The Pant Devil's Desire
Inspired by a strange conversation with Nimras23. Thanks!
"Are you completely out of your mind?"
There was no answer. The Grundo Leader contemplated
this. He couldn't shout, not when he was visiting the Dire Cloud (looking innocently
pink and fluffy) where the more dangerous "prizes" from the Wheel of Excitement
lurked and waited their turn.
A gesture sent a couple of Money Tree ghosts
to tug on the waistband of the Pant, but this had no apparent effect either.
The Grundo Leader sighed, crossed his legs on
the pink cloud that matched his unfortunate skin condition, and rapped the Pant
Devil over the head with a Draik Transmogrification Potion he'd swiped from
a (formerly) fervent Sloth supporter. It was the best of his haul for the day
(In fact, it was leading the month, though he
had an eye on one careless user who had wandered off with an Aisha Myriad in
his inventory; it was really too bad sneaking in and passing the disappearance
off as "a glitch in the substance of Neopia's magic" was considered poor sportsmanship.
At least by Glitch, a hard-working and often maligned red Pteri in Queen Fyora's
The blow didn't get the Pant Devil's attention,
but the trail of howls, whines, threats, and bitter imprecations still clinging
to the sinister little bottle did when it fell down around the approximate location
of his ears.
"Ow! Hey! Stop it." The Pant Devil glared, rubbing
the top of his head, and then remembered himself and hastily returned his gaze
to the young human and her four Neopets loitering around the line for the Wheel
of Excitement. "What was that for?"
The Grundo Leader shrugged his wings, taking
this divided attention philosophically. At least it was an improvement over
the previous total oblivion. "You weren't listening. As I said, are you completely
out of your mind?"
"Is this about my wardrobe choices again? Because
I honestly don't think you have much room to talk."
The Grundo Leader looked down at himself, briefly
distracted. "What are you talking about? I don't even wear clothes."
"Exactly my point. That and the Peophin Nail
The Grundo Leader sighed and wiggled all four
of his toes, regarding them glumly. "The color's natural." They were a very
pretty, Air Faerie-like eggshell blue. Despite the red eyes, bone-and-leathery
wings, menacing musculature, and theft skills, the Grundo Leader strongly suspected
that his pastel complexion was interfering with his ability to be taken seriously
as a threat.
"Huh." The Pant Devil eyed the toes. Briefly.
"Maybe you should try painting them after all."
"You are avoiding the point. You're obsessing
over that... that... owner."
"I am not! She's my next mark."
"She might actually win something, you know."
"Or the Lava Ghoul might get her."
"Or she might spin a disease. What's the current
one, anyway? I ought to be sure to pick up a few cures."
"Nope. Oh, uh... Chickaroo, I think."
"Why are you so sure--" the Grundo Leader began,
and then broke off as the Pant Devil suddenly zipped down, faster than the average
eye could follow. The Grundo Leader leaned down over the edge of the cloud,
relying on his natural camouflage to blend with it. After several long, puzzled
seconds he caught a glimpse of deep blue pants right at the back of the Wheel
For some reason, he had a bad feeling about this.
The object of the Pant Devil's obsession... or,
as the Pant Devil himself insisted on calling her, his next mark, but the Grundo
Leader resisted this because she would also be the next, the next, and the next,
and probably the next one after that until the Pant Devil recovered his senses
or she took the necessary steps to shake him off...
The Grundo Leader shook off this semantic confusion,
himself, and compromised on "the Pant Devil's current target."
The Pant Devil's current target approached the
Wheel of Excitement and paid her fee.
The Light Faeries in charge of the Wheel reached
up and gave it a vigorous spin.
As the bright blur slowed, the Grundo Leader
watched, worried... and yet, despite himself, intrigued.
The Pant Devil reached a finger surreptitiously
The Wheel slowed further.
The Grundo Leader realized that the prize designations
and the probabilistic weights were both visible from the rear of the wheel.
The Wheel slowed further still....
During what should probably have been the third
or fourth turn from the end, at a time when the Wheel was moving slowly enough
to look as if it might stop and yet not quite slowly enough that it might stop
before he could intervene, the Pant Devil's raised finger jabbed hard against
the back of his own panel.
The Grundo Leader winced. The Wheel still had
enough momentum that he was sure this had to be painful. The Pant Devil's finger
bent sideways in a distinctly alarming fashion, and the mischievous grin fixed
itself into a grimace as the spot dragged on sideways, just past the top of
But then the Wheel stopped... hung... and rocked
back, and the Pant Devil pounced on the girl with a wild cackle of glee and
The Grundo Leader squinted...
...A plate of Herbal Scrambled Eggs. Well, of
course. Chickaroo. He blinked as the Pant Devil zipped into a blur and then
near-invisibility; after less than a second, a gleeful cackle came from right
beside him, and there was the Pant Devil, grinning over the medicine and his
sprained finger. "I got her!"
"So you did--"
The girl howled in frustration. "Oh, come ON!
That's the eighth time today, and that's just HERE! Never mind shopping! Never
mind on the way to the Kadoatery! Never mind--"
"Yeah, never mind!" said the next human in line.
"Maybe you should quit spinning the Wheel of Excitement if your luck's that
bad, and give the rest of us a turn. Or clean out your inventory so it's not
full of stuff you're afraid to lose."
"I've got lots of junk in it, but I need to use
some things instead of keeping them in my Safety Dep...." The target trailed
off into a sigh upon realizing just how little interest the others had in the
details of her plight. She backed away from the Wheel of Excitement, and an
Eyrie corralled her before she could fall over the edge of the cloud.
The owner who'd gone after her in line groaned
and headed for the Healing Springs while his Koi made clucking noises and tried
to peck and claw at the cloud.
The target girl sighed and started back down
toward sea-level Neopia.
The Pant Devil zipped off again.
Too late, the Grundo Leader started to ask, "What
are you doing?" Then he muttered, "Why do I bother? By the time I ask what he's
doing, he's already too busy doing it to hear me."
Below, the girl stopped in surprise as a random
event popped up, offering her (the Grundo Leader's eyes popped nearly as much
as hers) a Purple Paint Brush.
The Pant Devil sneaked away, shedding his Jacko
the Phantom Painter disguise and peeked back down over the sun-gilded edge of
the pink Dire Cloud, mixing a gloating cackle with a wistfully happy sigh.
The Grundo Leader stared at him. "You just gave
"Didn't you steal it from her yesterday?"
"Yeah...." Another longing sigh.
The Grundo Leader heaved a sigh of his own. This
was going too far. "You know, you've got to stop obsessing over humans."
"I am not obsessing." The Pant Devil hesitated.
"Well... only a little."
"What is it about her that's got you so worked
up? Appearance? Talents? Inventory?"
The Pant Devil shook his head vigorously, causing
the Pant he wore to dance. "She's fascinating in her own right. I want her to
be my... my friend."
"Come on. You know what you really want."
"I beg your pardon!"
Impatient with the Pant Devil's indignation,
the Grundo Leader shook his head. "You do know. We both do. Just take it from
her, why don't you!"
"That's not it," the Pant Devil protested. "That's
not it at all!"
But the Grundo Leader thought he detected a hint
of half-heartedness in the tone, and he pressed his advantage. "Come on, lad.
"This from a Grundo," the Pant Devil grumbled.
The Grundo Leader gave him a stern look. "Do
we have to take out our stats and compare them? I've read as many of the books
I've stolen as you."
"All right, I'm sorry. That was uncalled for."
"Thank you. Now. When did you first start noticing
"Four days ago, at 11 NST."
"And what was the first thing you took from her?"
The Grundo Leader nodded solemnly. "And where
did she get that Breadfish?"
"Fishing with her foster pet, in the ruins of
"How long had she had it?"
The Pant Devil squirmed a little, but he answered,
"Oh... just a few minutes...."
"What else did she catch when she went fishing
that day? With her more experienced Neopets?"
"That doesn't matter!"
"Answer me, old pal. This is for your own good."
The Pant Devil slumped under his Pant, hanging
his head in defeat. The words came out soft and low, but to the Grundo Leader,
they were a great relief. "A Pant Devil Attractor."
Ten minutes later, the item had been stolen.
Forty minutes after that, with its Attraction temporarily neutralized, it had
been sunk deep in the sea.
The Grundo Leader flew off to his collections
again, his friend's sanity reassuringly restored.
At least until the next catch.