Trouble in Paradise
Chapter 1: Paradise
Two Neopians, a blue Acara and red Techo, sprawled along a pair of beach chairs. The Techo wore a caped, silver robe with golden trim and the Acara a gun metal grey robe with moons and stars sewn into the fabric. Tinted sunglasses covered both of their eyes. Two halved coconuts, each with a little umbrella and blue curly straw, sat within arm’s reach on two identical wooden platforms.
“Ahh, this is the life,” said the Acara.
“You got that right,” replied the Techo. “We should’ve adventured to Mystery Island eons ago!”
They tapped their coconut shells together. “Cheers to a long-awaited vacation!”
Clear ocean water stretched as far as the eye could see beyond the white sandy beaches. In the distance, waves crested atop coral reefs and the occasional tropical bird soared above. A gentle, warm breeze tickled their fur and scales as they cosied into their chairs.
“Another ‘Big Had of Coconut’ for our honoured guests?” said an island Kougra wearing a pink floral print shirt and grass skirt. She was trying, and failing, to keep her tail from swishing about in excitement. “I’ll make sure this next one is extra tasty.”
“That would be fabulous.” The Techo took a long sip of the coconut water by his side and sighed contently. “Ahhh, so refreshing.”
“Ditto for me!” replied the Acara. “You make great coconut juice!”
The Kougra ran like a bullet to the kitchen, then returned with two new coconuts in paw. In return, Mipsy and Velm happily dropped a few gold coins in her pouch. She was quaking with excitement. “I can’t tell you how much of an honour it is to be serving two of the ‘Heroic Four.’ I’m a huge fan. I mean, you both are… living legends. Super heroes, even.”
“I dunno about ‘super heroes…” The Acara shuffled uncomfortably in her seat. Ever since their four Neopian crew had returned from their journey, they had been dealing with paparazzi. Their former leader, Sir Rohane, faced perhaps the worst case of this. Neopians would chase him around begging for swordsmanship tips, an autograph, or the delivery of one of his now famous catchphrases (“we emerge victorious!”) But even Mipsy and Velm were plagued with legions of adoring fans. At least their archer friend, Talinia, who returned to a remote Terror Mountain village to take care of her family, wouldn’t suffer the same treatment, or so they hoped.
“Super heroes?” Velm flashed a grin as he pictured himself to be a caped crusader with a tomato red mask. Of course, such a mask might not make much sense, as it would blend in with his red Techo body. “I like the sound of that. But only if Lucy gets to be my sidekick.”
Mipsy took an exaggerated sip of her coconut water as her blue eyebrows rose above her sunglasses. Her special drink still lay untouched on her lap.
The Techo’s prized possession, a lute named Lucy, travelled everywhere with him. Whenever they arrived at a new town, Velm would often remove her—very gently—from the case and play a set to an excited audience. At present, she sat in her case next to Velm’s chair.
The waitress hovered nearby, catering to their every whim. It was odd how such a nice-looking business, appropriately named the “Shady Palm Resort,” only had one Neopian working there—not even a cook or a concierge. When the two of them looked for a place to find peace, she approached them with a warm smile and the promise of relaxation. Then she made an offer neither one of them could refuse.
Even without eager fans around, she openly fawned over them, much to Mipsy’s dismay. “Velm the Victorious and Mipsy the Magnificent,” she practically squealed then and there. As she served them drinks, she enthusiastically re-enacted their battles. “The very same heroes who took down Terask and saved Neopia from certain doom again and again! I can’t get over how cool it is to have you both here!”
Mipsy couldn’t help but sink into her robe while Velm practically glowed with joy, even going so far as to remove a quill and paper from his travel pack and say, “a fan such as yourself would want something to remember this moment by, right? Who should I make this out to?”
You could have sworn he’d offered her a lifetime supply of 24-karat gold. Her face blanched as she fought the urge to faint. Grabbing a nearby palm frond, she fanned herself. “C-carissa. That’s me. Oh, but you already know that! Hee, sorry, I’m just excited.”
“That’s just fine, Carissa.” He scribbled his name quickly, followed by a little doodle of himself holding a lute. “Thanks again for renting the private beach to us for so cheap. We really appreciate it.”
“Oh, of course! Anything for you guys,” she replied. When neither of them seemed keen to respond, she tried to continue conversation. “So…How long do you think you’ll be staying? Think you’ll go out exploring again soon? I can watch over your stuff, no problem.”
Mipsy held the special drink in her paws and gave it a swirl now that the coconut water was gone. “I mean, we’ve only explored a small piece of Mystery Island so far. We’re probably going to travel around all of it, if we can.”
“And sample the foods,” added Velm, as he counted out his thoughts on his fingers, “enjoy the culture, embrace the music, relax until—uh, I mean, fight monsters, save the masses from tyranny, that sort of thing.”
Carissa smiled. “I look forward to hearing all about it! Oh, and let me know how that drink is. I made it extra special for you guys.”
“We’d be happy to share our stories.” Velm made a toast with Mipsy as he held the drink up to his mouth. “Thanks again for—”
An ear-piercing scream rang out in the distance from the thick tropical woods, causing Carissa to jump back in surprise. Both Mipsy and Velm jolted up.
“Did you just hear that?” asked Mipsy, who then realized that a splash of the special juice had landed on her robe. The juice stained her clothes instantly, turning the spots where it hit a dark shade of green. “Oh, come on! I just had this cleaned!”
“I think our vacation just got cut short.” Velm’s face knit with concern as he grabbed ahold of a long, gnarled wooden staff and hastily put the drink to the side. “Let’s go.”
The Acara paused to place her drink and sunglasses on the tray. She then popped on her silver shoes and hat, both of which were next to the chair, and grabbed an ornate magic wand. “On it!”
“Until later!” Velm turned back to the spellbound Kougra with a wink as the two of them ploughed across the sand. Left next to his seat was his large travel bag, which sat alongside Mipsy’s pack. “I’ll be back in a little bit, Lucy!”
With all of their adventuring days over swamps and desert, a little beach sand did little to slow the two of them down. They raced into the brush, dodging hanging vines, moss-covered trees, and ornate orchids that dangled from branches. Squeaks and squawks from tropical petpets bombarded their ears as they uncovered a roost of Pawkeets. Everything changed when they made it into a forest clearing. Instead of raucous petpets, they heard… nothing.
Velm’s eyes darted about, looking for any signs of hostile life. The eerie quiet unnerved them both as they backed up against each other, staff and wand ready.
“Help…” came a voice that was all but swallowed by the forest.
Perking up at the sound, Mipsy turned about, ears twitching. When they finally honed in on the voice, the two of them gasped at what they saw. Huddled in a ditch was a split Xweetok whose torn outfit was riddled with holes. He wore brown adventuring gear, including a vest with over a dozen pockets.
Without a second thought, the Techo placed his hand upon the injured Xweetook’s back. “Heal,” he asserted, as a pulse of healing energy spread across their body. Within seconds, the bruises and cuts all but vanished, leaving him with only minor indentations where serious injuries once were.
“Wow…” the Xweetok breathed as he knelt up. His eyes were sparkling with delight. “You… you guys saved my life. You must be heroes or something.”
“All in a day’s work,” said Velm, as his eyes scanned the horizon for trouble. “But what happened? How did you get this hurt? Is there anyone else out there?”
Mipsy poked her head in between them. “And was it you who screamed?”
“Woah. What is this, 21 questions?” the Xweetok stood up, dusted himself off, and offered a paw. They both accepted the gesture as he shook their hands heartily. “Drew’s the name, Drew Plicity. Adventuring’s my game—or was, until I was attacked.”
“Attacked?” Mipsy frowned. The air was still. She could not even hear palm trees rustling in the wind or the sea breeze and it made her feel uneasy. “By what?”
“Locals call it the ‘Temple Monster.’ I was just looking around in the forest when it attacked me out of nowhere. I’m lucky to be alive, you know. That thing has been terrorizing the townsfolk for eons.”
The two magic users looked at each other, then back to the Xweetok. “You’re in luck,” said Velm. “We’ll take care of the monster. Just point us in the direction and we’ll take it down.”
“Team Magicannon style,” she added with jazz paws for good measure. “It’s our duo’s name now that it’s just us.”
The Xweetok held a paw over his mouth. “You’d do that… for me? For a stranger you’ve never even met?” He cracked a smile. “Wow, you two certainly are kind souls.”
“It’s what we do,” the two said in unison.
“Then I sure am lucky I ran into you guys,” he said with a wink, “because you’re in for a fight in three… two… one.”
Within moments, the tree line parted to reveal a very large, very angry ghost Hissi wearing ornate regalia and a feather headdress. In their winged hand there rested a long spear with a feather charm tied near the arrowhead tip. Their tongue flickered from their mouth, tasted the air, and retracted as their serpentine eyes honed in on Drew. Before they could raise their spear to strike, Velm lifted his staff to the sky.
“Protection of Infinity!” he declared, as a veil of magic covered the three of them like a blanket. A light glow wrapped around their bodies, causing Drew to yell in surprise.
A fraction of a second later, Mipsy had pointed her wand towards the three of them. “Rapid Acceleration!” Time seemed to slow around them as little jolts of electricity lapped at their feet. The split Xweetok looked on in shock as the two of them darted around like bolts of lightning.
Before the Hissi could respond, Velm summoned a large, opaque hammer and swing it solidly against their head. “It’s always hammer time!” he shouted, as the creature reeled back in surprise. In retaliation, they slashed forward with their spear. Velm ducked as Mipsy’s wand fired a dark red beam.
“Obliterate!” she screamed.
The beam nicked the Hissi’s cheek as they spun back. They held their hand to their cheek and winced. “You’re aiding him?” they asked, stopping to point at Drew… and taking mesmerization spell head-on. While they stood in a daze, Velm and Mipsy dashed to a flanking position.
“Yes,” said Mipsy, as she fired an “Obliterate” on the Hissi’s back, “and we’d do it again...”
“For anyone in need,” added Velm as he tackled them immediately after Mipsy’s spell connected. With that, they dropped their spear and knelt prone on the sandy forest floor. They puffed angrily and glared with eyes like venom.
“We are the Magicannons!” Mipsy and Velm said together. Velm struck a dramatic pose while Mipsy kept her wand steady on the creature.
“Fools,” they spat, their red eyes now glowing like orbs of fire. “You all will pay for stealing the sacred treasure of Geraptiku.”
“Wait a second,” said Velm, his brows knitting in confusion. “What do you mean stea—"
The ground began to shake as skeletal creatures emerged from the sandy depths, gnashing their teeth as they rose.
“Oh boy,” said Mipsy, as she backed up towards Velm. “I knew I should have spent more time studying group direct damage…”
“I think we have bigger problems.” Velm’s eyes darted to where Drew once was.
The Xweetok was nowhere in sight.