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||You are on Week 383
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 Eighty Three Ends Friday, September 12
Nyeni tilted her head back, bringing her face up to meet the sun's brilliant rays. It was a nice change to have sunshine instead of the Terror Mountain snow she was used to, but after a week on Mystery Island, the novelty was starting to wear off a little. Even lying on a beautiful sandy beach for hours on end was beginning to lose some of its charm. Despite being a place that was known for its mysteriousness, Mystery Island was, well, pretty straightforward, in the Kyrii's opinion. Where was the excitement, the adventure?
"I guess the island lifestyle is just too laid-back for me," she murmured with a sigh. "I never thought I'd be glad to go back to the blizzards and ice storms, but all this sun is starting to get to me."
The Kyrii closed her eyes and lay back on her beach towel. Just a few more days...
The wind started slowly at first, but soon it was flapping the edges of Nyeni's towel and sending gusts of stinging sand hurtling through the air. The Kyrii sat up and lowered her sunglasses. The sky above her was no longer the rich, serene blue she had grown used to -- now it was angry, filled with dark grey clouds that were heavy with snow. Thunder rolled deep within the cloudbank. As Nyeni stared in amazement, a few tiny snowflakes began to weave their way down from the clouds.
She put out her paw to catch one and gazed at it in shock. Then, as if someone had opened a gate in the clouds, a torrent of snow came pelting down. Nyeni didn't even have time to gather up her belongings before trudging through the rapidly thickening snow to find cover. As she slogged along the white-blanketed beach toward her hut, the Kyrii looked up at the horizon, trying to determine where the storm had come from. Her jaw dropped. Techo Mountain was no longer breathing out a long streamer of smoke -- it was erupting, only instead of lava, snow was now fountaining from it...
Editor's Note: Starting this week, only one winner will be chosen on the day a new Storytelling Contest is posted, and two winners will be chosen on Fridays. Thanks for your patience and keep sending your stories!
Author: Winter Is Coming|
Date: Sep 2nd
For a moment, all Nyeni could do was stare in shock.
"The vacation leaflet didn't say anything about this..."
Mystery Island never saw snow. Never.
But what else could it be? The Kyrii blinked a few times, shaking her head, but the streams of purest white emerging from the volcano's peak did not vanish or change colour to a more explainable (if no less reassuring) fiery orange. The volcano was no doubt erupting, but this was by no means the usual eruption...
What could possibly cause this?
The unusual turn in weather had not passed unnoticed by the other beach-goers. Tourists stared and pointed in puzzlement, whereas some of the locals fled, screaming of bad omens and prophecies and doom.
The Kyrii frowned. I must go to the mountain. I need to find out what's going on.
Nyeni knew she was an adept mountain climber. And while the week of sun and sea might have softened her a little, she was quite used to freezing air and howling gusts.
You have no equipment, her pessimistic side noted wryly.
And then a giant chunk of something much more solid than ice hurtled out of the mountain's lip. Coming straight at her. With a shriek, Nyeni leapt back, and the block of what appeared to be ice crashed to the shadowed sand a few metres away from the edge of the beach, where it met the jungle.
But it wasn't merely ice.
Without really thinking, instinctively, the Kyrii started toward the chunk of ice, making her way through the thinning throng of beach-goers toward the dense island jungle.
Frozen in the block of ice, unseeing eyes wide and horrified, was Jhuidah...
Date: Sep 2nd
The Kyrii gaped for a moment, her jaw hanging in absolute surprise and awe. The snow falling on the pristine sand had been one thing, but seeing the Island's guardian encased in crystallised ice was another matter altogether.
Frantic, Nyeni glanced around, seeking help. A few tourists peered out from the windows of beach huts.
"It's Jhuidah! We need to help her!"
The pleas for assistance went unanswered, of course. Everyone was busy quivering in fear, contacting the Neopian Times or predicting what the fall of snow on Mystery Island meant. If she was going to help Jhuidah, she was going to have to do it alone.
Glancing to her left, the Kyrii observed the crashing dark waves that only an hour ago had been endless cobalt and clear. Not enough snow had fallen yet to dramatically affect the water temperature, the sheer size of the oceanic, tropical sea preventing any instant transition from water to ice. If she could just drag the massive ice cube to the shore...
Inhaling deeply and ignoring the sharp sting of the cold nipping at her toes, the Kyrii shoved her shoulder firmly against the glacial prison that encased the Island Faerie. The only result, however, was that her shoulder was quickly bruised and numb. Glancing around helplessly, the Kyrii noticed the vines that hung lazily between the palms that lined the jungle. Earlier that very week she had watched with amusement as Myncis had used them as playthings, swinging from them and performing the most incredible acrobatics. Now they needed to serve a different purpose.
Grabbing the vines, Nyeni found herself showered in a thick fall of snow; already it was settling on the leaves of the jungle foliage. With a few deft tugs, the vines came free in her paws, and not a moment too soon. The thick, velvety snow was piling deeper and deeper; even for an experienced Terror Mountain resident such as herself, it was making walking incredibly difficult. The Kyrii paused a moment to yearn for the snowshoes tucked safety under her bed back home before looping the vines around the gelid block, knotting them here and there for added strength.
A quick glance to the north confirmed that Techo Mountain was still erupting with ivory flakes at an alarming pace. If this kept up, the entire island was going to be a frozen wasteland. Sure, Nyeni had longed a little for the sunshine and sand to subside, but she certainly hadn't wished the entire tropical oasis to become a ski field!
Grunting and straining, the Kyrii tugged at the knotted vines. Bit by bit the block of ice slid behind her, somewhat assisted by the thickness of the powdery alabaster snow that now veiled the golden sand completely. Inch by inch the Kyrii trudged down the beach, not daring to pause or glance back, lest she again be met by the faerie's unseeing gaze.
Panting heavily, the Kyrii glanced down, shielding her eyes from the sting of the falling flakes. Bit by bit she moved through the wintry terrain, closer and closer to the lapping waves that now met ice instead of shimmering sand. She was only a few feet away when suddenly the ice refused to move any further. Turning to investigate the sudden halt in progress, the Kyrii was met with a sharp shove that sent her sprawling onto the snow with a cry. Slowly she glanced up.
Atop the block of ice, covering Jhuidah's frozen, terrified expression, was one clawed foot...
Date: Sep 3rd
Both the Kyrii and the Krawk spoke at the same time.
"What are you doing here?" they asked.
There was a stare-filled pause, in which Nyeni looked defiant, and Lady Frostbite looked contemptuous. Then the sorceress laughed softly, tossing back her blinding white mane. "I have merely come to do what should have been done long ago," she said. "Get out of the way, puny Neopet. You should be fleeing, like those other Islanders."
"I'm not an Islander. I come from Terror Mountain."
"Then you should appreciate ice and snow, shouldn't you?" The Lady raised an eyebrow. "I'd imagine that you would support my ambition of turning Neopia into a giant snow-cone."
"I won't watch you do it!" Nyeni wasn't sure where the fire in her was coming from. "Jhuidah is the guardian of this sunny island, as precious as Taelia is on Terror Mountain. Every place has its own way of life, don't you see? You can't just... destroy them all!"
"They'll be grateful for it," Lady Frostbite hissed through her teeth. "If the whole world is a frozen wasteland, nobody will ever be abandoned again. Everywhere will have the same icy storms. And I will be Queen of them all!" Nyeni tried to speak, but the Krawk was clicking her claws impatiently. "I repeat, little Neopet, get out of my way. Or do you prefer to spend a hundred years in an ice-cube?"
The Kyrii knew that she was powerless in front of this sorceress. But only for now. She stepped back, fuming, and turned into the frosty jungle. From a safe distance, behind a sad-looking coconut tree that seemed to shiver in the chill, Nyeni watched the movements of Lady Frostbite. The Krawk didn't seem to want to do anything to Jhuidah at the moment -- she was striding along the coastline, casting magic with great satisfaction and causing the surrounding sea to freeze.
Before long all Mystery Island would be gone, and then Lady Frostbite might move on to other lands, freezing all of Neopia...
No. Nyeni had to stop this. She had to free Jhuidah quickly, and then the Island Faerie might be able to do something.
But how could she break down that ice? Lady Frostbite was disappearing into the distance now, leaving an expanding mass of ice in her wake. The surrounding water wasn't liquid anymore.
Nyeni looked back at Techo Mountain and frowned. That snow pouring out of it... it had to be an illusion, hadn't it? The volcano was ancient, steeped in magic. All the best ninjas of the Island went to the volcano for spiritual help. Could Lady Frostbite's power possibly overcome Techo Mountain, the greatest volcano in Neopia?
Well, there was no harm in going to see. Perhaps she could find some Islanders along the way too, someone to help her. The Techo Master, maybe. He wouldn't just sit back and watch the Island get devoured by snow!
Her brow set in a frown of determination, Nyeni sprinted through the frost, swiftly, swiftly, before Lady Frostbite could do any further damage...
Date: Sep 3rd
Recalling the layout of the island from her Tiki Tour two days ago, Nyeni sprinted through the frost-covered foliage, heading deeper into the small jungle separating the beach from the Techo Master's Training School. As she scampered around tropical ferns and tiki palms, a growing mist interrupted the Kyrii's focus, a mist that soon turned to a dense fog.
"Of course," she muttered to herself. "Lady Frostbite may be able to spread snow and ice, but the air here is still hot and humid. The more she freezes, the thicker the fog will get."
Nyeni remembered summer days on Terror Mountain when the warming rays of the Neopian sun would create the same murky effect. She also remembered playing hide and seek as a child on the beclouded slopes, and her mind reeled at the idea of what could be hiding in this foggy jungle. And what could be seeking. Nyeni shivered and slowed her pace to a careful trot.
Following the path, leaves snapped like icicles as she brushed past them, jingling to the ground like elongated emeralds, crackling underfoot like splintered glass. Nyeni brushed past a clump of large tropical flowers blocking her passage, shattering the brilliant petals into jewelled confetti, and burst noisily into a small clearing.
Movement in the middle of the clearing caught her eye and the Kyrii crouched low to make a silent approach. Creeping on the frost-hardened soil, Nyeni slowly neared the rhythmic motion and abruptly stopped when she could make out its form through the fog.
An aged Techo sat in the very centre of the clearing, balancing and swaying on his long, green tail. Wearing a distinctive red gi and sporting a distinguished white beard, he gently rocked with his arms folded across his chest and his eyes closed, as though in a deep trance. Although she had never met him before, Nyeni immediately recognised him as the one she sought: the Techo Master.
Nyeni released a relieved breath and stood to approach the Techo. As she took a step, further movement from the surrounding thicket caught her eye and caused her to take a quick step back toward the protective bushes. She watched as the clearing began to fill with waddling blue and white forms. They encircled the Techo Master and began calling to each other, honking out "Blat?" and responding "Blat!"
The Techo Master's meditation remained undisturbed, and he continued to placidly sway on his tail. Emboldened by the Techo's apparent serenity, Nyeni carefully began her approach again. As she neared the strange beings and could distinctly see them through the mist, the Kyrii had to suppress a giggle at their comic appearance. She could not imagine less menacing-looking creatures than these small Petpets with their over-sized orange beaks, rounded tummies, and smiling eyes.
Nyeni held up a hand in friendly greeting and the weight of her responsibility burst out in a relieved babble. "Hi there! I thought the Tiki Tour acquainted us with all of the inhabitants of Mystery Island, but I'm afraid I didn’t catch the part about you. Are you special assistants to the Techo Master? Secret Ninja aides? We have a problem. Lady Frostbite is threatening to freeze all of Neopia, starting with Mystery Island, and I need the Techo Master's help. If you could intervene for me?"
As she spoke, the creatures turned to each other and appeared to communicate wordlessly. En masse, they turned toward Nyeni, and with eyes slit into intimidating frowns, the mob swarmed toward her, honking out a deafening, honking chorus of "BLAT! BLAT! BLAT!..."
Date: Sep 4th
The Kyrii took an instinctive step back, and a small squeak escaped her mouth before a mass of enraged Petpets fell upon her.
And oh, how it hurt! The cuteness had been fairly deceiving. En masse, the beaks snapping at her were painful.
She shut her eyes, tears beginning to form in her eyes. Why had she taken this stupid vacation after all?
Through the clamour, she somehow managed to hear a faint noise. A rustle. Squinting, she dragged her head up a fraction and opened one eye.
The Techo Master had sprung to action.
He moved like a lightning strike, power and speed beyond mortality. He swept across the clearing too fast for an eye to track, cutting through the frenzy like a Maractite blade. Darblat after Darblat keeled over, unconscious. Nyeni jolted as he knocked all the Darblats on top of her with one well-placed kick, his aim so precise that his foot skimmed her fur.
With one fluid movement, the Techo Master knocked out the last five with one lash of his fist and leapt back to the centre of the clearing, resuming his meditation as if nothing had happened.
Nyeni was left staring at the Techo, completely dumbstruck. It hadn't even taken him twenty seconds to incapacitate hundreds.
At last, she found her tongue. "Thank you," Nyeni began.
He smiled placidly and nodded.
"What were those things?" she continued.
The old Techo opened his mouth to speak and then froze.
Slowly, the aged eyes lifted, staring through the fog, up toward a peak that was smoking. Not snowing, honestly smoking, with no trace of illusion.
"Trouble brews here, young one," he murmured to Nyeni. "The disturbance woke up a much deeper calamity. It may be out of our hands."
"Wh--" Nyeni began, but she was cut off.
The volcano gave a deafening roar, and clouds of fiery ash shot up toward the blackened sky, followed by a single, mighty plume of molten red lava. The Kyrii shrieked.
No. The volcano wasn't roaring. Something alive was.
Moltenus had arisen...
Date: Sep 4th
...and with his arrival, the world was set on fire.
Clouds melted away into a scarlet sky that was turning darker every second as it filled with ash and smoke. Snowflakes dissolved on the spot, like sparks disappearing into the night. The colossal tower of magma collapsed, or so it seemed.
Although most of the fiery substance trickled back into the now smoking crater, a fire still blazed, began to take form. The flames became solid. Moltenus.
He stood there for a moment, staring blankly ahead, like a doll on a shelf. But then he seemed to realise he was liberated, free. Like a puppeteer pulling a marionette's strings, he began to move.
Nyeni watched. Awed and trembling. Unable to think, unable to move.
From snow to flames, a blizzard to lava. Fire and ice. One extreme to the next.
And to think she had come to Mystery Island for a relaxing vacation.
Moltenus roared, sending sparks flickering into the sky. His war cry seemed to snap Nyeni out of her trance.
The Techo Master was grim. "Moltenus has been freed from his fiery prison. The ice must have awakened him."
"What do we do?"
"Find higher ground."
What? Nyeni blinked. A gigantic lava monster had just come out of a volcano and he wanted to find a hill? What was he thinking?
And then it hit her. Oh.
They were surrounded by snow. And ice. And what happened when those two elements heated up?
It didn't take a genius to figure out what happened next.
"I guess we should be going," Nyeni muttered quickly. Already the snow under her feet was starting to feel like slush.
"Indeed," the Techo Master agreed, leaping from his position. He would have to find another time to meditate.
There was no time to waste. They ran. It was hard moving through the snow, but Nyeni pressed on, trying not to slip. She heard more bloodcurdling roars from behind her, but didn't dare look back.
The snow melted.
At first it was just a faint trickle tickling her toes, but then the water started rushing at her ankles, pushing her down as she tried to climb the hill. Hot ashes filled the sky like ebony snowflakes. The island literally seemed to be melting.
"Yes!" Nyemi fell to the ground as she reached the top, panting heavily. The ground was wet, but covered with normal, ordinary grass. She didn't know how long that would last, however. For all she knew, they could be underwater next.
After she regained her breath, Nyemi sat up and gasped.
Mystery Island seemed to have shrunk considerably. The meltwater rushed into the sea and only the highest points were untouched by dark waves. She could see small crowds gathered on hill tops. I didn't mean it when I said this place would be underwater next...
She saw all that in a split second. Her eyes were quickly drawn to something else.
Moltenus stood above the water, at the tip of the volcano. Red flames clashed with the blue waves -- it was impossible not to spot him. He roared.
Nyeni tore her gaze away and looked beside her. The Techo Master was meditating again, eyes closed.
"What do we do now?"
His eyes slowly opened. "There is nothing we can do, child. Only Jhuidah can return Moltenus to his prison. And she's..."
"...trapped in a block of ice right now," Nyeni finished. She felt crushed. The faerie could be somewhere underwater by now.
Nyeni stared blankly ahead at the fire on the sea. "Nothing we can do..." she repeated slowly.
She blinked. What was that? Something bright, moving... cyan against the dark sea.
"Nothing we can do..." she repeated. She jumped up. "You're right, we can't do anything to defeat Moltenus. But I know somebody who can."
It was the snow that had caused this problem in the first place. It would be snow that would finish it.
They would fight fire with ice.
They needed Lady Frostbite...
Date: Sep 5th
And then Nyeni frowned. It was like one of those nightmare math riddles where you had to solve this problem before you could solve the other, bigger one, because it involved some crucial piece you could only get from the first problem. They needed Lady Frostbite, but the villainous Krawk wasn't likely to agree to stay around for the inferno, much less commit an act of heroism right in the middle of it. For that matter, she was making fast tracks away right now; the cyan speck sped away, slipping over the horizon.
There was no one who could possibly catch up to her now. They'd have to be insanely fast... fast enough to take out an army of Petpets in mere seconds...
Nyeni glanced at the Techo Master, whose eyes were already open, like he'd anticipated this. Spooky.
"Can you -- Lady Frostbite, do you think you could catch up to her and make her come back?"
The Techo Master blinked slowly. "I possess many talents," he said, "but walking across water isn't one of them."
"But you're strong, too. You could swim," Nyeni pointed out.
The Master was silent for a few moments. "You're right," he said reluctantly. "But I -- ah, see -- well..." He coughed and mumbled, "I can't swim."
The best martial arts master teacher whatever in all of Neopia -- and he couldn't swim. Nyeni gaped incredulously. "Can't -- you can't swim?"
"Neither can you, so stop nagging," the Techo snapped.
"Yeah, but I live on Terror Mountain. Swimming isn't possible there. But on an island..." The Kyrii shook her head in disbelief. Their last hope of solving all of this. Gone.
The Techo Master stood up, holding his stick tightly.
"What? Are you going to try anyway?" Nyeni asked.
He shook his head, pointing a long finger down the slope they had just struggled up. "No. Them."
"Blat!" called the first Petpets to reach the hilltop. "Blat! Blat!"
Nyeni shrank back from the waddling mass of blue and white. Hadn't they'd been dispatched by the Techo Master?
"They recover fast," the wizened Techo murmured, watching them with fascination.
"What are you waiting for?" Nyeni screeched. "Get rid of them!"
"They could be useful."
"Yeah, useful -- for pecking us to death," the Kyrii snorted, eyeing them.
"Blat," the horde honked. "Blat."
"They can help us," the Techo Master said, turning his head ever so slightly. Listening.
"You understand them?" Nyeni asked doubtfully.
The master nodded. "Blat. Blat. Blat-blat."
"Okay, whatever," Nyeni said, gritting her teeth. "Just get them to get Lady Frostbite to come here."
"Blat. Frostbite. Blat," the Techo said.
"Blat?" was the raucous response.
Nyeni scowled and covered her ears. Those stupid, annoying, clumsy Petpets. All that blatting gave her a headache. "Have we reached an agreement yet?" she asked as there was another round of blats.
"Blat," the Techo Master said with a slight satisfied smile.
"BLAT! BLAT! BLAT!" the Darblats agreed, filling the air with their cries. "BLAT! BLAT! BLAT!"
Nyeni crossed her arms. "They don't have to scream," she grumbled.
"No, but how else would Lady Frostbite hear them?"
The Kyrii glared and stared hard at the ocean. She watched the cyan spot reappear, racing toward what was left of Mystery Island. "So that's it," she said. "Now we wait."
The Techo Master coughed. "Actually," he said, "the thing is, the Darblats told me that Lady Frostbite's help is going to come at a price..."
Date: Sep 5th
"A price?" A worried tone crept into Nyeni's voice.
"Yes, a price." The Techo Master looked out to sea. "She is a villain, after all. Did you expect her to help us out of sheer altruism?"
"I guess not..."
"BLAT! BLAT! BLAT!"
The Krawk drew nearer by the moment, and the closer she got, the more excited the Darblats seemed to become. By now, they were leaping up and down with joy.
"What's the price?" Nyeni asked.
"The Island. The Darblats told me that Lady Frostbite desired to be acknowledged as the supreme ruler of Mystery Island, and she wanted an agreement that none of the residents of the Island would work against her when she covers the Island with ice."
Nyeni spluttered. "What!? She can't... you can't..."
The Techo shrugged. "We really have no choice. Either we give her rulership of the Island... or there will be no Island left at all."
The Kyrii gritted her teeth. It was so unfair! Villains weren't supposed to get what they wanted -- they were supposed to be defeated by heroes!
But the Defenders of Neopia were nowhere to be seen, and there was no way to contact them. They had to make do with what they had, and what they had was a villainous ice mage.
"BLAT! BLAT! BLAT!"
Nyeni hadn't thought that the Darblats could get any louder. Apparently, she had been wrong.
Lady Frostbite appeared to be sliding on top of the water, but upon closer inspection Nyeni could see that the Krawk was forming trails of ice to skate on, trails which quickly melted after she passed.
As the Krawk reached the hilltop, the Darblats went absolutely wild.
"Ah, my loyal subjects!" Lady Frostbite addressed the Petpets, nodding her head in acknowledgment. "And..." she turned to look at Nyeni and the Techo Master, "...you."
The Techo Master looked her in the eye. "Lady Frostbite. We need your help in defeating Moltenus."
"I trust the Darblats have informed you that I will not do it for free?"
Nyeni wanted to yell at the Krawk, berating her for being so utterly selfish. How could she callously manipulate the situation to bring about her own ends when lives were at stake?
But the Kyrii remained silent, letting the Techo Master do all the talking.
"I cannot promise you anything on my own," said the Techo Master, without any rancour -- how did he stay so patient? Did it come from mastering the martial arts? "I cannot speak for the tribal elders. But I am certain we can come to some sort of agreement after you have defeated Moltenus."
"Hmph. Good enough, I suppose... but I think I'll just take a bit of insurance with me. When I go to face Moltenus, the Kyrii goes with me. After that oversized Moltenore goes down, you will see to it that my demands are met. Anything else, and the Kyrii can just join Jhuidah in her own ice cube."
"What!?" Nyeni exclaimed. "You can't--"
"I am a queen. I can do whatever I please," said Lady Frostbite imperiously. "Well? That is my only offer. Take it or leave it."
"Fine," Nyeni muttered. "I'll go with you."
The Krawk smiled icily. "Good." She turned to the group of Darblats. "Blat, blat, blat-blat blat!"
As one, they dove into the water and swam away.
"I don't want the little darlings to get hurt in the crossfire," Lady Frostbite explained. "Now, Kyrii--"
"My name's Nyeni."
"Whatever. Get on the ice floe."
With a flick of her wrists, Lady Frostbite formed a flat chunk of ice out of the dark, churning waters. Grabbing Nyeni roughly, the Krawk dragged her onto the ice and, with another flash of magic, propelled the floe toward the volcano, toward the snarling Moltenus...
Date: Sep 8th
"What a vacation," was Nyeni's single, half-formed thought, as the epic battle came upon her.
"Raaaargh!" screamed Lady Frostbite and the giant Moltenore together, as the ice floe neared the raging volcano. Fire and ice clashed with a blinding roar. Glittering shards sliced the thick air, zooming through smoke and water and hot, rolling fog. Sparks flew; everything sizzled. The lovely trees of Mystery Island swayed and bowed, flowing with the turmoil. Somewhere in huddled shelters, the Islanders were hiding.
It was all the Kyrii could do to cling on to the ice floe, trying her best not to fall. Rocks hurtled down the sides of the volcano -- she didn't want to think about her fate if she should end up there.
"Take this!" screeched the Krawk sorceress, throwing another arrow of ice. "And that! This Island is miiiiine!"
Vaguely, Nyeni thought she saw the Techo Master down on the Island, helping some bewildered tourists find a hiding place.
It soon became clear that neither side was winning. Lady Frostbite was showing all of her icy spite, hurling snowstorm after snowstorm at the fiery beast. And Moltenus was no weaker, producing fireball after fireball. The majestic scene wrung Nyeni. She didn't enjoy watching Mystery Island suffer like this. It wasn't really her home, but no home should ever have to be caught in a hopeless disaster.
Gritting her teeth, she hung on to the ice floe and even tried throwing things at the enraged Moltenus. Debris, ice shards, anything she could find. The monster had to go back into the volcano. The Island couldn't possibly stand this much longer...
"You must find the Island Faerie," a voice suddenly rang in her mind, sharp and clear against the chaos. "Only she will be able to tame the beast. Lady Frostbite can only stall the destruction."
"How can I find Jhuidah?" Nyeni wondered aloud.
"Come with me. I know all about trapped faeries, their limitations, their powers."
Nyeni looked up, and realised that the voice wasn't in her mind after all. It was a voice that hadn't been heard for ages, a voice that everybody had thought they'd never hear again.
Eithne the Fire Faerie...
Date: Sep 8th
She was floating above the water. Floating, not flying. Her flame colored wings hung limply at her sides; she was probably using all her power just to keep afloat, judging by the way she was quivering. Her orange clothes were in rags, singed at the edges. Her red hair was streaked with burnt strands and the familiar flower in her hair was long gone, no doubt nothing but ashes by now.
Nyeni stared at her with wide eyes. "But... what are you doing here? You're... you should be..."
"Dead?" Eithne finished bluntly. "Yeah, I guess I should be."
Her hazel eyes were narrowed, defiant. But Nyeni could see ghosts of the past lurking there, haunting her mind like the corridors of an old house...
Wherever she had been these past few years, it hadn't been pretty. But she had survived.
"You're probably where I've been..." the fire faerie murmured softly, staring blankly past the Kyrii. Her eyes seemed to lock on the distant blue and scarlet forms of Moltenus and Lady Frostbite. It was only then that Nyeni realized how far the ice floe had carried them away from the battle.
Lady Frostbite was distracted; she wasn't concentrating on controlling the ice any longer. She was completely focused on battling Moltenus.
And that meant she was losing.
It was only Eithne's soft words that drew Nyeni away from thinking of what would happen when the battle was over.
"I've been in the volcano. With Moltenus. When Jhuidah imprisoned him I was... trapped as well. I've been with him ever since."
Nyeni could tell there were parts of the story Eithne wasn't letting on to. This wasn't the time or place to ask, though.
"When he was freed, I was able to escape as well, though barely. And... I can't just run away." She closed her eyes, as if blinking back unshed tears. "I've seen what he can do. And I can't... I can't let him unleash that dangerous, terrifying power on the rest of the world."
"But weren't you the one who wanted to free him in the first place?"
Eithne opened her eyes. They were mirrored with so many emotions, sorrow and regret, that her expression was almost unreadable. "Yes, but... I was young and foolish then. Ambitious. I know better now. Moltenus must stay in that volcano, for eternity. Or else..."
She didn't need to finish.
"So will you help me?"
"Yes. Of course I will." Nyeni's voice flowed with assurance.
"But what will I have to do?"
"Help me find her. Jhuidah."
Eithne dropped down suddenly, onto the ice floe. Her fingers were surprisingly strong as they tightened around Nyeni's wrist.
"Hold your breath."
Nyeni barely had time to think before the faerie pulled her sharply into the cold, wet grasp of the ocean...
Date: Sep 9th
The frigid salt water rushed through Nyeni's fur, sending a chill through her bones. Eithne was speeding through the ocean, keeping a firm grip around Nyeni's waist. The Kyrii, though trying her best to conserve air, felt her lungs tightening after a few seconds underwater.
Eithne halted briefly, and then shot straight up into the dark, cloudy sky. Nyeni took a few deep breaths of the humid air, mixed with a hint of smoke.
"Why are we up here?" the Kyrii asked.
Eithne pointed below them. "Look down," she said. Upon squinting, Nyeni could make out the minuscule, cyan figure of Lady Frostbite. She was in trouble; already, Moltenus had melted most of her glaciers and blocks of ice. Lady Frostbite was being forced to channel all of her energy toward avoiding the scorching blasts of lava and fireballs being rapidly launched at her, rather than fighting back. Moltenus was as powerful as ever.
"Do- do you see Jhuidah?" Eithne hissed.
Nyeni gasped as she turned to face her partner. The faerie's eyes were shut tightly as though in pain, and she looked as though she was using all her power and will to keep them in the air. Eithne could run out of energy any second, sending the two of them plummeting down into the deep, dark ocean.
Nyeni concentrated, peering down at the land. Jhuidah still had to be trapped in the block of ice or else the island would not be in such critical danger. She couldn't be in the water as the only intact glacier was the one upon which Lady Frostbite was standing. And seeing as molten lava was flowing from the volcano, sweeping through the island, it was unlikely that Jhuidah was there.
Nyeni squinted off into the distance. There was not a trace of frost or snow left on the island; no stranger could recognise that a few minutes earlier the ground was covered in ice.
"I don't see anything!" Nyeni blurted. There was no response, only the sound of heavy breathing.
Nyeni did one last check of Mystery Island to no avail. Suddenly, she felt Eithne begin to shake violently, against her will. The Kyrii, petrified, stared down into the navy water, preparing for her fate. Just then, a gleam of reflected sunlight tinted red caught Nyeni's eye.
She was in the final piece of ice, which lay beneath Lady Frostbite, slowly melting. If it were to dissolve enough to free the Island Faerie, Jhuidah would likely drown before descending to the ocean floor. Nyeni had to get there first.
Eithne let out a low moan of anguish. "I'm sorry," she whispered as she gave in to gravity.
And they fell...
Date: Sep 9th
Nyeni screamed for the long moments before she plunged into the frigid waters.
The cold was just as much of an unpleasant shock as it had been before. The Kyrii thrashed wildly, wishing with all her heart that she had learned to swim.
Whether by luck or sheer determination, her head broke the surface of the water, and Nyeni gasped, desperately sucking in as much air as she could. Eithne was nowhere in sight...
Wait! There she was, rising to the surface...
The fire faerie appeared to be unconscious. Why wasn't she sinking?
Something brushed against Nyeni's leg, and she let out a panicked shriek before two more somethings swam under her arms, supporting her in the water.
Nyeni could now see the little Petpets supporting Eithne as she floated in the water, keeping her from drowning.
A Darblat popped out of the water right in front of Nyeni and stared at her intently.
"But why?" Nyeni whispered. "Why did you save us?"
The Darblat flicked its bill to the side, gesturing at the Queen of All Darblats -- Lady Frostbite.
"Oh..." said the Kyrii, understanding. The Darblats probably didn't care about Eithne or Nyeni, but they did care about their ruler, and they realised that Nyeni was their only hope.
"You need to get us over there before the ice melts," Nyeni said, pointing toward Jhuidah's ice block. The Darblat looked back at her blankly.
The Kyrii bit her lip nervously. She had no idea how to speak to these Petpets, but she had to at least try. "Um... blat blat-blat blatblatblat bla-blat?" she tried, making hand motions as she went.
The Darblat wondered briefly why the Kyrii had just thanked him for the kind gift of frozen fish, but then nodded, apparently understanding the intent behind the misspoken "blats."
"Blat blatblat!" the Petpet cried, submerging himself once more. Within moments Petpets, faerie, and Kyrii were headed toward Jhuidah and Lady Frostbite.
Just then, Moltenus hurled a great ball of flame directly at the Krawk. Lady Frostbite managed to leap free just in time, but the fireball made a direct hit on Jhuidah's icy prison...
Date: Sep 10th
The faerie's frozen face remained static, the horrified features stuck in place as Moltenus's fury blazed toward her.
And then the eyes clamped shut and the teeth gritted as the molten bolt struck her.
A shower of green and magenta sparks came off the ice as it vaporised, aiming the fire away from the now-freed faerie. Jhudiah still had a fair amount of magic.
Not enough, though.
Lady Frostbite screeched, whirling around as she created another slick of thin ice to stand upon, and they all watched as the force of the flame sent the dazed Jhuidah flying backward into the icy embrace of the ocean.
"No!" Eithne cried weakly, apparently conscious again.
Lady Frostbite hissed, jumping around again to throw a rather slushy blast of snow at the giant Moltenore. Her icy eyes were narrowed with defiance, but Nyeni could see the mingled fear and despair in them.
"Find the faerie," she demanded in a tense aside to the Petpet.
The Darblat gave another cry of "Blat!", pushing Eithne onto the ice floe, and then the Kyrii in turn --
A giant shock ran through earth and water alike. Waves roared up, metres taller than before. Mystery Island itself shook. With a cry, Nyeni was flung backward into the raging sea, trapped in a frigid tumult of the elements...
Nyeni flailed wildly, thrashing to keep afloat in the icy water as she desperately scanned for Jhuidah. She choked on salt water. But she could not see the Island Faerie; the roaring, towering, unfriendly waves loomed over her, disorienting her as her eyes already spun.
Something pushed her from under, buoying her up, and she saw the same Darblat from before carrying her. It had brought a friend with it, apparently, because a second one started pulling her back toward where Lady Frostbite stood on her makeshift iceberg.
"Thanks," she whispered to the Petpet. "Errr, bla-blat, blat, blat-blat blat."
What was that about grape Neocola? the Darblat beneath her wondered idly as it towed her toward Lady Frostbite, whose eyes were shut in concentration as she re-froze the raging water beneath her.
A third Darblat was approaching, swimming at an alarming rate. It glittered with a faint greenish sheen, and soon Nyeni could see why -- a very exhausted but determined-looking Jhuidah clung to its back, her eyes narrowed as she took in the Island.
The Kyrii glanced back too, wondering how the clash of flame and snow was going. Lady Frostbite only needed to hold on a little longer...
And then Nyeni saw what had caused the earthquake.
The volcano was erupting...
Date: Sep 10th
Nyeni knew that this wasn't magic. This wasn't an immensely strong beast, nor was it a mage with a heart as cold as her powers. This was real. The volcano was giving one last cry of despair before it disappeared.
Jhuidah sighed in despair. Her fair Island, which she had protected from countless disasters, was dying. She could feel her powers being drowned along with the Island. The volcano was trying to save itself, but the changes that Lady Frostbite had caused weakened it.
The only Neopet there with the strength to save the citizens of Mystery Island was this Kyrii, who didn't even know how to swim.
Then, a plan flashed in Jhuidah's mind. She may not be able to help, but all she had to do was make the Kyrii believe in herself.
"Young Kyrii," she whispered shakily, and the Darblats moved them closer together. "You are the one of the prophecy. The volcano needs you to fuel it somehow."
"But how? I can't do anything!" cried Nyeni. It hurt her to see the inhabitants' home fall, but how was she supposed to fuel a volcano on her own?
"You must trick Moltenus back into--" Jhuidah paused to rest, and Nyeni waited in silent despair. "--back into the volcano. I put a spell on it long ago to keep Moltenus contained, so it will take care of the rest." As if to emphasise this, the volcano spewed a rock that hit the water nearby.
"But how do I do that?" Nyeni begged the limp form to answer, but Jhuidah had fainted from the exertion.
The Kyrii glanced at Moltenus. Fire filled his eyes, and he was focused intently on his opponent, slowly draining the Krawk's power. But then, Nyeni saw it.
Between each flaming breath, the monster glanced weakly toward its former prison...
Date: Sep 11th
And then Nyeni knew the truth.
He was afraid.
Had the situation not been so chaotically desperate, the Kyrii would have laughed at the irony. An ancient, giant Moltenore of unsurpassed fiery power, positively terrified.
But Moltenus's power was waning too, just like Lady Frostbite's. His initial rage of being cooped up in the volcano had long since worn off, and now he was only following some ancient duty. Protecting the Island from the threat, the frozen Krawk who would see it turned to a barren wasteland of ice. For Moltenus was a part of Mystery Island, another figure entwined in its legends and lore.
Even as she watched, Nyeni saw swirls of grey rock twining among the molten sentinel's body.
Moltenus was cooling. Mystery Island was dying. Moltenus could not live without the volcano, and the volcano could not live without Moltenus.
She saw it now, how perfectly, how delicately everything was intertwined, a glittering web of life. For all his blazing fury, the great Moltenore was as important to the Island's welfare as Jhuidah herself. Moltenus, Jhuidah, Techo Mountain... they were all linked to the power of Mystery Island, and now that power was dying.
The imbalance had come when the tropics had turned arctic. Then it had been shaken further when Moltenus stirred to fight off the intruder, like a body responding to a disease. But that had weakened the volcano, and with the Island drowning, and Jhuidah powerless...
This fight had to stop. Now. If it wasn't already too late, then the time left to the land was measured in minutes, if not seconds.
If this kept up, Lady Frostbite would lose all her powers, and probably be swept up by the roaring sea. Moltenus would solidify until all that remained of him was one great grey statue, a statue that would sink into the depths of the sea with the rest of his domain.
And Jhuidah, and Eithne, and the Islanders, and all of the folklore and stories. All the native tribes, and their pasts and customs and magic. Rorru and her haikus, confusing, but with a certain beauty to them. The Rock Pool, where the kindly yellow Kougra watched over the refugee Petpets from the giant whirlpool that had destroyed Maraqua. The Ghost Lupe, patrolling the sandy shores at night, a knight searching for a long-lost love. The jungles, the Training school, all of the Kougras and Myncis and the coconut JubJubs...
All lost forever.
This couldn't happen. Nyeni wouldn't allow it.
She felt a sort of fury welling up in her, a power she hadn't known she had. Almost like the Island's waning strength was flowing into her, the feeling growing stronger with every second. Only it wasn't fury; it was more like determination, but fierier than any blast Moltenus had ever conjured up.
"Stop!" she cried to Lady Frostbite.
"Are you mad?" the Krawk snarled, slinging a blast of tiny ice shards at Moltenus. He retaliated with a blast of flame that was more smoke than fire and largely dissipated before it even reached the frail icy assault. "He's almost done for!"
Nyeni grabbed Lady Frostbite's cyan arm. "You can't destroy him! Mystery Island needs him in the volcano, not vanquished."
"Get off of me, you silly girl," snapped the Krawk, shaking the Kyrii so violently that she keeled backward. A blast of cold lanced through Nyeni, and she would have fallen off the iceberg had a Darblat not dashed across the ice to push her back into balance.
Nyeni glared and was formulating a sharp remark when a third voice cut in.
"You would do well, sorceress, not to waste any more of your power harming an innocent child."
Another Darblat had crawled onto the ice, and next to it stood the Techo Master. Magnificent as ever, the old Neopet did not look in the least bit shaken.
Lady Frostbite flushed with anger. "Don't you order me around, you old fool."
The Techo frowned slightly. "You would also do well to listen to your instincts. This is a battle that neither side can win."
"This island is mine!" Frostbite hissed, throwing another burst of powdery snow at Moltenus.
"It cannot be yours. You have known that for quite some time, I think."
The Krawk looked on the verge of taking a swipe at the Techo when Nyeni cut in.
"How do we get Moltenus back in the volcano?"
The Techo looked at her, and his eyes were strangely pitying. Sad.
"I am afraid," he murmured, his voice gentle but grave, stretching out his hand, "that it is nobody but you who can complete this task."
In his hand was a glittering black codestone...
Date: Sep 11th
It glittered in the blaze like a last, fragile ember, small but solid against the turbulence. Nyeni stared at its strange symbol, etched so clearly into its side. Firelight danced upon the symbol, enhancing it, making it lovely despite its roughened age.
"This is the most precious codestone I have," said the Techo Master, "the first one ever given into my keeping when the first student arrived at my school. You may have heard of Island ninjas through the ages, drawing strength from the volcano by offering codestones. These simple stones carry commitment, trust, and hope. Crafted with care and given to the lava from which they came, codestones are the most sacred things on Mystery Island. Now that the volcano itself and the Island are dying, I can think of only one thing... to give the ultimate offering. Take it, child, and bring it to the volcano."
"But why me?" The Kyrii was overwhelmed. "I'm not even an Islander!"
"That is the precise reason," said the Techo Master. "Strange things are happening, and it takes a stranger to restore the balance. Moltenus will not recognise you. You will be able to tread upon the mountain unburdened by its history. Only you can feed this codestone into the crater and tempt Moltenus back home."
Nyeni looked doubtfully at the wise face of the Techo, and at the limp body of Jhuidah. She heard Jhuidah's voice in her mind... "You are the one of the prophecy." She heard the frantic cries of the Islanders, and the tearing roar of Moltenus. She saw the smoke, the fire, the destruction.
She felt her hand close around the codestone.
"I will go," she said.
The tense, magical moment was broken by a snort from Lady Frostbite. "So much for my work!" she snarled, her last icy dagger dissolving into steam. "Where's the promise you made, huh? You called me back to fight Moltenus, and now you're just ignoring me? I am a queen, not a toy!"
The Techo Master bowed his head. "I should have recognised that your power would not make Moltenus return to the volcano. After all, it was what brought him out in the first place. I'm sorry, but our agreement is broken, Krawk sorceress."
"BLAT!" screeched Lady Frostbite, whirling around with a flurry of snowflakes. "Blat! We're going home, my little subjects. I've had enough nonsense for one day! We'll freeze the world another time. Come on! Blat-blat!"
But the Darblats were clustering around Nyeni's ankles, crying, "Blat! Blat! Blatblatblat!"
And Eithne was standing up too, her wings fluttering feebly, her face pale but bright. "Whatever power I have left is at your service, brave Kyrii. You're going to need all the help you can get."
Nyeni was touched. "All right. To the crater we go, then."
So the sun swept down on a Kyrii, a faerie, and a crowd of Darblats, moving determinedly toward the raging volcano. In the opposite direction, a lone Krawk wailed and cursed, retreating on crackling ice to her cold, distant abode. And in the middle, a Techo stood watch over a faint Island Faerie, feeling their commitment, trust, and hope ride forward in the Kyrii's hand, forward to the fiery summit...
Date: Sep 12th
The only thing that flowed through Nyeni at that moment was fear. Fear that she'd fail, scared of Mystery Island's downfall. By her side, though, a weakened fire faerie encouraged her. Even the one Neopian who wanted to free Moltenus now wanted the flaming beast imprisoned. Nyeni had to do it.
The Darblats crowded around the ice floe, propelling it forward. Closer and closer to the Island, Nyeni determinedly looked ahead. Next to her, though, Eithne kept glancing toward Moltenus. He appeared bewildered by the apparent loss of an enemy, but soon he regained focus.
His focus was the codestone cradled in Nyeni's arms.
"Watch out!" yelled Eithne, and the Darblats quickly shifted directions to avoid an incoming fireball.
"I thought you said Moltenus wouldn't care about me!" screamed Nyeni, as they dodged yet another flaming projectile.
"He doesn't," said the faerie. "It's the codestone."
"Great," Nyeni replied. Now a fire-breathing monster was chasing them to the top of a mountain that Nyeni had to throw a black codestone into. Just a walk in Petpet Park, she thought sarcastically.
The Darblats started to murmur among themselves. Eithne could hear the whispered blats and started to worry. Nyeni felt a nudge, and saw the faerie motioning toward the Petpets. They were slowing down!
"No!" exclaimed the Kyrii, but the Darblats continued to slow. The water nearby exploded upward and steamed from the most recent attack. Nyeni shrieked.
"You have to go by yourself now," said Eithne.
Nyeni gazed in alarm at the fire faerie. She wanted her to swim? Nyeni shifted nervously, then saw Moltenus in the corner of her eye.
"All right," she said, determined. Tucking the codestone into her clothes, she moved to the edge of the floe. She breathed nervously, then took the plunge.
The icy cold water filled her nostrils and ears, chilling her every bone. Her head broke the surface, and she started to paddle slowly toward Mystery Island. This was all the swimming she knew how to do.
The Darblats and Eithne swerved violently, distracting Moltenus for the moment. Nyeni inched closer to the volcano, but already she was growing tired. She closed the distance slowly, and finally stopped paddling anymore.
"No," she said to herself. "I have to make it." And she started swimming again.
As she reached what she estimated to be halfway up the volcano (the water had risen during the battle), she heard a scream. Eithne and the Darblats had been hit by a fireball, melting the ice. Eithne was in the water, and the Darblats scattered.
Summoning the rest of her energy, Nyeni rushed to the top. She stared into the bubbling pit of flames for a moment, then took out the codestone and dropped it in.
A strange change came over Moltenus. The volcano called to him, tugging the beast back to his former prison. Flapping wings struggled in vain to overpower the magic, but to no avail. He fell back into the volcano, and one final eruption sealed him away forever.
Nyeni lay back, exhausted. The ocean started to recede, and she could see the land again. Finally, she could get back to her vacation, and this time, she thought, she might even try swimming!
Date: Sep 12th
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