Biography of a Villain: Balthazar
Also by thropp
Balthazar grimaced as he caught sight of his reflection against the purple sparkles of Glittery Faerie Dust bottles that lined the shelf. Seeing anything Faerie related usually left him feeling uneasy. The pretty colors and delicate bottles made him want to run out of the store with his tail between his legs. Nothing could ruin Balthazar’s day like a Faerie artifact.
Faeries had not always been enemies of Balthazar, however; in fact, the Lupe once wanted nothing more than to be a Faerie.
The desire first came upon him after his mother and father abandoned him in the Haunted Woods. When Balthazar was a Baby Lupe, his parents frequently told him stories of Faerieland. In each and every one of these tales, Faeries were the most magnanimous creatures in all of Neopia. They were always willing to lend a helping hand. His mother always told him that he got lost in the woods, he should wish for the light of Faeries to guide him home.
Knowing how much his mother loved Faeries, Balthazar often liked to pretend that he was a Faerie himself. The little Lupe felt that if he could be a Faerie, maybe his mother and father would come back. After his first couple of days on his own, Balthazar realized how extravagantly expensive Faerie Paint Brushes were. Soon after, he fashioned his own pair of Faerie wings out of a cardboard box he found behind a Haunted Woods shop. He tied them to his back with some ribbon left over from a renegade Deserted Carnival balloon and began to roam the forest.
One night, Balthazar found himself in an unfamiliar part of the Haunted Woods. The Lupe was travelling through the forest, hunting for berries that he could eat for dinner, when he took a wrong turn. I wish I had some Faeries’ light right about now, Balthazar thought, recalling his mother’s stories. Just as the thought came into his head, a light lavender glow caught Balthazar’s eye. The young Lupe crept further into the forest, as quietly as a Miamouse, praying that this was not a dream. He snuck and skulked until he reached a small clearing where the purple light was brightest.
In the center of the clearing were dozens of Faeries, each illuminated with a shade of purple. Light lavender, dark plum, regal violet, and flowery lilac orbs flitted around from tree to tree. Balthazar watched in wonder. The Lupe carefully slipped through the tall, dark foliage to get closer. The tips of his cardboard wings brushed against their wooden trunks, bending the corners. Balthazar would need to fix them later, but maybe the Faeries would help.
“H-hi!” he called out. The Faeries stopped their buzzing abruptly. “I did not mean to frighten you.”
“Frighten us?” one of the Faeries, Maelstra, laughed. The light around this Faerie was a darker purple than any of the others. “Dark Faeries do not get frightened.”
"Um... I seem to be lost, kind Faeries... Can you help me find my way out?”
At first, none of the Faeries reacted. Then, the darkest Dark Faerie erupted in a shrill giggle. Following her lead, the rest of the Dark Faeries burst into fits of laughter, their cackles echoing in the empty forest. It seemed like the vicious sounds bounced off of each tree trunk. Balthazar could hear the wind blow through the leaves high above him, the whistles dancing with the Faeries’ guffaws. It was as if the entire Haunted Woods were laughing at him.
“We aren't here to help puny Lupes, you pathetic thing.”
Maelstra flew over to Balthazar and perched herself on his shoulder. Her plum glow was enough to blind Balthazar for life, but the little Lupe dared not show the Dark Faerie he was frightened. He stiffened his muscles and felt the cardboard wings across his back flap lightly. Maelstra laughed rudely and patted Balthazar’s head.
“Oh look at this! What nice wings you have,” the Dark Faerie simpered.
"They're very... magnificent," sniggered a Dark Faerie with a lilac glow.
"Look at how strong they are!"
"Graceful!" they jeered.
"Elegant!" they sneered.
"Stunning!" they mocked.
"Radiant!" they quipped.
"Enchanting!" their words cut.
A gall of laughter erupted from the group of Dark Faeries.
Maelstra flew away from Balthazar, dusting off the parts of her gown that had touched him.
When she reached her circle of Faerie friends, Maelstra picked up a twig and threw it is Balthazar's direction. This started a chain of shrapnel flying towards the Lupe. He cried out as rocks and sticks pelted his blue fur. Piles of leaves were flung at poor Balthazar without care, tangling in his hair. Mud and tears intertwined and dripped down his cheeks.
"Please," he panted. "Please! Stop doing this!"
“Let’s go,” the meanest Dark Faerie told the other Faeries. “I am bored with this little lost Lupe.”
The Dark Faeries left Balthazar there in the clearing, sticks knotted in his fur and a pile of rocks at his feet. As the Faeries banded together and flew away, Balthazar felt the hope in his heart fade. The Faeries – supposedly the nicest individuals in Neopia – were rotten, nasty little things. Everything that Balthazar ever dreamed of was a lie. He ripped the cardboard wings from his back and threw them on the ground before him. Stomping on the wings, he realized that he would have to get tougher if he wanted to make it in the Haunted Woods.
Years after the torment he suffered at the hands of the Dark Faeries, Balthazar built his own Neohome on the outskirts of the Haunted Woods. He worked as a trader in the marketplace, exchanging rare mushrooms he found around the forest for Neopoints and clothing. He was quite successful as a seller. One day, a crotchety old Techo approached Balthazar’s stall.
"Hmm," the Techo grumbled. "I would like to buy your, hmm, Gnome Shroom but all I have is this, hmm, Faerie."
The Techo pulled a small bottle out of his satchel. The jar was as long as Balthazar's snout, thin and clouded. Looking closer, Balthazar’s eyes nearly fell out of his head. Captured inside the small, glass bottle was Maelstra. Balthazar picked the Bottled Dark Faerie up and tapped on the sides. "Things look different from inside a jar, don't they?" he asked cheekily.
A wicked smile curved upon the Lupe’s lips and he uttered but one word to the Techo: “Deal.”
From that day on, Balthazar vowed to catch every single Faerie who had crushed his dreams.
Today, Balthazar is an infamous bounty hunter, travelling across Neopia with his Bag of Bottled Faeries. He is known to be seen frequently prowling around in the darkness, hunting Faeries till the sun rises and making a hefty profit. When asked what he hopes for out of life, he will smirk and drawl, "To be the best of friends with all the Faeries of Neopia when I settle down and retire." What few know, however, is that at the bottom of that bag, under all the unpleasant Dark Faeries he has captured, lays a battered copy of the My First Faerie story his mother read to him and the tattered cardboard and frayed ribbon Faerie wings Balthazar wore as a child.