Give My Regards to the Ixi of Doom: Part One
Zarrelian the Halloween Ixi eagerly clutched the script
that he clasped in his hooves as he mentally revised his lines. Today was the
day that the auditions for the school play, "The Fruit on the Oak Tree", were
being held. Zarrelian was quite excited; he had been looking forward to the production
for months. The Ixi was ready to show Neopia what he could do; to make his big
stage debut! Of course, a shoddy school play wasn't exactly the best vessel for
his rise to stardom, but everybody had to start somewhere, right?
Mr. Bronston, a Draik with vibrant red scales
as fiery as his temper, smugly surveyed the long line of students vying for
a role in the play. He would picky, and very selective. Not just anyone was
fit to be in his show! Out of his thirty students, only twenty-nine pets would
be selected to act in the play, as that was the number of roles that it had.
Mr. Bronston had written the play himself, after having volunteered to do so.
He had jumped at the opportunity to display his skills as a playwright, and
prove to all of Neopia that he ought to be doing that for a living and getting
paid millions as opposed to teaching at a low-rate Neoschool for less than a
hundred Neopoints an hour. "The Fruit on the Oak Tree" was his pride, his life's
work, and he would make sure that only the best actors would represent it. Well,
you know, the best actors that could be found in a second-rate public Neoschool.
Kybalt the Zafara calmly smoothed back the charcoal-colored
tuft of fur on his otherwise flame-licked head, eyeing the stage--and the competition--with
a haughty, experienced gaze. Out of all the hopeful would-be actors, Kybalt
was the only one who could truthfully claim to have participated in the theatrical
arts. The fire Zafara had performed in numerous plays, ranging from the comical,
lighthearted "Chia Clowns" to the solemn, tear jerking "Scorchio and Jubjubette".
His real claim to fame, however, was his appearance in an advertisement for
Krawkade energy drink alongside his personal hero, Roland Lombard. Mr. Lombard
was easily Neopia's most famous and accomplished actor, having starred in nearly
every production to ever grace the Royal Brightvale Theater, and Kybalt had
hero-worshipped him ever since he had been old enough to say the words, "this
isn't mineral water!" The Zafara smirked as he watched his fellow students practicing
(and bungling) their lines. He would show them what a real star was made of!
His friend, (though Kybalt referred to him as his "associate") Terracota the
Christmas Moehog, grinned enthusiastically up at the Zafara.
"This'll be awesome, Ky! You're awesome, Ky!
This play would be totally not awesome without you, Ky!" he jabbered. Kybalt
"I couldn't have said it better myself."
Zarrelian grinned, noting with a mixture of excitement
and anticipation that it was his turn to audition. The Ixi leapt nimbly upon
the stage, self consciously folding his leathery bat wings to his sides. Mr.
Bronston scowled at Zarrelian, hoping that the Ixi would have a terrible reading
so that he would have an excuse not to cast him. It would probably be a good
idea to mention that Zarrelian and Mr. Bronston had each had shared a mutual
dislike of the other that had taken root on the very first day that they met.
Zarrelian had no interest in learning from the Draik, and Mr. Bronston had no
interest in teaching the Ixi. The rest, as they say, is history.
Zarrelian quickly matched his teacher's glare
and disdainfully cleared his throat, holding his script at an arm's length as
he began to rattle off his lines.
"And so, I have realized, that in the heat of
summer, the oak tree bears no fruit," the Ixi said, waving his hooves about
in the air in a vain attempt to make himself appear more dramatic. Mr. Bronston
grinned in sheer delight at Zarrelan's total lack of acting skills.
"Alright, stop! That's plenty, Zarrelian," he
snapped, cutting the Ixi off. "I think that I've heard enough to make a fair,
ahem, assessment of your... 'abilities'." Zarrelian brightened up.
"So you think I have good abilities?" he asked
eagerly. Mr. Bronston smiled.
"Let's just say that you have a certain flair
for the mediocre," he replied in a snarky, condescending tone. The Draik gave
a cruel little chuckle. "Or, in layman's terms--"
"Oh, you don't have to simplify it for me,
Mr. Bronston," the Ixi interjected. "I can understand your big words just fine."
With that, Zarrelian turned and trotted down the stage, his oversized head held
high. He giggled.
"Heehee, he thinks that I was AWESOME!" Zarrelian
gushed. Back on the stage, Mr. Bronston shook his head with a manner that one
could almost call pitying... But not quite. The Draik snorted, making a little
red "X" mark next to Zarrelian's name on his clipboard.
"I think that I'll have demote you to stage crew,
Ixi," he mumbled to himself. A sharp, "a-hem!" brought Mr. Bronston back to
reality. He snapped his head up and glanced around, searching for the source
of the sound.
"What is it?" His gaze came to rest on a rakishly
dapper fire Zafara. "Oh, Kybalt, it's you. I suppose you want to audition?"
Kybalt rolled his eyes.
"Obviously! Really, this entire affair is so
unorganized," he groused. Mr. Bronston narrowed his eyes.
"I believe that's 'disorganized'. And besides
that, you're wrong. Now are you going to stand around insulting my production
all day or are you going to impress me?"
Kybalt, looking slightly taken aback, grasped
his script and quickly readied himself. The Zafara exhaled deeply.
"I am finding my center... There are Puppyblews,
and a waterfall..."
"READ THE DARN LINES!"
"Ah, yes sir." Kybalt cleared his throat, taking
a step forward. "It was a beautiful day when we planted the oak tree, though
we knew full well, that the tree would yield no fruit, for it was summer, and
the heat bows down to no tree," the Zafara paused and held his position of one
paw forward, one hand in the air for exactly three seconds before relaxing into
a theatrical bow. Mr. Bronston applauded, his large yellow eyes glistening with
"Bravo, Kybalt! That was fantastic! You really
showed the true emotion of the farmer who planted the oak tree: extreme rage.
I am so pleased with your performance!" the Draik exalted. Kybalt buffed his
flame-licked paw on his chest.
"Oh, thank you. Really, it was nothing!"
Terracota scrambled up onto the stage, practically
groveling at the Zafara's feet. (He could've been wearing a sign that read,
"I am a shallow, one-dimensional character with no purpose other than to provide
moderately entertaining slapstick").
"Wow Ky, that was your best yet! You just get
more and more awesome every time I see you!" the Moehog exclaimed.
Zarrelian had watched the entire audition from
behind the curtain, growing angrier and more jealous by the second. The Ixi
"That puffed-up Zafara may have extreme rage,
but I've got something that he doesn't have! I have--" Zarrelian paused. "Wait,
what do I have?" He was still puzzling over that conundrum when he heard Mr.
Bronston's voice ring through the stuffy auditorium.
"Everybody gather around! I have made my casting
decisions!" the Draik yelled. Zarrelian perked up.
"Oooh, goody! I bet that I got a really good
part, because Mr. Bronston loved my audition!" The Ixi allowed a chauvinistic
grin to spread across his face.
"After all, he said that I had a flair."
Zarrelian gleefully clip-clopped out onto the main stage, a balloon of excitement
swelling up in his chest.
Mr. Bronston stood in the center of the stage,
surrounded by a phalanx of hopeful pets. Zarrelian immersed himself into the
crowd, waiting along with them for the casting announcement. The Ixi noticed,
with some distaste, that Kybalt had chosen to stand a few feet away from everybody
else, looking exasperated and very annoyed at having to be in such close context
to mundane, un-actors. Zarrelian, thinking that this was the way all good performers
acted, quickly squirmed out of the group of pets, sitting a little off to the
side instead. The students all seemed fairly confident about their auditions.
"He's got to give me a good role, I rocked that
audition!" a random Kougra whispered. His friend, some Aisha, scoffed.
"I had the best performance! He said that he
would contact me, and that I didn't have to contact him. That's GOT to be a
Mr. Bronston shot a thin jet of fire into the
air, signaling that he wanted silence. The class understood, quickly calling
a halt to all conversations. The Draik harrumphed, strutting up and down the
stage like a drill sergeant.
"Okay, pets. As you know, I have just finished
making my final decisions regarding casting." He tore a sheet of paper from
his clipboard, holding it aloft for all to see. "This sheet contains all the
roles with their respective actors. Remember, you shouldn't feel bad if you're
not in the play, because it's nothing personal..." He glared pointedly at Zarrelian.
"It's just because I hate you. Now, the list!" He whirled around and swiftly
taped the casting sheet to the broad wall of the stage, stepping back just in
time to narrowly avoid being trampled by the horde of stampeding, hopeful students.
The random Kougra's eyes lit up. "Hey, check
it out! I get to play the farmer's son! That's like, the co-starring supporting
main role!" he squealed. The Aisha frowned.
"Aw, I got cast as the magical spine vine. That's
just like being a prop that can talk. And move. And sing. Darnit!"
Zarrelian, who was rather short, was having trouble
seeing over the heads of his un-vertically challenged fellows. The Ixi jumped
up and down, trying to scan the list while he was momentarily aloft. Finally,
a Grarrl took pity on him and allowed Zarrelian to perch up on his shoulders
so that he could read the list. The Ixi squinted, frantically searching for
"I don't get it," he said. "My name isn't there!
Everyone is on the list but me!" Zarrelian leapt down from the Grarrl's shoulders
and galloped up to his teacher.
"You cast everybody in your play except for me!"
he accused. Mr. Bronston glared at him.
"I reserve the right to decide who will act
in my production and who will paint sets for my production, Zarrelian,"
he retorted, folding his arms over his chest. Zarrelian pounded the floor with
"But that's not fair! You gave everyone else
a part! You even made up new roles so that everyone except for me could be in
the play!" he cried. Mr. Bronston sighed.
"First of all, that's not true. There was always
a magical spine vine in the play. Secondly, Zarrelian, what you don't understand
is that I'm helping you. I'm doing this for your benefit. It's tough love, Zarrel."
He knelt down so that they were at eye-level.
"I shatter your self-esteem because I care,"
the Draik insisted. Zarrelian snarled and turned on his hoof, stomping back
to the casting sheet. Mr. Bronston chuckled.
"Another day, another point against the Ixi,"
Zarrelian glanced over his shoulder at the sniggering
Draik and gritted his teeth. He would show Mr. Bronston, oh yes! He would get
a part in the play if it was the last thing he did!
To be continued...