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||You are on Week 360
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 Sixty Ends March 14
The pinkish-orange light of dawn glinting off the sea woke Rufus from his deep sleep. The Kougra sat up drowsily, rubbing his eyes, and stretched. Nights always seemed shorter in the days leading up to Gadgadsbogen. There was just so much to do.
That day alone he had to begin harvesting the new fruits, come up with some delicious drinks to serve the Island elders (making sure that the drinks wouldn't match their grass skirts, of course!), and arrange an entire dinner party. He felt worn out already, though he loved the festival, especially now that he had been named Grand Bogen.
Looking in the mirror, Rufus carefully set the Bogen headpiece on his head and placed his colourful lei around his neck. After all, looking the part of the Grand Bogen was half the job. Waving goodbye to his Ghoti, the Kougra scooped up his berry-gathering basket and stepped out his front door, heading for the berry fields. Everyone on the Island -- and all across Neopia, for that matter -- had been waiting eagerly for the vines to sprout the new berries for the year.
Nothing could have prepared Rufus for what he'd find there, however. His basket dropped unheeded from his paw and rolled at his feet as he stared at the fields. It was as if the Turmaculus had rolled over the berry vines, flattening them into the earth. Every branch was bare, and the soil around the vines looked as though it had been trampled.
A sudden gust of wind pushed Rufus's Grand Bogen headpiece down over his wide eyes. "No!" he cried. "How can there be Gadgadsbogen with no new berries? Who could have done this?"
Author: Berry Enthusiast|
Date: Mar 10th
...but no one answered.
Rufus could only stare out across the barren fields, still unable to believe his eyes. The whole expanse was completely flat and empty. Not a Neopet was in sight.
Rufus had just visited the fields the day before. What could have happened since then? If it was discovered that the Grand Bogen himself had lost the entire harvest... Rufus didn't want to think about it.
Instead, he began searching for clues. Striding down one of the dusty rows, he examined the berry vines. They had been stomped flat, pressed against the ground, and all of them were bare and fruitless. Rufus sniffed the air.
Immediately, he noticed that something was amiss.
There was no scent of fruit -- fresh or rotten. In fact, as the Kougra bent down again to look at the vines, he could not find even a single squashed berry amid the wreckage. The fields hadn't been trampled. At least, not before they had been harvested.
Rufus felt a wave of indignation rise in his chest. Someone else had picked the berries! Some Neopet had deprived him of his duties as Grand Bogen and had stolen away the most precious fruit of Mystery Island. And the festival was only a couple of days away.
Rufus's initial fear and worry were replaced by righteous anger. He was going to find whoever had taken the new berries, and he would make sure that justice was served. No one but the Grand Bogen was allowed to harvest the Mystery Island fruit for Gadgadsbogen. Everyone knew that.
But apparently not everyone cared.
Rufus bent down again, this time to examine the trampled dirt. No single Neopet could have harvested all of the berries in one night. There had to have been at least three or four. The Kougra was attempting to distinguish tracks in the soil, when a long shadow fell across him in the morning sunlight.
"Looking for something?..."
Date: Mar 10th
Rufus instantly sprang up, more out of alarm than anything else. Facing him was a tall red Kyrii clothed in a white flannel shirt and muddy brown pants, with quite the amiable expression on his face.
"Seems you're missing a lot of fruit here, sir," he stated almost cheerily.
With a one-track mind, Rufus glared at him and demanded, "Are you one of the culprits?"
"If I were, do you think I'd say that?" The Kyrii grinned widely, thoroughly entertaining himself. "But if you're willing to go on my word, no, I didn't take them."
Sputtering for a moment as his face turned crimson red, Rufus finally managed to gather himself together and irritably ask, "Then what are you doing in the fields?"
"Well, I may or may not have originally come to take a few fruits, but..." The Kyrii deliberately trailed off, his grin starting to further agitate Rufus. "...As I got here, I just so happened to see who took them all. I can guide you exactly to them, too."
The Kougra's anger vanished and his jaw almost dropped out of delight, his eyes wide. Flooded with relief, he quickly asked, "Who, then? Where did they take them? Did they--"
"Hold it, sir," the Kyrii brightly interrupted. "I didn't mean to suggest I was of a particularly high moral calibre. For my assistance, I require payment."
After another moment of fist-clenching and face-reddening, Rufus only managed to splutter, "Scoundrel!"
But no matter how intensely he stared into the swindling Kyrii's beaming face, his stomach sank. He hardly had much of a choice; even if he could deduce one set of jumbled tracks from another, they would hardly lead him to anyone in particular; Neopets of all kinds and motives lived on the southern half of the island.
"How many... Neopoints... do you require?" Avoiding the Kyrii's gaze, he had to choke the words down with vexation in every one.
"You misunderstand me again, sir," the Kyrii chuckled, his smile dimming slightly as he continued. "I wish for a very special payment..."
Date: Mar 11th
"...I wish for your title as Grand Bogen." A smirk of pure malice crossed the Kyrii's face.
Rufus stared at him. Had he heard correctly? Did the Kyrii say he wanted Rufus's title? After a moment of awkward silence, Rufus managed to choke out, "My... my title?"
The Kyrii nodded. "Yes, of course. There can be no Gadgadsbogen without berries, can there?" He leaned closer, the smirk growing wider. "And we most certainly wouldn't want that, now would we?"
The Kyrii had a point. Rufus couldn't deny it. With no Gadgadsbogen, a wonderful tradition would be stopped. Rufus thought of the shame that would come over him. It would be all his fault. "All for a silly title," the Islanders would sneer. The name "Rufus" would send growls up from their throats.
Rufus sighed, displaying a sign of defeat. "All right. I shall relinquish to you my title as Grand Bogen. But you've got to be sure this is the real culprit. No tricks." Then, feeling suddenly fearful, he added, "Please."
"No tricks." The Kyrii held up his paw as though vowing. "Very well. The culprit -- or culprits, I should say -- are in the Lost City of Geraptiku. In the Deserted Tomb."
"They passed the traps?" gasped Rufus. What kind of criminal masterminds was he dealing with?
The Kyrii chuckled. "Of course they did! If they hadn't, they wouldn't have been smart enough to steal the berries." His smiled turned upside down. "Now come on. If you dare..."
Date: Mar 11th
Rufus wasn't sure he did dare, but he seemed to have very little choice. It was either follow this wicked Kyrii to the dusty, ancient traps set within the enigmatic halls of the tomb or face the entire population of Mystery Island while explaining why they couldn't have their beloved festival this year.
So really, the choice was made for him.
The two travelled toward Geraptiku in silence. Rufus was far too overcome with resentment and rage to utter a word and no doubt the Kyrii was, although an unspeakable cad, wise enough not to agitate the distressed Kougra even further. It wasn't until they had passed the bubbling, boiling summit of Techo Mountain that Rufus spoke up.
"You say you saw the fruit thieves departing?"
The Kyrii, who had been gleefully contemplating the honour that would befall him once his companion stepped down from his revered position, glanced up.
"I said it, yes."
Rufus nodded softly.
"Why didn't you stop them?"
The Kyrii laughed and shook his head.
"I suppose two reasons could add up to solve that little mystery, Rufus."
The Kougra gritted his teeth, knowing full well that the first would be the sudden opportunity the Kyrii had found at his feet, the very same opportunity that would rob Rufus of the title he had been so honoured to have bestowed upon him.
"Right. So the chance to dethrone me. What was the other reason?"
The Kyrii glanced around, his shimmering gaze aglow with a calculating sheen that made Rufus rather uncomfortable.
"I suppose, oh former Grand Bogen..." He had a chuckle at this. "I suppose when you see the culprits, you'll understand why throwing myself in front of them wasn't going to make much difference."
Rufus looked confused.
"Culprits. I was right then! More than one!"
The Kyrii smirked. Reaching out a velvety paw, he parted dense, deep jade vegetation, the dappled sunlight streaming down through jungle depths and revealing a city that few had seen in hundreds of years. Geraptiku. Mysterious and eerie, its once proud façade now a crumbling testimony to what the dense jungle could conceal.
"More than one?" the Kyrii mused out loud, a slow sneer curling over his upper lip.
Date: Mar 12th
Rufus's eyes narrowed in annoyance. "I don't see anyone."
"Of course you don't," the Kyrii chuckled. He seemed to be taking the whole scenario as a particularly hilarious joke.
"Look," the highly annoyed Kougra demanded. "I need those berries back and now. I don't see any berries, or thieves, for that matter. I suppose the berries turned invisible, too?"
"The culprits aren't invisible. At least, they aren't always invisible. And I'm glad you're about to be replaced. Who would leave the stash of fruits out in the open? They're in the tomb, obviously."
Rufus's face reddened, but embarrassment only furthered his agitation. "Well, fine. Who are these hundreds of genius culprits who are hiding in the tomb?"
For a second, the Kyrii's face seemed to lose all its humour.
"They're the residents of Geraptiku," he said in a much more quiet tone than before. "And they're sick of the rest of the Island being so glorious while they tread in ruins. They're out to steal a little of your tradition for themselves."
"Geraptiku's residents are dead," Rufus hissed. Was this Kyrii ever going to give him a straight answer?
"I never said they were alive," the Kyrii grinned, his condescending humour returning in a flash. "Just there. You won't see them during the day, but..." His smile widened. "I've known Slorgs that travelled faster than you."
Rufus glanced up at the faint rays of sunlight streaming through the leaves. They'd taken on a rather reddish hue; had the whole day passed already?
"I'd go into the tomb to retrieve your precious fruits and quickly," the Kyrii continued, his voice ominous. "Before you can see them... and before they can do anything to you..."
Date: Mar 12th
Rufus took a deep breath and nodded more confidently than he actually felt. His insides squirmed unpleasantly with fear. Hundreds of dead residents of Geraptiku stealing the fruits for Gadgadsbogen were not what Rufus had planned to encounter on the festive day.
"Now is not the time for fear," Rufus reminded himself sharply, stepping closer to the Kyrii with an unnecessary force.
"Go in, then," the Kyrii said, sounding quite light-hearted and amused, as if he were asking Rufus to take a jolly ride on the Roo Island Merry-Go-Round rather than to enter a dark tomb filled with unknown dangers.
His heart pounding loudly, Rufus held his breath and cautiously opened the stone door to the tomb. A horrible screech rang out as the door slid open slowly. Finally, it stopped midway. Rufus waited for a moment, half-expecting the door to continue to open. It did not, so he stepped nervously over a loose vine and crawled through. The door slammed shut behind him.
It was empty.
There were no fruits or culprits waiting for him, only some loose vines and stones lying untidily around him. The butterflies in his stomach fluttered around nervously. Was it a trap, or was there simply nothing there?
A soft but clearly audible moan sounded from behind him. Immediately spinning around to see what had caused the noise, Rufus thought he glimpsed a ghostly blue figure, but now all that remained was an odd white mist.
Had he really seen the figure? He was certain that there had been a winged, Hissi-like figure there, but he was beginning to doubt it. Things didn't just vanish...did they?
Then again, things were not the same here in Geraptiku...
Date: Mar 13th
Rufus shivered violently as he felt something cold and quite solid brush his arm. They're stirring, he thought in panic, remembering the bloody half-light of the setting sun. I don't have much more time.
The Kougra fidgeted with the lei around his neck, taking one slow, cautious step after another. Light, so very dim, occasionally seeped through cracks in the ancient stone. One paw was thrown out to feel out a way ahead... and any residents of Geraptiku that might be wakening, waiting to ambush him.
Step after step. He had to keep going on, he had to get moving. The few threads of light were fading; Rufus felt his pace pick up until he was sprinting down the halls. His legs burned with exhaustion. Each breath stung the back of his throat, and he might have twisted an ankle stumbling over a coil of vines.
Then it occurred to him that he might be moving -- but was he moving in the right direction? The tomb was large and complicated. He could be running away from his fruit. Would there be enough time to double back and...
Rufus stopped, crashing into something large and solid, something that hadn't been there before. Panting hard, he looked around frantically into pure darkness. Night had come. Geraptiku was awake. Around him, the shapes of hundreds of Neopets shimmered into view, hovering in a ring around him. Their eyes were the same: icy blue, completely blank of everything but a cold wrath.
Uh oh? Rufus gulped hard, feeling his heart hammer even harder and faster and louder.
"Traitor," the group hissed in unison.
"Traitor?" Rufus asked, his voice ridiculously high-pitched with fear.
The citizens of Geraptiku took a step forward, perfectly synchronised, closing the ring.
"Traitor..." they hissed again, their eyes glowing brighter.
"No," Rufus stammered. "No. Friend." He tried to hold his paws open in a gesture of peace, but they were trembling so badly...
The circle continued to tighten, the tomb echoing with low hisses of "Traitor..."
"No!" Rufus shrieked. "I'm not a traitor. Not a traitor!"
"Who... are... you...?"
"Please, I'm -- I'm Rufus. I am -- was -- the Grand Bogen. Please, I just want my berries back for Gadgadsbogen."
Instantly, the circle broke. The eerie blue eyes dimmed to blackness. Wind swept around the room.
"NO! I'll give you anything, anything -- you can keep the berries, you can -- oh." He watched in bewilderment as bonfires flickered to life. Only they weren't really bonfires -- they were the same ghostly shade of the inhabitants' eyes. But in their light Rufus could see what looked like a thriving city underground. Children laughed and played as mothers cooked.
A Hissi, the leader, slid forward. "You are Rufus," he said slowly, tasting the name.
"Um, yeah. What about it?"
The Hissi showed no emotion. "And you were Grand Bogen. But your title and power were stolen?"
Rufus nodded. "By a Kyrii." The tomb fell into an angry silence. Rufus frowned, but continued, "My title was payment, so he could lead me to you, so I could get my fruits back." He was feeling a little ashamed now. "You know, in time for Gadgadsbogen. It's our holiday."
"We know what it is," the Hissi said. "We were once Mystery Islanders, too."
"But how --?"
"You want to know our story. Yes, well. The Grand Bogen of the time, he was... greedy. Hungry for power. Corrupt. A terrible ruler of Mystery Island, really. He'd been making deals with some locals, who'd agreed to pay him if he, the Grand Bogen, turned the Island over to them. It was supposed to be a secret, but here on Mystery Island, walls are like sponges -- porous. A small group of Islanders discovered the Grand Bogen's treason."
The Hissi paused and held out a wing toward the citizens of Geraptiku. "Us, of course. Being prominent figures, and numbering many, the Grand Bogen knew he couldn't get rid of us all in the usual way. So he forced us to join an exploratory group and venture deep into the jungle to set up a new village. He promised he would keep us in touch via messengers and send us supplies, and such.
"But he never did. For years we waited, quietly growing into a thriving city. And then, just when we'd reached the peak of our civilisation, just as we'd finished this very tomb... disaster. The natives of the Island had some powerful, ancient magic in their hands. We can only assume that the Grand Bogen had them cast a destructive spell over our city, forcing us to flee here and become as we are today."
Rufus shifted uncomfortably. "But why does that have anything to do with me? The fruits? The Kyrii?"
The same silence fell again.
"About your friend," the Hissi said finally, softly. "Perhaps you should know. The Grand Bogen of Geraptiku's time -- he was a Kyrii..."
Date: Mar 13th
Rufus fell into a shocked silence. Had he heard correctly?
"A-a Kyrii?" Rufus repeated uncertainly. "B-but surely he can't be the same Kyrii in your past."
"What colour is he?" the Hissi asked sharply, his face still passive but his voice quavering slightly with annoyance.
There were whispers among the gathering crowd. They all knew of a red Kyrii.
Rufus felt his heart sinking with every question. "Yes."
Rufus nodded solemnly as his heart hit rock bottom and his shoulders slumped in shame. With a sigh, he said, "What a fool I am to hand my title over to a stranger!"
"Ah, but you see, Rufus," the Hissi said, touching Rufus's paw. He was cold but Rufus didn't mind. It was comforting in a way. "The principle of this is that you were prepared to make the sacrifice to save this long-lasting tradition. You were ready to sacrifice something very dear to you. We all have weaknesses, Rufus. Greed is not one of yours."
Rufus smiled thinly. "I plan to right my wrongs, and I promise I won't stop until I do."
The Hissi smiled back. "That's what I like to hear. Go now, we cannot let the same fate that befell Geraptiku fall to the rest of Mystery Island."
The scene began to fade, the laughter of the children dying away, along with the Hissi's voice.
"Wait!" Rufus called out in desperation. "What about the fruit?"
"Not here." The Hissi's voice sounded far away.
"But what am I to do?" Geraptiku looked like nothing more than a blurred memory now.
Rufus couldn't see the Hissi anymore, and his voice was softer than a whisper. "That's for you to decide."
And then Rufus was back in the tomb, white mist swirling around him still, but no more voices.
The fruit wasn't hidden in the tomb. He had been tricked. The Kougra felt anger rising up in his chest until he felt he was about to burst. A plan was beginning to form in his head, shimmering and growing. It was time to see if that Kyrii was as gullible as he was wicked, for if he was, Rufus could still have a shot at victory...
Date: Mar 14th
The Kyrii, resplendent in his fake lei and Bogen headpiece, strode swiftly toward a quiet stream, where a boat was waiting in the shadows near the leaf-draped mouth of a cave.
"The festival is scheduled to begin in an hour," said a low voice from the dark boat. "The citizens of Mystery Island are waiting for their Grand Bogen to appear and reveal the new harvest of fruit."
"Excellent," said the Kyrii. He leaned against a tree and watched the sky darken. In the clearing, the natives would be lighting their pathetic little fires, preparing for a great celebration. The Kyrii wanted to laugh.
In just an hour's time, he would walk into the clearing and declare himself Grand Bogen. He would reveal the fruit. And the Islanders would receive him with joy, and there would be laughter. The elders who had given Rufus the secret nomination would stand up in alarm, but everyone around them would be rejoicing, clamouring. Their belief and trust would pour into the Kyrii, raising him to the pinnacle of power, making him master of all Mystery Island.
"After the ceremony," whispered the voice in the boat, "you remember, you will come straight to me and give me full control of the Island."
"You have my word," said the Kyrii with a smile. "Do not worry. I fulfilled my part of the contract the last time, didn't I?"
"You did indeed."
And the sky continued to darken.
Ten minutes before the festival, a pale and panting Rufus emerged from the tomb and sprinted toward the elders’ hut.
Five minutes before the festival, twenty messengers ran out to the crowd.
Fires blazed around the clearing, lighting up eager, expectant faces. The leaf curtains were drawn on the great stage. Everyone was hushed.
The drums started to beat.
Boom, boom, boom, boom.
The party-goers leaned closer.
And the curtains opened, revealing a magnificent tower of fruit, in front of which stood the new Grand Bogen, ablaze in all his splendour.
"Behold!" cried the Kyrii. "Our new fruit for the year!"
Cheers rang out. "Grand Bogen! Grand Bogen!" the crowd chanted to the rhythm of the drums.
Rufus stood quietly at the table of elders. The Kyrii did not notice him.
"And now!" shouted the Kyrii. "I will cut open the first fruit! Will someone give me a hand?"
Rufus made his way through the crowd, which parted willingly, cheering, "Grand Bogen! Grand Bogen!" The Kyrii turned, and his jaw slowly dropped open. Rufus walked steadily up to the stage. The Kyrii froze. "Why are you--" he gasped.
"--here?" said Rufus. "Because the natives of this Island know me and love me. Because today is Gadgadsbogen, and we as Mystery Islanders will not let you ruin it."
"But you promised!" cried the Kyrii. "You promised to give me your title!"
"Ah," said Rufus. "But you did not keep your end of the promise, either. You did not bring me to the culprits. I had to find out who they were for myself. Fortunately, I am backed by a whole village of citizens who love me and trust me. They were willing to accept the emergency announcement, to know who the Grand Bogen was a few minutes ahead of time. So here I am, the real Grand Bogen."
He pushed the Kyrii smoothly off the stage onto the pile of last year's fruit.
A delighted roar rang out in the crowd. Pieces of rotten fruit started to fly through the air toward the Kyrii.
Rufus turned to the crowd and waved. His lei, though battered, caught the light beautifully. And the guests sang and danced, and Rufus served the fruit. The elders smiled.
A short distance away, in the dim mouth of the cave, there was a small, "Augh!", a frustrated little puff of air that evaporated into the dazzling firelight.
Date: Mar 14th
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