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||You are on Week 331
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 Thirty One Ends August 3
It was finally his.
After years of searching, the air faerie's amulet finally belonged to him.
It hadn't been easy, oh no, but after all, an object's value was often determined by how difficult it was to get.
Kanrik dropped the pendant into his pocket and pulled his cloak tightly around him. His title of Head Thief was hard-earned, and he was going to prove once again that he deserved it. It wouldn't do to lose the prize now. Glancing carefully around him, the Gelert slipped into the crowd and mingled with the many shoppers on the streets. He had been strolling inconspicuously through the crowd for several minutes when his alert senses felt a lightening in his pocket.
Pickpocket! he thought, while with amazing swiftness, he made a quick calculation and grabbed behind him. His quickness was rewarded as his paw closed around someone's wrist. Kanrik pulled it closer to see remarkably familiar green fur.
"It's good to see you again," he said, looking up slowly, "Masila..."
Author: Dun dun DUN!|
Date: Jul 27th
...Kanrik squeezed harder on that slender wrist and the amulet slowly slithered back into his pocket, though it was obvious that Masila loathed doing so.
There was a small, nasty smile on her face, and she was as lethal and beautiful as ever as she took a step back from him. "Kanrik. What a pleasure to see you again," she spat, malicious emphasis on the 'pleasure'.
Kanrik leveled a quiet, intense gaze at her. "I wish I could say the same," he replied.
Her lips curved into a smirk. "Shame." A pause, then: "Where's your precious Hannah?"
"Not here, it would seem."
"Gone off on her own adventures?" Masila queried. "Left you all alone, poor Kanrik?"
The Gelert's lips pursed. "Enough, Masila. State your business, or leave me alone." As he said this, he slid a hand into his pocket, fingering the large stone on the amulet he'd worked so hard to steal.
Masila blinked those large, large eyes at him, framed by thick, heavy lashes, and Kanrik couldn't help but remember a time when he was totally captivated by this creature. He had trusted her, and she'd played him like a fiddle.
Masila sighed, looking so very tired all of a sudden. "I need your help, Kanrik."
Kanrik eyed her suspiciously. "I very much doubt that."
The Acara shook her head, golden earrings tinkling merrily with the movement. "No, I'm serious. Look, if you don't trust me, read this."
From the depths of her billowing cloak, she drew a small wrinkled scroll. Kanrik tentatively took it, keeping an eye on Masila while doing so. Who knew what she might try?
Kanrik unfurled the scroll, eyes scanning over the tiny handwriting.
Kanrik, Masila is telling the truth. Please believe her!
Kanrik's head snapped up from the scroll, eyes narrowed. "This is Hannah's handwriting!"...
Date: Jul 30th
..."Yes, my dear Kanrik, it is," Masila said, eyes narrowing in contemplation. "Now, are you going to help me or not?"
The Gelert bit his lip, knowing very well that there was something in this situation that was not right. "You could have forced her! You could have forced her to write these things!"
"If this is true," Masila replied quickly, almost as if she knew this would come up, "then it would be wise to aid me, knowing that I, hypothetically, have Hannah captive. And, hypothetically, if you did help me, I would release her. In other words, sweet Kanrik, you're caught in a bind."
It was true, every single word that edged its way out of the Acara's mouth. Kanrik stared at Masila, trying desperately to see a way out, to be able to convince her otherwise. Maybe, if he just played it a little longer...
"So, what do you need me to help you with?" he asked bitterly.
"Oh, you think I have become unwise over the years, Kanrik? I am not so foolish as to tell you my problem right away! Come, follow me. Unless, of course, you want to endanger your dear Hannah."
Kanrik growled in a combination of annoyance and hatred, and wandered along behind Masila. She had played it somewhat smarter than she used to. Either way, it seemed that she was in a hurry, her footsteps beating on the cold roads unusually fast. Kanrik's heart was beating as well, knowing that what Masila was up to was obviously no good. He would just have to drag himself into it again. She had him trapped, and there was not a thing he could do about it.
As they continued to walk silently, Kanrik noticed that he remembered most of the roads and side alleys that they were taking. It was almost as if he had travelled them, a while ago, but they were still imprinted in his memory. "Where am I going?" he whispered to himself, a puff of his breath appearing in front of him.
It was only in a few minutes that he knew, with dread, where Masila was leading him. They walked up the winding path that he knew all too well, and he looked back forlornly. Masila could sense Kanrik's worry.
"Well, here we are," she sighed as they reached the end of the path.
Kanrik's suspicions were correct. Masila had lead him to just the place he never wanted to go back to again...
Date: Jul 30th
Masila was smirking slightly, that old familiar cunning smirk of hers, but he couldn’t think about that right now. His mind was in turmoil.
He had never thought he would see this place again, and until now he had gone out of his way to avoid it. He had not lied to Hannah, not about this; this was where he had grown up with his family. With his sister. He had a flash of memory: her, glancing over her shoulder at him, the corners of her long skirt swaying as she danced.
“Come on, Kanrik! Why won’t you dance?”
“Don’t want to dance,” the young Gelert said stubbornly. “Everyone’ll tease me if I dance.”
“Come on, Mr. Frownyface!” she said, pulling the corners of her mouth down in an exaggerated frown, trying to get him to laugh.
But that had been years ago, when he was a child. After the plague had come, his sister had been more and more miserable, and she could no longer dance. He had tried to cheer her up, but she had been less and less responsive, eventually sinking into a deep sleep from which she never woke. As others in the village fell victim to this same mysterious ailment, he had left, vowing to them that he would find the cure or die trying.
He had never found the cure, and the world was a lot crueler than his village. Masila had taken him to Galem when he had tried to pick her pocket for money so he could eat, and said that he showed unusual talent. Kanrik had worked his way swiftly through the ranks, the fruits of his plunders pleasing him so much that he never thought of his village, although images of sleeping townspeople had haunted his dreams for years. He had told himself that he would never go back again, because he knew that there was no way they could have survived.
He turned on Masila, who was looking impatient and hurried, and frowned.
“What is the purpose of taking me here?”
Masila smiled and half-shrugged her shoulders. Her eyes glinted. “My dear, foolish Kanrik, didn’t you ever wonder why you were not infected?”...
Date: Jul 31st
...His thoughts were reeling, long-forgotten memories flashing in waves in his mind's eye. People he hadn't seen or thought of in years were steadily creeping back into his head the longer he looked out at the cold, deserted village. Though he tried to keep his expression stoic, not wanting to let on about his confusion, the question Masila posed to him only bewildered him further and his frown deepened considerably.
How hadn't he been infected? It had seemed pure luck at the time. Kanrik convinced himself that he'd been one of the healthy ones simply because he never spent too much time sitting at home. He was never around those who were sick long enough to contract the disease itself. But when he finally craned his head to peer at Masila and his gaze was met with a knowing smirk, he realized that his assumptions had been foolish.
"It's a question you have no answer for, hm?" she prodded him, malicious delight dancing in her eyes. "Come, then."
The Acara began to move again, walking smoothly along the empty road. There were no movements around her, everything still and eerily quiet, and the sound of her footfalls echoed ominously against the deserted facades of dark, deserted houses.
Kanrik took in a deep breath and fidgeted with his cloak, yanking it tighter around himself before he began to follow. He could still see happy villagers walking these streets, talking and laughing with each other as they browsed market stalls, and the thoughts were haunting now that everything surrounding him was deserted.
Masila's path was determined and she rounded a corner, ducking between to tall but crumbling buildings to walk down an alleyway between them. Behind her, Kanrik followed in her wake though his mind was elsewhere, and he paid no attention to their destination until Masila had stopped.
Her paw raised to a door on the side of one of the buildings, made of rotten wood and barely hanging onto its hinges. She knocked three times distinctly and then drew back to wait.
Kanrik's ears perked when there were muffled shuffling noises from behind the door, brought abruptly out of his reverie when the creaking wood was slowly drawn open. Inside the doorway stood an elderly Lupe, draped in discolored rags that looked barely enough to keep her warm in the dropping temperatures, and she was hunched over though she held tightly to the edge of the door.
Masila practically beamed at the sight before her eyes and she turned to her side, peering evenly at Kanrik.
"Greet the woman, dear Kanrik. She holds the answers we need."
The Gelert straightened his shoulders and opened his mouth to speak, but the old Lupe's head turned abruptly as she stared out at him. Her eyes were round and wide inside her head and her paw began to shake slightly in its grip on the door she held open.
"Kan-kanrik? Is that really you? My goodness, dear boy, I thought I'd never see you again," she said, almost in a gasp, as tears began to well up in her eyes. "You've been," she paused to cough and seemed distraught to turn her head to do so. "You've been gone such a long time."
A new wave of confusion washed over Kanrik's face as he peered at the old Lupe, her words were quite perplexing.
"Such a long time," she repeated, as if in wonder. And beside him, Masila began to laugh coldly.
"Don't you see, Kanrik?"
With a sharp intake of breath, the Gelert took a step forward towards the open door. He peered into the desperate eyes of the elderly Lupe before him as realization set in. His voice was quiet when he spoke, his gaze cast down to the floor.
"I am sorry. I never meant to be gone for so long, Mother."...
Date: Jul 31st
...What had happened to the playful, beautiful mother he had once had? How had that person, now just a distant memory, become this?
Kanrik closed his eyes and lowered his head as a fresh wave of remorse rolled over him.
"This plague--" he began, but his mother interrupted him.
"It did not touch me."
Kanrik looked up immediately. The Lupe sighed, and stepped back from the doorway. Kanrik could now see the inside of the home -- once his -- and he choked back a gasp, as it was in ruins.
"Come in, my Kanrik," his mother rasped. "I have... much to tell you."
Kanrik closed his eyes for a moment, before stepping over the rotting threshold. He took a few steps into the room, and shook his head a bit as he looked about.
"This is..." he began, but seemed to be at a loss for words.
"Robbers, thieves," the elderly Lupe explained, waving her hand casually, as if swatting away a fly. "They sometimes come in the middle of the night. Think the house is deserted."
Kanrik's stomach lurched as he realized it could of been his thieves that did this.
So caught up in his dread was he that he jumped when the door slammed shut. He looked up to see Masila, her hand on the doorknob.
"Sit down," the green Acara advised. "Listen to what she has to say."
Kanrik obeyed, sinking into the slightly torn sofa. His mother shuffled over, and slowly sat down next to him.
"How is it that you did not become ill?" Kanrik immediately asked. "You were with her..." He took a deep breath "Lily... you were with Lily day and night."
The old Lupess smiled, and a distant look came to her eye, as if she were remembering. "Kanrik, m'love... Do you remember that cloak I used to have?" She fingered the fabric of Kanrik's cloak. "Exactly the same as this one, but with embroidered edges? I wore it all the time?"
Kanrik nodded, a bit confused. What did a mere cloak matter?
"Good, good." Kanrik's mother sighed, and closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, her gaze was intense. "Kanrik, have you ever been ill?"
Kanrik raised an eyebrow. "No, I haven't, but what's this got to do with--?"
"Your cloak, and mine, both have magical properties. They protect the wearer from any sickness, Kanrik. You see...when you were just a baby, I purchased magic cloth. I set to work making three cloaks... one for you, one for me, and one for your father. Unfortunately, your father died before I could finish his, and it was stolen. But, that is not the point. I later adopted Lily, but I could not find any more of the cloth..."
Kanrik met his mother's icy-blue gaze as she said, "Kanrik, your sister is not dead. Nor are the other villagers. They are still sleeping. My face, my body..." She observed her wrinkled hands. "They are like this because I have spent years, caring for the entire village. It has aged me, Kanrik."
Masila stepped forward now, her arms crossed. She gazed at Kanrik through narrowed eyes. "I have been researching this sickness, and I cannot find anything. But..." She glanced at the old Lupe.
"But," the Lupess finished. "Once, during a snowstorm, I used my cloak to wrap around both me and Lily, and..." She hesitated.
"And?" Kanrik prodded anxiously.
His mother pursed her lips, and looked up at him, eyes filled with tears. "And her eyelashes fluttered."
"Kanrik," Masila said intensely. "We believe that this fabric is the key to the cure for this sickness."
"Hold on a second," Kanrik snapped, suddenly growing impatient with the Acara. "Why do you even care?"
Masila's face fell. She stared at Kanrik for a moment, and then turned her back on him. When she turned back a moment later, her fist was pressed to her mouth, as if she were suppresing a sob.
"Kanrik," the elderly Lupe said gently. "The sickness...has spread. To the next village, just a mile away.."
"And?" Kanrik asked a bit rudely.
"And," Masila hissed from behind him. He turned back to her to find her eyes flashing with anger. "My older brother is sick with it!"...
Date: Aug 1st
...So that was what all this had been about. Masila needed to heal her brother, and so she had decided to call upon the only two to have ever survived the plague to help her. It was all about her; Kanrik was sure that once her brother was all better, she'd flounce right on out with not a word in return. What Hannah had to do with it, he still was not sure.
But still... even if Masila had left, they would still be able to bring the town back. They'd still be able to bring Lily back.
Lily. She was a gaping wound in Kanrik's heart. She had been the one to stand up for him, the one who could counteract his chilly mood. She was always there to help him, or to heal him. It just seemed so hard to believe that she wasn't there anymore.
But he could still bring her back. Kanrik had to try, didn't he? They probably had everything they needed, right here. They could cure his village, and Masila's. Only...
"Mother," Kanrik said, "how in the name of Neopia are we going to duplicate the effects of this cloth? Between the two towns, there must be at least hundreds of people to be cured. We don't have a hundred magical cloaks. And even if we healed them, one by one, using our own cloaks, for all we know, the plague could still be lurking around here. We could get sick as well."
The Lupe nodded, her eyes thoughtful. "You are right Kanrik. The plague still lies heavy about us. We must find a way to duplicate the effects of the magic in the cloth, or we must find a way to somehow get the plague out of the air."
Air. Something registered in Kanrik's mind, something he had long forgotten. "The air faerie's amulet!" he cried, plunging his hand into his pocket for it. "Maybe that will help!"
Masila shook her head and grabbed him by the wrist. "Kanrik, it won't," she said softly, even sadly. She and Kanrik, for once, shared the same painful secret.
"Why not?" Kanrik asked, yanking his hand free. "And even if it won't work, why can't we at least try?"
Masila glared at him. He glared back, daring her to tell him something he didn't know. At last she cracked. "I know, all right? Because, the cloak of your father's -- I stole it. I thought it would look pretty, and when I heard it was magical, well, you know. For a moment I thought that maybe, just maybe, this might cure my brother.
"But when I put it on him, I started feeling dizzy. Like you said, the plague is still in the air. And then, like you, I thought maybe the air faerie's amulet would help siphon it out. I was the previous owner, though you didn't know. Only, when I took it out, I didn't know how to use it. It wouldn't work for me. And it probably won't work for you."
Masila glanced at Kanrik's mother, wondering if she would be angry at her for stealing the cloak. But her expression was unintelligible behind the wrinkles and treacherous lighting. She then swiveled her head to stare at Kanrik, wondering how he would react.
"Oh," Kanrik said. It made sense to him now, why the plague could be in the air, and Masila could still be unaffected. "But we've got to try," he protested. "Maybe... maybe something did happen with the amulet, and you just didn't know it. Or... or maybe, you couldn't use it, because it just wouldn't let you. Faerie magic is like that sometimes, you know. And anyway, you aren't sure it won't work for me anyway. You said probably -- that doesn't mean it won't." But you could tell, in his voice, he doubted it would work, all because of Masila's words.
"So then what do you want us to do?" Kanrik's mother asked, rising to her feet. "Duplicate more? We have to find how. That could take years. You want me to wait even longer? I have waited for ten years now Kanrik, ten years for you to come back and save us! I will not wait any longer!"
Kanrik sighed. "So then we try the amulet. It's the only open path now." He reached into his pocket once more, and gasped. The air faerie's amulet was no longer there...
Date: Aug 1st
..."Where did it go?" Kanrik looked around the house, settling his gaze suspiciously on Masila. She glared back at him, defiant. "Give it back. You know as well as I do that it's our only hope."
Masila's eyes narrowed. "I don't have it. I told you, it doesn't work for me. And I said that it probably won't work for you, because it works for someone else."
Kanrik's breath caught in his throat. "Who? And how do you know it will work for her? And where is the amulet?"
His mother drew something out of the folds of her cloak. "I've learned a trick or two in my lifetime, you know."
Kanrik sighed. Of course. She had been the one who had first taught him how to pick pockets, when a famine had struck the village one year. "Who? Who does it work for? Is it you, mother?"
"No, not me. Masila, show him."
Masila grinned. It was a nasty smile that made Kanrik shiver involuntarily. "Follow me," she said.
Kanrik glared at her suspiciously, then nodded reluctantly. She stepped out of his mother's ramshackle hut and wound her way again through the lifeless village. She led him onto a winding path outside, through barren land, until they arrived at a second village just as lifeless as Kanrik's had been.
Kanrik held his breath as they stepped into an old wooden building. Who would lie inside? Masila stopped by a figure slumped on a small bed. "This is who the amulet works for."
Kanrik stepped closer to look at the face, then gasped.
Date: Aug 2nd
...His eyes widened. Hannah... the only one whom the air faerie's amulet would work for?
A smug expression crept across Masila's face as she saw Kanrik's surprised expression. Hannah's face replicated Kanrik's, however; she was as shocked as he was.
"Kanrik?" the Usul asked softly. "It's not a trick, is it?" she asked, turning nervously to Masila. "I'm tired of tricks."
"Hannah... it's not a trick. It's me," Kanrik uttered gently. She looked so frantic, like she had been trapped there for days. She probably had been.
"Kanrik!" Hannah cried. "It IS you!" She leapt off the bed, but then turned to Masila instead. "So all the talk about you holding Kanrik captive was a lie? Every word of it, so that you could get me to talk about the air faerie's amulet?"
Masila's expression was smug once more. "Yes, a lie. What did you expect, Kanrik was stuck in the same house as you? Foolish girl, gullible girl..."
Kanrik was surprised at the way Masila was treating Hannah. He knew that Masila disliked the Usul, but treating her that way, and Hannah being the only one that could make the amulet work for her, seemed puzzling. Unless Masila had threatened her...
"How did you find out the amulet worked for you?" Kanrik asked, addressing Hannah. "And more importantly, how did Masila find out?"
Hannah took a deep breath, and then said, "It's a long story. Listen well... I don't like telling it. When I was a young girl, the terrible plague struck my town as well. In desperation, one of the remaining townspeople was sent to the faeries, pleading for help. An air faerie gave him her amulet, saying it would only work for one who was not pure of heart, but accepted the fact that no one was pure. He accepted the precious amulet gratefully, assuming that it would work for him, and that he would be recognized as a hero among all.
"It didn't work for him, and the poor man went into hiding, ashamed of himself, and eventually fell victim to the disease. Meanwhile, the amulet was being passed around all the adults, hoping for the one that could clean the air of the plague and save the rest of the citizens. When none of the townspeople could make the pendant work, it was passed onto the children, in hopes that the amulet would work for one of them. It didn't.
So the amulet passed on to me, the youngest of the children there. I took the amulet and waved it in the air, feeling dumb, assuming that it wouldn't work for me, as I thought that I must be pure of heart to make it work, and I knew that I certainly wasn't. To my amazement, and to everyone else's, it worked, and the air was pure once more. Though we didn't have the cure, we buried our thoughts to be dead ones and moved to a different town, where our life began once more. The air faerie's amulet was stolen before it could be returned to her, and it has passed from owner to owner ever since."
Kanrik waited for Hannah to finish, and then said, "Yes, but how did Masila find out that you were the only one to make it work?"
"Ah, that part of the story," Masila said mysteriously. "I was searching for the person to make it work when I arrived at the Island Mystic in Mystery Island, hoping he could inform me of who had the amulet and who could make it work. Though he could tell me who had it currently, he did not know who worked it. I left, disappointed, when I came across an old Xweetok, who asked me if I was looking for the person who made the air faerie's amulet work. I said yes, and found out later that he was one of the survivors of the plague in Hannah's town. He told me of the child that made the amulet work, and I realized that it was Hannah. Leaving him, I tracked her down and made her come to this town, making her think that you were trapped here."
"And I've been here since," Hannah finished Masila's story weakly. Kanrik thought she looked a little bit strange, weaker and less spirited. He simply assumed that she was feeling tired and worn out, being trapped in the house, waiting for Masila to find Kanrik. Suddenly, there was a spasm of coughing, and Hannah slumped to the floor...
Date: Aug 2nd
..."Hannah!" Kanrik cried. He stepped forward cautiously and realized with a start why she had been so weary.
"She's been infected," he said flatly. He took a step forward and carefully leaned Hannah against the couch. "Why did you leave her here?" he asked, turning to Masila furiously.
"I had to, Kanrik," she said. Her voice sounded almost smug. "I had to make sure I could find her again. Where else?"
Kanrik tensed, he longed to knock the Acara down, hit her... why had she left Hannah, their only hope to cure both their towns, somewhere where she could be so easily infected? But he couldn't waste any time dwelling on that; he realized that Hannah could be nearly into the deep sleep the rest of the town was in by now, for Masila had made no move to help arouse the Usul by his side.
The cloak! he thought, mentally kicking himself. Yet as he moved to wrap it around Hannah, Masila's words came back into his mind.
But when I put it on him... I started feeling dizzy... the plague is still in the air...
He would have to risk it. And with no further thought, he carefully wrapped the cloak around the Usul, waiting with baited breath.
Her eyes fluttered for a moment, the were still.
"Wha-" he said, yet Masila spoke up.
"It won't work, Kanrik. As long as the plague's in the air, the cloak's full powers can only combat the disease from the original wearer." Masila's eyes were slightly watery... would her brother be saved?
The world seemed to stop. It wasn't going to work.
"Well then... we can do nothing," he said numbly.
"But we can, or should I say, maybe you can, Kanrik?" Masila looked at him, almost pleadingly. "You could try..."
Kanrik tensed, then, with resolve, took his cloak back and grabbed the faerie amulet. He'd have to try.
Standing up, he took the amulet cautiously in one hand; Masila staring at him attentively. He didn't know what to do or think. Was he pure? No. He still didn't believe it could work for him, hadn't he just tried? The gem didn't accept him, it wouldn't... yet before, he hadn't known how the gem worked. He began to wave it in the air feeling extremely stupid. It wouldn't work for a thief like him, only Hannah could wield the gem... not him. He stopped. Nothing had changed; the town still remained deathly still. Yet as he turned to put away the gem, Hannah stirred.
"Kanrik?" she said weakly. "What-what happened?"
"You were sick," he said gently, "But... you... I... the gem worked for me."
"Maybe," Masila said breathlessly, "you thought right? I don't know, Kanrik, but you've... you've done it." For a brief second Masila smiled a normal, satisfied smile, though she quickly wiped it away.
"Come on, we need to go help your town, Kanrik!" Hannah cried.
"Yes, but... I think you should do it." He handed her the amulet. "I somehow feel what I just did was a one time thing."
Quickly, both he and Hannah hurried to his town. Masila had stayed to see her brother; so the Usul and the Gelert went on to Kanrik's town.
Now in the town square, Hannah waved the amulet, and a ripple seemed to cross the town as life returned.
"Hannah, thank you," he said incredulously as the curtains in one of the many dilapidated houses rustled.
"Thank you, Kanrik. You saved me..." she said, yet trailed off as a door opened, and out stepped the familiar form of Kanrik's sister.
"Kanrik!" she exclaimed, and ran towards him. "I feel so much better! I'm healed!" she cried.
"I know you are," Kanrik said with a smile.
His sister smiled, then said, "Come, dance! Don't make me dance alone!" And with that she began a dance she had not done in many years.
Wordlessly, Hannah handed Kanrik the amulet; her eyes seemed to say "It's yours." With that, she went to go see the other townspeople out.
And as Kanrik neared his sister, he felt a sudden lightening in his pocket where he had just placed the amulet.
As he turned around to catch the pickpocket, he could have sworn he saw the ends of Masila's cloak disappearing down a dark alley. Yet for some reason he didn't care, but instead he took another step and, with some difficulty, attempted to join his sister in her step.
The amulet could wait; he was home with his sister and that was all that mattered.
Date: Aug 3rd
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