|Posted by supercomputer276 on December 4, 2010 at 4:15 PM|
NOTICE: This entry was originally written as an article for the Neopian Times on Neopets. As they seem to have discarded it, it will instead be posted here. This article was written for that audience.
I have always been a dedicated Neopian Times reader, enjoying the various comics and stories it has had to offer for a good long time. Indeed, I believe my knowledge into the art of writing and literature more than makes up for my lack of physical prowess and Battledome experience. My thanks must go to all the people who take the time out of their busy days to entertain the masses in exchange for nothing but the pride of a job well done.
However, in recent days, I have noticed a tread in the Times stories as of late. Perhaps it is all in my mind and I see it only because of my selective choices in the content I peruse, but it could just as well not be. And that tread is the inclusion of one certain Acara known to the world as Vira.
Vira is a special case in the halls of the Gallery of Evil because she has one quality few of the others possess: no one is entirely certain just what she does, as she has never done anything particularly spectacular as of this writing. Dr. Frank Sloth invents stuff and tries to take over the world in order to mutate all Neopets into more “perfect” forms. In direct competition with him is Hubrid Nox, a Chia in a vampire costume that raises armies of ghosts to serve his every whim and has recently been caught toying around with magic stuff he doesn't know everything about and turning faeries into stone. Eliv Thade, meanwhile, haunts his own abandoned home and traps those unable to solve his anagrams to stave off the pain of his own head eating itself with madness. And let us not forget the memorable plot villains such as Lords Darigan and Kass, Captain Scarblade, Razul, and the Darkest Faerie.
And Vira? All that is known about her is that she was a vain Acara that wanted to be the most beautiful thing in the world, and after a run-in with an unknown force began hunting down other beautiful pets using magical hand mirrors; even what she does to her targets is uncertain, although common theories include beauty removal and mind control, not to mention possibly both. The only other certain thing is her occasional random challenges to Battledome opponents. And yet she holds a position in the Gallery of Evil despite, comparatively, doing nothing. She has even yet to make a single appearance in a Caption Competition as non-plot villains occasionally do (although that could just be because she doesn't photograph well) nor an episode of Defenders of Neopia (that I am aware of).
But perhaps it is because of this uncertainty that appeals to writers such as those that pen the Times. Since so much about her is blank, there's plenty for creative writers to fill in. I've seen more than one origin story for Vira that adds details to what is known and sheds light on her life before her transformation. I certainly cannot claim credit for these ideas, although I am slightly jealous that I did not think of these first! Although many speculate a Dark Faerie turned Vira into what she is today, more one story proposes that Vira found a magic mirror that was cursed with its own dark sentience in some form or another, without apparent faerie involvement of any kind. Another proposes that Vira is, in fact, a disguised fallen Light Faerie that had trapped Neopets, including the original Acara that was believed to have become Vira, in a dimension in her mirror. Yet a third places her at a subservient position in a shadowy group with the purpose of suppressing the influence of mind-readers in Neopian society and in fact describes her as a Mutant Acara (Acaras do not yet have the ability to be colored Mutant as of this writing, although if they did end up looking like Vira, I would most certainly not complain). Stories also differ as to whether Vira was her name all her life or she adapted a new one following her ascent to villainhood. Her color beforehand is usually Yellow and if some of the illustrations for Times stories are any indication the Neopets Team confirms this as true, although Faerie isn't unheard of in order to justify her leathery wings. Her transformation is usually portrayed as tragic and involuntary, although exceptions exist.
Although all accounts have their large differences, they can also share certain elements. Virtually all Vira stories (or at least the ones I have read) that show her at work have one element about her in particular: she can only do her nasty stuff to you if you look in one of her mirrors. The moment you make eye contact with your reflection, you're toast. Averting your eyes and avoiding looking in her mirrors prevents her from using any magic on you. Of course, then you'd have to deal with her poisonous dagger. Or perhaps she has more than one, and maybe it or they are winged and can fly on their own; the sources vary on the subject. Some accounts say that anything she touches becomes poisoned, although I personally do not believe this since there has been no real lack of flowery fields around since she first became known. That and if she could sicken and de-beautify things in that matter, the mirrors would be redundant.
Vira's stomping grounds are also rather ambiguous. Accounts of her having a Neohome are few and far between. Common theory is that she generally resides in forested areas, although whether this indicates the Haunted Woods or perhaps a greener forest such as those around Neopia Central, Meridell, and Brightvale is still heavily debated. To me, the latter seems more likely, as another certainty is that she seeks out beauty in others whether persons or objects, which the Haunted Woods highly lack. However, there is no evidence she owns any sort of home or base, like Nox's castle or Sloth's space station or even Balthazar's hut. This housing situation is in fact reminiscent of that of the Shadow Usul in that both seem to live in the wild, simply wanderers without any true spot to call home. Unlike for the wild and more animal-like Shadow Usul, however, it does not seem to be an ideal a living plan for Vira, in which her face she is constantly trying to make beautiful is continuously exposed to the elements, and troubles finding a steady meal three times a day is never good for one's figure. Only she knows why she doesn't establish a more permanent lodging for herself. Among the best theories as to why is that she is constantly running away from something, perhaps from her past. Another is that she has no need for a home, as she has no possessions aside from her mirror and any other mirrors she creates to tempt Neopets with, and being made with magic they require virtually no resources. Of course, not owning a home in order to deny furious pet owners a place to attack with torches and pitchforks is also a valid hypothesis.
What makes Vira particularly stand out, at least to me, is that she is a rare female non-faerie villain. The only other members of the Gallery of Evil that fit that description are the Shadow Usul (although her Neopedia article tries its best to avoid assigning a gender, a “her” does slip through), Morguss, the Court Dancer, and Masila, only the first of which didn't premiere in a plot and didn't disappear following its conclusion. Although there are other villainesses outside the Gallery, such as bounty hunter Ylana Skyfire and Defenders of Neopia opponent Lady Frostbite, none of them have achieved the level of public attention that Vira has. Perhaps it is because she is an ever-present threat in everyday Neopian life. Ylanda only goes after people that other people pay her to go after, who knows what Frostbite's been up to lately, and as stated the other three non-faerie villainesses in the Gallery of Evil are missing in action. Vira, on the other hand, could be watching you right now, hidden in those innocent-looking bushes in your front yard, as you read this article, dagger poised to throw right at your chest.
Given that I am starting to lose track of what I'm talking about, let's bring this to a close. For being a relatively enigmatic figure, Vira is actually fairly well-known. Along with our beauty and minds, she captures the imagination of Times writers. With an open past even by villain standards and a rather clear m.o. to act as a starting point, Vira has proven her worth to writers time and time again. Whether or not she would be flattered to hear how often she is used in the Times stories or whether it'd just motivate her to burn the Times' office down is just one of the many mysteries surrounding her.
Hubrid Nox recently got his chance to break out from his war with MAGAX that received little attention from the majority of Neopia when he was framed for turned all the faeries to stone. Could a similar chance for Vira be approaching?
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