The Misadventures of an Innocent Bystander
To Kristykimmy, whose shenanigans never end, and whose awe-inspiringness is inspiring.
AN: This story was inspired by and is a sequel of sorts to this one.
"There you are, dear," I sighed, wiping my brow.
"Are you sure that's the last of them?" Protector asked, turning around to look at himself.
I sighed again and chuckled. "Yes, we can all see your battle scars on your armor." Glad that I finished the oily job, I pulled the scrunchie off of my hair and secured it onto my wrist.
Uncertain, the Ogrin turned around again, looking very much like a Puppyblew chasing its tail. "Your work is commendable. I worry that it will not be all that intimidating, however." He beeped anxiously.
"Protector, relax." I rolled my eyes. "Neopia isn't constantly in a state of war."
"But Tyrannia is," he pointed out.
"I'm in no danger at all, you sillie daisy. Now, why don't you join your sisters and have fun?"
"I would not be performing my duty to you, Cassie," he responded a bit too simply.
I sighed for a third time, wondering how seriously the robot took his 'job'. I resigned and gave his neck an affectionate squeeze. "You're doing it well," I encouraged. "Trust me, nothing bad is going to happen toda—"
Someone knocked on the front door as though they wanted to kill it.
Nearly bowling me over in the process, Protector leapt to the door and thrust it open, several alarms in his system blaring. "Oh, for the love of Fyora, it's only..." I looked down to see a very young and very agitated Christmas Zafara on my front porch.
"Yanli?" I smiled, but the smile faded slightly when I remembered I didn't have any cookies for her as I usually did. "I'm sorry, but today we're out of—"
"No time for that! It's about Mom!"
"Kristy?" I exclaimed, and Protector's alarms grew louder. Even I was beginning to feel slightly alarmed.
"No time to explain, I've got to take you to her right away!" The Zafara tugged on my hand. "Let's go let's go let's go!"
I took one look at Protector and realized he was right. In some places, Neopia was definitely in a state of chaos. If Kristy was the Kristy I knew, accidental chaos was written all over her, but for her pet to come running to fetch us?
There had to be trouble.
Without another word, I leaped on Protector's back and hugged his neck, wondering what was going on. My thoughts raced almost as fast as Protector galloped and Yanli flew. What had happened to Kristy?
Yanli's frenzied state unexpectedly lowered to a serious business-like one. "Now be quiet. She may be sleeping." The Zafara solemnly pushed open the door and strode in.
Protector and I exchanged looks as we cautiously walked in after her. "Cassie?" a voice weakly called.
"Kristy! What happened? Are you okay?" Protector and I rushed to her bedside at the same time. The poor girl looked like she hadn't had a wink of sleep in several nights.
A tiny part of me was relieved to find out that her state was not as bad as it could have been, and an even tinier part of me caught sight of a pair of lovely earrings sitting on her night table.
There was no time for admiring jewelry. I shook my head and approached my friend. "Thanks for coming by," Kristy croaked, handing a stick of bubble gum to her Zafara, who graciously accepted it. "I feel like I can barely move..."
"Sit tight, I'll take care of you for now." I frantically searched the room for any sort of aid I could give her.
Kristy painstakingly shook her head. "My pets are all taking care of me. I need you to do something that perhaps only you can." My eyes grew wide as she sneezed into a ruffled pair of tissues. Glancing at Protector, I was grateful that he was ready and willing to do just about anything for me, and I felt a pang of guilt realizing that I often took that for granted. My gaze returned to Kristy. "What do you want me to do?"
"Take these." She gestured slowly to the earrings. "Take these to Jhudora today. It's her birthday, and the original sender had some... complications when it came to delivering them." I could not believe what I was hearing.
"They're for Jhudora?!" I spluttered. "But she... she doesn't like me at all... I always do Illusen's quests..." I finished lamely, cringing at the knowledge that my feeble argument would have no effect on the reporter before me. "And why would you want to get her something anyway? Who is this original sender?"
Kristy laughed bitterly. "Oh, Cassie, if you could only imagine the shenanigans my job ropes me into. Just say they're from Dr. Sloth and you should have no trouble with her. Hopefully."
I was about to plead for mercy when I saw it in her face. Guilt, maybe. She didn't want to send me, knew something could happen, but she was in enough trouble with Neopia's villains already, as far as I could see. Besides, I wasn't sure what could go wrong especially with Protector.
"All right, all right," I said, resigned. "For you." I scooped up the amethyst earrings from her night table and beckoned Protector to follow me. I was nearly out the door when--
"Now how long was that draught supposed to keep me sick for—Oh, thanks, Chloe!" I turned around at her muttering and her jolted gesture of thanks as Kristy reached over and scratched the Peophin's head. The latter had just placed a cup of tea on Kristy's night table, and a faint smile tipped my lips. Kristy would be well cared for here, but I was still curious.
"What was that?" I didn't quite catch what she said.
"Nothing," she replied, shivering.
"Get better soon, okay?" I smiled and shook my head. Kristy, at times, could just be plain weird.
"Are you sure you're not tired from all of this running?" I petted Protector's cold metal neck.
"Do not worry. My wires do not fray easily. You should know this."
I grinned and whooped into the wind, having lifted the only cloud of conscience restraining me from doing so.
The rocky bluff nearly completely shrouded with green smoke came into view, and I immediately stopped screaming like a baby Kacheek. Right. The real reason we were here.
My heart pounded against my ribcage, and Protector could sense it below me. "Have you got too much electricity in your system?" Protector asked. "I can discharge it for you." Sparks began to fly around his face and chest.
"That won't be necessary, sweetie, I'm organic, remember?" I jumped off of his back before he could unleash any sort of unintentional attack. He meant well, he really did, but sometimes it was just too much.
As we approached the bluff, a pair of Gruslens roared and hissed at us. Instinctively I stepped behind Protector, who looked at me with his visor slanted in an utterly confused manner. "I do not fight petpets. These are adorable." Warmth crawled into Protector's usually monotonous voice as he scooped up the greener of the two Gruslens in his robotic paw.
"Adorable?" I held up the purple Gruslen, who was not purring like the one Protector was holding. It had attached itself to my arm with its teeth, and I winced, trying to find a way to drop it.
"Enter, you worthless creatures!" a voice boomed. The Gruslen released me at last.
"That's us!" I yelped, reminding Protector of our duty and rubbing my bitten arm.
The bluff was decorated with all sorts of purple and green balloons and streamers, and had an unusually ornate cake as the centerpiece. She must have hired either one talented or one terrified party planner. I froze in the foyer as I saw a few dark faeries, the Shadow Usul, Vira, the Ghost Lupe, and the Pant Devil, among others.
Every last one of them stared me down, making me feel very, very, very small. "Friend of Illusen..." a faerie whispered. "Keep away from her. That robot of hers is a menace," hissed the Ghost Lupe. "Her birthday's even on Illusen Day! She gets such nice things... such nice things for me to have, anyway." The Pant Devil smiled icily.
Of course, I had no time to respond to these comments as a shriek rang out from behind the cake.
"You?!" Jhudora swooped towards me in a flash of green and purple, giving Protector no chance to, well, protect me. "You, you who serve your precious Illusen, have the gall to come to me at last?!" Spheres of pure energy began to grow in her palms. "State your business before I blast you to oblivion." Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the Pant Devil sneak a slice of cake into his mouth, but I dared not upset her further.
"These are from Dr. Sloth." I didn't even try to keep my voice from shaking. Having a dark faerie in your face with her wings around you can render such abilities useless. I presented the earrings in a tiny white bag wrapped in an even tinier ribbon.
"Why didn't he deliver these himself?" she scoffed, attaching them to her ears.
"He, ah..." My mind flashed back to Kristy. "He's sick," I blurted.
"Mmm." She nodded absentmindedly. "These are adequate." It was all I could do not to breathe a heavy sigh of relief at her having spared me.
"Or rather the question should be... why did you deliver them? It's not like Sloth to ally himself with friends of do-gooders like Illusen!" Jhudora narrowed her eyes and the energy spheres began to form in her hands once again. I gulped and backed away, leaving room for Protector to jump in front and let out a threatening robotic growl. "Don't tell me you've done anything to him or I'll--!"
"I shall not let you touch her."
"Oh, are you allied with Illusen too?" Jhudora spat, folding her arms and leering at Protector.
"Negative. My name is Protector, Darigan_Protector, and I protect none other than—"
"Darigan?" Jhudora gasped. "Of all the--!" Jhudora stared at me for so long I began wishing for Fyora herself to get me off of the bluff this instant. Thoughts flashed through my mind. Who would take care of my twin Bori, Protector, and my beauty queen? What would happen to the poems I hadn't yet gotten to write? I swore mentally at not writing my will. I should have known that Protector was right from the beginning. Never let your guard down. Anything can happen. And so I stood, waiting for something to happen. I held my pet close to me and shut my eyes, bracing myself for the powerful blast of magic that was to come.
To my astonishment, the faerie snorted and chuckled. I opened my eyes to see her retracting her wings. "Perhaps there is more to you than I had thought, for someone whose birthday falls on Illusen Day. I suppose you can't help that," she waved her hand as though nothing happened. "Darigan isn't someone I'd like to cross anytime soon."
I didn't quite know what to do. Nearly every villain I'd been taught to fear from the Gallery of Villains was here, and their eyes were still trained on me. I was too stunned to move.
"You have my leave to go. Don't make me change my mind. And... give my regards to Sloth."
I jumped on Protector's back and tore out of there without another word.
"I shall be watching you!" Her voice faded away as my peripheral view of her bluff began to be nothing but a tiny grey and purple speck amidst a field of vibrant color...
"Let me get this straight. Kristy picked out the earrings, Sloth was somehow involved in this, she was supposed to give them to Jhudora, you ended up giving them to her and barely escaped an attack by the skin of your teeth because of your pet's name?!"
"Pretty much, yes." I nodded to Molly.
Kristy nearly fell off her bed laughing a watery but mirthful laugh. "I had no idea you'd be able to avoid trouble so well!" She seemed a lot more recovered since I saw her last, with her face flushed from laughing so hard at my brush with danger and the sparkles returning to her eyes. Kristy nearly leaped from the bed as though she had invented an inexpensive cure for Ugga-Ugga.
"I should definitely ask for you to be on The Weekly World's reporter team!" she squealed.
Placing an arm around Protector's shoulder, I said in a voice as cold as Jhudora's,
"Don't even think about it."