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||You are on Week 230
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 Thirty Ends June 10th
"Hey Samson! Shine that light over here for a moment… I think I see something."
The Draik, who was dressed in a thick coat to try and hold back the Ice Caves’ subzero temperatures, shrugged his hood over his head as he brought the lamp over to his fellow archaeologist. He gasped as he spotted what Alec had found – a dark shape frozen in a wall of ice. "What do you suppose that is, Alec? A Bori, perhaps?"
The Scorchio shook his head. "No, it's the wrong shape. Besides, all the Bori were freed. What held them frozen is no longer in effect. I suspect this is unrelated. Stand back, I'm going to try and melt the ice."
Samson stepped back as Alec took a deep breath and blasted the wall with his fiery Scorchio breath. Little by little the wall became clearer, as the ice melted and pooled into water on the tunnel floor. Soon, only a thin layer of ice remained. “My goodness!” Samson exclaimed, "It's a Kacheek!"
"Quite an old one at that." Alec said. "Look at what he's wearing."
The Draik stepped forward to take a closer look and realised that the Kacheek was almost primeval in appearance, wearing tattered skins and holding a spear.
"I suppose we should get him out of there," the Scorchio said as he began melting the ice surrounding the Kacheek again.
"You don't think he's still alive, do you?" Samson said, incredulous.
"There’s only one way to find out..." Alec replied…
Author: The Missing Link|
Date: 5th June
...and it was clear what that way was going to be. His fiery breath licked away the ice, layer by layer, until at last only a thin sheet of it, like a windowpane, stood between them and the Kacheek.
"Almost out," said Alec, panting somewhat and withdrawing to catch his breath. "I'll have to be careful for this last part; I don't want to burn him."
"You know," Samson said thoughtfully, holding up the lamp and peering more closely through the layer of ice, "I think it might not be a him. Something about the ears."
Alec couldn't see anything strikingly feminine about the ears, but shrugged and didn't argue. "Well, I don't want to burn her, then. I wonder how she got in there?"
"I don't know." Samson huddled into his coat and pondered the matter. "These caves are not far from where the crevasse to Tyrannia was once open, though."
"Those clothes are out of date even for Tyrannia."
Samson laughed. "But what I meant was, perhaps the crevasse was not the first passageway between the Ice Caves and Tyrannia. Maybe she started inward long ago, and... somehow became trapped." He ended in a much more sober tone than he'd begun. "That would explain how she got into the Ice Caves, but not why she's frozen into the wall. An angry faerie?" The Draik shuddered abruptly; down here, either a dark or a water faerie could be terrifying, if she chose to be cruel. "Or just... a shift of water, a cold snap...."
"Or something slower, if she isn't still alive," the Scorchio said, moving toward the wall again. "Let's just hope that none of the passages back to the light shut off and leave us trapped!"
Alec leaned in and breathed on the ice again, letting flames thin the ice on either side of the Kacheek and then ever so carefully breathing very hot but without flames on the thin barrier remaining. It was a slow process, and the lamp flickered sometimes, but in the end, the last film of ice melted away, and a very damp and cold Kacheek was exposed to the air.
At first, the Kacheek didn't move. Then, very slowly, a motion began. Samson moved hastily to catch and brace the Kacheek by the shoulders as it toppled forward, yanking his head aside as the spear brushed his cheek. The Draik hoped that if this was a clammy ice-mummy, it was sufficiently well preserved not to fall apart on him.
Then a small foot went out, stepping onto the ice-covered rock of the passageway and bracing the Kacheek. Actually, it first stepped onto Samson's foot, then drew back hastily. One of the Kacheek's hands came up to the Draik's shoulders, and the head drew back. Ice-rimed eyelids quivered and blinked twice, and the Kacheek's eyes met Samson's and grew wide.
Alec stepped forward to offer his help in getting the chilled Kacheek back upright, but as his hand fell on the damp arm, the Kacheek yelped in shock and jumped backward.
Well, Samson was right, anyway: though guttural, the voice clinched that the Kacheek was a girl.
But somewhat more to the point, the two archaeologists found themselves facing a wild-eyed Kacheek -- and, though the Kacheek herself was starting to shake from the cold, a remarkably steady spear-point...
Date: 6th June
..."Ugga nah-de rek!" the Kacheek demanded, a desperate ferocity burning in her ebony eyes. Samson edged backwards slowly, unable to contain a strained squeak as he asked, "What's she saying?"
Alec shrugged, watching the Kacheek -- or, more accurately, the spear -- carefully. "How am I supposed to know? I don't speak any ancient dialects of Tyrannian," he said.
"You're a Scorchio and archaeologist!" the Draik cried in exasperation, but was silenced by a sharp prod from the Kacheek. Apparently she wasn't happy about the conversation she couldn't understand. "Ugga nah-de REK!" she said, more insistently this time.
Alec looked straight ahead and barely moved his lips as he whispered, "We need to get her to a Tyrannian pet who can translate; hopefully, the language hasn't evolved much since the time when she became trapped here."
That makes sense, Samson thought. Often different accents, pronunciations, and spellings changed over time in a language, but it wouldn't be too difficult to decipher the gist of what was trying to be said. The roots of the words, more than likely, would be similar, if not the same.
But how to get her out of there?
Samson's paw inched towards the pack on his back, silently willing the Kacheek to allow it. She was still standing there, glaring at them, and didn't seem to see any threat in his action. After all, she had been born in an age before the Rainbow Gun and other automatic projectile weapons.
Unlatching his bag, Samson patiently searched through the contents with one hand, having to recognize them by shape. Alec had guessed what he was trying to do, and wasn't surprised when his fellow archaeologist pulled out a packet of freeze-dried fruit. It had actually been brought in case of a cave-in or other emergency, but this probably qualified as a good enough reason.
Samson picked up a piece of the wrinkled fruit and tossed it gently to the feet of the Kacheek, who gave a shriek and leapt back. When nothing happened, she cautiously stabbed at the food with her spear. When it made no move to attack her, the Kacheek, satisfied, picked it up and sniffed it. She then proceeded to stuff it unceremoniously into her mouth, chewing ravenously.
"You like that?" Samson asked softly, offering the rest of the packet. "I guess you'd be pretty hungry after all those years frozen in a wall..."
Date: 7th June
...The Kacheek's eyes flickered to him as he spoke, and her expression seemed softer. She upended the pack of frozen fruits, dumping them into her mouth, and chewed greedily, heedless of the crumbs that fell from her mouth. As she finished, she lowered the bag, and tossed it back at Samson's feet.
"Interesting," he said as he bent to pick it up. "Language, a sense of moral values..."
"Samson, I think she's still hungry," said Alec quickly. The Kacheek seemed to have lost her fear of them, and was stepping closer, reaching out toward the Draik's bag. Her large nostrils sniffed as she tried to catch the scent of more food.
Samson was trembling in excitement as he stepped back, yielding her the backpack. "Let's see what she gets out of there," he whispered. "See what kinds of food she chooses."
The two archaeologists watched as the excavated Kacheek picked through the pack, inspecting items and setting them aside. Half of a sandwhich was left from the Draik's lunch, and he held his breath as she popped it into her mouth and continued searching.
Both of the friends stared as the Kacheek finally pulled out what she'd been looking for. Grinning, she straightened triumphantly, and held aloft her prize -- a pencil and paper.
They felt their jaws drop as the Kacheek took the pencil in her large, clumsy paws, and began to drag the lead across the page...
Date: 7th June
...For many minutes they watched from afar as the Kacheek dragged the pencil around on the paper. It was truly astonishing that the primitive creature even knew the workings of such objects, but then again, after she had practically come back from the dead, nothing was truly surprising.
"I wonder what she's writing?" Samson whispered quietly to Alec, who was also intently watching the Kacheek as she worked away with the pencil and paper.
Alec just motioned for him to wait, and so Samson stood, patiently awaiting the ends to the Kacheek's laborious work. Finally, and with a great show of pride in herself, the Kacheek held the paper up for the two archeologists to see.
"Ugga nah-de rek," Samson read, his voice ripe with sarcasm.
"Hold on, hold on," Alec scolded, moving closer to the picture. "It's not just words here, Samson; this clever little Kacheek has drawn pictures!"
"Well, at least that explains the delay," Samson muttered, moving in beside his companion and peering intently at the Kacheek's crude artwork. Together they quickly began piecing the words to their accompanying image. The pictures could best be described as a massive squiggle whose only defining feature was sharp teeth, a bunch of lines that they decided could be deciphered as wind, and then a door with some crude looking Neopet leaving through it.
Alec stood back, his hands on his hips. "Ugga nah-de rek," he mumbled to himself, reading the paper and repeating the words slowly. A few scraps of rudimentary Tyrannian were filtering in through his memory. "Ugga means 'is the', I assume, nah-de translates as clear as day to 'danger', and then... rek... rek must mean 'gone'!" he concluded excitedly. "Is the danger gone!"
He stopped suddenly, realizing the connotations of what he had just said. Samson fixed him with a frightened stare, while the Kacheek just stood there, all the while grinning ridiculously.
As if to answer the Kacheek's question, a distant rumbling rushed up towards them from deep within the darkness of the tunnels...
Date: 8th June
...Meanwhile, the Kacheek continued to shout at them. Though he shied away from her rancid breath, Alec's mind furiously tried to translate what she was saying. Well, Ugg means "I", but an "-ah" added to the end is plural, so "Ugg-ah" means "We"... he thought, furrowing his brow in concentration.
The monster of ice was now right in front of Samson, who was unable to move except violently shivering.
Alec knew he was on the spot. Okay, I've got to think faster than this... "Ugg-ah-oh" means... I have no clue! However, I'm certain that "Gggggggga", the next word, means... well, "Ga" means "he", and a repeated g means past tense. I think... so "Gggggggga" means him. Wait! "-oh" means "to save", so the first part of what she said must have been, "We have to save him!"
Alec hit himself in the head and muttered to himself. "All that thinking for nothing." He still had no plan, his friend was still in danger, and now a Tyrannian Kacheek was sidetracking him with useless information.
The Kacheek, however, was still looking intently at Alec. "Ugg Ugand-ph Kek." she said again.
Wait a second! "Kek" means...
His breakthrough was interrupted by the shriek of terror coming out of Sampson as he was finally able to move.
Alec looked back at the Kacheek. "Kek means..."
Date: 8th June
"...fire. Kek means fire!" he realized, kicking himself for not thinking of it before. "Samson, get back!" he called out.
The Draik tried to move out of the way, but he soon found himself up against the tunnel wall, with the monster still advancing.
Alec knew he would have to act now or never. He leapt between his fellow archaeologist and the attacking creature just as a bolt of ice shot from its mouth. He matched it with a jet of flame, and the two met mere inches from his face, disappearing in a hiss of steam.
Shaken by the close call, Alec had to fight down a rising surge of panic. The monster was hesitating, too -- probably startled at encountering this type of resistance. For now, he had the advantage.
The Scorchio loosed another blast of fire. This one struck home, melting a small portion of the beast's icy form. With an anguished scream, the creature fled back down the tunnel.
Alec slumped against the wall beside Samson.
"Thanks," the Draik said weakly.
"Thank her," Alec said, gesturing to the Kacheek. "It was her idea."
Samson did, even though he knew she couldn't understand.
"It'll be back," Alec said grimly. "The monster, I mean. I only wounded it -- maybe scared it a little, too. It wasn't expecting us to fight back with fire, and that bought us time. But it won't make the same mistake twice."
The Scorchio jumped at the feel of a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see the Kacheek holding up another picture, drawn on the back of the first. It was a somewhat lopsided drawing of a hut.
After giving him a moment to take that in, the Kacheek jabbed her spear in the direction the monster had taken. "Rol," she said.
"Don't tell me she wants us to follow it," Samson groaned...
Date: 9th June
...but Alec didn't look at all comforted by the word. At the mention his eyes went wide and his pupils dilated in fright; the thought made him tremble and sent needles of ice prickling through his veins. The Scorchio archaeologist gasped noiselesly in terror. The Kacheek looked grim, but not nearly as fearful as Alec.
Samson quickly realized how terrified the Scorchio appeared, and shuffled beneath his furs before asking meekly, "What does 'rol' mean, then?"
"'Rol' means..." Alec began, his voice almost a whisper. "'Rol' means 'family'. She drew a hut because a hut is a home, and home... is where a family lives."
Neither of the two archaeologists spoke. The Kacheek trembled uneasily; Samson suddenly realized what it meant. The only thing that pierced the silence was a sudden cry from further down the tunnel the monster had fled down.
The cries were low at first, grumbling roars that reminded Samson and Alec of earthquakes. These rumbling bellows quickly rose in a crescendo of squealing shrieks that made their scaly skin crawl. There was suddenly a louder, lugubrious call, which called order to the wailing chorus, and all other noises died.
The next noises were the sounds of movement -- of creatures sliding on the slick, icy floor of the cave. The Kacheek shivered as a cold blast of wintery wind flew down the tunnel, like an oncoming blizzard.
"Rol," she whispered plainly. "Rol." There was a sorrowful gleam in her eyes. "Eg-nah de ugg rol."
"I lost my family," Alec translated sadly. Samson nodded slowly.
The noises of oncoming monsters increased, and faintly in the darkness one could discern massive forms in motion. Terrible, enormous creatures with cold, heartless eyes and breaths of ice, covered in frozen armor.
"This might mean the end for us," Samson murmured, resigning to what seemed like an imminent fate.
"Don't say that," Alec declared. "We're not done yet."
"What do you mean, Alec?" Samson asked. "There's no way we can escape them! Sooner or later, we're all going to... to..."
"Escape," Alec said, eyes narrowing in concentration. "Because I have a plan. Albeit risky, but a plan nonetheless..."
Date: 9th June
..."And what, exactly, would that plan be?" Samson asked, his voice betraying his skepticism, as well as his fear.
Alec didn't answer immediately, but began to pull off his heavy furs. The instant they were off he began to shiver, the cold piercing through his scales and chilling his heart.
"Hand me your coat," he told Samson and, interrupting a protest, added with a wry smile, "Don't worry. It'll be warm in here soon enough."
Samson sent his friend a questioning look, but quickly shed his coat and passed it to him without further comment. He watched curiously as the Scorchio piled them both at the entrance of the tunnel.
Filling his lungs, Alec gently breathed flames over the fur, and the fire danced across the material merrily. The Kacheek, seeing this, hovered nearby, rubbing her paws together nervously.
"Uh... derra norek... ugguh?" the Scorchio said, trying to recall the dregs of vocabulary that clung to his memory.
The Kacheek cocked her head to the side and looked at him strangely. For a moment, Alec wondered whether he should repeat himself, when she burst out with raucous laughter. She had obviously understood him, and crouched down with her hands thrust towards the fire, warming them.
"What's so funny?" Samson asked with a grin.
Alec folded his arms across his chest indignantly, watching the Kacheek, who was still overcome with chuckles. "I tried to tell her that the fire was safe," Alec admitted. "But I must've mixed up my cases or pronunciation." The Scorchio sighed. "Oh well, I'll learn. Meanwhile, we've got to build up this fire." He strode purposefully to the contents of the upturned sack, followed by Samson.
"Here," he said, holding several books out for Samson. "Help me sort through this stuff. Take anything that will burn, okay?"
Samson accepted the books from him, glancing at them sadly. They had titles like So You're Freezing to Death, and What To Do If Crushed By Rocks. They had been very pricey, too, but the Draik set them down in a pile. Soon they were joined by the sack itself, several stacks of paper, three pencils, and a set of extra clothing. All of this was thrown into the fire, which grew into a mighty blaze, blocking the entrance to the tunnel.
Upon seeing this, an angry cry rose among the ranks of the ice beasts. They threw their gargantuan weight against the walls of the caves and shook the floors. Blasts of frigid wind threatened to smother the fire, but it held, and would flare up as strongly as ever.
Alec saw the flashes of light caught on living ice and razor teeth out of the corner of his eye as he said, "Come on, we have to get out of here. We don't know how long our barrier will hold, and then..."
The monsters were becoming bolder as he spoke, inching closer to the fire than they had dared moments before. The only hope for survival lay in the smaller paths that branched out from the cavern, leading into an unknown darkness. "Well," Samson said quietly. "I guess we'll just have to pick one and hope it leads to the surface..."
Date: 10th June
..."Ugga nah-nah ugg-re de!" the Kacheek shouted at them fiercely, her voice firm and demanding. Using her crooked spear she pointed at one of the tunnels. "Ugga nah-nah ugg-re de!"
"What does that mean?" Samson demanded, his voice urgent. The Draik looked very antsy in the current situation, but then again, who wouldn't? After all, they were being chased by a family of ice monsters that could obliterate them without a moment's notice!
"I'm not really sure," Alec stated, clearly baffled. The Kacheek stared at them expectantly for a moment before grunting and bolting off in the direction she had pointed to. "But... I think we're going to have to trust her."
The Scorchio grabbed the Draik's hand, and had begun charging in the direction the Kacheek had taken when he heard the cry.
It was a deafening, blood-curdling, horrific scream -- no, a chorus of screams, all coming from behind the wall of flame. Silhouetted in the crests of the tongues of fire were terrible faces -- serpentine in appearance, but too distorted to be real. Eyes of cold hatred stared out from their agonized, glassy eyes, and they did not cease in shrieking that terrible cry.
It was then that Alec realized one very important fact: they were melting.
The hissing of boiling water suddenly echoed throughout the frozen halls, and a thick plume of steam rose up to the ceiling of the tunnel. And yet, as the bodies of the smaller faces began melting down to water, a greater face -- one with sharper fangs, large might, a greater aura of menace -- did not falter in its cries.
Alec already knew that face was the voice that had calmed the others before the family had led its charge. It would not go out as easily.
He had to hurry.
"RUN!" he shouted, and he and Samson charged into the inky darkness of the tunnel the Kacheek chose. It was not long before they caught up to the prehistoric warrior, who was soundless.
Wordlessly they dashed, feet slamming against the slick floor like rain against stone, into the impenetrable blackness. They charged through every turn and curve of the tunnel, each second seeming longer and more ominous than the last.
And, at long last, they came to a rest in a large stone chamber. The air was cool and peaceful -- it was almost as if there troubles melted away. Alec noticed an unlit torch to the left of the entrance, and without much hesitation lit it with his breath.
In the torchlight they could see carvings upon the smooth domed ceiling, of proud warriors defending against terrible serpents in front of their small huts and families. The two archaeologists froze in awe.
Without doubt, the Kacheek was the most shocked.
"De rol," she stated, tears brimming in her eyes.
"My family," Alec translated, trying to mask his own emotions.
The Kacheek walked slowly to one of the walls, lovingly stroking one of the carvings. "Ugg-re," she said, pointing out a small figure, huddled in a group, in one of the pictures. It was one depicting a proud warrior defending his family.
"That's me," Alec translated again.
The Kacheek stared at her feet for a moment and broke into soft sobs, sitting on the floor. Samson and Alec stayed their distance, respectful of the Kacheek's need to cry.
The sorrow of the moment was shattered by a sudden shriek, coming from the entrance.
The barrier had been breached; the patriarch of the monster family had emerged. No doubt he knew where they were.
"The monster is coming!" Samson cried to the Kacheek. "We need to run, now!"
The Kacheek stared at him, tears still dripping from her eyes, but she said nothing.
"Samson--" Alec began, but he was cut off by another bellow from the beast, this one sounding both louder and closer. Terror seized him. "Samson, let me handle this," the Scorchio muttered.
The seconds passed by in silence only penetrated by the monster's ever-approaching cries. No one spoke; Samson looked the most terrified of all three of them. The Kacheek still said nothing, only staring at the etchings lovingly and resigning herself to her fate.
And suddenly there was a shriek so intense Alec thought his eardrums would burst. Taking his cue, he sharply inhaled, just as the great icy beast erupted into the chamber, squealing and screaming. Burning hate blazed in its frozen eyes.
And Alec exhaled.
A huge plume of flame soared from his mouth like a winged Moltenore, absorbing heat from all of the torches and exploding on contact with the creature. Samson was thrown back three feet; the Kacheek watched in silent awe. The flames enveloped the beast, and it let out one final piercing cry.
And it was no more. A puddle was all that remained.
Alec collapsed to the floor, panting, and Samson rushed to his side. "Are you alright?" the Draik asked urgently. Alec wordlessly nodded in reply.
"Ugg nah-re de nugg," the Kacheek suddenly said with a sad smile, rising from the floor and walking over to Alec. She was holding her spear out to him -- she wanted him to take it.
"What is she saying?" Samson asked.
"She said that we are brave and respectable warriors," Alec said with a slight grin. "She wants us to have her spear." The Scorchio accepted it reverently, and the Kacheek turned to face the opposite wall of the chamber.
"Dah-re nah-ugg nugg-re," she stated, trembling. "Rol nah-de ugga-ugg eva."
"I'm staying here," Alec translated.
"What?" was Samson's automatic reply.
"She wants us to go, and to stay here." Alec didn't seem nearly as alarmed as his Draik friend.
"We can't do that!" Samson shouted. "We can't leave her! She saved our lives! I won't doom her to die--"
"She wants us to know that to her, we were family." Tears glittered in the Scorchio's eyes. "She wants us to know that her heart goes out to us."
Samson fell silent, and the Kacheek turned around with a smile. "Ugg re-ugga," she said, tears spilling from her eyes.
"Goodbye," Alec said sorrowfully, wiping his eyes. Samson felt hot tears stab at his own, and he wiped them away. "Samson... let's go."
The Kacheek's furs still on their backs, the two archaeologists departed from the cavern. Both stared back at the Kacheek, who was now sitting cross-legged on the floor and staring up in silent wonder. She was still trembling, though -- she was crying.
In the wordless darkness, the two friends navigated their way to the surface. And when the beams of sunlight warmed them, they realized something.
What they had experienced was more important than any scientific discovery.
Date: 10th June
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