A Yurble stole my cinnamon roll! Circulation: 135,120,763 Issue: 268 | 1st day of Celebrating, Y8
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Defender Chronicles: The Beginning - Part Three


by toffee_choc

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Vera sighed and rubbed her eyes in the bright sunlight. After the gloom of the night, the sheer brightness of Faerieland was almost too much to bear. Especially given that she was far more used to the gloomy, overcast days that made up the daytime hours of the Haunted Woods. She felt an uncomfortable chill on her heart as she looked towards the dark purple cloud that was to be her next destination - Jhudora's lair.

     The Xweetok cautiously joined the queue of Neopians wishing to curry favour with the dark Faerie. Most were jabbering slightly nervously to each other about what quest they might get today; other more experienced pets were complaining quietly about the cost of Jhudora's quests in comparison to Illusen's. Very quietly, however - they didn't want the dark Faerie to overhear them.

     After what seemed like eternity, Vera was ushered into the Faerie's lair. Jhudora began her customary speech:

     "I see you have been helping my sisters out... and for what? A pathetic handful of Neopoints, or maybe a level or two. It's not worth your time... I have what you REALLY need... magical artifacts of -"

     "-ultimate power. Yes, I know," interrupted Vera, much to Jhudora's astonishment (and annoyance). "All I really want to know is - Sloth supporter, yea or nay?"

     Jhudora gawped at her incredulously for a moment, before answering.

     "Nay, of course," she snorted. "As if I'd support a... whatever he is..."

     "Demented Chia?" suggested Vera, innocently.

     Jhudora smirked. "Yes, a demented Chia. If Neopia is to be taken, it won't be by some puny, weak-minded individual like him. I shall be the victor, or no-one. Understand?"

     The dark Faerie paused and glared and Vera for a moment.

     "Now, kid, if you don't want a quest, I suggest you get lost."

     Vera didn't need asking twice. She turned to go, but Jhudora grabbed her by a wing.

     "By the way - come here on Sloth's say-so again, and you'll have more than Transmogrification Potions to worry about. Alright?"

     The dark Faerie released her, and Vera darted out of the rancid cloud as fast as her legs - and wings - could carry her. Once outside she shuddered, and looked at her list once more.

     "At least most of these evil denizens of Neopia don't seem interested in Sloth," she mused to herself.

     No sooner had she thought this, than she felt herself grabbed by the scruff of the neck and swiftly pulled into a neighbouring alleyway.

     Panting slightly, Vera turned around to see who her attacker was.

     "Trilby?!" she exclaimed, shocked at seeing the dishevelled Scorchio again.

     "Bingo!" said the Scorchio, triumphantly. "And what have you been up to missy? I count two - three if you count Edna - members of the Gallery of Evil that you have visited in the last few hours. What are you up to?"

     Vera stared at him slightly helplessly. She debated, once again, telling him exactly what had been going on since she received that paint brush. But now that she was in this, she felt like seeing it through - and what's more, she was fairly sure she had a plan.

     "I can't tell you," she said finally. "But I will - I just need you to get something for me."

     "Oh?" enquired Trilby, slightly sarcastically. "And what would that be?"

     Vera whispered it in his ear. Trilby stared at her incredulously.

     "A WHAT?! Why on earth would you want one of those?" he asked.

     Vera sighed. "It doesn't matter. Do you think you can get me one?"

     Trilby hesitated slightly, and then nodded. Vera broke into a smile.

     "Good. Meet me in a couple of hours on the Space Station. I need to see one or two people first."

     Trilby watched the Xweetok bound away with dismay. How on earth was he going to explain what he needed to Judge Hog? He sighed. This job was never as simple as it looked.

     Vera, meanwhile, had decided to complete her list. She only had one more villain - and the Soup Faerie - to quiz before her first mission as a Sloth minion was complete. She glanced at the list again to make sure of her destination. Yes, she was definitely in the right place.

     The Xweetok paused as she gazed up at the forbidding fortress that was the Darigan Citadel. No matter - she had already faced Jhudora, Garoo and the Pant Devil. Besides, Darigan was supposed to be good now. To be honest, her list of potential allies left a lot to be desired. She suspected this was more of a stupid test than an actual tally of Sloth's potential allies in Neopia.

     Steeling herself, Vera made her way into the Council Chambers. Lord Darigan glared at her over his mug of steaming borovan. Behind him, an intimidating looking Darigan Grarrl twitched, ready to remove her.

     "Yes?" asked Darigan, regarding her calmly as his sipped his beverage. "Was it anything in particular that caused you to barge in on me, or just general curiosity?"

     Vera swallowed. Although Darigan was by far the least evil of the people she had dealt with today, he was pretty intimidating - like an old schoolmaster.

     "Um," she said nervously, "I was actually sent here to ask you a question."

     "Oh?"

     "Yes... I was wondering, were Sloth to attempt to take over Neopia once more, would you be for or against it?"

     Vera winced as she saw the look on Darigan's face. She had been pretty sure of his answer before she even set foot in the Citadel, but had thought it prudent to ask anyway. As it happened, she hadn't even been given a verbal answer, simply shown the door by the grim and imposing Darigan Grarrl.

     "It's a shame," she murmured to herself. "I bet they'd get on like a house of fire - after all, neither seem to be a particular species of Neopet. They could discuss it over tea and crumpets or something."

     She chuckled at this image for a while, and took a short while in Meridell to grab a bite to eat and a breath of fresh air, before making her way to the Space Station. She didn't even bother to visit the Soup Faerie - she already knew what she'd say.

     Vera arrived on the Space Station in plenty of time, and pretty soon determined that Trilby had too. She had always been wary once on board, and this time she was certain that she'd be watched every step of the way. Trilby seemed to have had the same idea, for he approached her as soon as he saw her near Grundo's CafĂ©.

     "Vera?" he called suddenly, hurrying over. "Vera Linae, is that you?"

     "Ye-es," replied Vera uncertainly, wondering exactly what he was doing.

     "Don't you remember me?" asked Trilby, innocently. "I was in your class at Neoschool. Look!"

     The Scorchio shoved a photograph into her hand, and as he did so she felt the thing she'd asked for slide comfortingly into her coat pocket. She smiled to herself and began to play along.

     "Oh, of course!" she cried. "How could I forget? What have you been doing since then?"

     A shadow over them stilled any further conversation, and Vera felt herself steered away by an all too familiar gloved hand. She sighed - here we go again.

     However, she was to be surprised yet again. Rather than be talked at by Garoo, she found herself face to face with the Neopian she feared the most.

     Dr. Frank Sloth looked at her dismissively. He was a little surprised that she had completed her assignment so quickly, and with so little complaining, but he wasn't going to worry about that too much. What he was really interested in were results.

     "Well?" he demanded, after Vera had stood staring at him for several minutes, without saying a word.

     Vera started slightly, but began to speak. "The only one who might support you is the Pant Devil, sir. All the others aren't really interested."

     Sloth glared at her for a moment. "Did you question all of them?"

     "No," answered Vera gleefully. "I didn't ask the Soup Faerie. There didn't seem much point, to be honest. You know what she'd say as well as I do."

     Sloth folded his hands together and continued to watch her. Vera felt sure he could hear her heart pounding... and was savouring every moment.

     "Very well," he continued, "what exactly did the rest of them say?"

     Vera took a deep breath before answering, and her paw tightened around the vial in her pocket. She wondered how long it would take the Doctor to get really angry.

     "Lord Darigan didn't even give me a response, other than to throw me out of the Citadel," she began. Sloth shrugged.

     "The Pant Devil was willing to support you provided there were certain... benefits for him. Stealing rights and so on."

     Vera watched as Sloth made the smallest of notes on a pad, before she continued:

     "Jhudora said in no uncertain terms that if anyone was going to conquer Neopia, it would be her."

     Sloth snorted derisively. Vera swallowed. This was the make or break moment... as long as she had the guts to go through with it.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Defender Chronicles: The Beginning - Part One
» Defender Chronicles: The Beginning - Part Two
» Defender Chronicles: The Beginning - Part Four



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