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||You are on Week 342
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 Forty Two Ends October 26
"Yes, Your Majesty! Right away, Your Majesty! I shall do my best, Your Majesty!" Still backing out and bowing at the same time, Kuro nearly tripped over his feet as he headed out of the castle gates. Righting himself with a flourish, the red-faced Grarrl marched past the guards with overblown dignity, nodding gravely to either side.
When he was finally out in the fresh air, Kuro breathed a sigh of relief. That had been one nervous meeting. King Skarl had given Kuro his first important job ever -- delivering a message to King Altador and bearing the return message! Puffing his chest, the Grarrl smiled to himself. After years of taking royal food orders to merchants, he had finally earned his rightful position as a Royal Messenger! It wasn't his fault he couldn't fly around like the faster Draiks. Wings were overrated, anyway. He'd show them all by being the fastest messenger Meridell had ever seen.
Still smiling to himself, Kuro took out the little scroll as a reminder of its importance -- only to have a mischievous Crokabek swoop by at that very moment and pluck it from his hands.
"Wha-" Kuro said, hardly capable of believing what had just happened. "Wait... you... GIVE THAT BACK!!!"
Chirping gleefully, the Crokabek perched itself at the top of a rather tall tree.
"I NEED THAT BACK!!!" Kuro shouted, almost crying in panic. He looked around helplessly, only to see...
Date: Oct 19th
...one of the Draik messengers, Darnol, watching him with open amusement.
"What's so funny?" Kuro demanded.
"You," Darnol said. He laughed. "See? You'll never be able to keep up with messengers with wings."
"Why you -- " Kuro said. "You put that Crokabek up to this, didn't you?"
"Maybe," Darnol said smugly. "Maybe not. Go ahead and give up now. Your kind may be strong, but you'll never be able to match Draiks for speed."
"I'll never give up," Kuro said, balling his claws into fists. "I'm going to be the best messenger ever, you wait and see! Even if I am a Grarrl!"
"Suit yourself," Darnol said with a shrug, spreading his wings and taking off. From the air, he called, "We'll see how happy the King is when he finds out you couldn't deliver that message..."
Kuro's stomach flipped, and he roared with anger, but Darnol was out of sight. He took a few deep breaths and then looked up the tree at the preening Crokabek. Well, he couldn't fly, but maybe there was another way to get the message back...
Date: Oct 22nd
Quickly, Kuro pondered the situation; Grarrls were no good at climbing trees, and he obviously couldn't just fly up there... but there was still an option left.
He snatched up a pebble from the ground and suddenly sent it streaking up at the now-squawking Crokabek above, hoping to knock it and the letter out of the tree and right back into Kuro's massive hands. It missed by only a few inches, but the Petpet had taken off again, right in the opposite direction that the letter was supposed to go.
"Argh! No, you stupid bird! Wrong way!" Kuro cried in frustration, sprinting after it.
At least Darnol wasn't there to watch him struggle anymore; they had always had a rivalry with one another, ever since they were young. Now that Kuro thought about it, he had used to tease Darnol for being so small, a common hobby among young Grarrls. But now, the tables had been turned... why couldn't he have been a nicer child?
The Crokabek was pulling ahead of him as he looked up. Suddenly, horribly, Kuro realized that if it gave the letter to someone else, they would open it, destroying not only King Skarl's faith in Kuro's delivering ability but his faith in Kuro's ability to keep a letter intact!
The Grarrl seemed to gain a new will for running as he raced ahead, panting madly. He had to catch that blasted bird, before...
Date: Oct 23rd
Just like that, Kuro tripped over the smallest rock, letting the Crokabek fly ahead. Dirt-streaked and bewildered, Kuro scowled. If only he could catch the bird, then his problems would end!
Kuro got up, not bothering to brush himself off. He glared with a grimace toward the Petpet squawking in the distance. He didn't think it would be smart to run, because he knew there wasn't the slightest chance that he would catch the Crokabek now.
Kuro grumbled. "Great!" he muttered. "Now what am I going to tell Skarl?"
But then it struck him. He wouldn't have to tell the King anything! Just as long as no one found out...
"Your Majesty..." came a low voice from the shadows of the throne room.
King Skarl looked up. "Who's there?" he barked. "Who are you?"
The figure stepped from the shadows. "My name is Darnol," the Draik told him. "There seems to be trouble with your... 'messenger.'"
King Skarl raised an eyebrow. "Kuro?" he inquired.
"Yes, him. You see, he was unable to complete his mission."
King Skarl got furious. "WHAT?!" he roared, rising from his throne.
Darnol slipped away out a window and flew down toward the front gate. There, a Xweetok sat picking her teeth.
"So," she said coolly. "What happened?"
Darnol smiled maliciously. "Ah, my dear, everything is going as planned," he said, walking over to her. "And now, Chiharu, I have a mission for you..."
Date: Oct 23rd
Chiharu let a tiny smirk lighten her face. "It was only a matter of time," she said, "before you realised how much of a help I would be to your cause."
Darnol's eyes narrowed by a fraction of an inch, but he let her words pass, instead thrusting a tightly wound scroll into her paws. "You know what to do. Do it," he hissed. "The success of your mission decides everything -- everything! And if you fail..." He drew a swift line across his neck. And with that slightly ominous note, the Draik turned and left.
Chiharu pocketed the slip of paper and stood in a single fluid motion. The Draik didn't scare her. Nothing did, with the minor exception of Spyders. But that was another story entirely.
"Kuro!" she cried, pattering down the road, old and worn shoes flopping pathetically in the dust. "Kuro!" The faint black speck that was the Grarrl grew larger and larger. "I have the message!"
Kuro sighed with relief. He was uncertain at best about this little Xweetok from Shenkuu, but his risk-taking had paid off. "Thank you, Chiharu," he said.
Chiharu cocked her head. "Now, I haven't given the message to you yet," she said sweetly.
"Then may I have it now?"
The Xweetok's gaze suddenly became cold and filled with hostility. "No," she said. "You will never get this message from me. Look around... nobody's on your side." She stepped away, and Kuro was suddenly painfully aware of the fact that he had been surrounded...
Date: Oct 24th
...by Draiks, all of them leering and grinning, swords drawn. They all wore the uniform of the Royal Messengers, and they were all looking so formidable that Kuro wanted to drop to the ground and cry.
"Why, Chiharu?" the Grarrl whispered in anguish, looking into the Xweetok's icy blue eyes. And he had thought she was a friend.
"That is for me to know and you to find out," Chiharu replied, her voice light and singing once again. "Seize him, guards." She waved one paw languidly, and the Draiks converged on Kuro. The Grarrl flapped his large claws vainly and swung his tail, but he was no match for the tiny, darting Draiks. They had him pinned in moments.
"I wonder what King Skarl will think when he sees his messenger, who was not, in fact, going to deliver the letter? Luckily, the new, foreign young Xweetok found him and interceded." Chiharu gave Kuro a sickeningly angelic smile as two of the larger Draiks grabbed his arms. The Grarrl's head dropped onto his chest, his breathing ragged. "Why, when I deliver this message, I will become the King's favourite. It will be me who claims all the glory. Darnol, of course, thinks otherwise, but then, he was never the brightest, was he?"
At the mention of the Draik's name, Kuro's head shot up again, and he hissed, "So that's who you're working for!"
Chiharu laughed, a high, tinkly sound.
"Darnol is no more than a tool." She waved a paw dismissively. "He believes it is he who will profit; he does not know anything. His own thirst for glory blinds him...."
Date: Oct 24th
"And you think your glory does not?"
Everybody looked up. Kuro, who was still being held by the multitude of guards, averted his attention to the sky for a brief moment, and saw a Draik floating there, eyes narrowed and glaring at the Xweetok who stood under him.
"Darnol, you fool. You thought of me as your servant. It seems as though your yearning for success has eventually brought you to failure. You don't have the note, and I have twenty guards down here, waiting to capture you, just like this Grarrl standing next to me." Chiharu pointed at Kuro. "It is I who possesses the note. All these months it is you who thought you were in power. Have you not sensed me formulating plans of my own, waiting for the moment when I could triumph?"
The Xweetok glared at Darnol, and Kuro looked down for a second, distracted by the moment's silence. Maybe, if the Draiks would loosen their grip a little, he would be able to wriggle his way out. But he'd have to wait until the conversation was more involved and less directed at him. Sweat dripped down his face as he waited for the stunned Draik's reply.
"Your words do not taunt me, Chiharu. For it is I who has triumphed over you. Ha, a young Xweetok like you, a dimwitted gate guard who does nothing more than stand there and look out at the horizon, outwitting a messenger such as myself? I am insulted to hear the words out of your mouth." Darnol crossed his arms and, to everyone's surprise, gave the impression that he was going to leave.
"But I have the message, and there is no possible way you can get it from me!" Chiharu exclaimed, waving the message in the air.
It would have to be a little longer, Kuro knew, but the conversation was becoming more and more intense. If he could just time it right, there was no doubt he could escape and tell King Skarl of the madness that had befallen him here. Just a little longer.
"Ha! That is the message? You think I would trust you? No, this was simply a diversion. I am the one who holds the true message!" Darnol shouted, and he pulled a scroll out from his pocket. It was identical to the one Chiharu held in her hand, and for a second, the Xweetok looked incredibly confused.
"But, no. I saw everything. You gave me the scroll as soon as... there was no possibility for you to switch them. I have the right one; the one you are holding is a fake!" Her eyes narrowed as she threw an icy glare at the Draik.
Just a little longer... Kuro thought.
"But is it? I am deceptive. Your averted gaze is plenty of time for a swap of two scrolls, especially if they are identical on the outside." He grinned widely and put the scroll back into the pocket from which it had come.
"Now!" Kuro screamed, and he thrust his arms down, breaking free from the Draik guards. They were too surprised to react, and he bounded out from the crowd of them, running blindly into the forest that surrounded him. Chiharu was too stunned to react, and Darnol hadn't seen exactly what had occurred, giving the Grarrl a small headstart.
"After him!" Chiharu commanded. Her frown grew even deeper, and Darnol's brows furrowed into deep curls.
"It seems we have both been outwitted," the Draik stated calmly, "but it is I who has the advantage. With my wings, it is I who can make it back to the castle with the message, whether it be real or fake, before you or that Grarrl. So, in the end, I have won."
Chiharu growled at him, but all she could do was watch as he flapped his wings and set off for the castle...
Date: Oct 25th
Chiharu couldn't believe what had just happened. Not only had Kuro managed to escape, but Darnol, her so-called ally, had given her a fake scroll and was now heading toward the castle.
Chiharu then realised that she had no choice but to find Kuro and apologise to him about everything she'd said earlier. Maybe, if she was convincing enough, she could win him to her side against Darnol.
The Xweetok set off into the forest to find Kuro. Meanwhile, Kuro was still running through the woods and was beginning to realise that he was lost. He was frantically searching for a way out when he heard noises coming from the opposite direction.
"Who's there?" said Kuro. There was no response. But then, suddenly, Kuro saw a figure coming out of the bushes. He went to see who or what it was. It was Chiharu.
"What are you doing here?" demanded Kuro angrily.
"I came here to apologise to you about everything," said the Xweetok, an ashamed look on her face. "I'm sorry. I didn't know that Darnol switched the scrolls. He has betrayed me. We don't have much time, because Darnol is already on his way to the castle. We need to stop him."
"So, what should we do first?" asked Kuro.
"We need to get out of this forest first," answered Chiharu.
As the unlikely allies found their way out of the forest, they plotted a plan to stop Darnol from achieving his goal...
Date: Oct 25th
"So you know what to do?" Chiharu asked Kuro later, as they crouched, lying in wait for Darnol to appear.
"Yes, I believe so," Kuro replied as he tightened his grip around the small rock he held.
Chiharu gave a brisk nod, and she bolted after the gradually growing dot of Darnol, who was getting closer and closer to the castle.
Kuro veered off to the edge of the forest, where it ended by the castle. He dashed as fast as his stubby Grarrl legs could take him. He glanced briefly to see the blue blur of Chiharu gradually catching up.
"Darnol!" Chiharu called, and Kuro could barely make her words out. He had to wait for the right moment. "Give me back that scroll! Please, give it back!"
Darnol turned his head, still beating his wings without a single falter in his speed. "Begging?" he snickered. "Getting desperate, are we?"
"Give it back!" Chiharu shouted, her breath changing into short huffs as she tried to keep up.
The Draik laughed hysterically. "Never! And there is nobody around to help you! Not even little Kuro!" He gave a dramatic swivel of his head toward the surrounding woods.
Caught off-guard, Kuro turned off a little deeper into the woods until Darnol had turned his head away from the forest. Then he once again sprinted along the edge of the trees. The Grarrl listened for his cue to intercept once more, the rock in his hand burning.
"That's what you think!" Chiharu challenged, and she could see confusion take over the Draik's features. Even his speed slowed down a fraction.
"What are you talking about?"
Chiharu gave him a smug smile. "'We are deceptive. Your averted gaze is plenty of time! NOW, KURO!!" the Xweetok bellowed.
Kuro reacted instantly as he jumped out of the woods and into the field between a malevolent-looking Darnol and the castle. Kuro readied the rock in his hand as he thought of the Crokabek. He had only one shot. There wouldn't be time to go and look for another pebble.
Kuro raised his arm and aimed, trying to keep his hand steady. Then he let go of the rock and watched it fly from his hands.
The Grarrl watched anxiously as it flew higher into the air, almost as fast as his raging heartbeat. But he could actually feel it start to slow down as relief rushed through his veins.
The rock had managed to hit the scroll squarely in the centre, knocking it out of Darnol's hand, who had realised what was going on too late. The Draik growled with fury.
And the scroll was now cascading downward, all three Neopets rushing to get it first...
Date: Oct 26th
Time slowed to the thickness of porridge. Kuro was reaching out, his large jaw agape, his claws extended toward that precious scroll. Chiharu's arms were stretched out before her, almost with a kind of grace, as though she were frozen in a dance of frenzy. And above them, wings curved and eyes afire, Darnol's whole body was focused upon that scroll...
...and it was tumbling down to earth, a slender pale thing, small and delicate yet seeming to bear the weight of the whole world, falling so swiftly, so carelessly, down and down and down...
...into the firm blue hand of King Skarl.
Kuro, Chiharu, and Darnol let out cries of "Oh!" and crashed into one another.
King Skarl stood and watched impassively for a while. Then he opened his wide mouth and boomed, "What in the name of food is going on here?"
"Your Majesty," gasped Kuro, swaying to his feet and dropping immediately into a lopsided bow. "I was delivering your message, I really was, but Darnol intercepted it..."
King Skarl's head swivelled around to face Darnol. "I think you were the one who informed me of this... failure?"
"Yes, indeed, er, Your Majesty," said Darnol immediately, shuffling his crumpled wings behind him. "I saw Kuro, uh, not doing what he was supposed to do, which is to say, deliver the message..."
"I'll tell you what he was up to!" declared Chiharu. "He was making use of me to help him intercept the message because he was jealous of Kuro's position! Not that I ever fell for it... I was going to report everything to you, Your Majesty, as soon as I got the chance!"
Darnol shoved her roughly aside. "Grarrls are not to be trusted with messages!" he erupted passionately, all his vague oily words leaving him. "Draiks are the true messengers."
"Oh, you think you're so true, don't you, Darnol?" shouted Kuro. "Plotting behind my back to take the job that is rightfully mine, risking Meridell's interests for your own benefit?"
"You were the one risking Meridell's interests!" hissed Darnol. "You and your stubby feet, completely incapable of delivering a simple message!"
"I am a Royal Messenger! King Skarl himself..."
He stuttered into silence, suddenly painfully aware that they were in the presence of their King.
King Skarl yawned. "It seems to be a perfectly simple case," he said. "Just goes to show, doesn't it, that I can never trust a messenger."
"It wasn't my fault!" cried Kuro, shattered. "I've been working so hard, all these years, to prove that I was competent. I didn't ask for my message to be intercepted!"
"You could have come straight to me to report the truth, instead of trying to cover up what had happened," said King Skarl. "You are now temporarily suspended from delivering royal messages of any kind."
Kuro lowered his head.
"I am disappointed in you as well, Darnol," King Skarl went on severely. "You had no right to resort to such dirty measures to promote your own status. You are now demoted to palace servant."
Darnol gaped, but could not answer.
"And you, Chiharu," said King Skarl, "are completely untrustworthy, switching to whichever side you believe can give you glory. You are dismissed from my palace."
Chiharu knew that her most innocent face would suffice no longer.
"Now, I will have my dinner," King Skarl concluded. "These silly disputes always make me so hungry." He started lumbering back toward the palace.
"But what about the message?" asked Kuro timidly. "How will you deliver it?"
"It is no matter," said King Skarl, tossing the scroll aside. "I think I will not invite King Altador to the buffet after all. This business has made me so hungry that there wouldn't be enough food left to serve him."
Date: Oct 26th
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