Misadventures of a Neopian Times Reporter XXI
"You are not going to Brightvale University to cover their one hundredth anniversary ceremony," Buzz told me, glowering menacingly. "We cannot afford to pay your bail."
"Aw, please, Buzz. I'll wear one of my disguises. I swear, Hagan is not as intelligent as people claim. He never realizes it was me until I'm halfway back to Meridell. It's been a year; I'm dying here!" I whimpered.
"Do you really think I care about your bizarre fixation on Hagan?" Buzz asked.
"When you say it like that, it sounds really inappropriate," I commented.
The Grey Lupe raised an eyebrow at me, silently encouraging me to use my brains and come to the proper conclusion. My conclusion was that Hagan was a dip and I needed to fill his pants with Blechies because he totally deserved it. Buzz clearly saw my thought process and dropped his face into his hands. I just grinned at him in that way that I hoped was charming enough to make up for my otherwise annoying derpiness.
"Get out of my office, Kristy. Just get the borovan out. If you get caught, I am disavowing all knowledge of your existence," he warned me.
"I never get caught. Mortal peril does wonders for my coordination!" I cried as I walked out his office.
From her desk, Buzz's secretary, Sheila, frowned at me and shook her head.
"Kristy, show some maturity. Don't you have children to think of?" she asked.
"Yeah, they'll disavow all knowledge of my existence too," I told her.
The Pink Scorchio blew air from between her lips exasperatedly, and shook her head again. "And somehow you're still our top journalist, and half from your own merits. You do realize that school turns out some of the top commentators and journalists in Neopia, right?"
"Yeah, and they are all snobs about it. My degree from the University of Neopia Central is every bit as good as theirs, but because Brightvale is known for being snotty about their supposed intelligence, everyone who comes out of that school thinks they are better than everyone else. They also stop using contractions, which makes them even more long-winded, and more annoying than the Blumaroos at Dice-A-Roo. All the more reason to go make some fun for them and Hagan at their stuck up little party. They aren't calling it any of that by the way. Have you seen the announcement? I've got a great vocabulary, and I had to look up half the words."
"Kristy, let it go," Sheila advised.
"No, but if I get caught, I'll send you a postcard from the dungeon."
Sheila cracked at that and started to chuckle. "You do that. Since there seems to be no talking you out of it, good luck."
"Ah, if it isn't the girl herself. I figured ye'd be around soon."
I had just walked into one of my favorite places in Neopia, the Ye Olde Costume Shop. It was run by a merchant who liked to pretend he was from Brightvale, but actually had lived his entire life in Neopia Central. I had figured that out myself after picking up on some inconsistencies in his speech given where he claimed he had lived. He was using the wrong dialect. We had had a good laugh together when I pointed that out and had been good friends ever since.
Rodger's shop was full to bursting with costumes, wigs, accessories, makeup, and pretty much anything else you could ever need for a disguise or costume party. Rodger was my partner in crime. He put together the best disguises for me to rent when I went on my Hagan hunting parties.
"So, I'm guessing you know why I'm here?" I asked, grinning widely at him.
"Aye, lassie, that I do. The big jubilation at the University. Splendorous it will be," he said with a wink.
"Especially if a certain royal someone has a very good day," I replied with a wink of my own.
It was beautiful day in Brightvale, and I was at the front gates of the University in the crush of celebrities and alumni crowding in for the celebration. The celebration was being held out on the lawn of the University, though the campus was open to anyone who wanted to tour it. Hagan wouldn't be showing up to give his speech and mill around to great the guests until later. Come late, leave early, leave them wanting more. Good for politics and safety. Given that it was a special day, I had decided that any and all Brightvalians or those associated with the university were fair game, but I still had my eyes on the prize, my dear friend the king. Also, I'd be pretty bored until he showed up if I didn't mess with anyone I could.
I passed through the gate and handed in my invitation, a perfect copy of the one sent to the Weekly World, only with a different addressee on it.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to stop you," the host said as he accepted my invitation. "This is addressed to Advisor Broo of Roo Island."
"Yes?" I said in a nasally voice that was amplified by my mask into a loud but natural sounding voice.
"Well, you're obviously not Broo," he said, sounding unsure of himself given my confusion as to why this was a problem.
"You Brightvalians are so smart!" I said in that same slow nasally voice. I rocked back onto the costume tail and bounced a few times as if I was excited. "I'm not Broo!"
Now the host was looking even more unsure. "Sir, might I inquire who you are?"
"You may! I am Advisor Spoo!" I cried.
He looked blank, seeming even more confused than he was before I told him who I was supposed to be. He rallied, regaining his composure, and asked, "Where is Advisor Broo?"
"He is on Roo Island!"
"Why isn't he here? We invited him," the poor man was trying so hard, clearly believing he was dealing with someone with limited intelligence, which made this whole thing even more amusing to me.
I took a minute before answering, looking as if I was thinking hard about that. Then, I appeared to get it, throwing my arms into the air in excitement. "He couldn't come! He sent me in his place! It is an honor to attend this celebration!"
The Ixi recoiled slightly as I shouted it at him at as loudly as I could with my slow nasally voice. He gave me a valiant attempt at a smile and nodded. "An honor to have you, to be sure. Go in, Advisor, and welcome to Brightvale University."
I hopped a few times on my tail, a wonderful invention that really sold the disguise, and then reached forward and grabbed one of his hands in both mine, shaking them vigorously and slowly and loudly expounding on how impressed I was by the University already. The people still entering shied away from us, afraid that I might turn my attention on them next.
Masquerading as a Blumaroo had been a stroke of genius on the part of Rodger. I could be as ridiculous as I wanted, and no one would think twice about it. Also, Advisor Broo never went to functions in Brightvale, and he never called to cancel. There was some antagonism between him and Brightvalians in general. When you're Advisor to a king who spends all of his day hosting gaming tournaments, the people of a country as enlightened as Brightvale tend to be more superior than normal. Roo Island ranked just slightly lower than Meridell on Brightvale's list of people to look down their noses at.
I finally let the host shake me off and I wandered off in search of my next target. I found him quickly. He was neither a Brightvalian nor associated with the school, but he was still fair game. It was my co-worker, Leonard. The Lenny was high up on my grudge list for many reasons, all of them relating to work. I wandered over to him and grabbed his wing in both my hands, shaking it violently.
"Hello! I am Advisor Spoo! You look enlightened! Tell me about yourself! Are you enjoying the function?" I shouted at him.
He tried to pull away, muttering polite excuses for why he was needed elsewhere, but I maintained a firm grip on his wing.
"Nonsense! The King hasn't even made his speech yet!" I started bouncing on my tail while holding onto his wing, pumping it up and down like another handshake. "Stay and talk! Who are you with?"
Leonard got thoroughly flustered and poured out his entire life story over the course of the next twenty minutes. During that time, I bounced continuously on my tail while holding his wing; he gave up trying to escape fairly quickly. He was halfway through telling me about the time that the Turmaculus had eaten him during an article about the people who take their petpets to visit him when I noticed Tobias Sigmir and Hovri Sweet standing nearby. I let go of Leonard's hand mid-bounce and scurried over to them.
I harried them for the next half of an hour about how well I thought they announce the Altador Cup. At first, they tried very hard to be polite, but after listening to me ramble for about ten minutes straight on how amazing it was that they could remember the names of the teams, and how I always got the other teams' names mixed up, all they wanted was to escape. The next fifteen minutes were spent desperately trying to escape me while I bounced along behind them, chattering about how hard it was for me to watch Yooyuball matches because the motion of the ball made me sick.
I let them escape me and turned on the Neopian Times reporter, to whom I gave a ridiculous story about how I was best friends with the Dean of the University. I loaded it up with the most ridiculous made up stuff about him I could think of while staying within the bounds of believability. I seriously hoped that the reporter would publish the story without confirming my identity; it never hurt to destroy the competition's credibility. Surely that might make Buzz forgive my indiscretions when it came to Brightvale.
Finally, my target made his grand appearance. He swept through the crowd and up the front steps of the main building, stopping at the top and turning to face the crowd. I cheered and clapped a little more loudly than was called for and too long. Hagan waited patiently until I finally stopped. Then he delivered a long-winded, pretentiously worded speech about the history of the University and other such things that I didn't pay attention to becuase I didn't have to because I wasn't covering the story. I stood there planning out my attack on Hagan. I'd wait until he'd done a little mingling, when he was probably a trifle tired of it and his defenses were lower, and definitely after I saw Leonard have his five minutes with the king. Buzz would kill me if I did anything that sabotaged Leonard's article.
Hagan finished speaking and walked down the steps to begin his meet and greet with the assembled guests. I found the emissary from Faerieland and loudly gave my condolences about the fall and how that must have affected their Poogle Races and Cloud Racers. She took it in stride, more graciously than some of the others I had harried that day. I kept an eye on Hagan's movements until I finally saw Leonard having his turn. I made my way towards them and waited until he finished.
I sprang the moment Hagan was done.
"Your most wise majesty!" I shouted as I grabbed his hand and shook it more enthusiastically than I had anyone else's. He would definitely still be feeling it tomorrow. "It is such an honor!"
Hagan's guards moved in towards me, but he shook his head at them. The Blumaroo disguise was perfect, even Hagan was chalking it up to normal Blumaroo enthusiasm. He responded politely, and then asked after Broo.
"Oh, he is doing quite well. He sent me in his place. He said he hates Brightvalian events and your guts!" I announced loudly and like I thought that was a compliment. I don't have much love for Broo either; he once tried to smush the one Meepit I actually sort of like.
Hagan's face clouded, but he remained polite; he was not one to shoot the messenger. I rambled on for about ten minutes about how pretentious Brightvale was, still acting like I thought that was a compliment. I knew that ten minutes was as far as I could push it before the guards would pull me off Hagan so he could move on.
"I have a gift for you from my most magnanimous king!" I shouted as I reached into my robes. I pulled out what I had in there and held it out to him. "It is a puzzle box! We are told you like mental challenges."
Hagan accepted it graciously, and I let him end the conversation and leave. I spied Leonard making his way to the gates and followed him. He climbed into a waiting Eyrie Taxi and I jumped in before he could shut the door.
"Hello again, my friend!" I shouted at him.
"Uh, hello, Advisor. I have to leave now; I'm heading back to Neopia Central," he told me, trying to sound regretful.
"I too must make a stop in Neopia Central! We can be traveling companions! You can finish telling me about your trip through the Turmaculus!"
Leonard sighed and reluctantly pulled the door shut, then knocked on the wall to tell the Eyries he was ready to leave. I bounced and squirmed in my seat while he continued his life story. I kept up the masquerade until we had crossed out of Brightvale's borders. Once I knew we had crossed over, I reached up to where my mask was glued on and pulled it off. Leonard let out a screech of panic as he saw the Advisor peel his face off. I put down the hood of my robe and shook my long hair loose out of the netting that had bound it up while I was in disguise.
"Hello, Leonard," I said, not without a touch of malevolence.
"For all that is magical, Kimmy! Were you trying to scare me to death?" he demanded.
"Well, if I was, then I clearly failed," I replied noncommittally.
"Oh, Fyora, I'm going to be sick. I'm going to be sick," he moaned.
"It was a mask, Leonard," I said. I didn't really feel much pity for him.
"No, I'm feeling sick because you were interacting with the king. I saw you give him something. What was it?"
"A puzzle box," I said with a shrug.
"A puzzle box?" Leonard said, looking up at me. There was hope in his eyes.
"Filled with Blechies and a note telling him it was from me," I finished.
His head dropped back into his wings. "Oh, Fyora. Oh, Fyora! They probably saw you get into the carriage with me. You work with me. I'll never be able to show my face in Brightvale again. How could you do this to me?"
"Remember the time I went hunting for Gorunda the Wise?" I asked.
"Vaguely," he replied, unsure of the connection.
I just grinned cruelly at him. Payback was sweet.