Give My Regards to the Ixi of Doom: Part Two
Zarrelian clip-clopped resolutely across the stage, a single
purpose blazing in his mind. He had to get a part in the play, no matter what!
The Halloween Ixi was already formulating a plan in his maniacal mind. Zarrelian
knew how much value the school placed on the self-esteem of its students. If he
could go to the principal and act as though not being cast in the production made
his personal self-worth plummet, then he might just be able to scrape a small
role. It wasn't so much that Zarrelian really cared about performing on stage,
it was mostly an issue of pride, and a total lack of willingness to defer to his
Still... It would be nice to go up in front of
everyone and show them how great of an actor he was. Zarrelian smiled at the
thought. The audience would cheer for him, and maybe he'd even get a standing
ovation! The Ixi was suddenly jolted from his reverie by the arrival Kybalt
and Terracota, both of whom were looking quite smug. The Zafara smirked, crossing
his flame-licked paws over his chest. That's what he does, you see. Kybalt fits
my token bully archetype.
"So," he began, curling his spade-tipped tail
around his legs. "I heard you talking to Mr. Bronston. What was it that you
called yourself, Grellian or something? Anyway, it doesn't matter. It was a
terrible stage name, that's all I remember." He laughed suddenly. "Let me get
this straight-- everybody got a part in the play except for you? Oh my, that's
simply too much!" Kybalt cackled. Terracota sniggered.
"Too much!" the Moehog echoed. "That was an awesome
dig, Ky. You slay me!"
Zarrelian raised an eyebrow. "What are you, his
groupie?" he quipped. Terracota scowled.
"Ha! You're just jealous because you didn't get
a part in the play, and we both did!" he retorted. Kybalt nodded huffily.
"That's right. You were probably too untalented
to land even the most supporting of roles," he sniffed. Zarrelian lowered his
head, his sharp horns glimmering.
"How'd you like to be a shish-kebab, Zaffy?"
he growled. Kybalt reeled back.
"Oh, don't even think of marring my fur with
those little stubs of yours!" the Zafara retched. Zarrelian snorted.
"You'll get what's coming to you, Kybalt, if
that IS your real name," the Ixi snapped. Kybalt gnawed on a fingernail.
"Well, actually, it's not my real name. Kybalt
is a stage name, a nom de guerre, if you will. My real name is
Hans Murphy." He flared up again. "But that's beside the point! The point is
that I got a part and you didn't, and you were the ONLY ONE who didn't, so that
makes you a lousy actor not even worth my eloquent insults!" With that, Kybalt
twirled around once, and then flounced off, Terracota trotting at his heels.
"Ha! I'll show him. I'll put on the best show
of my life in front of that principal! I'll make him feel so sorry for me that
he'll want to adopt me and buy me a Gallion." Cackling, the Ixi cantered out
of the auditorium and through the halls of the Neoschool, skidding to a stop
outside of a large door with the words "Principal Kraemer" painted on it in
large, purple letters. Zarrelian paused and closed his eyes, willing himself
"Come on tears," he urged. "Start streaming!"
The Ixi thought of the saddest thing that he could think of: the time when his
brother Mordegan got sick, and then his owner found the cure. Zarrelian sobbed
at the memory.
"And I thought that he would be bed-stricken
forever!" he howled. The tears flowed from Zarrelian's eyes like honey from
a buzzer hive, or drool from the Turmaculus' mouth, whichever simile you prefer.
Sniffling, the Ixi butted open the door and stepped shakily into the principal's
office, crying as though he had just lost all of his money in a stock market
crash. The principal, an overly compassionate purple Poogle, leapt to his paws
at the sight of the howling Ixi.
"Faeries above! What ever is the matter, young
one?" he asked kindly. Zarrelian hiccoughed.
"I--my teach--er, he, he cast every student in
the class for his play but me! My-- my self worth is lowering SO much!" he sniveled.
Principal Kraemer's face hardened.
"I don't believe it! Who's your teacher?" he
demanded. Zarrelian choked back a fresh barrage of tears.
"Mr-- Mr. Bronston, sir," he stammered. The Poogle
growled low in his throat.
"Well, don't you worry, I'm going to have a little
talk with him! You just go sit outside for a moment." He crossed to his desk,
retrieving a small pen and hastily scribbling down a note. Principal Kraemer
finished writing the memo, then tied the note to the leg of his pet Airax and
sent him off with instructions to deliver the message to Mr. Bronston. Zarrelian
watched the avian Petpet fly off, and then walked out of the room, seating himself
on the bench outside in the hallway. As soon as he was out of earshot of his
principal, Zarrelian began to giggle and congratulate himself.
"Wow, I can't believe he bought it! I'm a better
actor than I thought." He was interrupted in his little monologue by the snarls
of Mr. Bronston, who was storming down the hall with a murderous glint in his
eye. He passed Zarrelian, shooting the Ixi a venomous glare. Zarrelian grinned
in response, giving the Draik an ironic little salute. Mr. Bronston's eyes widened
and he opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by Principal Kraemer, who
leaned out of his office and grabbed Mr. Bronston by his shirt collar, yanking
him into the room and slamming the door behind him. Zarrelian chuckled as he
scrambled to the door, pressing his ear against the wood. A grin spread across
his face as he listened to his principal and his teacher engage in a heated
"Andy! You promised that if I let you write and
direct the school play you would demonstrate proper respect for all the student's
"What do you mean by that, Jerad? Have I given
you any evidence to suggest that I was not showing respect for any of
my student's feelings?"
"You deliberately gave every pet in your class
a part in the play except for that Ixi!"
"You said that you wanted this play to be good!
I can't make it good if you force me to cast poor actors! I had thirty students
and twnety-nine parts. One pet had to get left out."
"You probably did that on purpose when you wrote
the play! Listen, this school places more value on the self-esteem of its students
than anything else! You can't go around purposely lowering it!"
"That's ridiculous. When I was a lad, teachers
used to lower self-esteem as a form of punishment."
"That's why your old school was torched by angry
owners! Now, I'm going to make this very simple for you, Andy. Either you give
that Ixi a part in the play, or I fire your tail! Look, just toss him a nice,
small role and let him be your star's understudy."
"What? I can't let him be Kybalt's understudy!
Zarrelian would probably try to break his leg just so that he could have the
"That's completely ludicrous! Now go out there
and tell the Ixi the good news!"
"Alright, fine! I'll cast the Ixi! But don't
come crying to me when the play is only 'good' instead of 'great' as a result."
The door swung open again, and Zarrelian quickly
skittered back to his bench as Mr. Bronston came stomping out, cursing under
his breath. When he saw Zarrelian, however, he forced a very painful smile onto
his draconic features and folded his claws, gazing benignly down at the Ixi.
"So, Zarrelian," he began. "It has come to my
attention that I was... Erroneous in my decision to not cast you. That has been
rectified. I have made some changes to my casting sheet, and I think that you
will be happier with this new arrangement." The Draik reached into the pocket
of his shirt and pulled out the slightly crumpled casting sheet, thrusting it
into the Ixi's hooves. Zarrelian scanned the list eagerly. He then glanced up
at his teacher.
"Uh, Sir? I think there's been a mistake. I'm
not a star in the play," he said. Mr. Bronston's eye twitched.
"Of course you are. In this play, 'The Fruit
on the Oak Tree', you, Zarrelian, will be the oak tree."
Zarrelian still looked skeptical. "But that's
just a tree," he replied uncertainly. Mr. Bronston clenched his claws.
"Nonsense, it's the title role!" the Draik insisted.
The Ixi still wasn't quite buying it. Mr. Bronston gritted his teeth. "And you
also get to be Kybalt's understudy!" he grumbled resentfully. Zarrelian brightened
up, grinning from ear to ear and looking considerably more chipper.
"Wow, you're right! Man, the title role? That
makes me, like, the star!" he said ecstatically. A bit too ecstatically, Mr.
Bronston's opinion. He regarded Zarrelian suspiciously for a moment, wondering
what was going on in that little brain of his. It was very possible that the
Ixi may have had something up his sleeve... The Draik narrowed his eyes.
"Rehearsals start tomorrow. Don't be late or
I'll fail you." Mr. Bronston flared his scaly wings and zoomed off down the
hall, presumably to go and weep over his play in his office.
Zarrelian, at this point, had nothing up his
sleeve. (Indeed, he had no sleeves at all). Actually, the Ixi couldn't have
been happier. He was playing the title role! He got to be the oak tree, the
finest tree of them all. After all, his character's name wouldn't be in the
title if it wasn't a starring part. Zarrelian wasn't even thinking of his understudy
job at that point.
The Ixi did a little jig, clicking his hooves
together as he blissfully imagined an auditorium full of people rising to their
feet and applauding him. He could almost hear the cheers... Zarrelian grinned.
He could hardly wait until tomorrow's rehearsal, and the chance to show everyone
(mostly Kybalt) how great of an actor he could be!
Mr. Bronston paced furiously in his office. He
had torched all of his files, burned all of his student's art projects, set
all of his apples ablaze and blown fire at every single one of lesson plans,
and he was still feeling angry. He was angry at Zarrelian, for starting
the whole mess, he was angry at principal Kraemer, for forcing him to give Zarrelian
the honor of being Kybalt's understudy and the oak tree, and he was angry at
himself for not roasting the little Ixi when he had the chance.
"I think that I need to find a new outlet for
my rage," the Draik grumbled, smoke wafting from his nostrils. He crossed to
his desk and collapsed wearily into his chair, massaging his temples in a vain
attempt to ward off a looming headache.
"I know that he's going to try and ruin my play,
I know it! He can't possibly be happy with his role as the tree-- even Zarrelian's
not that dumb. He'll probably try and usurp Kybalt or something! Oh, It's so
STUPID! Why did principal Kraemer have to make me let him be Kybalt's understudy?"
The Draik raked his claws through his graying plume of hair as he stared up
at the ceiling.
"He'll find some way to destroy everything,"
Mr. Bronston mumbled, slumping over onto his desk and idly clenching his stress
ball. Maybe he was overreacting. Maybe Zarrelian genuinely wanted a role. Maybe
he would make a good tree. Mr. Bronston narrowed his eyes.
"Ha! Yeah, and if I believe that then I need
a vacation more than I thought." The Draik launched himself from his chair,
gliding across the classroom and out the open window.
"He won't get the better of me," Mr. Bronston
growled to himself as he flew over Neopia Central to his house in the Marketplace.
"I'll have to stay on my toes throughout the rehearsals, but by Fyora, he will
NOT undermine my vision!" The Draik steeled himself, laughing out loud. "My
play will be the best production that Neopia has ever seen, no matter what Zarrelian
does to try and destroy it!"
Of course, Mr. Bronston lacked the insight to
realize that, at that point, Zarrelian really had no interest in ruining his
play, for he was actually quite excited about playing the oak tree, and not
even considering taking advantage of his position as the star's understudy.
Nevertheless, Mr. Bronston was absolutely determined to keep the Ixi under as
close a watch as possible, for as far as he was concerned, Zarrelian was liable
to do something drastically dastardly at any given opportunity.
Of course, the Draik's assumptions of Zarrelian's
destructive nature weren't completely unfounded. One couldn't argue that the
Ixi didn't have the reputation for it, at the very least.
To be continued...