The Zafara Who Would Be Mayor
"Okay, Blynn, I give up," Dark_breed_Hyren the blue Grundo sighed, plodding through the grey fallen leaves littering the ground of the Haunted Woods' outskirts. Even though it was the middle of spring, a chill wind blew through the air and the sky was dark and overcast. The Haunted Woods wouldn't dare be caught experiencing any season other than autumn. "Where are we going," Hyren asked, completely unenthusiastically.
"You didn't even guess!" Blynn679, the aptly-coloured disco Zafara, exclaimed, spreading her arms wide and looking over at her brother. "I demand at least three guesses! That's the way the game goes!"
"Well, let's see," ArPharazonTheGolden the faerie Draik mused, rubbing at his snout thoughtfully as he clutched the strap of his book bag, watching out for stray snarled branches that could tear at his delicate wings. "We've already played Bagatelle today..."
"Yep," Blynn affirmed with a nod, spinning in circles as she looked up at the gnarled trees.
"And Test Your Strength..."
"And we're not allowed in near Edna's Tower after the..." Pharazon shuddered. "...Shenkuu Tangram incident."
"Let us speak no more of that," Hyren pled. "All right, that's three guesses."
Blynn took a huge breath. "We're going tooooo..." She pushed some bushes aside to reveal a quaint, quiet town still wreathed in morning fog. "Neovia!"
"Oh joy," Hyren muttered.
"Neovia, fascinating place," Pharazon mused. "Lost from the annals of Neopia for a decade, recently recovered from a heinous curse... but rather unusual for someone such as yourself to be interested in, Blynn."
The Zafara frowned as she led her brothers down into the cobblestone streets, where dapperly-dressed, somber-looking pets gave them odd stares. "Well, I'm not all about Unis and rainbows, you know! I have more depth than that! I know how to take..." She pounded her palm with her fist and grinned somewhat maniacally. "Responsibility."
"I can already see this not ending well," Hyren mentioned to Pharazon, who nodded.
"Good morning!" a deep, throaty voice called from across the street. Loping toward them was an unnaturally large and monstrous blue Gelert with bulging green eyes. The Gelert headed for Blynn, holding out a hand for her to shake. "Welcome to our... er... not-entirely-terrible town."
"Thanks, Bruno!" the Zafara replied, clutching his hand tightly and shaking it like she was going for the Lever of Doom avatar. "I'm here to be your new mayor!"
Hyren's jaw dropped. "Excuse me, what?"
Blynn grinned, rolling her eyes. "Remember how the old mayor was defeated and turned into a Moquot? Well, ever since then, this poor place hasn't had anyone running the show! They're a people without leadership! Without direction in life!"
"They're also completely without your... erm... lively sensibilities," Pharazon pointed out. "Don't you think maybe Roo Island is a better fit for you?"
Blynn narrowed her eyes at him. "Roo Island already has a king. Besides, my services are needed here! These people don't know how to party!"
In the meantime, Hyren turned his gaze upward to Bruno. "So why didn't you take the position of mayor?" the Grundo asked. "You're obviously the most competent person in town."
Bruno grimaced. "I'm also the poster child for what happened to it. I can see it now: 'Come visit beautiful Neovia,'" he began in a high falsetto, "'where you stand a high chance of ending up like THIS GUY!'" he finished with a snarl.
"Point taken," Hyren replied.
"Don't worry," Blynn assured the Gelert, putting her hands on her hips. "I'm gonna turn this town's frown upside down!" She giggled. "Do... do you see what I did there?"
Hyren rolled his eyes.
"Of course, I'm going to need help," his sister continued. "That's why I invited you and Pharazon. Pharazon will make a perfect secretary—"
"At the ready!" the Draik snapped to attention, fetching a ballpoint pen and a sheaf of blank paper from his bag.
"—And Hyren, I'm appointing you town constable! Somebody has to keep those sketchy Krawks at bay!"
"Er, Mr. Krawley was a blue Krawk," Bruno pointed out.
"Now then! Onward!" Blynn announced, puffing out her chest and marching proudly through the streets toward town hall. A small crowd had gathered now, and they looked as unsure about her success as their new mayor as the chances of an Abominable Snowball surviving in Moltara.
"So, this is what it feels like to be in office!" Blynn sighed, leaning into the tall wingback chair at the mayor's desk with a contented smile. "Feels like... victory."
"It feels like paperwork," Hyren groaned, coming through the door and hefting a stack of documents onto the desk to join equally-hefty stacks. "I guess being without proper leadership for over a decade will do this to a town..."
Blynn groaned. "Augh, paperwork isn't important! Pharazon can do it, he likes filling out forms! Where is he, anyway?" She sat up to look around for him.
"The last I saw of him, he was headed to the town library with Bruno's brother Reginald," Hyren reported. "Sorry, that paperwork isn't going to do itself, so—" He looked up at his sister, who was busy folding the documents into paper hats and Quintilcs.
She stared at him for a moment, and then reached down and fitted one of the hats to his head, in between his antennae. "Much better. That's an awesome constable hat."
"Ruin, all is ruin," Hyren moaned, dragging his hands down his face.
"You're telling me!" Blynn scoffed, jumping on top of the desk and scattering papers everywhere. "This place needs some serious sprucing up! The whole gloomy-cursed-town thing is so not this mayor's style!" She picked up the paper Quintilcs and began lobbing them around the room. "Now fly, my minions!" she cackled maniacally, like a neon pink and paisley version of Edna. "Go forth and fetch me decorating materials... with which to decorate!"
The origami Petpets drifted silently down to the floor, where they lay prone.
"...Ooooooor take a nap! That's okay too!" Leaping down from the desk, the Zafara grabbed the Grundo by the arm and flew out of the office with him.
"BRUNO!!" Sophie screeched. "What is the meaning of this?!"
The Gelert shambled hurriedly over to his sister. "Er... the meaning of what?" he asked, poking his fingers together nervously.
The Ixi's eyes narrowed. "This." She swept her arm out at the town she was standing on the edge of, a town that looked like Neovia and Roo Island had been melded together by some fell Faerie magic. The cobblestone streets were painted in garish colors; brightly-hued banners, streamers, and balloons hung from windows and the eaves of buildings; once-respectable Neopets were running, skipping, and laughing under a clear blue sky.
Sophie pulled the brim of her hat down to shield her eyes from the unreasonable cheeriness, and put her hands on her hips. "Either I took a wrong turn at the Brain Tree or I'm having a horrible, horrible nightmare."
Bruno folded his hands behind his back and whistled innocently. "I... think it's kind of a nice change of pace," he finally mentioned.
Sophie glowered up at him. "You put an ad in the Neopian Times for a new mayor, didn't you."
"Ye... maybe. No. Definitely not."
Sophie tackled him.
"Excuse me, break it up," a bored voice intoned as the Ixi sat on top of her brother and pulled at his ears. A blue Grundo inexplicably wearing a paper hat sauntered over to them, not looking like he had any real interest in seeing things broken up. "Unruly behaviour on the streets will not be tolerated," he sighed. "Miscreants will be... given candy." He looked deeply pained as he held out Kyrii Pops to both of them.
Sophie snatched one up and stuck it in her mouth, the stick jutting out at a feisty angle. "Okay, spaceman. Talk. What happened here? Are you one of Sloth's minions?! Because if you are, so help me—" Her eyes started to glow green.
Hyren stepped back, shaking his hands. "Whoa, no, no! I'm no minion of Sloth's, I'm a minion of... Neovia's mayor," he finished with a sigh.
The Ixi sniffed. "What kind of maniac are we talking about, here? The Chia Clown?"
"Pretty close," Hyren muttered. "At any rate, it's nice to see at least someone around here has some sense. Everyone else has gone crazy for Blynn's reforms. I'm afraid the town is nothing like how it used to be."
"Yeah, this is loads worse than what Krawley did to it," Sophie agreed, watching as the Pteri bookshop owner delivered cupcakes with sprinkles to a delighted Prigpants and Swolthy, both of whom were wearing atrociously loud neckties. "Well, someone's got to do something about this and it might as well be me. Come on, Bruno."
"Could we at least keep the candy bit?" Bruno asked, relishing his lolly.
The witch stormed into town hall, dragging her brother by his collar with Hyren close behind. The mayor's office was the most offensively gaudy part of the town; the entire room had been painted in neon colors, and Shenkuuvian party lanterns hung from the ceiling. Strings of Carnapepper lights festooned the walls. The furniture had been replaced with wildly-shaped pieces from Kreludor and plush bean bag chairs. A Disco Zafara was currently flopped limply in one of them, folding Quintilcs.
When the Zafara saw them, she sat up and grinned. "Welcome... to my lair!!" she exclaimed, tossing a Quintilc at them.
Sophie whipped out her staff and blasted it with a bolt of magic, sending its sooty remnants drifting down to the paisley rug.
"Awww... that's okay, there's plenty more to spare!" Blynn began folding another one.
"End this madness, you little weirdo!" Sophie growled, stalking over to the mayor. "You've wrecked our town with your... cheerfulness!"
Blynn looked up at her and put the paper down, her lip quivering. "You... don't like it?"
"No, I don't like it!" Sophie exclaimed, throwing up her hands. "It's ridiculous! You don't deserve to be mayor, you're utterly incompetent!"
Hyren shuffled his feet. "Sorry, Blynn... maybe she's right... I know you have good intentions, but there are some jobs that may just be out of your... realm of experience."
The Zafara sighed. "So... there's nothing that could change your mind?" she asked the grumpy Ixi.
"Nope," Sophie replied, folding her arms.
"Not even..." Blynn dug around in a pile of sweets. "...Fizzy Neocola Bottles?"
The swamp witch's eyes lit up. "Those... those are my favorite candy," she said, reaching for them slowly. "My father would always get them for me when I was young, if we had some extra money..."
Hyren smacked his face. "What? No! Don't fall for her bizarre charms, Sophie! What about the good of the town?!"
"Maybe the town needs more candy!" Sophie proclaimed, sitting down on one of the bean bags and happily chewing the gummi bottles. "Please tell me you have Humbugs!"
"Of course!" Blynn replied with a laugh.
Hyren pulled on his antennae in distress. "Why does this keep happening?!"
A faerie Draik and an orange Lupe stumbled into the room, each holding an armful of books and sheaves of paper.
"Official secretary to the mayor, coming through!" Pharazon announced. He had a fountain pen perched authoritatively behind his ear.
"And official town know-it-all and assistant to the official secretary, also coming through!" Reginald added.
Blynn waved a hand at them. "Please, take a seat. Highly important and official town business such as this should be—Reginald! You're not wearing your official town know-it-all hat!"
The Lupe's shoulders slumped. Setting his stack of books and papers down on the Curvy Kreludan Table, he pulled out a paper hat from his pocket and reluctantly placed it on his head. It was more ornate than the standard model, bright green with paper curlicues springing out of the top and covered in glitter.
"Blynn, the town's in trouble!" Pharazon continued, shuffling through his papers.
"Trouble?" The Zafara leaned forward, a dangerous look in her eyes. "What kind of trouble? Am I going to get to turn into a Defender of Neopia?! Ooh, what would my superpowers be..."
The Draik unrolled a chart showing a jagged red line. "Neovia's tourism industry has plummeted since you became mayor, I'm afraid."
"What? Why?! How could this be?! WE HAVE FREE CANDY, FOR MEEPITS' SAKE!" Blynn gasped, clutching handfuls of sweets and holding them up to Pharazon's face to demonstrate.
"That's the problem!" Reginald explained. "People came here because they liked the spooky, melancholy atmosphere. Sales were booming in musty books, dusty antiques, and rusty crumpets."
"...Rusty crumpets?" Hyren interjected.
Reginald nodded, looking vaguely sickened. "Whatever you do, don't ever buy the Fudge-Smothered Éclair," he whispered.
"Noted," the Grundo replied.
"But now that Blynn's livened up the place," Pharazon continued, "darker-minded Neopians don't want to set foot here. We've received a ton of complaints from them." He handed Blynn a large packet of letters.
"I don't understand..." Blynn said as she looked through the letters. "I was just trying to help..."
"And we appreciate it," Bruno assured her, "but maybe you just weren't meant to be mayor of Neovia."
The Zafara sat back in the bean bag and nodded slowly. "Yeah... I guess you're right. Sorry about that. I'll pack my things."
"You can keep the sweets here, though," Sophie mentioned, grabbing a handful of Yummy Drops.
"But what will your town do now?" Pharazon asked Reginald. "You will remain without leadership, it seems."
The Lupe shrugged. "Who knows, maybe a mysterious mayorless town attracts more tourists than if we did have a mayor," he pointed out. "It does add to the intrigue, and that's good for sales."
"Well, I'm glad that's over with," Hyren muttered, carrying a bag of lanterns on his back as he and his siblings trudged away from the Haunted Woods. A string of Carnapepper lights had come loose from the bag and was dangling irritatingly in front of his face, and he couldn't brush it away. "Now we can go back to Neopia Central and have a nice, quiet—"
"So I hear Darigan Citadel is looking for advisers," Blynn mentioned, a mischievous grin creeping up her face.
Lacking a free hand, Hyren let the string of lights smack him in the face instead.