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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 260
You are on Week 261
Week 262

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 Sixty One Ends February 10

Alyssa groaned as she finally managed to drag her suitcase into the room. A cheerful Shoyru followed with the rest of her belongings, unceremoniously dropping them in a heap by the door.

"If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call the front desk!" he recited happily. "Thank you, and enjoy your stay here at the Hotel Opera!" With that, he fluttered off.

Alyssa stretched and sat on her bed, looking around apprehensively. It certainly was a nice room, but she wasn't really sure about spending so many Neopoints just to stay at a place with plush red curtains and gold-tinted mirrors. The Ixi had wanted to stay somewhere cheaper, but her friends insisted that since this was Alyssa's first vacation, she should do it properly, with a nice hotel and travel package.

She hadn't even wanted to go on vacation, but her boss was adamant about it. The old Quiggle had almost ordered her to take some time off. "You need a little break to clear your mind of all this stress! You have more wrinkles on your face than I do, and you're still young!"

As a result, Alyssa now found herself in a strange place, sitting in a strange room, completely at a loss for ideas about what to do. The Ixi was going to open a suitcase and get started on some work that she'd managed to sneak from her desk when she heard a knock at her door...

Author: is working hard! Really!
Date: Feb 3rd
...Alyssa let the top of her case fall shut again and stood to approach the door. The Shoyru was back, looking at his watch and seeming quite agitated.

"Ma'am, I believe you left this in the lobby," he said, handing her a modest black briefcase. Alyssa was about to say something to the contrary but the Shoyru had already turned and was calling to her over his shoulder as he left: "Once again, enjoy your stay."

She considered going after him and letting him know that she wasn't the owner of the case, but she was tired and figured she'd have plenty of time to do it later. She left the case by the door went back to her own suitcase to unpack.

* * * * *

Still three hours after being fully unpacked and having her hotel room organized just the way she liked it, Alyssa still hadn't left the hotel. She'd only left her room briefly to get some ice for a glass for water. Instead of enjoying her well-deserved vacation she was sat leaned over some papers at the small bureau the hotel room provided.

She was, however, getting very little done. The forms she was completing would usually have made the transition from inbox to outbox in minutes, had she been at her office back home. This time, she'd barely gotten half way through the first one; something else was on her mind. She was glancing at the sleek black leather case the impatient bellboy had handed to her. She wasn't typically a curious person, but she found it nearly impossible to pull her attention away from the case. She figured the contents would probably be something boring... papers and stuff most likely. But then there was that other part of her, the part she worked hard to suppress, the part of her that craved some kind of excitement in her dull life. This was the part that told her there was something profoundly mysterious laying in that case, waiting for her.

She succumbed to temptation... it was only a matter of time. She approached the case cautiously, like a bomb squad agent approaching a suspicious package, and laid the briefcase flat on the floor before sitting in front of it.

Click.

It wasn't locked. Slowly and cautiously she lifted the case open. Inside it was lined with protective sponge; obviously the contents were valuable. But they didn't look valuable at all. Inside was a necklace that looked to be made from a length of crude twine with an arrangement of four bones. Alyssa didn't know whether to be intrigued or disappointed. Some ancient tribal artifact or something, she thought. This is Mystery Island after all.

Carefully she lifted the necklace from the case. The bones hanging from it clinked together as it jostled in her hand. Suddenly something about the artifact seemed very appealing to Alyssa. The more she looked at it, the more inviting it seemed. Her resolve very quickly broke and she dropped the necklace around her neck.

For a moment she expected something to happen, but nothing did -- for a few seconds at least. As soon as she no longer expected it, a white-hot pain shot down her spine, sending her into a thrashing convulsion. Her body felt as if it was burning from the inside. There was also another feeling that she couldn't place, like a crawling all over her body. In great agony she dragged herself across the room to the mirror and looked at herself.

Through the pain the feeling of terror was still apparent. Before her eyes her horns were growing at an incredible rate. They were already half the length of her legs and not showing any signs of stopping. Her once feminine shoulders had bulked up with muscle like some kind of gargantuan monster. All over her body her fur was becoming long and shaggy. Below her neck, the bones on the necklace were glowing fiercely.

Despite the chronic aching in all her limbs she managed to yank away the necklace and toss it across the room...

Author: markholdgate
Date: Feb 6th
...Instantly, Alyssa felt the surging pain begin to weaken. Her horns shrunk back to their original size, her hoofs returned to normal, and her fur faded back to its original shade of white. Alyssa panted heavily. With a shaky hoof, she reached for her glasses and placed them back on her face. She stared at the necklace as it laid on the floor like it would attack her at any minute.

Great, Alyssa thought bitterly. I haven't been on vacation for 24 hours and already I'm regretting it. Obviously, the necklace was cursed. How and why a cursed item got into her possession was beyond her.

Afraid to touch it, Alyssa grabbed her umbrella (which she packed in case of bad weather) and used the hook part to scoop up the necklace. Tossing it back into the briefcase, she quickly shut the case then carried it to the window. She was about to toss the horrible item out the window, but something stopped her. Did she really want this thing to be out in the open, available for some other innocent Neopet to fall under its curse? Alyssa was lucky; the next victim might not be.

Sighing heavily, Alyssa decided to keep the briefcase. Weary from the strange effect of the necklace, Alyssa slid the case under her bed, then flopped down upon the mattress. After a brief nap, the first thing she'd do was to find that Shoyru and demand to know why he had the case in the first place. Sleep soon overpowered Alyssa and she drifted off.

* * * * *

The fire continued to spread as the natives ran amok, gathering whatever they could from the wreckage. Oddly painted natives tried to smother the flames that devoured their huts, children screaming for their parents; everything was utter chaos.

Behind the flames, a large creature towered over the frightened people, roaring and beating its chest madly. It opened its mouth and large fire balls erupted from its jaws like a cannon. No one was safe. No one was spared.

* * * * *

Alyssa awoke with a start. Her face drenched in sweat as she tried to shake off the nightmare. The vision of the village in danger slowly began to fade from her mind until it was as distant as a year-old memory.

Alyssa groaned as she went to wash her face in the bathroom. She heard the voices of her friends echo in her head. Go on vacation, Alyssa, you need to get some R&R. It'll do you good. What she wouldn't have given to have proven how wrong they were.

Her thoughts went back to the monster, which was the only part of the dream that was stuck in her head. The large horns, the bulking shoulder muscles, the long, shaggy fur. Just like the creature she had been turning into.

A rapid knock on her door awoke her from her daydream. Drying her face, she answered the door, only to be knocked backward when the Shoyru from yesterday burst into the room. He was sweating profusly as he quickly slammed the door shut.

"I'm very sorry to bother you, Ma'am," he said, taking off his bellhop cap. "But I'm afraid I've made a terrible mistake!"

"I'll say you have..." She looked at the nametag on his uniform. "Eric! What's the deal giving me that horrible necklace? Is this some kind of prank?"

Eric's eyes widened. "The necklace? Y-you didn't try it on, did you?"

"Yes I did! And I can't say I really liked what..."

Eric cried out loud and threw his hands on his head. "Oh no! How could I be so stupid! Why can't I remember numbers? It was supposed to go to room 14B, not 14C!"

Alyssa cocked her head in confusion. "The briefcase was supposed to go to someone else?"

"Yes! And thanks to me, you've just been given the curse of Geraptiku!"...

Author: bitsy_dj
Date: Feb 7th
..."Curse!" demanded Alyssa, flapping her arms in frustration. "What curse? I come here to have a vacation, for once, to relax... What curse, Eric?"

The Shoyru eyed her warily, shaking his head. "St-stay there. Just stay in here, okay? I have to go clear this up... Room 14C..."

He backed out slowly, and shut the door. Alyssa heard a click; he'd locked it -- from the outside.

Angrily she banged on the locked door. "Hey! Get back in here, Eric! Don't I have a right to know?! I'm the one with the curse!"

Seething, she threw her umbrella across the room with all of her might. It smacked the wall hard, and lay there in a pile of warped metal beams and fringed cloth. Alyssa took several long, heaving breaths of anger before stopping herself. She had never thrown an object in anger before; she rarely lost her temper. And who knew she'd had that much strength? Those metal beams had been designed to withstand high winds and storms -- would they really be bent so easily against a wall?

I need to relax, the Ixi told herself. Just sit down on the bed... think of something else...

She forced herself to loosen her muscles, starting with her hooves, working up to the top of her head. When her mind wandered to the necklace, she jerked it forcibly away, telling herself that everything would be fine. The Shoyru would be back.

Before long, the hotel room fuzzed away, and she was in some realm between awake and asleep...

* * * * *

Only one form didn't run. While frantic tribe members fled around him, while billows of smoke soared into the air, while houses crashed into the fire, he stood firm.

Slowly, determinedly, he removed a bone bracelet from his wrist and attached it to a cord from around his neck. His words were only a murmur beneath the howling cries and the crackling flames, but his voice was steady and firm.

The new-made necklace glowed. He re-tied it around his neck as the beast stepped menacingly before him.

His muscles grew and bulged. His teeth lengthened into glistening points. The necklace stretched tightly against his skin.

The two creatures faced each other, growling. They leapt at each other in unison.

* * * * *

Alyssa gasped into wakefulness, her eyes wide with the new knowledge. The necklace had been created to protect the tribe people against the attacking beast?

She slid from the bed to where the necklace lay and gently, reverently, touched it. This necklace had given Geraptiku the power to fight back... so why was it considered cursed?

She snatched her hand away as someone knocked at the door...

Author: laurelinden
Date: Feb 7th
...Not wanting the necklace to fall into the wrong hands, Alyssa grabbed it quickly and stuffed it into the suitcase, closing it quickly and pushing it aside. The latch turned and Eric walked in, and Alyssa tensed at the sight of the towering brown Lupe who strode along behind him.

"Um, this is Torthond, the person I was SUPPOSED to give the necklace to," the Shoyru explained nervously, but Alyssa could only stare at the Lupe in dismay, feeling sure that she recognized him but not certain from where.

Torthond stepped forward, extending a courteous paw. For no good reason she could think of, Alyssa wanted nothing to do with touching this creature, even though there was nothing intimidating about him except his unusual size-- but she accepted the handshake anyway, wondering what she found so abhorrent about his firm but gentle touch. "I'm pleased to meet you," the big Lupe said, his deep voice polite in tone. "And I appreciate your honesty in returning the necklace to me. It's a... family heirloom, you see."

"I see," Alyssa replied, not entirely certain that she believed him, even though she had no solid reason not to. What was it about his face? And why was some small corner of her mind objecting so loudly to the idea of giving the necklace to him? Did it have to do with her dreams? Was the necklace considered cursed because it could give power to an evil wielder as well as an honest warrior?

Amazing, the things that were going through her mind.

Suddenly her heart leapt. Maybe this was him. Perhaps this was the defender whom she had seen in her dreams- him or one of his descendants! Suddenly the thought of giving him the necklace seemed so much more attractive, although some half-buried part of the Ixi violently recoiled, and she wasn't certain which part of herself she should listen to.

But with the massive Lupe standing in front of her and Eric watching expectantly from his place in the doorway, Alyssa felt that she had no choice. Reaching toward the suitcase, the Ixi opened it, but did not touch the necklace, choosing instead to carry the whole thing to Torthond. The suitcase was his as well, after all.

"Um... here you go," she said quickly, trying to appear calm and polite while two sides of her intellect waged a turbulent war. The agony of the transformation she had nearly undergone was etched vividly into her mind, and she wanted to be rid of the necklace forever, but something held her back, screaming in terrified protest.

Alyssa would never know why she did it, but acting on a sudden compulsion she defied every instinct, reached down and picked up the necklace. "This is the one, isn't it?" she asked as her hoof moved toward the strange piece of jewelry, and there was a strange edge of urgency and alarm in Torthond's voice as he answered,

"Yes, it is, but-"

His voice suddenly trailed off, vanishing as if the Lupe had disappeared in mid-sentence. Even though she was wide awake, standing there in the full light of a dazzling Island day, the moment her hoof touched the necklace Alyssa was plunged into the terrible battle between the beast and the warrior. And as she watched, she began to notice things that had escaped her attention before. The defending warrior slashed at his opponent with hooves like blades of steel, lunging at the beast with horns like huge, bent spears. The attacking creature lashed out at him, and as its claws tore into the defender's flesh a stab of pain tore through Alyssa's shoulder.

But it was the beast who caught Alyssa's eyes. Long fangs... wicked claws... gleaming eyes... coarse fur... although it was ugly and twisted, a nightmare unlike anything the Ixi had ever wanted to see, something about it was familiar. Alarm bells went off in Alyssa's head, for the deadly creature looked almost like...

Author: sarahleeadvent
Date: Feb 8th
... a Lupe. Specifically, a certain brown one that was standing in front of her at that very moment.

Alyssa’s heart was pounding in her throat as she took a step away from the hulking Neopet, though he had made no move of violence toward her; on the contrary, when she looked up she could see that both Torthond and Eric were staring at her with mingled alarm and concern. Torthond spoke first, sounding worried -- but for me or the necklace? she wondered. “Ah... excuse me, I don’t mean to trouble you, but I am in a bit of a hurry at present. If you could please just let me take the necklace now...”

Shaking her head more in an effort to clear her head than anything, the Ixi could barely hear his words over the imagined noise of the struggle taking place in her own mind. There was no mistaking it; while the creature from her dream didn’t look exactly like Torthond, she was sure that they must have been related somehow. Alyssa was trembling now, but her grip on the necklace was as tight as ever. She found herself laying the suitcase down on the nearby desk and, though the inside of her mouth felt like it was coated in sandpaper, speaking one hoarse word: “No.”

Torthond furrowed his brows but showed little sign of losing his temper. “Excuse me?”

“No,” the Ixi repeated, hugging the necklace to her chest like a child with a favourite plaything. “I... I’m not giving it to you.”

“Miss, this isn’t the time for games,” he replied a trifle testily. Now at last he stepped forward, reaching out one paw, his face stern... but, she noticed, he also looked nervous, anxious in a way that was not befitting of the simple return of a ‘family heirloom’. “Please be sensible--”

“I said no!” Alyssa yelled with a fiery anger she didn’t know she was capable of, stamping one hoof on the floor. “I won’t let you do Fyora-knows-what with this wretched thing! So you can just leave right now!”

Eric looked from the massive Lupe to the small Ixi in dismay, expecting to have to call hotel security at any moment, but Torthand spoke before he could interject. “So... you know.”

Alyssa stared for a moment before stammering “Know what, e-exactly?”

“The particular... nature of that necklace. It occurred to me that you might be... but what are the odds of that?”

“What are you talking about?!” the Ixi demanded, becoming slightly agitated and doing her best not to betray the cold shiver of fear that ran up her spine.

Torthand just gave a hard, mirthless smile that was in sharp contrast to his previously polite manners. “It’s true what they say, then; the Island gods are whimsical. Could it possibly be a coincidence that our bloodlines would meet again, at this very place, three generations after Geraptiku’s destruction?...”

Author: _vespa
Date: Feb 8th
..."I had wondered where your family had gone," Torthand continued, as if remarking on the weather. "The fact that they left Mystery Island was always the subject of talk among my own family, particularly at reunions. So..." his eyes flickered over Alyssa. "Did your family send you to retrieve the necklace?" His large paw waved at Eric. "A subordinate of yours?"

Eric's eyes widened.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Alyssa said, thoughts whirling. She was trying to make sense of it all. Her grandparents had fought off his family...?

"Ah," Torthand sighed in mock sadness, "it seems the old ways are not carried on in your family. Your education of history has been much neglected. Tsk, tsk. We can't have that now, can we?" His voice deepened into a threatening growl. "Ancient enemies. Two warriors pitted against each other. Two weapons of great power. You hold one. Actually to be precise you hold my family's weapon. I'm not really sure where your family's one is. Must be locked away somewhere, hidden by your ancestors."

Alyssa gulped and stepped back, as the Lupe seemed to grow more terrifying with each passing moment. "I never saw anything like this at my house," she said in a voice stronger than she felt.

Torthand shrugged. "Your family's counterpart to this magical thing was not a necklace. If I'm correct... it was a bracelet. I guess the maker of the two wanted a set. Whoever that was."

He was advancing now, prowling closer and closer. Alyssa tightened her grip on the necklace.

"As fun as it has been to reunite with a daughter of my sworn enemies, I regret I must cut," a knife was pulled from his inner pocket, "it short." Torthand's agile paw brandished the knife in Alyssa's direction. "Hand it over and I promise things won't go... too badly for you."

Alyssa thought quickly. He was huge. He also had knowledge of how to use that knife, judging by the way he twirled it effortlessly. He also looked muscular and altogether much too powerful for her. She wasn't a fighter. She filled papers, took notes, working in an office. She didn't exactly have to learn to defend herself there, as long as she avoided paper cuts.

There was a window. Too bad she was on the second story. It was also closed. No one would hear her scream for help. Swallowing, Alyssa realized there was only one thing to be done. She held out her hands, letting the necklace swing free.

Torthand smiled again. "Glad to see even the most impulsive Ixi see reason," he purred, reaching out to take it.

Alyssa didn't give him the chance. With a movement so fast she surprised herself, she pulled the necklace down, over her own head and around her neck...

Author: saphijaze
Date: Feb 9th
...It flushed with sudden warmth, then cooled.

Nothing happened.

Choking down a scream of dismay, Alyssa ripped the necklace from her neck and stumbled backward, away from the advancing Lupe.

The necklace vibrated in her grasp. It no longer seemed as if it were calling to her, fighting to be around a neck, any neck... it had found its true blood-master. Now, nothing less would tap its energies or cause the change.

Alyssa tripped over a table-leg, and gasped with the sudden pain. As she turned to look behind her, her vision blackened in a flash of insistent power...

* * * * *

The two creatures leapt at each other, snarling. The necklaced one, the lone defender, dodged away from the attacking creature, who stumbled but quickly regained his balance.

They circled each other warily, heedless of the mounting fires, the crackling flames; heedless of the destruction of the tribe's home.

Waving a menacing arm, the attacker glared at his opponent. A bracelet tied about his wrist flashed as he shook it -- it was of the same pattern as the defender's necklace. "I warned you what would happen," he growled. "I told you to stay away from my village, to control your covetous paws. I warned you of the magic. I see you have some of your own, but it will not be enough."

The necklaced one snarled. "You cannot defeat me. My sons will fight after me, and my daughters. You and your descendents will forever rue the day that you laid siege to my village."

"And yours will regret the day you thought to steal from mine."

* * * * *

Reality, and the pain of her throbbing leg, returned to Alyssa. Her head spun with the knowledge of the vision. One village had stolen from another... that village had tried to take revenge...

She knew enough about family fueds to know that they often survived long after the original cause was forgotten. It became a matter of pride.

Even now, after both villages had been in ruins for generations, the fight continued.

The curse.

Alyssa raised her hands wardingly, but the Lupe was only a few strides away...

Author: laurelinden
Date: Feb 9th
..."You disappoint me, coward," Torthond sneered at Alyssa as she shielded herself from him with her hooves. He was stood over her, so close she could smell his breath. "This pathetic display is pitiful. My ancestors will only be satisfied with true retribution."

Alyssa lowered her hooves to see her foe. Her breath was hitching with fear and she was so close to crying the tears were stinging at her large almond eyes. She tried to will her body to stop quaking the way it was, but her efforts made no difference.

"I don't care about this feud," she whined, and the first of her tears streamed into her fur. "You should just leave me alone."

"And that I shall do," the Lupe said in a patronizing tone. "But you will return to fight me. The enmity is in your blood, and you cannot run from it."

Torthond slipped the necklace into a pouch that hung at his side, then turned to leave. "To give your ancestors the retribution your bloodline craves, go to the Lost City of Geraptiku. Once there your blood will guide you."

And then Torthond was gone.

* * * * *

"Take me to the north-west coast," Alyssa said, handing over a handful of Neopoints to the ferryman at the harbor. He tried to argue that she was wasting her time and that there is nothing but danger in those parts. She ignored his pleas and continued to stuff Neopoints into his hand until he reluctantly agreed. She stepped aboard the boat and the ferryman released it to the ocean.

The winds were favorable to the journey and they made good time. While traveling not a word was said between the two pets on the boat. Alyssa was reflecting deeply on her situation, conveniently avoiding thinking about the reasons why she was following Torthond's instruction.

During the journey she dozed a little; just deep enough to experience a hazy dream in which a tribal looking Mynci was creeping through a tented village at night. He skillfully skirted the areas touched by the firelights that adorned the village, and crept into a tent where a guard slept.

The ferryman, who seemed in a great hurry, shook her free of her dream. "Wake up, young'n," he called. The boat was in the shallows of the beach. Alyssa sat up and rubbed her eyes, then looked across the beach, where behind the tree line she could see the ruins of an old city. "We're here, shake a leg, girl," the ferryman called impatiently.

Alyssa disembarked the boat and the ferryman wasted no time in leaving. Soon she was breaking the tree line and stepping into the lost city. Seeing all the aged stone buildings, tattered old tents and collapsing straw huts made her head hurt and her eyes blur. She tried to turn and leave but was brought to her knees by a loud ringing that burst in her ears. She closed her eyes and collapsed.

* * * * *

The Tribal Mynci was running through the forest, dodging low limbs and leaping rocks. Clutched in one hand was a burlap sack, held by a hand that was trimmed with a crude twine bracelet. Upon the bracelet was an arrangement of bones. A spear whistled by the Mynci's head and stuck into a tree. Another followed soon after, also missing by narrow margin. The Mynci continued to run at top speed, darting through the undergrowth with great dexterity

Seemingly from nowhere the Mynci was struck across the legs by a wooden staff, and out from behind a bush stepped an island mystic. The mystic struck the Mynci again, over the back of his head this time, knocking him unconscious.

* * * * *

Alyssa awoke with a startled gasp and sat up rapidly. The day was fading to night already, and she was somewhere unfamiliar. She was laid on a stone floor at the atrium to what appeared to be an old Geraptiku stone structure. Through the doorway beside her was a pedestal in a small room. Atop the pedestal something was glowing with a fierce orange light.

Drawn by an incredibly strong urge Alyssa scrambled to her feet and ran to the glowing object...

Author: markholdgate
Date: Feb 10th
...and gasped as she recognized the bracelet from her dreams. Alyssa reached for it with a trembling hoof, but before she could touch it she felt a heavy paw come to rest on her shoulder, and through her fur there came the light prickle of claws, not fully extended, but tense with menace.

"I knew you would come," Torthond growled. "Take it now, and we shall finish this and end our feud once and for all!"

"I don't want to fight," Alyssa whispered, and Torthond spun her around and slammed her against the pedestal, his eyes blazing with rage.

"TAKE IT!" he roared, "Or I'll kill you as you stand! I ought to kill you now, but because you are merely a trembling weakling I will give you the chance to fight."

Alyssa had no choice. Forcing herself to turn her back on the bristling Lupe, she reached for the bracelet, held it tentatively for a moment, then slipped it over her wrist.

Instantly the floor of the atrium shook, spouts of fire racing toward the ceiling. A few feet away from her Torthond donned the necklace, and even as she watched him transform into the monster from her nightmares Alyssa felt her own body beginning to swell. This time there was no pain or feeling of crawling insects; all she felt was a growing sense of power, and an anger which welled up in her heart. "You dare to call the daughter of Mikasho a trembling weakling?" she roared, possessed with a fire unlike anything she had ever felt. "You foul son of a Werelupe, you will pay for that!"

As the floor of the ancient temple trembled and split, sending more and more rockets of flame to claw the ceiling, the Lupe and the Ixi clashed, claw meeting hoof, fangs meeting horns, screams of pain and anger rivaling the rumble as the shuddering temple threatened to come apart.

“You,” Torthond panted, “are nothing more than a spineless coward, who has no courage when unarmed!”

Alyssa leapt aside as a chunk of the ceiling crashed to the ground, narrowly missing the furious combatants. “You will suffer greatly for the disgrace you would pour on my family,” she snarled, swinging her right hoof past Torthond’s defense and striking him to the ground. The Lupe was on his feet in an instant, and the raging adversaries were at it again, creatures of legend in an epic duel among raging fires and an apocalyptic cascade of falling stone, dodging and lunging while massive chunks of masonry struck the shuddering ground with a thunderous roar and a blinding shower of sparks.

Alyssa had no idea how long it went on, she and her antagonist tearing at each other in a wild frenzy for revenge, her right paw moving with unnatural skill as the bracelet seemed to guide it through its movements.

Finally the moment came when Torthond failed in his defense, and Alyssa’s hoof struck him a terrible blow across the neck and shoulders. With a yelp of agony the Lupe tumbled over the edge of a fiery abyss, the necklace shorn from his shoulders by the blow. Alyssa sprang to the brink of the chasm, peering down into the searing light and squinting against the heat; and there was Torthond, a normal brown Lupe once more, dangling by one paw as he struggled to postpone a helpless tumble into oblivion. A blast of heat leapt up from the chasm and Torthond cried out -- and as he screamed, his cry touched some hidden part of Alyssa that had been buried when she put on the bracelet, some tiny corner of her mind that was still Alyssa as she had always been.

“Hold on,” she yelled, and Torthond glared up at her.

“Perhaps you are not the weakling I had thought. You were a worthy adversary. Now go ahead, kill me, so that the blood that lies between us may be settled.”

“No,” Alyssa whispered, and Torthond’s eyes rivaled the blaze which flared up beneath him.

“You know that you have no choice. It is in your blood to kill me.”

Alyssa reached down, and Torthond did not even tense as the massive, twisted Ixi took him firmly by the wrist. But then his expression softened into shock as Alyssa lifted him out of the chasm, and set him down gently on the floor beside her.

Then she seized the bracelet, tore it from her wrist, and held it over the chasm. The temple ceased its trembling, and all of Neopia seemed to hold its breath as Alyssa paused on the edge of the abyss. But her hesitation did not last, and before she had finished the transformation into the small white Ixi she had always been, the bracelet was tumbling down to join the necklace in the depths beneath Geraptiku.

Suddenly a wall of fire leapt from every crack in the floor, dazzling the two Neopets for a moment with a brilliant display of every colour of the rainbow. But within seconds the fire had died, and the cracks in the floor had closed up, and Torthond and Alyssa stood staring at each other in the cold moonlight which filtered through the holes in the damaged ceiling.

“Why did you do that?” Torthond asked, staring at Alyssa strangely. “You could have simply dropped me, and the feud between our bloodlines could have been appeased. But now I have the power to kill you.”

“Do it then,” Alyssa replied, not entirely certain where the words were coming from. She was shaking all over, the fire of the bracelet replaced with quivering fear; and yet she knew that this was what she needed to do. “It is not my blood in which our enmity lies. It is yours. I don’t want a fight. All I want is peace between our families.” Alyssa swallowed hard, fighting the urge to close her eyes. “If the only way to end this is by one of us dying, fine. But I don’t intend to finish this with blood on my hands.”

For a moment Torthond stared at her, his furry face expressionless; then suddenly he relaxed. “I had intended to kill you, but now I know I cannot. No member of my bloodline would stoop to destroying one to whom he owes a life-debt,” he finally said. “The door is over there.”

Alyssa almost collapsed with relief. She felt she ought to say something, but there seemed to be no words to say, and so she turned toward the exit and began to walk in silence. But as she walked, she heard a voice behind her. “May the sun shine brightly over you, and may the sea breezes blow gently over your house.”

Recognizing Torthond’s words as a traditional tribal farewell, Alyssa turned around, smiled for a moment and answered simply, “Thanks.”

As she returned her attention to the doorway, Alyssa was suddenly aware of being weary to the bone. But that was all right. She still had a week of vacation time ahead of her, and for once in her life, she really felt glad to get a little R & R.

The End

Author: sarahleeadvent
Date: Feb 10th



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