A Serving of Prank Pie
Kadar peered cautiously out into the clear blue waters of Maraqua. The Maraquan Shoyru absolutely dreaded going out at this time of day, when the sun was in the middle of the sky and all the curious tourists were happily exploring the local caves. A native to that underwater land for all of his life, he had no patience for land dwellers.
His best friend Selki did not share his opinion. “Come on, Kadar, where’s your sense of adventure? I hear there’s a family coming all the way from Kreludor today. Can you imagine a world where you have to wear a space suit all the time just to keep yourself from floating away?” She laughed merrily, using her considerable swimming skills and the buoyant water to twirl around him in a circle. “Look at me, Kadar, I’m a free-floating Grundo!”
“No. You’re a Maraquan Ixi with an overactive imagination. Now stop fooling around. I want to get out to Kelp and buy lunch before it completely fills. There’s no way I’m eating another plateful of Scrawnyfish because you made us late.”
Selki rolled her eyes. “You know, you’re kind of like a scrawnyfish yourself,” she told him in a joking tone. “You keep as close to the ocean floor as you can without attaching yourself to the dirt and you are as bland as you are content to be there.”
“At least I’m not always getting my tail fin caught in the claws of irritable crabulas, or swimming straight into a nest of sleeping bubblebees,” he retorted, his voice just as light. “I really wonder sometimes if you’re not secretly related to Jake the Explorer the way you go around causing trouble.”
She laughed. “That’s why I have a friend like you, Kad. You’re always there to pull me right back out of whatever messes I stumble into.”
A knock at the door pulled Kadar away, just as he was about to retort. A white Elephante stood on the doorstep, arms crossed. “I’m looking for a Maraquan Ixi by the name of Selki.”
Such an encounter was certainly not a first. What seemed strange to Kadar was the unfamiliar face to the one who hunted his friend. Always it was a Maraquan native who came to his door, demanding he point the way to his joke-loving friend. This Elephante was a complete stranger.
Selki seemed just as confused as she crept forward to stand at Kadar’s side. “What could you possibly want with me?” she asked in a defensive tone. “I’ve never even met you before.”
“Your reputation has been well spread among the court of King Kelpbeard. Especially a certain incident involving Kelpbeard’s favorite advisor and a well-placed whoopee cushion.”
Kadar smacked his fin to his face, remembering with embarrassment that day when Selki had taken her little practical jokes too far. An entire meal at Kelpbeard’s palace had fallen to ruin, and he’d given up a whole week’s worth of good meals at Kelp just to keep his friend from the Maraquan Dungeon.
“That’s all in the past. I still don’t see why you’ve come hunting me down. I haven’t even been outside yet today. Well, except to visit Kad here.”
“I work for Grundaar, a very well-off Grundo residing on the moon of Kreludor. He is spending his short vacation time here, hoping to spend some time studying the natives of this underwater land. Word of your little pranks has been well spread in this area. Grundaar does not approve of such silly behavior, and I come to warn you that if you attempt such tricks with him, you’ll find yourself outmatched.”
“He sounds like quite the boring old scholar. I think I’ll save my talents for more interesting targets.”
The Elephante grinned smugly. “You would be wise to do so. Even the great prankster Morton G. Firefly has learned to keep a respectable distance from the wise Grundaar.”
The moment the Elephante was gone, a gleam came into Selki’s eyes. “That old Elephante thinks he can scare me just because this Grundaar fellow is rich and well-read. I can’t wait to see the looks on both their faces when-“She cut off suddenly at the stern look on Kadar’s face. “Oh come on, Kad. His challenge was just too obvious. I’m not letting that oaf scare me away from carrying off what could be the funniest prank of all time!”
“A Grundo he may be, but obviously his wits are of a much higher degree than most of his species. I really think you should leave this fellow alone.”
“You’ve never had the jokester’s spirit, Kad. I know you think my choice of fun is silly, but even your sad sense of humor will be able to appreciate this one. Come with me, please? It would mean a lot to me.”
Looking down into her large, pleading eyes, he could not say no. “Alright, but I’m only coming to see you don’t get yourself thrown into a pit of angry Arkmites again.” Selki winced at that less than pleasant memory, and promised to be careful. Then she left her worrying friend to his thoughts as she went looking for all the supplies she would need to carry out her prank.
* * * *
“There it is, Kad. Can you believe the size of it? This guy really doesn’t spare any expenses, even on vacation.”
The Neolodge room, or more fittingly, suite, was quite impressive. Only the most important royal guests could afford the luxury of this room with a view directly looking out on Maraqua’s royal palace. Selki’s friend Galma helped with cleaning the Neolodge’s rooms, and had supplied her with the location of the Grundo she sought. The blue Acara may have thought twice about that decision, had she not been in the middle of trying to catch three young Techos running wild in the Lodge’s main hall.
“Here, Kad, hold these for a minute, would you?” Selki shoved two overstuffed bags at him as she surveyed the building before her in interest. “You’d think for how rich he is he’d want a locking door, but instead he insisted on one with bubble curtains.” She chuckled to herself as she beckoned to Kadar to follow her. “This is almost too easy.”
Kadar refused to go any further than the doorway itself, though what happened next was in his full view. Selki was just getting ready to begin the elaborate setup that would be necessary from her prank, when out of nowhere a custard pie flew through the air to smack her in the face. She stumbled forward in confusion, only to catch her hoof on an old blackened banana peel. She flew forward, landing right in the middle of a bundle of wet pawkeet feathers, which stuck to her fur like an odd and colorful scarf. The absence of Maraqua’s familiar waters had proved much to her disadvantage.
They both jumped as a burst of loud laughter sounded from the other side of the room. “I must admit, your pranks of the past are impressive, but as yet you do not measure up to the master.” A green Grundo wearing a bushy gray moustache walked forward, his eyes never leaving the target of his own prank. “Do not feel too discouraged, though. It is not your fault you have been outmatched by my genius.”
He reached up a green-gloved hand to pull free the mask which hid his features. “I got bored just sitting about, waiting for April Fool’s Day to return so I could unleash my talents on Neopia once again,” Morton said with a wide grin. “When I overheard the locals talking about your own rather impressive pranking history, I couldn’t resist testing you. You have a long way to go, but if you work hard enough, someday you may even pull off a prank as masterful as mine.”
“So there never was a Grundaar? It was all just to get me to come here, so you could make a fool of me.” Selki’s voice was full of sadness. Kadar hated to see his friend looking so down. A brilliant and absolutely childish thought popped into his head.
“Don’t feel bad, Selki. Being second best is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when you look at your competition. I mean, really, just look at that droopy little moustache.” He walked forward, as if to examine it more closely.
“You are jealous of my good looks,” Morton said with a smirk.
“Well, you do dress nicely. Much as I dislike practical jokes myself, I have to say yours was quite impressive.”
“But of course.”
“I can see why you are feared when April rolls around. Allow me to pat you on the back, for a job well done, and for being Neopia’s most renowned prankster.”
Morton stood proudly as Kadar gave him a gentle pat. “Look at that, Handet, even as far away as Maraqua they know a grand master when they see one.”
Handet the white Elephante said nothing as the two of them departed together, though Morton looked at him oddly when he began to snicker. After listening for months to his boss’s bragging, the classic Kick Me sign on Morton’s back was a delight to see. Even in defeat, Selki could not feel entirely morose as she watched Morton depart.
“How long do you think it takes him to notice?” she asked Kadar with a grin.
“I believe it will be a while. He will think all the laughter is of his own making, and not against him. I almost feel sorry for him.”
“Thanks for being such a great friend, Kad.”
“Hey, that’s what friends are for. Oh, and by the way, Selki?”
“If I ever come home to find my kitchen covered in Bubble Wrap again, I will spread this story to every corner of Neopia.”
“What are your feelings about a bedroom full of wrapping supplies?”
Kadar sighed, shook his head in defeat, and beckoned for Selki to follow him home. He was in a much more forgiving mood when she actually offered to help clean up the mess she had made. As for Morton, it really did take him weeks to discover Handet’s source of mirth. Needless to say, the prank-pulling Grundo was in no hurry to return to Maraqua any time soon.