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Those Pesky Neopets!: Malkus Vile Returns


by nerdytiger

--------

The night was dark and the sky was a deep, rich black. The clouds were thin and wispy, leaving the stars able to gleam through proudly, like jewels embedded in the black ocean.

     I sighed slowly, clearing my head. It was time.

     I pulled on my Royal Boy Shoyru jacket, a warm and expensive navy number. I’d need it tonight. The air was crispy cold, and against it, my breath was like a steam spray. My steps crunched against the frozen blades of grass, making the only sound in the silent and eerie night.

     My garden gate swung to a close behind me, and I took a deep breath before taking a lithe jump into the cold air. The wind caught under my powerful wings and I took off into the night, soaring high above Neopia Central. My slightly clawed fingertips brushed the treetops as I headed over the Haunted Woods. I could see the glowing lanterns of Neovia shining through the gaps of the tall oaks. As I flew gently over the tops of the west snowy mountains, I instinctively pulled my jacket closer around me to keep warm. Shivering gently, I stared anxiously ahead of me, to the tall stone walls of Altador: my destination. I dropped outside Exquisite Ambrosia with a small thunk. The usual silver and purple building that always looked so welcoming now looked dreary and dim. I peered in through one of the dusty windows, rubbing a clear circle with my sleeve. The shelves were usually stocked with the finest goods from around Altador- Lemon Sun Cakes and Cheese Platters, Bowls of the finest soup and Tureens of Olives, though now they were empty. The portly Skeith that usually sat behind the counter had apparently vanished four days ago. What had happened here?

     I walked slowly down the cobbled street, seeing this new Altador for the first time. The soft moonlight fell upon the buildings, enhancing the destruction to them. The fountains had stopped working, emptied of water completely. It was hard to tell if there was anybody still living in the dainty houses, because the majority of Neopets would be asleep by now, anyway. There were a few houses, however, with cracked windows and wilting flowers. Most untraditional for the high maintenance residents of Altador! I tacked on as an afterthought.

     I approached the towering, gigantic building in front of me. The Hall of Heroes. This used to be the grandest, most beautiful building I had ever seen. Now it looked glum, darkened by the ruins around it.

     I crept through the tall archway, into the marble-clad hall. The familiar circle of magnificent statues still stood proudly- except for one, of course. The statue of the Darkest Faerie was crumbled to the floor, a mere lump in comparison to the beauties around it. I felt no sorrow for her. The Darkest Faerie was simply evil.

     I hurried on to the secret staircase to the left of the statues. It was here I had studied the skies to try and find the key constellations to solve the Altador Plot. It seemed so long ago, and yet, looking around Altador, it seemed history was about to repeat itself.

     As I reached the door of the Observatory, I noticed something extremely... odd. The door was very slightly open, and there was a subtle glow of light streaming out of the crevice. I stepped closer, pressing my face close to the gap, trying to see who was in there. This was the first sign of life in the whole of Altador!

     There was a Neopet in there. I could tell she was a Hissi, from the way she coiled around the telescope to hold it upright. Her skin was made of alternate strips of a deep navy denim, and a soft cream corduroy. Twinkling buttons shaped like stars were sewn into the different fabrics. Her wings, which she used to hold the fiddly lens in place, were a pretty purple cotton.

     Creeeeak! I winced at the sound piercing the silence. Oops. I’d leant too far into the door.

     The Hissi whipped round, surveying me with dark, beady eyes.

     “Who are you?” she demanded. She sounded fairly young, probably similar to my age. I walked fully into the small, circular Observatory room.

     “My name's Nequl.” I decided against giving her a fake name. She seemed... trustworthy. And how would she know about this Observatory if she was on the Dark side? Finneus, the Head Archivist of the Altadorian Archives, was in charge of authorising access to the Observatory, and he was very good at his job. “I am a Royal Astronomer and I am here under the request of King Altador. He is concerned about the welfare of Altador.”

     The Hissi cocked her head, apparently trying to decide whether I was telling the truth or not. “Well. Hello, Nequl. My name is Anastyne. I am a Royal Astronomer too. King Altador requested me to come to the Observatory and check the skies for any hidden signs.” She peered into her telescope once more, then added matter-of-factly “Like last time, you know.”

     “And have you found anything, Anastyne?” I asked, my brow creasing into a worry line.

     “No.” She smiled at me, finally putting down the telescope. “Nothing at all to read in the skies. Call me Ana, by the way.”

     “So... do you think..?” I started to as a question, but she interrupted me.

     “Do I think it’s something different this time? Yes. It’s not the Dark Faeries. I do believe we scared them away good and proper.” She laughed, winking at me.

     “Then we should have a look somewhere else. This could be important. The shops... They’re all empty,” I explained hurriedly. Despite how Ana seemed to have a lot of knowledge about the plot, she hadn’t realised this was not a laughing matter.

     “I know. The residents of Altador were evacuated four days ago for their own good.” I hated how she was more well informed than me.

     “Evacuated? But where to?” I’d never heard of an evacuation in Neopia before.

     “Shenkuu,” she replied. “It’s the closest place, just through the North Passage.”

     “Right. That makes sense, I guess... But we have to sort this!” I gabbled, looking around the Observatory for a backpack to put some useful equipment in.

     “What?! What can we do? We’re astronomers.” She looked confused.

     “Hey, King Altador called us personally, didn’t he? They’re depending on us. Get a jacket; it’s freezing outside.” I grabbed a pocket compass, a blueprint map of Altador, and a notebook and pen, then shoved them into a backpack I’d found of a nearby stool. It probably belonged to one of the junior astronomers.

     Ana listened, grabbing a jacket and moving towards the door. I followed quickly, and together we headed down the stone staircase, back through the Hall of Heroes, and into the cold night.

     “Right.” Ana’s voice came from behind me. “Where do we go?”

     To be honest, I had no idea. “Ummm...” I thought quickly. Okay, where to start? If it wasn’t Dark Faeries behind the crumbling buildings, or the stolen food from Exquisite Ambrosia, it had to be some kind of Neopet, and they would need weapons to cause this amount of damage to the buildings. “We’ll check the Armoury. Then we should know what we’re dealing with here.”

     I lead the way, powering off to the left in the direction of Illustrious Armoury. As the building came into view, I ran faster. I could hear the soft hiss of Ana slithering behind me. I pressed my face against the cracked window, before rushing in through the door. There was a lot of damage around the handle, and I could tell somebody had recently forced their way in. Around twenty high-quality Battledome items were trashed into the centre of the shop. They were all broken, probably beyond repair. There was one, however, I noticed missing. Once, when I came to this shop at a young age, I had noticed a very impressive Thief Dagger in a case on the wall. I’d longed to have that weapon to fight in the Battledome, just to beat Meuka one time. Now, the glass case was in a thousand pieces on the floor, but there was no sign of the Thief Dagger.

     “Nequl.” Ana’s voice was barely a whisper. “Nequl!” I ran out of the shop.

     “What, Ana? What’s wrong?” Then I saw her face. Shock, mixed with anger. I followed her stunned gaze to the floor, where a day-old copy of the Brightvale Bi-Weekly lay, slightly torn and battered. The Front page Headline read ‘Malkus Vile escaped from Brightvale Dungeon!’.

     My head started to spin. No. No!

     “Read on...” Ana’s quivering voice urged me.

     King Hagan insists it is not anything to worry about. Dungeon-Draiks are working on getting Vile back into his rightful place in the cell. However, a very reliable source told us exclusively that the Draiks have had no luck catching Vile, and suspicions are that he is heading East.

     East.

     Altador is East of Brightvale.

     “How could I have missed this!” I yelled in anger.

     “Don’t blame yourself, Nequl. Malkus Vile is known for his crafty methods, his planning...”

     “Why thank you for that compliment,” a snarling, chilling voice said from behind us. A shiver ran down my spine, and I turned around slowly. Facing me, with his face contorted into a smug grimace, was the notorious Skeith villain; Malkus Vile.

     ---

     He started laughing, guffawing even, as if he had just told the most amusing joke ever. We just stood there, unable to move, as though we were planted into the grounds of Altador. Quick, Nequl, think of something. I knew Vile had the most coveted Battledome item from the Armoury, so if it came down to a battle (which it probably would), I was at a pitiful disadvantage. Though... I had a few advantages, I guess. I could fly. Malkus’s wings were too small to hold his body weight. Plus, I was agile. I was fast. But I still needed some sort of battle weapon.

     “Distract Vile,” I muttered under my breath, so only Ana, who was next to me, would hear. I saw her nod slightly out of the corner of my eye.

     “You know, Malkus...” began Ana, diverting Malkus’ gaze to her. She edged away from me, so I’d be out of Vile’s line of vision as he looked at her. I didn’t know what tactics she was using to distract him. Whatever it was, it was working.

     I had a very short amount of time to act, a minute, if I was lucky. I reached into my bag... A compass, a notepad, a pen, and the map of Altador?! What could I make with them. I reached hopelessly around in the bottom of the bag. Nothing there... Wait- my fingers clasped around something circular. I pulled it out quickly. A Telescope Lens. Brilliant! Hadn’t I read something about this type of situation in a book? A creative astronomer figured out a very clever way to attack using this lens of a weapon.

     Well, that could be me, couldn’t it?

     I straightened up in time to see Malkus turning towards me.

     “I’ll give you an opportunity, young Neopet.” He smirked at me. “I would never battle a lady, so I’m giving the chance to you instead.”

     “I will battle you,” I said loudly, confident from my success in finding a decent weapon.

     He gave a small jerk of his head, and beckoned for me to join him, away from Ana.

     So here it was, the final showdown.

     He dived towards me, his Thief Dagger in hand. I dodged it by flying above him. He tried again, aiming it towards me, but I flew higher.

     “Cheat!” he yelled. “Coward! You turn your back on glory!”

     That did it; I was no coward! Lens in hand, I dived towards him. I threw the lens with full force, aiming for the Dagger. I didn’t intend to hurt him at all, just break his weapon. And that I did! The metal edge of the Telescope Lens cracked the Dagger in two. I laughed, a thrill going through me.

     Malkus Vile looked astounded. With his weapon broke, he was nothing. He had no glory, and he had no power without it. He slumped to the floor, finally defeated.

     “Ana,” I whispered. “We did it, Ana...”

     ---

     The Dungeon-Draiks came two minutes after the battle, and were able to cuff Malkus without too much fussing from him. They assured us he would have the most security imaginable in his newly updated prison cell.

     The residents of Altador were able to return safely to their homes, and Ana and I both received a very large number of thank-you gifts, including the most beautiful gourmet foods, and wonderful bouquets of hand-picked Altadorian flowers.

     Both King Hagan and King Altador gave us very generous Neopoint rewards for our services to the lands, despite how we tried to refuse both payments.

     Our story appeared in the Neopian Times that very week. The story explained how we had figured out who was behind the crimes, and how we had helped get Vile back behind bars. About how Ana and I also helped with the rebuilding of Altador, making the houses more grand and beautiful than ever. The ending was about how the Neopets of Altador were safe again and that Malkus Vile was locked safely away.

     All was well.

The End

With thanks to serithia for allowing me to use Anastyne as a character! And thanks SO much to TNT for publishing me! :)

 
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