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||You are on Week 454
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 Fifty Four Ends Friday, April 2nd
With a sigh that was contented more than angry, the Yurble Janitor sat down on his stool and put his feet up, balancing his plate of Coconut Dates on his stomach. It couldn't have been a more perfect day for a vacation from the drudgery of scrubbing the floors in the Hall of Heroes -- would those muddy-footed Petpets ever stop tracking their filth everywhere? -- and the Yurble Janitor was determined to make the most of it. As he prepared to tuck into his sweet, chewy snack, he could feel his jaw finally unclench after what seemed like years.
While chewing his way through the first coconut date, a small Alabriss wandered into the Hall, leaving muddy hoofprints in its wake. The Yurble Janitor's eye twitched a little as he saw the trail of dirty prints, and his paw strayed toward his mop and bucket, but he forced himself to relax.
"Not today," he told himself. "That's someone else's problem today, not mine."
Midway through the plate of Coconut Dates, the Yurble Janitor noticed sparkling motes of dust falling from the ceiling and onto the statue of King Altador. It took slightly less effort this time to keep himself from reaching for his duster.
"I can do it tomorrow," he said. "No reason to work myself up about it."
Soon, an empty plate sat on the tiled floor beside the Yurble Janitor's stool, and he was reclined, eyes closed, paws crossed contentedly over his belly. Flower-scented breezes blew in through the Hall's tall windows, soothing the Yurble Janitor and bringing him to the brink of sleep.
A nap... what a perfect way to spend an afternoon... utterly peaceful... he thought as he drifted off to sleep.
No sooner had the Yurble's eyes closed than the air was rent by a loud BOOM, and the entire Hall of Heroes shook as if it were being plucked from its foundations by a giant. The Yurble Janitor tumbled from his stool and onto the floor, landing face-first on his empty plate. The sticky remnants of Coconut Dates adhered the plate to his orange fur. He could feel his teeth begin to gnash.
From outside came screams of terror. "Help! Help! The Water Distribution Plant is flooding! All of Altador will be swept away!"
The Yurble Janitor's eye began to twitch again, and his paws clenched into fists. "Why does this kind of thing always happen on my day off..."
Editor's Note: This week's Storytelling beginning was inspired by an idea from cookybananas324. Keep sending in your ideas for Storytelling beginnings, and they might just appear in an upcoming contest!
Author: *Has yet to save the world on her day off*|
Date: Mar 29th
Anyone who came to Altador for the first time would be swept away by the sprawling expanse of the immaculate city. The high walls that surrounded the city were topped with water that flowed throughout the town. The water-walls had always given Altador its renowned pristine look. However, it seemed today that the Water Distribution Plant that had faithfully provided the water to the city had broken down, leaving all of Altador in a perilous situation indeed.
The Yurble Janitor grumbled to himself as he walked outside to survey the damage. Citizens of Altador ran amok, desperately seeking shelter from the pouring waterfalls that issued forth from the top of the walls. The worst spot seemed to be in the lawn in front the Hall of Heroes. A thin film of water already covered the grass and was rapidly spreading. Around the Yurble Janitor Neopets fled up the paths toward Legendary Petpets and Magical Marvels, hoping the highest points in the city could protect them from the flood.
The Yurble Janitor jumped as a feathered claw gripped his arm. He turned to meet the frightened gaze of the archivist.
"You must help me!" Finneus said, his papery voice wavering in distress. "All the books in my Archives can't touch water, or they'll be destroyed. There's no way to save them all, but we must retain this knowledge!"
"What am I supposed to do? Miraculously stop the flood? This is my day off!"
"If you don't at least try, the Hall of Heroes will be destroyed too. You'll have a permanent vacation then! Providing we make it out of this safely."
The Yurble Janitor considered this. "OK, we'll work together to try to stop this. First, we have to stop the Water Distribution Plant from flooding. Or at least redirect the water away from Altador."
But as the pair looked up at the Plant, they saw something unusual...
Date: Mar 29th
A shadowy figure teetered on the edge of Altador's walls, just above the location of the Altador Water Distribution Plant. It was lithe, quick and gone from all vision before one could say 'Tigersquash.'
"What is that? Did you see it?" exclaimed the Yurble Janitor. "It was just so... so unusual!"
"Why, this whole situation is unusual," Finneus murmured in response. "After all, I always assumed the Water Distribution Plant had a safeguard against any potential flooding. You know... an automatic safety feature of sorts."
"It certainly seemed that way, for all these years it could have flooded..." the Janitor trailed off, trying to recall a similar situation.
A couple of years earlier there had been quite the catastrophe at the Water Distribution Plant. The Plant had 'gone berserk,' to use the words of the workers at that time, and had begun routing water every which way. The real panic had set in when it was realised the Plant's designer, a 'crazy' wizard, hadn't left any documentation to follow in such an event. Somehow, however, disaster had been averted by an uncredited Neopian.
"Do you remember when Altador first re-opened its gates?" asked the Janitor as he continued to rack his memory. "There was that problem with the Plant, just before the issue with the Sleeper statue..."
"I do," Finneus replied, stepping awkwardly from a puddle around his ankles. "But how is that going to help? The Plant never actually flooded then, though it came very close."
"Exactly my point," the Yurble replied. "If they had known it was going to flood then, and believe me, even Farmer Follies knew it was going to, then why didn't they spot it coming this time?"
"Why, you do have an interesting idea there," Finneus said. "But the only way we can figure that out is to ask the workers themselves, not by standing here and perpetually drowning."
"I guess," the Yurble Janitor sighed, still disappointed that this was how he'd spend his 'day off.'
"Well, shall we go then?"
The Yurble nodded hesitantly. "Fine, let's go and see that Zafara and Shoyru, see if they've got the answers."
As the two continued wandering across the rolling hill that would lead them to the Plant, the Janitor allowed himself a quick glance at the city's walls. There, on the very ledge rising above the duo, stood the same mysterious figure he'd spotted earlier...
Date: Mar 30th
The Thought-to-be-Evil-Though-Actually-on-the-Side-of-Justice Guy (it wasn't his employer's choice to call him that, and he couldn't exactly disagree) blinked as he noticed the little orange blob's glance to where he stood. He frowned. They were headed to the Plant, and he couldn't allow that. There were reasons why he had set all of the knobs in the Plant in the precise order to flood the Plant, and he couldn't allow them to be interrupted.
He sighed. As lengthy as his employer's name for him was, it was a very apt description. He was always sent to go and do certain jobs that for some reason always seemed to be the worst ones in the eyes of the Neopian Times reporters. It had started off when he had taken a poisonous lollipop from a kid, and they had blasted it across the newspapers--a headliner, no less!--as, 'VILLAINOUS VILLAIN SNATCHES SWEET SUGARY DELICACY FROM INFANT!'
He squinted and flitted down the path on the stone wall. He had to stop them before everything went wrong.
"They are not there."
The Yurble Janitor was starting to get really grumpy now. First the Alabriss came in. THEN Altador had happily decided it wanted to flood. AND THEN he had been conscripted into helping figure out what was wrong, all on his day off! Why couldn't this have happened on a day where he'd actually get paid for doing this?
"I have visited the Plant quite often in my pursuit of knowledge," stated the Lenny. "They are almost always in the front room, debating strenuously with one another, and one can always hear them from here due to the acoustic qualities of this path."
"Standard Neopian, please?"
Finneus sighed. "They're usually right there, and arguing, and we should be hearing them already."
"Oh." The Yurble Janitor turned around, straining his ears for any sign of the two workers. He was disappointed. All he could hear was the alarmed chirp of bird-like Petpets as they alerted others to the impending doom. Water dripped from every crevice and dip in the land it could find as it escaped the Plant, and the amount of splashing almost overwhelmed the creature.
Besides, it was making his fur wet.
The next thing they knew, a large chunk of rock fell away from the side of the path they were walking, and crashed down just a few feet from where they stood. As they had been walking, they had come down into a trail that led them through the Flat Rock Quarry, so it wasn't unusual for the stones to fall occasionally. However, something about this made the fur all over the Yurble Janitor's body stand up, and both of the pets swallowed the lumps that suddenly rose up in their throats.
"How di--" he said, pausing before he finished.
"It can't be the water," said the Lenny shakily, though somehow managing a musing tone to his voice at the same time. "The rate of erosion right now is far too slo--"
Another piece of rock fell in front of them, and then another behind them. It didn't take long for either of them to realise what was happening.
Date: Mar 30th
"That'll be the day that I'll be trapped by a couple of rocks... and on my day off, too!" The Yurble Janitor spat out the words while surveying the growing mound of rocks blocking their path in each direction. "We just need a bit of organisation here and we'll be fine."
Finneus coughed lightly into his wing and removed his monocle. As he reached into his rumpled vest for a cloth with which to clean the lens, he muttered, "Organisation is not my, erm, strong suit."
The Yurble exploded, "No, no, it's not, is it? The last time I was sent in to straighten up the Archives, they were just so... well, I could have... and you know what? I still haven't forgiven you for shutting down my favourite underground Dance Club... and..." As quickly as his temper had taken control of the Yurble, so too did he master his emotions with a series of deep breaths. He closed his eyes and remained quiet for several moments as the aged Lenny looked on in awe.
Ducking to avoid a shower of small rocks that accompanied the thud of another boulder, Finneus remarked, "You're getting better at controlling yourself."
The Janitor opened his eyes and said, "Chapter Two of 101 Ways to Calm an Infuriated Yurble: deep breathing and visualisation."
"Impressive technique. And may I ask what you were visualising?"
With a snort, the Yurble replied, "You don't want to know." He quickly went into action, grabbing large, perfectly flat rocks that lay behind the pair and carrying them to the pathway in front, where he placed each stone carefully and strategically. After several were thus placed, the Lenny gasped with surprise.
"Well done! A stairway over the pile." A creaking noise above their heads forced Finneus to look up, and when he saw the enormous rock that now teetered on the edge of the cliff, threatening to fall directly onto them, he exclaimed, "And not a moment too soon. Up and over!"
The Yurble and Lenny scrambled up the rocky steps to the top of the pile. No sooner had they paused than the giant slab of rock whooshed down behind them, entirely filling the space between the two rocky blockades, and throwing up a fountain of dust and pebbles. As Finneus gaped at the place where they had so recently stood, the Yurble grabbed him roughly by the wing and pulled him down the pile to the pathway below.
"You've saved us!"
"Don't get too excited. We still need to see what's going on at the Water Distribution Plant." Out of the corner of his eye, the Yurble noted that the shadowy form that had pushed over the boulder was still trailing them, keeping pace by flitting from rocky outcrop to outcrop at the top of the Quarry. He tugged harder on the Lenny's wing and dragged him forward to the back doorway of the Plant.
When they reached the entrance, the Yurble grasped the handle and began to pull, but every time he got the door to open slightly, it was yanked back into a closed position. After several losing games of this tug-of-war, the Yurble yelled over his shoulder, "I could use your help here, Finneus."
The Lenny loudly cleared his throat, and beginning to clean his monocle once more, mumbled, "I'm really more of a thinker. Not much used to, erm, physical labour."
"Well, thinker, unless you're also a fantastic swimmer, you need to get over here... now!"
Finneus replaced the monocle on his beak and was stunned to feel that water now lapped at the back of his feet. He turned his head and could see that the channel cut through the Quarry that had served as their pathway was now filling in with water, and he scurried up the steps leading to the plant and grabbed the Yurble around his waist. Pulling together, they grunted, "One... two... three!"
The door opened suddenly, causing the Yurble and Lenny to fall in a tangled pile, and a green Zafara stuck her head out and stared at the pair.
"Oh, OK, you're not that... that... thing. We don't usually allow visitors without the express permission of the Civilian Affairs Office, but I think I could use some help. Come on in." The Zafara held the door open wider to allow their passage, and with a sweep of her eyes over the Quarry and its rising water level, she slammed it securely shut after them.
The Yurble walked slowly through the Plant, looking at the walls of dials and levers, the rooms full of troughs and vats, and whistled softly to himself.
"Impressive, isn't it?" the Zafara asked, her voice suffused with proprietary pride.
"Well," the Yurble replied, "I'm just trying to figure out who cleans this place." With an accusatory finger, he pointed at a glass-faced gauge and demanded, "Who's the guy who's supposed to wipe all the sticky fingerprints up after you go home at the end of the day?"
"Oh," the Zafara said, taken aback by the palpable rage, "It's just me here, I'm afraid."
Finneus approached the pair and asked, "I thought there was another engineer here to help you? A Shoyru, if I'm not mistaken."
"Oh, yeah, there was. But something... happened to him."
"And what would that be?" Finneus asked, his voice rich with concern.
"Well, you see..."
Date: Mar 31st
"...I don't know."
"You don't know?" the Yurble Janitor asked, raising an eyebrow.
"How could I? One day he was here, the next he was not. There is nothing more that I know," the Zafara answered simply.
"Of course you don't," the Yurble Janitor muttered under his breath. "And I don't suppose you know how to fix this, do you?"
The Zafara frowned. "That was more his job. If anything went wrong, he would be the one to fix it. He took notes when the visitor saved the Plant from flooding. Unfortunately, I don't have those notes, so there's nothing I can do."
"So what do you do?" the Janitor questioned.
"Proper maintenance and upkeep," the Zafara answered with a nod. "I make sure that nothing is broken, and if it is, I replace it so that it's in the proper condition."
"So you're a janitor?" Finneus inquired.
The Zafara blushed a deep red. "Oh, no, not just that! I'm also working on a secondary system to control floods if a thing like this ever happened. Not in enough time, however. And what a shame I didn't get to finish it before this happened. I was almost done as well."
"So is there anything we can do to fix this?" the Yurble Janitor said angrily, his temper slowly rising.
The Zafara bit her lip as she thought. Then she proposed, "Well, there is one way..."
Date: Mar 31st
"...but frankly, its likelihood of succeeding is minimal even with the skill of the other engineer. Which we don't have, as Wallace obviously is not here."
She paused again. "You would still like to know?"
The Yurble Janitor didn't bother taking a deep breath. Given his... ah, problems, he'd been told to do that many, many times, by various characters of all manners -- and he'd learned from experience that deep breaths never worked.
Instead, he went with the seething, vicious Vaeolus-who-is-annoyed-because-you-bandaged-him-on-the-wrong-second look.
"If you have doubts about sharing, then don't tell us there's a solution in the first place," the Yurble said, with the gentleness of an acid-green effervesce cauldron. "So spit it out already."
Abashed by this ill-mannered display, Finneus hurried to cover up. "Um, what he means is that trying is better than just waiting for the inevitable. Altador's already flooding, and we citizens always thought that was the worst that could happen from anything -- right?"
"Wrong, as it happens," the engineer said sadly. "Seeing as the automated flood-control system will not been completed on time, the only other solution is to collapse an outer section of the western wall. The issue is not the sea -- Altador is on higher ground than that -- but the problematic irrigation system. It travels around the walls and into the city, delivering water to every Neohome and farm. Breaking the wall would not only stop the flow of water into the entire city but would allow the floodwater to drain back into the sea."
"I see," the Janitor said, still red-faced despite having slightly calmed down. "So, let's go put some holes in the wall."
The Zafara shook her head. "I wish it were that simple. The wall must be collapsed in a precise location, somewhere to the west near the Colosseum, in order for it to flow safely back toward the coast. If the floodwater broke through in any other direction, everything surrounding Altador would be at stake."
"Even if it worked," Finneus reasoned slowly, "the reservoir and water system would be subsequently crippled."
The Yurble Janitor's thoughts were already returning to his ruined day off. "Doesn't matter," he growled. "The sooner we get this mess mopped up, the more I'll get to enjoy the rest of it."
Finneus looked confused. "The rest of what?"
"What? Oh. Nothing." He hadn't realised he'd spoken his angry thoughts aloud. "So how do we collapse the wall, Miss Whatsyername?"
"It's Jess," she said curtly. "All the controls lie in the wheels and levers, in the water plant's interior -- but as I said, that is not my job."
"We can have a look," Finneus perked up optimistically. "Who knows, I used to be pretty good at guessing lottery numbers. Levers, numbers, same difference."
The Janitor chose to ignore this, wisely, and followed the Zafara as she beckoned them toward a pentagonal wooden door. Finneus joined them, coughing slightly from the exertion of the day.
The two found themselves in a complex, grey-bricked room as Jess waited by a large pipe.
"What do you think?" the Yurble Janitor asked Finneus. "Do you remember anything from your archives about this place?"
The Lenny simply shrugged a frail wing. "Your guess is as good as mine. That lever looks right... shall we try it?"
There was a sigh of frustration from the orange Yurble. He hesitated, then reached for that particular lever. "All right, I suppose. Here goes..."
Jess, on the other hand, had been distracted by a flash of what looked like glasses, and a wingtip she'd have known anywhere.
Her eyes widened with alarm.
Date: Apr 1st
"Wait! Wait!" Jess cried out to the Yurble Janitor.
"What?" the Yurble Janitor asked angrily as his paw hovered an inch above the lever.
"Wallace is here!" she said. "Wallace can fix this without going to such drastic measures!"
The Yurble Janitor looked around, but saw nothing. "I don't see anything," he responded, glaring at Jess.
"No, no, he's here! He can fix this! Just please don't pull the lever!" Jess pleaded.
The Yurble Janitor took one last look around, finding nothing, then looked at Jess. She seemed so sincere in her begging that the Yurble put his paw down, sympathetic to her plight. "Where is he again?" he questioned her.
"Right here," a deep voice answered, and the trio turned around. It was Wallace.
Jess smiled as she ran up to her coworker. "Oh, thank goodness you're here! I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but Altador's flooding, and only you can fix it! We thought about going to drastic measures, but then you showed up! I was so worried we were going to make the wrong move, but now that you're here, it won't happen, right?"
Wallace shook his head. "Wrong. I'm afraid I won't stop the flooding."
Jess's face fell. "What do you mean, you can't fix it? Is it too late?"
Wallace shook his head once more. "It's not a matter if I can fix it. No, I have plenty of time for that. It's the fact that I won't fix it..."
Date: Apr 1st
"You won't? What do you mean-" Then Jess's face lit up, while simultaneously falling. "Was it you Wallace? Were you the one who made Altador flood?"
"Let's not start pointing fingers at each other," Finneus , always the mediator, began, but the Janitor cut him off when he spotted the look of regret and guilt on the Shoyru's face.
"Are you telling me, one of the engineers, those whom we trust to design safe systems to provide water to our city, whom we trust with our lives, is responsible for this?" Sudden images of palm trees and sunny beaches swam into his mind, and he vowed next time he took a day off, it would be far, far away.
"Let me explain," Wallace tried desperately as Jess began to back away toward the walls lined with gears and levers. "It was really the only way. The council would never listen to my pleas for enhancing the irrigation system in Altador and also help fund the necessary Neopoints it would take to finish the research for the new and improved flood prevention system I proposed last time this mess happened."
"So you decided to destroy the city, did you?" the Yurble Janitor said through gritted teeth.
The orange Shoyru shook his head. "Of course not, never destroy. I know this system like the back of my wing. I only tweaked it enough as to get the King and the council's attention. Perhaps they would pay more attention to my 'crazed exuberant ranting'," he added with a frown.
"Well, enough is enough," Jess said. "It's time to stop this."
"I... can't," he said meekly. "Its not really... up to me, even if I wanted to..."
"Who is it up to?" Jess asked.
But the Janitor Yurble had had enough. "Why don't we just take care of it ourselves then?" He reached back toward the lever he had been about to pull minutes before.
"No!" the orange Shoyru shouted with a jerk.
The Janitor Yurble smiled, for he had never intended to pull the lever. He only wanted to see the Shoyru's reaction, and mistakenly took his apprehensive look as the answer he had the right lever.
It took quite the effort, but with one loud creak of metal, he pushed the lever to the left.
"Stop," the Shoyru cried, Jess grasping his arm to hold him back. "No, you don't understand, that is not the right lever..."
Date: Apr 2nd
"...That lever will triple the velocity of the water coming from our reservoir in the mountains! Everything will flood!"
Finneus looked as though someone had just told him the Day of Giving had been cancelled, and Jess's features had similarly distorted.
The Janitor, having no one to be angry at this time, shifted his eyes and hurriedly tried to re-arrange the lever to its previous position -- but, alas, as all levers known to do when a crisis is at hand, the silver handle remained stubbornly fixed to the left.
All four of them could hear the roar of the water as it descended swiftly and surely to meet the centre of their beloved city.
"Well, now you've done it!" exclaimed Wallace furiously. "I told you not to pull that lever -- I told you! You could have pulled any other lever in the room and the situation would not be worse than this!"
The Yurble Janitor's guilt evaporated in an instant as he prepared to fire back. "Oh, I caused this, sure! Who messed up all the controls in the first place? Whose twisted plan?"
Finneus buried his head in his wings in despair, muttering about doomed archives and "knowledge lost forever" -- it was Jess who angrily stepped between the two.
"Wallace, you know these levers and pipes better than anyone else -- you said it yourself!" she cut in. "So set things right once and for all! Please!"
The Janitor looked expectantly at the Shoyru, breath huffing -- but Wallace shook his head.
"I... I can't!" he answered in a defensive tone. "I... I'm not an engineer anymore. My skills have been stripped away..."
There was only a stunned silence.
"Excuse me?" the Yurble questioned.
"Jerdana," said Wallace, "the Protector. She found out who I was, and what I'd done, but it was already too late to stop the coming water, so as a punishment, she took my knowledge and my skills..."
"What!" Finneus exclaimed. "Jerdana knew about this and said nothing? More than that, she isn't doing anything about it?"
Jess shook her head angrily. "It's up to us now -- remember, we need to collapse that western wall. It must be one of the wheels here, and a lever..." She hovered uncertainly along a row of controls, among the many.
"Finneus," said the Janitor, "now is the time to exercise your lottery-picking skills."
The elderly Lenny looked taken aback. "I... I don't know! I just... do, if you know what I mean. Without really knowing why I pick them."
"Doesn't matter -- just pick! Pick a wheel and a lever!" Granted, the Yurble was only thinking that he would not be responsible should Finneus choose the wrong controls. The caretaker of the Hall of Heroes, Altador's famed centre of history, destroying the city itself -- that just would not do.
Finneus closed his eyes, and to this day, he did not know where he found the good feeling of certainty surrounding the lever to the very right, and the centre wheel, which he selected and the other three Neopets promptly turned and pulled. To this day, he did not know how in the blazes he had chosen the right lever and wheel.
He did not know how he had stopped the flood by successfully collapsing the wall and allowing the water to flow safely back into the sea.
...But Jerdana knew.
The Aisha sighed, her first breath since she had first found out what the Shoyru Wallace had done.
Her magic had indeed not been enough to resist the will of the mighty river, but she could surely guide a certain old acquaintance toward the right choice of controls, and the way to save Altador.
It was all in a day's work, she supposed, and now she was on her way to find Neopia's finest architects to repair the water delivery system once and for all.
But not before she headed down the stone steps into the Hall of Heroes to leave a certain trusted Yurble Janitor a Note of Thanks From Altador -- that he had earned himself not one, but two more days off.
Date: Apr 2nd
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