Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)
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||You are on Week 900
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 Nine Hundred Ends Friday, October 22
|“Week 900...” the Storyteller Aisha softly said to herself as she glanced at her calendar. Her eagerness to get to the Art Centre in Neopia Central that Monday morning was palpable; her heart raced in anticipation of the forthcoming week. As the keeper of communal lore, nothing made her more excited than the introduction of a new story, its inevitable cliffhangers, twists and the ingenuity of Neopians working together to resolve the plot.
Of course, this week was a little closer to the Storyteller’s heart: every two years or so, the Storytelling Contest celebrated a centennial milestone. This time, the 900th story was certain to bring writers, authors and artists from the farthest reaches of Neopia to the honoured halls of the Art Centre. In fact, the Coffee Shop prepared gourmet treats for visitors and the Art Gallery and Poetry Contest had curated special exhibits for the occasion from other milestone contests.
As the Storyteller finished her morning coffee, an expected knock on the door brought a smile to her face. “On my way, Alstaf!” the Aisha announced.
“There you are, greatest Storyteller of them all! Shall we make our way down at the Art Centre’s call?” Alstaf the Poogle greeted with an air of whimsy in his voice.
“Of course, Alstaf— I just cannot wait for this week!” the Storyteller beamed.
As the Aisha and Poogle made their way from the suburbs of Neopia Central, the usual flow of morning foot traffic during grand events was notably absent.
“Does it seem... quieter than you expected, Alstaf?”
“If they're not here, then where? Perhaps they’re already there?” the Poogle replied.
The two distinguished laureates approached the entrance to the Art Centre and already knew something was amiss. A small crowd of murmuring Neopets were gathered at the locked doors of the Centre. The Neopets made way for the Storyteller and Alstaf to reach the front, where they finally saw a notice hurriedly tacked onto the doors that read...
Date: Oct 4th
..."THE ART CENTRE IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE."
The Storyteller gasped and took a graceful step back from the parchment. Closed? On today? Of all days?
Her STC Week 900 daydream had quickly devolved into her worst nightmare.
Alstaf, meanwhile, feigned a melodramatic fainting spell. He laid on the ground, moaning and sobbing. "Oh precious catacombs, your praises I doth extol! Wherefore art thy coffee, biscuits, and words to sustain my soul?"
The Aisha scowled at him and his ill-timed couplet. "Get up you old coot, you're embarrassing yourself." She helped the Poogle to his feet.
The small gathered crowd turned to face the two literary elites.
"Hey, it's you guys!" excitedly greeted a young Blumaroo. "I'm a big fan. We all are! I'm Carl."
"Charmed to make your acquaintance," the Storyteller replied as she shook his paw and signed several shirts.
"Real bummer about today, though, huh?" Carl continued. "I was hoping to enter the contest this week -- and poof, there is no contest. No stories at all. Everything, erased from our collective existence..." he trailed off, pensively.
The Aisha furrowed her brow at his closing remarks. "Excuse me, might you repeat that?" She offered a sheepish grin. "Clearly you lot have much greater familiarity than myself about the worldbuilding here."
The Blumaroo frowned. "You... you haven't heard? Every story, every poem, every picture -- all tales and lore and fragments of our wildest imaginations -- inexplicably vanished this morning..."
Date: Oct 5th
Suddenly, the Storyteller felt lightheaded. There was a ringing in her ears, as if she was in a large tunnel and Carl was speaking from far away.
"P-pardon me, it ... what? Gone?" said the normally eloquent Aisha, swaying lightly on her feet. Absently, she noticed her ear stalks were quivering.
"Are you quite alright, friend?" Alstaf asked quietly, peering at her. In some part of her mind, the Storyteller realized she must have looked quite off - Alstaf was known for many things, but sensitivity towards others was not on the list. But the Aisha ignored him, focusing on Carl.
Carl nodded slowly, glancing between Alstaf and the Storyteller. "Gone," he confirmed.
"But - how?" she asked.
The Blumaroo shrugged. "We have no idea, Storyteller. It was...it was as if it just never existed, except that clearly, we all remember the Contest. It has to have been real - we can't all remember it otherwise, right?"
Wildly, the Storyteller wondered if she were real; she was deeply tied to the Storytelling contest, after all. But then she shook herself.
"Yes, it is real, and we will find it," she said firmly.
Alstaf nodded. "Quite right! The catacombs may be but a figment, yet I promise thee; our truest history shall be preserved, for eternity!"
The Storyteller rolled her eyes. "Your meter's off, Alstaf - give it a rest! Carl, think hard please - did you see anything unusual?"
The Blumaroo stared at her pensively. "Well," he finally said, "There was one thing."
He held out his paw...
Date: Oct 6th
...and in his paw was a book. A thick, leather bound tome with a gilded cover and a pen tied to a fraying ribbon. The others gathered around, and the Storyteller had to squeeze past a Yurble and a Kougra to peer at it.
"Do you know this book? Why don't you take a look?" Alstaf asked.
"That's exactly what I'm doing," the Storyteller said as she took the book, grunting under the weight and managing to open it. "This is the book where I wrote all my stories. All the stories we created for the Storytelling Contest..." Her voice trailed off, and she gasped.
"What is it, Storyteller?" Alstaf scanned the words over her shoulder. "A clue? A hint? A letter?"
The Aisha hurriedly flipped through the pages. Her frown grew deeper, and gingerly she tried to show everyone else the pages in the book. Everyone gasped, and this time, Alstaf was at a loss for rhymes.
"But the pages! They're empty!"
"I was hoping we'd have one last shred of our stories in this book," Carl mumbled, his ears drooping. "I guess I was wrong."
The Storyteller stared hard at the blank pages. Not a single word of her impeccable script remained, but as she continued to gaze at what was left of her life's work, her frown changed. It became more resolute.
Immediately she flipped to the very first page of the book. Alstaf was slightly taken aback at how effortlessly she had turned the pages despite the sheer weight of the book; perhaps she had drawn from a secret store of determined strength. Then she took the pen in her hand.
"We'll just have to start the 900th Storytelling Competition right here," she declared. "We all remember the contest, and even if all the other stories have been erased, the storytellers are still here!"
At first, Alstaf looked confused. Then he drew himself up to full height and said, "Gather 'round, storytellers one and all! And heed the great Storyteller's call! Though the stories have faded to black, we can still draw them back! Put on your thinking caps, for we shall fill in the gaps!"
The Storyteller raised her eyebrows. "Actually, that was very good, Alstaf. Thank you." Then she began writing on the very first page of the book, reciting the words as she went. "The Art Centre has always been the heart of Neopian creativity and lore. But one day, its stores of art, poetry and prose were suddenly empty, and..."
She stopped mid-sentence. The ground beneath her had begun to rumble, and it took all her strength to keep the book from falling onto the stone floor - or worse, her foot.
"Storyteller, look!" Carl cried, pointing. "The Art Centre! It's..."
Date: Oct 7th
"...shaking! An earthquake!"|
Everyone ran for cover as the earthquake worsened. Thankfully, it didn't last very long. Once it had subsided, the group re-emerged. "Is everyone alright?" asked the Storyteller.
"Fine I am, so worry not, since perfect health is all I've got," answered Alstaf.
"I'm fine," replied Carl.
"Wow, look, this really will astound. There's quite the fissure in the ground," pointed out Alstaf.
The Storyteller and Carl turned around, and sure enough, the earthquake had created an enormous fissure. However, there was something especially unusual about it. "Look!" exclaimed Carl. "There's a shining red light coming from the fissure."
"...The glow of magma?" guessed the Storyteller. "The fissure couldn't be THAT deep!"
"Let's investigate," urged Carl.
"...How will we get back up?" asked the Storyteller.
"Don't worry!" replied Carl. "Blumaroos such as myself can jump much higher than other Neopets."
"Well, then, I guess we can take a look," responded the Storyteller. "It might help us find our stories. Stranger things have happened in the magical world we call Neopia."
"I'll help investigate, I will! It certainly is worth the thrill!" affirmed Alstaf.
Thus, the three plunged down into the fissure and landed on a slab of rock. Before them was the open entrance to a large cavern. "Let's go in," suggested the Storyteller.
"I hope it's not a dead end," commented Carl.
"We won't know until we try." Thus, the group entered the cave, and saw...
Date: Oct 8th
… much to their astonishment, glowing scribbles on the cave walls. The red light they had seen above seemed to be coming from the markings before them, which also illuminated another opening at the far end of the cavern.
“Whoa,” breathed Carl, as they slowly turned and attempted to take in what surrounded them.
The dark walls of the cavern were almost completely covered in mysterious compositions, all written in a surprisingly neat hand. No tools or other implements could be seen, leading to further confusion and amazement amongst the trio over the origins of these strange scrawls.
The Storyteller took a few steps closer to try to decipher the curious writing. “‘Kali whispered to Vahar,’” she muttered as she read. “ ‘…Jazz! We found …’”. She frowned as she took in more of the words before her, having a faint niggling in the back of her mind that she had read something like this before. “‘Foxglove isn’t a song.’” Why is this so familiar, she asked herself. Where had she come across these words…?
Suddenly, it all clicked.
With a gasp, she turned to the Poogle, discovering that he was similarly investigating the handwriting himself on the opposite wall. “Alstaf,” she called to him, her voice trembling as she spoke. “Do you think these – ”
“By Fyora, it can’t be! ‘Tis a line from story three!” He exclaimed, knowing all the Neopian stories just as she did. He was pointing to the words ‘Queen Tizara and King Clamour’ as the Storyteller rushed over.
“That’s what I’ve discovered, too,” the Storyteller said, as she and Alstaf looked at each other. “The walls over there had pieces of other stories as well. How could this be? What could it mean? And what of the disappearing poems and the art?”
Alstaf could only shake his head. “For truth, I haven’t a clue, nor do I know what to do.”
They both turned as Carl let out a loud squawk as he stumbled in climbing up a small rock. The Blumaroo had evidently decided to get an even closer to the story fragments on the wall. Steadying himself, he reached out his paw to touch a glowing word…
Date: Oct 11th
A bright light flashed across the room as the word jumped from the wall and onto the Blumaroo’s hand. He let out a yelp before stumbling back, nearly knocking the book out of the Storyteller’s hands in the process.
The sound echoed as if the fissure they had travelled into had now become a spacious cave. No longer could they hear the distant, worried shouts of the townspeople above. For one reason or another, they were separated, isolated from the outside world.
Alstaf steadied Carl as the Blumaroo struggled to maintain his composure, but the young fellow was breathing heavily, transfixed on the glowing brand that seemed to be travelling up his arm.
Sarah, it said. But why this name of all things? And why was this name nagging at the back of her mind?
“Are you okay?” gasped the Aisha as she pushed her questions back, trying to instead offer Carl a comforting hand. He recoiled away, as if in fear.
“I… I think so,” Carl managed, “but why did… what did…?”
“I think we have found that magic abounds.” Alstaf manoeuvred about carefully so as not to accidentally bump into any of the nearby words. “The spell that has stolen our words, it confounds.”
The Storyteller breathed a sigh of relief when the word’s glowing text seemed to stop in place. “Maybe not the best time for a rhyme, Alstaf.”
“Maybe not…” The Poogle hung his head. “Apologies, dear boy.”
Carl forced a grin despite being thoroughly shaken. “No need to apologize. If this helps us figure things out, that’s what matters, right?”
“Right…” the Storyteller walked towards the neatly penned writing despite the vocal trepidation of her travelling partners. As she approached the wall, there came this strong wave of nostalgia, of stories long since told and storytellers long gone. Curious, she held the book up towards the glowing words and watched as it too began to alight. Fragments of words began to form on the open pages before fading away again. “One thing’s for sure,” she continued, “we know this magic has pieces of our stories locked inside. Now, we just need to know what—or who—wants to use them… and for what ends.”
“Maybe it’s Sarah?” mused Carl, turning the now darkened word in front of his eyes. “Why else would her name do this to me?”
“Sarah…” the name sounded oddly familiar. The Storyteller wracked her brain through her vast, encyclopedic knowledge. Drawing a blank, she flicked her gaze back to the wall where the words, “It was just another rainy Saturday…” dangled as if held by invisible wire. And by some force of magic—perhaps it was, she realized—the origin of this story fizzled briefly in her mind.
It was from the very first line of the first storytelling contest. A most joyous occasion when hundreds of creatives from around the land gathered to make something new. A collaborative tale of adventure and thrills, of daring escape and of new friends made. This story set the precedent for what would become a time-honoured tradition in Neopia for the past 21 years.
A single tear trickled down her face.
“Did you figure anything out?” asked Alstaf, worry written upon his face. He seemed genuinely concerned, a rarity for the often-melodramatic poet.
After wiping away the tear away with a sleeve as the book weighed down her hands, she nodded; her expression was resolute…
Date: Oct 12th
"it's all behind us now." said the Storyteller with a sigh. "At the end of the story the protagonist Sarah said "it's all behind us now, let's look to the future." The Aisha waved her paw at the myriad assortment of words scrawled all over the cave walls." What we have here - all around us - is what I would call "The Ago". Almost 900 stories spanning 21 years." she gazed at her companions.
"When a story is written it starts as a creation born of a writer's imagination, but with the passage of time it becomes something more. It takes on a life of it's own. Eventually we forget the names of the writers themselves, but the tales remain forevermore. Each story becomes a part of the fabric of our existence."
Alstaf nodded sagely. " A tale is woven, a fibrous thread, drawn from each creator's head. Spun together history is made, and covers the ground where canon is laid" He bowed to the assemblage, several of whom were scratching their heads in confusion. After a few moments Carl stepped forward.
"I think what you're saying" he mused haltingly, "Is that all these stories are now part of our history? That maybe they started out as nothing more than stories - but now they are part of what make us who and what we are?"
The Storyteller and Alstaf glanced at each other, then the Storyteller nodded very slightly.
"In order to get back we need to remember from whence we originated." She spoke, not only to the Neopets who stood in front of her but seemingly to a host of others unseen. She held up the leather tome, it's pages still blank. "What is missing is the story we have yet to write. Together we will create something that binds together our past and future. Perhaps then we can find our way home again." She turned to Carl and placed the book gently in his hands.
"Begin the tale," she said ...
Date: Oct 13th
Carl backed away, shaking his head rapidly.
"I'm no storyteller!" he protested. "I'm an artist! The only reason I was near the catacombs was that I had just entered a piece to the Art Gallery! Why don't you write it? You and Alstaf are much better writers than I am."
"You do not understand, young pet. For you alone hold the secret," Alstaf began, but the Storyteller rolled her eyes.
"We'll be here forever if you try and explain it in verse," she said, ignoring the Poogle's affronted look.
"You are an artist, and every artist tells a story with their work, even if they don't use words," said the Storyteller. Carl frowned, and she continued.
"But more importantly, you alone of the three of us are a Neopet." Carl opened his mouth to contest this, but she went on speaking.
"I don't mean physically. All of us are Neopets species. But Alstaf and I long ago dedicated our lives to the catacombs. He gave up his old life to write and curate poetry. I sacrificed mine to tell stories." She paused.
"And none of them were my own," she went on with a sigh.
"Sometimes I regret that. Still, I have always counted the joy of sharing good stories worth not being able to go write my own, out there in Neopia. In any case, you are the only one here who has a story not told to him by others. That, and these are stories, not poems. So Alstaf is out." The Poogle huffed and rolled his eyes, but didn't comment.
"Maybe this is your chance to write your own story?" Carl suggested.
"Your story is as important as the rest of ours. Mine isn't that interesting, really. And your story starts before the very first story told in the contest. It would make an excellent beginning."
"It also ends before the first story," said the Storyteller, but Carl frowned.
"You're still alive, aren't you? Your story hasn't ended. You're still in the middle of it. Just as Neopia is still in the middle of its story. What each Neopian does now will affect how the story continues." He gasped, and his eyes lit up.
"Why not tell the story of how the catacombs came to be? Then we can include the stories through the years!" he exclaimed. The Storyteller blinked, and then a grin split her face.
"That's excellent! And you, Carl, will still be a part of it, albeit closer to the end," she enthused. "And Alstaf here could help. He too has a story to tell." The Poogle smiled enigmatically.
"Or perhaps a poem to write, to help set this matter right," he said. His eyes twinkled.
"Okay, give me the book, then," the Storyteller said. Carl held the book out to her, and she began to speak...
Date: Oct 14th
"Neopia Central and its glorious Art Centre were not always here. Indeed, they are symbols of modern Neopia - the Neopia that began from the Year 0. But of course Neopia has existed long before that, and its Neopets too. This is the story of the deep catacombs that lay underground, beneath the very spot the Art Centre came to be, and where I believe we are standing right now."
The Storyteller took a deep breath, gathering her thoughts. It seemed incredible to her that she - of all Neopets, she! - was finally telling a story of her own. The years that had flown by with her listening to tales from Neopets all across Neopia, and never had she put pen to page with one herself.
The leather tome became weightless in her paws, able to be balanced in one whilst her left hand wrote delicately in the old pages.
"But how did these catacombs come to be in the first place?" she continued. "For long ago this was a great expanse of space, very sparse, with only farming fields and small communities. It was one of these communities - a family of intrepid explorers and creative minds, that built them."
Around them, the words engraved on the caves began to shine brighter and sparkle. It was as if the cave was coming to life. Gentle rumblings could also be heard, but nothing like the scale of the earthquake before.
"It's working!" Alstaf cried. "This indeed is the story we were meant to tell, my old friend. Continue!"
The Storyteller nodded, eager to carry on. The words were flowing easily now, the ink setting in place. "It had been, as it often was in great story beginnings, a perfectly normal day. But a great storm was brewing, one that promised winds like never before. The people needed shelter."
Far in the distance, a light started shining in the tunnel up ahead. Distant at first, and then growing stronger.
"My goodness," Alstaf said, all rhymes forgotten for a moment. "Is this cave now showing us a way forward?"
"Do you think we should follow it?" Carl asked.
"I believe so, dear boy," Alstaf said. He turned to the Storyteller. "But you must continue your tale as we walk. Is it -" He was lost for words all of a sudden, a rarity in him indeed.
The Storyteller, just like him, was overcome with emotion. "It is, Alstaf," she whispered. "It's our story."
"Then you must tell it, and tell it bravely," Alstaf said. "And we shall walk towards this new entrance that has opened up for us."
And so they walked towards the shining light, a beacon of hope in this dark and enchanting cave.
And the Storyteller continued her tale.
"The storm hit with as much force as feared," she wrote. "But one Neopet had been working hard, burying deep underground, and creating these catacombs. But they never expected to find..."
Date: Oct 15th
“…a purple Poogle marching through a particularly wide tunnel of the gaping cavern, who seemed to be measuring out a spot for something in its rocky floor.”
Alstaf cut in with an abrupt clearing of his throat, almost causing the Storyteller to trip as she completed writing her sentence. “Yes, Alstaf?”
“This story is getting exciting! Might I take a turn at writing?” His face beamed, ecstatic at the prospect of participating in this historic moment.
“Of course, and I believe this part of the story is more suited for you to tell, anyway,” the Storyteller concluded, handing the massive tome over to Alstaf.
“Alstaf, are you the Poogle in the story?” Carl asked as he stared Alstaf up and down, confirming he was indeed a purple Poogle.
“Old as I may look, from what you can see, this is actually an ancestor who inspired me.” The subtle comment about his age had not seemed to dampen Alstaf’s exhilaration. Taking the tome in hand, he cleared his throat again and set pen to paper, as they continued toward the light at the end of the cave.
“The Neopet primarily responsible for the creation of the Catacombs, a gruff Grarrl, stared at the Poogle, bemused. ‘Excuse me, sir, what are you doing? Any minute we need to start hurrying Neopians in here to take cover! Don’t you hear the rumblings of the storm?’
“The Poogle turned toward the Grarrl, a grin across his face. ‘Yes, I heard the rain seem to roar; it sounds like a torrential downpour!’ Then the Poogle returned to his task, continuing to stake out an area of the cavern.”
‘Sir? Sir, we need to hurry! This is an urgent matter and I think anything you’re doing right now can wait until later!’
“Thunder clapped loudly in the distance, and the purple Poogle turned around again, still smiling. ‘I know this situation seems quite dire, but please settle down, it’s clear you’re tired. Please allow me to explain,’ the Poogle said, gesturing to the spot he had been examining. ‘This will be a place to entertain. In this time of peril it’s what we require; a creative place to express, read, and inquire. Prizes will be given for poetry at its best; all interested Neopets can enter a contest!’
“Thunder cracked again, and the torrential rain could be heard beating down against the rough, rocky ceiling of the cavern. At that moment everything seemed to be shak-“
And then everything was shaking.
A small pebble fell from above and hit Carl on the head. “Ouch! I think we need to hurry this story along, I don’t like what’s happening…”
The light in the cave grew brighter still, as the trio moved forward and Alstaf continued the tale…
Date: Oct 18th
“‘Sir, if you’re not going to help the others arrive, then at least make space for them.’ The Grarrl turned brusquely away from the Poogle. ‘I must prepare for their arrival.’ The Poogle, for his sake, continued to measure the floor, ignoring the oncoming tremors.”
The earth rumbled again, as if to underscore Alstaf’s narration.
“But the Grarrl moved quickly, and the community of farmers was soon brought into the catacombs. They were safe in the cave’s shelter, but they were still soggy and frightened of the tremors, huddling around hasty campfires and torches. And moreover, they were bored — they had no way to pass the time.”
“I bet they were glad to have entertainment then,” commented the Storyteller.
Alstaf nodded. “That Poogle, my ancestor, quickly rounded up a group of them and convinced them to start sharing poetry. Another Neopet, a Scorchio, discovered a series of pools where the water trickled in from the storm. She mixed the rainwater with some pigment, and started to paint a mural on the cave wall, with others quickly joining her. They put their torches together, creating an enormous, roaring bonfire. It became an animated sight; the Neopians knew they would be alright,” he said, slipping into rhyme.
“At the peak of the tempest outside, they gathered around their bonfire, and an Eyrie — boisterous and passionate, with a flair for the dramatic — began to narrate a story. The Scorchio and her band of artists illustrated his words directly on the wall, and the poets joined in. Everyone watched the scene unfold in rapt attention. In spite of the raging weather, it felt like a festival.”
Carl put a hand on Alstaf’s shoulder. “This history is incredible,” he interrupted, “but how does it connect to the vanishing stories? Why are they written on the walls here, and not in the Storyteller’s book? Why was the Art Centre closed this morning?”
The Aisha turned to face the Blumaroo. “The answers to all your questions,” she replied, “lie here, at the heart of these catacombs.”
Ahead of her, the tunnel opened up into an enormous cavern. Brilliant light shone from its entrance. Carl and Alstaff looked over her shoulder, and took in the sight before them…
Date: Oct 19th
A fire, which receded as if doused with a bucket of water upon their entrance. It dwindled to smouldering embers within two blinks of an eye, leaving smoke and shadows in place of the bright, promising light.
In those shadows were...Neopets....all of whom seemed familiar.
A Cybunny, an Eyrie, a Uni who was ghostly, but turned corporeal on Halloween, the Storyteller knew, as she knew them all...
“Safra,” she murmured, stepping towards the Uni. “And Jurgis...how are you in this time and universe too?” the Storyteller asked the Eyrie.
But Alstaf noticed the Cybunny first. “Sarah...you were in our heads and hearts...though from the tale, you'd not depart.”
“Exactly,” said the Cybunny, as the group gathered around the pathetic fire. “Neopets like you have written us into existence, and remembered some of us.”
The Uni shrugged with her wings, seeming flattered at this.
“But others have been forgotten. The judges before you. The Neopians who authored us. The places we've been. And when we're forgotten...”
As if on cue, Safra shut her eyes in acceptance, her smoky being dissolving into the air.
“How do we bring it all back?” the Storyteller cried, her eyes stinging at Safra's disappearance.
“Why, isn't it obvious?” Jurgis said, his smouldering image flickering. He, too, dissipated into the air, but not before he uttered a single piece of advice.
“Try to remember..."
Date: Oct 20th
What happens next? (write the next paragraph of the story!)
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