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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 602
You are on Week 603
Week 604

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 Six Hundred Three Ends Friday, April 26

The line was long and twisting, and Mariah doubted that she stood out in any way, but at that moment she felt like the luckiest Cybunny that had ever lived. She tried to be patient as she waited, clutching her red writing notebook close to her chest, but she couldn't help but dance from foot to foot as the silliest of smiles remained plastered on her face. It was finally about to happen. She was going to meet her idol face to face. She would have pinched herself to make sure that she wasn't dreaming, but she was almost afraid to because, if this was a dream, she certainly didn't want to wake any time soon.

"Wow, Mariah!" her friend Charity exclaimed. "You sure are happy to meet this author. I don't think I've ever seen you like this before."

Mariah turned to the Lutari. "This isn't just any author," she said, "this is renowned, best-selling author Arturo Miser! You know he's my hero." She hugged the notebook tighter; a few pages that had been torn out and then placed just inside the cover tickled her chin as she did so. "He's going to read my story," she continued, shutting her eyes as she imagined the scenario, "and he's going to help me get my story published. I'm going to be just like him one day!"

Charity returned the smile. "Well, you're a great writer. I wouldn't doubt if you weren't famous one day."

Mariah only half-listened to her friend as her mind was consumed with daydreams of her future success, and the path that had brought her here. She had always been a shy, meek sort of Cybunny -- the kind that is constantly overlooked and forgotten, but that was before she discovered Mr. Miser's books. As she followed the adventures, she found herself standing side by side the heroes and facing all sorts of dangers. Soon after, she started keeping different bits of stories and drawings in a red notebook, which was just like the one she had read that Mr. Miser kept. In those stories she had reinvented herself over and over again, and she found that she could be just as brave and adventurous as she dared to imagine. Soon, she would cast aside the cloak of shyness she wore in the real world and be more like the her in the stories.

The line moved slowly but steadily forward until finally she was standing directly in front of Arturo. The distinguished-looking desert Draik didn't smile as he reached for the book that she wanted him to autograph, but Mariah was smiling enough for the both of them. To the side of the table where he was sitting, she could see his own red notebook, which seemed poised to accept another story.

"Mr. Miser," Mariah began, her voice jittery with excitement, "I just wanted to say how much I love your books. They're wonderful, and they've helped me so much."

"Good," the Draik said in a distracted tone. "Now, what is it you want me to sign?"

"Well, I have my notebook here," she answered. "It's just like the one you have. I've been writing in it and everything."

He nodded, still reaching for the notebook, but Mariah continued to explain herself. "You see," she added, "I'm a writer, too, and I would love for you to read my story. Please, it would mean so much to me!" She pulled out the loose pages and handed them toward him.

For the first time he looked directly at her, and she saw a haughty light flash in his dark eyes. "I'll sign your book," he stated firmly, "but I don't have time for this nonsense!"

"But!" Mariah cried, "You're my hero! Please, just read it!"

"Enough of this," Arturo snarled. "Security!"

A burly-looking Skeith wearing a khaki uniform stepped forward, much to Mariah's dismay. She wanted to plead her case, but neither the Skeith nor the crowd seemed to be ready to listen. As he stepped forward to remove her, the line before surged and Mariah was knocked down upon the table and her things flew from her grasp.

She was shoved aside rudely, but the Skeith did seem to take some sympathy on her, as he gathered the pages of her story and the notebook and handed it all back to her. Tears were forming in the Cybunny's eyes as Charity walked over to her side.

"What a jerk," she growled.

"That can't be the real Arturo Miser!" Mariah insisted. "No one that can write stories so beautifully could be that mean. He has to be a fake."

"Or maybe the fame just went to his head," Charity said, placing a comforting hand on her friend's shoulder. "Let's get out of here. You want to go get something to eat?"

"Not right now," Mariah sniffed. "I think I just want to go home. Is that okay with you?"

"Sure," Charity said. "I'll see you later!" She turned and made her way back through the crowd and toward home.

"Bye!" Mariah called softly after her retreating figure before turning and going back to her own house.

She didn't have to walk far, but with each step, her feet felt heavy and heavier. Finally, she made it home and slowly walked inside. "That was a waste of my time," she sighed to herself as she leaned against the door, "but maybe I could use it for a story." Laughing bitterly to herself, she confronted her notebook.

This wasn't her notebook, though.

This red notebook was far older and more worn. Somehow, when her things had gotten knocked out of her hands, the Skeith security guard had given her Arturo's notebook by mistake. She trembled as she looked at it, knowing that she had to return it right away, but unable to resist taking just a little peek first...

Author: tj_wagner
Date: Apr 22nd
...Opening the notebook, Mariah arrived at a blank page.

It was hardly unexpected. After all, some authors tended to leave the first page blank. This one was unusually wrinkled, though, as if waterlogged.

Puzzled, Mariah turned the page, only to see another blank page.

Her curiosity and bewilderment grew as she frantically flipped through the pages. Each was identical to the last... completely blank.

Why would Mr. Miser keep a notebook that he didn't ever write in?

She sank down into the couch, the bitterness of a few hours prior mingling with the mystery of the notebook.

After a few seconds a name came to her mind. Charity. Mariah blended into most backgrounds, but Charity was a "gift to Neopia," according to some friends of hers that she knew. If Charity could talk Mr. Chipper into buying his own ice cream, then she could talk Mr. Miser into forgiving her for taking his notebook. Besides, that Skeith would probably come after Mariah if she didn't bring it back! Mariah pulled her ears over her face at the thought, then sped over to Charity's cottage, carrying the notebook carefully as she rushed as fast as she could otherwise go.

***

"It's not blank. It's in a code." No sooner had Charity opened Mr. Miser's notebook did she come to this conclusion. She hopped off the chair she was on and stood brooding at the fireplace, where a robust fire was crackling heartily. "You didn't mean to take it, did you?"

"No!" Mariah exclaimed, wringing her paws. "Now can we just go back? I need your help to bail me out from impending doom."

The Lutari scratched her chin. "Wait a moment."

She flipped the notebook to around the middle and, poker in hand, tossed it into the flames...

Author: flufflepuff
Date: Apr 22nd
...The pages weren't waterlogged, as Mariah had initially expected. They were covered in a thin coat of wax. As the flames of the fireplace danced and tickled at the crinkled pages, the wax began to darken annd melt.

The Cybunny watched in awe as the melting wax revealed words upon the pages. Charity moved the book a bit further away from the fireplace, but the heat was still enough to get the wax off.

"Here we go," Charity said. "Now the code should be revealed."

As hot wax dripped off the book, the pair started to read what was revealed in the notebook.

The first page contained numbers grouped in pairs. It seemed to just be a random assortment to Mariah, but Charity quickly caught on to the order.

"These are coordinates," the Lutari said. "Each of these number pairs corresponds to a specific point in Neopia."

"What points are they?" Mariah asked.

"I'd have to check a book, but obviously it must be something if Mr. Miser not only wrote it in code but also hid it in wax," she replied.

"Oh," the Cybunny said. "Well, what's on some of the other pages?"

"There's only one way to find out," Charity said and then turned the page.

What was on the next page was random letters. It was obviously another message written in code. Mariah didn't know what it said, but she could see Charity staring intently at the letters and words on the page. Just by looking at her, she could tell that the Lutari's mind was working overtime.

After several minutes, Charity turned pale. "Oh no..." she said. "This... this can't be right!"

"What's wrong?" Mariah asked, concerned that something horrible was going to happen to Mr. Miser.

"The points in the coordinates are where Mr. Miser is supposed to go to next," Charity said. "It's not for some simple book signings, however... it's something much more sinister."

"How do you know that?" the Cybunny asked, wishing she could have also read the code and known what was going on.

"Because..." Charity said, "this wasn't written by Mr. Miser. This is a Sway code. It's direct orders given to him by The Dutchess. Mr. Miser isn't just going to these book signings. He's also..."

Author: dr_tomoe
Date: Apr 23rd
"...collecting the broken pieces of the Black Crystal Scrying Bowl."

Mariah blinked. "Isn't that just something out of a legend?" she asked, her voice quavering. Ever since she had first read Mr. Miser's adventure books, she'd been dreaming of going on an adventure herself, but this didn't feel as exciting as she had thought it would. It felt rather frightening, if she was honest with herself. Her heart was thudding in her chest, and she had the shivers all over. If she remembered the legend of the Black Crystal Scrying Bowl correctly, Neopia could be in a lot of danger.

Charity nodded, as if reading her thoughts. "I thought it was only a story, too, but why would the Sway be ordering one of its members to find something that didn't exist?" She eyed the burning book and shook her head slowly. "Mariah, this is bad. You remember how the story goes... the bowl was cursed by a dark magician twisted with power, and though it can see into the future, it always brings disaster. That's why it was finally broken and scattered in pieces all over the world."

"So that we would never be tempted to cheat time and fate again," Mariah said, quoting the last line of the legend as she knew it.

"With the bowl reassembled," Charity said, "the members of the Sway could see things that are going to happen in the future. Knowing how certain events will turn out would allow them even more control over Neopia -- they'd be able to turn us all into their little puppets. That sure sounds like a disaster to me!"

Her eyes glittered, and she smacked her fist into her palm. "Mariah, our mission is clear. We have to collect the rest of pieces of the bowl before Mr. Miser does... "

Author: biscuitqueen
Date: Apr 23rd
..."So, where do we go first?" Mariah asked. She had tried to sound brave, but the trembling in her voice was evident to her own ears and she was sure that her eyes had grown wide with fear.

"Let's see," Charity said, consulting the notebook and the coordinates. "It looks like it's Brightvale, and I would put my Neopoints on Brightvale Books. That seems like the most logical place."

Mariah nodded, pleased with her friend's cool and collected nature in such a crisis. "I guess we should go, then," she said, but immediately winced the moment the words had left her mouth. While she had become a bit disillusioned with Mr. Miser, she still longed to sound like a character in one of his books. She wanted to be the heroine who would sweep in and save all of Neopia -- and perhaps even Mr. Miser himself. After all, she couldn't imagine how anyone who could write so beautifully could be all bad.

***

From a distant hill, Arturo Miser watched the small Neohome with interest and kept his binoculars carefully trained on the door. After what seemed like an eternity, he saw the Lutari and Cybunny emerge, and a faint smile touched his lips as he saw that they were, indeed, carrying the notebook.

In the past weeks, he had made sure that several notebooks had made it into the possession of his fans. Each time he had waited patiently for the one who would break the code, but so far each notebook had been returned to him unread. He had been about to lose hope, but now it looked as if someone had finally met the challenge.

To be honest, it was more than he had expected, but he had to remember that his fans were most unusual. For one, barely two of them could even agree what his books contained, aside from the names of a few characters. Of course, The Sway had a lot to do with that. With their influence, each individual who read his book would simply read whatever story they wanted to read -- be it an adventure, comedy, tragedy, or drama. To them it would be the perfect story, and the one they had always wanted to read.

Arturo turned toward his Skeith security guard casually. "They've figured out the code," he said. "Shall we be on our way?"

The Skeith nodded, but then paused briefly. "If you don't mind me asking," he began, "why do you need someone to find the pieces of this bowl? You know where each piece is hidden."

Arturo smiled in an unpleasant manner. "Of course I know," he agreed, "but when searching for cursed artifacts, it's always best to get someone else to do the dirty work..."

Author: tj_wagner
Date: Apr 24th
...The afternoon sun illuminated the woodsy path before Mariah and Charity. Over the treetops of the forest ahead, the spires of Brightvale Castle crested the horizon.

"It's really beautiful here, isn't it?" Mariah commented. Charity had to agree -- it really was. The path may have been surrounded by trees, but it was well-lit with dappled light that floated down. Petpetpets buzzed and fluttered among the leaves, and the entire woods smelled lovely and fresh.

"It's silly," Mariah said suddenly, "but don't you feel like a... like a character, right now? Imagine! Us! We're racing against the clock, trying to find the pieces of a legendary artifact before the Sway can get their hands upon it!"

Charity nodded, fidgeting slightly.

"It's just like the heroine of Duskfall," the Cybunny continued. "You know, when Belle had to go save the Golden Book? I mean, this isn't exactly Mystery Island, but..."

"Mystery Island?" The Lutari looked up, puzzled.

"Yeah... don't you remember? She was trekking through the jungles to find the lost book, the one that could write fate itself?"

"I thought Duskfall took place in the Haunted Woods," Charity mentioned. "Wasn't it that love story with the misunderstood Count von Roo? He was so dreamy..."

Now it was Mariah's turn to stop and stare.

"Maybe I'm just remembering it wrong," Charity allowed after a second's consideration. The Lutari was just pleased she could move the conversation in a less... compromising direction. "Maybe it was another of his books. You know I don't read Miser's works that much."

"Yeah," Mariah agreed. "He doesn't write romance novels. Action and adventure, all the way. Stories where the hero always starts out small, then rises up against impossible odds and wins..." She sighed. "I just wish he'd been as wonderful as his stories."

Charity nodded, but inward, she was frowning. She definitely didn't remember the Draik's works being anything of the sort. While arguing with Mariah would be counterproductive, she knew what she'd seen -- observation was her forte, after all, and of course she would have checked out her target's books when she profiled them. At the same time, though, Mariah was quite fervent about Miser -- there was no way she would get an entire story's plot wrong, either.

It seemed like there was more to Mr. Miser than she had been aware of. A dangerous opponent, to be sure...

"We're here," Mariah said, cutting her out of her musings. Indeed, they'd finally arrived in Brightvale. Hagan kept his kingdom clean and impeccably organised -- from there, it was easy to follow the signs to the bookstore.

"Come in, come in!" the Ixi shopkeeper greeted them, ushering the two Neopets inside. "Always wonderful to see fellow seekers of knowledge! Or fellow seekers of exciting tales," he chuckled. "You can never go wrong with those, either."

"Oh, wow," Mariah gushed as she looked around the shop. "Charity, they've got so many titles here! Ooh, is this that one that was just released this week?"

Charity's eyes were not on the many books that filled the shelves, however. Instead, she stared at the black shard that glittered from a glass display on the shopkeeper's desk...

Author: dianacat777
Date: Apr 24th
..."How much?" Charity asked, pulling out a sack of Neopoints and pointing at the piece.

"Oh no," the Ixi said, "it's not for sale. This artifact is from the Black Crystal Scrying Bowl." Charity frowned. "But," the Ixi said, "may I interest you in one of our fabulous books?"

"Okay," Charity said. "I like romance, but I don't know where to find it. Can you help?"

"Sure!" the shopkeeper said happily.

As Charity walked over, she glared at Mariah. "Mariah!" she hissed quietly.

"Hmm?" Mariah asked.

"Get the piece!"

Mariah nodded. She tiptoed over to the display and gently lifted the lid.

A shimmering bolt of black burst out. The shopkeeper turned in horror as Mariah stole the piece.

"Never mind, I don't like books," Charity said quickly before rushing to grab Mariah. They dashed out of the store, the Ixi behind them yelling for help.

The two ran onto the road. Charity looked at the sparkling piece, wishing they'd be easier to steal. "One down, two to go..."

Author: flames_unleashed
Date: Apr 25th
..."It looks like the next piece is in Faerieland," Charity told her friend, juggling the book awkwardly as she ran down the road. "I bet they're keeping it in the Hidden Tower, so that Fyora can keep an eye on it. We'll have to figure out a way to rescue the shard without them finding out."

"That'll be exciting," Mariah chirped, her ears bouncing wildly as she jogged, "and I'm sure it won't be any trouble at all, since this one was so easy to get." She held the first shard up in the air before her, smiling widely as it glittered in the sunlight.

"Actually, Faerieland's security really improved after the city crashed, and we have no sure idea about where in the Hidden Tower the shard might be."

"Oh." Mariah paused, then continued speaking in a subdued tone. "I'm not very good at adventuring, am I?"

"Don't be silly, you were the one who stole the shard!"

"But you keep figuring out all the clues, and you always know what to do next. You're really good at all of this -- you should be a detective!"

Charity stumbled, flailing her arms wildly to keep her balance and nearly dropping the notebook in the process. When Mariah looked back at her with concern, she hurriedly pointed out at the horizon. "Look, I think I see the city's towers!"

"Really? Let's go!" Mariah cheered, racing ahead again. Charity breathed a faint sigh of relief as she followed the Cybunny.

Neither Neopet noticed when a Crokabek flew away from the nearby hills with a tiny scroll clutched in its claws.

***

They'd been wandering through the open parts of the Hidden Tower for at least an hour, but Mariah still had no idea where to find the second piece. Charity seemed stumped as well; she was quiet as she peered around the area, and she kept re-reading the notebook as if she were missing an important clue.

"Maybe we're doing this wrong," Mariah muttered as she examined the Hidden Tower's collection of grimoires (they were kept in a locked and magically-guarded display cabinet that looked much more intimidating than the one she'd burgled). "If we were in one of Arturo's stories, we'd be fighting an evil villain by now, or solving some kind of puzzle."

"Maybe. Mariah, can I see your crystal shard?" Charity asked, sounding distracted.

Charity dug the crystal out of her pocket again, but held onto it, still fascinated by the little item. True, it was dangerous when combined with the other parts of the bowl, but it didn't seem evil now -- it just looked pretty, all shining and made of darkness and light. It made her wonder what the other parts would look like.

Suddenly, the crystal was pulling at her paw. She gasped, stumbling in the direction it was pulling for a moment before regaining her balance. "I think it's leading us somewhere," she told Charity with hushed excitement when the Lutari gave her an odd look. "Maybe it can show us where the other piece is!"

"Well, then, lead on," Charity said, sounding amused.

Mariah grinned, imagining herself as the heroine of a story again. She let the crystal shard pull her away from the main item exhibitions and down a side hall, eager to find out where they would go -- perhaps to a secret gallery, or Fyora's personal quarters?

It was rather disappointing to find that the crystal's tug stopped at a dead end instead.

"I've got this," Charity said, moving up to the wall and feeling the bricks one by one. She pulled at one of them and it popped right out, revealing a small compartment hidden within the wall. Mariah reached into it, then grinned widely when she pulled out a second piece of crystal, dark and shining.

"One more to go?" she asked.

Charity didn't respond. When Mariah glanced over at her, the Lutari was frowning and squinting up the hallway they had just walked down. "We might be in trouble," she whispered...

Author: silent_snow
Date: Apr 25th
...Fyora's long purple dress drooped, almost touching the floor as she flew toward them.

"Who are you?" the faerie's elegant voice questioned.

"Go, I can handle her," Charity whispered in Mariah's ear.

Mariah stood for a second with an unsure look. She had to make a decision, and fast. She was still debating where to go when she heard Charity's voice.

"Well, we just came up here to get a Baby Paint Brush. May I see one?"

"Hold on, I'll go get my Neopoints. Seems like I only have 599,000. I'll be right back," Mariah joined in as she raced down the old, winding stairwell and far along a cobblestone path.

***

"Mariah?" Charity shouted. "I don't know where she could've gone. Our Neopoints were just under a rock outside." Fyora had a stern look on her beautiful face.

"What are you two really doing here?" she asked, her voice echoing through the walls. Charity hesitated. She had to make sure that Mariah was alright, but she also had to be okay...

Author: qmcasss
Date: Apr 26th
..."I can't tell you," Charity sighed.

"So, you're not here to purchase one my ancient artifacts of power?" Fyora said, a bit sadly.

Charity hesitated. "No... not really."

Fyora's face drooped. "Er... I suppose I'd normally ask someone like you to leave, but I'm not sure I can let you leave unless you tell me the greater scheme you're caught in." Fyora smiled almost mischievously. "Just in case I have to get Hanso after you or something."

The Faerie Queen walked over to the exit, essentially barricading it. "I'm almost certain I know what you're after, but I want you to explain..."

Charity gulped.

***

...Mariah, safely out of sight from the tower, paused by a tree. Deciding to sprawl out in its shade, she opened the red notebook. Her Lutari friend had tutored her in the ways of Sway code as they traversed from location to location, and she had gotten quite adept at deciphering different patterns.

Except, this next location was different. The co-ordinates stated the final shard was on Mystery Island, but next to one of the numbers was a letter.

Oh, where was Charity when you needed her?

She assumed Fyora had probably prevented her from exiting... but, did Mariah have time to go back? She gazed upward, hoping for a solution.

Oddly enough, she found one... sort of. Sitting in the tree, beside a blue Grundo plushie, was a Crokabek. Squealing, the little Petpet flew off, dropping the scroll contained within its claws.

Mariah quickly opened and read it. "The 'a' means subsection," she started. "Also, the secret fourth shard can be found here..." and there were some more co-ordinates.

Subsection... that had to be referring to Geraptiku! Mariah shook her head slowly. She had to find Charity... there was no way she could do this alone. Not now, not before -- she was still destined to be the heroine, but Charity would still play a crucial role.

Quickly, she ran back to the tower.

***

The door of the Hidden Tower opened to reveal a panting Cybunny.

"Ah, Mariah," Fyora started with a smile, "Charity has told me all about your little quest."

Mariah gazed at her friend with wide eyes. "What did you tell her?"

"Give her one of the shards," Charity said with a smile. "She's on our side."

Shrugging, Mariah did as told.

Fyora waved her hand over it, and there was a brief pink flash between the two. "Here," Fyora uttered wearily, handing it back. "I can only do that to one piece a day -- it's too much of a magical drain to do any more."

"What did you do?" Mariah inquired.

"I made it breakable," Fyora replied. "You see, the bowl's power will exist indefinitely, so long as its shards exist -- it merely won't be capable of doing anything unless they are united." She paused. "After we faeries banded together to remove the bowl's curse the first time, allowing us to break it -- we were fools, dividing it into so few pieces -- the bowl's inherent magic revived it, making each shard, like the original bowl, unbreakable under normal circumstances. The shards were scattered, and until today I've not gotten my hands on another one."

"So," Mariah started slowly, "would you like me to break this?"

"You can't now," Fyora said. "The spell will take a few hours to be in full effect..." With that, she casually sat on the floor. "Oh, that magic took a lot out of me." She then fell asleep.

Alerting some of the faeries below about Fyora, Mariah and Charity walked out of the tower.

"I read the book while you were up there by yourself," Mariah said.

Charity grinned. "I'm proud of you! Where are we going?"

"Geraptiku," the Cybunny returned with a smile.

The pair made their way to Mystery Island.

***

Dodging multiple javelins, strange apparitions, and wild Petpets, Mariah and Charity arrived at the treasure chamber of the Geraptiku tomb.

Sure, the treasure was right there for the taking -- but the two knew better than that. Behind the rock pedestal the chest of riches sat on was a small indent. Carefully reaching into it, Mariah retrieved the third shard.

"Yeah!" Charity chanted when they returned outside. "That should be it, now!"

Mariah then retrieved the scroll. "Not quite," she said.

Charity's eyes widened as she read it.

***

The two made their way to the Lost Desert. The co-ordinates pointed toward the supposedly secret shard's location being in the biggest desert pyramid.

Soon Mariah and Charity found it, and the door. They walked through.

The door then closed behind them, as Arturo Miser and several Skeith guards stepped into view.

"Miser!" Charity shouted accusingly.

"Yes, it is I!" he exclaimed with a brief wave of his hand. "I've left identical red notebooks with every one of my crazed fans, but you were the first two to accept the challenge."

"First of all," Mariah interjected, "I'm the only crazed fan here. Secondly..." her fire cooled as she realized the depth of what her idol had said. "You mean this entire thing was some giant set-up?"

"Yep!" one of the Skieths said.

"Quiet, you," Miser shot at him before returning his attention back toward his fans. "Now, I shall be taking my THREE shards from you..."

"Never!" Mariah shouted.

The Draik paused, and gradually a smile formed on his face. "But, don't you want to be the heroine in every story you read?"

Mariah was caught off-guard. "Er... kind of. What do you mean?"

Miser retrieved one of his books. "Are you familiar with my 'Labyrinth of Time'?" he asked Charity, fully knowing her Cybunny counterpart would have read it.

"Not particularly," Charity replied.

"It's about--" Mariah started, before being cut off.

"Read the synopsis on the inside," the Draik said, shoving the book into Charity's arms.

She did, and promptly told Mariah what it was about.

The Cybunny's eyes widened. "That's... not..."

"Not what you read?" Miser finished her sentence. "Every one of my stories is read differently, depending on the Neopian," he started. "What to you might be adventure, to your friend is drama. You read what you want to read -- everyone reads what they want to read -- and virtually no two stories are alike."

Mariah frowned. That was why so many Miser conventions ended in fan disputes.

"The Sway's magic has something to do with it," Miser continued. "The books can analyze what the reader enjoys, thereby sending information about the reader to the Sway -- we know bits about everyone who reads my books."

"So... you're a fraud," Mariah spat, disappointment suddenly gripping her. "You've never written anything."

"No..." Miser replied with a mischievous smile. "You can, though. Give me the shards, and you may use any of the plotlines you read in my books in your own tales. Don't, and I can get the Sway to... 'remove' them from your memory, and every time you pick up any of my books the pages will be blank, for you." He paused. "It's all up to you now. Make your decision."

Mariah glanced at Charity. Slowly, she withdrew a shard.

"Very good choice," the Draik said as he commanded one of the Skeiths to open the door.

She reached out her hand to give it to him... and then she threw it on the ground, jumping on it several times, shattering the now-breakable piece Fyora had un-hexed into hundreds of insignificant pieces.

"NO!" the Draik shouted.

Mariah grabbed a handful from them and she raced outside, casting the tiny pieces into the desert winds, watching them float away to who-knows-where.

Charity followed, and the two ran away, far away.

Miser sighed.

"You've failed the Duchess," one of the Skieths said. "Now, we must take you to her for your doom."

The Draik was handcuffed. Crying and angry, he let himself succumb to whatever torment he was about to experience...

***

Mariah awoke the next day with no recollection of any of Miser's stories. She ran to her library and opened every single one of his books -- all blank. She sighed solemnly.

She then smiled. Grabbing her notebook, she jotted some ideas down. The events that happened yesterday would definitely be turned into a story -- with herself as the heroine, of course.

What was better, she was more or less the heroine in real life, too.

She scribbled down the first sentence: "The line was long and twisting, and Mariah doubted that she stood out in any way, but at that moment she felt like the luckiest Cybunny that had ever lived..."

The End

Author: rielcz
Date: Apr 26th



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