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Week 503
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Week 505

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 Four Ends Friday, April 29

The morning came slowly, the sunlight trickling over the evergreen hills of Meridell in a golden tide, matching the rhythm of the bells ringing lyrically from within Skarl's massive castle. The light spread over the landscape, waking each home as it drifted by.

Within the confines of a small white building to the east of Illusen's Glade, the scene had ceased to be one of tranquillity the second the morning dawned. In the smallest room in the west of the house, a sturdy little Draik was hopping around clumsily on one foot, seeking in desperation the sock he had managed to misplace. It wasn't that Dasha attempted to lose these things; it was simply that he had so many other considerations on his mind that socks often seemed unimportant.

The day couldn't have been more perfect had it been lifted from the pages of some Neopian Faerie story, the Draik mused, glancing out the window as he located the absent sock beneath a pile of old books, pulling it onto his foot eagerly. The Annual Grand Easter Negg Hunt and Race would begin in a mere half an hour and the weather couldn't have been more perfect.

Slinging a satchel over one shoulder, Dasha skilfully dodged his mother's suggestion of breakfast and hurried out the door. Who wanted to fill up on Neoflakes when a positive treasure trove of Easter Neggs awaited the lucky winner of today's search? He had waited anxiously since the new year had begun for this day, and he certainly didn't plan to slow himself down with soggy cereal!

A brief jog down the merry lanes of Meridell led the Draik to the massive open field where the contest would take place. The rules never changed. Each contestant pair (and this would be decided by the judges to avoid to Grarrls teaming up and stomping the other contestants, as had occurred in the rather worrying hunt and race three years ago) would search Meridell for a collection of brightly coloured, delicious Easter Neggs. The first team to gather their five Neggs and arrive at the gates of Meridell Castle not only got the Neggs themselves, but a reward that would keep them in chocolate treats forever!

Even rushing to the meeting point, Dasha found he was by no means the first one there. Neopets of all shapes and sizes milled about, some looking intimidating, some terrified, some excited. One of these strangers would be his Negg Hunt partner. He could only hope it wasn't a Koi. They did tend to slow one down.

As the castle bells tolled again, a rather jovial Cybunny stepped up on stage with a massive basket. Each entrant's name was in there, and Dasha knew this meant a lucky dip within mere moments would decide the teams. He waited impatiently as the Cybunny explained the rules (no cheating and painting your own Neggs, no Chia eating and so on) and inhaled deeply as the Cybunny invited one of the judges, a burly Lupe, to draw out the first couple of names.

The Lupe gave the crowd a toothy grin and fished about in the basket, coughing as he read the first name.

"Dasha!"

Sheepishly, the Draik gave a wave to the crowd. Picked first! It had to be a lucky sign!

With a merry smile, the Lupe fished about again, withdrew a second bit of paper, cleared his throat, and read...

Author: Anjie
Date: Apr 25th
"Milton!"

A smattering of Neopians clapped at the first completed pairing. Dasha fluttered his young wings, waiting for a fellow hand to shoot into the air. Several eyes joined in his search across the crowd for his Negg-hunting twin, but no hand joined Dasha's airspace. A soft murmur echoed across the grounds, Dasha looking around dejectedly.

The Cybunny on stage nudged the Lupe judge to continue. The next pairing went off without a hitch, the Bori and Korbat even briefly hugging each other as their pairing was made. As several more teams were created, Dasha weaved his way through the crowd. "Milton?" he asked softly as he approached a clustered group of Negg hunters. They all shook their heads sadly, how embarrassed they were for the first picked to not find his partner.

"Saria!" the Lupe called out, and Dasha's eyes looked across the crowd. His best friend shot her hand out into the air, and the smiling Lupe waved meekly back at her. The judge called out Saria's partner, who swiftly swam through the crowd toward the Ixi. If Dasha's heart wasn't so heavy from the search for his partner, he'd almost give a chuckle as poor Saria met up with her blue Koi partner.

The crowd thinned as the team selecting was drawing to a close. In desperation, Dasha began to yell his partner's name across the field, drawing odd glances by close-by gawkers.

"Dasha?" Saria spoke softly, wandering up next to her Draik friend. Dasha looked at the Ixi, his arms crossed in front of him.

"I can't find my partner," he said sadly. "And we were even picked first!"

Saria pouted, looking back at the excited Koi waiting for her. "Well, I hope you find him soon. I'm sure when you do, you'll beat me to those Neggs in no time."

The corner of Dasha's mouth curled into a smile, but it was all he could manage; the wonderful day that was upon him was slowly crushed as he thought about hunting for all those Neggs alone.

A large sneeze rang out across the field. The Draik and Ixi quickly glanced toward the sound, and Dasha's eyes widened. Saria grinned and nudged her friend toward the creature that the sneeze erupted from.

"I bet that's your partner," she giggled before trotting off to join her own.

Dasha half-heartedly waved as his friend departed and quickly headed toward the sniffling being. Standing off to the side of the main stage was a short and tired-looking Techo. The speckled Techo buried his nose into a handkerchief and blew loudly. Dasha prodded the distracted Neopet lightly.

"Are you Milton?" he questioned.

The Techo leapt almost a foot in the air. He tumbled down to the ground, clutching his heart in one hand, and the soggy handkerchief in another.

"Why would you just sneak up on someone like that?! You nearly scared me half to death!" the Techo yelled at the retreating Dasha.

"I'm so sorry," Dasha stuttered. "I was just looking for my Negg-hunting partner, Milton."

The Techo nudged his glasses back into place, black frames housing the thick lenses. "I'm Milton," he explained. "Nice to meet you... I guess."

Dasha huffed softly, both elated to find his partner, but perturbed that it had taken so long. "We were picked first, I've been looking for you this whole time."

"Oh, I hadn't noticed," Milton shrugged, wiping his nose clean and rising to his feet. He was a lot shorter than most Techos, barely the height of Dasha's chest.

"Well," Dasha said as he pointed across the field, "we can still catch up, but most of the others have a head-start over us."

The Techo shrugged again, fixing his vest, making sure both sides were perfectly aligned. "I guess so."

Dasha tilted his head, eyeing his new partner. "Aren't you excited about the hunt? I've been waiting all year for this!"

"My mum's making me do this," Milton explained. "She wants me to get out and make new friends."

The Draik flapped his wings excitedly. "I'll be your friend! Now let's go find those Neggs!"

Dasha started to swiftly glide across the field, anxiously wanting to find the Neggs before anyone else. He felt it was his destiny; even in his dreams, he was always the first back with a full basket. The King of the Festival of Neggs, they crowned him.

Jarring out of his daydream, Dasha looked over his shoulder at his partner. The Techo's face was buried in his handkerchief again, barely a few feet from where they had first started. Dasha quickly flew back to his partner, irritation marring his facial features.

"We have to actually go find the Neggs, you know. That's the point of the Negg Hunt," the Draik huffed.

Milton held up his hand to pause the Draik as he blew his nose again. "I know, but my allergies don't know that."

Dasha canted his head. "What are you allergic to?"

"Everything," Milton responded, sniffling lightly and stuffing the handkerchief in his pocket. He nodded slowly to the Draik.

When Milton finally started moving, Dasha felt his hopes rise again. They finally made it across the field when the Techo stopped suddenly, checking all of his vest pockets.

"Oh no!" Milton spoke, "I forgot my..."

Author: filter
Date: Apr 25th
"...allergy medicine!" the Techo exclaimed as he kept on looking through his vest pockets, even emptying them out just to be sure he hadn't missed anything. Sighing in defeat when his dread was proven correct, he started to place everything back in their respective pockets.

"If you're allergic to everything, then your allergy medicine should be the first thing you should've gotten before leaving your house," Dasha murmured as he helped his partner to put his things back in the pockets.

His curiosity was piqued when he picked up a gold coin with strange inscriptions printed on it. "Say, what does this coin say, Milton?" the Draik asked, yelping when the Techo suddenly grabbed the coin back from him rather harshly.

"Sorry, but this is the only thing that I have of my father before he went away for a research trip to the Lost Desert," the Techo explained, sniffling loudly as they started on their way toward where the others had already headed to search for the Neggs.

"Shouldn't you worry about how you're going to get allergy medicine around here? I mean, you can barely breathe through all that sniffling, and it would only hinder us from winning the Negg Hunt," Dasha said carelessly, too late to catch his words as he looked back at his partner.

Milton just narrowed his eyes as he brought his handkerchief back to his nose and blew loudly before putting it back in his pocket.

"Well, why don't you just go find yourself another partner that won't slow you down? And I actually thought you asking to be my friend was true," he huffed as he tried to get away from the young Draik with a sad look on his face.

"Wait, Milton, I didn't mean it like that..."

"Miltoooooooooon!"

At the sudden shout, the Draik turned around to see who it was, barely catching a glimpse of the speeding green Lutari who rushed over to the Techo's side. She yelped suddenly when she crashed into her friend, the both of them groaning as Dasha, who had flown over to them, quickly helped them up and asked if they were all right.

"Sorry about that, and please don't worry, I'm all right. Milton here isn't, since he forgot his medicine. Lucky for him, I brought it with me,” the Lutari rushed in a giddy tone as she handed the Techo his allergy medicine with a smile.

"Oh, my name's Dahlia, by the way, and it's a pleasure to meet you..." She paused with her paw outstretched to shake Dasha's hand.

He took her hand gladly with a smile of his own. "The name's Dasha, Milton's partner, and by the looks of it, I'd say you're Milton's friend?" he asked wearily, earning an eager nod from Dahlia.

Milton just gave his friend a half-smile before taking his medicine, sighing in relief and breathing in deeply as the medicine started to take its effect. "Dahlia here is the only other friend that I have, but Mum says that she doesn't count because we've known each other since we were tots," he explained.

"Uh-huh, and I was surprised that he's even participating in this year's Negg Hunt. I've tried to invite him several times, but he would always decline. Guess your mum finally put you up to it," the Lutari explained as she nudged the Techo playfully on his arm.

"So you're participating in the Negg Hunt too?" Dasha asked curiously, earning a nod from Dahlia as she pointed over to a blue Hissi who was holding their basket, eyeing the other two with narrowed eyes.

"Oh, don't worry about him; he's just determined to win, that's all," she explained cheerily. "Oh, better get going now. Can't be losing time when I've got four more Neggs to find. See you around!" she exclaimed before going back to her partner and disappearing into the fields.

Dasha, after hearing that Dahlia had already found her first Negg, was now more than determined to complete his search before anyone else. He grabbed Milton's hand and started dragging him lightly into the field where they would find their first Negg.

"W--wait! What's the rush?!" Milton exclaimed as he gained control of his arm again, watching as his partner flew over the fields in search of Neggs. "Didn't you hear what Dahlia said? She's already found one Negg, and we can't possibly let her and her partner find another one!" Dasha replied.

"I know, but let's be careful; we don't want to fall down into any ditcheeeeeeesssss!" the small Techo screamed as he fell into ditch that was hidden behind the bushes he was looking through.

Dasha flew over to where Milton fell, helping up his friend as he landed in front of him. "You gave me quite a fright there, Milton. Are you okay, is anything hurt?" the young Draik asked as he checked over his partner, seeing nothing out of place.

"I'm OK, just a little dishevelled," Milton said as he dusted himself off. As he looked up, he noticed something glinting from behind Dasha, curiosity getting the best of him. "Hey Dasha, what's that?" he asked, going over to where the object was laying.

The Draik just followed him, also noticing the glint as he turned and followed his partner. "I don't know, Milton," he murmured, gasping in surprise as he got a good look of the object once he was near enough.

"Milton, I think that's a..."

Author: sophias1
Date: Apr 26th
"...silver Negg?"

Milton scoffed. "Stop trying to pull my leg, Dasha. I've heard the stories that one in every 400 Neggs turns silver when ripe, but everyone knows there's no such item in Neopia."

Dasha didn't answer as he picked up the tiny silver object. It didn't feel fragile, but it was small; it felt tiny in his claws, the shiny silver a sharp contrast to his dusty blue paws. He didn't think silver Neggs were real either, and yet... here it was. Wordlessly, he held out the tiny object to Milton.

Now it was Milton's turn to gasp, a gasp that swiftly turned into a wheeze. Apparently his medicine still wasn't quite making him feel completely better. After a moment to get his breath under control, Milton gingerly grasped the tiny Negg to inspect it.

To Dasha's horror, he immediately shook it. He leapt to yank back the small treasure, but Milton just looked at him, annoyed. "I'm not Puppyblew, Dasha. I'm not going to shake it and then tear it to shreds. Besides, I was right... sort of. This isn't a real Negg."

"It's not?" The blue Draik came closer, peering at the shining silver object.

Milton shook his head. "No... it's real silver... and it's hollow, I think. Something's inside, listen!" He shook the minute Negg again, and this time Dasha heard the distinctive tinkling of something rattling inside.

"What do you think it is, Milton?" he asked, reaching again for the silver Negg. But this time, when both he and Milton touched it, something strange began to happen; the small Negg began to glow, shining with silver light that bathed their faces in cool radiance. Dasha's mouth fell open, and though he didn't notice for he was absorbed in the glowing of the small Negg, Milton's mouth did too.

For long moments the Negg glowed brighter and brighter, the light shining so intensely at its peak that it almost seemed to be a silver sun in Milton's hand.

And then... it stopped.

Dasha blinked and peered closely at the tiny Negg, but it appeared unmarred and unchanged. Looking quizzically up at Milton, he started to shrug... and then went rigid. The Negg was unchanged, but their surroundings... moments earlier, they had been in a rolling green field in Meridell. Somehow, without either of them noticing, they had left that green, green field.

"Where are we?" he whispered, his voice echoing strangely in their new surroundings. Milton started to glare at him for such a strange question, thinking he was being teased, but as he looked up, the Techo, too, realised that something very, very strange had happened.

Eyes wide, Milton shook his head. "I've never heard of anything like this, Dasha," he breathed, his voice echoingly harshly against the silver walls they found themselves standing between. They were in a cave, but no cave they had ever heard of before -- it seemed like a normal cave, but wrought in pure silver. Silver stalactites so bright they were almost white dripped from the ceiling as stalagmites so dark silver they were almost grey reached upward, and the walls were so bright they could have been a worn newly minted Ten Dubloon Coin.

"At last!" a voice cried behind them, startling the young Draik and Techo. "The Negg Hunters have arrived! We need your help, younglings -- the Silver Neggs are missing!"

Turning, stiff-necked and shocked, Milton and Dasha saw...

Author: agedbeauty
Date: Apr 26th
...the Lupe who had been making the pairings, drawing the names out of a basket. He held the basket now, one arm slung through the handle as he twirled the little basket around and around in circles.

"Ahh, I'm glad to see you've all made it here," said the Lupe, still swinging the basket in a hypnotic loop. "I trust you've all found your way?"

"Yes," said a female voice from behind Dasha, and the Draik turned to see who it was. The green Lutari -- Dahlia, if he remembered correctly -- was standing there, also holding a Silver Negg, but hers was slightly larger...

Milton opened his mouth to talk -- probably to explain how they had gotten there, how he was missing his allergy medication, so on and so forth -- but the Lupe started speaking before he could get the words out.

"Now that you're all here, the fun can begin," he announced. "I am Parel, and I will be hosting the Eleventh Annual," here he paused, for dramatic effect, "Silver Negg Hunt!"

In the brief moment after this extraordinary proclamation, Dasha managed to tear his eyes away from Parel the Lupe Host and sneak a glance at the rest of the Negg Hunters. There were at least twenty of them, paired off -- with a start, he realised that these pairs were the pairs they were assigned to hunt Neggs with.

It didn't take him long to realise that his partner would still be the sniveling Techo wiping his nose on his sleeve.

"How about the rules, then?" continued Parel, grinning roguishly and ignoring the stunned stares of the Negg Hunters. "The only rule is that... there are no rules! You can do anything to find that Silver Negg. It can be anywhere, anytime. Oh, and don't think you have to play nice, now. Go after the others. Stop them from getting the Negg. Do whatever it takes -- though try not to hurt anyone too badly, you know what I mean? Make alliances. Break alliances. You get the idea. Well, anyway, you get the Negg, I grant you one wish. Any wish."

He clicked his fingers and a long, silvery, staff appeared in his hands, topped at each end with a filigree Negg. A swish of this staff, and the ground was littered with miscellaneous trinkets, ranging from a sword -- silver, obviously -- to a set of marbles, also silver. There was also a bow and arrow, which, strangely enough, was not silver like the rest, but a curious shade of gold, the same shade as desert sand...

"You can use these to survive," said Parel, and for one split second, the sunny grin on his face was replaced by a cold smirk. Dasha blinked, disbelieving. It had to be the trick of light -- all this silver was definitely enough to create illusions.

"Survive?" repeated a Quiggle, looking awkward in a long purple dress. "What on Neopia do you mean by survive?"

"Oh," Parel twisted his mouth to one side in a lopsided smile, "you'll see very soon... five minutes for you to decide what you want, and then you get it!"

Dasha pulled Milton over to the side and hissed in his ear, "Get the bow and arrow."

"I want the sword," whined Milton, dragging a sleeve across his nose and leaving a bright trail on the fabric.

Dasha tried not to look disgusted. "The bow and arrows, Milton. Get it."

"Five minutes is now up," announced the Lupe, as he pointed the staff at the ground. "On a count of three, you take what you think is yours... one... two..."

No one heard three. It had been muffled by the sound of running, as the twenty contestants made a wild scramble for their items...

He should have known Milton would go for the sword. It was just such a... such a... such a Milton thing to do, going for the big, heavy weapon. Obviously, though, everyone else had the same thought, and a crowd of Neopets -- no less than eight -- all dove for the sword...

To Dasha's surprise, it was the Lutari, Dahlia, who emerged, clutching the hilt of the silver sword and holding it in front of her menacingly. The others backed away slowly, as though knowing what she had the potential to do...

Dasha looked back at the bow and arrows, hoping that they were still there, but he had no such luck. They were gone.

The Neopets in the cave dispersed, and the only thing left on the floor were the packet of marbles. Sighing, Dasha picked up the little bag, the set of marbles inside oddly comforting with their light tapping sounds as they knocked against each other.

"Come on, Milton," he mumbled. "Let's go find that Negg..."

They set out, with only the marbles and the sinking feeling in Dasha's stomach...

"I want an alliance," announced Milton.

"Yeah, announce it to the world," replied Dasha sarcastically, in no mood for banter. "Anyone you have in mind?"

Milton tapped a finger on his chin, deep in thought.

"How about... Dahlia?" suggested Dasha, shrugging. "She seems like a pretty good ally..."

Before Milton could respond, however, they turned a corner and screamed...

Author: chocolate_lover67
Date: Apr 27th
...because they found themselves face to face with the wrong end of that lovely silver sword. Although it looked a lot less lovely and a lot more frightening from this end.

"Dahlia!" Milton hissed after a moment. "What are you doing?"

The Lutari stared at him, her eyes hard and yet... glassy, absent. She didn't respond but kept the sword pointed directly at them. A wave of confusion distorted Milton's features as he stared at his friend, who began chanting.

"A sword, a shield, a mage, a thorn,
The seeds from which the Three are born.
A desperate chase, a silver rose,
The ashes from which the hero goes."

"Dahlia?" he asked, a wavering note of uncertainty in his voice. The Techo had taken the coin out of his pocket and was fiddling with it, flipping it back and forth in the manner of a nervous habit born of many years.

Dahlia blinked. "Milton? I... I..." She was glancing between the coin in his hand and the bright silver sword, her green eyes bleary. The sword wobbled, then slowly, she lowered it completely. Finally, it clattered to the ground, the clang of metal on the silver ground echoing harshly in the silence.

Without waiting for another word, the Techo rushed his friend and hugged her. Uncertainty swept across her lovely visage, but after a moment, she hugged him back. Dasha cleared his throat, and the two sprang apart.

"Milton, I don't... I mean... I'm sorry, Milton! I don't know why I did that!" she wailed.

"What was that, 'Lia?" Milton asked, staring helplessly at his friend.

"I'm sorry, Milton! I don't... I mean... I don't think I want to hurt you... right?" The Lutari had seemed so confident when Dasha had met her in the fields of Meridell, but she seemed so lost now.

"No, I mean that poem..." he asked, searching her eyes.

"Poem?" She stared back at him blankly.

"This place is so strange," Dasha murmured, staring at the pair as the silver marbles clinked in their pouch. "Do you realise the Lupe sent us off, and not a single one of us questioned why or how?"

Milton's eyes were wide as he nodded. "It was like... like we weren't even there, just characters in a play."

"What poem?" Dahlia asked again.

"I think we're in trouble, guys," Dasha said grimly. Dahlia hugged her arms to her chest as Milton worried the coin from his father, the coin glinting in the light the walls seemed to exude.

"We gotta get out of here," Milton said, gulping, a slight wheeze evident as he breathed.

Dasha and Dahlia nodded, and after Dahlia picked up the sword, the three of them forged onward... to what, they weren't sure, but something pushed them forward.

Behind them, hard eyes glinted in the darkness, glaring at them. But as they looked only forward, they never saw.

***

"We've been walking forever!" Milton whined, stopping.

Dahlia nodded. "There's nowhere else to go, though... the walls go on forever... and we haven't run into any other Neopets..."

Dasha grabbed Milton's arm and pulled him forward, gripped by a sense of urgency. "We have to keep going, Milton! We're almost there!"

"Almost... where?!" Milton asked, but his words were lost as the passageway opened up into an enormous silver cavern, one that dwarfed the cave they had found themselves in earlier.

Dahlia stared at the Draik, mouth slightly open. "How did you know that, Dasha?" she breathed, fear plain in her voice.

"I could just... tell," he said, but his attention was elsewhere. His eyes were caught by something glinting mysteriously at the end of the cavern.

Following his eyes, Dahlia gasped. "Is that a..."

Author: agedbeauty
Date: Apr 27th
"...silver Negg?" she asked, rushing over to the end of the cavern where the glinting was getting brighter as she got nearer.

"'Lia, wait! What if it's a trap?!" Milton called out as he followed her deeper into the cavern. He too was eager to find the silver Negg, but not at the cost of his friends' safety.

"Dasha, it's not a trap, but it isn't the silver Negg either! Come over here and take a look!" the assertive voice of the Lutari resounded from the walls of the cavern, earning a confused but curious look from the Draik as he went over to them, his eyes widening at the object before him.

It was a silver shield, of course, but in the front it had eleven golden coins all inserted into their respective slots, with only one missing in the top. These golden coins, however, looked oddly familiar to him, and then directed his attention to Milton, who was fiddling with his coin again.

His golden coin...

"Milton, can I see your coin for a second?" Dasha asked the Techo, who just looked back at the coin in his hand with a weary expression. "Come on, it's not like I'm going to steal it," Dasha commented, smiling when his friend reluctantly gave him his coin.

"What are you going to do, Dasha?" the Lutari asked, her spunkiness returning somewhat as she looked with curious eyes at what the Draik was doing. Dasha seemed deep in though, examining the coins from the shield and comparing them with the one he held in his hand.

Dasha was now sure of it, that Milton's coin was the same as the ones in the shield, and this just brought up something that had been settling in his mind as well. "This coin has the same inscriptions as the other ones, and when Dahlia was in that trance, she mentioned something about a shield in her poem," he informed his partners, earning a confused look from the Lutari.

"Is that why I didn't know what you meant when I asked what poem you were talking about?" she asked, earning twin nods from her partners. They suddenly turned their attention back to the shield, their eyes widening when the coins started to glow with the one in Dasha's hand.

"What's happening?!" Milton shouted out in fear, suddenly holding onto Dahlia's hand out of reflex.

"I don't know!" Dasha called back, gasping when the coin flew out of his hand and went to settle itself in the empty slot.

After that happened, the shield just kept on shining brighter and brighter until they had to shield their eyes from the powerful beams. Then it stopped, the light quickly reverting back into the shield and leaving a humming sensation afterward.

"Is it over?" Dahlia asked as she peeked out from her paws, watching as Milton went closer to the shield, his movements somewhat mechanised and automatic.

"Milton, get away from it, what if something bad happens when you touch it?!" Dasha hissed as he rushed to stop his friend. He was surprised to see the Techo easily lift up the shield and place it on his back.

As he watched the actions of his friend, Dasha couldn't help but notice that Milton was also in the same trance Dahlia had been in before they started their quest for the silver Negg, which put him on edge.

Just then the Techo's eyes returned to normal, Milton blinking several times before looking at his friends with a confused expression. "W--why are you looking at me like that?" he asked wearily, yelping when the Lutari rushed to his side and started inspecting him for anything different or off.

"Other than the shield on your back, you're fine," she said in a cheery tone, patting his head as she backed away with a sheepish look. "Sorry, for a minute there I thought you were in some kind of danger," Dahlia muttered as she fiddled with her paws.

Milton just looked away, trying to hide the blush from his childhood friend. "I--I really don’t know what happened, but one thing I'm sure of is that the shield feels like it's supposed to belong to me in some way," he said, earning shocked looks from both his friends.

"That's how I felt with the sword! That's why I threatened the others with it when I got it," Dahlia said, taking out the weapon and skilfully wielding it before putting it back on her back.

"Hmm, this is getting a bit awkward for just being a normal Negg Hunt," Dasha muttered, knowing that it had been far from normal once Milton had fallen into the ditch and found the silver Negg.

Just then they heard a growling sound throughout the cave, making them more alert and turning their backs on each other so they wouldn't be ambushed. "Do you think it's the other teams?" Dahlia asked, reaching for her sword once more.

"Might be, but we should be on guard, just to be sure. Remember what Parel said: 'Do whatever it takes,'" Dasha replied, knowing that some of the other members wouldn't be playing fair.

Another growl, and this time instead of coming from everywhere, it came from the left, all three of them turning their heads at the new sound. They gasped, eyes widened at what they saw.

"Dasha," Milton whispered, "why is there a..."

Author: sophias1
Date: Apr 28th
"...ferocious Negg growling at us?"

It was true, the loud growling sound that had emanated all around them had shown itself. The bright orange and angry-looking Negg was a stark contrast to the smooth, silver walls. The reflection of the Negg seemed to twist and turn around them, as if this one little Negg were an entire army.

Dahlia pressed her hand over her heart and breathed a sigh of relief. "That little guy had me worried."

Dasha giggled, flying over to the Ferocious Negg, poking it with his claw. "We thought you were a monster or something!" The Ferocious Negg growled again and bit at Dasha's claw. The Draik reeled back, shaking out his hand, looking toward the others.

"That kind of hurt," Dasha said, rubbing his claw. The Ferocious Negg hopped forward, growling again. The low sound began to rumble around the cavern again, growing louder very quickly.

"Great acoustics," Milton spoke softly, though his lip trembled. The trio began to back away from the vicious Negg, warily watching the cavern walls. The reflections of the Negg all seemed a little clearer than they'd just been, and Dahlia's hand fiercely gripped Milton's shoulder.

"They aren't... reflections!" the Lutari yelled out.

The Ferocious Neggs were indeed no longer reflections. At least thirty of the fire-coloured fiends began to hop toward the companions. The three backed slowly away from the advancing army of Neggs. It wasn't long before Dasha's back touched the cold silver wall, his breath catching in his throat.

"What do we do?" he whispered anxiously.

Dahlia held out her sword, swiping at the Ferocious Neggs, but they weaved and dodged around the broadsword. Milton held up his shield to deflect an oncoming attack, an errant Ferocious Negg bouncing off the gilded metal.

Dasha hunkered down against the wall, hoping the solution to their current predicament would come to him. His claws slid down the wall to the ground and landed on something solid. The Draik looked down in curiosity and gasped softly, drawing the attention of the other two.

Beneath his claws, the golden bow lay. A small quiver of golden arrows tucked underneath it. Dahlia gripped her sword tighter, Milton raising his shield, and the bow let off a soft hum, as if it was connecting with its brethren weapons.

"Take up the bow, Dasha; it found you." Dahlia said softly, and Dasha nodded. When he grasped the bow's frame, he could feel a surge run through him. It was warm and pleasant, like the feeling of coming home after a long day of adventuring. He felt it run through every inch of his body, culminating back into the very claws that gripped the bow.

"Dasha!" Milton yelled, shaking the Draik. Dasha's eyes shot open, and he noticed the quiver was already firmly attached to his back.

Dasha stood, his eyes steady as he pulled a golden arrow from the quiver and placed it into the nocking point. The Draik pulled the bow sight to his eye, aiming at a particularly rabid Ferocious Negg, and fired the bow.

A streak of golden light flew forth from the golden weapon, and upon contact with the Ferocious Negg, burst out a bright light. When the light defused, the Negg was gone. Dasha grabbed another arrow and, releasing it with another brilliant flash of light, caused another Ferocious Negg to disappear. Every time he went for another arrow, he could feel a full quiver, as if it never depleted.

Milton and Dahlia kept the Neggs at bay as Dasha swiftly ended the Negg army's attack. Shaking slightly, he hugged the golden bow to his chest as Dahlia and Milton held a quick celebration.

While Dasha looked over his golden bow, Dahlia took a moment to examine the quiver. She pulled Milton over and pointed at a design on the quiver's surface, and Dasha could hear Milton gasp out loud.

"What is it?" the Draik yelled, unable to move the quiver off his back to see what they were gawking at.

"There's a picture of a thorn on the quiver, Dasha. I think your arrows are the thorns from the poem!" Milton exclaimed.

"I felt like I was at home when I picked up the bow," Dasha explained, watching both Dahlia and Milton nod in agreement. He continued,"So that means all we need now is... a mage?"

Milton's hand rose to his chin in thought. "Generally in books, a mage is a Neopet, so does that mean we need to find another Neopet?"

Dahlia shook her head. "Wait a minute. From what you told to me, if we do find this mage, these things are all the seeds from which the Three are born. Do we want whatever that is to be born?"

"Yes," Dasha spoke softly, then blinked as the two others looked at him in surprise. "I... I don't know why I said that," he sighed.

"You know, I don't think my mum knew what I'd be getting into today, or I bet she never would have let me leave the house." Milton smirked.

Dasha shook his head as he glanced down at the bow again. "I just wanted to find some Neggs."

Dahlia lightly punched Dasha in the shoulder. "Well, that's what we're doing right now. Let's find that Silver Negg and get out of this place."

Milton interjected, "Well, we need to find a mage too, it seems."

"Well, these weapons all came to us, maybe the mage will too, and when we complete the poem, maybe the Three will be three silver Neggs for all of us!" Dahlia said triumphantly.

"Or our doom," Dasha muttered.

Dahlia punched the Draik again, and Dasha stuck his tongue out at the Lutari. They followed through the small corridor that the Ferocious Negg had been guarding. The silver darkness crept behind them as the tunnel they were within began to brighten. The trio squinted into the brightness as they soon came to its origin.

A small and circular room lay before them. Upon a short pedestal sat a large open book, a soft glow emanating from its pages. Milton quickly leapt over to the book, Dahlia reaching out to grab him, but the svelte Techo was much too fast. Books were one of Milton's favourite things.

The Techo seemed to become entranced as he stepped up to the pedestal, his eyes beginning to glow a faint golden colour as he read the words in front of him out loud.

"Accept the warmth, deny the cold,
One of three shall be so bold.
To read upon this fateful page..."

Author: filter
Date: Apr 28th
"...To find the Silver and the Mage."

"Silver and the Mage?" repeated Dasha, idly winding the string of the golden bow around a finger. "One shall be so bold, read upon the page..."

"Milton read the page, so he has to find the Silver and the Mage," Dahlia said, nodding confidently to herself and running a hand along the blunt side of her silver sword. "I have the sword, you have the shield, and Dasha has the thorns... and now we just need the Mage!"

Dasha frowned. "It can't be that simple! It's never that simple!"

Laughing, Dahlia placed a hand on the Draik's arm and said, "Why make this harder than it needs to be? We know what to do, now let's get to it! Hurry! Before someone else finds the Negg!"

"You're doing this for the... for the Negg?" Dasha could hardly keep the hint of disgust out of his voice; the realisation of how Dahlia had no regard whatsoever for the Negg Hunt and wanted only the vaunted Silver Negg was a thorn that stung. Had it been a mistake wanting to ally himself with her? Was she going to betray them the second they came within range of the Silver Negg?

He shook his head as though to clear out the thoughts and mentally scolded himself for being so paranoid; Dahlia was Milton's friend. Milton was a bit of a pain to be around, but he was a relatively good judge of character.

"Isn't this all for the Negg?" The Lutari appeared genuinely confused. "It's a Negg hunt, after all..."

"Whatever..." Dasha sighed and waved a hand dismissively. "Come on. We might as well hurry up anyway. Milton! You know where the Mage is?"

The Techo shook his head and swiped his sleeve across his nose again. "But we do have a clue to help us. Accept the warmth, deny the cold. That's the one sentence that hasn't been deciphered yet."

"Flowers!" Dahlia burst out. Immediately, she shrank back, sheepishly grinning. "What I meant was... flowers. They need the warmth to grow, but die in the cold. Accept the warmth, deny the cold. And according to you guys, I was babbling about... something about silver roses?"

"That's it!" Dasha flung his arms around both Milton and Dahlia and hugged them, elated at finding an explanation that could -- it was being a bit of a far stretch -- possibly be the solution to the entire conundrum. "Dahlia, how'd you figure that out so quickly?"

The Lutari smiled proudly. "It's all in the name. Being named after a flower comes in handy sometimes."

"Well then, let's go! Remember, search for a bunch of silver roses!"

And with that, Dasha led them out of the circular room. At Milton's urging, they had taken the book with them -- it was impossible to tell when they'd need to refer to the poem, the Techo insisted -- and were once again wandering the halls.

It hadn't been long before footsteps echoed through the cavern...

"You hear that?" hissed Dahlia, holding out a hand and stopping mid-step. "Someone's coming. Be prepared."

Dasha nocked an arrow, holding up the bow and preparing to shoot, as Milton warily lifted his shield to protect them if necessary.

Snippets of conversation followed the footsteps, as shadows expanded against the silver cave's wall. Dasha took a deep breath, knowing that not everyone would be Negg-hunting peacefully, like them. Some just liked to take the competition a step further, and there was no use trying to stop them.

"Someone else has probably found that Negg already! Now I'll never get that wish!"

Dasha froze.

Saria?

"Who says you're the one getting the wish?"

Dahlia gasped. The slithering, the voice, it couldn't be, but it had to be: her partner, whom she had, accidentally ditched.

There was then the sound of flopping, fins slapping against silver. A Koi? The pieces clicked together: Saria, her Koi partner, and Dahlia's Hissi partner must have made an alliance too.

"I should get the wish!" the Koi was saying, struggling to keep up with the others in her group.

Laughter ensued.

"Wait a second!" Saria's voice. "Someone's there! Quick, arm yourself!"

The three turned a corner, bursting into Dasha's line of sight. Saria was carrying a slingshot, aiming it straight at the Draik, while the Hissi who had been Dahlia's partner was armed with a Virtupets-style blaster made of silver. The Koi held nothing -- though that hardly came as a surprise, as it was hard for her to simply keep up.

Little balls of silver -- courtesy of Saria -- and a ray of light were simultaneously fired toward the three. On instinct, Milton held up the shield, which seemed to expand until it could cover his entire group, but he knew it couldn't last forever.

"Run!" the Techo yelled, as he broke into a sprint.

Saria, her cronies following behind, chased after them. They were gaining on him, and even though he ran as fast as he could, Dasha knew that Saria was a runner. She won all the footraces, had beaten an assortment of opponents. A nerdy Techo, a hyperactive Lutari, and him, they'd be no challenge.

As he ran, the marbles in his pocket jingled, clanging together in its calming tune. An idea suddenly sprang into his mind.

He stopped, faced the Ixi, and dug a hand into his pocket.

Marbles went rolling everywhere. Dasha was pleased to see that his plan had worked. As Saria and her group tried to keep from falling, they were able to gain a lead, the distance between the two groups increasing in their favour.

For a while they ran, but before too long, Dahlia, panting, stopped and said, "I think it's safe."

"Well, now we know what 'the chase' in Dahlia's poem referred to..." Dasha wiped the sweat from his brow. "Come on, let's find those flowers... and the Negg... and then we can finally get out of this place."

"I'm actually having some fun," said Milton, surprising the two of them.

"You? Fun? I never thought I'd hear the two words in the same sentence," mused Dahlia, a smile spreading across her face. "Well then. Come on."

Dasha nodded and took a step, but immediately was deluged with a fainting sensation. He clutched at his forehead, but felt himself falling to the floor...

When he woke again, he was no longer in the cave. The cool, smooth silver floor was gone, instead being replaced by a series of...

Were those flowers?

He stood up and winced, a sharp pain lancing through his head. Forcing himself to look around, Dasha could see that both Dahlia and Milton were rising, though they also looked dizzy and disoriented.

"Are these flowers?" Dahlia wondered out loud, voicing Dasha's thoughts exactly.

"Roses, actually," corrected Milton.

"Roses!" exclaimed Dahlia. "We've found them!"

"Yes, you have indeed."

They spun around and caught sight of the Lupe, wearing a long robe and swinging a basket around his wrist...

"Parel?" Milton wanted to know.

"Parel," confirmed the Lupe.

"Is the Negg here?" asked Dahlia excitedly. "Hidden in these silver roses? They'd make the perfect hiding spot!"

Parel shrugged. "I can't tell you that."

The basket swinging... the gleam in his eyes... there was a layer of something more, something strange, something... magical behind them...

"You're the Mage!" exclaimed Dasha. "You're the last part of our riddle!"

The silver flowers glowed, their iridescent shine growing brighter and brighter...

And then the roses crumbled. What had been silver petals were now grainy granite, which in turn melted into piles and piles of grey ash...

Parel nodded, smiling his approval. "Clever. You three are smart, smarter than I would have ever imagined. But not clever enough for me... and not quite clever enough for the Three...

"The Three?" Dasha raised an eyebrow. "Revenge, Ambition, Greed?"

"Let's just say that your little friend," Parel pointed at Milton, "isn't the only one with dreams..."

Milton looked as though he was going to cry, but held himself together.

"We've got to stop him," said Milton. "We can't just let him summon the Three!"

But it was too late.

"Wondrous Three... the time has come... show yourself and speak to me!"

Expecting some sort of apocalyptic cataclysm, Dasha braced himself. His surprise was unmatched when nothing happened...

"Oh, Marvellous Three! Speak to me!"

And once again, there was no answer.

How could it have failed? The poem had mentioned the Three, and Parel couldn't be wrong! It had to be The Three. What other Three was there?

Dahlia suddenly grabbed his wrist and hurriedly whispered in his ear, "Don't you get it? The poem doesn't refer to The Three..."

Taking a look around, the piles of ash, the crazed Parel, Milton and Dahlia -- friends, friends he had never imagined making on a Negg Hunt -- Dasha understood.

It hadn't been those three... it was these three, they were the three -- Dasha, Milton, Dahlia -- and they had the ability to stop Parel, to find the silver Negg...

Author: chocolate_lover67
Date: Apr 29th
"You were wrong, Parel," Dasha said, drawing himself to his full height and gently fingering his little pouch. He still had a few marbles left.

Parel stared coldly back at him. "Impudent whelp."

Dasha shrugged, smiling a little. "Maybe, but you're still wrong."

"Oh?" Parel asked, staring at Dasha through narrowed eyes.

Dasha nodded and stepped forward toward the Mage, gesturing for Dahlia and Milton to step forward as well.

"You misunderstood the verse," Dasha said, still toying with the marbles in his pouch, his bow hidden behind his back.

"I did no such thing!" the Lupe protested indignantly. "I have forged the Thorn, forged the Shield, and forged the Sword! I have set you upon the chase! I am the Mage who turned the silver roses to ashes, and I am the hero to rise from those ashes!"

"You have written yourself as a hero in your own tale, Parel, but you are no hero. You are a selfish, petty Mage who has yanked Neopets from an innocent Negg Hunt for your own twisted ends!" With that, Dasha withdrew one of his very last silver marbles and threw it to the ground, where it lay shining amidst the ashes from the silver roses the Mage had burned out. In a smooth movement, he removed the Golden Bow from behind his back and aimed his golden thorn -- not at Parel, but directly at the marble.

"What are you --" Parel started to ask, but Dasha had no interest in letting him finish.

"You gave me the thorns, Parel, but you gave me the seeds too!" And Dasha shot one glorious golden arrow straight at the silver marble, the marbles that had saved them from the entranced Neopets who had attacked them earlier, the marbles that had felt right from the moment Dasha had picked them up... the marbles that were no marbles at all, but instead, as he had realised, seeds, the seeds of... of what?

On impact, a great burst of golden light engulfed the silver field they had found themselves in. The light arced bigger and brighter, illuminating the ceiling and showing them to still be within a cave, but a bigger cave than Dasha or the others had ever seen. The Mage screamed as the golden light bathed his face and arms and robes, but it was a scream of fury and nothing more. At its epicentre, the golden light was too bright to see what was happening; where Dasha had shot the arrow, no details could be made out as the light glowed brighter and brighter still.

Finally, the light faded to normal, and where the seed and arrow had been, a bush wrought of shining gold and silver leaves grew. On the bush, only a single flower bloomed; a silver flower of such exquisite detail that it seemed to be a living rose, complete with delicate veins on its fine petals. Before Parel could react, Dasha reached forward and plucked the rose.

The Lupe went pale. "No!" he screamed, as Dahlia brandished her bright silver sword and Milton hefted his shining shield. "No! I am the hero! I will call The Three!"

In unison, the Three answered. "You have already called," Dahlia, Dasha, and Milton said.

Parel started backing away as the Three advanced. "No! No!”"

"You have called, and we have answered," the Thorn said, nocking another golden arrow in his bow and aiming it at the Lupe.

Desperately, Parel began chanting a spell to disperse the arrow, but it flew straight and true, and in another burst of golden light, the Lupe disappeared.

Beside Dasha, Milton, and Dahlia gasped, disoriented. "Dasha... what?" Dahlia asked, her voice thick and slurred.

Patting her arm, Dasha slung his bow behind his back. "It's time to go home, Lia, Milton," he said. Acting on instinct he plucked a single petal from the rose, and let the rose fall to the ground among the ashes of the silver roses Parel had burned. Silver light glowed fierce and bright -- and then the cave around them disappeared.

They were back in the green meadows of Meridell. The shield, bow, and sword were gone. Dahlia and Milton were staring at their hands in confusion.

"We're... back?" Milton asked, staring at the coin his father had given him.

Dasha nodded. "Looks like it! Looks like everything is... back to normal!"

"So... there was no silver Negg?" Dahlia asked, looking disappointed.

"No... I think Parel must have made it up," Dasha said, surreptitiously tucking the tiny silver Negg-shaped rose bud in his pocket, the bud that had once been a petal. In the same smooth movement, he tucked the pouch of silver seeds out of sight. "Probably for the best. Good Neopets were ready to do horrible things for it."

Milton nodded and shuddered, remembering the deadly silver bits lobbed at them by the entranced Ixi. "Definitely," he said.

"But what about the book and its verse?" Dahlia asked. She and Milton were staring at Dasha for answers.

Dasha could only shrug; that part bothered him too. "Parel was evil. I would guess he made it up... none of the other pages seemed useful after that first bit, right?"

Slowly, the other two nodded agreement. It didn't sit right, but the mysterious book never had gone anywhere.

"Well... now what?" Dahlia asked, looking around. Neither had noticed that Dasha still had the seeds.

Dasha grinned. "Now... we go hunt REAL Neggs!" Milton and Dahlia laughed as Dasha dragged them along. "Come on!" he said. "I want those Easter Neggs!"

The End

Author: agedbeauty
Date: Apr 29th



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