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||You are on Week 434
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 Four Ends Friday, October 23
The spring has left my tail. I, a Blumaroo! I feel myself worn down by my constant tasks, and yet I cannot defy my Master. I cannot even bring myself to look upon his face after all these years of serving him. The horrible wart-covered, black-clawed purple hands are frightening enough; I dare not think of what his face must look like.
My life is not my own. All day, I drag myself hither and thither, fetching goods at my Master's request. The stink of them makes my thoughts whirl, and my paws are bloody from carrying Phear Spines and being bitten by Grackle Traps. My only respite is you, tattered diary, and the stolen moments I use to write in you, even if my entry is just a list of the endless inequities to which my Master subjects me.
What he doesn't know, diary, is that I've found a way out. For a long time, I'd hoped that if I displeased him, he'd set me free and find a new servant, but that plan has proved fruitless. So, my only option is escape. It once seemed impossible; sometimes it felt like my Master was with me wherever I went, like he could see my every action, but I believe I've found his weakness. Tonight, I make my escape...
Author: I think your service to us is at its end now!|
Date: Oct 19th
I will not escape my Master's clutches unscathed. I am scarred and withered. I doubt the sense of sickness will ever leave me, after years of struggling without rest through the dank Woods. I don't even really remember what physical wellness felt like... all I recall is pain. Aching, stinging. It does not relent.
Beyond that, I fear I will never again see myself the way I used to be -- blue-furred, bright-eyed, and soft. My body is warped; the fur has long since been shed, leaving browned, fleshy skin in its wake. My eyes are blank and beady, my ears and tail limp. I'm possibly the most miserable excuse for a Blumaroo that Neopia has ever seen. Not that they see me. But they will, oh, they will.
I'm willing to live with that, diary. But I'm not willing to put up with my torment any longer. I have no future if I continue on this way.
I still remember that day, all those years ago. A younger and much more foolish me took a ridiculous dare from my friends. Hadn't I ever listened to a word my mother said? Never wander the Haunted Woods after nightfall. She'd told me a story about some Kacheek called Albert and his run-in with the Esophagor. I scoffed then; I believe it now.
They said they'd come and get me at midnight, bring me back safely if I ran into something dangerous (which, mind you, none of us really believed we'd see). We'd all go for some kind of treat later. And I waited, but they never came.
But I digress. I hear the all-too-familiar footsteps in the hall, and I must put you down for now before I am caught in the act. I embark upon this final task -- what shall it be this time? A Clawmatoe, a piece of Skull Candy, an Apple Lantern?
It is no matter. Know that the next time I pick you up, diary, it shall be time at long last...
Date: Oct 19th
Another series of tasks, hissed from my master's tongue. A Clawmatoe, an Apple Lantern... how I forced my shoulders to slump, diary. How I struggled to echo the frequent defeat and misery he so enjoys witnessing. I made my head droop, my tail drag. I couldn't let him see; I could allow no hint of the small glimmer of hope shimmering within me to show. Not now. Not when I've waited so long. I did what he demanded and returned to my hovel... and to my dreams.
I dare not let him know that I have hope. Hope would bring life to my eyes, return the spring to my step that I once took for granted. If he saw that tiny glimmer, he would be instantly compelled to quash it, destroy it as he destroys all that is good and pure.
This is my last chance. If this tiny thread of hope dies, I know I will not have it in me to try again. I will just give up and spend the rest of my days trudging the never-ending myriad of thorns and boughs that make up my master's bizarre maze.
But for now hope exists. It has for six days now. Such a short time, not even a week. Years have passed in this place without me understanding whether the sun has fallen or risen and you, diary, have remained my solitary method of counting the moments as they fall into repetitive oblivion. The days were meaningless and the nights no different, all until six days ago.
He had barked a demand for Skull Candy. Spat the words at me as if I should have known before he spoke. Resigned to my fate, I left the relative warmth of my hovel and met the night. It was cold, even more brittle and glacial than most evenings here, and the rain had caused the earth to puddle and melt. Massive wells of dirty water littered the path, gaping maws waiting for one of my feet to slip and sink into their trap.
Between the rambling, sharp hedges I trudged, no longer bothering to shield myself from the droplets which stung my skin. Why bother protecting something so terribly ripped and ruined now?
It was then that I saw it. The rain must have washed away the dirt that had hidden it. Who knows how long it had been buried there? A small crystal bottle, fierce pellets of rain washing the delicate surface clean...
Date: Oct 20th
For a brief moment, I only looked down at the bottle, the crystalline surface glistening like forgotten hope in the falling rain. I thought about walking past because it wasn't what Master had sent me for, but it had been so long since I had picked up anything for myself, so I leaned down and scooped up the precious item in my weary paws.
The glass was smooth and slick as I slowly examined the bottle. At first, I feared it was empty, when suddenly I saw a tiny face peering up at me. Shocked, I dropped the bottle and it rolled across the hard ground before I realised what I had seen.
It was a bottled dark faerie.
For the first time in far too many years, a warm feeling flooded my chest. Perhaps if I freed this faerie, she could help me and get me out of my imprisonment. I was actually shaking as I clumsily retrieved the bottle and started to open it, but then I saw the faerie shake her head. I saw her mouth moving, so I moved her ears close to the glass to hear her what she was saying.
"My powers are strongest by the light of the full moon," she said. I'm sure she was yelling, but I could only barely hear her. "In six days the moon shall be full. Release me then and I'll truly be able to help you."
I nodded in agreement, even though I had never heard of such a thing as Kreludor affecting faeries, and quickly set about finding the Skull Candy for Master. Luck was on my side for a change as I found it quickly and was able to make my way out of the accursed maze. I kept the bottle close to my left side, and thankfully Master didn't seem to notice. Without incident, I was allowed to return to my hovel where I hid the faerie beneath the thin pillow of my bed. For the first time that night my dreams were colourful and happy. A smile actually graced my face, and it felt so strange and wonderful.
Six days. How slow time moves when you're waiting, but finally it's here. I can see the ancient full moon shining down in the autumn sky, shining with the freedom that soon awaits me. As soon as I go on tonight's task for whatever item Master desires, I will release the faerie...
Date: Oct 20th
"Clawmatoe!" the Master barked at me. "Fetch it for me now!"
Carefully maintaining my dispirited air, I turned and entered the maze. This was the last item I needed to get. The bottle containing the faerie was carefully concealed beneath my arm, and I was eager to release her from her tiny glass prison. Slowly I shuffled through the maze, wending my way left then right and left again. Scanning the ground, I at last found the item I sought and picked it up. I retraced my steps and handed the Clawmatoe to Master. Instinctively I turned toward the door of my room, but...
"Wait," said Master almost casually. My blood froze in my veins, and I stopped dead in my tracks. My mind screamed at me "He knows!" yet I forced myself to continue standing slumped as always and waited for Master to continue speaking.
"Tonight is a little different," he said, and my heart began pounding loudly in my ears. Surely he couldn't suspect? "It is the night of the full moon," he continued, "which makes it a night of special power. I have a new concoction to prepare, which I've been saving for tonight. It requires another ingredient, which is very, very rare. So rare, in fact, that it is located within reaches of the maze that even I have never explored. I need you to fetch it for me."
Frantically I cast a furtive glance at the night sky. The moon was not yet at its fullest, but it would be within the hour. The phial hidden beneath my arm was warm, and it occurred to me that this was the time. It was perfect! Once I was deep within the maze where not even Master could see I would release the faerie with impunity.
Master spoke again. "On second thought," he said, and my heart sank, "this item may be too difficult for you to locate. You have never seen it before, so you will not know what to look for. It is imperative that you get it; therefore I will accompany you." He smiled glacially. "Come."
Helplessly, my stomach churning, I entered the maze yet again, Master right behind me...
Date: Oct 21st
My hands are still shaking as I write this, diary; the horror that sank upon me at that moment was as heavy and as tangible as a third being entering the maze with my master and me. As I hesitated at the first corner, my horrible overseer barked, "Where is your Tentacompass? How will you find your way?"
His voice, like churning gravel, sank through my ears, shivered down my spine, and found a seat at the base of my hapless tail. I cringed quite despite my best efforts to maintain some dignity, but too many years of foul abuse had left me a simpering sycophant, an unwanted wretch. Fumbling with the cyclopean navigation device in my hand, I held the Tentacompass far enough ahead of me so that Master could see it as well. That lone eye, as unappealing as a blood-spotted egg yolk, rolled and darted in its socket as hesitant as the pathetic Blumaroo who held it.
I awaited either a direction from the Tentacompass or further instruction from Master, but no one spoke and no one moved save the thin purple clouds that drifted across the moon's face. This motion, so brief and distant, caught my eye, and I lifted my gaze to Kreludor, which hung full and low on the horizon. As I lingered in desperate contemplation, the clouds parted and the moonlight split the darkness of the night, reaching even to where I stood in the shadow of Master's dour grey robes. I took the slightest step forward into the numinous illumination and the glass jar concealed beneath my arm began to hum and shiver -- the magic of the full moon was nigh and the faerie would not be denied.
I was now doubly fearful: of unwittingly betraying the presence of the dark faerie and ruining my chances for escape, and of the consequences of her discovery for me and for her. I tried to cover the humming with a weak and feeble cough and turned to state, "I need more information, Master. I have always known the item I was sent to fetch before. I... I don't know which way to turn."
Master laughed without mirth, a cold and mocking cackling, and he stretched out his bony arm toward the pathway on the right. My eyes travelled along the bones of his warty, purple fingers right to the tip of his outstretched plum-coloured claw and further deep into the shadows of the overgrown maze. The clouds reclaimed the moonshine once more, and I started in the direction I had been shown, my Master following close enough behind me that I could feel his foul breath on my stooped shoulder blades. At least entering the shadows had stilled the faerie's motions and I was emboldened to ask once more, "Master, what is it we seek tonight?"
I could not tell if it was a momentary benevolence or shock at my impertinence that prompted him to reply...
Date: Oct 21st
"Enough questions!" He hissed this with enough malevolence that I could do nothing but shrink further to the shadows by his side. Whatever it was he was searching for, I was not going to be privy to that information.
We continued on down the darkened path, with only the sound of our muffled footsteps, his determined and heavy, mine timid and awkward. The wind had died and even the usual sounds of the trees crackling and calls of stray Meepits were nonexistent. It was as if my Master's presence was all too noted, and even the wind thought it better to not cross his path.
Before long, we approached an area of the trail that was so shrouded and dense with braches, it was no wonder I'd never spared it a second's glance. But my Master held out his hand, and I immediately winced, expecting some sort of blow, but he was merely signaling me to stop. I could hear his ragged breathing.
And with much stealth for a creature so large, he slithered into the brush without so much as breaking a twig.
And there I was alone. Well, not alone. I saw there was a small patch of moonlight nearby, so with another glance to make sure the Master was well occupied, I retrieved the dark faerie from my side and held her up to the luminescence. The bottle began to hum again, and the dark faerie glowed a dim purple hue.
I saw she was gesticulating to me and trying to say something.
"Uncork me now and I can help you!"
She was right, this was it. There was no better moment. The moon was at its fullest, and I could see in the distance, dark clouds threatening to cover it for the night. One swift movement, and all my troubles would be in the past.
My arm inclined toward the cork, hovering for a moment with the sheer anticipation, hope, and anxiousness.
I snatched my hand away as if I'd been burned. I whipped around and faced my Master whose face was so enlightened, I thought for a moment he was simply pleased in catching me in a foul action, with reason to deal me some sort of dutiful punishment. "M-Master...I.." was all I could muster.
"You've found it," he whispered excitedly, pointing toward the bottle now shaking in my hand. "My last ingredient..."
Date: Oct 22nd
"L--last ingredient?" I stuttered.
Master did not reply; he continued to stare as if the bottle had bewitched him. Suddenly Master raised his arm. I jumped back, but his hand connected and took the phial from my hand in under a second, but not before the faerie managed to send a strange purple spark into my shoulder that Master failed to notice.
The moon reflected off his dark, greedy eyes. "Follow!" he spat, giving me minimal attention as he walked away.
I had no choice. The dark faerie was my last hope; I couldn't let her out of my sight. She wasn't struggling, but she stared at me. It was obvious what she was thinking. Help me, and I'll help you.
Master was hastily moving through the maze, occasionally glancing at the moon. Obviously we knew the same thing. The moon would soon vanish behind the clouds, and the faerie's power with it. If that happened, his dark plans would surely be destroyed.
"Simpleton, walk faster!" Master yelled, but I felt tired and needed to rest. Master stared down at me, as if I was some sort of lunatic for sitting. It was then I saw the reaction on his face. I was shocked, too. Black and purple clouds were beginning to surround me, each one making me more and more sleepy.
"Rise," Master was shouting in anger, but my eyelids felt so heavy that I could barely keep them from closing. I felt my body begin to go limp, my hand going slack around the bottle.
The last thing I heard was a loud smash, Master's irritated shout, and the flutter of wings as the dark faerie flew toward me...
Date: Oct 22nd
As the faerie approached, the moonlight reflected off of her wings, doubling and redoubling the intensity of its enchanted power. Slumped within the swirling morass of black and purple mist, I lifted my head upon its limp and flimsy neck and met the faerie's gaze. No sooner had our eyes locked than a pulse of energy slammed into my body, sending me sprawling back into the hedges behind me and causing me to lie there, helplessly convulsing on the ground. These paroxysms lasted for untold minutes, growing in strength until, entirely beyond my control, I jumped to my feet and spread my arms to welcome the fortifying illumination of the magical moon unto my being.
Like a monster brought to life by unnatural means, I felt a current pulsing through my veins with a surge that was both invigorating and fortifying. I could feel the regeneration of muscles and tissues; I flexed my arms and tested their impressive strength. I noted a heightening of my senses; I could hear the distant call of the Crokabeks as they roosted in the woods surrounding and could smell the rot upon my own long-neglected body. I should say that I was not merely regenerated, but improved: I was no ordinary Blumaroo, but one in the possession of the blessings of a powerful dark faerie. I felt taller, stronger, and more confident than ever before.
As I repeatedly clenched and relaxed my hands, the only thought on my mind was that of revenge. I turned toward Master, single-minded of purpose, my entire body coiled for confrontation, but what I saw stopped me in my tracks.
Master, with a flash of movement too quick to follow even with my enhanced eyesight, had recaptured the faerie in a new glass phial. I could see her flitting about and pounding on the sides helplessly, and took a step toward them when Master stopped me with one upward sweep of his gnarled hand. His voice was hoarse with excitement as he said, "All my years of work have paid off. I have the faerie and, thanks to your efforts, I have a distillation back at the lair that will transfer her power to me. You think you feel strong now with a single faerie blessing? I will have that and more!"
I was horrified by the prospect and asked, "A distillation? Thanks to... to... me?"
Master grinned within the shadows of his hood and the moonlight reflected off his yellowed, twisted teeth like a crudely carved Jack-O-Lantern. "Yes," he replied, "thanks to you. Every item you ever fetched for me has been brewing for a very special potion. Every movement you've made for the past several years, including finding the hidden faerie here tonight, has led to this moment. And now," he said with his voice lowering to a husky whisper, "you are free to go." He raised his arm one last time, one warty, purple finger pointing toward the nearby exit of the maze.
I was stunned, knocked back onto my tail, where I balanced unsteadily, literally at a crossroads in my life: I could make my final escape from the mad labyrinth or I could confront, at long last, my cruel captor and attempt to save the faerie.
I did not need to consult my Tentacompass to know that I must...
Date: Oct 23rd
...do what was right, even though justice had for so long been absent from my life.
It was a difficult choice to make, even though I knew I had to make it. I could almost taste the freedom that awaited me, so close, beyond that exit door. After so many years in captivity, the desire for fresh air, for sunlight, for companionship, had grown into a screaming inferno within my soul. And yet, there I was, compelled to turn away from the happiness which I so desperately desired.
The tears were flowing from my eyes as I headed in the direction of Master. Behind him, once more; following him, once more. But I promised myself, diary, that this would be the last time.
I held the image of the trapped dark faerie vivid within my memory. She, too, had suffered immensely. She had risked herself to help me. It was only right that I should do the same.
Struggling to keep my emotions in check, I moved as stealthily as I could. Master did not look back. He was clutching the glass phial, striding determinedly toward his lair. Every second, the moon was changing, and so was his cruel potion.
Master raised his free hand, made a quick movement, and suddenly a part of the maze appeared that I had never seen before. It was all I could do to suppress the gasp that rose in my throat. Swiftly, Master went forth, and I kept close. Then he turned around to seal the magic entrance -- and almost saw me.
As I write this, diary, my body is still throbbing from the panic I felt then. I stumbled into a shadow, just in time, and as I huddled there, bursting with the effort to conceal my breathing, Master's glance swept the area like a knife. Then, he turned to continue walking, and the relief that permeated me was as quick and cold as rainwater.
The dark faerie saw me, however. In the split second after she made eye contact, she returned to her previous activity of flailing against the glass. She knew as well as I did the importance of keeping up a pretence.
Master was drawing out a cauldron from behind a screen of leaves. Its fiery contents roared silently under the great shimmer of the moon, and the steam that rose steadily upward seemed as impenetrable as steel. The dark faerie was trembling in her enclosure. Master put his hand into the steam and opened the phial.
I remain amazed at the courage I found then. I plunged from my hiding place, leapt over the cauldron with an agility that any Blumaroo would be proud of, and caught the faerie as she emerged from the phial. But something happened that I did not intend. In my brief passage through the steam, a horrible pain tore through every fibre of my consciousness. I screamed, and the faerie screamed, and our common suffering filled the eternity of that single moment.
Master's hand was upon me, and I felt an enormous flood, too potent for me to comprehend, burn through the faerie, through me, and into him. Somewhere within that pain I could feel a helpless fluttering. The faerie, fading, like a butterfly caught in a net.
Then I lay limp on the dying grass, with the bright mockery of Kreludor full in my gaze. The hatred that sobbed in my chest was too profound for me to voice. Master loomed up, laughing, his enormous, amplified form terrible in the moonlight.
But then, to my amazement, he was gone. As I sat up, slowly, I saw a most ordinary little faerie perched on a blade of grass beside me.
"We're free," she said simply. "He has gotten what he wished for."
And I knew then that no power, no glory, no revenge could possibly rival the joy that swelled in my heart.
I'm writing down all this, diary, to remind myself that there will always be danger and evil in the world. There will always be trial. But I must stand strong through it all. For I have hope. And I have a friend -- the beautiful dark faerie who first came into my life as vulnerably and as bravely as I will continue to live.
Date: Oct 23rd
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