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||You are on Week 503
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 Five Hundred Three Ends Friday, April 22
It was raining in Neopia Central.
It always seemed to be raining lately, the darkness of the storm clouds reducing the world I knew to a monochrome hole of crime and retribution.
Some days I wondered, wondered if the rain, the criminals, and the sadness of the place was all in my head -- but that day, I knew it was real.
That was the day I saw her.
I watched her through my blinds as she walked toward my office, a splash of colour on the sidewalk of my grey little world. It wasn't long before I heard the office door open as she let herself in. Her red dress and furs seemed to bleed their colours into my mind.
The broad was soaked to the skin, the Cybunny dripping with the downpour she'd just come in from. But as I looked at her face, I saw a thousand different sorrows just waiting to burst out.
Then I thought, maybe it wasn't the rain that soaked her. Maybe it was the tears.
"You a P.I.?"
Her voice was like a summer's day, tinged with a bitter hint of winter.
"For my sins," I told her. "What's a pretty young thing like you need one for, doll?"
She gave me a look that said she wasn't no doll, that she'd seen more of life than she wanted to, and sat down at the chair in front of my desk.
Date: Apr 18th
"...it's the Diamond Snowbunny," she told me, tears welling up in her eyes, threatening to spill if I so much as looked at her wrong, a thick glaze over her bright blue eyes, eyes that didn't belong in a dreary place like this.
"The what?" I finally asked when no more words came. This dame could play the heart strings; she had me hook, line, and sinker, and she hadn't said ten words to me. I waited for her to continue, watching the tears settle on her lashes like so much dew on wild grass.
"The Diamond Snowbunny," she said again. "It's been in my family for generations! My great-great-grandfather carved it, and it's been passed down ever since. My family would be heartbroken if they knew I'd lost it, but it's not my fault... it's that Binocento!" As she spoke, I couldn't help but notice her nails; the red gloss on them matched her dress, each nail perfectly done and so shiny I could see myself on her fingertips.
"Binocento?" I asked, trying to keep her talking.
"Binocento," she said again, nodding, her lower lip trembling. It too was perfectly glossed, no smudge or smear on her pretty pout. "Binny the Chia. He's been waiting for his chance and... and... and he's bad news, mister!"
"Why would he take it?" I asked, still fascinated by her colourful radiance in my black-and-white world.
"Money, mister. Why else would anyone do anything? It's all about Neopoints!" she told me, those tears threatening to spill again.
"Have you tried the Defenders of Neopia?" I asked. Theft wasn't usually my gig.
She nodded again. "They didn't believe me! Said they looked into it, but couldn't find no Binny the Chia. They're on his payroll... they gotta be, mister. Binny runs the biggest robbery ring this side of Terror Mountain... how could they not have heard of him?" I hadn't heard of no Binny either, but like I said, theft wasn't usually my gig.
"So what can I do for you, doll?" Whatever it was, I already knew my answer. I'd follow this Cybunny to Moltara and back on foot if she asked.
"Find the Snowbunny for me, mister! I can pay; I got money. Just please, mister, you gotta get it back for me," she pleaded, that perfect red pout trembling again.
Nodding (how I could say no?), I handed her my card. Daeloran, Pteri Investigator. "I'll take the case," I told her. In the back of my mind, the professional in me protested that I didn't know a thing about the case, but I was sucker for a dame in distress. "You get in contact if you think of anything I need to know, doll. I'll get that Diamond Snowbunny back."
Clutching my card, a watery smile crossed her face, and she nodded and left.
What had I just gotten myself into? Shrugging, I realised I didn't care. With her out of my office it was grey again, and I knew I had to get out of there. Pulling on my trench coat and my fedora, I walked out into the gloom.
I walked. It felt like hours, felt like days, but I had a destination. Jonbenito. Better known as Jonny the Slime, but not to his face. Biggest sleaze in town, but he had ears everywhere, and if you wanted to know something, for the right price, he'd have an answer for you. You might not like it, but he'd have one for you.
It was dark when I got to his place. I knew he and his boys would be playing Cheat!, but I had Neopoints. He'd see me.
I rapped on his door. As I waited for him to open up, there was a horrific crash, like...
Date: Apr 18th
...somebody was ripping the place apart. Crashes, shouts, and a sinister hissing escaped through the bottom of the door, filling my ears and mingling with the relentless patterns of rainfall that always seemed to play out the soundtrack to this city.
With a shuddering slide, a panel in the massive door slid open, and I was greeted by a set of glimmering crimson eyes. They were narrowed in suspicion and jerked around with anxiety.
I would know that bad-tempered hissing anywhere. Petrov, better known as Petrov the Snake. A bit of an uninspired nickname, considering he literally was a Hissi, but he was hardly the brightest spark among Jonny the Slime's boys, so I always just assumed it was a nickname he had given himself without putting much thought into it. His blazing gaze took me in, and he released a chortle from behind the door.
"If it isn't our favourite P.I. What does that stand for again? 'Pesky insect'?"
The guffawing that followed suggested that this was one seriously sad serpent, if this was the kind of thing that tickled his funny bone.
"Just let me in, Petrov. I gotta have a word with your boss, see?"
Still laughing to himself, the Hissi's gaze vanished as the panel slid back into place, and within moments the massive door snuck open a little and I found myself yanked inside the murky darkness of Jonbenito's lair, only to find that I had walked in on chaos.
The resounding crash that had set my nerves jittering like a Mootix that had gotten into a sugarbag was explained by the card table, now upside down on the floor with one of its legs snapped and dangling at a strange angle. It was crooked, as crooked as the bunch of no-goods who still stood around the mess, glaring at each other through the shadowy haze. In their midst I couldn't miss the slimy creature I sought out.
"Jonny the Slime... looks like I'm interrupting something."
I gotta admit, even Jonny's nickname didn't carry a lot of weight. He might have been the nosiest Buzz this side of the cross Neopia bridge, but he WAS a dripping, putrid snot colour, so what did anyone expect? He smirked, slithering forward in a drizzling haze of the green goo, giving me a knowing smirk.
"Daeloran... come to join the party?"
I gave a snort as I turned my back on the shifty group now attempting to reassemble the card table and studied the slimeball with a knowing glare.
"This ain't my type of place, Jonny."
The Buzz gave a snorting laugh and poured himself a Grunion Fruit Grog, handing me a second glass.
"Since when, last week?" He laughed as he spoke, pouring some of the grog into my glass.
"I need to have a word with you, Jonny. I gotta get a little info, see?" I ignored these shifty innuendos about my past and accepted the drink.
The Buzz smirked, tilting his hat at a rakish angle over one eye and nodding knowingly.
"Yeah, I had a feeling you might be about tonight." He downed his drink. "Word on the street is that you had yourself a pretty little visitor with a pretty big problem."
I raised an eyebrow. Was the dazzling dame in my office that easy to spot, even to the lowlifes of this town? Should I even be surprised? She had stood out to me like a rainbow at midnight.
"Yeah, something like that, Jonny. You got something to tell me about this Diamond Snowbunny?"
The Buzz gave a smirk and gestured grandly to the table where his boys were engrossed in dealing out another hand of Cheat.
"Tell ya what, old buddy. Have a seat. You win the hand, I give you the info..."
Normally I would have been happier to throw a couple of coins in his slimy palm, but it seemed that old Jonny wanted to play, and I was happy to oblige. I hung my coat on a nearby hook and slid a chair out, ignoring the shifty looks of some of Neopia's lowest slime.
As I picked up the hand that had been dealt to me, I happened to glance across the table and I almost dropped my cards...
Date: Apr 19th
There, slouching lazily in his own dusty seat, hunkered a Cybunny with a face startlingly similar to the beautiful gal who had come to me with her plight. However, I managed to get over the shock and peeked up at him while Jonny's goons doled out the remaining cards, snickering amongst themselves at the prospect of winning some cash from their new victim, me.
Studying him closely while trying not to leave my eyes on one place too long, I could see that this Cybunny was similar to that dame, but still had some noticeable differences. A small scar ran across his right cheek, the only blemish on his otherwise extremely handsome face. His eyes were also a piercing ice blue like the lady's, but they seemed to contain a turmoil of conflicting feelings that were much, much stronger than my client's. A frown created wrinkles between his eyes as he blankly stared at his share of cards, ignorant of the shouting and rowdy behaviour surrounding him.
Comparing them to each other, I could form a firm first impression of this Cybunny. If that doll was a beautiful, warm summer evening, then this bloke before me would be a freezing cold winter night on Terror Mountain. He exuded an aura that said "Stay away."
My racing thoughts were interrupted by a rough tap on my shoulder by Jonny the Slime. Smirking, he drawled, "Daeloran, you can't win unless you put your cards down, bud." Looking down, I was surprised to see that I had been so engrossed in my own mind that I had completely missed the start of the game.
Since I had no idea what cards I had to put down next I guessed, "Three sevens." Laying down the cards, I sighed in relief as the game continued without anybody accusing me of cheating. I turned my attention back to the Cybunny who quietly laid down "two Jacks" with a soft murmur. His voice held the same lilt as the doll's and seemed gentle and kind, a striking contrast to his appearance.
Jonny's goons shuffled impatiently as Jonny himself laid down almost all of his cards but one. One of them bellowed out, "Cheat!" with a confident voice. The Buzz's face was covered with a sly grin as he flipped his cards around and proved his lackey wrong. He droned, "Daeloran, looks like I'm gonna win. Whatcha gonna do now?" as he slid the pile of cards toward his lackey, who had an obvious hint of shame in his eyes and mouth.
I looked directly at the Buzz, answering back with a strong, "This." I slapped my remaining cards down and firmly announced, "Four Queens." The table grew eerily silent, all eyes on Jonny. Only the Cybunny refrained from staring at the Buzz and instead chose to direct his keen blue eyes toward me.
Jonny the Slime stared at the table, then back at me. After a few tense moments passed by like molasses, he leaned back with a wide grin splitting his face. "All right, Daeloran, you win. Whatcha want?"
"Tell me about Binny the Chia," I answered immediately while stealing a quick glance at the Cybunny to watch his reaction. I was rewarded with an astonished look spreading on the Cybunny's face; his frown remained, but his eyes widened ever so slightly.
Turning my attention back to the Buzz, I took note that he, at least, did not seem fazed by my question at all. Chuckling to himself he questioned, "I suppose it's about that Diamond Snowbunny? Last I heard, he was headin' off toward some tourist attraction to sell that thing off. Let's see... where was that now?"
The Buzz mused to himself about the possibilities of Binny's whereabouts until a screech came from across the table. The Cybunny had suddenly stood up, his face hidden in the shadows of the dark room as he walked outside. Jonny paid no mind, but my mind raced as I was forced to make a choice. I could either wait for Jonny to tell me about Binny or follow that Cybunny who so mysteriously resembled my lovely client. I quickly made my choice, hoping that it was the right one...
Date: Apr 19th
"Hold that thought a sec, Jonny.
I dropped my hand and left Jonny muttering something about how nobody ever told him to shut up, boyo, but I wasn't listening. My eyes were forward, stalking the mark.
My goodness, he moved quickly, like a sewer Mazzew on the trail of a hunk a' cheese, mad and all giddy-like, but I trailed him as best as I could, following him through the rubbish heap that Jonny called home.
I don't think he noticed me, 'cause next second I was behind a door, and he'd reached a cabinet (and that was me being polite about it), and he was shoving it away, wiping at his face like there was no tomorrow. Boy, he put more dirt on his pretty mug than he did getting rid of it, but there was something that he did chuck out and that was his scar. Not so much a scar now, but more a pink and purple lash across his face. So that was it, makeup. Now he looked even more like her.
Suddenly I felt all coy. Now what was that all about?
The cabinet collapsed into the pile of planks that it had been on the day it were born, and the guy took out a red feather boa from beneath it. Wait, what?
"You?" There was no denying it now, even with all that muck on her face, all she had to do was wrap her pretty face 'round a boa and she looked just as beautiful as I remembered her. Oh, it was my little lady, all right.
She whipped 'round. "Busted." Her chuckle was nervous. But then I was looking at her funny.
I slid out from behind the door. "What are you doin' here? And what are you doing?" I couldn't get my head 'round it, what was she doing 'round here when I told her that I would sort it for her? What was she doing here with Jonny and his lowlifes, full-stop? And why was she parading around like that? I didn't like it.
She hid herself behind red feathers, suddenly shy and blushing all over. "Darlin', I kinda lied to you. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. Please let me explain, mister." Oh, she was so polite, I would have forgiven her if she had just bonked me over the head with one of Jonny's phony vases.
"I'm listening," I told her.
She leaned toward me then, her big blue eyes so pitiful. "Please don't angry, mister, I didn't mean to offend ya, but I didn't tell ya the whole truth. 'Cause you see, I'm actually..."
Date: Apr 20th
"...tryin' to help out my brother."
I tilted my head as I listened to the dame's story. I didn't know whether to believe her new tale or not, but the girl could probably tell me the sky was green and I'd think it was true.
She continued on, "My brother got wrapped up in Binny the Chia's dirty business, see. That Binny is a crafty fellow, and he just snatched my brother right up into his band of thugs. I think my brother took the Diamond Snowbunny for Binny. My brother's a good guy, Mister. He just got wrapped up with the wrong crowd."
I nodded slowly, trying to process the information. Obviously there was a more pertinent question at hand.
"Why are you dressed up and hiding at Jonny's table?" I asked.
The doll blushed again, the beautiful sight of her flushed cheeks causing my heart to beat an extra beat. "We're twins, he and I. I figured that I could sneak into his lifestyle and find out more information about what was going down, what he could be up to. Maybe someone would bring up his last dealing with Binocento. No one was surprised I, or he, was around, so at least I know he's alive and well. Whatever is going on must be kept well under wraps; I didn't get much more than the fact that they went down to Mystery Island with the Diamond Snowbunny."
I smiled at her; at least the dame got me a piece of information I wanted. "So Mystery Island then," I mused out loud. I could feel her hands grasp my wing. The sensation blew me into a flutter.
"Oh Mister, please find my brother and the Diamond Snowbunny. Tommy doesn't need to be wrapped up in that crazy world. He's a good guy, Mister. Bring him back to me," she begged.
I was like putty in her well-groomed paws. I rested my wing on her shoulder, comforting her.
"I'll find them both for sure," I promised. I just hoped I was right.
I watched her finish cleaning up her masquerade and pack her disguise up. With a smile, she ducked out the door, and all the beautiful light she created went with her. She left me alone in the dark of my thoughts.
"Mystery Island," I muttered to myself. Sun, sand, a great vacation spot if you weren't a loner like I was. Give me the grey skies and a seedy dive any day. I didn't need an umbrella in my drink.
Waiting at the dock for the boat to Mystery Island, the dreary day pushed in on me. Not even the thoughts of my damsel in distress could keep out the gloom. Rain drizzled down upon the creaky old wood and the small press of Neopians upon it that waited impatiently for the tide to roll in the tardy ferry.
The boat soon came into view, and the Neopians around me began to gather their things to prepare to board.
I was pulling my coat tighter around myself when I felt a tap upon my shoulder...
Date: Apr 20th
I turned around and came face-to-face with the gal I'd been thinking about, that angelic face tilted up toward me, bright blue eyes wide and earnest.
"I'm real sorry to bother you, mister," she said, smiling shyly. "But I was wondering if I could come with you?"
"I don't think so, doll. It might be dangerous --"
"Pretty please, mister?" she pleaded. "I promise that I'll be good."
"All right, sweetheart," I sighed. "You can come along."
"Thank you so much, mister!" she said, giving me a short hug. I blushed madly. "You won't regret it!"
With that, she bent down, picked up a small suitcase that I hadn't noticed, and nearly skipped to join the line of Neopians waiting to board the ferry, golden curls bouncing about with every step and hop.
I followed her. I'd follow her to the ends of Neopia.
"It's in here somewhere," I murmured, reaching into the pockets of my trench coat, feeling around, and finally pulling out a crumpled ticket. "Aha." I held it out to the Lenny and he took it, somewhat grumpily.
"I'm real sorry, mister," she whispered to me, lower lip trembling. "But I forgot to buy a ticket."
"That's fine," I sighed. "How much?" I asked the Lenny.
"5,000?" I grumbled, taking out my wallet and counting out the money. "Bit of a rip-off." I gave the money to the Lenny.
"Thanks, mister," she said, smiling gratefully. "I really appreciate it."
"No problem, doll," I replied. Seeing that sweet smile of hers was worth it.
We finally boarded the ferry and found ourselves a pair of unoccupied seats on the left -- starboard? No, port? -- side of the boat. The doll chattered on about how excited she was to be taking a trip, even if it was because of a missing family heirloom and sibling; I nodded along, enjoying the sound of her musical voice. She eventually dozed off, lulled asleep by the gentle rocking of the waves. I began rereading my favourite book, The Lone Quiggle, fancying myself as the Quiggle.
We arrived on Mystery Island soon enough. It was a stark contrast to Neopia Central: sunny and warm, with lush green forests, pristine white beaches, crystalline turquoise waters, and -- what was that? No, it couldn't be...
Date: Apr 21st
...but it had to be. There, milling about with the crowd, clearly trying to be inconspicuous, was another Cybunny. And I knew that face, because the pretty little dame next to me -- with a little makeup to fake the scar -- was almost identical.
It was Tommy -- it had to be. But this couldn't be right; she had told me that Tommy was mixed up with Binny. Him bein' here couldn't be a good sign; I could feel it in my gut that something was off, that the case had just taken a turn it shouldn't have.
Taking her by the shoulders, I shook her lightly -- just to emphasise that I was serious, no more surprises. She hadn't noticed Tommy yet, and it was better if she didn't. "Stay here, doll. Find a sunny beach and get a tan. There's trouble, and I want you out of it. I'll find you when it's over."
The look on her face broke my heart, but I didn't give her a chance to respond. I took off through the throngs of Neopets milling around enjoying the tourist traps, keeping my Cybunny's twin in my sight at all times. I wasn't sure what tipped him off, but at some point he realised he was being followed and started ducking out of sight. Stepping up the pace, I gave chase.
For what seemed like forever, I ran after him. I'd never been to Mystery Island, so I was followin' blind, but I was intent. After a while we hit what seemed like a marketplace -- it was like the one in Neopia Central, but slightly smaller. Not that it made a difference -- thousands upon thousands of shops versus simply thousands made no difference to me; the Island Market was packed with shops, and Tommy sure knew how to duck and weave between them. At least half a dozen times I nearly lost him, but finally I had him -- looked like he didn't know the Market as well as he'd thought, and he ran into a blind alley.
Running after him, I finally shouted, "Tommy, wait!"
He spun around; he had that real desperate look to him. His eyes were wide -- eyes the same blue as the little doll's, but harder somehow, more like ice. And right now real wide with panic.
"You know my name?!" His voice gave me pause -- her imitation of his voice hadn't been close. His voice was rougher, harsher -- there was culture, like hers, but he was rough around the edges. Tougher, but like that toughness was a front. He seemed like a kid caught doing something he shouldn't.
"Yeah, Tommy. I know your name. I'm here to help you, kid," I told him, trying not to pant. I was gettin' too old for these chase games.
He crossed his arms and glared at me. Tough guy act. "Oh yeah? Why should I believe that?"
"Your sister sent me, see? She's real worried 'bout ya, kid," I told him, getting my breathing under control.
He blinked, real slow. "My... sister?"
I nodded. "Tommy, I know you're in real deep. But we can fix it, kid. Ya just gotta trust me."
His eyes narrowed. "You don't know whatcher up against, mister."
I spread my wings. "So tell me, Tommy! I can help. And we can get the Diamond Snowbunny back, and get you back with your sister, and it'll be all right, see? Just trust me, kid."
Just then, something small and blunt was pushed into the small of my back. "Now why'd ya have to go and do that?" a voice asked, making my blood run cold. "Turn around real slow like, and we'll talk, see?" Ice in my stomach, I turned around to see...
Date: Apr 21st
...a burly Chia in a chewed-up wool coat. A patch covered one eye; he gave off the air of a chilly autumn afternoon, but had the appearance of a sewer rat.
He held a Chia Ray Gun in his hands, aimed between my eyes.
"No need to be so hasty," said Tommy evenly, stepping between us. "Binny, drop it."
A clatter. The ray gun dropped to the ground.
"You stole the Diamond Snowbunny," I accused. "You no-good, cheating, filthy, dirty--"
"Calm down," ordered Tommy. I spat on the ground, glaring at Binny the Chia, who not only had the air of a mastermind criminal but also the looks to go with it. He smirked back at me, the lowlife scum.
"Now, Binny, whatcher got there?"
The Chia guiltily stepped back, and I knew immediately that he was up to no good.
When he spoke, his tone could have frozen water in the month of Swimming. "What're you sayin'? That I stole something from you?"
I stepped close to him and hissed a yes. "Give me the Diamond Snowbunny, Binny, and no one gets hurt."
"No can do, mister," mocked the Chia. "You'll never find where I hid the Snowbunny!"
"Oh really?" I muttered, stepping up to him and staring him in the eye. "That a challenge?"
I wrapped my wings around his neck, getting him in a headlock, but the shining, glimmering, crystalline water again caught my eye...
Date: Apr 22nd
...and I understood. A Diamond Snowbunny, something the size of that, I'd have heard about it years ago.
That's what had been bugging me since the start -- why hadn't I heard of such a pricey item?
I let go of the Chia, moving my wings to pin him up against the wall.
"What's the Diamond Snowbunny?"
Binny's eyes were an ocean of confusion, and behind me Tommy didn't seem to be faring any better.
"You don't know?" the Cybunny asked. "How can you not know if you've come to find me?"
My hold on the Chia relaxed as I turned to look at the Cybunny.
"It's her trade name," Tommy told me. "The Diamond Snowbunny, greatest jewel in the world."
"Her...?" I whispered, knowing already who he meant.
The broad. She'd been the Diamond Snowbunny all along.
"Binny stole her, held her hostage." Tommy glared at the Chia. "Said to meet him on Mystery Island for an exchange. But I don't see her, seems like he's a two-bit, double-crossing good-for-nothing..."
"She's safe and well in Neopia Central," Binny sneered. "Got some boys keeping watch on her -- Jonny the Slime is real good."
"Jonny!?" I gasped. "He's in on this too?"
Of course. I hated myself for not noticing it sooner. My distraction with the card game had allowed her to escape before he noticed. And then the dame had hitched a ride with me; I'd paid for a ticket away from that horrible place, not even questioning what a broad like her would want with a guy like me.
"She's not in Neopia Central anymore," I told Binny. "I brought her to the Island."
"You did what!?" Binny exploded, breaking free from my grasp and disappearing down the alley.
I moved to follow him, but Tommy held me back.
"He won't find her," he told me. "Binny was lucky once; he won't be lucky again. She'll be halfway to Altador by now."
"The Diamond Snowbunny, it's her trade name," Tommy repeated. "But she ain't no actress. She's a thief. What they call a cat burglar. She steals gemstones but calls herself the greatest jewel in the world."
That's when it hit me. She was a thief. That's how she'd got tangled up with Binny in the first place. And what kind of simple dame knew how to disguise herself so well and so easily?
"You're helping her?" I asked.
"Of course not," Tommy replied. "But she's my sister, you know?"
I did. I'd only known her less than a day and I had been ready to go to the ends of the planet to save her.
Just another day in the city for everyone else as I stared at them through the blinds of my office.
But for me, it was so much more.
She'd come to me, asked me for help, and lied to me the whole time. She'd built me up and knocked me down, played me well and true. I wanted to hate her and wanted to feel like she was a good-for-nothing thief.
But somehow I couldn't. All I could think of were the colours, and how she'd walked out of my life without a word.
It was raining in Neopia Central.
But that day, it was more -- I knew.
It was raining in my heart.
Date: Apr 22nd
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