RincewindII was plummeting earthward, his eyes streaming and his ears ringing
painfully. He was a red Blumaroo, and the claws of a large fire Eyrie were digging
into his sides. The flat green field below him was quickly becoming more and
more detailed as it rushed up to meet him. The Eyrie's wings flapped frantically,
but they were useless.
"I'm sorry!" yelled Dangerlove, the Eyrie. "I didn't know I couldn't fly!
I thought I'd changed!" She let go of RincewindII, and tried to get out of his
way. "At least when we land," she said helpfully, "I won't land on top of you."
RincewindII didn't find this exceptionally reassuring. He just hoped his brothers
and cousin (who were presently on Dangerlove's back) would land safely. He knew
he wouldn't. He had a tendency to get the worst of things. He shut his eyes
just before the soft grass came up to whack the life out of him.
But there was no brain-shattering collision. RincewindII opened his right
eye. He was in something soft and dark. "Excuse me," he said uncertainly, "am
I dead?" There was no answer; just the steady bump bump of his head against
the top of… wherever he was. He hesitantly opened his other eye. It didn't help
And then RincewindII realised that he was being carried. Yes, and inside a
sack no less. How did he figure this out, you ask? Simple: he reasoned that
the steady bumping of his head against the top of the sack meant that somebody
was walking while carrying what must be a sack. And the surface he was sitting
on felt extremely sack-like.
"Um. Excuse me?" RincewindII tried again, louder this time. He thought he
heard muffled shouts coming from behind him. "Bugger," he muttered, "they've
got my brothers and cousins too. It's quite rude to go around catching NeoPets
in sacks, especially if they've just fallen from a very high height." He curled
up in a ball, and tried to fall asleep. It was impossible.
Just as RincewindII's eyes were becoming droopy with sleepiness, he was tossed
away roughly, and landed uncomfortably among several other sacks. He heard muffled
curses coming from under him, and he attempted to roll aside. Then, all of a
sudden, his sack was upended and he was sent sprawling into a large tuft of
There before him stood Thalireion, a power-hungry yellow Gelert with delusions
of grandeur and a considerable mean streak. "And how are we this morning, clever
Rincewind?" the Gelert said in an evil syrupy voice. His eyes blazed red momentarily,
striking fear into the hearts of whoever were unfortunate enough to be standing
nearby. Then he frowned and tried to look sympathetic. "My poor brothers had
to carry you and all of your fat friends in those flimsy sacks. It was very
difficult for them, you understand." He grinned crazily. A mutated Blumaroo
poked his head over Thalireion's shoulder. "Difficult, you understand…" he wheezed
and backed away slowly, muttering, "My preciousss… nasssty Rincewinds, we needs
it my preciousss, we wantssss it…"
Thalireion glared at the retreating Blumaroo. "Don't mind him," he said. "He's
always going on about his 'precious' whatever that is." A mysterious gleam lit
his eyes for an instant, then disappeared. "But that's not the point, is it
RincewindII flinched. He hated it when Thalireion called him that; it was
quite disturbing. "Um, no. That's not the point?"
The Gelert looked confused. "Not the point…" he muttered. "The point. Yes,
it is the point! Who put that idea into your head?"
RincewindII wasn't exactly sure where this conversation was going. He considered
replying with something like "Actually, you did, you evil and insane cousin
of mine! Feel my WRATH!" but he didn't. Instead he said, "Um, I'm not exactly
"Good. Then you won't be surprised to learn that I have arranged for you and
your friends to be eaten alive by the Pant Devil." Thalireion grinned proudly.
"The… the Pant Devil?" RincewindII repeated incredulously. "But I thought
the Pant Devil just stole things. You know, like smoothies and PetPets and…"
he trailed off at his cousin's fierce gaze.
Thalireion sighed impatiently. "Dear Rincewind, obviously you are behind the
times. The Pant Devil has taken to eating pathetic and scrawny red Blumaroos
like you. Or hadn't you heard?"
RincewindII thought about this. "I hadn't heard, sorry." He glanced hurriedly
about at his surroundings. He expected to see the Pant Devil drifting frighteningly
about with a knife, fork and bib, but there was only the pile of struggling
sacks and the mutant Blumaroo. At the moment the mutant was sitting beside the
sacks and stroking them, saying something about birthday presents and his precious.
It was very disconcerting.
"Well?" Thalireion said abruptly.
"Well, don't you want to know why I'm feeding you to the Pant Devil?" the
"No." RincewindII had learned long ago not to question the actions of his
cousin Thalireion. They rarely made sense, anyway. Besides, at present Thalireion
was trying (and failing) to take over Neopia with only a plain golden ring and
his mutated brother. It was all very stupid, and RincewindII had no opinion
Thalireion's eyes blazed. "I'm going to tell you anyway!" he growled. "I'm
feeding you to the Pant Devil because you're a useless, gangling, stupid cousin!
You're cowardly and pathetic, and I don't like you!"
RincewindII raised an eyebrow. "That's all? I thought you were trying to take
over the world."
"Well I am, but I don't want you around when it happens. It would be much
more satisfying if I knew you were gone." Then Thalireion's eyes focused on
something behind RincewindII. The Blumaroo was too nervous to turn around and
see what his cousin was looking at. A smile appeared on the Gelert's face. "Well,
well, well. I see you're early, Mr. Devil." RincewindII swallowed. "Come hither,
Mr. Devil, and start with Rincey here. He is quite anxious to be eaten. He'll
make a great hors d'oeuvre."
RincewindII froze with terror. He was too frightened to panic, he was too
frightened to run, and he was too frightened to turn and face what was inevitably
going to be his demise. He just gulped and stared pleadingly at Thalireion.
The Gelert looked a bit nervous.
"Erm, Mr. Devil, you may start eating him now," he said uneasily.
There was some random shuffling behind RincewindII, and he finally worked
up the courage to turn his head. What he saw behind him was exactly the opposite
of what he had expected. The Pant Devil was floating a foot above the ground,
holding up a sausage and looking confused. "Erm… I have stolen your sausage,"
he said to RincewindII.
The Blumaroo burst out laughing. He had to try very hard to keep himself under
control, but the look on his evil cousin's face was the most amusing thing he
had seen that day. Thalireion's mouth hung open, and he stared wide-eyed at
the Pant Devil as if he had just found out that his amazing and evil scheme
wasn't working, and that his scrawny cousin had come out the winner. Which,
really, is what had just happened.
The Pant Devil shrugged and zoomed away, carrying RincewindII's sausage aloft.
RincewindII left his cousin standing there stunned, and set about freeing his
friends. The mutated Blumaroo stood nearby, stroking a golden ring and muttering.
RincewindII ignored him. Finally Dangerlove and RincewindII's brothers and cousins
were freed. "Well," said RincewindII, "I suppose we'd better go home."
The morning was turning into midday as the five of them strolled happily off,
the soft green grass stretching away before them… At least it looked as though
it was stretching before them. In all actuality, they were nearing the edge
of a very steep and very high cliff. For reasons best left unexplained they
were unaware of their impending doom.
But at least they're happy for now.