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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 373
You are on Week 374
Week 375

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 Four Ends June 27

The roof was crumbling now, shaking apart as chunks of stone fell like crumbs from bread. Thin beams of sunlight began to stream through the cracks, eerily illuminating the folding sandy walls. A rather large boulder crashed next to the adventurer, who nimbly rolled aside. His tour guide had long fled, but no thoughts of escape crossed the Lutari's mind. He had come here to see the rumoured Moonlight Vase, and he'd never failed yet on any of his expeditions.

Even now, he could see the lovely porcelain tint of the vase, reflecting the increasing sunlight. It sat there, tranquil, untouched, and undisturbed by the walls coming down around it. He'd never let something so beautiful be forever lost to time. Deftly avoiding another large, falling chunk of the roof, he rolled towards the vase and slipped it neatly into his bag...

* * * * *

"Roxton, I do not know what I am going to do with you! You are a shame to the family name! Slacking in your studies?!? No Colchester has not graduated at the top of his class, and here you are, skipping classes and in danger of not passing!"

Roxton gazed lazily around as his father droned on. The cold, pristine interior of his father's study was an unpleasant contrast to the warmth of the jungle he had been in yesterday. Not to mention, his father's 15-minute lecture was hardly a good substitute for the singing tropical birds.

"Look, at least it was for a school assignment, eh?" the Lutari finally interrupted with a wink. "The museum curator said he would give me the highest honours. If he could." He could've sworn his father changed several shades of red.

"We sent you to that university so you could have the finest education, not so you could muck around as the museum's errand boy!"

Roxton shrugged. "They say the best teacher is experience. I'm just actively seeking out the teacher."

"You are the most reckless youth I have ever been cursed to deal with," his father said in exasperation. "We'll see if a spell in the university overseas will teach you to be more responsible. Pack your things..."

Author: The Adventures of Young Roxton
Date: Jun 20th
* * * * *

As Roxton packed up his belongings a slow grin spread across his face and danced up to his eyes. Going overseas felt to him to be more like a reward than a punishment. He was certain he’d find plenty of things to keep him occupied while at his new university. The fact that it was situated just ten miles from the site where a mysterious stone carving had been found the previous year made this trip seem almost too good to be true to the young Lutari.

The most difficult part of the journey was keeping the straight, sad looking expression on his face until after he’d waved goodbye to his parents. One stray smile and he was afraid his father would be suspicious and change his mind about sending him away.

The journey was a long one but Roxton found he had plenty to do, studying the crumbly old books he’d borrowed from the museum’s library and all the details he’d found of the old stone carving. He drew maps and diagrams and made detailed plans of the one-man exploration he had in mind. He knew the stone was much more than it appeared to be. While the rest of Neopia seemed content to write it off as a simple stone carving, he felt strangely drawn to it. There was something about it. He didn’t know what. He couldn’t quite place his paw on it, but he knew he was going to find out.

As Roxton disembarked the ship with his bag flung lightly over his left shoulder, he looked around taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the seaside town -- his new home. He glanced around slowly, looking for the man from the university who had been sent to meet him.

Then suddenly he felt his bag being yanked away from his shoulder from behind, with such a force that he was knocked to the dusty ground. Two of his fingers bent backwards as he fell causing the Lutari to scream out in pain and shock.

Twisting his body around in the dirt he caught sight of a purple blur running away down the path, with Roxton’s bag trailing behind.

“Stop! Thief! Stop them! They’ve got my bag!” The Lutari yelled as he scrambled to his feet. A few of the merchants and travelers glanced over in his direction but no-one seemed prepared to help him. He began to chase after the bag-thief himself but could no longer see the purple blur or his bag, so he could only run in the vague direction he’d seen them disappear into. He soon ran out of the town and came to a stop near the edge of a large tropical jungle. Glancing around, he saw some footprints in the dust around him. They were quite far apart, so it appeared as though whoever had made them had been running at the time. Hoping rather than believing the footprints belonged to the thief, he pushed his way into the rainforest, knocking branches aside with his arm, looking around for any more clues as to where the thief had gone.

He saw something shiny glinting in a beam of sun that was falling through the branches before him and he bent over to pick it up. He’d just gripped it tightly in his paw when the ground seemed to give way beneath him and everything went dark...

Author: jellybeanott
Date: Jun 23rd
* * * * *

A dull throbbing behind his eyes was the first thing that Roxton felt as he was lying on the hard, cold ground. He cracked open an eye, but wherever he was, there was no light to see anything by. Hard cold ground, no light... wait a sec, where am I? Roxton thought.

He jumped up, suddenly fully awake, but that was a mistake. The entire world started spinning, and he fell down to his knees, gripping his head. He thought hard. What happened to him, after he disembarked the ship? Then he remembered; that purple blur, chasing it through the jungle, and picking up a shiny object.

He grimaced to himself. For someone interested in preserving and discovering rare artifacts, it was nearly impossible to resist picking something shiny off the ground. The more he thought about it, though, the more he thought that something about this entire situation was odd. That was when he recalled what he originally thought was a dream; he saw some blurry form leaping out from the corner of his eye, striking him with incredible force on the back of his head, and darkness swallowing him whole.

Foul play! Roxton thought, but his triumph was short lived, as a voice spoke out of the darkness that surrounded him.

Roxton jumped; he hadn’t known he had been thinking out loud.

“Very clever, my dear boy.” The voice sounded like it was coming from a deep well, reverberating in a way that suggested whoever was speaking was very far away. “My employers were convinced you would never figure out foul play was what put you in this deep cavern, but I told them otherwise. I was right, of course. You are far too clever by half.”

Roxton tried to speak, but found that his voice wasn’t working. He started to get nervous; what kind of people could make someone’s voice stop working?

“Don’t be alarmed if you find you can’t speak; you’ve been unconscious for some time. You will find some water to your right, in the pack I left for you.”

Roxton groped around for the pack, pulled out the water, and gratefully gulped down what tasted like the most delicious liquid he had ever had in his entire life.

Gasping for air after swallowing what seemed like an entire swimming pool's worth of water, all he could think about was how great that water tasted, which was just as well since the voice continued speaking.

“You are wondering what you are doing in a dark cavern, no doubt. I will try to make my words brief and to the point, since time is of the essence.” It paused. “My employers are seeking for a certain artifact, buried deep beneath the earth. They have been searching for it for years, and have finally traced its origins back to these caverns. Unfortunately, they themselves are... unable to retrieve the artifact. In the pack you will find a partially completed map that will help guide you past the first few dangers.”

The voice could somehow sense his confusion at that. It laughed coldly. “You are by no means the first adventurer to venture in these caves, dear boy. Hopefully you are the last, for my employers are getting quite anxious to have their hands on this artifact you are to find.”

Finally, Roxton found his voice. “What artifact is it that I am supposed to find?”

“You will be looking for a ring composed of twining leaves of gold and silver.”

Roxton felt his jaw drop. “You sent me down to this dark abyss to find you a RING?!”

“Silence, boy! This is not just any ring... well, that does not matter. What does matter is that you find the ring. If you do not, you will not make it out alive.”

Something thumped down on the ground next to him.

“There are three torches in the bundle I dropped for you. Make them last, for they are all you will get. Good luck, for your own sake...”

Author: plutoplus1
Date: Jun 23rd
..."My sake! I'm not really liking the way you said that!" Roxton screamed. The voice didn't reply. It was evident that it was long gone, and it was time for Roxton to proceed with his quest.

"Torches," he told himself as he unbundled the pack of provisions the voice had provided him. "Three torches and no way to light them. Yeah. Thanks, ominous voice! I can see why no one's ever retrieved the ring."

Despite lacking a way to ignite it, Roxton removed one of the torches and kept a tight grip on it as he flung the rest of the provisions in the bag over his left shoulder. "Ignite!" he told the torch. Nothing happened. "Fire! Burn! Light! Eh. Worth a shot."

Keeping his free right hand against the wall, Roxton tried to mentally draw a map of the caverns, ignoring the one he'd just been given. "If the map was anywhere near accurate," he reasoned, "someone would have found the ring by now."

The Lutari reached a four way intersection and pulled out the map. He glanced unbelievingly at it, straining his eyes just to see it in the pitch black darkness he was in. The map showed an intersection, but it was well into the cave past an open ledge and a three way intersection, neither of which Roxton had passed.

Blindly choosing to turn right so as to keep his free hand on the wall, Roxton kept taking baby steps until reaching a slight dip in the path. The dip was on the map, but it was on the other side of the cavern. According to the map, it was a dead end.

Roxton began to walk backwards until reaching a wall where the four-way intersection once was. "I have a theory," he thought out loud. The Lutari returned to where the dip was and arrived at a three-way intersection. "The cavern is constantly changing. It's... alive, in a sense."

Roxton tossed the map aside and began to scrape the torch along the wall in hopes of the spark igniting the flame. Once the Lutari picked up enough speed, the torch ignited a small flame bright enough for him to see the gaping hole in front of him. Roxton instinctively leaped over the chasm, but dropped the torch as he grabbed onto the ledge. He looked back to see the torch continuing to tumble down the seemingly bottomless pit.

"Wow. Just...wow."

Using the same technique to light his second torch, he turned back around to see the chasm was no longer there. "I'm getting nowhere going in circles. This is going to hurt a little bit, but it's the only way," he said to himself.

The Lutari casually walked over to the intersection where the chasm once was and snuffed the torch out. He closed his eyes and prepared himself for impact. After a few seconds, the floor opened up and Roxton began to plummet below...

Author: vinnyvinny2
Date: Jun 24th
...into an abyss that never seemed to end.

A scream -- half exhilaration, half utter terror -- escaped his mouth as he tumbled downward, further into the neverending blackness.

A strange mixture of giddiness and fear overwhelmed him, and yet, as he fell, he began to laugh. This was what he lived for. Exploration. Excitement. Danger. Even in the middle of a horrifyingly dangerous task that he didn't even want to complete, he could still appreciate it.

And then it was over, and the Lutari hit a soft, thick layer of something that tickled his fur.

Still, the breath was momentarily knocked out of his lungs, and Roxton spent a few seconds just laying there, gasping for breath and spitting out copious amounts of something dry and bitter that made its way in.

The air was warm here, perhaps even stifling. But somehow, it was sweet, more natural. Yes, that was it. It smelled like the outdoors, like the tropical forests he so loved to explore. Cautiously, he managed to pull himself into a sitting position. It was difficult; as he moved, he sunk further into the thick pile of debris. Carefully, he wormed his way over to the side until he found a wall and re-lit his torch.

The sudden light was a bit startling, and he squinted, trying to adjust to it. Even the short fall had seemed like an eternity of darkness.

He looked skyward first. The pit appeared to closed over him again. This time, it did not open. He gulped. He was trapped. Roxton hoped he'd made the right choice.

He was now in a pit, with tall, stone walls that seemed to stretch up forever. The dry, bitter-tasting layer that coated the floor was myriad dead leaves, brown and lifeless, but still comforting nonetheless.

Leaves? Roxton's eyebrows furrowed; he was underground. Where had they come from?

The Lutari's gaze went further sideways still, and he gasped in an awed breath.

Growing in the center of the pit was a tree.

But not any tree, no, not anything that had ever graced Neopia's surface. This one seemed tall enough to reach the stars, with huge, vast branches that spanned the pit -- Roxton was amazed he hadn't been impaled by them as he fell. Its leaves were like indigo and cerulean fans, bright and otherworldly. They seemed to glow, like they absorbed the torch's feeble light. Clusters of bright yellow fruits dotted the fringes of the branches, looking unbelievably juicy and tempting.

It was so beautiful...

It was impossible to tear his eyes from the utter magnificence, and yet, he somehow managed to see the door, the small, insignificant passageway halfway up the wall.

So that was it. He had to climb the tree to move on.

A grin spread across Roxton's face. At last, something easy.

He snuffed out the torch once more and stowed it in his knapsack. The tree's leaves were still glowing, a million blue and purple suns. The Lutari fought his way through the dead leaves, making towards the brilliant tree's trunk.

He began to climb, completely unaware of what lurked in the branches above him...

Author: dianacat777
Date: Jun 24th
...The Guardian stirred. She sensed the presence of an intruder -- the latest of many who had approached her tree recently.

She had remained entwined in the branches of the Celestial Tree for almost as far back as she could remember. She held dim memories of a time before she had been charged with guarding the Ring of Eternity, when she had been nothing more than an ordinary Hissi, and when she had possessed a name...

She had forgotten her old name. Now she was simply the Guardian.

The necklace she wore was enchanted. It could be removed by none besides the Guardian herself, and the spells worked upon it gifted the Guardian with a greatly prolonged lifespan. In that dim time before she resided in the tree's branches, she could remember spells being worked upon her that caused her to grow to an abnormal length and enabled her to change the color of her scales to match her surroundings.

Right now, her scales blended in perfectly with the bark of the Celestial Tree. Slowly, carefully, she slithered down to meet the intruder.

* * * * *

Roxton was almost there! Just a few more branches higher, and he would be able to enter the next passage.

Still, he felt a bit wary. Somehow, this seemed altogether too easy.

I really shouldn't be so paranoid. He shook his head. I ought to be grateful that I haven't run into any puzzles I couldn't solve...

There was a sudden rustling in the leaves above him, and he looked up.

Nothing.

Probably just a draft...

Suddenly, a brown Hissi shot out of the foliage, entangling the Lutari in her coils before he could react.

"Aah! What are you doing?" Roxton yelped.

The Hissi's ancient amber eyes bore into his. "Intruder," she hissed. "Why have you come here?"

"Ah, you see, I'm looking for this ring, so if you would just let me go I'll be on my way. Sorry to bother you." The Lutari grinned ingratiatingly.

The Hissi's expression did not change. "Why do you seek the Ring of Eternity?" she asked.

Is that what it's called? Roxton wondered. "Well, I didn't exactly have a choice. I was tricked and thrown into this cavern, and I was told that I had to find the ring if I wanted to get out alive," he explained.

The Hissi blinked slowly. "Very well, I will let you pass..."

Roxton let out a sigh of relief.

"...if you can tell me the password," she finished.

Roxton's heart sank. No one had said anything about a password!

"Um, let me see if I can, er, remember," he stammered, trying to stall for time.

He caught a glimpse of the necklace around the Hissi's neck and felt his heart skip a beat.

On the amulet hanging from the center of the necklace was that very same design that had been on the mysterious stone carving that had drawn his interest.

"That design," he asked the Hissi, "what does it mean?"

"Tell me the password," she repeated, ignoring the question.

He could remember reading something in one of the myriad tomes he had read during his research -- something about the meaning of the enigmatic carving.

Perhaps that was the password? He had no other ideas, and the Hissi wouldn't wait forever.

Now, if only he could remember what it was...

Sky? No, that wasn't it. Star? Planet? No, no... why can't I remember?!

"My patience grows thin, Lutari. Speak the password now! I will not ask again."

"I... I... it's on the tip of my tongue, I swear..." Roxton's mind was racing, trying to dredge up the memory of what the book had said.

The Hissi opened her mouth, baring two long, white fangs, and drew back as if to strike.

Suddenly, something clicked in the Lutari's brain.

"Wait!" Roxton cried. "The password is..."

Author: cookybananas324
Date: Jun 25th
..."Aborala."

The Guardian's tongue flickered out, tasting the air. The Lutari was speechless with terror like all the others, so scared he wasn't even blurting out gibberish words like they always had; he was hers now, another unworthy seeker, and she'd be well fed tonight --

And then the amulet flashed once, jerking her backwards and snapping her great maw shut.

The password. This one knew the password.

"How did you know?" she hissed. Her widening eyes were burning like red flames, but she could not attack. Magic would be magic.

Roxton wiped a bead of sweat from his brow. "The carving." His voice was quicker and shakier than he'd intended, but that hardly mattered now, didn't it? "That design on your amulet is the exact same one as the carving on Aborala shores. That's why I came to this place... and got dragged into this insane chase."

A long sigh escaped the Hissi's mouth, even though her face remained expressionless. "The runes? There are more than one, and yes, the one at the nearby shores is the sign of Eternity. Indeed, you are sharper than those before you. It was from that magical stone that the ring you seek was carved from, and later enchanted into so-called precious metal to hide its origin."

"Well, erm..." Roxton wasn't keen on rushing the giant Hissi; bugging something the size of Kastraliss wasn't high on his to-do list. "Err, can I go now?"

The Guardian hesitated, and for once, her face was animated with a trace of emotion. She started to shake her head, but the amulet flashed again with heat, causing her to wince. She slithered a fraction to the side. "Yes. You may. But please, young Lutari. Turn back. You cannot give the ring to them."

"What?" Roxton was eager to move on, away from this oversized Neopet, but curiosity got the better of him. He'd been wondering about his mysterious employers' motives for ages. "Why not? I have to get out of here someday, you know."

The Guardian's face was impassive again. "Sometimes, you may have to place the future of Neopia before your own, Lutari. There are six rings to the set, and they have already used adventurers like yourself to collect the other five. I protect the last. They were separated for a reason, guarded for a reason. Together, all six united, these rings could be used to bend and shape Neopia's dimens--"

"Who are 'they'?" Roxton interrupted.

"You really want to know? They are..."

Author: dianacat777
Date: Jun 25th
"...the Hunters. That is what they call themselves, and that is what they are. I know little of them, and the rest of Neopia knows not of them at all."

"But I fear I have said too much. It is your decision whether or not you continue, for you know the password." The Guardian started to disappear, her scales slowly melting into the tree, and her voice fading into nothing.

"Wait, I have more questions. What do the rings do? Why can't they get them by themselves?"

A hiss so quiet, it was as if it had never sounded, rang in his ear.

"They cannot retrieve them, for the moment they set foot in the presence of a Ring's domain, forces are unleashed. Now go, before I disclose information to you that need not be said."

Roxton couldn't think of anything to say. He didn't know that the necklace prevented the Guardian from touching him, and he feared she would eat him at any moment. He looked up again. The Guardian had disappeared.

"Thank you," he called out. "for everything..." Roxton stopped. He didn't know what to call her. It did sound a little weird to say, "Thanks, random tree guardian."

"What do I call you?" he shouted, preparing to begin his ascent again.

"Amarise," the Guardian said, not thinking. Wait, how did she know that? She stopped in puzzlement. Yes, her name was Amarise, but she had never remembered it until now.

What was it about this Neopet, still so young, that sparked her memory? She hadn't met him before, and yet he had brought forth a subconscious memory. She watched him scale the tree, quickly pulling himself up its side and among the branches. She decided to follow him and slithered off silently.

Roxton stared up into the uppermost leaves of the tree. Their luminescent glow was growing stronger with every branch higher he went. They cast an ominous shadow below him, and he dared to look down.

Nothing but darkness.

He lifted his head to start climbing again, and ran straight into...

Author: regelam93
Date: Jun 26th
...the Guardian again. The amulet flared briefly as Roxton fell back through the branches. He barely caught himself, the lower half of his body dangling off the limb he had frantically grabbed onto. The oversized Hissi watched him struggle into the upright position.

Once the Lutari had righted himself on the tree branch, he called angrily up to the Guardian. "I thought you said I could pass!" He had been sure she was behind him. Being caught off guard was most undignified.

Instead of answering him, she asked, "What are you called, intruder?"

"Roxton. Now, can I please pass?"

The guardian closed her eyes in exasperation. "No. I have decided you need to be told of the dangers that will befall Neopia if you leave with the Ring of Eternity. The Hunters will possess all six of the rings. With their combined power- are you listening?"

The young adventurer wasn't. He was busy attempting to climb around the Hissi while she was distracted. He froze at the tone of her voice.

"Listen!" she berated him. "The six rings together can change the reality of Neopia. The Ring of Eternity is the last piece that needs to be reunited with the other five. With the five rings already gathered, the Hunters could change Neopia. But they would have no control over the changes. With the last ring, they can choose what will happen. They can destroy Neopia as we know it."

"Oh," said the Lutari, humbled. "That's why you don't want me to take the Ring of Eternity. Heh." A thought occurred to him, and he turned sharply. "If I can get to this ring, it means other adventurers will, too. How can you be sure they won't take it?"

Amarise eyed him thoughtfully. "Does that mean you do not wish to take the ring of eternity?"

"Yes."

"Then I think you are ready for the next piece of information. The Ring of Eternity is different than the others. It has the ability to teleport the holder to anywhere they wish. All it takes is a thought and the password."

The Lutari gaped at her. "You mean I could go anywhere?"

The Guardian nodded. "You have a strange ability, intruder. I didn't know my name before you asked it. Now I recall my name and much more. I think you will be able to care for the ring better than I. Besides, you seem to have done well by yourself so far."

"So now you WANT me to take the Ring of Eternity? You want me to take the ring that can teleport me anywhere I wish?" Roxton couldn't believe his luck. He began to climb hurriedly to the top of the tree. The glow of the leaves grew stronger with every branch. He couldn't contain his glee. He, Roxton, was going to be the greatest adventurer of all time!

"Not that way," Amarise called from below him. He looked down again, but could only see the next few branches and the blackness. Very slowly, he climbed down the tree. Amarise met him at the bottom.

"The ring is in the roots." She pointed to a small hollow at the base of the tree that Roxton had missed in his haste to reach the top of the tree. He reached inside it and clutched a small box. Inside the box glistened the ring.

He reached out to it with a broad smile on his face. The treasure was in his grasp!

"Remember," the Guardian cautioned, breaking into his thoughts. "You must keep this with you at all times. Do not let it out of your sight. If the Hunters know you have the ring, they will try to take it from you."

Roxton nodded. The few hours in this strange place had changed him immensely. No longer was he the rash Lutari who had gotten himself in this mess. Now he was a Guardian of the ring, just like Amarise, who was speaking to him again.

"Don't forget to come visit me," she was saying as he slipped the ring on his finger. "There is much more to tell you about the ring. Roxton... don't do anything rash-..."

Author: frenchhorntooter
Date: Jun 26th
...He looked into her eyes. "I won't. I promise."

The ring flashed once, like a warning beacon. Roxton closed his eyes and whispered, "Aborala. Take me home."

The cavern flooded with light and the Lutari disappeared, but not without giving Amarise one last wave. It was only when he had completely vanished that the Hissi turned away and spoke, even though there was no one there to hear her, "Good luck, friend."

* * * * *

Stars twinkled in an inky sky, a moon hung low in the horizon. The peaceful darkness of the night was shattered by an explosion of gold.

Roxton gasped and stumbled as his feet hit the ground. He blinked, looked up then broke into a smiled. It worked! It had actually worked! At the edge of a cobblestone street a small house stood; he was home.

Roxton shook his head in wonder. All of it... It was all too amazing... How could he possibly describe the exhilaration of teleportation? Or the beauty of the underground tree? It was all too... too... incredible.

Roxton grinned as he walked along the path that led up to his house. Boy, would he have a story to tell.

He never got there.

A figure leapt out of the shadows, quick and lithe. One hand grabbed his arm while the other silenced his cry, pulling him into the shadows. Roxton struggled, but his captor was much too powerful. Roxton choked back a gasp of pain as he was thrown against a wall. He was backed up against the wall, cornered, no escape, imprisoned by a pair of strong arms.

Gaze narrowed by agony, he tried to catch a glimpse of his attacker. He recognized him immediately. Or rather, her.

"You," he hissed.

Sharp teeth glinted in the moonlight as lips curled back into a smirk. "Yes, me."

Before him stood a purple Zafara with dark eyes, dressed in midnight clothes. The thief. The one who had started it all.

A violet tail swished back. "Now... I understand you have something I need..."

Roxton's fingers curled around the object. "And what if I don't?"

The Zafara snarled. "Don't play dumb with me. There's no way you could've gotten out of that cavern without getting the treasure first."

"You're a Hunter, aren't you?"

His words seemed to surprise her, for she blinked. But the brief vision of astonishment was soon washed away by malice. "So you know of us, hmm? Well... all the more reason to kill you.... Of course, I'll let you go alive if you give me the ring."

"What ring?"

There was a cold feeling against his neck that Roxton identified as a dagger and he realized it was better not to taunt her. If he wanted to live, he had to give the ring to her, to the Hunters.

But of course, he'd never do that. Oh no. There was still one other option...

He had promised Amarise that he wouldn't do anything rash. But sometimes promises had to be broken.

"All right, all right. It's in my bag, I'll give it to you."

A pause.

"Umm, you're going to have to let me down if you want it."

Eyes narrowed suspiciously, the Zafara let Roxton sink from his pinned spot on the wall. As soon as his feet hit the ground, the Lutari took off, running as fast as his legs could carry him. He heard the Zafara cursing behind him and knew she was pursuing him.

The dark houses were nothing but blurs as Roxton ran. His mind was running just as fast. He had to think of something, a plan, fast. There was no way he could outrun her, she'd catch up and... well, he didn't really want to think of what would happen next.

And then he had it.

Roxton turned a sharp corner and quickened his sprint. He heard footsteps behind him, the Zafara was catching up. In the distance, he could see shapes rising from the horizon, disfigured by the night. He was almost there.

He could almost feel the hot breath of the Zafara on his neck when he reached the docks. His feet pounded on the wood, echoing loudly into the silent night. A canopy of stars mixed into the calm ocean, it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended.

Roxton reached the end of the dock and turned around, breathing hard. The Zafara was closer, in a few seconds she would reach him.

Back to the sea, Roxton clutched a small object between his fingers and held his hand up high. "You want it?" he shouted. "Well you've got to go get it."

With all his force, Roxton threw it. It sparkled once before it was lost in the waves, carried away, never to be found again.

The Zafara growled in rage and glared daggers at him. "You will never be forgiven for this! The Hunters will find you!" With those last words, she hurled herself into the ocean, searching for something she would never find.

Roxton chuckled as the purple form disappeared. He turned away and walked back home. There was no way she'd ever be able to find the ring. She could search for eternity, they all could. But they'd never find it there. The most they would discover would be a small shard engraved with a mysterious symbol, embedded halfway in murky sand.

And the ring would be where it belonged, nestled in the roots of a mystical tree and guarded by an even more mysterious Hissi.

Because no matter how great a treasure may be, sometimes they were better left untouched.

The End

Author: reveirie
Date: Jun 27th



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