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||You are on Week 563
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 Sixty Three Ends Friday, July 6
|Masila strode through the violet halls of the Faerie Palace with the grace and elegance of an accustomed courtier. She flashed her pretty smile at the faeries as she passed and dropped low curtsies to the highest ranking of them.
Her smiles were returned and, after she had passed, the faeries muttered to themselves: "Who is this Aisha, with such pretty manners and such a pretty face?"
Masila mounted the stairs at the base of the Hidden Tower and, as soon as she was out of sight of the Faerie Queen's court below, her demeanor slipped. Her face went blank, her smile wiped away. She leaned against the wall and started to breathe heavily.
The first part, the part she had dreaded the most, was over. No suspicions had been raised. She could hear the voices of the faeries discussing her drift up the stairs at her back. They hadn't questioned her, she had seen to that. Her cape was the most luxurious blue silk, trimmed with silver thread, that Neopoints could buy. The gown underneath shimmered with the colors of twilight -- she'd stolen the idea from an eventide Draik she'd passed in Neopia Central not a fortnight before -- and screamed "wealthy" to everyone she passed.
There were also her silver slippers. The outfit was one of a kind. It had been crafted with magic as much as cloth, with a spellcaster's toil as much as her own hard work. The design, however, was all Masila's own.
The Aisha caught her breath and continued the long journey up the spiral steps. No one would question a Neopet dressed as she was, with what appeared to be a bulging sack of coins at her belt, headed toward the most expensive shop in all of Neopia.
She took one final deep breath, put her mask of courtly elegance back on, and stepped onto the floor of the Hidden Tower.
There weren't as many shelves as she expected, and far fewer places to escape someone's line of sight. The door was flush with the only bare wall in the room, and the Faerie Queen had a clear view of it -- along with almost every other nook and cranny of the tower -- from her perch on the amethyst throne of Faerieland.
Masila shook herself. She couldn't keep evaluating everything through the eyes of a thief. Her clothes were legitimately acquired, and so were the Neopoints at her belt.
Fyora smiled at her. "Welcome to the Hidden Tower. What can I interest you in today?"
Masila absently jingled the coin purse, but she didn't look to the shelves -- she knew what they would contain, and the temptation of seeing anything on them was not something she wanted to deal with.
"My lady, it is an honor," she swept a deep curtsy to the Faerie Queen.
Fyora smiled and nodded her head, closing her eyes just a little as she did so in a most regal acknowledgement.
"My lady, I wish for you to be my teacher."
"Teacher?" Fyora asked, taken aback.
"Yes, madam. I wish to study magic..."
Date: Jul 2nd
"...Teacher?" Fyora repeated, still dazed regarding the inquiry.
"Yes, my lady," Masila reiterated as calmly and conceitedly as she had previously. "I wish to learn the ancient art of sorcery, and I wish you -- the single most powerful being in Neopia -- to teach me all you know."
Fyora gazed into the Aisha's eyes. Can she see through my clever disguise? Masila thought, anxiety bubbling within her.
"Well," the Faerie Queen started, "I don't generally teach anyone anymore. The last student I guided was a young Xweetok -- Xandra -- and I need not say more about the events she caused." Fyora walked toward her window and stared out at the land. Frowning, she continued. "She was a prodigy that went too far; either she was corrupt to begin with, or her eventual ability to wield her magic brought Xandra to her, er... 'insanity.'"
"But I'm not like that," Masila reassured. "I'm just a humble Aisha who wishes to learn spellcasting from the master of magic."
"So was Xandra," Fyora quickly replied, not smiling. "Well, except you're an Aisha. I suppose that's one point in your favor -- Aishas do have an innate tendency for magic." She smiled slightly at the thought.
Masila smiled as well, though her smile was because her sinister plot seemed to have worked. Of course she knew that Aishas were some of the most magical Neopets -- it's why she had gotten herself morphed into one. Her species change, coupled with her change in clothing, seemed to have convinced the mighty Fyora that she was respectable, genuine, and ethical. Now, she had to convince her that she was worthy of instruction.
"I have money," Masila said as she took the purse of Neopoints and opened it, revealing the large sum of wealth inside. The Aisha took satisfaction in seeing the Queen's eyes widen just a bit.
"Well, that's certainly something that Xandra didn't have," Fyora continued, a brief chuckle following the statement. She sighed. "Fine, if you really want to learn from me, there is something you must fetch... to prove your worthiness." She smiled. "Consider it a test of your abilities, if you will."
"Yes, madam, what object do you wish me to acquire?"
Fyora led Masila into a secret room, a room filled with artifacts more ancient and powerful than the ones she had for sale. Masila recognized them all -- if she gained the privilege to be taught under Fyora, these were the "toys" she would get to play around with. Each artifact stood on its own rock pedestal and, after a bit of walking, Fyora pointed to a blank one.
"This pedestal," Fyora started, "used to contain the 'Staff of Ingrid.' It was stolen from here a long time ago, however, and I know neither the culprit or its whereabouts. Find it and return it here, and you will be rewarded with what you seek."
A quest to return a stolen item? Masila had quite a vast knowledge of thieves, as she had been one. "Yes," she said confidently, "I accept the challenge..."
Date: Jul 2nd
...The Faerie Queen, though she kept her composure, raised one eyebrow slightly. "You are awfully quick to do so," she observed.
Masila smiled slyly. "I'll do anything to prove I am worthy, my queen."
Fyora smiled. "Very well."
"That being said, I do have a few questions about the artifact," she began. Fyora nodded, so she continued. "First, can you tell me what the Staff of Ingrid looked like?"
The queen seemed a bit melancholy as she answered. "It's much like my own staff -- a long, pale blue pole tipped with a glowing sapphire orb, decorated with swirling silver vines."
Masila's eyes widened a bit at the thought of the expensive-seeming treasure, but she brushed the thought off.
"Another question: when was it stolen from you?"
"Ten years ago, almost to the day."
"Hmm." The Aisha pondered this; it was much longer ago than she had expected. "Just one more thing," she said. "Is there any way you can tell me its purpose, Your Majesty?"
"I'm afraid not," Fyora said sternly. "No one knows its secrets but me. Once it is found, I may teach you, but until then I simply cannot risk it falling into the wrong hands."
Masila made a huge effort not to smirk at the irony. Instead, the former Acara simply curtsied again. "Thank you, my queen," she said. "That is all I need."
"Then go forth, Aisha... may I know your name?"
"Oh, yes, of course. It's... Rietta," she said, using a well-established alias of hers.
"Very well then, Rietta. I wish you the best of luck on your journey."
"I will return soon, Queen Fyora," she promised as she made her way back to the spiral stairs.
Sooner than you think, she smugly thought, because -- being a former thief herself -- she knew exactly where to start...
Date: Jul 3rd
...She darted through the hallways and slipped silently past the faeries, once again making sure to smile sweetly at each and every one of them.
The streets of Faerie City were packed at that hour, and no one paid her any attention as she slipped through the crowds, turning corners here and there. Her destination was clear in her mind.
Soon enough, the crowds thinned, the pristine pink and purple buildings giving away to dilapidated ruins; it was clear that she was not in the best neighborhood in Faerie City, but this was the place where she could get a lead. The building she walked up to was old, with falling wood beams threatening to break apart and collapse; its patrons were no better. Masila entered warily, knowing that only the shadiest of characters lurked in this spot, and they wouldn't hesitate to confront an unassuming Aisha such as herself.
The room was dark, smelling of stale grog and old food, and -- save for the half-asleep Chia at the counter and the mysterious Neopet slumped over a table -- largely deserted, leaving Masila to wonder what had happened since the last time she'd visited.
She knew, however, that she was in the right spot, for this was where all the Faerieland thieves congregated. Surely someone would know about the Staff of Ingrid...
Date: Jul 3rd
...And, if anyone knew the comings and goings of Faerieland thieves, then most likely it would be this place's owner.
She figured that she'd try the Chia first. After all, he was at the counter, and therefore was most likely to be the owner of this establishment.
"Wake up," Masila snapped and clapped her hands right in front of the Chia's face.
"Gah! Who, what?" the Chia said with a start, looking wide-eyed at the Aisha who woke her up.
"You run this place?" Masila asked, getting right to the point.
"I do," the Chia said with a yawn. "Why? Who are you?"
"That's none of your concern," Masila said. "What do you know about the Staff of Ingrid?"
That seemed to wake the Chia up in mid-yawn, as he froze for a moment to look at her. "I know that it was stolen ten years ago," the Chia said softly. "Aside from that, I don't know anything."
Masila could tell that this Chia was being stubborn, but she knew what could get him to talk. She took the coin pouch at her side and spilled the contents onto the counter.
"Are you sure you don't know anything?" Masila said with a sly grin.
"Well, now that you mention it..." the Chia said, looking at the Neopoints that were in front of him. "I might know a few more things."
"Spill it," she demanded.
"The staff had a spell placed on it," the Chia said. "More like a curse. Whoever held on to it would be granted their wildest dreams, but only once that spell was broken. It wasn't a normal spell, though; there was no way to undo it other than just waiting for the magic on it to fade, which -- as coincidence would have it -- would take exactly ten years."
That must be why Fyora wants it back... Masila thought, before saying to the Chia, "Go on."
"The curse, from what I've heard," the Chia continued, "prevented whoever owned it from leaving Faerieland until it wore off. As such, it would take ten years for whoever possessed it to obtain their wildest dreams, which I suppose was to keep it away from thieves. After all, who would want to wait that long and be stuck in Faerieland, where they could be found at any moment?"
"Well," he continued, "about ten years ago, someone tried. He broke into the Hidden Tower, made off with the Staff of Ingrid, and has managed to stay hidden almost the entire time. He must have some huge dream if he's willing to wait that long to obtain it."
"Fine," Masila said, "Where is he, and what's he look like?"
The Chia started to laugh. "You think I know? He wouldn't be a very good thief if he just waltzed around Faerieland out in the open like that!"
Masila didn't say anything. Instead, she pulled out another coin purse and dumped its contents onto the counter. She didn't say anything to the Chia, but let her look tell him that she wanted to know.
"Shadow Korbat," the Chia said. "Before the crash, he had a hiding place near the Rainbow Fountain that only those who could fly could get to. After the crash, he relocated to the Faerie Caverns."
Masila just grinned. She knew where he was and who to look for -- there'd be no stopping her now.
"Thanks," she said plainly and exited the establishment, heading straight for the Faerie Caverns...
Date: Jul 5th
...The entrance to the Faerie Caverns was dim, the light a cool blue glow inside that had no discernible source. Every noise she made as she stepped inside was magnified, echoing until until it sounded thunderous.
A natural security system, she realized immediately, pausing as a loose stone echoed throughout the cavern, sounding as if a much larger rock had been thrown.
As she stood frozen in the silence that followed after the pebble incident, she began to realize just how eerie the caves really were. In the distance all she heard was the steady drip-drip-drip of water; though it seemed benign at first, listening to it for several moments definitely gave her a bad case of the creeps... staying here didn’t seem like a great idea.
Start by finding the Korbat, she told herself, taking a deep (but silent) breath. Steeling her resolve, she began to move deeper into the cave system, taking care as she chose where to place each foot. She needed to surprise him; if he decided to flee before she got to confront him, she may as well just give up.
Time passed as Masila crept through the labyrinth that made up the caves; dead end after dead end frustrated her, but she forged on. She passed the occasional treasure chest, and any other time she might have been tempted by the riches within, but she knew something far greater lay ahead. She even tripped over a tiny pink Petpet at one point; it had snuffled its outrage and run. It had actually been kind of cute, but didn't even make it onto her list of priorities.
Eventually, the diffuse blue light began to grow dimmer and dimmer, and the pools of shadows within the caverns grew more frequent at first, and then larger. It was progress, she knew; she was sure the Korbat hadn't been hiding in the caverns this long if he had been in the easier-to-reach ones. Too many Neopians passed through the caverns to roost there. Finally, she crept in a cavern that had virtually no light at all, the unexplained light source all but absent in the darkness. Almost immediately, her hair began to stand on end, her long-honed instincts raring to life. Her eyes narrowed in reaction despite the increased gloom; this cave... this cave was different. Every bone in her body reverberated with the certain knowledge of just how different.
With another deep-yet-silent breath, she stepped further into the cave, and had to stifle a shiver in the stillness. An unexpected burst of air had wafted across her skin, startling her; the currents of air had almost seemed like... something had touched her. She knew it hadn't, though -- she was still alone, as far as she knew.
Then, just to prove her wrong, a pair of bright orbs appeared, reflecting eerily in the darkness...
Date: Jul 5th
..."So what brings you here, Rietta? Or, should I say... Masila the Acara," the perching Korbat eerily whispered.
"How do you know my true identity?" Masila hissed, taken aback.
The shadow Neopet began to smile, his eyes reflecting their glowing light off of his fangs. "Oh, I have my ways, as I'm sure do you, as well... but do you not know who I am?"
"Enough of the small talk, just hand over the Staff of Ingrid. I know you have it," Masila said, clearly getting frustrated.
"Oh, so the Queen has you doing her dirty work for her? How amusing," the Korbat said, flying down and hovering within feet of Masila. "I expect she promised to teach you magic in return?"
Becoming even more furious with the shadow Korbat with every passing second, Masila realized that her eyes had, at long last, adjusted to the darkness. Taking a moment to scan her surroundings, she saw that it was just another ordinary cave... except there was a huge stalactite on the cave's ceiling, hanging precariously by just a thin piece of rock right above her! This was her chance; she had to act quickly.
"At least I can use magic! You will never be able to learn the difficult art of casting spells. A simple Korbat, using magic? Don't make me laugh!" Masila said, dripping her every word with as much contempt as she could, doing everything in her power to coax the Korbat to come after her.
Enraged, the Korbat screeched, "Why, you little--" and launched toward her at full speed, fangs ready to bite, searching for a place to sink into Masila.
Swiftly, the Aisha rammed into the wall behind her with as much force as she could muster, causing the cave to rumble and the stalactite to fall. Malisa sidestepped her assaulter just in the nick of time and the giant rock fell right smack dab on top of the Korbat.
Euphoric with success, Masila remembered that she still had not found the Staff of Ingrid, her primary objective. That was, until she saw a twinkle in the corner of her eye... could it be?
"Aha!" the Aisha exclaimed. The staff was simply resting against the cave wall, next to where the Korbat had previously been suspended. She quickly nicked the staff and sprinted out of the cave, not looking back. This was all too easy... I thought he would put up more of a fight, she told herself.
And that's when the most awful and terrifying sound Masila had ever heard met her ears...
Date: Jul 6th
...Masila immediately froze at the sound. She had no idea what had made it, but assumed it was the Korbat. "How did he escape?" she said to herself. The Aisha then realized that she really didn't care... she just had to run the staff back to Fyora. She was out of the cave, but which way led out of the caverns?
The piercing shriek came again. Louder, this time -- the maker of the noise was getting closer. If she was to avoid capture by whatever was following her, she had to act quickly. Hastily, she picked what seemed to be the most likely route out of the tunnel system and ran down that path. When, finally, she thought she was far enough away from the beast, Masila slumped down and sat against the cold corridor wall. Panting heavily, she decided to inspect her treasure. "The Staff of Ingrid," she said, her words slurred just slightly together from fatigue. She repeated the name a few more times. "What do you do?" she asked it. "Can you help me get out of this cavern system and back toward Fyora's Tower?"
To her surprise, it replied. Not in words, though... in pictures. The sapphire orb mounted at the tip of the vine-surrounded pole glowed a peculiar pink, then settled into more of a crystal ball-like appearance. Masila watched, wide-eyed, as a very small map suddenly appeared through the sphere.
The map was grey in appearance, with two small, flashing dots; one was moving and the other stayed still. After having stared through its translucent surface for a few seconds, the Aisha realized what she was looking at: a map of the caverns. The still dot represented her, and the moving dot -- slowly getting closer to her dot -- was the Korbat.
Elation replaced her exhaustion, and she was soon up off the floor, using the map on the staff to find her way out of the caverns and to freedom... and her reward.
As she traversed through the caverns, however, it became apparent to her that victory would not be as easy as she thought. For, according to the map, standing at -- nae, barricading -- the exit of the caves was none other than that monstrous Korbat. What was she going to do?
Masila then recalled the numerous chests of treasure she had passed on her way in. If she could find one of those, then perhaps she could use the wealth inside as a distraction? The Aisha, veering slightly off course, entered one of these treasure chambers and pocketed some Neopoints.
"Perfect," she said with a wry smile.
Masila was right near the entrance now and, from behind the corner where she was hiding, could see the shadow Korbat, now 10 times larger than previously, standing at the entrance. Waiting for her. She took her plan into action. Taking the supply of Neopoints she'd found in the chest, she threw them across the floor.
The Korbat turned around, just as the Aisha had hoped. Using the few valuable seconds she had, she ran through the small opening and out of the cave system... however, the Korbat had realized what had happened and started chasing Masila.
"You'll never catch me!" Masila shouted.
"Just like I'll 'never be able to learn the difficult art of casting spells'? How did I make myself this tall?" the Korbat returned.
Masila didn't think of a comeback. She was focused on getting to the Hidden Tower.
The Aisha, running up the staircase of the Hidden Tower, was so close. The Korbat was still chasing her, however. He had run through the crowds of faeries below, where his size and brutality had left him unchallenged.
Finally, Masila opened the door revealing the many artifacts adorning the shelves of the Hidden Tower, and among them stood Fyora.
"Ah, Rietta," Fyora started, "you've returned! My, you look tired."
"I am tired!" Masila uttered, clearly stressed. "This giant Korbat had the wand, and now he's chasing me! He's coming up the staircase! Please, make him go away!"
"Alright," she said, then raised her staff. Several seconds later, the Queen declared, "All should now be well."
Masila opened the door. Indeed, all seemed still and quiet. "Thanks," she said as she handed over the Staff of Ingrid. "Now, when do I start learning magic?"
"Oh, never," Fyora said, much to the surprise of the now-stunned Aisha. "I said that if you returned the staff here, I would reward you with what you seek. It seemed to me as though you seeked the disappearance of your Korbat stalker."
"But, that's not fair--"
"Also," the Faerie Queen interrupted, "I'm not a fool, and I don't teach thieves." She smiled mischievously. "Thanks for the staff, Masila, now be gone."
Masila, mouth agape, realized that she had better "be gone" or risk some kind of wrath. Grumbling, she walked down the staircase leading out of the tower. She wasn't done with magic, though. She was still an Aisha, and she still had the will to be taught.
Maybe she would try her luck with Jhudora...
Date: Jul 6th
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