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Week 594
You are on Week 595
Week 596

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 Ninety Five Ends Friday, March 1

On the outskirts of Brightvale, a domed structure rose like a smooth, ivory mountain. The lower levels acted as a library that was open to all of the public, and was often a popular attraction to knowledge-seeking tourists. The upmost level, however, was closed to all Neopians except for those who were known as the Seekers.

Alesha walked silently around the heavy oak desks as she allowed her paws to drag across their surfaces. Normally, there was always a hum of activity and the passing of information, but now the Kacheek was alone and all was silent. All around her, countless books stared down from the shelves. Normally, she thought of those books as her friends and companions on the journey through life, but now their silent spines only made her feel more alone. Trying to hold back tears, she spun a nearby globe and watched as all the lands of Neopia spun about. It was a good comparison to the thoughts that twirled about ruthlessly in her mind.

All of the Seekers had gone to the newly-discovered obelisk in Tyrannia. She had wanted to go along as well, but she understood why she hadn't been allowed. At least the others had been honest with her and hadn't made up some line about her youth or that they needed someone to watch their headquarters. They had been very straightforward about the entire matter. She couldn't go because of her brother, Matt.

Slowly, she walked over to the model that one of the others had made of the obelisk, but her mind was even further away than that destination. She thought back to her childhood, when she and her brother had been inseparable. They were so very different in personality. Matt was the adventurous one who threw caution to the wind and loved to try new things. She, on the other hand, was more reserved and was always worried about consequences. In a way they balanced each other, and were always there for one another. Unfortunately, that all changed as time moved on.

It wasn't that she and Matt had any sort of falling out. They had simply drifted apart. When they had grown up, they both went their separate ways and went on with their lives. At first they wrote long letters to one another, but that dwindled into short notes, and later into postcards. One day, Alesha had simply woken up to realize that she hadn't talked to Matt in a very long time. She didn't know where he was living now or what he was doing. Guilt nagged at her heart, but she found herself hesitant to write him because she didn't know how to explain why she had waited so long. As each day passed, the guilt grew.

She then found the Seekers, and it had been a perfect fit from the start. She'd loved to read and gather information, and it was so nice to be among others with the same mindset. Her ability to decipher ancient texts gained her quick admiration from her peers. When news of the obelisk first reached the Seekers, there was no doubt that she would be invaluable in the upcoming struggle -- at least, until it was discovered that her brother was among the group known as the Thieves Guild.

Thankfully, she was believed when she told them that she had no idea of Matt's whereabouts until now, but that didn't change the fact that her brother was part of one of the opposing factions. There was no question that she would have to stay behind and simply wait until this was all over.

A soft scratching noise interrupted her thoughts, and she looked up just in time to see a Symol slip into the room through a secret entrance. The small Petpet was carrying a scroll in his mouth, which he quickly deposited on the floor before leaving the same way he had entered. There was so much information to be found all over the world, it had been some of the other members who had first suggested training Petpets to retrieve any knowledge that could be found. At first, they had thought about training a flying Petpet, like a Horus, but then someone had suggested the Symol. The Petpets were small, and their tunnels made them perfectly discreet. Plus, they were quite intelligent and easily trained. It was hard to know just how much of their information came from these invaluable creatures.

She walked over and retrieved the scroll. Upon opening it, she gasped as she read what had been written...

Author: tj_wagner
Date: Feb 25th
...It was an ancient letter, one that was frazzled and frayed. It was difficult to read the faded note, but Alesha managed:

"We have buried The Obelisk of Power so that it may never be found and used again. If it should happen to be uncovered, then the offender who dares do so and enter to find its secrets will be cursed..."

The text was too faded to read beyond this point, but there was a much more recent note that had been hastily scribbled at the bottom, which said:

"The cure is in Shenkuu."

What could that mean? Were her fellow Seekers, and her brother, in danger? She pocketed the scroll and traveled down a hidden staircase, unsure exactly what she was going to do next.

Just as she reached the bottom of the staircase, Alesha heard a loud screech. That was odd, she thought. Who would scream in a library? She rounded the corner to see...

Author: chloemich99
Date: Feb 25th
...That the scream had not come from a Neopet, but rather a small Symol. A tight leash was around its neck, and it had been tied to an adjacent bookcase. It was screeching and scratching at the rope violently. Perplexed, and suddenly quite suspicious, Alesha walked forward and lay a soothing paw on the small Petpet. It quieted as she slipped the leash off and soon the Petpet was scurrying away, vanishing into a hole under a book case.

Having always been one of the most observant of the Seekers, her eyes scanned the ground. Kneeling, she brushed her paw over the residual scratch marks the Petpet had left in its captive panic. What caught her eye, however, was not the frenzied markings, but rather a few scraps of paper. They were barely anything, covered in saliva, as if the original had been forcibly ripped from someone’s small mouth. The Symol had been in possession of some information, perhaps on its way to deliver it to Alesha, when it had been interrupted.

She picked up one of the scraps. Though it was slobbery and torn, she could make out but one word: Guild. Pocketing the scrap with the scroll, she stood from her crouched position. This could only mean one thing; the Thieves Guild was here -- or, at least, they had been.

The Kacheek turned tail and headed for the stairs. She needed to get word to the Seekers. Not only had they been attacked, albeit stealthily and with no physical consequences, but there was also the information on the "cure." Upon reaching the top of the stairs she halted and the blood drained from her face. Sitting at the desk, legs crossed and propped on a desk, was a tall Zafara. He was dressed in black and red fabric that clung to him loosely. It made him hard to discern in the flickering firelight, which Alesha could only imagine was the point.

"Hello, Seeker," the Zafara said. His voice was cool and cocky, and he was looking down at a quill with which he was playing. "I see the Symol delivered the scroll to you before I could catch the little nuisance. I would take it from you, likely without you even realizing it, but since it seems to just be you and me in these cozy little headquarters, I thought we could just chat it out."

He said each word with the suave attitude of someone practiced in his trade. Alesha's eyes narrowed and her hand tightened around the frayed parchment in her pocket. She had no response for this Neopet, and she couldn't help but admit that her heart was beating heavily in her chest. Not out of fear, no... there was something about this Neopet. It edged at her conscience like a sinking suspicion that she couldn't let go of.

"Well, how about we start this war a bit early, you and I? Here, I'll even let the little Seeker have the first--" He looked up and his voice caught. Alesha couldn't see the Zafara's eyes in the shadow of his cloak, but she didn't need to. The Thieves Guild member stuttered for a few seconds and then he choked out just one word, her name, before turning and fleeing toward the window...

Author: the_final_truth
Date: Feb 26th
...leaving Alesha to stare, her jaw slack and mind reeling in confusion.

That had been Matt, of course. Only a fool would have failed to recognize him, for underneath the layers of black and red fabric was the same Zafara; his voice had changed very little since she had last seen him.

She was shocked, however, by how much he had changed. Matt had never been the overly-meek type -- his adventurous spirit wouldn't have allowed it -- but she couldn't remember a single case in which he had shown such cool arrogance, and certainly none where he'd openly challenged her. Had the years in the Thieves Guild changed him so much?

A small squeak sounded from somewhere down the stairs. She hadn't realized how much time she had spent just standing there, reminiscing; her stomach growled, and it suddenly occurred to her that she hadn't eaten lunch. She slowly tore herself away from the desk, looked away from the window that her brother had leapt from, and headed back down the stairs.

The Symol was back. Alesha walked past it, her head filled entirely with thoughts of the note scribbled in the scroll. The cure is in Shenkuu...

Author: chocolate_lover67
Date: Feb 26th
...Alesha's lunch sat in front of her untouched. Although her stomach told her she was hungry, her mind was completely elsewhere. She could not get the image of her brother out of her head. Could the Zafara really have been him? She was in complete denial about the way Matt had changed. There was no way that the arrogant stranger she had seen could be Matt. He may have looked like him and he may have sounded like him, but it was not the Matt she knew and loved. It wasn't the same Matt who would beat up the bullies at school when they were picking on her. It couldn't be the same Matt who would tend to her scraped knees when she would fall, or who would play Kacheek Seek with her, even though he despised the game. The thief she just met could not be her big brother.

A tear rolled down Alesha's cheek and landed on her hand, which was resting limply on the table. Who was she kidding? She knew full well that it was Matt. Lying to herself would only make things much worse than they already were. The Thieves Guild had taken him and molded him into what they wanted, and there was nothing she could do about it. She couldn't save him. They were now on opposite ends of the field. In this imminent war they were now enemies, but Alesha also already knew that. She knew that the moment she found out about Matt's involvement with the Thieves Guild, and she was forced to stay behind because of it. Now, with the addition of the scrap of paper that read just one word, "Guild," she had a sneaking suspicion that the Thieves Guild knew more than everyone thought they did -- and that, sadly, included her brother. It was just really rough to see it first hand. That was problem number one for her, accepting that fact. She was a Seeker, though; she had no other choice but to accept it, even if it did break her heart.

Problem number two was the note. Alesha knew that the note was extremely important from the moment it came into her possession, and if the Thieves Guild had sent someone after it, then that meant the other factions couldn't be far behind. She had to get the note to her fellow Seekers in Tyrannia, and quickly. She herself could not take it to them. If she went she would be too tempted to find her brother. The events of the day were still too fresh in her mind, and she could not face what he had become. Sending a Symol was out of the question now. If Matt had been able to intercept one, then no doubt the other factions would be looking to intercept any news going in and out as well.

She thought on it for a moment and realized exactly what she could do. It was no secret at this point that the Seekers used Symols to send messages back and forth, so everyone would be looking for a Symol. No one would suspect a Horus. During the original training of the Symols to deliver messages, Alesha had taken it upon herself to train a Horus to do the same, just to prove that she could. As far as she knew, no other factions were using Horuses to relay messages. She would make a copy of the note and send that to her faction.

Finally, there was problem number three: the cure is in Shenkuu. This was pretty straightforward, but out of all the issues she faced, this one scared Alesha the most, more than even the war about to break out in Tyrannia. Someone had to go to Shenkuu to find the cure, whatever the cure was and no matter what it was for, and there was only one person left who could go. Alesha. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack while blindfolded. It wasn't the going alone part that scared her, or even that she had no idea what she was looking for, it was the fact that she held the fate of this coming war in her hands. If she messed up, who knew what would happen?

Alesha stood up from the table and walked away leaving her lunch still untouched. She needed to get as much rest tonight as she possibly could.

Tomorrow, the fate of many lives would hang in the balance...

Author: ame_romance
Date: Feb 27th
...It was still dark when Alesha woke the next day, with an eerie stillness that made the upcoming events of the day seem even more dreadful than needed.

The library was dead silent, except for the quiet scuttling of the Horus she had trained. His name was Reelin, and he was different than the rest. Unlike other Horuses, he could only vocalize with a series body movements. Alesha had learned to translate it and could speak with him now.

A creepy fog rolled in through an open window, which Alesha realized hadn't been open the night before. She blinked and rubbed her eyes, then stood up and walked over to the window.

The curtains blew against her cheeks, a brisk morning wind blowing through. Looking out, Alesha saw a shadowy figure escaping through the streets. She could only imagine this was Matt, which sparked her concern.

She ran over to check on the frayed note, only to discover it was gone.

Thankfully, she remembered the one part she needed to know.

"The cure is in Shenkuu."

Grabbing a piece of parchment and a quill pen from a table, she scribbled down a note explaining everything to her fellow Seekers.

Alesha walked over to Reelin and showed him the note. She spoke softly to the Horus and handed it the note. Reelin then took the note in his talons and flew out the window as fast as a bullet.

Outside, eyes as black as charcoals were watching the Horus fly across a background of grey morning sky...

Author: flames_unleashed
Date: Feb 27th
...It was a commonly-known fact that the Shenkuu palace held one of the greatest collections of scrolls and records in Neopia within its halls. Famous for the peace-loving, knowledge-seeking Neopets that tended to seek out Shenkuu for answers to burning questions of a scientific nature, it was almost ironic that the Seekers themselves controlled what was available.

Alesha freely admitted that the Seekers weren't all well and good in their actions or intentions. At the time she had first joined the faction, it had shocked her how much knowledge the Seekers had direct control over. She had heard of the mischievous ways of the Thieves Guild, the scheming acts of the Sway, and even the darker mysteries of the Awakened, but the Seekers had more control of what the average Neopet saw than she had ever imagined. For every book or tome available, there were five others in hidden libraries around Neopia. She had learned over time that knowledge was power, which is why the Seekers took so much care to keep certain knowledge hidden.

The Kacheek's paw ran over the book bindings that faced her. She was in a secret section of the Shenkuu library, beneath the more commonly-visited section. The travel to Shenkuu had been quiet and uneventful. It wasn't surprising, after all, since nearly half of Neopia's population belonged to one of the six factions by either loyalty or debt -- if not both -- and anyone with ties was in Tyrannia.

Alesha pulled out a dusty book that appeared to not have been opened in some time. The pages were frayed and the binding peeling away from the edge. What had grabbed her attention, however, was a brief etching on the cover. It looked so similar to the obelisk in Tyrannia, but intact. There was no column of light, just a simple tower reaching up toward to sky.

"Interesting," she whispered. She flipped the cover open, only to find the text written in a language and dialect she didn't understand. She continued to leaf through the pages, hoping to find some image that would give her an answer. It was on the last page that she found it. Scrolled across the page in smudged black paint was the word "cure."

Her brow furrowed; Alesha closed the book and looked at the front page again. What did it mean? Was this book the cure, or was this book the location of the cure? Or...

"Alesha," a voice whispered behind her. She spun around, clutching the book to her chest and staring into the dim light. The figure of a Zafara was staring back at her, grim faced. "You were followed."

"By you," bit Alesha. She didn't want to admit it, but talking to her brother like this almost brought tears of anger and frustration to her eyes. There was a pause.

"No, by someone much worse. I can't protect you, not from this." Matt’s voice almost sounded pained and full of regret.

"You threated to attack me!" the Kacheek responded. This time tears really did threaten to spill from her eyes, but she choked them back. She would not cry in front of this Neopet who she once knew.

"I'm sorry. It--I've changed, but," he continued quietly, serious and solemn, "I'm telling you now. You must burn that book, or I will..."

Author: the_final_truth
Date: Feb 28th
...Before Matt could finish, a black Crokabek swooped out of nowhere and grabbed the book from Alesha with its talons!

"No!" Matt shouted, and then pulled out his thief's dagger and tried to swipe at the Petpet, but it was no use. The Crokabek was too high up to reach and was flying away with the book.

"No!" Matt shouted again and punched the bookshelf in frustration. "The Sway have the book now!"

Alesha looked on in surprise as she saw the Petpet fly off into the distance out of a broken piece of the wall. "Matt..." she said to the angered Zafara, "what's going on?!? Tell me what just happened!"

The Zafara, who was breathing heavily in frustration, said, "That note you got..." Then, before looking up at her, he finished with, "It was a trap. It wasn't sent by the Seekers, it was sent by the Sway. They knew that you were still behind in their headquarters, and knew that if you got a note like that, you would investigate. The obelisk isn't cursed; it can give great power. The book isn't a cure, it's the curse. Now, with it in the hands of The Sway, they can use the curse on the other factions! Don't you see? You've just doomed everyone who isn't a part of The Sway!"

Matt punched the bookshelf again, knocking over a few of the books as Alesha stared in shock and horror. If that was true, then not only had she single-handedly made sure that The Sway won the war, but she'd also doomed her friends and colleges with the Seekers! "This... this can't be right!" she said to herself.

"Well, it is!" Matt snapped at her.

"No..." she said. "I'm a Seeker, and we can always think of a way out of this! I refuse to let The Sway win!"

Alesha thought about everything that had happened, from Matt's arrival to the mysterious note to everything that had taken place in the last day or so. The note went through her mind again, and suddenly her eyes lit up.

"I've got it!" she said triumphantly...

Author: dr_tomoe
Date: Feb 28th
...Matt and Alesha hid on the outskirts of the faction camps. Alesha never thought that she would be here in Tyrannia, trying to save the lives of both friends and enemies. She definitely never thought that she would be doing so with her brother Matt. She was slowly discovering that, although he had changed a lot, there was still some of the old Matt fighting to get through to her. She could tell in his eyes when he looked at her that a part of him still wanted to protect her and keep her safe. Her big brother was still somewhere in there. It warmed her heart to know that there was still hope in all of this. Maybe he could be saved, if only they could survive the next few hours.

"Okay, you remember the plan?" Alesha was nervous. There was only one way for her plan to work, and it was risky at best. The whole thing could completely blow up in her face, and if it did, the war would get much worse -- and it was more than likely that both her and Matt would be tried for treason against their factions and exiled. They would then be fair game for all of the factions, and probably would not survive.

"Yes, I remember. It shouldn't be that hard for me to draw him out. He trusts me." Matt's voice was calm, but in his eyes Alesha could read anxiety. Although she did not agree with where Matt had ended up, he had worked hard to get where he was. He was one of the top officers in the Thieves Guild, and she was asking him to put it all on the line for something that was not even a sure bet. If things went bad he would lose everything. Society would not accept him back after his association with the Thieves Guild.

"Are you ready for this?" he asked her, concerned. She gave a slight chuckle. He was going to become a pariah to both thieves and society at large, yet he was asking her if she was ready. This was the Matt that she remembered. He would always worry about her, even when he was the one in bigger trouble.

"Yeah, I'm ready."

Matt nodded back and Alesha started to move from their hiding place.

"Alesha?"

She stopped and turned back to Matt. To her complete and utter surprise, Matt pulled her into a tender hug. Her breath caught and tears welled up in her eyes.

"I've missed you, Allie," he whispered in her ear. The tears finally escaped her eyes, as for the first time in years she heard her nickname that her brother had lovingly bestowed upon her. She felt like she had her brother back.

"Be careful, baby sister," Matt said, then gently pushed her away and disappeared over the ridge and out of sight. Alesha sat for a moment, giving herself a chance to regain her composure before she, too, left the safety of hiding.

She made her way to the Seekers camp, which was not easy. She had to pass by The Awakening and The Order’s camps undetected before she reached hers. Once she reached her camp she still had to sneak around. No one could know that she was here. She was supposed to be in Shenkuu finding the cure. That is, if Reelin had made it through.

She could not worry about that, however. She had to get to the center of camp where Professor Lambert was without being seen.

It seemed like it took her forever to finally reach it. As soon as the coast was clear, she threw herself through the flap of the professor's tent and ran right into him on his way out.

"Alesha?" he asked, looking at her in complete surprise.

"Professor, thank goodness I found you so quickly. I can't explain here, but I need you to come with me."

The professor looked at her, obviously shocked at her sudden appearance in the middle of the war zone, but also confused.

"Alesha, what is going on? What are you doing here?"

"I can't explain it here," Alesha pleaded. "You know as well as I do that there could be enemy eyes and ears anywhere, and this is something that no one else can know about -- not even the rest of our faction. So please, professor, I'm begging you."

The professor sighed, then said, "Okay, but this had better be something very important."

"You have no idea, professor."

***

"What is this?" Kanrik growled. The Gelert was furious as he eyed the professor. The professor was none too pleased, either.

The two leaders stood across from each other, both sizing the other up. The tension was high, and at any moment a fight could break out between them.

If one did, Alesha wasn't sure if she and Matt could stop it.

"I should cut you down right here, old man," Kanrik said, insulting Professor Lambert.

"I would like to see you try," the professor threatened right back.

Matt and Alesha glanced at each other. Obviously, drawing these two out was the easy part -- it was getting them to listen that was going to prove difficult.

"Before you two decide to jump down each other's throats, at least listen to why we brought you out here," Matt interjected.

Kanrik and the professor looked around them at the very secluded area that they had been led to.

"This had better be good, Matt, otherwise this will end badly for you." Kanrik was just on a roll with threatening everyone. The professor remained true to his Seeker ways and stayed silent, waiting for someone to explain what was going on.

Alesha now stepped in. "Okay, we don't have time for me to go into great detail, so I’m going to cut right to the chase. The Sway possess a weapon of great power -- so powerful that it can easily obliterate us all. We need to obtain this weapon and we need to destroy it. The only we can do that, however, is if we work together."

Kanrik snorted in disgust. "Why would anyone want to destroy a weapon that powerful if they were able to obtain it, and why would I work with the likes of despicable Seekers?"

Alesha looked into the Gelert's eyes as she answered him. "When I say this weapon could obliterate us all, I do mean all. That includes the one who wields it. The weapon is a curse, and curses are not too picky about whom they fall upon. If we want to destroy it, we have to work together. If we don't destroy it, then we are all doomed. So are we together on this?"

"I'm with you, Alesha," Matt said, placing a paw on his sister's shoulder. She gave an appreciative smile.

"As am I," said the professor.

Everyone looked at Kanrik.

"It would appear that there really is no other choice. For now, I call a truce between The Seekers and the Thieves Guild. I am with you."

Alesha let out the breath that she had been holding.

"So, what's the plan?"...

Author: ame_romance
Date: Mar 1st
...Everyone turned and faced Alesha.

"Er..." Alesha trailed, before smiling awkwardly. "I... I really had... only planned this far," she admitted with a forlorn shrug. "Getting our factions to partner up, I reasoned, would be the first step--"

"And a difficult one, at that," her brother interjected.

"Yes," the Kacheek continued, "and I hadn't really gotten further than that."

Kanrik frowned, while the professor turned and faced his pupil.

"Alesha," he started, "I received your Horus's note. I'm assuming that this 'cure' is most certainly not in Shenkuu?"

The Kacheek frowned. She had momentarily forgotten Reelin's message while caught up in the stir of the battleground. "Oh, yes." She then smiled with delight! "Reelin!" she proclaimed emphatically.

Kanrik raised an eyebrow. "I'm assuming that's your Horus?"

"Yes," Alesha replied. "It was a trained Crokabek who stole the cursed thing; he can be a trained Horus who gains it back."

Lambert grinned, and then, gradually, his face sank.

"What's wrong?" she asked the all-knowledgeable Seeker.

"I sent your Horus along a flight path to Shenkuu, in the event that you may need to contact us further."

Alesha breathed an exasperated sigh. "You mean he's in Shenkuu?"

"I suppose he would--"

"Perhaps not," Kanrik interrupted, entering the conversation. "I witnessed a Horus flying overhead, in the general direction of that Gaze headquarters. However, the Order captured it -- I mean, who knows what faction it was communicating with." He smiled with an odd mixture of self-satisfaction and resentment. "Of course, I would have stolen it, but only the Order have the power to take from high in the skies."

Matt nodded. "We must contact the Order."

Everyone agreed.

***

The four, using some stealthy Thieves equipment, managed to sneak around Order territory to Rasala's tent. They entered the pointy-hat shaped abode.

Rasala stared deep into an orb on her glowing staff, searching for battle clues. Seeing four figures in the orb's reflection, she spun around.

"Who dares disturb Rasala the Bright?" the Bori inquired as she wielded her weapon. Her jaw dropped, but her staff remained firm. She smiled mischievously. "To what may I owe this honor of the Thieves and Seekers?"

"You don't understand," Alesha began. "We're all in terrible danger."

She giggled. "You're in terrible danger," she retorted. "I didn't become leader of these pointy hats by letting anyone just traipse in and take over."

"Listen to me, you don't get it," the Kacheek reiterated. "The Sway have a book with the power to destroy us all."

Immediately, the Bori's eyes widened, and she let her weapon fall slightly. "You're not talking about the obelisk diaries, are you?"

"Well, that's what it's informally known as, but yes," Matt confirmed. "Its real name could no longer be pronounced by any individual alive in Neopia."

Rasala threw her weapon down in disgust. "This is bad, utterly horrible," she complained. "Long has the Order known of the obelisk diaries and its evil powers. Some say it was written by those who placed this obelisk in Tyrannia, others say it was written by their enemies. Regardless, we have searched, to no avail, to locate the book." She managed a weak smile. "Only we have the power to reverse its terrible magic."

"Well, The Sway was one step ahead of all of us," Kanrik breathed. "They at least knew that it was in Shenkuu." His eyes narrowed in Alesha's direction. "All they needed was a Seeker to find it."

The Kacheek almost cried. "I already said I was sorry," she sighed, her voice wobbly. She then became a bit more courageous. "But... well, I know someone who can retrieve it."

"Who?" Rasala inquired.

"My Horus -- I believe he's under your capture," Alesha stated, attempting to sound as un-accusing as possible.

"Ah, yes," the Bori agreed. "If you think he can retrieve that book, I'll go fetch him." She smiled and left.

***

For additional furtiveness, Rasala had transformed Reelin, momentarily, into a Crokabek. Alesha had instructed him to fly to Sway headquarters, leave a very vague note that she would give him, and then take the book.

He did.

Pulling into the window of the Duchess's office, he dropped the parchment on her desk. Raising an eyebrow, she retrieved and read it. "It is time," she said to herself. "Already?" the Lenny inquired to no one in particular. She got up and left.

Reelin located the book with the obelisk on it and flew it back to Order headquarters.

Meanwhile, another Crokabek arrived at the window of the now-unoccupied room. It looked confused, but left its note anyway. The parchment unrolled and he flew away.

"Come, now is time," was scribbled upon it.

***

Rasala used her magic to de-curse the pages of the literary nightmare. Alesha commanded her little Petpet to fly the book back, and upon its return he was transformed back into a Horus.

"Now, my muggles," she told the four of them, "go, live your lives." She raised her staff. "May you continue on your path of right... and, now that this truce has ended, may you never cross paths with me again."

The four quickly left the tent.

"I... I want you to know that I'm sorry, Alesha. For everything," Matt said as he hugged her once more.

"Me, too," the Kacheek agreed. "After this war, after this petty faction battle..." She gulped. "Well, I'll see you then." She smiled, tears rolling down her face.

The Zafara cried as well.

Kanrik cleared his throat. "Yes, well," he started, regretful of having to disturb the moment. "I suppose it's time we return to base."

Lambert agreed.

"Don't forget me," Alesha called as the factions went their separate ways and the truce dissolved.

"I never can, or will," her brother called back.

A few more steps. Alesha spun 'round, but Matt and Kanrik were lost in the crowds.

There. Matt was gone from her life as quickly as he'd returned to it.

"It's alright," Lambert said, realizing her despondency and attempting to cheer her up. "You'll see him again, someday."

She took comfort in this and smiled. "Yeah... you're right."

The professor returned the grin. "Now," he started, pointing off in some general direction, "how about the two of us go and tackle that Rent-a-Brute over there?"

***

The Duchess smiled to herself from an undisclosed location, far away from the obelisk and the frenzy about it. She giggled to herself -- yes, even members of The Sway giggle from time to time. As a matter of fact, according to that Crokabek, it was time.

Time for what, exactly?

Well, she now had the most powerful weapon in Neopia in her hands.

Hmm... not in her hands, per se, but in The Sway's hands.

Actually, by now, the book should be in the hands of a young Moehog. He was new to The Sway, but... well, that would just make her attitude toward his end all the more apathetic.

Soon, she thought to herself as she stared greedily at the obelisk through binoculars, there shall be nobody left to battle, and it shall belong to me and the other high-ranking Sway.

All he needed to do was open the book.

Hours passed.

Then, night fell.

Finally, morning rose.

The Duchess grumbled. Obviously, something had failed. Sighing, she started the long walk back toward the obelisk.

Something bad was going to happen to someone...

The End

Author: rielcz
Date: Mar 1st



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