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||You are on Week 306
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 Three Hundred Six Ends January 19
"The wind that flows from Mystery Island may break the waves."
"The snow slides swiftly down Terror Mountain's slopes."
"Fyora watches from the highest tower of the seventh cloud."
"Shifting water through Maraqua goes."
"I think it's supposed to be ‘Shifting water through Maraqua flows.’"
"No, no, I'm pretty sure it was ‘goes’. I heard the Leader say so himself."
"Sorry, I can't let you in if you don't know the code words."
"I'm telling you, it's 'goes'! Let me in, it's pouring out here!"
"But you didn't say the secret code words correctly."
"You fool, I have something of great importance! If the Leader hears about how you delayed me..."
"All right, all right, come on in. I'll be watching you!"
"Welcome to the Secret Brotherhood of the Nightly Watchers. What you hear here can never leave these doors, nor can-"
"Look, I know the drill. You're just wasting my time. I advise you stop wasting it before you find yourself out of this society, okay?"
"That's what I thought. Now go find the Leader for me..."
Author: Supreme Great Leader|
Date: Jan 12th
"Never mind, just let me through. I'll find him myself."
With a metallic clang, the heavy metal gate swung slowly inward. A cloaked figure, dripping with heavy rainwater, slipped through the gate and into a dark alley between two tall brick buildings. The downpour continued to soak the backstreets of the outskirts of Neopia Central as the spiked gate shut with a faint whine.
The tall Neopet bowed its head and hurried down the narrow path toward what appeared to be a dead end, as the gatekeeper huddled under a broad umbrella. Stacks of wooden crates were piled against the dripping walls, but the hooded creature swiftly moved one aside to reveal a trap door. He swiftly unbolted it and disappeared into the darkness below.
Anzal sighed, clutching his tattered coat closer around his shivering body. Being the gatekeeper to the Secret Brotherhood of the Nightly Watchers could be a difficult job. The Skeith desperately wanted to be one of the members of its elite inner circle, but the Leader had judged him too inept to be of any use to them. And the Leader was always right.
Anzal gazed forlornly through the metal bars. The flooded streets of Neopia Central were deserted; everyone was safe and warm somewhere. Everyone but him. Just below him, in the Secret Meeting Chamber, the members of the brotherhood were discussing their top-secret plans. Anzal yearned to join them, to hear of their observations and participate in their work. But the Skeith had been designated as the gatekeeper for as long has he had known of the brotherhood's existence. The only information they gave him was what time to report to his post.
It had never occurred to Anzal that he could seek out a better job. In the backstreets where he lived, gangs were rampant and the Skeith felt lucky that the Secret Brotherhood of Nightly Watchers had taken him in. For this, he could thank the Leader, who had noticed him begging on a street corner one evening.
But now, after so much time of service, Anzal was fed up with being gatekeeper. He didn't know what the brotherhood did at their meetings, or during the days in between. He only knew that they participated in secret work of the utmost importance. This was very vague, and Anzal craved more information.
So, as the rain continued to batter the empty streets, Anzal made a decision. Nervously, he surveyed the empty road, and, satisfied that no one was about, the Skeith dropped his umbrella and dashed down the alley to the trap door.
The rain immediately soaked through his coat and made him even colder, and he slipped occasionally in the puddles that had formed in the alley, but Anzal felt more excited than he ever had before as he arrived at the small wooden door and slowly opened it just a crack...
Date: Jan 16th
...A multitude of voices drifted upwards, all whispered and furtive; secretive, as well they should be. No doubt they would notice his intrusion on their meeting if he stayed there for too long, but for Anzal, the pull of curiosity was too much to resist. Surely just another minute wouldn't hurt?
"Yes, I'm sure. They knew our plan all along... they were just teasing us... just playing along with our little game." It was a young voice, but it was full of bitterness and regret.
"You should have been more careful." This voice was choked and harsh; the Leader. "Enemies lurk at every turn. However... I will forgive you this once."
"Thank you. Y-you don't know how much this means to me."
* * * * *
Whilst Anzal crouched by the trapdoor, ears straining to pick up the sounds of the meeting below, a dark-scaled invader chose her moment and slipped through the gates. This is too easy, she thought, full of vindictive joy. They're really getting lax with their security, aren't they?
Soundlessly, she slipped behind the largest stack of crates and watched, waiting for the Skeith to return to the gates. No doubt they would be expecting her, but judging by their gatekeeper she was more than a match for them.
* * * * *
"Enough," the Leader said, and all the voices ceased. "If Yanos speaks the truth, this is very grave indeed. Someone should go up and warn the gatekeeper." A bolt of sudden fear ran through him, freezing him in place. All of a sudden he was aware of every drop of rain hitting the ground, the crates, the roofs of every building around them. At the very last second he made a move, and shot back to his position at the gate.
"Anzal!" A sharp voice called. "Get over here!..."
Date: Jan 16th
...Thunder crashed in Anzal's chest as he wondered whether the speaker had detected his unforgivable indiscretion, and despite his best attempts to conceal his guilt he found himself slinking up to the owner of the voice like a whipped Doglefox. "Yes?" he began meekly, making an unsuccessful attempt to telekinetically propel himself through the ground and out from under the steady topaz stare of the shadow Techo who had summoned him.
"We have a potential security breach," the reptile informed him evenly, its voice cool, almost frosty, its yellow eyes cold, sharp and penetrating as stars in the sky, and both utterly devoid of any emotion. Its graceful tail flowed smoothly back and forth, but its level gaze never wavered. "A rival brotherhood has secured information that could give them an advantage. For all we know, they might have gone so far as to infiltrate. The Leader wants to speak with you. Now. I'll guard the gate."
Anzal's heart leapt into his throat, crashed to his feet, and then scrambled to make the return trip, stumbling over itself the whole time. "Me?" he echoed incredulously, completely forgetting his fear over his temporary absence from the gate. "He wants to speak with me?"
"I have a sneaking suspicion that that is what I said," the Techo replied soberly, betraying no hint of either humour of condescension. "And you'd better hurry. He isn't in the best of moods."
"R-right away!" the Skeith stammered, bolting toward the Meeting Chamber as fast as his bulky legs would carry him, his heart hammering haphazardly about in his body like a fly in a glass cage. He was going to speak with the Leader! Something important was happening, and he, Anzal, was going to be a part of it!
* * * * *
Toresha watched with a mixture of amusement and mild pity as the gatekeeper charged off into the night. Poor fool. He was going to be so disappointed, and get such a hideous dressing-down, when it was discovered that the male voice that had sent him from his post belonged to a female infiltrator.
For that matter, Toresha suspected that she herself wouldn't get the warmest of welcomes if she was discovered.
No, not if. When she was discovered. She was counting on that. But there was no time to contemplate the imminent future; for now, she must focus on the present. Flowing over to the gate like the breath of a malignant wraith, Toresha pushed open the gate, standing aside as a collection of shapes as dark as herself came filtering into the alley...
Date: Jan 17th
* * * * *
Anzal scurried down the ladder that led from the far end of the alley into the Secret Meeting Chamber. He had never been through the trap door before, and each step downward sent shivers of excitement down his spine. So thrilled was Anzal that the Leader had summoned him that he did not think to question the messenger, who at that moment was whispering chilling plans to her dark accomplices in the rainy night above.
The climb down the ladder was not long. Anzal was deposited in a dark stone passageway lit by dim lanterns every several feet. The Skeith crouched beneath the low ceiling and looked both directions. Each of the two paths twisted and curved away into the darkness. "Hello?" whispered Anzal into the darkness. His voice was lost in the suffocating silence. "Leader?"
The Nightly Watchers could not be far away. After all, he had just heard them speaking a minute ago from the other side of the door. Why had they been silenced? Anzal stood awkwardly at the base of the ladder, wondering what to do. "Well," he said to himself quietly, "I certainly can't be any help to the Leader sitting around here." With that, the heavy Skeith looked both ways, and, finding the left side a bit brighter, he crept off down the passageway.
* * * * *
"Is it safe?"
"Shh! Rolan hasn't returned yet, so be quiet."
The members of the Secret Brotherhood of Nightly Watchers sat silently in the Secret Meeting Chamber. The Leader had sent the young Aisha, Rolan, to give the gatekeeper his alarming news about the Sisterhood of Shadow, but the spy had not yet returned.
"The trap door is just around the corner!" hissed a voice again, fearfully. "Do you think--"
"Silence!" the Leader's gruff voice sliced through the air. "We will wait one more minute. If Rolan has not returned, we must assume the worst. And if the worst has happened, you all know what we need to do."
* * * * *
Rolan was not a stupid Aisha. As soon as the Leader had told him to warn that silly gatekeeper about the possibility of certain shadowy guests, he immediately started off down the hallway in the other direction.
Joining the brotherhood was not something Rolan was proud of. He had only done it out of necessity, but now he was old enough to fend for himself. The Aisha most certainly did not want to take the risk of being in the alley when the Sisterhood arrived, so he crept quickly down the alternate route, promising himself never to involve himself in something like this again.
It wasn't long before he found the second exit, and Rolan quickly climbed the ladder and pushed open the wooden door. He pulled himself out into the rainy night and glanced about him. The Aisha found himself behind the familiar dilapidated office building, and knew he was safe. Breathing a sigh of relief, he turned around.
"Going somewhere?" asked a voice dripping with icy malice...
Date: Jan 18th
...The next thing Rolan felt was a sharp, jabbing pain on the back of the head. Then everything went black.
* * * * *
Anzal had to admit it, he was lost. Hopelessly, utterlessly, cluelessly lost. The Brotherhood had been clever when making their meeting places, they had made a maze of corridors that twisted and turned all over the place. But where was the Meeting Chamber? Hadn't he just heard people from within it right underneath the trapdoor? It all made no sense whatsoever.
Anzal sighed and took another left turn. How did the members navigate? Were there certain clues anywhere?
Almost as if by magic, the corridor ended and a door appeared before his eyes. Anzal breathed in sharply. Could this be the meeting chamber? A small crack of light was seeping out from underneath the door. The Skeith laid a hand on the cool metal doorknob and pushed downwards. Silently, the door moved inwards and Anzal peeked inside.
This definitely looked like a meeting place. There were many couches and a few chairs spread out about the room. In the fireplace, there was signs there had just been a fire, the embers still smoldering. Then there was a polished oak desk with a single paper on top. Anzal peered at it. Yes... it had the Brotherhood's secret symbol, a pine tree in front of a full moon.
The Skeith glanced around. There was no one there. Had the meeting been dismissed? Where had the Brotherhood gone? They had not gone up the main entrance, because Anzal would have met them there.
He glanced around and his eyes rested upon a rather small door, only left open a tiny bit. Shrugging off his unease, Anzal began to approach it...
* * * * *
Rolan opened his eyes warily. The first thing he was aware of was his head. A sharp pain seared along the side of it. It felt like his skull had been cleaved in two. The pain caused his eyes to water, blurring the surroundings. The only thing he could make out were dark silhouettes, moving swiftly as shadows around him.
He wiped his eyes with one paw and tried to sit up, only to find he was tied down.
A face slid into Rolan's field of vision. It was a Techo's face, and oddly looked much like Rolan's, only narrower and more feminine. A sneer marred her elegant features, casting a dark air about her.
"Toresha..." Rolan mumbled, too exhausted and hurt to speak clearly. "Should have known."
Her smirk broadened. "Brother..." she responded. "Always acting the hero, are you? And now you join this... this group you call an actual secret society." She picked up Rolan's limp hand with her icy fingers and shot a look of contempt at a tattoo on the Aisha's palm. It was a pine tree in front of a full moon...
Date: Jan 18th
...Blinking through his pain, Rolan took the opportunity that presented itself to him, knowing it might be his last.
Grasping her wrist with sudden strength, he twisted it around, squinting at it through the fog of his throbbing head. Sure enough, the sigil was inked onto her scales: a black silhouette in front of a crescent moon.
The discovery took whatever energy he'd gathered. Sighing resignedly, he sat back, trying to ignore the way his head felt like it were being viced. "I should have guessed, Toresha. You were always the type to join the Sisterhood of Shadow, weren't you? Clever, confident... cruel..." All of his childhood his sister had tempted him into pranks, such as the time she'd convinced him the display at the Chocolate Factory was free, then burst into laughter when the Kiko who owned it almost summoned the Chia Police on him. Gullible, she'd called him, but then she'd be nice to him for a while, earning back his trust, only to--
He gasped as her hand whipped across his face, sending his head reeling. He brought one paw up to his burning cheek, gazing at her smooth features through a veil of tears.
"You think to call me cruel?" she answered in a voice both low and deadly. "I, who cared for you all of your lousy childhood? You left me, remember? I never threw you out!"
He hurt too much to argue. "I was going to leave them," he said.
She spat. "A brother is a brother forever," she said. "You expect me to believe your feeble lies? If it's true, though, then the better for you. Your precious brotherhood won't exist much longer." Bursting into that familiar laughter that made his hair stand up on end, Toresha grabbed him by the arm, half-dragging, half-pulling him along as she slipped into the back exit that he'd come out. "You're my captive now," she said. "Can't have you running off to warn anyone important. Stay close, or it will be the worse for you."
* * * * *
The door opened without protest. Anzal stood in the doorway--
--And hastily stumbled back.
An entire roomful of eyes lifted at his entrance. Unfamiliar eyes in unfamiliar faces, and certainly none belonging to his brothers. He had stumbled upon a meetingplace it seemed -- a meetingplace of his society's enemies!
Crying out a prayer to Fyora, the Skeith ran through the room and out into the winding passages, hearing countless hasty footsteps thundering close behind him.
Let me get lost in these passages, he wished. Let me get away!
The sound of their approach grew louder. Someone was laughing...
Date: Jan 18th
...and as the sound of his pursuers' dark amusement prowled after him, bouncing off the walls and shattering itself into a thousand lurking fragments, Anzal felt his heart divide itself once again between his throat and his feet.
The Leader was right. He wasn't cut out for this. They were going to catch up with him...
* * * * *
Rolan felt like his arm was going to fall off. In fact, he almost wished it would. Then maybe it would stop hurting him. While he was wishing body parts away, his head could probably stand to go, too. It had hardly been functioning well enough to earn its keep, judging by the predicament he had gotten himself into.
While Rolan was busy uselessly deciding which of his physical components were really worth keeping, Toresha occupied herself with dragging him through a series of dark corridors, either oblivious to his pained musings or silently laughing at them. The Aisha had no idea where they were going, but despite the insistent Jhudora-cursed throbbing that bombarded his skull he was slowly regaining his capacity to care what destination his sister chose. Not that he would give her the satisfaction of asking...
Especially not when the answer to the question had just hit him like a fist in the face. He recognized that funny bump on the wall, and the crack that showed up a few steps later.
They were on their way to the inner Meeting Chamber, where the Leader held his most private audiences with his top operatives.
* * * * *
Anzal jerked to a halt, his heart's debate as to which extremity it should take refuge in forgotten as it froze in place, refusing for a moment to beat.
Then it lurched into double-time.
The door through which he had just burst in his frantic rush to escape his pursuers had been torn right off its hinges by the force with which he had opened it, and it now stood at a precarious angle, arrested by his frozen white-knuckled grip as he gaped at the sight that greeted his saucer-round eyes. The sound of footsteps behind him grew louder, but Anzal's entire world had contracted to focus solely on the Leader, who sat bound, gagged and glaring on the floor, surrounded by similarly bound Brothers and a scattering of smugly smiling Sisters of Shadow...
Date: Jan 19th
..."We win," said a shadow Techo. Her grin was like the slice of a knife, its menace a strange contrast to the cheery tone.
She patted the nearest captive, a grumpy-looking Aisha, on the head. Anzal's heart stuttered and thumped again as he recognized Rolan.
Then it sank. They were lost....
He had forgotten his pursuers. Strong slender hands seized him from behind, and a loop of fabric tightened around his face, holding his mouth shut. No gag for a Skeith, who could chew through rock. He struggled, though hampered by being out of breath already and now having his breathing restricted by the muzzle. He was soon bound and forced to the floor.
"Oh, all right," said the Techo, "now we win. But I think that was a technicality."
The shadow Zafara immediately behind Anzal snorted. "Still, Sister Toresha, you should be more precise with your terminology. You know the rules."
"We have won," said the Zafara, raising her palm to display its symbol. "All members of the Brotherhood are accounted for, and are bound. Do you agree?"
There was a murmur from the Sisters, a grumble from the Brothers. The Zafara paused, then went to peer down directly into the face of the Brotherhood's Leader. "You concede?"
He glared at her furiously but then, slowly, grudgingly, miserably, he nodded.
She untied the gag.
"I concede." The Leader spat the words and fabric out together.
"All right," said the shadow Zafara, and then raised her voice. "The exercise is complete. Victory is ours. Sisters, untie them!"
Toresha gave her little brother a smile as she slit his bonds, the blade sliding uncomfortably close to his skin and parting a few hairs of his fur. "I'll look forward to having you serve me dinner tonight... Brother."
* * * * *
Dinner that night was an elegant affair, if -- as was usual in Darigan since those "noble" thieves had stolen the Orb -- a sparse one. Even those unaffected by the curse that had struck and twisted many citizens' bodies couldn't make much grow, and as for trading with other lands... it was really hard to trade with anybody when your neighbors were wary of the blight on your lands and anyone farther away tended to be put off by the tentacle-plants that grew in the floating Citadel's shadow.
But what food there was could be presented well, and some of the best was reserved for the winners of the competitions among various "societies." The victors, of course, were served by the vanquished, and the Brotherhood was waiting on the Sisterhood tonight, while the Sisterhood sat along either side of a long table -- honored by Lord Darigan presiding.
The empire of Darigan had grown soft over the years, too contented... complacent. Nobody was really sure what they were doing, with this sort of battle, with secrecy and espionage and violence. But they were learning fast. A nice share of the food, some service and some honor, weren't bad incentives.
Neither was revenge.
"You have done well, O Sisters of Shadow," Lord Darigan rumbled, his ragged wings flexing against the back of his chair. "We will learn from your victory, from your stratagems." He leaned forward, and his eyes gleamed red. "When we find Meridell... we will be ready."
Date: Jan 19th
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