"Do ya ever walk?" Thorn asked.
"Be quiet!" I snapped.
My name is Pixie. Thorn is the annoying little brat who is overly fond of asking stupid questions.
"But, really, you're always riding on Big Blue's shoulder. Don't ya ever want to stretch your legs?"
"You annoying human brat-"
"I'm not exactly human," Thorn said. "But ya can call me that if ya really like."
"Will you just be quiet!" I shouted. "You've been going on since this morning! Isn't that enough?!"
Thorn ignored me. "Hey, look! Another forest! Let's go wander through it!"
I sighed. Big Blue looked up at me.
"She never stops, does she?" he asked.
"Maybe she'll shut up if I Lightning her…nah," I said. The only time Thorn had actually been quiet for more than five minutes was when she found out she was Nemesis. I had a sinking feeling that anything less major would only inspire more dumb questions.
Meanwhile, in the forest…
"Annie? Where are you?" a Vanity, wearing Moo's symbol, called out.
"Right here, Kyoko." A young Dryad (Pixie/Mock) appeared to materialize out of the trees. She didn't wear Moo's symbol. "Let me guess: bad news."
Kyoko nodded sadly. "I'm afraid so. Naga's sending out another attack force."
"Another one?!" Annie exclaimed. "But we've barely recovered from the last one!"
"He won't send his strongest troops," Kyoko said. "The rebels, the traitors, and Nemesis have all entered his territory. He'll send his best after them." The Dryad still looked worried. That isn't like her at all, Kyoko thought. "Annie, just how many are left?"
"Just me and Methigras," Annie replied. "The rest are either injured or…"
Kyoko waited, but Annie seemed unwilling to finish her sentence. Only two monsters in fighting condition? Out of over one hundred that used to inhabit the forest? "Annie, look…I know I've said this before, but…you'd be a lot safer if you joined Moo."
"No! I will never join Moo!" Annie shouted. "Kyoko, you know it goes against everything I believe in!" She appeared to calm down a little.
"You'd better get back to your Master Moo now," she said ruefully, "Or someone'll notice you're gone. Why do you even bother to still come here, anyway? Do you think you'll convince me to join Moo?"
"Annie…" Kyoko said. "No matter what, we're still sisters. I don't want to see you die." And with that, the Vanity flew off.
Annie watched her big sister go, tears in her soft brown eyes. "Kyoko…"
"ROAR!" The massive Stone Dragon (Dragon/Golem) opened its eyes and reared upwards, flapping its gigantic wings. It had awakened the moment we were close enough to realize it was not just a bunch of rocks.
I leapt off Big Blue's shoulder and assumed a battle stance, just in case. Just because it wasn't wearing Moo's emblem didn't mean it was friendly.
"Intruders!" the Stone Dragon roared. "Leave this place at once, lest you become my next meal!" He glared at us, licking his lips for effect.
"And I assure you, I am VERY hungry."
Before I could react, childish laughter rang through the trees. "Oh, Methigras, everyone knows you're a vegetarian." A Dryad flew out of a nearby tree. She looked about nine, in human years. She giggled again and addressed us. "Don't pay any attention to old Methigras here. He just likes to scare people away. But under all this rock-" She knocked on the Stone Dragon's rocky hide. "-he's as gentle as a Mocchi."
Gentle as a Mocchi? Somehow, that expression wasn't as reassuring after facing Genki and his friends…
"Annie…" Methigras moaned. "You never let me have any fun."
"We don't have time for fun!" Annie said, suddenly serious. "Naga's troops are on their way, right this very minute!"
"What?!" Methigras roared. He bowed his head and turned toward us. "I apologize for what I said earlier-"
"Said?" Thorn asked. "More like shouted."
Methigras nodded ashamedly. "Gomen. But, please, we need your help. Annie and I are the only ones left in any condition to fight."
"First you threaten to eat us, and now you expect us to help?" I asked. We couldn't refuse to help them, of course; Naga was our enemy, too. But there was no sense in letting that Stone Dragon get away with playing tricks like that on us.
"Please? Pretty pretty please?" Annie begged, kneeling in front of Big Blue. "Old Methigras was only joking. Please help us? Please?" She looked up at us with large, cute, wavering eyes.
"We will have to fight them eventually," Big Blue said.
"Yeah," Thorn agreed.
"Then…you'll help us?" Annie asked, eyes still wavering.
"Alright," I sighed.
"YIPPEE!" Annie shouted, leaping up into the air and dancing on Methigras' back.
"Now, Annie, stop," Methigras said. The Dryad ignored him. "I said, STOP!" She continued dancing. "ANNIE!" Methigras roared. Annie giggled, but didn't stop. Methigras sighed and lay down.
"Well, would you look at that?" I said. "Someone almost as annoying as Thorn."
Big Blue nodded, and Thorn laughed, as Annie continued her dancing.
Kyoko stood, heart thudding in her chest, before the door to Naga's throne room. This was it. He would want to know where she was, and when she had no excuse…Annie wouldn't have a big sister to watch over her anymore. But there was nothing she could do. The Vanity gulped, then timidly pushed open the door.
"Kyoko," Naga hissed. "Where have you been?"
"She's been out picking mushrooms," a voice said, before Kyoko could begin to stammer a reply. The Vanity jumped as Lilim stepped out of the shadows beside her. "You see, Naga, someone sent three Battle Rocks to my cave to destroy me. Now, I know it couldn't have been you or Moo, so I thought it might have been Kyoko here, seeing how she's the only other monster who knows the location of my cave. So I sent her out to pick mushrooms." Lilim turned to the confused Kyoko. "Remember that little spotted one I told you to eat?"
Kyoko nodded. She had no idea why Lilim was covering for her, but she thought it might be in her best interests to play along.
"It was poisonous."
Kyoko did her best to look stricken.
Lilim laughed. "Just kidding. I found out it couldn't have been you, Kyoko, otherwise I would have made you eat a poisonous one, then Gigaflamed you. Anyway, Naga, you have a traitor somewhere in your organization, someone who can command three Battle Rocks - unless they were acting on their own."
Naga glared at Lilim through narrowed eyes. The little witch knew he had sent the Battle Rocks, and she knew he knew she knew. She had sent the Vanity out, picking mushrooms of all things, just to annoy him.
"I'll look into the matter, Lilim," Naga said, trying not to show his irritation. "You are both dismissed."
As soon as they were out of Naga's earshot, Kyoko turned to Lilim.
"Why?" she asked. It was a well-known fact that Lilim despised practically everyone, Vanities most of all. Why would she help one?
"Well, I couldn't think of a more worthless activity than picking mushrooms. Besides, I have an image to keep up. Naga thinks I'm psychotic. He expects things like this from me," Lilim answered. Kyoko looked away. It was another well-known fact that Lilim was psychotic.
"That wasn't what I meant," Kyoko said softly.
Lilim turned and regarded the Vanity. "Your kind are fools, generally speaking," she replied. "But I notice you don't even glance in that mirror. You have more important things in mind. You…interest me. Not many have had the guts to get back up again after I Gigaflamed them. And I think that, just maybe, you play the game, although quieter than I do. You have someone on the other side."
Kyoko stared at Lilim, struggling to keep her face straight. Had Lilim, one of Moo's most feared baddies, just admitted to having a friend against Moo? And, furthermore, a friend that she tried to help?
"Besides," Lilim winked at the Vanity. "I'll do anything to annoy that old fool." With that, she took to the air.
Later, in the forest…
Just when I was starting to get bored, the baddies arrived. They seemed to walk out of the trees themselves. Woody Hoppers (Hopper/Mock).
"Hoppers?" I asked in scorn. "Why would Naga send a bunch of weaklings?"
"He's been sending troop after troop after us, trying to wear us down," Methigras said. "He must have thought these would be enough to finish us."
"Kyoko said he was sending his strongest troops after the rebels, the traitors, and Nemesis," Annie put in.
Before I even had a chance to wonder who Kyoko was or how she knew this, the captain Woody Hopper stepped forward.
"Ahem," he said. "If you're done conversing-"
"What if we aren't?" Thorn asked.
"IT DOESN"T MATTER!" he shouted.
"Sheesh. A little high strung, aren't ya?" Thorn commented.
"Listen, you-" The baddie was cut off again as one of his comrades nudged him. "What?"
"Captain, those two are the traitors!" the Woody Hopper said.
The captain squinted at me and Big Blue. "Why, so they are," he said. He turned and studied Thorn. "Then that means you must be…"
"The name's Thorn," she said before he could finish. "Now, are ya gonna stand there yapping all day, or are ya gonna fight?"
"You're surrounded," the captain said. "Surrender now and we'll let you live."
"Surrender? To a bunch of Hoppers? I don't think so," I said. I leapt off Big Blue's shoulder. "LIGHTNING!" Several of the baddies were blown backwards.
"CHARGE!" the captain shouted, and the Woody Hoppers rushed forward.
Methigras roared to life, taking to the air and slamming into the horde of Woody Hoppers. Baddies flew everywhere from the force of his onslaught. Big Blue followed his example and charged forward, leaving a mass of injured baddies in his wake.
"MEGARAY!" Annie shouted, sending more Hoppers flying.
Annie and I continued to use our long distance attacks until suddenly there was no more distance, and we were in the midst of a flood of baddies. They practically swarmed over us, making flight almost impossible. I was hard put just to keep them off of me. I risked a glance over at Thorn, who wasn't doing much better.
"Thorn!" I shouted. "Can you do anything?" If she could just control her powers…
"Not unless you want an umbrella!" Thorn shouted back.
There was a faint pulse of pale green light. A small black umbrella appeared in mid-air, then clattered to the forest floor.
"And just how is that supposed to help?!" I shouted, swatting away another Woody Hopper.
"I don't think it is!" Thorn replied.
Just then, several of the baddies in front of me glowed and changed into Lost Disks. Big Blue and Methigras came tearing through the mass of Woody Hoppers, giving us some room to breathe and use our long distance attacks.
CLUNK! Thorn bopped the nearest baddie over the head with her umbrella.
"Woody Hoppers retreat!" The remaining handful of baddies scampered away, out of the forest.
"And don't even think about coming back!" Annie shouted after them.
Methigras turned toward me, Big Blue, and Thorn. "I must thank you for helping us defend our forest. We could not have won this battle without your aid."
"Good thing ya decided not to eat us, huh?" Thorn asked.
"Must I apologize for that again?" Methigras sighed.
"No," Thorn said. "But ya can if ya want to."
"C'mon, Blue," I said, flying back on his shoulder. "Let's go." He trudged off, and Thorn followed.
"Farewell," Methigras said. "Good luck on your journey!"
"Thank you so much for helping us!" Annie called out after us. "Come back and visit sometime! Methigras won't threaten to eat you again, I promise!"
Thorn laughed. "Ya know, of all the forests we've been wandering through, I think this one's my favorite. Maybe we should come back and visit sometime."
"Hmph," I said. I smiled slightly. "Maybe we should."