pulled his arm back, the petrified Mallard in hoof, and flung him at the busily doodling Lupe.

"QUUUUAAAACK!" Webbleflub screeched, flapping his wings in a frenzied attempt to stay aloft. Mordegan glanced up quizzically, only to see a blur of red feathers go whizzing past his head and out the open window. Mordegan gasped, throwing his paws to his face.

"Sweet mother of Juppie! That poor Mallard went right out my window!" The Lupe dashed over to the offending window and leaned over the ledge, peering down into the garden below.

"Webbleflub!" he barked. "Are you okay?"

Zarrelian came strolling up behind the Lupe, glancing casually down into the garden. "Oh, did he fall down there?" the Ixi asked airily. Mordegan whirled around to face him, eyes blazing.

"You horrible little creature!" he snarled, jabbing Zarrelian in the chest with his paw. "You threw your Petpet at me! I can't believe you! You'd just better hope that the PPL doesn't come and haul you off for unbridled cruelty!" The Lupe turned back to the window, worriedly scanning the overgrown garden for the little red Mallard. Zarrelian rolled his eyes.

"Relax, Lupey. Webbleflub's fine. He's tough, just like me!" He gave a small giggle. "He's probably flown back into the house by now." Mordegan ground his teeth together.

"Mallards can't fly. If you had bothered to read your owner's manual you'd know these things. Mallards are fascinating creatures, you know. Why, a Mallard's quack..." The Lupe trailed off and grinned suddenly, jumping up and down like a rabid Cybunny.

"There he is, in the Mondongos! Don't worry Webbleflub, uncle Morty's coming!" With all the gusto of Jeran leaping into the battlefield, Mordegan launched himself out the window, landing with a thump in the garden's flowerbed. The Lupe got up, shook himself off, and quickly rescued the dazed Mallard from the Mondongo patch, cradling him protectively against his chest. Up by the window, Zarrelian rolled his eyes.

"That's so typical of Lupes. Always diving in to save things that don't NEED saving." He leaned over the edge and cupped his hooves around his mouth.

"You'd probably try to save a Jetsam from drowning in the ocean, you walking flea condo!" Zarrelian shouted to Mordegan. The Lupe ignored him as he strode impassively back into the Neohome, Webbleflub clinging desperately to his forest green fur. Zarrelian smiled.

"Webbleflub!" he called. "Come back to me, Webbleflub!" At the sound of his owner's voice, Webbleflub turned and looked Zarrelian in the eye. The Mallard narrowed his eyes, and then promptly whirled around, showing the Ixi his tail feathers. Zarrelian reeled back at his Petpet's obvious sign of contempt. The Ixi growled.

"Alright. That's fine. Go ahead, stay with the broom-tailed Lupe! I don't need you; I'll go and get a NEW Petpet, one that can actually ATTACK things! No, I'll get a whole ARMY of them! THEN you'll be sorry!" Cackling maniacally, the demonic Halloween Ixi began to prance nimbly across the windowsill.

"Hahaha! Mwahaha--AAA!" He quickly lost his footing, tumbling out the window and crashing into a bush of brightly blooming Rowzes. Zarrelian went shooting out of the thorny flowers, howling with pain and clutching his backside.

"Ow! You'll be sorry, Webbleflub! Ouch! You too, Mordegan! Oooh, that one hurt!" Grumbling bitterly under his breath, Zarrelian stormed off, not really sure where he was heading and with no particular destination in mind.

The Ixi meandered along in an Easterly direction, still steaming over his Petpet's mutiny. It wasn't until he realized that he was completely lost when he began to get a bit nervous.

"Uh oh..." he murmured. "I don't remember any of this... Now, where am I?" Zarrelian plopped down on a small rock and rested his head on his hoof, trying to evaluate the situation. The Ixi was snapped from his reverie by a loud caw! Zarrelian glanced up and gasped.

"Wow!" he exclaimed, rising slowly from his perch on the stone. "A Crokabek! How cool!" The Ixi tentatively approached the avian petpet, who cocked its head to the side and regarded Zarrelian curiously, giving its dark feathers a conspicuous ruffle.

"Hello Mr. Crokabek," Zarrelian said, his face splitting into an excited grin. "You certainly look frightening." The Ixi's eyes swept over the Crokabek, his gaze resting admiringly on its razor sharp beak and formidable talons. "And competent."

The Crokabek opened its beak again and racked its throat with another rusty caw. Zarrelian laughed.

"And you even answer when I call you! Come here; you can be my new Petpet!" The Ixi held out his arm invitingly, but instead of swooping down and alighting on the offered limb, the Crokabek flared its wings and flapped off, soaring into the distance. Zarrelian gaped after it.

"No, wait! Come back!" The Ixi took off, galloping after the Petpet at speeds that he had never before achieved. Zarrelian panted, a determined glint in his eyes. It was then that he remembered something.

"Wait a minute," he said aloud, skidding to a stop. "What am I running for? I can fly!" The Halloween Ixi spread his leathery bat wings and took to the sky, beating his webbed appendages at a furious rate to keep himself aloft.

"This is harder than I remember it being," he grunted. Zarrelian quickly streamlined himself, tucking in his hooves and holding his tail straight out, using it as a rudder to control his direction.

"Watch out, Crokabek!" he cackled. "Zarry's coming!"

The Crokabek flew low over the treetops, skimming the leaves and just barely keeping above the upper boughs. Zarrelian followed, banking sharply to avoid crashing into a tree trunk. The Crokabek weaved and dived and rolled-- it seemed to pull off just about every aerial trick in an attempt to throw off the determined Ixi. Finally, the winged Petpet stopped short just in front of a large waterfall. Zarrelian watched quizzically, a puzzled expression on his oversized face. The Crokabek braced itself, and then shot forward in an amazing burst of speed, breaking through the waterfall in a blur of black feathers. Zarrelian raised an eyebrow, smirking to himself.

"If that Crokabek thinks that he can throw me off by flying through water, then he's got another thing coming!" The Ixi imitated the Crokabek's earlier stance, aligning his wings and surging forth in an incredible burst of speed as he burst through the waterfall. Zarrelian shot through the curtain of water, dripping with moisture. He shook himself off in midair, and then stopped to examine his surroundings.

Zarrelian was in a huge, rock cave behind the waterfall. Hundreds of Crokabeks fluttered around him, setting up a cacophony of distressed cawing at his sudden entrance. There were Crokabeks everywhere. They sat in small perches that had been gouged straight into the sides of the cave walls, glaring coldly at the Ixi with their unforgiving yellow eyes. Zarrelian grinned and gave a low whistle through his teeth.

"Wow! How did you Crokabeks ever build this without any opposable thumbs?" he asked jokingly. The corvid Petpets suddenly became deathly silent. Zarrelian gulped, nervously eyeing the hundreds of Crokabeks who were staring at him in a manner that could almost be described as accusing.

Suddenly, and in perfect unison, the Crokabeks whirled their heads around and began to caw again. Zarrelian turned to follow their line of sight and gasped in shock. Flapping lopsidedly into the cavern was the biggest, oldest, most decrepit Crokabek that Zarrelian had ever seen. Its eyes were a dull red, and its feathers, which may have once been a bold black, were a faded white color. The Crokabek gave Zarrelian an appraising look, regarding the Ixi with a calculating shimmer in its large red eyes. Zarrelian grinned, flying forward a few feet and extending his hoof towards the Crokabek.

"Hello," he began brightly. "I take it that you're the leader of this little band. Well, it just so happens that I'm in the neighborhood for an army of ferocious Petpets, since my own Mallard is a foul, traitorous fowl." The Ixi giggled. "Ooh, I made a pun! Anyway, would you be interested in becoming my loyal minions so that I can wreak havoc and vengeance on my unworthy family? I'd pay you of course. You'd get lots of free food."

The Crokabek blinked, then paused thoughtfully for a moment. Zarrelian's face lit up.

Oh goody! he thought. The ugly old Crokabek is considering my offer. What a prosperous day this has been!

I wouldn't call me old and ugly if I were you, Ixi. Look who's talking; your wings would be better suited being pickled in a jar in Jhudora's lair rather than attached to that gangly body of yours.

Zarrelian's jaw dropped. "Faeries! You can read minds?!" he screeched. The Crokabek's beak twitched in a way that could only be described as a smirk.

Indeed I can. I can understand you perfectly when you speak aloud, too. However, I can only communicate with you through thoughts. And it is only I who possesses this gift; my fellow Crokabeks were not blessed by Illusen as I was.

Zarrelian chewed his hoof nervously. "Uh, so, can you hear all my thoughts?" he asked fretfully. The Crokabek narrowed his eyes.

Believe me, I have no intention of delving to deeply into that mind of yours.

The Ixi sighed in relief. "Ah, good. So, what about my offer? Are you in?" he asked hopefully. The Crokabek's eyes flickered maliciously.

Certainly. It would be our pleasure.

Zarrelian laughed aloud. "Awesome! Now I can finally have an outlet for all my suppressed rage!"

The white Crokabek addressed the assembled Petpets and made a hoarse coughing sound. The other Crokabeks opened their beaks and let loose a barrage of grating cawing, flapping their wings furiously in the air. Zarrelian winced. One downside to enlisting a horde of Crokabeks for extracting revenge was the sacrifice of one's eardrums. The Ixi sighed resignedly and clamped his hooves over his ears, telling himself that it would all be worth it in the end...

***

Zarrelian strode purposefully into a wide meadow, a large book under one arm and a bag of leftover food from last night's dinner in the other. The Ixi had arranged with the white Crokabek to hold their meetings there, as it was preferable to having to fly through the waterfall every time. The old Petpet was already there, perched on a gnarled stump with his ghostly white wings folded primly to his sides.

You certainly took long enough to get here. He tilted his head to the side, eyeing the heavy volume that Zarrelian had brought with him. What's that for?

Zarrelian grinned, patting the book with his hoof. "Well, it occurred to me that I ought to name my Crokabek minions," he replied. The Crokabek inclined his head slightly.

Yes, I'm called--

Zarrelian cut him off. "So I went out and bought a book of names that, according to the cover, are dark, mysterious and pretentious. I'm not sure what that last word means, but I think it has something to with being evil, which is totally awesome. I have decided to call you Maelsythius Xeotrym BloodFeather," he said cheerfully. The Crokabek glared at him.

I already have a name, Ixi. The Crokabek drew himself up proudly. I am Corvus Brachyrhynchos, heir of Corax Brachyrhynchos.

Zarrelian rolled his eyes. "Sure, completely shoot down my idea. Corvus Brachyrhynchos, that's so much better than my suggestion!" he said sarcastically. Corvus flared his wings.

Silence, Ixi! Do not mock me, for the Crokabeks follow MY orders, and I could just as easily turn them against you. Corvus stared hungrily at the bag of food that the Ixi had brought with him. You will give me the food before we begin to talk of our plans. Now.

Zarrelian sighed exasperatedly, grudgingly retrieving the sack of leftovers and tossing it to the Crokabek. "Here, take it, you greedy old feather duster."

Corvus swiftly fell upon the offering, tearing into the food with his beak and devouring it with startling ferocity. Zarrelian winced as a few flecks of meat got sprayed onto his front.

"Eew, can't you eat a bit slower? That's completely disgusting!" he protested. Corvus glared at him with a look of loathing in his blood red eyes. Zarrelian bit his lip.

"Uh, that's okay, you just continue with what you're doing. I'll go sit over there now." The Ixi crossed the meadow and sat down on the grass, curling his forked tail around his legs. After what seemed like hours, Corvus finished his feast and glided softly over to Zarrelian, landing beside the Ixi and wiping some leftover smears of food from his beak with the back of his wing.

Alright Ixi, enlighten me. What is it that you want my Crokabeks and I to do for you?"

Zarrelian smiled. "I thought you'd never ask." He quickly began to draw a map in the dirt with a nearby stick.

"Okay, I live on Soup Alley, do you now where that is?" he asked. Corvus furrowed his brow.

Yes. It is near the tree that is shaped like a Whinny's head. Zarrelian sniggered softly under his breath.

"Uh huh, and across from the Whistling Rock," he muttered mockingly under his breath. Corvus made a small growling noise, and it was then that Zarrelian remembered that, even if he couldn't hear him, the Crokabek could still read thoughts.

"Err, right, sorry. Anyway, our Neohome is on Soup Alley. It's the one with the handmade gnome out front, the one that looks like it was thrown together by a deranged Lupe. Yes, it was my deranged Lupe of a brother that made it. Anyway, I want you to fly in from the east window here--" He deftly scratched a large X on the crudely drawn map. "--And quickly seize the room that you wind up in. That's my brother's room. I really hate him. After you've gotten him locked up in there, you can start torturing him or something, I don't care. Peck him on the head, scratch at his tail, make a nest in his ears... Whatever you want. After you finish making him all sad and stuff, fly back through the east window and return to your damp, uncomfortable cave."

A look of malice flashed across Corvus' face. Very well, Ixi. We shall attack at first light on the morrow.

Zarrelian frowned. "Hmm, I dunno, I think I might be busy then. How about tomorrow morning at dawn instead?"

Whatever you wish, Ixi.

***

Mordegan slumbered peacefully in his bed, a faint smile playing across his emerald-furred muzzle as he dreamed about all the things that he liked in Neopia. Beside him dozed his official Petpet, a similarly colored green Warf called CC, and Zarrelian's old Petpet, Webbleflub the red Mallard.

Mordegan had left his window open, as he always did. It was quite pleasant to feel a refreshing cool breeze rustling through the room at night while the moon shone on his sleeping form. The minute hand on small clock beside his bed flicked suddenly from five fifty-nine to six on the dot. It was officially morning.

Mordegan didn't even notice as the first few Crokabeks began soaring silently into his room, not making a single sound as they gathered on his furniture. Before long, there were no fewer than a hundred of the dark, yellow-eyed Petpets, all of them perched around the Lupe's room and staring at him hungrily.

Outside the window, Zarrelian stood gloatingly in the garden, Corvus perched upon his shoulder. The Halloween Ixi cackled.

"This is the most awesome thing ever!" He raised his hooves into the air, windmilling his arms and laughing hysterically as swarms of dark-feathered Crokabeks went winging overhead.

"Fly my pretties! FLY! Hahaha!" he screamed ecstatically.

Corvus rolled his eyes, nudging Zarrelian impatiently on the neck with his beak. I think that we should proceed to the next stage of the operation.

Zarrelian glanced at him. "What? Oh, yes, certainly. I'll go and close Mordegan's window and lock his door so that he can't escape." The Ixi set off, Corvus disembarking from his shoulder and flapping lopsidedly up to the window, his beak twitching in a faint resemblance of a smirk.

The old white avian tilted his head to the side and cawed loudly, addressing the hundreds of Crokabeks. They cawed back in reply, setting up a horrible, grating din. Mordegan moaned and sat up at the sudden noise, rubbing groggily at his eyes.

"What's going on?" he mumbled. Mordegan then caught sight of the ominous Petpets. "Oh my, what pretty birds!" he exclaimed delightedly.

The Crokabeks fell deathly silent again, and then, in one synchronized movement, they all twisted their heads to stare straight at the Lupe. Mordegan gulped.

"Um... Nice birdies... Eeek!" Mordegan screamed as the Crokabeks fell upon him, pecking at the Lupe furiously and tearing at his fur with their talons.

"No! Not the face, not the face!" he wailed. Mordegan cantered out of his room, quickly scooping up CC and Webbleflub as he did. The Lupe dashed into the hallway and slammed the door, panting and clutching a stitch in his side. Zarrelian came trotting up behind, a shocked expression on his face.

"Hey! What are you doing out here? I'm supposed to lock you inside!" he said indignantly. Mordegan bared his impressive fangs in an unusual display of anger.

"You did this? You got those horrible Crokabeks to seize my room?" he snarled. Zarrelian nodded.

"Well, yeah. But apparently it didn't go quite as I had planned, because you were supposed to be locked in there with them." He yawned, a bored look etched on his goat-like features. "Anyway, there's not much point in them staying here now that you've escaped, so I suppose I'll just ask them to leave." The Ixi approached the door and gave it three forceful knocks.

"Corvus! Hey, Corvus!" He heard a faint scratching sound coming from behind the door.

What? came Corvus' reply. Zarrelian twiddled his hooves.

"Um, yeah, well the plan didn't really work out, because Mordegan escaped before you could torture him..."

Mordegan's face twisted angrily. "Hey!" he barked. Zarrelian ignored him.

"So I suppose you can all just clear out now, then," the Ixi finished. There was a coarse, laughing caw.

I don't think so, Ixi. You see, I never really intended to help you. At first I was just going to take the food that you offered me, but since you provided us with such a thoughtful invitation into your home... There was more throaty chuckling. I think that we'll just stay here. After all, it is so much nicer than our 'damp, uncomfortable cave,' as you so aptly described it.

Zarrelian's eyes widened. He pounded on the door furiously. "Hey! You can't do that! Get out of my house; open this door!" Apparently, Corvus had found some way to lock the door, because Zarrelian found himself unable to open it. Mordegan stood off to the side, still holding the two Petpets.

"Way to go, Zarrel. Now our house is under siege by a murder of mangy Crokabeks!" he snapped. The Ixi clenched his teeth.

"Relax, would you? I'm working on it." Mordegan scoffed.

"You're hopeless. You can't make them leave by asking politely. No, there's only one way to get rid of a hoard of Crokabeks..."

Zarrelian glanced up. "What's that?" he inquired. Mordegan grinned, holding out Zarrelian's red Mallard.

"With Webbleflub, of course. Crokabeks can't stand the sound of a Mallard's quack, everybody knows that." He glared at the Ixi. "You'd have known, too, if you had bothered to read your Mallard owner's manual."

Zarrelian sighed exasperatedly. "Quit your preaching, Morty. Let's just get this over with." He reached out and retrieved Webbleflub, gently stroking the Mallard's crimson feathers with his hoof. "Poor little guy. I'm sorry, Webbleflub. You're a good Petpet. Now, how's about you sing that song that I taught you?"

Webbleflub affectionately nuzzled the Ixi's chest. Zarrelian grinned, cradling his Petpet in his hooves, genuine affection glimmering in his bright green eyes. "Okay Webbleflub," he whispered. "You ready? On a one, and a two, and a three!"

Perfectly on cue, Webbleflub raised his head and let loose with a deafening quack, fluttering his tiny wings like a conductor in a symphony. Zarrelian laughed.

"Excellent, Webbleflub! Louder, sing louder!"

The Mallard continued to quack, varying the tone and pitch so that it sounded vaguely like he was singing a song. Behind the door, the Crokabeks had set up with a frenzied cawing, Corvus screeching and screaming in his thoughts.

No, not Mallard song! Please, make it stop, I can't take it! Zarrelian chuckled.

"We won't tell him to stop until you leave and promise to never come back!" he replied. Corvus groaned.

Whatever you want, we'll go, we'll go! Just please make it stop!

Zarrelian looked down at Webbleflub and nodded, signaling for the Mallard to be silent. The Crokabeks quickly stopped cawing, and Zarrelian could here the rustling of hundreds of wings as all of the Crokabeks rose into the air and set off out the window. There was a small clicking noise, and the door swung open. The Ixi poked his head into the room and caught a fleeting glimpse of a monstrous cloud of dark shapes winging their way into the East, never to return. Zarrelian breathed a sigh of relief.

"Whew! That was a close one, huh Morty?" The Ixi coughed suddenly, pawing the ground nervously with his hoof. "Uh, listen, if you'd just maybe... refrain from mentioning this little incident to our owner..."

Mordegan frowned, carefully placing his still sleeping Warf onto his bed. The Lupe tapped Zarrelian on his head.

"Okay Zarrel, I won't tell Sunny. Since you did learn a lesson about how important your Petpet is and how you shouldn't get suckered in by seemingly congenial Crokabeks." Mordegan smirked. "But first, I want you to apologize to me for hiring a horde of demonic Crokabeks to take over my room and peck me into submission. I'm also going to insist that you clean out CC's litter box for a month."

Zarrelian sighed. "Alright, I'm sorry Morty. I'm sorry for hiring a horde of demonic Crokabeks to take over your room and peck you into submission." The Ixi buried his face in his hooves and moaned, not at all relishing the prospect of cleaning out the Warf's litter box. "A whole month of picking up after your Petpet!" he groaned. Mordegan chuckled softly. Zarrelian snorted and glared contemptuously out the window. "Next time," he muttered darkly. "I'll get an army of Vullards!"

The End

 
Search the Neopian Times




Great stories!


---------

One Scary Night
"Poor Albert! Evil Esophagor! He turned Mutant! I'm gonna turn Mutant like him!"

by kacheeklover3579

---------

Wake Up, Sleepy Head!
Turmaculus, aka Turmy. The second you say his name, you have people all over, either upset - or a selected few, joyful. Either way, he is quite well known around Neopia, though also very much despised.

by agnoline

---------

A Snowbunny Tale
Only... ASPARAGUS?!

by i_love_yellow_sporks

---------

As Much as a Bori Can Take!
Could be worse...

by kudou



Submit your stories, articles, and comics using the new submission form.