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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 528
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Week 530

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 Nine Ends Friday, October 21

Gilly sat in a secluded section of the Haunted Woods, counting the rings of the decaying trees. Since the restoration of Neovia, the young Usul hadn't had much to do; apparently her present setting was rather lacking in entertainment. Her mind the captive of a gripping boredom, Gilly sought out a solution to her predicament, something that she would find riveting (or amusing, at the very least).

Almost casually, she recalled something that had been lurking in the back of her mind for years, some truth so well-learned that it had refused to vacate her memory. During the time just before Neovia's salvation, Gilly was certain that she had exchanged many a pleasant word with an Elephante raconteur, despite his having only spoken of woeful things. Shortly after the ordeal was done and the town was saved he disappeared from his camp, however, like a hero fearful of praise, never to be heard from again. The fact of the matter was that he had been a rather interesting conversationalist, and frankly Gilly would benefit from his company right now more than that of anyone else.

Of course, individuals who can vanish without attracting anyone's attention tend to be elusive. Gilly knew that there was little point in trying to track down the Elephante herself, for in addition to its being an improbable goal, it involved many dangers. The woods were renowned for their ability to swallow the unwary into its clutches. She began to wonder if this had been the storyteller's fate, but abruptly stopped herself -- certain possibilities are best left unexplored.

She decided to enlist the help of the wisest soul she knew -- the Brain Tree. After all, he had lived in the Haunted Woods longer than all others, so he surely knew of every possible hiding place in which the Elephante could be. Therefore, she walked toward the leaf-covered path that lead to the being she sought, choosing not to question the abnormality of fallen leaves in a land in where the trees had been bare for years.

Soon enough, she encountered the Brain Tree. She moved to speak, but he interrupted her with a loathsome shout...

Author: surath
Date: Oct 17th
"VILE FIEND!" the Brain Tree bellowed out. "RETURN WHAT YOU HAVE STOLEN!"

Gilly was wondering what the Brain Tree was referring to when she suddenly saw a blue, devilish figure run out from behind the tree and rush past her, then looking back and cackling one last time before dashing away.

Gilly couldn't believe what she'd seen. The Brain Tree had just been robbed by the Pant Devil.

The Brain Tree let out a horrible shout as the Pant Devil vanished from view. The shout was so horrible that the Brain Tree's branches were shaking, and it seemed like several of the other trees surrounding it stepped away.

After nearly a minute of shouting, the Brain Tree finished its mighty bellow. After such a sight, though, Gilly was unsure if she still wanted to know what happened to the Elephante she'd met so long ago. She was tempted to just leave, but that was not to be, as the Brain Tree saw her before she could move.

"YOU THERE!" the Brain Tree boomed. "WHAT DO YOU WANT?!?"

Gilly wasn't sure what to say. She had met the Brain Tree several times, and had even seen it mad on more than one occasion, but she had never seen it this angry before.

"I..." Gilly started. "I had a question. I... was trying to track down someone that I'd met before, several years ago, and I figured you were the most likely one to know where he might be."

The Brain Tree didn't appear to like that response, as its branches seemed to shake in anger. "I HAVE NO TIME FOR SUCH TRIVIAL THINGS!" the Brain Tree bellowed out in anger. "SOMETHING OF VITAL IMPORTANCE WAS JUST TAKEN FROM ME!"

Gilly was still nervous, but she stood her ground. "What if I were to get whatever it is that the Pant Devil took from you back?" she offered. "If I managed to return what was stolen from you, would you help me then?"

The Brain Tree was still glaring at her, but it seemed to be mulling it over. "Very well!" the Brain Tree declared. "If you return what was stolen from me, then I shall answer your question. You must hurry, though! GO!"

"Right, right!" Gilly said, quickly heading in the direction that the Pant Devil had gone. "Wait," she said, turning back around to face the Brain Tree. "What was it that was stolen from you, just so I know what to look for?"

"A red jewel!" the Brain Tree declared. "It absolutely must be returned soon, for it is the only thing that keeps The Beast Behind the Tree at bay..."

Author: dr_tomoe
Date: Oct 17th
"A red jewel," Gilly repeated. "Got it."

She took off running, toward the direction from which she'd come. She could only hear the faintest of cackles, but the more she ran, the louder they were. She took that as a good sign - the Pant Devil had to be close.

Weaving her way through the trees, Gilly ran. Every now and then she would catch a glimpse of blue, but it would then disappear immediately. It almost seemed as though the Pant Devil knew she was there, but that couldn't be -- she was carefully concealed by the branches and leaves.

The Pant Devil stopped, all of a sudden, leaving Gilly to wonder what to do; she had never dealt with it before, and the only things she'd ever heard about the Pant Devil were snippets of gossip overheard around the shops -- there was always some random Neopet getting one of their belongings stolen.

She lingered behind a tree for a few seconds, listening to the Pant Devil cackle. He opened his fist; from her hiding spot, Gilly could still see the glint of red gleaming in his palm.

Gilly leaned forward slightly to get a better look. It was so hard to see clearly from behind that tree... the only thing she managed to accomplish, however, was losing her balance and falling into a pile of leaves. The Pant Devil turned at the crunch, and then immediately started to run again.

"Wait!" Gilly called...

Author: chocolate_lover67
Date: Oct 18th
...Her yelling was of no use, however. Within seconds, the Pant Devil had disappeared -- swallowed up by the leaves and branches of the woods.

Gilly sat there for a moment, nursing a hurt ankle and her wounded pride. She had gotten so close, but there was no way she could catch the Pant Devil now. He had gotten too much of a head start and was far too fast. Still, she had to do something. She could clearly remember the way the Brain Tree had intoned the words, "The Beast Behind the Tree." While she had no idea what sort of creature it could be, there was something in the Brain Tree's tone that sent shivers rippling up and down her spine. "What am I going to do?" she mumbled to herself.

"Are you okay?" a voice nearby asked.

Gilly jumped to her feet, momentarily ignoring the pain that shot like a bolt of lightning from her wounded ankle. She turned, only to see the very Elephante for whom she had originally been searching. Very little could have surprised her in that moment, but she was truly surprised by his appearance. "It's you!" she gasped.

He smiled slightly. "It has been awhile, my young friend," he greeted, "What brings you here to this forgotten part of the woods?"

"I was chasing the Pant Devil," she answered quickly, "He stole a red jewel from the Brain Tree."

The color drained from the Elephante's face. "Not the jewel that controls The Beast Behind the Tree," he gasped.

Gilly nodded. "Yes," she said, "The Brain Tree said I had to get it back, and I was trying. I had almost managed to sneak up on the Pant Devil when I fell and he saw me." Frustrated, she knocked the dead leaves away from her pants.

"This is very serious," the Elephante said. "Here, you have to come with me." He started to walk back the way he had come.

"But the Pant Devil went this way," Gilly insisted.

"You'll never catch up to him by running," replied her old companion, "No, we'll have to make him come to us."

Gilly frowned in confusion, but she trusted the Elephante's words. They hurried through the woods, the leaves crackling noisily under their feet like complaints as they made their way to the Elephante's makeshift camp.

It was a simple place in a tiny clearing. There was a single tent that had been worn colorless by time and weather. The remains of a campfire smoldered in a pit, the smoke dancing lazily in the autumn air. "You've been living here?" Gilly asked, the amazement clear in her Aisha eyes. "But why?"

"It's a long story," the Elephante replied, "and one better suited for another time. For now, help me construct a trap. We have to draw the Pant Devil to us, and we have to do it before he's too far away."

Wordlessly, the Elephante pulled out a large net from a wooden trunk. He put the net on the ground and covered it with leaves so that it was virtually invisible, then attached the ends to a rope that hung over a tree. Inside the flattened net, he placed apparently every item he had of value. It was an odd assortment of Neopoints, books, pots, and such, but it was just the type of things that the Pant Devil went after. Once the trap was set, they hid behind the tree and waited.

"So what is The Beast Behind the Tree, anyway?" Gilly whispered.

The Elephante sighed softly. "It is a terrifying tale," he whispered back...

Author: tj_wagner
Date: Oct 18th
Gilly listened intently to the Elephante - she still didn't trust him entirely. After all, he appeared as mysteriously as he had disappeared all those years ago.

"The Beast Behind the Tree was, for a short while, the only thing that kept the Brain Tree alive. Back before the Haunted Woods was heavily populated, when Ghostkerchiefs flew free from potential capture, the Brain tree -- a freak of nature -- thirsted for knowledge, wasting away. He had already documented all of the Petpets in the environment, which took him less than a day."

The Elephante stared at Gilly and smiled at the thought of the tree's intelligence. Gilly looked up at him and smiled as well, not at the thought but because she hadn't seen him in what seemed like an eternity.

"One night, an unusually inviting and bright night for the woods, the beast arrived with the rest of his troupe -- a group of carnies and thespians who had decided to try and set up a fair in the Deep Woods Fairground that would hold games and attractions. The land they bought was some of the cheapest in all Neopia at the time, and they hoped that introducing an environment that visitors would want to come to would eventually make them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams."

The Elephante was interrupted by the sound of howling, but he soon resumed.

"While scouring the forests for supplies, the beast came upon a dying tree. Many of the trees were barren, but this one stuck out to him. 'Teach me,' it groaned wistfully. The beast was startled by this behavior at first, but soon decided that, perhaps, he could use this talking tree as an attraction at the fair. He asked the tree what it would like, and it responded by saying it would like knowledge."

Thunder rolled in the distance.

"The beast enlightened the tree with tales of various Neopian lands. In turn, the tree told the beast numerous tales relating to the woods. The beast decided he would leave the tree there and, every once in a while, they would exchange stories. Several months later at the fairground, things were going fairly smoothly. Many attractions had been constructed, and opening day was set for the following week. That night, however, a young, speckled Xweetok came to take residency in the woods. She had trained under the faeries themselves, and was a master of dark magic."

The Usul looked up at the Elephante with big eyes. She knew who he was referring to. "Xandra!" she interrupted.

The old gypsy, a tad annoyed by the interruption, sighed. "Yes. As she walked by the Brain Tree, a small, shiny red object dropped from her satchel. She hadn't noticed it and continued walking, but the tree instantly took note of it -- he became possessed by it, in a sense. He felt the urge to do whatever the crystal asked of him, and it asked him to do evil. The crafty chunk of wood was too smart for that, though, and he found a way out of its attracting gleam. The beast, on the other hand, was not so lucky. He came back to visit the tree later that week, as he had for the past several months, and instantly saw the sparkling red object. The Brain Tree tried to stop him, but it was too late -- he was possessed."

It was late and Gilly yawned. "I think I might go look to build a shelter. Keep talking, though; I'll listen." The Usul got up and began to look for supplies.

The Elephante would have kept talking regardless. "There was no exchange of conversation that evening. The opening night of the Deep Woods Fair, the red gem made the beast aggressive and, well..." he struggled to find the words, "beast-like. He terrified everyone, making them never want to come back again. He lost his mind, really, destroying everything in sight. His troupe couldn't believe the drastic change that had come over him. They, too, became scared and left. The fairground, which had been meant to be a place of fun and enjoyment, was now practically deserted. While the effects of the stone were strong, however, the beast, after witnessing the destruction he had caused and the lives he'd ruined, temporarily fought off its hypnotizing spell and found his way back to the Brain Tree, his last remaining companion. He hoped the tree might have the knowledge to undo the gem's effects, but the Brain Tree, knowledgeable as it was, had no answer for how the beast's mind might overcome the powers of the stone. The beast became re-possessed, but (in order to not have harm come to other potential carriers of knowledge), the Brain Tree put a field around the beast, making it so that he could not move from directly behind the tree. Here, at least in theory, the beast would remain for the rest of his days."

Gilly, who had long since finished constructing her makeshift shelter and was now sitting beside the Elephante, thought she had found a flaw in his story. "But," she started, "if the gem is gone, shouldn't that mean the beast is released from its awful powers? Also, is the Pant Devil now affected?"

"The Pant Devil is already a being of evil, so I would think there wouldn't be much of an effect on him. And actually," continued her long-thought-to-be-lost friend, "the beast was under such an influence for far too long -- without it, he runs the risk of becoming even more aggressive, to a point where he may be able to break the Brain Tree's field. The only way now to reverse the effects is to destroy the gem, but that would require a tremendous knowledge of dark magic!" The gypsy sat back and smiled. "Now, off to bed. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow."

Gilly, content, walked off to her shelter and started to rest. Meanwhile, the Elephante found a nice log to sit on and closed his eyes, opening them not seconds later when he heard a sound directly behind him...

Author: rielcz
Date: Oct 19th
He quickly spun around to see what was sneaking up behind him, but there was nothing there. "Gilly? Is that you?" he called out. There was no response. The Elephante sat completely still, trying his hardest not to cause a disturbance or make a noise. He scanned the trees around him, but there was nothing unusual in sight (which was actually quite unusual for the Haunted Woods).

"Settle down, Batyr, it was only your imagination," he commented dumbly to himself before settling down to rest his eyes yet again. The Elephante raconteur was much wiser than he pretended to be, however, and kept one eye peeked open, ready for a surprise attack. He knew very well that, when in the Haunted Woods, behind every noise there was something to fear.

After several moments had passed, Batyr began to have doubts. Perhaps it really was my imagination? he thought. The small clearing then began to darken. Batyr looked up and watched as a large cloud engulfed the brilliant moon that had once illuminated the scene with its ethereal silver glow. Unable to see, panic settled in. Then came the scream...

"Ahhhhhhhhhhh!" Gilly rushed out from her makeshift shelter, flailing her arms in a frightened frenzy.

"What is it?!?" the Elephante called out. "Are you okay?"

Gilly tried to calm herself and get a bearing on her surroundings. "I heard something in the bushes... a growl. Where are you? I can't see a thing!"

"Follow my voice," Batyr insisted as he slowly stepped forward. "I'm over here."

The two cautiously met each other in the center of the clearing, then quietly clung to one another. "Do you think it's the Pant Devil?" Gilly softly bothered.

"I'm not sure," Batyr replied with a shaky voice.

Gilly took a step back and tripped over something peculiar on the ground. "Ow!" she griped.

"Shh!" warned Batyr, who was squinting hard against the darkness and trying to get an image of what was lurking in the dark.

The Usul used her hands to search the ground for what she had tripped over. To her surprise, she found an assortment of different objects. "What is all of this?" she asked. A strong breeze replied to her question as it blew the overcast cloud away from the moon. As the moonbeams flooded in, Gilly and Batyr could see that they had stumbled right into their own trap.

They were swiftly flung upward, surrounded on all sides by net. The two struggled to free themselves from the tangled mess, but it was no use. The trap had worked perfectly... well, almost. High up in the treetops, Gilly and Batyr looked down at the clearing below in horror...

Author: potential_ruler
Date: Oct 19th
Batyr looked devastated, but the Usul realised she was having quite a good time. This was definitely the most exciting thing that had happened in years! Her exuberance was quickly interrupted by Batyr's worries, however.

"I should have known! I set it up myself... how did I lose my bearings? We won't be able to catch the Pant Devil now!" The sound of loss and hopelessness was almost visible. His wings fluttered in distress.

Gilly's enjoyment immediately ceased. She silently berated herself for a moment (How could she be enjoying the situation? All of the Haunted Woods -- and who knows how much else -- might be in danger!) and began consoling the Elephante.

"It's alright," she soothed. "We've just got to figure out a way to get out of this trap." Her confidence wasn't entirely honest, but it seemed to help. His wings settled down some and he regained a bit of colour.

The Usul looked down and felt a dizzying sense of vertigo. They were quite high up, perhaps four or five times her height. "How did you get this trap so high anyway?"

"I... um, I..." he focused. "It's just an elaborate twitch-up, really. A wildlife surviv--" Both of their heads snapped to attention as the rustling in the darkness below resumed.

They both froze in utter fear, holding on to each other frightfully as the rustling became more intense, louder. They scanned the shadows frantically, searching out the source of the disturbance, but it was to no avail. Painfully aware of the loud thuds from many of the Elephante's effects and Neopoints falling to the ground from the net's shaking, they huddled together for what seemed like an age.

The rustling then ended.

The woods below were cruelly silent.

A black paw, somehow blacker than its surroundings, emerged and stepped into their makeshift campground. Another paw, a black nose, and then a terrible mass of mauve fur soon followed.

Gilly's eyes hollowed. "No..." she said in despair as the Shadow Usul crept into the clearing, glaring up at them with cold delight...

Author: yopishia
Date: Oct 20th
The Shadow Usul stopped staring at them as soon as she noticed that they had seen her. Instead, she darted to and fro through the camp, her purple mane fluttering in the night breeze. Gilly tore her eyes away from her, looking at Batyr instead. He was wise, and surely would know what to do. The Elephante smacked his head with his palm. "That's it! The Shadow Usul is much faster then the Pant Devil; we just need to convince her to help us!"

"Uh, I wouldn't count on it..." Gilly said, returning her gaze to the Shadow Usul again.

She continued to dart around, then disappeared into the shadows. Gilly strained her short neck to try and spot her, but it was no use. She was gone.

While Gilly was still trying to locate the Usul, seemed to recall something. "Great, I just remembered... the Shenkuu festival is supposed to be starting soon! They were bringing it to the Haunted Woods this year, and I was really looking forward to going! To think, I'll be spending it in a net up a tree..." For a moment, Gilly thought that she had caught a glimpse of the Shadow Usul, but it disappeared into the darkness and shadows again. Meanwhile, Batyr was still complaining. "There were supposed to be peanuts, too!"

Batyr cursed his luck, but Gilly shushed him. "Shhh! I think I just heard something..." Gilly whispered, gazing into the dark clumps of trees.

A few leaves fluttered down, and then Gilly and Batyr heard a distinct barking sound. Gilly then heard a cackle, followed by a voice saying, "Go fetch, my darlings! I just know that there's treasure around here!"

As the newcomers entered the clearing, Gilly's heart seemed to drop from her chest to her stomach. The voice was that of a dark faerie, and the source of the barking was a pack of at least four or five Werhonds. Sniffing around aggressively, the Werhonds soon gathered directly below the net...

Author: fairygold
Date: Oct 20th
"What do we do?!?" Gilly whispered in her horror, her heart beating fast as fear stole her composure. "What do we do!"

Batyr frowned, which wasn't very reassuring. He started to speak, but an outraged howl cut him off.

"GIVE THAT BACK!" the dark faerie screamed, fury making her face flushed and red.

The Werhonds fell silent momentarily, and Gilly strained in the darkness to see why, but she was unable to make out anything else. She jumped when a Werhond yelped, the sound both surprised and strangled -- and fading fast.

Why would the sound be fading?

Gilly gasped suddenly as she realized what had happened. The Shadow Usul had stolen one of the faerie's Werhonds!

"You stole one of my werhonds?!? Give it back, or I'll... I'll... turn you into a Sludgy!" the faerie sputtered.

Was it Gilly's imagination, or was there a faint giggle in response?

"AFTER HER!" the dark faerie screamed, indignation lending volume to her already-loud voice.

Beneath the unfortunately ensconced duo, the remains of the pack of Werhonds and the dark faerie charged off, treasure forgotten in the face of the Shadow Usul's slight. Tense moments passed for the Elephante and Usul, but silence reigned below them.

"Well," Batyr said finally, "At least the Werhonds are gone, but that doesn’t solve any of our other problems, does it?"

"And what," came a whispery voice in the darkness, "would those other problems be?"

Batyr started in surprise beside her, and Gilly's heart -- for what seemed the millionth time that day -- beat faster.

Swallowing her fear, the young Usul answered. "M-m-many problems, but f-first, who are you?" she asked tremulously, her shaking voice giving her an uncharacteristic stutter.

"Someone who has already solved one of your problems, out of sheer curiosity..." came a harsh, slow whisper in response.

"The Shadow Usul," Batyr muttered, nodding.

"Only if I like your answer."

This time, the whisper was much closer than it had been, and Gilly realized suddenly that the Shadow Usul had climbed the tree their net hung from.

"Oh, thank Fyora! We need your help!" Gilly cried, and proceeded to pour out their tale so far.

Awkward silence dragged out when she finished as she and her Elephante companion waited for a response. "Well... will you... will you help us?" she asked timidly, suddenly unsure of how receptive the infamous thief would be to their tale of woe. It had seemed so straightforward when Batyr had suggested recruiting the Shadow Usul for help, but now that she had asked outright she was totally unsure if the thief had even cared to remain long enough to let Gilly plead her case. It was entirely possible that the silent Usul had simply left in the middle, leaving Gilly to speak to an empty space!

Finally, though, the Shadow Usul spoke, startling both unwilling occupants of the trap. "I sincerely doubt Fyora had a hand in this," she whispered, "Fool. What a blasted fool. He has to have known about the Beast... who doesn’t know about the Beast?"

I hadn't, Gilly thought, but then decided it was best not to mention that.

"Will you help us?" Batyr asked seriously.

For another long moment, the Usul didn't speak. "Yes," she responded finally, "But not for your sakes."

Suddenly, a metallic sound rang out, and Gilly's heart leapt to her throat as gravity assertively reclaimed both Batyr and herself. They hit the ground with a dull thump, and she groaned. That had hurt!

"Don't whine," the Shadow Usul whispered from the darkness. "How did you expect to get down?"

She groaned again. To tell the truth, she hadn't really thought that part out.

Beside her, Batyr stood, rubbing his lower back. "Well then," he grumped, "Now what?"

Without a sound, the Shadow Usul suddenly appeared before them. She looked so large and sinister close up, and dark... very, very dark. And very unfriendly. Surprisingly, an impish smile split her face, doing nothing to shatter the dark veneer that surrounded her.

"Now," she said, "Now we have some fun at the Pant Devil's expense... for a good cause, of course."

Gilly gulped. "What are we going to do?"

The Shadow Usul's smile widened into a malicious grin, and Gilly decided she was quite glad that grin wasn't aimed at her. "I know just how to find him..."

Author: agedbeauty
Date: Oct 21st
The Shadow Usul explained her idea. "The Pant Devil and I are not unlike each other. We are both rather sinister, veering more toward the side of evil than good." The Usul grinned, and Gilly winced at her delusional expression.

"So," Batyr said, slightly impatiently, "what's your plan, and does it involve getting us out of this net?"

"The plan," she continued, "is to trap him -- the three of us shall corner the Pant Devil and force him to give the gem to us."

In a flash, she was on top the net and cutting it free.

"But," Gilly said, suggesting the obvious, "how are we supposed to catch him? How will we find him?"

"Well, as I said, as a more mischievous being, I understand the mind of those like the Pant Devil," the shadowy essence continued. "He doesn't just steal anything, anywhere, you know... he follows a pattern. He stole the gem that keeps The Beast Behind the Tree under control. This likely means that the next item he'll steal will either be something shiny or magical. The Shenkuu festival starts soon, and it's bound to have both types of objects there."

Gilly and Batyr stared blankly at the sinister party before them.

The Shadow Usul sighed. "In short, we go to the festival, find the Pant Devil, and retrieve the gem! Got it?"

Gilly and Batyr exchanged glances. They both knew it was a long shot, but it seemed as though it was their best chance.

The next day, they arrived at the festival. After walking along the stalls of food, medicine, and lunar-related activities, the Shadow Usul spotted the Pant Devil lurking in the shadows behind a stall advertising glowing Kreludor rocks.

"Get him!" the Shadow Usul shouted to her quest companions. The Pant Devil instantly recognized the Usul's voice.

"Ah, if it isn't the Shadow Usul..." he said, grinning maliciously and then turning in the direction of the voice. "Many times you have tormented me into giving up my wonderful assortment of stolen goods, but you aren't getting my new moon rocks!"

"We didn't come for the moon rocks," Gilly started as she approached the villain. Batyr stepped forward as well, and the Pant Devil soon realized he was surrounded.

He gulped. "I, uh..." Pant Devil started.

"No time for idle chit chat," the Shadow Usul interrupted. "We don't want the rocks; we want the red gem that you stole earlier."

The Pant Devil was shocked that she would want such a trivial thing. "Really?" he inquired.

"Yes," she responded. "And we're going to get it, too."

The Pant Devil dashed between Batyr and Gilly and ran off, shouting "NEVER!" as he escaped.

"Follow my lead," the Shadow Usul said as she chased him.

The three chased the thief down, eventually stopping near the location of the Brain Tree.

The Pant Devil found himself cornered once again. "Ha! You think you can catch me?" he roared as he held up the gem.

"No," the Shadow Usul responded, "but he can."

At that moment The Beast Behind the Tree saw the gem, broke free of the field, and stole it from the Pant Devil's grasp.

The Brain Tree saw this and bellowed, "Ah, you have returned the gem. Nice work!"

The Pant Devil, sulking, trudged off.

"Good job, you two," the Shadow Usul said to Batyr and Gilly, then swiftly vanished into the night.

The tree, seeing his once-again possessed friend, re-established the field around him. "Alright, Usul," the tree said to Gilly, "I will tell you where your friend is."

"But," Gilly responded, "I already found him. Can't I ask a different question?" For a moment, she was captivated by the thought of all the things she could possibility ask the Brain Tree.

"NO!" the tree bellowed. "Here is your answer: the Elephante that you once called your friend does not exist anywhere."

That was it. "But," Gilly said dumbfoundedly, "that's im--"

"ENOUGH!" the tree roared, and then fell back asleep.

"Well, that's stu--" Gilly started to say as she went to look up toward Batyr, who had suddenly vanished. "But--" she began. The Usul looked all around, yet found no traces of an Elephante anywhere.

Gilly, staring blankly up into the sky above the dead trees, walked down the path that lead away from the Brain Tree.

The End

Author: rielcz
Date: Oct 21st



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