Weisbauch Reports: Behind Capara’s Cards
Like any Kyrii, I, Weisbauch, know the importance of good grooming. Before an interview I ensure that my hair is in tip-top condition, that my jacket is crease-free and that no stray bits of asparagus are wedged between my teeth. However much pride I take in my appearance, though, could never compare with the unyielding glamour of one of Neopia's most celebrated Kyrii, one whose time in the spotlight extends beyond the days of Maraqua's rebuilding, Brightvale's discovery and the tragic loss of Hubrid Nox. In the face of all things new and sparkly, I decide to be a little retro and conduct an interview with Capara, the Cheat!-playing Kyrii, to profile her impressive career in the world of card games.
It would be fair to say Capara has seen the prime of her stardom come and go. The love Neopia once felt for the card game Cheat! has dwindled in the face of more efficient methods of money making, such as the thrilling Stock Market, or the ever-popular option of opening a self-run shop. Yet Cheat!, although not as popular as it once was, still holds a special place in the hearts of many, best known for its array of colourful, idiosyncratic players. As I stand in the lobby of the AstroVilla Hotel, lodging place for the players as they participate in what seems like their umpteenth championship, I see many faces I recognise. In a corner, shuffling cards and effortlessly oozing a sense of edginess, Spectre the Jetsam sits alone, throwing shifty glances at anyone who passes by him. Agent 00 Hog sips a Sparkling Space Cocktail at a table, joined by Kalora the Kau, who flicks mindlessly through a travel magazine.
But the sound of shrill laughter catches my attention, and I look up to see the famous trio – Brucey B, Princess Fernypoo and, of course, Capara – walking down the steps in high spirits. Princess Fernypoo clutches her precious Puppyblew, Muffy, who looks awkward dressed in an oversized pink bow, whilst Brucey B sports that famous medallion, glinting in the light of the chandelier. Neither the Bruce nor the Acara, however, capture the eye quite like Capara, who has arrived for our interview dressed in her trademark outfit, looking resplendent in a flowing green gown and a shimmering pearl choker. She waves a playful farewell to her companions before approaching the table at which I am seated, making far too much of a show of sitting down – running her hands through her fiery red hair, patting down her dress for invisible dust, and giving out a melodramatic sigh that clearly says, "Goodness, these expensive NC Mall shoes are killing me!"
I am eager to begin the interview, but Capara insists we order something to drink first, promising to pick up the bill – but do I trust the word of a Cheat! player? Either way, it seems rude to decline, and we order two glasses of Altadorian Nectar. It seems almost as if everything Capara does has to possess a distinct air of class and showmanship, as she sips her drink with flourishing movements, following each mouthful with a long, appreciative breath of refreshment.
The silence has gone beyond the ten-second mark, and I realise I cannot submit an article detailing the manner in which Capara drank her glass of Altadorian Nectar and generally sat there looking like a starlet – although I'm sure she would have no objections to such a piece – and so I clear my throat, loudly and deliberately, and lean forward, as I do, to begin the interview. Capara, too, sets down her glass, crosses one leg over the other and stands to attention, twisting one red lock around a tapered finger absent-mindedly. Let the questions commence.
"So tell me, Capara," I begin, "You're pretty well known for your lucrative career in Cheat!. My readers would be curious to know how exactly it all began. How did you come to be one of the most prolific card players in Neopia?"
"Well, now, that's a story!" exclaims Capara dramatically, giving another toss of the hair for good measure. "I was a small-town shop assistant who craved a life under the spotlight. I just knew I was destined for greater things than selling fruit – like fame and fortune were synonymous with my destiny. It's as if it was written. You know what I mean, right?"
"In a way," I reply uncertainly. Capara does not seem to detect the doubt in my voice and ploughs on with her story regardless.
"So there I was, a most unsatisfied – I really do mean intensely unsatisfied, make sure you write down just how unsatisfying my job was – a most unsatisfied shop assistant, when suddenly I was approached by my manager one day, really quite out of the blue. And then and there – no, darling, I'm not even joking, then and there – he fired me. I could hardly believe the unfairness of it all!"
Unsatisfied she may have been (there is no doubt in my mind any more), but an out of the blue sacking? My sources have indicated otherwise. I refer Capara to her public Neopedia article, specifically the line that describes her reasons for employment termination: "Selling overpriced rotten oranges and so-called bad attitude". Under the spotlight of this revelation Capara squirms uncomfortably and attempts to dispel the tension with another flick of that brilliant mane and a half-convincing laugh. It evidently comes out louder than she intended, and as an unplanned bark echoes round the lobby I feel the burn of the glares of the other guests turning their heads towards us. Even the pianist, with his gentle lounge music, has lost his place and is now narrowing his eyes at Capara. Ignoring this, I arch an eyebrow expectantly at my interviewee– I am not judging her, per se, but I have come here to seek the truth about Capara, and not the fantastical nonsense found in her semi-autobiographical book.
"Alright," she snaps, suddenly losing her cool and demonstrating that well-known fury that has made her infamous among circles of Cheat! players. "Perhaps I did accidentally sell a few oranges that were a little past their prime. And maybe I did bump up the price so I could afford a new dress. But the attitude, that's rubbish, total rubbish – my manager, you see, he was quite clearly envious of my celebrity-in-waiting status. I was destined for greater things. He couldn't handle that."
If anything, Capara's vehement denial of her attitude problems only serve as appropriate tribute to them, and, unable to fight back a small, smug smile, I write down her little outburst word for word. She leans in to catch a peek of my parchment, but I quickly pull it out of sight and ask her to go on with her story. She leans back in her seat and glances at me, her lips tight, but, remembering that she has an image to uphold, clears her throat and continues.
"Anyway, I had just lost my job – for, shall we say, a plethora of reasons – and I needed something to do. By this point there were already adverts being put out for this brand new card game tournament, which was, of course, Cheat!, and I decided I had nothing to lose by applying. Plus, of course, we Kyrii have a natural intelligence and craftiness that lends itself well to these games of wiles. That's why the Neopian Times once called me, goodness, what was it again?" – and here, she theatrically attempts to mask the fact that she clearly has the celebratory article memorised word for word – "Of course, The Feisty Rising Star."
Apparently, then, Capara has held the "rising star" status for quite some time now, as she does not appear to be making a great deal of progress. Despite having written a book on her game tactics she remains notoriously easy to beat, and it is almost an inevitability that, with every new tournament of Cheat! that comes around, Capara gets knocked out in round one. I ask her whether one can truly be a rising star if one never actually rises. She looks horribly offended and I fear she is about to throw her glass of Altadorian Nectar over me, but she simply looks at me with disdain before moving swiftly on.
"You may mock me, Mr Weisbauch," she says haughtily, her nose upturned, "But may I remind you who the Cheat! trophies are modelled after. Let me give you a clue – she's young, beautiful and sassy – "
I open my mouth to answer, but she cuts me off before I can even speak.
" – it's me. Of course it's me, who else could it be?"
Indeed, whilst Capara may not be the greatest Cheat! player in the world, she has probably received the most exposure from her career. Aside from being featured on the trophies, Capara's likeness has found its way onto an avatar, a very expensive book, three varieties of battlecard and, perhaps her greatest claim to fame, a highly prized battledeck with the inexplicable ability to dispense infinite battlecards (each adorned with her face, of course), an item once stocked personally by Queen Fyora herself in her Hidden Tower. Let it be said that Capara the Kyrii knows how to create a brand image (and let it also be said that she treads the fine line between fame and selling out, a thought I choose not to share with her). Aside from her numerous endorsements, however, Capara has also found fame outside of her career in Cheat!, most notably from the role she played in the discovery of the Lost Desert. I casually mention this to her, and she immediately perks up.
"Oh, now, that, too, is a story," she sighs, her eyes glazing over with fond reminiscence. "Me, Brucey B and Princess Fernypoo – we're still so close, we are, especially since our adventure. Who'd have thought chasing his lucky coin would have led to the discovery of the Lost Desert? I mean, I was only planning on taking the coin for myself, but then – bang! – and a whole new land has been found."
"Wait," I say, holding up a hand, "Did you say you wanted to steal Brucey B's lucky coin?!"
"What?" Capara suddenly looks forcedly puzzled, contorting her face into a caricatured expression of innocence. "Of course not. That's not something I'd admit. I don't know what you heard. Anyway – really darling, you shouldn't interrupt, I was getting to the best bit – a search for Brucey B's lucky coin, and the adventure of a lifetime. I didn't care for the beasties of the Haunted Woods. Or the dry taste of those mummified peppers. Or the slithery, creepy Wadjets. Or being a slithery, creepy Wadjet. Or the impudent Dr Sloth. In fact, there were many things I didn't care for, now that I think about it. In fact, I'm not even sure it was worth it."
She sits in silence for a moment, contemplating her escapades with Brucey B and Princess Fernypoo in the Lost Desert, before snapping back to reality, shaking her head firmly so her luscious locks cascade with each movement, flashing that high-class smile and laughing, seemingly at her own silliness.
"What am I saying?" she chuckles, "Of course it was worth it. Provided" – and here, her tone suddenly turns darker – "I never see a Wadjet again."
The silence is back, only this time it is most unsettling, and I can see in Capara's eyes terrible flashbacks to her widely documented time spent living the life of a Wadjet. Whoever said Sloth didn't have an ironic sense of humour? Feeling this is an opportune moment to wrap up the interview, I break the tension by standing up, clearing my throat and extending a hand towards Capara, which grips in a firm yet ladylike handshake. I thank her wholeheartedly for giving us all a little trip down memory lane by reliving her journey to the Lost Desert and reminding us all of a simpler time when Cheat! was Neopia's number one card game. As I leave the AstroVilla hotel, I think of Capara, and what a character she is. Despite her temper and her pride, I am glad I had the privilege of interviewing one of Neopia's most treasured celebrities, a true lady whose long-spanning career just goes to show, regardless of your roots, a dream of fame is achievable if –
"Sir!" My internal monologue is interrupted by the bellhop chasing after me. "Sir, you haven't paid for your drinks. Miss Capara told me you'd be settling the bill."
I turn around, but, as if she has just been painted invisible, Capara is nowhere to be seen. Sighing and reluctantly retrieving my money, one thought goes through my head: you can't trust a Cheat! player after all.
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