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Week 462
You are on Week 463
Week 464

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 Three Ends Friday, June 11th

Sujun struggled to his feet, scrabbling in the slime that coated him from head to toe. With one paw, the Gelert scraped a handful of it from his face and threw it to the ground, where it landed with a sickening splat.

"Isria!" he shouted, looking around at the piles of slime that surrounded him, hoping that one would take on the shape of a small Yurble. "Isria, where are you?"

There was a tiny cough, and one mound of slime stirred. "Here! I'm here."

Sujun's knees almost buckled with relief at the sound of Isria's voice, but he caught himself just short of falling into the slime once more. He waded over to Isria and started brushing the goo away from her thick fur.

"Are you OK?" he asked as he carefully wiped her face. Her large eyes opened and blinked up at him.

"I... I think so..." she said hesitantly. "What happened?"

The Gelert raised his head, staring off into the distance as he tried to collect his thoughts. On the horizon, the castle was still crumbling, like a Neopet slumping into a faint, spirals of dust rising as its bricks hit the ground. Every once in a while, another huge glob of slime would plummet from the sky and splatter the dirt.

Sujun looked back down at his friend with a sigh. "I'll try to explain..."

Editor's Note: This week's Storytelling Contest will run for two weeks. Remember to keep sending in your ideas for Storytelling beginnings, and they might just appear in an upcoming contest!

Author: .dne eht ta tratS
Date: Jun 1st
"...but I can't guarantee that it will be like those happy stories you were so immersed in hours ago."

Isria stared up at him with her deep blue eyes. They were deeper than the sea and much wiser, at that. To think, she was so young! And I could have protected her, Sujun thought grimly.

"All that matters is the truth," she murmured in response to his warning. "It is all that matters anymore."

Sujun nodded. "All right, but we have to get out of here. We need to get someplace safe, somewhere that this might be able to be truth in your muddled mind."

Grabbing the Yurble's hands, Sujun pulled Isria out of the pools of snot. He held her hand and guided through the mucus until he reached the end, at the forest. Even these woods are protection from what lies back there, he thought to himself.

Looking back at the dissipating castle, he stole into the woods, Isria in tow. The full moon shone through the woods, illuminating what would be the darkness. Thus it was easy to find a glade where only a fallen tree laid -- a perfect place for weaving this tale.

Sujun sat Isria down on the log, then sat next to her. "Every end has a beginning," he began telling her...

Author: newmoon653
Date: Jun 1st
"End? What do you mean, end?" The little Yurble's gaze sent a dagger into Sujun's heart. "We're going back soon, aren't we?"

Sujun rubbed slime off his arm, unable to speak for a few moments. "No, Isria, we can't go back to the castle. The gardens, the library, the laboratory... it's all gone now."

Isria glanced back at the way they came, but dark, forbidding trees marred her view. She pursed her lips, stood up, and began to walk forward to see for herself, but Sujun's hand held her back.

"There's nothing to see," he said gently. "And besides, it's dangerous back there. I... I don't want anything to happen to you, Isria. Not after all I've lost."

Isria frowned slightly, but allowed herself to be guided back to the log. "Just a few hours ago we were sitting in the library," she said, as though by voicing the memory, she could assure herself of its reality. "You were telling me all about your past inventions," she went on determinedly. "And you promised you'd let me see your lab when you'd finished with your latest one, your most marvellous one." She paused to look at him. "And then... I don't remember."

Sujun tried not to let the pain show in his face. He had given her a mild sleeping potion to shield her from the dangers that were coming, that he knew, despite his best efforts, he had failed to prevent.

His long ears drooped. "I'm so sorry," he croaked.

"Don't apologise," said Isria. There was neither forgiveness or impatience in her voice. "Just tell me what happened."

"I'll try my best, but you must... oh, you must be strong," he was almost pleading.

"I will."

Sujun took a deep breath. "I never told you about what I was trying to achieve with my latest invention," he began. "I never told you about the dangers I had foreseen..."

Author: yoyote
Date: Jun 2nd
"I began having semi-fainting episodes during the day," Sujun began. "During such episodes, I'd see random flashes of, say, a Neopet's glowing red eyes or its glinting fangs, a well-worn dirt path flanked by long-dead, deformed trees..." Sujun paused. He examinined Isria's neutral expression, trying to gauge her reaction. Isria struggled to keep her features emotionless, seemingly succeeding because Sujun continued.

"Along with the semi-fainting episodes, I began having much more frequent and much more realistic nightmares during the night. I'd always wake up with an intense fear of something, but I don't know or don't remember what, because I can never remember all of the details of my nightmares." Sugun paused again. He reached behind his back, pulling an ordinary, if slightly tattered, notepad out of his back pocket and holding it up.

"But I try to record everything that I do remember from my nightmares in this notepad," Sujun concluded. He slid the notepad back into his pocket as if he was afraid that someone or something was going to snatch it.

"May I see your notepad?" Isria asked, struggling to keep her voice steady.

"I suppose so," Sujun answered, pulling out the notepad again and handing it to Isria.

With her heart pounding and her stomach knotted, Isria flipped open the notepad to find...

Author: lil_miss_sunshine807
Date: Jun 2nd
...a tidy three-column chart, furnished with bulleted points and dividers, all recorded in uniform cursive.

Always the scientist, Sujun was.

Isria squinted a little as she began to read aloud, "C-2, C-3, C-4. Under heading C-2, it says, 'Drawbridge splintered; blue-red checkered flag sinks into colourless moat; fanfares halted at a screech... No portcullis can keep it out...'" Her voice trailed off. "Sujun, I don't understand. What do these headings mean?"

His eyes couldn't be described as troubled -- they were downcast, with a touch of defiance. The eyes of someone who'd seen too much. "C stood for Catastrophe in all three," he answered. "Catastrophes Two, Three, and Four. My dreams mocked me -- starting out as all dreams do, but every time reoccurring down a familiar path... a piece of one of three terrible things that were about to happen."

The small Yurble bent her head down toward the fragile pages again. "You wrote, 'Pastures green are mottled; gold turrets tarnish; wisdom etched deep in the stonework fades to never return' under the third catastrophe."

Why did these images press with such familiarity at her memories?

Realisation passed Isria's features. "Blue-red checkers... Meridell -- and -- and the wisdom of Brightvale..."

"Yes," said Sujun in a choked voice. "And the fourth -- go on --"

As Isria's eyes flicked back toward the time-worn notebook, she noticed for the first time that the first two pages had been torn out, leaving naught but jagged severed edges -- but she did as she was told, and continued from the third column.

"'Clouds parting with the anger of a storm; leaving only abyss and the sea far below for the sky-born parapets to plummet into; no faerie wings can carry the castle airborne again...'"

"Faerieland," the Gelert said simply.

Isria's head jerked sharply; her expression melted into one of unease. "Sujun..." she began. "How do you know that these are anything more than dreams? I mean... they can't -- they can't come true... not something like this..."

He laughed a sad, humourless laugh, running a paw distractedly across his face. "Yes, that's what I thought too. But one thing you haven't asked me is why the chart begins at Two."

The Yurble hesitated. "Then the first premonition... the first pages --"

"...were of our own house," he finished. "Our beautiful, wooden palace."

And how beautiful it still was, blaze and ashes against the horizon...

"Isria, I tore them out, dismissed the dreams as ordinary nightmares -- what happened then? The first ruin I foresaw came very true. I think -- I think the others will too..."

Author: _razcalz_
Date: Jun 3rd
"But why?!" cried Isria. "The kingdoms of Neopia wouldn't all crumble at the same time for no reason! Someone must be behind this. But who?"

"And more importantly," added Sujun, "how do we stop them?"

"Stop them? How could we possibly do that? We haven't got a thing left of our own; you think we can stop some evil villian capable of destroying entire kingdoms, with just the clothes on our backs?"

"No, but I have a secret weapon." Sujun gave a small grin for the first time in hours. "Remember how I told you I had built a couple tunnels out of my laboratory?"

Isria gasped. "Are we going back to get something from your lab?

Sujun shook his head sadly. "No, I'm afraid everything in there is gone. I saw the melting equipment in my dreams. I saw all those potions I worked so hard on exploding. However, there was one particular experiment I didn't keep in the lab."

Sujun paused and gazed once more in the direction of their ruined home. What am I getting myself into? he thought.

"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go get it!"

Sujun was shocked to see the little Yurble grinning confidently next to him. What am I getting us into? He revised his original thought. "Actually, Isria, why don't I take you somewhere safe first, then I'll go try to stop this."

"NO," Isria retorted. "You're not doing this alone. It's too important."

"Protecting you is more important."

"Why?"

Sujun bit his lip. I can't tell her. She can't know what I saw happen to her...

Author: miserableatbest6608
Date: Jun 3rd
"I-I saw all the tunnels but one collapsing. The one that remains is too small for two Neopets to go through. So only I'll go."

"If it's small, wouldn't it make more sense for me to go?"

Drat! Sujun thought. "Umm, the experiment is pretty big; it's too large for you to carry. I can fit through the tunnel, and I have the strength to carry it."

Isria looked dubiously at him. "A big experiment in a little tunnel." She peered into the Gelert's eyes. Her voice became soft. "Sujun, what are you hiding from me?"

"What? Nothing! Why would I lie to you?" But Sujun realised his attempt was futile; Isria knew he was keeping something from her.

"To protect me," she whispered. "What's going to happen to me? What did you see?"

"'I can't tell you," Sujun choked. "You must promise me to stay here, please!" He took the Yurble's soft paws in his own. "In return, I promise you I'll return as quickly as I can." Sujun's lip twisted slightly as he said this, but he managed to keep his face a composed mask.

After a moment of thought, Isria finally whispered, "OK." Sujun sighed in relief.

"You'll be safe here, I promise!" he yelled, already bounding off toward the ruins of the castle.

***

Once Sujun had was safely away from Isria, he slowed his pace. How could he tell her what he had seen? How the glowing red eyes and glinting fangs belonged to her.

The experiment Sujun had hidden was not large at all. In fact, it was no bigger then a flower that you could pick in the forest. But this experiment was more dangerous than anything Sujun had ever seen.

One thing Sujun had not lied about was all the tunnels but one collapsing. It wasn't a small tunnel, though, which was a relief. Sujun was a bit claustrophobic. Finally he stopped walking at the base of a tiny hill. The Gelert began brushing it away, as the hill was really only a pile of grass, with no earth underneath it.

As he cleared away the last bits of grass, Sujun revealed a large wooden trap door. Swinging it open, Sujun began his descent into the tunnel. A sudden image of Isria popped into his head. Just to be safe, he shut the trap door and locked it. Now if she decided to follow him, she wouldn't get very far.

The tunnel was lit up by small lamps fastened to both sides of the wall. After a few minutes of walking, the tunnel began to open up to a large cavern. The cavern had several different tunnels that would lead in various directions, one of them to the lab. Sujun ignored them, as he knew that a little farther in they were all collapsed.

Instead, he focused on the metal box in the centre of the room. Walking over, he carefully lifted it up and opened the latch on the side. Tilting the box toward his paws, he watched as a small pouch slid into his paws. Setting down the box, he looked at the item in his hands. Would it do any good? Or would it only cause destruction? Taking a deep breath, he opened the pouch and took out the object within it, careful to only touch it by its wooden base.

In his hands he held a slightly pulsating object. It had an oval shape, but appeared to be a plant of sorts. Outer 'leaves' spiraled upward, overlapping each other, much like a cabbage. The slight pulsating came from the bottom of the plant, where the leaves were pink, rather then the bluish-green color that the rest of the plant was. The whole thing was mounted on a wooden base.

Sujun knew, however, that this was no plant. If one were to touch it, the leaves would open, revealing a bright pink glow. And if one were to place their paw in the glow... well that's where things got dangerous.

Because the pink glow could give someone great power, but at a price. Every time you subjected yourself to this power, your entire being was at stake. If you were not strong enough, you would be consumed.

Sujun shuddered as he remembered his vision of Isria placing her paw in the glow, her body shaking with the effort to keep itself together. He remembered watching her fail, her eyes become red, her teeth became fangs...

No, Sujun could not let that happen. However, someone needed to use this power that the plant gave. For it gave not physical strength, but something much more. It gave someone the power to...

Author: mstaylorlautner
Date: Jun 4th
...be invincible.

To be as much mentally strong as physically. An elixir of life, making the drinker unstoppable, impossible to conquer despite the most hostile of wounds, sustaining blows no mortal Neopet could ever overcome. To be pure, every inch of the body free of contaminants.

For someone to be granted such a gift meant the owner of the hand had to be willing to give themselves entirely to it, and if they faltered for even a moment, the contents would turn on the drinker, rendering them weak, and condemn them to a life mirroring their incapabilities.

Beauty would turn foul, benevolence to greed, strength to fault, and happiness to everlasting rage.

The images of his dreams slowly flipped again through his mind like the turning of pages in a book as he knelt in what was left of his underground laboratory.

He saw himself telling Isria about the catastrophes, showing her his notepad, almost laughing at seeing her reaction just the way he'd seen it in his mind. Heard her cry out in shock, telling him they needed to do something about it. Deja vu, he thought darkly, and again almost giggled.

Told her about his invention, saw her eyes light with hunger as he explained what the plant did, and watched her place her hand above the pink glow...

He wasn't sure how she'd gotten the plant in her possession, and he didn't have the time to contemplate it now.

He knew, though, that he'd have to stop her at any cost. And as if fate had bestowed him the answer, he'd had another blackout, this time watching in horror as his own home collapsed in a smoldering pile of destruction.

It had been hard blowing up the home he and his friend had shared so many years, but he knew it was the only way to keep her safe. Once his lab was demolished and the tunnels strategically collapsed, the metal box would forever be sealed here, a dark secret buried for none to find.

And yet... he hadn't been able to destroy all the paths. He was an inventor after all, and this was by far his proudest accomplishment, even though he'd never actually intended on using it himself.

Still, sometimes events change, and like an invisible tug, he'd been drawn back to this spot, relieved Isria was safely back in the woods.

He felt the notepad in his pocket weighing as heavily on his heart as it did on his leg. He wasn't sure if his visions would come true or not. The one about his home had played out, of course, but that had been done by his own hands.

So, he thought, if I can make these visions come true, I can prevent them as well.

There was no other option, except to use the plant on himself. He would be preventing harm from Isria and he, Sujun, would use the power if need be to prevent any more catastrophes from taking place.

It was a win-win situation.

He was doing it for her own good, he tried to reason with himself, but being in such close proximity to the plant, it still pulsating in his hands in tune to his heart-rate, caused him to have fantasy about saving the citizens of Meridell from his mental premonition.

Hearing others speak his name with respect, bowing down to him...

No! That's not what this was about. He hadn't done what he'd done for himself... had he?

"Sujun?"

The Gelert gasped, startled from his silent conversation, and the plant hit the floor rolling away from him, sending spotlights of pink light dancing around the cavern.

"Is-Isria. What... How did you get down here?"

"You honestly didn't think I'd just sit out there like a Mortog on a stump, playing the damsel in distress bit until you get back, did you? I followed you. And you forgot you leave a spare key under the rock by the door. Why did you lie to me, this tunnel isn't small at all, and... what is that?"

She asked the question, half-exasperated, her eyes peeking with curiosity, pointing to the plant, which now sat closer to her than Sujun...

Author: xx_neomania
Date: Jun 4th
Sujun's gaze flickered between the plant and Isria, who was starting to edge toward it, her curiosity obviously getting the better of her.

"Isria, I-"

"Why did you lie?" she asked again, more firmly now, her anger showing through her faltering facade of innocence.

"Isria," Sujun said firmly, yet hesitantly. "In my dreams, my visions, there was something else... something I couldn't tell you. I saw that things would get out of hand if... if you came into contact with this."

He gently picked up the delicate flower and held it by its base, careful to keep it away from Isria's grasp.

"But... what does it do? And what would happen to me if..." Her sentence trailed off, but she gestured to the flower held fixedly in Sujun's paw.

"Well," he started. He was hesitant to explain it to her. He didn't want to hurt her. How does one go about telling a young girl that he saw her turning into an unstoppable monster?

"It is a powerful invention, one of my own," he continued. "It has the ability to give someone power. So much power, in fact, that the one who possesses it may lose control."

At this, Isria's eyes narrowed. She was smart enough to figure out where this was going. Sujun's resolve faltered, but he took a deep breath and continued.

"If that were to happen, devastation would come crashing down over all of Neopia, for that Neopet would be completely and hopelessly unstoppable."

Sujun just stared pointedly at Isria, gauging her reaction. He could tell that she was infuriated with him. She understood that he had seen her as the monster, and she didn't like it one bit.

"Me. Me? You saw ME as this... this... monster?!?" Isria was enraged now, angrily pacing around the room. "And you thought it was okay NOT to tell me?" She shrieked, throwing her hands up in the air in exasperation. "Why would you think such a thing? So you think I am just an innocent little girl, and I can't handle the truth? Well, guess what, Sujun? I can!"

Isria started toward Sujun, her eyes locked on the flower. Sujun slowly started to back up, his eyes never leaving Isria's face. Suddenly, his back hit what was remaining of the wall with a thump. He was cornered, and the angry Yurble was approaching him unremittingly.

"Isria," Sujun tried to reason, but it was too late. Isria's hand darted out and grabbed the flower out of the grasp of a bewildered Sujun.

A brilliant white light filled the room and...

Author: cat_cat96
Date: Jun 7th
...nothing happened. To Sujun, it seemed rather anti-climactic. The flower's soft glow faded away, leaving Isria with nothing but a wilting flower in her paw. Sujun sighed, and the breath he did not realise he was holding left him in a loud puff of air.

It wasn't going to last, though. Isria began shaking, her paw closing tightly on the flower, crushing the fragile stem. Before she turned away from Sujun, he caught a glimpse of Isria's contorted face as she fought to hold herself together. Sujun held the wooden base as though the small piece of wood could do anything more than shield his face, and then the shaking stopped.

"I'm fine," Isria said, more to herself than to Sujun. Then louder. "I told you! I'm fine!" She whirled around to face him, a joyful light dancing in her eyes. Sujun instinctively took a step back, though for all intents and purposes, Isria did seem fine.

"I can help, right?" she asked, traces of her earlier anger gone. "I can protect Neopia, find whoever is doing all of this. I can stop him, and then all Neopians will look to me as their saviour..." The light in her eyes seemed to shift, becoming darker. Sujun had to stop her.

"Isria, I--"

"No!" she shouted, her voice echoing in the room and through the tunnels. "I mean, no," she repeated, lowering her voice. "This is what's supposed to happen, right? I'm supposed to fix this. I see it now." She began pacing, her steps picking up speed as she continued to speak.

"This... whoever he is, ruined my home. He'll probably ruin the homes of others." She whirled back around to face Sujun. "If I-- we can help them, then I-- we can earn their respect. They'll honour me, and will make me their invincible leader."

Sujun did not like where this was going. "Isria, this really isn't--"

"Quiet!" she snapped, and suddenly Isria's face contorted into that angry mask he had seen just before. "This is what I want to do, Sujun. I'm tired of being bossed and told to wait and lied to!" She spat the last accusation like an expletive. "I'm stronger than you now -- no, wait. Better than you now. I can and I will do what I want."

"Isria, please," Sujun tried to interrupt, but he was cut off again.

"I said NO!" Isria shrieked, her voice louder than before, a manic energy pulsing through it. The shaking began again, but this time, it was different. This time, Isria did nothing to try to rein it in. Her paws curled into fists, and she closed her eyes. The mane of fur surrounding her head began to become untamed, wild and scraggly, and finally, she opened her eyes.

Isria looked just like the Neopet in Sujun's vision.

"You can not get in my way anymore, Sujun," she hissed, fixing her red eyes on him. "I will save Neopia. I will get all of the glory and respect that will come of it. Me!" she exclaimed, spittle flying off of her pointed fangs and into Sujun's face...

Author: madi301
Date: Jun 7th
Sujun stumbled backwards, tripping and falling to the cavern floor, hands thrown up defensively.

"Isria, please..." he whispered, but the Yurble growled dismissively and turned to the tunnel exit, tossing the deflated plant aside.

"Don't get in my way," she barked over her shoulder without even bothering to meet her friend’s tortured gaze. Then she ran, reveling in her heightened senses and speed. Before this, she'd barely been able to ascend a flight of stairs without getting winded. Now she felt like she could run a marathon and her breath wouldn't even quicken.

Not to mention the surge of energetic strength she demonstrated by flexing her clawed hand and swiping on the nearby cavern wall, sending bits of rock and gravel flying as her nails gouged a large trail.

She felt no remorse at all after what Sujun had done to her. He'd lied, not to mention tried to steal the limelight and take all the credit for something she was obviously destined to do.

She ran until she saw the turrets of Meridell Castle rise above her. She could already hear the cries and laughs of the citizens within.

Halting, Isria glanced around expectantly, as if the culprit in Sujun's visions would jump out a nearby bush and conveniently begin to wreak havoc for Isria to save the day.

Mistaking a scream of delight for a cry of terror, Isria grinned excitedly and tromped across the wooden drawbridge, hearing it splinter under her new larger feet and vigorous footfalls.

Managing to make it across, she cursed as the padlocked portcullis blocked her way, but with a bark of laughter, she barely flinched her arm and ripped it from its grate. The citizens would thank her for it later.

Almost at once, she heard someone utter an apprehensive shout, and she rushed inside, questioning her luck at having arrived just in the knick of time.

At least that's what The Neopian Times would say when she made the front page...

Isria burst into the inner ward, watching as the milling Neopets' expressions turned from giddy delight to utter terror. Some even began to scream and retreat.

Where is he? Isria thought. Let me at him.

She went to ask a nearby Skeith who seemed to be frozen to the spot with fright.

"Where is he?" Isria asked impatiently, but the Skeith blubbered something incoherent and practically tripped over himself to get away as the Yurble walked closer.

She looked around desperately and noticed they were all staring at her.

"What are you looking at me for?" she roared at a red Draik to her right. "Where is the intruder?"

But the Draik scrambled around her and fled.

What was wrong with them? Didn't they want her help?

Their incompetence was starting to make her angry...

Author: xx_neomania
Date: Jun 8th
"Isria... stop!" panted Sujun, the Gelert having finally caught up with her. "This isn't what's meant to happen! I'm meant to stop this..."

"No, no you're not," Isria growled, rounding on her friend. "I'm supposed to stop the intruder and save the castle; you can't stop me!"

She dashed forward, clawed paws outstretched. Sujun dodged, but his reflexes had been slowed by the long run to Meridell Castle. Unlike Isria, who had run the entire way in a single breath, he was exhausted. The Yurble's claws raked down his side, and Sujun cried out in pain. Startled and horrified Meridellian citizens still milled about, trying to get as far away from Isria as possible.

"Don't you see, Isria?" Sujun cried, placing himself behind an oversized statue of King Skarl for a moment's protection. "You are the intruder now..."

"No, I'm going to stop him; you're wrong... more lies!" the Yurble hissed in response, taking off the statue's head with a single punch. "I didn't create the slime that toppled our castle, and I won't let it happen to this one either!"

"No, you didn't create the slime, but..." Sujun's voice trailed off as Isria's thundering footsteps caused a chandelier to fall from the roof, landing immediately in front of him. "Isria, you have to stop this!"

"No, I'm helping!" Isria once again insisted, pushing a massive dining table to the side. "Or, at least, I will be once I get you out of the picture!"

By now all of Meridell Castle’s visitors and inhabitants had escaped to another room, barring themselves from Isria's path of destruction. Sujun knew that the Meridellian forces would soon arrive to try and stop the once-harmless Yurble, and he knew that they would fail. After all, that was what he'd seen in his second vision...

Author: sadinei
Date: Jun 8th
...and it was already coming true. Isria couldn't be kept out by the portcullis, and at the rate of her destruction, the checkered flag would sink into the moat in no time.

"Isria! Don't you see? You're making Catastrophe 2 come true!" he panted, attempting to reason with this beast.

Isria growled, hearing his voice, smashing a stone rafter to the floor. "I'm here to save Meridell, and if you cared about anything but yourself, you would let me!" she roared, her voice taking on a deeper, more ominous undertone.

The flower was talking with her now, twisting her ideas, encouraging her to keep going. It sounded as though she now had two voices, her innocent, albeit angry scream and the flower's deep snarl. Sujun, now resting behind a knight's armour, tried to corral his panicking thoughts and come up with a plan. Why had he made such an invention? He cursed himself for being so arrogant as to think that he could control a thing of such power. Even someone as pure and good-hearted and innocent as Isria could be corrupted by his contraption.

In a second, he had his notebook out, flipping to find where he had written C-2. He tried not to remember with a stab of regret that Isria had been doing the exact same thing with him not long ago. Everything had happened exactly as his dream had said. She had smashed the drawbridge, the fanfares were halted, the checkered flag was now raised, a call for help from the armies that he knew would fail to contain this wild child. Then, she would go to Brightvale, all the while thinking that she would be hailed as a hero. Instead, she would be thrown into jail, possibly worse, for her crimes against Neopia.

Suddenly, the crashing stopped. The Yurble was batting her head with her fuzzy paws, as though some Buzz were annoying her.

"No! No, that's wrong!" she yelled to thin air. She looked around, tears forming in her red eyes that weren't hers anymore. She started to fumble, walking as though she had watched the Wheel of Excitement spin around one too many times. With a short scream, she crashed through the mortar and stone of Meridell Castle, falling over the smashed portcullis, and ran off into the hills. Sujun got up, started to breathe heavily in anticipation for his run, and... stopped.

There, where she had crashed through the side of a supposedly infallible castle, lay a flag sinking into the moat. A blue and red checkered flag. C-2 was complete. He leapt through the hole in the wall and ran after Isria. He had tried to protect her, he really had. But somehow fate had forced its will to come to pass once more, and his visions were coming true, no matter how hard he tried to prevent them.

If that's true, he thought to himself, all scientific thoughts abandoning him as a hollow one echoed through his mind, then I can't stop this.

Isria giggled and waved as she sprinted through the hills of Meridell, making Sujun feel even more out of shape as he streaked after her. He knew how she was feeling -- as though she could run forever and not even break a sweat. She was off to Brightvale now, and unless he somehow sprouted Pteri wings, he would never be able to catch her in time. His scientist's thoughts were harping at him, various theories and ideas to help him stop this menace he called a friend. The only problem, though, was that theories didn't always apply in the real world. Nothing from his mind helped, and he read through C-3, trying to think of how he could at least attempt to stop it.

Isria was calling "Have no fear, I am here to help!" triumphantly, and in response, Neopets were running for their lives, scrambling like small Petpetpets that had just had their protective rock removed.

"Isria!" he called finally, being able to run no farther. "Isria, you can't!"

She was suddenly in front of him, snarling angrily. "I can't what? Save Neopia? Rule as Queen? You were always a dreamer, Sujun, but you confuse your dreams with reality. Neopia needs someone like me for stability, and if I don't stop whoever ruined our house and destroys Brightvale or Faerieland, there isn't anyone else who will!"

Sujun panted, and continued, simply for the sake of keeping her near him, away from Brightvale, attempting to stall fate. "Isria, the first catastrophe -- the one of our house, how it was destroyed -- did you do that?"

"Of course I didn't, you were there with me!"

"And-and Meridell, when the castle was destroyed, who did that?"

Isria stared at him, and for a moment he saw a flicker of her old self in her eyes, and he felt guilt and regret flow into his stomach and weight it as though he had swallowed stones.

"Isria, don't you see? The one who's making my dreams come true, it's YOU, Isria!"

All traces of anger threaded from her form, and she stood there, her lip quivering. Then, it was as if it had all surged up again, and she screeched. The green pastures shook with her high pitch, and she advanced on him. He knew he had nowhere to hide. He backed up, but she was now only a hair away from him, her claws out and ready to slash him to pieces. Her lips formed words, but the ones he heard weren't what he had expected from her in his last seconds.

"Help me, Sujun..."

That was when he was gripped by another fainting spell. Of course, he thought, as his thoughts started to run together like water. Perfect timing, as always...

Author: santanachick14
Date: Jun 9th
***

Isria watched Sujun collapse, unconscious. Not another one, she thought. Not here. Not now.

Looking at the blue sky, she wondered when the flower's rage would take her over again. She was doing everything in her power to not listen to the flower's voice inside her head. Even now it tempted her to run to save Brightvale from the unknown enemy, to destroy everything in sight...

Isria shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. No. She wouldn't. The crippling guilt she felt now was not worth slipping under the flower's spell again. But it was ever so tempting...

Casting a glace at Sujun, she sighed. If only he could protect her now like he always wished to! He would know what to do. He would know how to save her.

But alas, she was slipping. The flower's voice grew louder in her head, gaining more influence. The fog that had clouded her mind was creeping in at the edges, waiting to strike. And she wasn't strong enough to overcome it, even with all her mind focused on getting away from it.

Isria spared one more look at Sujun, his face peaceful. With one weak smile to the Gelert who'd cared for her so much, she succumbed to the flower's tempting voice...

Author: newmoon653
Date: Jun 10th
...and how twistedly soothing it was. A melange of contradictions, bitter and sweet, like a lullaby sung about nightmares and thunderstorms. The flower's words were harsh and bitter and made her want to wither, turn away, and yet they told her exactly what she wanted to hear, whispered to that little seed of darkness deep inside of her, drawing those feelings, up, out, sprouting into an entirely different blossom...

Poison had never tasted so sweet.

Are you going to get rid of him? Isria found herself asking, just before the flower took hold. (And oh, how horrible it felt to admit that that feeling was familiar, comforting, even.)

For some reason, it paused.

No.

No, said the flower. That is not what you were born to do.

Born? Isria wondered vaguely.

What are we -- we -- trying to do, anyway? Sujun is right. I'm the -- no, it's we, isn't it? We are the ones who destroyed the castle. Oh, Fyora, look what I've done. Why why why whywhywhywhy. Why are we doing this? This isn't what... this isn't the work of heroes. What good comes from all this destruction?

But the flower didn't answer. It didn't even listen. Why should it, after all? The puppet may answer to its strings, but the puppetmaster needs no words.

The words whispered and the strings pulled and Isria found herself turning. In the distance she could see turrets -- another castle waiting to fall.

Except it won't fall, something inside her said. You will save it.

Yes, thought Isria. I will save it. I will save them all.

But...

Sujun--

Forget him.

She wanted to say something. A sorry or a goodbye or a thank you -- something.

She didn't say a word. The flower wasn't the sentimental one.

Isria walked away, smiling, as heroes are supposed to.

She didn't look back.

* * *

It was not a dream. Sujun knew that much.

It was too familiar to be a dream.

There -- the house was on fire again. All his research books and Isria's faerietales fell from their shelves, crumbling into piles of ash as they hit the ground. The wallpaper and pictures hung along the hallways rotted before his eyes. Glass fell like hail. Walls tumbled, burning timber crumbling inward like a castles made of cards. Slime fell from the sky, covering him and Isria like the sticky, silky strands of a Spyderweb.

There -- the tunnels, the cavern, the metal box, and the awful, beautiful flower with its rosy leaves and vein-covered petals. The temptation -- but then, here comes Isria, pure, innocent, Isria. Here comes Isria to snatch it away. Watch. Watch as her face contorts with anger and hurt. Yes, don't you see, Sujun? Not even the innocent are incorruptible. Perhaps they fall farther and faster than any other.

(You could never save her.)

There -- Meridell, with its broken bridges and scarred walls Can you hear the shouts, feel the chaos in the air? It sounds like the end of the world, doesn't it? Flags fall, float, sink into muddy water... whose to say the civilians aren't next?

There -- Isria, walking, not running, but moving quickly, as if she was. And smiling, oh, look at her, she's smiling. All those fields -- like patchwork quilts -- they might as well be corners in a checkerboard. And there's the castle -- see its spinning towers, see the wisdom written on the walls? See the village with all its happy, peaceful faces? See how they're all dominoes, waiting to fall?

Like dominoes --

He woke up.

He woke up under a blue sky. Fluffy clouds -- happy shapes, Cybunnies and Faellies -- floated lazily across the horizon. There was a soft breeze, caressing his fur with cool fingers, pushing the grass back and forth and back and forth like waves hitting the sand. It didn't feel like the end of the world. Somewhere -- there were butterflies flying, fluttering among flower petals...

Sujun leapt to his feet, heart snatching his throat. Flowers --

He was alone. Of course, Isria had already left. He'd never be able to stop her now.

Except --

He knew how to, now. How to stop Isria. The dreams... they had been different. He didn't know why, but they had shown him something that was missing before. He couldn't quite remember what it was -- it was slipping away, the way dreams usually do. But it was there, the missing piece of the puzzle. It was there, hovering at the edge of his mind, waiting.

There was still a chance.

In the distance, he could see turrets -- another castle waiting to fall.

The dominoes were still standing.

He could see where Isria had walked -- the grass wilted where her feet fell, the rot spreading out to touch the entire field. It hadn't reached the castle, yet, though. She hadn't reached the castle yet.

There was still a chance.

A chance for what, he didn't know. But it was there, waiting for him, now all he needed to do was use it...

Author: reveirie
Date: Jun 10th
...was Isria herself.

He remembered in his last vision, that Isria had to save herself. She had to know how to harvest the energy and use the power to destroy the cold strings which were manipulating her -- using the invincibility against itself.

"ISRIA!!! Use your power to destroy itself!"

Isria was so confused; how could she have heard Sujun's voice? Wait. That voice, another voice, not the comforting calls of the flower but malevolent orders to destroy Brightvale.

Isria struggled to keep the evil yet soothing voice out. She cupped her ears and shook her head ferociously but to no avail. Finally, she found her way into her heart, which was buried in the depths of all her power and found an exit.

A beam of blinding light shot out of her in every direction.

It might not have been too late. By the time Sujun appeared, he was aching all over, blinded by the light for a second...

Something was different. Peace seemed to have been restored... so soon? Before Isria collasped, her eyes turned back to normal -- from bright and angry red to a soothing blue. Sujun heard faint cheers from the citizens of Brightvale.

There were no longer puppet strings attached to her. No more pain and suffering.

Lying on a soft bed with the smell of antiseptic in the air, Isria opened her honest blue eyes and gazed at the white ceiling. She struggled to break free from the chains that strapped her to the bed, to see her friend who saved her and all of Neopia.

She did not get it.

She tried hopelessly before someone poured a bitter potion down her throat. Dozing off with her eyelids getting heavier, she felt numbness reaching her entire body, and, feeling weak, she fell into a deep slumber.

But just before closing her eyes, she heard the voice she wanted to hear so badly. "It's all right. It's finally over. You're safe..." It was Sujun.

THE END

Author: bellynne
Date: Jun 11th



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