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||You are on Week 612
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 Twelve Ends Friday, June 28
|Leila held the yellow silk robes to her chest, gazing out the round window wistfully. The view from her room was absolutely breathtaking: through the mist she could barely make out silhouettes of the peaks of Shenkuu. The mountains all served as a stalwart foundation for an entire society, and yet were nearly inaccessible. These were the mountains that had always kept the red Ogrin isolated from the rest of the world. She drew a deep breath and sighed morosely. Now she would even be isolated from the rest of her village.
There was a gentle knock at the door. "Leila? Can I come in?" The voice from beyond the confines of the room was soft but stern.
"This is your room too, Misa." Leila rose from her kneeling position at the window and began to lay her robes out on her bed. She glared scornfully at the bamboo floors of her humble home of thirteen years, preparing herself for the chiding from her sister that was soon to come.
The door swung open and Misa swiftly entered the room, her paws daintily brushing against the ground as she strolled over to the dresser. "Leila, I understand that you're unhappy. I... I know you haven't been looking forward to this day. We barely got you to the rehearsal on time yesterday, after all! Grandmother was not very happy with you." She took a pause, realizing that her words may have turned a bit harsher than she intended. "Anyway, what I'd like to say is this: it's not the end of the world. In fact, it's the beginning of our world! We have been awaiting this day for our whole lives! Today we find out our true calling as heirs to the temple!"
Leila slowly turned to look at her sister and held in a gasp. Misa looked stunningly beautiful. The red silk robes draped around her arms and torso perfectly complemented the soft yellow of her Ogrin fur. Her hair was neatly combed back into a bun with the traditional pin holding everything perfectly in place. Leila bit her lip. This was a girl who was meant to follow in the footsteps of her family and continue its customs for generations to come. She then turned to look in the mirror and saw a very different picture. A green t-shirt and jeans were in no way traditional Shenkuuvian garb, and her hair was a complete mess. Leila stared at herself for a few more seconds. She wasn't meant to be a guardian of the temple; she had known that for her whole entire life! She was meant to go out into the world and explore, not stay cooped up, hidden in the mountains!
"Well, in any case, you'd better get dressed," Misa suggested with a hint of disappointment in her voice. "The ceremony starts in half an hour..."
Date: Jun 24th
..."I know when the ceremony starts, Misa," Leila snapped at her sister. "After all, I've only spent my entire life dreading it."
Misa had started walking toward the door, but turned around with an angry look at Leila. "The temple ceremony is sacred, and the rest of Shenkuu envies the honor that our family has been privileged to enjoy. Perhaps you don't feel the same way, but it is what it is. You have a duty to our family, and to all the citizens of Shenkuu. I will see you at the ceremony."
She turned around and strode out the door, but even a frustrated Misa was composed enough to quietly close the door. That, Leila thought, was the difference between her and her family -- their composure and duty did not mix well with her wildness and impulsive nature. Being locked in a temple for the rest of her life was an honor to Misa, but it was a prison to Leila.
Leila stood and slowly walked to the dresser. She bent over and pulled open the bottom drawer, reaching deep into the furthest corner to retrieve the servant's robes she'd pinched from downstairs the week before. She could put them on right now and flee the house before somebody noticed that a key component of the temple ceremony was missing. Leila breathed deeply before hastily putting them back in the drawer and slamming it closed. It was a crazy idea. It couldn't possibly work, and even if she did escape, where would she go? She knew nothing of the area outside her small village. Surely her family would send someone in search of her, and Leila doubted she was inventive enough to escape them, no matter how hard she tried.
A second knock on the door startled her from her reverie. "Leila. It's your mother. The ceremony begins in ten minutes. Please dress and meet us shortly." Leila heard her mother's footsteps heading away from the door and sighed. Typical mother.
She began to dress in the ceremonial robes, but the temptation in the bottom drawer was calling to her. Could she possibly manage to... escape?...
Date: Jun 24th
The servants' quarters were on the lowest level of the Shenkuu temple, a labyrinth of dim rooms and low ceilings. Fires kept the chill, foggy air at bay, but in exchange streaks of soot coated the floors and walls.
Down the only hallway that dead ended on the entire floor, in the last room on the left, two Neopians sat before one such fire.
A Bori and an Usul, wearing dark robes that could pass for servants' garb in the darkness here. That would certainly be called out on the bright floors above, however.
"He's in position?"
"To intercept the new guardians on their way to the reception? Yes. Everything will go according to plan," Sned answered.
"So, you're sure they'll be able to use their new powers?"
"Of course they will. They'll awaken during the ceremony. There's just one potential problem, like I said."
"That they won't know how to control them yet."
"Correct. That may work in our favor as much as against, though. If they can't reach for the magic of the temple to protect them right away, then we should have a much easier time getting them out of here unseen."
"What about the younger sister?"
"I have a plan for her..."
Leila was one knot shy of being completely dressed for the ceremony. Her hands shook as she forced them to form the pattern she had practiced a hundred times in the previous week, the same pattern she would use to tie the knot between herself and the temple in the ceremony.
She couldn't finish it. She pulled the serving robes out of the drawer, put them on, and put the crumpled silk back in the drawer in their place.
If someone came into the room looking for her, at least they wouldn't see the elaborate costume right away. They might think that she had left for the ceremony already, which would buy her at least a little more time to get clear of the temple.
Leila took a deep breath, and then heard a knock on her bedroom door...
Date: Jun 25th
..."Who could that be?" Leila quietly asked herself.
Fearful that yet another relative might have come early to get her, the Ogrin hesitated as she cautiously crept her way toward the door.
She quickly realized she couldn't open it. If someone saw her in the servant's robes they would know she was up to something and her opportunity to leave before the ceremony would be lost. She needed a new plan.
The Ogrin carefully looked the around the room before she quickly peered back at the beautiful view through the window. The golden mists illuminated the opening as if it were calling to the Ogrin. That was her way out.
With steps as light as a feather, Leila swiftly made her way to the window and slyly slid out of the opening. She found herself on a narrow ledge of the Shenkuuvian house. She peeked down, but couldn't even see the ground below through the thickening mist.
As she inched herself along the ledge, she heard another knock on her bedroom door from inside. Picking up the pace, Leila reached a growing flower vine.
"Perfect," the crafty adventurer thought to herself as she climbed down it with ease.
Reaching the outside ground, Leila finally felt she was set free. Into the mist, the Ogrin ran as fast as her paws could carry her as her silhouette slowly dissipated into the mountains.
Inside the empty bedroom, a knock was heard for the third time.
"Leila? Are you in there? We're getting ready to leave for the ceremony now," Mira called out through the bedroom door.
Growing impatient, the sister opened the door to find, to her surprise, no one there.
She gracefully entered the room, wondering where Leila could have gone. As she turned back around toward the doorway, standing in front of her was...
Date: Jun 25th
"Mom!" Misa shouted in surprise. "You startled me."
"Never mind that, dear," her mother said in a melodic voice. "Tell me where your sister is, the ceremony will be starting any moment now."
"I- I don't know," Misa admitted shakily. "She's not here."
Misa's mother walked into the room, her eyes scanning the floors, walls, and every piece of furniture.
"Well, Leila's robes aren't here," her mother finally said. "Therefore, she must already be down there, although I don't recall passing her. I'll go check again." Her mother left, leaving Misa in the room.
"She wouldn't have gone already," Misa said to herself. "She would wait for someone to drag her out, because she had already said that she was dreading this."
Misa walked over to the dresser and opened the drawer. Shakily, she reached a paw out and slowly pulled the shimmery golden fabric out of the bottom of the drawer.
Misa threw the robes on Leila's bed and rushed over to the window. Still stunned, she leaned over the edge and peered outside to see...
Date: Jun 26th
... her sister's figure running as fast as she could toward the faraway mountains and away from the temple.
"Oh no, Leila!" Misa blurted in outrage. Misa knew it had been a mistake to not tell Leila about the powers that she was supposed to get exactly at midnight. They'd been planning to explain them to her at the temple. Her family had thought Leila was too immature to know, and Misa agreed.
If she was still missing by midnight, Leila's powers could be used for anything. Misa knew she was too important to go running after her sister -- after all, she had to complete the ceramony, but someone had to go after her.
Misa ran after her mother, catching up to her at the temple. "Mom," she began, out of breath. "Leila... ran away... send someone to get her... she went toward... the mountains!"
Her mother started wringing her hands frantically, then turned toward the nearest servants. "You two, Bori and Usul... come here quickly." If she hadn't been so frenzied, she would have noticed how their clothing wasn't quite right, but she didn't.
"Leila, the younger heir to the temple, has run away. Gather some other servants and fetch her quickly. I shall alert the guards, too, but I don't want her to get too far. Now, hurry!"
With that, she shooed them along.
"Misa, come with me. We have to get to the temple and try to do the ceremony with just one of you... hopefully it will work."
With that, the twosome rushed for the temple, not knowing that they had just sent the two usurpers to find Leila...
Date: Jun 26th
"This isn't going as planned," the Usul said.
"I know. Who would've thought that the younger sister would run away?" the Bori said. "We knew she could be brash, but to think that she would do something this reckless? No one could have expected this!"
"Well," the Usul said, "at least if we succeed, we'll be that much closer to our goal... and our third partner is still waiting to intercept the elder sister."
"Yes," the Bori replied, "if all goes as planned, The Sway's influence in Shenkuu will soon be greater than ever."
The pair then exited the temple and rushed into the mists of Shenkuu, following after the fleeing sister. Leila had left several minutes before them, but if she was just running straight ahead away from the temple (as her tracks indicated), then they knew that there was a shortcut they could take to cut off her escape...
As Misa and her mother headed for the ceremonial chamber of the temple, a Techo in servant's garb stood before them. At least, it was close to servant's garb, but it was slightly off.
"Welcome," he said. "We are ready to begin soon."
"Where's Ester?" Misa's mother asked. "She was supposed to run the ceremony."
"She was suddenly called away." The Techo betrayed no movement that would give away that Ester was bound and gagged in a hidden compartment in the floor right under him. "Fear not, however; I shall be able to take care of everything..."
Date: Jun 27th
...Mother looked nothing short of bewildered. "I'm sorry, but this is just too much." She looked almost ready to cry. "Too much deviation from what was rehearsed. Please... please bring Ester back," the Ogrin asked, her voice's tremulous quality contradicting her outward attempt at composure. "Some semblance of normality... any 'rightness'... is what I need right now."
The Techo just glared at her. "Er..." he trailed.
Finally, the Ogrin just let out a wail and threw her arms around the new show-runner. The emotions she had bottled for the last week of preparations were finally revealing themselves with the added stress. "I don't know who you are, but until things start to make sense, just... comfort me. This is not going according to plan at all."
His eyes widened, and he sighed. The Techo -- who by now really should have been on the lower deck -- couldn't help but agree...
Someone had to be following her. She knew, deep down. There was no way she could have gotten off completely free.
Leila may have been rebellious, but she wasn't stupid.
So, she devised a plan -- whomever these poor individuals were, it would certainly be their unlucky day. She grinned at the thought of it being her mother, but she knew Mother would not "ruin her gown," or whatever, this close to the ceremony.
She ran straight away from the temple for several hundred paces before leaping into the trees. If her pursuers had half a brain, they would see her running straight away and instead swing around the temple to cut her off. Even if they didn't... well, it would just make it all the more easy.
"Where did the footprints go?" the Bori inquired.
"Darn! I told you the 'short cut' was a terrible idea!" the Usul replied angrily.
"It just wasn't executed in the greatest manner," he said back.
Fom her position high in the trees, she could hear and see a great deal of the forest around her.
"Where did the footprints go?" someone inquired.
Swiftly, she swung over to them.
They were directly below.
Grinning, she pulled a giant net out of her pocket -- the servants possessed a variety of objects at all times, for all circumstances.
She leaned it over them...
The Bori and Usul screamed in fear.
Something had descended upon them, and they were all but trapped for the time being.
Perfect. Leila smiled.
She then frowned. "If they want me at their party so badly," she whispered to herself, "oh, I'll go to the ceremony. I'll give them a show they'll never forget, and they'll have no choice BUT to let me run free throughout the forest for the rest of my life..."
Date: Jun 27th
..."I'm here!" Leila shouted joyously, swinging from a tree high overhead the temple and landing on the path where her mother and sister stood.
"Leila?" Misa asked in confusion. "B- But I th- thought that you ran away! I thought that you were gone forever!"
"Nope, I'm here, just like that!" Leila replied enthusiastically, snapping her fingers. "Just in the nick of time, it seems."
Mother let go of the Techo and ran over to Leila, holding up the trim of her robes. She gave Leila a small and delicate hug before glancing at her clothes and taking a step backwards as she rubbed her hands together. "What are you wearing, Leila? Are those servant's robes?"
"They sure are." Leila picked up a handful of dirt and threw it on her dress. "I prefer to not have the fancy life."
"Where are the servants that were sent to get you?" the Techo asked, seeming more and more flustered by the minute.
"Oh, them?" Leila asked, thinking of the pair of Neopets trapped under the net. "They didn't seem quite right, so I threw a net over them. They should be trapped in the wilderness right about now."
"Never mind that," Mother said quickly, having a look of total confusion on her face. "The ceremony starts now, and I need you two in there right away!" She began shoving them through the doorway, the Techo following close behind, his sneaky eyes scanning the room.
Leila jolted at the feeling of power running through her. It was enough to send her into shock if she wasn't so prepared for her life to be ruined.
"But it won't be after this performance," she muttered to herself.
"The full moon is out tonight," her mother announced as if she had been practicing this for years and years, which she probably had. "The ceremony to the heirs of the temple begins now!"
"Just hush up," the Usul snapped. "Someone might hear us."
"Who's really out here to hear us?" the Bori snarled. "And who would care? We're just two Neopets in servant-looking clothes trapped in a net in the middle of nowhere."
"I told you to stop struggling!" the Usul snapped. "Great, now we've fallen over onto the ground and we've gotten even more tangled up."
"Yay, now we're rolling!" the Bori shouted. "Wait, now we're picking up speed. Where are we rolling?"
The Usul shifted until he was peering out one side of the net instead of looking at his partner. He gasped. "Um, this may not be the answer you were hoping for, but it looks like we're rolling right towards the entrance to the temple where the ceremony is taking place right now..."
Date: Jun 28th
The Techo stood nearby as Leila and Misa crossed their hands over the ceremonial knot. Misa's motions were deft--precise and perfect--and Leila's were just a little bit clumsier.
She had practiced this knot nearly as much as her sister had, but she was distracted, looking for the perfect opportunity to disrupt the ritual.
The two sisters completed the knot, and stood back, waiting for the Techo to pronounce the final words.
"Ladies and gentleman, people of Shenkuu, standing before you now are two Neopians who humbly ask--"
Leila started to feel that strange power coursing through her again, and she looked around her. The temple walls looked different somehow, sharper, more defined. Beautiful, ancient, and mystical. She felt as though she could reach out and touch them, and she would be connected to all of Shenkuu, to all of Neopia, and even to the world beyond the sky. She shuddered; she didn't understand.
A horrendous crash drowned out the next few words. Every eye in the temple turned to the doors, and the ball of net and Neopian who came tumbling through it. They came to a slow stop.
What Leila felt instantly subsided. The temple walls were bland wood paneling again.
"Seize them!" The Usul stood up, still covered in the net Leila had dropped on him and his companion, and pointed at the sisters.
"You fool! The ceremony isn't finished yet! They're useless to us!"
Every eye in the room swiveled back to where Leila and Misa stood with the fake official. The look on Mother's face was one of absolute terror. Never--NEVER--in the history of Shenkuu had the dedication of the heirs been interrupted irrevocably.
"Seize them!" Mother shouted. Guards sprang forward from the edges of the room, and led the Techo away. They circled his two co-conspirators too, trying to figure out how to get them out of the netting and into Shenkuu's not-so-pleasant prison.
Leila folded the gold gown and placed it gently in her dresser drawer.
"No, Mother," she repeated for the eleventh time. "I won't run off again."
"Okay, okay. But if--"
"Mother!" Misa interrupted. "Haven't you berated her enough? Just let it go."
She lingered in the room for a few minutes, until a glaring look from her older daughter convinced her to go to bed.
"Please don't you lecture me too," Leila said to her sister as soon as the door closed again.
"I'm not going to. I just want to make sure that you're doing this for you, and not for me, or Mother, or Shenkuu, or anything else."
"I wish you had told me what it's actually like. That I can experience all of Neopia from right here, and that I'll have real power to change the world."
"Mother and I didn't think you'd see it that way. I'm sorry."
Leila smoothed the cloth one last time before she closed the drawer. "Just another month to wait, right?"
"Yep," Misa answered.
"Seems so far from now."
"Are you excited?"
"A little bit."
Date: Jun 28th
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