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||You are on Week 653
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 Fifty Three Ends Friday, April 25
|In most respects, William was a very average Kougra. He lived in a simple house just outside of Neopia Central, the kind of house you don't even look twice at as you walk past. Each morning, he would walk quietly to his job in Mr. Bunches's fruit and vegetable shop. He was a good employee, but not the kind that stood out in any fashion or would probably ever see a promotion. In his day-to-day life he was just an anonymous face in the crowd, and he had learned to accept that. Nothing about him was unusual... except for a reoccurring dream.
Ever since he could remember, he had been plagued by a dream. It wasn't the same exact dream each night, but all the dreams seemed to be part of the same story. It was like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and he just couldn't figure out the order. The dreams always took place on Mystery Island. Oddly enough, he knew it was Mystery Island although he had never personally been there. There was a dark cave in the middle of the jungle that called to him. He knew that, deep inside this cave, was a great danger or a magnificent treasure, yet he would always awake before actually entering the cave itself. There was also an island Xweetok that often appeared in these dreams who seemed to be his friend. He was confused by what these nightly images actually meant, but he had never confided in anyone about the dreams. He thought it was just his problem and it affected no one else.
He was wrong, though.
One morning, he was stocking the shelves when Mr. Bunches walked up to him and he noticed that the Mynci seemed a little upset. "Good morning, Mr. Bunches," he greeted.
"William," his boss said firmly, "I have a new shipment of the freshest fruit coming in and I need you to go and pick it up. My usual guy is out sick, and if someone doesn't get out there soon I'm going to lose this fruit. Can you go?"
William nodded. "When do you need me to leave?" he asked.
Mr. Bunches handed him a ticket. "Right now, actually," he answered. "Your boat will leave in one hour, but you shouldn't need to pack anything. I want you to go straight to Mystery Island, pick up the fruit, and head back here."
For a second, William couldn't make sense of what he had just heard. "Mystery Island?" he questioned as images of his dreams flashed through his mind.
If Mr. Bunches had noticed that William was surprised, then he made no comment about it. "Yeah," he said in a distracted tone as he walked away. "After all, that's where the best fruit in all of Neopia is grown. Now, hurry up. You wouldn't want to miss your boat."
William dutifully nodded, but his heart was beating wildly inside of his chest. Mystery Island. Perhaps now he would finally learn the secret behind his dream...
Date: Apr 21st
...The only thing he thought about was his dream while on the boat. It was as if it were controlling him. He just thought it was a coincidence.
Once again, he was wrong.
Once off the boat and on Mystery Island, he went right to where he was supposed to go. There was a green Techo with a clipboard there, next to a crate of fruit.
"Are you picking up for Mr. Bunches?" he asked.
"Yes I am," William said, nodding.
"You're not his usual guy."
"I know. He's sick."
"Would you like help with the crate?"
"Alright, I'll get someone to help you."
William signed for the delivery and the Techo walked off. The Kougra then patiently waited for someone to help him.
"William!" a voice shouted.
William turned in the direction that the exclamation had come from. There, he saw the island Xweetok from his dream running toward him...
Date: Apr 21st
...Temporarily stunned by his disbelief, William's reply was delayed. "How... how do you know my name?"
The Xweetok tilted her head slightly and gave a coy smile. "Well, I'm either psychic... or I read your signature." She held up the clipboard William had signed earlier and winked.
Oh, William thought dejectedly. Of course. It was foolish for him to have expected anything different. Finding an island Xweetok on Mystery Island was like finding berries at Gadgadsbogen. And the one from my dream isn't even real, he reminded himself in dismay.
"You okay there, buddy? You look a little down in the dumps," the Xweetok said, playfully mimicking his pout.
"It's nothing," the Kougra said, shrugging. "Let's get this back to the docks quickly. I'm under instructions to bring it back as soon as possible."
The Xweetok nodded and took one end of the crate. "Now, you ever lifted a thing o' fruit before?"
"Uh," William stuttered.
"That's what I thought. Your arms are even scrawnier face-to-face," she muttered. "Anyway, what you've gotta do is--"
"Wait, what did you just say?" William asked, searching the Xweetok's face for any visual cues. Did he hear her right? Was she implying that they had perhaps met somewhere before?
Before she had the opportunity to respond, however, the green Techo from earlier approached them. William and the island Xweetok exchanged a confused glance.
"Bad news," the Techo said. "It looks like there was a functional error with all the cargo ships scheduled for the remainder of the day. Some kind of minor engine combustion or something. They're saying they won't be able to dock until late this evening."
"So, what do we do with, uh..." The Xweetok gestured to the crate of fruit resting at their feet.
"I'll take care of it," the Techo replied. "I've already contacted your boss, too, William, and we're going to put it in storage for him, so you guys are essentially off the hook for the rest of the day. Congrats."
"Awh, but I'd much rather stand here in the baking sun for six hours straining my back by lifting fruit into boats." The Xweetok sighed dramatically. "Darn! There goes my day."
The Techo narrowed his eyes before returning to his office. "Don't push it, Lyra."
Today was, indeed, turning out to be a very strange day for William, but it was about to get even stranger.
"So, Will," Lyra said, grinning, "would you like to go find the cave?"...
Date: Apr 22nd
..."The cave?" William replied with a suspicious tone.
"Yes, the cave..." Lyra replied, slowly nodding her head. Lyra examined William for a moment before saying, "Are you feeling alright, William? You're not your usual self, it seems."
William's eyes shrunk and his jaw remained half open. First Lyra had implied knowing of me prior to this encounter, and then she mentioned a cave he thought to himself. Now she's gone on to say I'm not "feeling like myself." Could it be true? I just don't get why--
"So, I take it that's a no?" Lyra asked, interrupting his train of thought.
"Uh, well, I wasn't expecting to go... I mean, I didn't think we would be looking for a cave today," William replied in a confused tone, allowing his doubt to get the best of him.
"That's THE Cave to you, William, and we haven't a moment to lose. Today's the day of the Kreuldor eclipse," Lyra said, unfolding a piece of cloth she had hidden behind the paper on her clipboard.
"This is 'The Mark of Ta-Kutep.' It's famous for mysteriously appearing in the sky during such ellipses, and it signifies the opening of The Cave. You think those engines combusted on accident?" Lyra said.
It all came back to him suddenly: the eclipse, the mysterious mark, the entrance to the cave -- they were all elements from his dreams.
"I-I-I, I guess," William said, still shaking from the eeriness of the situation.
"You guess what, William?" Lyra replied.
"I guess I'll go with you to find 'The Cave,'" William said.
"Splendid!" Lyra responded, sporting a bright smile. "Now you just need to lead the way..."
Date: Apr 22nd
...William furrowed his brow in surprise. "You don't know the way?"
"Don't be silly..." Lyra replied quietly. "No one knows the way but you."
William started to feel the pressure mounting. Lyra tapping her foot wasn't helping at all.
"I need a moment," he finally muttered.
Lyra sighed. "Look, Will. I know we've been through a lot lately, but you were the best -- that's why you were chosen, remember? I know you can do it. So, where to?"
William didn't believe what he was hearing. He wasn't even sure he was the right William that Lyra was talking about. So, how did he know everything, then?
"Lyra. Who am I?" he asked sternly. "How do you know me?"
She looked up to the sky. It was dimming, casting a beautiful shadow of pinks, oranges, and reds only created at the island. They were running out of time. As her head dropped back down, William noticed a little glimmer in her eye.
"Will... you don't remember me, do you?"
William didn't know how to respond, but he realised that he didn't have to.
"Will. The cave is the way home..."
Date: Apr 23rd
..."Home?" William asked, echoing the word. "I have a home, though, near Neopia Central."
"Really?" Lyra prompted. "Where were you born?"
William frowned. "I... don't know," he finally admitted.
"Where did you work before you worked for Mr. Bunches?"
"I don't remember," the Kougra said. "I can't recall anything before that time. I've always worked for Mr. Bunches and lived in a house outside Neopia Central."
Lyra made a tsking sound. "You haven't always lived in Neopia Central, and Mr. Bunches was only put there to help and protect you."
William blinked startled. He had never thought of his curt Mynci boss as a protector, but now that he thought about it, he had noticed Mr. Bunches giving him odd lingering looks from time to time.
"Who are we?" William asked.
Lyra put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Everything will come back eventually. You'll just need a little prompting, which is where I come in. I couldn't let you do it alone, buddy."
"We're friends?" He hadn't meant it sound like a question, but Lyra smiled nonetheless and nodded. He closed his eyes, trying to access a part of his memories that, according to Lyra, was safely tucked away somewhere in his head.
Slowly, the images started to take shape and the flashes of his dream connected to tell a story. He now knew, like an invisible pull, where the cave on the island was located.
When he opened his eyes to peer at the face before him, he smiled, not altogether genuinely, for though he did not recall exactly why yet, his gut told him not to trust the Xweetok...
Date: Apr 23rd
..."Do you remember the way now?" Lyra asked.
"Yes. Follow me," William said, beginning to walk toward the jungle. Lyra began to follow him.
She wasn't the only one.
When William looked around, lots of Neopets were trailing behind at inconspicuous distances. A traveling merchandise vendor strolled along casually after them. Two Chias in tourist-y shirts pointed at island scenery, appearing to the casual observer to bumble around aimlessly, but clearly they were trailing after them. Even a jungle tour group seemed to be following along, chatting happily about the trees, but eyes glued to William.
Upon entering the jungle, William began trailblazing through underbrush. The paths weaving through the jungle were blatantly ignored, as low-hanging shrubbery was pushed aside to, instead, make a seemingly new path.
As William trudged deeper into the jungle, the brush got thicker and sturdier. Murmurs of doubt were heard from behind him, but he was sure this was the right way. He didn't just remember this path, he had walked it so many nights before.
"Look!" Lyra exclaimed. "Footprints! We left those when we arrived!" Sure enough, tracks heading the other direction were visible in an exposed patch of dirt.
"It's incredible that the tracks lasted so long," one of the tourist Chias said, dropping all false pretenses. By this point, a large group was following William single-file through the underbrush.
"How long is so long?" William asked.
"You'll remember soon," Lyra said as the group continued up a hill.
"That's the cave!" someone yelled from behind William, who would have known that without being told. As they reached the top of the hill, a huge pile of boulders was visible, stacked precariously quite a ways up. At the base of the stack an opening was visible. No fool would enter that cave, for fear of the rocks crumbling down on them. William knew, however, that the maker of this cave was no haphazard builder.
That wasn't all he knew, either. Memories suddenly came flooding back of who he was, how he got here, and what he had to do. He turned to Lyra, the Xweetok he now remembered to be his sister, only to freeze in horror.
"You aren't Lyra."...
Date: Apr 24th
...The Xweetok chuckled.
"So you remember, do you? I figured you'd piece together that I wasn't your dear sister when we were inside the temple, but we're close enough now..." she trailed off and brushed a strand of hair from her face.
"Where's my real sister?" William demanded, his fur bristling. "Where's Lyra?"
The now-nameless Xweetok cackled again, as if she took great pleasure in the Kougra's confusion. "Oh, William. It doesn't matter where Lyra is. You don't need--"
"Just tell me where she is!" William yelled, his voice firm. He took a step in the direction of the Xweetok, clearly surprising her. She frantically motioned toward the group behind the Kougra before he could get any closer. The Chia then walked up to William and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't get upset," he whispered. "You'll understand why Rose is keeping you from seeing Lyra in due time." This gave the Kougra no ease, and he shrugged the Chia's hand off of him before moving one step closer to Rose.
"I'll ask you one more time," he growled. "Where did you put my sister?"
Rose smirked, although behind the smile William could see that she was nervous. A moment of silence passed before the Xweetok pointed toward the door of the temple and spoke.
Date: Apr 24th
...William looked toward the temple and gulped. He wasn't so sure of his anger anymore, but he was more than sure that he needed to reach his sister. Lyra could be in trouble.
With a glare toward "Rose" he stomped to the opening of the temple and put his paws on the temple's door. With a heavy sigh, the door swung open slowly and dust mites floated in the dying sunlight.
William took a deep breath and stepped into the temple, new memories washing into his mind with each step. The light dimmed the deeper he went into the temple until a trickle of fire-light entered the darkness from before him. William gripped onto his bravery and raced ahead, running to another door and slamming it open to find a giant room. The room was lined with fire lamps and all manners of golden couches and figurines.
"Wow..." William exclaimed, stunned.
Rose walked up next to him and laid her paw on his shoulder. "These are all our riches. We saved them for the trip home."
William looked at Rose, noticing others behind them filtering into the room. "Where is she?"
Rose sighed and stepped to the side, arms crossing in front of her. "I just wish you could forget about her."
"She's my sister!" William yelled. "How can I forget about her?"
"You forgot about us!" Rose yelled back, her eyes glimmering with unheeded tears. "We have waited so many years for this. We didn't get to forget about our home! We have waited and waited for you to come back to us and for this day, and now you only care about your sister. You don't even care about me anymore..."
Rose walked away, her shoulders shaking. The Chia moved to comfort her, but she wrenched herself away and sat on a couch, her face hidden.
William stood there, concerned but angry. He could remember a few things about Rose, various glimmers of memories trying to surface, but he pushed those aside and looked at the growing group of followers. "Where is my sister?"
A Mynci stepped forward, a tiny little female with bright purple hair, and nodded to him. William took this as a sign to follow the Mynci, and together they walked to a smaller door a few feet away. The Mynci looked back at William, sighed, and pushed open the door to reveal...
Date: Apr 25th
...A small, square room. William blinked as he scanned the dimly-lit space before him. In the far corner, a thin figure sat hunched on a bench. His sister didn't look up as his feet propelled him forward. "Lyra," he said. "Lyra!" William's voice was as urgent as his pulse was frantic. Why wasn't she responding?
It was only when William put a paw on her shoulder that the Xweetok raised her head. Air rushed from his lungs as he froze and stared, shocked. Though Lyra breathed, her eyes were unseeing and her expression blank. "What... what is this?" William jerked 'round to glare at the Mynci. "What have you done to my sister?" He could barely choke the words out over the bile that threatened to rise in his throat.
"Nothing." The muffled response came not from the Mynci, but from Rose. Edging slowly into the room, the other Neopet wiped a tear from her cheek. "She's been cursed."
William backed away, needing to distance himself. His mind spun as he processed what Rose had told him. "What do you mean, cursed?" As much as he wanted to reject what she was saying, he found that he couldn't -- not when the evidence was right in front of him.
Rose took a step toward him and, as she did so, the Mynci patted her on the shoulder and passed out the door. It was just the two of them now. "What do you remember about our home? About why we left?” she asked, by way of answer, and William frowned as her voice wavered. Some part of him was determined to see the Xweetok as a villain, if for no reason other than his need to give his horror a focus.
"We... we... lived in a basin not too far from here," he remembered at length. "It was cut off from the rest of the island by... sheer cliff," William went on, "and we could only go in and out... by," he paused, wracking his brain, "by a passageway that led from this cave." In his mind's eye he could suddenly see an image of their home. It had been a thriving place, verdant and leafy though it was surrounded by rock on all sides. The frown on his brow pulled tighter as the mental picture was succeeded by another. He almost seemed to recall fire raining down from the sky... in a storm of... meteorites crashing from the heights. That couldn't be right.
Rose smiled sadly as William jolted. "You remember, don't you?" she whispered. "You see, William, among our community were some with," she hesitated, "certain... gifts. I was among them... and Lyra, too." Her gaze bored into William's. "I have the ability to send dreams."
William jolted a second time. "It was because of you that I had the dream I was having," he realised as yet another fresh memory surfaced. "It was your... magical ability."
The island Neopet nodded and the curve of her lips became less sad. "Yes. I was tired of waiting... and I didn't want to wait much longer." So, William had been correct. He wasn't sure how to feel about that. "I pretended to be Lyra to make you come with me. To bring you home."
Something moved in William's peripheral vision. Turning, he saw that Lyra had shifted. A thud echoed from the stone floor as something fell from her grasp. "It's... a book."
"A spell book," Rose confirmed as her gaze settled on the object. Thick and rectangular, it was covered in a brown suede-like material. "Lyra's magic was less specific than mine. As a child," she explained, "your sister experimented with some spells in this book." William shook his head as he understood where she was going. "She... invoked the magic of Ta-Kutep and brought down a curse upon our home." At William’s expression, Rose added, "By accident, not that it made things any easier to accept. Ever since then," she exhaled, "when we were forced to evacuate, we found that we'd been sealed off from returning."
William's thoughts were a mess, but the one that rose to his lips was about Lyra. "So, that was how Lyra got cursed?" He couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to it than that, though he couldn't quite put his claw on it.
"Lyra," Rose replied, choosing her words carefully, "felt guilty about what she'd done. She tried to force her way back through the week after... and failed." There was as much bitterness as there was grimness in her tone. "It was because you reacted so badly to losing her that we sent you away. I suppose you must've blocked it from your memories."
"And you blame her... for the curse on our home."
Rose's eyes flashed as they met William's, though she ducked her head. Her lack of response was response enough. "I'm sorry," she eventually murmured.
William looked at his sister. Lyra sat as still as she had earlier and hadn't moved to pick up the book she'd hugged so tightly to her chest. "Well, what am I to do about Lyra? You can't tell me that you're okay with Lyra being cursed." Without meaning to, his voice rose in pitch. He couldn't just leave Lyra like that. There had to be something he could do. "Also, how do you expect us to get home if it's magically sealed off?"
"No. Whatever I feel towards her, I'm not." Steeling herself, Rose pointed out the door. "Pick up the book and follow me. Bring Lyra."
Taking his sister by the arm, William followed Rose into the larger chamber where the others awaited. His attention was caught by the fire lamps he'd seen earlier and William recognised them now as having come from their home, as magical artefacts. There were genies inside. On their smooth, polished surface he could see the glint of light. Craning his head, William saw that there was an opening in the rock ceiling above. William half-gaped at the darkened sky. He hadn't realised how much time had passed. The blue-violet of the heavens seemed to deepen as he watched and was tinged with coppery-red. William squinted. Burning in the evening heights was the familiar outline of a pictogram, an eye within a sun. It was the mark of Ta-Kutep.
Its reddish glow had lit Rose’s face. "It's time," she announced exultantly. Glancing at William, she assured him, "There's a way to undo the curse... on both Lyra and our home. Give me the spell book." Holding up a paw before he could ask, she told him, "Everything's going to be alright. You might not remember, but I AM your friend." As Rose flipped open the cover, William noticed the symbol on the first page. It was the exact image of the pictogram in the sky: the mark of Ta-Kutep. "As the spell book instructs," Rose declared, "there is possibility for the curse to be reversed... at the time of the first total Kreludan eclipse since it was invoked." She surveyed the crowd. "That happens tonight."
William had half-forgotten the eclipse. Now that he thought about it, he distantly remembered having been told, once, about the magical properties of Kreludor. Hope made him smile at the thought and, as he looked at Rose, he nodded. "Thank you."
Lit by the light of the mark, Rose began to read from the spell book's pages.
William grinned as he walked down the passageway. Lyra was by his side and Rose was by the other while the rest, Mr. Bunches among them, followed close behind. His sister clapped his shoulder as she returned his grin. "Thank you for saving me."
William shrugged as he arched an eyebrow at Rose. "It's really not me you should be thanking." He'd had his doubts about the Xweetok but Rose had proved them wrong. He had no doubt now that, as his dream had seemed to suggest, Rose truly could be considered a friend.
Rose gave him a playful nudge as she scanned ahead. There was a sliver of sky visible in the distance, pale but streaked with the faint gold of sunrise. "Come on. Let's go home."
Date: Apr 25th
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