Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 164,193,660 Issue: 179 | 25th day of Awakening, Y7
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Give My Regards to the Ixi of Doom: Part Three

by battlesunn


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 blanched.

     "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 chest.

     "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 cackled.

     "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 confused.

     "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 outside, too.

     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 auditorium ablaze.

     "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 late!"

     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 schedule doubtfully.

     "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...

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Other Episodes

» Give My Regards to the Ixi of Doom: Part One
» Give My Regards to the Ixi of Doom: Part Two
» Give My Regards to the Ixi of Doom: Part Four

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