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Week 281
You are on Week 282
Week 283

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 Eighty Two Ends July 21

Clink.

Mara moodily stared down at the clear amber liquid as it swirled in her teacup. Flicking her tail aside, the Lutari began half-heartedly stirring her tea with a spoon, but did not drink it.

"Mara," the elderly Lenny sitting across from her said, "is there something wrong with your tea?"

Mara shook her head. "Nothing's wrong, Grandmother."

"You haven't touched it all day, child, and it doesn't take someone with my experience to see that you are weighed down with troubles," her grandmother chided gently. "What's wrong?"

With a sigh, the Lutari set down her cup and stared at her paws. "I've been having dreams – strange, recurring dreams. I am always in a field – a never-ending field with an unreachable horizon – running and running. From what, I do not know. It's always dark, and the very wind itself seems to be pushing me along. That’s when I usually wake up, but I just can’t shake that feeling of being pursued."

The Lenny looked troubled, but said nothing.

"Then today," Mara continued, "as I was heading toward your house, I felt like the skies were clouding over me. The wind started to pick up, and I again felt the impulse to run. It's silly of me to have such an overactive imagination, I know." The Lutari frowned and rested her head on her paws. "I didn't want to ruin our afternoon by telling you. Your house is one of the few welcoming places left to me, Grandmother. I know that I will always have these familiar rose-patterned walls to return to."

The older Neopet smiled, but it did not reach her eyes, which suddenly looked sad. "Oh, Mara, child, I had hoped it wouldn't come to this," the Lenny said softly. "I tried very hard not to believe it, but I think my worst fears have been realised. Mara, you have inherited the family curse..."

Author: DOOM
Date: Jul 14th
..."Curse?" Mara repeated, hesitantly. Silently, she wished that she was misunderstood her grandmother, but she already knew that wasn't the case.

"Yes, a curse," repeated the Lenny carefully, her words weighted with obvious sadness, "I had so wished that there would be no need to tell you the story, but now I see I have wished in vain." She sighed deeply, quickly wiping away a tear. "You must listen carefully, Mara, for what I'm about to tell you may be the very thing that will save your life."

Mara gasped as she leaned closer, eager to hear her grandmother's words. "Tell me," she instructed, and her voice was hoarse with emotion.

"Once, many years ago," intoned her grandmother, "There was a young Cybunny named Roth. He was my grandfather - your great-great grandfather. He had dreams of being rich and famous, just as many of us do. However, he did something terrible in the pursuit of his dream."

"What did he do?" Mara asked.

"He made a deal with a sorcerer," the Lenny answered, "a mysterious Shoyru called Stone. Everyone was afraid of him, as they had a right to be. However, he came to Roth and offered to use his magic to help. Roth was so blinded by his desire for fame, he didn't even consider the consequences.

"Stone cast a spell so that everyone would respect Roth and that anything he wanted would come to pass. Roth became a Neo-millionaire in a short time and lived in one of the finest Neohomes that ever existed. For a time, he was happy."

"But I don't understand something, grandmother," Mara interrupted. "This Roth was our ancestor, right? If he was so rich, how come we aren't? Your Neohome is lovely, but it's simple and modest."

Her grandmother almost managed a whisper of a smile. "Listen to the rest of the story, child," she said, "and you will understand. You see, Stone granted Roth's wish, but now he wanted payment. Roth could have paid him any amount that he demanded, but the Cybunny's sudden wealth had made him greedy.

"When Stone returned to ask for payment, Roth used the very spell that the sorcerer had cast to trick him. All that Roth had to do was to wish that Stone would leave forever, and Stone was unable to retrieve payment."

"What did Stone do?" Mara asked, fearing she already knew the answer.

"He had to leave as Roth wished," answered the Lenny, "but as he left, he swore that he would return to get his revenge. He couldn't touch Roth, his own spell prevented that. So, he promised revenge upon one of Roth's descendants. His children, all afraid of Stone's promise, donated his great wealth to the Money Tree and chose to live modest lives. In fact, we had thought that curse would not come to pass, until now..."

Author: tj_wagner
Date: Jul 17th
...As suddenly as she had struck up her pronounciation of the curse, the Lenny abruptly fell back into silence. The quiet, awkward and suffocating as a cotton veil, enveloped the room. It invaded Mara's very body, weaving beneath her fur to dig agitating pockmarks into her skin until she could not help but cringe; it reminded her entirely too much of the probing fingers of the dastardly winds that haunted her dreams.

After a stretch, the fidgeting Lutari finally ventured, "What is this curse, Grandmother?" Reluctantly, the hush withdrew itself into the shadows, which flickered to an eerie rhythm cast by the firefly blinking of the faulty lightbulb above the table at which they sat. But as it left, it brushed against her shoulder with a gentle menace: sooner or later, it would be here to stay.

Serene and apparently immune to the oppressive, silent presence that ghosted her home, Mara's grandmother glanced up. Cold reflections of the elderwood clock over the door gleamed within those beady, knowing eyes. Merciless as the second hand which rounded the clockface, each of her grandmother's words was an icy needle sent to maim, to wound:

"Time heals, time hurts, let time take thee
Pass on your cursed blood, for years unnamed
Til a pup is born, fair mind, fair heart
This fairness be reviled, stoled by greed
And proper debts shall be restored
For in her fairness, she shall reap
Your fortune's blood from ancestors stained
Cold weight of coin in kinly pain,
Will poisoned gold redeem us all.
"

"Those are the words Stone spoke," the Lenny added thoughtfully, sipping her tea. Within her chest, Mara's heart drummed a symphony to match her racing thoughts.

She shall reap your fortune's blood...

White and flexive, the pale fingers of the wind took hold of her, squeezing her until she was no longer herself. She raised her paws to see long daggers sprout. Ivory claws, lit with the unforgiving moon. The Lutari that was not a Lutari flexed them, and they waxed crimson.

"I am not the victim," Mara murmured, her knuckles turning white. Round the clock the seconds marched. Tick tock, tick tock...

"I am the weapon foretold to destroy Roth's descendants." And though her body shivered with the terror of acceptance, her face was strangely calm. There was nothing anyone could do.

Roth's time was up.

I am a monster...

Author: missjessiegirl
Date: Jul 17th
...Her thoughts blurred strangely, which Mara looked through like the glass of a grimy window. Somewhere, she knew the outside world did exist. Her grandmother was there, past the confused glass that framed her mind. But Mara was hidden within herself, unable to control her own actions, only to watch and wait as the terrible curse boiled in her veins.

The wind rustled past her, impossibly freezing. Pain was brought with it, a terrible, chewing pain that bit at her like knives. She tried to call out in agony, but could only gasp as her soul was laid bare to it.

Time heals, time hurts, let time take thee...

The words were whispered, resounding in her head like gongs. She had never heard the voice before, yet she recognized it. Loathing curled up in her heart like flame, at the undead voice. The thief of her family.

Stone.

As she realized this, a dull black veil filled her mind. It clouded her with an evil that climbed up her consciousness, like the Spyder that wraps its victim in silk before it attacks.

Then she was falling... falling... falling into a dark void that spoke the words of the curse. A curse that Mara had only just heard... that she had not even known about...

Til a pup is born, fair mind, fair heart
This fairness be reviled, stoled by greed
And proper debts shall be restored

“No!” she cried, voice echoing against the endless nothingness. “This is not proper debt! Lives can not be paid as gold!”

Cold weight of coin in kinly pain,
Will poisoned gold redeem us all

The blackness fell away, revealing the sight from her eyes again. She was no longer in the house of her grandmother, with its bright, old surfaces and scrupulous cleanliness. What the Lutari saw... for she was a Lutari again... was that she was on the ground, in a puddle of cold water. At second glance, she realized it was filled with dirt and slime from those who had passed before, like whispers of lost lives. She was on a road, in another place. The brightness of day had sunk below the horizon, and hard stars twinkled from a shadowed sky. Unfeeling still clutched at her body, but it was slowly drifting away into space.

What had happened? How much time had passed? Was the curse lifted? Had she somehow been healed?

When she looked down, at her paws, she felt sickened. She was not sure if it could answer all of her questions, but she could make a guess.

Floating away in steady streams in the water off of her fur, was a long, thin trail of blood. It was a deep, ominous red that struck her with shock.

She gasped as emotion suddenly beat in her body again. Blood. Had it all come to pass, then? Before she could even realize what she was doing?

Her eyes came into focus, just as they had been before the curse. And she gasped again. For on the other side of the road, was a long, green expanse that seemed to roll on forever -- exactly like her dreams. And the wind stirred the grass, crackling with that of nightmares.

So the curse was still there.

Somewhere, from an unseen clock in an unseen world, a bell began to chime. At each ring, Mara’s body tensed... she knew what she had to do. She had to run off into that oblivion, before the curse could overwhelm her again.

She had to save her family... and herself...

Author: gooshy230
Date: Jul 18th
...And so she ran. She ran with the speed of desperation, her lithe legs pumping furiously. She knew not where she was going, only that she had to get away. Get away from what?

How could she run from a curse that was carried within her?

You cannot.

The voice seemed to come from the very air around her, and Mara stumbled and nearly fell. "Who's there?" she cried, regaining her balance and keeping on running.

You can never escape me. I am your master. I am your destiny. And you shall be my revenge.

"NO!"

But it was too late. Blackness took her again.

When she came to herself, she was sprawled out on the floor of her grandmother's familiar home. The old Lenny was pacing nearby, as if struggling with herself. Mara scrambled to her feet.

"Grandmother?"

The Lenny leapt into the air, and when she landed her eyes were wide and staring with fear. But she composed herself quickly, running a wing over her face. "Oh. Mara. Good to see you're awake."

"What happened to me?"

"I... I don't know. You vanished for a moment, and when you came back you were unconscious. For a while I feared the worst, but now... you're all right." Once again a smile touched her beak but failed to shine in her eyes.

Dark foreboding fell over Mara's heart. "Grandmother, what's wrong?"

The Lenny hesitated a long moment before answering. "While you were asleep, you... your body seemed to waver between two different forms. The curse is still trying to take hold."

A cold weight of fear draped itself over the Lutari.

And then redoubled as the pale wind returned, lashing around her far more fiercely this time. Within its wild, shrill howling Mara thought she could hear a voice, repeating the words of the curse. "NO!" she screamed, but the wind paid no heed, assailing her with cold and bitter pain.

Conflicting feelings crashed through her heart. Mara, the Lutari, the creature she had always been, cringed in horror as she felt herself being twisted and transformed; while the being she was becoming felt its growing half of her heart flooded with the dark fire of hatred, and the burning desire to slay, to spread the destruction of its revenge all around it: death for all others, especially for those who had betrayed its master in the past. Her ears lengthened. Her hind legs became long and powerful. Her fangs grew.

And all the while, waves of pain and sadness washed over an ocean floor of fear in her grandmother's eyes. It was clear that she was watching some doom that she had long foreboded in her heart, but hoped it would not come to pass; and now that it was happening, she was trying to accept it, to surrender to this tide of fate without fear.

With a final shudder, the transformation was complete. Mara's knees had given way before the violence of this last tremor; and as she lay sprawled out on the floor, the part of her that was Mara choked out a few weak words before being buried beneath the black weight of her new identity: "Grandmother... fly... quickly..."

Her resolve beginning to give way to terror like a seaside cliff crumbling before the waves, the old Lenny began edging toward the door, intending to take to the skies.

But suddenly the way was blocked, and Mara's grandmother found herself staring in horror at an echo of the distant past. "Grandfather... Roth..."

And so it was indeed. The red Cybunny grinned at her, revealing grey and yellow teeth that seemed to have suffered years of lifeless decay. The creature locked the door with fingers that were barbed with huge, unnatural claws, and the Lenny backed slowly away from the twisted version of the Cybunny she had known. "Hello, Tethra," he said, his voice quiet but cruel: cold, hard and lifeless, like the name of its owner.

"Stone..."

"Ah, so you remember me."

Tethra shuddered; how could she not? She remembered cowering behind her parents' backs as the Shoyru left the house, having sworn before the entire family that he would have his revenge.

The Cybunny with the Shoyru's voice took a step toward her and Tethra leapt toward a window.

Instantly her assailant was there, standing between her and her escape. Tethra looked around wildly; then her gaze came to rest on the eyes of her enemy. The shape of her grandfather, the voice and soul of Roth's enemy. Her enemy. But somewhere beneath the black depths of those eyes, there was a faint, trembling flicker of the Lutari buried within. Grandmother... I'm sorry... the eyes seemed to say; then the shivering glint was banished by the cruel smile that spread across the creature's face as it stepped forward and, with a touch that seemed as light as a feather and strangely, perversely gentle, it laid a paw on her shoulder.

Stone watched through Roth/Mara's eyes as the elderly Lenny froze, and her yellow feathers slowly hardened, sparkling in the evening light. The cold hardness spread across her body, and Stone felt his smile growing.

Within seconds, it was done. Stone turned his back on the shimmering golden statue, strode toward the door and with a single kick blasted it off its hinges. The red light of the sunset poured into the room like blood, and in the distant east the shades of evening deepened as Stone strode on into the fading gloom on the next leg of his quest for revenge.

Cold weight of coin in kinly pain,
Will poisoned gold redeem us all

"I'll be back for you," he told the golden statue. "You and your kin shall repay me in full."

No we won't, Mara silently vowed, inwardly weeping for her grandmother within the confines of the body that imprisoned her. I don't know how I can possibly stop you, but I won't stand idle while you do this...

Author: sarahleeadvent
Date: Jul 18th
...But Mara could not stand. She could do nothing while trapped inside the body of someone who had died years ago... She had to use her mind, her soul. It was the only thing she had left, but it was the best thing to have left, for it alone could think. The curse. She strained to remember each line, to search for something that would stand out... and she found it.

Pass on your cursed blood.

You hear that, Stone? her thoughts chided. You hear that? You said it yourself. I have the power to pass on this curse. To you.

She let herself calm, let the anger leave her so that she shrank back. The Cybunny's body stopped and hesitated. Stone had not counted on her withdrawal.

Slowly she sank away, until she was so small she could see each blood vessel and every capillary. She found the largest one and entered it.

She was her own blood. She traveled through the blue tube, sliding away into every opening that presented itself to her. She found the heart and infested it. She and her family alone had the power to pass on this curse... it was something Stone had created, words he had put into his curse. He could not deny her that power because he had given it to her years before, when he had been stronger, and now he could not fight against his stronger self.

She had infested him.

The Cybunny doubled over and coughed, reddening his red collar fur even more. His gnarled yellow fingernails shattered while he tore at himself, trying to be rid of this demon he had not thought of...

And while he coughed this blood, Mara's soul fell out in splatters. She began to form before him, to solidify, but he did not care. He wanted only to be rid of the curse...

The Lutari stood when Roth's body stopped coughing. He began to change forms, to blur at the edges until he had wings, until he was much like a small, bedraggled dragon. She laughed at him.

"You cannot rid yourself of the curse you brought upon my family!" she cried, her voice strangely prophetic. "Part of my weakness is inside you now, and part of your strength is inside of me. No matter what you do, you cannot change that. If you destroy my family, you destroy yourself! Now return my grandmother to her correct form!"

Stone, fully formed now, looked up at her angrily. Then he smiled, and it was cold and dark.

Suddenly the wind picked up, whipping around her tail. She curled into a ball, tried to warm herself. The white highlights of her fur felt like frost to her. The darkness fell, and there was no horizon... just endless, unreachable abyss. She was in her dreams again... only this time, it was real.

She felt the need to run like she had so many times in her sleep, but she did not. She turned to face her assailant.

Stone was smiling.

"I may share your curse, Lutari... but if I am the last one to survive it, then I will be free forever..."

Author: mangohomer
Date: Jul 19th
..."And how will you be free?" Mara demanded, thrashing her tail in a fury so that its seafoam highlights rained through the night like stars. Yet she could not be truly angry, for the venom that was Stone's presence was overwhelmed, swamped by the sweetness that was herself. Yes, at least she was Mara again, Mara and only Mara! The suffocating silence, that terrible paralysis of self, it had gone at last. She was glad of it.

Overcome with this newfound euphoria, the Lutari felt as though she could bound across the blood moon that hung in the velvet sky like a reaper's sickle, hurtle the comets and shatter the night. Never before had she recognized the joy that came of being yourself.

In a manner almost quizzical, Stone shrugged the withered remnants that were his wings. Blown to ashes in a magical accident, perhaps? Mara pondered, before remembering that she couldn't care less. "Free," the Shoyru repeated slowly, as though speaking to a child. "Free of you, free of your despicable family. Free of this wicked world at last, and let it go to the teeth of the Ghost Lupe."

Against the midnight background that seemed to have been suddenly dropped from the heavens, the shadowy outline of the grizzled sorcerer was almost invisible. Alone against the darkness gleamed his eyes, scarlet as though the night had been pricked with two needles and left to bleed. Their crimson glow was so terrifying, and so traditional, that Mara, her head spinning with her euphoria, couldn't help but burst into laughter. As far as villains went, Stone was entirely cliche.

"Wicked?" she repeated, her voice breaking in places as she chuckled somewhat hysterically. "You're hardly one to talk, good sorcerer! Actually, now that I think of it-" The Lutari snorted. What a story this would make for her grandchildren! "Perhaps 'good' isn't the best choice of adjective."

Stone's face... well, Mara preferred to avoid bad puns, but there was no other way to put it than that his face had virtually turned to stone. Off hand, she'd guess that very few of his victims had ever laughed their way to the grave.

"Your ancestor stole from me!" he shouted, sounding very much like a sulky elementary school student whose favorite toy had just been claimed. "I granted his every wish, his every desire, and in the end he wouldn't even pay me a tenth of what he gained! He was a selfish son of a Cybunny, and he willingly sacrificed all of his descendants for his own health and happiness!"

Under ordinary circumstances, Mara would have had the good sense to be terrified of the Golden Touch that welled upon the Shoyru's gnarled claws, but she was enjoying herself far too much at the time. "Son of a Cybunny," she mouthed to herself, and another bout of laughter spouted from between her lips. "Actually, he probably was!"

"ENOUGH!" Stone roared suddenly, the repercussions from his voice literally boweling her over. I'd become a wizard myself just to be able to do that, the Lutari mused as she picked herself up, ribs still shaking in amusement. It'd be a neat party trick. Wonder if he does impressions?

The image of a moth-eaten Roth poised before her trembling grandmother flashed through her mind.

Actually, yeah.

Oblivious to Mara's rambling thoughts, the Shoyru positively shivered with rage as he paced before her, the very grass shoving itself aside to get out of his way. "I will have no more of this!" he snarled, his tail whipping behind him. Then, in a slightly more collected tone, he added, "You have been in my way from the moment I awoke within you. It is time for you to be eliminated." He turned to her, and the blood moon reflected within his eyes.

Mara met his gaze head-on. Her grandmother had been taken captive by the golden touch, and she had been powerless to stop it. The odds were becoming increasingly good that everyone else she cared about would soon follow. She herself was almost undoubtedly doomed. What else did he have to offer that she should fear? "Where will you find your freedom, Stone?" the Lutari demanded once more. "In death?"

He raised his webbed fingers. Even in the suffocating darkness, they sparkled with gold dust. "Maybe," The wizard took a step towards her, and all at once her mind made up its mind that now would be a very good time to become very, very terrified very quickly. "If you ever make it back, be sure to let me know."

With that, the golden fingers swung down...

Author: missjessiegirl
Date: Jul 19th
...The moment they touched Mara's head she felt her skull freeze. A horrible aching coldness spread swiftly through her body, every cell writhing and screaming in agony before falling suddenly into a dead, icy numbness that was even worse than pain.

And yet, even though the world of touch was lost to her, her other senses were still agonizingly clear. She could see the cruel smirk that decorated Stone's gnarled face, could hear him whisper softly, "Where is your sense of humour now?" She could hear him telling her precisely what he was going to do to her beloved family. Every word, every graphic, heart-twisting detail, fell into her heart like beads of poisoned gold dropping into a trembling pool. Poisoned gold...

Will poisoned gold redeem us all...

She wasn't sure how it could help her. Maybe it couldn't, at this point. Maybe there was nothing that anyone could do.

Time heals, time hurts, let time take thee...

Time had hurt Stone -- that was clear from the state of his body and mind; his tattered wings displayed the fact like posters. But it hadn't hurt him enough. He was still too powerful for her. And could any amount of time heal a life that had been frozen in gold?

Pass on your cursed blood, for years unnamed...

But she had already done that, and it hadn't been enough!

Til a pup is born, fair mind, fair heart...

And a lot of good I did, Mara thought bitterly. All I accomplished was to share the fate of my family.

This fairness be reviled, stoled by greed...

And proper debts shall be restored.

At that moment a hideous scream tore the night apart, sending Mara's frantic thoughts bolting in terror to the safety of the shadows in some back corner of her mind. Inwardly blinking in surprise, she watched in shock through frozen gold eyes as a patch of shimmering metal appeared on the top of Stone's head, and began to spread down toward his body. He clawed frantically at himself, and Mara could see his fingers crackling with energy as he struggled to reverse the spell -- to no avail.

Then suddenly he tensed, and a darkness of hatred and understanding, more sensed than seen in those dead golden eyes, brooded for a moment before he acted on it. Reaching over to Mara with an arm that had already turned to gold at the shoulder, he seized her by the elbow.

The Lutari felt a surge of power pour into her body; then suddenly both she and Stone were sprawled out on the ground, all traces of gold having vanished.

It took Mara a moment to realize what had happened. And proper debts shall be restored. Stone was now connected to her. He had used her body, and had stolen her grandmother from her. He was in her debt, as her family was in his. Their blood had mingled, and what happened to one would inevitably affect the other.

Mara processed all this with a dead expression and emotionless eyes. Stone could not hurt her without hurting himself. But neither could she hurt him, and put an end to this threat to her family, without bringing herself down along with him.

There was only one thing left to do...

Author: sarahleeadvent
Date: Jul 20th
...the idea hurt her like a burn, yet she knew that there was no alternative. She took a deep breath, filling her lungs with cold, dream-like air, before sitting up and running her paws over each other again and again.

Stone refused to even move. He looked to the stars with dark, brooding eyes. Mara studied his face, fear vanished in the knowledge that he would not willingly hurt himself -- hence her. The loathing that twisted his ancient face was horrifying anyway... but somehow she knew that it was not all meant for her.

Silence fell as thick as the shadows around them for a few tense moments. Then Stone spoke.

"Again I have been cheated," he hissed, narrowing his thin eyelids and breathing rather more heavily. "Everything that I have given, and not a speck in return. Time has hurt me, yes, time has hurt me indeed."

Mara snorted loudly at this, catching Stone's attention. He drew himself up (although he was still flat on the ground) and bared his decaying teeth.

"Curse you, curse you!" he snarled, sending shudders of magic across the clumpy ground in his fury. Sparks of golden light shot off from the tops of the stalks of grass a foot away, crackling with rage. "You think that you have won-"

"You have already cursed me, magician," Mara said, her words frosty and dripping with venom. "In case you had forgotten."

He drew in a deep breath, but fell silent again. The Lutari looked on at this with surprise etched in her face; Stone, she had learned so far, was not one to give up so easily in a battle of words.

"Stone," she started, forcing the hatred out of her voice. Somehow she knew that it wouldn't have a very pursuasive effect. Yet she could not help sounding rather flat and quiet when she finally continued. "We are at an inpass. You are in my debt; my family is in yours."

"There is no need to remind me of the fact," he choked in anger. His tail lashed through the grass in a barely supressed urge to attack. Mara struggled with her reply and started up again.

"The fact is... maybe we could make a deal, and even things out a bit..."

She waited for another outburst, but Stone remained still as a statue. The Lutari shifted uncomfortably, her sleek body twitching with uncertainty. Mara cleared her throat.

"Maybe... I could agree that your debt to me is restored... if you agreed that my family would no longer be in your debt... and we just... left each other alone and went back to our own lives."

Stone paused, fluttering his tattered wings darkly, but seemed to consider. The Lutari could see conflicting ideas battle across his features. Mara gave a little start of hope...

"The debts were not even," he finally hissed, slowly struggling into a sitting position. He moved with the unsteadiness of one hastily awoken from sleep. "I gave Roth everything he possibly wanted, for nothing, and you only aided me in my revenge."

"What else can you do?" Mara put in desperately, looking at his wraith-like figure watch the grass stir thoughtfullly. "You will only lose more if you try to harm me and my family!"

"But to what extent must I harm you for the curse to interfere?" Stone asked, mostly to himself. Obviously, he was intent on revenge.

"Stop!" Mara yelled at him, finally losing her temper. "You are so bloodthirsty you can't save your own blood! Just leave and die, as you were meant to so many years ago!"

"Just leave..." Stone repeated in a whisper. Then a smile crept up his awful lips.

"I will follow your wishes. I will just leave. I will leave you alone."

Mara looked up distrustfully at him. She had learned very well that when he smiled, it was never going to be good for her.

"Rest assured, young one," Stone said, seeing her expression. "I can not, and will not, harm you."

He stood up, his wings folded ever so carefully behind his back. One step... two... he slowly moved away from the watchful Lutari, who was uncertain as to just what the magician was doing.

He seemed to find one patch of grass satisying enough, and then looked up from his feet into the eyes of the enemy he had made for himself.

Mara realized a second before it happened what he was going to do.

"No!" she cried, jumping unsteadily to her feet and beginning to run. Stone's grinning shape began to flicker like a candle, then into something like a watercolor version of himself.

She was going to be trapped here, while he could finally fulfill his vow of revenge.

It was strange, to be actually living her dream... the wind slapping at her face, the grass itching at her feet. And running... running as fast as her paws could carry her... though this time it wasn't away from the presence, it was toward it.

Stone was slipping away into the air, disappearing from the place that stretched endlessly on all sides. He was not directly hurting her, though, so the curse would not stop him.

She would have to do it herself.

She leaped, her paws outstretched and grabbing wildly. They twisted around his transparent arm.

Mara cried out as the world around her blurred. A tearing pain ripped across her form... she felt like she was being torn in two...

Author: gooshy230
Date: Jul 20th
...She felt herself land twice.

"AAAAAGH!" two voices screamed.

Then two minds awoke with confusion.

It was a long time before Mara understood what had happened... it was more than a feeling of being torn in two. It WAS being torn in two.

"You have ruined me again!" two other voices cried in unison.

"What happened?" said her own two voices. Four of her eyes opened onto the scene.

It was the field where they had disappeared so long ago when she had cursed the sorcerer's blood. In the distance on either side she could see her grandmother's house and her parents' house, so close they were in dire danger... but they could do nothing. Time seemed to have frozen here. The sky was still, the very air itself seemed to have stopped moving and collapsed upon the ground. A fog was gathering around her eight paws, and she recognized this place again... it was the place from her dreams, but with a horizon, with houses on either side. Her dream world had always been a part of the real world... All those scary dreams, and their setting had been sitting right outside her door...

Then Mara saw her other half. It was a red Cybunny. Mara jerked away from herself, from the part of her that was Roth, the part of her that held the curse. That part reached out for her, sorrow in its eyes...

Then she swung her head around to see Stone, and she gasped, sucking up the sky with dire amazement. For she was not the only one who had been torn. Stone lay also in two pieces... one a red Cybunny, the other a bedraggled old Shoyru...

Then Mara understood. The curse itself WAS the red Cybunny. It represented itself as Roth, and somehow when they had left the dream world together, the curse had seperated itself from their bodies. She didn't know why. Perhaps it sought more power, perhaps the turmoil it had caused had brought it forth between the two Neopets. Or, perhaps, it was only very, very tired...

Mara and Stone watched, awed, as the two Cybunnies lifted themselves to their feet. They began to walk towards each other, jerking madly while they tried to escape the bodies that held them. Mara looked around and saw two more of them coming from her parents' house, and one more from her grandmother's. They all approached each other, and both girl and sorcerer looked on as there was a great flash of red light and all the ghostly forms of Roth merged into one being...

Then suddenly the fog was gone, the darkness, everything. Time had begun again. Stone and Mara faced the curse in Roth's body, and felt as they rose that the curse had been lifted from them. They were free from each other.

But Stone did not look at Mara. He glared at Roth.

"You," he said. "You stole from me! You ruined me! You caused me to live a dead life for so many ages, waiting, always waiting... well, now I will finally get my revenge!"

Stone's eyes went insane, roiling back into his mind and bending every one of his muscles to the will of his revenge. He dove forward, magic in his hands...

Mara saw in the last moment of the curse's life that it looked genuinely sorry. It represented the blood of Roth and so, in turn, it was Roth himself. She saw then that his greed had vanished, and that he was so very tired from being kept alive by a curse. He was ready to go.

And Stone offered him that gift.

While the aging sorcerer stood and panted heavily, his age casting breezes through the cobwebs of his throat, he felt nearly happy... but he had one last thing to finish. Destroy HER.

He turned to face Mara, but he did not have the time. A blast of evil magic lurched into his chest. He screamed into the air as he dissipated like smoke... and then Stone, too, was gone forever.

Mara stood there. Both bodies had disappeared. Both Stone and Roth had recieved all they had ever wanted, and so had Mara. She remembered that last look of surprise on the sorcerer's face. How had she been able to use magic on him?

"I warned you," she said aloud, her voice like a wispy thunder cloud. He should have known. For when she had been within him, her blood had ran as his. And when they were freed from each other, he had recieved a curse from her, and she had recieved something from him as well...

She held up her hand and looked at the magic she held in her palm. Thank you, Stone, she thought. May you rest in peace...

She grinned when she saw her grandmother running toward her. But in the grin was something darker, something that was, if only the slightest bit, dangerously evil...

Or maybe it was a trick of the light.

The End

Author: mangohomer
Date: Jul 21st



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