Apprentice to Evil: Part One
Also by chivo
In the weeks following his adventure, when Meti looked back on the bizarre sequence of events that had occurred, he would often reflect that to tell the story would probably result in many calling him a liar. It seemed so unlikely that such things could happen to one small, Plushie Draik from Mystery Island.
Even when he found listeners curious enough or bored enough to sit through the lengthy, rambling tale, he was to discover that very few thought it was anything more than the creation of a fantastic imagination. They would laugh and shake their heads. They would sigh and giggle. Sometimes they would make a small, bemused comment about envying his creativity.
However, no one really believed much of it and the creatures involved were hardly about to go out of their way to support his story. Thank goodness one friend knew the truth. One friend was all it took to reminisce with, even when the rest of Neopia thought you were babbling for the fun of it.
It had begun with the morning edition of the Neopian Times. Meti had stumbled out of bed, grumbling to himself as his toe connected with a book he hadn't bothered to pick up the night before. Hopping around in circles did little to relieve the ache in his throbbing toe, so the Draik had dispensed with the drama and waddled downstairs. The kitchen was deserted except for his owner, Anjie, who was standing at the stove, puzzling over a battered and much read copy of 'Cooking With A Bomberry.' Anjie meant well in her attempts to prepare food for the little Neofamily, but her success in the kitchen was on par with Meti's at being graceful.
The small Draik gave a sleepy wave to his owner and plopped his plushie form into a chair at the table, picking up the Neopian Times in hope of a funny comic. He skimmed the headlines with little interest. Although Doctor Sloth's latest attempt to take over the world was fascinating, it was hardly the kind of light entertainment he wanted before breakfast! Idly he read, turning the page and giving a cry of excitement.
This noise startled Anjie, causing her to drop her book as she spun around in alarm.
"Meti! What in Neopia is wrong with you?"
The Plushie Draik squealed and held up the Neopian Times, babbling at an alarming rate.
"Anjie! Look! Blue Kacheek Group is playing next week in Tyrannia!"
Anjie laughed at this, picking up the paper and reading it carefully. The advertisement was certainly flashy. Big, blue letters listing the band's several hit songs and in huge, red letters a statement announced this to be a special, once in a lifetime show where the band would invite members of the audience on stage to sing. Anjie hid a smile. Her little Plushie Draik was hardly much of a singer, but this type of thing would appeal to him.
Meti squirmed in his seat as she read it, impatient and excited.
"So can I go, Anjie? Please? Spectra could go too; we would behave..."
Anjie held up a hand to silence him, sighing.
"Meti, look at these ticket prices. Thirty thousand Neopoints each! You only get twenty Neopoints a week pocket money!"
The Draik put on his best sorrowful expression.
"But I'll be good. It can be a special treat! I never get treats!"
Anjie raised an eyebrow in her best impersonation of an owner who was about to lecture a rather ungrateful pet.
"Meti. Last week you HAD to have a Sword of Skardsen to battle with. I bought it. The week before you couldn't live without that new Faerie Draik Plushie. I bought it for you. And the week before that, if you recall, you told me you would never ask me for another thing if I bought you a new petpet!"
Meti's shoulders slumped, Anjie shaking her head gently.
"Your siblings need nice things too, Meti. Tell you what. If you really want to go to the concert, why not get a job?"
Meti looked as if she had suggested he spend the night at the Meridell Rubbish Dump, causing Anjie to laugh.
"I'm serious! You and Spectra could get jobs, work and..."
She was cut off by Meti's horrified protests.
"Anjie! Spectra is a Royal Kyrii! You can't expect her to run around doing odd jobs!"
Anjie was unmoved by the protest.
"Sorry, little one. It's get a job, or don't go."
Meti grabbed the paper and sulked, wandering outside with it. He settled down in the Neogarden under the shade of a tree, perusing the advertisement with longing. Slowly his paw turned the page to the job listings. He pulled a terrible face, about to start reading, when a cheery, lyrical voice called to him.
He glanced up. There was Spectra, his dear friend. The only pet willing to go along with each crazy scheme he managed to hatch. In miserable tones he greeted her, explaining the unfolding horror of the morning's events.
The Kyrii listened with serene patience, nodding at the appropriate intervals as her friend complained.
"Meti," she ventured softly. "We should get jobs. I don't want to miss that concert."
The Draik gave a long-suffering sigh.
"Fine, Spectra. We'll get jobs. Amazing jobs, like listed here. Come on, listen! Let me read out some of the amazing opportunities we have at hand!"
Spectra didn't bother to interrupt this ranting. When Meti got to rambling, it was best to let him just run with it.
"Wanted! Any Neopet for exciting Berry Picking career! Collect dung piles from the picturesque hills of Meridell farm! Oh, Spectra. We could be dung collectors!"
The Kyrii rolled her eyes and let Meti continue his tirade.
"Wanted! Neopet with appreciation of cold weather to guard treasure for two hours a day. Must be ready to throw self in front of pile of Neggs. Apply directly to Snowager."
Spectra sighed, awaiting the next ramble. However, it didn't seem forthcoming, Meti reading in fascinated silence for a few moments.
"Wait... I think I could do this one, Spectra!"
The Kyrii glanced up as Meti beamed.
"Wanted! Pet with the ability to be mysterious for apprenticeship!"
Spectra raised an eyebrow.
"An apprenticeship, Meti? To whom?"
The small Plushie Draik stumbled to his feet, tail waving around in a haphazard manner.
"To the Ghost Lupe! I could be famous, Spectra!"
The Kyrii opened her mouth to protest, but she was no match for Meti's excitement.
"I'm going to go apply! Next time you see me, I'll be the Ghost Lupe's sidekick! I bet it pays amazingly! We'll go to the concert in style!"
Spectra should have spoken up. Any sensible pet would have told Meti he was acting the fool, sat him down and suggested they enquire about stacking shelves in the Faerie Library. Sadly, she never got the chance. Meti was already scurrying down the road, the paper bunched up in his fist, no doubt rushing off to apply. Spectra sighed and shook her head. It was going to be a long road to those tickets. She just knew it.
It took Meti a few hours to locate the Ghost Lupe, whom he finally cornered in a dark alleyway behind Tombola. The canine phantom was a wispy, eerie vision, seeming none too pleased to be hunted down by this bumbling Draik.
"What do you want, Neopet?" The statement was accompanied by a low snarl.
Meti gave his best and brightest smile then launched into a speech he had written in his head on the way over.
"Mr Ghost Lupe! Sir! I've come about the apprenticeship you offered! I'm hard working; I never ask for sick leave. Sometimes I'm so enthusiastic I work overtime! I have a firm appreciation of all things ghostly in Neopia. Why, sometimes I visit Coltzan's Shrine just in hopes of catching a glimpse of..."
The Ghost Lupe rolled his eyes in a dramatic fashion.
"Stop. Stop right there, Draik. You've got the job."
"Was it my speech that did it? I think I have a bit of a way with words. I don't understand why none of the books I write have been published, to be honest. I think they're rather good. One was about me having an appreciation day instead of Sloth and..."
The Lupe growled warningly, so Meti quickly silenced himself and listened.
"You'll be in charge of learning to be like me. My job is tiring; a small holiday appeals to me. However, there must be someone here who can take over whilst I have a rest."
"Mr Lupe, I'm your Draik! I can be scary!"
The Lupe looked doubtful. This clumsy creature who couldn't be silent seemed an unlikely candidate. The fact remained, however, that no one else had applied and he did want that holiday terribly badly. It was only one tiny Draik; how much damage could he possibly cause?
"You will be mysterious and sinister at all times, Draik."
The small Plushie creature nodded furiously.
The Lupe glanced up curiously.
"Call me Meti!"
The phantom groaned.
"Fine. Meti. You will be sinister. Eerie. When a pet is ill, you shall turn up in a wisp of smoke and in your most terrifying voice, announce..."
"Your pets are fully healed!" crooned Meti, knowing the famous line by heart.
"Yes, Yes," uttered the irritated spectre. Meti looked a little smug, then concentrated again as the lecture continued.
"You shall also appear to pets at random. Announce strange statements, things about Mystery Island being haunted, or shout beware!"
Meti nodded firmly. This seemed easy enough. The Lupe considered things slowly.
"You should also have a few menacing statements. I like to make one about how if someone has a Chia, I'll be their friend, as Chias are tasty!"
Meti nodded, taking this in. The Lupe rambled on.
"My, what tasty Neopets you have! That's always a real crowd pleaser. Anything about a Neopet being a tasty snack always thrills them!"
Meti grinned. This was going to be easy!
"Don't worry, Mr Lupe! I could do this blindfolded!"
The Ghost Lupe looked dubious, but handed him a brown paper package. Meti read the label and looked a little mystified.
"It's a Bag Of Sugar..."
The Lupe nodded, smirking. His teeth glinted in a rather ominous way.
"Of course. You are not a Ghost pet; you couldn't create eerie clouds as you appeared without something to throw around, could you?"
Meti's eyes widened at the brilliance of this.
"So it's to make me more mysterious? I'll appear in clouds of white?"
The Lupe nodded, smug at his own brilliance. He surveyed the excited little Draik before him.
"Then I think you're all set, Meti. Go out there and scare the good pets of Neopia!"
Meti stumbled to his feet and saluted, proceeding to whack himself in the head with his paw.
"You've got it, Mr Lupe! I won't let you down!"
The Lupe smirked.
"I hope not, Meti. For your sake..."
To be continued...