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||You are on Week 535
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 Five Ends Friday, December 9
|"What'd you get this time, Jay?"
Glowing with pride, the purple Kougra held out a shining keyring. Lucie's eyes widened as she gazed at the trinket, watching as it caught the light. The Ice Caves were ablaze with life and colour. Winter Starlight decorations hung from every corner; tinsel was twined around stalactites, baubles and banners draped over every available surface. Neopets from all four corners of Neopia had gathered to join in the festivities.
Of course the biggest news of all, and the reason why Jay and Lucie were here in the first place, was that about the Snowager.
"That's a super neat keyring, Jay!" Lucie enthused. "My turn now! I hope I can get something better than the snowball I got yesterday." Grinning in anticipation, the white Ixi trotted into the Snowager's cave.
Even though it was several days into the month of Celebrating, Lucie still had to shiver when she caught sight of the giant ice worm. There were several other Neopets in the cave with her, pinching whatever they could get from the beast's treasure pile, but they were silent, even though they knew that it would be hibernating for many more days. Outside the cave, Neopets giggled and shared their findings... but inside they held their breaths, and didn't dare creep too close.
As she slowly drew nearer, Lucie's keen eyes were searching the pile of treasure. She spotted several keyrings like the one Jay had managed to grab, but she wanted something more valuable. A scratchcard maybe, or a plushie -- she had a soft spot for plushies -- or maybe even a...
"Huh?" Lucie's attention was suddenly waylaid as she caught sight of a striped Xweetok sitting -- sitting! -- on the Snowager's treasure pile. She wasn't rifling through in search of a rare item. She wasn't trying to grab as much treasure as she could get. No, she was sitting right up close to the Snowager and...
"What are you doing?" Lucie shouted. Several nearby Neopets shushed her, but she scrambled forward, in the direction of the striped Xweetok. "Don't touch him! You'll wake him up and then we'll be in trouble!"
"No, I won't." The striped Xweetok spoke in a soft voice, but her eyes never left the great ice worm's body as she stroked him gently, like one would a sleeping Petpet. "Besides, I wouldn't be in trouble. I haven't taken anything, you see."
"N-no?" Lucie asked, confused. "Then... why are you here?"
"Oh, don't you see?" the Xweetok said with a sigh. "This is wrong. This is all wrong. We can't be stealing from him like this, while he sleeps and can't defend himself. It's like... it's like pinching a popsicle from a baby Bruce. It isn't right, or fair. And the consequences are more dire than you can know..."
Date: Dec 5th
...Lucie rubbed her hooves against her eyes, double checking that this wasn't a dream. Despite a blur that clouded her vision for all of five seconds, the Xweetok remained there, perched beside the Snowager.
"But... he's hibernating. That's what everyone's been saying; that's why there are so many Neopets here," Lucie exclaimed.
"Who said that he would be the one to deliver the consequences?" the Xweetok replied in her soft voice, her eyes menacing slits as she glared at Lucie. "This is bigger than you could possibly understand."
A chill went down Lucie's spine, and she felt a wave of anger crash over her. Was this Xweetok implying that she was stupid, or was she just playing mind games?
It was then, as Lucie cast her gaze away from the strange Snowager-loving Xweetok and down the pile of treasure that she sat perilously upon, that Lucie saw it: the one thing she had always wanted but had never been brave enough to enter the wakeful Snowager's cave for in the past.
A tiny silver vial, no bigger than a faerie's little finger.
Lucie lunged forward, hooves outstretched, toward the pile that the Xweetok sat upon. She scrabbled against several golden keychains and watched as a Negg fell to the ground with a thump as her thoughts were consumed by longing for the vial.
"No!" the Xweetok hissed suddenly, her paws moving from the Snowager's icy body. Lucie's scrambling at the bottom was going to cause her metres-high pile to collapse...
Date: Dec 5th
...Luckily, though, it didn't. Apparently the Xweetok was as fast as lightning, snatching the vial in her mouth and rushing back to the Snowager's head in a single swift and graceful motion. "Don't you dare ever try that again!" she growled.
"What's wrong with you?!?" Lucie hissed. The Xweetok carefully placed the vial near the ice worm's head and petted him. Lucie now noticed the other Neopets staring at them. She looked at the crowd, embarrassed.
Jay cocked her head in Lucie's direction. The Ixi glared at the Xweetok, then snorted and trotted down toward the purple Kougra.
"Are you okay?" Jay asked.
"I'm coming back for that vial when SHE's gone!" Lucie huffed.
Lucie and Jay then walked out of the cave, along with most of the crowd that had turned up to take something from the Snowager's lair. They decided to go home for a few hours before heading back and trying again later...
Date: Dec 6th
...It was the middle of the night by the time Lucie and Jay returned to the Snowager's lair. Almost everyone who'd turned up for the Winter Starlight Celebration had left for the night. There was a single Korbat cleaning up some litter and a pair of Tonu running as quickly as they could to reach the Advent Calendar before the day ended, but aside from them, Lucie and Jay were the only ones still around.
"Are you sure about this?" Jay asked as they stood at the entrance of the Snowager's lair.
"I'm positive." Lucie said, "I've wanted that item for ages, and I'm not going to let some crazy Snowager-loving Xweetok stop me from getting it."
"Alright," Jay said, "Just try to be quick about it, okay? I'll wait out here for you."
"I won't be long at all," Lucie said. "I saw where she put it, so I won't have to search very much."
With that said, Lucie entered the Snowager's lair. If it had been creepy earlier, by now it was downright frightening. At least before there were other Neopets around, but now she was alone. At least the great beast was hibernating, so she didn't have to worry about waking it up as long as she was quiet.
"That's all it is," she thought to herself. "It's just a beast. It shouldn't even have any of these treasures, not when there are deserving Neopets like me out there."
That's what she kept thinking to herself as she saw the great ice beast, still sleeping upon its pile of treasure. Lucie turned her gaze toward the Snowager's head and saw a faint glimmer of silver.
She smiled slightly. Good, she told herself, the vial that I came for is still here. All she had to do now was climb up there and grab it.
It was slightly more difficult climbing up a pile of toys and plushies than it was walking on snow, and she almost lost her footing once by slipping on a pile of scratchcards, but the Ixi was able to reach the top of the pile near the head of the Snowager.
"Now you're mine..." she said softly, the silver vial reflecting in Lucie's eyes as she slowly and greedily reached for the object of her desire.
Just before she could grab the object, however, a strong hand grabbed her by the shoulder and quickly spun her around...
Date: Dec 6th
..."What do you think you're doing?" the Xweetok's voice hissed through clenched teeth.
Lucie pulled herself free from the striped paw and hissed back, "I'm taking what I deserve for coming here." She spun around and swiped the vial before the Xweetok could steal it again. Her pink eyes gleamed with greed as she finally obtained the object she so desperately wanted.
"No!" the Ixi growled, and then her striped paw shoved Lucie off the pile of Neggs, scratchcards, and keyrings that she'd been balancing on.
Lucie stumbled backwards with the vial in her hoof, slipping on a snowball and tumbling to the bottom of the Snowager's hoard. All of that didn't matter, though. She had finally obtained the treasure that she'd always wanted. Grinning happily, she rushed over to show Jay her reward.
"Look, I finally got i--" Lucie's words stuck in her throat as she recognized that the Neopet she was gloating to was not her purple Kougra friend, but rather the striped Xweetok."Noooo!..."
Date: Dec 7th
..."Could you be any more selfish?!?" the Xweetok hissed. She took advantage of Lucie's moment of shock and snatched the vial away from her. "What gives you any right to steal these items? Any right at all?"
The Ixi rolled her eyes in frustration, trying to wrestle the vial back from the deranged Xweetok. "It's not your place to tell me what is and isn't right! I can do whatever I like, and it shouldn't concern you!"
The Xweetok scurried over to the Snowager's hoard and picked up a Poison Snowball. She hurled it at Lucie and scrambled up the pile of treasure, looking for a place to hide the vial.
Lucie gasped, but dodged the snowball just in time. "Two can play at that game!" she yelled, chasing after the Xweetok.
Jay poked his head in at the sound of raised voices. "Lucie, what's taking so long? Is everything alright?"
The Kougra and the Xweetok both caught sight of each other at the same time. Before Jay could process what was happening, the striped Xweetok grinned mischievously and leapt out of his line of sight. She had an idea...
Date: Dec 7th
...The Xweetok dropped the vial in the middle of the pile, purposely creating as much noise as she could. She saw the greedy glint in the Ixi's eye and knew how, exactly, she would go about putting her plan into action.
The Xweetok darted off. Behind her, the sound of random items falling to the ground were clearly audible -- the little thief was climbing up the pile, undoubtedly in pursuit of the vial. Her plan was working out perfectly...
Lucie paused at the top of the pile. She'd heard the vial fall as the Xweetok scampered off, but where? The Ixi scrambled about, searching.
At last, she found it. It was tucked beneath a Devilpuss Plushie, half-hidden from view. With a cry of joy, Lucie reached for it and then slid down the mountain of treasure, heading back toward the entrance. This time she knew to keep an eye out for the Xweetok, who was most likely lurking, waiting for the perfect time to jump out in ambush; Lucie glanced around suspiciously, turning her head from side to side.
Finally, she made it to the exit.
"Jay?" she called. "Jay?"
The purple Kougra was nowhere in sight.
Jay was sitting in the snow. There wasn't anywhere else for him to sit, and it did get tiring, standing in the middle of a snowbank for hours on end.
Suddenly, a hand clamped itself over his mouth, pushing him down.
"Keep quiet," someone said, "and don't move..."
Date: Dec 8th
Jay fearfully kept silent like the mystery Neopet, or whoever it was, had told him. He sat there silently for a while until he heard excited footsteps nearing him.
"Jay?" Lucie cried out. "Jay, where are you? This isn't funny! I've got the vial!" She pushed her hooves through the snow, searching for the familiar purple Kougra.
The Xweetok smiled deviously as she hid behind a clump of snow, clamping the Kougra's mouth shut. Her smile grew as Lucie got near. That freaked Jay out -- he had no idea what that Xweetok was going to do.
The Ixi rounded the corner and saw Jay sitting there, but the Xweetok had removed herself from his side.
"Jay, look!" she said, waggling the vial in front of his face.
"No, you look. Look out!" the purple Kougra cried.
The Xweetok pounced, jumping out from behind of a mound of snow and beginning her attack...
Date: Dec 8th
Lucie scrambled and struggled to throw the other Neopet off her back. She had the vial clenched tightly in her fist and was holding it out of the Xweetok's reach. Jay watched, dazed and dumbfounded, as the two Neopets collapsed into a pile of snow.
"No," Lucie screeched. "You can't take it! I'll tell everyone you're a thief!"
"You took it from the Snowager," the Xweetok cried. "You can't call me a thief when you stole it yourself."
"It's mine now," Lucie snapped, then she began to scream. "Help, thief! There's a thief!"
Her cry was swallowed by the night. Everyone was sleeping, and the roofs of their faraway houses were covered with frost. No one could see or hear them.
Jay blinked and finally moved forward, pulling the Xweetok from his friend. He held her back with his arms as she snarled at Lucie, still reaching for the vial. Lucie stood there, grinning smugly.
Finally, the Xweetok calmed down. She stopped struggling. In fact, as the fight left her, she seemed to wilt a little. Her eyes looked a little sad. Lucie almost felt bad. Almost.
"You don't understand," the Xweetok said.
"No, I think you're the one who doesn't understand," Lucie told her. "Neopets have been taking treasure from the Snowager for years."
"It's a tradition," Jay added.
"See? You can't tell me that I'm not allowed to participate."
"Just because everybody else does something doesn't mean you can, too," the Xweetok whispered.
"But he keeps hoarding all of these things! We should be allowed to take some stuff. He wouldn't miss it, anyway."
"It's not a treasure!" the Xweetok shouted suddenly.
Lucie blinked, momentarily thrown off balance. "What?"
The Xweetok bit her lip. She looked like she rather regretted her outburst. Jay tightened his grip on her arms and she sighed.
"I suppose it wouldn't hurt to tell you, now. You've already made yourself quite involved as it is." She glared at Lucie as she said this.
Lucie snorted. "What do you mean?"
"It's not a treasure," the Xweetok repeated. "It's a peace offering."
Silence stretched over the night. They could've heard the snow falling, had they been listening close enough.
"What?" Jay said. "For who?" he asked, then paused before adding, "For what?"
The Xweetok just stared at the ground, at the snow, at her feet. "You'll find out soon enough..."
Date: Dec 9th
...As when Lucie had first met the strange striped Xweetok, chills swept up and down her back.
"Peace offering?" she echoed in a hushed, whispered voice as she stared at the shining vial.
The Xweetok bit her lip, staring into Lucie's eyes. She was searching for something, but what, the Ixi wasn't sure.
"A peace offering," she repeated softly, having found whatever she had been looking for in Lucie's eyes.
In her hand, the vial seemed to throb with electric intensity, underscoring the quiet force of the trapped Xweetok's words.
Looking confused, Jay let go of her warily, staring. "Peace offering to who? For what?" she repeated.
Rubbing her arms reflexively, she sighed. "Have none of you ever wondered why the Snowager hoards keyrings and Neggs and snowballs?" she asked.
"And weapons," Lucie whispered, staring at the vial that now seemed alive in her hand.
"And weapons," the Xweetok agreed sadly.
A beat passed, and then another, and another. "Obviously not," Jay replied, still a bit surly for having been held hostage by the strange Neopet earlier.
"Have none of you wondered what it must be like to be the Snowager? To be so large and fearsome? So far removed from the rest of the Neopia, from anyone he might converse with?" she asked, passion ringing suddenly in her voice.
Lucie stared down at the vial, a strange sensation creeping down her spine. She couldn't identify it, but it wasn't pleasant.
"The Snowager is... a beast. It attacks us... attacks us when..." Jay trailed off, staring at the sad Xweetok.
"When we steal his stuff," said the Xweetok, picking up where Jay had trailed off. "What would you do if someone stole from you?"
The strange sensation seemed to grow and took up residence in the pit of the Ixi's stomach. It was an uncomfortable feeling.
Jay scuffed the snow with the toe of her boots. "I wouldn't be very happy," she finally admitted rather glumly.
"It's not treasure," the Xweetok said again.
"It’s a peace offering," Jay said, still glum. "A peace offering..."
"To himself," the striped Xweetok finished, staring deep into Lucie's eyes again. "Don't you see?"
A peace offering. Staring at the vial in her hand, the feeling in her stomach doubled and writhed, making her feel slightly sick.
"Don't you see?" the Xweetok urged, taking an unconscious step toward Lucie.
With a lurch, Lucie realized that she did see. Saw much, much more clearly than she wanted.
With no one to talk to, too frightening to interact with anyone, what would she do if she was the Snowager? Might she start collecting little things she held dear? Little things that made her feel normal, little things that comforted her and made her smile?
She nodded, slowly, and identified the feeling that was making her stomach cramp, the feeling that had crept down her spine and taken root.
And now that she knew it for what it was, another wave of shame swept over her, making her cheeks burn.
She was ashamed.
"This month, the Snowager hibernates, his first sleep in more years than most of us can remember," the Xweetok said, "How do you suppose he'll feel when he wakes up after the Starlight Festival ends?"
A fresh wave of shame burned through her.
"Not so hot," Lucie whispered weakly. Behind the Xweetok, Jay looked down at her keyring, embarrassed.
Lucie clutched the vial, feeling it burn against her palm. The heat was in her imagination, of course, but at that moment, it felt completely real. For a long, forlorn moment, she stared back at the Xweetok -- and then, abruptly, determination swept away the shame. Nodding at Jay, she turned around and ran back toward the Snowager's cave.
Creeping in quietly, the Ixi stared at the Snowager. She knew she'd never be back here -- at least, not for the reason she'd been here before. Slinking forward quietly, she stared one last time at the vial, envy burning through her for one fleeting moment. With her epiphany, however, there was no way she could keep the vial. With a reluctant sigh, she tucked it carefully underneath a coil of the Snowager's massive bulk -- somewhere she knew no normal Neopet would look. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Jay do the same with her keyring.
Outside, the Xweetok was nowhere to be seen. Standing in the mouth of the cave, Jay looked at her.
"Even if we never steal his stuff again, we can't stop everyone else," she told her, resigned.
"Nope. But knowing that, do you still want to steal from him?" she asked, quietly.
Jay shook her head.
"Then that will have to be good enough," she told her.
She nodded, and gave Lucie a hug. The vial still haunted her thoughts; she had never even figured out what it was.
Some things just weren't hers to figure out, though.
"Come on, Jay... let's get some hot Borovan. I'm freezing!” she said with a watery smile.
Jay smiled back, and nodded. She may envy the Snowager his items, but she realized now that he probably envied her more -- because she had Jay.
Date: Dec 9th
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