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||You are on Week 430
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 Four Hundred Thirty Ends Friday, September 25
"This doesn't seem right," Rino said, frowning at the bottle in his paws. "I know you said you're selling 'hope in a bottle,' but all we've done so far is pour Krakuberry Juice and Ummagine Juice into these bottles. If it's a potion, shouldn't there be something, you know, magical in it?"
His partner, Dulci, tilted his cap back on his head and sighed, as if he'd been over this a hundred times. "I told ya, Rino, the magic comes later. Don't you worry about it. Just keep pouring that juice, understand?"
Rino's frown stayed in place, but the Zafara replaced the funnel in the top of the bottle and up-ended a pitcher of Foozette Juice into it. The bright yellow liquid mixed with the purple Ummagine Juice already inside and turned a nauseating grey-brown colour. "Where'd you study potions, anyway? In Faerieland, like with Jhudora or somebody?"
Dulci barked out a short, unpleasant laugh that bared his large Skeith teeth. "Potions nothing, kid. You don't understand the business. The magic is all in the customer's head."
"But... isn't that lying? We're not actually helping anyone; we're just taking their Neopoints."
"I guess you could say that's where the magic comes in," the Skeith wheezed, his massive belly jiggling with his laughter. "Think about, kiddo. We could be doing worse. Remember that whole town that got hoodwinked into buying potions that ended up turning them all into monsters? We ain't doing that. We're just reaping the benefits of the greed -- and gullibility -- of our fellow Neopians."
Biting his lip, the Zafara carefully set down the half-full bottle he'd been filling. "I don't think I want to do this, Dulci. I'm sorry, but I don't want to sell false hope or make a few Neopoints off the desperation of others. I'll see you around."
Rino turned on his heel to leave, but when he tried to take a step, something held fast to his leg. He looked down to find Dulci's claw wrapped like a vise around his ankle.
"You ain't going nowhere, kid. Your paws ain't clean in this operation, you know, and I can't have you running around Neopia flapping your yap about my plans, see? Now, are you gonna sit down or am I gonna have to..."
Author: Better make tracks!|
Date: Sep 21st
Rino frowned. "You can't make me work for you, Dulci," he said defiantly. "The Defenders of Neopia will lock you up forever."
Dulci snorted. "Don't be so naive, kid. You won't run away from me; let's face it -- I'm an upstanding citizen of Neopia, and what are you? Just some vagabond, given a home by none other than Dulci, master of potions."
Rino winced. His strain to get loose from the grip of the conniving Skeith lessened at the thought of his very recent past.
"As I thought," Dulci said, releasing Rino from his clawed grip. He stood upright, picking up the funnel from the table. "Now then, you have a job to do."
Rino snatched the funnel and glared at Dulci. "You will not get away with this. You may have given me a place to live and a job these past few days, but I won't stand for it."
Dulci stepped forward and placed his plump arm around the much smaller Zafara. Rino almost collapsed onto the ground from the sudden weight on his shoulders. "Look, kid, I picked you up from streets. I was a kind-hearted soul who had pity on the poor, lonely, down-on-his-luck Zafara, and gave you the care that you needed. You're in my debt now -- everything you do, is for me. Unless, of course, you'd prefer going back onto the streets." He paused and held his other hand forward in the air. "Listen, you stick with me, and the sky's the limit."
Somehow, Rino found that hard to believe. "If I stick with you, I'll end up in jail."
Dulci increased the weight on Rino's shoulders. "I can show you the pyramids of the Lost Desert, the volcanoes of Mystery Island -- everything you dream of seeing."
Rino shrugged the Skeith's giant arm off of his shoulder and tossed the funnel into the bottle. He picked up the Krakuberry juice and began sloppily pouring it in. "Why can't you just get a normal job like all the other--"
"Suckers," Dulci interrupted to finish Rino's sentence. "That's what every other working guy and gal are. You don't want to be a sucker, so you've got to be quick on your feet. These potions'll make tonnes of Neopoints."
Rino sneered, as he finished pouring the juice into the bottle. He removed the funnel, corked the bottle, and placed it on an adjacent table with similar-looking bottles.
Dulci placed his hefty claws onto the table. "That'll do for the first batch. Here take this--" He handed Rino a megaphone.
"Make an announcement; these potions will cure any ailment..."
Date: Sep 21st
"... anything people will fall for, somethin' like that. Go ahead and throw something in if you like. It doesn't matter, as long as we've got some gullible customers buyin' our stuff."
A frown still kept a place on Rino's mouth, and for a few moments he merely stared at the megaphone that he was now holding in his hands. The Zafara's paws were far smaller than Dulci's.
Wait, what was he thinking this for? There was no way he could try anything. Dulci'd get him for sure, and the Zafara himself knew that, in the Skeith's own words, his "paws ain't clean in this operation." The little reverie of absentmindedness was quickly broken by his boss's harsh voice.
"Well, c'mon kid, what are you waitin' for?" He was busy pouring a few liquids into a bottle that had a cork sitting next to it. It was surrounded by other bottles on the table, most of them with labels like "Health Restorer" or "Color Changer - May Take A Week To Work." The liquid the Skeith had poured glowed faintly blue, and Rino couldn't remember this ever having happened before. However, it was easy to think nothing of it. He had a job to do, after all.
With the megaphone still held loosely in his hands, Rino lifted it to his mouth while surveying the other people bustling about the market. He gave the advertisement Dulci had wanted.
"Come one, come all, to Dulci's--" Dulci had never liked being upstaged. The shop was his. "--Potionery! We have all sorts of potent brews with a variety of amazing powers! Gain super-speed, a new color, intelligence, cure all of your sicknesses or injuries... the sky's the limit!"
It didn't take long for customers to gather, with the first one being a young red Usul. She surveyed the potions with a smile, then pointed to the glowing blue one. Rino followed her indication, noticing that the vial had been marked "Color Changer."
"How much is that?" the Usul inquired, and Dulci gave her a smile. A fake smile, a smile that was welcoming to everyone who didn't know what it meant -- treachery, guile. Rino was quite familiar with it.
"Why, for you, a meager 3,500 Neopoints! It may take a week to work, but results are guaranteed, ma'am."
The Usul looked a bit contemplative for a moment, but then pulled out her purse and handed over the money.
"We recommend that you drink it here, so as not to break the bottle," Dulci offered. The Usul nodded and gulped down the glowing potion. What happened next was not what Rino had expected.
Suddenly, the Usul...
Date: Sep 22nd
…began to change.
Rino stared with surprise as the Usul's flesh began to twist and morph, changing hue. Her fur began to grow more thickly, and also changed color while an extra eye appeared upon her forehead, blinking with surprise.
"I… I'm a mutant!" the Usul cried out.
The young Zafara felt his jaw drop. But the potions were fake! Even Dulci confirmed it! He turned and spotted a look of utter amazement spread across his plump features. It was obvious that this was not what the Skeith had expected at all. But what came next stunned Rino once again.
"I always wanted to be a mutant; it was my dream color!" the freshly mutated Usul announced, her voice laced with joy even though it now had an odd, deeper pitch.
The few who were passing by the stall quickly rushed over to see the potions. Rino felt overwhelmed by the queries, each asking about the properties of each potion, their price, and whatnot. Dulci was trying to smoothly meander his way out of the masses, but that proved impossible -- the crowd was too demanding.
Soon it didn't matter what price the potions were being sold for, as long as there was money being exchanged. Rino struggled to hold his own, pummeled not just by the eager buyers, but also Dulci's barking commands to get more potions and change.
"Hey kid, stop loafing and close the stall!" the Skeith thundered at last, and Rino felt a wave of relief.
The young Zafara quickly reached for a wooden board that had the word "closed" splattered on it in red paint, placing the board between the buyers and himself and quickly locking it. There were many disappointed voices, but soon the scrabbling on the wood died down as the crowd realized that the stall was not opening any time soon.
With an onerous groan, Dulci collapsed on a chair that he'd brought with him to the market.
"Dulci… was that supposed to happen?" Rino murmured.
The portly Skeith snorted in response. "Of course not! I've got no idea about what happened… but it did." The shock of the moment was replaced with a sinister smile that Rino knew all too well. "Looks like it's time to change those prices, you understand?"
The Zafara nodded meekly.
"Those customers will be getting the real deal. We will be raking in more than before! And you thought of leaving..." Dulci waved a paw with a nonchalant air. “Now go change those prices -- I want to see five digits, Rino! In the world of business, you've always gotta keep on your feet."
Without a word, the Zafara went to do as ordered while Dulci took a break and started reading The Neopian Times. The Zafara took up a bottle and tore off the price tag that initially asked for 5,000 NP, but before he had changed the cost, Rino noticed that the glow he'd spotted before the madness began was now growing more intense…
Date: Sep 22nd
...and Rino had a feeling that whatever -- or whoever -- was doing this, it was not for the greater good. He was in a stalemate with himself. He knew that if Dulci caught him throwing the potion away (which he probably would), Dulci would cast Rino back onto the streets, unemployed and homeless. If Rino didn't throw the potion away, the poor victim to consume the potion might morph into something that they wouldn't like, or even worse, something dangerous.
Rino decided not to take his chances. He hated being homeless more than anything, anything at all, even tricking fellow Neopians. He changed the tag's listed price and stored the bottle away. Dulci's back was turned currently, shooing off the last few lingering customers. He turned around grinning and patting the bulging sack full of Neopoints tied to his belt.
"Now that's how ya make a profit, kid. Not by bein' a sucker, ya hear?" Dulci drawled, setting his hands on his hips. Rino nodded, not truly focused on his surroundings. A movement caught Rino's eye, a rustling in the woods behind Dulci a hundred paces away. Dulci patted Rino's shoulder and loaded up the ramshackle wood pull-cart with the stall's paraphernalia. "Come along, kid. I'm not gonna wait for you forever," Dulci called behind him.
Rino shook his head and followed Dulci as he pushed the cart. The Zafara kept glancing as the woods as they passed, convinced something was watching them from within the deep bracken.
Who knew what lay beyond the forest? Rino had heard rumours of a wood where the trees never had leaves, where ghouls roamed free and witches ruled the night; that is, if something worse didn't. He shuddered at the thought, hoping that whatever was in the forest was not from that haunted place.
Dulci grunted in frustration; the cart was stuck in a rut, blocked by a large rock embedded in the dirt road. Rino glanced at the sky. The sun was going down, partially concealed by a mountain.
"Oh, come on now," Dulci huffed, leaning his huge mass against the cart.
"Dulci, no!" Rino cried, but it was too late. The cart capsized over the rock, splitting in half and scattering the contents everywhere. The Skieth yelled at the sky, shaking his fist.
All Rino could make out was "...for the love of Fyora!" Rino rolled his eyes and proceeded to organise the cargo that was now strewn across the road.
"There's no use for that, now, boy," Dulci growled, kicking the dilapidated cart. "I'll walk home and get my other cart. You here until I get back, ya hear?" Rino's eyes widened and he gulped. He darted his glance to the woods, trying to determine how much time he had until the thing in the forest would emerge.
By the time the Zafara looked back toward Dulci, his eyes found nothing but the rubbish lying on the road. The wind blew hard, and the land went dark as the sun set behind the distant mountains. The rustling in the bushes grew louder, and a keen noise sliced through the air. The bushes parted and out stepped...
Date: Sep 23rd
...the mutant Usul who had just been at the shop a few hours earlier. Only she looked different -- more monster-like. Sharper teeth, longer hair, and the usually red eyes were now an endless black. "What's happening to me!?" she cried out in anguish. Rino could tell she was in pain.
"I went home after I had left the Marketplace, and my Babaa was afraid of me. Even my family was afraid. I'm so scared, Mister, you have to help me! How do I reverse this?"
Rino shook his head. "I don't know."
The Usul shouted, "You don't know?! You sell something and you don't even know what it does?!"
"What is go-AHHHH!" Dulci returned, pushing the cart. It dropped to the ground as the Skeith recoiled with shock at the sight of the Usul.
"Sir, please help me, I want to be normal again!" the Usul cried.
"Oh, it's you. Sorry girl, but I can't help ya. You wanted to be mutant and you got your wish," the Skeith said.
"Oh, what am I to do? I can't go home because everyone is frightened of me." She sniffed.
"Dulci," the Zafara whispered what did you put in that potion?"
The Skeith sighed and whispered, "You know about the potion that turned everyone in Haunted Woods into a mutant?"
"Well, I found a bit of that."
"YOU WHAT!?" Rino screeched.
"Hush, kid you want me to get in trouble?" He pointed to the crying Usul. "Look, she is an "UNIQUE" mutant. Not the same as the others."
The Zafara sighed. Dulci's story didn't quite make sense to him. After all, what had occurred in Neovia had taken place decades ago, and besides, no one really knew what Krawley had used in his potions, so how would the Skeith have known what he'd found, especially since he claimed to have never studied potions. Frowning, Rino said...
Date: Sep 23rd
"That doesn't make sense, Dulci. How in the world did you know what it was when you found it?"
Dulci returned the frown, before looking over to the mutated Usul and proffering his usual smile. "No refunds, exchanges, or any of that. Sales are final, so get out of here."
The Usul looked on the edge of tears as Dulci grabbed Rino's arm and took him a few steps away so that they could talk properly without anyone else hearing.
"Tell me the truth, Dulci. Don't I at least deserve that?"
"And what about what I deserve, kid?" Dulci asked in reply. "I've always been a good salesman. I made others happy -- that Usul got what she wanted. It ain't my fault she didn't know what she was getting into."
Rino sighed. He could tell that Dulci was hiding something, and doing everything that he could to keep it hidden. "Where did you get the potion?"
"I told you, I found it," Dulci said vehemently.
"I know you didn't find it. There's no way that you would just happen to come across that horrible potion from Neovia."
Dulci paused for a few seconds. He looked left and right to make sure that nobody was in earshot before speaking. "All right, kid, I'm gonna level with you. Someone sold me a bit of the potion -- said it was that special Neovian one, that'd give the drinker what they wanted. It was a bargain price; how could I resist?"
"And who sold it to you?"
Dulci shook his head. "Nobody familiar. Besides, he told me not to tell anyone about it. He didn't seem like the kind of guy you wanna mess with so--"
Dulci was cut off by the Usul. Her voice had deepened into more of a growl than it was before. Dulci and Rino turned to face her.
In the time they'd spent talking, she'd mutated even more. Her fur was ragged and uneven, and it looked like she'd grown slightly too.
"You'd better run," she barked.
After the initial stunned amazement at the Usul's ever-changing form, Dulci took a step forward. "Is that a threat?" he bellowed.
Rino tapped him on the shoulder. "Dulci, I think she's right."
All around them, bushes began to rustle, trees began to shake, and footsteps could be heard. Dozens of pets appeared, walking forward from all around the marketplace. Their eyes glinted in the growing darkness.
"What have you done to us?" cried a Wocky, whose beautiful brown hair had grown to three times the length of her body.
"Change us back," demanded a Grarrl. His teeth were so long and sharp that he couldn't close his mouth, and was barely understandable when he spoke.
Dulci grabbed Rino and pulled him in front, as a shield. "It's final. We can't change you back. You got what you wanted, now leave us alone."
The pets continued to advance.
"Rino, do something..."
Date: Sep 24th
"You're the one who started this whole mess!" Rino cried.
He jumped back as a massive Eyrie with scales running the length of his body swiped at him with sharpened talons. "Change me back, you crook!" he yelled.
"Hey, Rino, it's him," Dulci shouted above the noise of grunts and screeches of the surrounding crowd. "Right there, see?" Dulci shook Rino's shoulder pointing to a darkened figure standing quite still on the outskirts of the advancing mob.
"Well, then do something!" Rino spat.
"It's not us you want," the blubbering Skeith tried addressing the mutated Neopets. "It's him, he's the one who made the potion, go after him!"
It was no use, though. The mob was impervious to his words. They continued to close in on the two Neopets, teeth bared, mucus flying, claws waving.
Upon being spotted, the cloaked figure darted back into the night, not before Rino had noticed his presence.
"C'mon Dulci, we have to go after him. He's the only one who knows how to fix this mess."
Ignoring the Skeith's whimpering, he grabbed Dulci's hand, darted through a gap in the crowd, and they both hightailed it down the path running... well, like their lives depended on it. They could hear the mismatched footsteps and snarls following them.
After a couple minutes, Rino spotted the figure jogging ahead of them. They were catching up. Obviously, whoever was hiding under that cloak was not in good shape to be running.
He was almost within reaching distance when Dulci tripped, pushing Rino forward. The Zafara fell face-first, managing to grasp the mysterious figure's cloak on the way down. They heard the ripping of cloth, and gasped at who was revealed behind the mask...
Date: Sep 24th
It wasn't Krawley. That's who Rino had assumed it was... but it wasn't. He was much too young. Young... Rino began thinking. Rino grabbed the Krawk's shirt and yanked on it. The Krawk thudded to the ground.
"You've got some explainin' to do!" Dulci ordered when he recovered from the fall. "Why didn't you tell me all... THAT would happen to them!?"
"Why would I?" the Krawk hissed. "I've gotta make a profit. And I am not about to be a sucker like all those other gentlemen and ladies!"
Dulci gasped. That was almost exactly what he had said to Rino earlier, although this Krawk said it with sophistication.
"Well, then what's your name?" Dulci demanded.
"The name's Krawkson."
"You look a lot like--"
"Krawley?" Krawkson finished. "Yes, I know. He's my grandfather. I inherited the business from my father, Krawk-Mason."
"Never heard of him." Dulci shook his shoulders and shrugged.
"It's because-- Oh! Will you get off!?" Rino let go. "He was a fool and went for 'prosperity!' and 'honour!' But," Krawkson laughed, "I can see you've had some... customers."
"Yeah, and we want 'em turned back!" Dulci smirked. "And I intend to get to the bottom of this, and you'll be seein' the back of my hand if you don't help!"
"Okay, okay. Let's not get," the Krawk gulped, "violent. Please, I have a fragile spine!" He sighed, "Okay, here's what we need to do..."
Editor's Note: How do you want the story to end? Tell us!
Date: Sep 25th
Krawkson held a whispered conversation with Dulci and Rino, and after a lot of headshaking and smirks, the plan had been settled.
Krawkson dissapeared into the trees of the forest, leaving Rino and Dulci behind with the creatures. Both grabbing long branches, they prodded the enraged -- and rapidly evolving -- mutants. Some fell over each other in an attempt to get at the annoying Neopets poking them, while others were struck in the eyes and fell over themselves in panic. Either way, it all ended up with everyone stumbling all over each other.
A few minutes passed as the mutants clambered over each other before the Krawk returned. He carried three well-used water pistols.
"Definitely stolen," Rino whispered to himself. He didn't trust this Krawk any more than he would've trusted the Krawk's infamous grandfather.
After handing everyone a water pistol, Krawkson pulled out a glowing vial from a backpack he had brought along. He poured the liquid in equal parts into the water pistols, careful not to spill any.
"Okay, I lied. I knew what would happen and I'm sorry. This is the antidote; it should change them back within a couple of minutes. I think," Krawkson said hesitantly.
"What!" The enraged Skeith slapped Krawkson across the face.
"Hey! I said no violence!" the Krawk whimpered.
"How could you lie to us? How could you just stand and watch the pain these poor creatures have gone through?" Rino questioned, waving a paw at the slowly rising mob of mutants.
"Are we going to wait until later to discuss this, or talk while we're being attacked?" Krawkson said, trying to avoid this kind of conversation.
Dulci pointed his water pistol toward the now fast-approaching mutants.
"Ready." He smirked.
"FIRE!" On Rino's command all three fired their pistols, waving them madly in all directions like crazed toddlers.
Slowly, the mutants began to back away from the spray, some already beginning to shrink as they headed for the cover of the trees.
Fangs started to recede, hair fell from overgrown bodies, and muscles were rapidly reducing. The once foul-smelling, scary-looking beasts were beginning to look normal again. Soon Lupes, Wockys, Grarrls, Eyries, and the one Usul began to appear.
Staring wide-eyed at their normal hands and bodies, smiles began to creep over the Neopets' faces. They were back! Dancing around in circles and shouting for joy, they were obviously happy to be back to their old selves. Completely forgetting about the three standing nearby holding their water pistols in a good imitations of Gorix and Cylara, the restored Neopets ran toward the forest's edge, keen to see their families again.
"I'm glad that's over," Rino said with a smile. "So, Krawkson, why did you do it?"
The young Krawk at least at the decency to look abashed. "My family has fallen on hard times because of the horrible things my grandfather did. When I saw you two selling those fake potions, I wanted to teach you both a lesson about the dangers of preying on the greed of others." He grinned. "Plus, I made a few Neopoints in the bargain."
Dulci's face darkened, his brows lowering. He took one ponderous step toward Krawkson, who promptly took off.
"That's right, you whippersnapper!" Dulci shouted at Krawkson's retreating back. "You'd better run!" The Skeith turned back to his apprentice. "He had a point, though. I guess I'm gonna give up that business," he said with a sigh. Then, brightening, Dulci threw a huge arm around Rino.
"Well, my boy, I'm thinking about starting a cafe, what do you think?" he asked.
Rino just shook his head. Either way, he was stuck with baking cakes. "Just promise me you won't make any special additions to the ingredients!"
Dulci roared with laughter. "Agreed, kid!"
|Author: *username removed*|
Date: Sep 25th
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