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||You are on Week 439
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 Nine Ends Friday, December 4
OK, Jaime, it's now or never. You've got to do this, the Usul told himself. It didn't stop his paws from shaking with nervousness, though. It's just eating. You love to eat. It'll be a piece of cake... ugh, I shouldn't think about food...
Forcing his doubts away, Jaime took a deep breath, pushed open the door to the Food Club, and stepped inside. At his entrance, the usually raucous room went silent, all the Food Club competitors pausing mid-chew to stare at the intruder. Peg Leg Percival stopped with a Spicy Wing halfway to his mouth, and Franchisco Corvallio had to dive across the table to slash a string of pasta dangling from his brother's lips before it slid out of Federismo's mouth onto the floor.
Jaime stood there, wide-eyed, staring at these titans of tasting, these masters of mastication. Finally, a grizzled Blumaroo approached him, eying the young Usul from under a pair of bushy black eyebrows.
"Arr, and who be ye, ya wee sprog?"
"I--I'm..." Jaime licked his lips, his mind scrambling to think of what to say. Simply "Jaime" couldn't stand up to the likes of "Buck Cutlass" or "Captain Crossblades." "Uh, I be Sir Jaime the Golden-Gutted."
To Jaime's horror, the room erupted in gales of laughter. Young Sproggie laughed so hard that the Negg he'd been eating fell from his mouth and rolled under the table.
When the Blumaroo had finished guffawing, he turned his fearsome glare upon Jaime again. "And what be yer business here, me golden-gutted laddie?"
Jaime swallowed hard and said, "I want to join Food Club, um, sir." The Usul cringed in anticipation of more laughter, but none came.
"Do ye, indeed? Well, the only way we'll be lettin' ye into Food Club, Sir Jaime, is if ye can prove yerself by out-eating the most iron-bellied of us all, Gooblah the Grarrl."
"OK, I'll do it," Jaime answered, trying to sound confident.
The Blumaroo chuckled nastily and said, "Oh, will ye now? Gooblah might have something to say about that. Gooblah, rouse yer scurvy bones and come here. Ye've got a challenger."
From deep in the dimness of the room, Jaime heard a creaking, followed by heavy, ponderous footsteps. And then, from the gloom, Gooblah the Grarrl appeared...
Author: A Hollow Leg Would Come In Handy Right Now|
Date: Nov 23rd
The Grarrl grunted as he retied the red bandana around his head and used his foreshortened arms to briskly flick the crumbs out of the creases of his skull-emblazoned, sleeveless t-shirt. His boots made a hollow thumping noise as they marked his course across the Food Club's worn, wooden floor, sounding to Jaime like the ominous beat of war drums.
Gooblah continued his slow approach until he stood directly in front of the quaking Usul, who then realised the Grarrl's legendary size was indeed rooted in fact. As Jaime tried to stretch himself to his own full height, he noted that he could probably fit into the Grarrl's stomach... whole.
The aged Blumaroo snickered wickedly in Jaime's ear and asked, "Still up for a little competition, Sir Golden-Gut?" Narrowing his eyes, he added, "Or be ye Sir Yellow-Belly after all?"
The room erupted in gales of malicious laughter and Jaime looked around himself hesitantly, seeing pirates, famous and not, mocking him with their cruel merriment. As he returned his gaze to Gooblah, he noted that the Grarrl was the only one not laughing. Indeed, Gooblah was sizing him up, either as a challenger or as a snack, and the seriousness of his countenance steeled the Usul's resolve. After all, he had his reasons for wanting to become a member of the Food Club, and if this was the price of entrance he was compelled to pay it.
"All right," Jaime called above the laughter. "I accept the challenge."
The room fell silent once more. A blue Kacheek with gold-rimmed glasses and a scraggly beard approached from the shadows and clapped an encouraging hand on Jaime's back.
"Ah, very good, very good. This should make things interesting around here today." Squinting behind his lenses, the Kacheek appeared to appraise the Usul in much the same way that Gooblah had done. Taking a slow walk around Jaime, the Kacheek nodded with satisfaction at his own thoughts before announcing, "I give 300 to 1 odds on the wee sprog fer any of ye scurvy dogs who'd care to wager against yer own champion."
There was a clatter of chairs and tables as the members of the Food Club scrambled to make their wagers with the Bookie.
Jaime closed his eyes to block out the mayhem that the Bookie had instigated. When he reopened them, he was looking into Gooblah's face and could see that the Grarrl was trying to mouth something to him without the others noticing. As he refocused his gaze, Jaime could see that Gooblah was trying to tell him...
Date: Nov 23rd
"Watch out fer ol' Orvinn thar. That Firs' Mate be a vicious 'un."
Jaime blinked, taking an extra second to make sure he had comprehended correctly. Gooblah, the opponent, was warning him against one of the pirates? For what purpose? A trick, surely...
Before he could form some sort of a response along the lines of "Who you be tryin' to kid, ye lump of a Grarrl," he noticed Gooblah take a swift, almost unnoticeable glance toward the still-ongoing ruckus of the betting pirates. The Food Club champion then proceeded to continue their silent exchange, opening his mouth ever so slightly.
Jaime strained to catch the shapes of the words.
"Hates newcomers, Orvinn does. He'll be doin' his best to make sure ye lose. Me, I be playin' fair. A win's not a win if there's tricks goin' on."
The Usul leaned forward, a veil of wariness still lingering in his eyes. "Then what should I do?" he mouthed in response.
Slowly, soundlessly, Gooblah drew a crystal phial from a pocket. The turquoise liquid inside swished as his clawed paw flicked the container toward Jaime, who cupped it in his palm and frowned.
The Grarrl waited for his young contender to shift his glance upward again before continuing. "Tamperin' with the food, that's a favourite trick of his. That liquid will tell ye if anything's gone awry. Jus' pour it onto yer food beforehand and ye will be fine. All I be wantin' is a fair game."
He glanced away as the Bookie scribbled down the final wagers, emotionless features betraying nothing. Jaime was left clutching the phial, frown mirroring his hesitation, wondering which one of the bystanders this Orvinn could be. Was the champion to be trusted?
The Bookie clapped his paws together, voice cutting through the conversations. "Thank ye, thank ye! All bets have been placed. The contest will now begin." Adjusting his spectacles, he turned toward the competing pair. "Gooblah the Grarrl, Sir Jaime, ye be ready?"
The Usul pushed his misgivings aside, deciding he would rely on impulse when the moment came. "I'm ready," he said, as confidently as one standing by a Grarrl twice one's height could be.
Gooblah's only response was a rumbling growl, which Jaime thought may have been the pirate's stomach.
The Bookie nodded, satisfied. "Then," he announced amidst the chattering pirates, "here be yer firs' course!"
As the gleaming silver platters were brought forward by two members of the Food Club, Jaime's own stomach clenched nervously. One look told him the grinning pirates were sprawled in their wooden seats, waiting to see the newcomer fail.
What he didn't see was the wink that passed between Gooblah the Grarrl and a stocky, grumpy-looking Bruce...
Date: Nov 24th
However, because Jaime did not see this, he popped open the phial. The liquid inside looked as if it was almost water, clear and odourless. But even so, Jaime could tell it was a bit different from the light it made when the dim lights hit it -- it sparkled and glowed, whereas regular old water wouldn't give off such a light.
Trusting unwillingly in Gooblah, he poured a bit of the contents of the phial all over the course, being careful that no one saw. But the food didn't do anything -- it stayed normal, not turning purple or anything. This non-purpleness confirmed to Jaime that his food was in fact good, and that Gooblah and he could have a fair match.
A sudden thought occurred to Jaime as he realised that it wouldn't be quite so fair if Gooblah didn't check his food, too. So when he thought nobody except Gooblah was looking, he poured the remains of the phial onto the Grarrl's food.
The Grarrl smiled gratefully, mouthing the words "thank you" to Jaime. Jaime grinned in return as he knew this would be a fair fight, if he won or lost.
"Now, begin!" Bookie proclaimed.
And thus the two Neopets dived in, eating away to their heart's content, or, rather, their stomach's. It wasn't long before Gooblah pulled ahead, halfway done with the course whereas Jaime was done with about a third of the way through his.
Suddenly as Gooblah was almost done, he cried out in pain, clutching his stomach. Jaime stopped eating at once, a Negg halfway to his mouth. Bookie ran over to the Grarrl, asking what was wrong as it was obvious that Gooblah was suffering from intense pain.
The Grarrl winced before pointing to Jaime. He cried, "It be him! He tampered with my food!..."
Date: Nov 24th
Everything happened slowly to Jaime's eyes. Half-dazed with all the food he'd stuffed himself with, it seemed like barely a moment before a horde of angry Food Club veterans was swarming around him like a hive of upset Buzzers.
And then it all came crashing down on Jaime.
Gooblah was clearly in actual pain; there was no faking the agony scrawled across his face. But it had been staged nonetheless, because the Usul knew suddenly that Gooblah had fully intended the innocent and confused newbie to share what had seemed like a generous offering of honesty with him.
But if it had been some kind of poison...
He clutched at his stomach instinctively, expecting to be overcome by the same throes that had the Grarrl writhing, but he felt nothing but the slightly queasy feeling of having eaten too much.
"Quiet!" Orvinn had stepped up. He fired an acidic glare at the now-quivering Usul, then put a sympathetic fin on Gooblah's shoulder. "What did ye see him do?"
"He poured that there liquid on my food!" Gooblah groaned, gesturing wildly at the empty phial. "Poison!"
Mutters ran through the crowd.
"Aye," Orvinn said sagely. "I thought I saw it too, but hoped it was just me seeing things. Landlubbers, no honesty among the lot. We greet a new contestant and he be a heartless cheat!"
"Hear, hear!" Bookie growled.
"But he gave that to me!" Jaime cried, one paw lifted accusingly at the Grarrl. "He said it was some kind of poison tester, something to show if the food was tampered with! I poured it over mine as well, and I'm not sick!"
"Of course ye wouldn't be," Stuff-a-Roo growled. "Look at this wee beastie, trying to trick us into believing him. Like we don't have ten times the experience he'll ever have!"
Bookie had dipped a finger into the light drizzling of clear liquid on both platters, and licked it experimentally. "Just as I thought. A melted Transparaberry slushie. Looks like water, but everyone knows poor Gooblah here-" With this, he gestured to the grimacing Grarrl, "-is highly allergic to slushies."
"You filthy cheat!" roared Olvinn.
"But I-" Jaime was cut off by the uproar that sprang up around him. It dawned on him that he had expected to leave the Food Club with a loss and a bad stomachache. Only now did it occur to him it could be a lot worse.
Slowly, the tumultuous din subsided, with one voice cutting through it like a knife through butter.
"That be breakin' the greatest rule there be here," Young Sproggie said gravely. "And ye should know there's only one punishment..."
Date: Nov 25th
All of the pirates looked at each other, malice gleaming in their eyes. The Corvallio brothers drew their swords and stepped forward, while Lucky took out a cloth and polished his hook.
"Wait!" Jaime cried, throwing his hands into the air and backing up against the wall, his eyes darting around the room, searching for a way out. "I didn't--You can't--" he stammered.
The pirates continued to leer at him, and Jaime realised denial wasn't going to get him out of this. Time to get on the offensive. "Are you telling me that none of you have ever cheated?" he asked finally. "You're all PIRATES! I'm ten times more honest than you are! I don't need to cheat to win!"
"Arr, look at ye!" Squire Venable cried from the corner. "Ye be all skin and bone. You've not a hope of beating Gooblah unless ye were to cheat. We may be pirates, but we play an honest game. We can win, and win easily, without resortin' ter tampering with our opponents' food. Ye be nothin' but a weakling and a coward."
"Oh, really?" Jaime shouted back, anger replacing his fear. "You think I'M weak? You haven't won in over two months!"
The entire room went silent. Jaime gulped and glanced quickly at the pirates, fearing he had just made his situation a lot worse. He hadn't meant to say it; it had just burst out of his mouth, shocking everyone, including himself.
"I--I'm just waiting to win... 'til the time is right..." the Squire mumbled, trailing off.
The rest of the pirates were still speechless. Most looked shocked that Jaime would insult one of their own, while a few looked as though he actually had a point. Jaime seized his chance. If denial wouldn't work, he'd have to try a different approach.
"It all makes sense now, Gooblah," Jaime began conversationally, trying to inject some non-existent confidence into his voice. "Pirates like Squire Venable over there have actually WON against you? He must have, to get into Food Club in the first place, and without cheating, too. I can see how you'd be anxious to avoid a similar loss. I mean, you're the best pirate in Food Club! You have a reputation of gluttony to uphold! I guess that means you must think I actually stand a good chance at winning --otherwise you wouldn't have needed to come up with such a clever, cunning plan. It really was a masterstroke -- it's clear you're good at more than just eating."
Jaime waited breathlessly, staring into Gooblah's face. But the Grarrl's expression was unreadable, and Jaime's anxiety increased as he wondered whether or not his attempt at flattery had worked...
Date: Nov 30th
...the tension increased as the pirates glanced uneasily at each other. Though the story did make sense, admitting that Gooblah was the cheat and not Jaime would be almost unbearable. The silence was practically roaring in everyone's ears. Finally, Squire said, "Well, Gooblah? What say ye to these charges?"
The room shifted to see Gooblah's reaction. None came. His face remained inscrutable, and no words passed through his lips. Only Jaime seemed to notice that his eyes hardened and his brow furrowed just the slightest.
"Tell us yer story again, lad" a Blumaroo suggested. It was the same Blumaroo who had questioned him when he first walked in.
Jaime took a deep breath. "Well, you see, while the Bookie was taking bets, Gooblah gave me that phial. He said Orvinn hated newcomers, and the liquid would be a poison tester. I poured half over my food and half over Gooblah's. Gooblah saw me do it, I swear!" Jaime shouted the last line frantically as the pirates began to murmer uneasily.
"I promise I didn't mean any harm, I just wanted a fair fight and a chance to be in Food Club."
Jaime peeked around at the pirate's expressions. Some looked upset or confused, others seemed angry. The murmurs increased until the whole place was shaking with noise. Broken thoughts were being hurled through the air.
"The boy be a cheat!"
"It makes sense!"
"Get him! Seize the lad!"
"Gooblah be the real cheat, and Orvinn be one too!"
The commotion ceased as Gooblah made his way to the centre of the room. His heavy footsteps crashed upon Jaime's already-ringing ears.
Every pirate leaned forward, anxious for what the Grarrl would say. Jaime's heart pounded so loud that he was sure everyone could hear it. Gooblah's face remained a mask of no emotion.
"Me fellow pirates," Gooblah growled...
Date: Nov 30th
"Ye all be dim-witted seadogs. That newcomer thar ain't fooled me one bit. I be the only one of ye who knows why he be here in the firs' place."
If anything could have stilled the pirates' obstinate ruckus, it was that.
Jaime's breath snagged abruptly in his throat. It couldn't be... no one here on Krawk Island should have been able to figure it out, least of all a stranger...
No one paid attention to the Usul stood rooted to the wooden floorboards. Quite distracted, they now had ears for Gooblah's supposed piece of news alone.
The Food Club Champion appraised his fellow pirates one by one, revelling in their anticipation, much to their vast impatience. At last, in deliberately slow and clear, dramatic tones, he declared, "Everyone knows our grub comes from the island's finest eatin' place. Sir Jaime thar be lookin' to steal the food an' learn The Golden Dubloon's recipes!"
The scoffs and contemptuous head-shakings didn't ripple through the gathering until a good few seconds later. Pirates who either sit around stuffing themselves with food or watching said pirates do the stuffing aren't usually known for snappy comprehension.
On the other hand, being enthusiasts of loud complaints and disputes, the Food Club members' declarations of disagreement were tossed loose with much shorter pause afterward.
"Any scurvy swabber who be sayin' things like that may as well be a cheat!"
"Yarr, I never liked that food anyway!"
Orvinn the Bruce, however -- a rather more cunning pirate than most -- was quick to quell the spreading flames. "Hang on a minute, me fellow grub-eaters! Let Gooblah finish!"
The Grarrl shot the first mate a quick glance. "Thank ye, Orvinn. As I was sayin'..."
At this point, Jaime finally saw fit to jump in before even more damage was done.
"Hold your Unis, Gooblah. There's no proof at all to back up what you're accusing me of," he insisted, with a careful mask of calmness. "I haven't even dined at The Golden Dubloon in my life, and I'm certainly not interested in its recipes."
Gooblah smirked at that (for a massive Grarrl pirate, an even more unpleasant sight than usual). "Ah, ye be interested all righ'. Me fellows, here be proof! See, there be seaweed on Sir Jaime's boots! Seaweed means Maraqua..."
"...and Maraqua means kelp," Orvinn finished with a sly glance, fully understanding what his accomplice was getting at. "O' course, ye all know kelp be our Golden Dubloon's rival fer fine dining."
There were expressions of shock and several nods from the pirates.
"The Squid on a Stick recipe be the one that seadog be after," Gooblah went on, pressing to the advantage. "I be bettin' kelp wishes they had a delicacy like that."
This was news even to Jaime, who could not hold his tongue. "Look, just because Maraqua fishes up squids all the time doesn't mean they'd actually want to eat a piece of tentacle on a stick. You've all misunderstood me. A bit of seaweed on my boot doesn't mean anything. All I want is to join your club! If that's too much to ask, that's fine; I'll be on my way. Sorry for interfering, I'm sure."
"Wait a minute," Orvinn growled. "No one be goin' anywhere until this is solved. There be only one pirate who has the answer. We be goin' to visit Captain Hackett of The Golden Dubloon..."
Date: Dec 1st
"C-Captain Hackett?" Jaime asked, his eyes wide. The name sounded intimidating.
Orvinn nodded. "Ye be scared, ye landlubber?" he asked, grinning evilly.
Jaime didn't want to look like a wimp, so he hardened his expression and puffed out his chest. "No way!" he exclaimed. "Let's go!"
The Food Club pirates all cheered, as this was the most excitement they had seen in a long while. They crowded their way around Jaime, Orvinn, and Gooblah, and pushed them out the door. Orvinn and Gooblah flanked poor Jaime, as they didn't want to let him out of their sight.
"Yer not gettin' outta this'n," Gooblah growled lowly, so only the three could hear. Jaime attempted to not look scared, but he knew it didn't work when they laughed. The pirates mobbed to the dock and boarded numerous little wooden boats that almost sank under their weight. Jaime, Orvinn, Gooblah, and Young Sproggie shared a boat, and it creaked as they headed toward The Golden Dubloon.
When the pirates all got to shore, they pushed poor Jaime into a building that was just a huge boat. Inside was a terrifying sight...
Date: Dec 1st
Everyone in The Golden Dubloon turned to stare at the huge mob of pirates entering. Jaime thought he could make out a few glares here and there. Some mutterings rippled through the unhappy dining guests.
"What ye be doin' here, lads?" a booming voice asked. Jaime jumped, surprised by this unknown voice, but the other pirates seemed fine with it.
"Arr! This 'un here came tryin' to join the Food Club, as a means o' stealin' yer recipes!" Gooblah exclaimed loudly back to the Captain, seeming quite proud of himself. All of The Golden Dubloon's guests gasped and recoiled in horror.
"B-but I--," Jaime sputtered weakly, but Captain Hackett silenced him with a glare from his menacing eyes. His lips turned up slightly at the corners, but they formed a grim smile instead of a happy one. Already, he looked much older.
"Well then, mates, I say we give 'im the punishment he deserves," Captain Hackett intoned ominously, then pointed a shaking finger at Jaime. "Seize 'im!" he declared....
Date: Dec 2nd
Jaime nearly took a fleeting step backward, but thought better of it, imagining the taunts that would come from the ruthless, food-loving pirates surrounding him on every side. They chuckled wickedly while slowly enclosing him in their ring.
He swallowed, glancing around for something to use as a distraction. He wasn't going to go down without a fight. After all, this was the day he had dreamed about for years. Joining the Food Club had always seemed like an elusive dream, but today he had chosen to answer the knock of opportunity, and no one would stop him.
It was strange, but before he'd really had a chance to think the idea over, a declaration burst from Jaime's lips that he almost instantly regretted.
"Captain Hackett," the young Usul called out, smirking from a sheer feeling of power but still shaking inside from the uneasy feeling in his stomach. "I challenge you to a duel!" he stated, pointing at him.
Captain Hackett's eyes narrowed at Jaime, his lips turning up in a cruel smile. "A challenge, eh? Is that what ya want, lad? A friendly little duel?"
Jaime was hesitant to nod, feeling all the power that had consumed him for mere moments draining from his body. He felt himself quiver, but quickly pulled himself together. He did his very best to return the same hard glance that was staring him right in the face, but he was failing with little grace.
Captain Hackett laughed with the same booming tone in which he spoke. "Well, yer outta luck there, lad... there ain't nothin' friendly 'bout a pirate duel." His grin was malicious, as his echoing laughter seemed to shake The Golden Dubloon.
The rest of the pirate gang mimicked his laughter, forming a chorus of sorts as they surrounded and engulfed Jaime. They pulled and tugged him toward an empty table near the back of the club. Jaime fought against their pull, but was unable to break free.
With a hard push, Jaime was forced down on one of the chairs, while Captain Hackett sat in the other on the opposite side of the table. His hard eyes stared deeply into Jaime's. Jaime straightened himself in his seat.
"Now lad," Captain Hackett began. "I don't really want to hurt ye. Can't be having that on my record, now can I? So let's just do this the civilized way..." He slammed his hand down on the table, causing the wooden piece of furniture to rattle. Jaime watched as the grin never left his lips while he continued to stare at him.
The captain raised his hand slowly, leaving behind three dice on the table. "By gamblin'!" he proclaimed, then followed his statement with the triumphant return of his booming laughter...
Date: Dec 2nd
The rest of the pirates joined Captain Hackett in booming out peals of laughter that set Jaime's head to reeling; the din, indeed the entire situation, was so confusing to the Usul that the floor beneath him seemed to tilt and shift like a small boat rocking on the high seas.
As the Bookie stepped forward and opened his notebook to receive wagers, Jamie thought, What in the name of all that's tasty have I gotten myself into? If I had known this morning where this day would lead, I would have stayed in bed!
The patrons of The Golden Dubloon shoved and elbowed their way into the circle of Food Club competitors, all waving their fistfuls of shiny dubloons in the Bookie's face. The noise level rose until it sounded in Jamie's ears like a Gathow fight; a high-pitched caterwauling that he could stand no longer. With a sidelong glance at the grinning Lupe captain, who was slowly rolling the three dice between the fingers of one outstretched paw, Jaime rose and slammed his fist onto the table top, which sent Captain Hackett's tankard of Bomberry Grog flying through the air, stopping only when it met with the resistance of Gooblah's enormous chest.
"Enough!" Jamie yelled above the cacophony. The Usul was satisfied that the effect was immediate and welcome; the pirates turned and faced him with stunned silence. Avoiding only the eye of the newly enraged, and dripping, Gooblah, Jamie surveyed the assembled group and continued, "I came in search of the Food Club today, wanting only my shot at joining the ranks those legendary lunchers, those gustatorial grazers, those improbable ingesters of great renown like Sir Edmund Ogletree and The Tailhook Kid... and what have I found instead?"
The Usul now looked the Grarrl straight in the eye as he accused, "Cheaters! Fakers!" Turning his gaze until he found Orvinn, he continued, "False accusers and makers of absurd conclusions as to the existence and meaning of seaweed that may or may not happen to be stuck to one's boot."
"And now you, Captain Hackett?" Jamie said, turning back toward the abashed-looking Lupe. "You reveal yourself to be a pirate who would turn down a duel, who would rather throw the bones to settle a score?" The Lupe quietly placed the dice on the tabletop and averted his eyes from the Usul's penetrating glare.
"I was called yellow-bellied when I first showed up this morning, and yet not one of you will meet me in a fair eating contest!" The Usul tilted his head back and roared toward the ceiling, "Will not one of you scurvy sea-Doglefoxes be interested in a fair contest? Are we not here to eat?"
The sound of chair legs scraping slightly across the wooden floor sounded from a dim corner of the room. A voice, surprisingly high yet firm, replied, "Aye. I wager I could eat the legs out from under ye."
Jaime turned and gasped when he saw...
Date: Dec 3rd
...absolutely nothing in the place where the voice had come from. Confused, he blinked a few times but still nothing could be seen in the corner of the room.
"Show yourself," Jaime declared, annoyed that his new challenger was being as yellow-bellied as he had been at first. All Jaime wanted was a good, clean match to prove that he was a worthy competitor when it came to eating.
Somewhere in the silence of the room, a chuckle rose.
"I'm afraid tha' would be impossible," the voice replied, and Jaime swung his head in the direction he was absolutely certain the voice was now coming from. Once again, he was met with nothing.
"Why, who are you?" Jaime asked, just as a mutter started to come up around the room.
"I thought he was gone fer good..."
"Didn't think he would dare show up 'round 'ere..."
"It couldn' be, could it?"
"Ye must be hearin' things..."
The chuckling grew louder, and Jaime felt someone's breath on the back of his neck. It was rancid, and for a moment the small Usul was petrified. Turning, with the knowledge that his gaze would be met with empty space, Jaime repeated his question.
"Who are you?"
The chuckling stopped suddenly. All eyes in the crowd were upon Jaime.
"I be the greatest eater Krawk Island ever did see... once," the voice replied, and Jaime was shocked to see a chair move from underneath the table as his invisible competitor took a seat. "I be the great Scurvy Dan the Blade."
Gasps of shock went up in the crowd, and Jaime was forced to rattle his memory for any memories of the name.
Scurvy Dan... Scurvy Dan... Scurvy Dan.... oh, I remember! He's a blue Blumaroo, right? Jaime glanced at the chair where he knew Scurvy Dan was sitting, and he shook his head. No, he used to be a blue Blumaroo.
"But Scurvy Dan has been missing fer months!" Gooblah exclaimed, muscling his way to the front of the gathered group. "Do ye have any proof of bein' 'im?"
For a moment, The Golden Dubloon fell silent once more.
"Nay, I haven't," the invisible Blumaroo finally replied, "but I do 'ave a story, and it's a goodin."
"Sure, waste more of me time," Jaime said angrily, rolling his eyes. "I came here fer a challenge..."
"Oh, don't be goin' on that rant again," responded Scurvy Dan... or the invisible Neopet that claimed to be Scurvy Dan. "We all be hearin' it already. Now, do ye want to hear me story, or should we be gettin' on with the challenge?"
"The challenge," replied Jaime, his eyes narrowed as he took a seat across the table from his invisible challenger.
Cries of protest went out in the crowd.
"Wait! I want to know!"
"Scurvy Dan was a close friend, I want proof!"
"Aye, the landlubber is out of place! Bring on the story!"
"Enough!" Jaime pronounced, then turned to his invisible competitor and airily waved a paw. "Fine, let's hear the story... but it better be 'a goodin' as ye say, and it better not be takin' all day."
"Aye, it is a goodin," the invisible Scurvy Dan replied. If Jaime could see him he would have seen a massive grin stretch over the Neopet's jaws as he began his tale...
Date: Dec 3rd
"Once, me lad, there were a young landlubbin' scurvy wannabe like yerself, and he walked in here to be a food-gorgin' gourmet. His name were Dan, later changed ta Scurvy Dan. So, this Dan... he ate his fill, and ate, and ate. He proved t'us that he were more than what he looked like. Then, one day, he left."
Jaime was surprised. "He LEFT?!?" the Usul asked incredulously. "Left the prestige of being in the Food Club? The snacks, the cleaning of plates, the chomping on treats?!?"
Scurvy Dan scowled. Jaime could imagine the expression that would have appeared on his face. "I ain't done me story, lad!" Dan barked. "First of all, me -- i mean -- Scurvy Dan, came back a year or so later with a belly bulgin' yet invisible to thy sightin'. Second o' all, the Food Club weren't as notable as imagined. Neopians fail to be seein' the point -- they see greedy Neopets stuffin' 'emselves and being gluttons 'cos they like it an' don't be carin 'bout their health... which be partially true, but they don't see that eatin' not only be somethin' we like to be doin', but partakin' in 'ese eatin' competitions also be servin' as a way ta be supportin' ourselves. But yeah, we ain't no weak-livered landlubbers carin' bout our health... besides, I'm invisible! Nobody sees me blackened teeth and bulgin' belly. Anyway, back to the story... I came back ghosty no see. I aint tellin' ya why or how, but yep. I was the best eater ol' Krawk Island ever saw an' will ever be seein'!" Finished with his tirade, Scurvy Dan then declared: " I challenge ye to an eat-off!"
Everyone in the room gasped; some dropped their swords, mops, and hooks, while a few others fainted. Of course they had heard of Scurvy Dan, one of Neopia's bulgiest eaters (and a most fearsome plundering pirate, to boot). Poor Jaime stood no chance. "The terms: if ye lose, then yer outta the Food Club!" Dan bellowed.
Jaime gulped. "Can ghosts even eat?" he asked weakly.
"ARE YE QUESTIONIN' ME ABILITY?!?" Dan roared. "REST ASSURED, I BE CAPABLE O' EATIN' PLENTY!"
Jaime whimpered, and then saw...
Date: Dec 4th
...the course being brought out, a mighty large stack of the best and most filling food The Golden Dubloon had to offer. Jaime could see Double Stuffed Guppy, Baby Bloater, Capn' Threelegs Cutlass Crusade, Slithering Squid Surprise, and Forbidden Plunder just to name the dishes stacked on the outside of the course. Though not a usual Golden Dubloon offering, a few Neggs appeared to be thrown in for good measure.
As three stacked plates were placed in front of either competitor, a beverage was brought over to each and placed beside them. Curiously sniffing his cocktail glass, Jaime identified his drink as Land Lubber. He smirked, noticing that Dan's drink was none other than a Man O War. It was already obvious that even the chefs were taking sides. However, whilst their drinks were different, the entire course remained foreboding and identical in front of the two Neopets.
"Now, when I be givin' me word, ye will both start eatin'!" Captain Hackett proclaimed, and the gathered crowd cheered.
"I be takin' any last minute bets, if ye be havin' 'em!" Bookie cried over the din, and many of the pirates scrambled over to the Kacheek, thrusting fistfuls of dubloons in his face.
Captain Hackett sneered at Jaime, but the Usul took no notice.
"Ye can do nothin' but lose," the Captain muttered before turning to Bookie to place his own bets on Scurvy Dan.
When the pirates finally finished placing their bets, the room fell silent.
"This course be harder to eat your way through than any at the Food Club," Captain Hackett declared, breaking the silence. Again, cheers rose in the air along with some disbelieving comments from a few of the Food Club members. Captain Hackett held up a gnarled finger to silence the crowd once more. "Now, the odds of our landlubber friend 'ere winnin' are same as before Bookie informs me: 300 to 1."
Jaime was shocked, but not surprised. Surely he had proved earlier that he could eat... no, there was the incident with the phial. There was no proving anything in that match, except that I'm apparently a cheat.
"Only one pirate was brave enough to place a bet on Jaime." Bookie said before pulling his list out. "If Jaime wins, Gooblah is set to become an instant billionaire!"
Now Jaime was surprised -- of all the gamblers, he surely hadn't expected Gooblah to place a bet on him!
"Okay, competitors! We start in three, two, one..." Hackett’s voice trailed off as the two Neopets began munching furiously through their food.
Not surprisingly, Dan hadn't noticed something Jaime had spotted at the bottom of both of their plates; a rare Kaleideonegg. As Jaime devoured his in one bite, he saw Dan do the same. Slowly but surely, the invisible Neopet began to shimmer back into existence. The other pirates were all gawking at the shimmering outline in surprise, and it took them all a moment to register Scurvy Dan's reappearance. It took Dan even longer to notice, but when he did a tentacle of his Squid on a Stick lolled out of his mouth.
"How, what... when?!?" Dan exclaimed, but he didn't stop eating.
"Must 'ave been somethin' ye ate." Gooblah smirked, his eyes set squarely on Jaime.
Frustrated that even the Kaleideonegg hadn't stopped his challenger, Jaime found himself reaching for his final plate. Scurvy Dan did the same, and Jaime could now see the Blumaroo's giant belly pressed against the table as he reached for a Baby Bloater. The two competitors were neck and neck, both devouring their final plates in seconds. As the two reached for their drinks, Jaime slowed down a little but no-one noticed.
It took Dan just once slurp to finish his drink, while Jaime purposely took a moment longer. As both slammed down their empty glasses, a roar went up in the crowd.
"Told ya the landlubber couldn' win..."
"Aye, worst bet I've ever made!" Gooblah roared over everyone as he approached Jaime and forced the Usul to his feet. "Now, as per the rules of the match, ye 'ave to be leavin' us... forever!"
Cheers and jeers went up as Jaime was led away from The Golden Dubloon by Gooblah, but Jaime kept a smile on his face. As they reached the exit Gooblah thrust the Usul outside, but stopped before slamming the door.
"Why are ye smilin', boy?" Gooblah asked.
"Oh, no reason." Jaime replied, taking another step.
"Whatever..." Gooblah muttered as he slammed the door.
Jaime turned to look at the ocean's rolling waves and his smile grew wider.
"They never knew, toward the end," he said, pulling something he had concealed from underneath his neck fluff.
It was a Squid on a Stick, and just sniffing its glorious scent made Jaime smile even wider. As he replaced the food item in its hiding place, Jaime reflected on the moment he had almost been caught out.
"Goodlbah nearly had me there for a second," Jaime laughed as he plunged into the waves, headed back to kelp, his place of employment.
Date: Dec 4th
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