Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)
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||You are on Week 337
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 Seven Ends September 21
"They say Old Man Rikous was the most miserly Neopet you ever laid eyes on. He went to unspeakable lengths to acquire his treasure, and once he got it, he hid his riches so that no one ever saw them again."
Nori stared wide-eyed at the tour guide. "Did you hear that, Direne?" the Scorchio whispered excitedly to her friend. "Untold treasure!"
"It's just a myth," the Ogrin said with a loud laugh, causing the tour guide to turn and glare at her. "I mean, look at this house. It looks perfectly normal to me."
"Not all mysterious stories have to take place in ramshackle mansions, you know," the guide retorted.
"And that's why it's such a mystery! No one knows where the treasure is!" Nori cried, refusing to let her spirits be dampened.
"No one knows where the treasure is because there isn't any treasure. Why do you think no one's ever seen it? Old Man Rikous was probably full of ‘amusing’ stories."
The guide sniffed. "Well, if you're going to be like that..." He turned and stomped off into the house.
"Come on," Nori pleaded. "Look at it this way – even if this house isn't mysterious and full of secrets, at least it’s more fun than just helping my mom pull weeds for the fifth week in a row..."
Author: Ooooh mysterious...|
Date: Sep 14th
...Direne frowned. Nori had a point: weed picking was ten times worse. “Fine. I’ll continue on this stupid tour with you.”
Nori smiled, her whole face lighting up. “Thanks Dir. And don’t worry; this’ll be fun! Now let’s catch up with the tour guide!” The blue Scorchio the shot off into the house without even waiting for an answer.
Direne grimaced, looking up at the Neohome set in front of her with a scowl on her face. There was absolutely nothing spectacular about the place: it was a common white Neohome set in the middle of Neopia Central. A couple windows were shattered and the lawn was a mess, but it clearly wasn’t haunted or hid some secret stash for some delusional old Ruki. It was a myth, a legend cooked up by the tour guides in the area to make some extra Neopoints when they were too lazy to get a real job. But Direne had promised her friend, and as much as she didn’t feel like looking at some normal old house, she tended to keep her promises, so with a sigh she made her way into the house.
Immediately she found herself in a small room with a crumbling fireplace in the corner. Looking at it as if it was the most interesting thing in the world was Nori… but the tour guide was nowhere to be seen.
“Where’s the tour guide?” Direne asked confused, stepping over the pieces of rubble and grime that had accumulated up over the years.
“Don’t know,” Nori said, but she didn’t seem to be too bothered. “She probably left after you made fun of the house.”
“Yeah… sorry about that by the way…”
“No problem. I’m actually glad she left.” Nori turned to her friend beaming. “The tour guides never show you the best parts of the house. Now we can be our own tour guides.”
“Er, yes. Sounds…. fun…”
“It will be,” Nori persisted, “because now we get to look for the hidden treasure!...”
Date: Sep 17th
..."This looks like a good place to start our search." Nori took a step toward the fireplace and knelt down, looking up into the chimney. "It's so dark up there, I can't see a thing. Oh, I wish I had a light!"
Direne snorted. "Who hides fabulous riches in a chimney?"
Nori started to straighten up again, but bumped her head on the mantel. "Ouch!" Rubbing her injury, she backed away from the fireplace and turned to glare at her friend. "Do YOU have a better idea? If you were Rikous, where would you hide your treasure?"
"If I were Rikous, I would keep it in the National Neopian Bank like everyone else."
"Haha, very funny, Dir. I was going to split the treasure with you, but if you're going to be that way..."
"Fine, fine. I'll play along. But I'm only doing this to get out of pulling weeds."
Nori's face broke into a grin, alight with enthusiasm once more. "When we find the treasure, we can hire a gardener so we never have to pull weeds again! Oh, I know, I read this in a book once..." The Scorchio moved to the wall and started knocking on the ripped wallpaper. "People hide stuff in walls all the time," she explained. "Just listen for a hollow spot. You start on that side of the room and we'll work our way around."
Direne rolled her eyes with a groan, but did as she was told, and picked her way across the debris that cluttered the floor of the room. When she reached the wall, she looked over her shoulder at her friend. Nori was having the time of her life, rapping on the wall with an expression of deep concentration on her face. She turned back to her own stretch of wall, raised her paw, and knocked tentatively, producing a solid, hard note. Definitely no hidden treasure room here. "This is so ridiculous," muttered the Ogrin.
She continued in this fashion down the length of the room, to no greater success. She raised her fist to knock for what seemed like the hundredth time, when she noticed something strange. A fairly large piece of wallpaper hung off the wall in front of her, and near the place where it was still attached to the wall, a few scribbled words were visible. She was convinced this had nothing to do with the bogus treasure, but she was curious. She grabbed the strip of wallpaper and carefully pulled it down, and a message was revealed...
Date: Sep 18th
..."'When is a picture impossible to see,'" Direne read aloud.
"What did you say?" Nori asked, turning away from her task of busily rapping on the walls to look at her friend. Direne gestured to her discovery, scrawled in messy ink along the wall. Like a Lupe on the scent, Nori scurried over to her, eyes wide.
"A secret message!" The Scorchio declared excitedly, rubbing her hands together. "Oh, I knew there was something here!"
Direne scoffed, though inwardly her curiosity was beginning to get the better of her cynicism. "It's probably just something the tour guide put there to get people all excited. It wasn't even really well hidden."
"It would be, if the wallpaper wasn't coming down already." Nori argued. She mouthed the words of the message as she read it again. "'When is a picture impossible to see'? It must be some kind of clue."
"It's a riddle," Direne corrected. "I've heard it before."
"Well, what's the answer?" the enthusiastic Scorchio pried. Direne sighed.
"'When it's been taken,'" she answered. "Come on, this is too easy. If you were going to go ahead and do something really stupid like hide all your riches in your dingy little Neohome, why would you even bother leaving clues for other people?"
"Because you're eccentric?" Nori suggested. The Scorchio's eyes scanned the room, and she was practically quivering with excitement. "It's just like in those mystery books! Quick, look around. See if you can find a space where there used to be a picture hanging."
Direne snorted. "How could you even tell?" She asked, but Nori wasn't listening anymore. After a moment, she sighed and returned to searching the walls, this time scanning for any sort of telltale sign of previous decoration.
It was Nori who found it this time, however. Direne could tell she'd made a discovery by the way she incoherently flapped and made gesturing motions.
"Look, look, look!" She finally got out, pointing at a square patch of mostly undisturbed wallpaper before her. "The paper's lighter here in a big square, and there's less dust and grime on it. This must be where the picture was."
"Alright, I'll bite," Direne replied. "But what now?"
Nori began tapping on the wall, listening for the sound of a hollow space, or perhaps the dull thunk of a hidden safe. But there was nothing. The Scorchio began to look dejected, but Direne found herself squinting at the wallpaper as something caught her eye.
"Wait," she said, grabbing her friend's arm to stop her from knocking a fourth time. "The wallpaper's different here," she noted.
"Well, duh. That's how we know the picture was here."
"No, no, I mean the pattern," Direne insisted, pointing at the tacky design of flowers and little Usul girls in dresses. It seemed more to the tastes of someone's grandmother than a wealthy Ruki. "Look, see, the little Usul girls are dancing, but this one isn't. She's pointing."
Nori's eyes widened as she looked at the figure in the center of the brighter square. "You're right!" She clapped her hands together, and then cast her eyes towards the ceiling. "She's pointing 'up'! Maybe the treasure's on the second floor, or in the attic, or maybe there's another clue!"
"Or maybe it's just a coincidence." Direne reasoned. Nori rolled her eyes.
"Right." The Scorchio replied sarcastically. "Just one big coincidence. It still wouldn't hurt to look around on the second floor."
"...I guess not." Direne agreed. She looked about, her brow furrowing. "Just one problem, though. Where are the stairs?"
"I don't know." Nori replied. They knew there was a second story, they'd seen it from the exterior of the house. But the main room was completely devoid of any staircases. "Maybe they're in the kitchen?" She reasoned.
"Let's look." Direne was getting excited despite her better judgment.
The door to the kitchen was worn. Once upon a time it had been white, but now the paint was flaking off to reveal the wood beneath, and what remained was stained a dull grey by years of neglect.
The kitchen itself was small and poorly furnished, with a little back door that led out into the tiny dirt yard. A dingy rug ran along the floor. It was scuffed from traffic and seemed to have gotten itself caught underneath a row of tall cupboards that had undoubtedly housed the home's supply of brooms and mops at some point in it's life. There was a tired old stove and a peeling counter top, but there were no stairs.
"Maybe they're outside?" Nori suggested.
"Who puts the stairs to the second floor on the outside of the house?" Direne asked incredulously. Nori shrugged.
"Well, there was only the one door, and it led here, so either this is a house with no bedroom and no bathroom, or there are stairs somewhere."
"This would be the part where actually having a tour guide would come in handy, I suppose." Direne thought aloud. It was probably because she was thinking so intently about stairs that she noticed it - the word 'stairs' caught her eye. She blinked at the door frame. There, just along the edge, were words. There was so flowing and over-romanticized in their design that they blended almost seamlessly with the flowery trim. "'What goes upstairs and downstairs but never moves'?"
"You found another one?" Nori asked, and it took her a minute to locate the words amidst the design.
"I don't know this one." Direne said, her mind working on the puzzle. An elevator, maybe? But, no, that moved - it just didn't seem to. She thought that perhaps it was a play on words, like the picture riddle, but she couldn't think how it would be applied.
The girls 'hmm'd and 'umm'd for several minutes before Nori snapped her fingers in triumph. "I've got it!" She said, her eyes fixed to the floor beneath their feet. Or, more specifically... "The rug!"
"...How's that?" Direne asked, looking down.
"A rug goes upstairs and downstairs without moving. Or, well, I guess they're actually called 'runners' or something, aren't they?"
The girls followed the line of dingy red fabric as one, finally coming to a stop outside the cupboard.
"You've got to be kidding me." Direne said, shaking her head in denial. With a deep breath, Nori reached out, grabbed the knob, and pulled. The cupboard door opened to reveal that the rug was, indeed, a runner, and hadn't been stuck under the cupboard, but rather continued up into the gloom of the second story atop a row of fragile-looking steps.
"It's official. This Ruki was nuts." Direne concluded. "That's a cupboard door. It's even got a fake top cupboard with a knob and everything."
None of this seemed to dampen Nori's spirits any. "Wow. Do you think we're the first people to follow the clues and find this?" She asked. Direne shrugged.
"Not likely," she said. "I mean, who gives a tour of a house with two rooms? I bet the guide knew about it."
That seemed to do it, and the Scorchio began to droop visibly. Direne felt the creeping clutches of guilt begin to set in. "But, maybe they just found it by looking in the cupboard, or something? It's not like you couldn't find this sort of thing by accident." She hastened to reassure her.
"Hey, yeah," Nori agreed. "They probably just decided to open all the doors until they found the stairs. Or maybe they followed the runner without the riddle, or something," she reasoned.
"So, are we going up?" Direne asked. Her friend gave her a grin.
"Of course! When we find that treasure, we're going to be rich!" The two locked elbows and started up the stairs, Direne thinking that things were finally starting to get interesting, and Nori merrily dreaming of jewels in the attic. Neither one was prepared for the sudden, lurching groan of rotted wood as two of the steps gave out beneath them...
Date: Sep 18th
Nori and Direne plunged downward for what seemed like an eternity. Their screams echoed off each other as they flailed in the darkness. At last they landed on a soft, warm surface. Both lay there in a daze until Nori picked herself up shakily, clutching her head.
"Where are we?" she muttered, looking around in the pitch-black darkness.
Direne replied, "I have no idea; I can't see a thing. But I'm guessing that it's probably some kind of basement."
Direne attempted to get up, but her left hind leg was weak from the fall. She let out a small whimper, "My leg hurts, I'm not sure if I can get up."
"Here, I'll help you," said Nori as she made her way to where Direne was. Something caught her eye, a very faint glint in what she supposed was a corner of the room. "Wait, what's that over there? You stay there, Direne, I'm going to check it out."
Suddenly the room was flooded with light from above, and they raised their heads to face it. They squinted and could make out the vague shape of a Ruki. Nori and Direne snapped their attention back to each other, mouthing the words "Old Man Rikous." The apparition above them moaned, "Treasure... all mine... stay away..." then disappeared, plunging the room yet again into darkness.
By now, Nori and Direne were clinging to each other, whimpering. They could not move. Had that really been what they thought it was?
"Oh, get a grip... that was just a trick of the light, I'm sure of it," said Direne in a shaking voice. "No wait, definitely another scam to get more money. I know what these tour guides are like; they'll do anything to generate more business."
"You don't sound so sure of yourself, Direne. Umm, now what do we do? You saw the room, right? There's no way out, no doors, nothing. We're all alone on this squishy floor, and there's no telling when the old man will come back! What do you think he'll do to us?"
"Nothing, it wasn't real! Think, Dir, think..." Direne muttered to herself. "Wait a second, didn't you say you saw something before?"
"That's right!" Nori turned to where she had seen it, and scurried over. She reached out, feeling for whatever it was. Nori squinted at what she held in her hand and saw an etching in the shape of a glowing red jewel. "It's a lever! And I'm sure that it will lead us to the treasure!"
"Do it, it may be the only way to get out of here!" shouted Direne urgently.
Nori grabbed the lever handle hastily with her sweaty hand, and pulled with all her might...
Date: Sep 19th
Nori held her breath and waited… but nothing happened.
The Scorchio heaved a disappointed sigh. "Guess it doesn't do anything. Maybe there isn't a treasure after all…"
Direne was also alarmed by the fact the lever didn't work. However, she wasn't discouraged. All composure lost, the Ogrin began to panic. "T-this must mean we're stuck here! We're going to die! No one's here to save us! We'll waste away and wither in the shadows. We'll-"
"Oh, be quiet, Dir!" Nori snapped. Her eyes narrowed as she peered into the darkness. Apart from her friend's rambling, she had heard something else…
The noise silenced Direne's moaning, and the Ogrin stared with wide eyes as the wall in front of her rose, giving way to a mass of gleaming piles of gold.
Nori shrieked with glee and scrambled over to the secret room quivering with excitement. "We found it, Dir! It's the treasure! Isn't this great?"
But no one answered.
Nori turned around, frowning. She'd been expecting Direne to scream along with her. It wasn't like the Ogrin to keep silent…
Silence. And that's when Nori realised, with a terrible pang of fright, that her friend had vanished…
Date: Sep 19th
"D-Direne? Wh-where'd you go?" Nori looked around in a panic. "Ha, ha, v-very funny," she said, trying to laugh. The Scorchio felt the ground where her friend had been sitting. The same soft, spongy surface, except...
Nori felt something hard underneath her fingertips, and she picked it up. It was a necklace, a golden necklace studded with pearls! Nori's heart began to beat quickly, until she realised that it was a fake. The gold was probably just brass, and the pearls were clearly made of white plastic. She threw it into the shadows, fighting back tears and the urge to scream.
"Dir! Dir, help me!" Nori lost all her self-control, and though she knew her friend had disappeared, she couldn't help thinking that the Ogrin would jump out at her and shout, "BOO! Ha, I really gotcha there!" Not even the treasure mattered to her anymore. All she wanted was to have her friend back, to be at home pulling weeds like always.
Finally, Nori let out a shuddering sigh and peered into the secret room. If she could find a way out, maybe she could get a tour guide or someone to help her find Direne again. Stepping cautiously, she entered the room. It was pitch-black, and she wished she had brought some sort of light. With her arms extended, Nori set about exploring the room. It was empty, completely empty! Not a piece of treasure in sight, or none that she could feel anyway.
Nori let out a frustrated groan. Her friend was missing, she was trapped in a strange house, and now she had just discovered there was no treasure? It wasn't fair! She kicked out in anger. Suddenly, there was a loud bang, and she wondered what she had done. Then, a jolt of panic shot through her as she realised what had happened. The door to the room had shut. She heard a soft laugh from outside, and a horrible pang of fear hit her as she realised she was trapped...
Date: Sep 20th
Nori leaned against the wall, her heart hammering a deafening staccato rhythm in her chest. Her anger had quickly dissipated, replaced now by an iron fist of fear. The complete darkness rendered her unable to see. "Direne? This is a joke, right? A prank? It's j-just you..."
Silence. No reply. She was alone, trapped in the shadows.
"LET ME OUT!" she screamed, terrified. "I'm trapped inside! Can anybody hear me?" she wailed desperately. Someone had laughed, someone had to be there, someone had to help her.
She sunk onto her knees. This grand, exciting adventure had been taken too far. She shouldn't have suggested looking for treasure; she should have stayed safely with her best friend and harmless weeds. Blinking at the blackness, she crawled blindly on the cold stone floor, looking for a way out, a light, anything.
Then, she heard a voice.
"Please, somebody help me!" the voice said, muffled but familiar.
Nori kept crawling, heading toward the back wall of the room. She could hear Direne on the other side of the thick brick wall. "Where are you, Direne?"
"I'm trapped. Someone grabbed me and just threw me into this dark room. It's like a dungeon, except pitch black."
"It is a dungeon," another voice said.
"What was that?" Nori asked, her voice shaking. "Dir, did you hear that? Dir?"
"The treasure is mine," the strange detached voice announced. "Mine, and mine alone. You were foolish to attempt to take it from me. I am Old Man Rikous. You two will never escape..."
Date: Sep 20th
"NO! You have to let us out!" Direne shouted, completely petrified. "Please! We now know the treasure is yours! Just please let us out!"
An ominous cackle sounded. "Your pleas will do you no good!" Suddenly, a bright light switched on, causing Direne and Nori to shield their eyes.
As the lights grew dimmer, Nori could see that there were bars on one side of the room, stretching to Direne's side as well, something she had never realised. But what really caught her eye was the towering figure of Old Man Rikous.
He was a bit too slim and tall to look like the average Ruki. It seemed he had never taken the care to groom or wash himself; his claws were yellowed, their tips jagged and sharp. His eyes were bloodshot and beady, almost hidden behind the many bags resting under his eyes, as if he had gone for many months without sleep. And he didn't exactly smell like a basket of roses either, more like a dung furniture set.
As the old Ruki took a step forward, examining the girls, Nori and Direne both flinched back, terror overtaking them. This reflex made Rikous laugh, sending shivers down Nori's spine.
"You foolish children! You have only brought this upon yourselves -- your greed for riches has driven you to your own demise!" There was a short pause as the Ruki gave the girls malevolent glares. "You have come a long way for nothing. And the treasure will still remain mine!"
On the other side of the cell, Nori could hear uncontrollable sobbing coming from Direne, and Nori had the urge to cry, too. They were going to die here, with nobody to come and save them. A sudden flash of anger took over as Nori thought of the tour guide. If only Direne hadn't sent them away! Then, she filled with guilt as she realised she was the one who had dragged them here, tears welling up and blurring her vision. If only she hadn't cared about treasure!
"D-Dir? It's a-all my fa-fault! I'm s-sorry for getting y-you into th-th-this!" Nori apologised, trying to speak through her constant shuddering.
"It's o-okay," Direne managed, sniffling. "You just w-wanted to add ex-ex-excitement to our lives! You t-tried your best to ma-make us as happy as we c-could be!"
These words of comfort made Nori bawl even harder. She could never have a better friend.
This made Nori realise that greed was not a force to be reckoned with. Old Man Rikous had been driven crazy and blinded by the one feeling of greed for treasure, just as she had been.
As Nori pondered more on this, the Scorchio came to a conclusion that you could have all the treasure you wanted in the whole world, but you would never be as satisfied as having one thing -- friendship.
The richest Neopians were those who shared their happiness with friends.
After figuring this out, Nori turned to face Rikous, who had been watching the two crumble in despair with wicked delight.
Nori prepared herself for what she was about to do. She took a deep breath and then shouted, "Old Man Rikous!" The Scorchio paused as she heard Direne give out a "Huh?" She turned to the Ruki who had been glaring coldly at her.
"What?" he spat.
"Does all this treasure really make you happy?" Nori looked straight into the cruel eyes of Rikous.
"What?!" the Ruki exclaimed in disbelief.
Nori asked the question again, getting more confident. "Does this treasure really make you happy?" And as she leveled her gaze with the Ruki's once more, she saw a different emotion flicker in his eyes-- doubt...
Editor's Note: How do you want the story to end? Tell us!
Date: Sep 21st
"I don't -- I mean -- well -- that is to say--" Rikous stammered.
By now, the Scorchio was confident. He may have been old, mean, crabby, and capable of setting up a killer trap, but there was still a flaw in Old Man Rikous's armour. "Yes or no?" she pressed.
"I --" The Ruki's forehead wrinkled. "Yes," he finally sighed, giving in. "That is to say, no. I'm not happy. In fact, I'm positively miserable."
"And why do you think that is?" Nori turned around as Direne asked the question for her. "Maybe," the Ogrin said, "your greed drove everyone else off. That's my guess of course... only you can really answer that."
Old Man Rikous shook his head, screwing up his eyes as if in pain, bewildered. Why were they asking him these probing, painful questions? It was none of their business if... if... "Oh Fyora," he whispered as it suddenly dawned on him. "What am I doing? How could I have... have...?"
"How could you have trapped all these innocent Neopets in some gross slimy dungeon just because they were looking for an adventure? Gee, yeah, you know, I've got to kind of wonder as well," Direne said sarcastically.
Old Man Rikous shook his head. "But I thought it made them happy," he mumbled under his breath. "I thought they would like me. I thought it would make me happy."
"You expect people to be friends with you after you've chucked them into some dungeon?" Nori asked incredulously.
The Ruki scowled. "It was all about knowing who had the advantage in my day."
"But--" Direne interrupted.
"But I see your point." He let a tiny smile break out, a kind smile. "I guess I've just been a deluded, stingy, crazed old Ruki, completely obsessed with his gold."
Nori and Direne kept silent. They couldn't disagree with that.
"So, I'm sorry," Old Man Rikous said. "And thank you, for helping me understand. Here, let me show you the way out." He set the lantern he'd been holding the entire time down on the oddly squishy green ground and pulled a lever that protruded from the wall. An entire section of the wall slid free. "There's a ladder somewhere out there. To, you know, get back up."
The two young Neopets got up, eagerly bounding to the doorway. In her haste, Nori knocked over the little lantern.
But it was too late. The soft and squishy floor -- which Nori now identified as asparagus -- was already aflame.
"Um, run?" Direne squeaked, dashing out into the blackness, searching for the ladder Old Man Rikous had mentioned. Nori and then Rikous himself followed her.
They reached in a frenzy for the next rung, then ran, panicking, trying to make it out the next set of doors -- down the hallway, out the front -- all the time pursued by the licking flames.
"Sorry about your house," Direne said, watching the structure burn, lit like a jack-o-lantern from inside out. "And the treasure."
"Let it burn," Old Man Rikous said contemptuously. "I don't think I'll need it -- it's just too much."
Nori and Direne nodded in agreement.
* * * * *
Later, covered in soot and discussing in low voices Old Man Rikous and greed, Nori and Direne stumbled back home. "Mom?" Nori called as they stepped inside. "Dad? You guys home?"
There was a sudden flare as someone lit a candle. "Nori!" her mother cried. "You two were out late!" she accused. And before either of them could say a word in their defence, she added, "Have you finished pulling the weeds?"
Date: Sep 21st
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