Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)
If you have any questions about the competition then read our awesome FAQ!
||You are on Week 477
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 Seventy Seven Ends Friday, September 24
"We're never going to solve this one," Karl announced as he tipped back in his desk chair, bubble pipe hanging from his lips. "Not on our own, anyhow."
On the other side of the room, a green Kyrii in a brown trenchcoat nodded his agreement. "This case is much too difficult. We need to bring in an expert."
Karl let his chair fall back on all four legs and pushed it back toward the desk. His eyes were met with the same images he'd been viewing only minutes earlier. They were the images of a crime scene, deep within the local forest. He brought one toward himself before letting out the breath he'd been holding in.
"We've got no other option." The Gelert stood and walked towards his Kyrii companion. "What do you say, Malcolm, can you work with him again?"
"It's been a while," the Kyrii sighed, "but we have to get over this grudge, if only to catch the Neopet who did this."
"Well, that's settled then," Karl said, pen already in hand. "We're going to have to call in the best tracker in the business, Harvey Skeith..."
"Meeka, you know we're not supposed to go this far into the forest!" Mori whimpered, tail between his legs. "It's so dark..."
The Uni in front of him just snorted, then spoke without looking back at her terrified Ogrin brother. "You don't honestly believe all those old stories, do you? The adults just make those up to scare young children."
"But what if they are true?" Mori exclaimed as he hurried to catch up to his sister. "Then we could be in real danger!"
"Oh Mori," Meeka sighed. "There's no such thing as..."
Suddenly the sound of a twig, or something larger, cracking brought the siblings into silence.
"Was that you, Meeka?" Mori squeaked.
"N... no," the Uni whispered, losing all composure. "Is there someone there...?"
"It's just us... it's just us..." Mori whispered, willing himself to believe his own words. "It's just us..."
And then, before either pet knew what was happening, the world around them turned to black...
Editor's Note: This week's Storytelling beginning was written by Sadinei. Please keep sending in your entries for next week's Storytelling beginning!
Date: Sep 20th
"That you, Harvey?" Karl said, regarding the trenchcoat-clad Skeith -- he absentmindedly wondered what it was with P.I.s and trenchcoats -- standing in front of him with a hint of a grin on his slender lips.
"Of course it's me," Harvey snapped, whipping a badge out of one of unnecessarily numerous pockets of his coat and shoving it in the Gelert's face with a scowl.
Much to both Karl's and Malcolm's amusement, the Skeith in the picture on the badge bore little ressemblance to the Skeith standing in front of them. Both of them had narrowed eyes and downturned mouths, but the one in the picture had a much rounder face than the one in front of them.
"Lost a lot of weight, eh?" Malcolm said, causing Karl to chuckle.
"It's been a lean year," Harvey retorted, shoving the badge back into his pocket. "Now, are you going to continue mocking me or are we going to solve a kidnap?"
"Can't we do both?" Malcolm said, causing Karl to chuckle again.
"That's enough with the joking, Mal," Karl said, his grin turning into a frown. "We have to find and save those kids."
"Right," both Harvey and Malcolm replied, nodding in agreement.
"You awake, Mori?" Meeka whispered, noticing that Mori was stirring.
"Yeah," Mori replied, sitting up and blinking the sleep out of his eyes.
"Are you hurt anywhere?" Meeka asked, noticing that the Ogrin had some bruises and cuts, but nothing that couldn't be healed with a trip to the Healing Springs.
"My head hurts," Mori answered, touching the back of his head and wincing.
"Can you turn around so that I can take a look?" Meeka asked, anxious about what she might find. Mori nodded and turned around. The Uni didn't need to ask him to point out the part of his head that hurt, because most of the bottom third of his head had swelled into a large, red bump. "It's pretty swollen and red, but you're going to be okay."
"Okay," Mori replied, slightly frightened, but trusting that his elder sister knew what she was talking about. "Where are we?"
"I think we're in somebody's cellar," Meeka said, observing that the walls surrounding them and the floor beneath them were nothing but packed dirt, supported with thick wood planks, and that the furniture mostly consisted of barrels that likely contained dried foods and preserves. However, someone had been considerate enough to set up a thin mattress with a patchwork blanket folded on top of it in one of the corners.
"But I don't like cellars," Mori protested, moving closer to the Uni. "Ours always had Spyders in them."
"I know, but think of it this way: at least we'll have enough food to eat until someone comes rescue us," Meeka said, wrapping an arm around the Ogrin.
"But what if no one comes to rescue us?" Mori asked, snuggling into the Uni's side.
"I don't know," Meeka finally whispered, shivering despite the Ogrin's warmth.
"This way!" Harvey called, easing the branches of a bush apart and stepping through the plant and into...
"A clearing?" Karl and Malcolm joined the Skeith in the small but wide-open space, noting that the surrounding vegetation completely shielded the area and therefore protected it from prying eyes.
"Someone probably cleared this area themselves," Harvey remarked, noting that the space was in the shape of a perfect circle and that there were no weeds among the perfectly cut grass. "Maybe to use as a refuge or as..."
"A hideout," both Karl and Malcolm finished, searching for signs of a hidden structure and finding none.
However, something silver caught Malcolm's eye...
Date: Sep 20th
Meeka drew the blanket tighter around herself and her brother, still shivering against the cold and damp of the cellar. The Ogrin, feeling her shift, opened his eyes and looked up. His head was pitifully swollen and Meeka frowned as she looked at it.
"Is something wrong?" Mori asked.
"No, of course not," Meeka tried to comfort him. "Except for the being trapped in a cellar part. But, I haven't seen any Spyders yet, so that's a plus." They both managed weak smiles.
Meeka gave up on trying to get warm under the scraggly blanket and wiggled her way free. "We should eat something," she suggested.
Mori smiled wider and then abruptly winced; he resorted to a vigorous nod and Meeka began to rummage through the food crates. The first one was full of dried Doughnutfruit and berries, but when the Uni reached in to pull out a particularly delicious-looking one, it turned to dust. She tried again and again, reaching in more gently each time, but even the slightest touch turned the bountiful food stores to piles of inedible ash.
"Meeka?" Mori called. "Meeka, what's taking so long?"
The Uni turned to her younger brother, despair and tears welling up in her eyes. "Go back to sleep," she soothed.
"What's wrong?" he asked again.
"Mori, we might have a problem..."
"Come here." Malcolm bent over a patch of broken, smothered grass and started to reach for the object.
"Don't touch it!" Harvey called from across the clearing. "It could be evidence. Don't contaminate it!"
To spite the Skeith, Malcolm scooped up the object and held it out in his open palm, where the sunlight could play on its grooves and points: a key.
"I told you NOT to TOUCH IT!" the Skeith bellowed. "Now we can't use it for anything," he huffed, crossing the clearing with his trench coat sweeping the grass in his wake. Karl got to his partner's side before the abominable private investigator and bent over his palm to examine the key. He froze in that position, his spine curved toward the object that clearly did not belong, and twisted only his head to examine the faces, first of his partner and then of Harvey Skeith.
"Our work here is done," he announced.
"Surely not," Harvey interjected. "It's only just begun. What did you find?"
"No, it is. There's nothing more we can do for them. It's the key."
"If it's a key, there are a dozen things we can do for them!" Malcolm protested. "We can find the lock it goes to and open it! We're not getting paid unless we bring them home, so we might as well keep looking."
"I didn't say it was a key," Karl corrected. "I said it was the key. As in a specific key. As in the next key in the sequence."
"What sequence?" both Malcolm and Harvey demanded to know. They leaned closer and examined the key more carefully. Its grooves and points and carvings twisted into a well-concealed three...
Date: Sep 21st
"So it's a key. Big whoop." Harvey snorted and rolled his eyes.
"It's not just a key, it's the key!" insisted Karl.
Irritated, Harvey stamped his foot and pouted like a child.
"Will someone just tell me what this key is all about?" demanded Malcom, scowling fiercely.
Karl sighed, regretting slightly ever agreeing to work with the bad-tempered Skeith.
"Do either of you know the significance of this three?" he asked, the smallest hint of a smile inching across his lips. His companions shook their heads.
"Tut, tut, Harvey, and you consider yourself the best tracker in Neopia? Three has traditionally been the number that symbolises dark magic, and, if my hunch is correct, there would be a whole set of these. From one to twelve," said Karl. He turned the key around in his palm. "The twelve keys of ancient Neopia. Each one represents a different part of this world."
Harvey stood there, hands in his pockets, looking rather stupid with the dumbfounded look on his face.
"So what you're saying is... to find them, we will need to reunite the twelve keys?" suggested Malcom hesitantly.
Karl nodded, his eyes full of grim determination.
"Meeka... What is..."
Mori's voice trailed off, but he pointed a finger at the side of the box.
His sister ran a hoof over the side of the box.
"It's a keyhole. I wonder what it's for," she replied.
"Don't you think it's funny how we're stuck in the third house down the lane?" asked Mori.
"If it were so, then, things aren't looking good for us," she whispered.
"Everyone says that the number thirteen is unlucky, but in an ancient myth, it's actually three that brings upon misfortune."
A hush fell over the siblings and they sat there, contemplating the their fates.
"Meeka! Meeka, did you hear that?"
They turned toward the scurrying sound coming from behind, and from the darkness, Meeka let out a shrill, piercing, shriek...
Date: Sep 22nd
"So, since we found the third key -- the one that symbolises dark magic and misfortune -- in the Haunted Woods, the rest of the keys --" Malcolm began.
" -- would be found in the lands that represent the keys' meanings," Harvey finished, rather pleased that he had been able to catch on -- in his less-than-humble opinion -- so rapidly.
"Don't interrupt me!"
"If you have an issue with me --"
"I do have an issue with you!"
"Look who's interrupting who now!"
"Stop arguing!" Karl interjected. "We need to work together if we want to solve this case."
"Sorry," both Malcolm and Harvey said, slightly embarrassed that they had been so easily provoked.
"Now," Karl said, "we need to figure out what the rest of the keys symbolise and what lands represent the meanings."
"Right," Malcolm agreed. "So, let's start with the first key. What does the number one signify?"
"Well," Karl mused, "the number one physically resembles a pillar and pillars are associated with strength. So, I'm thinking that the key might be found in Altador because the Altadorian pets -- especially the warriors and heroes -- are thought to be among the physically and mentally strongest of Neopets."
"Yeah," Harvey said, "that makes sense."
"So, what are we waiting for?" Malcolm demanded. "Let's go to Altador!"
A half day's journey later, the three detectives were finally in Altador. The capital was something out of a child's storybook: elaborate white-washed stone buildings with intricate details carved into the stone itself, cascading waterfalls, and lush gardens, all surrounded by an impenetrable grey stone wall that served to both protect the city and provide a constant supply of water for its citizens.
The detectives had already decided on the way to the city that they would begin the search for the first key in the most likely place that it would be found: the Hall of Heroes. The Hall was the largest structure in the entire city by far, but there were no complicated maze-like corridors or identical-looking rooms to navigate; it was completely open.
The detectives easily found the key -- it was not-so-cleverly wedged into one of the statue of King Altador's boots -- and were about the leave when a orange Yurble shouted for them to stop.
"Thank goodness that I caught you before you left!" the Yurble panted between gasps of breath, having sprinted from across the large room -- mop and bucket in hand -- to catch up with them. "I have something very important to tell you about that thing you took. You see..."
Date: Sep 22nd
"Meeka! What happened?"
In the darkness, Mori could barely make out his sister's prone figure. If she was unconscious or injured, it was impossible to tell. All Mori knew was that, for now, at least, he was on his own.
But he couldn't just let Meeka rot in the cellar; she was his sister, and he wasn't going to leave her in the darkness.
The Ogrin groped around: the crates, the keyhole, even the Doughnutfruit, they were all there. The one he was looking for, though, his Uni sister, could not be found.
He sat down, dejected, almost giving up entirely, but then he realised that he was sitting on something.
"What is this?" he asked no one in particular.
Even in the dark he could see that it was a key, rusted, tarnished, but with several carvings on it.
Inspiration struck, and he fumbled with the key, trying to get it to fit into the keyhole.
"...these keys must not be reunited!" panted the janitor.
Malcolm stared at the janitor curiously.
"And why not?" demanded Harvey in his loud, demanding whine.
"The last time anyone ever tried to find the set, they disappeared. You must have read about it in the Times. Barely children, they were."
Now they were finally getting somewhere. Karl narrowed his eyes and glanced at his partner. The Kyrii was deep in thought.
"Children? Puh!" Harvey tossed his head in disdain.
"Not something to be surprised about," noted the janitor. "Surely you've heard the story about the Legend of the Keys."
It had to be admitted. It was a common faerie tale that every parent told their child.
"Duh. There are twelve keys of Neopia, and the possessor of all twelve would have good fortune for rest of their lives," said the Skeith.
"But the ending--" interjected Malcolm.
"But there was a catch: their life would be flawless, but at the cost of everything they possessed disintegrating. Fortune for material. Neopoints for material items," explained the janitor.
Things suddenly became clearer.
"Malcolm, I know what we must do!" exclaimed Karl...
"Well so do I," said Harvey, "and this time, you're going to listen to me..."
Date: Sep 23rd
"Because if you don't, and we mess this up like you nearly messed up the first key, we're ALL going to become cursed," the Sketh growled. "I don't want my food turning to dust in my mouth."...
He alternated between pressing the key blindly against the keyhole and feeling the side of the crate, trying to find it. The scraping noise -- metal scratching on wood -- filled the cellar and bounced off the dirt-backed walls. It filled Mori's ears until he couldn't take it anymore and had to stop.
"If only there were some light..." he muttered. He heard Meeka stir in the darkness.
"Where are we?" her weak voice asked.
"What?" Mori answered. "Still in this cellar."
Mori froze for a moment. If Meeka's memory was gone, what would that mean for him? "We were kidnapped, don't you remember?"
"Oh..." she whispered hazily. "Sort of... why aren't we in the woods anymore?"
"Never mind," Mori stammered. "Sleep. Go -- go back to sleep."
And he turned again to playing with the key and the mysterious keyhole. The gentle rise and fall of Meeka's breath resonated through the chamber along with the scraping, and Mori found himself oddly calm.
The key slid into the lock with a click. Mori jumped back, astonished. He stared through the darkness and finally turned the key. A small drawer popped out of the crate and something glittered within it...
"Well?" Malcolm asked. "What do we have to do?"
"One of us has to take these two keys and hide them somewhere," Karl started.
"Yes," Harvey confirmed. "We have to split up. One of you should go, because I'm a better tracker than the both of you put together."
"Why?" Malcolm asked.
"Because, whoever kidnapped those kids is trying to get someone else to reunite the keys!" Karl and Harvey exclaimed together.
Harvey continued, "You remember the part of the legend that says only one reuniter can enjoy the flawless life at once?"
Karl nodded solemnly.
"But why leave this key in Altador, where no one would find it?" Malcolm wondered.
"Because it's a red herring. We'd think all the keys were where they belong and go find the kids... with the keys," Harvey answered. "We can't afford to reunite them."
Karl added, "Malcolm, you should take the two we have... somewhere. Doesn't really matter where, though someplace no one will ever find them is preferable. Harvey and I will go free the Ogrin and the Uni."
"You know where they are?" Malcolm asked.
"Not for certain, but I have a pretty good guess," Karl answered. "Trapped in the house of those two kids that tried uniting the keys last time. I have to dig the address out of the old Times article, but I'm sure we'll find them there!"
Mori turned his head to catch every bit of spare light he could in the dark cellar, and finally he managed to make out the small objects glimmering in the shallow tray...
Date: Sep 24th
...a set of nine numbers, jewelled and delicate metalwork. Two, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve....
They were beautiful. He stared at them, entranced, until his stomach made a noise of hunger -- not quite a growl, more of a whimper -- and that reminded him of Meeka. He gasped quietly and turned away to try to look for her again, but he could see nothing -- the faint gleam of the keys seemed to take up all the light in the room.
Poor Meeka. He still couldn't think what had happened to her. He turned back toward the keys, as if they might have some clue. Two, maybe. Two represented family and home. Two went with... went with... what land was it? Neopia Central, maybe?
He lifted the little key up dreamily, not sure what he was going to do with it. It seemed remarkably heavy, as if it wanted to be back in the tray. He let it fall.
"Meeka!" He turned, overjoyed that she was alive, and saw her horn catching a shimmer soft as starlight. Mori held out his arms and stumbled toward her.
"I'm stuck," she said, sounding strained. "Get the key. The last one."
"No... the last one."
"I don't understand--"
Voices were raised outside, and the door at the top of the stairs smashed in. A Gelert stumbled down a few steps, and a bright lamplight shone in.
Mori reeled, eyes full of dazzled tears, and heard gasps of horror before he saw what had been illuminated.
A young Aisha girl, no older than he, stood over his sister's unconscious body, holding up her head so her horn had been in the tiny ray of light. Her claws were overgrown, her fur was cobwebs, her body was skin and bones.
She reached down and, with two of her long claws, delicately plucked the key from the chest's lock and dropped it in with the others. Sparks flew.
"Bring the last," she said. "Bring the first."
"Hey," called a panting, rumbly voice. "Guys, the weirdest thing happened," said the Skeith that appeared in the doorway. "The number-three key just disappeared, and all I've got is the one."
"You fool," said a Kyrii. "Get out. Get out now! Look!" And he pointed down toward the last key that had been dropped into the chest. It gleamed dark with onyx and obsidian:
"Give it to me," said the Aisha. Her voice was hollow. "Stay. It's better this way. You'll have the perfect life."
"We have the perfect life," echoed two other voices. Mori didn't even dare turn to look. Those three kids who'd disappeared here, long ago....
"Get out. Get out NOW," the Gelert said urgently.
"But my sister," Mori protested weakly.
"I'll get her!" The Gelert handed off the lamp and bounded down the stairs. They creaked.
They fell, with a crash and a cloud of dust. The Kyrii yelled, there was a thump, and the lamp went out.
Above, Harvey Skeith lost his balance at the top of the ruined stair. On his way down, arms flailing, he wished heartily that he'd ignored the urge to come tell the other detectives what had happened.
He landed with a crash that shook the building, and then there was a short silence.
Somewhere above, a door slammed shut.
The number-one key tumbled from slack fingers.
The little Aisha girl laughed and laughed and laughed.
Far away in Altador, the Yurble janitor wielded his mop furiously against an excessive amount of dust and finally stopped and groaned.
Those fools. They couldn't even fail a quest right when you told them all the answers.
He was going to have to go adventuring again.
Date: Sep 24th
IMPORTANT - SUBMISSION POLICY! By
uploading or otherwise submitting any materials to Neopets, you (and your parents) are
automatically granting us permission to use those materials for free in any manner we can think
of forever throughout the universe. These materials must be created ONLY by the person
submitting them - you cannot submit someone else's work. Also, if you're under age 18, ALWAYS
check with your parents before you submit anything to us!