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||You are on Week 226
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 Twenty-Six Ends May 13th
"Umm, Onar… are you sure this is the way to Illusen's Glade?"
"Of course I'm sure! I'm following the map that the Draik guards at castle Meridell gave us, exactly! See?" the Yurble asked, turning toward the Ixi.
Klara squinted at the map, then twisted her head to one side. "ONAR!" she suddenly screamed, "You have it upside down!"
"Heh, whoops," the Yurble said, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment.
The Ixi groaned, rubbing her forehead with a hoof. She sighed, letting the hoof drop to the ground, and then looked around. All she could see were trees, while the smell of a nearby bog also weighed on her thoughts. "Let's double back; we'd best get out of here by nightfall if we're out of Illusen's realm."
Onar nodded his head and took a step, but instantly froze. "Do you hear something?"
Klara stopped in her tracks and pricked her ears. "Sounds like... some kind of hissing?"
The Yurble nodded as he peered through the dense foliage, toward the area where the bog’s smell was coming from. "I think I see movemen-AHHHH!" the Yurble screamed, falling backwards into the Ixi, pinning the poor creature to the ground.
From underneath the Yurble’s furry back, Klara saw what she could only describe as a winged serpent emerging from the brush...
Author: Is stumbling around lost, too|
Date: 8th May
...The strange red creature's tongue flicked out searchingly, emitting with it a low hiss. Slowly it blinked, turning its head towards the two friends, who were still sprawled on the ground, too terrified to move. The serpent smiled widely and slithered up to the Neopets, who shrank away as it approached.
Extending one of its strange, scaly wings in greeting, the creature spoke. "Greetingsss, strangers. I am Sorin. What brings you to Lord Kastraliss's realm?"
Exchanging a quick look with his friend, Onar tentatively pulled one of his furry paws out of the jumble and shook the snake's leathery wing. "Err... my name is Onar, and this is Klara."
Sorin seemed immensely pleased by this news and, withdrawing from the "handshake", bowed low to the Neopets. "You are a Yurble and an Ixi, if my eyes do not deceive me, correct?"
"Yeah," Onar said, helping his friend as they rose to their feet. "Erm, but... what exactly are you?"
The snake hissed quietly in laughter. "My dear Yurble, I am a Hissi! You must not be from around here if you do not know of my species!"
Scratching her head with a hoof, Klara spoke up. "Well, I've certainly never heard of a Hissi before, and I don't think anyone in Meridell has, either!"
Sorin tilted his head questioningly. "I'm afraid I've never heard tell of this Meridell... but no matter! I can take you to Lord Kastraliss's court and show you around, if you wish to learn more about my species."
Figuring they had nothing to lose, the two Neopets agreed. This Hissi seemed like a charming creature anyway, and they deemed him trustworthy. However, as the newly acquainted friends entered the strange bogland, they had no idea how wrong their assumption would prove to be...
Date: 9th May
...As they pressed onward, the landscape slowly but surely became less and less welcoming. The lush, sturdy oaks waned into withering trunks with spidery branches. The plump black Crokabeks that had chirped so melodically at the beginning of their journey became replaced by ferocious Vullards who looked starved and all the more vicious. The only notes that escaped their throats were rasping cough-like caws that made Klara's hair stand on end.
The pebbles and rocks that were scattered across the lush green grass steadily grew in size, until they were soon forced to walk around enormous boulders that seemed to have appeared from nowhere. Around them, the grass became a sickly yellow-green, but soon gave way to watery dirt, and eventually thick mud. The sweet-smelling flowers that had first greeted them were shoved aside by choking nettles, and later nothing at all, as the plant life could not grow in the soupy earth of the bog.
As they carried on, the acrid smell of the swamp's foul gases rose and hung in the air like a musty curtain. Klara choked on it for a moment; Onar tried to ignore it. Sorin, meanwhile, hardly seemed affected by it at all. He carried on with the happiness and nonchalance of a child, leading the Yurble and Ixi through the natural obstacles like a shepherd leading his Babaas to graze.
After rounding a particularly large boulder, and getting scraped by an outstretching bramble, Klara pressed herself against a boulder. "Sorin, wait up," she croaked, trying to catch her breath. The Hissi stopped.
"Hmmmm?" Sorin murmured, lowered to the ground and slithering over to her fluidly. "What ssseems to be the problem?"
"I'm just... catching my breath," Klara panted. Onar took the opportunity to do the same. Sorin, meanwhile, waited for his "friends" to regain themselves.
"All done?" he asked after a few moments. The two nodded, and it was then that Klara realized the sudden unwelcoming feeling that echoed off all of her surroundings.
Klara gulped. "Onar," she murmured, "is it just me, or does everything seem really... unfriendly?"
"I'm kind of feeling the same way," Onar whispered back, then traced the path of Sorin with his eyes. "Hey, wait, Sorin, wait up!"
The Hissi, who was at least twelve feet ahead of the two, was now perched on the crest of a large hill. "We're here," he hissed, his voice as smooth and sleek as silk.
Onar ran to catch up, with Klara close behind. Together they climbed to the top of the hill, staring out at the sights beyond. Klara's mouth fell agape in mingled awe and fear. Onar seemed greatly impressed.
"Welcome," Sorin murmured, "to the court of Lord Kastraliss..."
Date: 10th May
...From their viewpoint at the crest of the hill, they could see for miles. Valleys, lush wilderness... a dark beauty that neither stranger to this land had seen in their wanderings. Their eyes scanned the breathtaking vista, and Klara put her hand on Onar's shoulder as her eyes widened in wonder. This place was completely different from the rocky, harsh land that lay behind them.
In the direct center of this dark, beautiful place, a stone castle rose out and towered over the land, tall, black, magnificent. One could only look in wonder and a bit of fear at the castle. Grey clouds encircled the uppermost spires. The sun peeking through the mists glanced off the intricate stained glass that decorated every window and reflected a vast array of color towards the onlookers, giving them a false sense of happiness and ease.
"It is beautiful," breathed Klara.
"Yesss." Sorin watched the reactions of the two carefully, smiling to himself when he saw their reaction to the castle.
"Lord Kastraliss must be a very powerful individual." Onar could not stop looking at the castle.
"He is," Sorin nodded. "Would you like to make his acquaintance?"
"Oh, yes!" Klara agreed happily and clapped her hooves together in anticipation. "That would be lovely!"
"Then come. Follow me to the castle." Sorin began his descent towards the castle.
Making sure his guests were following, Sorin again smiled to himself and whispered, "I am sure Lord Kastraliss will be equally pleased to meet you..."
Date: 10th May
...The trio began their trek over the grass. It was then that Sorin did something very interesting indeed. He coiled his red-scaled body and sprang into the air, flapping his leathery wings when he’d reached the apex of his arc -- then again, again, and again, working his beats into a rhythm. In moments he was flying easily a few feet off the ground. |
“That’s a neat trick,” Klara said, tilting her head as she watched him fly. He glided across the air as weightlessly and sinuously as smoke in the breeze, and she saw Sorin decline his head in an almost demure fashion. He was pleased.
“Thank you,” he hissed.
They said little more as they made their trek to the proud castle. Upon reaching the door Sorin drew himself upright and hovered before it. His wings beat frantically as he took the doorknocker in his mouth (carefully tailored to be easily held in a Hissi’s jaws) only to immediately let it fall.
A heavy, leaden clang echoed around the rolling countryside. Onar shuddered and took a step away, recoiling from the sound as if it were a physical threat. There was a grand near-silence as the last vibrations of the knock hummed themselves into nonexistence, and then the massive doors began to creak ever-so-slowly open. One inches, two inches... Klara leaned in impatiently, eager to see what was on the other side. She was dimly aware of Sorin hissing a warning, but then--
--the doors flung themselves wide and nearly knocked poor Klara for a loop. She skidded backwards, trembling from her near-death (perhaps near-very-bothersome-headache) experience, and the wind from the doors ruffled her fur.
“Hey, wow!” Onar breathed. “Look!”
It wasn’t until she opened her eyes that Klara realized she’d had them closed. Slowly, she lifted her gaze from the ground -- Sorin was grinning apologetically at her. At least, he looked apologetic. It was difficult to tell with his wide-mouthed, reptilian face. She then turned to the open doorway, and the sight inside stunned her silent for at least the second time that night.
“Lord Kastrallis,” Sorin was saying, “there are visitors here to see you...”
Date: 11th May
...Klara and Onar were still goggling at the room beyond the doorway. It was an enormous room, for one thing -- large enough to match the doors. And it appeared to be night inside. The room was hung in tapestries of black and rich purple, and carpeted too, with cushions scattered and piled across the floor. But there was an occasional gleam of metal or of colored fire; torches of red, yellow, green, and blue lined the walls at shoulder height and seemed to stand like candles among the cushions.
"Indeed." The voice was a low hiss, but it whispered all around the room, shifting the tapestries as if they were so many clouds over the moon; more colors gleamed from behind them, and Klara and Onar realized that they covered the beautiful windows they had seen from outside. "Excellent work, Sorin. I am pleased."
Sorin bowed low, spreading his wings.
"Let them enter," said the whisper.
Sorin turned to the Ixi and the Yurble, bowing to them as well though not as deeply. "Lord Kastraliss grants you audience," he said.
"You're coming in, right?" Klara asked, with a sudden fit of nerves. "I mean... a lord. I don't know how to behave...."
"After you, after you," Sorin said, ushering them forward. "But you will not need my advice. Simply bow politely."
They stepped forward, through the great doors, and the doors shut swiftly most of the way and then settled slowly and silently into position, the reverse of the way they had opened. This shut out the sunlight and left only the colorful torches to light the room.
"Welcome," said the voice that could only belong to Lord Kastraliss. A long and sinuous shape arched up from the velvety shadows. A winged serpent again, but far larger than Sorin, and deepest violet -- like a shadow itself against the torchlight. "Come forward, my guests."
The torch-holders formed a subtle pattern on the floor, and one of its features was a path forward from the door. As the two friends moved onto it, Klara looked sideways at the holders. As the torches lit up their holders rather well, she realized that they were in the form of Hissies themselves, both those standing on the floor and, curiously, those on the walls. They stood on a coil of tail, wings spread for stability; the torches were clamped in their mouths.
As she passed close by an unblinking holder, she felt a soft movement of air.
Breath from its nostrils.
She started, trying not to show it. The torch-holders were alive, or at least some of them were. And they were immobile.
Those on the walls had their tails coiled around protruding sconces. After feeling that tiny breath of air, Klara suddenly felt that they looked tense and desperate.
Lord Kastraliss rose up on his own tail ahead of them, a vast curving shadow among shadows, and she saw his tongue flick.
"Hey," Onar said, giving a quick glance over his shoulder, "I thought Sorin was coming in after us."
"That was not necessary," said Lord Kastraliss.
Klara had the feeling they were in trouble...
Date: 11th May
...Quickly the Ixi grabbed the Yurble by the arm, muttering into his ear, "Onar, the torch holders, they're--"
The titanic form of Kastraliss, veiled in the shadows, stirred slightly. "They're what?" he inquired calmly, as if there was nothing odd about living torch holders. Klara felt her heart begin to race.
"They're, uh, quite nice pieces of work," she replied, staring at her feet and nearly mumbling. Onar, who was clueless to the situation, stared bewildered at where he expected Kastraliss to be coiled.
"That's not what you were going to say," Kastraliss responded, pointing out the obvious. "You were going to say... something else, weren't you, Klara?"
"How do you know my name?!?"
The Ixi's voice was not shaky and mumbling as it had been before; it was now loud but shaken. How did he know her name? She was sure Sorin had not told him, she hadn't told him, Onar hadn't told him...
Kastraliss hissed loudly as he laughed, his entire being shaking behind cover of darkness. "So foolish, so young, so naive," he murmured. "You do not know who I am, do you?"
"N-no," Klara stammered, suddenly feeling very alone and very frightened. Onar stared at her nervously, still clueless but nonetheless shaken.
"Aha, that's where your fault lies," Kastraliss spoke, his voice sizzling as if being spread over a hungry fire. "You don't know who I am. Well, I know who you are. You, and him, and many more things you could never hope to comprehend."
Klara and Onar stayed fiercely silent, their hearts racing faster with each word spoken by the monstrous Hissi. The fearful Ixi shot nervous glances at the torch holders, whom she feared would leap forward and attack at any moment.
"Don't worry, they only attack on my command," Kastraliss said triumphantly. Klara gulped. "Anyway, where was I? Oh yes... now I remember."
Onar grabbed Klara's hand, holding it tight. The two friends tried to penetrate the shadows with their eyes, but could not.
"You see, I have many powers -- many strengths -- that any normal Neopet could never hope to attain. There is more knowledge stored in my head than could ever fit in the both of yours. You still view everything in your innocent, foolish, naive way, blinded by the falseness of your hopes. Because, you see, nothing is as it seems."
At that instant, the torches sparked to blazes that seemed almost too magnificent to be held; their multi-colored light flooded the room. Both Ixi and Yurble gasped in terror, pushing themselves against the wall, eyes wide and jaws agape. Klara's heart was pounding in her ears.
They had seen, and were seeing, the monster that had remained hidden into the shadows -- until now.
Kastraliss was a mammoth; a malignant mammoth that rose nearly twenty feet above them. His red eyes shone malignantly, reflecting the images of the two horrified pets in their polished surfaces. His entire form was covered in rich purple skin, mottled with blotches and lined with spikes. Two powerful wings outstretched from his back, and two wispy black eyebrows rimmed his flashing eyes. His tail flicked back and forth as a victorious grin spread across his face.
The colors of the flames faded, revealing every aspect of Lord Kastraliss. He was a giant, a terrifying, shiny-eyed giant. The very sight of his sinister eyes made Klara cringe and cry out in fright; beside her, Onar shook.
"Don't be alarmed," he hissed viciously. "I would be nothing -- a mere worm -- without the power of the greater being. You might be terrified of me, but you will be completely and utterly wrenched of spirit when you see her."
Kastraliss lifted his monstrous head and notioned towards the ceiling. Almost instantly, the dormant torches that circled the apex of the room burst into flame, revealing the image that the shadows had kept veiled...
Date: 12th May
...Neither Klara nor Onar spoke as their eyes absorbed the awesome image above them. An immense figure of a dark faerie loomed above them, beautiful and threatening. It was a giant mosaic of shiny scales, placed in a pattern so complex -- so perfectly, mathematically interlacing -- that it was impossible to tell where the design had begun or ended.
"It is fully connected," Lord Kastraliss told them as they gawked. "Each Hissi of my realm has contributed a scale of his skin to her picture, and now she is complete. My power grows with each passing moment, circling around in the continuous, endless loop, drawn from her own. I am her servant, and she accomplishes deeds through me."
Klara found her eyes tracing the swirling, interlocking pattern, trying to make sense of how the hundreds of tiny lines wove together to form the colossal image, but it was far too complex. The artwork was breathtaking; she had never seen its like.
Onar tore his eyes from the ceiling. Shards of light danced in orange and red flashes from the leaping torchflames, cutting against the indigoes and purples of the room, but Onar ignored their dizzying effects. His eyes sought out the two red, shining orbs of light -- the eyes of Lord Kastraliss. "What do you want from us?" he asked, fighting to keep his voice from shaking, from betraying the rising fear and desperation within him.
The Hissi lord, though, seemed already to know the turmoil of the Yurble's mind. The corners of his lips snaked upward into a sly smile. "Though your minds are puny and hardly worth the trouble, you and your friend shall make a most noble sacrifice -- you shall aid all of the Hissis under my rule. By adding the force of your minds to the faerie design of power above, you will add to her power -- to my power. Wouldn't you like that?"
Onar glanced at Klara, whose eyes were fixed upward, still staring at the glorious image above. "We wouldn't like that at all -- neither of us. Klara and I don't want to participate in anything involving the word 'sacrifice,' if that's okay with you."
"Ah, but it's not," replied Lord Kastraliss, still smirking. "Not at all. You see? It's already begun." His red-eyed gaze flicked to Klara, whose expression was slack and blank as her eyes darted along the curving, twisting lines.
Onar noticed in horror that a faint glow was growing around her head, reaching up with a threadlike extension toward the design. He knew, without being told, that when it connected, the image would steal away the power of her mind...
Date: 12th May
...Onar stared at his friend helplessly. Her mind force began to glow brilliantly as it snaked toward the sinister medley of scales. Short of destroying the dark faerie's hideously beautiful image, there was nothing the Yurble could do.
Or was there?
Turning his gaze to the satirical lord, an idea began to form in Onar's mind. He hadn't much time.
"So tell me more about this 'sacrifice,'" Onar said, inching his way toward a torch holder. "Does it hurt much?"
Kastraliss chuckled disdainfully. "No, there is little physical pain involved," the Hissi lord said, "but you become her mental minions for eternity."
Onar nodded and pretended to be shaken. He glanced up once more. The twisting light had nearly reached its goal.
"And, this work of art contains most of your powers? She exists, in a way, within this image, channeling its power to you."
Kastraliss nodded, his eyes narrowing. "Yes, Yurble. Why so curious?" he demanded. Onar lunged at one of the torch holders. Quickly grabbing a red torch, he waved it at Lord Kastraliss.
"No reason. I just wanted to let you know ahead of time that you'll need some new scales soon," Onar said. Before anyone could react, he hurled the torch with all his might and threw it at the ceiling, watching as it hit the intricate design in a glorious explosion of fire and colourful scales...
Date: 13th May
...Klara snapped out of her involuntary reverie just in time to see a cascade of red, blue, green, and yellow scales, some of them still smoldering from the impact of the torch, shower down upon her, and she felt a big furry body tackle against her, knocking her out of the way of the scales. She shook her head and looked up to see a smiling Onar staring back at her. His plan had worked for the time being, but Onar soon swiveled his gaze back at Lord Kastraliss, who was none too pleased about what the Yurble had just done.
Eyelids narrowed and slanted pupils dilated wide in anger, his body quaked, immeasurably angry that such an act of insolence had taken place in his court. Both he and Klara felt their hairs standing up on end as Lord Kastraliss bellowed a command to the living torch holders in the great hall: "SEIZE THEM!!!"
Not more than a second after the command had rushed like wind past the scared bodies of Onar and Klara, they could hear crumbling stone as the torch holders shook themselves to life, casting off a layer of stone as serpents shed their skin. As the Hissies dropped the torches from their mouths, the sides of the great hall burst into flames, creating walls of fire that cut off the Ixi and Yurble from going either left or right -- the only option for them was to go forward, towards the door. Onar and Klara didn't even think about going any other way.
Sprinting towards the door, Onar batted off Hissies left and right with a torch he picked up from the ground, while Klara used her small but sharp Ixi horns to bull her way through their enemies. They were making headway towards the door, and were almost there, when they saw the huge form of Kastraliss slithering toward around them. Although he had lost much of his power, he was still forebodingly large.
"He's trying to block the exit!" cried Onar in dismay. They would never be able to open those massive doors before the Hissi lord got to them. But then from the doors came a crack of light, as a door inched open wide enough for one of them to squeeze through at a time, and a resounding metal clank was heard when a metal torch was wedged in between the doors. Behind the crack of light, a familiar voice called to them, "Get out!"
A familiar red winged serpent then slid under the torch into the hall, much to the surprise of Klara and Onar. Sorin!
He flew into the main hall, holding off the attackers from the entrance to the best of his ability. Klara took this opportunity to squeeze herself through the door, then grabbed onto Onar's right paw with both of her front hooves and yanked him through. Through the flames, Kastraliss's angry giant form, and shattering scales, they could see Sorin. Quickly, Onar stretched one paw through the door crack to grab onto the tail end of the red Hissi's body, and pulled his hardest. When Sorin was almost through, he clamped his jaw around the torch, yanking it out from between the doors. The doors slammed shut behind the three of them with a resounding thud that nearly burst their eardrums.
The three didn't stop running from the castle until they reached the exact same spot where the Yurble and Ixi had first encountered the Hissi. They all sat down, trying to catch their breaths and release themselves from panic.
"Forgive... me... for my deception... earlier," Sorin said in between deep breaths. "I wish I had not put you in ssssuch danger... but my mind, too, was sssstolen by that infernal Kastraliss. He is my lord no longer."
"What do you mean?" inquired Klara, her mind still reeling from nearly being pulled out of her body by the giant mosaic of the faerie.
"When Kastraliss took... or rather, stole, a scale from my body to put in that mosaic, something happened. I... I could no longer control my body, my movements, even what I could say. I was fully aware of what I was doing, but... I... I could not do a thing to stop myself. I...I'm sorry for my lack of willpower... and what it's done to you." As he said that, a tear streaked down Sorin's cheeks, in obvious remorse of what he did, or could not stop himself from doing.
Sorin felt a hoof land gently on his shoulder. "It's okay, Sorin," said Klara comfortingly. "I could see what you mean when I nearly had my consciousness stolen from me by that mosaic. I could feel my body being disconnected from me... I was afraid of what might happen to it, or what it could do."
"Do you think you can stay free? Could Kastraliss just put the scale I knocked out of the mosaic back in?" questioned Onar.
"No," replied Sorin. "Only when he takes a scale directly from my body, when I freshly shed my skin, can he use those scales to enslave me once more. I thank you, brave Yurble," he said with an extended wing, which Onar promptly shook. "If it weren't for you, I could never be free. It also was not only me that you have freed -- every Hissi whose scales were in the section you destroyed will be free from Kastraliss's spell, until he can take fresh scales from them."
"We should get you to Meridell," said Klara, taking out the map Onar consulted upside down before the whole mess began, and setting it right. "You and your kind -- who have been freed recently, anyway -- will be safe there."
"Thanks," replied a relieved Sorin. "We must ever be on our guard, though, for the struggle our people face against the Darkest Faerie has only just begun..."
Date: 13th May
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