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Week 510
You are on Week 511
Week 512

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 Eleven Ends Friday, June 17

Her precious creation was nearly complete.

All around her, swirling in the consciousness of her mind as if in a warm pool, a lattice of purple gems. They shimmered invitingly, begging for her touch, but she did not. The delicate web of magic that she spent years forming would not be shattered by temptation.

There were three more gaps in the lattice, each yet to be filled by a gem. She left the best quarry for last. After honing her skills with each of the hundreds that peppered the magical net, she felt confident. With patience, her prey would inevitably come to her.

With a stream of thought, she touched the surface of her mind and felt with glee as the ripples spread beyond her shell and into the outside world.

They would come indeed.

***
The blue Yurble barked with surprise as the world flipped upside down. Suddenly his breath was knocked right out of him, and a throbbing pain took control of his arm. He didn't see anything, let alone what had caused him to trip. It was pitch-black in the basement of the Brightvale Museum.

He managed to get himself back on his feet and find the lamp that fell from his hands, turning it on with unsteady fingers. There was the culprit: an upturned, rotten old stool.

"That room to the left of the stairs," Dromo recalled his uncle saying a week before he'd left for the Altador Cup, "get it all nice and clean before I come back."

His uncle was given the job of cleaning the Left Room, but as usual he'd managed to weasel out of it.

Nobody had been in the Left Room for seven whole years. It had originally been an exhibit that featured some of the more unique specimens the museum had to offer, but after a while the exhibit had been moved to the upper levels and the Left Room fell into neglect. Now the museum administration wanted to use it to store important documents, but first it had to be cleaned.

Dromo sneezed and watched the dust rise as a result. The place was a mess. A film of disuse covered everything, chokingly pale. There were mostly old tables and boxes, but there was also an old glass case. It was covered in grime, forgotten. The Yurble went to wipe off some of the dust, only to end up screaming as a bright purple light seared his vision...

Author: Dragonstorm_75
Date: Jun 10th
***

Evelyn, from her post in the Royal Room, heard the crash and Dromo's scream. She glanced around at the handful of visitors and quickly excused herself; she flew down the basement steps, her hooves clip-clipping on the stone, and turned into the Left Room.

"Are you okay? Dromo? I heard--"

She saw him standing next to the old glass case, almost perfectly still, haloed by the purple light.

"I'm fine."

In one hand he held a cloth, as ancient and dusty as the old room, and he rubbed it in circles over the years-thick layer of dust. Slowly more of the violet light shone through.

"You're sure?" the Ixi asked.

"Yes," the Yurble answered. He didn’t turn around to look at his childhood friend. He didn't even tilt his head in her direction.

Evelyn stood there for a moment. She noticed the overturned stool and the general clutter--Dromo was clumsy, after all—but she couldn't help the feeling that something was very, very wrong.

***

Ah, she thought, the sound echoing gently through her mind’s eye, soothing, exhilarating. Her gaze traced the lattice web, each gem sparkling with its own kind of light. Some blazing, some flickering, like candles, and some... some like the newest, alive with a fire that she'd never imagined she could catch. Those were the keystones to her web, the last pieces she needed to fill in.

She paused at the first hole, and smiled.

It came together so nicely near the end. In the beginning, she remembered, it had been hard. Years and years passed between the first gem and the second, between the second and the third, but slowly the gap closed. Days between the ninety-sixth and the ninety-seventh, and then...

Silence. For a decade she languished in the prison of her own making, waiting for the right kind of mind to fall into her trap, resisting the urge to reach through the veil to the real world and snatch one to her.

But the keystones had to be perfect. The other minds... they could be flawed, and perhaps that was best. They would offer the least resistance to her will. But these! She paused when her eyes fell upon the second hole.

So close!

And she grinned, in her own way, as she found the center of the web, a place that until a moment ago had also been a void.

It shone with a light more blue than purple. They always did, when they first arrived -- the fire of resistance, the struggle to escape. She knew it would cool to match the others soon enough.

Ah, she thought, and began the wait anew.

***

"Do you want any help?" Evelyn offered. "I can close the Royal Room, it's really not a problem." The lost revenue would halt the museum's plan to acquire the first crown of Meridell for its collection, but that was a price the Ixi was willing to pay. If only she could shake this feeling!

"No," Dromo answered.

"Okay," Evelyn left the room and started up the stairs, but she heard, drifting from the Left Room, a voice that chilled her to her hooves...

***

"Are you coming?" the Scorchio said, looking back. His younger brother had stopped on the edge of the clearing and was staring into the woods. "Don't go in there. The Witcher will get you!" he said, laughing.

"Like she wants me," the Shoyru replied, stepping over a knot of roots. "Hey Alister, I think I see something. Come look at this."

"We don’t have time. We're going to be late as it is."

He walked back toward Matias and peered into the woods, too. "It's just an old house."

"It's never been there before. Come on! Let's go!" Matias darted into the forest before Alister could stop him, and the Scorchio was left with no choice but to follow. As he chased his brother through into the woods, something glittering caught his eye...

Author: phadalusfish
Date: Jun 13th
Instinctively, he bent down to get a better look at what it was, but before he could get a better look, it was gone.

Vanished before his very eyes.

"Come on!" Matias called, pausing. "Hurry it up!"

Alister blinked, wondering if the sparkling object would return if he stared long enough. It didn't, and the Scorchio followed his brother in the direction of the house.

***

Wondering what it could be, Evelyn debated on whether to check it out herself or to get someone else. Did old museum rooms always have random voices talking? It was common in horror stories, but she knew that they always turned out to be some random visitor who had wandered into the exhibit by accident... Then again, fiction wasn't exactly an accurate portrayal of real life situations. She'd play it safe and find someone to see what it was with her.

"Dromo!" she called. "You hear that?"

At the bottom of the stairs, Dromo looked up and listened intently for a few seconds.

"Is someone... talking to me?" he asked, visibly confused.

"That's what I thought..." mused Evelyn. "It's coming from the Left Room. Let's go see what it is."

***

Two gaps left. Two holes left to fill.

A smile spread across her face, as she stared intently at the newly arrived gem, slowly turning purple to match the rest. She resisted the urge to run her hands over the lattice, to take in the power and magic, for doing so would render the entire project useless.

As the newest gem settled down in its new home, she then turned a critical eye to it, surveying and calculating. Where had this one been? Whose was it? There had been gems from all over the world, as far as the eye could see; the highest reaches of the sky, the deepest, darkest depths of the sea... Snow-capped mountains, sandy, windy, deserts... Beaches with golden sands, lakes and islands...

This last one, she knew, was from a museum.

Two remained, until life was just a thing of the past, death to be forgotten. Ninety-eight lifetimes, all woven into her web, each one helping achieve that final, absolute, goal, of life...

Author: chocolate_lover67
Date: Jun 14th
Evelyn strode confidently toward the Left Room, the clicking of her hooves muffled on the worn floor of the museum basement. At the base of the stairs, her friend was standing, and he looked... lost, she finally decided. As if he had wandered into a building he had never seen before.

"C'mon, Dromo – let's check out that voice," she said, doing her best to infuse her voice with warmth. For long moments it seemed as if Dromo would stay behind, but eventually, blank-faced, he trailed uncertainly behind her. His eyes were glassy, the old cloth clutched in his hand like a security blanket, and if questioned, his answers were vague, unsure... the more they walked and the more one-sided the conversation became, the more sure she was that something was very, very wrong with her friend.

And somehow... somehow she knew it was connected to the Left Room. The door was shut now, though she was sure it had been open only moments before. Growling mentally at the door to the dusty old room, she gave the door a great shove as she twisted the door knob, ready to charge in and confront the menace – stubbornly, though, the door refused to open. An absurd urge to bang her fists uselessly against the door bubbled up within her, but while the notion amused her, she quickly ignored it.

"Here, help me get this open, Dromo," she said, turning to her friend, but to her shock, the Yurble was no longer behind her.

***

Ah, she thought, and smiled. As she watched, her newest treasure flared vivid, brilliant blue – and faded softly into the cool violet radiance of the others. Only a brilliant blue heart showed the strength of the mind it had ensnared.

Hers now, she knew, and so she smiled again. The web was growing stronger, stronger, stronger... she had had good reason to save these minds for last. Had they been the first, the web might have been destroyed... but as the last, with the weight of the rest pressing in on them, they were soon drawn into the rest...

And so there are but two, she thought, staring at the final holes within the lattice. She could not help but stroke the air above the web, tracing the shape with her mind’s eye. And the next mind... the 99th... was close. Soon... so soon. So very soon...

***

Alister paused at the door to the house; it was a rambling one, decrepit from lack of care. Whoever had owned this Neohome once upon a time was long gone, and the neglected property showed it with every creak, every bit of paint flaking off. The door's hinges screamed ominously as it swung in the aftermath of his brother’s energetic entrance, but that was not enough to scare the Scorchio who had spent the night in the Haunted House in the woods. No, not enough.

The air around the house was deadly still, as if a breeze hadn't blown on the property in years, and yet ragged, moulding curtains wafted on a breeze that didn’t seem to exist. But that wasn’t enough to scare Alister.

Before his brother had stumbled on the house, they had been baking in the summer heat; the weather was practically balmy, but around the house the very soil beneath his feet seemed frigid. The temperature change was so severe he absently wished he had worn his coat that morning, though how he could have foreseen the need for it wasn't immediately clear to his fright-chilled mind. But that wasn't enough to scare Alister either.

But heard and unheard, there was a voice... a voice that welcomed him. A voice that called him, wanted him... a voice he knew, a voice he'd heard before, and yet one that belonged to someone he was sure he had never met. A voice that told him to just walk inside, to just go through the doorway...

...and that was enough to scare Alister.

***

Evelyn frowned at the empty hallway behind her, and the footsteps in the dust that lead toward the room... but that, oddly, didn't lead away. But... she and Dromo had been in the Left Room. They had walked away from it. Where had the footsteps gone?

Behind the Ixi, a film of ice crept slowly from the bottom of the door upward. Turning back to the door, her eyes went wide as she took in the growing layer of frost; while Brightvale was far from a tropical clime, ice in the month of Relaxing was all but unheard of. Only the most ancient tales told of summer ice, and none of them were pleasant...

Evelyn was rudely shaken from her dark ruminations by a cold hand on her shoulder. Throwing the hand away from her, she spun to confront the one that had so suddenly interrupted her train of thought – and gasped.

"You must run!" The voice penetrated her ears, but she was frozen; she saw nothing but the eyes of the being in front of her – they were vivid, vivid blue... almost like a facetted sapphire.

"Run!" it said again, and oh, how she wanted to. At that moment, she wanted nothing better than to run as far away from those eyes as she could, but from behind her came the most horrendous crack...

Author: agedbeauty
Date: Jun 14th
***

No, she thought, a frown creasing her forehead. She watched as the heart of blue, only a tinge of it left now, suddenly flared into life. The brilliant cerulean hue seemed to grow brighter, threatening to swallow the purple.

The fool, she thought contemptuously. This one must be resisting, fighting back - it was a strong mind, she could see, one which would never give up, but relinquish struggle only with death. It would take a little longer, but she anticipated subduing it eventually.

She turned her eyes to the 99th hole - the next mind was tantalizingly close, she noted. And not very far away, she could view the outline of the last and final piece, the triumphant conclusion to her web, a mind beyond all the others she'd trapped so far. An expression that could have been a smile appeared on her face - she would enjoy trapping that last one very much indeed, and not merely because it completed her web. She would relish the challenge. Her magical skills had been specially honed for just this occasion; she could feel the power beating in her strongly, impatiently, waiting for release.

Patience, she whispered to herself. She had waited so long, and could afford to wait twenty four hours more, when all would be done.

***

Evelyn felt dizzy. Her head hurt when she tried to move it. Ignoring the pain, she looked up from the wall which she'd been thrown to when the iron door had shattered with the crack that had nearly deafened her.

Looking through the door, Evelyn saw a great haze of purple light. In the middle of it, there seemed a spot of blue. She squinted, and made out the blurry, but clear enough, outline of a blue Yurble. Evelyn hardly registered that she wasn't calling him, even mentally, as Dromo. It was as though she knew unconsciously that her friend wasn't in that form she saw before her. One thing she knew for sure, though, was he needed help.

She stumbled as she walked over the shrapnel littering the ground. The purple light was everywhere, blinding her with its intensity. Only the sight of the blue fur in front of her kept her going. "I'm coming, Dromo," she whispered. "I'm going to help you."

***

The penultimate mind was approaching: she would now have two in one swoop. The last one was hers as well, but she didn't want to rush things. It would return, though, when she'd made sure of the other two - there was no fear of that.

***

"We'd better be getting home," called Alister to his brother, turning back from the house. He didn't want to linger here another second, where the house seemed to look at him with queer furtive eyes, as though concealing some great terrible secret.

Matias looked disappointed. "But we haven't even explored it yet!" he wailed.

"We can come some other time," Alister hedged. Then, seeing his brother's downcast look, he relented. "Alright, but let's bring some torches and stuff, shall we? I don't want to get lost in a dark, dank house."

Matias brightened, and they set off. Alister glanced back at the house, his unease somehow vanished. Perhaps it was because the voice had stopped talking, or the prospect of bringing some torches and food had cheered him up. Either way, it didn't seem such a bad idea at all to get into the old, musty building after all...

Author: book_lover_me
Date: Jun 15th
The brothers wandered back down the path that they had first come, back through the woods. Alister kept his eyes out, remembering the gem that was discarded along the pathway. Matias seemed unfazed by the voices, perhaps he had not even heard them. If he hadn't, Alister felt he had to prove to himself that he wasn't going mad.

Finally, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a purple hue emanating from the foliage. Alister grabbed Matias's arm and pulled the Shoyru up short, pointing him in the direction of the softly glowing color.

"Do you see that there? The purple glow?" Alister asked the Shoyru, his eyes washing over Matias's face, looking for recognition. There was none.

Matius shook his head, "I don't see anything, Alister." The Shoyru eyed his brother's face warily. "Are you ok, you getting sick or something?" He asked jokingly, touching his brother's forehead as if to test his temperature.

Alister shook the hand off his forehead and began dragging Matius to the spot. "I'm not sick, come look at this!"

The Shoyru sighed loudly as his brother caused him to trip over a large root as he was yanked into the brush. Finally, Alister stopped, his eyes wide as the purple gem glowed up at him, beckoning him in.

"Look at it, Matius, isn't it beautiful?" Alister spoke softly, his eyes unwavering.

Matius looked at his brother with confusion. "Alister, there's nothing there except a rock." The Shoyru confirmed his statement by leaning down and picking up the glorious purple gem. Alister reached out his claws toward his brother, wanting the gem.

"Why do you want this?" Matius continued, poking the Scorchio to try to break him out of his stupor. The Shoyru examined the rock within his claws; it was as ordinary as any he had ever seen, but Alister looked like it was the most amazing rock ever.

The Shoyru pulled the rock away from Alister's reaching hands and tucked it into his own pocket. "I'll just hang on to this until you don't look so... weird. If you want this rock so bad, you'll have to take me back to the house tomorrow!"

Alister shook his head out, as if breaking out of a trance. He nodded glumly, his eyes still at Matius's pocket where the prize lay. He would get the gem that called to him so beautifully, beckoning him with every step he took.

***

The edges of the 99th gem began to glow a dark purple. The trap had been sprung and the captive was within the reaches of its permanent place in her lattice. It was of little excitement to her, the unfortunate rebellion of the 98th gem taking precedence.

The last missing gem's edges began to solidify. The corners of her mouth began to curl upwards. The three gems were in their place, now just to secure them, and secure them well. The turmoil that the 98th gem started to create had an effect on the last gem in her lattice. So very closely connected the two gems were, she wondered if she should be worried.

Her spells were so strong, her work was so thorough. As strong as this one's mind could be, she would still take control of it, and finish her lattice... it was all coming into place. It had to, or everything she had worked on for so long would be wasted. If even a single gem were to falter, all would be lost.

Her fingers rested a breath away from the struggling gem. If she could only interject, ease his struggle and create a calm upon it, it would be hers. She had to find a way to connect to the gem, without destroying her work.

***

Evelyn raised her hoof over her eyes, fighting the violent glare of color that assaulted her. The brilliant hue's origin was a glass case on the opposite side of the room, a simple pane of glass that Dromo and the gem that caused Evelyn so much unrest.

"Dromo, can you hear me?" Evelyn yelled, pushing herself toward the Yurble. It wasn't just a color that assaulted the Ixi, it was as if that glow had a force behind it, strong enough to keep her at bay, to keep her away from Dromo. Evelyn was tireless though, and fought her way into the room. She shut her eyes tight and used all four hooves to propel herself forward, one step at a time.

She could feel the force pushing harder on her every inch she got closer to the mesmerized Yurble. She could see Dromo's rag moving slowly in a small, repeated circle, as if he were entranced to dust over the gem constantly.

Softly, she could hear it again, the soft voice in the back of her mind, the one that came with a pair of ice blue eyes.

"Run," it warned again, softly at first, but growing with every step she took into the room. "Leave him and run."

Evelyn yelled back out into the room, "I will not leave my friend!"

With that, the Ixi leapt forward the few feet to connect with Dromo. All at once, the voice begging her to leave stopped. The gem's brilliant glow exploded from its rich purple hue into a brilliant and blinding white blast. Evelyn's hoof tucked itself into Dromo's paw, and she held on to her friend with all her might.

When the bright light finally faded, Evelyn meekly opened her eyes. What she saw made her gasp...

Author: filter
Date: Jun 15th
…a web, a lattice, but with gems filling the holes, each one a bright, iridescent purple. Two were missing, though; two holes were empty, and it was hollow and empty and imperfect and--

"Evelyn," someone was saying. "Evelyn."

Her eyes flew open.

"Did you see that?" she demanded, leaping up. Only then did she realize that she had fallen to the ground.

"See what?" asked Dromo.

"That… the web! The gems!"

Dromo stared at her quizzically.

"Didn't you see that?" she repeated. "It was there, I swear it was there!"

Her friend's only reply was to shake his head. "I didn't see a thing. Are you sure you feel alright? Did you hit your head or something?"

***

"Cheer up," Matius urged.

Sulking, Alister shot his brother a poisonous glare before saying, "How can I cheer up when you just took that from me?"

"This rock?"

From his pocket, the Shoyru took out the rock, ordinary looking to him, but a spectacular purple gemstone to Alister. He tossed it up and down a few times, as though to emphasize his point: this was nothing more than a regular stone from the woods.

Alister glowered at him, saying nothing more.

All of a sudden, Matius dropped the rock, letting out a yelp of pain.

"What was that for?" asked Alister, picking up the gem. "You don't need to be so dramatic…"

"It… burned me!" yelled Matius in terror.

Alister turned it over in his palm a few times before saying, "It seems perfectly fine to me…"

"Well, you can take it," said Matius. "I'm not risking that again…"

Slipping it into his pocket, Alister followed his brother back through the forest.

***

She could tell that the gems were working. They did their job well, although that was mostly attributed to her magic, her spells. The last two minds, stronger than the rest, could be captured like the rest.

They all could.

Ninety-eight times she had done this, gemstones seeking out those of able minds, those whose lives could be added to hers, extend her lifespan… with these final two, she would have done it.

Centuries would be hers. Their years added to hers, their thoughts meshed with those of her. She would have forever.

They were doing their job well. The final two, no matter how strong of mind and character they were, would develop that emotional bond, trust and depend on their gems. And that was when they were most vulnerable…

Author: chocolate_lover67
Date: Jun 16th
***
They fell through a trap door and slid down a slide that looped around. Evelyn was about to fall off the slide until Domo grabbed her. Evelyn and Dromo looked around at this secret underground place that they'd uncovered and saw that someone had stored a secret treasure box there.

The two best friends looked around, then ran outside with shovels. They looked for ten minutes before finding a bunch of keys on a chain. They went back to the treasure chest and tried every single key until it opened.

Inside the chest they found gold, jewels, and jewelry. They grabbed the chest and started for home, excited about splitting their riches when they got back.

"This is, like, the best day ever of my whole entire life!" Dromo declared...

Author: amc126
Date: Jun 16th
Evelyn nodded, grinning wildly. "This is--"

This isn't right.

The Ixi frowned and clutched her head. Something... her vision warped before her... she saw the jewels, Dromo's grinning face, then the dusty corridor of the museum, the treasure, purple, darkness, the color purple, glowing, shimmering, a skeletal smile bathed in violet light...

She stumbled back.

"Evelyn?" Dromo asked. She looked at her friend, and her vision seemed to steady. He was placing a tiara on her head, she could see her reflection in a jeweled mirror. "Isn't this the greatest day of your entire life?"

Evelyn stared at her reflection, the jewels around her neck, sparkling, shimmering. There seemed to be a jewel for every color of the rainbow - red, blue, green, amber...

She nodded slowly, as if in a daze, as if in a dream.

* * *

The web was glowing brighter now.

She smiled. Oh, how she smiled. What little teeth were left in her mouth were bared in a grin. Her fingers, long, slim, twigs, bones, started to shake with anticipation. The final stone, the 100th, it was just starting to sink in, a hazy violet, but almost... the other stones were solidifying as well, even the blue one was starting to change. The interference had to be the one the final stone had. And now that that was taken care of...

Oh, how she had longed for this day. To live and breathe again. It was so close. She could feel it in her bones. Her bones, her bones, her bones... it was the only thing she had left, besides her magic.

They had taken everything else away, but they would not take this.

* * *

"You kept it?"

"Of course I kept it. Can't you see how beautiful it is?"

"But... but it's just a rock! Just an ordinary rock!"

"Is it, really? Well, in that case, why should it matter whether I keep it or not?"

"Because it's... because it's evil. It-it burned me! Quick, Alister, you have to get rid of it... before... before..."

"Before what, Matias? I don't see why you're panicking... after all, how could something so beautiful possibly be evil?"

* * *

Her beauty, her health, her breath... soon it would all be returned to her.

So what if it was thievery? They wouldn't care. Soon they'd forget they'd ever lived at all. Once her magic captured her victims' minds and bodies, transferring their energy to her, their minds would go to rest in other places. Illusions of her own creation, illusions that changed to their will...

They would know no difference between what was real and what wasn't anymore. Her magic would make sure of that. They would be living in a dream world, filled with riches and wonder, for the rest of their lives...

Forever... it was such a beautiful thing.

What did it matter if it wasn't real?

It would be for her, though.

She smiled, and for the very last time, waited.

* * *

"Don't you wish every day could be like this?" Dromo asked.

Fyora, why was her head so heavy? Why was she so tired? Something... something wasn't right... what wasn't right?

"Forever, it's such a beautiful thing, isn't it?"

She looked at Dromo, at her reflection, at the treasure all around her.

"Isn't that your greatest wish, Evelyn?"

She was halfway toward another nod when she stopped. She looked at the jewels, their multitude of colors. Something... it wasn't right. Something... something was missing. That's what it was.

The fog in her head seemed to get heavier and heavier. Think, Evelyn, think. You're from Brightvale, for crying out loud! It's what you do best! This... what is missing? What isn't right? This isn't... this isn't...

Gold, silver, bronze, marble, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, turquoise, pink, red...

Purple.

Where was all the purple?

Her eyes snapped open.

Colors swarmed.

The illusion shattered.

She found herself in a cold, dark room...

Author: reveirie
Date: Jun 17th
Evelyn's eardrums started to pound as her eyes adjusted to the dark room. So familiar, yet so strange. She knew in her mind it was the Left Room, the room that entrapped her friend Dromo. The room that drew her away from the world she knew and into strange dreams. Dreams that beckoned her in and forbade her to leave.

The pounding grew louder. The Ixi tried to shake her head out, but the feeling would have none of it. Filtering through the thundering in her head, she could hear the whispers. The faint, familiar sound of the one that had begged her to run. There were more now, several, all different voices, but attesting to the same cause. The cause for her to escape.

Evelyn rested her hoof on her Yurble friend's arm. Dromo looked so very far away, even though he was right beside her. His eyes were washed away, the vibrant blue color now just a dim whispering of purple. A smile was streaked across Dromo's face. He was happy, wherever he was now.

The voices grew louder as the Ixi surveyed her friend. The whispering sounds gathering around her, encircling her, begging her. The words were so very hard to hear. Evelyn's ear perked up, as one voice changed its tune. Its words warping from the warning to escape to something more.

The Ixi turned her eyes toward the display, where the voices seem to gravitate from, and gasped.

***

Her eyes grazed over her web. Every beautiful and pristine gem glittered and grinned at her, representing all those who'd give themselves willingly to her cause. Well, willingly enough now. She started at the beginning, taking a moment to recollect the first of the beings that gave themselves to her. She proceeded to the next, then the one after, recounting their struggles, their journeys from their lives into her beautiful trap. Each story was its own, and she had all the time in the world to remember each and every one of them. She almost respected them, admired them - each Neopet that handed over their youth, their innocence, their life for her quest, all for her.

The moments ticked on as her eyes climbed the web, circling the gems as she neared the keystones. When her thoughts reached 98, she smiled, the cold, hard gemstone a deep purple. It had succumbed to her will, to the dreams she had created for it. She made the Neopet happy, gave them a wonderful thought to drift away on. They would be so happy now, in her web, ready to give their life to her.

She turned to watch as the 99th finally began to cool, the being connected to it finally succumbing to her power.

***

Matius turned just as Alister dropped to his knees, the Scorchio's eyes enraptured with the gem within his claws. The Shoyru ran over to his fallen brother, tugging at Alister's arm.

"Alister! What's wrong? What's going on?!?" Matius cried out, fearful for his brother. Alister's eyes were open, but barely there. His gaze was steadfast and faraway. Matius waved his paw in front of Alister's eyes, but to no avail, nothing registered from the Shoyru's quick movements.

Noticing the tainted rock within his brother's claws, Matius tugged at the stone, trying to free it from Alister's grasp. Alister's claws were locked tightly around the rock, no amount of force could release it from the Scorchio's grasp. It was almost as if they were connected somehow, the stone was now a part of Alister.

Matius screamed out in fear, looking around for help. Only one tiny thought finally broke its way into his frightened mind. With a reassuring pat upon Alister's shoulder, Matius took off, running at top speed back through the woods, back to the old house hidden in the forest.

***

She purred contently to herself as the 99th gem happily settled into place. Her happiness, her long and tireless quest, was about to finally be complete. All those years, those decades -- waiting, hoping... finally, just finally -- were at an end. A huge grin stretched across her face as she finally turned to the center of the web, to her most precious prize, the most important keystone.

The edges of her smile twitched oddly as her brain tried to comprehend what her eyes seemed to be telling her. Her keystone, which would need to be a vibrant and loyal purple to complete her web, was anything but. The keystone seemed to be an ever-changing array of colors, a torrent of a rainbow trapped within its crystalline shell. She gasped softly to herself as she noticed that the edges of the gems surrounding her keystone were a scarred, red color, as if the keystone could be causing a corruption to her web.

No, she gasped, this cannot be. Her bony hands waved over the surrounding gems, hoping to calm their ire, to get them to help ease the way for the center keystone. Her movements were rash and fickle, though; she had not expected this, nor prepared for it. The keystone was draining the power out of its surrounding gems. Those souls, those trapped within her powerful web, had a chance to escape now. Something had to be done, and fast.

She turned her focus to the keystone, ancient words slipping past her lips. Spells, curses, magical prophecies, anything in her power she could muster now, she did. The center keystone, the 100th gem that would complete her net, took these words, these spells and castings, into itself. The colors started to calm, but not return into their normal solid colors. The keystone seemed to have drained itself, the vibrant colors melting away to leave a clear and glassy exterior. No longer a gem caught within the center of a lattice. The clear gem was now a window.

A face was looking back at her.

***

Matius's breath wheezed out of his mouth in short bursts. Every ounce of strength he could muster he pushed through his legs to carry him faster toward the old house. If it was true, if Matius let his brother's stories get to him and there was a Witcher in the old decrepit Neohome, perhaps she would know how to help his brother. All Matius could do was hope and try.

The Shoyru tripped up the front steps of the old Neohome, landing in the strange frost that caked itself over the ancient wood of the porch. The door was still open from their previous venture, no living being having entered the domicile since. Matius bit his lip and ran inside. The house was dark, so very dark, but Matius had no torch or lamp to guide his way, just dusty old windows offering little light and his trembling hands held out in front of him.

When an examination of the ground floor of the house turned up nothing, Matius swallowed his fear down hard as he turned to the stairs. Warily, he climbed the creaking old steps, each loud crack of the wood causing his heart to jump. He had no choice, though; he had to save his brother. The Shoyru pressed on.

Each room held nothing of interest to Matius, nobody waiting to offer him salvation for his brother. It was the final door at the end of the hall that finally gave Matius the glimmer of hope he was so desperately begging for. Though the hall was so very dark, and each room just the same, this last door seemed to block out the light that the room behind it created. Too bright to be natural, Matius's heart thumped wildly as he thought about who could be behind it. Ever so slowly, he opened the door.

The strangest vision met the young Shoyru's eyes as he entered the room. A large ball of ice filled the space within the room's confines. The bright light emanated from inside, shimmering in a soft purple hue. The shadow of movement graced the ice's frosty interior. Someone or something was moving inside the ice-created shell.

"Hello?" Matius called out softly. No answer came from the ice capsule, no recollection from the shadow inside. He called out louder still, and once again, his voice was ignored. Matius leaned forward to rap loudly upon the icy shell, but even that had no more effect than freezing the tips of the Shoyru's knuckles.

The fear began to well up again for his brother, a deep fear that edged the line of Matius's emotions. There was nothing he wouldn't do to help his brother, and if this person within the shell of ice could help the Scorchio, then Matius would stop at nothing to make sure they did just that. The Shoyru's eyes grazed across the free space of the room until he finally saw what he had hoped for.

***

Evelyn's jaw dropped; even the voices surrounding her had nowhere near the effect on her as the clear glassy display did. She could see a purple and red tint edge to the giant glass window in front of her, but it was not so much the placement of a window in the middle of the room that surprised her. It was more along the lines of the being staring back at her.

A withered old creature looked wide-eyed back at Evelyn, both parties being as shocked as the other that this silent exchange was taking place. Evelyn's eyes roamed the being, for she had never seen anything like it. The creature had no fur, nor hair... nothing but the age of time upon its old skin, barely holding its bones together. It was as if time itself was trying to contact Evelyn, time itself with its wide, fearful eyes.

A feeling washed over Evelyn, and she swiftly glanced toward Dromo. He was connected to this, to the glass, to the gems, to the creature behind the window. She could feel it inside her, and the only way to save him was to do something about it. The Ixi reared up in anger, her eyes red but strong; her only thought was to destroy whatever was trapping him, trapping them, and it was this creature.

Evelyn brought her hoofs down sharply upon the glass window. The crystal clear visage did not mar nor chip at all. The glass held firm, and the creature behind it was raising its hands at the window, as if to keep Evelyn at bay. Evelyn struck again, and then once more, repeatedly attacking the glass as the being behind it tried to fend her off.

***

Every bit of focus she had went into containing that gem. Never had she imagined that this would happen; she had not touched the web at all, yet it connected her to the last soul of the keystone. A very agitated soul, who she could barely keep from destroying the connection. She knew the Ixi would tire, though, and then in that vulnerable moment she would claim her prize and complete the net. She just had to keep up her concentration until then -- a task that seemed simple enough.

When the faint rapping sound began behind her, a shiver ran up her bony spine. Something was outside her shell; someone had found her here, so deep within her hidden home. She did not fear as much as she should have, for the thick ice was too difficult for anyone to penetrate. The fight would be over soon; she would collect her soul, finish her net, and begin her life anew... then she would deal with the issue outside her cocoon.

She was so sure of that, until she heard the crack.

***

Matius swung the wooden plank with all his might. Tiny flecks of ice flew off the ice tomb like shrapnel, the Shoyru turning his face away as the bits pelted him. He swung again, over and over, even when his arms burned in agony. He could see the crack he created start to grow, and the bright purple light seeping out of the seams. So close now, it was no longer the fear for his brother that drove his swings. It was something more, as if this was a duty he needed to fulfill, as if getting inside the ice shell was the only task he had left in the world.

The Shoyru swung once more, and as the ice shell crack finally broke open and the ice began to break apart, he finally found out why.

***

She turned from her task, her focus diverted, one hand raising above her to stop the ice from collapsing in on her, from crushing herself and her glorious lattice. That one moment to save her life was the very one that ended her.

She could see it from the corner of her eye. The black hoof that connected with the glassy surface of the gem's interior. She could no longer hold the Ixi at bay as her secret shell was turned to ruins. The crack that echoed from the gem's surface rang out throughout the room, piercing through the ice and shattering it all into dust.

Her eyes met with the young Shoyru's as he watched his jaw drop in surprise. He was no longer looking at her strange and decrepit form, however. His eyes were upon her lattice, and soon hers were as well.

That single crack raced through each and every gem of her lattice, her life's work -- the single thing keeping her withering spirit to this world. Colors leaked out of every gem, the dark purple hues she had known so well washing away, each gem turning a brilliant blue before dimming out into a transparent crystal shell. No eyes looked back at her from these, except the one last surprised Ixi, her face distorted behind the broken glass.

She huffed softly as she watched the Ixi turn to her friend, a bright blue Yurble who was beginning to stir. She watched as the Ixi wrapped her arms around her friend, who reciprocated in kind. She watched as they both looked toward her one more time before the vision within the gem finally disappeared once and for all.

She watched as the Shoyru hovered over her, asking repeatedly if she was ok. His words sounded faraway, so very quiet. She closed her eyes and felt herself start to drift away. She wondered if this was how all her captured souls felt when she took them. She knew how happy they would be now, a real happiness, as they returned to their lives.

She would never return to hers.

The End

Author: filter
Date: Jun 17th



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