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Week 628
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Week 630

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 Nine Ends Friday, October 25

"BOO!!!"

Cory laughed as he tumbled clumsily from the kitchen cabinet, nearly falling onto the floor if his older brother Jordan hadn't caught him. The baby Gelert giggled as he squirmed in the older Lupe's arms, doing his best to wriggle out from under the sheet he was wearing.

"Did I scare ya? Did I, Jordan?" Cory asked.

Jordan rolled his eyes and laughed a bit as he gently set his little brother down on the floor. If Cory wanted to get the sheet off of him, the baby Gelert could find his own way out of it. Jordan then eyed Cory with a friendly but disapproving glint in his eyes. "Yeah, I'll admit, you kind of scared me."

"Yes!" Cory screamed as he rolled around on the floor, still struggling to take the sheet off. "I finally got to scare Jordan, the scariest prankster in ALL of Neopia Central!"

Shaking his head, Jordan looked back at the cabinet he had just opened and arched an eyebrow when he saw that his favorite Cinnamon Toasties cereal was missing. "Cory, you scared me because I thought you were going to fall and break your neck. Now, where did you put my Cinnamon Toasties? I'm going to be late for school."

Once the sheet was off of him, Cory smirked from behind the giant Spooky Skull Mask he was wearing. Tumbling out of the cabinet was just Phase One of his master scheme to out-scare his older brother. "I dunno, I think it's somewhere in the fridge."

"The fridge?" Jordan echoed as he started to put the cabinet in order again. "Now, why would you--"

Cory held his breath. Right as Jordan turned around, he lifted his paws above his head and tried to make himself look as scary as possible. "ROOOOOOOAR!!!"

Unfazed by his brother's antics, Jordan chuckled as he reached down and took the mask from his brother's face. "Come on, Cory. You really think using this silly mask is gonna scare me?" he asked as the Lupe went to open the fridge. "It's going to take a lot more than just jumping out of weird places while wearing a mask to scare me. Like you said, your big brother's Neopia Central's scariest prankster, and this year I'm going to be the top scarer at my school's Halloween Festival."

Bothered by the lack of fright generated by his latest prank, Cory frowned as he folded his arms across his chest. "Well, I thought that it was a good idea..."

Still chuckling, Jordan gave up on finding his cereal and grabbed a Croissant from the breadbox instead. He looked back at his baby brother and grinned. "It was a gallant effort, Cory, but let's face it: you're too small, too young, and too cute to scare anyone. Anyway, I'm late for school. I'll see you when I get back!"

"Wait!!!" Cory shouted as he ran after his brother, but it was too late -- his brother was already on his Purple Skateboard and skating off to school. The baby Gelert pouted as he watched Jordan round the corner. "Too small, too young, and too cute to be scary?"

Cory huffed as he folded his arms across his chest. Well, he was going to prove to Jordan that he wasn't too small, too young, and too cute to be scary. He was going to think up the most scary, most terrifying, and most gigantic prank of all time to scare the pants off his older brother.

The question now was... how?

Author: noxlyx
Date: Oct 21st
...But first, man, was he hungry.

Cory tumbled back into the house, tripping over his tail only once going up the front steps, and fished Jordan's Cinnamon Toasties out from under the sink. He plopped to the kitchen floor with a rustle of sugary cereal bits and sunk a paw into the box as he pondered his next move. Jordan scared the Meepits out of Cory every Halloween on the dot, and Cory was pretty sure that was the unfairest thing in all Neopia. He was always gonna be littler than his older brother, so how was he supposed to get the drop on him?

An idea cannonballed into Cory's head and he gaped for a moment, crumbs falling from his mouth as his own genius overtook him. Of course! The bookshelf!

Cory and Jordan's mom, a distracted but loving Kyrii, was a historian of Neovia and the Haunted Woods, and her study was full of books on the spookiest forest in Neopia. One shelf in particular was dedicated entirely to old collections of stories and folk tales of the region, and Jordan could often be found poring over the dusty tomes this time of year, searching for new prank ideas from the undisputed masters. If Cory could find a book his brother hadn't read yet, he was sure to find a way to prank him!

Cory burst up, leaving a trail of Toastie crumbs behind him as he barreled through the house to his mom's study, pausing only to close the door firmly behind him. Jordan often forgot things at home, and Cory didn't want his brother knowing what he was up to.

Cory goggled for a moment at the towering walls of books in his mom's study, not to mention all the crumbling maps and creepy drawings pinned behind glass on the walls, but quickly zoned in on the most colorful shelf of them all. Lightly running his paws along the spines, he recognized most of them as books Jordan had read before, and began looking higher and higher on the shelves for something his brother wouldn't have used. Finally, craning his neck, he spotted on the very top shelf a dull purple book with glossy black letters on the spine, and knew he'd found his prize. Scrambling around the room, he stacked cushions on books on chairs until he'd formed a ladder tall enough that he could clamber up, swaying and shaking, and swipe the book from its perch.

Tightly clutching the book to his chest, Cory quickly hopped down, the impromptu ladder beginning to collapse under him, and lay the book out on the floor. It was bigger than he'd thought, and dustier, and he hadn't noticed the pictures painted onto the cover, which really kind of creeped him out. He opened to a page in the middle with a shudder, scanning the book's contents for anything that looked like it would scare Jordan.

Near the end, where the pages were a bit stained and hard to read, he found what he'd been looking for. The picture showed a ghost of a Hissi rising up out of the ground, wings spread wide and fangs dripping black venom, and a crowd of Neopets crowded scared before her. Whatever was going on in that picture, Cory was sure it would scare the pants off of Jordan.

The text on the facing page was messy and hard to read, but Cory found the clearest section he could and began to read aloud:

"Red Mary, Red Mary, lost in the caves,
Red Mary, Red Mary, never given a grave,
Red Mary, Dead Mary, I call you to me,
Red Mary, Dead Mary, by my tongue you are--"

"FREE!" shrieked a voice, high and shrill like a knife in glass, and a white shape burst from the book as Cory tumbled back, covering his eyes in a vain attempt to block out the terrible noise. The white shape, which had wings and long fangs and dripped black goo from its mouth, tore around the room, blowing books off shelves and smashing the windows with its screams. For one moment it stared at Cory cowering in the corner, then cackled and shot through the far wall into the city beyond.

There was a second of quiet, then the study door burst open and Jordan fell into the room, pale as the ghost that just left, and shouted, "Cory, what did you do?!?"...

Author: tamora_pierce62
Date: Oct 21st
..."I d-d-d-don't kn-know!" Cory wailed. He continued to sit in the corner, trembling from the sight of the ghost he had accidentally summoned. "I-I-I just wanted t-to scare you, Jordan."

Jordan felt a bit of brotherly pity for the little Gelert, but he could not quell his irritation, fear, and anger. "Well... I'm certainly scared, but I wish you would have thought this through better."

The Lupe grabbed the book from where Cory had dropped it when the ghostly Hissi had emerged. He scanned the page, reading to himself the paragraph his younger brother had overlooked in favor of going straight to the incantation.

Over his fear, Cory felt an intense shame at what he had done. Jordan was mad at him and was probably going to have to clean up this mess. Why hadn't he thought before he read that out loud? The picture had looked scary. He didn't expect the real thing to be scary!

"I thought it would turn me into that... like a costume," he said quietly.

"Shush, I'm reading," Jordan said, his eyes narrowed as he focused on the book and on all the big words Cory had skipped over. Cory sat patiently, still staring at his feet in humiliation.

Jordan gave Cory a very severe look as he put the book down and walked toward the door to the study. Cory interpreted it as an order to stay put and stay out of trouble; he interpreted wrong.

"Are you just going to sit there?" the Lupe demanded. "I nodded at you to come with me."

How much more could a little Gelert get wrong in one day? Sighing with resignation for the punishment Jordan was going to ensure he received, Cory followed his older brother.

"This is going to be dangerous, and you've caused enough trouble today already, so normally I would have tried this without you. Unfortunately, it seems that the curse can only be broken by the one who cast it."

"Me," Cory answered somberly.

"Kind of. You spoke it out loud, but we also need the help of the one who created the curse in the first place..."

Author: catchinglights
Date: Oct 22nd
..."Where are we going?" Cory asked as he followed Jordan onto Winding Wood Drive.

"The poem said that Mary died in a cave, right? So, whoever cursed her was probably there, and may still be there. At the very least, there may be a clue there that will help us find them." Jordan had the book tucked safely away in his backpack, in case they needed any more information from it.

"There are caves in Neopia Central?"

"A whole network, under the center of town. I know where the entrance is. I spent a few days looking for it last year when I was trying to perfect the howling banshee prank I played on my class when we went on a field trip. Possibly my best prank yet," Jordan declared, beaming. "Well, except for one, but... never mind that."

Jordan took another turn onto Main Street, and the bustling shops of Neopia Central loomed into view. The shops were usually busy, but not usually this busy. "Hang on. Stay behind me," Jordan said. "This is weird."

Neopians were gathered outside many of the shops, some talking excitedly and others sitting on the ground, trembling. Broken glass covered everything, and as the two brothers drew close to the Book Shop, they could see that the inside looked very much like their mother's study.

Neither of them had to ask what had happened, but that was the question on many of the lips around them. Cory started to explain to a Koi standing near the National Neopian Bank's marble steps, but Jordan nudged him to be quiet.

"Come on," the Lupe whispered. "We need to go."

Cory followed him around the side of the bank and into the woods that bordered the north side of the shops. They didn't venture too far into the woods before Jordan stopped and looked around.

"We're close. I don't remember exactly... there!" he said, pointing to a giant rock protruding out of the ground. Around the back was the cave entrance.

Jordan stepped inside, and then yelped.

"What? What is it?" Cory asked.

"Watch your step. There's broken glass here, too." Jordan looked down. The rock cast a shadow over the cave entrance, making it hard for him to make out what he had stepped on, but he turned his head from side to side to catch the light just right.

It was crystal, not glass, and when Jordan spotted the metal lid nearby, he became sure that it was a potion bottle of some kind. Some of the liquid was still visible in splashes of dark on the cavern walls, which indicated it was recent.

"It looks like we're not the first ones here," Jordan said, and then he took the first step into the cave...

Author: phadalusfish
Date: Oct 22nd
...Cory trailed behind the Lupe nervously.

"Jordan, what if we get lost or something?" he asked, looking up at his brother. Not slowing his pace, he replied.

"We won't. If anything, we'll come out through another entrance somewhere else in Neopia." Cory nodded. He had to trust Jordan on this one. The two stepped over the potion bottle carefully and walked down a narrow passageway for a while. Eventually, they came to a fork in the way.

"Which way are we gonna go?" Cory asked. Jordan either ignored or didn't hear the question, as he was staring intently at the two passageways.

"We go... this way," he said, pointing to the left. A question danced on Cory's lips, but Jordan answered it before he could ask.

"I knew because--" He paused and turned his head to the Gelert. "I could see bits of crystal leading in a trail down this way; be careful you don't step on any." He continued walking, carefully stepping over shards of the crystal. Cory mirrored his actions, but less carefully.

"Owie!" he exclaimed as his front paw brushed over a piece of the crystal. Jordan looked back, a concerned look on his face.

"Are you all right? Did any of the liquid splash on you?" he questioned, a nervous frown crossing his face. The Gelert shook his head rapidly.

"No, Jordan," he said, lying through his teeth. The Lupe turned, somewhat satisfied with Cory's answer.

"Let's continue, then... I think I see another room up ahead." The two continued walking, Cory with a slight limp.

When the two reached the room, Cory took a moment to look at his paw. There was a small but noticeable scratch, and the shimmery liquid -- most definitely a potion -- had seeped into it. He winced looking at it, but he couldn't tell Jordan. Besides, it didn't hurt... that much. His thoughts, however, were then interrupted by a shrill shriek.

"Who dares enter my cavern?"...

Author: tttxyv
Date: Oct 23rd
...Cory hid behind his older brother as he peered into the dark of the earthen chamber. "M-my name is Jordan, and this is my brother Cory," the Lupe introduced, trying to sound brave in front of his little brother.

"Children!" the piercing voice yelled out again in disgust. "I despise children!" The words caused the two brothers to shiver.

"We came here because we need your help," Jordan revealed.

"And why would I help two little children?" the sharp voice began. "What could you possibly need from me? I can't make your homework disappear, place a hex on some bully, or get that special someone in your class to like you. I have no time for your childish antics. Now, leave!"

Cory stared hard, but could see nothing past the thick veil of darkness that enveloped the inner cavern. "My brother awakened something... a ghost, and it's destroying everything!" Jordan explained. "We're looking for the--"

"A ghost? Ha!" the voice interrupted. "You're barking up the wrong cave, Lupe. I don't deal with ghosts... not anymore."

"Please!" Cory cried, finding enough courage to finally speak. "You don't understand. It was a prank, but it went wrong, and now Neopians are being hurt. It's all my fault..." His voice faded. Jordan curled his tail around his little brother, which made him feel slightly better.

A menacing laugh erupted from the darkness that bounced off the cavern walls and echoed through the tunnels. "Ahahaha... you think I'm the least bit concerned about your ill-fated practical joke? Well, I'm not. It's a ghost, not the end of the world, so deal with it yourself."

Jordan became frustrated and yelled out, "So, how are we supposed to do that?!? I've read through the book and it says we need the one who created the curse in order to stop Mary!"

There was a brief moment of silence before the voice returned in a hushed tone. "What name did you just say?"

"Mary," Jordan huffed.

There was another brief silence and then, slowly, something began to emerge from the dark. First a pair of wings, torn and bruised, then a pair of eyes, deep red and sunken. Finally, there was a pair of fangs, sharp and stained black.

"I-I-it's..." Cory stammered before his vision blurred and he fell dizzy to the ground where he slipped into a deep, deep sleep...

Author: potential_ruler
Date: Oct 23rd
***

Cory came to in an uncomfortable makeshift cot. He immediately sat up and looked around at his surroundings. He was still in the cavern, from what he could tell, just a smaller branch of it. A sudden weight tugged his paw downward.

Looking down at it, he was surprised to see a bandage wrapped around it, although a bit too tightly. Before he'd had time to wonder who had bandaged up the wound, a dry, scraping sound caused him to turn and look upward. It was the Hissi he had seen earlier. Beginning to tremble, he called to her in a frightened tone.

"Don't hurt me, please! I just want to know how to stop Mar--" He was cut off by a chuckle. Confused, he took a closer look at the Hissi. Her wings were still tattered and torn, and her eyes still red as a vampire's. Cory's trembles subsided as he grew accustomed to the fact that she wasn't going to hurt him. Her chuckles beginning to fade, she glanced behind herself for a split second before turning to face Cory completely.

"So, young one, how did you manage to get your paws on one of my potions of slumber?" she questioned. Cory looked at his bandaged paw sheepishly.

"I'm sorry, Miss..." He paused and looked toward the Hissi.

"Ruby," she finished. Cory cracked the tiniest smile -- this seemingly terrifying Hissi had a name, after all! She waved one of her wings in a dismissive manner.

"Never mind that. Tell me, young one, what is it you want?"

"First things first. Where's Jordan?" Cory asked, concerned for his brother's well-being. Ruby's expression suddenly turned more serious.

"If you are feeling well enough, you may see your brother." Cory nodded enthusiastically. Ruby cracked a smile, her onyx-black fangs glittering in the cavern's odd light.

"Well, then, follow me. He's waiting in the main cavern."

***

Once everyone was situated in the main cavern, Ruby took the opportunity to speak.

"Even though I despise children -- especially the whiny ones -- your brother convinced me to help you two," the Hissi said, glaring at Cory and Jordan before continuing. "However, you must be aware of Mary's mischief and wit. When she uses them against you... you'd better watch out." Jordan butted in suddenly.

"Ruby, I know we discussed this earlier, but how do you know Mary? Why did you lock her away?" Ruby turned her attention toward the Lupe.

"It's quite a long story -- one of tragedy and friendships long, long ago. Are you sure you want me to tell you?" Cory and Jordan exchanged nervous glances. Finally, Cory nodded.

"Yes." A meager grin crossed Ruby's face.

"Well, then. Like most good stories, this one starts at the beginning..."

Author: tttxyv
Date: Oct 24th
..."Many years ago, when Neopia was just a cluster of rough houses and a general store, I made the best friend I thought I'd ever know. We were drawn to the same things -- the study of magic, ancient history, the deep secrets of the world -- and we challenged each other the way no one else could. We even transformed ourselves to look identical.

I was satisfied with just knowing about many of the things we discovered. After all, knowledge is its own power. Mary was not, however. She wanted to try everything. I tried to convince her that there were things that shouldn't be done, but she firmly believed that every spell existed to be cast, and every single thing that magic made possible was fair game. I don't believe that there was true darkness in her heart back then, just curiosity and a lack of restraint. She was so thrilled with the things that we were discovering and doing that she couldn't stop.

In those early days it was mostly harmless magic, but we found other things... powerful things, dangerous things. Magic the likes of which would make Fyora herself blush if she thought anyone else knew about it. Perhaps even things beyond the Faerie Queen's knowing. I could sense what Mary was becoming, but I was blinded by my affection for her. It made me uncomfortable, but it was a long time before I was willing to accept what she was and realize that she had to be stopped.

One afternoon, around this time of year, in fact, we found a spell book that looked quite a lot like the one your brother found. We found it in this very chamber, hidden under that rock over there. I took one look at it and knew it had to be destroyed. So dangerous. Deadly, but even more than that. Some of the spells that book contained could render the world of Neopia unrecognizable and intolerable for most of its inhabitants.

Mary wanted to try one of them. It would have erased the seasons, made night and day always equal, and the transition between them instant. The weather would be uniform. Neopia would be forever unchanging. The Lost Desert would grow lush again. The Haunted Woods would turn green, but the oceans would shrink and the snow caps of Terror Mountain would melt, and chaos would come to the world. Mary didn't see the harm in it. I didn't know how to stop her.

I finally found a spell in the book that would trap her. It was meant to contain her in that book, but I knew I was going to destroy it, so I created a new book that was as much like the original as I could, which is the one you now hold in your hands. I filled it with less potent spells, and used the spell from the original to trap her in that book."

Jordan and Cory listened with rapt attention until Ruby finished her story.

"Why did you write in a spell that would free her?" Jordan asked.

"Because I hoped that maybe, after all these years, I could save her. That one day I could convince her of how she strayed, and find the friend I lost so long ago. That's also why I modified the original curse so that I would have to be called on to recapture her if she escaped."

"She's crazy. She screeches and shatters glass and tears up everything," Cory said.

Jordan glanced at him. "You would be pretty angry, too, if you'd been trapped in a book for years and years. Do you think you can still save her?"

"I don't know," Ruby said, looking forlorn, "but I know how to try..."

Author: phadalusfish
Date: Oct 24th
..."So, what are we waiting for?" Jordan asked. His eyes stood alert with attention.

"Yeah! What are we going to do?" the baby Gelert asked, following his brother's lead.

Ruby didn't answer. Instead she walked over and consulted her Open Book of Tales. The Hissi distractedly rubbed the rose petals that grew from the vines wrapping around the base of the pedestal.

"What's she doing?" Cory whispered to his older brother.

"Shhhh," Jordan quickly shushed him. "Let her concentrate," he admonished.

The Hissi squinted her glowing red eyes as she read the last of the page. She slowly closed the book, then turned around and walked toward a Potion Cabinet nestled in the corner of the room. She bent over, still without a word, and began rummaging through the shelves.

"WHAT is she doing?!?" Cory asked again, impatiently. Jordan motioned for him to be quiet, but the baby Gelert couldn't contain himself. "What do you thing she's looking for?" His second question came off his tongue barely louder than a whisper.

Before the Lupe had a chance to respond the Hissi stood straight abruptly and whipped around on her tail. "That is precisely one of the reasons why I despise children so much," Ruby announced as she slithered toward them with two items in her hand. "You ask far too many questions." She stopped in front of the brothers. "Since you are in SUCH a rush, let's go ahead and get on with it. Are you ready to hear my plan?"

The Lupe and Gelert nodded their heads in unison.

"Okay. I want you both to listen to me, and for the love of Fyora, do NOT interrupt me with incessant questions." She stared down the pair to make sure they understood.

Both shrunk back from the menacing red glow. "Yes, ma'am," Jordan, answering for the both of them, said feebly.

"Okay, then. First, we are going to lure Mary here." She then turned to Cory. "You'll be in charge of that. You will need to repeat the same chant that caused her to appear. She can't resist the magic of those words, and will answer the call immediately. Do you remember it?" The little Gelert nodded. How could he forget? Ruby shifted her attention to Jordan and handed him one of the items from the Potion Cabinet. "The second Mary enters the room, you need to read this out loud. Quickly."

Jordan looked at the white parchment in his hands. It was tied with a blue ribbon, and felt extremely cold to his touch. "What is it?" The Lupe's ears twitched in curiosity.

"It's a Scroll of Freezing," Ruby answered with a matter of fact tone. "Vocalizing the spell will chill her momentarily, and she won't be able to move. That's when I will take over. Once she is frozen, I will say a few magic words that will encase her in this."

Enraptured by what Ruby was saying, the boys had forgotten about the second item the Hissi had brought from the cabinet. Cory gazed at it with wonder. It looked like a crystal ball. He peered closer and looked deep into the dark velvety blue depth, then blinked. Either his eyes were playing tricks on him, or inside there was a glowing moon and shooting stars. "What is it?" he asked in hushed awe.

"It's what I'm going to use to trap her. Once Mary is inside, then I will finally have a chance to talk to her... yaybe get her to come to her senses. If not, I will move her into a more secure containment field -- one that can't be breached by babies." A look of irritation washed over the Hissi's face. "Are you two ready to get started?"

Cory felt nervous, but nodded nonetheless. Ruby looked at him and motioned for him to start. He took a deep breath and sputtered out the words.

"Red Mary, Red Mary, lost in the caves,
Red Mary, Red Mary, never given a grave,
Red Mary, Dead Mary, I call you to me,
Red Mary, Dead Mary, by my tongue you are--"

"ANGREEE!" Mary shrieked as she flew in the room. "Why have you summoned meeeeeeeee?"

Cory stood, trembling, as she glared at him. He could see Jordan behind her, unraveling the scroll. A second later he started reading...

Author: gypsychic420
Date: Oct 25th
...Jordan's voice quivered, but he read the scroll audibly and energetically:

"Thou doth live a life of vice,
And upon my utterance of this phrase thrice --
See none, evil;
Think none, evil;
Act none, evil;
-- Thou art stuck in ice!"

Mary flung herself at the Lupe, but froze mid-attack. Her lifeless body plummeted to the floor.

"Part one complete," Ruby said quietly. Raising her right arm over her former friend, the ball in her hand, she mumbled some language the brothers failed to understand.

The petrified Hissi glowed bright green for a moment before her essence traveled into the crystal.

"Jordan, Cory," the sorcerer spoke, hardly above a whisper, as she motioned for the two to come over. "Here, stare into the ball."

The brothers did.

"Inside," the Hissi continued, "I've contained Mary's soul, her being, her magic. The effects from the Scroll of Freezing will wear off momentarily, and we'll be able to communicate with her."

Cory waited in anxious anticipation.

Jordan held his breath.

Ruby's grin gradually widened.

"WHY HAVE YOU CAPTURED ME, FIEND?" the ball roared.

"Mary, it's me... your friend, Ruby."

The cave become strangely sultry, and an awkward silence filled the wide room.

"I DON'T UNDERSTAND," the ball eventually spat, breaking it. "RUBY DIED YEARS AGO."

The brothers stared up toward the Hissi's face. Ruby noted that the two looked absolutely terrified.

"You... you're dead?" Jordan asked, his tone void of any confidence.

"Did you ever think the crypt would hold me?" the sorcerer boasted malevolently; not just to Mary, but to everyone in the room. Turning her attention directly toward her ball -- but speaking loud enough so that the boys could understand -- she continued: "You may have thought you killed me all those years ago, when I discovered your plan to cast the world-altering spell and condemned you, but I came back... into the ghastly, tattered form I possess to this day. I trapped you in that book, never to escape--"

"THAT WAS YOU? GREAT JOB, RUBY. OH, HOW YOU FAILED--"

"Except," the Hissi continued, interrupting the interruption as her tone gradually rose, "through uttering a spell I devised... it was a fail-safe, in a sense, in the event I ever sought to attempt to reform you."

"REFORM ME?" Mary shrieked. "TOGETHER, WE KNEW MORE THAN THE FAERIES -- WE COULD HAVE RULED NEOPIA. I TRIED TO REFORM YOU -- WHAT POWER IS THERE IN KNOWLEDGE IF THAT KNOWLEDGE IS NEVER USED?"

Hesitation. "I..." Ruby trailed as she attempted to formulate her thoughts. "I do use the knowledge. Every day. I copy spells, create potions... my work trapped and freed you."

"BUT IT'S ALL FOR YOURSELF. I REMEMBER YOUR DISLIKE OF CHILDREN -- YOU WOULDN'T HAVE HELPED THESE KIDS HAD I NOT BEEN INVOLVED."

Ruby scowled. "Of course I help others! I'm doing all of Neopia a favor!" She was almost shrieking at this point. "If you remained free, you would have terrorized this planet! Again!"

"NO, WE COULD HAVE TERRORIZED... NAY, SALVAGED THIS PLANET. WE COULD HAVE MADE THINGS EQUAL, DONE THINGS RIGHT. WE STILL CAN. RELEASE ME, RELEASE ME..." The ball started pulsating... she was going to break free a second time.

Jordan and Cory's eyes darted back and forth between the Hissi and the crystal ball. They came to rest upon each other.

"She's incapable of reform," Cory whispered into his brother's ear over Mary's constant pleadings.

Ruby overheard. The rage she had bottled culminated in nothing but a long sigh. Rocking her hand back and forth, she let the ball slip from her hands and tumble toward the cold rock ground. The crystal shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces, and Mary's voice echoed away into nothing.

Cory noted his brother looked absolutely frightened... probably out of the fear Ruby had dropped the ball and released her. The Gelert, however, believed Ruby dropped the ball and destroyed Mary... not seeing the evil creature, he turned toward the Hissi for confirmation.

"It's done," Ruby finished as she slumped against the cavern wall and slid down. "Mary is no more. Only if all the pieces of the ball come back together can she possibly return -- but, it's an impossible task."

The Gelert grinned, and then he frowned as he ran up to the sorcerer. "I'm so sorry. You've lost your best friend... forever."

Ruby smiled wanly. "Thank you... alas, I won't be around to mope much longer. The crystal ball I trapped her soul in also had mine... it was the artifact that saved me after being slayed by her all those years ago. It allowed me to come back and trap her in that book."

Jordan walked over slowly and joined the two.

"I sacrificed myself to save the world, and you two... you two kids. Oh, how I hate children." She grinned. "Now, exit. Leave me here in peace."

Cory frowned and wanted to stay, but his brother grabbed his shoulder. "It's time we go." The two walked away, out of the cavern.

Ruby smiled.

***

As they walked home, Cory looked up at his brother. "You were genuinely scared."

Jordan chuckled. "Er, yeah. I suppose I was... it wasn't your doing, though." He scratched his ear. "Well, at least, not directly."

"But it proves you can get frightened," the Gelert said, gradually smiling, "so I'm never going to stop trying."

The Lupe sighed. "You're a great kid, Cory."

"Thanks."

"You know, I think I could use someone else in my prank this year."

Cory grinned. "Really?"

"Yep."

The Gelert bounced with excitement. He extended his hand.

Jordan accepted it.

The pair arrived back in Neopia Central, the streetlamps just coming on for the evening.

The End

Author: rielcz
Date: Oct 25th



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