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||You are on Week 373
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 Seventy Three Ends Friday, June 20
"This just doesn't feel right to me, Peryck," said Katri, looking at the water beneath her hooves doubtfully. "You know I can't swim, so standing on water is kind of... unsettling."
Her friend patted her on the back. "That's what the glass is for, Katri," the Acara said reassuringly. Of course, that's easy for him to say, Katri thought, since Acaras are such great swimmers. "Just think of all the amazing coral and underwater stuff we'll see!"
Katri nodded, swallowing hard. It was Peryck's birthday, and she'd promised to go with him for a glass-bottomed boat ride at Kiko Lake. The Uni was happy to admit that having the wind blow through her fur and hearing the slap of the water against the sides of the boat was pleasant, but she couldn't help being a little unnerved by the craft's see-through hull.
As the boat drifted toward the centre of the lake, Katri tried to relax and enjoy the scenery below her. She could almost forget that just a thin sheet of glass stood between her and the water as she and Peryck admired the beautiful coral formations. They were more intricate and colourful than she could've imagined -- it was like seeing an entirely new world that wasn't Neopia at all. Every once in a while, the boat would pass over some Kikos who were going about their daily business, and the locals would stop and wave at Katri and Peryck.
"OK, I was wrong," Katri admitted. "This is really ni--" Before she could finish, though, an enormous Jetsam swam beneath the boat. Instead of waving, the Jetsam grinned, showing rows of sharp teeth that glinted even in the depths of the water. Katri didn't like the gleam in the Jetsam's eyes at all.
"Who's that?" she asked the tour guide.
"One of the locals, I suppose," replied the Kiko guide with a shrug. "After all, there are plenty of Jetsams around here."
Katri looked down again. The Jetsam seemed to be tailing the boat, smiling toothily all the while. "I don't like the look of him," she murmured.
"Hey, Katri! Come over here!" Peryck was leaning over the side of the boat, pointing at something in the distance. With a last doubtful glance toward the Jetsam, Katri walked over to her friend... and was nearly thrown overboard as the entire boat shook. Terrified, she looked at the glass bottom of the boat. It was webbed with cracks, and behind the damaged glass was the grinning Jetsam...
Author: *Needs a bigger boat*|
Date: Jun 11th
...Katri gave a frightened whimper as she shied away from the spreading cracks in the bottom of the boat. The Jetsam’s grin which had looked mischievous to her before now looked downright sinister. She kept backing away until she ran into Peryck and the side of the boat. The two gave each other frightened looks; even though Peryck was good at swimming he didn’t relish the thought of being thrown into the lake next to a sinister looking Jetsam.
Hope suddenly gleamed in Katri’s eyes as she turned to the tour guide; she was sure he would know what to do. That hope very quickly turned to horror though as she saw the same grin that the Jetsam was wearing plastered across the tour guide’s face.
“What’s going on?” Peryck asked glancing back to the shore where he had been looking moments before.
On the bank were a group of Kikos all waving; before he had thought them to be a friendly crowd overzealously greeting them from the banks but now it looked more like they were waving in urgent warning.
“I’m afraid I’m not the normal tour guide,” the Kiko said, looking rather pleased with himself.
“I-I don’t understand,” the Uni replied to him nervously. “Why would you hijack a glass bottom boat?”
“Oh we don’t care about the boat,” a raspy crackly voice responded from the water.
The two friends looked at the Jetsam who had just spoken for the first time. He was very imposing looking and the gleam in his eyes was even worse than before.
“Then what do you want?” Katri asked, her heart thumping as she saw some water slowly leaking into the boat.
“What do we want?” the Jetsam repeated before he answered. “Why, my dear, we want to have a little fun…”
Date: Jun 16th
...His tone had an unmistakably thick edge of menace to it. A shiver reverberated up and down Katri's spine.
"What kind of... fun?" Peryck managed to spit out, the same horrified question etched on his Uni friend's face as well.
The Jetsam grinned widely, his rows of dagger teeth glittering in the half-light that filtered down from the broken glass. A cackle bubbled up from the water.
The Kiko let out a light, short laugh. "Let's just put it this way. Kikos can swim, can't they? As can Jetsams? Well, I'm not quite sure Unis can."
A glitter of defiance sparked in the Acara's eyes as he stood up for his friend. "Well, I can swim. I'll tow her back to shore."
The Jetsam's smile grew wider (how was that possible at this point?). "Actually, I was rather hoping that you'd stay in the water and join me for a little... game."
He flashed his teeth at him; Peryck knew exactly what he meant. He stepped back, his fur and antennae bristling in fear.
"Why are you doing this? Why us?" Katri shrieked. Water was lapping at her hooves now, and the boat gave an ominous series of creaks.
For the briefest of seconds, the Kiko and the Jetsam exchanged a glance, and then the Jetsam turned his head and stared down at the bottom of the lake. Katri didn't miss this silent exchange, and her eyes flickered down to follow his gaze. There was a hole there on the lake floor, a black, gaping tunnel that twisted far beneath the shallow, glassy waves of Kiko Lake.
And then the Kiko looked up. His face betrayed no hint of any other motive. "I'm afraid, my dear, that you are simply in the wrong place, and very much during the wrong time."
On shore, the native Kikos were waving frantically, screaming and flailing their arms. There was an edge of hopeless desperation to it. Almost like they'd seen this before... and knew there was nothing they could do.
The Uni's wings strained at the air, frantically beating, but it was no use. They were too small -- she was still too young to fly -- and they were also wet.
"None of that now," the Kiko said in a light, almost friendly tone.
The Jetsam nodded, opening his maw and shattering the rest of the glass with one resounding snap of his jaw...
Date: Jun 16th
...For a terrifying, weightless moment, Katri felt the glass beneath her hooves shudder with the impact of the Jetsam's jaws. Then it collapsed, a scream fighting its way out of the young Uni's mouth as she plunged into the icy cold water, her hooves frantically scrabbling at the padded seats even as they, too, sank with the rest of the small touring boat. Out of the corner of her eye, panic clawing at her insides, she saw the Kiko shove Peryck off of the opposite side of the boat. On the same end, two gleaming eyes and the deranged grin of the Jetsam waited...
"PER--" Her scream melded into an urgent gurgle as the cold, heavy water of Kiko Lake closed over her head. She squeezed her eyes shut, her cheeks puffed out with a breath of air as she flailed her hooves frantically. She couldn't see, she couldn't breathe, she didn't know which way the surface was, she couldn't hear --
"My, my, this isn't entertaining at all." A stream of panicked bubbles escaped from Katri's mouth when she heard the Kiko's voice, sounding almost bored. Katri's hooves thrashed wildly, trying to find something, anything, to latch onto. She started in a panic when she felt the hand of her false tour guide close over her hoof. "If you're going to try to swim, at least figure out which way is up!"
The Uni felt herself be dragged through the water for what seemed like a lifetime before she felt her snout break the surface. Desperately, she sucked the sweetest breath of air in her life into her lungs, coughing up water as she did so. She blinked water out of her wide eyes, nearly blinded by the sun in the process. Panicked, she whipped her head around but didn't see any trace of Peryck on the gently lapping surface of the lake.
"PERYCK!!" No response. Katri felt her insides wrench with worry. "You!" She bellowed down at the bored-looking Kiko idly floating beneath the surface, holding her up. "What did you do with my friend?!"
A devious grin split his face in response. "Try to swim now," he replied simply. "Talk later. We--"
He stopped talking abruptly, suddenly redirecting his gaze downwards, towards the chasm. The smile melted off of his face, replaced with a worried scowl. "What the..."
What now...? The Uni followed his gaze towards the bottom of the lake, and gasped in shock...
Date: Jun 17th
...The massive chasm had been dark before, but now it was black, blacker than shadows...and unless the movement of the water was distorting things, something seemed to be rippling within the hole. Was there something alive down there, as impossible as that seemed?
Katri’s stomach surged with new fear, as she saw the Jetsam circling the chasm, holding a struggling Acara firmly beneath one fin -- Peryck! The Jetsam was looking up at the Kiko, its teeth now gone as it frowned, eyes narrowed in puzzlement.
Katri saw the Kiko’s eyes suddenly widen, and he shouted, "No! It’s not time yet! Get away from there, you-"
But whatever the Kiko had realized, he’d realized it too late. The blackness suddenly pulsated, a huge throb that seemed to match the feeling in Katri’s chest. The Jetsam looked down, then suddenly began swimming toward the surface, bubbles surging from his tail as he cut through the water...
Then a massive, black thing, like a tentacle, surged from the chasm and slammed into the Jetsam’s back. The thing looked insubstantial, like smoke floating in the water, but the Jetsam shouted in pain, falling backward, down toward the chasm.
“PERYCK!” Katri shouted, though the Acara couldn’t possibly hear her through all the water, “SWIM AWAY!”
The Acara was hurtling toward the surface already, moving even faster than the Jetsam, his long antennae flat against his head. For a moment, Katri was certain he would make it, and the tight knot in her stomach loosened.
Then the black, smoky mass in the chasm below pulsed again...
Date: Jun 17th
...and the hideous darkness burst forth, snaking toward Peryck...
Katri felt a terrible pain in her throat, a gasp, a cry, a scream, she couldn’t tell which.
And then something happened which surprised her. The Kiko tour guide surfaced temporarily, moaned, “Oh for the love of Fyora, it’s not time yet,” and swam swiftly toward Peryck.
The shadow hit him, he fell, and last thing that Katri saw before he was swallowed up by the hole was a queer expression of fear and exasperation.
“Peryck,” cried Katri weakly, fluttering her wings uselessly as the lake now started to engulf her. Confused thoughts swirled in her mind, as wild as the watery world spinning around her helpless body. It was her worst fear come true, being pitched into the dizzying lake that was so beautiful from afar but so dangerous up close. The water swirled around her, closed above her head... her lungs started to struggle in anguish, as everywhere the corals and colours turned and turned, devastatingly lovely.
Dimly, she saw Peryck struggling, reaching for her. Go, she wanted to say. Don’t bother about me. But before she could form another thought, the thick shadowy tentacle came hurtling up out of the depths again, seizing her Acara friend...
“No,” she choked, fighting to stay above the rocking waves. In a moment of shocking clarity, she saw the crowd of Kikos on the shore, shouting desperately. The water bobbed up and down her field of vision. The crowd seemed to be trying to say something to her...
“You must--” Bubbles, water. “--help us--” She struggled harder, wheezing. “--it’s the same hole--” Her sodden lungs beat fiercely. “--that swallowed our team!--” More water. “--Our yooyuball team!--” Gurgle, glug. “--careful, we don’t know--” Gasp. “--the monster that took them--”
Another wham of serpentine blackness, coming straight for her, and then absolute darkness.
* * * * *
The Uni lifted her head, dazed. By some miracle she could breathe again. She felt light -- the wetness was quietly drifting away from her body. Peryck was sitting a little way from her, also blinking and shaking his head in bewilderment. They appeared to be sitting on... grass. Grass at the bottom of the lake? That made no sense. Neither did the sunlight pouring down upon them, nor the great rows of seats encircling the immense field.
It could not be... they were in a Yooyuball stadium!
But the monster, that tentacle... She had been so certain of death. What had just happened?
From behind, there came a deep, icy rumble of laughter. Katri and Peryck whirled around, clinging to each other in fear, but there was nobody behind them. There was only a mysterious, shapeless, laughing voice.
“Who are you?” Peryck shouted bravely. “Where have you taken us? What have you done to the Kiko and the Jetsam?”
“You are in a time warp,” sneered the voice. “Those fools thought they could get away with a silly little game. You’d think they’d take the hint from those who disappeared before them. But no, they had to go repeat the same stupid mistake all over again...”
“The Kiko Lake yooyuball team,” breathed Katri. “They disappeared just before the Altador Cup!”
“Fools,” chuckled the voice. “Fools, every single one of them.”
“But what do you want with us?” cried Peryck.
“Oh, let’s just put it this way,” the voice laughed softly. “You happened upon a game, so now, whether you like it or not, you are one of the players...”
Date: Jun 18th
..."P-players?!" sputtered Katri, peering up into the cruelly flawless sky. "What are you talking about?"
Peryck stood up, valiance blazing in his eyes. "You listen to me!" he shouted, chest puffed out. Katri knew the posture, he often assumed it to cover up fear. "You--you stupid voice--you're the one that kidnapped us! You're the one insisting we play some 'game'! The least you can do is stop being so stupidly vague!"
"Peryck, nooo!" moaned Katri, immediately bracing for some sort of retribution. "You don't know what this guy can--"
To her shock, the voice let out a long, dark chuckle. "Quite a lot of bravery in you, little one? But only the foolish challenge the truly powerful. Nevertheless...I concede your point."
Suddenly, a low rumble started up at the far end of the stadium. Both Katri and Peryck squinted and saw that a large square of grass seemed to be sinking into the ground. Once the hole was completely black, the rumble stopped, then abruptly started once more. Slowly, torturously, the patch of green returned....but a small huddle of Neopets seemed to be standing on it now...
"The Kiko Lake yooyuball team!" Peryck and Katri cried in unison. And indeed it was, though each member had decayed in their absence, their strapping, capable forms turned gray and bedraggled, clad in tattered uniforms.
They stared at Katri and Peryck bleakly, and both Neopets looked at each other in fear. Were they looking into their future? But before either could speak, the bodiless voice spoke again.
"No Neopet I have captured thus far has been able to defeat the Kiko Lake Yooyuball team at their own game. A pity, too...for the Neopets that do succeed will be allowed to flee this place. Fail, however..." and if a voice could smirk, this one did, "...and remain mine, for eternity..."
Date: Jun 18th
...Katri and Peryck gulped nervously, looking at the Kiko Lake team members' emotionless expressions. The strange voice gave one last cackle, and with a sinister-sounding "good luck," lapsed into silence.
Peryck took another stab at bravery. Marching forward until he was face-to-face with one of the players, he demanded angrily, "Why can't you just let us win?"
The Kiko gave a humorless laugh. "Let you win? We only play his foul games day by day in the hopes that, if we gather enough wins, we can finally escape ourselves. We've been here much too long. We can afford no compassion."
Despite her fear, Katri felt a rush of sympathy towards the team. It wasn't as if it were their fault that they had been sucked into a hole in their own lake instead of being able to play in the tournament, like everyone else. At the same time, the Uni was panicking. She had only played Yooyuball once, at a sporting event in her neighborhood. The only one who hadn't yelled at her for constantly fumbling the Yooyu and making passes in the wrong direction was Peryck.
"Here come the other players," another Kiko spoke, her voice monotonous. She gestured limply to the side of the stadium, where three other Neopets were emerging. "They fell into the hole, just like you guys did."
The first Neopet was a trembling Wocky, who, as Katri remembered, had been on the tour boat with them. The next two -- Katri started in surprise -- were the Kiko and the Jetsam.
"You two!" Peryck exploded, advancing on them, recklessly brave as always. "Look what you have done! This... this... this is all your fault!" He glared at both of them, but they did not quail under his furious gaze.
"Look," the Kiko said in a surprisingly calm voice. "I know we've been stupid. I know we got everyone into this mess." He nodded first at Katri, Peryck, and the Wocky, and then to the Kiko Lake team. "I never wanted to get my own team into so much trouble. But I have a plan that will get ALL of us out of here safely."
"Well, what is it?" the Acara growled impatiently.
The Kiko was about to respond when the cold, harsh voice interrupted. "It's time. Players, take your positions."
The Kiko Lake team immediately spread out into what looked like a well-rehearsed arrangement, with two players in front, two players behind them, and the goalie at the net. After a moment of hesitation, the remaining Neopets took random positions on the field, and the Jetsam went to guard the goal.
"What's your plan?" Peryck hissed, more urgently, but then the rock slab in the middle of the field slid open and a wickedly grinning Yooyu emerged...
Date: Jun 19th
...A Darigan Yooyu, Katri realized with dismay. The most uncooperative and contrary-minded of Yooyus that never seemed to go the way it was thrown.
Katri hoped that the Kiko's plan didn't involve actually playing Yooyuball, because there was absolutely no hope that their ragtag group of Neopets could win against the highly trained Kiko Lake team.
Their team's Kiko surged forward, grabbed the Yooyu... and started running toward his own goal?
The Kiko Lake players looked confused. Most of the Neopets they'd faced had gone immediately for their goal in hopes that they'd get lucky and score.
The Kiko, holding the Yooyu tightly, motioned for the rest of the Neopets to gather around.
"Look," the Kiko whispered quickly. "Why do you think the voice keeps kidnapping Neopets and forcing them to play Yooyuball? For that matter, why do you think it chose to kidnap a Yooyuball team in the first place?" He didn't wait for an answer. "It finds it amusing! It enjoys pitting two desperate teams against each other, and it finds sadistic glee in seeing one team fail, to be sent to their doom.
If we want it to stop, then we have to make sure that it stops being fun for him."
"How?" Peryck asked.
"It told us what it would do if we won. It told us what it would do if we lost. But it said nothing about what it would do if we tied. But even a tied game might be exciting... if any goals are actually scored. We need a 0-0 tie. We need to make sure, whatever happens, that the other team never even touches the Yooyu."
"Wouldn't it just keep us here and make us play again?" Katri pointed out.
"Maybe once, or twice... but eventually it would get bored. It might let us all go if it sees that it won't be able to keep the game going. Either way, it's our only hope. Unless you have any ideas?"
No one did.
"Okay then," the Kiko said. "We stay here. If we can just make it until time runs out, we'll have our tie."
The Kiko Lake players were starting to grow impatient, and the two forward players were making their way towards the other team.
"They're coming this way!" Katri cried.
"Guard the ball!" the Jetsam ordered, surging forward to meet the other team. Peryck followed right behind, and with the Wocky staying behind to guard their goal, Katri was last in line.
The Jetsam tackled one of the Kiko Lake players, but the other batted Peryck aside as though he were no more than a pest, leaving only Katri between the Kiko and the Yooyuball...
Date: Jun 19th
...Katri felt a numbing heaviness drop down upon her. This is it, she thought, as the huge, burly professional player came toward her. I can’t possibly guard the ball against him. So she did the only useful thing she could think of, which was to lie down in the grass at his feet, hugging the Yooyu close to her body.
It was a disgusting Yooyu, of course, prickly and oily, with a vile thrashing tail, seething red eyes and foul, smoky breath. But Katri clung on to it as though it were the one treasure in Neopia. She did not care that she was breaking the rules of the game, or that the player was shaking his head at her in disbelief -- all that mattered was the ticking down of the game time.
“Dear Sloth!” exclaimed the Kiko Lake player. “What are you doing?”
“Please, you mustn’t score,” said Katri. “We must manage a tie -- neither of us can afford to lose. Or would you rather stay here for eternity?”
The other Kiko Lake players had gathered round. “You have a point,” one of them said ponderously. “We don’t seem to be going anywhere, however hard we play.”
“Hey, that was my idea,” said the Kiko tour guide, approaching.
“Well, it was also your idea to come down here in the first place,” growled the Jetsam, “to find out what happened to the Kiko Lake Yooyuball team. And now look at our predicament.”
“You were the one who mistimed our appearance,” the Kiko fired back. “If we’d come exactly at 5pm, as the old legend said, we might’ve vanquished the unseen evil and won a magic Yooyu. But now our greatest hope is to get out alive.”
“You dragged us all into this too,” said Petryck angrily. “Next time, risk your own life and not the lives of your passengers.”
“Well, we’re also rescuing our Yooyuball heroes,” shrugged the Jetsam.
A member of the Kiko Lake Yooyuball team cuffed him lightly on the head. “Very valiant of you,” he said, “but you were motivated by greed, just like us. Nobody will ever get that magic Yooyu to win an unfair advantage, haven’t you learned? We paid for our mistake by being kicked out of the Altador Cup, and possibly being imprisoned here forever. Don’t repeat our mistake!”
Katri released the Darigan Yooyu, seeing that none of the players were reaching for it, and stood up, brushing herself. “So now we wait the game out,” she said, as cheerfully as she could manage.
The players moved around a bit, the Yooyu rolled onto the grass neglected, and the timer ticked. The shy Wocky wandered off and started to examine some blades of grass. Finally the unseen voice seemed to become aware that something unusual was happening.
“Why are none of you scoring any goals?” it roared.
“Sorry to ruin your entertainment,” Petryck called out, “but we’ve decided as a team that we’re not going to be your puppets. That’s right. We’re one team, not two. We’ve united against you, stupid voice.”
The game time ticked down to zero.
“AUUUUuuuurGGhh!” moaned the voice. “This isn’t fun anymore! Fine, leave, all of you. Get out of my sight and don’t come near here again!”
The Kiko Lake tour guide looked at his watch. “Guess what,” he said. “It’s just past 5pm. The spell’s breaking.”
Their gazes travelled to the Darigan Yooyu, which was Darigan no longer, but pulsating deep gold. Rainbows seemed to gleam around it... It was the magic Yooyu!
The Kiko and the Jetsam felt themselves dragged back by four professional Yooyuballers.
“Out, now,” said the captain. “We’ve all caused enough trouble as it is. Now let’s get out before we’re shut in here for the rest of eternity.”
The Neopets hurried back the way they came, until the grass faded and they were once more surrounded by water and corals.
“Why do they always have to ruin all the fun?” sulked the voice, as its prey receded from under its gaze.
* * * * *
“Well, I certainly am never going on a cruise again,” gasped Katri, when Petryck had helped her to shore.
“Hey, you’ve got to admit, it was exciting,” said Petryck.
Katri looked around at the Kiko Lake Yooyuballers, who were being welcomed by the crowd with open arms. A few of the villagers spotted Petryck and Katri, and started to come toward them, waving hysterically.
“I guess you’re right,” said Katri hurriedly, “although, I’ve had enough of being a hero for one day. Let’s go hide in some small inn and grab some food, shall we?”
“Sounds good,” said Petryck.
Deep in the gloom of the Lake, the magic Yooyu rolled, shining weakly in the muddiness of impossible desire.
Date: Jun 20th
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