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||You are on Week 622
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 Twenty Two Ends Friday, September 6
|The evening sun hung heavy in the sky, spreading long, arching shadows across the cobblestone streets of Brightvale. A Krawk dressed in his work attire was exiting out of a large, pyramidal building. The building loomed like a giant in downtown Brightvale, rivaled by only Hagan's castle. A feat of architecture and design, this was no doubt the Ministry of Knowledge.
The Krawk had worked there for years, at first as an apprentice who stacked and organized books, but eventually working his way to a comfortable desk job on the upper floors. It was his duty to make sure that Brightvale had the most relevant information. He took pride in his job, and the gold nameplate on his desk in the office proved it. Arthure Krum, Head of Progress.
This job, naturally, had its benefits and drawbacks. It was his job to research new potions, herbs, weaponry, and the like. He spent most of his days traveling Neopia in search of new species of flora and fauna, often coming back unsuccessful. The public viewed his position as a sinecure. They thought of him as a lofty vacationer, making easy money travelling the world. In truth, they couldn't have been more wrong. Progress required breaking precedents, and that was hard enough on its own. He frequented Mystery Island, exploring the jungles deeper than anyone before, but rarely was he successful. The disappointment hurt enough, but he would often be scolded by the King for wasting royal funds, as well. On his most recent trip, however, he discovered something groundbreaking.
It was on an expedition to Hubrid Nox's tower, abandoned after his death. The castle's lack of upkeep, combined with the natural decay of the Haunted Woods, made for a harrowingly eerie visit. Arthure sorted through the rubble and stone of the villain's house, particularly the upper floors, for any magical artifacts he may have left behind, but it was to no avail. With failure staring him straight in the face once again, the Krawk's spirit was broken. It was not until he was on the bottom floor that he discovered something glowing under a pile of cobalt cobblestones. This was two days ago.
The sun was now just a dim red saucer in the sky. He quickened his pace to get home, excited to examine his new find and not wanting any pickpockets to get lucky. Arthure unlocked the front door of his flat. The door closed with a thud. He reached within his pocket to pull out a greasy red handkerchief with white lining wrapped in a ball. Arthure placed the handkerchief down on the table in his study. Like a child on the Day of Giving, he began to open the rag.
Within it laid...
Date: Sep 3rd
...a dull stone. It had likely been part of Nox's tower, a stone support or frame, because it had an artificial cuboidal shape to it. The color was a dark grey, completely and totally conventional for the geographic features of the area. It was entirely normal. No, what was of such interest to the Krawk was what appeared to be growing on the stone.
It was patchy, certainly, but embedded into the stone was a sort of moss. It had a uniquely jagged crystalline appearance and glowed with an iridescent purple light. Perhaps, if this had been all, Arthure would have been interested but not nearly as enthralled. Yet, here he was, nearly giddy with excitement. He lay the cloth and rock down and pushed his glasses up his nose. Leaning ever-closer, he watched as the moss expanded and contracted. It grew, as if taking a breath, and then shrunk, exhaling.
Arthure smiled. He spun around quickly, knocking over a glass of water and splashing everything in the vicinity and, catching a booted foot on the throw rug, stumbled over to the bookcase on the opposite wall. He ran a finger over the book titles (perfectly alphabetized, of course) until he found what he was looking for.
Magic Flora And Fauna And Their Properties by Bo T. Nical. It was common knowledge that potions and mystical remedies were given their properties in part by magic, faeries' or otherwise. What the common folk did not know, however, was that magic in and of itself was rather weak without a biological catalyst. For most bottled things, that catalyst tended to be something of the plant nature. For the past fifteen years, most of the scientific community had assumed that all of these catalysts had been found.
Arthure flipped through the pages quickly, his eyes skimming faster than most Neopets would assume possible. The Krawk had always been ahead of his class, and in a few short minutes he snapped the book closed. Sure enough, this purple, pulsating substance was nowhere to be found in the pages of the all-inclusive directory of magical plants.
He had to bring the substance to the labs. He was almost giddy with the thought of all the possibilities. He calmed himself with a few short breaths, smoothed his clothing, and turned to retrieve his stone. His eyes widened, however, because what he had expected to see, his little rock and its moss, was not what he actually saw...
Date: Sep 3rd
...Arthure watched in amazed horror as his beautiful discovery engulfed the rock in one magnificent bite and then grew to the size of the rock. The moss's mystical purple glow had turned into a dull grey colour, not unlike the stone's. It continued to pulsate when Arthure noticed that it was able to move, ever so slightly, on its own.
Remarkable... he thought to himself. A plant capable of moving on its own. Arthure then placed the "plant" onto an examining table. He continued to study this unknown species of plant, poking and prodding it (gently, as to not anger the plant, if possible) when he heard the front door open...
Date: Sep 4th
...with a slow, squealing creak. Arthure, heart in his throat, frantically tried to hide his new discovery. In his clumsy haste, his claws knocked over a few books, an ink pot, and a stray pocket watch before he, at last, grabbed a map of Tyrannia off the wall and threw it over the entire examining table. With the moss covered, he grabbed an ornate letter opener and turned to face the door, fearing that he'd see a gang of jealous sorcerers, or an agent from the Ministry of Knowledge's "Magical Enforcement Brigade," or maybe even the vengeful ghost of Hubrid Nox himself.
What he saw was a slow-moving speckled Yurble inching in through his doorway. The Yurble carried a large stack of books, which hid everything from his arms up except for the very tips of his ears. "Could you give me a hand, old chap?" the Yurble said in a quavering voice. "I'm carrying quite a load of books, you see, and I'd hate to drop any of them."
Arthure sighed in relief. "Of course, Chauncey, of course. Let me hold the door open." He started toward the door and realized that he was still tightly clutching the letter opener, then turned around to deposit it on his table before turning back around (tripping on his rug yet again) and then, at last, going to help the Yurble. By this time, though, the elderly Neopet had already made it inside the Krawk's house and set the books down on the floor.
"I'm terribly sorry, Chauncey, I--"
The Yurble cut him off with a wave of his paw. "Oh Arthure, don't give it another thought. I know how you get wrapped up in your work. In fact--" he patted the stack of books on the floor "--that's why I'm here. These are the books on biological catalysts you asked me for this morning. I had to search deep in the ministry archives for a few of the more obscure volumes, which unfortunately took me most of the day. I know that you love late-night candlelight research sessions, so I wanted to get them to you tonight."
Arthure had to inwardly chuckle despite the panic he still felt. "Thank you, Chauncey. You're the most thoughtful librarian the Ministry has ever had, but you certainly didn't need to bring these to my home yourself; why not have one of your assistants bring them?"
Chauncey frowned. "Well, Arthure, I must admit that I do have a bit of an ulterior motive. I... well, I wanted to check in on you. You've seemed a bit out of sorts since you returned from the Haunted Woods two days ago. I know that you've been under both personal and public pressure to achieve more tangible results from your expeditions, and I worry that coming home empty-clawed yet again may be a bit stressful for you. I consider you a friend, you know, so I worry about your well-being. Tell me, Arthure: are you all right?"
Sweat formed on Arthure's brow. "Yes, fine, good, well," he said, forcing a smile. "Even though, as you said, I found nothing, not a thing, in the Haunted Woods." He held his fake smile uncomfortably wide and looked at Chauncey, swaying back and forth slightly.
"If you say so..." Chauncey said uncertainly.
"I certainly do say so," Arthure said. "Thank you for your checking me in-- I mean, for checking in on me, but I'm fine. Just fine. I'll take those books and you can be on your way."
Chauncey seemed unconvinced, but shrugged. "All right, Arthure. Before I go, however, I want to point out a passage or two from these books that might be of particular interest to you." The Yurble bent down, opened the book on the top of the stack, and began leafing through it. "Now, this volume, penned by Sir Reabon of Brightvale, has some interesting chapters on the applications of bloodstones..."
Arthure knew that once his friend started going on about books, it would be impossible to stop him for at least five or ten minutes. So, while Chauncey's head was buried in the thick tome, Arthure turned around and scurried back to his examining table. He lifted up the corner of the map to check in on the moss. He was amazed when he saw the changes that had happened in just a few short minutes. The spilled ink and the pocket watch had vanished from the table; the moss was now jet-black and slickly wet-looking, and very faintly ticking... also, was it a bit larger? Arthure couldn't help but feel a kind of dread looking at it. Arthure's eyes then widened. The pulsating moss began to slowly inch toward the other object that the Krawk had knocked onto the table: a particularly powerful and forbidden spellbook...
Date: Sep 4th
...Arthure let out a low gasp and reached for the book, trying to grab it before the moss could. He knew that, to a powerful sorcerer, the spells inside could very well mean power over Neopia. Thank goodness there was only one copy, but he wasn't about to let that copy be eaten by a plant that might have had grander designs than Arthure had originally thought.
Chauncey looked up, giving Arthure a questionable look as the Krawk scrambled to grab something from under the map. He struggled and pulled backward, as if fighting over something, but the old Yurble hardly doubted that anything was pulling back. "Arthure, what in Neopia are you doing?"
Arthure, caught off guard that Chauncey would actually notice him struggling, leapt backward in fright and ricocheted off a bookcase behind him. The book sunk deep into the moss, and Arthure knew he wouldn't be getting it back now.
"Chauncey, what are you doing?!?" he shouted frantically. "You've doomed us all!"
The Yurble stood in shock, book half open, as he said, "Arthure, are you sure that you're well? I think that not finding anything of interest is messing with your mind."
Arthure, desperate to stop the moss, yanked the map off and threw it to the floor. The plant was now even bigger than before, and it was glowing dark purple. Chauncey looked at it in confusion as Arthure thrust his claws toward the monstrous vegetation.
"Chauncey, this is what I found when I went to Nox's tower!" Arthure nearly screamed.
"Arthure, you told me that you found absolutely nothing," Chauncey said, "and now you're saying that you found glowing moss. Are you sure that you're thinking straight?"
"Chauncey!" Arthure shouted, running over to the Yurble as the moss grew bigger... and bigger... and even larger than Arthure, consuming everything that it touched with the exception of the table. It changed as it absorbed things, such as lighting up the room while it ate Arthure's lamp. "Chauncey, I need your help to stop this thing! This is a serious threat Neopia."
"A plant that won't stop growing?" Chauncey asked, thoroughly surprised. "We can't just use hedge trimmers?"
"Chauncey, no hedge trimmers will help us now," Arthure explained, "not since that moss just ate what could possibly be the most powerful spellbook in all of Neopia..."
Date: Sep 5th
"Well, hardly a problem, old boy!" Chauncey said with a laugh. "That's one less book a properly-evil wizard can use, eh?"
"You don't seem to understand!" Arthure said, backing away. "It's not just eating them! It's absorbing them somehow! Look!"
The plant's far edge had reached Arthure's bookshelves, where his remaining collection of literature waited. The moss swayed slightly before plunging forward and engulfing the bookcase completely.
This caused the moss to pause for a few moments.
"Those were my prized possessions! Tomes and languages and cultures from far and wide!" Arthure wailed.
Something appeared to be bubbling under the surface of the moss, rising as it took form. A giant hole appeared in the front, facing the pair of Neopets. It seemed to pulsate, changing in shape and making an odd gurgling sound as further changes gripped the innards of the plant.
Abruptly, the change stopped, and Arthure realised with horror that the moss had developed a mouth.
With the gurgling sound slurring the words, the moss seemed to regard the two of them and said...
Date: Sep 5th
..."Muahahahahahaha! Nothing can keep me down for long!"
It was a raspy voice, yet one familiar to anyone who studied magic for long. It was the voice of the one most of Neopia thought had perished.
It was the voice of Hubrid Nox.
"Nox!" Chauncey exclaimed. "How is this possible? Why are you a plant?"
The moss gurgled and moved with odd movements. "You don't think that a master sorcerer like myself would have a backup plan in the event of my untimely demise?" The plant bristled almost like it was laughing.
"Of course not!" The Nox-plant exclaimed. "I know I had many enemies, on both sides of the good / evil spectrum! I knew the odds were at least decent that one of them would get to me, which is why I created this moss!"
The plant started to shake again. Its form was starting to change to that of Hubrid, even though he was green and bushy.
"Granted, I didn't think it would take this long for it to come in contact with magical items," the Nox-plant said, "considering how my castle should be full of them, but oh well... no time like the present for my revival! Also, this spell book that you so generously donated will only help speed the process along!"
The plant started to shake again as Nox's hands and arms turned into vines that started to creep out over the room, grabbing and pulling more things into itself.
"Soon I will be unstoppable, and I shall have my glorious revenge!" Nox shouted as he took in more of the magical objects and items in the Krawk's home. "I shall bring a cursed storm of 1,000 years of despair over all of Neopia!"
The Chia-plant turned to Arthure and Chauncey with a dark grin. "Now," Nox said, "since you assisted me in getting this far, I shall give you a choice. You may either be my faithful and loyal servants until the end of time, or you may be the first victims of my horrible, nasty doom! So, what will it be? Servitude, or doom..."
Date: Sep 6th
..."I choose neither path!" Arthure shrieked at the tangled menace.
Nox frowned. His green leaves then flared upward in fury. "I did not give you such liberty!" he boomed.
"Fine, servitude is is, then," Chauncey capitulated.
"What?!?" the Head of Progress inquired, leery of his friend's course of action.
The Yurble smiled congenially.
Nox returned it. "I thank you for your unconditional surrender, peasants." He then pointed to the pair. "Now," he commanded, "fetch me an assortment of magical items, or perhaps doom will have to be reconsidered..." the plant ominously trailed.
Chauncey glanced at Arthure. This was obviously a test of loyalty; Nox had the means to acquire these items himself, and yet... the Yurble winked.
Arthure understood. Perhaps this test could yet be twisted into victory.
The plant stood waiting, smiling, showing thorns as fangs.
The librarian navigated toward the pile of biological books that he had brought. The Krawk quickly followed his elderly pal, tripping over his rug.
Regaining his composure, Arthure met Chauncey, already leafing through a volume. "I believe this has the 'Spell of Solomon' contained within its pages... if so, you could very well become the most powerful entity in Neopia," the Yurble explained to the leafy Chia.
A look of glee spread across Nox's foliaged face. "Excellent," he replied. Then, without thinking, the vine of his tongue lashed out and snapped the book like that of a Camelior.
"At last," the Nox plant said as his essence took on a white and glowing quality. "My final transformation is complete!"
Nox then frowned, however, his leaves drooping. He became visibly anxious and panic set in. The villain sank to the floor. "Curse you!" he wailed as his stalks shriveled and decayed, soon becoming nothing more than a root.
Chauncey promptly stepped on it. "There," he commented.
Arthure was nothing short of completely baffled. "What the... how did... what exactly..." he struggled to form a sentence. "What did you do?"
The Yurble laughed ominously. "I thought I could buy time with the promise of servitude, and believed Nox would be so desperate to regain his magical essence that he would jump at the chance of possessing some obscure 'super spell' without even reading the contents of the grimoire."
The Krawk still stared at his friend, dumbfounded.
Chauncey's grin grew wider. "That book was the most arcane text I brought you today. Its contents included an entire chapter emphasizing hexes related to 'The Removal and Destruction of Magic-Ladened Botanical Catalysts.' As we had not the time or circumstance to perform the spells adequately, I reasoned that -- as the plant had the ability to absorb the grimoires and convert their text into a magic-constructed food source -- it should do likewise with any such document." The Yurble pointed at the root. "Its core functions would never choose to touch anything like this, yet controlled by a greedy source making rash decisions, the potential for a weakness developed."
Arthure believed he understood his friend. "You're a genius, Chauncey. An absolute genius." He sighed. "So, my things are lost forever?"
"Er... I'm afraid so," the Yurble replied.
The Krawk frowned. "Not only have I supposedly 'not found anything,' I've even less now than what I started with."
"Don't think like that!" his friend piped in. "Think of it like... now you can replenish your collection! Travel the world, seek the rarest treasures of the ancients, extract the secret knowledge possessed by everyone from the most obscure Shenkuuvian plant to King Hagan himself. If the masses believe you a fraud and a liar, so be it -- at least you know you're attempting to make a difference."
Arthure gradually smiled. "You're right, Chauncey. I think I'm going to apply for another loan from Hagan."
Chauncey grinned. "I'm going to head back to the library. I bid you well!" Gathering his volumes, he exited.
Arthure gazed out of his flat's window. Tomorrow would be a new day... he could not wait to see what he would discover.
Somewhere in the depths of Nox's castle, an insignificant fungi glowed....
Date: Sep 6th
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