Maybelle's Great Battle
“Are you sure about this, Giuseppi?” Maybelle asked nervously.
“Positive,” the orange Bori answered. “You can do this, May.”
Maybelle delicately bit her bottom lip and tried to concentrate. Why, oh why, did I ever let Giuseppi talk me into something like this? she thought to herself. What was I thinking?
Maybelle, a pink Acara, was not the type you would expect to see training in the Neopia Central Battledome. No, you would think that she would be out spending her Saturday afternoon shopping and chatting with friends, maybe stopping by the Smoothie Shop for a Small Rasmelon Smoothie or checking out the latest Usukis. Yet here she was, cowering behind a Wooden Blocking Shield, clutching a Poison Snowball, wondering what she had got herself into.
It had all started earlier that day. Maybelle had indeed made plans to go shopping with her friends, and they were in fact thinking about stopping by the Smoothie Shop, and a trip to Usuki Land was definitely on the agenda. But then Marcia had caught the Neo Flu, and Kelsey got an immensely important quest from Queen Fyora that she just had to take, and Annlynn had finally acquired tickets to a Yes Boy Ice Cream concert, her favorite band. So they had all canceled on the shopping expedition, and Maybelle didn’t really blame them, she just wished that Marcia hadn’t caught the Neo Flu, and that Kelsey’s quest could have come later, and that the Yes Boy Ice Cream concert could be for another day. But it didn’t work that way, so here Maybelle was, all alone, on a perfectly good Saturday morning, with nothing to do. This was a strange feeling for her, because she was used to being surrounded by friends. So when Giuseppi, Maybelle’s next door neighbor and good friend, had stopped by and invited her to the Battledome with him, it had only taken minimal amounts of persuasion to get her to go with him. Little did Maybelle know that she wasn’t just going to sit on the sidelines and watch, cheering her friend on and maybe purchasing a snack from the concession stand. Giuseppi had actually meant that she was going to be fighting, something she had never had the desire to try before. Yes, she was a Battledome newbie.
Peeking from behind the thin slice of wood she was crouching behind, Maybelle took a deep breath. Squealing, she hurled the snowball as hard as she could and ducked for cover back behind her shield, defending herself. It got a total of about two feet and dissolved as soon as it hit the ground.
“Maybelle, don’t be so frightened. You’re only battling Punchbag Bob. He won’t hurt you,” Giuseppi told her patiently. Giuseppi was always patient. “And don’t worry about the snowball. I’ve got tons.” He patted a crate filled with the inexpensive Poison Snowballs.
A few burly Skeiths and a Grarrl walked by, their arms loaded with scary-looking weapons. They pointed and laughed at Maybelle.
“Hey!” Maybelle squeaked. “That’s not very nice!”
That made them laugh even harder.
Giuseppi didn’t seem at all angered by this. His face was as calm as ever as he encouraged Maybelle. “Come on, May, you can do it.”
But Maybelle didn’t like the way those Neopets were making fun of her. Dropping the Wooden Blocking Shield on the ground, Maybelle rose to her full height (which wasn’t very much at all).
“Hey you!” she piped up, manicured hands on her hips, her face pouting. The group was too busy laughing loudly to hear her.
“I said, hey you!” Maybelle repeated, more loudly this time. The Grarrl turned around, a mocking smile on his face.
“What do you want, Acara?” he spat.
“I don’t like the way you were laughing at me,” she retorted.
The Grarrl raised his eyebrows. “Oh, yeah? And what are you going to do about it?” His buddies chortled.
“I want you to apologize,” she insisted, her frown deepening. “Or else.”
The Skeiths burst into fits of maniac laughter. But something in the Grarrl’s expression had hardened. He stepped towards Maybelle.
“Or else what?” His voice was dangerously low and calm.
Maybelle stood her ground. Tilting her head up to make eye contact with the Grarrl, she replied, “Or else I’m going to beat you at a battle.”
Oblivious to the fact that his friends were in hysterics, the Grarrl continued. “Is that a challenge, little girl? ‘Cause I don’t lose.”
“Well, you’re about to find out what it’s like to be defeated.” Maybelle cracked her knuckles. “Ouch,” she muttered under her breath.
The Grarrl’s eyes squinted. “Tomorrow at noon. Be here or you forfeit your dignity,” he growled from behind clenched teeth. “And remember. I. Don’t. Lose.”
And with that, he swept away, leading his friends to an empty arena.
“What did you just do, May?” Giuseppi asked, walking over.
“I have a date with destruction,” she answered. “That’s what.”
* * *
“You’re blowing off the NC Mall for a fight?”
“I have to, Kels. You don’t understand how badly I want to go with you, trust me. But I have to. I simply have to.”
Maybelle picked at the Purple Nail Varnish on her fingernails, something she normally never did. But the stress of the upcoming battle was just too much for her.
“Come onnnnnnnnn! Marcia recovered from the Neo Flu. I finished my quest. Annlynn is back from the concert! There’s a major shoportunity calling our names! You can’t seriously pick an icky Battledome fight over shopping with your besties!”
“I told you, I want to, I do, but I’ve already made a commitment. I’m sorry.”
“Fine, whatevs.” The rainbow Usul’s tone was flat and irritated. “I’ve got to go soon, anyways.”
“I really am sorry,” persisted Maybelle. “Really, really, really. Another time, I promise.”
Maybelle’s front door swung open and a purple Kyrii and a royal Uni pranced in.
“Is she coming?” asked the Kyrii.
“Annlynn? Marcia?” Maybelle’s voice ached with longing.
“Heyyyyyyyy!” Marcia, the Uni, skipped over. “I knew you would want to go shopping with us instead of to that nasty old Battledome.”
“Actually, she doesn’t,” Kelsey corrected. “She is going to the Battledome.”
Marcia and Annlynn stared at Maybelle blankly.
“I didn’t-,” Maybelle started to say, but Kelsey cut her off.
“Come on, girls. The NC Mall is calling.”
With one last look of disgust, Maybelle’s friends turned their backs on her and flounced out the door, whispering fiercely.
“Great,” the Acara said to herself. “Now my best friends hate me and I’m going to get beat up in a few hours. Isn’t my life fun?”
Maybelle’s thoughts were interrupted by another knock on the door. Maybe it’s my friends back to forgive me! She thought excitedly, rushing to answer the door. But it was only Giuseppi.
“Oh. Hey,” she said dejectedly.
“What are you DOING, May?” the orange Bori exclaimed. “Your battle is in less than three hours and you haven’t even trained yet!” Maybelle hadn’t seen her normally mild, calm and mellow neighbor so worked up since the Altador Cup (Giuseppi loved Yooyuball).
“I don’t even know if I want to do the battle anymore,” Maybelle confessed. “Annlynn, Kelsey and Marcia are mad at me because of it and I don’t think I can go up against someone like that Grarrl. I’ll just get myself hurt.”
“There’s no time to worry about that!” Giuseppi cried, dancing around wildly. “We have to get to the Battledome, now! It’s not an option!” Grabbing Maybelle’s hand, he yanked her out the door, dragging her along as he sprinted down Snorkle Street. “Come on, faster, May! I’ve got everything at the Battledome already!”
* * *
“Drink this.” Giuseppi thrust a glass bottle of some mysterious liquid into Maybelle’s arms.
“Wha-,” she started to say, but there was no stopping Giuseppi.
“And this.” He jammed another glass bottle into her hands. “And this. And this. And this.” Maybelle’s arms were stuffed with potions, elixirs, and odd bubbling goo.
“What is all this stuff?”
“They’ll help you in the battle. Come on, drink up!”
Reluctantly, Maybelle popped the cork of a thick red mixture and sniffed the contents. Her stomach turned over at the sour odor that wafted from the bottle.
Giuseppi snatched the bottle from Maybelle’s hand and, ignoring her protests, poured it down her throat.
“Giuseppi!” the Acara exclaimed, coughing from the awful taste.
“No time!” he replied, opening another and forced the sickly-sweet lavender substance into her mouth.
It was almost noon, and Maybelle had been practicing with Giuseppi for about two hours. As the deadline grew nearer, Giuseppi became more and more animated, jumping about and yelling. Maybelle just wished the whole thing was over. The pressure was eating her alive. The Purple Varnish on her nails was already long gone from the strain.
When all the potions had been crammed down her throat and Giuseppi had run off to fetch the Altadorian armour that Alexander from down the street agreed to let them borrow, Maybelle sat down on a bench and took a long sip of water.
You can do this, she told herself, trying to ignore her shaking knees and pounding heart. You can do this. All of the sudden, a voice behind her snapped, “Ready to be defeated?”
Maybelle whipped around and came face-to-face with the Grarrl. She gulped upon seeing his wicked looking sword, fancy shield, Full Grarrl Armour and bag filled with snowballs, spells, and potions.
Mustering all her courage, Maybelle replied, “I think the question is, are you?”
Just then, Giuseppi burst through the door, his arms full with armour from Alexander. Upon spotting the Grarrl, he turned pale and the armour slipped out of his grip.
Maybelle dashed over to Giuseppi and gathered up the armour, stepping into the Tooled Leather Boots, pulling the Altadorian Body Armour over her head, slipping on the Altadorian Battle Helmet, and picking up the Warrior’s Rectangular Shield and Double Pointed Spear. She was no longer a superficial girly-girl. Now, she was a warrior.
“Ooh, scary,” mocked the Grarrl, twirling his obviously expensive sword in his meaty claws.
This would have usually upset Maybelle. But this wasn’t the old Maybelle. This was the new warrior Maybelle who wasn’t fazed by anything.
“We’ll see about that,” she replied coolly, leading the way to an empty battle space. Dumbfounded at Maybelle’s confidence, the Grarrl followed closely behind. Giuseppi trailed after them, still in shock from the sudden appearance of Maybelle’s opponent.
Maybelle took her place at one end of the massive battle arena. The Grarrl took the other. While Warrior Maybelle was ready to fight, Regular Maybelle noticed that the Grarrl’s Skeith friends were not here. She almost felt bad for him. But then Warrior Maybelle kicked in again and all sympathy melted away.
Giuseppi took a spot on the sidelines, his eyes wide and nervous, wringing his hands.
“Don’t panic, May!” he exclaimed. “Stay calm! Whatever you do, stay calm! There’s no need to get all worked up about this, no need to lose your head! Keep cool! Calm down, for the love of Fyora!”
Blocking Giuseppi’s frantic cries out of her mind, Maybelle took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Now she was in the zone and ready to whoop some Grarrl hindquarters.
The electronic scoreboard/referee beeped out a 10 second warning. The Grarrl flexed his bulging muscles and assumed battle position. Maybelle did the same.
“Three, two, one, battle!” the metallic voice of the scoreboard declared. The Grarrl charged towards Maybelle, sword held out. Using her petite frame to her advantage, Maybelle ducked and rolled, completely avoiding her opponent’s attack. When he saw that he had missed his target, the Grarrl let out an angry roar that echoed throughout the Battledome, but did not distract Maybelle at all. Infuriated, the Grarrl stampeded in the Acara’s direction, his hands clutched so tightly around the hilt of his sword that his knuckles were white.
Reaching into her pocket, Maybelle retrieved two Evil Snowballs from the pouch she carried on her hip and calmly tossed them at the Grarrl as he came closer. He managed to deflect one of them with his enormous shield, but one slipped past his defense and nailed him right in the face, causing him to stumble backwards, blinded by the icy cold blast. Darting to the stunned Grarrl, Maybelle took a swing at him with her spear, just narrowly missing. The Grarrl pulled a handful of Snow Faerie Darts out of his pouch and hurled them blindly at Maybelle. One of them grazed her shoulder, and she could feel the freezing cold burn of pain. Gulping down a bottle of Bubbling Healing Goo, Maybelle slashed at the Grarrl again with her spear. This time she made contact, and he roared with pain, clasping his right arm.
“You’ll pay for that!” he bellowed, swinging his sword about wildly.
Maybelle lunged at him again with her spear, hitting him yet another time. The Grarrl was digging through his pouch in a frenzied panic, trying desperately to find a healing potion. Still blinded by the snowball to his eyes, all of his elixirs and potions were dropping to the ground and rolling about everywhere.
Just one more hit, Maybelle thought. Grabbing more snowballs from her pouch, she simultaneously launched them at her opponent and swung her spear one last time. The combined force of the two brought the Grarrl down.
“Yes!” Maybelle exclaimed, jumping up and down. But she and Giuseppi weren’t the only ones cheering. Among the voices of bystanders who had paused to watch the interesting match were three familiar voices coming from the bleachers. Turning around, Maybelle saw a rainbow Usul, a purple Kyrii and a royal Uni on their feet (or hooves) clapping and hollering louder than anyone else.
“Kelsey? Annlynn? Marcia? What are you guys doing here?” Maybelle rushed over to the side of the arena and hung over the side of the wall that closed off the battle area from the audience. Maybelle’s three best friends walked over to join her, the smiles on their faces bigger than she had ever seen them.
“We wanted to come cheer you on,” Annlynn answered with a smile.
“So you guys aren’t mad at me anymore?” Maybelle asked hopefully.
“Of course not,” Kelsey replied. “We’ve decided that no matter what you want to do, we’ll support you one hundred percent.”
“Really?” Maybelle’s eyes were wide with thanks.
“Really!” all three chimed in, and pulled their friend closer for a group hug.
Giuseppi came over to join them. “May, that was awesome!” he exclaimed. “You were like bam, and bam, bam, bam, and then you were like pow!” The orange Bori slashed at the air with an invisible spear, twirling and rolling and dodging.
Even though she was basking in the glow of her friends’ praises, Maybelle couldn’t help but notice the Grarrl she had just defeated, looking forlorn. No one had rushed over to tell him what a great job he had done. No one was complimenting him or patting his back or trying to make him smile.
“Excuse me, I’ll be right back,” Maybelle said, interrupting Giuseppi, who was in the middle of reenacting the scene in which she had blinded her opponent with snowballs. Slipping off her armour as she went, Maybelle walked over to where the Grarrl was alone in a corner and sat down next to him. He was yanking his boots off, his head covered in shadows so she couldn’t see his face.
“Hi,” she said softly. “You played a good game.”
The Grarrl looked up, and seemed surprised to see her there.
“What do you want?” he mumbled, returning to his boots. “To come and brag about how you beat me?”
“No,” Maybelle replied, “I wanted to invite you to spend the rest of the day with me and my friends. We’re going to the arcade, and the Smoothie Shop, and maybe we can even check out Battle Magic, if you want.”
The Grarrl looked up, perplexed. “Why are you doing this? I was so mean to you before.”
“You seemed kind of lonely,” she answered truthfully. “Like you could use a friend.”
He turned to face her, his face surprisingly gentle. “Are you sure?”
Maybelle nodded. “Of course.”
The Grarrl waited a moment, then nodded. “Yes,” he said, “I would like that. A lot. Thanks.”
“No problem.” Maybelle smiled, took his hand, and led him over to introduce him to her friends.