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||You are on Week 570
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 Seventy Ends Thursday, August 23
|This year's Usukicon looked to be the largest and best ever.
Crowds of thousands gathered from all over Neopia to this one location, all for the expressed purpose of looking over the year's newest Usuki dolls and Usuki doll accessories. Not only that, though, but to also admire the Usukis from the past.
It was a great place to be an Usuki fan, and Chesh was the biggest Usuki fan out there.
She had always loved Usukis, ever since she'd gotten her first one as a little girl. The Nimmo was now completely obsessed with them. She had the largest collection out of all of her friends, and had even been featured in The Neopian Times once to showcase her vast knowledge of Usuki products.
This was to be her first Usukicon, and she was going to make the most of it!
"Oh, wow!" she said, going up to one display case. "This is the ultra rare Prom Date Usuki, limited edition from Year 4! Only twenty of these were ever made!"
Her admiration for the rare Usuki was quick, as she spotted a different Usuki display only a few feet away. "I don't believe it!" she said, rushing over to it. "The entire Deluxe Sledding Usuki, Lost Desert edition! Only five of these were ever made to commemorate the one time it snowed in the Lost Desert!"
And yet, even that rare Usuki could only hold her attention for so long, as soon her attention was brought to a large red curtain that was covering part of a stage. A surprisingly large Korbat was standing in front of it.
"Excuse me," she said, approaching the Korbat. "What is all this?"
"Ahh," he said. "I'm glad you asked. This is the main event of this year's Usukicon. The unveiling of Neopia's rarest Usuki doll!"
Chesh gasped out loud. She just had to see! "Oh please!" she said. "I must see this Usuki Doll!"
"I'm afraid you'll have to wait like everyone else," the Korbat said, "but it won't be a long wait. The show will begin in an hour."
"And I'll be first in line!" Chesh said, determined to be the first to see this Usuki doll.
Chesh spent the next hour looking at various other Usuki exhibits, but no matter which ones she saw, all she could think about was getting to see the unveiling of the rarest Usuki doll in Neopia. So, when the hour was almost up, she hurried back to where the large red curtain was and began to squirm her way to the front of the group.
Just as she made it to the front, the large Korbat began to address the attendees of Usukicon. "Hello Usuki enthusiasts!" he boomed out to the group. "Thank you all for joining me! My name is Fuse, and I am proud to be the host and sponsor of this year's Usukicon! I hope you've all been having a wonderful time!"
A chorus of cheers erupted from the audience, as well as a scattering of applause, Chesh's included. After a few moments of this, Fuse addressed the crowd some more. "Now, if you're all here, you must all want to see the unveiling of the rarest Usuki doll in all of Neopia!"
Another cheer erupted from the audience. "Well, then!" Fuse said, moving over to a rope at the side of the curtain, "Behold!"
With a grand flourish, the Korbat pulled the rope and the curtain was lifted. A gasp then arose from the crowd.
There was no Usuki doll on display -- only a sheet of paper on the pedestal. Fuse looked both confused and horrified as he went up to the pedestal and took the sheet of paper.
"Dear Usukicon," the Korbat read from the note. "Not only am I the greatest thief in all of Neopia, but I am also the greatest Usuki enthusiast as well. As such, I have decided that only I should possess the rarest Usuki doll in Neopia. Although, if you wish to try and get it back, I've left a series of clues for you to follow all throughout Usukicon, all relating to the various Usuki products that have come about. I shall enjoy watching you try and figure them out, but I know you won't, for only the greatest Usuki enthusiast would be able to solve them! Muahahahahahahah!"
"Oh my goodness!" Fuse said, addressing the crowd. "The rarest Usuki in Neopia! It's been stolen!"
Date: Aug 20th
...Another terrified gasp arose from the crowd. A low murmur traveled across the gathering as everyone discussed their confusion and speculations. Soon, the upset Usuki fanatics began to yell out their disappointments in outrage. The group was quickly turning into an angry mob.
"N-now calm down everyone," Fuse pleaded as he waved his hands out over the crowd. "This building is filled with the most dedicated Usuki enthusiasts in all Neopia. Surely someone here can find all of the clues and solve this mystery?"
The crowd fell silent as curious heads turned to see if anyone was willing to volunteer. In the quiet, Chesh struggled with her decision on what to do. There was not a single doubt in her mind that her knowledge of Usukis far surpassed that of her peers, but she was no detective.
"Anyone?" Fuse prodded. "Anyone at all?"
Chesh closed her eyes and bit down on her lip as she slowly raised her hand, but as she did a voice spoke out from the crowd.
"I can help!"
Chesh quickly opened her eyes and turned to see a tall Gelert making his way toward the stage. Whispers floated through the crowd as many wondered who this mysterious volunteer was.
As the Gelert approached the stage, Chesh couldn't help but feel challenged. There was no way that she would let her lack of confidence reflect a lack of wisdom. "I can help, too!" the Nimmo quickly added before hopping up on the stage.
The noise of the reactive crowd picked up yet again as the confused patrons eagerly watched on.
"Please, quiet everyone," Fuse ordered. "Quiet!"
The two volunteers stood center stage, side by side. Chesh eyed the Gelert up and down, trying to assess his knowledge by his appearance.
"Could you please let us all know your name?" Fuse asked.
"Neville," the Gelert loudly projected.
"Chesh," the Nimmo recited in similar fashion.
"Neville and Chesh!" Fuse repeated as he presented the two to the crowd. "Can we have an applause for our two brave volunteers?" The crowed answered with roaring cheers and thunderous clapping. "Now, we must let these two get to work. Please enjoy the rest that Usukicon has to offer!"
When the crowd finally dispersed, Neville and Chesh approached Fuse. The Gelert was the first to say anything. "I'm a detective from the Neopia Central Investigations Organization. I'm going to need to see the note that was left behind."
"A detective?" Fuse questioned as he handed over the mysterious note. "And you?" the large Korbat asked of Chesh.
"I’m a longtime enthusiast..." Chesh mumbled, suddenly feeling insecure about her own credentials.
"Right..." the Korbat replied, looking down his nose at the Nimmo.
"We're going to have to lock this place down now," the Gelert interrupted. "Nobody comes in, nobody goes out! Understood?"
The Korbat replied with panic. "Why? What is it?"
Neville pointed to a line on the note. "Whoever stole the rarest Usuki, they're here and they’re watching..."
Date: Aug 20th
...Fuse nodded briskly. "Oh... very well, then! Don't you worry, I'll have this place under high security in a matter of time."
"You'd better hurry, then," Neville murmured lowly, casting a glance to his left and right. "If this mystery figure realizes what you're doing..."
The Korbat once more nodded as a sign of understanding. He then dashed off, waving frantic hands at guards stationed by stalls indiscreetly before disappearing into another section of the building.
Neville turned to Chesh and inspected her thoroughly, as though analyzing whether or not she was a proper accomplice. She was afraid he'd dismiss her or something, but he made no remarks; instead, he lifted his chin skyward and swept his gaze over the rafters.
"So, um, where do we begin?" Chesh uttered in a low tone. She felt awkward investigating the rare Usuki's disappearance with a specialist. She didn't know how investigators properly solved their mysteries. "Should we follow the clues?"
"Of course we'll follow the clues," Neville replied. "This thief is obviously not very bright, otherwise he wouldn't have left us a series of clues... unless he has something special in store for us at the end," he said darkly. Chesh shuddered at that thought.
"Alright..." Neville said, then carefully unfolded the note. He skimmed over the first of the clues, which was listed on it, then folded up the note and slipped it into his coat pocket -- without even offering Chesh the chance to look at it.
The Nimmo couldn't help but feel bitter. She had every right to know what the clue was! After all, she was supposed to be his partner. Repressing her desire lash out with a rude remark, she instead asked, "May I have a peek at that?" as politely as she could.
Neville shrugged. As he slipped the paper back out of his pocket and offered it to Chesh, he said, "If you think you can unravel this clue, then have at it."
The Nimmo impulsively unfolded the paper and read over the clue's thin line of text:
Usul, Usul, at the stall -- who's the fairest of them all?
"I know this one!" Chesh cried with glee. "This has to be at the Fair Maiden Usuki Doll stand! It makes perfect sense!"
A thin smile pulled at the corner of the Gelert's lips. "Clever girl. Don't get too excited, though. This was only the first clue... from this point on, they will only get tougher."
Chesh wasn't listening. She was too full of pride to listen to his warning. "This way!" she said, slipping through the mass of Usuki enthusiasts in the direction of the Fair Maiden Usuki Doll stand...
Date: Aug 21st
...The Fair Maiden Usuki Doll stand was a big table covered with shiny blue fabric that resembled the doll's dress. On top of it, several boxed Usukis were neatly stacked in a formation that looked like a castle. Next to it, there was a life-size model of an Usul dressed exactly like the dolls inside the boxes. Chesh let herself be impressed by the display before Neville caught up to her.
"We'll have to dismantle this, of course," he said, looking at the castle.
Chesh tried not to let her spirits fall upon hearing those words. The castle construction was beautiful, but the theft they were dealing with was much more important than that. The next clue could be hidden anywhere in the stand. She gingerly started picking up boxes to check if anything was hidden below them.
Soon, there was a big pile of boxes next to the stand, but there was no clue to be found.
"I guess we'll have to start thinking outside the box -- or, in this case, inside it," Neville said.
"You mean opening them?" the Nimmo said, looking at him quizzically.
A crowd of curious Neopets had formed around them as they put the castle apart. The onlookers had been quiet so far, but as soon as the idea of opening the boxes was brought up, one of them spoke out.
"You can't open those! They're collectors' editions. They'll lose their value."
The Neopet that had spoken was a young-looking Kyrii that was wearing glasses. He was looking at Neville defiantly.
Neville stared back with contempt. "Kid, are you saying those Usukis are more valuable than Neopia's rarest Usuki, or do you maybe have an ulterior motive as to why you don't want us to open those boxes?"
Chesh glanced back and forth between the Kyrii and the Gelert, feeling uneasy. She hoped the two of them wouldn't break into an argument. She then turned her gaze toward the stand, and that's when she saw it. They had checked every box on the table, but they had forgotten about the life-size model.
Chesh's mind was racing. She got really close to the model and then saw it... a small piece of paper that was peeking out from under the wig.
"I found it!" she exclaimed...
Date: Aug 21st
...Neville loomed behind her, peering over her shoulder as she carefully extracted the note. Without asking, the detective took it from her before she'd even had a chance to unfold it. Yet again, she fought down the urge to protest. She had always been quiet and polite, and it went against her nature to be angry about anything, but this was beginning to grate on her nerves. It was clear the Gelert didn't hold any respect for her abilities.
Still, she knew there was more at stake, so she kept quiet and waited until he had read the note. Still staring at the scrap of paper, he frowned and muttered to himself. Chesh leaned closer and peered expectantly at him.
"This makes no sense," the Gelert said, not directing his words to anyone in particular.
"What is it?" she asked. If she was going to be a sidekick, she might as well be a useful one. Without a word, Neville handed her the note.
"You figured the last one out," he then said. "Maybe you can get this one, too."
Chesh squinted at the tiny writing, her brow furrowing just as his had. The clue said:
"The petals of spring will fall to the ground;
Where they fall, your next clue will be found."
The petals of spring must refer to the Mystery Island exhibits, she thought, but what could the thief have meant by "petals falling?" As far as she knew, there were no wilting flower Usukis. She conveyed her thoughts to Neville, who agreed with her and they both set off for the Mystery Island stands. They split up and began to wander among the exhibits, their eyes darting this way and that, looking for any sign that they might be on the right trail.
Unsure exactly what she was looking for, she paused in front of the Dancing Hula Girl Usuki. It was one that she owned, and she was rather fond of the doll. She let her mind wander as she gazed at the intricate grass skirt, the little flower wreath and the pinkish purple hair flower with its--
"Neville!" she called. The Gelert bounded over and looked at her expectantly. "Look," she said, pointing to the Hula Usuki's hair flower.
"It's a flower... so what?" Neville’s voice was somewhat irritated.
"This one is missing two petals from her hair flower. The management of Usukicon are all fanatics themselves; they would never put an exhibit on display if it was broken or incomplete somehow." Chesh felt immensely proud of herself, a rare sentiment. Neville nodded. The first part of the clue made sense now, but what about the second? The petals fell, and that was where their next clue was?
Chesh and Neville bent to inspect the floors below and around the Hula Girl exhibit, but it wasn't until Neville had rolled over and looked absently at the underside of the table that he noticed the two pink petals and a note taped to it. He pointed this out to Chesh as he peeled them away, and somehow Chesh found this had stolen her thunder.
They scrambled back up and the detective unrolled the note...
Date: Aug 22nd
...His eyes bulged as they peered at the piece of paper.
"It's blank," Neville exclaimed, turning the note over in his paw to make sure that the writing wasn't on the other side. "There's nothing written anywhere!"
Chesh scratched her head. How could they solve a clue that didn't have anything written on it? She prided herself on knowing everything there was to know about Usukis, but this was a different story. "How are we supposed to find the next clue with this?"
"There must be something more than meets the eye," Neville responded coyly. "Perhaps this is a red herring. Maybe you solved the last clue incorrectly," he mused, accusatorilly glancing over at the young Nimmo.
Chesh placed her hands onto her hips and furrowed her brow. "Impossible. This was the perfect response; there must be something that we're missing here."
The two Neopets stood motionless for some time as they pondered the clue with no writing on it. The convention centre was filled with excited shouts and gleeful screams, but inside Chesh's mind she only allowed herself to focus on the clues that they had received. As much as she wanted to enjoy the sights of Usukicon and buy some special collector's merchandise, more than anything she desired to proudly tell everyone that she'd seen the rarest Usuki in Neopia. They just had to find the perpetrator.
"I've got it!" Neville announced at last. He looked smugly down his snout at Chesh and tucked the blank slip of paper into his pocket. "I need to find that Korbat to announce my findings." Without waiting for any kind of response, the Gelert pushed his way into the crowd.
"Hey, wait a second," Chesh called out, attempting to follow him into the masses.
"Neville, where are you?" she shouted at the top of her voice as she was enveloped by convention-goers. No matter where she looked, she just couldn't see above the colourful hats and costumes that surrounded her.
Undeterred by this, however, Chesh continued to fight through, heading back toward Fuse, who’d suggested the investigation in the first place. There was no way she was going to let Neville take all the credit, even if it turned out he was right in his guess of who the culprit was.
As she made her way closer, Chesh could just make out Fuse and Neville standing together in front of the empty Usuki stand where they'd discovered the first clue. There were a crowd of Neopets surrounding them, waiting for some news.
Before she could take another step forward, Chesh heard Neville's booming voice announce, "I can now reveal that the thief who stole Neopia's rarest Usuki is a Nimmo named Chesh..."
Date: Aug 22nd
...Chesh gasped in horror and indignation. Why in the world would Neville frame her? She had gotten the impression that he didn't think highly of her, but Chesh could never have predicted this. It didn't make any sense at all.
It didn't seem that the crowd of Usuki-loving Neopets thought the same. Luckily, none of them seemed to know who she was. Chesh felt that she was safe, at least for a few minutes. Ducking behind a display of Air Faerie Usuki Dolls, Chesh tried to collect her thoughts.
Wait... air faerie? Something suddenly dawned on Chesh. She had heard that, if you released a bottled air faerie, they might grant you the Battledome ability of Invisibility. That was it! The clue couldn't be read, because the lack of writing was the clue! There was nothing to see! Chesh was sure that that was the solution. The Nimmo anxiously peeked out from behind her hiding place. Nobody was there -- at least, nobody that appeared to be searching for a Nimmo.
A resolution was quickly forming in her mind. She would solve the mystery herself! She would have to sneak around Usukicon, which would be difficult, but if she found the rarest Usuki ever, Chesh would know who had done it, and she would be cleared. It would work!
"It has to work," Chesh said to herself in the firmest way she could manage.
Chesh didn't bother listening to Neville, who was still lecturing. It wouldn't pay, and she needed a head start.
Furtively examining all the dolls on the display, Chesh noticed that one of the wings on the main Usuki doll was oddly opaque. Looking closer, she saw it was crumpled. It was actually a piece of paper! Chesh gleefully eased it off the doll and scurried off to a corner to examine the next clue...
Date: Aug 23rd
...It contained only a single sentence.
"If you want to see Neopia's rarest Usuki, come backstage."
Backstage? Did it mean the stage where this had all started? The clues had come full circle, it seemed.
Well, she had followed them this far, so she had to keep going. She had to solve this mystery and clear her name. It would work; it had to work. She kept repeating that to herself the entire time that she was making her way back to the stage where she had volunteered.
The Nimmo pushed past the velvet curtain and glanced quickly around the dimly-lit area she found herself in. Boxes were piled high all around her, each one pink and decorated with Usuki logos. A table stood in the center of the room, on which rested a single Usuki box, the back facing toward Chesh. She took a breath. That had to be it. She moved forward and reached out to it tentatively. Could it be booby-trapped?
She spun the box around with a quick flick of her paw and gasped. It was empty. The packaging on the inside had been brutally ripped apart, all of the strings and ties lying scattered across the bottom of the box. Wherever the Usuki was, it was worthless to collectors now.
"So, you figured it out."
Chesh spun at the sound of the voice and found the Gelert looming over her, smirking. In his paw he clutched the most beautiful Usuki doll she had ever seen. She barely kept herself from crying out in horror at how many pawprints he was getting all over it.
"It was you?" Chesh blurted out. "What for? Why did you do it? Why did you accuse me?"
"Because collectors like you make me sick!" Neville burst out, his eyes flashing at her with contempt and hatred. He clutched the Usuki to his chest, hugging it so tightly that the many layers of sequins seemed ready to pop off. "You have practically all the Usukis in the world, and you never even play with them! It's such a waste! What good are toys if you can't use them? How can you let something like this sit around in a box forever?"
The Nimmo was at a loss for words. She watched him as he cradled the Usuki, trying not to cringe as he stroked its dress and ran a paw through its hair. To take her mind off how he was handling the collector's item, she glanced up at his face, and was surprised to see him looking sad, almost gentle. It was the first time she had seen him with an expression other than contempt.
"When I was little, my sister and I played with Usukis together. All those old ones we used to play with, they remind me of her. I never see her anymore. I keep wanting to buy some of those old Usukis again, for nostalgia's sake, but they're all in the paws of collectors. All those collectors who never even use them, who don't even have a use for them. Don't they understand that toys aren't meant to sit on a shelf forever? They're supposed to be played with. It's a complete waste!"
At that moment, Fuse burst into the room. "Excellent, Neville!" he cried. "You've found the culprit! Let's get her safely taken away."
Neville froze, startled, with the Usuki still in his paws. Fuse saw it and his eyes bulged. Chesh glanced between the two of them and smiled.
"Actually, I think we've done enough work on this case," she said. "What I think we need to do right now is take some of these Usukis out of their stuffy old boxes and have a tea party." She laughed at the dumbfounded expressions on Fuse and Neville's faces. "And you're both the guests of honor."
Date: Aug 23rd
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