Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)
If you have any questions about the competition then read our awesome FAQ!
||You are on Week 396
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 Ninety Six Ends Friday, December 19
"Thank you for flying with us today. We know you have a choice in Space Station-to-Neopia travel, and we appreciate your business. We'll be landing in two hours, so just sit back and enjoy your flight." Vaech clicked the intercom off and turned his attention back to the control panel. He blinked tiredly a few times, the buttons blurring slightly before his eyes. The month of Celebrating was always a hectic time, with plenty of Neopians going on holiday to the Space Station or those living on the Virtupets Space Station visiting their families on Neopia.
His ship was small but fast, and it practically did all the work for him -- Vaech set the course and then sat back and enjoyed the view of space. He was really just there in case something went wrong. The Grundo leaned back in his captain's chair and took in the velvety black expanse before him, sparkling with silver stars. A dark sliver of Kreludor was visible through the windscreen, its deep grey pocked with darker circles where meteors had hit it.
Vaech clicked on the intercom and said, "If you'll look out of the windows on the right side of the spacecraft, you'll see the dark side of Kreludor. We'll get a closer view as we cruise past."
Vaech was awakened by the sound of pounding on the cockpit door.
"Wha...? I must've dozed off," he muttered to himself as he stretched and wiped the sleep out of his eyes. "Who is it?" he called.
"Captain Vaech, the passengers are starting to get restless; what should I do?" asked the Aisha flight attendant, Nika, through the door.
"Restless after less than two hours in flight?" Customers are getting harder and harder to please, Vaech thought. Pretty soon they'll expect travel to be instantaneous!
There was silence for a moment and then Nika spoke, her voice hesitant. "Captain, it's been six hours."
"WHAT?! That's impossible!" Vaech gave the control panel a bewildered stare. The coordinates were still set, but... then he looked up at the windscreen.
Looming before the ship was the dark side of Kreludor, huge, blackish grey, and getting closer with every second. Nika stuck her head through the door, her eyes wide with fright. "Captain, are we going to crash?"
"Not if I can help it!" Vaech replied, switching off the auto-pilot and wrenching the controls to steer the ship away from Kreludor. The ship didn't budge from its course. "Oh wait, I guess I can't. Something is pulling us down... but what?"
Author: Going Off Course|
Date: Dec 15th
Vaech knew that he really ought to be panicking about now. After all, his ship was being forcibly pulled down toward the unforgiving surface of Kreludor.
Still... the excitement came as an almost welcome change from the monotony of constantly shipping Neopets to and fro, going over the same route over and over again with nothing to do but stare at the controls and occasionally sneak a nap.
"You... you can't get us away?" Nika asked, her voice even squeakier than usual. "We're going to crash?"
"Ah... well... it looks like it." Vaech shrugged. "You go and give the lecture on crash preparation to the passengers, and I'll see if I can ready the emergency landing gear. It's going to be a bumpy ride, but I think we can make it through."
Nika, looking reassured at the Grundo's calm tone, nodded and left to do so.
Vaech pressed the series of buttons he had only needed to use once before (and hadn't that been the most exciting training exercise the flight teacher had ever sat through?) and waited for the display to read EMERGENCY LANDING GEAR ENGAGED.
But the words that flashed onto the screen were completely unexpected.
IN KRELUDOR'S CAVERNS DEEP
DOES A WICKED CREATURE SLEEP
CALLING OUT IN TROUBLED DREAMS
FOR AID FROM OTHERS IN ITS SCHEMES
SHIPS WILL ANSWER ITS DARK CALL
MAKING UNPLANNED MOONFALL
AGAINST THE WILL OF THOSE WHO RIDE
WHO CANNOT FIGHT GRAVITY'S TIDE
SEEK THE ENTRANCE TO THE LAIR
FIND THE GUARDIAN WAITING THERE
SPEAK THE WORDS IT NEEDS TO HEAR
SPEAK WRONGLY, AND THE PRICE WILL BE DEAR
ENTER THE CAVERN, FIND YOUR FOE
UNTIL IT'S DEFEATED, YOU MAY NOT GO.
Vaech blinked slowly. "What... what's going on? That makes no..."
Suddenly, the ship began to shudder violently. In less than a minute, the ship would make impact...
Date: Dec 15th
...unless Vaech did something drastic. The Grundo took a deep breath, flicked several switches, and punched the button labelled "full burn." And... nothing happened. Not even a message on the screen this time. He flipped the switch marked "reverse thrusters." Nothing. In a desperate frenzy, Vaech pressed every button, flicked every switch, and turned every dial he could reach. Again, his efforts were met with a complete lack of results.
At last, all other options exhausted, Vaech sighed to himself. "I'd hoped I wouldn't have to do this, but it looks like there's no choice." With those words, he reached for the one button he hadn't yet pressed. It was unmarked and small, but coloured a deep, threatening red. Vaech closed his eyes, whispered "Please let this work," and pushed the button.
His chair began to vibrate. "Aaaaaahhhh," Vaech sighed. He'd known that having a massage chair installed would be a good investment, and if he was going to crash land on Kreludor, he was certainly going to be comfortable in his final moments. You had to hand it to the Virtupets Space Station: their machines could give a good massage. But as Vaech relaxed in his chair with his eyes closed, he didn't notice that his ship had changed direction slightly and begun to slow down. If Vaech had been paying attention, he would have seen that he was now headed toward a flat, unmarked portion of Kreludor at a reasonable speed -- as if the ship were trying to land itself.
And that's exactly what it did. Several seconds later, Vaech's small craft settled to the surface of Kreludor, light as a feather. So smooth was the landing that Vaech didn't feel it at all over the rumbles of his massage chair. "Shouldn't we have crashed by now?" the Grundo thought to himself, and he opened his eyes. The view from the windscreen showed a serene Kreludan landscape. Oh, thought Vaech, I guess we already have. Quite a gentle crash, that.
Vaech reluctantly left his still-vibrating chair, walked to the back of the cabin, and opened the cockpit door. He flicked the intercom switch closest to him. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We're terribly sorry for the inconvenience, but it seems that we have unexpectedly landed on an uninhabited part of Neopia's moon. Please stay in your seats with your seatbelts fastened as I begin to figure out what in Fyora's name is going on."
Vaech switched the intercom off. Nika glared at him. The passengers stirred in their seats uncomfortably, not sure if their captain was joking or not. It was then that Vaech remembered the strange message that had appeared on his screen. Something about finding a lair, and saying words to a guardian... he flicked the intercom switch again. "Anyone know anything about words we're supposed to say to some sort of guardian?" The question was met with silence. "I didn't think so. Thanks anyway."
But just then a small, timid-looking green Cybunny raised her paw. Vaech, surprised, went over to her and knelt by her seat. "Do you know something about this?"
"I think -- maybe," the Cybunny stuttered. She was shaking in terror; Vaech was concerned for her.
"What's your name? Are your parents here with you?" he asked.
"I'm Mella. And no, I'm meeting them on Neopia; I was here visiting my grandmother. But about this... guardian. I've been having dreams for the past -- no, not dreams, visions," the Cybunny said, shaking even more. "Granny said I should ignore them, but I just can't. They're always the same: I get in a rocket piloted by a captain who looks just like you." Mella pointed at Vaech, who felt a tingle go down his spine. "Then we crash on Kreludor, and I go outside with the captain and two others. Then we go to a cave, and I hear a voice. I know what it says by heart; I could never forget." Her eyes grew wide as she recited:
"YOU SEE THE GUARDIAN AT THE CAVE;
NOW YOU ARE IN DANGER GRAVE.
TELL THE GUARDIAN WHAT YOU SEEK,
BUT THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU SPEAK.
THEN TELL HIM THESE WORDS, ONE BY ONE:
'NEOPIA SHALL HAVE NO SUN.'
NOW THE WAY SHALL OPEN WIDE;
PREPARE YOURSELVES, THEN STEP INSIDE."
When the Cybunny finished reciting, she sunk back in her seat, exhausted. Vaech sighed -- another riddle. How he wished he could just settle back into his massage chair! But it seemed that he'd have to play along, at least for now. "All right, Mella, besides you and me, who else came outside?"
"Her," Mella said, pointing to Nika. "And him," she added, this time pointing to...
Date: Dec 16th
The speaker was a pink Poogle sporting a small goatee, a black beret and an expression of haughty disdain.
"What could I possibly have to do with this nonsense? I am a poet, my dear little Cybunny. Not a figment of your imagination."
"But it's true, Mister Poet," insisted Mella in her shy way. "I saw you reciting last month in the Catacombs at Neopia Central -- but I saw you in my visions only nights ago!"
Vaech turned to the sceptical-looking Poogle. "I've heard two poem-riddles in so many minutes, and now a poet has popped up --"
"We poets don't pop up! We glide. Delicately."
"-- a poet has glided into the picture. I don't think this is coincidence."
"What would you have me do?" asked the Poogle poet. "Exit the safety of this luxurious aircraft to trundle amidst the unknown meteor-blasted, crater-encrusted, frigid, Fyora-forsaken wasteland that is Kreludor?"
"Yes," answered Vaech simply.
"Ridiculous!" exclaimed the Poogle.
Unfortunately for him, the remainder of the passengers had been quite taken by Mella's guileless story, and they shouted their approval of Vaech's decision.
"That's settled then," said Vaech, addressing the passengers. "Nika, myself, and Pinky Poogle here --"
"It's Alstaf, esquire. Twelve times Neopian Poet Laureate, fifteen time winner of --"
"Right. Alstaf, Nika, and I are going to check things out on Kreludor to see what we can learn. The rest of you can sit tight here. We'll be back as soon as we establish whether there's any truth to Mella's vision."
The passengers murmured in acquiescence and ushered the trio out of the ship. Then they slammed the door behind Nika, Vaech, and Alstaf and turned on their massage chairs.
Outside of the craft, Vaech and Nika were struggling to keep Alstaf from floating away in the low-gravity Kreludor atmosphere.
"Concentrate, Alstaf!" said Vaech. "You can fly around after we've figured out where this cave is, and what is guarding it."
"Plus," added Nika in her sternest flight attendant manner, "if you don't behave yourself I will withhold your Bag of Peanuts."
This threat made Alstaf calm down immediately, and the three of them moved across the dark Kreludan landscape.
"Look!" exclaimed Nika suddenly. "That dark spot on the hill over there!"
Vaech narrowed his eyes in the direction she was indicating.
"I see it, Nika. It looks like a cave to me. Let's make for it."
As they approached, Vaech noticed that Alstaf was beginning to walk more and more slowly.
"Alstaf! What's taking you so long? Are you --"
But Alstaf was looking dead ahead with unfocussed eyes -- and then he began to recite:
"COME CLOSER NOW, NEOPETS THREE
AND THE TRUTH WILL YOURS BE:
FOR UNDERSTANDING TO REACH YOUR MIND
FIRST YOU MUST THE GUARDIAN FIND.
APPROACH THE CAVE, FIND THE ROCK,
ROCK OF ANCIENT LAVA, WHITE AS CHALK
THEN SPEAK YOUR MESSAGE, AND AS YOU SPEAK,
THE DOOR WILL OPEN TO THE THING YOU SEEK."
"This is getting freaky," said Vaech as Alstaf blinked and shook his head.
"I'd say," said Nika. "Alstaf, I will provide you with two Bags of Peanuts for being so helpful."
Alstaf only looked at Nika in confusion as Vaech hurried them both toward the cave...
Date: Dec 16th
Light-footed Nika reached the cave first and cried out in dismay: the cavern's opening was completely packed with boulders of moonrock. The Aisha slammed her paw against the rocks, but they didn't budge in the slightest.
Vaech frowned. He was the Captain, was he not? Mighty, brave, and strong? "Don't worry, my dear," he said in what he hoped was a reassuring voice. "I'll take care of this."
As Nika looked on in something less than total confidence, Vaech braced himself, took a mighty and Captainly breath, and launched himself at the rocky barrier.
And bounced right back into the dust. Kreludor's springy gravity made for a particularly humiliating bounce. "Lovely," said Alstaf. "Might we now consider returning to our vessel?"
"Rock of ancient lava, white as chalk," Nika said suddenly.
Alstaf frowned, his little goatee wrinkling. "Whatever are you talking about?"
The Aisha extended a paw. Most of the boulders jamming the cave's entrance were a dull gray, but the one she pointed at gleamed like... well, like a piece of chalk. Engraved on its surface was the outline of a paw. "Would you like to do the honours?" Nika asked the Captain.
Vaech cleared his throat, wiped the moondust from his clothes, and strolled up to the cavern door. He placed his hand against the white rock's cool surface. What had those words been? "Neopia shall have no--"
BOOM! With an ear-shattering scrape and a rumble of rock on rock, the boulders moved. Vaech threw himself back with an un-Captainly gasp. When the dust settled, the cavern's entrance was still crammed with rocks... but the white boulder was in entirely a different place, nestled against the top of the arch.
Vaech clenched his fists. "Why won't it let us in? We know the password, we know which rock to push..."
"Yes, that's a grand achievement," Alstaf muttered. "Shall we push one of the identical gray ones? Or the shining white one with a paw on it? Quite a puzzler!"
Vaech wracked his brains for a retort, but before he could speak, a low, gravelly voice rumbled out from the rocks themselves:
"IF IT'S OF PUZZLES THAT YOU SPEAK,
HERE'S ONE YOU WILL FIND QUITE UNIQUE --"
"Oh, no, does it have to be poems again?" Vaech groaned.
"YES," rumbled the rock-voice snippily. "YES, IT DOES. NOW IF YOU'LL EXCUSE US...
"IF IT'S OF PUZZLES THAT YOU SPEAK,
HERE'S ONE YOU WILL FIND QUITE UNIQUE.
A GUARDIAN WAITS AT THIS CAVE,
STEADFAST WATCHER, WISE AND BRAVE.
YET HERE YOU ARE, AND SEE HIM NOT.
TO THIS MATTER BEND YOUR THOUGHT:
THESE ROCKS WILL TUMBLE TO THE GROUND
ONLY WHEN THE GUARDIAN'S FOUND.
Alstaf looked like he'd tasted something sour. "That was mere doggerel! Come closer, you base boulders, and I'll demonstrate how a real poet composes--"
"Alstaf, please," said Nika, "we don't have time for that. We have to find the Guardian..."
Date: Dec 17th
Mella was not a happy Cybunny. So absorbed were the adults with their quest to find the creature in the cave that they paid no attention to her anymore. In fact, they had even left the spaceship without her. It had been mere luck that she had managed to sneak out just before the door had fallen shut.
At a safe distance, the small Cybunny followed the group.
A guardian? What was it with all those poems?
"Well, my dear friends, it looks like we will have to find the Guardian," Vaech repeated what he had understood from that strange poem. If he didn't know what was going on here, he at least wanted to pretend to be in control of the situation.
"And where, oh dear Captain, do you suggest we start?" Nika looked up at the Grundo expectantly.
Unfortunately, the answer was something that the rock-like voice had failed to specify, and so Vaech replied with a vague hand gesture in the direction of the boulders. If something guarded the entrance, it would only make sense for it to be close, wouldn't it?
"So you want us to climb over those boulders that will most likely blow up in our faces?" His eyebrows raised under his hat, Alstaf glanced in direction of the ship.
"Yes, I want you to search the region. And no, we will not go back to the spaceship until we've found that Guardian."
"Remember, no peanuts if you disappear," Nika reminded the poet, who began the search with a sigh.
Setting a good example, the Grundo joined the two by looking behind a corner in the rock. It didn't surprise him that he found nobody there.
"Maybe we have to lure him out somehow? Didn't that girl, Mella, say that we would have to tell him what we want?" Nika suggested, peering behind a rock.
Not exactly a solid suggestion, but what did they have to lose? Straightening himself to look taller and more impressive, Vaech began to speak.
"Dear Guardian, so mighty and brave,
Please come out, let us enter the cave."
Maybe he should consider becoming a poet. His two verses had been quite good, if he dared saying so himself. But then Vaech took a look at the pink Poogle rolling his eyes and decided to stay with flying his airship.
"THE GUARDIAN IS WHO YOU ASK FOR
THE ONE WHO CAN OPEN THE DOOR
YOU SPOKE YOUR REQUEST
NOW YOU ARE MY GUEST
BUT DO YOU KNOW OF THE RIDDLE THE REST
TELL ME THE WORDS, QUICKLY IS BEST
SO I CAN LET YOU ENTER THE CAVE
THAT COULD VERY WELL BE YOUR GRAVE.
It was a young voice who spoke the words and the three adults gasped as a Neopet emerged from the shadows.
Date: Dec 17th
"What is it?" she asked, stepping forward.
But the moment she rejoined the group, the ground beneath their feet began to shake. It started out as a passing rogue tremor, but escalated into a quake that nearly knocked Alstaf to his feet.
"This is nothing like a good massage chair, I daresay!" he complained, tripping and falling against Nika, who screamed. "Oh dear, pardon me..."
"The rocks!" the Aisha shouted, pointing to the shuddering pile of boulders. She and Alstaf dove to the right, while Vaech grabbed Mella and dove to the left.
At first, only a few stray rocks rolled down, but they were quickly followed by four more, and six, and ten, and soon they got even harder to count. They moved so quickly that in no time at all, just about all the rocks had crashed into the middle of the cave, dividing the four into two pairs.
The white rock, however, had managed to stray away from its brethren, and Vaech went over to it when he was sure that it was over.
Then he remembered his comrades.
"Nika! Alstaf! Are you all right?" he shouted. "Nika! Alstaf, it's me! I've got Mella..."
The only answer he got was his own voice echoing back at him. He turned around and saw Mella struggling to get back onto her feet. Perhaps the others were still stupefied by the sudden rock slide; Vaech quickly went over to the Cybunny and helped her up.
"Are you hurt?" he asked. Mella nodded in reply, but didn't turn to face him. After all her talk about dreams and rhymes, she was suddenly eerily quiet.
It was then that the Grundo remembered something... something about the rocks falling when the Guardian was found. Sure enough, before them was another cavern, but what about Alstaf and Nika? Surely he couldn't leave them behind... and what about...
"Mella?" Vaech turned her around so they were face-to-face.
Then he gasped, stepping back...
Date: Dec 18th
Mella had resumed the uncontrollable trembling which had characterised her poeticising previously -- and sure enough, she began to speak:
"WELL DONE, NEOPETS FOUR,
THE GUARDIANS OF STONE YOU DEFEATED
AND YOU'VE OPENED THE DOOR.
NOW YOU ARE SPLIT, PAIRED TWO BY TWO,
BUT FRIENDSHIP WILL SURELY REUNITE YOU:
SO ADVANCE INTO THE CAVERN,
LET HOPE SERVE AS YOUR LANTERN;
FIND YOUR ENEMY IN HIS LAIR,
SMITE HIM WITH WIT AND WORDS FAIR."
Mella's trembling subsided as the last words fell from her lips. Then she blinked out of her strange trance and saw Vaech looking decidedly weirded-out in front of her.
Vaech coughed and tried to resume a Captainly mien. "Well, that was informative, Mella, thank you. I guess we can conclude that the cave's guardian was actually the stones themselves -- not some beast like we thought..."
"But there's still an enemy waiting for us somewhere," interjected Mella with a shudder.
"Right. And the first poem-riddle said that until it was defeated, we couldn't leave... which makes sense, since we're practically buried here. But you've just given us the key to defeating it: with wit and words."
Vaech paused to consider this. "Wit and words fair -- I bet that's where Alstaf comes in."
Vaech and Mella turned to the dark passage in front of them.
"Only one way to go," said Vaech in what he hoped was a comforting Captainly manner.
"I'm afraid," said Mella in a small whisper, and she hid behind her ears and grabbed Vaech's hand.
Together, they walked toward the darkness, a darkness which deepened as Kreludor's starlit surface was left further and further behind them.
Moments passed, minutes passed, then what seemed like hours passed as they made their way into the bowels of Neopia's moon -- and with the steady cadence of Vaech's Grundo feet and Mella's hippity-hopping gait, the darkness around them grew more and more complete.
Finally Mella stopped and squeezed Vaech's hand.
"I can't see any more."
"Me neither," said Vaech. "Maybe we should turn back to get help--"
"But we can't leave Nika and Alstaf here alone," came Mella's small, almost-teary voice in the darkness. "We need to have hope, we need to keep going, who knows what could happen -- "
As Mella spoke these words of compassion, pinpricks of light began to shine all along the cave's sides like so many miniature stars embedded in the hard, dry walls.
"Let hope be your lantern," whispered Vaech in wonder. "Mella, you're brilliant!"
Vaech grasped Mella's hand and together they began to jog onward with a new energy.
And there at the end of the shining tunnel leading to the heart of Kreludor was...
Date: Dec 18th
...a young Nimmo, curled in the corner of the cave, reading a book.
Vaech and Mella exchanged startled looks. The Nimmo hadn't noticed them, apparently; he was hunched intently over his book, occasionally turning a page with a papery rustle. Vaech wondered how he managed to read in the cavern's dim, twinkling light.
Mella hopped forward gently, trying not to scare the little Neopet. "Excuse me," she said, in a voice so quiet that Vaech had to strain to make it out. "Excuse me, are you trapped here, too? We're trying to find our way out. My name is Mella, and this is Vaech. Would you like to come with us?"
The Nimmo's long fingers trailed slowly down the page. Then he shut the book and lifted his head.
His eyes were a solid, impenetrable black.
"My name is Darkness," he said, "and I would love to come with you."
Find your enemy in his lair... "Oh no," Vaech breathed, cursing himself for not realising. "Mella," he said, reaching for the Cybunny girl, "come stand behind me!"
Mella turned, eyes widening. Behind her, the Nimmo's eyes were widening too, twin pits of utter blackness, spilling outward to cloak his entire body in shadow. He smiled, set his book carefully beside him, and stood. His legs and arms, already lanky, stretched impossibly as he rose, until they dangled like the spidery limbs of a skeleton.
Mella shrieked and rushed to Vaech's side, and the Grundo put a reassuring hand on her head, hoping she couldn't feel how it trembled. "What-- what do you want?" he asked, trying to keep his voice steady. Those were hardly "wit and words fair"... oh, if only Alstaf were here!
The Nimmo crouched on his long, skeletal legs, peering down at them with his blank black eyes. "All I want is to come with you," he said, and his voice was like the papery whisper of his book: a lifeless, bone-dry rustle. "I've been waiting here for so long, calling, calling out to you light-dwellers... I spoke to your mind, little one," he hissed to Mella. "Such a sensitive mind. And you listened, and you came, just as I asked! You have set me free!"
Mella stiffened beneath Vaech's hand. "What is it?" Vaech murmured.
A look of horror passed over the Cybunny's face. "Neopia shall have no sun," she whispered.
"Sensitive and clever," the Nimmo cackled. "Thank you, my friends. You have released the darkness, and now..." His voice deepened.
"YOU PLANET-DWELLERS ALL RELY
UPON A BAUBLE IN THE SKY:
AN UGLY BALL OF HEAT AND FIRE,
A FIERCE AND EVER-BURNING PYRE.
IT BLASTS DOWN SUCH A HAIL OF LIGHT,
EACH DAY DESTROYS THE PEACEFUL NIGHT.
SO HERE I HIDE, BEYOND ITS REACH,
AND FROM THE DARKNESS I BESEECH:
FREE ME, YOU WHO DAYLIGHT SHUN,
AND I WILL SNUFF THE GHASTLY SUN!"
"No!" Vaech cried. "That isn't why we freed you! We just wanted to get our ship working again--"
"If you extinguish the sun," Mella said, "every living thing on Neopia will die!"
"And what a peaceful, beautiful planet that will be," the creature said, his black eyes expressionless. "Bathed in eternal night, slumbering forever in perfect darkness." He took a skittery step toward them, turning his gaze to the tunnel entrance. "How kind of you to leave the door open."
Vaech tried not to panic, but he could feel the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He had to do something! He had to-- uh--
"If you put out our sun," he cried, feeling ridiculous, "then everyone will... run...
We'll all be very sad,
So please don't do it...
uh... you are very bad..."
Mella squeezed his hand. The Nimmo turned, his stilt-like limbs towering above them. "You try to best me with fair words?" he hissed, and his shadowy features twisted into rage. "That will be your doom, light-lovers."
The monstrous creature lifted one skeletal hand and snarled. Vaech curled himself around Mella, bracing for the blow. This was the end, and he ought to be terrified... but to his surprise, a familiar face filled his thoughts. A clever and patient Aisha, who'd been there for him through all his victories and mistakes, all those endless hours shuttling back and forth through the emptiness of space... Nika. As the Nimmo's hand came down, the only thing Vaech felt was a wistful sadness: he would never see his friend again. "Goodbye," he whispered.
An echoing crash rang down through the tunnel. Vaech hugged Mella tight. Strange... he didn't feel any pain. He hoped it would be over quickly.
"Vaech!" cried a familiar voice.
The Grundo cracked one eyelid, then gasped. The spidery Nimmo had reared back in surprise and was staring at the wall of the tunnel... which had just tumbled to the ground.
Clambering over the wreckage came a pink Poogle wearing a very scuffed-up beret... and his own dear friend, Nika.
The Nimmo cast a black glare toward the newcomers.
"IT MATTERS NOT HOW MANY FIGHT," he roared,
"DARKNESS WILL TRIUMPH OVER LIGHT!
I DO NOT HEED YOUR FEEBLE CRYING,
I AM SUN-EATER, NEVER DYING!"
"Sun-eater?" Nika gasped, turning to the Poogle beside her. "Alstaf, please, can you--"
"I most certainly can," Alstaf replied, settling his beret on his head with a steely glare. He cleared his throat, smoothed a paw over his goatee, and spoke:
"YOUR WORDS MAY BE LOUDER, BUT MINE ARE SWEETER.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW OF RHYME OR METER?
YOU'LL FALL BEFORE ME, AND YOU KNOW IT,
FOR I AM THE SUPERIOR POET!"
As Alstaf spoke and the Nimmo-creature stared, Vaech and Mella crept to Nika's side, desperately happy to see each other.
"YOUR PRETTY WORDS WILL NOT AVAIL," the Nimmo called,
"YOUR SUN WILL FLICKER, FADE, AND FAIL.
MINE IS THE POWER OF THE DARK,
AND I EXTINGUISH EVERY SPARK.
A SINGLE POET CANNOT STAND
AGAINST MY BLACK AND PITILESS HAND!"
With a crack that echoed like a whip across the tunnel walls, the Nimmo reached out a skeletal hand and slapped Alstaf off his feet. The Poogle tumbled head-over-heels into the rocky wall.
Mella ran to him, with Vaech and Nika close behind. Nika lay a gentle hand on the Poogle's cheek. His glasses were cracked and broken. "Alstaf?" she whispered.
His eyes didn't open.
"You're wrong," Mella cried, turning furiously to the Nimmo. "He is not a single poet, and he is not alone. All of us stand against you, all of us together!"
She grabbed Nika and Vaech's paws. "YOU LURK AND MUTTER IN THE DARK..." she shouted.
A shiver went up Vaech's spine. His eyes fell on the pinpricks of light still shining in the tunnel walls, and suddenly he knew what to say. "BUT WE HAVE BROUGHT A GLEAMING SPARK!"
Nika squeezed his hand. "BEFORE US ALL THE SHADOWS RUN..." she said, and reached for Alstaf's fallen paw.
A tremor went through Alstaf's body, and he blinked and looked up at the monstrous Nimmo. He tried to speak, but broke into a fit of coughing. The others gathered around him, and helped him to sit up.
Alstaf took a deep breath, then gave the Nimmo a cocky smile. "OURS IS THE POWER OF THE SUN!"
The Nimmo gave a hideous, wordless shriek, and raised his hands to the tunnel ceiling. The tiny lights twinkling in the walls grew brighter, and brighter, until every shadow in the cavern shrivelled... and the Nimmo shrivelled too, his spidery limbs dwindling away under the bright glow of light.
And as the four Neopets watched...
Editor's Note: How do you want the story to end? Tell us!
Date: Dec 19th
...the air slowly filled with stars.
The pinpoint lights fell from the walls and floated through the cave. They drifted, spun. They moved so silently, so softly, serene. Shining gossamer snowflakes.
It was beautiful.
The cave became eerily silent as the Nimmo's screams dwindled into whimpers, then nothing at all. They watched. Vaech. Nika. Mella. Alstaf. They all watched as the Nimmo fell to the ground, dark eyes staring blankly at the ceiling.
Then slowly, so slowly, the lights gently faded away into oblivion. But they never disappeared completely. For while the dancing firefly lights were nowhere to be seen, the cave still basked in a silver glow.
No one wanted to speak. No one wanted to break the beautiful silence. As if afraid words would chase the light away, and they'd be brought back into darkness... cold, lonely darkness...
Seconds were hours. Hours were seconds. The hourglass shattered. Sand cascaded into the wind, which brought it up to the heavens, where it became the ever-shining stars in the sky.
"Is it... is it over?" Mella asked. Her voice was barely a whisper, as if she hadn't spoken in a long time, as if she had forgotten how.
Vaech was silent. He opened his mouth to reply, but no words came to mind.
Nika was silent, fingers still entwined with Vaech's. She didn't have an answer either.
Alstaf was silent. Even he, a poet, a master of words, could think of nothing.
The Nimmo stirred.
Mella shrieked and backed away. Nika's hand tightened around Vaech's. Alstaf glared, still too weak to stand on his own two feet. Vaech took a threatening step forward.
The Nimmo slowly sat up and turned his head toward them. His dead, doll eyes looked right through them as he opened his mouth and whispered, "Goodbye."
There was a sound of glass breaking, and he shattered. Light, brilliant light enveloped everything. They had to close their eyes to avoid blinding themselves as a wave of warmth washed over them.
As the brilliance faded away, they opened their eyes once more to see the Nimmo, standing there, staring at them, staring...
Vaech took a step forward, but was held back by Nika. "Wait," she said. "Look at his eyes."
His eyes. His frightening shadow eyes. Dark eyes. Black eyes. Devoid of any light, any sparkle, any smile, any warmth.
His eyes were melting, fading, dwindling into a dazzling hue of star-coloured silver. And then they changed again. To green, like the flowers and the leaves on the trees and the grass after it rains... to blue, like a bright summer sky... to sunset orange and lilac purple, wagon red and sunflower yellow... and then to gold. Brilliant, brilliant gold. The colour of the sun.
And then back to silver again. Silver like the stars and the moon. The very light that covered the world like a warm blanket as the sun set behind the horizon. Always there, protecting the world from darkness like a silent guardian.
The air was filled with a melodic voice.
"AS DARKNESS FADES A LIGHT IS BORN
CHASES AWAY THE SHADOW'S SCORN
MEMORIES ONCE LOST WERE FOUND
THEY SPIN IN CIRCLES, ROUND AND ROUND
REMINDING ME OF THINGS LONG FORGOTTEN
OUTSHINING THOSE OF THINGS SO ROTTEN
OF LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY, HOPE
THE THINGS THAT FORM LIFE'S TIGHT ROPE
FOR EVEN IN THE DARK OF NIGHT
THERE ALWAYS IS A SPARK, A LIGHT"
As the words faded, so did the music. The Nimmo looked at them, body shimmering. "Thank you."
The cave was filled with a blinding light once more.
When they opened their eyes, they were back outside, standing in front of a stone wall. There was no evidence of the cave, nothing to show it was ever there in the first place. The spaceship could be seen in the distance, sitting there patiently, waiting, still waiting.
They all stared at each other, not saying a word.
"We did it," Alstaf breathed. He stumbled and Nika rushed forward to support him.
"But... how exactly?" Vaech wondered. He shook his head. "I'm still not sure..."
"Light," Mella whispered. "We showed him the light."
Vaech frowned. "But... how did showing him the thing he feared, hated... how did that bring victory?"
Mella shook her head. "I'm not talking about the sun. There are other kinds of light, in the world. Brighter ones."
They slowly walked back to the ship. Vaech vaguely wondered what he was going to tell the passengers. Alstaf was mumbling something about extra peanuts to Nika, who was rolling her eyes. Mella walked behind them, staring at the ground.
Vaech looked to the sky. "I wonder..." He sighed. "I wonder what happened? To him, I mean. He just..."
"Disappeared?" Nika said.
"Something like that."
"I don't think anyone knows where he is now," Mella said, "but I have a feeling he's somewhere, watching..."
Above them, the stars twinkled. The stars shone. Brightly. But none as bright as the constellation, one the world had never seen before. The one the astronomers would soon dub "The Nimmo." For if you connected the dots, the brilliant pinpoints of light formed the shape of a Nimmo, smiling down upon the planets, protecting them and filling the universe with light.
But to the four Neopets who walked back to the ship, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, the constellation had a different name.
Date: Dec 19th
IMPORTANT - SUBMISSION POLICY! By
uploading or otherwise submitting any materials to Neopets, you (and your parents) are
automatically granting us permission to use those materials for free in any manner we can think
of forever throughout the universe. These materials must be created ONLY by the person
submitting them - you cannot submit someone else's work. Also, if you're under age 18, ALWAYS
check with your parents before you submit anything to us!