Misadventures of a Neopian Times Reporter: IX
On that day I found myself standing in line in Neovia for the Apple Bobbing. Chloe stood next to me, urging me on. It seemed like an ordinary, harmless day; nothing had even gone wrong yet, aside from being pounced on by Sidney as I passed the Deserted Fairground. It had taken me ten minutes to escape him as he drew the 's' in my name out to frightening lengths and tried to get me to buy scratchcards. So, aside from that, a good day, which in itself should have been an ominous warning.
"Remind me why we are here again?" I said.
"Because you want the avatar, remember?" Chloe reminded me.
"Yeah, but you've gotten Blurry Vision twice. I seem to remember deciding the avatar wasn't worth it," I replied as the line move forward.
"Yes, but I have a brilliant idea this time," Chloe said with a sly grin.
We were now standing at the barrel and looking into the murky water. "And that is, Clo?"
"You bob this time!"
The Starry Poogle was a lot stronger than I, so when she put her hand right between my shoulder blades and gave me a slight (for her) push, I went right down into the barrel. In the murky, dank water there were many floating objects. I was scanning the water for the avatar winning prize when I noticed something swimming in the murky depths up towards me.
I rapidly pulled my head out of the water and Clo looked at me in dismay. "Seriously, Kristy. Even you should be able to get a prize."
"There is something swimming in the water!" I cried.
"I'm sure. Have another go."
Clo was about to give me another dunking when a Meepit face appeared in the water and the rest of the Meepit followed. There was something about the expression of this particular Meepit that seemed familiar, though I was sure I hadn't met him before.
He looked down at my shoes and said, "I see you're wearing the shoes I sent you, in the Haunted Woods of all places. You go through shoes quickly, don't you?"
"Slorgie!" I gasped. "That's you?"
"Yep, and thankfully back to a Meepit." He leapt off the barrel, caught onto my purse, and crawled in. "Now, move along normally."
We did and headed for the Eyrie Taxi stop. As we walked along I shook the water from my long hair. I had had it done up in a bun, but when Chloe shoved my head underwater it got soaked and fell down. Slorgie poked his head out my bag and looked at me.
"So, those curls are real. I guess I owe Buzz ten thousand Neopoints." He disappeared back into the bag.
I glared at Chloe who was snickering.
Slorgie's head appeared again and he asked, "You get your hair caught in doors a lot, don't you?"
Chloe was snorting and choking next to me, he took that as a yes and disappeared again. I glared even harder at her, but that only served to make her laugh more openly. We got on the Eyrie Taxi and were soon heading for Neopia Central. After we were in the air, Slorgie crawled out of the bag.
"Chloe, you get off at Neopia Central," Slorgie informed her.
"What about Kristy?" Chloe wasn't laughing now.
"Kristy has a job to do. You get to go home," Slorgie said.
He was now lounging on the seat across from us; it always amazed me how these tiny little creatures could exude such a presence.
"If you think I'm leaving my mom alone with you," Chloe started.
"Don't vex me, girl. Do as you're told and, and if Kristy does as she is told, she'll be home safe and sound soon enough," Slorgie warned.
Chloe fumed and slouched in her seat, but said nothing more. When we arrived in Neopia Central she got out and stomped off. Slorgie told me we were going to Roo Island. I got out, paid the Eyries again, and told them my new destination. I got back in and off we went.
"So, what's up?" I asked.
"Advisor Broo is in cahoots with the Feepits," Slorgie informed me.
"That's not surprising. Everyone except the rather simpleminded Blumaroos on that island know he's bad news. Why are we concerned? Roo Island's not got much in the way of anything. I don't see how Broo making friends with the Feepits could hurt us any," I remarked.
"You sound more like a Meepit agent every time I see you," Slorgie snickered.
I glowered at him and he said, "Yes, that's exactly it. We shouldn't be concerned is the Feepits' reasoning. We believe Broo's been given some important documents to hold onto for that very reason. I will get those documents while you interview King Roo. Broo is his advisor and he isn't about to leave the king's side during an interview and risk that the king say something that might not be to Broo's advantage. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it?"
"Sure does," I replied, narrowing my eyes. "So long as we don't encounter anymore screaming fangirls for you to outrage."
"Are you still bitter over that?" Slorgie asked.
We arrived at Roo Island and Slorgie got back into my purse. I made my way to the castle. Once there I showed my press pass to the Blumaroos standing guard and was shown in. I discreetly tossed Slorgie into a potted plant near the entrance; we would meet up back there when I was done.
I was led to a hall outside King Roo's throne room. I immediately noticed a familiar face waiting there, Visser. Visser, who, unlike my boss at the Weekly World, looks like Garoo's cousin and works for the Feepits. He goes by the alias of Mr. Fearwym, a CEO of a company secretly owned by the Feepits.
"Wait here. I'll tell the King you are here, Miss Kimmy," the Blumaroo told me and bounced off.
I found myself standing alone in the hall with Visser. He was looking at a document. He looked up and raised his eyebrows; obviously he was surprised to see me again.
"Hello, Mr. Fearwym, what a surprise! Do you have business here too?" I asked innocently.
"I do, my company is partnering with Dice-a-Roo to release a home version of the popular game. I'm here to see the King and close the deal," Visser explained.
"Oh, that's super cool. I'll have to be on the lookout for it. Dice-a-Roo is one of our favorite games," I replied.
"And how is your family?" Visser asked politely.
"All very well. Two of my eldest have gotten jobs, one is playing the piano at local concert halls and the other is working as a secretary for the Defenders of Neopia. How is your daughter?" I answered.
"She's doing fine, and very much enjoying unlimited backstage passes to M*YNCI."
We both chuckled at that. Since becoming a journalist I had gotten better at reading people. During our conversation I could see Visser relaxing, but anyone looking on would probably not have noticed. He had been startled to see me again, and probably suspicious of me. My easy conversation, especially about my Defender kid, had lulled him into a sense of security again. I was perfectly normal. It irritated me a little, how comfortable I was becoming with being a minion, but it was better than slipping up and ending up a prisoner of the Feepits. The Blumaroo bounced back in and announced that King Roo was disposed to see me now.
"May I come watch? I worked for a paper as a journalist when I was in school. It would be nice to relive the memories watching another young journalist," Visser asked.
I gave him a huge grin. "You did? That's really cool. Of course, the more the merrier!"
Together we went into the throne room where King Roo was waiting. He was sitting on his throne, or at least trying to, his natural exuberance causing him to squirm constantly. Advisor Broo sat in a chair beside him. There was a chair set up a few feet in front of the throne for me. King Roo leapt up and bounced across the room, meeting us halfway and vigorously shook our hands. Visser sat down on a bench along a wall, I sat in the chair while King Roo returned to his throne. Broo nodded to Visser and me.
I started the interview and it went well. King Roo answered a few of my questions, but Broo did most of the talking. Any time Broo stepped in to answer, King Roo would nod his head cheerily in accord with his advisor's answers. Though my face remained a smiling mask, inside I was almost sick with disgust and pity, thinking how Broo was going behind King Roo's back to take advantage of his power. Just as I was wrapping up things took an unexpected turn.
"Sweet Fyora, it's a Meepit!" Broo suddenly shrieked.
We all turned to look, and I felt like someone had just shoved a Skeith down my throat. Slorgie's head was poking out of a potted plant. I worked hard to just keep a disinterested look towards Slorgie and a perplexed one towards Broo. I needed it to appear that Slorgie was just a petpet in my opinion and I couldn't understand why Broo was freaking out. Visser kept an even face and King Roo grinned as good naturedly as he had the entire time.
Slorgie jumped out of the plant and started scurrying across the floor towards the door. Broo jumped up and hopped after him. He raised his staff to strike the Meepit. I couldn't just sit by and watch, I jumped up and dived forward, catching the staff and preventing the blow. I scooped up Slorgie and turned a look of wrathful indignation on Broo.
"Why I never! What is wrong with you? I should report you to the PPL!" I screamed at him.
"But," he faltered. "It's a Meepit."
"Oh, for the love of Fyora." My tone was fully disgusted. "I would have thought an intelligent person like you wouldn't believe those tabloid rumors about Meepits being megalomaniacal masterminds bent on world domination. I mean, come on, I work in the news department and I have never seen anything to lend credence to such a theory. Look at this poor creature; it's all of six inches tall!" I started alternating addresses between Slorgie and Broo, "Oh, his poor little heart is racing, you terrible Blumaroo! It's okay, baby, I won't let Broo hurt you. You can bet this is going in my article."
Broo bounced back and looked worried. King Roo spoke up.
"Now, now, Miss Kimmy, don't be too hard on Broo. He's been working so hard, and he always puts himself under such pressure to do the best he can for Roo Island. He's probably just jumpy from all of the stress from all work he does. He meant well."
"Well, I suppose since in the end no harm was done, we can forget about it," I replied as I gently put Slorgie in my purse.
"What are you going to do with the Meepit?" Visser asked.
I looked over at him, as if I had forgotten he was there. "Oh, I'm going to take him to the Haunted Woods when we are done here. That is a Meepit's natural habitat, so it will be best if I release him there."
Visser nodded; apparently I had fully satisfied him that I was just a flighty teenage journalist who also happened to have a thing for petpets. I sat down in my chair and put my purse in my lap. When I wasn't writing in my notebook I put my hand in my purse to pretend as if I was stroking the Meepit to calm him. Slorgie stayed very still, every now and then letting out a purring sound to keep up the act.
I finished up the interview and said goodbye to the Blumaroos, then headed for the Eyrie Taxi. I paid the Eyries and asked them to take me to the Haunted Woods. Once we were out of sight of Roo Island Slorgie climbed out of my bag and sat across from me.
"Well, that was something, huh?" Slorgie asked.
"What in Fyora's magical name were you doing in that plant?" I demanded.
"I heard Visser was keeping tabs on you and I decided to inspect the situation," Slorgie explained.
"Slorgie, you almost became a new spooky food, Mashed Meepit. I'm touched you were concerned about me, though," I replied.
"I wasn't, I was checking to make sure you weren't blowing your cover. I don't trust you," Slorgie replied defensively.
"Well, one of us did our job right and walked out of there with our cover intact, despite someone's ill-timed interference. Let me do my job, Slorgie, it's why our Overlord forced me into service," I shot back angrily.
A slow, sarcastic smile spread across Slorgie's face and I realized it had all been a test. From before Broo had even spotted him in the plant. I had just passed.
"I'm never escaping you guys, am I?" I sighed.
"Just remember, when we rule the world, you are least likely to become Meepit chow," Slorgie chuckled.
"Thank Fyora for small favors."