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||You are on Week 684
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 Eighty Four Ends Friday, December 12
|Audrey was far behind schedule.
The Wocky's breath puffed out in tiny clouds as her feet packed the crackling snow with great force, trampling it and leaving it behind as she went. Panting too hard to mutter to herself, she inwardly cursed her circumstances and mentally lamented that the Day of Giving was nearer than she thought.
Audrey tripped over one of the Money Tree's roots, but scooped herself up and ran off too quickly for her to notice that the face on the bark was glaring at her. Her mind was swimming with her busy days at Neoschool and her job at the Coffee Shop. Both required lots of energy, leaving her just enough each night to flop onto her couch and snore.
She'd watched gifts large and small being exchanged in the classroom and had always tried to hide in the corner with a book, pretending not to notice.
She'd watched the customers in the Coffee Shop settle in and take shopping breaks, and always noticed the bulging bags with them. Ostensibly they were filled with all sorts of gifts and treasures. Regardless, the bags of the customers only served as a reminder of Audrey's incomplete shopping... well, that was going to change.
The Wocky grinned and ran faster as she saw the Neopian Marketplace come into view. Today, on one of her rare days off, she'd be the first Neopian to shop, she'd get it all done, and her mind would finally be at peace.
With all the running she was doing, Audrey's body heat radiated inside the core of her coat while her feet went numb from cold, but her mind was too focused on her task to dwell on such discomfort.
Now, with the red and green array of shops before her, Audrey skidded across the snow to a stop, gasping in an attempt to catch her breath.
Her entrails turned to ice as she eyed them carefully, slowly taking in the meaning of the CLOSED sign on each and every shop door...
Date: Dec 8th
"Closed?" Audrey shouted out. "Noooo! Why? Why now, of all times?!?"
The Wocky fell to the ground and started to pound at the snow in frustration. All of her plans and planning were out the window now! This didn't make any sense, though! Why were all the shops closed?!?
"It's shopkeepers shopping day."
Audrey looked up and saw a Lenny carrying several old clothes in his arms. She recognized him instantly as the owner of the Second Hand Shoppe in the Neopian Plaza.
"What's shopkeepers shopping day?" she asked.
"Well," he replied, "the shopkeepers around Neopia have friends and family they have to do holiday shopping for, as well, but they can't get out and do it if their stores are all open. So, they all decided a few years ago that, one day a year, they would all close up shop and go to each others' stores and take care of everything today. That way, they'd have the rest of the holiday season to work their stores while being done with their personal obligations."
Audrey's mouth went wide. That was... brilliant. She didn't even think about how tough the holiday's could be on the shopkeepers of Neopia. However, that didn't change the fact that this was her only chance as well!
"But... but..." Audrey said, "this was MY only chance of getting my shopping done, too! Surely they could make an exception and let some of us in!"
The Lenny shook his head. "If they made an exception for one, then others would want them, and then they'd be back to having to run their stores at all hours and unable to do any shopping themselves."
Audrey pounded at the snow on the ground in frustration again. She couldn't believe her rotten luck! This was worse then being attacked by the Tax Beast and the Pant Devil at the same time.
"Look," he finally said after a moment, "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but there is one thing you can do..."
Date: Dec 8th
..."Pretend I'm a shopkeeper?" Audrey looked up, grumbling. "Isn't that kinda shady?"
"More specifically, a donation center owner." The Lenny leaned in close, then said, "You don't have to fill out any income reports or inventory since the shop is for non-profit. Also, donation centers have a good reputation in the shopkeeper community, so many of them won't check to verify that you're telling the truth... err, just so long as you don't take advantage of the system."
Audrey inched closer, then asked, "What do you mean by that?"
He sighed, then explained. "There have been instances in the past when Neopets thought they could get a better deal if they pretended to be shopkeepers on shopkeeper shopping day. As a result, some shopkeepers are paranoid and will get suspicious if they see you buying something extravagant."
"Oh!" Audrey said before letting out a giggle. "Well, I'm not looking for anything big and fancy -- just some presents for my friends is all."
The Lenny narrowed his eyes and spoke clearly. "Are you sure?"
"O-Of course!" Audrey replied with a straight and serious face.
"Okay, I trust you. Here..." he said, taking out a small piece of paper...
Date: Dec 9th
... the paper had a small symbol drawn on it. Audrey gaped, then frowned while turning the paper from side to side to see if it made sense. It looked like a small sun with an "X" drawn through the center.
"No, no, no," the Lenny said. "In order to enter the shops, the shopkeepers have a special code. It changes every year. You must approach the side entrance, knock three times, then draw that symbol in the fog on the window."
The Wocky smiled and hugged the Lenny. "Thank you! Thank you!" She danced in the snow. "Could I help you with your load there?" Audrey asked. Looking at his bundle of clothes, she did not know how else to thank him.
"That would be marvelous! I'm taking these over to Faboo's shop, Uni's Clothing." He handing her half the pile of clothes.
"Terrific, the Toy Shop is right around the corner," Audrey replied cheerily.
The pair walked through the nearly empty marketplace, past all the "Closed" signs. Audrey smiled at her good fortune of meeting the Lenny. They parted ways at the Clothing Store and the Wocky headed to buy some silly toys for her friends.
As she approached the side door, she reached into her pockets to find the paper when...
Date: Dec 9th
...a sudden gust of icy cold wind whipped around her arm, almost lovingly grasping the paper from her hand and carrying it off into the air. Audrey made one frantic grab, but the paper was lost.
"Drats!" Audrey hissed. Could her luck get any worse?
The Wocky returned to the side door of the Toy Shop and mustered every ounce of her memory skills to recall the design of the symbol. She had never been a pro in art class, but she knocked three times and then did her best to scribble a circle resembling a sun with an X through it.
For a second, when the door didn't open, she thought she must be way off the mark, but then the door creaked open an inch and a pretty red Lupe poked her head out.
"Come in, come in," she said jovially, ushering Audrey in from the cold. "How are you? Isn't it a dreadfully cold day outside? Looking for anything in particular today?"
"Um," Audrey began breathlessly, her heart still fluttering from the realization that her trick had worked. "I'm just looking for a few gifts."
"Wonderful!" the Lupe said. "I was just about to leave to do a bit of shopping myself, but I'll wait for you to find what you need. Just let me know what you want and I'll give you the shopkeeper's discount." She winked and then disappeared, heading off in the direction of the front of the store.
Audrey exhaled, smiling in excitement. She looked through the aisles, finding a few things that looked promising. She recalled the Lenny's advice about not taking advantage of the situation, but his words were momentarily forgotten as her eyes settled upon one particular toy...
Date: Dec 10th
...Audrey stepped closer and watched as the purple head of the toy baby Usul moved up and down. The smile on her face grew larger with each movement of the baby Usul's bobbling head.
"That's it," she whispered. "That's so perfect. Emily'll love it!"
Without even looking at the price, she picked up the Baby Usul Bobblehead and continued walking through the store, hoping to find gifts for the rest of her friends. The Wocky soon realized that, though the shop looked small from the outside, it was large and spacious on the inside. The rows of shelves seemed to be endless, but she was determined to be quick.
After searching through the store for what seemed like hours (but, in reality, was only 20 minutes), Audrey walked to the front of the store and greeted the Lupe with a warm smile.
"Did you find the few gifts you were looking for?" she asked kindly.
"I sure hope so," Audrey responded. "Today's my only day to shop."
The Lupe laughed. "That's a problem we share." She went through item after item, none of them costing more than a couple thousand Neopoints. However, the smile quickly faded from the Lupe's face when she came across the Baby Usul Bobblehead...
Date: Dec 10th
...The Lupe held it closer to her face and lightly ran the tips of her fingers over the tiny details of the bobblehead with great care. Her face seemed slightly upset in her silence.
"Is there something wrong?" Audrey asked, her voice showing her concern as she leaned a bit closer. The shopkeeper's brows narrowed, her attention still upon the toy. "This... shouldn't be out on the shelves." She looked at the Wocky, her expression never changing. "Where did you find this?"
"Over there," she replied simply, pointing to where she'd found the baby Usul toy.
The Lupe wandered around the counter and to the empty place on the shelf where Audrey had found the bobblehead, holding the toy with the utmost care. "She only appears to those who need her most." The Lupe looked down at the toy and then back to the shelf. "I found her years ago, when my grandmother was in the hospital. She was terribly ill and, being the youngster that I was, I wasn't coping with the thought of her passing very well."
Audrey stepped up next to the Lupe and said, "I'm sorry. If she means that much to you, then... I guess I could find something else."
The shopkeeper looked down at her and smiled softly. "It's alright. She left when I no longer needed her help." She handed the toy to Audrey, who took it with the same amount of care the Lupe had. "She must think that you, or the one you're giving her to, is in need of her help."
They both returned to the counter. Audrey stayed on the customer's side, watching the Usul bob its head slowly. Her attention was brought back to the Lupe when she started to speak.
"You can have her, free of charge." The Lupe sighed softly, then continued. "I only ask that you take good care of her."
"Does she have a name?" Audrey asked, looking up at the shopkeeper, who nodded and answered.
"Lily, her name's Lily," the Lupe replied.
"And what's your name?"
The Lupe's smile grew and she then replied...
Date: Dec 11th
"Nice name," Audrey replied. "My name's Audrey."
"Nice to meet you." Ashley stretched out her hand to shake Audrey's, which she happily did. She then led the Wocky to the side door. "Now, be careful with Lily. Many Neopets are after her."
Audrey's smile that she'd been wearing a few minutes earlier turned into a face of confusion. She then asked, "Why would they be after it?"
"Her," Ashley said sternly, acting like the toy was a real Neopet. "She's special. She can calm the most stressed Neopet. Nobody knows why, but that's what makes her special, and whenever there is something special, there's always someone after it."
Audrey nodded in agreement. She could relate to the idea of something special meaning someone was after it.
"I remember one time, I met this Neopet that searched for years for her. I'd always wondered why," the Lupe continued. "When I was little, he asked me where I'd gotten her, even after she left. He actually still comes to my shop every holiday season to see if she is here."
"Do you remember who he is?" Audrey asked.
"I'll know him when I see him, but I can't really describe him that well. I know he's a Lenny, though."
Audrey swallowed a lump that was forming in her throat. Her mind automatically went to the Lenny that she'd met earlier. Could he possibly be the one?
"I met a Lenny earlier today," she said.
After the Wocky finished her sentence, the doll that was in her hands began to...
Date: Dec 11th
...began to warm in her hand, almost painfully so. "Oh! Wh-what is going on?!?" she exclaimed, looking to Ashley in shock. She'd never experienced anything like this before!
On the verge of dropping the baby Usul to the floor, Audrey set it onto the counter between them, eyes wide. Still, the doll smiled up at her with that never ending bobbing motion. "Is there a problem, dear?" Ashley inquired, seemingly confused by Audrey's unexpected reaction.
"Uh..." Audrey muttered, her mind spinning. Had she only imagined it, caught up in the story of the Lenny? "I just... I thought the doll felt... warm?"
Ashley seemed to grow wary at her words, her shoulders slumping. "That has only happened once before while Lily was in my care," she explained, her head tilting to the side as she pondered the memory. "My dear friend Aaron held her in his hand while telling me an extravagant story... only to learn later that... he had lied."
The lovely Lupe seemed to pause there, taking in the Wocky before her. Audrey blinked, suddenly fearing that she had been discovered. She hadn't meant any harm... it was just shopping for her friends!
With a small sigh, Ashley forced a smile and...
Date: Dec 12th
...confessed everything to the kindly Lupe.
When Audrey finished recounting the story to Ashley, the Wocky apologized profusely for misleading her. "I wasn't trying to trick you to be mean; I just really felt like I had no other choice if I was going to get my shopping done," Audrey finished with another sigh.
Ashley gave a sigh of her own, then said," It's okay, Audrey. I understand that you didn't mean any harm, and I can see how much you regret being dishonest." The Lupe hesitated. "Additionally, I can't ignore how Lily revealed herself to you," Ashley continued. "She wouldn't have done that if your intentions had been less than honorable."
Audrey, who had been staring morosely at her feet while Ashley spoke, looked up earnestly. "Oh, I didn't, I truly didn't!" Audrey cried. "I just wanted to get some gifts for my friends so badly!"
Ashley smiled kindly. "I appreciate what a good friend you must be to go through all this trouble to get gifts for your friends, so I'm going to keep your secret, as long as you promise not to do any more shopping today or to deceive anyone like this ever again," the Lupe said sternly. "You see, the truth always comes out eventually, and there might not be someone so understanding to forgive you next time!"
"I promise!" Audrey agreed enthusiastically. "I'm going to go straight home, and I promise not to deceive anyone ever again!" the Wocky said sincerely.
Audrey gave Ashley a big hug and ran gleefully from the Toy Shop. She passed the Money Tree and slowed as an idea occurred to her. Ashley had shown her a great kindness and Audrey wanted to pay it forward. She fished around for what was left of her gift-buying fund and gave it all to the Money Tree, smiling broadly as she headed for home.
Date: Dec 12th
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