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||You are on Week 242
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 Forty-Two Ends September 9th
"Now, now, everyone, calm down," the blue Gelert said, motioning with his arms for the crowd to be quiet before flashing a cheesy smile. "Please, one question at a time."
A bespectacled Bruce holding a notepad raised his flipper and spoke when the Gelert pointed to him. "Do you truly believe that you will be able to succeed where every other Neopian has failed? No one has ever managed to make it to the very peak of Terror Mountain."
"It may be unimaginable for the average Neopian like you, but for someone like me, it's hardly more than a challenge. Isn't that right?" The Gelert turned his head toward the left side of the crowd, flashed his perfect smile, and gave an exaggerated wink to his huge group of fans, who instantly began cheering and waving their "We Love Karlo" signs. "Heh, heh, see? My fans believe in me, and there's no way I would disappoint them by giving up now."
A Cybunny reporter wrinkled her nose in disgust and raised her paw. "Mr. Karlo, are you aware of the rumours that are circulating about you, which say that you never actually—"
"That's enough questions for now!" Karlo said, interrupting the Cybunny. "Great mountain climbers like myself need rest, you know! I'll be setting out early tomorrow, so, um... press conference over!" The Gelert promptly fled from the stage and over to the flock of fans, who were desperately waving their arms and asking for his autograph.
That night, Karlo tossed and turned as the hours wore on. He just knew that Cybunny reporter was going to be trouble. Sleep took him eventually, though, and the Gelert rested soundly for the remainder of the evening. The next morning, he woke up late, grabbed his pack, and rushed to catch his ride to Happy Valley.
There, at the base camp, hundreds of reporters and fans had gathered to see him off. Karlo gritted his teeth upon seeing that the Cybunny was among them. Not willing to back down from a chance to be in the spotlight, however, the Gelert decided to say a few words before beginning his climb. "Thank you all for…"
Date: 2nd September
"...coming to see my marvelous climb!" He bowed his head in a graceful curve. Leaning up, he flashed an award winning smile at a group of young Uni girls, who whinnied with pleasure at being acknowledged by such a fantastic hero.
With a wink, he added, "Now, don't any of you be afraid if I seem to be in a rough spot. That's all part of the fun!"
Shifting his pack slightly on his back, he walked with deliberate patience and grace to the edge of the mountain. Looking up upon the sight that he was about to "climb", he put on a brave grin. Turning once more back to the crowd, he nodded his head in farewell before starting up the slope.
It wasn't very steep at this level, though Karlo could see where it got tougher. To play up the part, he got out a rope in preparation for the difficult climb the crowd was expecting. He did this as he walked, unaware of the soft pawsteps approaching from behind. He yelped as a paw touched his shoulder. Turning around sharply, he glared at the perpetrator; the Cybunny reporter.
"What do you want?" he demanded, quite annoyed at her interruption. He noted with irritation that she was bundled up just as much as he was, and that she carried a back pack filled with supplies.
"You can't expect to do this alone, without anyone seeing your success first hand," she commented, a dry grin on her almost completely covered face. "And, seeing as no one else was willing to brave the mountain, I stepped forward. I am quite eager to see your amazing abilities." She was sure to prolong the word "abilities", almost making it seem taunting.
Karlos glared at the Cybunny. She was going to be difficult. He was going to tell her to back off, but stopped. The crowd was cheering loudly. They wanted to have the reporter go along. Well, he couldn't disappoint them. Maybe an accident would simply make her forget what happened... or not see. He smiled and waved to the crowd before turning back to the Cybunny.
"Of course!" he replied enthusiastically, forcing a grin. "Now, what is your name, young lady?"
"Kenda," she replied with a sweet smile, pleased to have been accepted. She shifted her paws a bit to pull out a notepad and pen from a pocket, and began scribbling something on them. "Now, shall we go?"
Karlos sighed inwardly, but hid his inner emotions. "Of course!" he said again, his grin not faltering at all. With that, he set off up the mountain, where no one had gone before...
Date: 6th September
...It wasn't long until every limb on his pampered body was aching. He wasn't used to such steep terrain. Climbing certainly wasn't something he enjoyed... if only this spritely Cybunny hadn't wheedled herself an invite to his exploration.
Karlo stole a sidewards glance at Kenda, who was hopping among the icy rocks effortlessly.
"Emm..." the Gelert said gruffly, "I hope you're finiding this all right -- not being a professional like me, you know. We can stop if you like."
"Oh dear, no! I'm enjoying myself immensely." Kenda grinned and then added in a playful tone, "Unless you're... tired?"
"Tired? Me? No!" Karlo laughed off the taunt. How on Neopia was he going to find out a way to execute his normal plan? On his average expedition he would be snug at home, sipping on borovan, laughing at everyone he was fooling. But no... he was stuck in the freezing cold with a hyperactive Cybunny reporter.
Karlo bit his lip. Ah ha! That was an idea! With an agonizing yelp, the Gelert fell heavily on his left leg...
Date: 6th September
...congratulating himself heartily on his new plan, and on having come up with it so swiftly and easily under pressure. Too bad his fans couldn't know about that! -- But if anyone knew, of course that would spoil the whole effect. But it was a fine plan.
He would fake a fall and pretend to have injured himself too severely to climb any further today. He would "bravely" make his way back down far enough to be carried, insist the injury was minor in a way calculated to convince everyone that it wasn't, and be home within another hour, warm and fed and cooed over.
And then he could try this expedition again on another day. Without Kenda. Yes, that was it. He'd say he had been distracted by watching after such an inexperienced and careless partner, and that way she'd have to stay behind next time. Then everything would go normally.
All this passed through Karlo's mind in a split second as he threw himself sideways, letting his left leg buckle beneath him and crying out in the pretense of pain.
Then his right foot slipped. He lost all purchase and landed much harder than he'd intended, striking his hip and left elbow on icy rocks. His yelp turned real, then shaded into a terrified howl as a rock dug briefly into his back -- and then was dislodged and slid away from behind him. Flailing with a numbed and tingling left hand and scrabbling with his right, he skidded backward down the slope, too tired from his unaccustomed exertions to catch himself.
Karlo saw a cliff approaching and let out an even more terrified howl. "Owooooooooooooo--urk!"
Something had caught hold of his scarf.
Looking up (and trying not to be strangled), he saw that Kenda had the end of the scarf clenched in her teeth. All four paws were planted firmly on the ground, with skid-marks behind them scraped free of ice. Her long ears stood up, and her eyes were wild. Her notepad and pen had been thrown aside further upslope.
"Can you -- pull -- yourshelf -- up?" Kenda asked, as clearly as she could with a mouthful of thick wool.
Karlo looked down at the cliff-edge just below him, the steep drop below, and his left leg, which was already starting to swell...
Date: 7th September
...and shuddered ever so slightly. Karlo winced and squirmed a little as the scarf rubbed against his perfect fur. The scarf shifted, almost coming undone, and he immediately fell limp. He slowly turned himself back toward the slope and pressed his uninjured foot to the icy wall. He put his hind feet onto it as well and awkwardly scrambled upward.
Kenda backed up slowly, pulling on the scarf to help him as he came over the edge and fell trembling onto the solid ground.
Karlo panted as he lay on the cold ground. Tentatively, he peeked over the cliff edge again and looked down. He hurriedly looked away with a shudder and looked down at his left leg, which was obviously swollen. He narrowed his eyes in frustration; if only that Cybunny had not come! Then none of this would have happened.
Kenda hopped to him, panting, "Are you all right?" She asked with concern in her voice.
Karlo growled inwardly, but managed to somehow give her a "brave" smile. "Oh, yes. Certainly. I am perfectly fine! Things like this happen all the time when you're as daring as I am. All in a day's work." He stood again, hiding his pain behind a painted grin of confidence. "Come now, we... still have more ground to cover before it gets dark."
Kenda blinked and looked him over. "Oh... all right then." She said hesitantly as she hopped over and picked up her notebook and pen. She brushed it off and went back to Karlo. "I'm ready... if you're sure you're all right."
He nodded stiffly. "I'm perfectly fine." He turned and continued up the mountain, thinking all the while of a way he could get out of this without destroying his image....
Date: 7th September
...If only an avalanche would come, Karlo found himself thinking moodily. A roaring tide of snow, that would sweep that bothersome reporter right off the mountainside.
Pain flared in his injured leg, and he stopped, unable to suppress a yelp of pain. Kenda glanced back. "Are you sure you can make it?"
"Of course!" Karlo assured her jauntily, trying not to show how much pain he was truly in. "I just need a bit of a rest. Steady my nerves, you know -- that was a close thing, even for a daredevil like me!"
The Cybunny's eyes narrowed, but she said nothing. Stopping some distance up the mountain from him, she took out her notebook again and began to jot something down.
Something uncomplimentary, no doubt. Visions of avalanches danced in Karlo's head. He leaned back against a rock, panting. He doubted nature would oblige him today...
But as he glanced up the twisting slope, he saw an overhang high above them, twin to the one that had nearly sealed his own fate -- except, of course, much higher, and much farther to fall...
Well. There was an idea. One shove, and the pesky Cybunny would merely be a tragic accident, a quirk of fickle fate, a mere footnote to the tale of his own courageous clamber up the mountain.
"Ready to get moving?" Kenda called back, breaking into his thoughts.
"Of course!" Karlo managed, smiling through gritted teeth. "Of course, my dear and soon to be deceased Cybunny."
"Did you say something?"
"Not a thing, my dear. Must have been the wind."
They set off again, more slowly than before. Karlo led the way at first, but kept finding excuses to lag behind, and soon it was Kenda hopping ahead of him.
"Are you SURE you're all right?" she called back, for what must have been the hundredth time. If Karlo hadn't already known what a fickle and vicious bunch the press could be, he would have even thought he saw concern in her wide eyes.
"Perfectly--" wheeze huff pant whimper "--fine!"
"No, you're not," Kenda said decisively, and without warning she stopped dead in front of him, blocking his way. "You've been favoring that leg ever since you almost fell, and despite your pride it's obvious to me that you can't go any farther today. We'll make camp here."
"Blasted bunny," Karlo muttered. However was he supposed to arrange a convenient accident for her now?
Feeling decidedly downtrodden, the world-famous daredevil began the slow task of helping his nemesis set up their camp.
Well. Perhaps snow faeries would come and abduct her in the night. Perhaps an enormous snow beast would come lumbering up and carry her off for a midnight snack. Perhaps he might even manage to push her off that overhang tomorrow, though that possibility seemed to be slipping further and further away.
For the first time, Karlo realized that he might not be able to salvage his reputation. No! he vowed. Even an "accident" would be preferable to losing the life he'd so carefully crafted for himself.
"Here." Kenda set a mug of steaming tea in front of him. "Drink up." She hopped off, notebook in hand, and vanished into their tent.
Karlo sniffed at the mug, took a tentative sip. Not bad. Almost as good as what he had at home. And the soothing warmth distracted him from the steady throb of pain in his leg.
"Tomorrow," he muttered, eyeing the tent where Kenda had immured herself. "Tomorrow, my dear reporter, I will triumph... and you will fall. Even if you do make a rather good cup of tea."
He took another sip, but the beverage tasted suddenly bitter...
Date: 8th September
* * * * *
...Morning came much too slowly for Karlo. He steadfastly refused to sleep in the tent, and instead spread a blanket near the fire.
"Professionals like me shouldn't be softened!" he cried when Kenda questioned him. "The cold is no more to me than a minor irritation. You, my good reporter, must sleep in the tent. The snow will be my bed for the night."
He had immediately regretted the decision.
Kenda's thick fur and secure gear served as a sweet immunity from the harsh mountain gusts. Karlo wasn't so lucky. He tossed and turned, twisting his blankets, half worried for his reputation and half concerned with his guilt. At last, he slept, and contented himself with dreaming up ways to rid himself of the pesky reporter.
He awoke when the edges of the sky where stained a pale shade of pink. The stinging winds had subsided, and the clouds had cleared.
"'Morning!" Kenda said cheerily, hopping over to the Gelert. "I can't imagine that you slept well last night. It looks as if you've nearly strangled yourself in your bedding. How are you feeling?"
"Superb!" Karlo lied. In truth, he couldn't remember ever being more miserable. There was a thin layer of snow and ice covering his body. When he sat up, he felt his coat crunch. His leg was throbbing, and every muscle in his body was sore. His ears were so cold that, had they not already been a pleasant shade of cerulean, he was sure they would have turned blue with cold.
"Have something to eat, and we can begin to climb again," Kenda said, thrusting a steaming plate of eggs into Karlo's lap. "We'd better cover some ground soon. It's going to storm today."
Karlo laughed. "You think so? The sky is clear, the sun will be shining any minute now, and it hasn't snowed for hours! Today will be splendid!" he said. Kenda shook her head. She pointed to the eastern horizon where the sun was peeking from behind the pink clouds.
"Haven’t you heard the saying?" she asked. "'Red in the morning, hiker's warning.' There's going to be the storm of the century!"
Perfect for an accident, Karlo thought. Something terrible could happen during a storm.
He didn't know how right he was...
Date: 8th September
...The two began their hike, a bit more slowly because of Karlo's leg.
"We're going to set a slower pace," Kenda said decisively in the morning.
"What?" Karlo managed to fake a laugh. "My dear, don't you worry yourself over my leg." He took another step and had to try hard to conceal a wince. He looked up at her, grinning weakly, and said, "But if you're tired, I suppose we can go a tiny bit slower."
Kenda didn't look tired. She looked practically bursting with energy. (A morning person, Karlo thought sourly.) Still, the Cybunny reporter looked at the Gelert's leg, and whatever sassy retort she was going to say left her mind.
"Yes," she said quietly. "I... I'm tired. That's why we'll go slower." Without another word, she began to climb again. Bewildered, Karlo followed.
As the day went on, the clouds on the horizon rolled quickly across the sky, growing bigger and darker. The mountain became steeper, and Karlo found numerous little cliffs. If Kenda suddenly happened to... slip... now would be the perfect place to do it. But somehow, the Gelert could not bring himself to push the Cybunny down into harm's way.
"Must be how tired I am," he muttered. "Otherwise she'd be out of here, and I'd be back home with my borovan."
"What was that?" Kenda called. The wind had picked up and was howling loudly.
"Nothing!" Karlo shouted back.
"Maybe we should sto--" The reporter's words were drowned out as the wind shrieked, bringing a flurry of snow with it. The snow quickly came down faster and harder. Wordlessly the two stopped on one of the flatter areas of the mountain and tried to set up the tent. It was difficult to do because the harsh wind kept blowing it down, and the sky was quickly darkening as the clouds obscured the sun.
Suddenly Kenda pointed upwards. She shrieked as part of a small cliff above them crumbled and fell, plummeting directly towards their tent...
Date: 9th September
...Karlo reacted almost without thought as he ignored the pain in his injured leg and ran towards the Cybunny, who apparently was frozen momentarily in fright. He jumped, pushing Kenda out of the way just as the mountain came crashing down with deadly certainity, crushing their tent and destroying their camp site.
For a few minutes, Karlo lay where he had fallen, panting from the exertion and pain, but Kenda had scrambled to her feet almost instantly. "You saved me!" she gasped.
The panting Gelert nodded slowly, as surprised as she was at this turn of events. All this time he had almost been wanting something just like this to happen to Kenda, but he had ended up saving her. Maybe this injury had gone to his head, he thought as he struggled to his feet.
"I can't believe this," the surpised Cybunny said in a strangely flat tone, "you actually save me." She blinked a few times, a strange light glistening in her luminous eyes. "I... I have a confession to make," she announced suddenly.
"What is it?" Karlo asked.
"I'm not a normal reporter," she answered quickly.
"What?" cried Karlo. Obviously his hearing must have been affected by his injury and the howling wind because he couldn't have heard this correctly.
"I'm not really a reporter," Kenda clarified, "I'm actual a professional mountain climbing instructor." She dropped her eyes and stared down at the ground as she continued her confession. "When I heard about this stunt, I didn't think there was any way you would succeed. I had thought for a long time you were a fake anyway, so I decided to tag along so that I could prove to all of Neopia that you were nothing more than a fraud."
"Why did you think that?" Karlo asked.
She shrugged. "I guess because you seem larger than life," she replied, "but now I see that you really are a hero." Sighing deeply, she started to walk away from him and down the slope. "I'm tired of this stupid mountain, and there's no way we can continue upwards in this storm. I'm going home."
In that instance, Karlo thought that everything had worked out for his benefit. Kenda was leaving, and no one had to know he was a fake. Even the Cybunny believed him now. However, it felt wrong, and for the first time he felt guilt. "Wait!" he called after her. "I have to tell you something."
"What is it?" she asked, pausing in her descent.
He took a deep breath. "I am a fake too," he admitted, and slowly began to tell the entire story of his falsified adventures as snowflakes began to fall around them.
* * * * *
The reporters were still waiting at the base of Terror Mountain when the two reappeared, and there were plenty of questions. "Mr. Karlo," began a Nimmo reporter, "why are you back so early? Did you make it to the top that fast?"
Karlo steadied himself as he prepared to tell the truth to the press, but Kenda suddenly spoke up. "Karlo saved my life by pushing me out of the way when part of the cliff started to fall," she answered. "I was scared and asked him to bring me back here."
The Gelert's eyes widened when he heard her story, and was even less prepared when she turned to look at him. "I owed you one," she whispered, "and now we're even."
The press rattled off more questions as Kenda continued to tell the story of their amazing adventure.
Date: 9th September
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