The Valentines Fiasco (A Tale of Sloth and Jhudora)
Author’s note: this story is a sequel of sorts to Jhudora’s Prizes Are SO Unappreciated. You don’t have to have read it to understand this story, but it might shed some light on certain strange instances, such as Jhudora’s reasons for wielding a Jhudora’s Brush and tapping innocent bystanders on the head with it.
So once upon a time... um, no, forget that.
One day -- which happened to be the 14th day of the Month of Awakening, which happened to be Valentine’s Day -- some green guy was sitting around in a restaurant, waiting for someone, apparently. This green guy was kind of weird looking but he had a really cool cloak.
He was waiting around looking kind of like a loser because people who are sitting at a table for two, alone, for four hours, usually look like losers.
This was an extremely expensive restaurant whose table this green guy was half-using, a restaurant by the name of kelp. (In the words of a wise Neopian, you can tell it’s an expensive restaurant because its name isn’t capitalized.)
Since kelp was such a posh place, it was in high demand for Valentine’s Day, because everyone tries to impress those near and dear to them by pretending to be rich.
Needless to say, after Valentine’s Day, those who have dined at kelp are most frequently found lurking at the Money Tree in abject poverty, snagging Soggy Old Boxes to resell. They are also found lurking the pharmacy, seeking treatment for severe indigestion from having overindulged in Kelp Gazpacho and Octopi Souffles.
We have drifted from our original subject matter to an alarming degree.
So we’ve got this green guy looking kind of like a loser, sitting alone at this table for two for four hours, and we’ve got this really expensive restaurant wherein said table is located.
So kelp’s staff were hovering around the green guy’s table, offering him such exciting and mysterious drinks as Foozette Juice and Lemwart Fizz and also generally trying to make him leave without seeming to do so with such subtle hints as:
“Sir, perhaps I might offer you a dessert before you head off?”
“Would you like to take home any leftovers now that you’re finished?”
“Would you like the bill, sir?”
“May I help you out of your chair?”
“Would you like the time, sir?”
“Sir, I just saw a Grundo run by, and he wasn’t emotionally devastated due to various nefarious experiments. You should go after him!”
Anyone who knows kelp knows that the staff are not usually this solicitous when it comes to clients hogging tables for four hours solid without actually ordering food. But in this case, they were being remarkably polite (inasmuch as that was possible when blasphemous table-hogging was going on) because the green guy was someone who they all feared quite rightly: it was Dr. Frank Sloth.
But of course, you already knew that, since the cool cloak totally gave it away. Didn’t it.
You may wonder why nobody was trying to arrest Dr. Sloth, or why no one was at least fleeing for the hills at the sight of him. That is because Dr. Sloth was at a point in his life in between of various unlawful escapades and therefore his face wasn’t plastered on “Wanted” posters all over the place, for once. Which meant that he could actually go out in public without those fools from the Defenders of Neopia popping up like the staff on Whack-A-Staff and giving him lectures about doing good or whatever.
We interrupt this backstory to alert the reader that at some point in the above narrative digression, the pretty shell-covered door of kelp had been blasted open by what appeared to be a large purple cloud.
Everyone in kelp gasped and looked alarmed, except for Sloth, who leaned forward and massaged his temples in a long-suffering manner.
“Am I late?” asked the large purple cloud as it made its way into the restaurant.
“Yes,” answered Sloth.
“Whatever,” said the large purple cloud.
Then the large purple cloud dissolved and revealed a totally wicked looking faerie. Wicked in the cool sense and also because she basically radiated evil. No wonder Sloth had waited for four hours, sipping on Lemwart Fizz until he couldn’t feel his tongue. Pteri of a feather and all that.
The staff at kelp scrambled around to set the table (having pointedly removed the second set of dishes when Sloth had waited alone for fifteen minutes) and made sure everything was set up to satisfy a Dark Faerie’s extremely high standards. They shouldn’t have bothered because they were bound to fail anyway.
“Why isn’t this dishware purple?” asked Jhudora (AKA the gaseous substance formerly known as The Large Purple Cloud), and she picked up a saucer and looked at it as though it was of Tyrannian make and hence, made of dung.
“It is the finest of Maraquan shell porcelain,” answered one of the staff, a Maraquan Scorchio, who also happened to be the Maitre D’ at kelp and thus a rather (self-) important personage in his own right.
“Don’t shells come in purple?” asked Jhudora.
“Well, ah -- yes, they do...”
“Problem solved!” said Jhudora. “Why do I always have to do the thinking?”
Then Jhudora leaned over the table and gave the Maitre D’ a sharp tap on the head with a Jhudora’s Brush.
“Wow,” she exclaimed when the Maitre D’s head didn’t resonate like an empty coconut. “Your head is not actually hollow!”
Jhudora cast an amazed look at Sloth, who tried to look amazed in return but ended up looking like he was suffering from acute heartburn instead.
Memo to me. Never invite Jhudora to a public location again. Like, ever.
“So anyway, Franky...” said Jhudora after a few minutes of silence, wherein kelp’s staff and its patrons somehow managed to resume their normal activities. (That is, hovering like micromanagers and stuffing their faces, respectively.)
“It’s Dr. Sloth. Jhudy.”
“Hey, that sounds kind of cool,” said Sloth.
“Yeah it does, actually,” agreed Jhudora, and she determined never to use it again.
“Know what else is cool?” asked Jhudora slyly after a few more moments of silence.
“What?” asked Sloth, and he smiled widely because he thought that Jhudora was going to say that he was cool. He had a sprig of the thyme garnish from his Lemwart Fizz stuck in his teeth, which made Jhudora choke on her drink when she saw it, but, being a nice person, she decided not to inform him of this embarrassing problem so she could blackmail him about it later.
“I’ll tell you what else is cool,” said Jhudora. “Your cloak.”
And then she gave Sloth’s cloak a look so covetous that Sloth instinctively wrapped it around him tighter and hoped he wasn’t wearing the boxers with the little Advert Attack spaceships on them in case Jhudora decided to swipe his cloak because then she would see them and he could never live it down.
He was breathless for lack of commas during such a lengthy thought.
“So...” said Jhudora, when Sloth made no move to offer her his cloak like a gentleman. “Are you going to give it to me?”
“Nope,” said Sloth.
Jhudora smiled very slowly and it was such an evil smile that the sea-flower bouquets dotting kelp’s tables all wilted. Needless to say, Sloth found this hugely attractive.
“That’s too bad,” said Jhudora, and then she shouted suddenly, “look over there!”
Everyone in kelp jumped, glanced at Jhudora, then turned to look in the direction that she was indicating, which happened to be a large, devastatingly uninteresting coral sculpture.
“What about it?” said Sloth, turning back to Jhudora, who was at that moment popping the cork back into a suspicious-looking bottle and looking extremely pleased with herself.
“Oh, nothing, I just thought it looked like your face,” said Jhudora, and she calmly pocketed the bottle.
“Um,” said Sloth. “Did you just poison my Lemwart Fizz?”
“No,” said Jhudora. “If I wanted to poison your drink, I wouldn’t have let you see the bottle.”
“Fair enough,” said Sloth. “So what was it?”
“Nail polish,” said Jhudora. “Duh.”
“Oh,” said Sloth, and he picked up his glass of Lemwart Fizz. “Obviously.”
“Ahem,” came a voice. It was that of a pretty Maraquan Uni, chief waitress at kelp. She floated by their table very politely.
“May I take your orders? If I might be so bold as to suggest the Stramberry Sausages -- sausages enhanced with Stramberry sauce, delectably sweet and savo--”
“Do I look like I like sweet things to you?” interrupted Jhudora very cattily, because Sloth had been about to lift his Lemwart Fizz glass to his mouth but had now put it back down due to the waitress’ question. Which meant that he hadn’t drank the “nail polish” (which was actually Caustic Potion), which meant that he hadn’t suffered from instant severe indigestion, which meant that Jhudora couldn’t swipe his cloak and scram (which was the only reason why she had agreed to come with him to kelp in the first place).
“Well,” said the waitress, “no. You don’t really look like a person who likes sweet things.”
“Exactly,” said Jhudora. “So don’t suggest sweet things. Why do I have to do all the thinking around here twice?”
The Uni waitress wisely backed out of Jhudora’s reach because Jhudora seemed to want to test her skull’s density with the Jhudora’s Brush, much as she had done with the Maitre D’s previously.
“The Spicy Radish Salad, perhaps?” suggested the waitress.
“That’s better,” said Jhudora. “I am very spicy myself.”
“Yes,” interjected Sloth. “You have a real kick to you.”
“I’ll give you a real kick,” said Jhudora, and she did so quite happily under the table.
“Ouch,” said Sloth, and he vowed to draw Jhudora’s Cloud into the orbit of his space station and make it crash into a convenient asteroid as revenge.
“So that’ll be a Spicy Radish Salad, and...?” inquired the Uni in the direction of Sloth.
“Same for me,” said Sloth. “Because I have a real kick too.” And he kicked Jhudora under the table, which incensed her beyond expression because she had just polished her shoes and they were probably scuffed now thanks to Sloth. The jerk!
“Aren’t you thirsty?” Jhudora asked Sloth in tones of such evil that they cracked nearby plates. “You should finish your Lemwart Fizz.”
“No,” said Sloth, who was not actually as stupid as Jhudora thought he was.
“Hm,” said Jhudora. “So. Where do you get your cloaks made?”
“That’s a secret,” said Sloth, because he sensed that this would give him leverage.
“It is, is it?” asked Jhudora. “I was asking because the weave seems a little coarse. I know someone who makes his textiles a little more refined.”
“Yes, he’s called the Spider Grundo. I can give you his card.”
This effectively killed the conversation for fifteen minutes, because Jhudora began plotting nefariously how she was going to get Sloth separated from his cloak, and Sloth was plotting nefariously how to counterattack her plots and escape this self-imposed situation with the least damage done to his reputation.
“Why don’t you try some of my Lemwart Fizz?” asked Sloth, and he pushed his glass towards Jhudora. It was bubbling quite fiercely at this point because apparently Caustic Potion and Lemwart Fizz, like Jhudora and Sloth, do not quite agree with each other, chemically speaking.
“Oh,” said Jhudora, and she became extremely flustered. “I‘m allergic to Fizz. I mean, fizziness. I mean, Lemwart.”
Jhudora tried to smile innocently and ended up looking like she needed the restroom.
“So anyway... let’s talk about Poisonous Lollypops. I want to try to take over the world using a single Poisonous Lollypop. Do you think this is feasible?”
“Hm,” answered Sloth, and he lapsed into profound thought for a few minutes. During this interval, the Uni waitress came and placed their orders in front of them so discreetly you would have thought she was painted Invisible.
Sloth picked at his salad. “Taking over the world with one Poisonous Lollypop. I think it could be done. Maybe you would need two Poisonous Lollypops to make sure it would really work.”
“Excellent!” said Jhudora, who had just shoved her entire plate of Spicy Radish Salad into her mouth with incredible speed. “Are you going to eat that?”
“No. I actually hate radishes.”
“Good,” said Jhudora, and she stole his food. “Now tell me about the Poisonous Lollypop thing.”
“I think I’ll save it for my own list of world domination ideas, actually,” said Sloth, because he was mightily pleased with his awesome idea.
“Hey now,” said Jhudora, “you would never have thought about it without me asking you.”
“Well you would never have figured it out without me. Which, by the way, you still haven’t. Heh.”
“I can’t believe it!” said Jhudora pettishly. “You invite me to kelp on Valentine’s Day and you won’t even give me the things that I want.”
“Remind me of what you want again?”
Jhudora counted on her fingers. “Three things. No, two things -- sorry, I never was good at Maths Nightmare. One: your cloak. Two: the method which one could use to take over the world using only one -- or two -- Poisonous Lollypops. Is that really too much to ask?!”
Sloth thought that it was indeed too much to ask, and he told Jhudora so.
“Fine,” said Jhudora, and she slammed her hand on the table angrily. “I’m leaving.”
“Fine,” said Sloth. “I must have been crazy to invite you out in public. Can I get the bill?”
The last question was addressed to the Maraquan Uni waitress, who was watching the interesting conversation from a safe distance. She darted off for the bill.
“I think you’re crazy, period,” said Jhudora.
“I’m crazy? Who’s the one dementedly carrying a hairbrush around like it’s a weapon?” asked Sloth as he signed the bill.
“It is a weapon!” exclaimed Jhudora, and she rapped Sloth smartly upon the head with it to demonstrate.
A brief altercation resulted wherein Sloth tried to wrestle Jhudora’s brush away from her and Jhudora tried to decapitate him with it.
They bickered all the way out of the restaurant and everyone looked at them in a scandalized fashion. The Maraquan Scorchio Maitre D’ was especially scandalized, because neither Sloth nor Jhudora had left a tip.
However, when the Maitre D’ pointed this out and suggested to the Uni waitress that she should go after them and politely remind them that they hadn’t tipped, the Uni took one look at the large bump on the Maitre D's head and told him he could go ask them himself, because she liked her skull in its current shape, thank you very much. She also made a mental note to purchase several Jhudora’s Brushes for the next time she wanted to duke it out with someone in the Battledome.
Meanwhile, Jhudora and Sloth were walking towards Jhudora’s Cloud (how they got there so fast is another story; let us just say that it involved large amounts of floss).
Sloth was being gentlemanly and accompanying Jhudora back home -- and he was also guided by the ulterior motive of calculating the dimensions of her Cloud so he could pull it into orbit and destroy it for kicks. (And I mean “for kicks” literally, as revenge for having kicked him under the table.)
“Worse Valentine’s day ever,” said Sloth, when he had determined the approximate circumference of Jhudora’s Cloud to the nearest centimetre. “You make a pretty rotten Valentine.”
“Well you make a stinky Valentine yourself,” said Jhudora. “I mean really. You should wash your cloak sometime. I could do it for you, I’ll ask the Bartamus to take care of it, so just give it to me --”
“The day you get my cloak is the day you make a good Valentine,” said Sloth. “So never.”
This made Jhudora pause and tap her chin pensively.
“You should invite me again next year, then,” she said. “I’ll try to be better. Or something.”
“Really?” asked Sloth in a tone that really said “LIES!” in caps.
“Yes, really,” said Jhudora, and she seemed to be being sincere, as indicated by the fact that her eye was twitching uncontrollably.
“Hm,” said Sloth. “Maybe I will. My list of eligible Valentines is pretty small so I don’t have much choice, anyway.”
“Who else is on it?”
“Wow,” said Jhudora, who found this kind of pathetic, and also kind of offensive. “I’m way cooler than she is.”
“Yeah, you are,” said Sloth. “That’s why I asked you.”
“You’re smarter than you look, Thyme-boy.”
“Yeah. You have some stuck in your teeth. By the way.”
“Thanks for telling me before,” said Sloth grouchily, and he picked at his teeth.
“You should thank me for not telling everyone before,” answered Jhudora. “As payment, make sure you send me a comprehensive schema of how to take over the world using two lollypops or I’m telling Edna about your herbal dentistry project. Then you’ll be really messed up. Thyme-boy.”
“Fine,” said Sloth. “I’ll send you half of the plan. And I’ll give you the other half next year. On Valentines Day. Provided you don’t humiliate me again.”
“Fine. And your cloak, don‘t forget.”
“Fine. If you behave.”
Jhudora and Sloth stood around awkwardly at the entrance to Jhudora’s Cloud after having come to this cordial agreement.
“So um,” said Jhudora. “I’ll see you next year, then?”
“No maybes,” said Jhudora, because the cool cloak was at stake here. “Let’s shake on it.”
They shook hands (well, Sloth shook Jhudora’s hand and Jhudora tried to break his knuckles) and separated. Jhudora began plotting on how to accelerate time until the 14th day of the Month of Awakening rolled around again, and Sloth made a mental note not to wear his Advert Attack spaceship boxers on Valentine’s Day next year.