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

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Week 319
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Week 321

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 Twenty Ends May 4

Kerian hummed the music of her routine to herself as she trudged through the snow. The pale winter sun glistened off the ice rink as the Wocky approached, skates slung over her shoulders.

"It's a great day to be out skating," a Lutari called, waving as he strolled by in the opposite direction. "The temperature isn’t warm enough to melt anything, but the sky's been clear all morning. I ran through my program ten times without a hitch!"

"Sure beats that time Coach made us practise through a blizzard," the Wocky shouted back. The two shared a laugh before parting ways.

The rink was busier than usual, Kerian mused as she searched for an empty bench by the side of the ice. After weeks of bad storms, it was no surprise that the residents of Happy Valley were eager to go outside and play. While she enjoyed the companionship of her neighbours, it would be difficult to practise while navigating around the crowds.

"Oh well, can't be helped," the Wocky said out loud as she plopped onto a small wooden bench with peeling blue paint. Carefully, she began to lace up her skates.

While her paws were concentrating on that task, however, her eyes roamed from the laces of her skates to the ice's smooth surface. It was strange, but she could've sworn that there was something odd about the ice, though she couldn't quite place what it was. Something about the colour beneath it...

Author: Triple Axel
Date: Apr 27th
...The somewhat opaque surface of the ice was white, and dusted with powder, as was to be expected, but beneath something appeared out of place. When the frigid valley didn't freeze pools all the way through, the clear mountain melt water beneath was usually a pale turquoise. Beneath the bubbles frozen into the ice's substantial thickness, a rather different color was shining through.

It was blue, but not the blue of an icy mountain pool. It was deep ultramarine, navy fading through the spectrum to blue-violet, the infinitely varied shades of the sea's darkest reaches. It was the color of the ocean as twilight reflected off its still surface, the depths of a wave as it reared up to crash with devastating force upon the shore. Light played through it in intricate patterns, suggesting a dizzying depth. It was almost as if one could dive down forever through it into the distant past and touch upon something ancient and serene.

All in all, not what one would expect below one's feet as they practiced their skating routine. Kerian's paws knew their way around her skate's laces, leaving her mind free to contemplate the ice onto which she was about to step. Something about the suggestion of depth beneath made sliding onto the ice, like the Wocky had at least a thousand times before, rather more like stepping from a tall platform out onto an invisible pane of glass.

I'm a skater, not a poet, Kerien thought to herself as she pushed her contemplative thoughts aside and moved gracefully onto the ice. Immediately she fell into the comfortable rhythm of routine, her paws moved nearly without thought on her part as the blades of her skates carved graceful curving paths across the pond. The crowd parted respectfully for the most part, and those that didn't were avoided with a graceful spin or a slight alteration of direction.

A smile parted Kerian's lips as she relished her speed, the wind whipping at her scarf and sent it out behind her, a streak of bright red against the valley's cool hues. The ice was solid, as it always was, its surface smooth and relatively unmarred by the many blades that had passed over it before.

And then something unfamiliar. The ice lurched, no longer conforming to its comfortable stability but rolling. It rose and fell, surging forth and receding almost as if it wasn't frozen at all. Kerian's arms pinwheeled desperately as she lost her footing, the ridged front edges of her skate's blades biting into the ice and sending her flying forward, momentarily airborne. In her precious few seconds before what Kerian thought would be a painful impact, she noticed that business at the rink seemed as usual, nobody else appeared to have fallen and the air was not split by cries of pain, only the expected outbursts of laughter and the calls from one friend to another.

Then she closed her eyes, trying to twist in the air to land in a way that would not injure her. How long could a second possibly drag on? Then impact. Kerian winced, her left shoulder hit something solid with a jolt; her mind automatically assumed pain and she began to cry out, before realizing that she was not lying unmoving on a rink but sinking softly through a substance of pleasing consistency and refreshing coolness. Her shoulder, though numb and prickling with a mild stinging, was pain-free. Her eyes snapped open, stinging as they came into contact with something that was not air, and her lips, parted slightly as a scream formed in her throat, allowed a trickle of something liquid onto her tongue. Water...

Author: i_like_banannas
Date: Apr 30th
...She was surrounded by water, stretching out to the rim of the world... Everything that had been real just an instant before had now dissolved into this endless, immense ocean. All around her there was nothing but water, water and more water.

The Wocky made a huge effort to surface and treaded water desperately, her heavy skates slicing uselessly through the liquid. Whirlpools of questions rushed through her mind. Why was this happening? And why only to her? What could she possibly do now...?

“Ah,” a voice cut into her thoughts, as piercingly sharp as the clearest ice. “And so we meet the skilled young skater Kerian...”

“Who’s there?” cried Kerian wildly, looking around at the transparent world. “Why did you take me here?”

“Well asked, well asked indeed. You must learn to look down, young Kerian...”

The Wocky felt her eyes dragged downward. Below her was that deep mystery landscape, dark and glittering. As she stared, half-transfixed, she felt her body being steadily pulled into it. Horrified, she struggled for freedom, but the water had become pure force, gripping her, forcing her in...

...she closed her eyes, expecting the worst, but nothing happened. Surprisingly, she found she could breathe in this strange underworld. She opened her eyes carefully; her eyes, too, met with no obstruction.

“You wish to win the Happy Valley Skating Competition, do you not, young Kerian?”

“Yes,” said Kerian, intrigued to feel her voice sliding out as easily as it ever had. “And I was practising for it. But why...”

“You will see, young Kerian, you will see.”

She felt her skates touch down on an ethereal black surface that rolled out before her, silky smooth as a carpet of night. Guided by some strange force, she skated forward.

The blueness swished gently apart before her eyes...

Author: yoyote
Date: May 1st
...Before her was a Maraquan Acara, his tentacles floating casually in the murky water that drifted about his aquatic form as his icy eyes, colder than the peaks of Terror Mountain, pinned her expertly with a single look. The smile that stretched across his face was full of the same cold knowledge that shined within his eyes. Yet, Kerian couldn't shake the feeling that she had seen this stranger before some other place and time.

"Who are you?" she asked.

"I am the great sorcerer Vanik," the Acara replied, bowing slightly at the waist as bubbles rippled about him. A current slipped by as silent as a teardrop and caught his ebony cape, making him look more distinguished and mysterious.

And still so familiar.

"I have been watching you," Vanik continued. "I can see all from my underwater home. You truly love the ice, and you move across it with a grace unseen in Neopia before."

"Thank you," Kerian said, unsure of where this was going, "I, uh, appreciate the compliments. Now if you could just..."

"But you aren't going to win the Happy Valley Skating Competition," interrupted the Acara.

"What? What are you talking about?" Kerian cried, confusion rippling through her mind.

Vanik's smile grew as he drifted over towards her and laid a tentacle across her shoulders. "There is one who always wins these competitions, and he will win again."

"Are you talking about Logan?" Kerian asked, her mind thinking back to the Lutari who had been leaving the rink when she had arrived.

"Yes," Vanik affirmed, "he is the one."

"He's really good," the Wocky allowed, "but I've been practicing really hard lately. I think I have a good chance of winning this time."

Vanik slowly shook his head. "It's not a matter of skill," he said. "You see, this one called Logan cheats. He will always win - even if someone else deserves to more."

"Logan doesn't cheat!" Kerian exclaimed, but her mind was now considering the possibility. Logan did always win, no matter what. Maybe it was because he performed such complicated and flawless routines - or perhaps Vanik was correct. The facts begin to blur within her head. "What should I do?" she asked. "I mean, if he cheats, shouldn't I tell the judges or something?"

"The judges will never believe you," Vanik responded, "but allow me to help you."

"What are you going to do?" questioned Kerian.

Vanik's smile grew slightly dangerous as he leaned closer. "I only wish to make things fair, and this is making you the greatest skater ever in all of Neopia." He slowly moved her in the direction of a large rock that was covered in some sort of ancient writing that Kerian had never seen before. "Here is the contract that will let me help you," he explained. "All you must do is sign here at the bottom."

"What does it say?" the Wocky asked.

"Only that you agree to allow me to help you," answered Vanik quickly.

"But how can I sign?" she asked. "I have no pen or pencil."

"Pull off one of your skates," came the ready answer, "and use it to scratch that area near the bottom."

She hesitated. Everything in her mind screamed that this was wrong and that she should just try to get out of here. Yet, there was no real way for her to escape beneath a solid layer of ice and, if she upset Vanik, he might remove the magical shield about her that allowed her to breathe underwater. Besides, what if he was telling the truth? If Logan was cheating, then he should be stopped.

Before she could talk herself out of it, she untied her right skate and scratched the blade deeply against the rock, creating the smallest of sparks despite the fact she was still underwater.

"Very good," Vanik said, as she replaced the skate on her foot, "Now, I'll return you to the surface. Just be sure to skate your very best tomorrow and I will see to it that all goes as it should."

She felt herself being pushed back up the same path that she had skated down, as gently as if there was a giant hand guiding her. The surface was growing closer, as the image of Vanik was lost in the murky shadows of the deep water. Up, up, until she reached the icy layer and slowly began to move through it as if she was no more than a drop of water.

It was over so quickly, she could have almost imagined the entire thing. She was sitting on the surface of the ice, while others skated about her happily. Had her meeting with Vanik really happened? She was no longer sure.

The sun was slipping far down into the western horizon as she stood up. She wasn't sure what had just happened, but she knew she had to hurry home and rest. After all, tomorrow was the competition and she needed to be ready...

Author: tj_wagner
Date: May 1st
* * * * *

...Kerian woke up at the crack of dawn the next morning. She was so excited that she instantly sprang out of bed and began jogging in place, followed by some simple stretches. The competition would start in just a few hours, and she never felt better. Getting a good night's sleep had pushed the meeting with Vanik to the back of her mind, and she had nearly convinced herself that it had never happened. Today's the day, she thought to herself. I'm finally going to win. With this thought, she jogged down the stairs for a bit of breakfast before leaving for the ice rink.

* * * * *

A few hours later, Kerian was sitting by the ice rink, eagerly awaiting her turn to skate. Her warm-ups had gone flawlessly. She had never skated better in her life. Logan was the last skater remaining before Kerian would take the ice. Suddenly she remembered back to the conversation she'd had (or imagined) with Vanik. Was it possible that Logan was cheating? She watched his performance in awe as he performed all of the jumps, turns, and spins flawlessly. As she watched, she began to feel a twinge of jealousy. At the same moment, her right skate blade flashed brilliantly blue for an instant, but Kerian was so focused on Logan's skating that she didn't notice. He fumbled slightly on his closing sequence, but left the ice to thunderous applause and extremely high scores from the judges. All of the confidence that Kerian had built up left her instantly. It'll take a miracle for me to win now, she thought to herself as she nervously skated onto the ice and waited for her music to begin.

With the opening notes, all of her nervousness and anxiety fled her body as she threw herself into her program whole-heartedly. She was performing better than she ever had as she was going into her most difficult and final jump combination, a triple lutz followed by a double toe loop. As she propelled herself into the first jump, she felt herself go out of position. "I'll never be able to land this properly" she thought to herself, but somehow she felt herself land in perfect position and before she knew what was happening, she was going into her double toe loop and finishing her program to applause even greater than Logan's. As she skated off the ice, she knew that she should be happier, but something wasn't quite right. There was no way she should've landed that triple lutz. How was it possible? As Kerian pondered this thought, Vanik stepped away from the rink where he had been watching and slunk off into the shadows, laughing softly to himself...

Author: the_real_poetess_123
Date: May 2nd
...Kerian noticed the mysterious sorcerer just as he started to slink away, but before she could shout or move towards him, he disappeared as if he had never existed. It was just like the conversation she had within beneath the ice - the conversation which now seemed to be nothing more than a dream dancing along the horizon of her consciousness.

"I've been practicing too hard," she mumbled to herself. "I've probably just imagined the whole thing." Yet, she couldn't quite believe those words as she sat down on a nearby bench to await the final decision from the judges.

"You did great," came a voice to her left, and she turned to see Logan standing there, a slightly pained look upon his Lutari face.

"Thanks," Kerian managed, drawing forth her most reasonable facsimile of a smile. "You did too."

"No," he mumbled, sitting down next to her, "I was off just as I was finishing. What's strange is that I thought I had landed that last jump perfectly, but it felt as if something just moved my feet out from under me." He sighed slightly. "But you were flawless. Those extra practice sessions have really paid off. When I saw you go into that triple lutz, I thought you had leaned just a little too forward, but you landed it beautifully. How did you do that?"

"It was a miracle," Kerian quickly answered. "I realized I was too far forward just in time to correct it. Now, I should be going. Excuse me." She stood up quickly to leave, but Logan took hold of her arm.

"You can't leave yet," Logan said, "The judges are just about to announce the winners, and I'm sure you've taken first spot this competition. Don't you want your trophy?"

"I'm just not feeling well," Kerian said, and this much was true. Her stomach twisted and coiled angrily within her, and she just wanted to be back at her Neohome. However, before she could take her first step, the head judge stood up to speak.

"Ladies and gentleman," the Bruce said, "It seems that we've run into a bit of problem and we're going to have to disqualify one of our contestants."

The audience gasped, and Kerian suddenly felt as if her heart was going to leap through her chest. They know, ripped through her mind, and she felt her hands begin to shake. They knew everything, and soon so would everyone else.

Two officials, a Zafara and a Shoyru, stood and began walking towards her, as Kerian struggled not to cry. This was it. Her skating career was over. They stopped in front of her, obviously dreading this horrible task.

"We're going to have to ask you to leave the rink because you have been disqualified for cheating," the Zafara said, "I'm sorry, Logan, but you leave me no choice..."

Author: tj_wagner
Date: May 2nd
..."What?" Logan said, his brows knitted in confusion. "Me, cheat? I--I never--surely you're blaming the wrong person--"

The official gave an irritated sigh. "Stop the act," the Zafara said. "It won't work."

Kerian blinked. A wave of relief eased the anxiety in her chest that it was not her they were after. She nearly collapsed, feeling ten times lighter than how she felt before with the sickening dread weighing down in her stomach. But Logan? Cheat? That... Vanik said something along those lines... But instantly, she snapped out of it. Logan had been that honest friend whom she could always rely on. She'd seen him work hard. It was entirely due to his credit.

"There must be a mistake," she interjected. "Logan never would have done something disgraceful as that!" But I have, she thought, regret filling her stomach. That light air that she had managed to obtain moments ago was gone and replaced with a feeling of illness.

The Shoyru looked at the Wocky strangely. Kerian's heart started to hammer once more. Did he know that she had cheated as well? Her face flushed in anticipation.

"Miss," he said, his lips forming words. Kerian prayed that they wouldn't be the words to deny her from the competition as well. "It was you who reported this treacherous act to begin with..."

Author: skgurlzguild
Date: May 3rd
...Dead silence slammed down on the assembled Neopets like a tidal wave, burying them all in an ocean of deep, cold stillness. "W-what?" Kerian stammered after a moment, smashing through the quiet. "It - it couldn't have been me! I never reported anything!"

The Zafara frowned, visibly confused. "It was definitely you," she said quietly. "I recognize your voice, and you identified yourself as Kerian. That is your name, isn't it?"

Kerian felt the blood draining from her face. "Well... it is, but..." Her eyes darted to Logan. The Lutari looked hurt and confused, torn between hope and betrayal. "It wasn't me!" Kerian insisted, desperation beginning to seep into her voice.

"So you're saying," the Shoyru said slowly, "that you have no recollection of walking into the judges' office earlier this morning and informing them that Logan had been seen tampering with other competitors' skates?"

All the right words for the situation skittered beyond the reach of Kerian's mouth, and she forced a shoddy replacement to form. "No," she blurted, "I don't remember that at all! This morning I woke up, ate breakfast, came here, did my warmup, then sat down! Nothing else! Or at least, not until my routine, and of course I couldn't have gone to the office after that. I'm not sure I even know where the judges' office is!"

The Zafara took a deep breath as she digested that, then handed Kerian a slip of paper. "Then is this not your address? You gave it to us in case we needed to contact you for further information."

Kerian's breath came in rapid gasps as her eyes skimmed over the paper. There it was, in her own handwriting: her full address, every letter of it correct. The 'i's had even been dotted with little hearts, a quirk she had picked up in first grade. "I... I don't understand," she said miserably. "I don't remember any of it, and..." her agonized gaze shot over to meet Logan's wounded eyes, and Kerian found herself forced to look down.

And as her eyes alighted on the ice, she suddenly noticed that the water beneath it seemed to have changed colours. Bottomless ultramarine depths stared up at her, and the hues of evening, midnight and everything in between loomed up to swallow her. Vanik, she realized; then suddenly she was under, and water was spilling into her mouth...

Author: sarahleeadvent
Date: May 3rd
..."What did you DO?!" demanded Kerian immediately, striding towards the smug looking Acara.

"I? I did nothing," Vanik told calmly, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "As I believe the judges just explained, all of this is thanks you you."

"You're lying!" the Wocky burst furiously. "I saw you this morning, after my performance. You- you tricked the judges! You tricked the judges, and me, and- oh, poor Logan!" She put a paw to her mouth.

"The silly creature should have stuck to swimming, like the rest of his kind," Vanik said bitterly.

"But what if he gets banned?" Kerian asked. "How horrible! It would all be because of me- I should never have listened to you!"

"Oh, he'll get just what he deserves, that arrogant little show-off," Vanik sneered. "Now he knows what it feels like."

Kerian looked at the seething Maraquan Acara in shock. He still seemed so familiar... "What do you mean?" she asked hesitantly.

Vanik turned his back on her. "Nothing," he snapped.

"No, hold on- You used to ice skate, didn't you?"

"It doesn't matter," he growled.

"Yes it does- I remember you now! "Vicky" Victor? You competed with Logan and me when we were younger!" Kerian stepped back to observe him more fully. "You weren't Maraquan then."

"My name is Vanik," the Acara said coldly.

"But I remember you, Vic!" Kerian babbled. "You used to win all the time- You got first, Logan second, and I always got third; we were so clumsy on the ice after you, and my mom joked about it behind my back. I'd always wondered where you disappeared off too."

Vanik's cold expression hadn't changed- if anything, it had become harder. He turned sharply away.

"I was never as good as either of you," he growled, forcing the words through his front teeth.

Kerian stepped closer to him. "What do you mean? You used to win all the time-"

"I cheated!" Vanik whirled around, wrapping two of his tentacles around the Wocky skater's shoulders. "You wondered why I disappeared? I was banned, Kerian, because I cheated."

"Bu- but how?" Kerian asked. "I was just clumsy..."

"No you weren't, you little freak!" Vanik screamed. "You and Logan were always better. I always performed before you, remember? I salted the ice during my routine sometimes, or filed your skates to make them rougher, or loosened the blades when you weren't looking. It was easy, and I always won! But I was careless, and one of the judges caught me spreading the salt during my last competition." His voice adopted an unrepentant bitterness. "It was the first competition Logan ever won."

Kerian stared dumbly at him. "And now you're getting revenge on Logan, just because he's good? Because he was better than you? Victor, that was years ago!"

"I don't care!" Vanik yelled. Kerian was surprised by the viciousness in his voice. "It doesn't matter anymore. You've played your part, and Logan's reputation will never be trusted again."

I've got to get back to the surface, Kerian thought. I have to get back up there and make things right...

Author: reasonably_crazy
Date: May 4th
...Kerian frantically started trying to swim toward the top. To her utter surprise, Vanik did nothing to stop her. Instead, he only watched her with a vacant expression, kicking desperately to try and reach the surface. And, right as she did seem to be able to exit the endless aquamarine blue, she felt a force yank her back, thrusting her back to where she was before -- staring right at Vanik.

"What--?" she questioned, frowning and frantic. She tried again, only to receive the same result. Irritated, she let out an aggravated yell. "What's going on?"

Vanik seemed to have lost his earlier anger as he smiled cruelly. From the water, he conjured a familiar looking contract. Upon closer examination, Kerian saw her own messy signature at the bottom, scratchy and sharp -- the result of signing with her skate. She remembered every second, every moment of yesterday's event clean and crisp in her mind.

"You can't leave," he said confidently, crossing his arms. "You signed it so."

Kerian blinked. She didn't remember ever reading the contract, and only now did she realize with great regret and anger at herself. Groaning inwardly but paced with fright and anxiety, she immediately started to scan through the contract, her eyes widening as she went along.

"No..." she whispered, shaking her head disbelievingly. "I refuse to believe it!"

"Why?" he questioned. "It's right here. You signed it so."

She shook her head violently and read it again, telling herself that her eyes had deceived her the first time around. But no -- the same words rang true and solid in the contract.

She must, after disqualifying the Lutari, part from the skating world forever with the final gold medal.

"What--?" she started, but was quickly interrupted by Vanik.

"Oh, but don't you see?" he said, losing his cool temper and turned angry once more, sneering as he spoke. "If it hadn't been for you two, I would have been able to win. And now, with you two eliminated and under a new name and appearance, I will compete again -- and I will win."

He smiled a twisted smile, triumphant and satisfied with himself. It was clear that he was pleased with this arrangement that he had planned out carefully. How long he had planned it out, Kerian did not know, and nor was it important. All that was important now was the present and the possible, foreboding future -- that skating should be stripped from both Logan's and her life forever.

How would life be in the end?

She had always skated whenever she felt afraid, anxious, or furious. It had always leveled her emotions and spirits, calmed her mind, and soothed her body as she fell in rhythm to music and ice. And how could her love be stripped away from her?

Slowly, tears began to slip from her eyes. She had done this to herself. Even more injustice -- she had done this to Logan. He who had never done anything wrong must now suffer the consequences of her rash actions.

It was her fault. Always her fault.

She had to amend things. At the very least, for Logan.

"Please," she begged, her eyes wet and pleading, her voice desperate, "you can do this to me. But not to Logan. He doesn't deserve this." With a new look of determination, she continued, "In fact, I'll take everything that has been incriminated onto him for myself. Let him... let him keep skating..." Her voice dissolved into silent tears that she attempted to hastily brush away, but they only came down faster.

She was sacrificing herself. Everything she'd hoped for herself, everything she enjoyed, everything she'd wanted... now gone. Vanished into the air thinner than paper, departed from her life as good as time.

Never to return.

"You'll live," he sneered. "He'll live. I did."

She looked up at him, her eyes red from crying. "You didn't," she whispered. "You became this... a vengeful person. That isn't life."

"I was always a vengeful person," he retorted. "From the moment of my birth." But he sounded slightly unsure of himself. He recalled the days of competition. He had, at one point, been a determined young Acara who practiced daily to meet his own standards. But then... want had overcome him. Greed had devoured him, and the urge to be able to stand highest on the small platform with a shining first place medal had converted his ways... Perhaps if he had practiced more... If he had tried harder instead of cheated...

And he was taking away everything from those who did try, who did deserve the honor. And seeing such loyalty portrayed between the two skaters who were supposedly competitors revealed to him a happy life that he could have had for himself but had blatantly given up for the satisfaction of winning.

"Go," he rasped quickly before he had changed his mind. With a quick slash, he tore the contract in two. "Leave. Skate. Take Logan with you and skate together." He choked slightly and hid his face, as not to let his emotions show. "Forget everything."

Kerian was wide-eyed. The dread in her stomach had not completely lightened. She stared at him, disbelievingly, not willing to believe something that was likely untrue. "But you..." she stuttered.

"I'll be fine," he said, still turned away. "Just go." When she didn't move, he turned toward her impatiently. "Go!" he roared, and, without a moment's hesitation, Kerian quickly swam to the top, surfacing and out of breath.

Things had then seemed to fix themselves after that without much of Kerian's doing, to her surprise. The crime hanging upon Logan was proven to be a mistake and Kerian's report an accident, under the influence of sudden pressure and anxiety. Everything had mended perfectly and they skated together in leisure and against each other in competition. Everything was fine.

Except for one thing.

One year later, due to a broken ankle, Kerian was seated in the crowd, watching the competition, there to cheer her friend Logan on. She waited anxiously, looking down at the information flyer. Logan would be the one after this skater. One more skater, and then Logan would appear...

But that one skater's name caught her eye. Her eyes snapped open wider. Were they deceiving her again?

"And now introducing Vanik!" the speaker said into the microphone. "Vanik had once gone under the name of "Vicky" Victor and had won numerous games, but after being caught cheating, had disappeared from society altogether, even after his suspension had ended..."

Her eyesight wasn't poor. The crowd suddenly hushed. Everyone recognized the name; everyone knew of Vanik's scandals. Slowly, the Maraquan Acara made its way out into the center of the ice, seeming unsure of himself.

The air seemed to crackle with tension as all eyes were on him. The judges peered down at him, making sure that he did not cheat. They seemed to accuse him for all the wrong that he had done, that he dare show his face upon the rink once more. The music then started, slow and steady, and he began to skate.

No salt this time around.

No one applauded after his turns. No one smiled as he danced along the ice. They only watched, indifferent, cold.

And all too soon, the routine had ended. He waited, breathlessly in his final pose, looking up at the crowd searching for their reaction. He looked timid and afraid, apprehensive about what he was to see.

No one moved. No one blinked.

And slowly, despite her bad ankle, Kerian stood and started to clap.

Others followed her example and clapped as well. There were no shouts of excitement or screams of encouragement. Gingerly, Kerian picked up the rose that she had bought for Logan and threw it onto the rink for Vanik.

He needed it more than anyone else. He needed the encouragement to correct his wrong deeds.

Seeing the single flower float down from the crowd, Vanik looked up and caught sight of the attentive Wocky, smiling at him encouragingly.

And slowly, a smile -- a true one -- made its way onto his face as well.

The End

Author: skgurlzguild
Date: May 4th



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