The Personal Memoirs of MAGAX
Part the First
I knew neither my father nor mother. Any memories I once would have possessed of them I can no longer recollect; they are eternally lost to my subconscious.
However, I did know, and was actually quite familiar with, one of Neopia's most notorious villains; the late, great, Hubrid Nox.
I was christened Maximillian Gaxerby; but, many call me MAGAX. The grand Chia found me and, upon taking me into his illustrious abode overlooking my childhood play place, the old "Deep Woods Fairground," inquired my name. Upset by its general "lack of evil tone," he re-dubbed me a portmanteau of my given and surname. To increase its appeal toward him further, he wished to see the five letter label stylized completely in capitals.
A stimulating pseudonym, is it not?
I suppose I should reveal more information regarding my identity and how I fell into the loving arms of Nox.
It was many years ago, though I remember it as though it were yesterday. I was alone, traversing the dense, dead, Haunted Woods forest aimlessly searching for my separated parents. The woods are never completely sunny -- it's really just varying degrees of shade -- and, judging from the inherent darkness level of the sky coupled with the light reflected off the full moon, I'd have to put the time just after midnight.
I had been calling their names for help getting back together -- names I no longer know; just the sound of my empty voice dances through my memory -- hoping to find them again.
And then I heard the most shocking and frightening sound I'd ever heard, an audible memory that serves as the last reminder of my mother and father; I heard the pair's shrieking scream, their final words taking on the familiar essence of a helpless yelp into the eternal depths above.
I knew they had to be no more. I stopped howling for assistance and kept quiet, for two reasons: one, I desperately wished that whatever found them did not locate me; and two, you only scream for help when you believed you still have a chance at being saved, and I knew, deep down, that whatever my parents had encountered would inevitably find and destroy me as well...
And to some extent, it did.
I fell asleep behind a tree, and awoke in a bed.
A bed in Hubrid Nox's most magnificent castle.
The Chia had told me that he and his gang had found me restlessly resting behind one of the many trees of the bark dense below. I apparently appeared quite ill, and requiring of some form of attention.
It was this lie that would allow my brain to replace my parents with this new supposed guardian; this lie that would cause me to lose my former identity.
The Chia recommended his troops take me in, and tutor me in the practices of villainy and wickedness.
I was so desperate to belong that I went totally along with their plans, despite the early warnings that every Haunted Woods child receives regarding the immoral Chia.
So, I was set to learn the ways of Nox.
And the most terrible thing was that I actually enjoyed it...
Oh, I was a naïve young Wocky, a vigorous go-getter from my early youthful days. When I set my mind on a goal, I would not stop until I saw the end of my work. And at that moment, my life goal became to become like Hubrid.
Every day at 9:00AM NST sharp, I was set to be at Nox's grand dining room table, where the Chia would teach me the proper etiquette for eating breakfast. I was to consume my random rarity 99 foods with my bear hands, and utter a hearty "MUAHAHA!" every once in a while, for show.
It was very odd, really.
From there, he would carry out a great deal of other procedural things; we would stage practice drills concerning he taking over Neopia and my subsequent reactions, for example.
Once, he pretended that he was a Defender of Neopia. He inquired to me several questions regarding the villainous Nox, just to see what my answers would be; to ensure I wouldn't sell him out.
I didn't, and I believe he was genuinely relieved by the fact.
I had become trustworthy in his eyes, a Wocky to be reckoned with.
The day went on. He'd teach me how to operate his advanced weaponry; he described stories of epic battles between himself and some other stereotypical "take over the world!" kind of villain. (There was this one tale concerning a feud between him and Dr. Sloth -- long story short, Nox was the one that resulted in the Doom Dispenser 3000 dispensing often nothing more than Neocola, or the odd trinket.)
And, in the evenings, he'd invite all the minions from his castle and we'd play a fun game of cards. Buck, 99, Cheat, Poker... games of luck, yet of some skill and strategy.
However, the components of luck, skill, and strategy increased further as he taught me "tricks of the trade", like stacking cards, or pulling aces out of sleeves with such precision the action would be unrecognizable to all else playing.
It was actually a fun way to end the evening.
And then, after all the daily fun was complete, he'd take me up to my bed -- the same bed I was first laid in when I awoke after that eventful midnight -- and lay me down. Occasionally, he'd tell me a story, or sing me a lullaby; often, though, he would just tuck me in and leave, whispering incoherent sounds on his exit.
That was the typical weekday.
On the weekends, he'd take me down to the Deep Woods Fairground below for some relaxing time, and because he felt, generally, that I deserved it after a full five days of training.
He would get me to play Test Your Strength, and I'd always hit the bell at the top -- I couldn't tell if the Mynci running it was so frightened by Nox's presence that he un-rigged the game, or if the Chia used some kind of sorcery to ensure I'd win all the time.
It was the same for all the other games down there -- Corkgun Gallery, Coconut Shy; I'd win them all.
And I enjoyed winning. And I, even more so, enjoyed the companionship of my guardian and mentor, the late, great, Hubrid Nox.
And the days went by. They became weeks, which became months, which became years; it soon felt as though my life with Nox was the only life I ever knew, was the only life I thought was worth living.
He served me, and I devoted myself to him. I was his greatest servant.
But then I found out the truth, and then -- until Xandra, I suppose -- became his worst enemy.
Nox had killed my parents.
As a young adult, my passion for literature was budding. The Chia, however, did not wish me going down to the Book Store in Neovia, claiming the material sold there "unfit for the absorption into evil minds." He was against many forms of media not inherently created or approved by him -- to some extent, he was a very intelligent man in that respect -- and instead, then, thought me old enough to be granted access to his private reading room and library, where I could read to my heart's desire.
And I did. I read a lot.
I read several books regarding Nox's various schemes and how they may be foiled (I took these into account especially.) I read biographies about Neopia's past villains, those that I assume the Chia must have idolized. I read several geographies concerning the Haunted Woods, and areas vital to Nox's success.
But then I came across his set of diary journals. Fancying myself to peruse them, I decided, tentatively, to read Nox's words from the night he found me.
Gingerly, I approached the leather-bound notebook, the same month and year as the date I was brought into his house inscribed with spidery gilded letters on the spine. Then I touched it, and brought the leather-bound notebook toward me.
Hastily flipping to the day I arrived here -- the 24th -- I set my eyes to scan the page.
And there, written on the paper, in black and white, was the following message:
"The family of the Wocky child I've had my eyes on for the past several months was traversing the forest, the lad with them. My legion and I used deceit to capture the parents and keep them separate, where we ultimately finished them. We found the boy asleep behind a tree, and subsequently took him into 'Fort Nox'. I have plans for him, and will train him to be my next heir."
I practically gagged the entire time I was reading and processing the paragraph. Gaping, I knew then what I had to do.
Confronting him, he agreed with his words. "But, think of all it's brought you; wealth, money, power. A loving guardian. Think, my heir... my child." And he smiled. It was probably meant to be comforting, but it just appeared awkward. I could tell that he had problems contorting his face muscles in such a loving manner.
Regardless, I thought. My mind raced, my feelings somewhat detached; it was as though I was reading about myself in some kind of twisted novel. My anger seething and hate in my veins, I replied dramatically, essentially foreboding his downfall, "I will never be your child." And then I ran out of his house, away from him, away from his conniving, away from his lies.
I had to sever all ties with me being on Hubrid's good side, and I then decided vengeance upon him.
He brought me in, he saved my life, he taught me to be like him; and, I believed in his idea, the thought that a dubious reputation, a shady lifestyle, an evil aura about life in general, was the only true destiny devoid of sadness and hopes unfulfilled.
The villain had chosen me to be his heir, to inherit his life, to become the next him...
But I couldn't do it, not after what I learned from the journal.
I then sought to destroy my master, much in the same way he decided to destroy my parents...
Part the Second
A shot of energy at the evil Chia.
I miss -- drat! Sometimes, this endeavor feels fruitless; I'm just an insignificant pawn in Hubrid's contrived game.
And then I remember that I have the power to change his rules; he taught me all I knew, and all I know is that I must destroy him...
To restate, I have the power to change his game.
Another shot... It hits him! He's injured, he collapses.
Alas, he gets up, appearing wholly unharmed. I sigh.
And then I find myself surrounded, surrounded by his advancing zombie horde. I gaze around at the many; they appear few in my eyes. Any enemy count is insignificant in comparison to him.
In short, I can handle everything and anything.
The sounds of supernatural electric shock... the zombies around me have been vanquished. I knew I could do it.
I continue to defeat his lousy opposition. I feel ambivalence toward them; they're so easy to destroy, and yet the many hordes do get tedious after a while...
My only consolation is that, the more I vanquish, the higher my triumph will be when I destroy Nox; the greater my satisfaction.
The greater my ultimate revenge.
And then, as in every one of our battles, we meet one on one; evil versus lesser evil. I storm over to him. He meets me.
We stare each other down.
I gaze into his eyes -- is that a hint of remorse? A tinge of sadness hidden behind Hubrid's glaring, mysterious orbs? A brief thought of the world of long ago -- before he and I were at odds, while I still saw him as the center of the universe -- suddenly returning to his conscious mind, an ancient grain of sand floating listlessly over an older sea?
It can't be.
I raise my arms and prepare to shoot.
This is what I've trained for.
It is time for revenge...
And yet my arms move much more slowly than they did whilst practicing. My eyes don't focus correctly on the target, and right in front of me Nox cackles and escapes; "You missed, MAGAX. Better luck in the future!"
And by the time I get my bearings, he's long gone.
He's won this round.
But did I let him win?
Perhaps, subconsciously, I know I can't destroy him. Maybe, just maybe, I feel compassion toward the fellow; he was the only guardian I really knew, the one that taught me so much. He taught me the tactics I now use against him. He was once the greatest Neopian, in my eyes. Deep down, do I still regard him in such reverence that I feel I absolutely, under no circumstances, cannot seek out my ultimate revenge?
Nah, it was just a fluke.
One of many flukes. If I am, subconsciously, missing on purpose, I'd attribute the error to the classic conundrum between hero and villain; one cannot exist without the other. A great Neopian cannot exist without a lesser Neopian to be compared with; evil cannot exist without good, and vice versa.
Part the Third
...And here I sit, now, on the anniversary of the death of the late, great, Hubrid Nox.
I rock back and forth on a chair in my Neohome; the entire scene seems quiet, peaceful.
And then I stare at a picture of the two of us on my fireplace mantle. I walk over and pull it down to get a closer look, to see if I can make the memory return vividly to my conscious.
We're laughing, sharing good times. Evidently, it was taken before my turn on him.
The image perks me, slightly.
I walk over to the gift shop and purchase the largest bouquet of flowers available for sale. They look gorgeous, frankly. Amazing.
And, as similarly pictured on a particular Advent Calendar image, I walk over to the cemetery where the former notorious villain is buried. I continue my traverse toward his gravestone.
I gaze upon it.
With a small sigh, I lay the flowers down and leave.
Navigating back toward the entrance, I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness.
And then I stiffen. There's still work to be done.
But, gazing back toward the graveyard, a single tear rolls down my face. "Thank you," I utter as I leave.
Until next year...