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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 454
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Week 456

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 Five Ends Friday, April 9

"And that's how we saved all of Neopia," the aged Bori concluded, smiling down at the small Lutari sitting on his knee. He'd always loved spending warm spring afternoons with his grandchildren, telling him the stories of his youthful adventures. Most of the Bori's older grandchildren didn't have much time to spend with their grandpa anymore, being too busy with their own friends and hobbies, but his youngest grandchild, Sulli, was finally old enough to understand his tales and sit through them without fussing.

The Lutari blinked her wide golden eyes at her grandfather and said, "Yes, Grandpa, but I don't understand what happened right before that."

The Bori frowned. None of Sulli's siblings and cousins had ever said that after one of his stories, even when he'd had to embellish the tales to make them more exciting or to fill in the gaps that he couldn't quite remember. All they'd ever asked was if he would tell them another story.

He said slowly, as if trying to puzzle out just what part of his story had confused his granddaughter, "Oh, well, you see, Sulli, we had to get the Jade Scorchstone back from the Desert Scarabs, who had stolen it. Only we'd thought that the Desert Scarabs had taken it for their own gain, when in fact, they were trying to thwart an evil sorcerer who'd been threatening to destroy Sakhmet completely. Do you understand now?"

"Well, yes, Grandpa, but what happened before that...?"

Editor's Note: This week's Storytelling beginning was written from an idea by mamasimios. Keep sending in your ideas for Storytelling beginnings, and they might just appear in an upcoming contest!

Author: So I tied a Bagguss to my belt...
Date: Apr 5th
"Before that?" The old Bori’'s brow crinkled in thought. "You're sure you don't want to hear about the battle with the sorcerer again? That was the really interesting part. There were fireballs falling from the sky, and giant mutant Petpets, and..." He trailed off as he saw that Sulli had her arms crossed and was shaking her head. "You really want to hear the part before that, don't you?" Sulli smiled and nodded.

The Bori sighed and began talking. "Well, before the battle, we had to infiltrate the Desert Scarabs' base of operations. 'Infiltrate' means 'get into'," he quickly added when he saw that Sulli was confused.

"Yes, tell me more about that part!" Sulli said joyfully. "Tell me about in-full-tasting the base!"

The Bori chuckled. "Well, in order to infiltrate the Scarabs' headquarters, we had to learn about their leader. Now, this was long before Tomos and Nabile were even born. Back then, the Desert Scarabs were led by a pet named Orsino."

"That's a silly name," Sulli said with a laugh.

"Yes, I suppose it is," her grandfather chuckled. "But Orsino himself was anything but silly. He stood twice as tall as me, and he could breathe fire, and he commanded an army of a thousand Desert Scarabs, and --"

"When you told the story before, you said he was a tiny Chia," Sulli interrupted.

The Bori faltered for a moment, but quickly regained his focus. "Well, yes, he was a Chia, and a rather small one. What I meant was that he made himself look very tall. He used mirrors or something; he was a magician in his spare time. And thinking back on it, he didn't exactly breathe fire, he just had really bad breath. But still, he had an army a thousand strong!" Sulli gave him a sceptical look. "Well, maybe not a thousand, but definitely a few hundred." Sulli raised an eyebrow. "About a dozen. Now that I think about it, it was probably closer to a dozen. A dozen Scarabs." Sulli gave him a nod, indicating that he should move on with the story.

"So there we were, outside the Desert Scarabs' lair. We knew that once we got inside, we'd have to deal with Orsino and his army of twelve fierce Scarabs. This is where our research on Orsino came in handy. Philip -- you remember what I told you about Philip, right? The old Techo who worked as a librarian by day, but was a master burglar by night? Anyway, Philip had learned from one of his sources that Orsino always took a nap at noon. So that's how we came up with our plan.

"We thought we'd wait until a bit after noon, then burst through the door of the Scarabs' headquarters, grab the Scorchstone, and leave before Orsino would even have time to get out of bed. Then we could use the Scorchstone to defeat the sorcerer who was threatening Sakhmet ourselves. This was before we realised that the Scarabs wanted the same thing, of course.

"So we asked Beatrice to stand lookout while Philip, Bill, and I rushed in. But, of course, things didn't go according to plan. It turns out that the Scarabs knew about our scheme and were waiting for us. I already explained that part to you, right? How the fruit vendor had overheard our plans, and --" Sulli yawned. "Well, I suppose the story behind the fruit vendor is a little boring. I'll tell that one to you another day. The exciting part is what happened once Philip, Bill, and I got inside the Scarabs' headquarters. There was a huge battle, with all sorts of magic spells and ancient, cursed weapons, and giant explosions!" The Bori waved his arms around in excitement. "Boom! Kapow! Whoosh!"

"No, that part's boring," Sulli said with a pout. "Skip to the good part."

The Bori was caught off guard. He slowly lowered his arms. "I thought that was the good part." He thought for a moment. "Oh! You must mean our confrontation with the sorcerer! Let me tell you, that was quite an adventure. See, the sorcerer had been hiding in the sewers under Sakhmet, and so to find him, we --"

Sulli interrupted her grandfather again. "No, I already told you, that part's boring too! I want you to tell me about what happened earlier. Like, how did you, Beatrice, and Philip meet Bill? Can you tell me that part of the story again?"

"Well, let me see." The old Bori took a moment to collect his thoughts. "I don't recall all the details, but I do remember that we met him on a rooftop. And, oddly enough, we wouldn't have met at all if it wasn't for Orsino..."

Author: rosabellk
Date: Apr 5th
"...who caught the three of us stea-- er, borrowing a big, juicy Ummagine from that same fruit vendor who would later intercept our plans to reclaim the Scorchstone!"

His cover-up was not lost on Sulli, who wagged her short finger sternly. "Grandpa was stealing?"

The Bori storyteller shifted his gaze humorously and cleared his throat. "Borrowing, I said -- and besides, the vendor owed me for saving his business from the fire that other time! No, no, one story at a time, Sulli. Now, where was I again? Oh, yes, how we met Bill. Well, you see, instead of turning us in, Orsino paid for the Ummagine for us and offered to take Beatrice, Phillip, and me under his wing! He said he was so impressed with our... um, borrowing skills, that he'd like us to join the Desert Scarabs.

"Well, the three of us all had comfortable homes where we never went hungry; filching was just a great amusing adventure for us on those dull, dry afternoons. So we agreed to go with Orsino, if only to see these famous thieves for ourselves! But on the way there... we were met with a completely jam-packed street, because it was the week of the annual festivities at the palace -- every merchant sought to take advantage of the citizens' high spirits. It was Phillip who suggested getting around the crowd by roof. 'Much faster this way,' he'd said! So we hauled each other up onto the joined rooftops -- but by the time the three of us were safely up, Orsino was nowhere to be seen! We'd lost him in the crowd."

"Did you find him?" the small Lutari asked.

Her grandfather shook his head. "No, no. We looked and looked, and in the end, we thought he'd just gone on to the hideout on his own! So since we were already all the way out here on a roof, we thought we'd head up to the palace courtyard to take part in the celebrations. The anniversary of King Coltzan's crowning," he added with a reminiscent smile. "We overtook the crowds easily by travelling above them -- but that was when Beatrice's foot was caught in a loose tile and she fell, dragging Phillip and me with her as she struggled to keep balance! We landed in a pile --" here he demonstrated with his paws "-- on top of one of the court jugglers, squishing him flat!"

"And that was Bill!" Sulli exlaimed with a giggle.

"Indeed it was!" agreed the aged Bori, laughing. "He was very angry at us for disrupting his performance -- so in apology, as you know, we promised we would each owe him a favour."

"Did Phillip really have to wear a pink skirt for a whole day?" asked Sulli.

His grin was childlike, and for a moment there, he was the young Bori adventurer again, despite having elaborated a good deal on the tale. "Of course he did! Bill had a good laugh, oh yes, he did. It was not long after that he became our friend. Beatrice was talented with her paws, and made him two beautiful clay pots as her favour -- and I had the worst of the three, if I can say so myself!" he told Sulli petulantly.

"Yes, tell me about Coltzan's Shrine again," his granddaughter piped up.

The Bori smiled, happy that he had finally gotten her interested in one of the more exciting parts of his story -- in his opinion, at least. "Well, you'll remember that while Phillip went around in the pink skirt, Bill dared your grandfather to draw on the sacred Shrine with a stick of charcoal..."

Author: _razcalz_
Date: Apr 6th
"I thought you said that dares are for the mindless? That I should never listen to someone who dares me to do something that I know is wrong?" Sulli narrowed her eyes at her grandfather and crossed her arms over her chest challengingly.

The Bori coughed into his hand, covering a smile at the memories of all the silly and even dangerous dares he had made and accepted, and then he nodded and said, "That's right, only the weak accept dares, but in this case it was more of a favour I was doing for my new friend Bill. Remember that I had spoiled his juggling performance, and I was anxious to make that up to him. So when he dared, really when he challenged or asked me to draw on Coltzan's Shrine..."

"Okay, Grandpa, just get back to the story," the Lutari urged sceptically.

"Right, so I took the piece of charcoal with me, and just like Bill had asked me to, I drew a picture of a scarab right on the face of the obelisk, giving it shading and details so that it looked like it had always been there. And it was a scarab because..."

"...because that's the symbol of the Desert Scarabs, and you and Bill thought it would be funny if everyone thought that it had appeared out of nowhere. I know that part, Grandpa."

The Bori looked momentarily confused and asked, "And did I tell you how everyone thought..."

" everyone thought that it was the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy."

"And did I tell you about what Phillip did?"

"When he called himself Madam Phillipa and opened the Fortune Teller's stand, charging everyone to hear what his crystal ball had to say about the so-called ancient prophecy?"

Her grandfather closed his eyes, knitted his brow with deep thought, and suddenly exclaimed, "Aha! Did I tell you about the Yurble?"

In mid-yawn, Sulli's eyes flew open, and she slowly shook her head. "No."

"Oh yes, the Yurble! You see, Phillip, or Madam Phillipa, had set up the fortune-telling tent; Beatrice was selling clay replicas of Coltzan's Shrine; Bill was performing his juggling act; and I decided to get in on the action and sell charcoal sketches of tourists who came to the Shrine. One day, this Yurble comes into my tent and asks if I can draw his portrait as a souvenir, and I say of course, and he pulls out this complete chef's outfit: white jacket, apron, tall chef hat, rolling pin, the whole thing. I think that's strange, but even stranger is when he says to me, 'All I know is that I'm not going to be the one to clean that doodle off of Coltzan's Shrine. I'm wearing white and I just won't do it.' And I froze. I was certain that this Yurble knew what I had done and that he would leave my tent and go straight to the Defenders of Neo..."

"Grandpa, this isn't the good part."

"No, no, this is the good part. Let me tell you how I got out of that one. You see..."

"No, that's boring. I want to hear about adventure." The Lutari yawned again, and her grandfather could see that she would soon be asleep. Looking at the inky sky outside the window, he knew that the little one could be sent to bed at any time, but he was enjoying this time they had together. He wasn't ready to let her go just yet.

The Bori squinted his eyes, trying to figure out how to recapture Sulli's interest, and he was struck by inspiration. "You see, the thing about the Yurble was that he never went to the Defenders of Neopia. But when he left my tent, I could see that my most precious possession was missing. The Yurble was gone and so was my Attack Pea."

Sulli sat bolt upright on her grandfather's lap, all signs of weariness gone. "Grandpa, tell me about how you got that."

The Bori smiled indulgently and said...

Author: mamasimios
Date: Apr 6th
"Well, the story behind that is a little harder to understand, you see, since it happened many years before that. It's not quite as easy to remember, what with all of the age --cobwebs in the head, you see --"

"Get on with it, Grandpa," sighed Sulli.

"All right, then. You see, we were gallivanting about the peaks of Terror Mountain... well, walking around the peaks; we weren't having enough fun to actually be gallivanting. We were walking around in search of..." The Bori allowed a pause before finishing in a suitably hammy tone: "...Taelia's pillar of diamond ice."

Intrigued, Sulli sat back up and leaned forward, golden eyes widened and glowing with curiosity. "What's that?"

"It was something important," said her grandfather reassuringly. "Very, very important. Now, moving on: a friend of mine -- Evan the Kiko, was it? Yes, Evan. He was sticking himself into caves the entire time, searching with such zeal."

"Like a letter seal? Why was he searching with that, Grandpa?" At this point, it was clear that he had captivated her attention.

"Well, he was very excited and dedicated to his mission. So, you see, he had to stumble upon one thing or another. At one point he found a cave that was -- how should I say -- different.

"You see, the walls were encrusted with diamonds, from floor to ceiling. Every little facet gleamed in the brilliant light of the sun at noon. Naturally, it intrigued us, compelled us to enter. We had reason to be worried, of course. The floor was covered in a thin sheet of ice, melted at spots here and there, since it was warmer than your average day. But, luck was with us as we made our way through the cave, grabbing hold of the ridges on the wall to keep from slipping.

"We were walking for about an hour when we realised we'd reached the heart of the mountain. It was pitch-black by then, leaving the lot of us to wander around and bump into one another -- until, suddenly, the entire room was filled with a shining light!"

At this point, he was sure he had finally captured her attention. It must have been the 'suddenly', he mused. Continuing to piece together the tale, he resumed storytelling:

"'That's Taelia's diamond, isn't it?' Paul had gasped, frozen to the spot like a statue. We all thought him right, at the time -- what else could it have been but the precious jewel we'd been searching for all day? And yet, once given the time to gather our wits and give the object a good squint, we realised that it was nothing like it. So, I took the opportunity to dash forward -- the ice had melted because of magic, you see -- and see what we had found.

"And there, sitting on the pedestal, was a tiny Attack Pea. Just sitting there! No one to protect it. Fantastic, isn't it?" Sulli's expression betrayed a worrying amount of scepticism.

"This sounds like stealing again, Grandpa."

"It makes sense in context, dear. In this case, it was not so much 'borrowing' as..." He racked his brain in search for a fitting word to use as a substitute before one popped up like a shining beacon of letters: "...'Rescuing'."

"Rescuing?" Sulli blinked. "Why would a pea need rescuing?"

"Funny that you ask that," murmured her grandfather. "Now that I think of it..."

Author: nativsis
Date: Apr 7th
"The Attack Pea looked up at me with big, pleading eyes and said, 'Please, Mister, won't you rescue me from this dark cave?'"

Sulli's mouth unhinged at her grandfather's last statement, while he tried in vain to keep his from twisting into a revealing grin. The sharp little one quickly caught on to the joke.

"That didn't happen, Grandpa! You're pulling my leg!"

After indulging in a brief chortle, the Bori continued with the story.

"Well, maybe that's not exactly what happened. As I said, it was a very long time ago, and time has a way of shifting memories around..."

With a sleepy gaze, Sulli rested her small head against her grandpa's chest, reminding him to pick up the pace.

"In any case, I knew that I had to take the pea, or else the whole of Neopia would be in grave danger!"

Like a charm, the Lutari promptly propped herself upright. "Why, Grandpa?"

"You remember Evan, right? You see, I knew that he wanted to get his paws on that pea, and I knew that he would use it for draconian purposes."

"What's a Draik-o-layin' purpose?"

"Oh, well let me put it this way. If Evan were to obtain the Attack Pea, he would have used it for evil instead of good." The Bori felt inspired by Sulli's intrigued expression.

"But... but how did you know that?" she contemplated.

"There was this devilish gleam in his eye that told me."

The Lutari exhaled dramatically. "Nuh-uh, Grandpa! I know that eyes can't talk. You're fooling me again!"

"No, little one, I'm speaking the truth," the Bori said, gently putting his hand upon her shoulder, as he always did when giving his grandchildren valuable advice. "You can tell much about a pet from looking into his eyes, Sulli. They are windows to the soul. Don't forget that."

Sulli crossed her arms, still sceptical. "All right, Grandpa, if eyes can talk, then what are mine saying?" she asked, putting her paws up to her face and yanking her eyelids back, so that her bulging eyes somewhat resembled those of a suspicious Meepit.

This time the Bori unharnessed a booming guffaw, though his serious granddaughter patiently waited for an answer, never breaking her Meepit-eyed pose. Realising that this matter was not to be taken lightly, the Bori swiftly stifled his laughter.

"Well, let me see here," he began, straightening up. "Ah, yes. The bright golden rim around your iris, that's the coloured part of your eye, tells me that you are quite the inquisitive little pet."

"What's that?"

"It means you ask a lot of questions; you're curious. It's a good thing," he said, grinning down at her.

"All right, what else?"

"Well, the deep honey colour around your pupil -- that's the black dot right in the middle -- tells me that you're very sweet, but you can also be very stubborn as well. And the tiny little flakes of emerald, well, they give the game away."

"What do you mean?" Sulli leaned closer, so preoccupied that she lowered her hands from her face, letting her poor eyelids finally relax. "What do the flakes say?"

"They tell me that you have a knack for adventure, just like your old grandpa here. Yes, you will do amazing things in your lifetime, dear. Let's see, now where was I with the story?"

"You were talking to Evan's eyes about his Draik-o-layin' purposes!"

"Ah, yes. This is the most exciting part of the story. We both lunged for the Attack Pea at the same time. Just as we did, the entire cave was thrown into blackness yet again. We ended up in a struggle on the floor. Let me tell you something, Sull, throwing punches in the dark is about as easy as finding a Kadoatie that doesn't have an expensive taste in dining--"

"You told me that I'm not supposed to hit others."

"Um, yes, but this is a matter of good and evil, remember? I could not very well allow that corrupt Kiko to destroy Neopia with the forces of the Attack Pea! In any case, we did not battle for long. We both paused when we heard the sound of tiny footsteps walk past us and toward the pea. Then, I heard the most bone-chilling voice I have ever heard in all my lifetime, a voice that still haunts me to this very day."

"What did it day?" Sulli asked in almost a whisper as she leaned closer.

Her grandpa leaned in as well, and in a low, hushed voice, he said...

Author: favonianbreeze
Date: Apr 7th
"Ain't be tryin' ta take the Princess's pea, are ye?"

"That sounds like a pirate Grandpa! I thought you were in Terror Mountain when this was happening!" exclaimed Sulli as she gazed up at the aging Bori.

"We were at Terror Mountain Sulli, and yes, it was a pirate that spoke to us. You remember Paul, don't you? The third in our party, who exclaimed when we first entered the diamond-encrusted cave?"

He looked down at his granddaughter and only began to continue when she gave her head in a curt and knowing nod.

"Well, it turned out he was really working for Taelia all along! He was there to make sure Evan and I didn't manage to find the Attack Pea's hiding place, but when he failed and we spotted it he was at first forced to pretend he was as clueless as we were! In actual fact, he was a mighty pirate from Krawk Island, sent to guard the Attack Pea while it was in Taelia's care. Its true owner was a princess, a princess known as Amira. She was nought but a wee tyke then while even I was already at the peak of adulthood, yet this rare and horribly valuable item had been gifted to her by the her father King Coltzan. Are you starting to see where this connects to the Lost Desert?"

Sulli nodded, this time much more enthusiastically.

"Amira is a pretty princess, now she rules the whole of the Lost Desert!" In exclamation the little Lutari threw her fists into the air before bringing them down and laying her eyes back upon her grandfather’s face. "But I don't know where this pirate Paul comes in, or why Evan wanted the Attack Pea."

The Bori gave a little chuckle before affectionately patting Sulli on the back.

"Evan was your average evil-doer at that stage, though I failed to see it at first. He mostly wanted the Attack Pea for its power and value, no more and no less. He'd heard about its placing in Terror Mountain until Amira was of an age when it would benefit her, and pursued it with... what was my earlier wording? Ah, draconian purposes in mind.

"When we first heard Paul's voice, thick with a pirate accent typical of Krawk Island, there in that cave, Evan and I halted our tussling immediately. Paul had stepped over our wriggling figures, but in the darkness it was difficult to discern his Lupe shape. He was much taller than Evan and I, and most likely much stronger. I daresay I would have never been game enough to challenge Paul in a fight, even in my prime! Anyhow, Paul took the Attack Pea in his paws, raising it above us. Evan jumped up and tried to attach himself to Paul's arms, but the larger Lupe easily de-hinged the Kiko. I remember the way light seemed to slowly trickle back in, but only enough to show the Attack Pea."

"Grandpa, that still isn't explaining the Yurble's theft later on, or how Paul, a pirate from Krawk Island, came to be a member of the royal family's guard in the Lost Desert! Come to think of it..." The Lutari paused, gathering her thoughts. "You haven't even explained how you came to be in possession of Princess Amira's Attack Pea!"

"Haven't I?" the Bori stated, his eyes firmly locked on Sulli's. "Or haven't you been listening?"

"Grandpa, I can see in the flecks of blue in your eyes that you haven't told me, because you don't remember," Sulli sighed, batting her tired eyes. "Maybe it's time I went to bed..."

"No!" exclaimed her grandfather, realising with a rush of thoughts how much he really wanted her to hear this story to its full extent. "I'm sorry Sulli, but why do you think the flecks of blue mean I don't remember?"

"Because," Sulli whispered into the Bori's ear. "Mother told me that blue means..."

Author: sadinei
Date: Apr 8th

"Does it now? Well, let me tell you, I remember the next events quite clearly. For just then, Evan turned to me and said that Paul was actually lying. That he was Princess Amira's guardian, and Paul was a fraud. Someone he had trusted enough to share his secrets and he saw now he was nothing but a lowly, greedy pirate searching for treasure."

"Makes sense," Sulli stated matter-of-factly.

"So there we were, all three of us staring untrustingly at each other. I didn't know who to believe."

"What about the Draik-o-layin' eyes, Grandpa?"

He smiled down warmly at her. "I guess everyone makes mistakes. Err, which is why someone should never judge a book by its cover." He took advantage of the moment to spew a bit of old age wisdom.

"What happened next? How did you know which was telling the truth?" Sulli asked.

"Well, because right at that moment, Evan lunged toward Paul, knocking him to the ground. From what I could see of the little light in the cave, they were struggling on the floor, and next second, Evan had thrust the Attack Pea in my hands! So that's how I knew to trust him. Then he told me it was imperative I return the Pea to the princess, so I ran as fast and as far as I could away from the caves, and to this day, I never knew what became of Paul and Evan," he finished dramatically.

"That's sad," Sulli whispered. "What if...what if Paul killed Evan?" The small Lutari's eyes began to water.

"Oh no, well," her grandfather added hastily. "Actually, I heard Evan works at the Petpet shop down in Meridell and Paul retired to running Tiki Tours on Mystery Island."

Sulli pursed her lips. "Oh. I liked your ending better. So then you went to the Lost Desert to return the Pea when the Yurble stole it?"

"Yes, now let me tell you how I managed to get it back--"

Sulli yawned. "It's not really exciting if I know you win at the end. The princess did get her Pea, right?"

"Of course. She was very grateful. Obviously so, considering what she gave me as a thank-you reward. Something so grandiose."

Sulli's interest was piqued. "Gran-dee-os?"

He chuckled. "It means spectacular! But maybe it is time you got off to bed, little one. It's getting rather late," he said, feigning to check his watch.

"Aw, Grandpa, come on. Please just finish this story. What did she give you..."

Author: xx_neomania
Date: Apr 8th
The Bori remained quiet for several moments, studying the earnest features on his granddaughter's inquisitive face. Finally, he nodded in agreement with his own private thoughts and replied, "What I am about to tell you, Sulli, I have never told anyone before. But, I think you're ready."

The Lutari perked up and nodded eagerly, "I am, Grandpa, I'm ready for the whole story."

"Well," he started slowly, "the Princess Amira was so grateful that I found the Attack Pea, that among other rewards, she gave me these blue flecks in my eyes."

Sulli snorted derisively through her nose and said, "Yeah, right, Grandpa. She gave you the forgetful flecks."

The Bori chuckled and said, "I know your mother told you that's what blue flecks mean, but here's something you may not know: your mother isn't always right."

"You mean like when she tells me to eat Baby Sprouts because they'll make me grow big and strong? Yech."

"No, no, no," the Bori replied, chortling heartily, "she's not wrong about that, I'm afraid. But about the blue flecks she's... well, maybe not wrong so much as only half right."

"Can't she be half right about the Baby Sprouts and only give me half as much?"

"Haha, how about I have a talk with her about that? Now, do you want to hear about the flecks?"

Sulli nodded sleepily and cuddled into her Grandpa's chest. The Bori stroked the top of her head as he continued, "When the Princess Amira reached the age of majority and claimed her rightful place as ruler, she assembled a secret group of trusted advisors. These were Sakhmetians who could give the young princess the benefit of their wisdom and, more importantly to such an admirer of the arts as Amira has always been, these were Neopets who could preserve her history throughout the ages. Each of her secret advisors were given marks by which they could be identified."

The Lutari yawned and asked, "She gave everyone blue flecks?"

"No, she gave everyone a special tattoo, like this one." The Bori rolled up his right shirtsleeve, revealing a large black scarab marking.

Sulli sat bolt upright. "So you were one of the Desert Scarabs after all, Grandpa? I thought they're all thieves. I thought you said stealing is wrong? I thought that you lost Orsino. Or that you took his Jade Scorchstone when he was sleeping? Grandpa, are you being forgetful again? How did you get the blue flecks?"

"This is the part that no one knows, so listen carefully, okay?"

The Lutari looked up at her grandfather solemnly and nodded, studying the blue flecks that danced with life around his irises.

"You'll remember that I was at the fair in Sakhmet during the anniversary of Coltzan's crowning with some friends, some with special gifts. You remember Philip..."

"Madam Philipa in the pink skirt..."

"Haha, yes, but he was more than a pretend fortune teller. You remember I told you he was a librarian? Well, he was a gifted writer as well as an avid reader. Beatrice was a potter who could imprint truths in nothing more than clay. And Bill was a juggler, true, but also an actor with an amazing talent for telling stories with his hands. That's the point, don't you see? We were the storytellers, the ones the Princess trusted to preserve her own history."

"But the blue flecks? The forgetting?" The Lutari scrunched her face up in confusion.

"Remember I said that 'forgetting' is only half right? The blue flecks mean that I have a gift for telling stories, and sometimes that means that I... exaggerate some parts."

"Like fib? Because Mama says..."

"Well, fibbing is wrong, but that's not what I'm talking about. Sometimes, truth is too powerful to share and an... alternative version needs to be created. That has always been my special gift. To think fast and fill in stories where the truth might be... uncomfortable."

Sulli closed her eyes and said, "Okay, Grandpa. I understand, but I don't think that's much of a gran-dee-os present to get from a princess. Or why you never told that to anyone before."

The Bori looked down at the youngster who now hovered on the edge of sleep and decided to finish what he began. He shook her gently and said, "The flecks were not the grandiose gift. I'm going to show you something, and when I do, you'll understand why you're the first I've ever told this story to..."

Author: mamasimios
Date: Apr 9th
Editor's note: Please enjoy two endings for this week's story, as an homage to the Bori grandfather's storytelling habits. :)

With those words, he reached under the chair and pulled out a golden storybook. It had imprinted on its cover a scene of the Lost Desert from the view of a window. On the book's spine there was no author or title, but a sun with a scarab inside it.

"Wow, that is gran-dee-os," Sulli murmured sleepily, though she fought against it. "What's inside?"

The Bori opened the pages of the book to reveal words written in ink of gold. "These are all the stories I've told you, but without any different versions. These are the stories that really happened, that are too powerful to be shared. These stories are about what the book has been through to protect and keep the Lost Desert and all its citizens safe."

"But why would Princess Amira need something like that?" Sulli asked, carefully gliding her paws across the perfect pages.

"History repeats itself. By recording the past, we are prepared for the future."

Sulli flipped a few pages of the book, absorbing it. "Who wrote it?"

"I did," the Bori told her, "and now I am giving it to you." He handed her the book.

Sulli took the big book in her arms, confused. "Me? But I can't have something as grand-dee-os as this. Princess Amira gave to you to write in."

The Bori smiled at his granddaughter. "I won't be able to keep recording in it forever. It needs a new storyteller to record its history, of all its adventures."

"But I'm not a writer," Sulli protested weakly. "I only listen."

"The best writers are also the best listeners," the Bori answered. "And you should start reading it so you can write about your adventures as well."

Sulli needed no prodding as she cracked open the book. But it wasn't long before the Bori heard a soft snore. Sulli was asleep, the storybook clutched tightly in her arms.

Soon an Ixi came into the room. "Mum's here to pick up the daughter who's up way past her bedtime."

As the mother picked up her daughter, the Bori laughed. "I'm sorry. It seems that we were too entertained telling stories."

The Ixi smiled, shaking her head. "That's all right, Dad. Besides, it seems like she's already asleep. Was this what you were reading? What's it about?" She gestured to the golden book with her head so as not to wake Sulli up.

Shaking his head, the Bori responded, "It's about how I saved all of Neopia. And how she will too."

The End

Author: newmoon653
Date: Apr 9th
At this point, the elderly Bori gently placed his granddaughter upon the soft armchair, standing as he did so.

He drew up his sweater a little, revealing a scarred leather belt, and from the belt there hung a...

"...Bagguss?" inquired Sulli in surprise, eyebrows raised comically. And she was right. There was indeed a sun-dried green fruit tied to the storyteller's belt, if slightly shrivelled from great age, but nonetheless still sending wafts of its chocolate-like scent spiralling into the reading room.

"Why, yes!" the Bori declared with a grin. "But it's not just any Bagguss. This fruit here was my gift from Princess Amira, and... and it is my imagination."

Sulli's forehead wrinkled. "Im-magician?"

Her grandfather gave a sniff of amusement and picked the small Lutari up before easing himself back into the armchair. "Well, Sulli, the best way to explain this is that... even though this is quite the exciting story, if anyone else had tried to tell it, it wouldn't have been nearly as fun to listen to!

"You see, an ordinary storyteller tells tales with just words and a few scattered memories. It's like trying to make good vegetable soup with just water and potatoes -- which doesn't work quite that well, does it? But this Bagguss, having experienced the same things I have experienced for many, many years -- albeit having done so while dangling from my belt -- has... hmm, how would I word this?" he pondered.

And Sulli -- well, Sulli just looked confused.

"Ah! I've got it," the Bori announced brightly. "This Bagguss has been invaluable to me and my appointed role of keeping Amira's history, for the reason that it is my link to the listener -- you, in this case! You have not noticed even now, but its faint scent has found you for the entire evening as I told my story. And as it does so, it's almost as if you taste a little of my imagination -- that is the spices, and the tomatoes, and the celery you put into the soup to make it whole! It has served me well as a storyteller, because without it, a tale would be just that and nothing more."

He glanced hopefully at Sulli, hoping that his attempt to explain what he'd never explained to anyone before had made at least a little sense.

And the Lutari said with a pout, "I don't like celery, Grandpa."

The aged Bori looked stunned -- and then he laughed, and the laugh came from his heart.

"So you see why this has always been my secret -- our secret now," he concluded contentedly. "It is the part of the story I never told your siblings and cousins, and I did so to keep things exciting always..."

Sulli looked dismayed. "Then why did you tell me about the Bagguss and the im-magician, Grandpa? That means you'll never tell me stories again?" She blinked quite anxiously with a look sadder than when she'd first thought the flowers were gone forever after seeing them wilt in late autumn.

The Bori found himself pleased and warmed that she had enjoyed his tales so much, and he hugged the little one reassuringly. "No, no! You may not know this, but a lot of the time, telling a story is just as fun as listening to one -- it is my gift, and I'd never give that up! You were the first to hear the entire story simply because you were the first to ask for the entire story! None of the others ever did so; they were all quite happy to settle with what I offered. The golden rim in your eyes that spells your curiosity also means you already have imagination. You don't need me to help you bring the story to life."

"Really?" she asked, delighted.

"Really," he answered fondly. "Now hang in there just a bit longer, because I'm going to tell you one last, very special thing. This Bagguss, this fruit that lets imagination live, I will pass to you one day."

His granddaughter's beautiful eyes were wide as she spun around, and he continued, "But not just yet. You remember those green flecks of yours? They are a gift of your own! One day, you may be a storyteller too, and my Bagguss's magic will be there to help you when that time comes -- but something makes me certain you will be an adventurer first. Yes, a fine adventurer."

Despite her gradual sleepiness, Sulli was thrilled. "Like you!"

"Yes," the Bori agreed, and his eyes closed as he hugged her. "Now, it is time for my story tonight to end, and for your dreams to tell you theirs! Sleep well, Sulli." 

She did not protest and looked quite happy, lids already drooping as her grandfather carried her to her room. "Good night, Grandpa. Thank you for the story."

He was right, of course, and as the old storyteller and his beloved grandchild finally dozed into slumber, the indigo sky and her stars carried on with their whispered tales, and both dreamed on a story that wasn't inclined to end just yet. 

The End

Author: _razcalz_
Date: Apr 9th

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