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||You are on Week 543
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 Forty Three Ends Friday, February 17
|Valentine's Day was fast approaching. Everywhere you looked were hearts and flowers in various shades of red. Candies and chocolates were being sold from shops in record time, as everyone wondered if they would get a Mysterious Valentine's Card this year.
Everyone, that is, except for Lucille.
The grey Zafara had no close friends, so she had no great expectations for the upcoming holiday. She truly doubted there would be any cards waiting for her in her mailbox, nor had she sent any. In truth, she rather dreaded this day because it always made her feel so alone.
The one plus side for her was that there were plenty of opportunities for overtime, because she worked in one of the places that was busiest this time of year -- The Chocolate Factory. Her job was to shell the freshly roasted cocoa beans. Removing the husk was tedious work as it all had to be done by hand, but she enjoyed the routine. Besides, by keeping herself busy, she didn't have time to dwell on her own feelings about Valentine's.
It was late in the afternoon and most everyone else had gone home already as she worked steadily in the relative quiet of the factory. Content, she hummed a soft tune to herself as she carefully shelled each bean before reaching for the next, until her paws closed upon something quite unusual.
At first glance it looked like a cocoa bean, except that it was more than twice the usual size. The husk felt different as well -- more coarse and solid. For a brief second, she thought about tossing it aside and moving on to the next, but she didn't want to be wasteful. Carefully, Lucille began to shell the unusual bean, but she could have never dreamed of what was about to be revealed...
Date: Feb 13th
...Inside the husk was a cocoa bean that was shaped just like a delicate rose. Lucille carefully ran her fingers over the edges of the bean, marvelling at its strange appearance. In her time working at the Chocolate Factory Lucille had encountered very few cocoa beans that varied from the norm, and usually it was her duty to throw the misshapen, strangely coloured or otherwise deviant bean into the trash. Today, she couldn't bring herself to do it.
Taking great care not to squish or damage the bean, Lucille carefully tucked it into the front pocket of her apron before turning back to the task at hand. She found a small smile forming on her lips as she imagined a scenario where the bean was made that way and put on her line on purpose by a mysterious admirer. She let that fantasy linger for a moment before she shook her head, reminding herself of how silly and preposterous that sounded.
It wasn't until four hours later, at the end of her shift on Valentine's Eve, that Lucille let thoughts of the strange cocoa bean distract her once again. As she headed to the employee locker room to stow her apron and collect her bag, the Zafara once again ran her fingers over the rose-shaped bean in wonderment. Not wanting to risk damaging the bean by placing it in her bag, Lucille kept it firmly in her paw as she left the Chocolate Factory and headed for home.
It was dark outside, the Chocolate Factory being the only store with lights still blazing, its trading hours having been extended for the special occasion. Seeing several happy, laughing Neopets joking and exchanging cards together outside the store, Lucille felt her heat plummet once more. If only she had such good friends...
Lucille felt tears prickle the corner of her eyes as she quickened her pace, wanting to arrive home as soon as possible. It wasn't until she hit a loose tile, tripping toward the ground in her haste, that Lucille remembered the mysterious cocoa bean in her paw. It flew into the air and Lucille scrabbled to catch it, ignoring the pain in her knees from her fall. She had never owned something so beautiful before, and she wasn't about to let it slip away because of her own clumsiness...
Date: Feb 13th
..."Oomph!" exclaimed the Zafara as her body came to rest on the ground. She felt no bean in her hand and was suddenly afraid to open her eyes, in case her precious treasure had shattered on the floor. Instantly her heart sunk into her chest, and she gulped.
Cautiously peeking through one eye, Lucille looked before her and saw that the bean lay unbroken, just inches from her open paws. A sigh of relief escaped her lips, brushing the bean just slightly further away.
Or was it?
Much to Lucille’s surprise, the bean had started shaking violently. The rose-shaped object began to sprout roots, making it difficult for the Zafara to believe what she was seeing. Lucille got to her knees and started to look around hurriedly to see if she was the only one witnessing this spectacular event -- and she was.
Almost instantly, a mass of chocolate leaves and branches thrust itself into the air, uncoiling to reveal a perfectly thick and delicious-looking chocolate rose bush before her, covered in plump chocolate roses.
"A rose bush?" Lucille gasped under her breath. "But cocoa beans come from trees!"
Lucille jumped in surprise because, as she curiously approached the anomaly, a voice echoed from somewhere inside it...
Date: Feb 14th
"Come... come try these delicious chocolate roses.. .they're absolutely scrumptious." The voice was earnest and tempting, as rich and smooth as the chocolates themselves looked.
Lucille glanced at the chocolate roses longingly and reached out her paw to break off just one beautiful chocolate rose, the smallest but most perfect one of the bunch, when suddenly -- THWACK! Her paw was slapped away from the bush. Lucille looked up, startled, to find an angry-looking chocolate Chia glaring down at her.
"Oh!" Lucille cried, snapping out of her stupor. "I-I'm so sorry, it's just... those chocolate roses are so... so tempting. It's hard not to resist." The grey Zafara hung her head, a mixture of shame and embarrassment welling up inside of her.
The chocolate Chia's face grew rigid and tensed up at the mention of the tempting chocolate roses. "I accept your apology, but heed my warning: never eat from that chocolate bush -- those roses... they do not taste sweet. Take my word for it, you do not want to taste them."
Lucille was so relieved to have gotten off the hook that she shook her head hastily without really paying attention to what the Chia had said to her. She scampered off without another backward glance... until she was forced to stop dead in her tracks.
Oh, no! Lucille thought, because it had happened again -- the chocolate rose bush had sprouted right up out of the ground before her again. It was as if it had been drawn to her like a magnet.
Lucille glanced around her surreptitiously, making sure that no one was around. Maybe she would try a chocolate rose or two... after all, she was hungry, and she wasn't anywhere near her house. She didn't have many Neopoints on her, either.
"Yes, yes... taste some of my delightfully delicious chocolate roses!" the voice called from the bushes, sounding ever giddier as Lucille's paw drew closer and closer to plucking a chocolate rose off the bush...
Date: Feb 14th
...She held her breath, just waiting for someone or something to stop her, but the night was silent. As if in a dream, she plucked a single, perfect rose from the bush and held it for a moment in her paw. The chocolate petals felt so warm and the aroma tickled her nose. She felt her mouth begin to water as she looked at the beautiful treat.
"Taste my roses," the voice cried again, and this time it wasn't alone. A harmony of voices began to chant together, rising and falling together like a mysterious song. "Taste the roses. Taste the roses."
She couldn't resist any longer as she brought the chocolate rose up to her mouth and took the tiniest of nibbles. The taste was sweeter than anything she could have imagined as she held it upon her tongue. Never had anything tasted so good, but Lucille waited for a few minutes to see if anything bad would happen. She looked down at her limbs, but saw there was no change.
Deciding not to hesitate another second, the Zafara began to eat the rest of the chocolate rose, savoring each and every bite. It made this day of feeling so alone in the world all worth it. Soon, she had eaten all of the rose, but Lucille still wanted more.
That didn't seem to be a problem, as there was a whole rose bush in front of her. Besides, eating the chocolate blossom hadn't affected her. Perhaps that chocolate Chia had just been trying to save them all for himself with his warning. Without hesitation, she started to reach for another delicious chocolate rose.
That's when she noticed that all wasn't as it should be...
Date: Feb 15th
..."My arm!" Lucille gasped, staring in horror. The once-grey fur was turning brown and smooth, the dark colour flowing down her arm like honey. Or, though Lucille hardly dared to make the comparison even in her mind, like molten chocolate.
In a panic, she tried to look at the rest of herself, but other than her arm she remained the same old grey Zafara she had always been. She checked her arm again, but the chocolate had reached her shoulder and stopped there.
"Come," the bush spoke again, the many voices echoing eerily around her. "Come, won't you try another?"
"No," Lucille denied, nervously backing away. Her arm was starting to feel strangely heavy and numb.
"I'm afraid, my dear, you don't have much of a choice," someone grimly said behind her. Lucille spun 'round, holding her arm behind her back to hide what had happened to it. The chocolate Chia stood there, arms crossed and his expression both angry and disappointed.
"Listen to him," the bush whispered gleefully. "You have no choice, so come try my roses, my sweetest roses..."
Lucille ignored the bush as best she could, and tried not to notice that it was slowly creeping toward her. "Why?" she asked the Chia, gathering her courage as best as she could and facing him squarely. "The voices don't tempt me anymore -- I can ignore them, easily."
"It's not quite so simple as that," the Chia disagreed. "Tell me, can you move your arm?"
"What?" Lucille asked in surprise. "Of course I can!" To show him, she brought it out from behind her back and tried to open her fist, but nothing happened. She glared at it and tried furiously to move a finger, but only managed a slight twitch. "I can't," she whispered in defeat. "It's just chocolate, I can't move it!"
The Chia sighed, losing his harsh demeanour in sympathy. "That arm will never be anything but chocolate, I'm afraid," he explained. “As for the rest of you, however, there is a choice. You can stay as you are with only one good arm, or you can eat the roses and become completely chocolate."
"That doesn't sound too bad," Lucille said thoughtfully. It'd take a while to save up enough to paint herself grey again, but she was sure she could manage -- or maybe try being another colour for a while. She'd always quite fancied being Christmas.
"You misunderstand me -- if you eat the roses you become chocolate, not painted chocolate," the Chia said, shaking his head. "You cannot repaint yourself, and you will not be a chocolate Neopet; just plain old chocolate, like the rose bush itself.”
Lucille gaped in horror. "Surely there's another choice!" she pleaded.
"Well, there is one thing," the Chia said slowly...
Date: Feb 16th
..."What, what?!" Lucille cried eagerly while jumping up and down, her chocolate arm stiff and unmoving.
"There is a magic spell..." the Chia whispered, his voice quivering -- not with anger, but with how quiet he was talking.
Lucille looked eagerly at his face.
"I-I am not sure you will be able to cast magic with one arm, however... that's a flaw in this option," the Chia went on.
"I'm ready, I'm ready!" Lucille shouted, the grey / chocolate Zafara waiting enthusiastically.
"Well, we'll have to go to someone with magical ability. Edna or Kauvara would likely be our best choices, but still..." the Chia stammered. Lucille could barely hear him, as his voice wasn't carrying any further than except right in front of him, causing Lucille to lean in a bit further.
"Kauvara's closer!" Lucille added, her non-chocolate paw pointing in the direction of Kauvara's magical shop.
So then, they started walking in the direction of the mysterious hideout.
As they entered, a bell rang somewhere in the shop. A smell of potions wafted through the air, making Lucille sneeze quite a few times. Otherwise, all was quiet in the shop. They glanced around, noticing various potions and potion books. Occasionally they'd spot something like a Kyrii Morphing Potion, and once even saw a Christmas Zafara Morphing Potion -- the one that Lucille was dying to buy.
They continued to quietly walked around, trying not to disturb Kauvara and her potion-making skills, wherever they may have been. The Zafara and Chia crept around, looking at items (as well as some of the more interesting items' price tags). They soon arrived at the back of the shop, where a mystical back room awaited them.
"Kauvara?" Lucille called quietly, then peeked into the back room. She got no answer.
"Kauvara?" Lucille called again, more loudly this time, before stepping into the back room.
"No, don't go!" the Chia hissed, trying to pull the curious Lucille out of the back room.
They resumed their browsing once more, as they thought that perhaps she was putting more items on the shelves in the corner somewhere, or maybe she was out buying things with her hard earned profits. Either way, she was not answering their desperate calls.
Just as they were about to check behind the counter and then (most likely) leave, a sweet voice echoed throughout the tiny shop.
"Hello, my dears -- might I interest you in anything?" the voice said, making Lucille and the Chia jump as it rang in their ears...
Date: Feb 16th
...It was Kauvara that walked out from the back room, but the voice was that of the rosebush -- the smooth, sweet, voice that had tempted her into eating one of the chocolates. Lucille stepped back abruptly, accidentally spilling a potion on the floor, and tried to hide her chocolate arm behind her back.
"Oh dear," Kauvara said, scurrying to Lucille's side so she could clean up the potion. "Why don't I get that for you?"
"Can you help me?" Lucille implored, shaking her chocolate arm in Kauvara's face. The Kau was visibly shocked, almost dropping a few potions in her surprise. "I need you to turn me back to normal."
"Well, of course," she said, still speaking in the rosebush's voice. "I can't turn you back when you're half-chocolate, though. First you must eat some more of those roses, and then -- and only then -- I can switch you back to normal..."
Lucille opened her mouth to say yes, but the Chia spoke first. "No, don't. She could be tricking you."
Kauvara's face fell. "Why in Neopia would I do that?"
"I don't know if it's just me, but she sounds exactly like that suspicious rosebush," the Chia continued. "I wouldn't trust her if I were you."
"Oh, my dears," the Kau laughed. "I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing! All you have to do to get your arm back is to eat more chocolate... how hard is that?"
There was an element of truth to that statement, and that was enough to convince her.
"I'll be right back," Lucille said as she scrambled for the door...
Date: Feb 17th
...Lucille opened the door and dashed into the dark night. On her escape from the Magic Shop, she noticed that every other store in view had closed for the evening.
"Peculiar," the Zafara remarked as she continued her run. Really, though, the entire evening had been odd -- it was certainly her most memorable Valentine's Day (though her previous ones were entirely forgettable).
As she turned the corner of the marketplace, she sighed at the sight of an unsettling emptiness where the chocolate rosebush had been minutes before. "It's no longer there," Lucille said as she tried to calm herself down.
"All of your worries are over, Lucille."
Deep within her conscious mind, however, she knew that her problems were far from over. That plant had replaced Kauvara for some unknown reason, and the chocolate Chia was in a dire situation there with the physical, lifelike embodiment of the otherwise stationary bush.
She returned to Kauvara's Magic Shop, a look of fierce determination masking her anxiety. "You," she said as she entered the door and pointed at the counterfeit Kau, "what have you done with the real Kauvara?"
"Why, whatever do you mean?" the voice of the unearthly bush sounded from the "magician's" mouth. "And where did you run away to? I have all the roses right here." Kauvara picked her renowned hat from her head. Chocolate roses filled its velvet interior.
Lucille stared at the hat of roses, her mouth watering at the thought of the delicious taste she had previously experienced. Shaking herself off, she tried to distract herself from their elegance by focusing on other objects throughout the room. It was during this survey that she realized the chocolate Chia was nowhere to be seen.
Deciding she would inquire as to his whereabouts later, she continued the previous conversation. "I mean," the Zafara said, "I don't believe you're Kauvara."
The Kau hesitated. "Well," the voice started, its anger increasing with every word, "So what if I'm not? You'll never be able to defeat me -- I'm much too powerful to be vanquished by a low-level Chocolate Factory worker." At that moment, stalks shot out from its eyes and mouth, and Kauvara's colors melted off like wax. The entity had become a bush again.
Lucille's first instinct was to run to the door, but on her way the bush shot a splintery tentacle out and blocked it. The Zafara started panicking (despite what books tend to say about panicking) and, without thinking, she ran up to one of the store's racks and grabbed the most dangerous-looking concoction she could see, then threw it at the beast. It didn't do anything. She threw a few more to the same effect (or, in this case, lack of effect). The bush laughed at all of her feeble potion attacks.
Finally, she picked up a bottle of red liquid.
"Hey, what are you doing?" the plant said to her as it cast out one of its roots in an attempt to knock the item out of her hand.
So this can defeat it, she thought to herself. If it couldn't, that beast of a bush would have no need to be frightened by it. Carefully, Lucille aimed the bottle at the plant and, just before it again attempted to sabotage her throw, tossed it right into the center of the mangle of branches. The bottle burst open and the red liquid covered the bush and its roots -- forcing the creature to consume it.
Wailing at a pitch more foul than anything Lucille had ever heard, the voice was gone and the entire plant -- its branches stretched to every corner of the store front -- lay limp, dead on the ground.
Lucille, breathing heavily, slouched down against the counter and tried taking in the entire situation. She got as far as thinking the plant was no more before she started hearing voices. At first she thought them figments of her tired, racing mind, but later found them to be real and coming from a supply closet that had been blocked by the plant. The Zafara got up and opened the supply closet door, to be met with the faces of a relieved Kauvara and chocolate Chia.
"Oh, thank goodness you stopped that plant," Kauvara said as she left the room. The Chia followed. "It had locked me in that room, and then him, but now it's gone and everything can return to normal!" she continued cheerily.
"Well," Lucille started, "about 'returning to normal'..." she said, holding up her chocolate arm.
Kauvara glanced at it, pulled a syringe out of her pocket, and poked its needle into the chocolate. Immediately grey fur began to grow back, and the chocolate hardened and fell off. "There," the Kau said with a smile, "that makes us even. You know, that problem is more common than people think..." she said with a wink. "Well, I'm awfully tired... I think I'll head back to my Neohome. I can clean these leaves up tomorrow."
"But, how did I defeat that plant?" the Zafara asked Kauvara.
Kauvara walked over and inspected the plant's damage. A thin red liquid covered it. "A Fire Jug," she said. "Fire does burn through plants. Now come, you two, it's time to go."
The three left. Kauvara walked away from the shop quickly, leaving the other two behind. "Er, thanks for saving me, you know," the Chia started. "My name's Greg, by the way."
"Well, I'm Lucille," the now fully Grey Zafara responded.
"Er, would you like to come over for tea tonight, or something? You must be parched from all the excitement."
Lucille gave the offer some thought. "Alright," she said as a smile crossed her usually-desolate face. It was definitely past midnight, and she thought that, for once, maybe she wouldn't have to spend Valentine's Day -- even just a part of it -- alone.
Greg sat alone in his Neohome. Lucille had already come and gone, and she had agreed to see him again at a later time.
His Angelpuss Yipp came bouncing over. "You know, Yippoe," he said, "I should have never genetically engineered that bean." His mind was filled with the events that had led to the bean's creation.
The Chia was a worker for the "Research and Development" division of the Chocolate Factory. While there, he conceived the idea that Neopians should buy chocolate seeds and grow their own tasty chocolate flowers. His prototype failed, however -- the rosebush that grew from one was intelligent and could speak, and it became violent and angry at its sad existence, making flowers just to be picked off and consumed by others.
To make matters worse, even the flowers were tainted -- the testing committee was turned to chocolate after consuming numerous amounts of them, angering the head Kiko, who had to pay Kauvara to turn them all back.
The project was scrapped and he was ordered to destroy his prototypes -- as a result, all but one that he wanted to keep for a souvenir were extinguished. Unfortunately, it got away from him and mixed with the line of outgoing beans.
There, Lucille must have found it. And then it grew, but he found her. At first he tried telling her that they tasted bad, as to scare her away and spare the Zafara from the tainted flowers.
Once she sampled them and her arm turned to chocolate, he decided to try and get her to turn the rest of herself chocolate -- that way, she would be silenced and there would be no risk of her exposing the plant to the public.
Finally, he decided she might as well undergo the same treatment as the others, even if she spread the story of her encounter with the "magic bean." In the end, it turned out to be a wise decision -- she had saved him and destroyed the plant, as well.
Greg's thoughts were interrupted by Yipp's meowing. "Yeah," he started, "I guess it's time for bed -- after all, it's almost 1:00 AM." Picking her up, he walked over to his bedroom and climbed into his bed.
Thoughts of Lucille filled his mind.
Date: Feb 17th
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