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||You are on Week 313
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 Three Hundred Thirteen Ends March 16
...I wonder which Turdle won today. Stinky was looking fit and ready to go. What do Turdles eat, anyway? I wonder if they like cheese. I really like cheese. Maybe I'll have time to go play Cheeseroller today. I'd really like some with my bread tonight for dinner...
"...Of course, I cannot force my finest knights to go on such a dangerous mission without their consent," King Skarl was saying.
Sir Gareth snapped briefly out of his daydreams as the king continued to drone on. The Scorchio looked surreptitiously to either side. The entire row of knights' faces was still turned sharply toward their sovereign. He breathed a sigh of relief; no one had noticed him zone out. He settled back into position and let his mind wander again.
I wonder why I don't eat cheese more often. When I'm not at court, I waste my time picking potatoes. Potatoes! I'm so sick of them. They don't even have much taste. I wonder if the Turmaculus eats Petpets because they're tasty or just because they're annoying...
"Therefore, I am asking for a brave soldier to volunteer. Of course, the risks and hazards are many, but if -- er, when -- you return, the rewards shall be great. Glory and honour shall be yours forever!"
Maybe he swallows them whole! It must be awfully dark in that gigantic old stomach of his. Probably darker than anything I've ever seen. Why, even that one night when I was lost out in the forest...
"All who wish to accept this quest, step forward!"
Nervously, the knights looked among themselves, and gradually, the entire row shuffled back a step. That is, the entire row except for Gareth, who was still standing at attention, gazing dreamily at the far wall beyond the king.
"Ahh, Sir Gareth!"
The Scorchio shook himself out of his daze as King Skarl's booming voice called his name. "Your Majesty!" he replied, clicking his heels promptly.
"Your bravery in volunteering for this mission will long be remembered in the annals of Meridell's history!" the king announced. "Go forth, and may the good will of the kingdom go with you!..."
Author: Sir Writes-a-lot|
Date: Mar 9th
..."Eh?" Gareth blinked and glanced back at the other knights, who gingerly patted him on the back and gave murmurs of encouragement. Confused, he turned back to question the king, but the large blue Skeith's stomach had overcome his will to see his knights off, and so had departed to the dinner room.
Gareth sighed and turned about, shifting his sheathed sword from banging on his stubby legs, and looked for another knight to pry information from. All knights had left the grand hall except for a scrawny yellow Gnorbu. Gareth recognized him to be Paven, squire to the pompous Sir Routh.
Paven was attempting to haul away his master's great shield and large sack of goods. With Sir Routh being a Grarrl, the poor little Gnorbu was always having a difficult time following in the knight's shadow. Gareth took his opportunity:
"You there! Squire!" the Scorchio called, his heavy armor clinking as he ran over to the bewildered Gnorbu. "Eh, Squire Paven, on what mission was I... well... what was the purpose of my quest?" Gareth blushed deeply and wished he hadn't thought about cheese the whole time.
Paven just stared.
Agh, what a twitch. You would think the squire of the oh-so-great Sir Routh would know what was going on... I'm hungry. I wonder when I ate last. This morning? Yesterday evening? And why does this room smell like cheese and butter?
Just then, Gareth realized Paven had said something. He blinked away his thoughts of round yellow cheese melting on fire-toasted bread. "What was that?"
Paven sighed, "Come Sir Gareth, must I show you to your destination? How could you miss the main reason for your quest and then volunteer for it anyway?"
Gareth frowned, "A squire never questions his superiors! How dishonorable... really... indeed... though I will take you up on that offer to show me my destination."
Paven wrinkled his brows. "I serve Sir Routh, Sir Gareth, and I am not under an obligation to do as you say. But I will tell you where your quest starts..."
Date: Mar 12th
..."You recall, Sir Gareth, the visit Advisor Farien paid Meridell some weeks ago, do you not?"
Gareth decidedly didn't like the implication in Paven's tone, and chose to rectify it: "Of course I do! How could I not?" Truly, the event had been one of momentous emphasis; Advisor Farien held King Hagan's most trusted council, and often served as an ambassador between the kingdoms Brightvale and Meridell.
As if I could possibly miss all of the preparation -- King Skarl always takes advantage of an opportunity to show off to his brother. The food, the parties, the dancing! I wonder how that lovely Usul is doing. She could certainly dance. What was her name -- Semira? A peculiar word.
"Of course," Paven continued, with an expression that read of significant skepticism. "Then I am sure you are aware that Advisor Farien left for Brightvale a few days ago? Apparently, he never completed his journey. King Hagan sent a messenger this morning."
Semira. Sah-meera. Sah-meerca. The Meerca! But she's an Usu-- what was that? Advisor, missing. Okay.
"Right," Gareth declared, smiling. A moment later, he determined his response inappropriate for the situation, and hastily corrected. "Wait, what? Why would the Advisor go missing? Brightvale's no more than a day's travel away."
"There's the problem," Paven said gravely. "King Skarl has expressed the opinion that Advisor Farien confused his directions and went right past Brightvale. He wants you to retrieve him." The squire shook the yellow fur out of his eyes and frowned. "But that doesn't make any sense; Xweetoks have excellent orientation, especially in forests, and Advisor Farien must have made the journey countless times..."
But Sir Gareth failed to hear, as his attention was elsewhere.
Why is this such a dangerous mission, then? Fetching an Advisor, that's children's work! I'll probably be home by tomorrow. Better stop and get something to eat first, and then just past Brightvale and into -- what's over there, anyway? The Lost Desert is too far south, which means that'd be... the Haunted Woods...!
Date: Mar 13th
...The Scorchio's eyes widened slightly at this revelation.
"...There just isn't any logical explanation as to why he didn't make it to his destination, I could potentially understand, but..."
Sir Gareth humoured the Gnorbu by nodding at intervals, but was still distracted by the overshadowing thought of the quest he had unwittingly enlisted himself in.
How am I supposed to get there? I've barely even ventured outside the castle, let alone out of Meridell. I wonder what it's like... I've heard places such as Faerieland are 'awe-inspiring', and the exact opposite for places like the Haunted Woods. Court gossip isn't always tr--
"Do you agree? Well, do you?" Sir Gareth was torn away from his silent musings by Paven's annoying interjections.
"Yes, I agree."
--ue. I haven't met any inhabitants from either of these places, for all I know Faerieland could be riddled with nasty little sprites, and the Haunted Woods with people who are merely horrific in appearance. But wait, Sir Gareth thought after a brief mental quiet, what did I just agree to?
"Hold on there, my lad!" the knight said, interrupting the Squire. "Er, what did you want from me again?"
"Well, I want to go with you, of course." Paven said. He then sighed. "You don't have any idea how hard it is to be a squire. To Sir Routh at least. I need to get out of this place, away from Sir Routh. I wish to see the world. I promise I'll be of great help, and I've already devised a plan for my escape! This is the perfect opportunity."
For a few moments the Gnorbu's composure was lost. But swiftly it returned, as Sir Gareth swung his head up and down. Paven hoped this wasn't the routine that Sir Gareth had previously used.
"You're allowing me to come then?"
Gareth nodded again. He would need all the help he could get. "Come now, let us be on our way..."
Date: Mar 13th
"...Ahem. Just where are you going with my lowly squire?" boomed Sir Routh, with his arms crossed and eyebrows raised.
I’ve never noticed how many wrinkles Sir Routh has on his forehead. Too many to count. Oh, what is his problem anyway? We really must be going. I hope that Gnorbu knows how to cook. What I wouldn’t do for a fine roast turkey with all the trimmings. Wait a minute. Did I hear him correctly?
“So you see, Sir Routh,” Paven said, “With Sir Gareth out of the palace, surely you will be the King’s favorite. He will see what a loyal knight you are and maybe even promote you.”
Sir Gareth snapped to attention. “Why you--”
Paven quickly sidestepped Sir Gareth. “Don’t you agree, Sir Gareth? He is of good character and much too refined to be sent on a simple errand of fetch.”
“Yes, yes, Paven. I should have been rid of you long ago. All you do is talk. He never paid attention to the tasks I assigned him, you know, Gareth. Lazy little thing. You can take him along with you. I have much more important matters to attend to,” said Sir Routh hurriedly. He adjusted his armor and with a sigh of utter exasperation ran out of the room.
Sir Gareth scowled after Sir Routh. “Why did you say all that? You really think he is better than I? Flattery won’t get you anywhere.”
“It got us out of the castle,” said Paven with a smile. “I’ve gathered our belongings. On your word.”
“All right. Onward then,” said Sir Gareth.
The duo hopped across the moat and followed the path to Brightvale into the forest. Sir Gareth, feeling his stomach rumble, pulled Paven aside so that they could have a short meal. Without warning, storm clouds quickly gathered and rain began to fall heavily. Paven pulled two cloaks out of a sack, handing one to Sir Gareth.
“Oh, this is just fantastic. My bread is soggy,” lamented Sir Gareth. “Quick, secure the rest. I refuse to starve.”
For once, Paven was the one staring off into space. He didn’t seem to hear Sir Gareth at all.
“Paven, do you hear me? We need to protect the food,” shouted Sir Gareth.
Paven turned slowly towards Sir Gareth and pointed a finger down to the left of the path. “Sir, there’s something you should see.”
Torrents of rain fell, making the mud flow in rivers, and what the sloshing mud revealed took Sir Gareth’s breath away...
Date: Mar 14th
...It was the sleeve of a robe. A white-and-green robe, with the rayed golden star of Brightvale sewn just below the shoulder. Pinned in place by a corner tucked under a rock as big as Gareth's head, it flapped and fluttered in the torrent, now revealed, now obscured by the murky flow. Stepping cautiously, almost reverently toward it, Paven gently pulled it free, then stood staring at it. "It was cut cleanly," he said in a low voice. "By a dagger, I think. A freshly sharpened one. And look." He pointed to a stain far more stubborn than the rain-banished mud. "Blood. Whoever did this was careless about it - possibly on purpose."
Gareth stared at it, frowning. So the Advisor didn't simply get lost. It looks like he was taken captive, by a pretty rough lot, too. I wonder if they're feeding him. Maybe they've managed to keep their food dryer than we have. Once we catch up to them-
"So they want to be followed. That's not a good sign. I wonder if they left anything else for us?" Paven pondered aloud. Tucking the cut fabric gingerly into his belt, he lifted the head-sized rock, prepared to toss it aside, then froze, staring at its underside.
"What is it?" Gareth asked, managing by a valiant and unusual effort of will to keep his mind on the task at hand.
"I don't know. Give me a moment - I need to let the rain wash this mud away." The two of them remained motionless for a long moment, the hissing torrent of rain drawing Gareth's mind to far tastier pouring liquids until Paven once again reclaimed his attention. "Somebody carved words onto the rock. See?"
Gareth leaned close, and Paven angled the rock so that the knight could see it. The message was straightforward and simple, ambiguous and maddeningly confusing. Taking a little while, aren't you?
For a brief moment, Gareth thought the message had been left for whatever would-be rescuer might happen to chance upon it. Then he noticed that a name had been inscribed after the message.
* * * * *
"As much as I hate to stray into the realm of hopelessly overused cliches, you are not going to get away with this. You know that Meridell is renowned for its knights, and Brightvale for its vast repository of knowledge. People will come after me."
"And if you really believed that they would succeed, you'd be keeping your mouth shut, hoping to give them some element of surprise, rather than broadcasting their imagined approach," a Techo answered crossly, shooting him a jaundiced glance. "Don't even bother pretending that we're as dense as you obviously are."
Tethered to a tree by his left ankle, with his forepaws bound behind him, Advisor Farien answered with a frosty glare, refusing to reveal how uncomfortable he was with the rain pelting down on his exposed arm and cut shoulder. "Even if you get the ransom-"
"Ransom?" One of the Techo's companions launched into a fit of laughter. "Who said anything about a ransom? Like you said, Brightvale has 'a vast repository of knowledge'. And who's likely to be carrying more of that knowledge than the renowned Advisor Farien?" The Usul offered a mock bow, then added, "As poor a job as you're doing of showing it, I have no doubt that you've got quite a bit crammed into your thick skull. And we're going to need it when we..."
Date: Mar 14th
A voice interrupted them as a flash of bright light blinded the area before disappearing as quickly as it had come. Out stumbled -- from nowhere -- two Neopets, a Scorchio and a Gnorbu, both looking rather dazed and dizzy. They would catch themselves from falling at the last minute and seemed not to have a single clue as to where they were going.
"Wha--who are they?" demanded the Techo, looking angrily at the two newly arrived Neopets. "I did not schedule for them to come! In fact, I do not believe I intended on meeting them at all!"
None of his inferiors responded, however, for they were at the same loss as he was. They looked on, dumbfounded and curious about these two unexpected guests.
"What is this place?" the Scorchio said as he managed to balance himself, looking around, confused. "It smells oddly of Meowclops."
The Techo flushed a strange shade and said angrily, "Who are you, and what are you doing in my camp?"
"Your camp? I thought it was a Meowclops litterbox!" the Scorchio said, not seeming to realize that he was voicing his rather strange thoughts. "How does anyone live here? I think I've lost my appetite now, despite my extreme hunger earlier."
The Techo flushed a deeper shade as he sputtered out, "Why, you--!"
But the Scorchio didn't seem to pay attention to that Techo and looked past him. "Oh, look, Advisor Farien!" Triumphantly turning toward the Gnorbu, he continued, "I did say I would find him, did I not?"
The Gnorbu, who seemed to have more sense than the Scorchio, meekly looked back and forth between the advancing group. "Yes," he said, "but I think you've also found his capturers."
The Scorchio blinked, only then realizing their situation. "Oh," he said in dawning comprehension. "Hmm, I wonder how that happened. One moment I was holding a rock, and the ne--"
"What rock?" the Techo said suddenly, interrupting the Scorchio.
The Scorchio shrugged and revealed a rock with markings in it clutched in his hands. The Techo's eyes widened at the sight.
"That's not a rock," he whispered. "That's a...
Date: Mar 15th
...portal. And if you don't drop it within ten seconds, it wi-"
He never got to finish the sentence. A bright light flashed and a gentle, pins-and-needles sensation overcame Sir Gareth and Squire Paven. Sir Gareth recognized it as the feeling they had before. He glanced around - his vision was rapidly spinning, turning into a blur before his eyes. He became nauseated and swayed on the spot - threatening to fall over--
But then the world steadied. There was another flash of light, and Sir Gareth rapidly dropped the portal before it could activate again. And suddenly they found themselves in--
"Uh - Faerieland?"
Squire Paven voiced everyone's thoughts, glancing around at the dumbstruck expression of the others. The others! The Techo and his group had followed them there, as well as Advisor Farien, who was - to his joy - no longer tied up.
The Techo recovered his stance first. "Alright," he spat out, grinding his teeth, "which of you treacherous fools led them-" he gestured sharply at the Scorchio and Gnorbu "-right to us by oh-so-conveniently placing the portal in their path?"
A nervous-looking Lupe stepped forward. "I only wanted for us to be able to catch them. By using the portal, we could lead them right to us and then imprison them."
"Well, look where it got us. You didn't count on the portal to keep going and take us all here, did you?" the Techo growled.
"Alright, no matter," Sir Gareth said lightly, already drifting off again. "Let us just get out of here. Even though it is fairly nice."
Mm, this place smells much sweeter. And these clouds look like cotton candy. I wonder how clouds really do taste?
Because he had spaced out, he had missed what the Techo had replied. But Paven obviously didn't, and the Gnorbu was saying...
Date: Mar 15th
Gareth missed the crucial implication of that particular word, and was instead indignant of such a suggestion. "Run, Paven? The idea! We are knights of the fair kingdom of Meridell -- or, at least, I am -- and as such, we could never flee in the face of danger--"
He glanced about to establish exactly where that face had gotten off to, and found the Techo much closer than he remembered, with an ugly leer and a drawn blade. The Scorchio had just enough time to raise his shield and reflect upon one last thought -- what a crude sword! all choppy and bent in the middle. Is bad taste one of the requirements for villains? -- before the wicked weapon struck against his shield and flung him uselessly to the side.
It was then that Gareth discovered why Faerieland isn't renowned for its sword fights.
He came to a rest where the clouds were just beginning to melt into a rich blue, and from his crumpled position, he had a spectacular view of the countless miles between him and certain death. For once, his inner monologue was quite simple: sweet Fyora, this is the end.
It wasn't, of course.
Paven was already rushing to his aid, with a fresh chorus of "Sir, are you alright?" Between them, Gareth managed to scuttle backwards and onto firmer (firmer?) ground.
"Sir, we have to save Advisor Farien!" Paven panted, with no real conviction in the 'we.' The thugs -- whoever they were -- seemed to have lost interest in their would-be-pursuers, and were currently chasing the freed Xweetok in what looked remarkably like a game of Catch the Kadoatie.
How rude. Knock a knight over and just ignore him like that! The Advisor looks like he's pretty flustered -- bet he isn't used to this kind of adventure. I'm not even used to this kind of adventure! And all because of that miserable rock, too. Why would anyone want something like that? So unpredictable, I'd rather just walk.
Paven's babbling had become a sort of white noise in Sir Gareth's ear. His eyes settled instead on the proclaimed portal, which glinted innocently in the sun.
Wait... of course...
Date: Mar 16th
...What had he been thinking of when he first held the stone-that-was-not? Advisor Farien, of course. And the portal had taken him straight to the Xweetok. And later, when it brought him here? The way it's raining, you'd think the whole of Faerieland was condensing over Meridell at once! So now...
"I've got a plan!" he exclaimed triumphantly, only to realize that Paven was no longer beside him. Apparently giving up hope on the Scorchio ever snapping out of his contemplative trance - How incredibly rude! - the Gnorbu had launched himself into a full-tilt charge, blasting into the thick of Farien's pursuers and crashing into as many villains as he possibly could before going down himself.
Not a bad plan, but mine's still better. Got to hand it to the Advisor, though - he does have nerve.
Indeed, the Xweetok had foregone the opportunity to increase his head start and had reversed course to assist Paven, who was grappling desperately with four foes at once. Suddenly remembering that he was supposed to be involved in this fight, Gareth picked up the portal and darted forward.
I think I ought to make it in time...
Good, they aren't moving too far. Too focused on pinning Farien and Paven down, it seems.
Agh, no, no, NO! Don't start running again! Stupid Xweetok! How am I supposed to transport you now?
I wonder what this portal's range is? It took everybody with it last time. I hope there aren't any bystanders within range. What if I brought home Queen Fyora?
Or maybe if I accidentally took an earth faerie with me? They're supposed to be fairly good cooks.
Oh, good, they're stopping again. Maybe now I can catch up. It really isn't fair to ask a knight to run this much on an empty stomach.
That Paven fellow is a fairly good fighter. Maybe they'll make him a knight when we get home.
If they do make him a knight, I hope they have a feast in his honor. And in mine. I'm starving.
Of course, everybody else is no doubt sitting comfortably at home right now. Having lunch, probably. Or would it be supper by now? I wonder what King Skarl's eating?
* * * * *
In answer to Gareth's last question, the Skeith ruler was currently reaching for a drumstick. To be honest, he would rather be eating somewhere else. More specifically, somewhere far away from Sir Routh. The Grarrl had spent the last several hours making an absolute torment of himself, strutting about and offering 'his expert opinion' on Sir Gareth, the Scorchio's approach to the mission, the ways in which Routh would no doubt have done it better, were he to be called to stoop to such a lowly task, and the 'exchange of squires' that took place just before Gareth left. Really, the squire he had now was much better, Gareth's squire being a Skeith ("The same species as Your Illustrious Majesty," he was at pains to point out) and thus better able than Paven to handle Routh's heavy gear.
As Skarl's hand closed around the drumstick, he was preparing himself to finally tell Routh to simply shut up and let him eat in peace. On his right, Sir Jeran, as well as Lisha, who was perched in the big Lupe's lap, and just about all the other knights who were sitting around the table were obviously itching to give a similar order, but felt that it wasn't their place. Well, it was about time to-
Before Skarl could open his mouth, several things happened at once. Advisor Farien appeared out of nowhere in a blinding flash of light and cannoned into Routh like an arrow speeding from a bow. Paven, flying into a flat dive to get between the Xweetok and a flailing fist, joined Lisha in Jeran's lap as the Usul he had been trying to block landed half-on-half-off of the table and crashed to the floor. King Skarl's head found itself bearing the full weight of a Techo, who wasn't particularly happy about having landed on a pointy crown. All across the table, various astonished thugs landed in dishes, cut themselves on glass goblets as the vessels shattered under their weight, tumbled onto lit candles, materialized on startled knights' laps and heads, and generally raised havoc.
And through it all, Sir Gareth, who had catalyzed the mayhem, sat happily on Skarl's plate, grinning like an idiot.
The result of the sudden intrusion was a frenzied hybrid of swordplay, handfighting, and the next best thing to a school-cafeteria food fight as thugs and knights alike seized hold of everything they could get their hands on and went for each others' throats. Gareth snapped out of his daydreams long enough to stuff a loose piece of cheese in his mouth, swallow hastily, and tackle a mid-sized Nimmo to the ground.
The villains weren't very far outnumbered, but in the presence of Meridell's finest they were hopelessly outmatched, and were subdued within two minutes. Which, of course, was all the time it had taken to leave King Skarl's banquet hall looking remarkably like the results of a union between a large kitchen and a lit stick of dynamite.
"What," the bulky Skeith bawled as the last of the thugs was pinned down by Jeran himself, "is the meaning of this?!"
Noticing that Gareth had zoned out again, Paven sprang to the rescue. "I apologize, Your Majesty; the portal we used to get here is a little unpredictable. We rescued Advisor Farien, though."
All eyes turned to the Xweetok. Missing a sleeve, bleeding slightly from one shoulder, sporting an emerging black eye, slightly soggy from the rainstorm that was still pelting Meridell outside, and covered from chest to knee in what looked like mint pudding, Farien still managed to display a surprising degree of dignity as he bowed to King Skarl and said, "Indeed, Majesty, my rescue from these ruffians was the doing of these brave knights of yours. And the current state of your banquet hall," he added, fibbing a little and knowing it but feeling that he owed it to his rescuers, "can be laid entirely at the feet of my former captors."
"Who will be escorted to the dungeon immediately," Jeran added, shooting a severe look across the hall and encompassing the entire band of miscreants with his silent warning against attempting anything stupid.
As the thugs began to filter out of the hall, each escorted by a sternly scowling food-splattered knight, and Advisor Farien was led by Lisha to a guest room where he could bathe, change clothes and rest, Skarl finally turned to Paven and Gareth, the former of whom nudged the latter to attention as the Skeith rumbled, "I owe you both my thanks. Your bravery in completing this mission will never be forgotten. What reward would you have for this?"
Paven's answer was obvious. "I wish to take my Ordeal of Knighthood and be knighted, Your Majesty." He tempered the daring request with a self-effacing bow. "If it is not too much to ask."
"Indeed!" Skarl thundered merrily, "Such boldness surely deserves the rank of knighthood! And what of you, Sir Gareth?"
"You're standing on the portal," the Scorchio informed him, his drifting mind settling on a useful subject for a change.
"What? Oh, this?" Skarl glanced down at what appeared to be a head-sized rock, then lifted it into his hands. "This? This is the portal? It looks more like a rock to me."
"Your Majesty, I hate to sound like I'm giving orders," Paven blurted, "but PUT THAT DOWN!"
"Why? It doesn't seem to be active at the moment. Hm, it seems to have writing on it! Almost like a stone carving from Tyrannia-"
Tyrannia?... "DROP IT!" Paven and Gareth screeched in unison.
Too late. A flash of light, a skip of each watching heart, and King Skarl was replaced by empty air.
"Well," Paven said ruefully into the resulting silence, "I guess I know what my Ordeal of Knighthood's going to be."
"Look on the bright side," Gareth chirped cheerfully, gesturing to the culinary survivors of the fight. "At least this time you'll have a decent meal to pack!"
Date: Mar 16th
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