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||You are on Week 231
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-One Ends June 17th
"Hello, my name is Shorden and I'm a volunteer from the Petpet Protection League. If you don't mind, I'd like to take a moment of your time to talk about Neopia's most underappreciated Petpet, the Rock. While most Neopets simply think that--"
Shorden winced, rubbing his nose where the door had slammed into it. Today was not going well. It seemed everyone in Neopia wanted a cute, fluffy Petpet, like an Angelpuss or Doglefox; no one seemed interested in owning a Rock.
"Hrmf!" the Shoryu growled. "Well... their loss! Come on, Sparky, it's time to start heading over to the meeting," Shorden said, tugging on the leather leash wrapped tightly around his faithful Rock, dragging it across the cement behind him. "One day," he told Sparky, "Neopians everywhere will understand what great Petpets you are..."
Author: Mutant Cybunny of DOOOOOM|
Date: 10th June
...Like a good Rock, Sparky made no response and sat there obediently. Tugging the Rock labouriously behind him, Shorden made his way through suburban Neopia Central. On his way to the Petpet Protection League Headquarters, he tried a few other promising houses, trying to inform them about the poor, underappreciated Rock. But no one would listen. His assignment was a failure.
Sighing deeply, Shorden rounded a corner and stood facing the headquarters. Other members were making their way through the large, double doors of the impressive building, their Petpets in tow, or snuggled happily in their arms. All of them seemed content, as if they had done a job well done. Shorden felt as though there was a cloud hanging over his head. He wanted dearly to spread word about Rocks, but no one would listen.
The little Shoyru felt a sudden pang of fear as a thought hit him. Though it was the the Petpet Protection League's on-going quest to spread word about the lesser-known Petpets to everyone, this week's meeting was special. Today, all of the volunteers would bring forth a list of their supporters and donators. Shorden ducked hastily behind a tree some ways from the headquarters, pulling Sparky with him, and pulled out his quota list. The results were pitiful; a few measly signatures from those who hadn't slammed their doors in Shorden's face, and one donator, a young Acara who had donated 250 Neopoints.
Shorden hung his head in shame, tears lighting in his eyes, and slowly dragged himself out from behind the tree, making his way towards the headquarters, his mind whirling. He had to do something worthwhile, and fast, or else he would surely be kicked out of the league.
If the Shoyru hadn't already been weighted down by this horrible news, he would have noticed that Sparky seemed to be pulling back on his leather lead. Maybe it was just a bit of rough terrain, maybe the rock's bottom had been bumped along the earth too much, or maybe Sparky knew something was up...
Date: 13th June
...but as Shorden trudged up the last long slope to the headquarters, his grip loosened, or his palm perspired -- and the leather slipped unexpectedly in his hand. Shorden whirled, already bending to pick it up, but that only cost him precious seconds.
As did staring open-mouthed.
Sparky had started rolling immediately, tumbling back down the path with gleeful abandon. The lead had already wrapped itself around him, and Sparky was picking up speed. And fast! Shorden recovered his senses and took off after him, shouting an urgent warning just in time for a startled red Tonu to grab her Turdle out of the way.
It was a harder chase than it should have been. Sparky tumbled onward, heedless of whose shins he might bark or whose toes he might stub, whereas Shorden had to dodge between and around people. He must have wheezed "Excuse me, excuse me, Petpet got away! Pardon me, sorry, chasing a Rock!" half a dozen times, to any number of Neopets, before he finally took to the air.
The Shoyru caught up with Sparky as they passed the Hospital; he made a diving grab for the flapping end of the lead--
--And Sparky hit a bump and bounded into the air. Shorden crashed painfully into the ground and got up onto his knees, rubbing his smushed nose and trying frantically to blink the tears out of his eyes so he could see where the Rock was going next.
"I say," said a concerned voice, "are you all right?"
Shorden looked up and squinted into the face of a green Gelert stooping over him. The Gelert wore glasses and a lab coat; after a little more frantic blinking, Shorden recognized him as the kind doctor who had diagnosed him last time he came down with Watery Eyes.
"I'm okay," he said. "I just bruised my nose. I've got to catch my Rock!"
"You've -- what?"
"I bruised my nose," Shorden explained. "I haven't come down with Watery Eyes again." Oh, forget that, it wasn't as if the doctor would recognize him, out of thousands and thousands of Neopet patients! "My Rock's run away. I've got to catch him."
"Lad, Rocks don't generally run away. And you've gotten a nasty knock on your nose -- it's bruising up. I ought to take you in and have a look at you...."
"I can't!" Shorden yelped. He'd spent too long talking to the doctor; Sparky could be anywhere. Well, anywhere downhill. "Sorry, honest, I'll take care of myself, get a Healing Potion I or something -- but I've got to catch Sparky!"
And off he went, leaping into the air again in case the Gelert was worried enough to pursue. And so that he could see where Sparky had gone.
The path went straight ahead up another hill, but Sparky appeared to have taken a right turn, judging from the commotion in that direction. Shorden raced after his wayward Petpet, panting and wishing he'd spent more time exercising, but definitely gaining.
When he caught sight of Sparky again, the Rock was living up to his name. Sparky had reached the rockier terrain around the Rainbow Pool and was bouncing into the air every few turns -- striking sparks off the regular old rocks he collided with.
Shorden charged downhill, desperately hoping that the rough ground would slow his Rock enough to be picked up.
But Sparky bumped into a Krawk holding a shadow paint brush, spun to the left, and plunged straight into...
Date: 14th June
...the Petpet Puddle. He exploded into the multi-colored water like a rogue cannonball, sending a shower of fluorescent droplets all over a terrified Faellie. The poor faerie Petpet, now a mixture of yellow, pink, and brown spots, began wailing pitifully.
The Krawk with the shadow paint brush had dropped the magical tool when Sparky collided with her, leaving a shadowy streak down her right leg. She let out a shocked gasp before snatching up the shadow paint brush seconds before it hit the ground.
Shorden dashed to the Krawk, horrified by what his Petpet had caused. "Oh, I'm so sorry, I can't believe he did that!" he spluttered, staring at the Krawk who was now staring at the shadow paint brush in her hands.
"It fell into the Petpet Puddle," the Krawk said in a soprano voice. Shorden nodded awkwardly and turned to the Petpet Puddle.
The Faellie had long since fled, absolutely terrified of its new hideous look. Sparky, however, was left in a terrible globule of thick paint, covered in a misconstrued intrepretation of the rainbow. Thick, bold stripes of leaf green lined his smooth body, as did small speckles of fire red and bright pink. He looked like the living painting of a color-blind toddler.
"Sparky?!?" Shorden gasped. The Rock did not move; it stayed still and motionless in its resting place in the Petpet Puddle...
Date: 14th June
...Shorden let out a sigh of relief and reached into the puddle to retrieve his Rock. Sparky glistened in the scorching sun as the Shoyru made contact with the Petpet Puddle's sparkling waters.
As soon as his paws were within an inch away from his beloved Rock, and his face finally broke into a smile as his distress ceased, a surge of electricity seemed to gush from the depths of the water in his arms and up throughout his entire body. Shorden leapt backward with a yelp and stumbled over a Buzzer that had been awkwardly making its way to the puddle.
"Sorry!" he gasped shakily, his body trembling as he scrambled to his feet, earning a glare from the Buzzer and its owner. Wildly, Shorden hurried to the side of the puddle and bent closer, squinting his eyes. The water looked harmless and shimmered as though a layer of diamonds had been placed at the bottom.
Shorden put a finger into the water, and instantly the coolness of it lured him into a false sense of security as he relaxed. A minute later, however, he screeched and fell backward as instant pain shot up his arm again.
"I don't think pets are allowed in the Petpet Puddle," said a voice from behind.
He spun around, eyes wide, to see the Krawk, still clutching the shadow paint brush and looking apprehensive.
"Wh-what?" he stammered.
"Pets aren't allowed in the Petpet Puddle," she repeated, shrugging.
Shorden's heart plummeted, and his shoulders sagged. "How in Neopia will I get Sparky back then?" he wailed, whipping around to glare at the Petpet Puddle.
"Dunno," said the Krawk from behind, and shuffling footsteps told him that the Krawk was walking away.
Feeling defeated, Shorden crouched down low so that he was close to the water of the puddle. Shorden attempted, many times, to plunge his paw into the water and yank it back out with his Rock before the waters had a chance to electrify him, but it was to no avail. He bit his lip and wiped beads of sweat from his forehead as the sun beat down on his back.
"C'mon," he muttered. "Sparky, could you please come out? Come on..." But for all the good he had done by speaking to his Rock, he might as well have encouraged a clump of dirt for all of the answers he got. Hopelessly, Shorden stared at the living painting of a color-blind toddler, which had not moved in the slightest.
Suddenly, Shorden jumped to his feet and punched his fist into the air, cheering and hollering, for he had had an idea. Nearby pets stared, but he paid no attention.
All I have to do, he thought, is get another Petpet to go in and get Sparky back!
The Shoyru grinned and looked around excitedly. His eyes settled on a Faellie, and he rushed over, kneeling beside it. The Faellie jumped and twisted around to look at him.
"Excuse me," he said politey. "My pet Rock, Sparky, is at the bottom of the puddle. Could you go and get him for me? He -- er -- hasn't had many swimming lessons before... "
The Faellie glared at him and turned its back. With a look at her spotted fur, he could see that it was none other than the Faellie that had been a mixture of pink, yellow, and brown blotches. She had clearly come back to get a new paint job.
Every Petpet Shorden tried to speak with ignored him, stuck their tongue out at him, and even once hissed at him. Now starting to panic, Shorden looked around hurriedly as pets rushed by with their Petpets, evidently avoiding his gaze. He supposed he must be creating quite a sight; how many other pets do you find hovering near the Petpet Puddle, trying to flag down Petpets to retrieve a Rock?
Beginning to feel that the situation was hopeless, Shorden crouched near the puddle once again, trying to think of another brainstorm. Suddenly, he heard it:
"Mommy -- mommy, look! Look at this unusual Rock I found in the puddle!"...
Date: 15th June
..."Tell Jero to put it back, Katie," scolded an older voice. It's just a rock -- and a rather ridiculous-looking one at that. We don't need it cluttering up our Neohome."
"Yes, mommy," replied the first voice, sounding disappointed. "You heard her, Je. Guess you'd better put it back where you found it."
Shorden's heart raced as he looked this way and that, trying to seek out the speakers. Finally he saw them; a Maraquan Draik sat back away from the pool, watching a young faerie Draik and her Gallion.
"No! Wait!" he cried, leaping forward. "Tell your Petpet not to drop Sparky!"
The faerie Draik paused, glancing fearfully up at the wild form of the Shoyru. "Mommy, it's a stranger!"
"I'll handle it, sweetie," assured the Maraquan Draik, and rounded on Shorden. "Exactly what are you trying to pull, mister? What are you rambling about? If you have a problem, you should speak to me, not my daughter."
"I'm sorry," apologized Shorden hastily, "but your daughter's Gallion has my Rock! It's important to me that I get him back!"
The Draik pursed her lips. "Very well -- Katie! Bring Jero over here. That rock belongs to this gentleman."
Katie obediently waved her Gallion over, and together the two tottered toward the Maraquan Draik. The faerie Draik smiled as she held up Shorden's Rock. "It's really pretty," she said as he took it. "It would have looked pretty in my rock collection."
Shorden had been gazing fondly at his Rock, relieved to have it back at last, but now he glanced up, and a fiery insight shone in his eyes. "Collection?" he whispered. "Now there's an idea..."
Date: 15th June
..."Thanks, again!" Shorden called from over his shoulder as he walked away from the Petpet Puddle, Sparky clutched tightly to his chest. The Rock's new coat of paint was still wet, but for some reason -- Shorden guessed it had to do with the same natural laws that didn't allow him in the Puddle -- the paint refused to rub off on the Shoyru's hands.
Glancing around in search of a place to sit down, he chose a wooden bench that had been placed beneath the shade of the Money Tree. Shorden nearly collapsed on the welcome resting spot. Now that he had Sparky back, he was beginning to notice how his legs ached from the long sprint chasing his Rock.
"Well, Sparky," Shorden told his Petpet as he began unwrapping the Rock from the leather lead, which was now as colorful as he was. "I think we'll risk being a little late for the meeting."
The Shoyru, however, was smiling as he pulled out his very crinkled quota list. "That means we have a little more time to get more support!" he said happily. Then his voice became more serious. "Now, our policy of going door-to-door hasn't been working very well, but the faerie Draik over at the Petpet Puddle gave me an idea." Shorden often spoke to Sparky like this, even though he never expected a response. After all, he reasoned, just because his Petpet couldn't talk, it didn't mean it couldn't listen, and talking helped him organize his thoughts.
"We could create a collection of Rocks, all different colors and sizes and shapes, and it would show people how amazing and diverse the Rock can be! Well, as diverse as we can make do with these Neopoints," Shorden said, looking dispiritedly at his meager collection of donations. "What do you think?"
"It's settled, then," Shorden said with determination, stuffing his quota sheet back in his pocket. He scooped up Sparky and held him in his arms. Despite the fact that he now had his leash, Shorden didn't want to take any chances. Better safe than sorry.
Striding purposefully through the streets of Neopia Central, it didn't take long for Shorden to find what he was seeking. Attracting a large crowd of Neopets was an orange Jubjub that wore a cape and hat covered in a moon and star design.
Shorden sighed inwardly; it would take forever for the Shop Wizard to finish with all of these Neopets! What happened next, however, was a stroke of good luck.
"I'm looking for an Orn Codestone," a fire Lupe was telling the Shop Wizard, a bored expression on his face.
"Orn Codestone," the Shop Wizard chimed without heisitation. "Twenty Neopoints. One in stock."
"Where?!?" cried the Lupe excitedly, suddenly very interested. In fact, every other Neopet within hearing range was also listening in closely.
"Take a left on this street, thrid store to your right. It's called My Shop. Next?" the Jubjub asked, but everyone in the group was quite abruptly hurtling towards the shop in question, each desperately trying to get there first.
Shorden, however, saw his opportunity and took it, grinning. "Uh, that'd be me, sir."
The Jubjub looked down at him, smiling. "And what are you looking for today, young man...?"
Date: 16th June
..."A Rock," Shorden told him. "Any color." He nervously fingered the 250 Neopoints in his hand, hoping it would be enough.
"Rock... forty-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-five neopoints," the Shop Wizard pronounced. "One in stock."
Shorden's eyes opened wide upon hearing the price, then dropped to stare dejectedly at the ground. Sparky had been a gift -- he had never realized how expensive Rocks really were, considering how unpopular they were. Even by dipping into his own bank account, he could not afford even one unpainted Rock, much less a whole collection.
The Shop Wizard noticed his crestfallen expression. "Can't afford it?" he asked gently.
Shorden could only nod numbly, his cheeks burning with embarassment.
"That's all right," the Jubjub assured him. "Happens all the time. You'll get there someday." He grinned encouragingly. "I see you've already got a Rock," he remarked, nodding at Sparky. "Just out of curiosity... why do you want another one? Are you starting a gallery?"
"No," Shorden mumbled. "It's kind of hard to explain."
But the Jubjub's words had given him an idea. He could feel hope rushing back to him; like a rolling snowball it started small, but quickly grew and gathered speed...
"Could you search the galleries for a blue Rock?" he asked abruptly. If he could find a gallery with painted Rocks, maybe he could convince the owner to loan them to him.
The somewhat bewildrered Shop Wizard did as he requested. Shorden scribbled the list of names down on the back of his quota list along with the Shop Wizard's directions, thanked him, and hurried off towards the first gallery.
The first three galleries he tried were all letdowns; two of the gallery owners refused to part with their valuable items without collateral, and one turned out to be a gallery of blue things, not Rocks. The meeting was fast approaching, and time was running short. Shorden was feeling more than a little discouraged by the time he pushed open the door of the fourth gallery on the list...
Date: 16th June
...A tiny bell tinkled somewhere over his head, and Shorden felt the breath rushing out of his lungs as he stepped onto the threshold.
The first thing that impressed upon him were the towering forms of the crude stone furniture arranged in the room. Several codestones hung from the ceiling, and colorful rocks were scattered in a decorative, if erratic, pattern. Placed on one table was a stack of books, weighed down by a heavy piece of sandstone. Shorden crained his neck to see the title, which read Moon Rock Formations.
Feeling very small in the midst of the stone giants, Shorden worked his way to the back of the store, clinging protectively to Sparky.
He spied a shelf against the wall, and there, smiling at him with what he imagined to be half-lidded eyes, was the blue Rock the Shop Wizard had told him about. It was surrounded by what Shorden suspected was every other color available for Rocks; a green Rock, a purple one, one that glowed, and even one with a pair of translucent wings sprouting from its sides.
Shorden lingered wistfully for a moment, when a kind voice behind him asked, "May I help you?"
The Shoyru turned around, startled, to see a Zafara watching him and dusting her hands off on the back of her apron.
"Um, yes! My name's Shorden and I'm a volun-" He began his prepared speech hurriedly, when he saw something that temporarily drove it from his mind. "You have a Rock!" he exclaimed, for nestled in the nook of the Zafara's arm was indeed a Christmas Rock, with a bright red ribbon tied around it.
"Mm'hmm," said the Zafara, looking fondly down at her Petpet. "Laeta has been with me for a long, long time." Her gaze turned to Sparky, and she added with some amusement, "I see you have one, too. Have they released rainbow?"
Shorden dropped his eyes, and his cheeks grew hot. "Not- not exactly. He sort of got away from me and fell into the Petpet Puddle," he explained softly.
To his surprise, the Shopkeeper chuckled. "Laeta's had her runs for freedom, too. The worst place she's ended up was in a Skeith's mouth."
Shorden laughed -- he felt as if he had known this Zafara for his entire life.
"Thankfully," the Zafara continued. "I managed to convince him that she didn't taste as good as she smelled." Grinning at the recollection, she asked, "So, did you come here just to look around, or did you need something?"
"Actually," Shorden said, feeling much more comfortable, "I'm a volunteer for the Petpet Protection League, and my assignment was to promote Rock appreciation. Unfortunately," he told her, pulling out his quota list and showing her, "it hasn't been going so well."
The Zafara looked over the list, nodding seriously. "I see."
"Sparky and I, we had an idea. We thought if we could gather a collection of Rocks, it would help Neopets to better enjoy them. Our funds, however, didn't allow for that. We were hoping we could borrow your Rocks -- just for the meeting, and we promise to bring them back!"
The Zafara smiled at him over the quota sheet, her eyes twinkling. "Well, come on then," she said, walking over to the shelf containing her Rocks.
"What?" Shorden asked, confused. "Where are we going?"
"To your meeting, of course! You'll need help carrying all of these Rocks, won't you?" the Zafara told him over her shoulder, pulling the Petpets from their display.
Shorden's face lit up with hope as he scampered over to help her...
Date: 17th June
...Together he and the Zafara piled the rocks of different colors onto a wheelbarrow; it would be able to make heavy loads of weight mobile and manageable.
Shorden smiled at the pile as he steered the wheelbarrow toward the door. It was indeed impressive; Rocks of every color lay brightly displayed in a colored array. Gently, on the very top of them all, the Shoyru placed his own Rock. "You'll go as well," he whispered.
"Wait," said the Zafara behind him. With stern finality she placed her own Christmas Rock beside Sparky. "Laeta will go with you. Your campaign is in her best interest, too."
Shorden met the Zafara's eyes, fully appreciating what the gesture meant. She trusted him not only with her entire collection, but with the welfare of her own companion -- that he would be true to his word, and bring them all back. "Thank you," he said solemnly.
Smiling, she waved him away. "Go now, and show the League that our Petpets are not to be overlooked."
* * * * *
The double doors of the Petpet Protection League main building burst open, and Shorden marched in, pushing his wheelbarrow with purpose. The meeting was already in session, but this only made the Shoyru's entrance more noticeable.
The discussion which had been taking place dissipated to an expectant silence. The Neopets gathered had seen the firm expression on the Shoyru's face, and knew whatever business he brought was serious.
Shorden didn't speak until he was in the center of the floor. Then he paused, looking over every section of the audience, meeting every eye. "What do you think this is?" he asked them.
"A wheelbarrow," said a smart-aleck Mynci from the second row.
Shorden didn't let the Mynci's tone affect him. "A wheelbarrow, that's right," he said. Slowly, methodically, he began lifting the rocks from within, laying them around the center in a circle. "But more important are the Rocks within it."
The audience could feel Shorden's focus and determination, but the Mynci was unwilling to hear him out. "A bunch of Rocks, so what?" he challenged.
Shorden stiffened, dropping the last Rock into place with a crash. "So what?" he asked softly. "These are no mere Rocks, Mynci. You may think they are unfeeling hunks of stone, but I know them to be something else entirely -- something that Neopia has not noticed for far too long. These Rocks are pets, Mynci, and companions. These Rocks are friends."
"Friends?" asked the Mynci, in a voice of much less conviction. "How can a Rock be your friend?"
Shorden lifted his chin, an idea sparkling in his eyes. "You ask how a Rock could be my friend. Sparky, show him."
The entire audience held its breath as the Shoyru faced the little multicolored rock in the center. The moment stretched out, and it seemed that nothing would happen.
Just as the Mynci opened his mouth with a scathing remark, a collective gasp rose out of the crowd.
The Rock was moving.
Slowly, tremulously, it shook in place, and then it did what no one had ever seen a Rock do before: the little Rock began to roll toward its owner across the perfectly level platform.
There were tears in Shorden's eyes as he picked Sparky up, hugging him tight, and a thunderous applause rose out of the Petpet Protection League members.
"I move that we vote to have an entire project focusing on these amazing Rocks," called out a Kacheek in the front.
Surprisingly, it was the Mynci who stood. "I second that motion."
"Good," said the president from his podium. "We shall vote now. All in favor of Project Rock, raise your paw, claw, or other appendage."
The tears that had been building up in Shorden's eyes ran freely as he looked around at them.
The vote was unanimous.
Date: 17th June
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