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||You are on Week 557
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 Fifty Seven Ends Friday, May 25
|"Are you sure you'll be alright, Thomas?" his sister called to him from inside. "Do you need anything else?"
The Lutari looked back in and smiled at her. "I've got everything I need, thanks," he shouted back. "You packed me a great lunch... plus, I've got my Lucky Fishing Hat!"
"That's true..." she said to herself.
Before she could ask any more questions, Tom gathered his things -- a fishing pole in one hand and his lunchbox in another -- and set out. He heard his sister call "Goodbye," and "Good luck!" He kept walking, saying nothing, as he rounded a corner and left her sight.
As soon as she could no longer see him, he slumped down against the wall. He took off his hat, merely staring at it in defeat. That hat had been of no use to him at all ever since the day he'd gotten it. The clerk had said the word "lucky" and he was hooked (if you'll pardon the pun). After all, if he'd ever needed a good luck charm for anything, it was fishing.
So he had set out for Kiko Lake, a short distance from their home in Neopia Central, to try it out. To his surprise, after only a few minutes of waiting, he'd caught a huge fish! He ran home with the slippery creature to show it off to his sister. As soon as she saw it, the Kacheek's face had lit up. They were both so proud of Thomas' achievement that he set out the very next day to fish.
And again the day after that. And after that. Since that first day, however, he hadn't caught a single thing.
He could never tell his sister that, though. Every day, as he made his way home empty handed, he stopped by the marketplace and bought a fish with his spare Neopoints. He hated lying to her, but he just couldn't bear to see her disappointed.
Thomas let out a deep sigh, standing up and putting on his hat once more. Well, he thought, as he'd done every day, maybe today will be different. Maybe this will be my lucky day.
Still unconvinced, the Lutari reluctantly gathered his things and set off toward the lake. Who am I kidding? I don't need luck; I need a miracle...
Date: May 21st
...Negative thoughts continued to pester his mind. Why me? he asked himself. There were plenty of other passersby that that salesman could have dumped the hat upon -- just my luck, though, being the one to purchase it.
Tom found his way to the docks of Kiko Lake, his fishing hat -- he couldn't bring himself to call it "lucky" unless she was around -- on his head and a pole in his hand. Seating himself down comfortably on the wooden planks, he cast out his line. The baited hook made a nice little "plop" as it hit the water.
The Lutari waited... and waited. "Nothing," he sighed to himself as he opened his blue tin lunchbox. It was the only thing he looked forward to during his daily misery. He examined the platter of goodies the Kacheek had lain out for him.
"A sandwich, an apple, a small slice of lemon pie," he mused. And, a note. He picked it up and read it.
To my dearest brother,
May you have another excellent fishing trip today! I just know you'll make me proud -- you always do!
In anger, he crumpled up the note and tossed it into the water. She gave him a similar message every day, and every day he did the same thing with it; lying to her was nothing to be proud of.
"So, what'll it be today, Mr. Thomas?" the fishmonger said as Tom observed the selection. Even now, the Lutari felt sick to his stomach over what he was doing.
"Er... what can I buy with 500 NP?" he asked.
"I've got a rather large Blandfish I can sell for that..." the Elephante responded.
"Sounds good," Thomas replied. He purchased it and, as always when he left the shop, he threw it on his hook to make it seem as though he had caught it in the first place.
Upset with himself for lying to her again, he decided to take some action. Standing in the middle of the marketplace, he proclaimed, just like the previous owner of the wretched hat, "Lucky Fishing Hat for sale! Great price! Offer what you will!"
A young Usul came up. "Is it really lucky?" he asked.
"Well, the first day I used it, I caught an extremely big fish," Thomas said, winking at the kid. At least that wasn't a lie.
"How about 3,000 NP?" the Usul asked as he showed the money.
"Er, sure, kid, I guess I can let it go for that cheap." Thomas received his payment -- actually, it was quite a bit more than he'd expected, considering he had purchased it for about 800 NP -- and the kid went away happy. He felt a bit sorry for the little guy, but supposed it would make his life better.
When Thomas arrived back at his home, his sister was waiting for him.
"Just look at the size of that fish," she said, beaming. The Kacheek then frowned, however. "Wait, where's your lucky hat?"
"Er..." Thomas stumbled. He hadn't thought of an excuse. "Um... it was stolen. Yeah, stolen right off my head."
His sister's mouth sat agape, her eyes wide. "S-Stolen?" she stuttered out...
Date: May 21st
..."Off your head?" she continued. "But, how could it--you must've seen who--"
Thomas thought fast. He didn't want his sister to go looking for the culprit. After all, the young Usul he'd sold the hat to had bought it fair and square; he couldn't risk Maria looking for the "culprit" and accusing an innocent kid just because he was wearing the same hat.
"Yeah," he finally said. Just one more lie, he thought, and he wouldn't have to lie to her anymore. Just one more little lie... "I was just sitting there fishing and, whoosh... a wild Skree swooped out of nowhere and snagged it right off of my head! It must've been attracted to the shiny lures hanging on the hat; it just sailed off into a clear sky." He shrugged as if to say, What can you do about that? "Anyway," he continued, "I did get this nice Blandfish for dinner before it happened, so..."
If he'd hoped that Maria would take that for an answer, though, he was sorely mistaken. As he spoke, her expression changed from wide-eyed surprise to sadness, and then -- to his shock -- to determination. "Then you know what we have to do."
Oh dear, Thomas thought. "Have dinner?" he said weakly.
"No, silly," his little sister said. Her ears fairly quivered, she was so intent. "We will go on a quest to get your hat back."
"That's what you do when you've lost a magic object, isn't it?" She took the Blandfish from his limp paws and bustled about. "We'll have dinner first, of course, but then we'll set out. You should start packing while I cook the fish! We'll need a map of Neopia, and binoculars so that we can track the Skree if we find it, and -- ooh, you should pack boots for both of us; who knows how far we'll have to go to get it back?"
Thomas felt a sinking sensation in the middle of his stomach. Magic object, quest, map of Neopia, this was all getting out of hand. "Wait, Maria--"
Maria wasn't listening, however. As she seasoned the fish with a pawful of salt and put it in a pan to cook, she said, "The first place we should look is...."
Date: May 22nd
..."Tyrannia!" Maria exclaimed after she put a lid over the frying pan. She calmly wiped her paws on a wet towel nearby while Thomas gawked at her.
Thomas managed to stammer out, "T-Tyrannia?!? Why there?"
Maria skipped over to the bookshelf and took out a thick volume entitled Petpets of Neopia. Flipping through the book, she excitedly chirped, "I was reading this the other day and, lucky for you, I just read the entry on the Skree."
After quickly handing the book to Thomas, the Kacheek hurried over to the pan once more and lifted the lid to check on the fish. Nose twitching, she leaned closer to the pan while Thomas glumly looked down at the page that Maria had flipped to.
The Skree is a beautifully-colored Petpet, native to Tyrannia, which only a few Neopets have managed to come close to. Its wild nature makes this Petpet hard to tame, and only the most skilled of trainers should attempt to manage this fiery creature.
Thomas let out a small sigh before he perked up as he suddenly thought of a way to stop his sister's determination. "Maria, there's no way we can go all the way to Tyrannia. After all, it's clear on the other side of the ocean!"
Convinced and satisfied that he had narrowly escaped his sister's wild plans, Thomas got up to leave the room before he was stopped by a tug on his shirt.
The Lutari looked back at Maria's mischievous grin as she gripped the sleeve of his shirt with one paw and a plate of delicious-smelling Blandfish in the other.
"No worries, Tom! I have the perfect plan!" she replied with a glint in her eye...
Date: May 22nd
...As Maria rattled off her plan for catching a ferry to Roo Island and then boarding the next freighter to Tyrannia, Thomas tried to divulge the truth about the lucky hat.
Each time he caught Maria’s wide-eyed expression of excitement, however, he simply ate another mouthful of Blandfish.
He attempted to speak with her as they packed, but his mouth went dry. He made an extreme effort to confess as they left the house, but his feet merely dragged him along, and in what seemed like no time at all, he was climbing down the plank to shuffle through the grassy shore of Tyrannia.
This is ridiculous, Thomas scolded himself. Yet, he reasoned that it had been a long time since he’d seen Maria so happy, and they had both talked amiably about visiting the prehistoric land one day. Perhaps this was as good an excuse as any to take a much needed vacation.... or perhaps he was reasoning with himself for the guilt that he felt about lying.
"Thomas, are you listening to me?" Maria asked.
"What?" Thomas replied. He followed Maria, who had Petpets of Neopia propped open and was pointing toward the sky.
"The book says that the Skree is known for making intricate nests sturdy enough to withstand constant Grarrl stomping." She paused thoughtfully. "I guess that could explain why you saw one in Neopia Central. It was probably searching for something to make its nest!"
"Uh, yeah. Probably..." Thomas muttered. "Maybe we should find the village, Maria. We don’t want to get los--"
"Look!" Maria shouted. "Over there!" She pointed toward the treetops lining the jungle.
"Wait, Maria!" Thomas shouted, but all he saw was a flick of her Kacheek tail as she disappeared into the foliage...
Date: May 23rd
...Thomas ran after his sister, his legs and lungs burning with the effort, and just when he thought he couldn't take one more step, Maria stopped abruptly and he crashed into her back. The Kacheek turned to him with a gentle shushing sound and pointed to the very tops of the lush green trees that surrounded them. Everywhere the Lutari looked, he could see Skrees flitting about the canopy, swooping and diving at each other, raiding each others' nests for construction materials and generally looking quite menacing.
In a low voice Maria said, "The book says that the Skree are fierce and wild creatures, territorial... and possess sharp talons and claws." She grinned impishly and then said, "Well, we didn't come this far to turn back now, right?"
As Thomas turned his gaze from his sister's hopeful face to the blur of feathers that traced across the sky above him, he imagined both of them climbing those dizzyingly high trees, tree after tree, looking in the nests of highly territorial and aggressive creatures -- all for a hat that he knew couldn't possibly be here -- and he decided that it was time, finally, for the truth.
"Maria, about the lucky fishing hat..."
"The luckiest thing we own, really," she interrupted. "Did you ever wonder why it was so lucky, why you were able to land a fish every single day, even when the professional fishermen were complaining about dry spells?"
"Yeah, Maria, that's what..."
"It's because of the lures I sewed on it." The Kacheek folded her arms and grinned triumphantly.
Thomas could remember how proud his sister was when she added some shiny lures to his hat when he first brought it home, but didn't want to start some nostalgic nonsense right now while he was still steeled to tell her the truth. "Those sure were nice, Maria, but..."
"That's because they were made of the beads from our Lutari Talisman."
Thomas fell silent with shocked horror.
"Yep," Maria continued, "I knew a hat couldn't really be lucky all on its own, so I took all the beads, the Tongis and Ranakas and Matus, the greens, the yellow, the reds, and I sewed them on your hat. And boy, did it work, eh?" The Kacheek's grin grew even wider. "You brought back fish after fish, day after day, all thanks to the hat."
"Maria," the Lutari stated hoarsely. "Those beads are worth a fortune."
"That's why we're getting them back, silly."
Thomas didn't know how he could possibly confess the real truth to his sister now, but tilting his head back to survey the Skrees fighting and fussing in the treetops once more, he said...
Date: May 23rd
..."You're right. We are getting them back, no matter what we have to do." He quivered as he choked out the words. He knew that they wouldn't find the hat here, and that he'd have to find a way to get back to Neopia Central before they could truly begin their search.
He glanced at his sister's beaming face. She was so excited about the hunt for this hat. He couldn't let her down.
"Come on, let's start climbing. Those Skrees will catch on fast!"
Maria's determination was too strong. She was going to be seriously injured by Skrees on a wild hat chase if Thomas didn't do something fast. Thinking quickly, the Lutari craned his neck and pointed vaguely in the dirrection of Neopia Central. "Look," he shouted to Maria, who was already halfway up the stump of a tall jungle tree. "I think I just saw the Skree that took my hat. It's still holding on to it, though. It must be headed back to Neopia Central to look for more materials!"
Maria didn't look convinced, however. "Why wouldn't it drop the hat off first, Thomas? Wouldn't it make more sense to drop it off?"
Thomas flicked his ear nervously and then suggested weakly, "M-Maybe one of the hooks is stuck in the Skree's foot, so it can't let go?"
Maria considered this for a moment before gasping. "THOMAS! That poor Skree must be in so much pain with a barbed hook in its foot! Now it's more important than ever that we find the poor creature. We'll have to be careful when we catch it, though, because a wild Petpet is really dangerous when it's hurt. We'll also need to bring some bandages and medicine for it, so that the foot won't get infected and--"
Thomas cut her off. "Right, Maria. We can worry about all of that when we find it. First we have to follow it to Neopia Central, okay?"
Miara nodded quickly. "Let's save that Skree, and your Lucky Fishing Hat!"
With that, she jumped off the trunk and started over toward Thomas. The Lutari turned and began walking back in the direction of their home when he heard Maria shriek.
"THOMAS!" she yelled. He whipped around to find that his sister was pointing up at something in a Skree's nest...
Date: May 24th
...Tom looked in the direction that the Kacheek was pointing before squinting his eyes at the gleam cast by the unknown object. "My, whatever that is it's incredibly shiny."
"Yes," Maria responded as she lowered her arm. "I think it could be one of the fishing lures! I reason that the aforementioned Skree had its nest here, and while going to set it down the hat got stuck both to it and to the nest. After all, there were several lures on the hat. Anyway, in its struggle to get free that lure must have broken off! We have to get it back in the name of our Lutari beads!" She looked and sounded almost hysterical.
"Er, sis," Thomas began, "maybe you should go lie down or something. It's just a glint -- it could be cast from anything, not just a lure. Also, even if it was a fishing hook, the likelihood that it came from the Skree that stole my hat is phenomenally slim." The Lutari knew that the chances were, of course, zero, but he still couldn't bring himself to tell the truth about the lie.
Maria's look of fierce determination resolved into that of contemplation. "Hmm... but, this is a magic hat we're looking for. As everyone knows, quests for possessed objects always have an appropriate, unlikely lead."
"We have a lead -- the Skree flew back toward Neopia Central."
"Well, I'm going to go up and see what it is anyway," Maria finished as she started the treacherous climb further upward through the foliage.
"You can't go alone!" Thomas shouted at her with genuine concern.
"Then I guess you're coming with me," she returned.
Defeated, Thomas started climbing. The two were fairly adept to vertical scaling, and they reached the nest soon after they'd left the ground. The two recognized the object instantly.
"A laminated business card," Maria said, a tad disappointed as she pulled it out of the nest. She surveyed it lazily before handing it to Thomas.
Staring at the paper encased in melted plastic, Thomas practically gagged at what he saw. Pictured on the card was none other than the Usul he had sold the hat to, the words, "Mel Aragon, Youngest Buyer and Seller of Lutari Beads on the Market" printed to the side.
Did he actually see the beads? Thomas asked himself. No, he couldn't have. But he must have, seeing how much (or, in the case of the beads, how little) he paid. And what about--
"Anything important?" she inquired, breaking the Lutari's chain of thought.
"No..." Thomas said, continuing the already entirely convoluted lie. "But, well... how do you think this got up here?"
"I thought we already discussed that," Maria responded, a tad annoyed. She took the card from Thomas and bent it; the card formed an arch. "It's pretty sturdy. Skrees build sturdy nests." The Kacheek handed it back and began climbing down the tree. "Now, let's go to Neopia Central to search for that Skree and find your hat," she said, smiling.
Tom managed a weak smile before pocketing the card and saying, "Er, yeah. Let's go get the hat back..."
Date: May 24th
...As Maria babbled on, listing places that the Skree might have taken it, Thomas found himself wondering how much it would cost him to buy back his hat. Mel Aragon, Youngest Buyer and Seller of Lutari Beads on the Market, was evidently a savvy business-Usul, and there was little to no chance of him accepting a refund.
"Maybe it took your hat to the Rainbow Pool," Maria said. "Or the Catacombs, they like it there, right?"
"Yeah," Thomas said absently.
"Or maybe the Vending Machine."
By the time they arrived back at Neopia Central, Maria had named every single shop in the Bazaar twice and was starting on the ones in the Plaza. Thomas was still worrying about how he was going to sneak away from his sister. It seemed unlikely that Maria would let him simply leave, so he would need a plan.
"Okay, let's start at the Rainbow Pool," Maria said. "Skrees like shiny things, and there's nothing shinier than the Rainbow Pool."
"Why don't we split up?" Thomas suggested. "It'd be twice as fast."
"Great idea!" the Kacheek exclaimed, suddenly turning away from the Pool. "You go look at the Rainbow Pool, and I'll go scour the Bazaar for your hat."
When he was certain she was gone, Thomas made a beeline for the Shop Wizard. If Mel Aragon was indeed selling his hat, then surely it would be in a shop.
"Can you locate this shop?" he asked, showing the Shop Wizard the laminated business card and hoping desperately that Mel had a shop there.
"Hmm," the JubJub murmured, deep in thought. "Yes, I do believe so..."
Mel Aragon's shop turned out to be a dingy little tent, located in one of the shadier corners of the marketplace. Thomas pushed aside the flap, cringing at the sudden smell of fish that enveloped him, and entered...
Date: May 25th
...Piles upon piles of fish lined the edges of the tent and surrounded another mountain of fish in the middle. Thomas couldn't help but gag as the atrocious smell of rotting freshwater organisms completely blocked off all the air.
A startling cry came from somewhere amidst a pile of fish and Thomas, while pinching his nose, jumped back in surprise as a figure suddenly arose from the pile.
"Y-You have to help me!" the putrid creature pleaded while stumbling toward Thomas. The Lutari instinctively stepped backward and the desperate being fell on its face.
Thomas grabbed a rusty lantern that lay on the ground and held it up. He gasped as he realized that this wretched Neopet was none other than Mel Aragon himself.
Mel wiped away the fish gunk that covered his face and lurched toward Thomas again. "O-Oh, it's you! You sold those Lutari beads to me, didn't you? You've got to help me!"
Thomas drew back once more and suspiciously asked, "What's going on? W-What happened to you?"
The Usul shivered before answering, "Ever since I bought that hat from you, it's been plaguing me with fish. At first, I just got random gifts of fish from other Neopets. I never knew it would escalate into this... this mess!" He gestured towards the piles of fish behind him to clarify.
Encouraged by Thomas's silence, Mel went on. "Then, fish just started appearing in my beautiful shop in the middle of the marketplace! I had to close it down because I couldn't clean it up fast enough and customers were complaining!"
With that, the Usul started sobbing, and Thomas almost felt sorry for the Neopet, even if he had tricked Thomas out of the expensive hat.
Getting an idea, Thomas asked, "Well, why don't I take it off of your hands? Does five thousand Neopoints sound like en--"
"Please! Just take the hat back for free!" Mel groaned in response. "The sooner I get rid of the cursed thing the better. I can't believe I ever bought that off of you..."
After that, Thomas quickly went over to the spot that the businessman had indicated with a tired wave of his hand and picked up the hat. Leaving the tent quite satisfied, Thomas was surprised to see Maria standing right outside of the tent, mystified.
"T-Thomas! You... you sold the hat?!?" Maria spluttered, her face showing more surprise than anger.
Thomas opened his mouth to explain before Maria burst out laughing. "Thomas! Why didn't you tell me before? It would have saved us so much time and trouble!"
Seeing the confused look on his face, Maria gave a wide grin and told him, "Those Lutari beads aren't just any old Lutari beads, you know. I put a spell on them from one of the old spell books that Grandma used to own. Here, I'll show you..."
Maria took a small, black book out from her pocket and handed it to Thomas. The Lutari flipped to the page with a bookmark and read:
"Mix desired items in a bath of fish paste and recite the Neopet's name. This will allow the items to recognize their true owner and bestow bad luck upon anyone else who takes away the items from the individual. This effect lasts for as long as the spell-caster wishes."
Thomas just stared at the text, then chuckled quietly. He then guffawed as he realized how much time he had wasted by lying to his sister.
Maria smiled sweetly at him and chirped, "See? That's why I was so confident that we would get the hat back!"
Taking her brother's hand in her own, she laughed, "And you don't need to lie to me! We're siblings, right?"
Thomas gave an apologetic smile in reply and Maria grinned back in return.
While walking off, she asked, "So, what do you want for dinner tonight?"
He thought for a while before answering, "How about fish?"
The two laughed and walked home, hand in hand.
Date: May 25th
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