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||You are on Week 218
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 Two Hundred and Eighteen Ends March 18th
"Woooow!" Tanner sighed in awe as he exited the Tyrannian Concert Hall with the rest of the excited crowd. "That was great!" The jubilant disco Blumaroo bounced ahead, clutching his concert program tightly.
His friend Auree, a red Moehog, had to agree. "It certainly was a good concert," she said with a nod. "The music was even better than what I expected from that glowing review in last week's Neopian Times."
Tanner stared up at the night sky, spinning around with his arms raised as he hummed snatches from tunes that he’d heard earlier. "I want to play in the Concert Hall one day. I’m going to start a band!"
Auree laughed. Her friend was always starting up some novel idea or another every day. "That's ambitious of you," she said, "considering that you don’t even own an instrument."
"Then I’ll buy one!"
"But, you won’t even know how to play it."
"Then I'll learn!"
Auree shook her head. It was useless to argue with the Blumaroo when he was fixated on something. "All right, then, good luck with that," she said with a smile. "For now, let's just worry about getting home on time!"
* * * * *
Auree knocked on the door of Tanner's small Neohome for what had to be the fiftieth time that morning. Coming faintly through the thickness of the door were some horrible twanging noises, a few unpleasant scratching sounds, and a weak resemblance to a musical note or two. Giving up on the door, the Moehog made her way to the side of the home and peered through one of its windows. Standing in the middle of his living room was Tanner, ecstatically strumming a brand new guitar with absolutely no thought to sound or technique. Upon seeing his friend in the window, he paused to wave happily at her, then motioned for her to come in.
"This is going to be interesting," Auree muttered as she headed back towards the door...
Author: Fantastic Gnat|
Date: 11th March
...As she stepped inside, she could hear just how bad the music sounded; it was the sort of sound one might expect to hear if you put two Kadoaties in a banjo then dropped it off something very high. Nevertheless, she took a seat in the living room and forced a rather painful smile. Tanner stopped and looked over at her, beaming.
"I've written a song already! Want to hear it?" he asked, then before waiting for an answer started plucking at the strings enthusiastically. Auree folded her ears flat, trying to block out the din as politely as possible. Tanner didn't notice; he was too busy head-banging.
A full three minutes and twenty one seconds later (though it seemed far longer to the Moehog), Tanner let the guitar hang by its strap and looked up at his friend, who was clapping half-heartedly.
"What do you think?" he asked jovially, grinning from ear to ear.
"Um..." stalled Auree. She couldn't bear to disappoint him; he looked so proud of himself. "Not bad, not bad... have you considered getting lessons?"
Tanner shook his head. He picked up a magazine from the coffee table and showed it to her. It was open on an article about Sticks N' Stones, the very band they'd seen yesterday.
"No, look. The guitarist says he didn't get lessons either, so nor will I!" he told her, prodding a section of the article. The Moehog rolled her eyes, but before she had chance to say anything, Tanner was speaking again. "I've got a present for you, Auree," he said, clearly elated. The Blumaroo turned and lifted something out of a nearby box. It was wrapped in brown paper, bound tightly with string. He held it out to her, grinning.
Auree took it, excitedly pulling the paper away to reveal...
Date: 14th March
...a small set of bongo drums.
"Oh!" Auree said quietly, examining the instrument. "They're... er... very nice, Tanner."
The Blumaroo grinned in reply, unaware of the fact that his friend was rather disappointed. "I couldn't afford the entire drum kit," he explained. "But I knew you'd like these drums. I figure once our fame starts to grow, and Neopets pay to see us, we can buy you a whole set of drums to perform on!"
The Moehog nodded and studied the bongo drums. They were covered in a gaudy starry pattern, and the top was fastened with imitation Kau leather. The left drum was slightly larger than the right, giving it a deeper sound as she tapped it with her hoof.
"I've already written my song with your drumming part in it," Tanner continued as he handed her a crumpled sheet of paper.
Auree smoothed the paper out with her hoof. It was covered in random pencil marks on a set of lines that sort of resembled a musical staff. A coffee stain covered the writing in the bottom right-hand corner of the paper. Gulping, the Moehog attempted reading the piece.
She squinted down at the paper. "So where do I start playing?"
"There, silly!" Tanner laughed, pointing to a long black mark in the middle of the page. "Just follow those notes. The really big ones are called whole notes."
Auree sighed and studied her section of the music again, but could barely tell the whole notes apart from the half notes and the quarter notes. Before she could point out that her entire part was still completely illegible, Tanner began playing his wretched song again...
Date: 15th March
...Ignoring the sheet, Auree tried in vain to rap out a beat amid the ruckus of sharp twangs. She winced at the sound of it, but Tanner strummed merrily on.
Though she thought the sound could not become any more offensive to the ears, she was wrong. With a deep, confident breath, Tanner opened his mouth and began to sing.
"Ooooh!" he cried. "I had a little Mootix pet, a cute Petpetpet was he--"
"Tanner!" exclaimed the Moehog in alarm. "What are you doing?"
"Singing, of course," replied her friend without slowing the rapid movements of his fingers. "It's a song of loss. Now where was I? My Mootix ate and played and laughed, and swam in deep blue sea!"
Grimacing, Auree pounded her drum harder so as to drown out the horrible warbling of his voice.
"But one grey day a storm blew in -- my house's timbers shook! It wrecked my lawn, it shattered glass, and my little Mootix took…"
"That's horrible!" protested Auree, setting the drum down.
Tanner stopped playing and looked at her. "What is?"
Opening her mouth to speak, Auree tried to decide where to begin. Which was the most horrible: the jangling music, the whiny warbling, or the depressing lyrics? "All of it," she finally said. "Tanner, I don't think I can help you with this."
His face flushed in earnestness. "Oh, but you must!" he cried. "Remember the Concert Hall? Auree, you and I are going to play there someday..."
Date: 15th March
…"No, we're not!" Auree countered. The Moehog paused as she tried to figure out the best way to continue. Not only was her friend lacking even the most basic musical talent, but it seemed the Blumaroo was tone deaf as well. To make matters worse, he didn't seem to be willing to listen to any sort of reason. "We aren't going to be playing the Concert Hall," she began carefully, "because they only let famous bands play there. We have a long way to go before we become famous. I mean, we only have one song right now." The Moehog was really on a roll. "We have to start slow. I know you said you don't want to take lessons, but I do, and I hate to take them alone." She regarded her friend with a somewhat desperate expression.
Tanner's face broke into the sunniest smile that Auree had ever seen. "You're just nervous," he reassured her. "Besides you were doing great earlier!"
"Thank you, but..." Auree tried to add, but Tanner was too excited to listen.
"Besides, we don't have to be famous to play the Concert Hall," Tanner continued, "Let me show you something." The Blumaroo put his tortured guitar aside as he began shuffling through the clutter strewn about his Neohome. "Where is it?" he mumbled to himself. "I know I put it right... oh! Here it is!" He pulled out a rumpled sheet of paper. "Look at this," he instructed, handing the sheet to Auree.
The Moehog's heart and face dropped when she read the paper. "Ever wanted to play at the Concert Hall? Audition for your chance at the talent contest," urged the ad, which featured pictures of beaming musicians. The contest was scheduled to begin in two days.
"You can't be serious," Auree gasped.
"Why not?" Tanner asked innocently. "I know two days isn't much time, but I think we can be ready. Can you imagine? Our pictures will be featured in the Neopian Times, and everyone will be talking about us."
"They'll be laughing at us," Auree corrected in a whisper.
"What did you say?" inquired Tanner.
"Uh, nothing," Auree answered, "but I don't see how we can possibly be ready in two days. We need more time."
"Don't be silly," Tanner said, picking up his guitar and strumming the strings aimlessly. "We're ready right now." He threw back his head and began to sing the Mootix song again, his voice cracking like thin ice under an ice-skating Elephante.
Auree shook her head. She hated to do this to her best friend, but she couldn't let him make a fool of both of them at the contest...
Date: 16th March
..."Tanner! Oh, Tanner, stop! Please!" cried Auree over her friend's horrendous voice and the terrible twanging noises being plucked out on the metallic strings of his guitar. But the Blumaroo was apparently deaf to his friend's cries. He went on strumming at the guitar's strings, singing in a voice that sounded rather like a Kadoatie whose tail was being pulled.
"Oooooh, my little Mootix, forever he was lost! On that stormy ni-ight, through the wind he was a' tossed! An' I never saw my li'l Mootix again! He disappeared forever, did my Mootix, uh... erm... my Mootix, Ben!" Tanner sang (or rather, tried to sing), out of tune and out of time with the twanging of his guitar.
He opened his mouth and put back his head, preparing to bellow out another verse, when he suddenly felt a sharp tug at his instrument.
Letting go of the guitar in surprise, Tanner stared, startled, as Auree retreated, a grimace set upon her face as she held the guitar tightly.
"Tanner," Auree sighed, carefully leaning the instrument against the wall of the Neohome. "I'm really sorry about this, but we can't enter that contest..."
Date: 16th March
...Tanner laughed openly. "What are you talking about? We're going to do great there." He lowered his voice. "Unless, of course, you're unsure of your skills. It's okay if you don't think you can do it."
Auree frowned. "That's not what I mean, Tanner. It's just..." She stopped. She couldn't let her friend down, not when he was so determined.
"Your song. Your guitar-playing. Your music. This band. We can't make fools of ourselves like this. Not in front of an audience. In fact, I don't know if I can even stand to do it in front of a wall." Auree suddenly realized that she was speaking out her feelings, and out loud they sounded a lot more brutal than how they sounded in her head. She tried to turn away from the hurt look on Tanner's face, but found she couldn't. The harsh words she had just spoken could not be sucked back into her throat. "I'm sorry, Tanner. It's just the way I feel," she said, although what she had meant to say was "It's just reality."
Tanner sank to the floor. "You don't want to be in our band?"
"No," the Moehog said as gently as she could. "I just don't think it'll work out."
Drooping his head, Tanner put a numb hand over his beloved guitar. "Oh, what'll I do?" he wailed.
"It's okay, Tanner," Auree assured her friend softly.
"I know," Tanner said sadly. "It'll be okay."
Auree couldn't bear to see her friend look so miserable. He looked on the verge of tears, which Auree hadn't seen in years.
"Hey Tanner, I know what I can do for you," Auree said, unable to believe what she was saying. All she knew was that she was going to do something she'd never thought she'd do...
Date: 17th March
…"Don't." Tanner shook his head to interrupt her, the look of sheer defeat on his face. Her heart flinched upon seeing him like this, instantly wishing she could turn back the hands of time to somehow fix this. "You don't have to say anything else. I would have expected this from anyone else, but never from you. I thought you understood how much this dream meant to me, Auree. I've been given the rare chance to seize my dreams, and maybe even see them fulfilled. Yeah, other musicians there might have spent their entire lives playing an instrument and developing their ambitions. Who cares? I know that I can be just as good as they are! Even if I have to work day and night until the competition, I'll prove to you that I can do this! Just you wait and see!"
Auree could feel her eyes beginning to cloud, blinking away the hot tears that threatened. She knew that she had hurt his feelings deeply, but what kind of a friend would she have been to willingly allow him to make a fool of himself? At least this way he heard it from her and not a bunch of random strangers.
"Tanner," she whispered softly, surprised to hear her tone slightly tremble. "I know what I can do for you."
"What?" Tanner countered a bit defensively. "Haven't you already done enough by telling me the truth?!? I think maybe you should just leave."
"I can't leave when you look like a Ghostkerchief just yelled boo," Auree protested stubbornly. "If this is something you feel so passionately about, then maybe I can help."
"You just said..."
"I know what I said," Auree replied. "But, I also see how much this does mean to you. I want to help you make that dream a reality. There's one thing you do have, Tanner, and that's passion for this. I think that's a good place to start."
"What do you mean?" Tanner tilted his head in confusion.
"Follow me," Auree motioned with a smile illuminating her face, already beginning to walk toward the door...
Date: 17th March
…Auree led Tanner to her Neohome, where she dragged him up to the attic. "Uh, Auree--" he began.
She cut him off and put a hoof to her lips. "Just follow me," she whispered. "And trust me, Tanner; that's all you have to do." Auree pulled a string so that the ladder that led to the attic would fall down to them. She climbed up the steps, then motioned for Tanner to follow.
Auree cut him off once more. "Tanner, you're going to love this!"
"Uh-uh," said Tanner, slowly backing away from the ladder. "I'm not going up there. No way."
"Oh, come on, Tanner! It'll be... it'll be like one of those treasure hunts we used to go on when we were little," Auree encouraged.
"Oh, fine," the Blumaroo sighed. "What do I have to lose?"
Tanner took one tiny baby step closer to the ladder. Sweat grew on his face... his hands trembled... he shut his eyes tightly so as to not see. Tanner was afraid of heights, but even worse, Auree's attic was a terrible mess.
Suddenly, Auree swooped down over Tanner and dragged him up to the top of the ladder. "Tanner, you will love this."
"Oh, really?" said Tanner sarcastically.
"Yes, really," joked Auree. "Now, come on." Once the Moehog had successfully managed to bring the hesitant Tanner up to her attic, she went over to a box and lifted out a keyboard.
Tanner leaped up of the chair he was sitting on in astonishment. "Wow!" he gasped. "Where'd you get that?"
"It's my mother's," explained Auree. "She never uses it anymore. She told me that whenever I needed it, I was welcome to use it."
"Since when do you need this?" questioned Tanner slyly.
"Since I found out how passionate you are for music," Auree smiled. "I know how to play it. If you want, I can teach you a scale on your guitar or your--"
"Wait a minute!" shouted Tanner. "Why aren't you using those bongo drums I bought you? They cost me 500 Neopoints!"
"I will use them," explained Auree. "Just when the time is right."
"All right," Tanner conceded. "Go on; I’m listening."
"So here's what I was thinking..."
Date: 18th March
"...It won't be formal lessons, really, since I'm not qualified to do that, and you don't want them anyway, but I can show you how to make your music sound right."
"What are you talking about?" Tanner interrupted indignantly. "We sounded just like Sticks N' Stones! I still don't know what you were complaining about."
Auree sighed. "I really hate saying this, Tanner, but no, we didn't. Most of the sounds you were making with your guitar weren't even notes, and I was completely guessing on the beat. You've got the basic idea of writing music, but it... um... you know how our teachers always mark you down for penmanship?"
"I can read my writing," Tanner muttered rebelliously.
"Yes, but that's because you know what it says already. Part of the point is for Neopets who don't know what it says to be able to read it. Now listen. You said you'd work day and night for this dream, right?"
"Well," said Auree, "if by the day of the contest you can actually play a song so that I can hear the tune, and you can tell the difference between that and what you were doing today, I'll go up on stage with you." They were still never going to match really experienced bands, but at least they wouldn't sound like neither of them had ever heard of music. She hoped.
"Really, Auree?" Tanner lit up. "And you'll play the bongo drums?"
Auree sighed. The joy was all worth it -- though she hoped he wouldn't be too heartbroken when they lost. "If you still want me to. Keep in mind, the keyboard can hit a lot more notes. Now, the first thing to do is learn which note is which and what they should sound like, then practice scales..."
* * * * *
By the end of the evening, Tanner could play a scale on the keyboard without missing a note more than half the time, but he absolutely hated it, and said so.
"I hate this! Auree, this is lessons; you tricked me. Music shouldn't come from lessons and stock patterns!" The Blumaroo placed a multicolored paw over his chest. "Music has to come from the heart."
"Yes," rejoined Auree, "but it isn't supposed to hurt the ears.
"Erm." Tanner glowered at the keyboard and tried very hard to focus, and his next five scales were perfect.
Rhythm was even more frustrating than scales. The Moehog used the bongo drums, as she had promised: she sat and pounded out a slow beat and insisted that Tanner practice until he could complete a scale in between the times she hit the drum.
"You're changing the pace!" he cried.
"I'm not," Auree retorted, "I'm using the Techo Clock right over there on the wall to make sure, too."
Tanner looked at the Techo Clock. "But it's wrong."
"It's only set wrong. It keeps perfectly consistent time. Now, try again."
Later still, Auree finally let him start playing his guitar, and after she did all sorts of strange things to the strings and little pegs that she insisted he watch and remember, she even let him try to play songs. She took up a slightly more complicated beat on the bongo drums, and definitely not the one he had envisioned for his song, and insisted he try to keep the same beat throughout a song on the guitar.
"But there's no flexibility in that! You're restricting my artistic expression!"
"You can change the rules after you learn them," Auree snapped. She really, truly wanted to help her friend, but after over a day of hearing the same thing over and over again with different mistakes, her nerves were a bit frayed. She sighed. "I'm sorry, Tanner, I didn't mean to snap at you. But trust me, please?"
* * * * *
Tanner was deeply depressed by the morning before the contest. He could hear the difference between the songs he tried to play now and those he'd played before, but he wasn't entirely sure he liked it better. (Actually, he tried one twangy riff the way he'd done before, and it hurt his paw and his ears, but he didn't like to admit it.) And Auree was still pushing and pushing and criticizing, and he hated it.
But in the end, she said she'd go to the contest with him.
She took the bongo drums.
They played their hearts out.
And they lost.
* * * * *
"I'm so happy," cried the singer of the winning group, a female fire Grarrl with what Tanner secretly had to admit was a really amazing rich contralto voice. "I've dreamed of this all my life! We've been practicing and playing together for two years now, but we never expected to have this chance -- to play in the Tyrannian Concert Hall!"
She sounded, Tanner thought, sinking further into gloom, just like him. A dreamer, a lover of music. Only it had been two years of work for her, not two days.
"I thought I could be just as good," he said, half to himself. "I wanted it so much. I worked so hard."
Auree patted his shoulder, trying to find words to console him. "I know, Tanner. But -- they dreamed, too."
They made their way outdoors as soon as it was polite. "I should just break this guitar now," Tanner cried out. "It's not worth it!"
"You only started trying to play it two days ago!" Auree hastily rescued the guitar from him. "You were learning scales after dinner!"
"Well," said a third voice, startling them both, "that's pretty impressive."
Both young Neopets went quite still, turning to look up at the owner of the voice. The guitarist from Sticks N' Stones, Tanner's idol, looked down at them. Each of the great Neopian bands had had a representative among the judges.
"R-really?" Tanner stammered. "But... it was... a lesson. You said you never took lessons."
"I didn't," said the guitarist, grinning a bit, "but I didn't try performing in public two days after I first got my hands on a guitar, either."
"What did you do?"
"I played around a while, got a book on notes and scales and tuning, begged a friend to show me what to do when I couldn't get it right... practiced for years." He clapped Tanner and Auree on the shoulders. "You two keep practicing. You'll do all right. Shouldn't wonder if you worked your way up here the usual way, one of these days."
He slipped back indoors. Tanner and Auree looked at each other, gaping.
And years later, when they played in the Tyrannian Concert Hall as the Air Faerie Supplies, they both looked back on that day and dedicated their signature song "Mootix Dropped" to the guitarist from Sticks N' Stones.
Date: 18th March
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