Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)
If you have any questions about the competition then read our awesome FAQ!
||You are on Week 694
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 Ninety Four Ends Friday, March 6
|I gulped nervously while walking up the stone pathway in the direction of the massive manor that stretched up toward the sky like a mountain. I tried to keep my face calm and rather neutral, but inside my heart was racing like a frightened Miamouse in a maze. After all, if I was truly a maid accustomed to working in such mansions then I should be neither amazed nor overwhelmed, and I had to maintain this disguise. If it was discovered who I truly was, then I'd no doubt be kicked out and lose all chances at the scoop of the lifetime.
Oh, the things a reporter will do for a good story.
Maintaining a steady and regular breathing pattern, I pushed the doorbell and heard a delightful piece of melody from inside the house. After a few minutes, the stately door opened and I found myself looking up at a rather dignified and handsome white Aisha.
"May I help you?" he asked in a cultured tone.
"I've come to apply for the maid's position," I replied, holding out my resume for him to see.
He smiled gently but didn't take my offered resume. "I only put that ad in The Neopian Times yesterday," he said. "I'm surprised anyone has answered so quickly, but promptness is a quality that is desired among the staff here at Ghostnest manor. Please, come in."
"Thank you," I said, stepping into a gleaming and ornate foyer. It would be quite the job to keep this place sparkling, although it wasn't as if I was here to do that job. My job was to learn the real secrets hidden with the deepest and darkest cracks of what appeared to be a glorious home.
The Aisha stepped up beside me and smiled again, but there was something odd about his expression. "I believe that the best way to learn how someone will be as an employee is to see them work. I will assign you three tasks and, if you complete each one in a timely and efficient manner, then you will be hired. Are you willing to take on these tasks?"
"Yes, Mr...." my voice trailed off.
"You may call me, Sebastian," he said. "Now, as for your first task." He smiled as he looked about the manor and I wasn't sure I liked that smile. I began to question my decision to pose as a maid for this place, but there was no turning back now as he listed my first task...
Date: Mar 2nd
..."For your first task, I would like you to dust the library. Make sure each and every book is free of dust. It's a very long and grueling task, but it's something you'll have to do each day," Sebastian explained. "Remember: the better the job that you do today, the less you'll have to clean tomorrow... if we choose to keep you," he added with a smirk. The Aisha presented me with a box containing all of the necessary cleaning supplies. "I trust that these will come in handy?"
"Yes, thank you very much." I accepted the box gratefully and pulled the feather duster out. "Will you please guide me to the library?"
"Why, of course." The Aisha turned and began to walk, then paused. "I don't believe I caught your name, Miss."
"It's Angel," I told him, although that was far from the truth. If he knew who I actually was, he would likely recognize my byline from The Neopian Times.
No more words were spoken between us as he took me to the library. It was even bigger than I'd imagined. It had to contain every book in Neopia. I wanted to spend time reading them all, but I knew I had a task to do and that Sebastian was watching me carefully with that odd look on his face.
"I suppose I'd better get started," I mumbled to myself, taking the duster and beginning to wipe some of the dust off of the books on the lowest shelf...
Date: Mar 2nd
...There was a certain beauty in cleaning. Watching the dulled colors of the book spines come to life again, making them look bright and shiny once more like they must have been when they were first published, some of them a very long time ago. Being a maid was also a very different type of labor from what I was used to as a reporter. Sure, both professions require discipline and speed, but there was a certain satisfaction in doing manual labor. You could feel the progress of your work in a whole different way.
After dusting over 2,000 books, however, I was beginning to feel a bit too much progress. My arms and legs were aching all over and I was longing to get started on my real mission here at Ghostnest manor: getting that scoop of a lifetime. I had a distinct feeling that wasn't going to happen anytime soon, though, and it was probably Sebastian's odd look that had given me that impression. What was up with that look, anyway? I hadn't been able to identify what was behind his expression, but I hoped I wouldn't have to see it again as it made me feel uncomfortable.
Interrupting my thoughts, however, was another Aisha that I hadn't seen before. She'd suddenly appeared right in front of me, and I was beginning to question my observation skills that I usually bragged to my colleagues about. She was young and about half my height, and she was wearing a gorgeous fancy blue dress.
"Hi!" I said in a friendly voice, trying to hide my surprise.
"Are you the new maid?" she asked while moving in a circle around me, very quickly, checking me out.
"Yes! You are a quick one, aren't you?" I answered, trying to follow her incredibly speedy movements.
"So everyone says," she replied with a smirk, which I thought was really cute. The next words out of her mouth, however, startled me. "Are you really here to be a maid, though?"
I swallowed, trying to keep my face calm. "Yes, yes of course. Why else would I be here?"
"Well, this manor has a lot of secrets -- and a really big one, in particular." She had stopped moving now and was observing me intensely with that cute smirk of hers. I was beginning to wonder if this little Aisha could help me with my mission here, or if she'd be the reason for my possible failure.
Just as I was about to say something, the library door swung open. "Kayla, you are not supposed to be here right now."
It was Sebastian. He took a quick look around the room as Kayla left and you could see that he was clearly impressed with my work. "Good work in here, Angel. So, are you ready for your next task?"
There it was again! That smirk. That odd look on his face...
Date: Mar 3rd
...Almost as if he knew what I was up to. I could feel my face beginning to flush. His eyes bore into mine and I wondered if my charade was coming to an end. That odd comment from Kayla... and that smirk. Perhaps she had said something to Sebastian... maybe Kayla had recognized me, after all? All of my insecurities came boiling to the surface and I felt sure that I was seconds away from confessing to that devious smile, but instead, I heard myself say, "I'm ready."
"Excellent. Follow me, then." Sebastian turned, holding the door open for me to exit the library. I gave the rows of books one last longing look before following the older Aisha down a different hallway. He led me to a brightly-lit kitchen that was full of top-of-the-line cooking appliances and lingering smells of some pleasing aromas.
"Here we are," Sebastian explained.
"I have to cook?" I blurted out, feeling my heart beginning to race. The ad had said nothing of cooking being a requirement. The extent of my culinary skills stretched as far as grilled cheeses and I didn't think they'd go over too well here.
He turned, without smiling, then said, "No. We have a trained chef who comes each day to prepare the meals. You simply need to wash the dishes, mop the floors, and take out the trash. Also, once a week you'll be required to do inventory."
That sounded easy enough. I gave Sebastian a smile, which he returned, unfortunately. Once he left I set to work, the fulfillment of manual labor slowly wearing off and an autopilot of movements setting in.
I had scrubbed the dishes until my fingers were wrinkled and mopped the floors until they sparkled. Now, I turned my attention to the trash. I was just about to tie it up when something on the top of the garbage caught my eye...
Date: Mar 3rd
...My real name. It may have meant nothing, but given what had already happened, I started to panic a bit when I saw the copy of one of my articles in The Neopian Times on top of the garbage. Did they know? Were they just letting me go through the day as if they knew nothing, only to give the job to some other Neopet?
I quickly tied up the trash. "I'm just being paranoid," I whispered to myself as I picked the bag up and headed outside. I dropped the trash in the dumpster and sighed. "There's nothing to worry about."
I turned to go back inside when I was surprised to see a familiar young face. "Were you talking to yourself?" she asked, that cute smirk of hers on her face.
"Uh... Kayla, right? I sometimes do that to think things through," I responded, giving her the kindest smile I could.
"Hmm, that's odd," she said, raising an eyebrow.
"That I talk to myself? Oh, I'm sure every adult does that..."
"No. Just now, you seemed nervous," she said as that cute smirk returned. That smirk was beginning to make me as nervous as Sebastian's.
I was about to respond when, once again, I was interrupted by the door swinging open. "Kayla, what are you doing out here? You know where you're supposed to be."
Kayla scampered off once more and Sebastian settled his gaze on me. His usual smirk once again made me question how much they actually knew about me. "Good work again, Angel. Now, if you'll follow me, we can move on to your last task..."
Date: Mar 4th
"...looking after the art collection."
An excited gasp nearly escaped my lips, but I knew better than to show undue excitement. A housemaid wouldn't know anything about the anonymous tip I had received -- she would merely think it was another ordinary chore.
I thought I had controlled my reaction, but Sebastian gave me yet another knowing smirk as we walked into the hallway. I was incredibly sick of seeing that facial expression.
As a reporter, I had a huge vocabulary for describing emotion. Kayla and Sebastian could have grinned, sneered, beamed, leered, simpered, made a moue, scowled, or smiled wryly. All the others I had investigated in the past had certainly made use of other facial configurations. Yet, I was quite certain that their shared expressions could be described as nothing other than a "smirk."
I tried to focus on where Sebastian was leading me. It seemed too easy. Did they know?!? I gripped my feather duster to my chest anxiously and pondered the situation. I had expected to infiltrate the staff here over a manner of weeks, not hours. If Sebastian was really escorting me straight to my goal, either he was entirely clueless or he knew everything.
And what about Kayla? Surely the small Aisha knew something as well.
As if he had read my thoughts, Sebastian paused in front of the door and looked solemnly at me. "Angel, I'm sure I don't need to tell you to keep to yourself. The staff goes about their work quietly. If Kayla bothers you, let me know and I will speak to her."
I swallowed nervously and nodded. "Of course."
With a sharp nod, the older Aisha turned and swung open the door...
Date: Mar 4th
...It looked exactly like what my anonymous tipper had described to me -- an enormous room filled with long-lost paintings and sculptures; from the floor to the ceiling they could be seen. Each painting was protected by glass and a velvet rope surrounded them. The sculptures had their own spotlights and special podiums.
It was extremely difficult to conceal my astonishment. Right off the top of my head I could name three paintings in this room that most historians considered to have been destroyed during the Battle for Meridell.
Now, here I was, gazing upon them and I could not even express my true feelings about it.
Sebastian cleared his throat. "Angel, I do hope you can respect your position enough to know that you can't touch or even breathe close to these art pieces."
"Yes, yes... I'm sorry. It's just that these paintings look so pretty," I replied, trying to act like I didn't know anything about art.
"It's all right, Angel. Now, your only job here is to clean around the art... NOT the art itself," Sebastian said with a stern eye on me.
"I understand, Sebastian," I told him with a nod.
"Good. Take care now; I'll be back to check on you later," the tall Aisha said as he slowly closed the doors behind me.
I waved a friendly goodbye to him and, as soon as I didn't hear his footsteps any more, I got down to business...
Date: Mar 5th
...and began to catalog every single piece of art in the room.
Each painting in here was a masterpiece. Some assumed had been lost to history, like the self-portrait of Darigan with the Orb before it had been stolen. Others had been just rumored to exist, like the one of Fyora and the Darkest Faerie. Others some would pay to have destroyed, for the Duchess of the Sway was clearly seen with several of her top agents in one in the distance.
Every single one of these was a priceless masterpiece.
Every single one of them was stolen.
This was going to be my crowning article. An expose on a legendary art thief, brazen enough to display his ill-gotten art to his staff. But first, I needed to get a list of every single painting here, to cross-verify it with my master list.
It wasn't a difficult task. Each one had a custom nameplate displayed under them. "Lost Friends", "Control", "A Secret Revealed". Each of them matched up perfectly.
"Perfect..." I said to myself, "Now I can blow the lid off of this story and...
"I'm afraid you'll do no such thing..." A deep and gravely voice said from behind...
Date: Jul 15th
...I turned around to see Sebastian glaring at me with Kayla partially behind him, smiling cutely. Sebastian walked over and gripped my shoulder. "I think that's enough work for today, Angel. However, I cannot allow you to go home, as you will expose one of this places 'secrets'. You will sleep in the dungeon tonight, due to your crimes."
I gaped. Sebastian stared to pull me away as I mouthed the words "There's a dungeon here?!" to Kayla. Just as I was pulled out the door, she responded in a whisper, "The Basement."
After a minute of Sebastian dragging me down a series of hallways he stopped at a door. "I'm afraid this is where we part, Angel. Or should I say, Angel the Reporter." With that, he shoved me through the door into darkness.
I tumbled down the stairs with a little 'oof' or 'oww' every time I made contact with the cold stone stairs, which, I might add, happened a lot. I finally made it to the bottom when something called out...
Date: Jul 16th
..."Looks like I'm not the only one who figured out Sebastian's little secret."
I wasn't expecting someone to be down here with me. I looked around in the dark basement to see who said that. At first, I thought I was hearing things. That was, until someone walked towards me.
That someone was a skunk Ogrin. He had a look of worry on his face, but he tried to hide it. His attire showed that he was a butler here (or at least posed as one), though it was a bit messed up.
"Are you alright?" he asked me.
I nodded. I got up off the floor and said, "I'm just fine. How long have you been down here?"
The Ogrin crossed his arms. "I've been down here for at least a week. I came here to investigate whether Sebastian knew anything about all the stolen paintings. Turns out he knew more than I thought." He examined me. "I assume that's what happened to you too?"
I quickly nodded. "Yes, that's what happened to me, too." I figured that the Ogrin would need something to call me. I didn't want to tell him my real name - at least not yet. "My name's Angel."
"Nice to meet you, Angel," the Ogrin said. "My name's Omar."
Omar. I heard that name before. If I recalled correctly, he was a reporter for the Neopian Times just like me. He went missing a couple weeks ago when he went to investigate Sebastian. That was how I became interested in the stolen paintings.
"Hey Angel," Omar said, breaking my train of thought. "I've actually been thinking about how I could get out of here. Maybe you could help me out and we both get out of here?"
Anything to get out of here would be nice. I didn't know if I should trust Omar just yet, though. I couldn't trust anyone around me right now. "Alright," I replied. "What's your plan?"
Omar opened his mouth and began to explain his plan...
Date: Jul 16th
..."Right, in about half an hour, that brat Kayla will be coming to feed us." It sounded like he hated the small Aisha as much as I did.
"What are we fed?" I couldn't help but ask.
"Slop. That's the only way to describe it. Inedible slop. I survive on an old packet of Onion and Liver Ice Lollies that I found." Omar pulled out the packet from behind him.
"Anyway, we're fed through a small flap in the door. We scurry up to get the 'food.'" He made quotation marks with his fingers when he said the word 'food'.
"I saw the flap when I was thrown in." I recalled.
"Exactly. When she leaves, one of us grabs the flap, and holds it open. Do you have a quick paw?" I gave a sharp nod. It was a skill you needed to have as a reporter.
"Good. You can do that then. I'll go through, and hold the flap open for you. Then... FREEDOM!" Omar leaped into the air as if he was free already. I liked his positive personality.
"And we get out of here HOW?!?" There was a big fault in his plan.
"That's the genius part." I'd thought that the whole plan was pretty genius. "They have their dinner straight after ours. The dining room is upstairs, and the front door is out of view from there. I mapped the entire building out." I LOVED it. Omar was really smart to think of that.
"DO YOU GUYS WANT YOUR DINNER OR WHAT?" Came Kayla's rude voice.
"Time to put our plan into play." Said Omar. 'Cause guess what? It's Show Time..."
Date: Jul 17th
...We hurried up the steps to get into place, although a part of me was terrified I'd miss grabbing the flap in time. Just Omar had said, the flap opened and a tray of horrible smelling slop was shoved inside. "Now!" Omar whispered in my ear, and I immediately shot my paws forward and grabbed on to the flap. To my relief, I was able to catch it before it closed.
"Hold it up," instructed Omar, and I did so as I watched him wiggle through the tight space towards freedom. I now understood why this took two as there was no way he could have held up the flap and crawled through. Finally, he disappeared onto the other side and opened the door so that I could escape.
As silent as the night, we crept down the hallway. I could hear the clinking of spoons and forks in another room, so I know that everyone else was eating as he we scurried towards the door. I kept expecting Sebastian or Kayla to suddenly appear and stop us, but we had a clear path to the door.
The sun had never looked more brilliant than in that moment I stepped outside.
Omar and I didn't waste any time as we hurried back to town. We had a big story to write, but first we needed to contact the authorities so that we could stop these no good art thieves for good. While I know that our story must have sounded outrageous, there was a lot of pressure from the art world to solve the crimes, so soon everyone law enforcer converged on the scene. In a matter of minutes, Omar and I would have the story of a lifetime. We would be Neopian Times celebrities.
At least, that's what I thought.
I couldn't understand when I didn't see Sebastian or Kayla being escorted out in handcuffs, so I finally got up the courage to ask. Turns out there was no one inside the manor. In fact, there was nothing inside the manor. All of the art had disappeared as if it had never existed at all.
I walked inside in a haze with Omar close behind. The room that had contained all of the art was completely empty except for two newspaper clippings and some bright red lettering. There was a picture of both Omar and myself and the words, "Extra! Extra! Neopian Times Reporters fail completely!" I knew it had been the work of Kayla.
Defeated, I crumpled to the floor, but I was too upset to cry. I had gone through so much, but I still didn't have a story and the artwork was still missing. After several minutes of feeling sorry for myself, I pulled myself to my feet and started to leave, but Omar was standing there with a strange smile.
"Look at this," he said, handing me a page written in some sort of code, "I think this is a clue. I think that Sebastian and Kayla are playing a game with us. They want us to follow."
"Really?" I asked.
"Absolutely!' exclaimed Omar, "And I'm going to follow them. After all, this story is still the biggest I'll ever see in Neopia. What do you say, Angel? Do you want to come to? We'll have our story and a great adventure."
Despite everything, I smiled. "Sounds like fun," I said, "Let's go."
The authorities were still searching the place when we walked outside and back into the beautiful sunlight. Our story was still waiting out there, and we were going to find it.
Date: Jul 17th
IMPORTANT - SUBMISSION POLICY! By
uploading or otherwise submitting any materials to Neopets, you (and your parents) are
automatically granting us permission to use those materials for free in any manner we can think
of forever throughout the universe. These materials must be created ONLY by the person
submitting them - you cannot submit someone else's work. Also, if you're under age 18, ALWAYS
check with your parents before you submit anything to us!