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||You are on Week 666
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 Sixty Six Ends Friday, July 25
It’s been a hectic time for me. The truth is, I am in danger and need your wise guidance. Will you help this poor, reckless Eyrie?
I was walking in the streets of Neovia the other night, stopping by the Neovian Printing Press to pick up a copy of The Neopian Times. You, of course, know that walking around Neovia at night is a dangerous thing to do, especially for ex-Sway members. Ever since I quit The Sway, the Duchess' cronies have been following me everywhere. I can never catch them in the act, but I know they're there. I've seen shadows dart from behind lampposts and bushes where I walk.
So, imagine my fear when a Kacheek came up to me and handed me an envelope. The next thing I knew, he was gone, and I had a plain envelope with my name scrawled in chilling cursive across its face.
The contents scared me, Aramos. I have been torn about what I should do. I could hand it to the cops, but the Sway essentially run the authorities from the outside. I could ignore it, but it will do me no good. The reason is blackmail. The Sway are blackmailing me, Aramos.
I cannot let that dastardly society ruin my life. Please let me know what my next course of action should be. Their imposed deadline is in two weeks, after which the blackmail will be set into motion. I have sent this letter off with my fastest, most trusted Weewoo.
Old chap, you always get yourself into these messes. My first suggestion would be to...
Date: Jul 21st
...contact The Sway's archrivals, The Order of the Red Erisim. I come across them every now and then in Neovia. In fact, I believe Hilda the Hedgewitch is in town. She's picking up her new cauldron at Chesterdrawers' Antiques.
They, too, are a secret society, but of course we know a few, thanks to their powerful magic during The Obelisk War.
If there's anyone who could help you right now it would be them.
You need magic on your side, Rochefort -- one of the very few things that The Sway cannot touch is magic.
Hilda and the Duchess are old foes and I think she would gladly help.
With the right spell and potion you could solve this in no time. You need to find out where The Sway is hiding and (with Hilda's help) you need to infiltrate them.
You could easily find what they're blackmailing you with and destroy it.
Make sure to tell Hilda that Aramos sends his regards.
She'll be picking up that cauldron today, so you'd better hurry.
Date: Jul 21st
...Rochefort stared at the parchment in his paws for a moment more before surreptitiously looking around and folding his dear friend's letter away. It would not do for anyone, especially not The Sway, to find out what Aramos advised him. It would mean either immediate doom for him... or another all-out war.
Somewhere a clock struck 6:00 pm and the Eyrie bolted up. He had to meet Hilda! Chesterdrawers' Antiques wasn't far from the dark and dingy inn he was staying in, but Hilda might have come and gone already. He hurriedly crossed the tiny room, opened the door, and walked out through the rowdy common area into the cobbled streets of Neovia.
He looked around once more and, seeing nobody around, briskly set off into the dark.
In his haste he never noticed the eyes in the shadows watching.
Thank you for your sound advice, as always. I was able to catch Hilda just as she was coming out of Chesterdrawers' with her new cauldron, and I had told her of my great need.
We discussed the matter in private for some time (after she had ascertained with her magic that no one was following us), and she had agreed to consult the Order about the matter. We will be in correspondence.
I have no fear that the Order can help me. However, two things happened just as our audience ended, both of which strike the greatest fear in my heart:
One, I came back to my room and found it completely ransacked. Someone has been searching my belongings, and I do not doubt that it is The Sway looking for the last letter you sent me. They know it contains vital information and are acting on that.
I have the letter safe with me, but I do not know if they are aware that it was you who sent it. You must be very careful, my friend.
Two, Hilda gave me a dire warning of her own,...
Date: Jul 22nd
...cautioning me that if we were, indeed, able to deduce the location of The Sway’s current hideout, then I would have to venture forth alone, for her face is most understandably recognized throughout the Sway community.
If I partake in this endeavor, then I risk being captured. You and I both know what happens to ex-Sway members when they are caught robbing the Duchess. Recall that poor member of the Thieves Guild a few years back? Poor fellow.
Despite The Sway's blackmail to return, I cannot fathom a future life involving that dastardly society. Perhaps, if I make it throughout this ordeal, then I can retire modestly and live the rest of my life sipping coconuts on Mystery Island.
I shan't go into too much detail about our plan, but Hilda has agreed to concoct a draught that she says is sure to allow me entry into The Sway's hideout.
Thank you again, dear friend, for your advice. I shall keep in touch.
Aramos finished reading the letter, petting the Weewoo perched on his desk absentmindedly. The candle before him threw a dim orange glow across his aged Moehog features and the flame danced in the reflection of his spectacles.
He reached for a fresh sheaf of parchment, then dipped his quill and began to write.
The address you are searching for is 134 Leakage Lane.
Remember the plan. He must be caught.
Aramos rolled up the parchment, tying it to the Weewoo's leg. "To Hilda," he instructed...
Date: Jul 22nd
...and he smiled as the Petpet chirped in answer. Aramos cracked open the nearest window, satisfied, to allow the Weewoo through and his smile widened at the rush of cool evening air that streamed into the room. The night was young yet, he knew, and full of promise.
He returned to his desk and tented his hooves as he watched the pale form disappear, ghost-like, into the darkness with a faint rustling of its feathers.
Movement above made Hilda look up and she stepped back with a swish of her skirts as a small, bright-eyed Weewoo appeared between the treetops, headed in her direction. It swooped and dropped a scroll on the cobblestones at her feet before it settled on the ground nearby.
It was discernable, she surmised, that the letter was a communication from one of two particular acquaintances. The hedgewitch bent to retrieve the message with a careful glance over her shoulder, whispering a spell under her breath to ascertain that she was, indeed, alone.
The operation being planned had to be executed in the utmost secrecy if it was to succeed and a consequence of that meant that Hilda had to be more cautious than ever of prying eyes.
She retired to a bench to read the letter from Aramos. Taking up a quill, she smoothed out a square of parchment that she kept in her purse and began to compose a message of her own.
You will be pleased, I hope, to read that I have received information that may assist us greatly in our endeavour to locate The Sway's current base. Meet me at 134 Leakage Lane at 8.00 pm sharp...
Date: Jul 23rd
...And with only a sliver of guilt, the Bruce wrapped a silky red ribbon around the parchment, bent over, and tied it around the Weewoo's leg. As she watched it take flight with a smile and a wave, she wasn't able to detect the black eyes scrutinizing her from a darkened alcove of the park garden she resided in.
Rochefort was jolted from his midmorning slumber by a light tapping from somewhere behind him. The Eyrie jumped out of bed, and after concluding that the sound was stemming from his bedroom window, opened it to receive the Weewoo that had landed on the sill.
The first thing he noticed was the ribbon wrapped delicately around the paper tied to the Weewoo's leg. This puzzled Rochefort; he knew for a fact Aramos made no effort to decorate his letters.
Taking the rolled parchment from the Weewoo gingerly, he opened it and read what was written. He quickly recognized the flowing cursive that could only be produced by Hilda's magic pen and swept his eyes over the words quickly.
"134 Leakage Lane, huh?" the Eyrie questioned, half-hoping the Weewoo would have a response. As expected, there was no reply, and Rochefort tucked the letter into his innermost jacket pocket furtively. 134 Leakage Lane -- I know I've heard that address before, but I can't quite put my finger on where...
The Eyrie's attempts at recollection were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing their throat. Spinning on his heel hastily, Rochefort stared in awed incredulity at the black eyes that were glaring at him from the shadows...
Date: Jul 23rd
...The dark figure cloaked in all black stepped forth from the shadows. Rochefort was rooted to the spot by the intensity of the pitch black eyes reflecting back at him.
"Who are you?" Rochefort choked out in fear as trepidation coursed through his limbs and immobilized him. Was this shady intruder sent by The Sway?
The unwelcome guest slowly revealed his scarred face hidden by his cloak. Old battle scars marred the Gelert's rough features, and his eyes were cold and empty. The shadow Gelert narrowed his dark eyes at him and Rochefort inwardly cringed from the spark of fear that shuddered through him.
With calculated movement, the Gelert approached him. Rochefort's panicked eyes darted to the door, but he already knew he was trapped.
"Don't try to run," the Gelert warned.
From the corner of his eyes, Rochefort zoomed in on a familiar tattoo engraved on the Gelert's front paws. Weird, it was the same tattoo he saw many times on his friend, Aramos. Rochefort remembered inquiring about the symbol behind it during his time spent in service with Aramos to The Sway. However, Aramos was always evasive whenever he broached the topic.
Was he an ally of Aramos? From the look on his less-than-friendly visitor's face, Rochefort doubted it. His thoughts were interrupted by the flat tone of his unknown guest.
"I've been your shadow ever since your arrival. I come to you with a proposition."
Rochefort's fear took a back seat as he studied the Gelert with inquisitive eyes. Satisfied that he had now captured Rochefort's attention, the Gelert continued.
"I have priceless information regarding your reckless mission. You've trusted the wrong people."
Confusion clouded Rochefort's expression as he struggled to understand what the Gelert was saying.
"Your dear friend Aramos has conspired with Hilda to use you as a bait for their own mission. You are nothing but a tool for their plan. Shall you venture forth toward this futile operation, you will be captured. Aramos and Hilda have set it to be so."
It took a moment for the words to sink in, but when it finally did, fury burned in the pit of Rochefort's stomach.
"Don't you dare accuse my friend. I've known him for a long time!" Rochefort shouted with indignation.
A brief flash of pity flickered in the Gelert's eyes. Then, it was gone.
"They have their own secret mission, Rochefort. You are vital to the success of their plan, as they have much riding at stake. I've come to form an alliance with you. Should you agree, I will provide the necessary aid for you to eliminate the blackmail The Sway are hanging over your head."
Rochefort stared dumbfounded at the dark figure before him. He could see the truth in the Gelert's eyes. The fury that fueled his strength earlier deflated with a vengeance. Deep down, he had always wondered why his most trusted Weewoo returned with Hilda's letter instead of Aramos. They had been conspiring behind his back.
A sharp prick of pain mixed with betrayal overwhelmed him. Dejectedly, he met the unwavering dark eyes of his intruder.
"So, what is it you seek in return?" Rochefort gingerly asked...
Date: Jul 24th
...The Gelert paused, choosing his next words carefully. "I wish you to feign ignorance and continue working with Aramos. Once you have discovered the details of their deadly plot, we will approach the leaders of The Sway. In return, the blackmail against us will be discarded."
Rochefort absorbed this news by blinking rapidly. It was a clever plan and not one he could have thought of himself. If he was to risk venturing into this danger, he could live out a peaceful life with both groups ignoring him. He would need a new friend, though. Aramos's betrayal still stung his heart.
Blinking away tears, Rochefort agreed.
"You'd better start packing, then," the Gelert replied with a smile. "I'll keep watch from the shadows. No harm will come to you." Indeed, the Gelert would lay down his life for this mission. The knowledge that The Sway had against him could not come out. It would destroy not only his life, but also his future, including Sasila.
"Even so, I'd like to take my sturdiest sword," Rochefort said with a sigh. He thought he had put his fighting days behind him. Could he even win a fight if it came to that?
Sighing again, Rochefort took out his suitcase and began to pack...
Date: Jul 24th
...while the Gelert wrote a letter of his own.
He has agreed, my dearest, to venture with me. To be the scapegoat, but he doesn't know that yet... and if all goes to plan he'll never know, at least not until we've made our escape. We'll be free at last, free to live as we please and do what we please, and this poor fellow will take all of the blame for the atrocities The Sway knows we've committed.
At least he is an ex-member. They will go easier on him than us. Let that be your comfort if you desire comfort at all.
Of utmost sincerity,
Rochefort finished placing his provisions. He walked up to the Gelert, the latter waiting for the postal Weewoo to come to the window of the suite.
"Shall we be off, friend?" Rochefort inquired with a smile. He then frowned as he noted what was in the Gelert's hand. "Is that a letter?"
"I--" Leopold stammered before hesitating. "It is, yes," he confirmed, "but neither to Aramos nor Hilda. To my own colleague."
His counterpart narrowed his eyes. "You, too, are working with another behind my back?" His voice was rigid and possessed a cool fury.
"Er... not working with, per se," the Gelert started with a sheepish grin. The Weewoo then arrived. Hurriedly, he placed his letter around its foot and sent it off. "Just... someone else who will benefit from our actions, another who is being blackmailed against." He nodded.
The Eyrie didn't nod back but only stared at him, through him. "My original query remains. Shall we be off?" he asked, though newfound skepticism prevented him from being more congenial.
Leopold nodded. "Yes," he said quickly. "Er... yes, we shall be."
The pair arrived at the dilapidated complex known as 134 Leakage Lane as the clock struck eight.
"Remember," the Gelert reminded, "I shall lurk in the shadows. Find out the details of their plan and then I will emerge and do the rest." He nodded.
Rochefort ventured inside.
Aramos and Hilda were waiting for him. "Why, hello there," the Moehog greeted him.
The Eyrie feigned cordiality. "Hello, my friend," he replied, attempting not to put added emphasis on the last word in the sentence. "So, what is the plan here?"
Hilda navigated toward the entrance and locked it with magic. "The plan... is for your capture."
Rochefort gaped. "Oh my!" he started; he was not the best actor. He unsheathed his sword in an attempt of bravado. "Why, though? I thought we were friends, Aramos."
"Money and friendship don't mix, I'm afraid," the Moehog rebutted cryptically, not flinching. "However, I suppose I can tell you the plan, considering you are about to--"
"Wait!" Hilda shouted, cutting him off. "My magic detects that he has been followed." She did a quick scan of the perimeter while the others waited in silence. "Though there appears to be no one here..." the witch trailed.
Aramos knocked the sword out of Rochefort's hand and grabbed his "friend" by the collar. "Is this true?"
The Eyrie just stared up at him with wide eyes, the life being choked from him.
Aramos released him; he was valuable alive. "He or she could be a Cloaker, like me," the Moehog said to Hilda as he pointed to the tattoo on his hoof. "There are only three members of our society left, but we're undetectable when in hiding."
The Bruce spat on the ground. "The secret societies of a secret society, Orders within the Order... your sort makes me sick."
The Moehog released the Eyrie and focused his furious attention on his colleague. "Our skills of espionage got the Order out of thousands of potentially lethal situations, especially considering we once had hundreds of members... we became the lethal ones. That's more than you and your simple magic ever did."
Hilda raised her staff with a vengeance. "After we deliver Rochefort to Rasala so that she can magically extract his knowledge that is valuable to taking down The Sway, then I'll come after you and there'll only be two left in your society!" She spoke frenzied and without breath.
That was all that the Gelert needed to hear.
He appeared from the shadows and, before Hilda could fire a bolt of something in his direction, he had taken her out, with Aramos then following in quick succession. Both lay still on the ground.
Rochefort picked up his sword and examined the fallen; before he could tell if they were breathing, Leopold grabbed the Eyrie's hand and, using his own magic to override Hilda's, the two escaped from 134 Leakage Lane.
"Come with me," the Gelert started. "It is time to see the Duchess."
The suspicions Rochefort had before had not subsided. "No," he replied curtly...
Date: Jul 25th
...Leopold almost found himself growling but caught himself before the sound could leave his throat. "Now Rochefort, I didn't ask you. I have helped you already." He gestured toward 134 Leakage Lane with the paw that wasn't tightly twisting the Eyrie's forearm. The Gelert lowered his voice to a deadly whisper. "Now it's your turn to help me."
The setting sun hid behind a cloud, almost as if it, too, was watching from in the shadows.
"Not until you answer my questions," Rochefort spat. "You're using me, aren't you? I knew I couldn't trust you!" An angry screech threatened to burst forth at the end of his sentence.
"Everyone uses everyone. That's why there are secret societies instead of secret individuals. The links of the chain don't separate easily." The Gelert tightened his grip. "That's where you come in."
Rochefort grimaced. Every time he'd asked for help, it seemed that he'd always been betrayed.
Help would not come to him unless he forced it to, the Eyrie realized.
There was only one individual he could trust more than even Aramos.
The Eyrie whistled using his free paw and his beak, long and high and loud.
"Stop that ghastly sound!" Leopold growled, silencing the whistle with a whack to his beak. The Gelert's ears perked up at the faint sound of a gentle flapping of wings.
Darting down from the sky was Rochefort's fastest, most trusted Weewoo, followed by scores of his friends, all of whom were flying toward the Gelert at white lightning speed.
Leopold's first instinct was to let go of Rochefort's arm and cloak himself, but no cloaking technique would properly shield him from the barrage of Weewoo pecks assaulting his face, ears, and hide.
There were simply too many of them.
A scream from a nearby alleyway rang out, but Rochefort was far too busy with his situation to notice.
"Let's go, Nehemiah!" Rochefort shouted, spreading his wings and seizing his chance to escape. His Weewoo pecked at Leopold's forehead one last time, then settled on Rochefort's neck before the latter sprang off almost straight up, beating his wings furiously.
A scratched-up Wocky in a grey robe placed a tattooed paw on Leopold's shoulder. "I did as you asked... but... what should we do now?"
Leopold glared at the sky, where Rochefort and his Weewoo friends were becoming nothing but mere specks in the now-shadowy, concealing sky. He squeezed the Wocky's paw, but with far less force than he had squeezed Rochefort's.
"He couldn't have gotten far, but for now... we run," he muttered grimly, still watching the now completely black sky.
"I'm telling you, Nehemiah, there's no place that's safe for either of us." The Eyrie grabbed several emergency potions he'd kept for years off of a shelf and stuffed them into his suitcase.
"Mystery Island is definitely out... I can't trust anyone but you, simply because I raised you from the beginning." The Eyrie patted the Weewoo on his head before continuing to bustle about and fill his suitcase with essentials.
"I didn't even want to join The Sway in the first place," he murmured out of nowhere, his frenetic pace slowing dramatically with the associated memories beginning to surface.
A Moehog... a Crokabek... a strong blast of magic after the Eyrie's fearful protests... the words, "Even the Meepits fear them."...
"No more!" The Eyrie fanned out his wings emphatically and slammed the lid down on his suitcase.
"If I'm going to fight for my freedom, then by Fyora I will! I'm going to rely on my own strength... and I know just the place to do that." The Eyrie grinned, ruffling Nehemiah's feathers.
The outskirts of Tyrannia were dry and cracked, with the promising glow of the obelisk acting as a beacon that every able faction in Neopia looked to seize.
How empty the prospect seemed, now that Rochefort was in danger of The Sway.
Using his sneaking abilities he'd learned whilst in The Sway, he found the tent he was looking for and knocked as hard as he could on the cloth door.
"Yes?" a gruff voice answered almost immediately, just before the curtain was thrown back to reveal a muscular Kyrii.
"We," Rochefort said while nudging Nehemiah, who was resting comfortably on the suitcase the Eyrie was carrying, "would like to learn to defend ourselves."
"A noble prospect!" she boomed, slapping the Eyrie on his back with more force than he expected. "Though, why not attend the Mystery Island school?"
Rochefort winced and laughed in a hollow manner. "It wouldn't end well, trust me."
The Kyrii nodded. "I'll talk to the leader of the Brute Squad. You come with me."
The Eyrie briefly glanced at the obelisk. There would still be trouble with The Sway... he'd still have to run and he'd still have to fight, but, for the first time in a long time, he felt something only his own decisions could give him.
"What do you mean, he has joined the Brute Squad and the Cloakers are missing?" A dangerous, quiet voice mingled with the ominous tinkle of a spoon stirring a cup of cocoa.
"After them. You know what to do." The Duchess waved a wing toward her subordinate and he then vanished.
The Duchess sipped her cocoa, unfazed. The Sway was everywhere. The traitors would be brought back, and they would get all they deserved -- and more.
A smile tipped her beak at this comforting thought. She pushed her cocoa aside, replacing it with parchment and pen.
The Duchess had a letter to write.
Date: Jul 26th
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