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||You are on Week 534
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 Five Hundred Thirty Four Ends Friday, December 2
| Looks like it's going to be another slow day...
It's late in the afternoon and not a single customer had shown up. Then again, it's been a few weeks since my owner started this private eye investigation business here in Neopia Central and he still hasn’t received any work at all, so another slow day is of no surprise.
Oh right, I haven’t introduced myself yet. Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. My name is Whiskers, and I’m the official Petpet in this detective agency office. I know it’s rather tacky and clichéd name for a pink Kadoatie. To be honest, I would have preferred a simple name like May or Suzy, but Whiskers is the name my owner calls me with, so I guess it can’t be helped. At least it’s a better name than chibikadoatiekawaiibaka (the name of an unfortunate Kadoatie I met at the Kadoatery).
About my owner, he’s that white Lupe that’s fallen asleep on his seat over there, unaware of that small pool of drool he is making on that wooden desk he got from a garage sale. He likes to go by the name Will, but his mom, who calls every other day to check up on him, refers to him as William. He’s currently a rookie detective, but before that, he used to be a shopkeeper’s assistant over at the Uni's Clothing store. I don’t get the sudden change of career either, but I guess being a private eye must have been his dream or something.
But my owner’s profession is of no concern for me at this moment. What I’m worried about is whether I get my three square meals a day if this lack of work keeps up. I luckily still get to eat for now at least, although I’m not sure if I could stand for this cheap brand of Petpet food Will has been giving me lately any longer. A Kadoatie needs to be spoiled with good food, you know!
As I was about to go playfully poke Will on the face to wake him up and remind him that it’s time to feed me, I was startled by the sudden unfamiliar buzzing sound coming from the doorway. That must be the doorbell. Could it be a customer at last?...
Date: Nov 21st
I craned my neck to see who it was. It was a timid-looking Usul schoolgirl, with a schoolbag in one paw and an Usuki doll in the other.
"Sir?" she whispered, barely audible, as she approached my owner. She shook Will gently, and his head snapped up, his paws raised in a defensive manner, his body tense.
He relaxed once he realized that there was only her in the office and that she posed no serious threat to him. "Yes? What do you want, little girl?" he asked brusquely. I detected a hint of impatience as well.
"It's my... my Usuki doll, sir," she said. "It... it disappeared yesterday. And it's my favorite one! I can't live without it!" Tears flooded her eyes and threatened to spill down her cheeks.
"Your... Usuki doll?" Will said, puzzled.
"And... you want... me... to find it?" Will said.
"I'm sorry, little girl, but I'm a detective that searches for missing people or valuable objects... not dispensable dolls."
"Lucy's not dispensable! She's very valuable!! You don't know... she's a one-of-a-kind Usuki doll... there's magic in her, sir."
"What?" Will asked.
"Yes," the girl said before continuing on to explain....
Date: Nov 21st
"My big sister gave her to me when I was very young, and told me never to let anything happen to Lucy because Lucy had a very special power. She never told me what it was, but she- she did say that when I needed Lucy's power, it would be there."
Fresh tears were trickling down the Usul's face, despite her best efforts. I arched my back and purred, rubbing myself against her shoulder and quickly getting wrapped in a vise-like hug.
No, of course I didn't like it. But sometimes there were more important things than your personal comfort.
Will seemed to have a similar mindset, and he heaved a sigh. Reaching into his desk, he began to flip through the planner that we both knew was empty. He wasn't trying to find an open day - he was stalling.
The Usul hugged me tighter, and it took all my willpower not to hiss and scratch open her short little arms. Instead I swiveled my head around and glared at Will with the full persuasive force of an angry Kadotie.
"Fine," Will muttered, clapping the planner shut and taking out an equally unused notebook. "I'd like to see a picture of the Usuki, if you please."
To my immense relief, the Usul let me go and began fishing around in her backpack. "I have a picture with me, Lucy, and my big sister. Here." She handed over a tattered photograph.
Will's eyes went wide, his jaw went slack and he fairly ripped the photo from the Usul's grasp. "I don't believe it," he gasped. My curious nature getting the best of me, I padded across the desk to examine the photo...
Date: Nov 22nd
My eyes widened in recognition and it was only the presence of the little Usul that prevented me from letting out a laugh; I didn't want her to become even more pathetic and start crying. I wasn't surprised that Will was looking so shocked. He knew exactly what had happened to the Usuki doll, although I doubted he knew anything about its present location.
As he cleared his throat and gruffly explained to the little Usul that he would get started on the job right away, I closed my eyes and cast my mind back to earlier that very morning...
We had been walking to the offices, passing through the small neighborhood that surrounded the road leading into Neopia Central when a young Aisha had approached, tears streaking down her pretty face.
"Excuse me, mister," she whispered, fluttering her eyelashes beseechingly at Will. "I need some help." It was clear from the way he puffed his chest up that the use of the title had appealed to Will's sense of self importance.
"What can I do for you, miss?" he asked gallantly, almost treading on my tail in his hurry to get closer to the Aisha. She beamed at him and grabbed him by the arm, dragging him to a nearby house.
"It's my doll, you see," she said as she pointed to an open window on the upper floor where I could just about make out the shadow of a toy. "She's my favorite. I normally take her everywhere, but I forgot her today and silly old me's managed to get myself locked out. Do you think you could climb up and get her for me? I'd be ever so grateful..." Will was almost bursting with pride after he scaled a nearby tree and plucked the Usuki from the window. He handed it with a flourish to the Aisha, who grinned. "Thank you so much!" she exclaimed, kissing him on the cheek. "I've got to go now!" She'd hurried away down the road, Usuki clutched tightly in her hand. Will had strolled to the office, whistling cheerfully the whole way in satisfaction of a job well done.
And it had been a job well done, a burglary job it seemed.
I couldn't help it that time as I let out a snort of amusement at the sheer irony of the situation. Will glared at me and then turned to the little Usul.
"We'll start at the scene of the crime," he announced importantly before striding out of the office in the direction of her home.
"How do you know where my house is?" asked the little Usul with wide eyes. "You must be the best detective ever!" She stared at him with hero worship shining in her eyes. Will cleared his throat awkwardly.
"Eherm, yes," he muttered, "it's all part of the job..." I hopped daintily from the desk and followed the pair as they walked to the scene of the crime.
This could be amusing…
Date: Nov 22nd
"So, um," Will began, squirming under the Usul's gaze of admiration. "May we go inside?"
The Usul nodded, grabbed his paw and tugged the reluctant Lupe towards the front door. "I'll tell Sara that you're here."
Will opened his mouth- probably to say 'Who's Sara?' -but lost the chance as the Usul reached for the knob and swung open the oak door. She promptly ran inside, leaving us on the steps.
Will looked down at me, unsure. I licked my forepaw in response.
Sighing, Will stepped nervously into the all-too-familiar house, taking care to wipe his feet on the rug. I followed at his heels.
I was immediately struck by the powerful smells laced through the air - the rich scent of home cooking, the spicy tang of a burning scented candle, and the soothing freshness of a nearby potpourri basket. All combined together, the scent was heavenly.
How in the world did I miss that last time we were here?! Hm. It must be because I stayed near the sidewalk. It was the kind of scent that clung to one's fur and refused to depart for days on end.
Anyone who has entered this house must smell this way, I thought. I certainly wouldn't mind.
The Usul returned, towing a tall brunette human female by the hand. The girl had to bend over so as not to break the Usul's grip. Smiling, she held out her one free hand. "I'm Sara, nice to meet you. I assume you've met Espira?"
She gestured to the Usul, who looked put out. "Sara, I told you my name is Espie!"
Will nodded, still uncomfortable. "My name is William - call me Will. I'm in the Private Eye business. I understand there was a burglary on the premises?"
Will seemed a little too formal to me. The nerves must be getting to him.
Sara nodded. "Yes, an Usuki was stolen. That particular Usuki was a gift from Espira's older sister, and it's very important to her. If you can help find it, I will gladly pay you for your services."
Mention of the stolen Usuki upset Espie too much to get mad at the use of her full name again. Tears trailed down her cheeks.
I knew I would regret this, but I couldn't let those tears keep falling. I stepped over and started purring again, rubbing around her legs so as to avoid getting hugged again.
The human seemed to notice me for the first time. "Uh-uh, no. No Petpets in the house," she declared, scooping me up in her arms despite my loud protests. I was dumped outside, the door shutting just inches from my tail.
Yes, instant regret. I scratched at the wood and yowled, hoping they would come to their senses and let me back inside.
When nothing changed, I put my ear up against the oak panelling. I could hear Will apologizing for his thoughtlessness, and the human gently admonishing Espira for allowing a Petpet indoors. After a few more minutes of talking, I heard the vanishing footsteps as the three departed for the second floor, to comb the Usul's bedroom for evidence.
I growled a little to myself. We finally get to the part where Will has to either fudge evidence of another burglar, or tell the truth, and I'm stuck outside like an... an... animal!
Oh, well. I swore to myself that I wouldn't miss a minute of this.
I headed for the nearest window. They were all shut, of course. I leapt onto the ledge, knocking over a small pot of roses in the process. It landed with a satisfying *crunch* as the clay buckled and broke under gravity's pull.
Another sound reached my ears in the same instant. The *tink* noise that accompanies a falling piece of crystal.
I froze midstep. Pottery does not makes that sound, nor do plants or dirt.
Curiosity killed the Kadoatie, I thought, resisting the urge to look back over my shoulder.
I failed miserably. Within three seconds, I was peering over the edge of the wooden board.
There, amid the shattered remains of the crashed pot and dislodged flower petals, was an...
Date: Nov 23rd
...hourglass, smudged with dirt, sand piling into an awkward pile within it. I couldn't say why, but it set my fur on end and I arched my back instinctively. It was so innocuous, but so very out of place... and it completely, utterly gave me the creeps. I stared at it for long moments, but when it simply lay amidst the shards of pottery and soil and scattered roses, I shook myself lightly. I was missing the real action over an hourglass, of all things. Snorting in derision, I turned to make my way up towards the scene of the crime.
But as I did so, I froze again, for behind me I heard a strange puff, almost as if something behind me had huffed into flames. Turning, I nearly expected to see flames licking at the broken pot and hourglass, but instead I saw absolutely nothing.
As if the pot had never existed. The dirt, the clay shards and broken roses... gone. The ground they had laid upon shimmered lightly, but after a moment, even that shimmer was gone. Narrowing my eyes, I stared at the former scene of destruction and hissed.
Magic. It seems you can't do anything in Neopia these days without running into it, and I just wasn't interested. Didn't seem like there'd be a choice, though, and either way there wasn't much I could do about it. And I was still missing seeing Will on the spot with the little Usul and the human!
Shaking my tail at the spot with disdain, I finally made my way up to peer in the window. To my disappointment, it seemed Will had found a way to wiggle away from the point at hand and was instead asking questions unrelated to his incursion into the bedroom earlier.
"Does anyone else know about your dolly's magical powers?" he asked gruffly, back stiff as he stood uncomfortably in the little Usul's room.
Espie sniffled. "N-no, just my sister. She always told me to be careful not to tell.." she trailed off, sniffling miserably. If I hadn't been so rudely kicked out of the house I might have even been moved to purr and rub against her legs again, but unfortunately for her, her owner had kicked me out like a common mongrel. I sniffed delicately in reproach at the memory.
It was an awkward moment, and as I watched, that moment stretched even more awkwardly into a second, and then a third before Will gathered himself enough to speak.
"Espie, where is your sister?" he asked.
She was silent for another long moment, but this was less awkward than Will's most of silence had been. Scornfully, I decided that most of his long moments are awkward unless I'm there. Serves him right for letting me be kicked out – and then apologizing for having let me in in the first place! Hmph.
"I... I don't know," she said, surprise evident in her voice as she looked up through wide, tearful eyes.
Will raised a bushy eyebrow at her. "When did you last see her?" he asked.
"I... don't know," she replied, voice trembling slightly. Her eyes had grown somewhat wider.
He stared hard at her, and seemed reluctant to ask his next question. "Was she here yesterday?"
Espie shook her head after a moment's thought.
"Last week?" he asked.
After another moment's hard thought, she shook her head again.
I watched Espie scrunch her little face in thought. "I don't know," she finally admitted.
"Did you realize you hadn't seen her in a while before I asked?" he asked quietly, watching the little Usul solemnly.
"No," Espie said, and fat tears began dripping down her face.
"What does your sister look like?" he asked. I was confused – hadn't she shown him a picture of her, her dolly, and her sister earlier?
But I had to give him credit, because Espie's face crumbled and she began sobbing. "I don't remember!" she cried out, clutching tightly to the dolly she had been holding.
I hissed outside the window at her answer. Magic! Even P.I.s couldn't escape it, to my chagrin.
Will only nodded. Kneeling in front of her, he put a hand on her shoulder. "I'll find your dolly, Espie... and your sister," he told her gruffly. Espie tackled him in a sad, desperate hug, and he patted her awkwardly on the shoulders before disengaging himself and vacating the premises.
I picked my way carefully down to meet him at the front door. As he exited, I froze and my fur stood on end as I arched my back, because as he did so, he kicked something over that hit the ground with a crystalline "tink" sound. Unsurprisingly, another hourglass spun on the ground from the force of his kick...
Date: Nov 23rd
…and rolled across the floor, hitting the wall with a glassy clink.
"My apologies," Will said hastily, scurrying over to pick it up. I wondered why he was being so clumsy today. He was no ballerina, not even on a normal day, but he usually managed to walk around without being a hazard to fragile objects around him.
"It's fine," said the human, Sara, though she said it with a strange confused expression on her face. She glanced around the room, as though she had never been here before.
"Anyways," Will said, carefully placing the hourglass on a random shelf. "I will find your dolly and your sister."
With that awkward restatement, he turned for the door, preparing to leave.
Espie suddenly piped up. "Wait! Let me come with you!"
Will was taken aback for a moment, though he regained his composure with relative grace. "Well..." he began, then hesitated. "I don't know. It could be dangerous."
I wondered what sort of "dangers" they could encounter on a doll-hunt.
"Aww," whined Espie. "Please? Sara doesn't mind, right Sara?"
Sara didn't respond, though. She stared, eyes glossing over Espie blankly as the little Usul begged.
"Sara, let me go, pleeeeeeease."
Still, there was no response, which could only mean one thing: the hourglass had erased Espie's memories of her sister and her doll, and now it had erased Sara's memories, too. It was becoming clear that the hourglasses were dangerous, and that it was best to stay away from them.
I sighed. Why did magic keep interfering with things?
"I think..." Will shuffled his feet, clearly nervous. "Perhaps we should let Sara stay here... she probably... er, she probably needs some time to rest..."
As he said that, I could have sworn that I felt the windowsill underneath me shake. It was the smallest of tremors, but I felt it -- and judging from what I could see through the glass, they did too.
"Did you feel that?" Will asked.
"Earthquakes don't happen here," he continued, with a weak laugh.
Earthquakes didn't happen, but it soon became clear that the shaking came from somewhere entirely different...
with a massive jolt that rattled the doors and shook the entire house, the hourglasses came crashing down from the ceiling...
Date: Nov 28th
...Sara and Espie fell down onto the ground as they felt the ground tremble.
"Aghhhh!" Espie cried.
Suddenly the earthquake stopped. They both stood up, gradually brushing themselves off.
"Well, that was terrifying," Sara said, shivering as she picked up the hourglass that had fallen on the floor.
"Um... Sara, that was no earthquake," Espie's voice chirped in Sara's ear as she pointed toward a tall and growing shape.
"Oh no!" Will shouted...
Date: Nov 28th
It was a giant hourglass, and as each grain of sand slipped from the top to the bottom, an audible "tink" could be heard throughout.
I stared at it for a while, my main preoccupation being that I couldn’t quite work out how the massive hourglass had gotten into the small room without leaving a giant hole in the floor, the ceiling, or any of the walls. This was a very curious thought, and it kept me going for several moments before I realized just how quiet everything had gotten. I turned and looked back at the others, and saw in horror (and a bit of annoyance) that they were all staring fixedly at the hourglass, their expressions like those of zombie Neopets.
It may not have been obvious to anyone else, but it was certainly obvious to me what was going on. As each grain slipped through the hourglass, the expressions on Espie and Sara’s faces grew more and more blank. The sand was erasing their memory altogether, and I was pretty sure that when the sand was finished, their minds would be, too.
Will was a slightly more hopeful case. His expression was blank, too, but he always looked like that when he was faced with something he couldn’t figure out. He hadn’t seemed to grasp what was going on yet, though, so I took it upon myself to help him out.
I leapt forward, ignoring the rule of no Petpets in the house, and headed over to Will. I mewed a couple of times -- an innocent but important mew -- and when that did no good, I chose an alternate method. I raised an elegant paw, let out my claws, and took a good swipe at Will’s leg.
The result was very effective. Will let out a very un-Lupe like howl, and then he looked down at me in a fury. I didn’t give him time to collect his thoughts, however. I sprang back out the door, down to the sidewalk, and away from the house. Will ran after me, yelling for me to slow down, until at last his brain seemed to unfog itself and he came to a halt on the street, looking back at the house he had just come from.
“That hourglass, it’s erasing their memory!” he said after a minute, and I gave him my best exasperated look before continuing my walk. Will followed, all the while running possibilities through in his mind.
“We have to find the Aisha that took the doll; I'm sure she has something to do with this,” he exclaimed quite suddenly after a bit, startling me and making me lose my balance for half a step. I gave him an annoyed look, but I knew what he was saying was true. I was thinking it myself, but what I had already thought of, and what Will had not yet made it to, was this: how were they supposed to find her?
Will shook his head at me, like he was reading my thoughts. Then he looked around him and stopped. I glanced at him, and then followed his gaze, up to a house on the right of the street.
“Do you think she might be there?” he said, and as I took in the dark purple storm clouds raging just above the roof of the house, cackling away with black lightning and greenish-grey mist, I thought she probably might...
Date: Nov 29th
...It didn't make sense that menacing clouds would overlook only one house on an otherwise peaceful block, but then again many things had failed to make sense recently.
Will, without thinking of potential consequences, walked up to the lot. He opened its black gate casually, the swinging motion causing a discreet creak, and stepped through. I was impressed by his initiative; the Will I had come to know wouldn't have been this brave.
I, on the other hand, waited for a while by the fence. The house had an evil air to it, not just in appearance but in feel, too. I felt the wickedness emanating from each square centimeter of its vinyl exterior, likely some from its interior, too. In any case, I arched my back and hissed.
The Lupe saw me staring at the place and ushered me to come forward. "Come on, Whiskers," he said. "It's okay."
Finally, I stepped into the yard, not by choice but because something drew me there -- a gleam from a side window.
The gleam from an hourglass.
Instead of walking toward Will, I stepped up to the windowsill the hourglass sat behind and meowed. My owner came over and his attention was, as I had intended, drawn to the hourglass.
"Hey, an hourglass!" he exclaimed. "Good thing I found this, eh?"
I wasn't sure if he was being sarcastic or if he really thought that he had found the clue, and I was just sitting on the windowsill for apparently no reason. I cast my anger aside and studied everything behind the window. There wasn't much; in fact, the room behind the hourglass was quite empty, save a few cobwebs and boxes.
"Well, we know this house has something to do with the case," he said as he picked me up.
Holding me in his soft paws, we walked over to the door. Rapping on the splintery wood, he waited in silence for whoever lived there to come answer. I noticed beads of sweat rolling down his forehead.
Good, I'm not the only one afraid here.
After about a minute, Will broke the silence. "Great, no one's home."
Somewhat hurriedly, he walked down the path away from the house. "Now how are we going to find that Aisha?" he said. I thought the same thing, and had not a clue about what to do from here, despite the fact that I was usually quite knowledgeable in these areas.
Will easily stumbled on, but today I was as clueless as he.
With nowhere else to go, Will set me down and started walking. It didn't take me long to realize he was walking back toward Espie's house. I followed, and when we got there Will examined the tree for anything, any clue that he might have missed.
At that moment, however, a blue Aisha in a red scarf came skipping down the road. Will and I instantly recognized her as the Aisha from the doll incident.
Will cornered her and grabbed the knitted scarf. "What have you done with the doll?"
She looked worried, scared. "I don't know what you're talking about!"
"Oh yeah?" Will pestered. "I helped you steal a doll earlier, and now the Neopet you took it from wants it back!"
She started to cry, an interesting development that neither Will nor I expected. "I really don't know at all what you're talking about!" she sobbed, her voice getting more high-pitched with every word.
Will lessened his grip. This was definitely the Aisha, but perhaps she was telling the truth and had no memory of the incident?
My thoughts were confirmed when, clutched in her hand, I saw an hourglass. I brought it to Will's attention and he let go of the girl before grabbing the hourglass from her clutches and examining it, in the process turning it around.
As the slowly falling sand fell in the other direction, the Aisha stopped crying -- she now looked rather stunned.
Parts of her body jerked and, suddenly, she fell.
Will and I walked up and examined her.
"Are you okay?" the Lupe whispered to her.
"I'm fine," she said, getting up and dusting herself off, "and very well, I'll tell you what I know about the doll."
I looked up at Will and was unsurprised to see him looking at me. Just a simple flipping of the hourglass undoes the mind-erasing effects, our expressions were meant to tell each other, but they also showed that we both already understood.
"I only asked you to take the doll because someone else told me to get it," the Aisha started, "and you, there, could easily help me."
"Who was this person?" Will asked.
"Why, the Usul who lives in that house," she said, pointing toward the gloomy abode we had been near not minutes before, the swirling clouds looking far more menacing now, for some reason. "She promised me that, if I returned the doll to her, I'd receive great riches. Instead, though, all I got was an hourglass."
The hourglass. "Thanks," Will said as he started off in the direction of the house once again. "Come on, Whiskers."
The Aisha ran up beside Will. "No!" she said, "You can't go there alone!"
Hey what am I?
"I've got Whiskers," Will said, pointing toward me.
"Still," the Aisha said, "I went there alone and I ended up losing my mind."
So, off the three of us went. We got to the house and Will again knocked on the door. There was no answer, but just as he began to walk off the front steps the door opened.
The three of us gasped in astonishment, for revealed to us were hundreds of hourglasses, varying in size and shape, the sand in them all rather still.
From behind us, though, came a voice not unlike Espie's, but more grown. In the reflection of one of the hourglasses, an Usul was visible...
Date: Nov 29th
...The Usul we saw was, in fact, Espie's sister! From where I stood I could see she was rather pretty; she had been painted magma and her amber eyes sparkled in the half-light of the dark room. She was sitting in a high-backed chair at a large writing desk and held a Weewoo feather quil in her paw. My sharp ears could pick up the skritch-scratch as she jotted something down on a piece of parchment.
With a flourish, she swung her head to look at us, her ears flopping. "Well, well, well..." she crooned. "If it isn't my dear old friend Will. Oh, and you even brought little Whiskers along with you!"
She had a silky voice, which I recognized as she spoke. Long ago, she and Will had been very close, but they'd parted ways when he discovered that she was a con artist. In retrospect, I suppose that's what had inspired him to become interested in stopping crimes.
"What brings you to my humble abode?" she asked.
I was wondering why Will didn't reply, but upon looking up at him, I could see that he was somewhat intoxicated by her beauty. Admittedly, yes, she was far prettier now than in the photo, but Will should have been able to keep his wits about him. I prodded his leg with my paw, snapping him out of his stupor.
"Oh! Well, you see..." he began...
Date: Nov 30th
...Will proceeded to tell her of their previous adventures. "So," he finished, "we're here, but I have one simple question."
"Go on," she invited with sympathy.
"Why did you want the doll? I mean, you were the one who gave it to her, so what's the point of taking it and breaking her heart? You know, she loved that doll as she loved you. And on that subject, why did you leave her?"
Her eyes flashed dangerously, then returned to normal. "That's a long story. I'm not sure you'd be up for it."
"But--" Will began.
"Not now!" she thundered. Her expression then softened. "I'm sorry. I just, well... as I said, long story." She sighed, then said, "It's getting late. Would you like to stay the night?" while opening the curtains to reveal a dark sky.
"How did it get dark so fast?" the Aisha wondered aloud. "Wasn't it light just moments ago?"
"Time flies when you're having fun!" the Usul cried, flinging her paws up in the air. "Now, are you going to take up my offer or walk home in the dark?"
"Sure, we'll stay the night," Will agreed.
"Great! Follow me," she instructed with the wave of a hand, motioning for us to follow and then beginning to walk down the hall without checking to see if we were following.
Something seemed wrong, but we followed her anyway.
She led the three of us into a room and, as she was walking out, locked the door.
"What are you doing?" exclaimed Will, who was relaxing in one of the beds, though he jumped up immediately.
"I'm not the person I used to be," she proclaimed, her voice drifting through the door.
"What should we do?" whispered the Aisha, who was sitting on one of the four beds. Her eyes were large and frightened, becoming misty.
I had an idea. If only I could talk...
Date: Nov 30th
"I don't know," Will whimpered, drawing his knees up to his chest in a gesture of fear. "I really don't know."
The room was dark. Kadoaties are known for their amazing eyesight, so the darkness was of little concern to me, but Will and the Aisha weren't so fortunate -- all they could do was squint through the black. Just then, it occurred to me that I didn't even know the Aisha's name. I would have asked, but again, the inability to speak kept me from doing so.
The Usul was still outside the door, as evidenced by her next dramatic declaration: "I fear I will shall never return to who I was! Time and tide wait for no one..."
I was beginning to suspect that she was just spouting random nonsense in order to get attention, but the whole "time" thing was kind of interesting, especially with all of the hourglasses.
"Ignore her," I heard the Aisha say. There was a rustle of blankets and a light thump as she rolled off her bed and walked across the floor, heading in the general direction of the door. When Will asked her what she was doing, she told him, "Finding a way out of here."
That was more like it.
"How are you going to do that?" Will asked, from where he was perched on his bed.
"There's no way we'll be able to see in this darkness," the Aisha said, running her hands along the wall in search of a switch. "That's why I'm looking for the lights."
There was a click and the lamp hanging on the ceiling turned on.
For the first time, I could see the room -- it had been dark when we'd first come here -- and the thing that I saw first was a giant shelf. The thing was huge, covering the entire wall, and stacked from top to bottom with sparkling glass hourglasses. And that was what was weird -- they shimmered, even though they shouldn't have.
"Look," the Aisha said, delicately picking up an hourglass and inspecting it. "Hourglasses."
Will, joining her, took an hourglass of his own. "They look different..."
The Aisha might not have understood, but I did. Somehow, these hourglasses were different from the ones in Espie's house. They were much more... magical, I decided, after trying to find a word to describe it.
Then there was a glassy clink, however, as the hourglass slipped from Will's fingers and landed on the floor.
It was by no means a loud clink, but apparently, it had been loud enough to alert Espie's sister to our movements. There was the sound of footsteps, followed by her voice at the door.
"What are you doing in there?"
She fumbled with the lock, though somehow, she wasn't able to get it open. I suddenly realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do: to make so much noise that the Usul had to come back up here...
"Okay," the Aisha said. "When she comes in, tackle her. She knows what's going on..."
Date: Dec 1st
The lock rattled a few more times before there was a clicking sound, signifying that the door had been unlocked. Will quickly moved to the side of the door, ready to follow through with the Aisha's plan. I got ready too, moving to the other side and preparing to get out of the way and underfoot if necessary.
The Aisha got next to Will just as the doorknob clicked and the door opened. Espie's sister peered inside. "Whatever it is you're doing in here, stop it!" she said, but looked to be speaking to an empty room.
The Usul stopped for a moment and stepped inside. "How did you get out of here?" she said, not realizing that we were lying in wait behind her.
"NOW!" the Aisha said.
Espie's sister turned around quickly, just in time to see Will charge into her. She gave a quick shriek as the Lupe knocked her off of her feet. The two of them struggled for a moment before Will got the upper hand, pinning her to the ground.
"Now tell me what's going on!" Will demanded, "Why did you do all of this? What do these hourglasses have to do with it? Why would you go through so much to get an Usuki Doll? What are you planning?"
"Get off me!" she shouted and squirmed, but Will was able to keep her down.
"Not until you tell me what it is that you're planning!"
"You want to know?" she asked angrily. "Fine, I'll show you. It's not like you can make a difference at this point."
"You promise no tricky stuff?" Will asked.
"I swear to Fyora, no tricky stuff," Espie's sister said.
That seemed to be enough to convince Will, who slowly got up and allowed her to get back to her feet. Espie's sister took a moment to dust herself off before she headed out the door, our small group following close behind her.
The Usul led us down a long hallway and down two sets of stairs before we got to a large wooden door at the end of one of the corridors. "Alright," she said, "It's just through here."
She fiddled with a key for a moment and then inserted it into the lock. "You have no idea what you're getting into, though..." Espie's sister said ominously before opening the large door slowly.
As the door opened, Will gasped out loud at what was on the other side...
Date: Dec 1st
Revealed to us through a shroud of mist was a fairly large purple room, with menacing clouds similar to those outside the house swirling near the roof. A furry green and purple rug led straight up a flight of stairs; atop those stairs sat, upon a golden throne adorned in red velvet, none other than the infamous faerie Jhudora.
Will's facial expressions at that time -- scared, stunned, and above all the glazed look he usually had -- would have been emulated by me had I the ability to contort my facial muscles in such a manner.
The Aisha, too, looked surprised, but she was not speechless like my owner. "You're working with Jhudora?" she said, her voice rising as it led up to the question.
"No," Espie's sister said, "I am Jhudora."
Espie's supposed sister's mouth moved simultaneously with the dark Faerie; I wasn't sure if the others had noticed, but they would soon, for then Jhudora walked down her pyramid of steps and pulled off the Usul's face, revealing a robotic interior.
"This was a design I crafted up," she said as she prodded the lifeless Usul. "This entire thing is part of a complex plan I had to take over this little part of Neopia for my own nefarious purposes!"
Will had since snapped out of his stupor and decided to take part in the conversation. "What purposes would those be?" he said. "And where's the real Espie's sister?"
"You mean Ellen?" Jhudora returned. "That's for me to know and you to never discover, considering I don't intend you to leave this place with your memories intact."
While the three of us stood watching her, she smiled a wicked smile and continued her speech. "Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with this neighborhood, but--"
"This neighborhood isn't going to be yours," Will started, "We're going to stop you!"
"I don't like being interrupted!" Jhudora erupted. After calming down and returning to a more normal state she continued: "You see, my plan is foolproof. I would buy a house in this neighborhood, importing some great purple swirling clouds, of course!" She gazed off into an unknown distance and frowned.
Catching herself not doing anything in particular, Jhudora turned and faced us, then spoke once again. "I would find a random Neopet, copy their look onto a robot that operates on my command, kidnap said Neopet, and then use my magical hourglasses to make all in the neighborhood forget who exactly they were and what their pasts were. After their minds had gone completely blank, I would then tell them that I was their leader and have them do my bidding, especially my construction." She started cackling.
Will interrupted her laugh midway. "Yeah? Then why are we here? Why did you initiate the taking of the doll and allow Espie to remember about her sister and Lucy long enough to seek help?"
Jhudora bubbled with rage over her maniacal laugh being cut short, but she remained silent. After a brief pause, she spoke in an inquisitive tone. "Doll? I have no idea what you're talking about." Her voice returned to a more normal state. "As for why you're here, Will, I had to ensure that the only person capable of figuring out my scheme did so in a manner that would lead to his capture -- you had to have been placed in a situation where you'd look for me. Thus, Espie had to report her lost sister and would undoubtedly report it to you."
Will, the only person capable of stopping her? He's definitely not that competent, and if Jhudora thought he was, then I would seriously question her validity as a knowledgeable person.
While Jhudora and Will argued with the Aisha listening in an attack position, I quietly thought about Jhudora denying her taking the doll. My mind came up with an answer: Espie's sister must be here in this house! The dark faerie must have put some sort of field around Ellen so that she couldn't leave the house. From outside the door's window, Ellen would see the Aisha and create a noise so the girl would come over. When she did, Ellen would unlock the door, allowing for the Aisha to enter. Ellen would tell the Aisha to steal the doll and bring it here; that way, in the event the hourglasses would prevent Espie from remembering her sister, she would remember the doll's absence long enough to seek help. The clues left by the situation would help in the evidence leading back to this house, where Ellen could be found and rescued!
The Aisha, promised riches, must have been met by the robotic version of Espie and given a mind-erasing hourglass.
Overall, a brilliant plan if my thought was correct; the only flaw being that the one who would come to "rescue" Ellen being Will.
"Silence!" Jhudora's shout broke my chain of thoughts and my attention was focused on her yet again. "I suppose I should lead you to the dungeons now." She took Will and the Aisha by the hands and held tight, leading them toward the door of the magnificent room.
Will glanced at me. I noticed and looked back up at the Lupe, his eyes plotting something. As the dark faerie opened the door, Will grabbed Jhudora by her head, covering her eyes and preventing her from continuing her traverse out with the prisoners.
I took this as what Will had been planning, giving me a chance to flee. The Aisha, still held tight by Jhudora, tried to leave, but instead was pushed down by the hand holding her. She didn't get up fast enough to leave, and the faerie's now-free hand shut the door, sealing the two in. The sound of a lock clicking followed soon after.
Aside from the fact that I couldn't have reached the knob if I tried, I was morally against leaving the house; Will and the Aisha were still in there, their fates uncertain and presumably dire. Also, there was a good chance that Ellen, Espie's dear sister, was here, too.
Whatever it was that I was going to do, I had to do it quick. The entire situation was up to me, now...
Date: Dec 2nd
Muttering, Jhudora brushed herself off and started to walk away from the dungeon doors. I searched desperately for a place to hide, but it was too late.
"A Kadoatie?" Jhudora wrinkled her nose in disgust. "A pink Kadoatie? What was that ridiculous failure of a detective thinking?"
She reached down and picked me up by the neck. I hissed and snarled, but she wasn't scared of me.
"Oh yeah, I'm so scared," she said in response to the hissing and snarling. "I've been working with Bartamuses for years now, so save your breath. I'm not scared of you."
I didn't know where she was taking me, but I did know that we were going up the stairs to where Jhudora had previously sat, the stairs with the fluffy purple and green rug. I could see it: at the top, sitting next to the throne, was a tiny hourglass.
"Ellen, I've brought you a little friend," Jhudora called with false cheer.
Coming closer, it became clear to see that there was someone inside the hourglass. An Usul. It then dawned on me. Jhudora would try to shrink and imprison me in the hourglass with her! I couldn't let that happen. I still had to save Will and that Aisha whose name I still didn't know. I still had to get rid of Jhudora.
I twisted around and sank my teeth into Jhudora's skin, smiling as she shrieked in pain and let go of me. I hit the floor -- Kadoaties always land on their feet -- and ran toward the hourglass. I would have run for the stairs, but Jhudora was blocking them.
Ellen, inside her hourglass, pounded the glass with her fists. She was trying to get out.
"Stop!" Jhudora yelled.
I wasn't listening to her. I picked up the hourglass in my mouth, gagging slightly at the taste, and ran once more. Jhudora tried to chase after me, but I ran circles around her and finally made it to the stairs again.
"Stop!" she yelled again, summoning a blast of magic. It knocked me forward so that the hourglass flew out of my mouth...
There was a crash, shattering glass, when it hit the ground.
I winced, hoping that Ellen had survived, then got to my feet and started down the stairs once more. I could see the pile of glass and sand, as well as a now life-sized version of the Usul in the hourglass getting to her feet shakily.
She saw me running from Jhudora and ran as well.
The doors were open.
I knew where I was going this time. Hadn't Jhudora mentioned hourglasses erasing memories? My thoughts turned to that shelf -- the shelf full of hourglasses. They had to do something. Maybe one of them could erase Jhudora's memories...
I mewed as I spotted the door to the room that Will, the Aisha, and I had been in. The lights were still on, and the hourglasses still sparkled on their shelf. Ellen shut the door behind us, but I knew it wouldn't take much for Jhudora to get it open again. I had roughly ten seconds to find an hourglass for Jhudora, and there were dozens of them on the shelf.
There was only one that shone purple, though...
I knew it even before I'd even seen it: the purple hourglass was for Jhudora. All of the others sparkled white, yet this one was purple, like the color of her hair. It was too high up for me to get it, though. It sat on the very top shelf, much too high for me to reach it, too high for even Ellen to pull it down.
I thought quickly. If I couldn't get up to the hourglass, then I would have to get the hourglass down to me.
The shelf didn't look very sturdy. I bet that it wouldn't take much to get it to fall I surmised, then pushed my tail in between the wall and shelf, pushing the shelf away from the wall. It fell easily enough, with numerous hourglasses crashing down in an explosion of shattered glass. Sand flew everywhere, as did the broken glass.
I searched for the purple one -- had it been broken as well? Thankfully, no, I soon saw that it hadn't. It was still intact, rolling around the floor. Ignoring the broken glass, I raced toward it, clutching it in my paws as a shout came from the door.
It was Jhudora. Before she could do anything, I tipped the hourglass so that its sand flowed down again.
A strange look came over her face.
She shook her head, in a daze. The faerie glanced around the place confusedly, staring at the broken glass and sand, before finally saying, "Whatever that is, I'm not cleaning it up."
She was gone in a puff of purple and green light. I breathed a sigh of relief.
"Hey," Ellen said, stooping to the ground. "Isn't this Espie's Usuki doll?"
She held in her hands a battered but clearly well-loved doll. Her dress and hair were messy and torn, the ribbons in her hair were streaked with dirt, and one of her eyes had fallen off.
"Yup," Ellen laughed, "That's her's, alright."
She leaned down and laid it on the floor.
"Here," she said. "I'm going to find Will and that Aisha girl, whoever she was. Why don't you go return this to Espie?"
Date: Dec 2nd
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