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||You are on Week 584
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 Eighty Four Ends Friday, December 7
|"Come on, Candy!" the tiny Usul cried with annoyance. "We're going to be late."
I smiled the thin smile of the ever-patient older sister. "There is no late with the Advent Calendar, Nima," I explained, "It's open all day giving out free presents."
"But I don't want to be late!" Nima exclaimed, turning and running clumsily a few steps ahead in the fallen snow.
I sighed softly to myself, but I didn't want to do anything to ruin her excitement as I trudged behind. Happy Valley hadn't really changed much since I had visited as a child. The happy little storefronts still welcomed visitors with festive displays and the bright colors stood out in such contrast with the blankness of the snow. Music twinkled and danced on the frosty air and the sound of children's laughter floated like a banner. It was all the same as I had remembered it. Only I had changed.
Don't get me wrong, I still liked the holidays well enough. I enjoyed the big meals and time together with family. All these decorations, gifts, and singing, however, seemed more like kids' stuff. As these thoughts ran through my head, I caught sight of my reflection in a store window. Even now, dressed in the absurd holiday attire that Nima had picked out for me, I just looked like a cold Shoyru who was a bit bored and quite disillusioned. I shook my head as if trying to physically dispel such thoughts as I hurried to catch up with my little sister just as she entered the Advent Calendar building.
Even though this was her first year being able to visit, she was very patient while waiting in line to collect her gifts. I was surprised to notice that there were many adults in the line as well. While it was true that everyone loves a freebie and I knew there was more than enough for everyone, I knew that I had no desire to wait for some cheap little knickknack that, at best, would become dusty on a shelf in later years. I stood just inside the door and to the side as I waited for Nima.
"Wouldn't you like a present?" a voice suddenly asked.
I whirled about only to see a Zafara decked out in green and red sweater that was adorned with an image of dancing Firs. In his paws was a tiny, purple box, which he seemed to be trying to hand toward me.
"No thanks," I said, "I'm just here with my sister."
His smile grew. "I insist," he stated as he placed the present in the center of my glove, "Happy holidays!"
Before I could respond, he had disappeared into the crowd and Nima had returned. She was trying to show me what she had gotten, so I absently stuffed the tiny box into my coat pocket and led her back to the Neolodge where we were staying.
She was so excited that night that I began to doubt she'd ever fall asleep. I let her talk for hours, until I finally noticed that she was getting sleepy. She was still mumbling something about presents as her eyes closed and she drifted off to dreamland.
For a few minutes I watched her quiet slumber with a smile before I set about straightening up the room prior to going to bed. Her coat and boots were in the middle of the floor, so I hung up the coat and placed the boots underneath. I then went to hang up my own coat, which I had draped on the back of a chair. When I picked it up, the small box I had been given earlier fell to the floor. Kneeling down, I picked it up as I became curious as to its contents.
While my sister slept, I got my first chance to really examine what I had been given...
Date: Dec 3rd
...I let out a gasp as I pulled a golden necklace with purple stones from the box. It was gorgeous -- one of the most beautiful pieces of jewelry I had ever seen, and that Zafara had just given it to me. Sweet Fyora, these look like real amethysts. This thing has to be worth over a million Neopoints! Oh, if only I'd opened it sooner!
For, if I had, I could have given it back respectfully. There was no way I could accept such a gift; even now I was feeling awkward. Who would give something like this to a complete stranger, let alone a stranger that really didn't seem to be feeling the holiday spirit?
I was of half a mind to leave now and track down the Zafara, but I couldn't leave Nima all by herself. What if she woke up? No, I would deal with this some other way. Perhaps I would donate the necklace to the Money Tree when we got back to Neopia Central?
Oh, but it couldn't hurt to just try on the necklace, could it? I mean, this is probably the most expensive piece of jewelry I'll ever own, I thought as I strode into the bathroom. I clasped the necklace around my neck and turned slightly to look at it from different angles.
The light hit the necklace at just the right spots consistently to produce a dazzling effect. I... actually liked it. It might not be so bad to keep it. I shouldn't be hasty... it might be best to just sleep on it.
With that final thought, I yawned and headed for bed, completely forgetting that I was still wearing the necklace...
Date: Dec 3rd
I awoke with a start. What was that? Was it in my dream? I sat up and turned to my right to find Nima softly snoring. Nothing ever wakes her, I chuckled to myself. I convinced myself that the thud must have been from a dream, a mere figment of my imagination. Unfortunately, by now my adrenaline was coursing and my mind was racing, so I gave up the idea of going back to sleep.
Fully awake now, I sat down by the window and looked at the sparkling gift around my neck once more. Turning the necklace over in my hands, I realized that the gems weren't as ordinary as I had first thought. In the soft light from the waning crescent moon, I was able to make out a faint snowflake on one side. As I ran my hand over the snowflake, a most astonishing thing happened! The snowflake began to glow!
As I stared, bewildered, the necklace began to rumble slightly. Right before my own, incredulous eyes a small slot opened up in the bottom of the big amethyst, and a single, thin scrap of paper fell out. Bending down to pick it up, it became apparent that this was no ordinary paper. In fact, it was an old piece of parchment! There seemed to be a short poem written on it. With my heart pounding and my wings shaking, I read the message.
"Before the sun shines the morning's first light,
The Wishing Well hides a miraculous sight.
The Dawn does arrive, revealing shrouded gates.
Enter you must. Your destiny awaits..."
Date: Dec 4th
I looked over the poem again. The Wishing Well? Shrouded gates? Destiny? What did all of this mean? It didn't mean my destiny, did it? I mean, I only got this necklace as a random gift from a random stranger. Surely none of this had to do with me, did it?
Then again, that Zafara did seem pretty intent on pushing that gift onto me. And while the necklace was beautiful, was this what they really wanted me to see? Did that Zafara want me to go to the Wishing Well? Did they know I would find this poem on the parchment?
I looked over to my sister. She was still asleep and probably would be for several more hours. Knowing Nima, she would wake up a little before lunchtime. That would give me plenty of time to go to the Wishing Well to see what this poem was talking about and come back before she woke up.
I nodded a bit to myself. Mom always said I had the curiosity of a Kougra, and now I was wondering what exactly would be waiting for me at the Wishing Well. I got dressed and grabbed my coat and quietly left the room and exited the Neolodge, making the quick trip over to the Wishing Well.
The Wishing Well was quiet for the most part. There was a wild-eyed Techo there, and at first I thought he was someone I was supposed to meet. But that theory went out the window when he pulled out a large bag of Neopoints and poured them into the Wishing Well. I don't know how much he put in, as I lost count at over forty-eight thousand. But he looked happy when he was done and went on his way after that.
It was quiet again, and I yawned aloud. Waking up like this was not something I really wanted to do again, but I still wanted to know what that poem meant. Of course, now that I thought about it, if I was going to wait until sunrise, maybe I should have brought a book to read.
Oh well, it was too late for that now. All I could do was wait. And sure enough, eventually the first light of the sun peaked over the horizon. Gentle sunbeams started to wash over the landscape, bathing everything in a soft glow.
What came as an amazing surprise, however, was that a cloud of mist seemed to be pouring out of the Wishing Well. I watched in awe as the mist grew thicker and deeper, until the rays of the sunlight started to pierce through it. I then gasped out loud, seeing what looked like a gate open up in the mist.
Just like the poem had said.
I couldn't see what was beyond the gates in the mist, but I felt myself being drawn to it. It said that my destiny awaited me beyond these gates. I took a few cautious steps forward, trying to see through the shrouded gates, and before I knew it, I had walked through them.
And much to my surprise, once I was through the gates I saw...
Date: Dec 4th
...fluttering wings, a patchy polkadot dress, and a bright shock of green hair. It was Kari, the Negg Faerie-- I hadn't realized she ever left the Ice Caves, let alone lurked underneath the Wishing Well. My first thought was, maybe she'll have some answers-- I was completely confounded by the whole sequence of events, from the necklace-granting, sweater-wearing Zafara to this latest development.
I'd never thought much about the Wishing Well, not being the wishing type; in fact, I'd always thought it was a bit of a scam. Nima was always dropping in her extra neopoints, wishing for one thing or another, her head always in the clouds. I preferred to save what I earned and work towards my goals. Sure, I was only a shopkeeper's assistant, but Nima had never gotten any of her wishes granted. Personal disbelief aside, I'd never expected magical gates to appear, nor for there to be anything magical about the well. Now that I thought about it, though-- where did all those neopoints go? Was there any basis for the claims that sometimes, wishes really were granted? I'd walked right through where the well should be, and I hadn't fallen in, so just what kind of gates were those?
And, over everything else, why me?
As I opened my mouth to ask all these questions, I realized that Kari looked just as surprised to see me here as I was to see her. "What are you doing here?" we blurted at the same time. She, not waiting for my response, spun on one heel and quickly headed off into the dark. Not knowing what else to do, I plunged afterwards.
"Wait!" I cried, "where are we? Why am I here?"
"You shouldn't be here!" she called over one shoulder. "How did you get here? Go away!"
It was getting harder to keep up in the darkness, and I was getting more and more frustrated. "Look, I didn't ask to come here, I was just following what the necklace told me to do!"
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I winced at how stupid it sounded. A magical necklace dropping clues to my destiny? What sort of story was that? There was no way she'd believe me-- I was going to be stuck here forever.
Much to my surprise, Kari had suddenly halted-- I finally caught up. "A necklace? What necklace?"
Not wanting to question my good luck, I dug it out from under my sweater. "I got it at the Advent Calendar. Some Zafara gave it to me."
Kari's eyes widened. "But this is Fyora's necklace! It's been missing ever since..."
Date: Dec 5th
"...Faerieland fell to Neopia!"
"Wh-what?" was all I could manage. "How could a Zafara at the Advent Calendar have gotten Fyora's lost necklace? And why would he give it to me, instead of giving it back to her--or, or, or selling it--?"
"The necklace is special," Kari began. "It--"
A sudden rumbling cut her off, a rumbling that started as a faraway noise like thunder. But, instead of trailing off like distant thunder, it grew louder and louder, shaking the dark cavern floor beneath my feet.
"Oh no," Kari said. "I knew something was wrong as soon as I saw that you weren't a faerie." She reached out and grabbed my paw. "We'll need to make a run for it."
"I don't understand--"
"This is the Cavern of Faerie Wishes," Kari said as she ran along, her green wings fluttering anxiously. I stumbled to keep up. "We receive the Neopoints and the wishes from the Wishing Well and choose lucky Neopians to have their wishes granted. All of us faeries take a turn down here, it's part of our duties, but no one who isn't a faerie should ever be able to get in. I think it's disrupted the delicate magic of the Cavern. Even with the necklace, no Neopet should have been able to enter trough the Gates of Hope."
"But why was I able to enter?" I asked, stumbling as she dragged me along.
"Something has gone terribly wrong," Kari said, "and I think the Zafara is part of it. There is great and ancient magic in that necklace that could be turned to ill use. I--"
She broke off and shoved me back as part of the cavern collapsed. The rock shards tumbled toward her, but seemed to glance off her greenish-golden glow. I have to admit, the demonstration of faerie power awed me.
"Come on," she said. "We need to get out of here." She grabbed me by both paws and began to glow softly golden. When she flapped her wings, flying upward toward the new gap in the ceiling, I found myself floating along with her as if lighter than air.
"What do you mean, the necklace has an ancient magic?" I asked, as we ascended, as lightly as if neither of us weighed more than an Eyrie's feather.
"It's been Fyora's since before Faerieland--the original Faerieland--was built in the clouds. It pre-dates the Cavern of Faerie Wishes and the Gates of Hope. Fyora's magic should keep it from breaking the wards on the Cavern, but if someone has been tampering with it, well, who knows."
"But why would someone tamper with Fyora's necklace?"
Kari's expression turned dark, even through the soft glow of her magic. "There are Neopians who want more than they deserve, who would love to turn the Wishing Well and the Cavern of Faerie Wishes to their control. I believe they...."
Date: Dec 5th
...are planning on throwing Neopia into chaos."
"What?" I cried, astonished.
"Yes. You see, the Cavern of Faerie Wishes is truly the magic hub of Neopia. It maintains balance, as well as ensuring the happiness of Neopians everywhere and the equilibrium of the economy. Without the cavern, magic becomes distorted and erratic, the economy crashes and burns, and the state of contentment is destroyed for Neopians across the globe. Do you understand what this means?"
I was struggling to take in all the sudden information. We had managed to fly out of the gap, and were soaring through the skies above. I saw now that the cavern had been a mystery to me because it was underground, somewhere in the forests near Neopia Central. As we flew away I could see the ground surrounding the hole we'd flown from quaking, the trees waving violently.
"Do you understand?" she asked again.
"No," I replied, dizzy from the height and the weight of recent revelations.
"I think whoever is responsible for this is planning a large-scale attack on Neopia. There's no better time than when we are crippled economically, magically, and emotionally. Our magic that we usually use to stop such forces is unreliable now, and the morale of our troops will receive a heavy blow. We stand very little chance." Kari's voice sounded strained, and for the first time I realized that she was scared. A faerie, afraid? Things must be bad. Very bad.
"How did this happen?" I whispered listlessly.
Kari was quiet for a moment, then she gasped. "The necklace. Usually a normal Neopet would never be able to enter the cavern, but a magical artifact used by Queen Fyora herself... of course you were able to enter."
"Why me, though?" I choked out, on the verge of tears. Why would those villains choose me to carry out their evil bidding? Does that mean that I am evil, too? The thought was enough to make me shiver, and I couldn't stop the first tear's descent.
"It's not your fault," she said softly, stroking my head soothingly. "To enter the cavern, you must be one with good intentions. You were at the wrong place at the wrong time, and they took advantage of you because of your good heart and curiosity."
I had been such a sucker. Now, because of me, Neopia was on the verge of a disaster the likes of which had not been seen since the days of Sloth. I wiped away my tears with one paw and gathered my courage. "I want to help," I said with shaky determination.
Kari grinned. "Good. We'll need all the help we can get. If you're going to take this journey, however, there's something crucial you need to know about that necklace around your neck..."
Date: Dec 6th
..."What?" I inquired tentatively, unsure if I really wished to know the answer.
Kari's expression suddenly turned very grave. "The necklace was created by Fyora to store magic -- a magical reservoir, if you will. For example, in the event that she needed an extra boost of power, she could take some stored in the necklace. When it was stolen, she fastened her staff to serve its purpose; knowing that only someone with a pure heart -- really, any faerie -- would be able to charge or use the necklace, its disappearance really wouldn't cause any damage."
"How does that pertain to this situation?" I inquired. "There's supposedly quite a lot of damage going on here."
"That's just the thing," Kari began. "The party who tampered with the necklace must have altered it so that, rather than storing energy, it stole and corrupted energy. The 'pure heart' spell, still in effect, enabled only someone with good intentions -- namely, you -- to access a place of faerie magic -- in this case, the Cavern of Faerie Wishes. That necklace, now, contains corrupted magic stolen from the cavern."
"Is that why the cavern started falling apart?" I asked, trying to follow her words the best I could, and it seemed that was the point she was trying to convey.
"Yes. But, the longer we are in possession of that necklace, the more corrupted we, in turn, become."
I gaped. "That Kyrii was trying to corrupt me?"
"If anything he hoped that, upon you stealing the magic and seeing the destruction caused, you would return it to him, feeling the artifact 'not safe in your hands.' Just you destroying the cavern would be good enough for them, but if you actually gave them the magic from it... why, they could even rule into the Space Faerie's domain."
"So," I inquired nervously, "what do we do? How do we fix this?"
"First, we'll need to soar to Faerieland and contact Fyora. Next, we'll need to get her to destroy this necklace. Finally -- now that you've been corrupted -- we'll need another Neopet with a completely pure heart to help supply magic back into the Cavern and the Gates of Hope, saving Neopia."
Already, I had an idea as to who the next "pure" one would be. It would have to be my sister.
I said nothing as we continued on toward Faerieland...
Date: Dec 6th
...Below us, I could see Kiko Lake and the castles of Brightvale as we passed over them. Kari sighed, her face strained with worry. I felt as if I should be worrying, too, but I loved flying, and my relatively small wings had never enabled me to go this high up before. I loved the way the wind felt on my face, and the view of Neopia below us was amazing.
Finally, we reached Faerieland, and Kari flew down among the purple and pink turrets to Fyora's castle. Landing gracefully in front of the double doors, Kari gently set me down. She knocked three times upon the door, and then we waited for a few minutes.
"Who is it?" a gentle, echoing voice asked after a while. I was slightly confused, because the voice seemed to be emanating from the door itself. "Kari the Negg Faerie, and Candy the Shoyru," Kari said, seeming completely unfazed by the fact that the door was talking.
"What is the reason for your coming?" the door inquired.
"To see Queen Fyora. We have information that will be necessary to save the whole of Neopia," she replied calmly. Glancing at her nervously, I toyed absentmindedly with Fyora's magical necklace.
"You may enter." The door swung open and Kari walked inside, taking a deep breath. Jumping into the air, I flew beside her, my yellow wings beating the still air inside the castle gently.
"Which way do we go now?" I asked Kari, hovering in the air.
"Just follow me," she said, and set off down the hallway with me close behind her. We turned left, then right, then left again. We finally came to yet another set of doors, which Kari pushed open easily.
I gasped. "Queen Fyora's throne room!" I breathed, stunned. "I've always wanted to come here!"
The walls were covered with beautiful silken drapes that seemed to float in midair, and several faeries sat on chairs around the purple-carpeted room. At the very back, in front of a large open window, was a purple throne, and on the throne was Queen Fyora.
Kari said nothing, but walked up to the throne and bowed to Queen Fyora. Kari glanced at me and I landed on the ground, bowing as well.
"Kari, welcome," Queen Fyora said, rising. "What brings you and your friend here?"
Kari sighed heavily and looked at me again. I stared right back at her, not understanding what I was supposed to do.
"Young Shoryu, what is that around your neck?" Fyora asked, her eyes narrowing slightly.
"Oh!" I said, understanding what Kari wanted me to do. I took off the necklace and walked up to the throne, holding it up for Fyora to take.
"My necklace!" the Queen exclaimed, reaching for it...
Date: Dec 7th
..."Wherever did you find it, young Shoyru?"
"Candy," I replied.
Fyora started. "You found it among some candy?" A bewildered expression crossed upon her face.
I mirrored it. "No," I said, shaking my head. I smiled, and in a more delightful tone I continued. "My name is Candy."
The Queen smiled as well. "That's all very good, but not what I asked you." Strictly, though not crossly, she reiterated. "Where did you get this necklace?"
"A Kyrii, dressed in Christmas attire, handed it to me in a purple box while I took my sister to the Advent Calendar."
Fyora snatched the artifact from my clutches and examined it thoroughly. "It appears to have received some form of magic," the faerie concluded. She turned toward Kari. "Have you any information as to why?"
"Candy followed me into the Gates of Hope and the caverns," the Negg Faerie responded.
"A small note fell from the large crystal," I said, walking toward Fyora and pointing to the amethyst I had referred to. "It told me where to go."
"And Kari was just there?"
"Well, it was my week to be in the caverns," Kari piped in.
"Have you any idea how this necklace works?" Fyora asked me.
"Yes," I responded. "Kari informed me of its history on our flight here."
"Good," Fyora finished. "That's one less thing we'll need to do."
A silence fell over the room.
The faerie dressed in green broke it. "We must destroy the necklace, correct?"
The Queen gaped. "For Fyora's sake--" she started, jumping slightly at the unintentional usage of her own name in her discontented state. "We can't destroy this thing! To do that would be to destroy the magic of the cavern! No, this magic -- the cavern's magic -- is corrupted; we must find a way to return it back into pure faerie power and restore the broken cavern." A look of fierce determination spread across her face.
"To do that requires another one with a pure heart, correct?" Kari asked.
"Well, as the magic was stolen--" I felt some indignation toward the Queen's comment, as I hadn't intentionally stolen it, "by a Neopet, it will require another Neopet to reverse it. Typical magic rules."
"Yes," Kari agreed. "But it's a shame Neopets of pure heart are so difficult to come by."
As a Neopet, I took a bit of offense to this as well. In a time of crisis, though, one can't waste time arguing over the trivial. "I know who can perform the task," I said.
The two faeries and turned and faced me. "Who?" they inquired in unison.
"What?" Nima asked, half-asleep, as I prompted her to wake. The Usul lazily glanced at the clock in her bedroom.
"It's like 4:00 in the morning," she responded drearily.
"Yes, but you've a very important mission," I told her.
"If you don't follow through with this task, you may never go visit the Advent Calendar again."
Her eyes opened wide, and I smiled.
Hastily, she went and got dressed. "Hurry up, sis," she piped. "We've some stuff to do!" Her broad smile then waned. "But, what stuff exactly?"
"We'll see when we get there." It wasn't a lie -- I was practically as clueless as her.
"Wow!" Nima exclaimed as we approached the Wishing Well and the two faerie figures standing adjacent to the magical Neopoint-sink. "I know you two!"
Fyora smiled. "Cute kid," she said. "But there's work to be done."
Nima smiled and looked at me. This is what she had been expecting. "Yay!"
Kari revealed the necklace and my sister's eyes widened. The Negg Faerie placed the artifact around her neck.
"Now," Fyora commanded, "enter the mists."
"But there are no mists," Nima observed.
Kari waved her hand and, instantly, a shroud of mystery appeared before us.
There was a sort of rumbling sound, seemingly emanating from every point in Neopia simultaneously...
Nima emerged from the mists several minutes later. "Well, that was fun!" the Usul exclaimed.
"What did you see?" I asked her.
She smirked. "If I were to tell you exactly everything I saw, it would take decades!" She appeared to be in awe.
I smiled. Glancing toward the faeries, I saw they were smiling as well.
"Thank you, Candy. Thank you, Nima," Fyora said to us. "Now, it's best that you forget this entire endeavor." She waved her staff.
The next thing my sister and I remember is being back in the Neolodge, supposedly having just woken up.
"I had the coolest dream last night," Nima told me as we walked toward the Advent Calendar.
I thought about it -- frankly, I did too. Something bout a... necklace, yes, that was it.
I then remembered that I really didn't take as much satisfaction in heading up to the grand Happy Valley landmark as I used to. The building only handed out some cheap little knickknack that, at best, would become dusty on a shelf in later years.
I stood beside the door and to the side as I waited for Nima.
I then turned around, as though someone should have spoken to me. It felt, anyway, as though some individual should have partaken in a conversation with me then and there.
Instead, I noticed a tiny purple box. Reaching down, I picked it up and opened it.
Inside was a golden necklace with purple stones. It was gorgeous -- one of the most beautiful pieces of jewelry I had ever seen.
Attached was a thank you card.
"Thank you Candy and Nima! Here, please keep this counterfeit to show our appreciation -- but, the jewels are real. Treasure it. Enjoy it. Happy holidays! From, the faeries."
Dumbfounded, I put it on. It sparkled beautifully... huh, maybe the Advent Calendar wasn't such a lackluster and uneventful place after all...
Date: Dec 7th
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