Give My Regards to the Ixi of Doom: Part Three
Zarrelian lounged about backstage in his tree costume, awaiting
his cue. The rehearsal had gone by very uneventfully, due in part to the fact
that it was a terribly boring play. The Halloween Ixi yawned; a bit annoyed at
the uncomfortable way the costume pinioned his arms to his sides. The outfit consisted
of a large, brown, cylindrical "trunk" with a sizable hole cut out for his head
to show through. There were no armholes, so he basically looked like a brown tube
with some greenish rods vaguely resembling branches sticking out of the top of
his head. All in all, he made for a very strange tree.
At last, Zarrelian heard his cue. The Ixi's ears
perked up as Kybalt's strong voice projected all around the auditorium.
"I wonder if my oak tree will ever come home
to me, and I wonder if it will ever bear fruit."
The Ixi waddled quickly onto the stage, his cumbersome
costume making walking a difficult and time-consuming activity. Finally, he
reached his mark, and stood with his face turned to the wings. Mr. Bronston,
sitting in the front row of the seats, visibly winced.
"Zarrelian! How many times do I have to tell
you-- enter from the LEFT side of the stage, and cross to downstage center up
right! It's not that complicated," he snapped, certain that this was merely
one of the Ixi's early attempts to undermine his authority as the director.
Zarrelian rolled his eyes.
"Fine, I'll do it again," he said as he trundled
off to re-do the scene. Mr. Bronston stopped him.
"No, no, there's no time. Just continue from
where you came in." He settled back into his chair, glowering at the pets onstage.
"Okay now, from the top!" he ordered. Zarrelian
"Line!" he shouted. Mr. Bronston groaned, staring
desperately at the rapidly clicking clock. They were on time constraints, after
all, and the Ixi was really eating up their rehearsal. The Draik closed his
eyes, doing his best to stay calm and not lose his temper.
"There is no line, Zarrelian. You just stand
there," he hissed.
Zarrelian sniffed. "Can I at least get into character
first?" he asked. Kybalt sighed in exasperation, putting his flame-licked paws
on his hips.
"You have no character, Ixi! You're a tree!"
he hissed. Zarrelian shuffled around so that he was facing the Zafara.
"I do so have a character! I'M the star," he
retorted. Kybalt laughed, except that it was the kind of laugh that people always
make when they're angry and annoyed, as opposed to being genuinely amused, as
is usually the case with laughter.
"You?" he snorted. "You play a stick. I'M the
star! I'm the farmer! You're just an oak tree who bears no fruit in the scorching
heat of summer." Zarrelian was starting to look crestfallen. Mr. Bronston, sensing
a repeat of yesterday's events, quickly interjected.
"Ah, but you're also Kybalt's understudy!" he
added hastily. "That's a very important part. Why, if Kybalt were to fall ill
or something then it would be up to you the save the play! So please don't allow
your self worth to lower; my job and my play depend on it," the Draik said desperately.
Kybalt glared at Mr. Bronston, then flicked his gaze back to Zarrelian.
"I cannot work with him," he said simply. "He
chews the scenery!"
Zarrelian rolled his eyes. "I ate ONE prop, can't
you let it go?" Kybalt fumed.
"If he does not leave the stage then I'm going
to refuse to perform! He is disturbing my artistic vibrations!"
Zarrelian scoffed. "Yeah, right! You're just
looking for an excuse to avoid working on this superlative production, because
you are envious of my audacity for theatrical pursuits!" he shot back. Kybalt
looked at him with mild surprise.
"My, you engaged in literary ventures with the
thesaurus as well?" he asked incredulously. Zarrelian polished his hoof on his
"That's right, Kybalt! You're not so special
now that you're not the only one who can use big words, now are you?" he taunted.
The Zafara bared his teeth.
"That's it, Ixi! I'm going to make you wish that
you had never auditioned! We're having an insult fight!" he roared. Zarrelian
"Alright, I can handle that! You, my friend,
are a jerk!" he spat. Kybalt gave a disdainful huff.
"Is that the best you can do? You, Ixi, are a
mad mustachioed purple-hued maltworm!" he said triumphantly. Zarrelian looked
"What?" he asked, feeling puzzled. From backstage,
he heard Terracota shout a reply.
"It's an Alstafian insult! Of course you wouldn't
even be able to comprehend its awesomeness, because you're so uncultured!" the
Moehog yelled. Mr. Bronston was slamming his head against the stage in frustration.
Things were most certainly not going according to plan for the harried Draik.
Kybalt tilted his head to the side.
"You really shouldn't do that, sir. It's going
to absolutely destroy your profile," the Zafara cautioned. Mr. Bronston rose
his head and stared wearily at the pets.
"Just act out the scene, please! Just once,"
he begged. Kybalt clenched his teeth.
"No! The Ixi is unworthy to even be eclipsed
in the shadow of my talent," the Zafara spat, sticking his nose in the air.
"Mr. Bronston, I demand that you remove the pixie goat from this production,"
he said with a huff. Mr. Bronston looked livid.
"Kybalt," he began in a forced, even tone. "I
am unable to remove Zarrelian from the cast. It is ESSENTIAL that we have an
oak tree in our play, and Zarrelian is the only available pet to play such an,
erm, character," the Draik awkwardly finished. Kybalt's face twisted.
"Character? What were the requirements-- wooden
acting abilities and the skill of standing still? I saw your little inventory
sheet, Mr. Bronston, and the oak tree was meant to be a PROP, not some delusional
Ixi in a cardboard suit!" he snarled. Zarrelian whimpered.
"But I thought that I was the star!" the Ixi
cried. "You said that I had the title role!" Mr. Bronston tugged at the collar
of his tie-- it was his personal favorite, jet black with a large yellow frowny
face stitched on the front.
"A... Yes, well, you see..." The Draik was at
a bit of a loss for words, frantically clinging to whatever defense sprung into
his mind. Inwardly, he was sweating. Actually, he was sweating a bit on the
Oh, fantastic, he thought to himself.
Now that the Ixi's got his ego shattered, I'm going to get fired. I KNEW
that he would find a way to ruin my play, my job, and my life! I just didn't
think that it would happen before career week. Mr. Bronston tried to tally
up how many times he had had his job threatened, but quickly lost count. Kybalt
was looking triumphant.
"You see?" he said with a smug little smirk.
"You're just a prop. And even when you're a prop, you still can't be convincing.
I'M the star here, not YOU." The Zafara got a faraway look in his eyes. "A star--
just like my hero, Roland Lombard..." Kybalt gave a wistful sigh, clasping his
fiery paws in front of his chest. Zarrelian paused, a sinister smile creeping
across his face.
"Yes Kybalt," he said sweetly. "You are the star.
I'm just an oak tree; I don't even get my own solo." The Ixi chuckled darkly,
rubbing his hooves together. "But I'm also your understudy. And actors can have
accidents." He began to giggle, not noticing that the friction of his hooves
rubbing together had caused small sparks to start flying. Mr. Bronston cleared
his throat and hastily flew onto the stage to stop Zarrelian from setting the
"Uh, that's swell, Zarrel. Now please stop rubbing
your hooves together. It's a very useful talent, though, and I'll be sure to
give you a call when I need to start a campfire in a hurry." The Draik turned
and addressed both pets, raising his voice so that the students backstage could
hear him, too.
"Alright, I think that we've had enough rehearsing
for today. Everyone go home-- and remember, the play goes on in two weeks, so
be sure to practice your lines!" He glanced at his clipboard, scanning the rehearsal
schedule. "Our next meeting will be tomorrow, same time, same place. Don't be
The pets backstage exited the auditorium in a
jovial mood, laughing and talking amongst each other. Terracota waited dutifully
by the door, unwilling to leave until Kybalt finished with Mr. Bronston. Kybalt,
for his part, was still looking very miffed at the prospect of having to work
with Zarrelian for a further two weeks. He glared at his teacher.
"I'm still highly incensed at your decision to
keep him," he said, jerking his head at Zarrelian. "On the cast!" With that,
the Zafara whirled around on his heel, executing a perfect 360-degree turn,
and then stomped out of the auditorium, Terracota trotting at his feet. Zarrelian
grinned cheekily up at Mr. Bronston.
"It's quite alright, sir," he insisted, his voice
dripping with oily, feigned sincerity. "I'm very happy in my role as the oak
tree. I think that it will be my most involving performance yet. Besides," he
sniggered. "I'm still Kybalt's understudy. And that certainly counts for something."
Still chuckling to himself, Zarrelian clip-clopped off the stage and out the
door, his ungainly costume bumping into every item that the Ixi came within
ten meters of.
Mr. Bronston shook his head and sighed, running
his claws through his graying plume of hair. It had been looking particularly
grayer these past few weeks, too, he noticed. The Draik frowned, examining his
"I just hope that I can make this play work,"
he said aloud, engaging in his first soliloquy. "And I'm certain that Zarrelian's
planning something, I know it. But what?" Still mulling pensively over his thoughts,
Mr. Bronston strolled out the door, clinging to the blind hope that his suspicions
of Zarrelian were unfounded, and that his production would go on as planned.
But we all know that it won't. The foreshadowing
is so totally obvious.
To be continued...