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"All in the Cards" by opossumman
Moltara City was the same bustling subterranean metropolis it had always been, thought Stealth, a brown Grundo. It was just another day for him. He woke up, panicked at his once-again-missed alarm, ran out of his apartment screaming, and while his arms flailed and his roommate covered his ears, he managed to get to the obsidian quarry on time against all odds, avoided causing any stirs at work, and collected his share of neopoints for a job well done. Pay day had been progressing as usual.
While Stealth's roommate, best friend, and more responsible half, a Christmas Kacheek named Jacob, was more reclusive and did tinkering jobs out of their own apartment, Stealth was much more socially geared. In their apartment, that meant he was usually responsible for groceries and other such things. He didn't mind. After picking up some dinner at Molten Morsels, he headed back home...until he saw a storefront he hadn't seen before.
The building's facade was adorned with a "Grand Opening" banner and sales were advertised across all window panes. The door read "Moltara City Card and Game Shop." Taken by curiosity, Stealth went inside. A cheery Quiggle bounced toward him.
"Welcome, sir! How may I be of assistance?"
"Just checking the place out for now," said Stealth. "Brand new store, huh?"
"Oh yes," said the Quiggle. "Our previous locations in Neopia Central and Roo Island did well enough to allow for expansion."
"Glad to hear it!" Stealth said as he browsed the store shelves. He had a small bonus this week, so he wanted to pick something up. Help the local economy while providing oneself entertainment? It was a win-win.
"NeoQuest II has been popular recently," said the Quiggle in an attempt to help.
"No thanks," Stealth said. "My roommate and I don't really have the time needed to enjoy that kind of game."
An idea struck the amphibious clerk. "If it's a time issue, I can show you a game that's best played in short rounds. It's been sweeping Neopia lately. Come, follow me." Stealth followed the Quiggle to the counter, where he took out a box. Adorning the front was a logo that read "Dueling Decks" in a vibrant font.
"Dueling Decks?" asked Stealth.
Most people would say that it took the usurper Kass roughly two years to start and lose a war between the Darigan Citadel and Meridell. Lady Evelyn would be more exact; she would say it took her cousin 750 days to do so--750 slow days to observe a ruler slowly crackle until his realm collapsed.
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"Well, what did you expect?" Bannok asked, adjusting the helm a degree or two to starboard to catch the shifting wind. "Royal pets. Always got to outdo each other, building bigger palaces and throwing fancier parties." The timbers of the Silver Arkmite creaked as she swung around, the salt-soaked ropes slapping against the mast as the sails filled.
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This was the longest Pharazon could ever recall walking. His feet hurt. He’d tried flying until his wings hurt, but his feet hadn’t stopped hurting by then, and walking took less energy anyway. The hunger didn’t help. Their breakfast that morning, while kind of Kass to retrieve for them, had not been satiating, and Pharazon’s stomach began to complain loudly, as did Celice’s.