Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)
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||You are on 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 One Ends May 11
Salamid ruefully surveyed the giant stack of dusty scrolls in front of him. Extending a careful wing, the Hissi delicately picked one up and placed it on a shelf above him.
"One down... a couple thousand more to go," he grumbled aloud, staring at the pile. He still wasn't quite sure what had possessed him to volunteer for cleaning up the palace archives. Sure, he liked reading the scrolls, but that didn't really have anything to do with putting them in order now, did it?
"I suppose I had to volunteer for something," Salamid muttered to himself. All the citizens of Qasala were wholeheartedly devoting themselves to the rebuilding effort; it would be extremely selfish of him to hide in his room and enjoy some relaxed reading while everyone else struggled to rebuild the city they all loved.
Still, he wished he had opted for something a little less... dusty.
"Achoo!" Flying backward with the force of his sneeze, the Hissi stumbled into the pile of scrolls... and could only watch in horror as they spilled all over the ground.
When the dust had cleared, he was still standing in the same spot, open-mouthed as he ridiculously clutched at the one scroll he had tried to save from the avalanche.
"Oh, that was really useful," Salamid said angrily, glaring at the scroll in his wing. His eyes suddenly widened as they passed over the contents of the scroll.
A minute later, the Hissi was flying frantically through the palace halls, calling for the king.
"King Jazan!" he cried, bursting into the throne room. "There's something you need to see..."
Author: Marian the Librarian|
Date: May 4th
...Meanwhile, Jazan and his beautiful queen, Nabile, were overlooking the construction of their kingdom. Ever since the defeat of Razul, Jazan's horrific father, the kingdom was slowly recovering from the curse. The citizens had turned back into regular Neopets (except Nightsteed, who had grown used to being a living dead Uni), the land was prospering and the harvest was at its best.
Although the rebirth of his home filled his heart with joy, what truly made him happy was the one who helped make it all possible: Nabile. He glanced over at his wife and smiled. "It won't be long now, Nabile. With the curse lifted, our city will prosper and Qasala will once again be the Nirvana I remember from my youth. I wish you had seen it in its prime."
Nabile squeezed Jazan's hand gently. "It will be soon enough. We can't rush these things."
Jazan nodded. "You're right, of course. Now, tell me, where did you want to put the new gardens?"
Before Nabile could answer, a shrill voice could be heard echoing off the walls in the throne room. "King Jazan! Let go of me! I need to speak to the king and queen!"
Jazan and Nabile hurried into the throne room to see a young Hissi being restrained by two Tonu palace guards.
"Forgive the interuption, your Highness," said one of the Tonus. "We tried to keep him out, but we'll take care of him!"
Although Jazan hated to be interrupted, especially when spending quality time with Nabile, something about the look on the Hissi's face told him something was terribly wrong.
"Gentlemen, please!" ordered Jazan. "Let the Hissi speak. What is your name?"
When the Tonu's finally released their grip, the Hissi bowed low before the Kyrii. "Salamid, your Highness. I volunteered to help organize the scroll archive when I came across something important."
Salamid held the scroll out to Jazan, who took it carefully.
"This scroll," he continued, "has the history of your lineage inscribed in it. It talks about a curse..."
"The curse has been lifted, young Salamid," said Jazan quietly. "I know I was tricked into releasing my father when I married Nabile, but I have defeated him and now we are at peace."
Salamid shook his head fervently. "No no no no no! It's not about your father, King Jazan. It's about your mother..."
Date: May 7th
...Jazan's gentle reserve sharpened into a knife-edged mixture of curiosity and wariness like a startled Snowbunny leaping from grazing to flight. "Impossible!" he exclaimed. "She's dead -- she has been ever since soon after the curse fell."
"No," Salamid answered, slowly shaking his head. "She isn't -- at least, according to this scroll. Your father has been holding her in reserve."
"In reserve?" Jazan echoed sharply, eyes narrowing as dark possibilities darted through his mind. Cruel enough was the curse that had been put on his people as a whole; what must his mother have suffered, trapped alone by her uncaring husband, kept alive long beyond her time for... what?
For that matter, WAS she alone?
"Yes," the Hissi was saying in response to his previous question, and Jazan forced himself to halt his careening train of thought and pay attention. "He's been keeping her alive somewhere, in case he was defeated. It doesn't give many specifics as to why, just-"
"Hold on, let me read." It was everything Jazan could do to keep from barking the order, and only a great show of restraint kept the scroll intact as he drew it open. His eyes skimmed and darted over the words, horror forcing them slowly wider as he first took in their meaning, then forced his mind to process it.
"Quickly," he barked, "we need to get to the scroll room, and see if my father wrote anything else!"
Salamid and the guards nodded, and stepped hastily aside to allow Jazan to dart between them, his lithe, street-born wife loping swiftly to match his pace while the others fell in behind them. They reached the archives within moments -- still far too slowly for Jazan's taste -- and then the dust was flying, rising up in choking clouds that the searchers tried to ignore as they rifled through the scrolls.
As he pawed through the pile of parchment, Jazan had to force himself not to keep looking at the last bit of the scroll that Salamid had brought to him, to confirm to himself that its ominous ending had not been some sick kind of joke. He doubted it was; but still, it was hard to make something like that pass through his reality grid.
"Jazan!" Nabile's voice forced its way through the dust, and Jazan turned toward her as she added, "I think I've found something..."
Date: May 8th
...Not a pause was granted for thought as the king moved over to see what item of potential interest his wife had procured. No words were spared as she held her hoof up. In it was not a scroll, nor any conspicuous clue of any kind as one might find. It was, however, the sort of thing that one would find to stand out amidst the confusion of a clearly unorganized scroll room.
The item in question was a small, elliptical golden artifact that looked as though it belonged to a necklace, but had disposed of the chain. It would explain the minuscule hook on the top where one would normally fit. Jazan took it into his own paw slowly, so as not to smudge it with the sweat he was sure coated his palms at the moment. He slowly brought it up to his eye; the anxiety between him, Nabile, Salamid, and even the guards was unnervingly tangible.
The front was nothing to speak of -- a blood red stone set into it occupied most of any space. Gradually, as though bracing for the worst, Jazan flipped it over. The sight that met his eyes made him gasp. Were his reflexes substandard in any way, he would have dropped it. As it was, he managed to keep it firmly grasped in his paw.
“What is it?” Nabile asked, seeing the obvious shock and fright in her husband’s gaze as it remained unwaveringly fixed on the object she had handed to him. Jazan shook his head, but held it out for her to view herself. Nabile’s outstretched arm took the artifact back and brought it up to eye level. The emotions that had shown in her husband’s eyes were apparent on her face.
However, those expressions were there for good reason. Etched onto the back of it, in crude handwriting, were the words ‘You’ll never find her’. Whatever was going on in the queen’s mind was nothing compared to Jazan’s. His thoughts were racing madly at reading the malevolent phrase.
“She’s alive somewhere,” Jazan whispered. Apprehensiveness filled his thoughts. His father had kept her alive... alive in case something were to happen to him. Even Salamid had grasped that much. But he hadn’t caught hold of why, or at least he hadn’t let on if he did. Not that Jazan himself was completely sure, but he would bet he understood it better. She was kept as his reserve; as something he could call on should he be defeated. And he had hid her away where few would find her. It didn’t take a fool to figure it out. If she was still alive, the curse hadn’t been eliminated...
Date: May 8th
...The same realization seemed to have occurred to Queen Nabile. With one smooth movement, the pink Ixi moved toward her husband on silent hooves and placed a comforting grip on the King's arm. The lightness of her gait never ceased to astound Salamid, but, the Hissi mused, such surety of step must be a trait of survival for a street gang like the one to which Nabile had once belonged.
Jazan's head was bowed, his forehead wrinkled with worry and pain. One hand still clutched the tattered old scroll, and Nabile placed the ruby-encrusted charm back in his palm. "May I see that, Jazan?" she asked, gesturing to the scroll.
"Of course, my Queen," replied the King dully. She took the parchment from his grip, but he scarcely seemed to notice.
As Nabile unrolled it, Salamid watched her face closely. Jazan seemed unlikely to talk, but perhaps more could be gleaned by observing the reactions of his wife.
Her usually rosy cheeks grew pale as her eyes skimmed down the page. "It shows your mother's imprisonment," she said softly. "She is still alive indeed, if this scroll is to be trusted. And here it looks like the door is being opened..." She trailed off, squinting at the paper as she flicked a few layers of dust away with a hoof. "By one wearing that necklace."
She glanced uneasily at Jazan, but his face might have been carved from stone. "You will not wear it, surely, Jazan?" she asked. "This could all be a trick, you know! What if your father left dark powers behind in that necklace, and that is the safeguard to his failure? What if your mother isn't really alive at all? Do you really think such tricks to be beyond Razul?"
"You may be right, my Queen," Jazan replied at last, still fingering the golden artifact absently. "But answer me this: would that it were you imprisoned, would I take the risk? I must answer that I would. It is the same for my mother. How could I live with myself without knowing?" In his grip, the artifact began to shimmer. Salamid watched in mute amazement as a newly formed chain sprouted from its sides -- an unbroken length of gold. "Just my size," remarked Jazan softly.
"Guards?" asked Nabile, looking to the pair of Tonu. "Surely you will not allow the King to be put in such danger?"
The first guard, a surly creature known as Mok, shrugged his massive shoulders powerlessly. "It is up to us to protect him from outside dangers," he explained. "We cannot decide what the King does for himself."
"Nabile, please understand," said Jazan pleadingly, his dark eyes searching her face. "She may be alive somewhere, hurt and imprisoned. I must try. I have no choice."
Tears rose to the Queen's eyes as she felt a familiar surge of terror arise within her. But she could not deny her husband something so important to him. Swallowing hard against the lump in her throat, the Ixi gave a nod.
The last thing she saw was Jazan's small smile before he lifted the necklace's chain over his head...
Date: May 9th
...Then a flash of scarlet light flooded from the stone at the medallion's heart. It filled the room, and Nabile, whose eyes had been wide open, was left with neon-blue swirls in front of them as the red light died away.
Nabile waited impatiently for her eyes to clear, resisting the impulse to rub them. When finally the whirling colors faded, the pink Ixi's heart sank.
She was alone in the room.
* * * * *
Jazan, for his part, could see nothing but an unending vortex of light and color. He felt like he was being stretched and compacted at a tremendous rate, but he felt weightless, lighter than air, as if he had never existed.
Without warning, the lights and colors came to a jarring halt. Jazan felt more dizzy than he had ever felt in his life, because the world seemed to be twisting around him like a Spyder web.
Jazan stumbled into a sandstone pillar and found his feet trying to plant themselves on the rocking ground. He thought he had rolled over in his dizziness but could never recall the moment clearly enough; all he knew was that he was suddenly on his knees, and the world was steady.
Jazan looked around with dazed eyes, still clutching the pillar for support. The red Kyrii's amber eyes searched the walls. There was no one in the room, from the ground to the vaulted ceiling, but it was brightly lit with torches, giving Jazan a clear view of everything there.
With a growing sense of foreboding, Jazan realized that he was back.
In old Qasala...
Date: May 9th
...Slowly, he looked around at what had once been a beautiful palace. The pillar he was holding was one of many throughout the room and the walls were lined with torches, old tapestries and other works of art, though they had long since lost their colour and beauty.
Jazan took a step forward and another, still surveying the wonderful room, trying to figure out its former use. His footsteps echoed dully across the hall and when he reached the far-end he saw a large, wooden table with benches. The table was covered in a layer of dust and grime and had lost its splendour.
At this end of the room there was a raised stone dais behind the table on which stood another, smaller table. Behind the dais, on the wall, hung deep maroon curtains, also covered in dust. The amulet around his neck felt hot, as thought it had been left in the sun for hours.
Jazan crossed to the other side of the room and there he found nothing but more tapestries. "I'm in the banquet hall," he realised. "If I am right, there should be a door, leading to the entrance hall."
He looked, and there was, in the back wall. A set of large, oak doors covered in intricate designs stood closed and looked as though they hadn't been used in years.
Jazan walked determinedly towards them, his heart beating almost as fast as his feet were moving. The former pumped even faster and the lump in his throat grew bigger and bigger and he couldn't help thinking that maybe he should have listened to Nabile and accepted that his mother was dead after all.
"Too late for that," he thought out loud, placing his hand on the the rusted, silver doorknob. Slowly he started turning it. And then, as though an alarm went off, the floor immediately started shaking and rumbling.
All around him, a thick curtain of dust was falling. Jazan realised that he was moving downward, yet, how could that be possible? He then looked at his feet to find that a square, stone slab about two feet across had started sinking into the ground all around him and he was going with it. Suddenly the slab gave way and he was falling into darkness...
Date: May 10th
...He wasn't certain how far he plunged, only that the fall seemed to last for ages. His heart lurched downward after the first few seconds; surely, now, he was tumbling fast enough that the landing would kill him. He tried to reach for the walls of whatever tube or tunnel he was in, but they had vanished along with the floor, leaving him no way to slow his fall. Lightless air roared in his ears, and his stomach tightened as he braced himself for impact.
But that impact never came. Somehow, suddenly, he was standing upright -- or maybe he was upside-down. It was impossible to tell, for there seemed to be no ground underneath his feet. It was as if he was suspended in midair, having come to a halt with no feeling of stopping or even slowing down. Perhaps he was still falling; but if so, why was the air around him so absolutely still?
It suddenly occurred to him that he was breathing heavily, but he couldn't hear his own breath. He was tempted to speak, to make some sort of noise to see if he had been struck deaf; but somehow the stillness seemed to forbid it. The silence was almost tangible, like a vast, living thing that had never been sliced into by sound, and was better left that way.
Jazan's paw strayed reflexively to his throat, and he was almost shocked to feel the icy chill of the amulet, whose heat seemed to have been sucked out of it by the infinite, oppressive darkness. Almost painfully cold though it was, the artifact's frosty hardness was wholeheartedly welcome, here in this phantom world where sight, sound and feeling were little more than memory.
Jazan tried to turn, to propel himself somewhere, anywhere -- surely this field of nothingness couldn't go on forever. It must have an end eventually. If he just got moving, and kept on moving-
Red light seared across his vision, hovering before his eyes even after the flash had passed, as if the darkness itself had been wounded and was bleeding crimson incandescence. Brutal heat flared at his throat, and his paws, tearing at the amulet in an instinctive attempt to get the source of the pain away from his neck, jerked automatically away from contact with what seemed like a burning coal.
The darkness began to fade, burned away by the blaze of scarlet that seemed to spend itself and expire as it ate away at the blackness, leaving a dull grey netherworld in its wake. Jazan, blinking, took a step forward, distractedly surprised to find cold, solid ground under his feet again. His eyes started to adjust to the dimness, and even as the details of his surroundings began to creep into visibility, a familiar voice suddenly sounded on his right...
Date: May 10th
Ripples of shock danced their way up Jazan's spine. He had not heard that voice for a long time -- not since...
He looked to the right and left, and turned, glancing behind him, searching for her face. Only a grey dimness met his eyes; it was as if his vision was being slowly suffocated by a dense fog. Like the eerie silence before, this gently oscillating substance seemed to belong, as if it had always been and he, Jazan, was the intruder. "I can't see you, mother!" he cried desperately into the white.
"I am this way, my son," she called gently. The amulet on his neck burned hot again, and the chain extended... The necklace was tugging at his throat, leading him toward her...
Jazan broke into a run, his heart pounding like the thunder that should accompany the storm clouds all around. His fists balled into determination -- this is what he'd seen on the old scroll. It hadn't been a lie at all... He was here, and he'd save her. He felt a rush of gratitude that he had not listened to Nabile after all. He knew she'd had his best interests at heart, but this was his mother...
"I am here!" he cried, more loudly than he might have under normal circumstances. The thick fog grew, if possible, even pearlier, condensing from silvery into a dark grey. The world was darkening around him, and all he had left was the strength of his voice. "I have come for you..."
There it was: the door he had seen in the scroll. He had found it -- in mere seconds she would be before him, and he and his mother could return home, to live in their palace in the city. His paw trembled as he extended it. The necklace's ruby glow bathed the doorknob, and it clicked open. Suppressing a cry of excitement, the King threw himself headlong into the doorway--
--And once again, he fell.
The hot blackness pressed in around him. The sense of evil he felt took away his breath, so that his descent was utterly silent. He thought he would fall like this forever, until a soft bunch of the silvery substance from above cushioned his landing. "Mother?" he asked, panting as he raised himself back to his feet, squinting in the darkness. Only the red light of his ruby provided any hint of his surroundings.
A shape stirred in the far reaches of his ruby's scope. Jazan gasped, stepping backward, but then a flood of relief surged through his body. It was his mother who stood before him.
"You have come at last," she whispered, her face pale and oddly impassive. "I have waited many years for this. Many years indeed..." Her mouth curved into an unnatural-looking smile, and her eyes flashed red -- but it must only be the light of the jewel reflecting in them.
"You have had a long imprisonment, Mother," he said soothingly. "Everything will be all right."
"Is that what you have convinced yourself -- that everything will be all right?" she snapped, and her voice was no longer weak but strong and deep. Her back was a straight as a rail, and her fingers were lengthening, darkening... "All these years, and you only managed to fail me." Her neck thickened, her skin darkened, and to Jazan's horror, it was no longer his mother who stood before him, but an unwelcome face indeed.
"Razul," he hissed, putting his hand instinctively at his sword belt -- but there was no sword strapped there. "Father."
"Father you call me, and yet you are no son of mine," replied the apparition, a look of utmost disgust burned into his cruel features. "It is fortunate that I set up this curse long ago, using your mother's life-force to bind myself to this place. I tied mine to hers, you see, to ensure that the one outcome I dreaded would never be. If for some reason you broke free of your destiny, and mine, I would be here to end it..."
"You are mad!" cried Jazan, a surge of hot rage rising within him. "You killed her? And for what? I am still King, but only because my people want it so! I didn't take them all by force, and cover the land with skeletal wraiths as you would have had me do. I am happy, father, and so are my people! I am no murderer like you!"
The look of disgust deepened. "Have I taught you nothing, my fool of a son? Power is best maintained by FEAR, not love -- and you must use any means necessary to maintain that power! Love is fickle, and popularity temporary. But fear -- that is forever." His red eyes narrowed into slits. "But you have forgotten, I see. You will not go back; I know your kind too well. Therefore, I shall do what I laid this curse to accomplish -- I shall take over myself, and rule as you were meant to. But first, I must dispose of you..."
He raised a dark, clawed hand, and a burst of red fire seared from his fingers. Jazan barely had time to dive out of the way, and the heat singed his eyebrows as he rolled. "Very well, father," he growled, rising to his feet. "If I must fight to defend my kingdom, then I shall..."
Date: May 11th
...The only problem was that Jazan didn’t have a weapon. His sword no longer accompanied him on its usual spot on his hip and the room was entirely empty except for his father, standing before him, fire dancing in his dark eyes.
“What’s the matter, son?” Razul spat out the words as if they were venomous, another fire ball forming in his hand. “Didn’t you say you were going to fight me? Aren’t you going to ‘defend your kingdom’ as you put it?” He threw the mass of fire and Jazan barely missed it this time. “I don’t believe running is the same as fighting.”
But Jazan didn’t know what else to do. There was nothing he could use as a weapon and the glowing amulet that had brought him to the wretched place seemed to taunt him out of the corner of his eye. Glowing, then fading; burning brighter, then colder.
The amulet... It tugged at the edge of his mind as he dodged more and more fireballs his father threw at him in fury. It had been the amulet that had brought him here and was keeping him there. Maybe, if he took it off and somehow put it on his father, it could stop Razul from leaving as well while at the same time bring him back home.
The only problem with his plan was that he would have to get close enough to his father to put the amulet around his neck and that even if he managed, couldn’t his Razul just take it off and follow him? Still, Jazan slipped his finger under the chain to see if it would at least come loose from around his neck... but no. It fit too perfectly and it refused to come off.
Razul noticed his son’s attempt at freedom and began to laugh, a deep sound that reverberated through the Kyrii’s body and gave him the creeps. “Coward,” Razul said disdainfully. “Running from the fight, I see. What would your subjects think of you now? Cowardly King Jazan, they should call you. All hail the coward!” He smirked. “But the thing is, that amulet is laced with spells and won’t come off no matter how hard you pull at it without the wearer reciting the chosen chant that the previous wearer, me, put on it, one that I seriously doubt you will ever get through your thick, foolish head. So don’t think you’re going to be able to get out of this fight so easily. Prepare to fight me now and prepare to die as your mother did before you.”
Jazan couldn’t believe it. All his plans were failing him one by one. His only hope had been the amulet, and it wouldn’t come off without a password that his hated father of all people had chosen.
Jazan stared at his father before him, thinking hard. Maybe, just maybe, he could pull things off if he knew the phrase, but what? What was something that he father believed he wouldn’t understand, yet had repeated so many times before.
And then it hit him.
“You’re wrong,” Jazan suddenly said to his father, stopping his frantic dodging and putting his hand back on the necklace. “I do know the words you chose, and they’re wrong, just as you are wrong.”
“What are you talking about?” Razul commanded, his eyes flaring with anger. “How DARE you speak to me like this, you insolent child!?”
But Jazan just smiled and walked up slowly to his father who, for the first time, was speechless. And then, as they gazed into one another’s cold, hate filled eyes, Jazan recited the same words his father had yelled at him earlier: “Power is best maintained by fear.”
With a light click, the necklace chain broke and fell into Jazan’s hand. He knew he only had moments before the amulet’s magic wore off him and he was transported back to the palace, so with renewed energy, he lunged towards his father.
“NO!” Razul yelled, using his magic to throw more fireballs at his son, but even though one met its mark on Jazan’s upper shoulder, it was too late. The necklace had been secured around his neck.
And then in a flash of scarlet, a triumphant Jazan returned home.
* * * * *
Nabile and Salamid were nervously pacing in the library when Jazan reappeared, tired and wounded, but alive.
“Jazan!” the Ixi shouted, seeing her husband appear before her eyes. She rushed over to him and gave him a hug as fresh tears rolled down her face. Jazan winced at her touch; his shoulder was badly burned and stung horribly, but he didn’t care as long as he was back with the people and kingdom he loved.
“Where’s your mother?” Nabile asked, looking up into the dark eyes of her husband.
“Gone,” Jazan said sadly, “as she was long ago.”
As best he could, he then explained his ordeal to the two as Nabile bandaged his wounded arm with a roll of bandages and some ointment she had the guards bring her. Finally, at the end of the story, Salamid asked, “King Jazan, Razul isn’t coming back, is he?”
“Of course not,” Jazan said firmly, nodding to the Hissi. “Not unless he gets that necklace off, which he won’t unless he knows the new password that I, the last wearer of the necklace, thought of as I took it off. And believe me when I say that there’s no way he’ll know what that is.”
“What word did you choose?” Nabile asked curiously as she finished dressing the wound on his shoulder.
Jazan smiled at wife. “Love.”
Date: May 11th
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