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||You are on 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 Thirty Ends Friday, October 28
|A chill fall wind rushed past the Bori's ears, clean and crisp and only boosting her excitement. She'd never been to the Abandoned Attic before, and waiting to be deemed "mature" enough to go there had almost driven the normally patient and placid silver Neopet to burrow there herself.
Today was the day, though. Clutching a sack of Neopoints close to her chest, Quick headed for the Haunted Woods.
Long before she could even spot the attic, she could see the mass of Neopets crowded around it. Angry shouts, cries of joy, snarls, and whoops (plus the occasional shriek of a Pteri) all blended into a chaotic symphony that was enough to give the Bori a massive headache.
"This place is hardly abandoned," she recoiled, hugging her Neopoints even closer to her chest and resisting the urge to run.
Steeling her resolve, Quick set her shoulders and dove through the crowds.
"Watch yerself, ya shelled Yullie!"
"That's mine! Get your fins off!"
Something small, slim, and shining with an aged luster caught Quick's eye. She slammed her free paw over it and then showed it to the ghost Aisha at the register.
"That's 26,450 NP."
Someone almost wrenched the object from her grip, and then someone else tried for her Neopoints, but Quick bared her teeth and snapped at them like she'd seen her Lupe brothers do. Pouring out the Neopoints on the counter, she watched the Aisha take all but a paltry handful of them and shoo her away.
Thrilled, Quick ran back outside to the relative quiet of the Haunted Woods and finally took the time to inspect what she had bought...
Date: Oct 24th
...it was an old toy sailboat, which looked as though it had seen better days -- the sail was torn to a few old strips of red velvet, and the blue paint on the hull had faded and chipped to almost nothing. Across the deck of the miniature boat, someone had written King Arthur in spidery white cursive.
Quick was disappointed: the flashing silver of the mast had caught her eye. She should have looked more carefully. Sighing, she dumped the old toy into a heap on the mossy forest floor and sank down beside it. She had waited months for this? Would she never get anything worthwhile from the attic?
A brisk wind rose around her. Quick shivered and drew her traveling cloak closer. From here, she could still hear the noise from the attic, even though her quick feet had put quite a bit of distance between them. The sailboat rolled over in the wind, a few more shreds of the sail ripping off and settling among the tree roots. The boat itself came to a rest within a groove in the moss.
An Aisha burst through the trees, panting heavily. She, too, must have just bought something from the Abandoned Attic; she was cradling a bundle in her arms and swinging an almost empty Neopoint sack from one paw. The Aisha stopped when she saw Quick, who stood and grabbed her sailboat. They stared at each other cautiously.
"Hello," the Aisha said in a formal voice.
"Hi, I'm Quick," the Bori replied. Normally Quick would have extended her paw for the Aisha to shake, but something made her feel unusually protective about her treasure.
"I'm Alliance. Did you just come from the attic as well?" the Aisha asked, beginning to unwrap her bundle. "I got this old dress... it's mostly ripped and it doesn't look like I can sell it, but my mother is a seamstress. She's always looking for clothes to fix, so..."
Quick smiled. "I got this toy sailboat. Maybe my younger brother will make a project out of fixing it."
Alliance leaned in to get a better look. "It looks like it must have been beautiful once. I'm sure you could fix it up and sell it."
They shifted in silence for a few moments. Alliance pointed to the groove in the moss from which Quick had plucked the sailboat. "Hey, I think something fell off your boat."
Quick picked it up. It was a faded piece of parchment with the same spidery cursive writing on the outside that she'd seen earlier on the sailboat. The parchment was folded neatly, and the only words visible were "To Arthur."
"It must have been stuffed inside the hull!" Quick said, sounding excited. Alliance leaned over to inspect it.
"The boat's name is the King Arthur. Maybe it was named after whoever the letter is written to?!" She, too, sounded excited.
Quick swiftly unfolded the letter. They leaned in closer and began to read...
Date: Oct 24th
...My dearest Arthur,|
You've never been the sort who believes that there may be more than what meets the eye to even the most simple of things. I hope that, perhaps, this little toy will cause you to reconsider.
Quick frowned as she read over the spidery lettering once more. "There's no signature... what could it mean?" She'd almost hoped for a hint to hidden treasure or some ancient scroll, but this seemed like little more than an unusual gift-tag.
"Maybe you should try putting it in water?" the Aisha suggested, leaning close and gazing with a furrowed brow at the little toy. "Perhaps something special would happen then?"
Quick frowned, examining the boat once more. It looked so fragile -- hardly even pondworthy, much less seaworthy. The message had said, though...
Gathering up her bag of Neopoints, Quick strode toward a small, muddy puddle nearby. She heard a quiet laugh from behind her.
"Well, now. I didn't mean a puddle..."
"I don't want to risk putting it somewhere big right away," Quick explained, only glancing over her shoulder in the direction of the skeptical Aisha. She still didn't entirely trust her, and though it had been Alliance's suggestion to try sailing the boat, it felt like something secret, something strange. She knelt over the puddle, taking a deep breath before carefully putting the little boat on the water.
"Is it working?" Alliance asked as she strode up behind her, but Quick's gaze was fixed on the toy. It floated mundanely, casting a reflection on the murky water -- until the puddle could no longer be seen.
Only the boat.
The girls watched in awe as the boat seemed to swell before their very eyes, growing until it was no longer a toy, but rather a true vessel, fit to sail.
"Th-that's..." Quick whispered, eyes shining, standing to run her hands over the boat. Real wood beneath her paw, real rope and sail - all of it, real! Certainly worth far more than what she had paid... she really had stumbled upon a treasure!
"By the Brain Tree's lobes!" Alliance declared as she crept closer, looking around the boat and clutching her dress to her chest. "Is this real? It must be worth a fortune!"
Quick nodded dumbly, lost in her thoughts. Worth a fortune... that was what she'd been hoping for, right? A real treasure. Even though it had only been hers for minutes, however, the thought of parting with it sent a chill through to the very marrow of her bones. It belonged to her -- even moreso, she belonged to it.
"Let me just..." carefully, the Bori moved to step aboard the ship. She shivered, fur bristling in excitement. The sail grew fuller and, just as the Aisha followed her aboard, the ship set sail to the sky.
"It's-- we're flying!" Alliance gasped, grabbing the rail of the ship as it rose into the sky and moved as smoothly as though on placid waters.
Quick stared at the world below her as it rapidly shrunk before looking ahead. "Where is it taking us?!?..."
Date: Oct 25th
"I have no idea where we're going, but we're along for the ride anyway, so we might as well hold on tight!" Alliance yelled.
Quick nodded toward the Aisha and tightened her grasp on the rail. The boat was still rising rapidly into the sky, and the wind was so strong that it made her eyes sting and start to tear. She ducked her head to protect herself against the harsh cold that was beating against her face. Glancing over at Alliance, she noticed that the Aisha was trying to scream something. Quick couldn't make out any sound other than the whipping of the wind and her own heartbeat pounding wildly in her chest.
The boat showed no signs of slowing down or halting its ascension into the clouds above. Please stop. Please, please stop, Quick thought frantically.
The sailboat jolted to an abrupt halt right in midair, causing Quick and Alliance to scream out as they were thrown an inch or two into the air before plummeting back down onto the deck in a heap.
"What happened?!?" Alliance asked as she offered a hand and pulled Quick back upright. "Why did we just stop? By King Hagan's obsession with turkey drumsticks, we'd better not be stuck in the sky!"
"We're not, I don't think," the Bori said tentatively. "At least, I don't think we are. This is going to sound really crazy, but I think I made the boat stop with, uh... with my thoughts."
"This is normally the part where I'd wish you a good day and back away slowly," Alliance quipped. "But Fyora knows we've both seen a lot of kooky things today, so it only makes sense that the weird Bori girl I found in the woods with a magical flying sailboat can make said sailboat do her bidding with her brain."
Quick looked around her. All she could see in any direction was clear blue sky and puffy white clouds. The air felt different here than it did on land; it was thinner, fresher, and it had the faint but pleasant scent of ozone.
Uhh, sailboat? she thought. Please take us back down.
Just as suddenly as it had stopped, the boat began to plummet back down toward the ground at a frightening velocity. Faster and faster they plunged, everything around them a constant blur of motion. When Quick could finally see something other than sky, she was disturbed to note that they were over the ocean. "We're going to crash into the sea!" she screamed at Alliance in a panic.
Alliance rushed over to the rail and looked out over the side. "No we aren't! There's an island directly below us... we're going to crash into it."
"I'd rather not crash at all, to be frank!" Quick squeaked.
"Well, tell that to the boat, then. And quick!" Alliance screeched.
Please don't let us crash, and land us safely on the island, she pleaded desperately...
Date: Oct 25th
...and, as though it had heard - and understood - her request, the boat stopped. The sudden change in velocity sent Quick tumbling to the ground, where she lay, bewildered, for a second before standing up again.
The boat was gliding along at a slow, steady, pace.
"How did you do that?" Alliance asked, shocked.
"I... I don't know..." Quick confessed. "I just asked it to stop falling... and it did."
"Wow..." Alliance was in awe. "That's amazing. You know where it's taking us?"
"I don't know," replied the Bori, staring out into the distance.
"Can you try asking it?" suggested Alliance.
Sailboat? Where are we going?
But no matter how many times she asked, the boat did not respond.
Where are you taking us? she tried, but again, there was nothing. Please tell us...
"It doesn't work," said Quick. "I guess the boat listens to your command but doesn't answer your questions."
"That does make sense, I guess," said Alliance. "Boats don't really talk."
They were drifting high again, but this time, Quick knew to not tell it to bring them down; the results wouldn't be pretty. Instead, she let the boat make its way through the clouds, watching as they floated through some of the lower hanging stratus clouds. But unlike the clouds they had gone through previously, these were...
"Blue," said Alliance. "Why are these clouds so blue?"
Quick shrugged. "I don't know. They're probably magical or something."
"Tell the boat to go up a bit," Alliance said.
They ascended just the slightest bit, rising above the clouds and at last, it was possible to see what lurked above it: Noils. Winged Noils, with sharp teeth and claws. Several dozen yards away stood a light faerie, though it was difficult to see what she was doing from such a distance.
"The Underclouds," said Alliance.
"Haven't you ever played Neoquest Two?" asked Alliance, looking appalled at such a thing.
"It's the Underclouds!" the Aisha exclaimed. "Let's go talk to Essit."
"That light faerie," said Alliance, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Come on!"
Sailboat, could you please take us to see that faerie...?
Date: Oct 26th
...The sailboat quickly zoomed through the Underclouds and over to the light faerie, Essit, whose appearance was now getting fainter and fainter. The faerie saw a large sailboat charging toward her and began panicking. She screamed and tried fleeing from it, but it was too quick for her.
Quick had gotten used to commanding the boat, and she knew it would respond to her commands. Like she was expecting, the boat immediately stopped before it had hit Essit. Essit bent forward, clasping her knees with her hands, and began panting.
"Essit!" the now-excited Alliance called out.
"Alliance!" she hollered back.
They ran toward each other with their arms out, and then hugged as if they hadn't seen each other in a century. Quick giggled a bit when she saw that they had such a close relationship. They stepped back from their embrace and began to laugh contentedly.
"Wow! What are you doing here?!?" Essit asked, still happy.
"My new friend, Quick, brought me here on her sailboat!" the Aisha replied while jumping up and down.
"Where is she?!? Where is she?!?"
Quick was surprised to hear that Alliance considered her as her "brand new friend." After all, they barely even knew each other.
"Um, hello?" Essit snapped. "Are you going to answer my question?"
Quick shook her head and snapped out of her confusion.
"I'm sorry... what?" Quick inquired, confused.
"Where did you get that sailboat?"
"Um," Quick tried to think fast, attempting to beat around the bush with the details. "I got it at the Abandoned Attic..."
"Abandoned Attic? Why, I've never heard of such thing!"
"Well you probably haven't been to it--"
"I know every place in Neopia," the light faerie replied sharply. "I should think I would know what this 'Abandoned Attic' place is."
"It's at a secret house in Neovia; everybody goes there." Alliance chimed in.
"Neovia? I think you should come with me." Essit commanded.
She's making an awfully big deal out of this... Quick thought to herself...
Date: Oct 26th
Quick and Alliance followed Essit to a small somewhat hidden door. They entered, following Essit with caution for what seemed like hours, through a maze of tunnels and underground passages.
They encountered many beings along the way -- some Neopets, some faeries, and a few others of unknown origin. Passing by them, Quick felt the instinct to run away, guarding her secret. Alliance urged her to continue on, and so they did.
At long last, the three arrived at the end of a dark path. Essit said a few words that, although common, made Quick feel chilled, as if something magical was in the air.
"May the light of the spirit guide your path," Essit whispered.
Suddenly the entire pathway lit up, and a glowing door appeared at the end of the hallway. Essit quickly ushered them into the door.
Once they were safe inside, Essit welcomed them to her home. She asked Quick and Alliance to have a seat and offered them something to eat and drink.
Feeling quite odd already, Quick declined as both she and Alliance took their seats.
Once seated, Essit began to ask them about the Abandoned Attic and the sailboat. Quick wasn't ready to be fully trusting of Essit just yet, so she tried to hold back as much information about the attic and boat as possible...
Date: Oct 27th
"So, what exactly is this 'Abandoned Attic' you speak of?" Essit asked, her words quiet but with power behind them. Something in the back of Quick's mind told her that she shouldn't lie to the faerie, but she still felt the need to be vague.
"It's... it's a place in Neovia," she started, watching the light faerie's expression carefully. Since the faerie apparently knew every place in Neopia, the Bori wasn't sure how she'd react to an organization that had been carrying on without her knowledge. "You have to be a certain age before you can enter."
"How come?" Essit inquired. "Why should this place be so special?"
Quick hesitated. "I'm not actually sure; it's just what we've been told," she said quickly. "It sells all sorts of things... you know, trinkets and items, clothing, potions... erm... and a lot of junk, too,” she added.
“Yeah, but the junk might not be actual junk, you know,” Alliance commented. “Take that sailboat of yours, for example.”
Quick gulped. “Um, yeah... that might be a one-off. A couple of my friends have gotten actual useless stuff before; I'd say I was pretty lucky with this. Most of the time the shop is empty, though.”
Nobody said anything, and Quick looked around nervously through the tension. Alliance looked indifferent, but Essit looked serious, her expression solid as if she was contemplating things.
“So, about the boat you bought before... why did you decide to buy it?” the faerie asked.
Quick laughed lightly, then said, “Well, it’s not like I stood around looking at everything carefully. It was more like I got my paws on the first thing I could grab and bought it without thinking. I’ve kind of been looking forward to visiting the attic for a long time.”
“There’s something special about that boat,” Essit said, leaning back into her chair...
Date: Oct 27th
Quick couldn't help but snort.
"That might be an understatement!" she quipped, but her joke fell flat as Essit's serious expression took the air out of it.
She glanced at Alliance, but the Aisha still looked indifferent. Essit's somber face told her she wasn’t getting out of this.
"Magic isn't special. Well, it might be to those who don't have use of it on a daily basis, but it's not to faeries. The boat isn't special because it flies or because it changed size..." she started, then trailed off into a frown.
Quick frowned as well. "What's special about it, then?" she queried tentatively. The fierce possessiveness had her in its thrall again, and she was reluctant to give the faerie any further information.
Essit drummed her fingers, deep in thought. "I'm not sure," she finally admitted, looking slightly sheepish, "but it's tickling something in my mind... something I can't quite grasp... something..."
The Bori studied her face as the light faerie trailed off, lost in her own thoughts as she listened to Essit muse aloud.
"Wait, what did you say the ship's name was?" the faerie snapped, so sudden and urgent that Quick was momentarily startled.
"King Arthur," Alliance responded when she realized Quick was too startled to answer.
Essit furrowed her brow. "King Arthur, King Arthur..." she muttered, jumping up from the table to pace. "King Arthur, King Arthur, Arthur..."
King Arthur, Quick thought. It really does sound familiar, and yet, I don’t understand why...
The sudden echoing of a scraping and booming sound made Essit yelp, and the Bori was starled again. Distantly, they heard screams of shock reverberate throughout the maze they had traversed. It took her only a moment to realize what had happened, and as it did the sound seemed to grow closer with alarming quickness.
"Oops!" she cried. Mentally, she quickly commanded the ship to rest idle. I wasn't summoning you; rest where you were, PLEASE!
The cacophony ended after a moment, then began again, but this time it seemed to grow quieter instead of louder. She couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief -- until she noticed that Essit was staring at her through narrowed eyes. Wide-eyed, Quick could only stare back.
"Was that the ship?" Essit asked quietly.
In response, she shrugged noncommittally. She still wasn't ready to trust this faerie.
"Quick, you can trust Essit. She knows a lot more about magic than we do... and the ship did bring us here to the Underclouds,” Alliance pointed out, seriousness heavy in her voice.
After a quick internal debate, she realized she didn't really have much choice, anyway. She was out of her element -- and Alliance was right. Her sailboat had brought them here, hadn't it?
"Yes," she responded, equally quietly.
"You said oops," Essit replied. It wasn't a question.
"I hadn't meant to give it an order," she said, in an answer that wasn't an answer.
Essit sighed deeply. "You're connected to it, aren't you? In your mind?" she asked, but it wasn't really a question either.
After a beat, Quick nodded. She's guessed as much, anyway. Might as well confirm it, she thought to herself.
"I was afraid of that," the faerie replied. "I knew King Arthur sounded familiar. I think you're in danger -- will you take me to the ship?"
What a strange request! She knows where we left it, doesn’t she? Quick thought, but didn't say it. Outwardly, she only nodded, and it was a strange, solemn procession she found herself in as the faerie, Bori, and Aisha made their way toward the magical ship. Somehow, despite having only been through the tangled passageways once before, she knew her way to the ship as if by instinct.
When they arrived at Quick's sailboat, however, the faerie's words shocked her.
"I thought so. Hello, dear friend..."
Date: Oct 28th
Quick gazed, mouth wide open, at the light faerie as she stroked the wooden exterior of the ship.
"You see," Essit began, "the King Arthur was our legion's transport ship. Back when the faction still battled evil and such, I led the beings stationed here in the Underclouds to many victories. In constant battle, though, constant use of supplies was necessary. Therefore, supplies continually had to be brought in in large numbers."
"What things did you transport?" Alliance asked.
"Oh, all sorts of things," Essit responded. "Weaponry, supplies, more soldiers. As it turns out, one clever individual that we were feuding with at the time figured out that, in order to prevent his otherwise inevitable demise, it was essential to cut off our supplies. Well, he did just that. While the ship was secretly grounded, Mary... Martin... Marty! Marty was his name -- Captain Gregory Marty."
Quick was shocked. She recalled the name, Gregory Marty, and gasped when she realized the name was that of her uncle.
"Anyway, he and his men discovered the location and ransacked the place, stealing the supplies and wiping out the workers." Essit portrayed an emotional pause. "Marty and his crew then took over the ship. A dark faerie that he had working under his employ cast a spell on the vessel, allowing Marty the ability to control it with his thoughts. Led by Marty, the flying menace headed straight to where we were stationed. We were under the impression that the ship was carrying supplies, when actuality it was bringing our demise. Without materials, our legion was easily defeated by Marty's. I was among a handful of survivors that day..." the faerie's voice trailed off as she held back a tear.
Alliance and Quick stared, fully absorbed by the faerie's story. Alliance began to say some comforting words, but was interrupted by Essit.
"And it's your uncle's fault!" she roared, pointing a quivering finger at Quick.
"Hey! You talk as if I was the one who was responsible..." Quick responded hastily.
The light faerie calmed down. "I'm sorry I snapped at you. I just get so... emotional over the whole ordeal. Upon his retirement, Marty commanded the ship to shrink and then sold it. Only someone else of his bloodline could make it grow again or command it, and you are such a Bori."
Quick was skeptical. "How did you know that he was my uncle?"
"I could see his features in you, and just based upon that ship being here, I knew that you must have been some sort of relative. Uncle was just a lucky guess," Essit said, smiling. "Anyway, I still believe you to be in danger. There are many in this region who, if they knew you were related to the one responsible for quite possibly the worst thing that's ever happened here, then they would surely seek to do you harm."
As a matter of fact, some of the other residents of the clouds had already noticed Quick and were beginning to form a mob around them.
Alliance and Quick were soon surrounded.
Insults were being chanted, along with a few cries of sorrow and several threats.
Essit went before the mob and began to address the gathering crowd. "Welcome, surviving heroes of the Underclouds. As much as we may want to direct our anger toward this Bori, we must remember she is not the one who committed that heinous act against our fair civilization, and I think we owe her a measure of respect and should listen to what she has to say."
"Well," Quick began, "I'm sorry that my uncle caused all of these bad things to happen to you, and I hope you'll forgive my family line. I also want the King Arthur to stay here, in its rightful home above the clouds!"
The audience stared at her, taking a moment to contemplate her words. Essit began to applaud, and soon so did the mob's members. The faerie, along with a few others, stepped forward to offer their forgiveness.
Quick was relieved by the way things had transpired, and was happy that she had found where the boat truly belonged.
"You'll have to tell me more about that Abandoned Attic sometime," Essit said as she, Alliance, and Quick floated down toward Neovia.
"Perhaps you should come with us on one of our excursions?" Alliance suggested cheerily; she still couldn't believe she was talking to one of her greatest heroes.
After about half an hour of chatting, the ship landed.
"Thank you for returning the King Arthur back to us," Essit stated. "We shall rebuild, and hopefully return to being the empire we once were!"
The boat lifted majestically into the air and swiftly flew off.
"So," Alliance said, then looked inquisitively at Quick as she asked, "still want to be friends?"
The Bori smiled and nodded her head. "Of course," she replied.
All of a sudden, an odd glow came from Alliance's mahogany jacket pocket. She reached in and pulled out an old pocket mirror, another treasure from the attic.
"It's glowing!" Alliance said, her eyes widening as she looked at the thing.
Quick smiled. Though the last adventure had come to an end, it felt like the next was just beginning...
Date: Oct 28th
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