A Haunted Birthday
It had been pretty quiet around the Haunted Woods lately. Krell had almost forgotten he was living in the darkest part of Neopia, save for the fact there were ghosts flitting here and there. Ghostly moans filled the woods with their usual spookiness, giving the woods an eternal haunted feeling. Krell Vitor almost laughed when he saw the ghost of Hubrid Nox being chased by Magax. Even in death, Nox was still causing trouble for the poor Wocky.
Krell hurried along, making sure to steer clear of the Esophagor and the Brain Tree. He didn't want to get stuck running errands for either of them. Instead, he was meeting Derlyn Fonnett of the Kreludor Yooyuball team. She hadn't mentioned a reason as to what the meeting was about, however. He found Derlyn at a cafe on the edge of the haunted woods, a quiet little place, where they could chat in private.
"Hi!" she greeted him. "Thank you for meeting me on short notice!"
She was thankful Krell had taken the time to meet with her. Krell was a rather strict fellow when it came to Yooyuball practice routines. He was nowhere near as strict as Leera from the Lost Desert team, however.
"That's alright, we had today off from training," Krell replied. "So, what's up?"
Derlyn smiled brightly and looked around; she didn't want anyone listening in on their conversation. Leaning over the table to Krell, she pulled out a list and began explaining her idea.
"Well, Brain's birthday is soon," she began. "I want to throw him a surprise party!"
Krell nodded and smiled. A party for their pal sounded like a lot of fun! Derlyn explained how she had wanted him and his team in on it first; they knew Brains best and they could distract him easier. She then explained to Krell that her team, and the other teams would set up the party at the Haunted Woods practice stadium. All they needed to do was keep Brains away from the stadium for a few hours. Derlyn and Krell made a few final arrangements and then parted ways to prepare.
Derlyn next contacted Lilo Blumario of Roo Island's yooyuball team. He loved parties, but he loved throwing parties for friends even more. It was an outstanding tradition for Roo Islanders to be the best party people in Neopia. Lilo himself was a great party-thrower.
"So, you and your team know the plan, right?" Derlyn asked. She could see the excitement bubbling on Lilo's face.
"Yes, we're gathering the party supplies," Lilo said happily. "Knowing whose birthday it's for makes everything much easier."
Everything was slowly falling into place. Derlyn was certain Brains was going to have the best birthday party ever. Brains was a zombie, but he was different from most zombies. He possessed literacy skills and athletic ability that made him a fan favourite in yooyuball. He had a heart of gold as well. He was kind and thoughtful, but more importantly, he was a true team player. He also made a good best friend to Derlyn. Wit and charm had shown Derlyn years ago that not all zombies were scary. Brains was actually pretty funny, he always had a pun ready to pick up the mood. He also believed in trying your best. He never teased or taunted other players, like some people did during Cup season. Instead he offered polite encouragement to everyone.
After saying good-bye to Lilo, she moved on with her mission. She neomailed the other teams and got replies quickly, they all agreed to attend the birthday. Two days from now, they would begin setting up the stadium. Hopefully Krell could keep Brains distracted long enough to set up the party.
The sun was bright in the morning sky. The light peeked through the spooky trees of the haunted woods, scattering on the ground in broken patches. Derlyn and the other teams had arrived early and begun setting up with Krell. Wan and their former teammates Chelo and Autrey had arrived moments later with the games and snacks. Chelo had baked the birthday treats and was now setting them on the large table Wan had assembled. She was whistling cheerfully as she did so. Things were going well, until Elon from team Maraqua yelled about the arrival of Brains. This caused everyone to run and hide, with little Zo jr. Running to greet the zombie in the lobby. He had to stop Brains before he reached the field.
"Hi Brains!" Zo squeaked cheerily.
"Hi!" Brains said. "Where's everyone else?"
Zo thought for a moment, he couldn't let Brains go out onto the practice field, it would ruin the whole surprise. Looking around the room, he thought of a clever answer.
"Oh?" Zo stammered. "Didn't you get Krell's neomail?"
Brains shook his head, he hadn't been able to send electronic neomails lately. His computer had crashed from playing too many games. He had been trying to beat AAA's top scores. Instead, Brains had been sending mail with the Neopian postal services, while Virtupets repaired his computer console.
"Well," Zo said scratching his head, "practice got cancelled for today. Krell had something urgent come up."
"Why are you here, then?" Brains asked confused.
Brains then realized that everyone had probably responded to Krell's neomail except him. Zo was probably here to fill Brains in on what was going on. Brains laughed and then turned to leave. Zo felt a bit bad for having to lie to his friend, so he thought up an even better solution to the problem.
"Brains, wait!" Zo called after him. "Wanna go to the crumpet monger with me? I'm kind of hungry."
Zo wished Brains a happy birthday and promised him they'd come back later and have a practice session by themselves. This made Brains grin from ear to ear. Seeing Brains so happy, made Zo feel very good.
"All clear!" someone shouted.
Derlyn watched Brains and Zo disappear into the spooky forest. It had been a close call, the surprise party had almost been discovered. Everyone went back to setting up and organizing. Zo would be back in two hours with Brains, and they still had a lot of work ahead of them, especially setting up for a massive yooyuball game. Derlyn had Lilo and his squad hang streamers, while Chelo and Coco fixed the snack and present tables.
Elon, Derby and Layton worked together to set up the birthday banner above the entrance. Zo had promised Brains a practice session. It would be even more fun than he was expecting, he was getting a party too!
"We have a problem!"
Coco shouted from the desserts table, it had just occurred to Derlyn that she had not assigned anyone to pick up the birthday cake! Derlyn thinking quickly, called over Dasher. The retired captain of the Krawk Island team was fast and dependable. She told him about the pastry shop in Neovia and handed him the receipt for the birthday caked.
"Aye, you can count on me, Lassie!" Dasher assured her as he dashed off.
He was seemingly unworried about the fact that Zo and Brains were also currently in Neovia. Derlyn knew Dasher, he was reckless; but he always kept a promise. Promises were pretty important to him. She just hoped Dasher didn't bump into Brains and give away the secret party.
The spooky trees seemed to mock him. Dasher wasn't used to having so many trees around him. Krawk Island wasn't known for being a nature hub. Among the salty docks and pirate ships, and the occasional Krawken threat, forestry wasn't a big thing on the tiny island. It was making Dasher feel uneasy. Neovia was also quieter than what Dasher was used too. The little town out near the shipyard on Krawk Island was always lively. Now and then, some bored captain would be singing in the streets as he merrily walked back to his ship with his first mate and crew picking up the song behind him. Neovia, however, was disturbingly quiet. Every now and then someone would swiftly walk down the street, head down, and no eye contact. Not even a nod to the presence of the retired Pirate-yooyuball player.
Dasher stopped and looked at the directions Derlyn had given him to the Neovian pastry shop. He had found the right street. Good, now to find the store. He turned to see the shops across from the Neovian printing press, when a startling, moaning voice caught him off guard.
"Hey, Dasher!" came the voice of the birthday Usul he'd been trying to avoid.
Brain and Zo marched happily up to him. Brains with a big smile, Zo with a startled expression. Dasher could read Zo's thoughts through his expression.
"Hello, lads," Dasher stuttered nervously. "How be you, this fine morning?"
"We're fine," Brains cheerily replied. "We were just gonna go to the haunted Fair grounds, wanna come?"
Dasher thought for a moment, he thought very quickly about how to exit his current predicament. Then it hit him like a yooyuball to the head. The perfect excuse!
"Ah, well, I'd love to!" Dasher began. "But you see, I have myself a faerie quest to deal with. Certainly I should be getting along with it.
"What kind of faerie asked?" Brains asked with curiosity.
"Eh? A fire Faerie!" Dasher blurted. "And a mighty impatient one at that!"
Brains nodded and smiled, he liked Dasher. Brains then saw the town crier who was selling the latest issue of the Neopian Times. While Brains was busy buying the newspaper, Dasher quickly passed Derlyn's bakery directions to Zo. Quickly, Zo told Dasher where he would find the shop and the cake. Dasher bid them both a good day and left on his imaginary faerie quest.
Dasher had made it back with the cake without any more interruptions or problems. Derlyn was pleased, Dasher had saved the birthday party! Zo would also be back soon with Brains. The field was all set up for a game of yooyuball, and other party festivities. The snack and dessert tables were perfect. Everyone took their places. Zo entered first; examining the field, he beckoned to Brains to come in. The Zombie shambled into the stadium and was greeted by the thunderous roar of his friends and teammates shouting;
Brains looked shocked, then he smiled and started laughing. Derlyn rushed forward to give her friend a hug, many more hugs and pats on the back followed. Brains laughed even harder when he realized that Dasher had tricked him when they had met earlier.
"What are you gonna wish for, Brains?" Wan asked his friend when it came time for cake.
"Hmmmmm," Brains groaned. "I don't know, I already have what I want; nothing could make this day better."
Thinking hard for a minute, Brains closed his eyes and scrunched his face up. Then in one big breath blew out the candles! Everyone clapped and asked him what he had wished for, but he said his wish was a secret. Truly this had been the best birthday ever. He had his friends and teammates to celebrate with, he had enjoyed a fun day hanging out with Zo.
Truly nothing could make Brains feel so special. He had the greatest friends in the whole world.