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||You are on Week 208
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Two Hundred and Eight Ends December 30th
"Ugh," Mara said, sitting up and rubbing the back of her head, wincing. The red Zafara shook her throbbing head to clear her mind, then took a look around. It was quite dark, though the feel of the cold, cobbled stone floor before her, the dampness of the air, and the smell of mildew confirmed her suspicions that she must be deep underground.
She carefully sat up, feeling the weight of a chain that secured her leg to the floor. Panic gripped Mara -- she was a prisoner in a dungeon! The Zafara racked her brains for a reason as to why she would be jailed, but none came to her. The last thing she remembered was buying vegetables in Meridell... then a shadow... and pain. The Zafara gently felt the back of her head, finding a rather large lump there. Why, though? If she really was in King Skarl's dungeons, then what had been her crime?
This must be a mistake, she decided in her mind. I've never committed a crime in my life! Deciding that she must get the attention of a guard, so that she could hopefully plead her case to King Skarl, Mara cupped her hands over her mouth and shouted. "Please, let me out! I'm innocent!" She waited a moment, but there was no response, except for the dripping of water. "Is anyone here? Can anyone hear me?" Again, the Zafara was only greeted with the sounds of the dungeon. Shaking, Mara leaned her back against the cold wall and slowly slid to the floor, tears welling up in her eyes. What will become of me down here?
Minutes passed, perhaps even hours. In the darkness, Mara could not tell the passage of time. Then, above her, glowing bright in the darkness, a ball of light fell towards her. At first she was transfixed, but when she realized what it was, she leapt out of the way. A torch landed right next to her.
"Are you alright?" a voice called. "I didn't realize anyone was down there."
Mara looked up. A blue Draik, who was holding a sword that sparkled like fire, was on a beam high above her. "W-who, who are you?" the frightened Zafara asked with a stutter.
"My name is Valrigard... I've been wrongly imprisoned, and am trying to escape...”
Author: Back into the dungeon...|
Date: 19th December
…"Escape? By throwing torches around?!?" Mara exclaimed, slightly bewildered by the Draik's sudden appearance.|
"I'm so sorry," Valrigard said, apologizing profusely. "I wanted to see what was down there, so I just threw the torch in. Honestly, I had no idea you were here."
"Are you alright?" the Draik asked again as he started to climb down an old rusty ladder.
"Er... not really," Mara said. "I woke up and found myself chained here, but I swear that I have not committed any crime. What is going on? Why is it that you've been wrongly imprisoned, too?"
"It's a long story. I can tell you about it later, but first, we have to get you out of these metal chains. Then, we must find a way out of here. Now, you had better stand back." The Draik moved towards Mara, raising his sword high up above his head. Mara hurriedly shifted backwards, moving as far away as the chains would allow. With a swift cut, Valrigard brought down his sword on the chains. Clang! The chains broke apart, and the Zafara was free.
"Thanks!" Mara said gratefully, relieved that she could move freely again. "So," she said, looking around the dark and gloomy dungeons, "any idea of how we're going to get out of this place?"
"I once overheard the guards talking," Valrigard began. "There is a rumor about a secret passage in the dungeons that leads you out of the castle. I am trying my luck to see if such a passage exists," he explained, picking up the torch.
"Er... we're going to find a secret passage that will allow us to escape from the castle?" Mara asked rather skeptically.
Valrigard turned around and looked at Mara. For a moment they stared at each other. "Okay, tell you what," the Draik said, handing her the torch. "Here's the plan..."
Date: 20th December
...Suddenly, the Draik stopped talking and turned his head slightly. Deep, gruff voices could be heard echoing through the dungeon.
"Shh!" Valrigard said. "Guards!"
Mara leaned back against the stone wall and sank down to the floor, while Valrigard extinguished the torch with his large clawed foot.
"I swear to King Skarl that I heard someone down here!" a voice said. Clanging footsteps could be heard. More than one guard was moving down the dark corridor.
"Yeah, well there had better be," another voice, which was deeper, said. "Disturbing me from my dinner to come down here..."
Valrigard swiftly and silently moved into the shadows of the dungeon cell. As the footsteps moved closer to them, a pair of red beady eyes peered through the barred top of the wooden door.
"Ain't nothing in here 'cept that Zafara scoundrel King Skarl wanted so badly. I s'pose she'll be brought upstairs for questioning soon enough."
Some feet shuffled away from the door, then clanked back down the passage.
As soon as Valrigard was sure that the guards were gone, he said, "I think it's safe. Let's head out."
"Wait!" Mara said. "You haven't told me the plan yet!" The Zafara was still a bit disoriented, and she wobbled slightly while following Valrigard. Questions were still reeling through her head. What did they want with her? Why was she here? Why were they going to question her?
"Where are we going?" Mara asked Valrigard.
"Follow me," he replied...
Date: 21st December
"... and take my hand so we don't lose each other. I don't think we should light the torch again, seeing as that last one was such a close call."
"But, how are we going navigate through the dark? I sure can't see anything," Mara remarked, slipping her paw into his.
"I've got good vision, so I can vaguely make things out," Valrigard said distractedly, his mind entirely on making sure that they were not caught off guard again.
It was slow going, but the Draik knew they were making progress. He could smell a very faint whiff of fresh air that had found its way into the dungeon.
Mara whimpered to herself; the darkness and cold were beginning to get to her. "I haven't done anything!" she said. "I keep my room clean, I respect my elders, and I even help out needy Neopets on the weekends. Why would the King want to question me?"
"Keep it down!" Valrigard whispered fiercely. "Do you really want the guards down our throats before we can find a way out? Don't answer that... of course you don't."
"It's dark..." the Zafara said with a sniffle, "and cold. I want to go home..."
"This way," Valrigard murmured, ignoring her complaints. He could faintly make out the scent of green grass. "Can you smell that? The entrance to the secret passage must be close by..."
Date: 21st December
..."What'll we do when we get out, anyway?" Mara murmured, silently padding after Valrigard. She couldn't tell if they were close to the exit or not -- wherever she looked the Zafara saw old grey stone.
"We'll figure that out when we get there," Valrigard whispered distractedly. "Right now, I'm more worried about being caught. I heard a rumor that King Skarl has very elite guards patrolling these corridors. If we get caught, well..." His voice trailed off pointedly.
Mara nodded nervously, still clutching Valrigard's hand tightly. She knew that if she let go, she would be hopelessly lost.
Valrigard suddenly halted, stiffening, causing Mara to nearly bump into him.
"What is it?" she asked, forgetting to keep her voice low.
Valrigard turned to quiet her, but it was too late. They both heard a series of heavy thumps ahead of them -- the unmistakable sound of clumping boots.
Mara and Valrigard were terrified. Panicked, the Zafara tried dragging her Draik companion in the other direction, when they once again heard bootfalls -- which now came from all directions. They were trapped.
"Mara!" Valrigard whispered urgently. "I have an idea, but I'll need your help..."
Date: 22nd December
..."They said you were wanted for questioning, right?" he said. Too frightened to speak, Mara only nodded. "Well, if they want to question you, then they can't really do you any harm. If you were to let them catch you--"
Mara made a terrified choking noise, but Valrigard didn't pause in explaining his plan. The noise of the approaching boots grew steadily louder; they didn't have much time.
"If you let them catch you, they'll take you up to King Skarrl," he went on. "I'll stay here and hide until you're gone. Once the coast is clear, I'll escape through the secret passage."
"Oh, wow, there's a great plan. Thanks a lot!" Mara exclaimed shrilly.
"There's more," the Draik said impatiently. "After I escape, I'll come back for you. The castle has plenty of exits -- it ought to be far easier for me to get you out of there than the dungeon."
"What if you don't come back?" Mara whimpered, feeling sick to her stomach.
"You'll just have to trust me," Valrigard said, giving her paw a reassuring squeeze before soaring up to hide in the rafters.
Within moments, the corridor blazed with the light of a dozen torches. Guards emerged from all sides, surrounding poor, trembling Mara.
"All right, Zafara," the nearest guard barked, "up to the castle with you! We've had a grand time tryin' to track down your whereabouts! Get out now... King Skarrl wants to have a word." Another guard grabbed her roughly by the shoulder and fastened a pair of handcuffs securely around her paws. Then, with a shove, they took Mara away.
The corridors grew brighter and brighter as they approached the exit. Soon, she was bathed in sunlight as they led her across a courtyard.
Far too soon, in Mara's opinion, she found herself standing before a massive, gold-plated doorway.
The voice of King Skarrl boomed from behind it. "Enter..."
Date: 22nd December
...Suddenly, an uncontrollable wave of terror rippled through Mara. Gasping in helpless fright, she kicked with her large hind paws and waved her arms about, trying to escape and free herself. But it was to no avail.
The guards tightened their grip on her arms as she struggled, and as the heavy door slowly creaked open, they shoved her through.
Falling to the hard stone floor, Mara winced in pain. Pushing herself to her feet, she looked around dazedly. She realized now that the guards had released their grips on her arms, but even so she could not escape; the large door was tightly shut.
The Zafara stumbled around, gazing with eyes wild with horror toward the end of the large room, which she was captive of. There was King Skarl, sitting atop his throne.
But this wasn't the grumpy, bored Skarl who listened to the dull jokes she told him every day, hoping he would find them amusing. This was an angry Skarl, lips tight and eyes glaring, the usual boredom on his face replaced by stern business (and in this case, fury).
"ZAFARA!" the king suddenly barked, his angry yell echoing throughout the large stone room. "YOU TRAITOROUS ZAFARA! COME HERE! NOW!"
Mara merely stood where she was, legs wobbling like jelly, wide liquid eyes staring at the king in confused horror.
The king rose heavily from the throne he sat upon, eyes burning furiously.
"Did I not say to come over here?!?" Skarl howled, rage evident in his earsplitting yell.
Trembling, Mara began to stumble forward toward the angry king. What did I do that was so bad that King Skarl himself wishes to question me? she thought to herself as she came to a halt in front of Skarl.
Meanwhile, the King glared down at the unfortunate Zafara. Eyes downcast, Mara nervously shifted from one foot to the other. Skarl impatiently tapped his fingers on the arm of his throne, evidently waiting for her to speak. Finally, his irritation got the better of him.
Date: 27th December
...Mara didn't know what to say, so she didn't do anything. She could see Skarl's furious face looking down at her, the blue in his face becoming a faint purple. "Well?!? What are you waiting for?!?" his yells echoed throughout the room.
Far too scared to speak, Mara's breathing increased into long, deep breaths as she tried to stop herself from crying. She felt hot and sticky as if a million needles were being stuck into her.
Skarl was merciless. "SPEAK, YOU FOOL!" The faint purple that had once crept into his face was now a dark plum color.
A mumble of something that couldn't be deciphered escaped Mara as the tears began to roll down her face. She had never been so scared in her life.
"Not going to talk, eh?" Skarl said, narrowing his eyes. "Then perhaps--"
"I didn't do anything!" Mara wailed, interrupting him.
Skarl looked shocked. That wasn't the answer he was expecting. The king had expected a great confession, after which he could yell at her some more.
"What?!? That's absurd! Now where is she? Where is Lisha? What did you do with her? You were seen doing it! You can't plea with that!" the king shouted.
Lisha, the terrified Zafara thought. I met her once. Just once.
Her sobbing paused for a moment, but the fear didn't leave her face as she thought. But it was such a long time ago that I met her...
King Skarl's voice intruded into the background of her thoughts. "You're lucky Jeran isn't around at the moment. He'd most definitely have his say! You…"
He faded out again in Mara's head. Her eyes went wide; she remembered something. The shadow, Mara thought. A Shoyru. A mutant Shoyru.
Her mind struggled to remember...
Date: 27th December
...but all she succeeded in recalling was the memory of her pain. Mara's head ached sharply with the thought, and she scrunched her eyes tightly shut against it.
Skarl mistook her grimace for guilt. "See?" he cried out triumphantly, pointing a clawed finger at her. "She's lying! No innocent creature would have such an expression at the mention of her crime!"
Mara opened her eyes, looking sadly through a blur of tears at the accusing king. He would never believe her, she realized. The king's rage at losing Lisha had scrambled his senses and overturned his ability to reason; he would not be satisfied until she confessed.
However, the Zafara found that she could not apologize for a crime that she did not commit. After a few moments of what he took as defiant silence, the king pounded a fist onto the arm of his throne, trembling with rage. "So, you refuse to talk..." he surmised, lips curling in a sneer. "Well then, Zafara, we will make you talk. Guards!"
"No!" Mara cried as the guards jumped forward. One reached for her, grasping her arm with a grip of iron, but she twisted away, throwing herself to the floor and scrambling between the legs of another groping guard. Nimbly she leapt between them, past them, and around them -- but the Zafara knew she could not keep it up for long.
There were too many to evade. She collapsed, utterly exhausted, onto the throneroom floor, sobbing as she felt a dozen hands clutch her arms in an inescapable grip. As she sagged her head, ready to give up and just accept her defeat and sentence, a memory flashed into her mind.
She knew where she'd seen the mutant Shoyru.
Through her ragged gasps, Mara tilted up her head and screamed, "Wait, please, Your Highness!"…
Date: 28th December
...The king turned towards her, bearing a face that was now dark red. "WHAT?!?"
"I remember where I saw him!" Mara cried, wincing as she tried to remember the terrible memory.
"STOP!" Skarl roared at the head guard, who was hauling the Zafara towards the door. The guards dragged Mara back into the middle of the room and set her back down. She just lay there, unable to move even a finger in fear.
Mara somehow managed to stutter out the words. "He… he was e-evil."
"WHO?!?" Skarl demanded. "If you don't think it was you, then who was it?!?"
The frightened Zafara managed to mumble yet another set of words. "He w-was a Sh-shoyru."
Despite standing stiff as boards and displaying straight faces, the guards leaned in to listen. Mara closed her eyes, recalling the memory. The king roared once again, "What was his name? Tell me, or you will go back to prison for the rest of your life!"
Mara hesitated, but the picture in her mind was becoming clearer. As her stuttering ceased, she began to describe the Shoyru with utter disgust. "I may never know his name, Your Majesty," she said, "but I do remember what he looked like."
"Well, go on then!"
"He was a mutant, with sharp teeth and a small tattoo on his cheek that showed the picture of an eye. His right cheek, I believe. He knew my name… and Lisha's. I had just met her; I believe I'd just asked for her autograph. She told me to go away, promising that she would grant my request the next day. 'Meet me at this rock,' she said. That was it. She left with the Shoyru, and I went home. I would never see her again…"
Date: 28th December
..."Uhmph!" Valrigard muttered as he tumbled to the ground from the shaft. He had found the secret passageway and squeezed his way outside to freedom. The moon shone upon him, lighting up the sweat beads that dotted his face. Turning, the Draik looked towards the king's throne room and saw the bloated Skeith and the skinny Zafara's shadowy outline. "They already started questioning her..." Valrigard said under his breath. For a moment he pounded the ground in frustration, then resolutely began to fly upwards.
"I really don't think there's a need to stop their questioning," a voice said from behind the Draik. Valrigard dropped back to the ground, to find a strange mutant Shoyru with a tattoo in the shape of an eye on his cheek. In the Shoyru's clawed hand was a large blade, obviously stolen from the armoury.
"Who are you?" Valrigard asked, backing away.
"You really don't need to know..." the Shoyru said as he took two steps forward. "It was awfully noble of you to try and save that Zafara. Useless, but noble. Too bad that pesky Lupe Jeran isn't here to save you... or his sister, for that matter." The Shoyru smiled, evil written all over his face.
Valrigard raised his flaming sword, still backing away as the Shoyru inched closer. "What now, prisoner?" the mutant Shoyru said. "Soon, you will be exposed to the light..." Valrigard glanced back. He was quickly backing into the lamplight that shone through the window of Skarl's throne room, and the guards would soon be able to see him...
Date: 29th December
…His foe chuckled darkly. "I don't suppose you'd like to tell me what your choice is?" the Shoyru taunted. "Let Skarl's guards see you, or face defeat at the hands of an opponent whose skills far outmatch your own?"
Valrigard gritted his teeth resolutely; he'd have to create another alternative. With a guttural growl, he launched himself at the Shoyru. Taken by surprise, the villainous mutant staggered back, and Valrigard wrestled him to the ground. The Shoyru soon regained his senses, though, and stuck out the arm that held the stolen sword. Valrigard leaped out of the Shoyru's way, barely escaping the blade with a grazed cheek. He glanced over his shoulder, watching the arch of light behind him get closer and closer. A plan imprinted itself upon his mind; it was risky, but there was nothing else he could do.
When Valrigard was only a hairsbreadth away from the view of Skarl's guards, he whirled around and soared up to the castle parapet, directly above the throne room. Before the Shoyru could blink, Valrigard had swiped at one of the towering windows that overlooked the castle grounds. The glass fell with a tumultuous crash, immediately attracting the attention of those in the throne room.
Shaking with fury, the mutant Shoyru glowered menacingly at Valrigard. "You'll pay for that, Draik," he said. The mutant flew towards the roof and raised his blade up high…
Date: 29th December
...then hurled it at Valrigard with all of his formidable might.
Yelping, the Draik threw himself forward, spinning off his perch on the parapet and falling down, down, down… until he landed hard on the ground directly in front of the throne room door.
It flew open, smacking the dazed Draik in his face. Groaning, Valrigard rolled onto his back, then opened his eyes to meet the squint-eyed glares of a half-dozen guards, the suspicious expression of King Skarl, and the delighted beam of Mara, who dropped to her knees and hugged him. "You came back!" she cried, squeezing him tightly.
"M-Mara," Valrigard sputtered, blinking hard in an attempt to make the lights flashing before his eyes vanish. "There's danger. The mutant Shoyru--"
"What about him?" the king asked sharply. "You know of this Shoyru, prisoner?"
Valrigard didn't need to answer, though. A horrible, cruel laugh echoed around the castle courtyard, and they saw the shadow of their enemy standing far above them. "I seem to have dropped my sword," the Shoyru said, sneering down at them with lips curling to reveal a flash of pointed teeth. "I suppose I'd better get it, hmm?" He outstretched his leathery, misshapen wings and pumped them, lifting off into the air.
"Guards!" Skarl bellowed in a fury, pointing at the mutant. "Prepare yourselves! You are not to let this Shoyru escape!"...
Date: 30th December
...The guards reached for their swords as the Shoyru began rising even higher into the air. Valrigard pulled himself together, picking up his own sword from the ground.
As the guards raced towards the top of the tower, Valrigard flew into the air, following the Shoyru into the open sky. Having finally caught up to the mutant, the Draik wasn't prepared for what happened next.
The Shoyru turned around faster than the blink of an eye, lashing out at the left side of Valrigard's face. The Draik blindly swung his sword around as best he could, trying to hit the Shoyru without cutting himself.
All of a sudden, Valrigard was on the ground. Everyone raced over to him, with King Skarl and Mara leading the way. The mutant Shoyru lay beside him, holding his chest in pain.
"What happened?" King Skarl asked.
"I don't know," Valrigard answered, dumbfounded. "One moment I'm in the air, swinging my sword around, and the next I'm here."
"Well, obviously, you defeated the Shoyru!" Mara said excitedly.
King Skarl looked at the mutant lying on the ground. "Guards," he yelled, "take him to the dungeon."
By morning, Mara had led a group of guards towards the spot where she had met the Shoyru. It wasn't long before they'd found Lisha nearby, tied but unharmed.
That night, Mara and Valrigard were invited to a big feast in the king's castle. Afterward, King Skarl rewarded the two most gratefully. Valrigard was offered his freedom, along with a sword that the King had used in his battle against Lord Kass, and Mara was given a year's supply of potions from Kayla's shop, as well as a grateful autograph from Lisha.
As for the mutant Shoyru, well... let's just say he's guarded quite closely!
Date: 30th December
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