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||You are on Week 624
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 Six Hundred Twenty Four Ends Friday, September 20
|Illabeth pouted as she watched the first brown spots appear on her favorite tree's leaves. She knew the time came every year when fall approached, turning the lush green land into a haven of reds, oranges, and browns. Most Neopets reveled in these crisp days, enjoying the dancing colors of nature.
Not Illabeth, however.
"Why can't you just stay green all year, leaves?" She huffed loudly, then waved her paw at the leaves as if in anger. She knew it was useless, though. The seasons changed and life went on. Illabeth swiped at some grass blades beneath her, their vibrant green color still holding out until the bitter end.
"There has to be a place where nothing ever turns brown, where there's green grass and green leaves and gorgeous flowers all year. I want to go to a place where the plants don't turn!" the Poogle yelled to no one in particular.
Illabeth attracted a few glances from the passerbys of Neopia Central. It was a busy shopping day; the new sweaters had arrived at Uni's Clothing, and the Pumpkin Smoothies were being churned out left and right at the Smoothie Store. Everyone was preparing for fall... or so it seemed.
"Hey, psst. Hey, you there," a soft voice whispered. Illabeth perked up at the sound, carefully turning to spot where it was coming from.
A shadow grew, which in itself was very strange as the sun was almost directly overhead. Illabeth looked up in surprise.
"I know where you can find leaves that never turn brown..."
Date: Sep 16th
...Illabeth frowned. The voice seemed to be emanating from the shrubbery behind Uni's Clothing. Although she could see the most peculiar shadow, she could not see the individual that was casting it. Without realizing it, she took a step backward.
"Who are you?" she demanded, peering into the bushes.
"Who I am is of no matter," the speaker replied in an oily tone. "Consider me a friend. As for the place of which I speak, it's not so very far away. Kiko Lake is the destination for you -- pristine, surrounded by trees and flowers all the year through. The lake itself is of the clearest blue, and the weather is always sublime. The leaves there most certainly never turn brown. Isn't that what you want?"
Illabeth's frown had been replaced by a slightly dreamy expression. "It certainly is," she replied softly. "Kiko Lake, eh? I think I'll check it out. In fact, I'll leave right this moment! Thank you..."
Her words faded as she realized that she was now speaking to nothing but a bush. While lost in her brief reverie the mysterious stranger had drifted away. Coloring slightly in embarrassment, she glanced around quickly to see if she was being observed by any curious shoppers. No one was looking in her direction, so she took the opportunity to peek into the bushes. Perhaps the mystery speaker had left a clue to their identity! Pushing the leaves aside, she scanned the ground closely. There was nothing in the dirt, but a flash of white in the bush itself caught her eye. Reaching in carefully, she removed the item and examined it. She realized immediately that it was a business card. Whether the mysterious stranger had left it there on purpose she did not know; scratching her head with one paw, perplexed, she read aloud...
Date: Sep 16th
..."Desiree." The Poogle flipped the card over to see if there was anything else on it, but there wasn't. "Who is Desiree?" Illabeth asked, snickering as she threw the card back into the bush. She was completely aware of how eerily mysterious the voice had been, and the bodiless shadow still perplexed her, but the fire Poogle wasn’t interested in solving mysteries while the seasons turned around her. "Catch ya later, bush!" Illabeth joked as she turned on her heels and started her trip south toward Kiko Lake.
Not far into her journey, the sky darkened as gray clouds drew in above her. "The Times said nothing about rain today," Illabeth whispered to herself as she wrapped her scarf over her head for good hair day insurance. Sure enough, however, the clouds grew dense and raindrops began to pour. The Poogle quickened her pace toward a tree where she hid herself from the weather. "Are you kidding me right now?" Illabeth screamed at the sky. The sky responded, it seemed, with vicious thunder that Illabeth could feel vibrate in her chest. "Just great," she muttered. "This had better not take long; I want to make it to Kiko Lake before nightfall."
Not but a moment after her words, the clouds above began to break. Rays of sunshine could be seen peeking through the blanket of gray and the rain quickly ceased. "Well, that was short lived," Illabeth said with satisfaction. She made up a tune in her head and whistled as she trotted along her path toward Kiko Lake, unaware of the creeping shadow that followed her in secret.
When she reached the lake, the Poogle was pleased to see that everything was just as green as she had hoped. The grass grew tall and waved in the wind at the feet of the evergreens that mocked its movements. The sun seemed to shine brighter here and the greenery soaked it up, clinging to spring all year long. Illabeth stretched out her arms, took in a deep breath of crisp air, and let it out with a gentle sigh.
"What more could you want, huh?" a voice interrupted from behind her. Illabeth, startled, turned quickly to see...
Date: Sep 17th
...a wrinkled, worn-looking old Techo, who was looking off into the late afternoon sky above the sea. He leaned on the handle of the broom he was holding and wiped his brow. There was a hint of wry sarcasm in his voice that made Illabeth pause.
"Well... nothing!" she answered at last. "All of my life I've spent half the year miserable, caught inside all day, watching the most beautiful trees turn into skeletons, the smiles fading from Neopians' faces faster than the novelty of their Advent Calendar prizes. Do you live here?"
"I do," the old Techo answered, a hint of tenderness showing in his tired eyes. "It's a nice place, mind you, and I've got a steady job here sweeping up the beach, but often the mind drifts..." As his voice trailed off, his gaze took to the sky again, as if he were expecting to see something there at any moment.
Illabeth watched the Techo stare off, wondering what in the world could trouble the mind of a resident of a land where it was always summer. She felt a new chill in the crisp lake air, although the leaves remained firmly stuck to the trees and the tourists and residents alike waited in line for glass bottom boat tours and munched gleefully on their Candy Kiko Apples. It surely was perpetually summer in Kiko Lake, but this Techo's melancholiness was infectious.
His eyes suddenly fixed Illabeth again. "Yeah, Kiko Lake's a great place, but things just haven't been the same here ever since..."
Date: Sep 17th
...Desiree left." Illabeth's ears perked up at the mention of Desiree.
"Excuse me, but who's that?" she asked, looking at the old Techo.
"Ah. So you want to know about Kiko Lake's past, do you? Why it's so colourful year 'round?" the Techo replied, gazing out over the lake.
"Does that have anything to do with Desiree?" she questioned, her mind flashing back to the business card.
"Yes. Come with me to my hut and we will discuss some more." Turning to Illabeth, he added, "Oh, by the way, my name is Lionel, but you can call me Leo if you'd like." Leo began to walk toward a house on the edge of the lake. He gestured for Illabeth to follow, and she scrambled to reach him.
"So, Leo, how do you know Desiree?"
Still walking, Leo replied, "I might ask you the same question. Where have you heard of Desiree?" By this time, they had reached the hut. Leo opened the door and Illabeth stepped inside.
"Sit anywhere you'd like and make yourself at home," he said with a slight smile. Illabeth looked around at the interior of the hut before choosing to sit on a worn couch. It wasn't much, with pieces of plaster sprinkling down from above, but it was a cozy home.
"Well," Illabeth began, "I know Desiree because she was the one who told me to come here!" Leo took a seat in the couch adjacent to Illabeth and spoke.
"So, she came to you?"
"Well, not exactly..." Illabeth replied, looking down. "I heard her voice, and she told me to come here. I then found a business card with her name on it."
Leo looked shocked.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Young Poogle, Desiree has chosen you..."
Date: Sep 18th
..."Chosen me? What do you mean 'chosen,' and for what?" Illabeth asked, looking quite confused.
The old Techo ignored her questions and started to dance around.
"I knew the day would come! I knew Desiree would send someone to help! It's you! It's you! She's chosen you!" Leo started to sing as he gleefully threw his hands in the air.
"Um, excuse me!!!" Illabeth roared. "What is going on here? What is this all about?"
Leo's smile straightened up and a serious look came upon his face. "Oh, dear, I'm sorry. It's just that these old bones haven't been this happy in so long," the old Techo started. "Young Poogle, there is something terrible happening in Kiko Lake. Here, let me explain. No, no, no. In fact, let me show you." Leo got up and opened the door. "Follow me," he said without any emotion.
Illabeth found herself following the old Techo for what seemed like half an hour. They passed through trees, shrubs, and bush after bush. Illabeth then noticed something strange. The beautiful green color that once emanated from the plants around her was now turning a dark and dreary color.
They both stopped and Illabeth started to study her surroundings. Everything looked dark and abandoned. The green trees that had once stood tall were now black and wilted. "What is this place?" she asked, quivering from the almost sudden change in scenery.
"This is still Kiko Lake. This is what has been happening to our beautiful community. Slowly but surely, all of Kiko Lake will look like this one day," Leo said with a sigh.
"But... how?" Illabeth asked in disbelief.
"Ah, well. It all started when..."
Date: Sep 18th
"...a shadow Koi, Thorin, had taken residence in our beloved lake. Although he had just simply appeared, the Kikos happily accepted him into their community. Months went by with no incident, until I came across a blackened tree.
Horror had filled my heart, because not once had I ever come across such a terrible thing, not in all my years as caretaker. Kiko Lake had always been thrumming with life; the nature here never withered. So, it was with a heavy heart that I went to Desiree about the tree."
Leo stopped talking, his old eyes misty with memory. Illabeth shifted uncomfortably; she did not like this story. Her curiosity, however, was piqued.
"Who is... or was, Desiree?" she inquired. The Techo sighed deeply and looked at the withered trees that surrounded them.
"Desiree was the Keeper of the Lake. Her very heart was tied with this place, and it was because of her that Kiko Lake thrived, green and healthy as can be.
When I went to her to deliver the news, I saw the most horrid scene. Desiree was fading away into a shadow of herself; the poison that killed the tree had also affected her. When I asked her what was happening, she looked at me with eyes full of anguish and said one word before she faded into a shadow."
The temperature of the lake had dropped noticeably, and Illabeth shivered. Her fur bristled as a breeze rustled the black leaves of the poisoned trees, its low voice seeming to mourn for the life that used to thrive here.
"What was her last word to you?" Illabeth looked at the wizened Techo, her heart already knowing what he was going to say.
Illabeth nodded, her suspicions confirmed. Anger bloomed in her chest as she thought about the shadow Koi; how dare he bring darkness to such a beautiful place?
The fire Poogle was also confused. How had one Neopet single-handedly poisoned the lake? When she asked Leo, he closed his eyes in weariness.
"I don't know. All I know is that he's still here, and has bewitched the Kiko population. The longer he is here, the more the poison spreads, and it looks like Desiree has chosen you to help..."
Date: Sep 19th
"...What can I do, though?" Illabeth asked. "I'm just... well, I'm alright at Kacheekers, I suppose, and I've read a few books, but none of them told me what to do to unpoison a lake..." She paused thoughtfully, considering.
Leo shook his head. "This isn't a problem knowledge alone can solve, child. This is a matter of heart. I knew Desiree, and I know she wouldn't have sent you if she didn't see something in you."
"Whatever she saw, I sure don't see it," Illabeth scoffed.
Leo surveyed Illabeth for a moment before he said, "I do." At this, Illabeth looked up. "I know exactly why Desiree sent you. Many great Neopets have come to Kiko Lake, hearing of our plight, with their swords the ready. They sought to win against Thorin in battle, but I've watched them fail miserably, one after another, losing their will to fight on, succumbing to the same poison as Desiree. This isn't a matter of brains or brawn, young Poogle. This is a matter of heart."
Listening to Leo speak so earnestly of his confidence in her raised Illabeth's spirits. She looked the Techo in the eye and asked, "Where is Thorin?"
The Techo smiled, and years of fear and worry lined his tired face. "Where he always is..."
Date: Sep 19th
"At the bottom of the lake."
Those were the words Leo told Illabeth as she moved about alone on a private glass-bottom boat onto the lake. It did make sense. If Thorin was going to poison the entire area, he would need to be in a central area, and with the lake as the epicenter of the entire area, he would be able to spread his poison most effectively from there.
Leo had made arrangements for all the rest of the boats to be taken off of the lake, leaving her as the only boat out there, a single ray of hope of saving all of Kiko Lake. She took a deep breath as her boat soon came to the very middle of the lake.
She could see several fish swimming in the water below, but there was no sign of the Koi she was looking for. Illabeth brought her boat to a stop and steadied herself.
"Thorin!" she shouted out. "Come out here!"
The water was still. At first, she thought that Thorin might have simply not heard her. Then, however, a chill wind blew across the lake. A dark shadow could be seen through the glass of the boat, and it started to swim faster and faster as it approached the surface.
A shadow Koi flew out of the water, splashing everywhere as he broke through the surface. The Poogle turned away to avoid getting water in her face, and when she turned back, Thorin was floating in the water, looking at the boat.
"What do you want?" he said.
"I'm here to break the curse on Kiko Lake!" Illabeth said.
"Okay," the Koi said, crossing his fins in front of him and showing impatience. "That's a noble cause, but why are you here?"
"Because you're the one poisoning Kiko Lake!" she exclaimed.
"No, I'm not," Thorin said. "Although, I am impressed with your restraint. Everyone else who tries just flies in and attacks me without talking first. I don't like violence, but I will defend myself."
"But..." Illabeth said, "if you're not poisoning Kiko Lake, then who is?"
Date: Sep 20th
...Thorin hesitated. "Do you know why the leaves here never turn brown?"
"Because of some magic, or something, concerning Desiree," Illabeth replied.
The Koi smiled. "So Leo has told you..."
"...About half the story." Thorin grinned mischievously. "You see, long, long ago, in a very distant past remembered only by the elderly and wise, the area that eventually became Kiko Lake changed seasons much like Neopia Central. However, a Neopian adept at natural magic -- said to have studied under the most erudite earth faeries -- came here, determined to make this spot her personal paradise... a place where the leaves never turned brown."
"Okay, so?" the Poogle retorted.
"So, word quickly spread. Everyone wanted a chunk of this marvelous paradise... and Desiree realized it. So, she sold real estate, quickly becoming one of the wealthiest individuals in Neopia. She did not share her riches, angering the benevolent faerie society that had instructed her. I did not poison this lake," he continued, pausing for dramatic effect. "The faeries did."
Illabeth gaped. "Wait, what?" she replied after a hesitation.
Thorin sighed. "I was the society's next apprentice. I was trained to counter Desiree's selfishness and return the area to a natural seasonal rhythm. I may have brought wrath to Kiko Lake, though it was the faeries who gave me the task."
The Poogle pondered. "So... can you reverse the effects?"
"I can, but it would go against my prime directive." He smiled casually. "If you'd really like, I can return Desiree to her normal form and you can take it up with her."
Illabeth pouted. "I do believe I would like that, Thorin."
Thorin grinned almost menacingly. "Done."
Almost instantly, a camouflage Aisha adorned in green and foliage appeared beside Illabeth in the glass-bottom boat.
The Poogle screamed.
"Calm, child," the Aisha placated softly. "What has this fiend told you?"
"He talked about you making tons of NP from this area," Illabeth started, "and not sharing it with anyone. Apparently, he's from the more recent generation of faerie pupils, or something--"
Desiree's eyes widened. "Stop there, child," she interrupted. "They're lies." Slowly, she raised her staff and pointed it toward the Koi.
Thorin gazed up at her with determination. "Do so if you want, Desiree, but do realize that your shooting me will only confirm your destructive and cynical nature."
The Aisha stared into his eyes. A second passed... and then another. A beam of noxious energy then shot forward from her wand and the Koi disappeared from view upon it reaching him.
Desiree turned and faced the stunned and startled Poogle. "Thank you, Illabeth. I'd like you to remain here, and help in the rebuilding of Kiko Lake... free of charge." Her eyes twinkled.
Illabeth gulped and reflected.
Illabeth sat on a park bench, watching as the last of the leaves turned and lost their green hues. Ultimately, she decided that she couldn't stay in Kiko Lake; she never learned which party was correct, but from the moment of the shooting she regarded Desiree as a madwoman.
Besides, green leaves all around would certainly get boring after a while... here, at least, there'd be a cyclical elation in seeing the leaves return come spring.
She smiled. Perhaps fall wouldn't be too bad. The crisp air, the crunch of fallen foliage... and Halloween.
Content, she walked back toward her Neohome....
Date: Sep 20th
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