Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 179,088,154 Issue: 437 | 2nd day of Eating, Y12
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The Tashies


by jayo289

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Marshall combed a paw through his violet-coloured moustache with care and attentiveness that he would never show to the rest of his fur. “Does this look any better?” he asked, looking over at the Pink Eyrie standing next to him.

     “Oh darling, that looks positively uncouth,” she replied, staring down her beak at her Purple Kougra friend.

     Marshall raised an eyebrow, before snickering quietly. “You’re not going to fool anyone with that fake accent, Doria, and your moustache looks no better than mine.”

     Doria gasped with all the breath she could muster, before she too began stroking the lavender tinted moustache that flowed across her face, from above her beak. “Well, I have a beak; nobody will expect me to be looking as simply stunning as I’m looking now. That’s why I’ll walk away with ‘Best Curves’ this year.”

     “Whoa, let’s think about what we’ll be walking away with once we’re in; that’ll be the hard part.”

     Doria shook her head. “With my gorgeous looks and beautiful, flowing moustache, it’ll be easy. No harder than getting this thing in the first place.”

     Marshall edged back, leaned against a wall, and peered around its corner. “It’s already in full swing; there’re news reporters and everything,” he muttered.

     Sure enough, just metres away from the alleyway the two Pets stood in, an enormous building stood, lit up with spotlights, and the glowing red of a carpet that stretched out from the entrance. The loud chattering of the hundreds of Neopets echoed through Neopia Central, all of whom stood behind rope fences, which were guarding the red carpet. The few elite Neopians gracing said carpet with their presence were stopped at various points to greet and wave.

     One voice, however, was much louder and far more distinguishable than the rest, as its owner, a glamorous Cloud Cybunny, spoke into a microphone to announce the night’s happenings to all that could hear.

     “A wonderful evening it is here tonight. My Name is April Masterful, and it’s with great pleasure that I’m able to give you the gossip, the stories, and all the latest information on this evenings events, here at The Tashies.”

     Doria coughed impatiently, causing Marshall’s head to swing back around the corner in shock.

     “Good evening to all; no, no, while it would give me so much pleasure to sign every piece of paper you throw at me, it’s just impossible for my poor little paws. But do wish me luck, fans: I love you all-” Doria paused, awaiting Marshall’s response.

     After stifling a laugh, the Kougra raised an eyebrow. “What... What was that?”

     Doria replied with a look of complete horror. “Why, it was my fabulous greeting to all of my loyal fans when I walk along that glistening red carpet.” She began twirling one end of her moustache around her short claw, before allowing it to spring back into place.

     “Don’t count your moustache hairs before they grow, Doria. You were a spokeswoman for the Bakery. Once. What’s to say they’ll even remember you?”

     Doria snorted. “On top of my beauty and intelligence, you mean? I’m nominated for an award, they’d better remember every last detail about me, or it’ll be one hairy situation on that carpet. My fans wouldn’t stand for it.”

     “You don’t even know if you’ve been nominated. You just hope,” Marshall replied with a raised eyebrow.

     “Are you determined to decimate every single dream that I have? How could you be so cruel! Oh, the horror,” Doria cried dramatically.

     Marshall sighed and rolled his eyes. He knew well enough that once he’d started one of Doria’s ‘episodes’, it was better to just leave her be. He poked his head back around the corner, staring back at the lit up building in front of him. The fans had moved around so that two giant golden statues, each depicting a golden moustache, were visible at each side of the door. “Be quiet, Doria. April’s about to announce something,” he muttered, to silence his friend's weeping.

     “Queen Fyora just entered the hall, but it looks like we’ve got a real star making her way up the red carpet. Rosie the dancing extraordinaire has arrived. She looks simply stunning with her sleek, elegant moustache. Those curves are just perfect; I couldn’t imagine facial-hair more beautiful than this.”

     Marshall winced; he knew that Rosie’s entrance would not make things any better for Doria. He turned around to see his Eyrie friend glaring at him with pure hatred. He suspected that if she were a piece of machinery down in Moltara, she’d be boiling and spouting steam. “She didn’t even look that good,” he said with a shrug.

     “As if that frolicking hippie didn’t get enough glory with the Neopies. It wasn’t enough that she already lost that, now she’s trying to steal my thunder too. Well, she won’t; my thunder is epic. I’ll win that award and dance all the way to the podium,” Doria affirmed, and stamped a paw onto the ground.

     “I’m sure everything will work out. The crowd probably don’t even like her.”

     As if they were part of some kind of rehearsed play, the crowd began chanting Rosie’s name at the exact moment Marshall finished his sentence.

     He slapped the palm of his paw onto his forehead. “That doesn’t mean anything. Remember last year, with the award for Best Newcomer? Everybody thought that the Elephante Gypsy was a shoo-in, but it was the Clothes Shopkeeper from the NC Mall who walked away with the prize. Anything could happen,” he said reassuringly.

     Doria took a deep breath to calm herself. “You’re right. How silly of me to think for one second that that Neopies reject could ever beat me in anything.”

     Marshall took a sigh of relief. “Exactly, and she was only handing out her Dancing Rosie Dolls anyway. That won’t get her any extra votes.”

     Doria’s eyes widened. “S-Sh-She was handing out free gifts? Oh, I should have suspected something under-handed like that from such a negg-twirling imbecile.”

     “Leftovers from the Advent Calendar, I expect,” Marshall said with a casual shrug.

     “Actually,” Doria began, still coiling her moustache around her paw, “I was wondering; why exactly are you going to the award ceremony? It’s not as if you’ll be nominated for anything.”

     The Kougra shot his friend a glare. “I just want to go for the free pistachio nuts. They sure are good.”

     “Just as I expected; no taste whatsoever.”

     Marshall frowned. “What do you mean? You love pistachio nuts. They’re perfect for retaining a glossy, curvy moustache. You eat them every day!”

     “I didn’t mean the pistachio nuts, I meant you. Set your sights a little higher; fight for that award. Be a little more like me.”

     “Yes, the world sure would be a better place if everybody was vain like you,” he replied sarcastically.

     “Exactly, that’s what I’m saying.” Doria really wasn’t perceptive when it came to sarcasm. “Especially that dancing fool. She’d do a whole lot better if she’d just stop bounding around with those giant green feet of hers. Neggs are just so unseemly.”

     “Right. Well, maybe we should make our way inside. Or at least try to,” Marshall suggested.

     Doria took a step back in the darkened alleyway. “You’re right. I’d hate to miss the opening acts. I have my tomatoes ready to throw at all the people who aren’t me. How do I look?”

     Marshall surveyed his friend. Her purple dress flowed down her body, bunched up so that the lace ribbons stuck out as much as possible. The bright yellow feather boa coiled around her neck, parts of it ripped and devoid of feathers.

     “Your dress looks great,” he said after a few seconds of looking at the hastily put together ensemble.

     “Well, obviously, but I meant my moustache. That’s the important thing here!”

     Marshall took a deep sigh. “Your moustache looks curvy and bouncy,” he said, as if reading from a script.

     “You forgot: ‘it flows like the rainbows of Faerieland, gleams like the sunshine of Mystery Island, sparkles like the sea of Maraqua, and kicks that monotonous, springy, negg-giver in the face.”

     Marshall scratched his moustache. “Of course, that too.”

     Doria nodded. “I thought as much. Now let’s get going, If I miss my award, rest assured I’ll pluck out every single moustache hair on that lip of yours.”

     “Yes, finally, let’s get going,” Marshall said, after a quiet gulp. He took a step around the corner and began walking towards the award hall, closely followed by his Eyrie friend. “Looks like they’re going to begin soon.”

     The red carpet, which had previously been teeming with celebrities and socialites, was now empty. Even the fans had dwindled to only a few hardcore supporters, hoping to hear what was going on from outside. The doors were closed, and two Shadow Zafaras stood in front of them, dressed in black tuxedos. The voice of an announcer echoed from inside.

     “Who’ll win the coveted Golden Tash tonight? Please take your seats; the proceedings are about to begin.”

     “Quickly,” Marshall urged, as the two edged nearer to the entrance. “They only give out the pistachio nuts at the beginning; I don’t want to miss it.”

     “Don’t rush me, I don’t want to ruin my moustache. It took forever to comb out those knots. It’s bad enough that I lost five whole hairs in doing so,” Doria cried.

     Marshall dreaded to think what would happen to his poor upper lip if they didn’t make the ceremony, or worse, if she didn’t win that award. “Please, let's just get inside. It’s getting cold.”

     “Well, that’s what moustaches are for; to keep you warm. You really are naïve when it comes to fashion,” Doria said with a shake of her head.

     Once again, the announcer's voice reverberated through the street.

     “He’s got more charm and facial hair than any adventurer I know. Let's give a big hand to our favourite daredevil explorer, and host for this evening: Roxton A. Colchester III!”

     Doria let out a gasp of horror. “You see what’s happened now? All that fumbling about with your bowtie and you’ve made me miss my dear Mr. Colchester. I hope you’re happy now.”

     Marshall sighed. “It was you and your incessant chatting that made us late. I doubt Roxton will even remember you.”

     Another gasp of horror escaped the Eyrie’s lips. “I was right at the front when Mr. Colchester returned after his discovery of Moltara. Of course he’d remember me; nobody could forget a face and moustache this stunning. I long for the moment when we meet again.”

     “That’s a scary image,” Marshall panted, rolling his eyes. He stopped dead in his tracks. “Here’s where the red carpet begins. Don’t trip or anything.”

     “Don’t be so pedestrian; I’ve had years of practice,” Doria replied simply, before taking her first step onto the carpet.

     Marshall followed, and together, the two unseemly pets sauntered along the carpet. The few fans that remained behind the rope fence could only stare and whisper in shock. While Marshall hung his head and tried to block out the embarrassment, Doria seemed completely oblivious, and even went as far as to wave and flick her moustache proudly.

     They eventually reached the door, and the two Zafaras guarding it.

     “Good evening, gentlemen. I do sincerely apologise for our absurd lateness. I decided to bring a friend - it’s always nice to indulge the little people - but he took some liberties so that tardiness was inevitable. But we’re here now, and ready to enjoy the evening.” Doria smiled haughtily at the two pets.

     The two Zafaras looked from Doria to Marshall, back to Doria, and then at each other. Their loud and deep laughs were blocked out by a voice from inside.

     “Unfortunately, the Maraquan Chef was unable to attend this evening, due to him not being able to leave the water, but I’m sure he would be most pleased to receive this award for ‘Most Bounce’.”

     Doria shook her head. “I know, gentlemen, his liberties were quite humorous and rather embarrassing, but if you’d be so kind as to let us enter, I’d be very grateful.”

     Once again, the two Zafaras looked at each other, before one managed to actually speak. “Look, kids, we know you really want to get in here, to see your heroes or idols or whatever, but it’s exclusive. Not just anybody can go through these doors. This is a big event; one that we have to protect.”

     “Excuse me?” Doria’s voice dropped, no longer masking the hint of superiority in her voice. “I don’t think you quite understand who I-”

     “No, kid, I don’t think you quite understand what we’re trying to tell you. Just move behind the rope like the rest of the deranged fans, and wait for the finish. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of somebody then,” the second Zafara interrupted.

     Marshall squinted his eyes. He knew exactly what this would mean.

     “How dare you speak to one of Neopia’s finest like that. Have you seen my moustache? Only the crème de la crème can obtain curls like this. I’ll be winning an award, and you’ll both be extremely embarrassed when I do.”

     The first guard chuckled under his breath. “The only thing we’re embarrassed of is you. You’re making a scene; if you’re going to try and sneak in, at least come up with something original.”

     Doria stamped her front paw onto the ground in frustration. “You just go and ask at the bakery who I am. I’m a celebrity, for Fyora’s sake. I need to be in there. Questions will be asked if I’m not.”

     “Look; you’re not getting in, no matter how hard you try,” the second guard growled, clearly losing his patience with the Eyrie.

     “Well, I am not leaving here until I get inside. You let that buffoon Rosie inside, and she’s hardly important.”

     The guards raised their eyebrows. “Rosie was nominated for a Neopie. There’d have been uproar had she not been invited. Besides, her moustache was divine.”

     Without stopping to think about it, Marshall grabbed his fuming friend and dragged her to the side, before she had a chance to pummel the dutiful guards.

     “Of all the nerve. If anything, that skipping absurdity is just a cheap imitation of Branston the Eyrie. Now he’s a Neopet with some style,” Doria muttered, as she was dragged behind the giant moustache trophy.

     “Doria, if we want to get in, pouncing on the guards isn’t the best option. We need to be sneakier.”

     Doria frowned. “I could offer to trim their moustaches? They really could use it,” she suggested.

     Once again, a voice boomed from the hall.

     “And now, folks, we’ve a scheduled break, in which the fabulous Rosie will be performing!”

     Thunderous applause erupted, blocking out the furious screams of Doria from outside.

     “I have a plan. Do you want to get in there or not?”

     “Not while she’s on the stage. I’d rather stay outside. It’s not like I’m missing anything worthwhile anyway,” Doria said indignantly.

     Marshall gave an exasperated sigh. He’d forgotten how strenuous it was to be around Doria for long periods of time. “Either we go in now, or not at all. It’s your choice, really.”

     “Oh fine, then. I suppose I can just whisper rumours about Rosie while she’s performing. That’d certainly ruin her reputation; what a wonderful idea,” Doria said with a snicker.

     “Good. You just stay here, and when the coast is clear, get inside as fast as that dress will let you,” Marshall whispered.

     With a nodded reply from his friend, Marshall turned around and ran out from the shadow of the giant trophy. He pretended to look around frantically, before stopping in front of the two guards. “She’s gone,” he said simply.

     The first guard instinctively placed a hand on the door handle behind him. He was clearly sceptical. “What do you mean, gone?”

     “I mean, she’s not here; I lost that Eyrie I was with. I was supposed to be looking after her, but I just turned my back for a moment. You’ve got to help me, quickly,” Marshall cried.

     “So you lost her,” the second guard began. “What’s that have to do with us?”

     “She could have high-tailed that hairy moustache of hers inside. In fact, I’ll bet that’s exactly what she’s done. I could imagine her running down the aisle, throwing flower petals and giving beauty tips to the likes of the great Fyora. That would be a disaster.”

     “There’s no way she could get inside, is there?” the first guard asked.

     “Well, I’m sure there’s a back door somewhere, or maybe some windows. She’s an Eyrie; Eyries have wings, you know.”

     He’d succeeded in alarming the two guards at the very least. “Right,” the second guard said firmly. “I’ll sneak inside and go around the back to see if I can spot that demented Eyrie. You stay and look out for her here.” With that, the Zafara opened the door, and slipped inside quietly. The tunes of Rosie throwing neggs out to the crowd was clearly audible from the open door, and Marshall had no doubt that it was all Doria could do not to run from behind the statue screaming with outrage.

     “Phew, I do so hope we find her,” Marshall said at last. “It’d be awful if I didn’t. She mustn’t be left alone for too long.”

     “Why?” asked the remaining Zafara guard, who had become slightly anxious at the thought of Doria being on the loose.

     “Last time we left her alone outside, she went completely crazy and ripped the moustaches from anybody she saw. I heard that she stole fifteen in total. That’s a lot of hair pulling,” Marshall said, a hint of tension seeping through in his voice. “I’d hate to think of the havoc she could pull here, at The Tashies, unsupervised. That’d be-”

     Marshall paused suddenly, jolting his head over to the corner of the giant building. “What was that?” he whispered, pointing to the darkened corner. “I thought I saw something move.”

     The guard squeaked; hardly a noise you’d expect from somebody protecting The Tashies from villains and evildoers. “Was it her?”

     Marshall shook his head. “It was probably just a Petpet or somebody walking down the street or-”

     Again, the Kougra’s head shot to the side, causing the guard to jump in alarm. “Didn’t you hear that? It sounded like Doria’s scream of moustache-ripping terror. Maybe you should go and look,” he suggested to the horrified Zafara.

     “Why would I ever do that?” he stuttered in reply.

     “Well, why not? You’re supposed to be guarding this place. Just go see if she’s about, and if she is, I’ll go and get her. It might just be the Shadow Usul, or Dr. Sloth.”

     The guard gulped. “Yo-You’re right; I’m the guard. I’m a tough guard, and I won’t let that fiendish friend of yours anywhere near this place.” With a determined nod, he stepped away from the door, and began a cautious walk towards the darkened corner Marshall had previously pointed to. “Just keep watch for a second, kid,” the guard called, not looking away from his destination. His dark form was barely visible as he disappeared around a corner.

     “Sure thing,” Marshall muttered, his mouth forming a sly grin. He turned around, and sure enough, Doria was already standing next to him.

     “Obviously, I could have got him to let us in with my dazzling charm, but part of being a celebrity means delegating the work,” she said with a courteous smile, as if she were doing Marshall the biggest favour in the world.

     “Let’s just get inside, Doria, it won’t take long for him to notice that nothing’s there.”

     With one last look behind them, the two Pets grabbed the door handles and scurried inside as fast as they could.

     They were met with a feeling of awe and amazement.

     “It’s even better than I dreamed it would be,” Marshall breathed, stroking his moustache with a contented grin.

     Doria tried to hide the look of utter joy on her face. “Oh yes, I forgot that you’re not used to this kind of life.”

     Both Pets stood near the back of the hall, hidden in the shadow of purple velvet curtains that lined all the walls.

     Immaculate circular tables were dotted all over the floor, filled with high-standing Neopians from all over the world. King Hagan and Queen Fyora were clearly noticeable sitting at the front, with a few of their royal subjects around them. Sir Fufon Lui sat closest to them, straightening his moustache with a specially designed comb that was placed on every table.

     “Can you believe it? We’re at The Tashies, with Queen Fyora and King Hagan,” Marshall whispered, barely containing his voice of pure delight.

     Doria shook her head. “Don’t be so ridiculous, darling. This is my everyday life. You’ll get used to it soon enough.”

     A cough erupted around the room, as Roxton A. Colchester III stood on the stage, holding the microphone under his curly orange moustache. “Ladies and Gentlemen, it's now time for the next award; for Best Curves.”

     It was all Doria could do not to scream out, but instead she grabbed Marshall’s paw. “This is it. Time for my first steps of true fame at last.”

     Marshall winced. He knew that if anybody else were to win the award, especially Rosie, it could only spell a trip to the Defenders of Neopia for them both.

     Roxton’s voice boomed through the hall. “And the winner is...”

The End

 
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