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||You are on Week 628
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 Eight Ends Friday, October 18
|Opal shivered as a cool autumn breeze brushed by her. She huddled into her jacket, hoping to find some warmth. Her breath came out in huffs as she tapped her foot on the ground. How long was this going to take?
Peering ahead of herself, she gasped in dismay. The line before her seemed to have doubled since she had last checked!
"Oh, what's the point?" the Shoyru cried, throwing her hands up in the air. She hesitated for a moment before stepping out of the line, a Kougra behind her eagerly taking her spot.
"I suppose I'll just have to wait 'til next year." She sighed sadly. Turning away from the line, she began to walk along a winding path toward the Magical Bookshop. Maybe a good book would lift her spirits? She looked down, her hands buried in her jacket pockets. She suddenly bumped into someone, causing her to fall backward.
"Oh, I'm sorr--" she said, looking up. She was puzzled to see nothing, however. Pushing herself up, she scratched the back of her head.
“Huh," she said, looking to where the mysterious Neopian would've been had they not disappeared. A sudden glint of something shiny caught her attention.
“Hello, what's this?" she said, kneeling down to inspect the object more closely. Her eyes widened in shock and delight as she realized what was lying on the ground before her...
Date: Oct 14th
...the box was damaged -- a corner had gotten banged up where it had landed on the path, but the clear window on the front was undamaged, and Opal could see through it: the exclusive Year 15 Halloween Vira Usuki.
She picked it up tenderly, and then looked in the direction of the vanishing Neopet again. Nothing. Though the Usukiland clamor carried dimly all the way to the center of Neopia Central, the road was peaceful. Why would someone have abandoned the hottest new item to hit Neopian shops in years? Well, Opal was sure to give it the home it deserved, even though the box was damaged, and that would take a good-sized piece out of the value.
A second thought occurred to her then: what if it hadn't been abandoned? What if it had fallen out of that Neopet's backpack when she bumped into him and he hadn't noticed? What if someone else had dropped it long before she set foot on the route toward the Magical Bookshop?
As much as she wanted one of her own, and as frustrated as she had been by the Usukiland line, she couldn't just keep this one. Not if someone else out there who wanted it just as much had lost it.
Opal set the Usuki down on her Classic Dining Table and ripped a few sheets of paper out of a nearby Yellow Lined Notebook. She started to draw flyers about the found Usuki doll, but before she could finish the first one, she heard three sharp knocks on her front door...
Date: Oct 14th
...Her heart skipped a beat. Was it the mysterious owner of the Halloween Vira Usuki? Perhaps someone else had seen her take the box home and would accuse her of stealing.
She needn't have worried, though, for it was only her Kyrii friend Archer.
"Oh. Hi, Archer." She exhaled, trying to calm herself. Why was she so nervous?
"Heya Opal," he said, waving wearily. "I see you gave up as well. Those Usuki fans are ruthless. This one Grarrl nipped me because she thought I was trying to cut in line, when I had only tripped trying to get a better look--"
His eyes fell upon her dining table.
"What is that?" he asked, reaching for the box. Opal attempted to stash it, but Archer was too quick and picked it up, his eyes bulging.
"What... I... how?" was all he could muster. "Opal! Do you know what this is? How could you afford it? Its a bit damaged. Was it the last one on the shelf or something? Did you fight for it?" he asked incredulously.
"I didn't buy it, I found it," she admitted, snatching the box and clenching it to her chest in a protective way. "I'm not keeping it, though" she added, almost reluctantly.
Archer's eyes twinkled. "You found it? But... that's awesome! You can get a fortune for this!"
"Don't be ridiculous, Archer. It's not mine. I have to return it to the owner. I'm making flyers." Opal pointed toward the torn sheets of notebook paper.
"If someone lost a Year 15 Halloween Vira Usuki, don't you think they'd be putting out flyers to get it back?" Archer reasoned. "Tell you what -- why don't we go to Usukiland and ask the shopkeeper if anyone's been asking about it? If no one has mentioned it... well, I say finders keepers."
"That seems reasonable," Opal agreed. To be honest, the idea of keeping the elusive doll had quite a bit of appeal.
So, the two Neopets traipsed back to Neopia Central. Yet, instead of hearing the usual excited chatter emanating around Usukiland, there came a wave of angry buzzing...
Date: Oct 15th
..."What's going on?" Opal inquired to no one in particular, her anxiety raising, as the pair neared the frenzy. Was she, somehow, at fault for the crowd's new found animosity? The Shoyru shook herself; she was getting paranoid.
"What's going on?" a Grarrl repeated, her voice possessing an almost ridiculing tone.
Archer yelped and ducked. "I'm sorry!" he exclaimed automatically.
The Grarrl looked at him with antipathy. "Yeah, don't you dare cut in front of the line again, Kyrii."
"What line?" the Shoyru rebutted on behalf of her friend as she pointed to the random swarms of individuals.
The Grarrl sighed. "Look, girl," she started, "I saw you here earlier -- evidently, you couldn't take the pressure." She smirked, and then she frowned. "Unfortunately, the store's all sold out, and Usukiland's not getting more in till after Christmas." She glared at the Shoyru. "Anyone would do anything for that doll, myself included."
Opal gulped nervously. "Well, I'm going to head into the shop, regardless," she stated. "Perhaps another Usuki will interest me."
"Good luck, girl," the Grarrl finished ominously as Opal, her friend behind her, fought the angry crowd and walked into the store.
A frightened Aisha crouched behind a counter. "Look, I love that new Usuki as much as the next Neopian," she started, "but there's honestly no more in stock--"
"We're not here to harm you," Archer started in an assuring manner.
The Aisha blinked as relief washed over her. "Oh, thank Fyora," she breathed. "I'm Marie, the new apprentice here at Usukiland. My, what a hectic first day this has been!" She smoothed her checkered skirt. "Is there anything I might be able to help you find today?"
Somewhere, glass broke.
Marie's eyes darted around the room anxiously. The rampaging crowds seemed to be subsiding: individuals who'd yet to purchase a doll were giving up and going home; either that, or they were outside, challenging the lucky who possessed one for the prize.
"Er," Opal started, not entirely sure where to begin. "I'm Opal. I found a Year 15 Halloween Vira Usuki earlier today, and I'm wondering if anyone may have reported one missing--"
Marie started to laugh. "Oh, Opal, you have no idea how many customers came in today with 'genuine' receipts, each complaining that they lost their doll." She frowned. "It's the oldest trick in the metaphorical book. We've turned all of them away."
The Shoyru frowned. "One of them really did lose a doll, though. The box was damaged, if that helps."
"Hmm." Marie seemed in deep contemplation.
"Actually," someone piped in, "I might be of some assistance here..."
Date: Oct 15th
...Opal almost didn't see the Meerca when she looked around the store. He was on the smallish side, and his camouflage coat blended in with the shelves.
"I heard something earlier," he continued. "I was just shopping for an Autumn Princess Usuki for my sister's birthday, so I've been in the store through most of the rush. Anyway, I noticed that there was a whole box of them that came in damaged. The clerk set them aside, to hold for the very end when shoppers were less likely to care that the box was damaged and just happy to get the Usuki, right? Anyway, a Lutari came in who didn't have quite enough Neopoints. The other shopkeeper sold him one of the damaged ones for a small discount."
"Oh, that's right!" Marie said. "We sold that whole box for a discount. I'll grab Santra. He rang up a few sales when I took a break; he might have sold some of them, too. Between us, I'm sure we can account for all of them!"
She disappeared through a door behind the counter. A few stragglers still in the shop called out behind her to double check to make sure they were really out of stock.
Opal and Archer waited for Marie to return, and the Meerca hummed to himself as he wandered up and down the shelves, still looking for the Autumn Princess Usuki for his sister.
Before Marie returned, Opal heard more glass shatter. This time, though, the sound didn't come from outside the store...
Date: Oct 16th
...Someone had broken a pretty pair of Usuki Sunglasses!
"Oops," a Jetsam exclaimed. "It was under the empty table, over where the Astronomer Usuki used to be."
"That's odd," Marie said. "That table has no space for something to fit under it. Let's check it out."
Upon closer inspection of the table, Opal discovered a swinging piece of wood.
"Come here, guys. Look what I found!" she shouted.
Inside the hollow table were about two dozen Year 15 Halloween Vira Usuki dolls.
"This is great!" Opal exclaimed. "Now we can divert the crowd by handing these out. They can then fight over the dolls."
"I can't hand these out! They're too valuable," Marie stated.
"Plus," Archer added, "the crowd might ransack the store if they think we're hiding something."
"What an interesting conversation you are having there," the Meerca said. "Maybe I should just tell the crowd right now?" he added, slyly.
"Why would you do that?!?" Marie protested.
"It's because I am not happy that I was not able to get an Autumn Princess Usuki."
Just then, they heard another crash. This time, it was from outside...
Date: Oct 16th
Marie groaned loudly as she placed her hands to her head in frustration. "What now? What else could be going on right now?"
Opal watched as the Aisha shop assistant scurried off to see what the commotion was outside. Slowly the Shoyru turned back to look at her Kyrii best friend. "Maybe we should go see what's going on?"
"Yeah, we should--HEY! PUT THOSE DOWN RIGHT NOW!"
At Archer's shout, the entire store turned to see both the Jetsam and the Meerca running off with several boxes of the Year 15 Halloween Vira Usuki dolls, cackling maniacally as they did so. Everyone was stunned by the loud crash outside and at the blatant thievery. Alas, by the time anyone could react, the two thieves were already well on their way from the shop.
Opal reacted without thinking. She leaped into the air and flew toward the con artists.
"STOP RIGHT THERE!!!" she shouted, beating her wings as fast as she could. However, the Jetsam and the Meerca were faster. They disappeared behind a large building as Opal landed onto the ground in angry defeat. "That's not fair! What a bunch of low, dirty, mean spirited... AAAAUUUUGH!"
Sinking down onto the pavement, Opal wanted to cry. How could there Neopets who were so evil that would steal from another Neopet? How, especially when all she wanted was to do the right thing and return a rare doll that someone might have lost?
"Opal! Hey, Opal!"
Opal looked up and saw Archer running toward her. The Kyrii looked worried as he slowed down and stood by his friend's side.
"Thank Fyora you're okay. I was so worried, seeing you take off like that," Archer said breathlessly.
"They got away..." Opal said, glaring in the direction that the Jetsam and Meerca had run off. "I wasn't fast enough." Collecting her nerves, Opal turned to look at her friend. "So... what happened?"
Archer shook his head as he looked back at the Usukiland shop, frowning faintly. "Well, to make a long story short, that Jetsam and the Meerca are part of a well-known group of thieves called "The Usuki Elite." They specialize in stealing rare Usuki dolls and restocking them for a profit. One of the thieves, that Grarrl who was so rude to us, created a distraction outside by making a huge fuss about how it's unfair that she couldn't get one the Usukis. That crash you heard was from when she knocked over a bunch of crates just to 'prove' how angry she was. Right when Marie and I got outside, she ran off before anyone could stop her."
Opal could hardly believe what Archer was telling her. Thieves? Usuki doll thieves? When did she sign up for this kind of excitement?
"There's actually something else that I have to tell you..." Archer continued, although he sounded hesitant. "It's about the Usuki doll you found..."
Date: Oct 17th
"What now?" Opal asked through gritted teeth. She didn't think she could take any more bad news.
Archer grimaced. "The Grarrl took it."
"Of course she did! How did I get mixed up in this mess?!?" Opal cried, gesticulating wildly.
Her hand had made contact, and both Opal and Archer froze.
"Who's there?" Opal asked.
Both Neopets were expecting a response, but nevertheless jumped as an invisible voice responded.
"The name's Jackson, nice to meet you," he said sarcastically. He then added, "One of the woes of being an invisible Neopet, I suppose."
"I'm very sorry," Opal said with as much sincerity as she could muster.
"It's okay," Jackson said. "I just heard you say that you found an Usuki doll? Was it, by any chance, a Y15 Halloween Vira Usuki? I seemed to have lost mine."
"Yeah!" Opal suddenly had an epiphany. "You! You're the Neopet I ran into earlier."
"Oh yeah," the voice said. "I was in a hurry to get home, and I guess I didn't notice I'd dropped it."
"Well, I have some bad news," Opal admitted. "I was trying to return yours to the store and, well... it was stolen."
They heard Jackson sigh, but not for the reason they thought.
"It's what I get, I suppose, for trying to buy something from the black market."
"The black market? You didn't buy your doll from Usukiland?" Archer asked.
"No," he admitted. "I was walking through Neopia Central on my way to Usukiland when this Meerca stopped me and asked if I wanted to buy a genuine Y15 Halloween Vira Usuki doll. He also mentioned that he would be getting more soon, so I should tell my friends. I guess I was so excited that I didn't really stop to think where he'd gotten them from."
Opal and Archer exchanged a meaningful glance.
"Where exactly was this Meerca stationed?"...
Date: Oct 17th
..."In The Deep Catacombs of the Art Centre,” Jackson answered as he threw an invisible directional thumb over his shoulder.
"Alright!" Opal exclaimed with fervor. "So, we'll charge into the catacombs and demand that they give back what was stolen!"
Jackson simply laughed.
Opal and Archer shared a confused glance at one another before Archer interrupted, "What's so funny?"
"The area has been overrun by gangsters, hoodlums, and extremely territorial nostalgic artistic-types," Jackson began. "They've driven everyone out, even the authorities! It's under their jurisdiction, and has been for a while now. Not just anyone can barge into the catacombs. You need access."
There was a brief silence as the danger of justice settled in. "How do we get in, then?" Opal asked Jackson with a determined bite to her tone.
Jackson revealed a Horned Collectable Scarab that, to Opal and Archer, seemed to hover in mid-air. "You'll need this." Opal grabbed the scarab and pinned it to her blouse. "It's good for only one person."
"What about Archer?" Opal asked as she began to panic. "I can't go in there alone!"
"Don't worry. Archer can wait as backup while I sneak in unseen to assist you," Jackson assured the Shoyru. "We need someone on the outside who can get help if things don't go over so well."
"Yeah," Archer agreed. "I'll be waiting right outside for you two, and if you take too long I'll seek help. I think I know of some folks who would be more than eager to get in on the action."
At the mouth of the catacombs, Opal's heart fluttered in her chest. She approached a familiar Grarrl, who stopped her before she could enter. "Hold it right there, girl," the Grarrl ordered as she folded her arms and stood firmly before the entrance. "Don't I know you from somewhere?"
Opal felt dizzy with fear, but a warm invisible hand on her shoulder helped to give her confidence. "Probably," the Shoyru began as she pointed to the scarab on her shirt. "I do come here often."
The Grarrl's face was flush with embarrassment as she stepped to the side to let Opal in. "Girl, I am so sorry," she apologized as she laughed at herself. "It has been a hectic day with the release of those Y15 Halloween Vira Usuki dolls."
Just before she entered, Opal turned back and said to the guard, "Evidently you can't take the pressure." Jackson gave her a tiny warning nudge and Opal cracked a devious smirk. She was feeling quite suave.
It was a madhouse within the deep recesses of the Art Centre. Illegal vendors shouted their black market goods as crooked characters surveyed the merchandise and haggled outrageous prices down to a bargain. Everything from magical brews and powerful trinkets to Draik eggs and unreleased NC wearables were being sold to the highest bidder.
"Right over there," Jackson whispered as he used his hands to turn Opal's gaze to the Meerca and Jetsam from the Usukiland shop. They had already set up the stolen dolls at their stand in a dark corner, and a small line grew before them.
Opal and Jackson snuck over to the stand and stood at the end of the line. "So, what now?" Opal whispered to her invisible sidekick.
"I'm not really sure," Jackson admitted.
"Well, what's the plan?" Opal asked as she gritted her teeth.
"Plan? What plan? I thought you had the plan!"
Peering ahead of the line, Opal gasped in dismay. "It's almost our turn!" she exclaimed in panic. "Think of something!"
"We could buy them all, and then return them to Usukiland," Jackson suggested, his voice wavering with uncertainty.
"Are you insane? I don't have that kind of money!" Opal shouted. The few patrons in front of her shot her a suspicious glance, and some even left the line, annoyed by the attention she had stirred. Seconds later, Opal and Jackson found themselves at the front of the line...
Date: Oct 18th
...Jackson nudged Opal. She turned toward the Jetsam and Meerca and smiled weakly.
"Well, say SOMETHING!" Jackson whispered loudly.
The Meerca that had been in the store earlier stood at the front of the line, his arms crossed.
"Hey... you look... familiar!" he said slowly, staring Opal down. Her suave attitude drained as she attempted to glare back as menacingly as possible.
"Oh, umm," she said, glancing around. Her eyes came to rest on the pile of Y15 Halloween Vira Usukis behind the Meerca. "I was just here to... browse the goods, if you know what I'm saying." The Meerca nodded, pleased that he had a potential customer.
"Yes, ma'am," he said, giving her another once over before turning to the pile. "These Usukis are the thing to have right now, and I'll hook you up with a bargain -- if you're buying in bulk." Opal nodded slowly, pretending to consider the Meerca's offer. She looked over Jackson's way, and he whispered in her ear.
"Okay, I've got the plan. You go over there with the Meerca and Jetsam to make a deal, and I'll grab the Usukis. Got it?" Opal raised one eyebrow.
"Okay, I've got it," she said, walking over to the Usukis.
"Even at the discounted price, they'll cost you a hefty sum," the Meerca continued, turning to Opal. The Jetsam grinned toothily.
"I'll still buy. Why don't we go over there..." she suggested, gesturing toward a corner of the Catacombs, "and I'll pay you... in pure Neopoints."
The Meerca smiled crookedly. "As you wish--" he began, but was interrupted by a roar from the Grarrl.
"What the?!?" Everyone's eyes turned to where the Grarrl had been standing. A group of Aishas and other assorted Neopets were now standing on top of her. She flailed around uselessly, yelling random things. Opal tried to hold in her laughter. The largest Aisha stood up and, clearing her throat, spoke.
"Theives gathered, all around,
Why did you chase us out of the 'Combs?
The storytellers, poets, we'll stand our ground;
This is our house, our home."
As she said that, a cheer arose from the poets and storytellers who were all gathered. Opal felt like cheering herself. The Meerca ran toward the group, shoving random thieves over as he did so. The Jetsam trailed behind him, his grin gone.
"Hey! Get out of here!" the Meerca yelled impatiently. A blue Chia glared at him.
"And why should we do that, young one?
It should be YOU, not us, that run."
The Meerca stepped forward. As he did this, the group all pulled out assorted weapons -- daggers, blasters, you name it, it was there. The Meerca stumbled back, clearly frightened. In his haste, he nearly knocked over the Jetsam.
An old Techo then yelled.
"Thieves, if you want to survive to see night,
Surrender now, leave without a fight!"
Trembling suddenly, the Meerca waved his hand frantically. The thieves and black market shoppers, who had been frozen in fear before, took this chance to run. Within mere moments, the bustling Catacombs were deserted, all except for Opal, Jackson, and the group.
"But... how?" Opal cried out suddenly. The Aisha walked toward her.
"Young one, do not worry now,
It is all over, do not ask us how."
Opal glanced behind herself and gasped in surprise. In the rush, the Usukis had not been stolen!
"Thank you," Opal stuttered. "Now we can take the Usukis back to the store!" The Aisha smiled mischievously.
"You know, we helped and all,
Would you mind if I took an Usuki Doll?"
Opal laughed. She grabbed a Y15 Halloween Vira Usuki off of the pile and handed it to the Aisha. The Aisha smiled and began to walk away. Pausing, she turned to Opal and spoke.
"Just remember, little one,
Come and join us, you're always welcome."
With that, she turned back and strode to join her group, who had tied up the Grarrl.
"Come on, you didn't prevail;
The place for you is in the Neopian jail!"
The Chia yelled, causing her to begin yelling again.
Opal turned to Jackson suddenly.
"I thought you might want this," she said, handing him one of the dolls. "I'm sorry you were involved in all of this." He reached over and took the doll. Even though he was invisible, Opal could've sworn that she saw his smile.
"It's perfectly fine -- I met a new friend in spite of all of this, so I think that's a fair trade." Opal laughed, turning back to the pile suddenly.
"Well, one thing's for sure... I'm going to need your help to carry all of these Usukis back to the store."
Date: Oct 18th
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