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||You are on Week 524
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 Twenty Four Ends Friday, September 16
|Dear Miss Regina,
Congratulations! You are one of only five lucky individuals to win an all-expenses paid trip to Adventure Isle! Pack your bags now, because it will be a trip to remember.
Several years ago, mysterious millionaire Zane George secluded himself from the rest of Neopia to undertake a project of great secrecy. That project has finally been revealed in Adventure Isle - the only island amusement park! This massive island was found deep in the ocean, far away from any other land, and Mr. George spared no expense turning it into the most amazing, breathtaking, and exciting amusement park that has ever been seen.
Adventure Isle will soon be open to the public, but Mr. George has decided a preview of this wondrous place was needed. Five lucky individuals were chosen, and you, Miss Regina, are among those! Enclosed you will find two tickets for a private luxury cruiser. You and a friend will take a fabulous yacht to the island, where everything will be free. All rides, food, games, etc. will be at absolutely no cost to you! It will be like having your own private amusement park.
The departure date is written upon the tickets. Make sure to be on time, because once this ship sails, so will the adventure!
Again, congratulations and we look forward to seeing you soon!
Date: Sep 12th
Regina stared at the letter, gaping with disbelief. She had never won anything in her life. In fact, her friends and family all agreed that she was one of the unluckiest Poogles they'd ever known. She never got anything from Tombola, got water in her eyes at Apple Bobbing Bart's stand, and once, when she got up the nerve to try the Wheel of Monotony, it rained fireballs down on her! She had completely forgotten about the Adventure Isle contest... and yet, in her hands, there was the best thing that had ever happened in her life.
"Come on, Reggie. What does it say? You've been staring at that thing for, like, an hour now. Fork it over!" Her impatient sister, Renee, crowded over her shoulder to skim the letter.
"How many times have I asked you not to call me 'Reggie?'" Regina complained softly, but her mind was elsewhere. An island amusement park! A luxury cruise! Free food, rides, games! She had never even ridden a carousel, let alone carnival rides. She wasn't exactly the adventuring type - it always seemed to end in disaster for her. She flinched as her sister let out an exultant whoop.
"We're going on a cruise! Woo-hoo, you finally did something exciting, big sister! Obviously you're taking me along -- let's go pack swimsuits!" the excited Wocky crowed, waving the tickets in the air and dancing with glee.
Regina smiled weakly at her, still in shock from the amazing windfall. Something... didn't quite feel right, though. Had she gotten lucky for the first time in her life, or could this be unfortunate after all?
Date: Sep 12th
Renee was dancing around excitedly, flapping one ticket in each paw like a Beekadoodle would. Just as Regina was about to snatch them back, the door opened and their older brother Ray entered. The Lenny took one look at his two younger sisters and spotted the tickets immediately.
"What's all this, then?" he asked casually.
"Regina's taking me with her to Adventure Isle!" the Wocky exclaimed before Regina could open her mouth.
"Well, what do you know?" he said, walking over and taking one of the tickets from Renee, "Reggie finally got lucky."
The Poogle, in every way that was possible, drooped. Her accident-prone life had become a source of friendly teasing from friends and family alike, but Regina didn't find any of it funny, not a single syllable. She marched over to her siblings and snatched the tickets back, rolling them up safely inside the letter and stuffing it in her pocket.
"I'm not taking either of you," she said quietly. Renee's jaw dropped in disbelief.
"Not taking me? Well then, who are you going to take?" she pestered, looking more than a little hurt.
"I'm not taking anyone. I'm not going,” the Poogle said stoutly.
The other two gawped for a moment.
"If you're not going, then why can't I take your place?" Renee asked sourly.
Ray shushed the Wocky by treading on her paw. She gasped, but the look on her big brother's face made her feel so guilty that she apologized and left. The Lenny moved forward and put his wing on Regina's shoulder; a gentle question hidden in the gesture.
"It's my luck," she said quietly, "I know nothing good can come of this if these tickets have come to me. It's just a glimpse of something good that will eventually turn bad, so I've decided that I'm not going.”
"You know, there are two sides to every story. Maybe all that bad luck was actually leading up to this? The sheer good luck of this had to be balanced out with a lot of bad luck first – like loading up a pair of scales, only they loaded the bad luck side before depositing these tickets onto the good side." The Lenny patted her shoulder gently and left.
Regina withdrew the tickets again and stared at them, making her mind up...
Date: Sep 13th
"Who should I take, then?" Regina asked, her voice still filled with hesitance. Her brother, understanding her made up mind, smiled at his sister’s newfound courage. Gently he nudged a ticket with his wing, slipping it from her paws. He looked it over with an expression of curiosity yet only muted interest. It was the kind of look he gave a delicious piece of food when he was already full. She already knew what he was going to say by the time he started saying it.
"Well, I'm travelling to Moltara for my schooling next week, so unfortunately I cannot attend, and Mum would likely not allow young Renee to attend, especially with school starting up again soon." He looked at the ticket and smiled, tipping it back to her. "Have you considered braving it alone?"
Regina fell into thought as she took the ticket back. She had never really been alone before, not for an extended period, and yet, for all her nervousness, she found herself growing excited at the prospect. It wasn't so much that she didn't have anyone to take, but maybe her luck was changing. Maybe this really was the tipping point. She looked at her brother, as if seeking permission, before she took the thin piece of paper and crumpled it into a tiny ball, tossing it into the nearest waste bin with undisguised gusto.
The ship was massive -- seemingly too large for just ten, or rather, nine contest winners. Even standing next to it, with her family in awe behind her, the Poogle felt lost. Its wooden finish was smooth and glossy, as if just polished, and the tall masts and sails that hung loosely in the poor Neopia Central port wind were twice the size of any ship surrounding it. The other contestant winners, some saying goodbye to family and some just standing with their travel mate of choice, were the only others standing on the dock.
A fog horn called into the harbor, signaling the crew had finished preparation and the ship, dubbed the Round-and-Back, was ready to be boarded. Regina turned and wished her family well, choking back tears of nervousness and excitement. Her departure was filled with wishes of good times and a grudging goodbye from her sister, who was still sour about being unable to attend. Regina then took to Round-and-Back's deck. Seven others waved goodbye as the ship took sail and slipped from shore.
In no more than an hour, Regina still watching the passing sea from the deck. Neopia Central, so huge when they'd first set sail, was now no more than a speck on the horizon... and then it was gone entirely. With the harbor long gone, the sea winds began to pick up and pull at the sails of the ship. The captain at the helm, turning slightly this way and that, guided the rocking ship as it bolted toward deep blue waters and an island the Poogle could only dream about. It was in the midst of these dreams that someone interrupted her thoughts.
"Hello!" two tall Kyrii said in unison, a wide smile on each of their faces. Next to them a blue Shoyru smiled nervously.
"I'm Vic!" the one on the right said, tilting his top hat slightly to the right. The other Kyrii smirked, tipping his own identical hat ever so slightly to the left (the only way to tell the two apart, it seemed) before saying, "And I'm Sam!"
"I won the contest and brought him," each said, again in perfect harmony, pointing toward the other. Of course, Regina thought while laughing to herself, this seems to contradict things. The two Kyrii turned toward each other aghast.
"You didn't win! I did! Don't you remember?" the two bickered, the first comment launching the twins into a quarrel that didn't seem as if it would be over any time soon. The Shoyru smiled bashfully before extending his hand to Regina, which she shook, still amused by the two brothers.
"Hi, I'm Igneous, but you can call me Iggy. Did you come alone?" he asked quietly and shyly.
"Hello, I'm Regina, and yeah... you, too?" the Poogle asked, watching a few crew members go about unfurling sails from the corner of her eyes. Igneous nodded, catching on as well and turning to watch. They stood like that for a moment until dinner was announced and the four Neopets made their way beneath the deck...
Date: Sep 13th
As it turned out, there was already someone sitting at the table. A thin, rather pale-looking Kacheek looked up as the four of them entered, nervously wringing her hands in her lap.
"Hello!" said the Kyrii on the right, tipping his hat.
"Hello!" said the Kyrii on the left, following suit.
They went through their greetings, the Kacheek staring at them with bewilderment.
"Hi," said Regina, smiling. She understood the Kacheek's anxiety at being on a cruise with strangers, as that was how she was feeling just minutes ago. "What's your name?"
The Kacheek blinked. She was silent for a second, then mumbled something that Regina couldn't quite comprehend.
"I didn't get that, sorry," said the Poogle apologetically. "Could you repeat that, please?"
Looking as though she wanted to disappear, the Kacheek miserably stammered, "Gretchen…"
"It's great to meet you, Gretch," said one of the Kyrii, grabbing her hand and shaking it energetically. "Mind if we call you that?"
Iggy, who had remained relatively quiet until then, spoke up.
"Lighten up, you guys," he said. "She's probably really overwhelmed right now…"
Immediately, the twins' faces fell.
"We didn't mean to overwhelm you."
"We were just really glad to meet you!"
Regina laughed slightly. "Alright, I'm going to get something to eat," she said. "Anyone wanna come with?"
She was just heading toward the buffet table when the ship rocked violently and tossed her to the floor.
"These seas sure are rough," she muttered, picking herself up. That was only the start of it, though. Regina was starting to think her bad luck had returned, as a storm had begun...
Date: Sep 14th
The Round-and-Back emitted a shuddering groan, beams protesting the turbulent waves that began to rock it back and forth. Regina pressed herself against the wall, her heart racing, Poogle fur standing on end.
"This was a mistake," she muttered frantically under her breath, violently regretting her decision to come. At least she had not dragged Renee and Ray down with her... they were safely back home, living their normal and not catastrophe-filled lives.
"Regina!" came a startled warning cry. She snapped her face up, eyes wide -- the buffet table was hurtling directly at her! The ship's pitching deck was at an angle, and all the tables and chairs in the dining hall were toppling over and sliding toward the wall.
Regina gulped, too stunned to move out of the way. Just then, she felt a pair of arms wrap around her midsection, and heard the laborious flapping of wings as she was lifted into the air. The unsecured furniture crashed into a jumble of wood and ruined food beneath her, as she breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thanks... Iggy," she said with a relieved smile, and the bashful Shoyru gently lowered them back to the deck without a word.
"Whoa, that was awesome!"
"What an adventure!"
"I bet we'll be shipwrecked!"
"Yeah, that'll be so exciting!"
The Kyrii twins high-fived, their faces alight with enthusiasm. Regina frowned, feeling far less pleased by the current state of events. The four of them had no food now, and with this storm, they probably wouldn't reach landfall on schedule --
Wait. Four of them?
"Iggy, did you see where that little Kacheek went?" she asked suddenly, scanning the room.
The Shoyru shook his head, as the Kyrii brothers shrugged. Gretchen was missing...
Date: Sep 14th
"Oh, I hope she's okay," Regina said.
"Maybe we should look for her," the twins suggested.
"That's a good idea," Regina replied. "Vic, Sam, you two go that way. Iggy and I will go the other way. If you find her, shout."
"Okay!" the twins said in unison, and off they went.
"Quite a pair aren't they?" Iggy mused.
"You said it!" Regina replied.
Regina and Iggy then set off in the opposite direction, calling softly every now and then and listnening for the smallest sound of reply.
They hadn't gone far when they heard shouts coming from the other side of the ship. It was the Kyrii twins! "We found her! We found her!" they chanted.
Regina and Iggy hurried around the deck. Vic and Sam stood at the railing, shouting and pointing at the water below. The Kacheek had fallen overboard!!!
"Oh no, she's drowning!" Regina cried. "Iggy, can you save her?"
"No, I'm not strong enough!" he said. "There has to be a life buoy around here somewhere, though. Hurry!"
Regina glanced around frantically, then she saw it: a buoy hanging from a wall a few feet away. Quick as a flash she grabbed the buoy and flung it as hard as she could toward the flailing Kacheek. "Grab it, we'll pull you in!" she called.
The buoy landed right in front of the Kacheek. She wrapped her arms around it, panting. On deck, the Kyrii twins, Iggy, and Regina gripped the rope attached to the buoy and began to pull it in.
"The ship's moving too quickly!" Iggy cried. "We can't pull her in fast enough!"
"I'll go ask the captain to stop the ship!" Regina said, and then hurried up the deck toward the bridge.
As she ran a strange thought struck her. Their little group had been yelling at the top of their lungs for a full 10 minutes, yet no one had come to help them. Where were the crew? Where were the other winners? Putting those questions out of her mind for the moment, she hurried on to the bridge... and froze. A small gasp escaped her lips -- the bridge was empty!!! The ship was running all by itself...
Date: Sep 15th
It didn't make sense. How could a ship run all by itself, without any support from a captain or his crew? What would happen if it were to veer off course, into the path of a rock or another boat, and no one was at the helm to steer it in the right direction? Another thought struck Regina. She didn't think the ship would veer off in another direction. She figured the hulking frame of wood and metal had a mind of its own, and the idea of it scared her.
Realising that time was not on her side, she ran over to the control panel. There were unmarked levers and a big polished wheel that was moving on its own. It was a creepy sight that made the Poogle yell out in shock. The ship really did have a mind of its own.
Trying not to stare at the wheel, she instead glanced at the levers. There were two on the left side and one on the right. Which one was the brake?
"Do something! Quickly!" she could hear Iggy yelling from the deck. Time was running out fast. Either bravely or stupidly, Regina acted on pure impulse, just hoping, for once in her life, that luck would be on her side.
She pulled the lever on the right. It was a sturdy thing that didn't want to budge in any way, shape, or form. It was as if the ship was putting up a fight, unwilling to be moved in another direction by someone else's hands; Regina wouldn't give up, though. She tugged on the lever with all of the strength she could muster. It creaked and moaned, and then she felt something click in the lever's base.
After a struggle and with aching arms, she pulled the lever down. The ship started to slow and then came to a stop, creaking as it did. How long would it be until the boat suddenly started to move again? And where, if anywhere, was it actually taking them? She had figured out a long time ago that it was definitely not to Adventure Isle.
Regina ran back to the deck just as Gretchen was being pulled to safety. Sopping wet, the Kacheek looked even thinner than she did before, with her fur heavy and waterlogged. Her shoulders were hunched and her eyes were sunken. She was shaking violently.
"Let's get you inside where it's warm," Iggy urged as he took her gently by the paw. His jaw clenched as he touched her and he winced, as if she was painful to touch.
"You're freezing!" he gasped, trying to warm his paw with his breath.
Gretchen simply hung her head like she was ashamed of something. She sighed deeply before saying in a defeated tone, "You should have left me. I didn't want to die... not again, but it's in my nature." She wrung her paws together and then said nervously, "I've said too much. I'm so, so sorry. You shouldn't be here. You don't need to be dragged into this."
Regina gulped. Didn't want to die... again? In her nature? What was going on? She could feel her blood turning cold.
"Don't be silly!" Vic cried, seemingly dismissing her strange ramblings and putting them down to shock. "Come on, let's get you inside."
Sam turned to Regina and said, "Thanks so much for finding the captain! She'd have been a goner if it wasn't for his help."
"Thanks muchly!" Vic said after his brother.
Regina gulped hard as she followed the team back inside. She didn't know how to break it to them that the ship had been moving on its own. She also didn't want to tell them about the suspicions that had risen to her head within the last couple of minutes – that Gretchen was a ghost and so was this ship. She hoped she was wrong...
Date: Sep 15th
Inside, Gretchen was quickly set on a chair as the boys hustled into action, looking for warm food, drink, and blankets. The Kacheek looked miserable amidst all of the hullabaloo, but it gave Regina the opportunity to speak to her semi-privately. Or at least she hoped so -- Iggy and the Kyrii twins looked too busy fussing to take much note of their conversation.
Sitting next to Gretchen, she gave her an encouraging smile, and was rewarded by the Kacheek glancing bleakly back with no hint of a smile. Worry was etched onto her features, making Gretchen look even thinner than she really was, as fragile as wet silk over spun glass.
Twice, Regina opened her mouth to speak, and twice, she shut it before asking what she'd really wanted to. How did one ask if their companion was dead? If there was proper etiquette, she had missed that in school.
"The ship is stopped at the moment," she told Gretchen quietly, deciding to go round about.
"Oh," replied the Kacheek in a thin, reedy voice.
"Do you suppose it will stay stopped for long?" she asked, nervously plucking at her shirt.
"I don't suppose so…" Gretchen trailed off, dread etched even more plainly onto her face.
She knows, Regina realized, She knows... she knows there’s no captain, no crew. She knows the boat will sail itself... and she knows we won't like the result.
Careful to school her expression, she worked to make her voice deliberately casual. "So how long ago did you die?" she asked, still plucking absently at her shirt. Inwardly, she winced. She had meant to be a little more suave, a little more subtle...
"About 40 years ago," the Kacheek replied, not seeming to pay much attention to the conversation.
Regina digested the information, the knowledge that Gretchen was dead, and the silence dragged. Suddenly, the Kacheek’s eyes snapped up. "I'm not supposed to tell you that!" she hissed, horror in her eyes.
Casually, Regina glanced around. The boys were still gathering things -- Vic seemed to be working on drinks (or was that Sam?), while his twin was poking through the food. Iggy was heading their way with a blanket, so she held her tongue though Gretchen's eyes seemed to burn into her, fear emanating from the thin Neopet.
Iggy didn’t seem to notice as he draped the blanket around her bony frame. "There!" he said with satisfaction. "I'll go find some clothes for you, but at least the blanket should stop you from freezing to death, won't it!"
"I'm sure it will, Iggy," Regina told him, injecting false joviality into her voice. If Iggy noticed the strained situation, he did nothing to indicate it, and shuffled off to find Gretchen some dry clothes.
"You're not supposed to know that..." Gretchen hissed quietly. Regina supposed it had been meant to sound like an accusation, but it sounded more plaintive to her ears.
"There's no captain, no crew," she responded quietly, watching the Kyrii twins at their chores.
The Kacheek seemed to hunch in on herself, so that her thin shoulders seemed even bonier.
"I stopped the ship," she continued, "But I don't imagine it will stay stopped, and I don't know where it's headed. Do you?"
Gretchen was silent for a moment before she finally nodded.
"Can you tell me where?" she asked, still speaking quietly.
From the corner of her eye, she saw Gretchen shake her head sadly.
"Will we live through it?" she whispered, but she knew from the look on the Kacheek's face that her small whisper had been heard.
Gretchen didn't answer, though, for at that moment the ship shuddered violently to life. Amidst the stormy waves beating on the hull, the ship seemed to vibrate angrily as it began moving again at a pace that put their previous one to shame. The movement was so violent that, for a moment, the ship was plunged into darkness as the lights were extinguished in the force of the motion. Regina heard the muffled groans and thuds of soft bodies hitting the wooden deck as they were all thrown from their starting positions.
The worst, however, was a whine in the air, the keening noise of moving parts, as if the ship itself were screaming.
Amidst the noise, she heard a scream. It took her a moment to identify the voice as that of Gretchen, and a moment longer to parse the words.
"We won't! And I can't stop it!" Gretchen wailed, desperation and misery pitching her voice into a sound that sent shivers through Regina's body.
"I can't stop it... but you stopped the ship! You can stop it!"
Regina froze. She could stop it? She had no idea how, though...
Date: Sep 16th
"How?" she cried as the noise around her grew to a fevered pitch, careening and screaming across the water. The sound of splashing waves and rushing currents mixed with the clashing of wood and metal parts to create a symphony of terror. Gretchen only looked at her with eyes filled with foreboding and confusion.
"It's the Mynci’s ship--" the Kacheek whispered, her voice nearly lost amid the sound. Behind her she could hear her companions yelling, but she ignored them. Her attention was focused on the sound of the ghost. "--the reaper's ship."
"Help me!" Regina cried, grasping Gretchen by the shoulder but the Kacheek only shuddered and withdrew into the blanket that had been provided for her, unable or unwilling to say a word. Regina let her go, rising and turning to her companions who had stilled their frenzy and were now looking at each other with a mixture of loss and confusion.
"What’s going on?" Iggy asked. His voice was calm but strained, as if he were holding back a great deal of emotion. The twins merely looked from each other to her to Gretchen and back. Perhaps it was the way their frowns curled ever-so-slightly up, or the way their eyes were lit but excitement mingled in their expressions.
"What do you know about the reaper's ship?" Regina called out to them above the noise. It wasn't so much that she expected them to know anything; not really, but she feared that if she did not ask then their only option would be to scramble around the ship looking for something -- anything -- to put the ship under their control. To her surprise, however, Sam (or, at least, who she thought was Sam) tilted his head and placed a paw to his chin.
"The reaper ship is a story that is said to have taken place forty years previous to today. The captain, a Mynci from the Haunted Woods, was a seafarer like no other. One day, though, something went wrong. Because of a mistake the captain was the cause of a young water faerie’s untimely end. To punish him for his crimes his soul was infused into his ship and he was fated to bring the demise of whomever he carried. His name was Zane George..." The Kyrii's voice faltered as he spoke and then a look of realization spread across his face. He broke into a large smile before turning to his brother, who had also caught on to what his twin had said. "You hear that, bro? Do you think..."
"I think! We--"
"--are totally on the Mynci reaper's doomed ship! What an adventure!" Sam finished.
"That's not a good thing," Iggy said quietly, looking with an expression of guarded fear.
"We have to stop it!" Regina cried. "We have to stop it before..."
There was a creaking sound, as if the boat was breaking under the force of the water. The four Neopets looked at each other before they all turned and ran to the deck of the ship, leaving the cowering ghost to her own panicked ponderings.
Above the deck the ship rocked dangerously, rolling in the waves as it moved faster and faster. Regina didn't know what to do; she was at a loss. What could she do? There was nothing. Nothing.
A thought then dawned on her and, without even explaining to her newfound friends, she dashed forward. For some reason she just knew what she had to do. Moving into the captain's quarters, she swung the door open and peered into the candle-lit darkness as she moved forward. The quarter was lush and thickly furnished. Before her, hanging above a wide window, was a portrait of a Mynci. The portrait’s eyes shifted with each of her movements. From behind her she heard her three companions arrive.
"We have to destroy the portrait!" Regina called with anxiety. Iggy nodded and flew upward, tilting the portrait from its hooks and sending it clattering to the ship's wooden floor. Each of the four nodded as Regina picked up a candle and lowered it to the corner of the portrait.
"Are you ready? There's no telling what will happen," the Poogle said.
"Do it," Iggy whispered and the twins murmured their consent. Just like that, Regina set the picture aflame and watched as the fire spread across the canvas. As the paint burned the clatter of noise slowly stilled until only the sound of rushing water remained. With an exchange of glances the four returned to the deck.
The picture had made no difference. Water still continued to rush faster and faster beyond the boat and Regina fought back devastation. Just as she began to crumple to her knees a voice, the voice of the Kacheek, called out from behind her.
"You did it," she said in a whisper. Regina turned to look at her before looking forward again. Her eyes widened in realization. Slowly Iggy's paw found hers and she grasped it; Vic's paw clutched the other.
"Do you think we'll ever meet again?" she called over the rush of the water. Iggy glanced at her for a moment, a small smile on his face. Vic squeezed her hand.
"I hope so!" someone called, but she didn't know who, for at that moment the ship tipped toward and rushed beneath the crashing sea. The water hit her square in the chest.
* * *
"Come on, Reggie. What does it say? You've been staring at that thing for, like, an hour now. Fork it over!" Her impatient sister, Renee, crowded over her shoulder to skim the letter.
"How many times have I asked you not to call me 'Reggie?'" Regina complained softly, but her mind was elsewhere.
Elsewhere on her friends, on the adventure she had just had. Her mind lingered on Vic and Sam and Iggy, and if they were somewhere, reading a letter and running the past day through their heads.
"Well?" her sister called. "Are we going?"
Regina smiled furtively before taking the tickets, and much to her sister's surprise, ripping them in half.
"For some reason, I just doubt that there will be a ship to take us."
Date: Sep 16th
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