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||You are on Week 216
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 Sixteen Ends March 4th
"Hey, what's this?" the pink Ixi asked, pointing to the upper left-hand corner of her map of Mystery Island.
Her friend, Toku, a white Kougra, leaned over her shoulder to have a look. "I dunno, Kelti… I’d never noticed that on the map before."
"It's the newest map, from the Mystery Island travel agency," she said, pointing a hoof behind her towards a hut on the harbour dock that they had just passed after disembarking from the boat. "See? It's completely redrawn."
"Cool!" Toku exclaimed, "I suppose you're right – everything else seems pretty much the same, but that's certainly new. Maybe they just discovered something? What do you think could be there?"
Kelti grinned. "There's only one way to find out!" the spunky Ixi said, running towards the jungle. "Let's go!"
Toku laughed as he bounded after his friend. "Haha, I knew there was a reason I liked hanging out with you!"
Laughing and cheering each other on, the two friends ran through the jungle, straight towards the Lost City of Geraptiku...
Author: Is still trying to pronounce "Geraptiku"...|
Date: 25th February
...which had made quite a name for itself in the cloudy lore of Neopia. Supposedly a place of savagery and disgrace, it was assumed completely isolated and impenetrable. It was unknown why Geraptiku had given itself such a reputation, and the few who knew weren't telling.
The two friends were completely unaware of this as they bounded into the lush greenery that was the jungle of Mystery Island. Toku and Kelti were meant to be pals; both loved nothing more than adventure, whether it was on the high seas off Krawk Island, racing faeries in their own beautiful realm, or what they were doing now -- running into a primarily unexplored jungle to pursue an unknown spot on their new, strangely different little map. This did not bother the brave adventurers -- discovering boldly and courageously seemed to be their favorite activity.
They had been steadily tearing through the thick foliage of the forest for at least ten minutes when Kelti stopped, leaning against a moss-covered tree. She sighed, catching her breath, looking about her at the beauty of the untamed wild. Birds were singing, and everything was vibrantly colored, from the hot pink flowers to the deep blue mist that was settling over the ground at the approach of evening. It was breathtaking.
"You need to learn to wait up!" Toku smiled. He had arrived while Kelti was daydreaming, and was sitting on his haunches. "I think I'm kinda hungry. What about you?"
"I am, too. Let's see if we can find something edible around here before we continue to our destination." Kelti stretched, then took several steps in the dense, misty plant life, looking eagerly around...
Date: 28th February
...unable to believe how many ripe fruits hung from the branches of nearby trees. A mischievous gleam sparkled in Toku's eyes as he dug his claws into the bark and ascended to toss a few down to Kelti. Once he harvested a few for himself, he raced after her. She was already beginning to search out the perfect spot to rest, scanning all around at the harmonious tranquility. It was a dazzling paradise seemingly preserved from time -- her imagination was already coming alive to find wing and soar. Little did the adventurous friends realize that this was simply the calm before the storm.
"This is so delicious," Kelti commented after taking a bite, savoring the juices that flowed delicately upon her tongue. "I can't believe this place hasn't been discovered until now. It looks like it came right from a dream."
"It does," Toku nodded thoughtfully, his ears perking when a bird flew overhead, its feathers decorated by a rainbow. With a laugh, Toku scrambled to his feet and began chasing after the bird. "C'mon, Kelti! Bet ya can't keep up!”
Kelti rolled her eyes, following after her friend. The contagious laughter soon found breath with her as she joined Toku in his game. She didn't see the uplifted root until it was too late. Tripping over it, she collided with Toku, and the pair tumbled head over heels down a hill.
"Hey, what did you do that for!" Toku scolded, brushing himself off and scooping the fallen map in his paws. He shot Kelti a narrowed glare, which softened when he saw her attention was distracted elsewhere. He trailed her sights to a desolate village that lay spread before them...
Date: 1st March
...like an ugly sore in the green jungle. All the luscious, vivid colours of the jungle growth ended abruptly at the borders of village, leaving the place starkly dull and lifeless. Kelti was reminded uneasily of the time when Lord Darigan had lain his corrupted hand over Meridell, how the peasants had fled and left the farms abandoned, still and silent. The village below had the same malevolent atmosphere -- broken market stalls still stacked high with rotting fruit, and washing lines strung with sun-bleached linen, now dusty from time. They were but two of the signs that this village had once been families’ homes, their lives. A shiver ran up her spine like ice.
"What happened here?" the voice of Toku came, derailing her train of thought. She glanced at him and shrugged.
"I don't know... Toku I--" she broke off suddenly. Admitting she was scared would be silly -- the Kougra would laugh at her for sure; he was never afraid. She opened her mouth again, put on her most daring voice and said, "I bet you're too scared to go and find out, though!"
Toku was petrified of the idea, but he wasn't about to admit that. Kelti was much braver than him -- she would laugh right in his face and call him a scaredy Aisha. Instead he forced a grin and bounded off down the embankment toward the village, wishing all the while that Kelti would stop him.
Meanwhile, the Ixi was wishing that Toku would stop himself. She had to follow him now, of course. She chewed her lip for a moment, gave one last glance behind her at the sanctuary of the fruit glade, then made her way hastily down the hill after her friend.
Their feet touched the bare scorched village earth at almost exactly the same moment, their dull footfalls silencing their uneasy laughter.
"What's that?" Kelti whispered, pointing towards…
Date: 1st March
...a tall, strange building in the distance. It rose up into the sky like a spike, towering above the lower buildings of the village, even though in the healthy parts of the jungle it would have been dwarfed by the larger trees. Dead vines dangled from the top of it, leaves fluttering like ragged curtains.
"Maybe it was a watchtower," Toku said, "or a shrine, like King Coltzan's in the Lost Desert."
"A shrine to what? Who'd have a shrine like that?" Kelti tried to sound as if she thought it was only ugly, not frightening.
"Well," Toku said doubtfully, "it might not always have looked like that. It might have looked better, back when the rest of the village did."
"Maybe you're right." Kelti took a reluctant step forward, her hooves falling softly on ash and burnt earth. "Hey, maybe it's Geraptiku's shrine. I mean, maybe that was the name of a person, not just the village." Her voice was falsely bright.
Toku was starting to notice the falseness and suspect that maybe the Ixi was afraid, too, but he still didn't want to say it first. "It's right in the center of the village. And the... dead area. If we're exploring," he said, padding forward to stand beside Kelti and trying to sound more confident than he felt, "I bet that's where the secrets are."
"You're right." Kelti stared at it, finding the tower strangely compelling. "Let's go in."
It wasn't a pleasant walk through the eerie streets, with the smell of long-dead fire and fruit in their nostrils, but they managed not to touch any of the remnants of the vanished villagers' lives.
"If the glade back there is a dream," Toku said unhappily, "then this place is a nightmare." He expected her to laugh.
But Kelti only nodded pensively. "I think it is. I wonder if there's any way to wake it up?"
Toku stared at her, carefully stepping around a blackened fruit that had rolled into the center of the path. "What? Kelti, that didn't make any sense."
Kelti started, blinking at the swaying, softly rattling vines on the tower. "No, it didn't. And -- Toku?"
"Why are those vines moving?"
"The wind's probably blowing them -- oh." Toku stood in the still air and tried not to shiver, but his fur stood up for its own reasons. "There's no wind."
"Right." Kelti swallowed. "And I don't see anything that could be moving around in them. I thought for a bit I heard voices, but... anyway, I feel like we have to go there."
Toku gave her a very worried look, but maybe an Ixi, being mainly an herbivore, could really hear voices in leaves. Though whether this was a good or a bad thing when the leaves were as sinister as these ones wasn't very clear. But he walked alongside her anyway.
At last they reached the center, where the tower stood. Kelti, shaking so hard the dry leaves rustled as if the entire absent population of the village were whispering in their own language, shouldered the vines aside and pushed the door open.
The oppressive atmosphere of the village seemed to lift as they stepped indoors, even though the inside of the tower was dark -- and its atmosphere was choked with dust that made both friends cough and sneeze as they made their way further in, leaving the door open for its dim light and letting their eyes adjust to the darkness.
"Maybe Geraptiku just got mad because nobody bothered to dust!" Toku tried to joke, then wheezed again and sneezed especially violently. "KAAAAHCHOOF!"
An enormous cloud of dust boiled up from the floor and walls, far beyond where his breath could have stirred it, while they tried to cover their eyes and noses. The vines outside rattled madly, and the dust whirled until...
Date: 2nd March
…what was covering the walls was unveiled. As the dust mysteriously dissipated from the room, the two frightened companions listened to the vines shake madly, pinching their eyes shut. They only opened them when the noises faded.
"Oh my..." Kelti murmured, eyes wide and glistening. Covering the walls, now uncluttered by the thick dust, were beautiful murals fashioned of many different pieces of whitish rock and gold. How they clung to the walls was beyond either of the two Neopets, but they were both amazed and awestruck.
Toku and Kelti stood in silent wonder, mouths agape. Kelti stared at the beautiful murals, examining the pictures they portrayed. Realizing what it was showing, the Ixi gasped in shock.
"Toku... that's us!"
The first mural showed the form of a rather angular Ixi holding a piece of paper in her hand. An equally angular Kougra was standing behind her, his eyes looking down at the same piece of paper. They were standing in a jungle.
Toku's face was ghastly white as if he'd seen a ghost. "How is that possible...?" he inquired, before turning to the next mural.
This one showed Kelti leaning against a tree, holding a half-bitten fruit in her hand. Toku was running, and his head was turned slightly back as if to look at Kelti. Despite the odd angles that everything was set in, the scene was chillingly familiar. The two Neopets shuddered.
"Look at the third!" Kelti shouted, pointing at the next mural. This one showed ruined buildings, separated in the center by a small path on which an Ixi and a Kougra stood, silent and without smiles. Due to the way the mural depicted the scene, it was impossible to tell which way the two were going -- only where they had begun.
"How is this possible?" Toku whispered frantically to Kelti as if someone would hear him. "Those murals have to be ancient; how could they show us in them?"
"Maybe it's not us," Kelti said, but she knew it was a lie. It was them. It had to be them. There was no doubt about that.
Toku sighed and turned to look further down the wall, then gasped again. Kelti, who was preoccupied with staring worriedly at the ground, turned to see what he was looking at.
There, above the door, was another mural...
Date: 2nd March
…Now Kelti could see why her friend was so distressed. The last mural depicted both Toku and her standing back to back, their faces frozen in exaggerated masks of terror. Surrounding the small clear patch of white wall where the two figures stood, dozens and dozens of shadows with eyes of gold were descending upon the two. The monsters’ faces were twisted in myriad phases of glee and hunger, their long sharp teeth and claws ready to tear into them.
The pink Ixi had to put her hooves to her mouth to stifle the scream that was welling up from inside her. “What are we going to do now?” she wailed, shaking the Kougra’s arms. "I’m too young to die! I haven’t even tasted all the gourmet food in Neopia, and now I’m going to be some creature’s dinner!"
Toku held onto Kelti and pushed her out to arms length. "Get a hold of yourself, Kelti," the Kougra admonished. "We’re not going to be eaten." The lack of conviction in Toku’s voice hardly comforted the distressed Ixi, who started pacing back and forth. Indeed, even Toku himself could barely hide his fear, a sick feeling suddenly visiting his gut. Forget about pretending to be brave; the eerily prophetic murals had shaken him badly, the feeling of dread becoming greater with every passing second. Then something caught his eye.
"What’re we going to do?" Kelti repeated for the umpteenth time as she paced back and forth. "I don’t want to die!"
"Maybe we won’t need to," Toku suddenly said as he faced the last mural, his back turned towards the Ixi. Kelti spun around and saw that the Kougra was actually smiling. "Maybe we can just walk away."
"This is no time to joke--"
"But I’m serious," Toku continued firmly, all the anxiety gone from his voice as he walked slowly towards the mural. "Just take a look at what the Kougra is holding."
Kelti squinted and saw that the Kougra in the mural had something held in his palm: a small golden statuette of a Techo, minutely detailed to the point that Kelti could see every gold tooth on its leering face. Toku reached the arch of the doorway right below the mural and turned to face Kelti with a confident look, his empty paws outstretched.
She finally understood what Toku was talking about and started smiling herself. "I see what you mean, Toku," Kelti said in relief. It wasn't them after all.
"Yeah, we didn’t steal anything, or touch anything for that matter," Toku said triumphantly. "So why should we be--"
Suddenly a cold wind blew past the Kougra, sweeping up a large cloud of dust and shaking the very walls of the grimy room. Toku raised his head to keep the dust from entering his eyes and suddenly his heart skipped a beat. A small golden figurine, the very same one from the mural, was falling towards him, spinning slowly as it made its way to his head. Time stood still for Toku, his mind wiped blank from shock, and his face twisted into an expression of utter disbelief.
Then, without a conscious thought, by instinct alone, he reached out and caught the statue...
Date: 3rd March
...and Kelti screamed.
Toku wanted to scream himself, but the sound stuck in his throat. The little Techo figurine moved in his paws, tiny hands and feet seizing his fur. The small tail braced itself, and the mouth opened wide.
And all around them, they heard footsteps.
Little scurrying, hurrying footsteps.
They took a step toward the door, but the ground split in front of it, opening up to reveal a deep spiral staircase with a glimmer of gold at the foot, deep in the shadows.
And all around from the walls, golden eyes winked to life, and the shadows stepped forward.
And the leaves rustled.
We want, we want, we want...
Kelti gulped and pressed close against Toku.
The shadows came closer, eyes gleaming, faces blurring, claws outstretched.
We want... we have waited... so long...
Back to back, just as the mural showed them. Holding the figurine, just as the mural showed them. Terrified, just as the mural showed them.
Surrounded, with no way out, just as the mural showed them.
Waited so long... we want...
Kelti jumped. She was hearing words in the leaves now, real words.
They'd been waiting.
"Toku," she said shakily, "the stairs."
Yes, the stairs, go down! Go down... down...
"They'd trap us," Toku mewled.
"But the stairs aren't in the mural! And the leaves are saying to go down there --"
"I'm not sure I want to listen to the leaves!"
"I know, but -- the shadows --"
The shadows were getting closer, though slowly. The gleam of gold from their eyes and from deep in the ground was growing brighter.
Clawed shadow-hands reached out; the two Neopets shrank away. The shadows pressed closer, eyes bright, gleeful, joyous, hungry, desperate...
Down... down... go down...
Other words in her mind, not those of the leaves. "This place is a nightmare," she whispered unthinkingly.
Toku turned to look over his shoulder at her, wildly. "Wake it up..."
Yes! Yes! Yes!
The shadows were in easy reach, but hadn't touched them.
But Kelti and Toku kept edging away, toward the first step. And the shadows, they kept getting closer.
The leaves whispered, shouted. Yes!
And Kelti overbalanced, catching Toku's arm but only pulling him with her, and took the first step downward...
Date: 3rd March
...into the spiraling darkness that seemed to be both a sanctuary and their downfall.
Kelti and Toku both raced downwards as fast as they could; the stairs never seemed to end! Behind them were the shadows, their eyes gleaming, leering, pursuing...
“Kelti!” Toku was beginning to slow down. “Kelti, where are we going?”
“Just keep going, Toku!”
Toku couldn’t believe it. They had been running -- running for hours, it seemed. His heart was beating faster than ever; his feet felt like lead. Every time he risked looking back, the shadows seemed to be there.
Toku… Toku’s ears pricked. I’ve been waiting, Toku… for so long…
Kelti, who had also heard the voice, looked back, only to be filled with such fear that she stopped dead in her tracks, frozen with horror. Toku was standing still on a step, prey to the golden eyes, a prey to the shadows.
Don’t stop… go down… down…
The voices of the leaves were urging her…
Down… go down… we have been… waiting… down…
Kelti couldn’t move. Toku was still inert, and in front of him was a form, a vague outline come to life…
The shadow enlarged itself; it was going towards Toku!
Kelti’s heart raced. She sprang up towards him; he was steps away from her. The shadow was closer. It was now in front of the Kougra and was wrapping itself around him. Its eyes looked straight at Kelti. They said it all, the eyes told her all. It was going to engulf him -- trap him in the never-ending darkness!
Toku woke from his immobile state as Kelti’s voice brought him back to realization. What he saw caused the blood to drain from his face. His eyes widened in fear, and his mouth opened in a silent scream. He looked back at Kelti for one last time.
And just like that, Toku was gone.
“TOKUUUU!!!” Kelti couldn’t believe what she had seen. Toku -- her best friend; Toku -- her partner in adventures; Toku -- her lifelong companion, had vanished in an instant. And towards her feet rolled a golden statue. Kelti could do nothing but stare at what remained of her friend.
An echoing laughter... horrible, terrifying laughter...
It’s ours… the statue is ours!
Wake the nightmare...
Kelti’s mind clicked. Here was the solution! This is what they wanted! This is what caused the disappearance of her friend.
To us… bring it to us… waiting… we have been waiting… bring it to us!
Kelti raced down the stairs. She had just one objective -- to get down.
Behind her were the shadows; she needed not look back to know. She could feel them. The chill that was emanating from them penetrated her to the core of her body, chilling her bones. Yet she was race on, unfazed. Inside her head, she pleaded for help from the vines. Where is the exit? She was running out of breath. When does this stop? The cursed stairs were going on deeper, farther into the ground. She felt as if she couldn’t make it.
As if the voices had answered, she tripped, falling flat on the cold, hard stone floor. She couldn’t have been happier, yet she knew there was no time to waste.
Closer… we feel it… closer… come closer…
“Where do I go?” Kelti was starting to panic. “What must I do?”
An altar in front of her caught her attention, but at the same time, a cold, earsplitting scream echoed around the room. The shadows behind her had also seen the altar. They knew its purpose.
Kelti now knew exactly what had to be done. She stretched her arm forward and ran towards it.
Everything seemed slow…
She was very close…
An eerie chill went down her spine…
She looked back --
The statue slipped from her hand…
It fell on the steps leading to the altar, out of her reach…
A rumble reverberated around the room. Anger filled the air.
Kelti could only stare at golden statue out of reach. She had let herself down… let Toku down…
The floor began to shake, and the ceiling began to crack.
Kelti looked up into the shadows and discerned the shapes of hundreds of Neopets.
The ghosts of the villagers…
Villagers that were the history of the dead village…
The ghost of Toku…
The ghost of…
Date: 4th March
...Kelti lay immobile, horrorstruck, and stared dumbly at the apparitions before her. Gazing at her with eyes like chips of gold, they lifted translucent arms, pointing imploringly toward the altar and the fallen statue, moaning with the agony of the undead.
Do not fail us...
Biting back a scream of terror, Kelti struggled to her feet. A huge section of rock broke from the ceiling and crashed forcefully down, splintering a section of the tower floor. She knew she was going to die in here, alone, without her friend, unless she ran now.
As she turned to escape, though, wails rose from a thousand ghostly throats, vibrating through the air and causing the very ground to tremble. Above her, sections of rock cracked perilously. "What do you want from me?" she half yelled, half sobbed. "You took Toku from me, and the tower is caving in! If I don't leave, I'll be a ghost just like you!"
We have your spirit… you will not make it to the door…
"I'll die anyway!" challenged Kelti, and dove aside as a tremendous boulder crashed where she'd been standing.
Do this… if you succeed, we will get Toku back to you…
"Toku." She stopped short. Clapping her hooves together in determination, Kelti nodded. "Fine. I'll do it -- for Toku."
The rumbles of the ceiling intensified, shifting from a distant thunder into a vibrating, rushing roar. Huge chunks fell like rain onto the floor of the tower, punching it full of holes.
Skirting them, Kelti ran to the steps of the altar, where the statue balanced precariously. Above her, she heard the deafening split of rock as a section of the ceiling detached. Throwing herself forward, she snatched the golden Techo and rolled back, inches from where the tremendous rock landed.
Breathing raggedly, the Ixi mounted the steps, sprinting toward the golden altar. It winked in the flashing golden light of the surrounding eyes, and the voices lowered to an eager murmur. Shaking with exhaustion and fear, Kelti placed the golden statue onto its ancient altar.
The voices pitched into a jarring screech, and Kelti lost her balance, falling down, down, down...
…Until she stopped. The earth was warm beneath her, soft, and she realized that she was sitting on a patch of grass in a clearing. The humid air was filled with the songs of birds, and around her bloomed flowers of all colors. Breathlessly she jumped to her feet, speaking the first thing that came to her mind. "Toku. TOKU?!?"
"What?" replied a voice behind her. Whirling about, Kelti saw her beloved friend looking solid and alive.
Throwing her arms about the Kougra, she whispered, "They did it. They kept their promise." Tears pricked her eyes as she blinked.
Toku wore a confused smile. "Who did, Kelti?"
"The -- wait a minute. Toku, what's the last thing you remember?"
Rolling his eyes, the Kougra drew out a piece of paper. "Honestly, Kelti. Don't you know? We were trying to decide where to go on this map." Glancing at it, he pointed to the upper left hand corner. "What do you say about over here? It looks promising."
"NO!" screamed Kelti, then softened her voice as Toku threw a confused look at her. "I mean, no. I... uh... think that the beach would be a lot more fun." She pointed to a spot on the right.
"Tropical beach," said Toku, thinking. His face brightened. "Sure, why not? Great idea, Kelti!"
He bounded toward the beach with such enthusiasm that he didn't hear Kelti's sigh of relief.
Date: 4th March
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