Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 103,901,843 Issue: 205 | 26th day of Hiding, Y7
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Because of Jhudora's Book: Part Two


by kemppotatoe

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It was midday. Athelda stood wearily, watching pets with high battle scores being brought in. She sighed, but not out of regret. Oh no, she did not regret joining Jhudora, even if yesterday she had been a little shaky.

      "Athelda?" a small voice said from behind her.

      "What?" the green Zafara snapped. She whipped around to see a baby Poogle. "Who are you?"

      The little Poogle gulped. "I'm Lessie, Lulu's sister."

      "Well, what is it that you want?"

      "I have a message for you," Lessie said. "That mean dark faerie made me a messenger when Lulu dragged me into this…"

      "Did you call Jhudora mean?" Athelda interrupted.

      Lessie's eyes filled with tears. "I-- I'm sorry!" she wailed. "I won't say it again, I p-promise!"

      Athelda paused. "It's alright. What's the message?"

      Lessie sniffed. "K-Kasm wants you in her room."

      Athelda rolled her eyes. "Kasm? Geez, I practically forgot about her. Do you know what she wants?"

      "She just told me to get you, that's all," Lessie said. "Am I in trouble?"

      "No," Athelda said briskly, walking away. "No, of course not. Bye, Lessie."

      Athelda walked up the many cloud stairs to the dormitory wing of Jhudora's home. Kasm lived in… which room? Athelda couldn't believe she'd forgotten about her friend. But was she her friend anymore?

      Room 11, that was it! She shared with Lulu, the snot Poogle. Not bothering to knock, Athelda entered.

      "Kasm?" Athelda said, "What do you need?"

      The mutant Kacheek appeared from the shadows. "Just a little chat," she said, "the kind we had when we were friends, remember?"

      This statement angered Athelda. "We were friends?" she said rudely, "Oh yes, that's right, I forgot. But no, I haven't time for a chat."

      Kasm smiled. "Just for a moment. Won't you sit down?"

      Athelda sighed and sat. An unpleasant gooey sound rang out; she had sat on Lulu's chair. Kasm smiled, remained standing and gazed at her. "So," she said finally, "how's the council?"

      "Very well, thank you," Athelda said, "we're doing great."

      "What should I have expected," Kasm went on, coming closer to her, "with such a wonderful captain."

      Athelda narrowed her eyes. "What's that supposed to mean?"

      Kasm turned around and started to pace. It was a while before she spoke. "You may have found that book," she said, "but you never would have brought it to Jhudora if I hadn't suggested it. Now you're getting all the credit! All of it! What am I stuck doing? Polishing Jhudora's fake nails! Yes, that's what she assigned me to do!"

      Silence followed this. Athelda blinked. "Jhudora's nails are fake?"

      Kasm rolled her eyes. "The good thing about polishing her nails is that she is always around, and we talk… a lot."

      Athelda sat up, interested. "What do you talk about?"

      Kasm smiled. "Mainly power. And what'll happen after Jhudora takes power. She's starting to trust me now, oh yes. Any day now and I'll be her right hand pet. Sooner or later you won't be the favorite."

      "Well, when that time comes…" Athelda's eyes flickered malevolently on the Kacheek she once called friend, "…we'll just have to see who gets out of the fight alive."

      ***

      "So," Danzick said to the Dark Council on Monday, "how's the morphing going?"

      Lulu, who was in charge of overseeing the transformations, answered. "It's going good, I believe. We're getting five pets morphed a day--"

      "Only five?" Athelda said loudly. "I assumed you had gotten hundreds done by now!"

      "The morphing machines are slow, and it takes them about four or five hours to replenish power after zapping." Lulu said, "But we're still doing good. Over a course of a week we've gotten thirty-five pets much more fearsome…"

      "I want an examination of the army cells," Athelda interrupted, "I want to see who has been and is soon to be morphed."

      Lulu looked taken aback, but said, "Tomorrow I'll show you."

      Celazia, who had been polishing her hooves, looked up. "You know, Athelda, there's no need to get angry and boss everyone around. After all, Lulu was here before you."

      "Did Lulu find Jhudora's book? I don't think so," Athelda retorted.

      Celazia's mutant Meekins growled at Athelda. Danzick coughed.

      Jhudora walked in at that moment, which was perhaps lucky because Celazia and Athelda were ready to throw daggers at each other.

                ***

      Athelda met Lulu the next day to see the cells. Much to Athelda's disgust, though, Celazia was with her.

      "Just thought I'd take a look," the fire Uni said.

      Lulu lead them down to the basement, where the army cells were. In tight, cramped cages, pets sat and looked at Athelda with great dislike.

      "Let's see the pets that have been morphed, Lulu," Celazia said. In the very back of the cellar, there were around forty cages packed with pets. A sign hung on each of them, saying their name, what they used to be, and what they were now.

      "See," Lulu said, "we've been doing good. I'll show you around. This is Dash, who is now a Shoyru. He'll be the captain of our air division…"

      Athelda looked into the eyes of the once red Lupe. He said nothing, and stared back at her.

      "…And this is Malcolm, he's a starry Pteri, he'll also be in the air division…" Lulu went on. "Brent, mutant Aisha, he can rip anything apart… Braida… she used to be a green Flotsam, but we thought Koi would be better for the sea division, so we made her a Tyrannian Kougra…"

      Braida, now a ferocious Kougra, glared at them as they passed her cage. Her claws, now extremely sharp, scratched the floor with hatred.

      "Oh!" Lulu said, leading them to a miniature cage, "here's Kiffee! Our first spy."

      The Pea Chia was sitting unpleasantly in the corner. A small tear ran down her pea body.

      "I hear we're getting grapes too," Celazia said, peering into Kiffee's cage. "Is that true?"

      "Yep," Lulu said, "those are both the smallest things."

      Celazia giggled at the helpless pea. "What an ugly little thing. Even as an Acara I bet she was horrifyingly ugly! But now… oh, look at her… she's a vegetab- AAAHHHH!"

      Athelda didn't know what made her do it. Kiffee had been one of the most popular girls in school, and even though Athelda had always been a little jealous, hearing someone call her ugly was intolerable. Athelda's hand had swooped out of nowhere, and hit Celazia across the cheek. The Uni fell backwards and crashed into some empty little cages, causing Lulu to roar with laughter.

      All the caged pets cheered and giggled. Celazia, remaining on the floor, looked horrified and shouted, "Lulu! Why are you laughing?"

      Lulu, who was now on the floor having laughed so hard, could not answer, and simply hiccupped in response.

      Kiffee, the Pea Chia, smiled.

      ***

      "Jhudora!"

      "Please, Celazia, don't!"

      "Get off me, Athelda! Jhudora! JHUDORA!"

      The Dark Faerie appeared in front of them, glaring. "You shouted?" she said, looking rather exhausted.

      Celazia took a look at Athelda, whispered, "Haha, now you're so toast," and said angrily at Jhudora, "She hit me! Hard, on the face!"

      Jhudora raised an eyebrow. "Good," she said, causing Celazia's and Athelda's jaws to drop. "You deserve it. Good, Athelda, you show her."

      And she walked away. Celazia rounded on Athelda, seething.

      "Don't think she likes you any better than me!" she practically whispered, "Just because you picked up some dumb book doesn't mean you're the best of us all!"

      "I never said I was better than you," Athelda said calmly.

      "You still think it!" Celazia accused wildly.

      Athelda shrugged. "Yep," she said casually. "I guess I do."

      And she walked away, leaving Celazia standing bewildered behind her.

      ***

      The darkness that had swallowed Athelda's heart started to brighten over the next few days. She began to see why joining Jhudora was perhaps not the greatest of ideas, and spent her free time in her room with Lessie, who, after delivering many more messages, had become Athelda's friend. Lessie, even being a little baby Poogle, had proven a better friend than Kasm ever had.

      And speaking of Kasm…

      A majority of the happiness that had swelled with Athelda disappeared abruptly at Tuesday's Dark Council meeting. Jhudora walked in, interrupting Athelda as she spoke, and right behind her was…

      "Kasm?" Lulu, who was her roommate, said.

      Athelda gritted her teeth. "Back to what I was saying, guys…"

      "Silence, Athelda," Jhudora said, causing Kasm's thin mouth to arc into a smile. "Yes, indeed, Lulu. This is Kasm, and she will be joining the Council!"

      Athelda laughed. "Nice one, Jhudora," she said, "very funny!"

      Jhudora frowned. "I'm not joking."

      "Athelda, quit laughing!" Celazia said. "Jhudora isn't trying to be funny."

      "No!" Athelda said, "This has got to be a joke! K-Kasm? Yeah right!"

      Kasm's smile disappeared, and an evil grimace appeared. "Actually, this isn't a joke, Athelda. Oh sorry, am I supposed to call you Captain?" Everyone caught the sarcasm.

      Celazia clapped her hands together in delight. "Oh, you are my kind of pet!" she said. "I request a room change! Lulu, you can go with Athelda… ahem, Captain!"

      Athelda glared at Kasm yet spoke to Celazia. "There will be no changes without my permission."

      Jhudora seemed to be observing this whole fight, smiling slightly.

      "Oh shut up!" Celazia shouted.

      "Make me," Athelda taunted menacingly.

      "Oh, I will!" Celazia leapt onto the table, rearing on her hind legs. Athelda lifted her arm, ready to strike…

      CRASH. Kasm lifted her arms and pointed them viciously in Athelda's direction. Somehow or another, magical force plummeted out, knocking Athelda off her feet. She crashed into a stack of chairs some three feet away.

      It was silence. Then, Jhudora clapped. She started slowly, smiling. Athelda lifted her head and saw stars, but was able to make out Celazia's amused expression, Kasm's evil one, Lulu's astonished one, and Danzick and Kamper's expressionless faces.

      "A room change is fine," Jhudora said, "Celazia and Lulu switch. That is all."

      She walked away. Lulu rushed over to Athelda. "Are you okay?" she asked.

      Athelda nodded, "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine." She gazed in Kasm's direction. Celazia was talking to her, and she overheard:

      "Where did you learn to do that?" Celazia said, impressed. "That little blasty trick!"

      Kasm smiled. "Jhudora herself. Taught me all she knows about black magic. She said I had wonderful skill… better than that of one who simply picked up a book…"

      Her eyes flickered dangerously in Athelda's direction. Athelda, for the first time since she came to Jhudora's doorstep, gulped in fear.

To be continued...

 
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» Because of Jhudora's Book: Part One
» Because of Jhudora's Book



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