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||You are on Week 577
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 Seventy Seven Ends Friday, October 12
|A sudden icy wind blew through the Meridell forest, making the young Ixi walking along the dirt path shiver. Instinctively, Jax pulled his jacket tighter around him. The season had suddenly turned very cold, he mused as autumn leaves crunched under his feet. Looking up at the trees he could see the branches were now bare and looked eerie against the pale twilight sky.
Ahead Jax could see a small animal bounding along the path. The creature occasionally stopped to sniff and scratch at the ground and then, after a short while, it would jump up again and continue on its way with a happy yip. Jax smiled to himself. Symols were not the easiest of pets to train, but Soot had made the best companion. Jax had found him abandoned along one of the forest trails when he was only a few weeks old. Unsure if the young Symol would live, he had tucked him in a jacket pocket and taken him home. After a few days of care Soot had not only lived, but had thrived and was now both a friend and partner in Jax's daily work.
The Ixi knew the forest of Meridell like the back of his hand, and understood that there was plenty of food growing wild to harvest for profit if you knew where to look. Soot was extremely useful, as he could sniff out the specialty foods that were so prized in town. The castle cook paid Jax top price for the rare mushrooms that King Skarl loved, and Merifoods always welcomed the fresh produce that Jax was able to provide.
Another gust of wind made Jax quicken his step, but that wasn't the only reason he wanted to get home early tonight. Today the castle cook had told him something that had made him very uneasy. Early this morning King Skarl had received an unusual visit from the warden of the Darigan Citadel prison, Master Vex. The whisperings in the castle were that there had been a prison break! Jax had himself noticed strange tracks in areas of the forest and unusual signs of recently abandoned camps. At first Jax thought it was because of preparations for All Hallows Eve, as the children in the villages would often start playing harmless pranks on unsuspecting forest travellers at this time of year. On more than one occasion in the past week, however, he had felt strongly that there was someone watching him as he went about his work in the forest.
The sky above was beginning to turn darker now, and stars began to twinkle here and there in the night sky. Not long now, Jax told himself as he approached the familiar fork in the trail that led to his small yet comfortable house. Soot was already at the end of the trail, and had just started to turn down the familiar path home when he stopped and pricked up his small ears. For a moment he was very still, then suddenly he turned, running away from the path leading home and instead speeding down an older, mostly unused path that lead into the dark heart of the forest.
"Soot!" Jax called. "Come back!" A sharp yelp, then silence followed in reply. Jax's heart was pounding as he tried in vain to see where his friend had gone. "Soot!" Jax yelled urgently. "Soot, where are you?..."
Date: Oct 8th
...The only answer was the plaintive cry of a wild Whoot perched in a nearby tree.
Jax stood for a moment, shivering in his jacket. As night fell around him, the already cold temperature dropped, and he could see his breath before him hanging in a frosty cloud. A ragged, full moon now hung in sky, casting a pale light on the familiar paths. The Ixi hated going into that strange part of the woods at night, but he knew he had no choice. In his mind, he could still hear Soot's sharp yelp and he feared the worst for his little Symol. Carefully, he started down the overgrown, older path.
"Soot!" he called. "Soot, where are you?" Jax wasn't yelling as loudly as before, as if fear had muffled his voice. He listened for any sounds, but heard only the wind.
He carefully made his way through the path, pushing aside a few briars that crisscrossed in front of him. The path turned sharply right around a large and ancient tree, and Jax followed. Ahead, he saw what appeared to be a clearing and the tiniest flickering of light from a small campfire. Frowning, Jax slowly walked toward the fire until he saw movement and realized that he wasn't alone. He jumped behind a nearby tree and peered into the clearing.
Immediately he saw Soot, and relief flooded his heart. The Symol was limping slightly, as if he had stepped on a sharp rock or thorn, but he otherwise seemed okay. Jax smiled slightly and started to step out from his hiding spot when his eye spotted a second figure in the clearing.
It was a yellow Korbat, dancing strangely around the flames as he giggled and laughed to himself. Jax's heart stopped as he recognized the strange Korbat. He had heard the rumors of the prison break, but he had no idea that the escaped prisoner was Barallus...
Date: Oct 8th
...Jax quickly hunched back down behind the tree and held his breath. He slowly peered his head around from the tree to see if the Korbat had noticed him.
Barallus, whose back was facing him, seemed focused on swirling hypnotically around the fire and didn't appear to have noticed his presence. Soot, however, had. He was so excited that his little body was trembling.
Jax motioned for Soot to come toward him and then pointed at the Korbat, reminding the Symol to move slowly and not attract attention to himself. After what seemed like an eternity -- but, in fact, was really only just a few minutes -- Soot was safely in his Ixi owner's arms.
"Come on, little guy. Let's go get that paw taken care of and then tell King Skarl and the warden where Barallus is!" Jax turned to leave. He took a step forward and his heart plummeted as he heard an echoing snap from a fallen tree branch that his left foot just broken in half. He hesitantly looked behind him and saw that the Korbat flying in his direction...
Date: Oct 9th
...Jax cringed, attempting to shield himself from the impending blow of the Korbat.
He waited. Just like his slow moving Symol before, the time that lapsed between now and when he would surely be struck seemed to slow. Each second seemed to stretch, eons flowing and ebbing all around him...
That's when the Ixi heard Barallus's high-pitched, fast-paced, and entirely annoying voice.
"Hi, Ixi!" the Korbat announced with nervous excitement. "I see you have my Symol!"
Jax looked down at the little Petpet in his arms. Would he dare trade this little creature for his life? Maybe he wouldn't have to.
"Actually," the Ixi began, "this is my Symol. His name is Soot."
Barallus just kept on smiling. Jax wasn't sure whether or not to take this as an early sign of success.
"Cool!" Barallus exclaimed. "I didn't realize he was yours. Do you want him back?"
"Er..." the Ixi was more or less at a loss for words. "Will you harm me if I say yes?"
A puzzled, almost disgusted look spread upon the Korbat's face. "Why would I do that?"
"Because you're Barallus!" Jax practically yelled at him.
"Is that who I am?"
"Of course it is! Barallus, mighty prisoner of the Darigan Citadel; Barallus, Cellblock player; Barallus..." Jax then slowed down and hesitated. "Wait," he said, an unsure look coming over him, "what did you just say?"
"Who's Barallus? Is my name Barallus?" the Korbat replied in desperation.
Jax contemplated. This character looked like Barallus, sounded like he always imagined the convict would sound... and yet, this Korbat claimed he had never heard of the fellow, claimed he had no idea who he was...
"Okay," the Ixi said, starting toward the presumably amnesiac Korbat, "forget everything that I just told you, except that your name is Barallus."
"Yay!" Barallus replied emphatically. "I like the name Barallus."
Jax sighed. "Yes. Anyway, Barallus, follow me. I... am going to take you on an adventure!"
"Where are we going?" the Korbat asked. He was practically bouncing with excitement.
King Skarl, Jax thought. However, he merely replied, "You'll see when we get there..."
Date: Oct 9th
...The walk through the forest back to the main path should have been quiet, but the entire time they were traveling Barallus was hopping along, giggling and laughing without a care in the world. "Adventure! Adventure! Going on an adventure!" the Korbat said in a sing-song voice.
In a way, Jax was somewhat relieved that the escaped prisoner was only Barallus. Out of all of them, he seemed to be the most docile -- at least among the ones that were actually convicts and not prisoners of war.
The singing and hopping along were starting to get on Jax's nerves, however. Where did he get all of that energy? It was like he was made out of sugar or something.
"Yes... yes..." Jax said, holding Soot in his arms as he lead the Korbat out of the woods and onto the path to Meridell Castle. "It will be a grand adventure."
"Tell me more about the adventure, new best friend!" Barallus said with excitement. The Korbat's words made Jax pause for a moment. Did Barallus really consider him to be his best friend? They had just met no more then five minutes ago! Then again... how long had he been trapped in the dungeons of the Darigan Citadel? It wouldn't be that much of a stretch to consider the first person he'd seen after so long to be his best friend, if he wasn't another prisoner or a guard.
"Hopefully not too much longer..." Jax said. "Just need to find the right people."
"Okay!" Barallus chirped happily before once again singing his happy song about being on an adventure. Honestly, the more he sang about it, the more the Ixi's feelings of annoyance and frustration were turning into guilt. From what he knew, Barallus had never really done anything against Meridell. In fact, no one really knew why he was imprisoned. Maybe it was just that the Korbat's endless energy got on Darigan's nerves and had him locked away? That would be terrible!
Jax came to a stop again. Maybe he shouldn't turn Barallus in. After all, what harm could one overactive Korbat do to the entire Citadel? Then again, if he was caught with an escaped Darigan prisoner, he might be locked up with him for hiding a fugitive.
No, as much as it was starting to weigh on his conscience, he had to turn Barallus in. He had a job and a life he had to get to. Others were counting on him!
"Hey, best friend!" the Korbat suddenly chirped up. "What's that up there?"
Jax was brought back to reality as he saw that a large purple and black carriage being driven by a pair of Darigan Unis was coming toward them. It must have been Master Vex's personal transport!
"It's someone we need to meet..." Jax said, quite surprised by the coincidence of running into the escort on the way to the castle.
"Yay!" Barallus cheered. "Then we can go on our adventure!"
Jax was silent as he waved down the carriage, the vehicle coming to a stop a few feet away. Out of the back, a Mynci dressed in the uniform of the guards of the Citadel came out. It was none other then Master Vex.
"What is the meaning of this?" the Mynci asked. "I have very important business I need to take care of."
Before Jax could answer, Barallus suddenly hopped up and started flying around. "Hi, Mynci! I'm going on an adventure with my new best friend!"
Jax gulped a bit as he watched the Korbat flap around before looking toward Master Vex. "Sir," he said, trying to sound respectful to the visiting dignitary, "I heard about the escape, and I found Barallus in the woods."
"I'm Barallus!" the Korbat sang out before doing a loop in the air.
The Mynci looked up at the flying Korbat, and then looked at Jax with a glare. It was a glare so harsh that Soot buried his face into his arms to try and avoid it.
"Kid, who are you trying to fool?" he said. "Barallus is under triple lock-down in the Citadel, with Haskol watching over him directly. I know, because I put him there myself before I left."
"What?" Jax said with genuine surprise. "You mean that's not Barallus?"
"I'm Barallus!" the now-mysterious Korbat shouted out with glee upon hearing the name again.
"No," Master Vex said, "that's not Barallus. He may look like Barallus, but I don't know who that is."
"Then..." Jax said, "who escaped that you're looking for?"
Master Vex gave a stare that pierced right into Jax's being. "It was Number Five..."
Date: Oct 10th
...Jax stared at Master Vex, and then stared at the poor Korbat he had taken with him.
"I-I-I'm sorry to trouble you," Jax stammered.
"I accept your apology," Master Vex replied. "If you see Number Five, be sure to let us know -- it's vital we get him back to his cell. He may be old, but he's a powerful Neopian."
"I appreciate the compliment..."
There was a silence, and everyone turned their heads and stared at the rather disturbed-looking Korbat, who had just spoken.
The Korbat suddenly began to morph, and an old figure appeared in front of the group.
"Number Five!" Master Vex yelled. "Get him!"
Jax couldn't believe what was going on; all he wanted was to get Soot taken care of and then go home to his nice warm bed. Now he was involved with a prison break... it was too much for one day.
I've got to help them, no matter how much I'd like to go home, Jax thought to himself.
He followed Master Vex and his crew. They were sprinting toward Number Five, who was calmly standing in front of them. Master Vex was the first one to reach him. He grabbed the old Lupe and began dragging him back to the carriage.
Suddenly, a bright light shone, and Jax was temporarily blinded. When Jax could see again, he saw...
Date: Oct 10th
It was everywhere.
Everywhere he looked, he saw huge, wobbling masses of the gelatinous substance. It was shaped into buildings, trees, and houses. He saw a river and bridge made up of orange-colored jelly. There was even some jelly molded into life-sized Neopets! Jax himself was standing on the ground, which was also made of jelly. It was pleasantly comfortable and bouncy.
He looked around in panic and put Soot on the ground, who started eating the jelly. Where in King Skarl's belly was he? Was this some sort of world made of gelatin? A town comprised of clear dessert? Some kind of... land made of jelly?
"Hi, there!" a cheerful voice said behind him. He turned around and felt his mouth drop open. Apparently, the jelly figures he saw earlier weren't just shaped like Neopets. They were Neopets! Now that he was paying attention, he realized that they were moving around and talking to each other, doing mundane things like shopping.
The voice, which belonged to a rather young Mynci that was a translucent red, continued. "Who are you, and why do you look so funny? Are those your friends?"
Jax looked at where the Neopet was pointing and saw Master Vex standing near a building, looking just as confused as he felt.
Thank Fyora, he thought. At least he wasn't alone here. He picked up Soot and ran to him. "Master Vex," he called. "What's going on?"
Master Vex grunted. "Oh, right, you. I didn't think you'd be transported, too."
"Master Vex, do you know where we are?"
The warden sighed. "The last time I was here was a long time ago, with Darigan. I didn't think I'd ever be back. I half-thought that it was all just a crazy dream... wait a minute, where's Number Five?"
Suddenly, they heard a large explosion in the distance...
Date: Oct 11th
... jelly sprayed everywhere. A large jelly volcano was erupting, and Number Five was on the peak of that volcano.
"We've got to get to Number Five!" Master Vex said urgently. "He can cause a lot more havoc than this."
Jax, Soot, and Master Vex all made their way toward the exploding volcano. Jelly flew at them in massive globs. The trio had managed to dodge many of them, but huge craters had formed around them from the impact of these vicious jelly blobs.
This has got to be a dream, Jax thought to himself. A world of jelly... there is no way that could exist. He closed his eyes and slapped himself a few times, hoping that would wake him up.
However, instead of finding a nice cozy bed and a jelly-less room, he found a huge glob of jelly heading directly toward him and Soot when he opened up his eyes.
This can't end well, Jax thought with pure panic. The glistening blob of orange jelly made contact with the Ixi and barely avoided Soot.
Jax was out for the next few minutes. He woke up to find himself encased in the jelly. He couldn't move, no matter how hard he tried. The jelly was translucent, so he could see a rather orange version of Soot and Master Vex through the jelly.
Poor Soot was scratching at the jelly, trying to help his poor friend. The warden, on the other hand, was still making his way toward the volcano. He was nearing Number Five now, who seemed to be laughing maniacally.
He didn't even have the courtesy to help me, Jax thought to himself with annoyance. All he could do now was watch, hoping that Number Five would be caught and that he could get out of this mess.
Master Vex managed to reach Number Five without getting pegged by a blob of jelly. When he grabbed Number Five, there was another big flash of white light. When Jax could see again, Number Five and Master Vex were gone...
Date: Oct 11th
...and so was all the jelly. His arms were noticeably jelly-free, smooth, and not at all sticky... his clothes, too, were perfectly clean. There was no sign that he had, just five seconds prior, been trapped inside a giant gelatinous blob.
But where was he? The Ixi looked around, blinking away the temporary blindness caused by the bright white light, and found that there was nothing but darkness surrounding him. Further investigation revealed to him the walls, made of cold stone, just a few steps away.
With a gasp, he realized that he was in the Darigan dungeons.
Just around the corner were the cells -- there was Clop, stomping on the ground, creating the clop-clop-clop sounds that had become his name, and there was the real Barallus, swinging around in his chains. His eyes were strangely blank and unfocused, his wings and tail swaying of their own accord. Jax ran past the bawling Squire Meekel, the forlorn Yellow Knight, and finally, passed Number Five's cell.
It was empty -- the door stood ajar, but other than that, there were no signs of a struggle. Jax lingered there for a second, but his attention was quickly captured by the sound of screams coming from further down the hall...
Date: Oct 12th
...Jax ran as if he were in a dream. Perhaps it was the sudden transportation to and from another land that had made Jax's limbs feel thick and heavy as he moved forward. He could hear the tapping of his own hooves against the stone, but the sound was muffled with something akin to dread. For some reason, which Jax could not explain, he knew something terrible had happened.
He turned a corner so sharply that his footing slipped and he almost tumbled into a Darigan Lenny. She seemed to have been standing guard over the entrance to the prison, but now she only stood covering her gaping beak. Her eyes were wide and confused.
Before him, in a heap of cloth and armor, was Master Vex, the Unis of his carriage, and the guards that had accompanied him. They looked dazed and shaken, unable to quite rise to their feet, but otherwise they seemed to be uninjured.
"Master Vex!" Jax said, running forward and kneeling next to the hunched over prison warden. He counted the Neopets on the floor and all were accounted for, except Number Five. There was something else, however, something the Ixi couldn't quite name.
When it came to him, he leapt to his feet in dismay. His faithful friend was nowhere to be seen. The Symol should have found him by now; Soot would never leave his side for very long.
"Soot!" he called out, though part of him realized that more than likely it was a lost cause. He called out once more, hoping somehow that the Symol had just gotten distracted, but there were only the groans of the Neopets before him.
"Boy!" a sharp voice spoke out. Jax looked back to where Master Vex was hunched over himself. The Mynci stood slowly and stretched out his arms. Curled there, fast asleep was Soot... but, at the same time, not.
Where there had once been soft brown fur there was now iridescent blue, and through the Symol Jax could see the Mynci's arms. Gingerly he took the jelly form into his own arms and cuddled the Petpet close. "Will he be... alright?"
"Yes," Master Vex said. "Such is the nature of the artifact Number Five stole. For something to exist where it hadn't been and doesn't belong, something must be changed in the place of origin. One for one."
Soot quivered in his arms and yawned suddenly, opening his smooth blue eyes and smiling as only the Petpet could.
"So, Number Five got away then?" Jax asked hesitantly, watching as the rest of the guards got back to their feet. Master Vex's eyes narrowed, but then he just shook his head and let out a long sigh.
"For now, but we know the way back. He will be found again..." the Mynci shrugged, and then added in a reluctant tone, "eventually. For now, all that can be done is to tell Lord Darigan. You, however, should go home."
Jax nodded, only too happy to oblige. He walked out with the guards, feeling the cool jelly flesh of his friend's new shape. He met the Symol's eyes and smiled.
"No matter what, we'll be together forever," he said, and watched Soot’s tail wave happily in response.
Date: Oct 12th
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