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||You are on Week 222
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 Twenty-Two Ends April 15th
"Here we are!" Katrice yelled, waving her skis over her head and running out into the snow.
Her Ixi friend, Laara, was a little more hesitant as she stepped off the ferry and onto the snowy ground of Happy Valley. She muttered something about "crazy Usuls" and began to cautiously tread through the snow to her friend that was now sprawled in a snow bank.
Laara raised an eyebrow as her friend flailed her arms, then jumped up, pointed at the indentation in the snow, and said, "Look! I made a snow faerie!"
"I guess it kinda looks like a faerie..." the Ixi said, "If you squint a lot."
"Oh, come on! Don't be such a killjoy, Laara!" the Usul said, throwing a snowball at the Ixi.
The Ixi frowned and shook her head to knock the snow off. "I don't know how you convinced me to come along on this little vacation of yours. I could have been happy my whole life without ever setting foot in this stuff." Laara said, sticking out her tongue and examining the cold, wet snow that surrounded her hooves.
"Oh goodness," Kartrice said, "Quit your complaining. Just give it a chance. Who knows? Maybe you'll even like snow by the end of our trip!"
Laara groaned. One full week of this? It was more than an Ixi could handle. She strongly considered leaping back onto the ferry, but that boat had (literally) already sailed, abandoning her and her friend in the frigid cold of Happy Valley. She scoffed at the name of the area, then (with no choice left to her) began treading through the snow after her friend...
Author: is throwing snowballs|
Date: 8th April
...as Katrice dashed gleefully off at a high rate of chatter. "Over there is the Advent Calendar. All through the Month of Giving, you can go there once a day and get presents! Most Neopets," she added, dropping her voice conspiratorially, "just send their owner. But I hear they have a special provision for Dr_Death to go in and get gifts for everybody in the Pound."
"Uh-huh," said the Ixi, trying to ignore the fascinating and rather disturbing mental image of the labcoated yellow Techo trudging through the snow with a sack of gifts on his back. "We couldn't have waited and come then?" she asked sourly as her hooves broke through the snow again.
"You wouldn't want to. It's even colder here then."
Laara sighed. "Oh, joy."
"So do you want to stay down here and shop for a while? Or go in the Ice Caves? It's colder there, but we could see the Negg Faerie. Or we could go all the way up to the top -- there are really neat shops there, and that's where the Snow Faerie lives." Katrice flicked her tail, scattering snow from it. "Oooh! You like ice cream, don't you? I forgot about the new Ice Cream Cart! Come on!"
"I like ice cream when it's WARM outside!" Laara cried, but the Usul was already bounding off. The Ixi plunged after her, frustrated, and finally caught up when Katrice turned, bouncing, to wait for her just next to the cart.
"What took you so long?"
"You," Laara said through gritted teeth, "have big feet. I have hooves. They go right down into the snow, and now I have fur all over my tummy, and I'm cold!"
"Oh, I'm sorry." Katrice looked repentantly down at Laara's hooves and stomach. "I'll try not to rush so. And maybe we can get you some snowshoes later! Or we'll just go right to skiing! But right now we've got this nice trampled area all around the cart... Mr. Ice Cream Neopet? How much does it cost to buy some ice cream?"
"My name's Mr. Chipper," said the strange Neopet, leaning out from behind the cart and smiling with a great many teeth. "But you've got to get a coupon before you can buy ice cream here!"
"Oh," Katrice said, crestfallen. "Well, where do we get a coupon?"
"Dear Taelia might give you one, if you bring her something she likes," Mr. Chipper said, still smiling all over his face. "You might try asking her."
"All the way up the stupid mountain?" Laara groaned under her breath.
Mr. Chipper heard her and raised his eyebrows, no longer smiling. It had been an unnerving smile, but this expression was more so. In a dangerously pleasant tone, he asked...
Date: 11th April
..."How do you like it here, Miss... Laara?"
Laara shot him a startled look. "... How do you know my name?" she asked, her voice no more than a whisper. Mr. Chipper chortled with a strange gleam in his eyes.
"That's not important," he responded with a toothy grimace. "What's important is the question I just asked you. How do you like it here?"
Laara glanced at Katrice, but the Usul was hopping through the snow like a Snowbunny, catching snowflakes and giggling. Thanks for the support, Laara thought, vexed.
"It's... fine, I guess..." Laara mumbled, staring at the ground and wishing this awkward and eerie conversation was over.
There was something about Mr. Chipper's voice that was smooth and persuasive; something that made Laara want to spill out all the thoughts and feelings she'd been bottling up since this trip had begun.
Wait, why was she so willing to spill to some stranger?
"Eh..." she mumbled, but then blurted, "Actually, I hate the snow. It gets me cold, and it's hard to run in with hooves. Not to mention that I hate the cold, and I wish I wasn't here by this stupid mountain." With that, she placed a hoof over her open mouth. Had she just said that?
"I... see," Mr. Chipper said with a smile. "Well, if you want some ice cream, I hope you can get a coupon! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have business to attend to." With that, he wheeled around to face a group of bright-eyed Bruce toddlers all waving shiny blue coupons his way.
Laara was gone before he could give her a second glance. When she was at a safe distance, she called out, "Katrice! Come here!"
Katrice, who was zipping across the snow's shiny surface, turned with a smile and bounded towards Laara with a grin. "Hey!" she shouted.
"Katrice..." she murmured, but something cut her off.
"Jimmy, look! It's the Snow Queen!" shouted an enthusiastic voice from behind her. Laara wheeled around, staring into the beaming face of a tiny Bruce clutching an ice cream cone. A Bruce of equal size nearby turned to Laara and gasped.
"Huh--" she managed to mutter, but the bright-eyed Bruce leapt forward swiftly, speaking before she could finish.
"Miss Snow Queen, can I have your autograph?" he asked, pulling out a notebook and a snowflake-decorated pencil from his back pack. Laara stared down at the two objects in the eager Bruce's hands, and then back to Katrice.
"Well, it wouldn't hurt!" Katrice said reassuringly. Laara stared at her. What in the name of the faeries was going on?
"I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong person," Laara said. "Sorry."
The Bruce shook his head fervently. "No, no, no, no! You're the Snow Queen! You were at the last Snow Festival; I saw you, and you even talked to me! You talked to all of us."
"What are you talking about?" Laara inquired, baffled. "I have no clue--"
"Look, see!" he shouted, reaching into his back pack and pulling out a crumpled photo. "See?" He shoved it at Laara, who picked it up quizzically.
Laara carefully unfolded it, squinting to see what was in the photo. The picture was in very bad quality; the colors were faded and it was very crinkled. But there was no doubt in Laara's mind about who was in the photo.
Her heart leapt. "You've got to be kidding..." she muttered, unable to believe her eyes.
In one corner of the photo stood the Bruce, beaming and giving a thumb's up to the camera. Standing next to him, grabbing him in a hug, was none other than...
Date: 12th April
...a very familiar, somewhat shocking, cloud Ixi. As Laara stared at it, dumbfounded, a tan paw reached out from the corner of her vision and snatched it away. Katrice chuckled slightly. "Little kids," she explained with a grin. "It's amusing how much they--"
Katrice's voice cut off abruptly as her eyes focused on the photo. Startled, she glanced from the picture in her hand to the cloud-patterned face of her Ixi friend, then back at the photo.
"It's true," she exclaimed, staring wide-eyed at Laara. "That little Bruce is right! It is you!"
The toddler in question pushed his way in between them. "I told you so!" he said, hopping up and down. "See, you even admit it! Now can I please have your autograph?" This last question caused a mini stampede of little Bruces, who crowded around the "Snow Queen," pouncing on each other to get a better look at the photo and the Ixi herself.
Laara scrunched herself up as much as possible in a vain attempt to retreat from the small squabbling Neopets, but it was no use. "Fine," she huffed, "I'll sign your silly picture if it makes you happy. Even though it's not even me," she added under her breath. Quickly she snatched the pencil from the first Bruce and scribbled her signature on the back of the photo.
"There," she said crossly, and handed back the picture to its owner. "Now go home and leave me alone." With that she shoved through the throng of her little fans and stomped off through the deep snow. Katrice bounded after her.
"Laara, what's wrong?" she inquired. "Why don't you like them? You should be happy you have so many Neopets who adore you. Think of the fame you could acquire! All the kids would look up to you, and--"
"That's not me!" Laara growled. "Even if it is, I'm not going along with it. And besides, I don't remember ever being at a Snow Festival..."
Her voice trailed off as, right in front of them, appeared Mr. Chipper. The friends slowed to a halt before the tall, strange creature.
"Hello again, girls," he spoke in a slow, mesmerizing voice, his mouth stretching into another of his almost sly-looking smiles. "I see you have encountered some adoring public. How does it feel to be a popular Snow Queen?" He drew out a wrinkled photo. Laara scowled at him.
"I'm not a Snow Queen!" she snapped at him, grabbing the photo in the process. "See, look, does this look anything like me? No! For all we know, it could be any other random cloud Ixi!" She jabbed a hoof at the picture as she spoke.
Mr. Chipper smiled as one might smile when an ignorant child denies an obvious truth. "Well," he said softly, "You might want to take a closer look at that one."
Laara scrutinized the blurry image, then raised her head again triumphantly. "Look," she beamed, having aquired victory at last. "The Ixi in this picture has snowflakes on her fur. I, however, simply have clouds. What?" she asked irritably as she noticed Katrice staring at her as if she had grown another horn in the middle of her forehead. She glanced down at her fur, and gasped in horror.
Instead of her normal clouded body, delicate snowflake designs danced around her fur. They were all shapes and sizes, and although Laara had to admit it was beautiful, she shot a nasty glance at Mr. Chipper.
"You did this!" she cried, preparing to launch herself at the creature. "You changed my fur, you're playing tricks on everybody!" She struggled as Katrice tried to restrain her, but Mr. Chipper only smiled...
Date: 12th April
...as her throng of little fans gathered about her once more. "Miss Snow Queen! Miss Snow Queen!" they shouted, looking up at her with shining, adoring smiles. Normally, their cheerful voices would have been comforting, but now they only angered her further as Mr. Chipper's smile grew, stretching to the horizons of his peculiar face.
"Why did you do this to me?" Laara demanded. "Is this just because I admitted I hated snow and cold? Like this will make me like this horrible place any more. I hate it more now than ever. Do you hear me?" Her voice rose until it was shrill and bitter. "I hate this awful place! I wish I had never come here!"
Mr. Chipper laughed softly, the sound floating on the crystalline air. "And here I thought you just wanted ice cream. Or maybe to politely ask how to change back." He turned as if to walk away.
"I'll just use a paint brush," Laara said. "I'll be a cloud Ixi again before you know it."
"Do you really think so?" Mr. Chipper retorted. "For some reason, I don't think that would work."
"What can she do?" Katrice asked.
Mr. Chipper just shot them a single, momentary glance. "I think that perhaps you should be heading off to see Taelia now, and I would hurry, too. Haven't you noticed the sky?"
"The sky?" Laara repeated, looking up...
Date: 13th April
...into a cloud of white flurries. Her mouth hung slightly open at the spectacle of millions of swirling white flakes, each twisting and dancing upon an invisible gust of wind. The tiny white pinpoints fell from the uppermost heights of the sky, billowing down in an infinite, dizzying rush.
The coldness of her tongue as the falling snowflakes filled her mouth snapped Laara from her awe. "I have to admit," she said, looking down, "it is kind of pret-- where'd he go?" She glanced inquiringly at her friend, but Katrice shrugged; Mr. Chipper had vanished.
Heaving a sigh, Laara began walking. "Where are you going?" asked Katrice, hurrying to catch up. "Are you finally ready to do some ice-skating? Or skiing, maybe?"
"No, I am finally ready to go to Taelia's, and have her undo this," muttered the Ixi. "I am sure that Mr. Chipper was up to something when he suggested I go."
Beside her, Katrice smiled. "You're right, you know... about what you said before."
"The snow," replied the Usul. "It is pretty."
* * * * *
Laara knocked hard on Taelia's door. It was harder than she'd meant to, really, but her hooves were so numb that she couldn't tell the difference.
The door opened, and the friends came face to face with the legendary Snow Faerie.
As she recognized them, her blue lips curled in a smile, and her eyes glittered. "Why, Your Highness," she said, opening the door wider. "Do come in. What an unexpected surprise..."
Date: 13th April
...If Taelia was surprised, words couldn't begin to describe how Laara and Katrice felt. Laara had been nurturing a secret hope that Taelia would see right through them. Surely the Snow Faerie would calmly explain that the Snow Queen was some other Ixi and return Laara's coat back to normal. But, if Taelia of all people believed that Laara was the Snow Queen, they were doomed.
"Er... that's kind of why I'm here, Miss Snow Faerie." Laara began. But she didn't have time to launch into her tale. Taelia was already pushing the companions through the door and inside her igloo.
"No need for formalities, Your Highness!" Taelia said. "I'm glad you brought your friend along." Katrice gulped.
"You see--" Laara was cut off. Taelia had led them to a table and was busy arranging chairs.
"How is the Queen this evening?"
"Would you like some tea, Your Highness?"
"But I'm not--"
"Is Mr. Chipper always this weird?" Katrice interrupted. Both the Snow Faerie and Laara froze and stared at the Usul. She smiled sheepishly.
"Oh my!" was all Taelia could manage to say. She straightened herself and turned to Laara. "Do excuse me, but I believe I you were trying to say something." Laara silently thanked her friend. Taking a breath, she dove headlong into the speech she had so carefully prepared on their hike up the mountain. Unfortunately, all the words blurted out in a jumbled mess.
"I'm not the Snow Queen. I hate the snow! I never wanted to come to Happy Valley. Katrice wanted Ice Cream. Mr. Chipper said something weird. Bruces wanted my autograph, and my fur changed. It wasn't me in the picture!" Taelia stared at Laara as if she had sprouted a second head.
"And," Laara continued with great zeal, "I HATE snow!" Even if it is rather pretty, said a small voice in her head. She pushed the thought away. There was a moment of awkward silence. None of them moved. Laara temporarily feared that Taelia would kick them out after what she had said.
"Oh dear," Taelia murmured. She slumped into a chair that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. "This isn't good. Mr. Chipper meant well, I'm sure, but he's gone too far this time..."
Date: 14th April
..."What do you mean, 'this time?'" Laara inquired, nodding in unison with Katrice. Taelia sighed deeply, then ran a pale hand through her pitch-black locks. Her normally lucid eyes seemed distant and dismal.
"Please, sit down," she said quietly, motioning to two fluffy-looking pastel blue armchairs. "Make yourselves at home. I'll go make some tea, and then I will tell you the whole story." The Snow Faerie rose from her seat, then headed to the kitchen.
"This is awkward," Laara murmured to her Usul companion, sitting down on the edge of the chair. Katrice shrugged, slumping herself down comfortably in the other.
"Well, at least we get tea. I could use something hot; that hike up here was freezing." Katrice's eyes wandered around the room, looking at various portraits of Taelia and various sites around Terror Mountain. Overall, the cottage was a very cozy and well-furnished one. After all, Taelia was the Snow Faerie.
"I hope you aren't hoping for something hot," Taelia commented as she burst from the kitchen with a tray topped in three cerulean teacups. "Snowberry Tea is the only thing I could make, and it tastes good only when it's cold." She handed out the chilled mugs. Laara took several sips, but Katrice stared at it in disgust.
There was a few moments' silence as the three slowly drank their tea. After several seconds, Taelia sighed. "I can't believe Mr. Chipper has done something like this. You see, this isn't the first time that he's done something of this sort. He does it to tourists all the time. He makes them excellent skiers, or lets them sneak past the Snowager like nimble thieves. Of course, it's not really the Neopets having such skills. It's his own mysterious ways."
"What did you mean by 'gone too far?'" Laara asked, and glanced down at her wintery fur.
"Mr. Chipper is a very amiable person, usually. He loves helping Neopets out and is the first to volunteer to help out with anything. It's not uncommon for him to provide magical aid to bumbling tourists, like I explained earlier. But to change someone's identity... with that, he has crossed the line. I am going to have to sort things out with him."
"But what about us?" Katrice inquired, slurping down a mouthful of Snowberry Tea. "Laara can't just walk around being someone she's not!" Laara nodded in agreement. Taelia's frosty blue lips trembled.
An awkward silence fell over the room.
"... I might be able to find a way to take away his enchantment..." Taelia murmured, setting her teacup down on a nearby coffee table and moving over to an enormous tome on a wide, flat table. "Let me see." She flipped it open, scanning through the yellowed pages with darting eyes.
Laara sat up, placed her teacup down, and peered over the Snow Faerie's shoulder to see the book. It was Taelia's grimoire, the book that told her all the necessary ingredients for her spells.
"Undoing spells... Undoing face spells, undoing hair spells, undoing transformation spells... Aha! Undoing spells of changing one's identity!" She stabbed a finger down at a line of the archaic spellbook, reading it carefully.
"In order to reverse the effects of a spell which changes one's identity, one must collect three ingredients. The first ingredient is one hair from the head of the victim; the second is several Snowberries plucked directly from the branch. The third and most important ingredient of the mixture, which must be brewed in boiled Terror Mountain snow, is..."
Taelia's eyes widened in shock. Laara peered over to read it. When she did so, her heart skipped a beat.
The cloud Ixi began in a shaky voice. "The third and most important ingredient is..."
Date: 14th April
"...a hair from the one who cast the spell that changed the victim's identity? But that's Mr. Chipper himself!" lamented Laara, trying hard to restrain herself from simply bawling in hopelessness. "How're we supposed to get a hair from Mr. Chipper? If he's powerful enough to do this to me, then he's certainly not going to let us walk up to him and yank a tuft off of that weird fur coat of his!"
"I agree," joined in Katrice. "Mr. Chipper has an unsettling habit of just disappearing on us."
Taelia sighed and sat down once more to try to think this through. However, after a few moments, she broke out in a wry, mischievous grin.
"What is it, Taelia?" piped up Laara.
"Maybe you can get Mr. Chipper to pay attention to you with one of these," replied Taelia as she got up and walked briskly over to a desk that smelled of fresh-cut evergreen trees from the summit. She pulled open a drawer, one of the few drawers to have less dust than the rest of the desk, and pulled out two pink slips of paper, emblazoned with two ice cream cones, a squiggly border, and the words "Happy Valley Ice Cream Machine." Walking back up to Laara and Katrice, she handed one to each of them.
"These coupons are good for one 'ice cream' each. Mr. Chipper can't resist redeeming one of these coupons, so this will give you your chance to sneak up on him and get some fur from him."
"Thank you so much, Taelia," said Katrice solemnly.
Laara gave a deep nod and a warm smile, also signifying her thanks. "We'd better get moving, then," said the Ixi, and her friend didn't argue in the slightest. They both made for the door.
However, when they set foot outside, the gentle snow that preceded their arrival had evolved into a full-blown blizzard, as snow-filled clouds darkened the sky, and what once was a gentle sprinkling that allowed one to appreciate the individual detail of each snowflake was now an inundation of what seemed like millions of flakes, the howling wind whisking so many of them that whatever beauty they were once possessed of was completely overshadowed by the new darkness, cold, and wind velocity.
"How're we gonna get through this?" Laara cried in dismay.
"Use these!" they heard Taelia shout over the stiff winds. They saw Taelia stick her hand through the front door holding onto a pair of skis, the foot buckles in each of them perfectly sized to hold a pair of Ixi hooves.
"But I don't know how to ski!" exclaimed Laara. The prospect of skiing scared her to death, as she previously thought of such endeavors as foolish and only for thrill-seekers who didn't care about the risks of broken bones and hideous wipe-outs.
"Just hold onto me, Laara! I won't let you go, I promise!" Katrice proclaimed, as her Usul paw clutched onto one of Laara's arms. Laara felt the paw's clutch, and from the determination of Katrice's grasp, she knew that the Usul would not let her down in this critical hour.
Taking Taelia's skis and slowly slipping her hooved hind feet into the buckles, she held her breath as she waited for the inevitable plunge...
Date: 15th April
...and the intaken breath burst out in a scream of mingled terror and excitement as she began speeding downhill. With her hooves outflung for balance, the ski poles dragged wildly in the snow beside her, leaving crooked trails. She wedged her skis toward each other, fighting to keep them pointed inward but uncrossed, and grinned at the rush of icy snow and wind gushing to meet her as she sailed down the hill.
As she neared the bottom, one ski slipped over the other, and the Ixi landed in a tangled pile of sprawling limbs and plastic ends. Katrice skidded beside her in a spray of white, flushed with excitement. "Wasn't that fun?" she asked breathlessly.
Laughing, Laara nodded. "It was!" She wrenched her hooves from the skis and scrambled to her feet before laying them out neatly and rebuckling. As she leaned to secure the fastenings, a tiny green sprig fell from her hair. "What's this?"
The Usul plucked up the plant. "Oh, it's a sprig of snowberries!" she cried. "One ingredient down, two to go."
"Right," replied Laara, straightening. "Let's find that Mr. Chipper."
* * * * *
"Shh, there he is," whispered Laara as she and Katrice peered at his booth from behind a frost-covered tree. The ice cream salesman was behind the table, passing out his delicacies to a milling group of young Bruces.
"Not them again," hissed Lara, incredulous. "How much ice cream can they eat, anyway?"
Katrice laughed. "Think they'll recognize you?" she asked.
"Unfortunately, yes. Not only will they know who I am, but I'll never get close enough to Mr. Chipper with them all rushing at me in a herd like they did last time."
Her friend looked thoughtful. "Maybe that's not such a bad thing after all," she pointed out. "The kids will scream and run over when they see you, and surely that's a bigger distraction than anything we could have done alone. While Mr. Chipper is trying to figure out what the commotion is all about, I will sneak over and grab some hair."
"Okay," agreed Laara, nodding. "I hope this works. Now?"
"Better than never."
Taking a deep, preparatory breath, Laara unfastened her skiis and stepped out into the open.
"LOOK, EVERYONE!" she cried at the top of her lungs. "IT'S THE SNOW QUEEN!"
"THEEE SNOOOW QUEEEEN!" cried a chorus of energetic Bruces, and they kicked up so much snow in their haste to greet Laara that even she could not see Katrice sneaking over to where Mr. Chipper stood.
From amid a flurry of voices and small, close-pressed bodies, Laara heard a distant cry of, "Ow! What was that for?" She elbowed and squeezed herself from the center of the clamoring crowd as Katrice jogged back. In her paw, the Usul clutched a couple of strands of hair. "Got 'em."
As Katrice handed her Mr. Chipper's hair, Laara reached up and plucked a strand of her own. Then she put both hairs in her pocket along with the berries. As soon as they contacted each other, the Ixi felt a strange, tingling sensation spread across her hooves, reaching up her legs, to her body, and on up to the very top of her head.
She looked down, and the patterns were gone. As she glanced at Katrice, beaming in triumph, her expression turned to a look of surprise. "Why, Katrice," she said, "the patterns are on you."
"Me?" The Usul peered down, lifting her eyebrows, and her eyes filled with laughter as she saw the tiny snowflake patterns adorning her fur. "You mean I'm the true Snow Queen? Oh, Laara, they are so beautiful!" Her face shone with joy as she looked up. "I love the snow!"
"You know what?" Laara grinned. "I never thought I'd say this, but so do I."
The Bruces quickly overcame the strange swap of identities, and proceeded to swarm around the new Snow Queen. Katrice laughed as she hugged the kids, and called out, "This is going to be great!"
Date: 15th April
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