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||You are on Week 461
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 Sixty One Ends Friday, May 21
Nothing ever happens to me. I'm beginning to wonder why I even bother to write in you, Diary. It seems like every day is the same: I wake up, my ladies-in-waiting dress me, I eat breakfast, and then I file into the great hall of the palace with all the other courtiers and listen to the matters of the court for hours and hours and hours. After that, there's usually some kind of grand feast or ball, but by that point, I'm often too numb to enjoy it.
I'm sure most Neopians would envy me, Diary. Judging by outward appearances, I have a fortunate life. I've never had to stand in the queue at the Soup Kitchen; I've never had to sleep out in the cold. Brightvale Castle is a beautiful place to live, with its endless gardens and well-stocked library, and yet... I'm tired of it.
On the days when my parents will let me go off by myself, I've tried to have adventures, Diary. You know that, of course, because I wrote in you about the time I went to find Tarla and just missed her. Or the time my parents actually agreed to take me on holiday to the Space Station (I was hoping that Dr. Sloth would try to make another return while we were there), and when we got back, Neopia was abuzz with talk of a newly discovered land... and I'd missed it all. Again.
I'm becoming resigned to my fate. I'm a lady of the court and must behave as such. If I could have just one adventure, Diary, I think I could be content. But if I can't find adventure when I search for it, how can I wait for it to find me? What if it never does? The time is coming, Diary. I'm going to have to do something drastic. I'm going to...
Editor's Note: This week's Storytelling beginning was written from an idea submitted by newmoon653. Keep sending in your ideas for Storytelling beginnings, and they might just appear in an upcoming contest!
Author: *Oh Hai, Pepys!*|
Date: May 17th
And not just into the forest, either, like that one time when I was little. I'm going to run so far away that I'll have to have an adventure, just to get home.
I'll take you with me, Diary. You will be the place I write down everything that happens. That way, when I do at last settle down, I will always have an account of my journeys to keep me company and remind me of my youth. That is all I ask: to have this one adventure before I must take up my role as a lady of King Hagan's court.
Diary, I will take only enough money to pay for an Eyrie taxi, only the clothes on my back, only a small sack of provisions. I will not look back. I am not afraid.
Well, maybe just a little.
* * *
I am trembling with excitement! As I write this, I am sitting in the back of an Eyrie taxi. I apologise for the shaky handwriting, but we are in the air and I can scarcely stay in my seat. Brightvale Castle is already far below us.
I told the Eyrie that I'm departing on an errand for my mother. Lady Elaire is so feared and respected that he didn't ask any questions. I had no idea that Mother's name had so much influence. Although, now that I think about it, there was that one time when I was given free berries from the fruit market after the shopkeeper learned whose daughter I was. Oh, and there was that glazier who designed a window for my bedroom at my mother's request.
...Okay, Diary, I know what you're thinking. But don't worry. I'm not going to use Mother's name anymore. After this, I'm on my own. I'm having an adventure, and I don't need her reputation dragging behind me like the train of this dress I'm wearing! It's fluttering in the wind as if it were alive.
Diary, do you think this expensive dress will make it harder for me to have an adventure? Oh dear, now I'm concerned. What if I can't escape my family's influence after all? Will anyone believe that I'm an adventurer when I'm wearing silk? What if I say my name by accident and they send me back to Brightvale?
I suppose I will have to get all new things. Or old things, to be specific. Yes, all old things. Maybe I can purchase them from a trader.
Oh, but I haven't any money. I only brought enough for this taxi.
...Oh, dear. Diary, I really am an awful adventurer, aren't I? I will have to figure everything out when we arrive in...
Date: May 17th
...the Haunted Woods.
Now, it might seem like an odd place to go for an adventure, what with all the rumours of ghosts and vampires and giant Spyders... but you see, Diary, that's the exact reason why I've chosen it. All those stories... there has got to be one waiting for me there. Right?
And... I didn't quite bring enough money for the Eyrie taxi to take me across the ocean...
But I digress. The Eyrie tells me we'll be landing soon. I think I can see the Woods from here. Oh, the trees look so different from the ones back home...
I wonder what adventures will be waiting for me down there.
I'm going to have to stop writing, now, Diary, we're beginning our descent. Oh, I can't believe this is really happening! This is it, dearest Diary. My adventure begins.
* * *
The Eyrie has just taken off, disappearing into the cloudy sky. I don't think I recall it being this dark before.
... so here I am. Alone.
The grass is different here. The trees, too, are different. Crooked, dark, leafless. Like winter trees.
It's strange, Diary. The grey grass and the naked trees. They look... dead. Oh, but how can they be dead, Diary, if they've been this way for so long? Surely they would've wasted away by now...
There's a pathway that leads into those trees. I'm standing at the edge of the forest, now, green hills far behind me. If I wanted to, I could go back. It would take a while, but I could go back...
There's a fork in the road. I wish I could say that's why I'm hesitating, Diary -- I don't know which path to choose. But the truth is...
The truth is...
The truth is I'm scared. Now that I'm here I'm scared and I --
I think I see something moving. In the trees. A light! Something's coming...
Date: May 18th
...or I should have said "someone." Through the trees emerged a ghost Korbat, which was frightening in itself, for I had never seen a ghost Neopet before, but I tried to keep my shock from showing on my face.
He said hello, and his voice sounded kind enough.
He said his name was Curtain (Isn't that an odd name, Diary?), and he asked me what I was doing alone in the forest.
I didn't want to tell him the entire truth, so I told him I was simply travelling and that I'd never been to the Haunted Woods before.
Then he told me he was on a quest for the Brain Tree and asked me if I wanted to help him.
I'd read about the Brain Tree before. An intellectual tree that talked? I thought this sounded like the most interesting start to my adventure, so I agreed to help him.
He looked pleased and said he needed to find where and when Michael Pteria had died, and in order to find the answer, all we had to do was feed the Esophagor twice.
I had no idea who the Esophagor was, but he must be pretty greedy to always demand something in exchange for his knowledge.
Then Curtain said the Esophagor asked him to bring a chocolate-coated eyeball, which made me laugh as I asked him where in the name of Fyora he was going to get one of those.
He laughed too then, and said, "Why, from you, of course..."
Date: May 18th
I know it is a rather wimpy thing to, Diary, but sacrificing my eye isn't really the best way to start an adventure, is it? And anyway, I think Mother might collapse if I go home missing a vital organ.
Evidently this was quite funny to Curtain because he started laughing again.
"I didn't mean your eye, silly! I just wanted you to pay for it." He giggled, and I immediately felt a sorry red blush on my cheeks.
Of course he didn't mean my eye! I think I need to relax more if I'm going to enjoy this adventure, Diary; there's no way I can start having fun if I flinch at everything -- and everyone -- that comes my way.
Of course that doesn't mean I should disregard my safety. Or the state of my funds, as a matter of fact. I told him I had no money, even making rather wild gesticulations at my shabby clothing to back up my point.
But he just started laughing at me again. "You can't fool me; I recognise those earrings, they're from that fancy shop in Meridell, right? My mum has been eyeing them for a while now but can't bring herself to spend the Neopoints."
Oh dear. I knew there was something I overlooked. You've got to remind me next time, Diary, okay?
Anyway, now that I'd been sort of found out, I had no choice but to agree. Of course I was rather reluctant to spend the last of my Neopoints. After all I was hoping to get a souvenir of some sort, but I'd promised, and as we left the shop I was beginning to feel less apprehensive and much more excited about meeting this... Esophagor.
Curtain was very lovely. He promised to pay me back as soon as he got his reward from the Brain Tree, so I had nothing to worry about. Apart from when he asked me my name.
I hadn't thought of an alias yet, but I was going to be a proper adventurer now, so I looked around and took inspiration from my surroundings. "Um, Tree...cy?"
Curtain giggled and shook my hand. "Well, we're here."
My my, I have to tell you Diary, it was a rather frightful experience seeing a huge gloop of grey sploshing around like that whilst groaning like a drowned Albat. What bizarre creatures live here in Haunted Woods! I'm very glad I came here now. Although, if the Esophager gets any of that... stuff on my dress I shan't be very pleased.
"Yeeeeeeesss? Doooooo yooou haaaaave iiiiit?" he moaned.
Curtain handed him the chocolate-covered eyeball, and with a noisy slurp that my mother would not have approved of, he huffed and began to speak again.
"Miiiiichaaaaeeel Pteeeeeriaaaaa waaaas boooorn... waaaait." I gulped when he turned to look at me; he is very intimidating for a piece of moving ground, Diary. "Yooooou," he moaned, looking right at me. "I knooooooow yoooooou..."
Date: May 19th
"Me?" I was rather taken aback that such a strange creature should possibly know my true identity.
From what I'd heard the Esophagor was quite knowledgeable in the dates of death of ancient Neopian citizens, which quite obviously should not have included me. However, the Esophagor's eyes (if you could call them that, they were more like empty black voids with red pupils floating at random within) never ceased to leave me in that brief moment.
"Yoooooooou," he began, "yoooooooouuu arrrrrrrre Yvonne von Borovan, diiiieeeed innnn thhhhhhee Puuummmppppkkiin Paaaatttccchh, 31 BN."
Of course, this revelation was completely absurd. Not only was I standing there in Y12, 'alive and kicking,' so to speak, but I'd also never been in a Pumpkin Patch before. Whoever Yvonne von Borovan was, or had been, it certainly wasn't me.
I'm sorry for how abruptly the last entry ended, but Curtain almost caught me writing in you and... well, I hate to admit it but if he saw you it would be a dead giveaway to who I really am, combined with his knowledge of the Meridellian earrings I was wearing earlier. I'm still not quite ready to go home yet, so I can't let him lay eyes on you. Sorry.
After leaving the Esophagor, Curtain started acting strangely around me. I didn't think it was possible, but it was almost as if a ghost (of all things) was scared. I wasn't completely sure why he was so frightened, but I think it had something to do with what the Esophagor said about me... about this Yvonne von Borovan. Maybe Curtain knew Yvonne, or maybe he thought I was some kind of ghost-eating zombie. Whatever was bugging him, I was too freaked out myself to ask.
Yes, I admit it, the Haunted Woods still creep me out. That's why I'm currently sitting in a quiet street of Neovia as I write this. Even though it's still technically part of the Haunted Woods, I convinced Curtain that we should come here after the Brain Tree. It's eerily quiet around here, but at least there seems to be no creepy beings like the Esophagor or the Brain Tree around.
Oh yes! I forgot to write about our subsequent trip to the Brain Tree, didn't I? Well, straight after we left the Esophagor, Curtain had to take his new-found knowledge on Michael Pteria to the Brain Tree. Though he no longer seemed to be at ease with me, the Korbat tolerated my 'tagging along' with him. How I'd longed to see this all-knowing great tree... and yet, when we got there I was sadly disappointed. Not because of the Brain Tree's appearance, no, that was just like in the books we have back in Brightvale. It was the way he acted... it was somewhat different to what I expected. I expected a renowned intellectual being, tree or otherwise, to be at least a little kindly. In the books at home, never had I read that he was so demanding and cruel.
That's censorship for you -- my parents don't like me to read violent or 'nasty' texts. I'd never been exposed to Neopia's 'dark side'... but you know that, don't you, Diary? That's why I craved adventure in the first place, because I knew I must have been missing something.
"Kneel before Tree!" was the Brain Tree's first demand when we arrived.
Curtain did immediately, but I was too stunned to act.
"Kneel before Tree!" the Brain Tree repeated, upper branches flailing despite the lack of wind.
"Just do as he says," Curtain whispered, tugging at my arm.
Quickly I dropped to the ground. The Brain Tree almost seemed to smile, and then he averted his gaze to Curtain. The Korbat trembled beside me. Like I said earlier, I'd never met a ghost Neopet before -- but I sure hadn't expected them to be afraid of anything.
"Michael Pteria died in Maraqua, 43 BN," Curtain said, his voice shaky.
"Correct," the Brain Tree began. "2,000 NP and a Slime Potion are yours."
The Brain Tree's branches rustled, and suddenly a green bottle began hurtling toward Curtain, along with a small satchel of Neopoints. I'd never heard of or seen a Slime Potion before. It glowed an eerie green, and Curtain looked at it reverently.
"At last," he whispered, running a translucent paw over the bottle. "The item I've been questing all these years for..."
"But why do you need it?" I asked, the words spilling out of their own accord.
"Well," Curtain said, showing the bottle to me. "I need it because..."
Date: May 19th
"I'm sick of being a ghost. No one will talk to me outside of the Haunted Woods, and being translucent really isn't what it's cracked up to be -- I've had Neopets try and walk through me on several occasions... which doesn't work, by the way. No, I want my real body back."
I was shocked by his distress and his honesty, Diary. I suddenly felt compelled to help him. I asked him how the Slime Potion was going to help.
"Well, I've heard of an elixir that I believe will restore me to my old self. I wasn't always this way..."
He didn't seem to want to give any further explanation as to how he became a ghost, so I gave him a slow nod and he continued with his talk of the elixir.
"I have all the ingredients now. All except one."
I became suddenly excited at the prospect of making this elixir, Diary. To think, we were only one ingredient away! It felt... ooh, it felt so ADVENTUROUS!
"So..." I started, my enthusiasm obvious in my voice. "What's the last ingredient?"
Curtain hesitated. "Pumpkin."
My heart skipped a beat. I can't pretend that I'm not, even as I'm writing this, Diary, a little shaken up over the Esophagor's "recollection" of my death -- my death in the Pumpkin Patch.
Curtain tried to reassure me. "Hey, it's ok... You're not Yvonne von Borovan, are you? So you've got nothing to worry about. He's just... confused..." He trailed off. Even he didn't sound convinced with himself. I suddenly felt myself wishing that Mother was here...
I took a deep breath, and steeled myself to the inevitable. "Well, what are we waiting for? To the Pumpkin Patch!..."
Date: May 20th
"To the Pumpkin Patch!" I agreed, a fake smile plastered on my face. I will still shaky about my "death," but I wasn't about to let Curtain know that.
Before we headed to the Pumpkin Patch, I convinced him to come with me to Neovia for at least a crumpet. And so, here I am, sitting on this sidewalk's curb, writing in you.
Diary, I admit that you're a comfort to me around here. You remind me of what's safe and real, not this ghost town I'm surrounded by. I admit that it's beautiful -- grey cobblestones, curved iron fences, the great clock tower in its centre. But it's empty, lifeless. The dark clouds hanging over our heads threaten rain that will never come, and the streets are desolate. I occasionally see a Neovian, but they walk huddled in on themselves, keeping their heads toward the ground, looking only at what lies in front of them.
But the worst thing in this place is its silence, Diary. Not even wind blows through the streets. Everything is quiet and still, though not in a peaceful way. It's... eerie. Haunted in a way that the Woods are not.
Some may say that the Haunted Woods are the scariest, but they surely have not seen the haunting that is Neovia. If only--
Diary, I just heard a tinkling bell, which I believe to be Curtain. After we eat our crumpets, we're going to get the last ingredient for the elixir, at "my final resting place."
Even I cannot call you "dear" anymore. For nothing in this world is dear after this. Even your blank pages full of promise cannot comfort me out of what I have just lived.
But I will tell you all, for this was my adventure. My story. And I will finish it...
Date: May 20th
Like I had written earlier, I heard a tinkling bell and thought that it was Curtain coming out of the Crumpetmonger's, ready to continue on to the Pumpkin Patch. The air was dark and foggy, and I followed the sound of the bell, keeping my left hand upon the wall of the cemetery for the slight comfort its solidity gave me in this land of shades and shadows. As the chiming grew louder, I realised that it was from a small bell that hung above the door of a shabby and decrepit house, unremarkable in this area but for the fact that there was a constant stream of Neopets entering and exiting the doorway, some walking past me looking downcast and others overjoyed; those happy few with arms filled with interesting-looking objects.
Intrigued, I joined the queue of those entering and took my turn climbing the web-filled and creaky stairwell that led to a dim garret room at the top of the house. As those that passed me going down the stairs seemed to have taken objects from the attic, I assumed it would be abandoned and empty when I finally elbowed and jostled my way through the doorway, but nothing could be further from the truth. The room seemed filled to the rafters with food and weapons and books and stamps, all manner of goods and riches, but as grasping as those around me were, the distribution of the objects was controlled by a ghost Aisha, her arms open in welcome, and her red eyes shining with friendly goodwill.
Diary, I know that I had written earlier that I had never met a ghost before Curtain, and I truly did believe that to be true at the time, but when the Aisha glanced my way, our eyes connected, and I felt a shiver of recognition deep inside of me. Before I could speak, she hailed me, "Yvonne! I am so happy to see you again."
You can imagine my surprise! First the Esophagor and now this mysterious Aisha, calling me by a name not my own, and yet... and yet when she spoke the name "Yvonne", it felt... right. I wanted to approach her, to talk to her and ask the dozens of questions that were flooding my brain, but as I took a step toward her, she turned with a look of horror on her face as she saw something in the far shadows of the room. I turned to follow her gaze and could see Curtain skulking there, quickly snatching up a Carnivorous Carved Pumpkin, a truly terrifying-looking thing with jagged teeth and a twisted look of pain sculpted into its sickly orange flesh. As he scrambled out of the doorway I thought, Well, I guess he got what he needed. At least I won't need to go to the Pumpkin Patch with him, and I turned with a shrug to face the Aisha once more.
Her friendly expression from moments earlier had been replaced with one of panic and uncertainty. "Was that Curtain?" she asked frantically, and I could only stiffly nod my head, filled with confusion as I was.
"Does he already have the Slime Potion?" Again, I could only nod in mute assent.
"Then you must stop him, Yvonne! You know that I am bound to this attic room; you know what will happen if he makes it to the Gypsy Camp with those objects."
I was so overwhelmed -- the mystery of the ghost Aisha, the name "Yvonne" feeling "right", the appearance and disappearance of Curtain, the throng of Neopets coming and going -- was this the adventure I had been seeking? I closed my eyes and shook my head to clear it of its befuddlement. When I reopened my eyes, the Aisha was right in front of me and she handed me a book -- Gypsy Secrets.
I could not have been more confused, and the Aisha looked at me sympathetically. She said, "I fear you are under the curse, Yvonne, and there is no time to explain now. As you may not remember, Curtain must not pass through the cemetery but rather use the long and twisting path through the Haunted Woods to get out of Neovia. If you take the shortcut through the graves, you will easily beat him to the Gypsy Camp, have time to read the first few chapters in this book, and be prepared for him. I wish you luck for the sake of us all."
Luck and a book! Armed with only these, I ran down the stairwell, bumping into and tripping over those who were trying to make their way up to the treasure trove at the top of those warped and whining stairs. As advised, I took a deep breath and ran through the graveyard, soon arriving at the Gypsy Camp where I hid in the shadows and began to read the book, my heart pounding harder in my throat with each passing page, each elapsed moment. I have no time to get into it now, Diary, as I think I hear Curtain coming. I hope to update this journal with the successful conclusion of this adventure soon...
Date: May 21st
You are dear again, for we are safe. Safe and sound, our adventure behind us. But even so, I must write down the events that have just occurred, for the sake of the future. Reliving it in your ivory pages is necessary to make sure what almost happened didn't. And what did happen is done again with perfect grace.
When I left you last, Diary, I told you that Curtain was coming, and I was technically right in that statement. But not in the way I had known him. The Curtain who came flying down the path was completely different from the sweet, kind Curtain I had met only hours before. This Curtain had a face twisted in malevolence, hands greedily curled around what was now the elixir. Even though he bounded down the path with the greatest speed, he stopped when he saw me.
Smirking, he commented, "I suppose you're here to stop me, Yvonne. Which is only to be expected. I suppose that Aisha's influenced your motives?"
"My name is not Yvonne," I told him rigidly, ignoring his question.
Curtain laughed, though it was not the same as it was before, Diary. This laugh was spiteful and full of hatred. "Your ignorance is sweet, Yvonne. I must say, I've never met a soul who has forgotten as completely as you have."
I knew what I was supposed to do at that moment and stop him once and for all, but I didn't. I was too intrigued, eager to find out why I was called such a name. "Ignorance?" I asked.
Curtain guffawed horribly once more. "You ask that so innocently! I must admit that it amuses me greatly. Do you think the dead stay dead forever?"
"I... don't know," I said quietly. "I've never thought of it before."
The Korbat nodded. "Of course you haven't! Because you have forgotten, as every soul does in their next life. Some never even realise that they had lived a life before in the first place, only remembering slight things that seem to be a dream, or some form of deja vu. But you have forgotten completely. I was smart in my last life, the last time you defeated me. I kept a journal to fill in my next life on what needed to be done. I made up so much time that I had wasted in my last life."
My head was spinning, so confused at his words. "I don't understand," I admitted.
"Let me just say that the Esophagor was right, Yvonne. You did die in that Pumpkin Patch in 31 BN. So did I. You died because you thought you could stop this, but you obviously couldn't."
He let out another laugh before continuing. "I admit I was a bit surprised when I saw you here, Yvonne. I thought I had finally escaped your cycle. But when you acted as if you hadn't been here before, I knew that you weren't caught up, and knew that I could use that to my advantage. So I made you pay for the thing that would get me here."
"You used me." I said the words slowly, as if I couldn't believe them.
In response, Curtain simply shrugged. "It was a great idea at the time, and it still is. All I need to do is get to the Gypsy Camp now and drink this potion."
"I can't let you do that." I stepped forward, blocking his path to the Gypsy Camp.
Curtain's face softened, and he took a step toward me. His voice dropped to a whisper, Diary. "Of course you can. Think about it. We can escape this cycle! We can live forever!"
Taking a step back, I grimaced. "Yes, but at the price of all those who are stuck, unable to move on to the next life or die. All of those who are tied to a place that they can never leave." I thought of the Aisha in the Attic, unable to leave that place forever.
"Forget about those ghosts!" he persuaded. "Think about what we could do with this life. We'd never forget, we'd never have to die. All we'd have to do is live."
"All right," I agreed. "Let's go." (Diary, I know how dumb this must sound to do, but don't worry -- it was all part of my plan.)
So we walked to the Gypsy Camp in silence. I said nothing for fear of giving away my plan, and Curtain said nothing for he was rejoicing in his cleverness. Oh, how greatly I had fooled him!
We approached the Gypsy Camp, which was silent. Even though night had fallen, all the gypsies were in their caravans, waiting, foreseeing. The silence was not the same as the silence in Neovia -- this once was tight with anticipation.
Curtain walked ahead of me, up to the fire. He held up the phial of elixir, admiring it in the light from the campfire. "I almost cannot believe that what I have long sought will soon be fulfilled. All it will take is a simple pouring of this into this fire."
Curtain beckoned me, and I came forward. "Let us finish this cycle," he declared ominously, holding the phial over the fire. I held it with him as he uncorked it.
Diary, I will always remember that moment, the moment that I snatched it out of his hands and drank every single drop of the elixir. Let me tell you, it was not pleasant. It went down my throat like acid and my system absorbed it painfully. My whole body felt like fire. But it was gone just as quickly as it came, and it was over.
Curtain simply stared at me with wide eyes, disbelieving what I had just done. Without a word, he quickly stole into the woods. I don't know what has become of him, Diary. Perhaps he's trying to make a new elixir. Or maybe he's given up completely and has accepted his cycle. Either way, he is gone, for now.
I suppose you're wondering what became of me when I drank that elixir instead of throwing it in the fire like I was supposed to, Diary. Well, I became stuck, just like that Aisha. Turns out she had done the same thing to prevent all those who were stuck from disappearing. I am now bound to the Haunted Woods, just like many of the souls who whisper through these woods.
But you aren't, Diary. I told you that I would finish this story, and I have. So now I'm going to let you go. When somebody decides to make the elixir again, someone else needs to be prepared to stop it. Wherever you end up, Diary, I'm sure you'll be a comfort to the one who calls you dear. I always know that you were to me.
I did say that if I could have one adventure, I would be content. And now I truly am.
Yvonne von Borovan
Date: May 21st
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