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||You are on Week 562
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 Sixty Two Ends Friday, June 29
|"Man, what a dump."
Castle rubbed his nose a bit as he waved some of the dust away from his face, the Kyrii doing his best to keep it out of his hair.
It had been at least five years since he had last gone into the attic of his Neohome, mostly because he really couldn't handle all of the dust that seemed to congregate there every time he opened the door.
That meant that most everything in there belonged to his brother Rook, or was one of a few family heirlooms that they kept in there for storage. Rook was not as fussy when it came to the dust problem, so he didn't have an issue with it as he followed his brother inside.
"You can always get a bath later," Rook said. "Besides, I wanted to go through some of the old stuff."
"Ugh, whatever," Castle replied. "I just don't see why you need me up here in this mess as well."
"I need you," Rook replied, already finding an old box to go through, "in case some of the stuff here is heavy enough to require both of us to get it downstairs."
"It's bad enough that we have it in the first place," Castle said, gingerly moving a few sheets off of old furniture. "Now you want to bring it downstairs. Ick. This place needs a good cleaning."
"Oh, come on!" Rook replied, moving to a different box. "Some of these things are priceless! Grandma said some of them predate the Circle of Twelve back in Ancient Neopia!"
"Ugh, ancient is right..." Castle muttered, picking up an old book that was bound in black leather. For some reason, this book seemed strange, and against his better judgement, he flipped through a few pages.
They were all blank. It was a blank book.
"Now, who goes to all the trouble to make a book like this and leave it blank?" Castle said, tossing the book over his shoulder carelessly. The book landed with a loud plop on the wooden floor.
"Castle!" Rook protested. "Treat these things with some respect! They're family heirlooms!" Rook went over to the book and flipped through it as well.
The other Kyrii's eyes widened as he did. "Hey bro," Rook said. "I thought you said this book was blank."
"It is," Castle said, having moved on and found a full-length mirror under one of the sheets. He was now trying to fix his hair. "Completely blank. If it's not a waste of paper, then I guess it was just some old journal that never got used."
"It's not blank," Rook said, "and I think you'd better check out what it says."
Castle sighed. "Fine," he scoffed, "if it'll get us through this faster."
The Kyrii moved over to his brother and looked over his shoulder at the book. Like Rook, Castle's eyes went wide when he saw what was on the pages...
Date: Jun 25th
...On the page stood the image of a certain Chia, whose exceptionally formal attire proved him undoubtedly to be the notorious Hubrid Nox. The text that surrounded the translucent figure was scarcely discernible; in fact, the words refused to stay fixed in place, opting instead to twist and coil about themselves. Indeed, the brothers -- despite their best efforts -- failed to discover any meaning behind them. Leafing through the book, Rook soon found, merely presented the reader with perfect replicas of Nox's image as well as the unstill text.
"Let's... let's just put it back and keep looking for memories," Castle suggested, but such optimistic thought proved entirely pointless, for the strength of Rook's grip did not dwindle at his brother's words. The book-holder gazed instead at the face of Nox, whose lips now permitted the passage of a few sentiments.
"You have no idea how long I have been waiting to be discovered, my young friends," he began. "That fool Xandra confined me to the wretched realm of fiction an entire year ago."
The brothers were hesitant to respond, for the soul with whom they conversed was hardly known for his benevolence. Nox broke the silence. "Can you hear me?"
"Well, what do you want us to do?" Castle said in reply...
Date: Jun 25th
..."It's a simple task, really..." replied the two dimensional Nox. "Any Buzzer worth its brain could complete it!"
"And... what is it?" Rook inquired further.
Nox replied, with a heavy emphasis on his words, "I want you to... assist me in reversing the push of the daisies." He was met by blank stares from the brothers. "You know, un-baste the formaldehyde turkey; cough up the bitten dust."
Still no reply.
"I WANT YOU TO BRING ME BACK TO LIFE, IMBECILES!"
Rook and Castle worriedly looked at each other. How were they, two simple Neopets, expected to revive Hubrid Nox? Such an action could earn THEM a spot in the Gallery of Evil! Rook could see it now, the entry titled "Those Two Dunce Brothers Who Revived Nox" accompanying their picture in eternal infamy.
"This silence implies that you are conflicted in your decision," Nox announced, breaking the long pause, "but I'll cut you a bargain. If you assist me, I will not only grant you untold riches, but I will also not speak of your actions to anyone." Rook's startled gasp was cut short by Nox's continued speech. "Oh yes, I can read your thoughts, dear child, but should you choose not to... I WILL RAIN A CURSED STORM OF 1,000 YEARS OF DESPAIR UPON THE TWO OF YOU!"
Rook and Castle did not like the sound of that.
"So boys, what will it be? Riches... OR A CURSED STORM OF 1,000 YEARS OF DESPAIR!"
Before his brother could even begin, Castle exclaimed, "If you also clean this attic once you're revived, we're in!"
Startled by his brother's idiocy, Rook was about to protest when Nox's malicious cackle filled the room and the lights dimmed with each word he spoke. "Well then, associates, here is what you must do for me..."
Date: Jun 26th
..."There are two things needed in order for me to break free of this wretched prison. The first is a magical artifact, and the second is a spell-caster with enough juice to restore me to my full-bodied glory. Even you fools can accomplish this."
Rook stroked his chin in contemplation. "What kind of magical artifact?"
If Nox had arms of flesh he would have thrown them into the air from exasperation. "How should I know? Do I look like an encyclopedia to you? Scratch that. Go to the Royal Library in Brightvale. Xandra, that four-eyed lunatic, had quite the collection of spell books, and one of them should explain how to reverse this treachery, as well as any trinket needed."
"That sounds like a lot of reading," Castle sighed.
"Perhaps it will raise your intelligence!" Nox cackled.
Rook paced the room anxiously. As much as he dreaded the thought spending extended time in a library, he knew the potential curse would be much more painful. Suddenly, he had a thought. "Wait a second. Didn't you say we need a spell-caster as well? No faerie would help a villain!"
The room fell into silence as the words sank in.
Nox's maniacal laughter cut through the quiet. "That's where you're wrong, minion. There is one faerie who has the power and the audacity to help a genius villain such as myself."
The brothers glanced at each other. For some reason an ominous feeling had come over them.
Date: Jun 26th
...Castle lowered his eyes to the floor at her name, fear flooding his features. Rook looked equally disturbed, and for a moment the two were silent.
Nox stopped upon seeing their reaction. "Fools! Do not try and back out now. We have a deal, remember? We also have a punishment if you don't follow through, remember that too?"
Slowly Rook looked up to meet the evil eyes of the Chia. "We'll do it." Not because he wanted to, but he feared more of what would happen if he didn't. Castle looked around hopelessly, unable to believe what he and his brother had gotten themselves into but unable to see a way out.
"Good. Now, fools, get along quickly. I have been in this fiction for far too long. And don't you dare try and deceive me!"
"We'll go now," Rook replied, and put the book down. As he and Castle left the old attic, the booming laughter of evil from Nox echoed through the room, seeming to follow them for a long time, like a haunted ghost....
Hours later, the brothers walked silently on the forest path that led to Faerieland, each lost in thought about their task. Rook looked around him at the wildlife. Birds sang and danced happily through the trees. Flowers blossomed in the sunlight. Other animals foraged for food or played with one another. Everything in the wood seemed so happy, so pure. Could he really unleash an evil that would demolish this beautiful place and its innocent inhabitants? Rook gazed into the eyes of a Whoot in the tree. Could I really be the cause of your destruction? he thought.
The woods began to thin and in the far distance a purple tower stood tall and mighty. The brothers slowed their pace, not quite ready to leave the peace and pursue their deadly deed. They were still both silent and both scared.
As they drew up on a high cliff that overlooked Faerieland, they both stopped. Ahead was the tower they had seen earlier - the tower of Fyora's castle. Below them a beautiful town rolled with the hills. They could see many famous places - the Wheel of Excitement, the Rainbow Fountain, and the Healing Springs. But one other infamous place could also be seen from their perch. Hanging above the town like an ominous cloud was Jhudora's bluff. Dark and dreary, it was the home of the wretched faerie herself.
Castle shivered at the sight and, unable to control himself, blurted out, "We can't do this, Rook."
Rook still stared at Jhudora's Bluff. "I know we can't."
Castle looked back to his brother. "Then what are we going to do?"
Rook's gaze shifted to his brother's eyes. "I don't know yet."
They turned and began to slowly walk forward, down the hill, towards the city and hopefully towards a solution...
Date: Jun 27th
...When the brothers reached the city, they were met with a most peculiar sight. A faerie Xweetok standing upside-down on her front paws in the streets, a light faerie floating above her and sending a beautiful glow over her... with her feet.
Rook blinked at the Xweetok as they approached. "What's this?"
The Xweetok giggled at him and flipped back the right way up, turning to wave to the faerie. The faerie waved back and flew away, sending out random bits of sunlight as she went.
The Xweetok then turned back to the brothers and studied them curiously. "You're new around here, aren't you?"
"Uh, just passing by," Castle replied uncertainly.
She nodded knowingly and cocked her head toward Rook. "We were just having some fun. I'm Jilian, by the way. What're your names?"
Rook began to tell her that they were in a hurry and didn't have the time for introductions, but Castle interrupted and said, "I'm Castle, and this is my brother, Rook. We're having a bit of trouble with something; do you know any faerie who could help us?"
Jilian smiled and giggled before she replied, "You're going to have to be a little more specific."
Before Castle could answer her, Rook grabbed his arm and pulled him aside. "Castle, we can't tell her about Nox!" he whispered. "Who knows what he'll do to us?"
Castle pulled away and shook his head. "We don't have to tell her exactly what's wrong. I'm sure there's a faerie somewhere that can help us anyway. And if not, then, well, what difference would it make?"
Rook sighed and gave in, but he still had his doubts.
When they turned back to the chipper Xweetok, she was standing about a foot farther away, having apparently been respecting their privacy. "So, what kind of help do you need?"
Date: Jun 27th
..."Well," Castle said. Jilian just smiled at him; it was the sort of humble smile that represented a sense of generosity, mixed with her previous carefree attitude. "Er, you see, we're on this quest..." He then paused.
"What kind of quest?" the Xweetok asked curiously. "I assume that it wouldn't be a faerie quest, since you're requesting the assistance of a faerie... are you working for Nox?"
"What?!?" Rook burst out. "What in Fyora's name are you talking about?" he stressed, a slight quiver with his words.
Jilian laughed. "Look, guys, I'm only joking. Nox was vanquished over a year ago, remember?"
The two brothers nodded hastily in agreement. "Yeah... yeah, you're right."
"Regardless," Rook said, taking over the conversation, "this quest requires an immense knowledge of magic and the talents to wield such an important power." The Kyrii grinned nervously.
"Ah," Jilian began, a look of contemplation spreading across her face, "it sounds as though only three beings here in Faerieland fit your described sorcerer... one would be Fyora, the Faerie Queen, but she's terribly busy running that invisible shop of hers; the second would be Xandra, though I'm afraid she's still frozen in rock; finally, there's Jhudora, however she would only help you for a price."
"So," Rook asked, "which one should we take our quest to?"
"Well, you still haven't fully described what sort of quest you're doing," the Xweetok said, a tad irritated. Her demeanor then changed to an odd mixture of surprise, anxiety, and apology. "Unless you're sworn to secrecy or something."
"Yes," Castle abruptly agreed, "we're sworn by utmost secrecy. Telling another soul of our mission could result in our demise."
Jilian smiled semi-sarcastically. "Is your project really that big?"
"Yes," the brothers said in unison.
The Xweetok sighed. "Well, if you're doing something for a... 'darker' member of the Neopian community, visit Jhudora. If your quest shines more in a positive light, Fyora. If, somehow, you know how to free someone from stone, then Xandra -- she'd help anyone who'd save her from her unmoving prison." She smiled. "Well, I shall leave, then, and after I am gone you may pick your destination. If you need any more help, I volunteer at the bookshop every day, between 2:00 and 6:00pm. Good luck!" she said before going off.
After she had disappeared beyond the horizon, Rook turned to Castle. "So, Jhudora's Bluff, then?" he asked his brother nervously...
Date: Jun 28th
...The brothers made their way up the winding path toward Jhudora's Bluff. The very air seemed to transform as they drew nearer, the temperature dropping and the wind blowing more fiercely. The familiar birdsong had been replaced by creaking dead tree limbs and the rustling of bushes, where glowing eyes could be seen momentarily before they disappeared.
Eventually the brothers could see a strange black building through a fog that had formed as they drew nearer. It was as though Jhudora had taken a normal Faerie City building and morphed it, causing a shape that seemed structurally impossible. Turrets leaned at diagonals, and walls alternated between caving in slowly or bursting at the seams. Everything was a somber ebony.
"Dark faeries have a flair for the dramatic," Castle whispered, feigning bravery.
"Why, thank you," a voice whispered in his ear.
Castle yelped and spun around, and Rook froze in place, terror plain in his eyes.
Standing directly behind them was a faerie whose dark beauty bordered on sinister. She was dressed head to toe in black and amethyst, with streaks of green snaking here and there. She seemed very amused.
"Jhudora!" Rook whispered hoarsely, coming out of his stupor.
Castle performed an awkward bow. "M'lady."
"You need something, hmm?" she asked calmly, as though she had already read their intentions.
"Yes," Castle blurted. "Help us free Hubrid Nox from a book!"
Rook gaped at Castle's lack of subtlety, then peered at Jhudora cautiously to gauge her reaction.
The dark faerie chortled, sending shivers down the brothers' spines. "Interesting proposition. However, even more intriguing is the fact that neither of you, deep down, actually wants to free that ridiculous little Chia."
The brothers were unsure of how to reply. Jhudora had seen through them with such ease.
Rook's shoulders sagged. "You're right. We don't have a choice."
"He'll rain a storm of 1,000 years of despair on us!" Castle cried, covering his eyes with a paw.
"I see now," Jhudora sighed. "However, I simply dread the thought of that irritating, holier-than-thou Chia running around plotting things again."
The brothers felt shocked. If Jhudora wouldn't help them, then nobody would.
"There is another way," she continued.
The brothers looked at each other with renewed hope.
"Rather than using all of my immense power to free him, I could use half of it to place an extra barrier on his remaining powers, so that he is unable to curse you. As it is, he is weak. With my extra protection he will be incapable of harming you."
Castle threw himself to the ground in front of her feet. "Thank you!" he gasped with relief. "You won't regret it."
Jhudora cocked an eyebrow. "I know I won't, because -- in return -- you're going to do something for me..."
Date: Jun 28th
..."We don't have many Neopoints." Castle said immediately. "I know how your quests usually work, but--"
Jhudora shook her head and wagged her finger at Castle. A grin spread across her elegant features, showing off the only pure white thing on the entire bluff: her teeth. "This isn't the usual quest. The reward you seek is far more than what I normally offer Neopians for merely... fetching an item or two."
Castle glanced at Rook. Rook glanced at Castle. The same thought crossed the minds of both brothers: What she wants can't possibly be worse than freeing Nox or getting cursed by him, can it? "What would you have us do, m'lady?"
"I need to leave the bluff for a few hours, to... do some research. Yes, that's it. However,, as long as my cauldron," she pointed to the top of the warped building, "is brewing, I can't leave it unattended. You are to wait there, in the top of the tower, and not let it out of your sight until I return. If the potion is still usable when I get back, I will bind Nox more tightly in his fictional prison."
Rook and Castle looked at each other again. They had never even seen a real potion before. They both looked at Jhudora -- tall, beautiful, and dangerous, and bowed.
Jhudora led them through the building, and though the floors didn't seem to slant and there were no staircases, each window they passed showed the ground further and further away. At last they reached a plain door, and curled up on the floor before it was a Bartamus.
"Don't wake him," the dark faerie warned. "He doesn't like it."
She pushed the door open, and the first thing the brothers noticed was a pale teal glow. It emanated from a cast iron cauldron resting on clawed feet in the middle of the room. Along the walls were bookshelves that Rook could only guess were made of bone, but instead of holding books, they held bowls of mashed plants, vials of colored liquid, chunks of ore, and a thousand other things neither brother knew the name of.
"Here you are. I would stay in this room if I were you. The place... has a habit of shifting. If you get lost, I might not even be able to find you, but I'm sure Nox's curse will!" With a last flash of her pearl-white teeth, Jhudora vanished.
"This will be easy," Rook commented.
There were also a few chairs in the room, so Castle pulled two of them up to the cauldron for them to sit and watch the sloshing teal sludge bubble.
"I wonder what it's for?"
"We probably don't want to know," Castle said.
The sun crept along the sky over Faerieland, and the brothers just sat, not talking much, counting the minutes until their freedom.
As night started to fall, something started to happen to the potion. The cauldron rocked back and forth on its clawed feet, and a foul odor rose from within. The pleasing color turned murky, and the gentle bubbling turned to a frantic boil.
Castle stood up. He could feel his freedom slipping away. Rook's eyes wandered from the cauldron to the shelves and back again.
"No, there has to be something here. We have to be able to set it right again."
He walked to the nearest shelf and started reading the labels...
Date: Jun 29th
...Aurora Lily. Bleeding Heart. Dragonbud. Golden Fernsprout. Lily of the Valley. Sleeping Blossoms. Zobamint.
Dozens of ingredients, all lined up in neat, alphabetical rows. Jhudora kept her stock in good order.
"What do you think?" Castle asked his brother. "What do we try?"
"Sleeping Blossoms. Maybe that'll calm the potion," Rook answered.
Castle uncorked the jar. The odor that drifted out was like nothing he had ever smelled before, damp and overpowering. He yawned, carried the jar over to the cauldron, and added a pinch to the roiling liquid.
For a moment it seemed to work. The cauldron stopped rocking. Instead of looking like it had mere moments before, however, the potion turned a putrid yellow, and the smell turned to match.
"Uh oh," Rook said, wincing. "Uh... Zobamint?"
The Zobamint -- leaves finely ground into a powder to dilute their intensity -- was kept in a small vial. There wasn't much to begin with, and Castle dumped all of it into the cauldron.
The potion turned teal again. The brothers breathed a sigh of relief. It still churned too much, though, and the foul odor still lingered.
"How about Aurora Lily?" Castle suggested. "That sounds like it smells the best."
"There's nothing more fragrant?"
Castle scanned the shelves again and took down a small bowl of glass beads. The sticker on the side of the bowl read "Instant Roses."
"Do you see water anywhere?"
Rook looked around and shook his head.
"Oh well." Castle dumped the entire bowl in the cauldron. Not only did it stop emitting the foul smell, but every trace of it faded from the room.
The cauldron still rocked gently on its legs, but Castle and Rook sat back down.
"We've probably ruined it," Castle said as the sunlight trickling in through the window started to darken. "She's going to get back, and she's going to be furious. Maybe her curse will be more powerful--"
"Are you suggesting, my dear, that you think there is someone who might weave a more powerful curse than myself?"
A black cloud appeared in the corner of the room and Jhudora stepped through it. Her dress was blackened with soot and her hair was just a tad disheveled. The grin across her mouth, though, that could be mistaken for nothing but pure joy.
"Of course not, m'lady. Not thinking it, just fearing that it might be true," Rook said as both he and Castle shot up from their chairs and bowed.
"Smells like roses," the dark faerie commented.
"We, uh... well, the potion started acting all strange, and you told us to make sure it was the same when you came back, so, we, uh, added some things."
Jhudora's grin widened. "Perfect!" she pronounced, then crossed the room and stirred the potion with a large wooden spoon; raising a spoonful to her lips, she smelled it and then let a drop -- just a drop -- touch her tongue.
Castle and Rook looked at each other, confused.
"This is a Potion of Unwriting," she explained. "Since the recipe can't be written down, no one can know it. I made it once before, so I would never have been able to make it again -- I knew a recipe, and the recipe can't be known, so... I needed someone else to finish it for me."
"Oh, don't worry about what it does. The important thing is that I needed someone with no potion experience to try their hand, and the sorts of Neopians who quest for me... well, they aren't that sort."
Castle looked at Rook. Rook looked at Castle. They both started grinning.
"Now, for your reward!"
Back in the attic, smoke rose from the simple black tome. A cry echoed out, but no one could hear as it was followed by a string of curses:
"1,000 YEARS OF DESPAIR UPON YOU! 1,000 YEARS!!!"
The voice boomed at first, then dwindled to a high-pitch squeak, and then it was gone.
Date: Jun 29th
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