Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 120,791,029 Issue: 244 | 16th day of Relaxing, Y8
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Mark the Mynci and his Maladies in Meridell


by buck268804

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As the sun rose that morning in Brightvale, young Mark the Mynci was already up and at 'em. Today is the day, he told himself cheerfully. Today is the day I will begin my quest for greatness.

      Mark the Mynci was a typical creature. With shiny emerald-colored fur and soft green eyes to match, he was, so it seemed, a content and happy little Mynci. But none of his friends could see past the beautiful sheen of his coat and the gleam in his eyes to look at what lay just below the surface: disappointment and lack of excitement.

      When Mark was young, he had grown up in a small cottage not far from the marvelous Brightvale Castle. As he grew older, he had never journeyed outside the realm of Brightvale, and wondered what it would be like to see a land different from his own.

      One day, not long before the beginning of our story, Mark decided it was high time he left his comfortable home and ventured out into the world to see what it had to offer him. He planned all of it out: how much food to take, how long he would be gone, even looking to schedule a babysitter to look after his petpet, a little guy named Aaron the Airax. By dawn the next morning, Mark was gone.

      Looking over his shoulder at his beloved home, he told himself over and over again that it was only for a few days, that he would be back in Brightvale soon. Besides, he was only traveling to Meridell, a few miles west.

      Over hills and through low valleys that dipped and rose like waves in the Neopian Sea, Mark stayed true to his quest. Although the days were blistering hot and the nights were freezing cold, he struggled on. At last, he arrived in the dead of night at the edge of the land of Meridell.

      Having nowhere to stay for the night, he slept on the floor of the Ye Olde Food Shoppe. The next morning, Mark was rudely awakened by Merifoods, the shopkeeper, who then screeched at him to get out of her shop, by golly, or he would pay.

      Feeling rather unwelcome, Mark trudged on down the path that stretched all the way through Meridell, which led him to a mass of people crowding around something, chanting, "Kiss the Mortog! Kiss the Mortog!"

      Curious, Mark crept up behind some of the spectators and peered through. A grumpy old JubJub shoved him aside, grunting, "Never did trust those Myncies," as though Mark's species were some dirty word. Undeterred, Mark went forward once more, and managed to see what the crowd was so interested in.

      In the middle of the circle of Neopians were two contenders, a Gelert and a Wocky, standing before three Mortogs that sat on purple cushions. The Gelert leaned forward, looking disgusted, and gave the Mortog to the left a quick peck on the cheek. The Mortog remained motionless for a moment, then turned a bright, boiling red. The Gelert hung his head in shame and silently exited the circle. Mark assumed this meant he had failed.

      Now it was the Wocky's turn. She approached the Mortog in the middle and kissed it. The audience held its breath while the Mortog didn't move for a moment or two, and then sighed in relief as it gave a brief nod. This meant that the Wocky had completed the first round. Now if only she could keep going...

      Mark was so absorbed in this new game that he did not realize that the crotchety JubJub behind him was staring at him suspiciously, and jumped nearly a foot when the JubJub yelled gruffly, "He's not a Meridellian! He's from the great Kingdom of Evil... Kreludor!"

      The crowd turned their heads in shock, and Mark, completely nonplussed over the situation, tried to become invisible, but it was too late. The JubJub's rash accusation had roused the crowd, apparently becoming bored over the lackluster Kiss the Mortog game, and they were ready for a new form of entertainment: a chase.

      Mark backed up slowly, then turned and began to jog, and eventually started to run as he realized that the crowd was hot on his tail, with the elderly JubJub calling the shots from his wheelchair in the foreground.

      The terrified Mynci raced through Meridell, searching wildly for a place that would provide some sort of sanctuary, and at last he reached it: Meridell Castle. He stared in awe at the dwelling. It reminded him of the castle of Brightvale, whose shadow he had lived in his whole life. But while that castle reeked of memories of boredom, this one was alive with the excitement of new-found freedom, and, for the moment, safety.

      The angry crowd was coming fast, and Mark needed to get inside. He began ferociously banging on the wooden door that marked the entrance to the castle, wishing someone would hear him and let him in. His wish was granted. Soon, a Quiggle answered the door, and, seeing the situation, quickly ushered Mark inside.

      The shaken Mynci peered about in wonder. The castle was filled with lavish furniture, portraits, carpets, and more. Mark had never seen anything that compared to this, and was so engrossed with looking around him that he did not notice the Quiggle had left.

      "Who dares enter the realm of King Skarl?" a voice snarled, and as Mark whirled around in horror, a menacing creature emerged from the darkness. Mark had heard of the so-called "Grumpy Old King" who lived in Meridell Castle, but had never dreamed that he would actually meet him.

      "SQuiggle, who is this young Mynci?" the king asked his loyal Quiggle servant, who had appeared behind him, glaring at Mark.

      "I don't know, sir," SQuiggle began, in a low, somber voice. "He seemed to be running from something, but that's all I know." King Skarl looked at Mark, who cowered under his fiery gaze.

      "Well, young Mynci, what is your name?" the king asked.

      "M-M-Mark," the terrified Mynci replied shakily. "I'm from B-B-Brightvale."

      "Brightvale, you say?" questioned the king gruffly. "Why did you come to my castle?"

      "Because an old JubJub and a group of people thought I was from Kreludor, and... "

      "KRELUDOR!!!!!!" King Skarl bellowed at the sound of the name. "That is an evil place, Mark the Mynci, and you would do well not to be associated with that kind of scum! Take him away, SQuiggle!"

      "No, no! I'm not from Kreludor!" Mark screamed, but the king would not listen, and SQuiggle and another Quiggle, whom the king called Wiggle, began to pull him away toward the dungeons. Grumpy Old King Skarl had had the final say, and Mark could do nothing about it.

 

      Mark sat in the damp, cold dungeon, shivering and missing home. He wished he had stayed away from the Kiss the Mortog game. He wished he had never met the JubJub. He wished he had never come to King Skarl's castle, but most of all, he wished he had never left home in the first place.

      "Mark? Mark, are you there?" a tiny voice whispered urgently. Mark jumped about a foot, and then settled back down when he realized that the voice came from SQuiggle.

      "SQuiggle? What are you doing here?" the bewildered Mynci asked. Not replying, the Quiggle edged her way forward toward him, and began sawing at his chains with a tiny blade she had brought with her. In no time at all, Mark was free.

      "Thank you, SQuiggle," he said. "But now I need to find a way out without getting caught by the guards."

      "I'm a guard; I can just tell them that I am taking you out for... something," SQuiggle replied, but there was a worried tremor in her voice.

      So Mark and SQuiggle tip-toed out of the dungeon, and snuck toward the great wooden door that barred the entrance to the castle.

      "Just one minute, you two," someone said suddenly, and Mark could hear the malice in its voice. The Quiggle and the Mynci turned to face Wiggle.

      "Hi, Wiggle, I was just taking Mark out for some exercise," SQuiggle said smoothly, lying through her teeth. But Wiggle did not look satisfied.

      "Did the king give you orders to do so?" he asked.

      "Yes," answered SQuiggle carefully.

      "I'm going to check with him; don't move," Wiggle said, and raced off to find King Skarl.

      "Quick! I know Wiggle; he'll be back in a matter of minutes!" SQuiggle said, shoving the bar that kept he castle door locked aside and pushing it open. "Go! Go!"

      Mark ran through the doors, but it was too late.

      "There they are!" screamed Wiggle from the west tower. King Skarl stood at his side. He turned and yelled to the guards waiting below, "Attack him!"

      Mark sprinted and leaped, trying to evade the guards and one almost caught him, but he was too quick. He dashed down the drawbridge and managed to run through all of Meridell, with the king and Wiggle and the cranky old JubJub calling insults after him, until he had run all the way into Brightvale. He could see his house straight ahead, looming large and comfy in the distance, and he pushed himself to sprint just a little bit farther, until at last he reached the comfort and safety of his beloved house. He ran inside, slammed the door shut, collapsed on his sofa, and breathed again.

      Mark the Mynci never ventured into Meridell again, although he did take a space cruise to visit the one place he knew he'd never run into a Meridellian: the planet of Kreludor.

The End

 
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