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

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Week 722
You are on Week 723
Week 724

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 723 Ends Friday, April 1

Pick up, check off, replace. Pick up, check off, replace. Ali sighed heavily as he ticked the two hundred and forty-third bronze scarab off on his checklist and set it back on the shelf. His arms ached from the repetitive motion, but it was already past closing time, and he was nowhere near finished taking inventory. Gritting his teeth, he picked up the clipboard and moved on to a stack of colorful scarves.

Outside the little shop, it was a warm night in Sakhmet. Ali longed to run outside and join his friends, who were playing Gormball in the city square, but instead, he was stuck inside managing his father's tiny souvenir shop, which sold a variety of trinkets to Lost Desert tourists. The shop had been in his family for generations, but the Shoyru had never taken an interest in the family business.

If his father hadn't been away, trading with other merchants, he would never have agreed to work today.

Hours after closing time, Ali finally finished taking inventory. He was just about to close up when he heard the familiar tinkle of the front door being opened. He glanced up in surprise as a young Uni entered the shop, glancing nervously around as though someone were watching her.

"Sorry, we're closed for the day," Ali started to say, but the Uni reached into her pocket and took out a small item, wrapped in a black cloth. She pushed it across the counter.

"They told me you would keep this safe," she whispered.

"Keep what safe?" Ali asked.

The Uni shook her head, her eyes wide with fear. "Just promise me. No matter what happens."

"Okay, um, I guess so," Ali muttered, baffled at the intensity in her voice.

The Uni nodded, and without a word, disappeared into the dark street. Ali glanced down at the parcel in front of him. He wondered what it could possibly be. But as he began to unwrap it, he heard the shop door tinkle again...

Author: licoriceleaf
Date: Mar 28th
..."We're closed. You need to leave," Ali said, not lifting his eyes from the parcel.

"But I need something," this Neopet who walked in replied.

Ali looked up at this Neopet. The Neopet was tall and by the sound of the voice, the Neopet was male, but Ali couldn't tell much else about him. He was covered from head to toe. While the Lost Desert had strong rays from the sun, this was a bit excessive, especially for night. Ali couldn't even tell the species of this Neopet.

"Eric, I need that parcel," the Neopet said.

"Eric? No, I'm not Eric. I'm Ali, his son," Ali explained. He held the parcel. "Why do you need it?"

"I do not want to explain. Whatever the price, I'll pay it. Just give me that parcel."

Ali was getting nervous. The Shoyru put the parcel behind the counter he was behind and carefully opened it. He saw this red and blue Scarab pendant on a gold chain. It was extremely pretty, but he saw no reason why this Neopet wanted it.

"I'm sorry, but the parcel is not for sale," Ali said assertively. He put the necklace in his pocket.

"But I want that necklace," the Neopet said. It sounded like he was getting mad.

The sound of his voice scared Ali. "How do you know there's a necklace in it?"

Suddenly, the Neopet grabbed Ali's shirt and pulled him up a little. He growled, "Give me that necklace right now before I take it from you..."

Author: chasing_stars44
Date: Mar 29th
...Ali tried to back away, and his claws attempted to get this pet's hands off him. But it was no use, this mysterious pet was too strong.

"I don't want to hurt you," the pet said, his voice dropping low, and more menacing for it. "But I have to have that necklace, Ali."

Ali considered his options, his eyes darting around the shop until he spotted something behind the counter. He'd put a wooden pair of maracas under there earlier for a customer. Now, he slowly let his hand snake towards it, grabbing one of them.

"I don't think so," the Shoyru said defiantly.

He brought the maraca up, and smashed it over the other pet's head .The instrument exploded, sending coloured beads everywhere, but the most important thing was that the pet stumbled back, grabbing at his sore head.

Ali, seeing his opportunity, vaulted over the counter, and ran as fast as he could to the door. He was almost at full sprinting speed as the door swung shut behind him, except he bumped full force into someone standing in front of his shop. The force toppled Ali over.

He looked up to see who had stopped his escape, and saw...

Author: phoenix_through_fire
Date: Mar 30th
...A Desert Hissi, keeping herself low to the ground. Before Ali had time to react, she grabbed him by the hand.

"Hurry!" the Hissi rasped. "Come with me!"

Ali hardly had a choice in the matter; as soon as the words were out of her mouth the Hissi was yanking him along. Dancing through numerous alleyways, Ali lost his sense of direction very quickly -- but the Hissi moved with purpose, leading him somewhere unknown. After a few tense moments, the Hissi arrived at a tent and ushered Ali inside. It seemed for the moment that he was safe.

His racing heart finally slowing down, Ali sat down on the floor. The Hissi joined him.

"What's going on? Who are you?" Ali asked, genuine fear in his voice.

"I am known as Elisa -- a friend of your father's. You are lucky I arrived when I did. It seems that our enemies were about to get the necklace." Elisa brushed some sand off of her tail. "That would be most unfortunate."

"*Our* enemies?" Ali questioned. None of this made any sense to him.

"Yes, our enemies. An organization is after the necklace, which you are now protecting. This makes them your enemies, too." Elisa paused to cough before continuing. "They mustn't be allowed to obtain the necklace. If they do, they will be able to...

Author: new_age_lemon
Date: Mar 30th
"Revive Razul"

Ali went wide-eyed. "That's impossible. The King of Qasala..."

"Is not aware of this method, or else he would have taken measures to prevent it." The Hissi finished his sentence for him.

"But..." Ali was about to start again, before Elisa brought a hand to his mouth to silence him, just as several looming shadows rushed past the tent. There were three, but Ali couldn't make out who they were as they ran past. But a few tense seconds after that, Elisa relaxed slightly and brought her hand away.

"There's very little time to explain." She said, "The long and short of it is, we need to get this necklace out of Sakhmet and to Qasala to get it to the King."

"But what does this have to do with my father?" The Shoyru asked.

"He knows several of the secret passcodes to the palace." The Hissi said, "Without them, getting to King Jazan will not be easy..."

Author: dr_tomoe
Date: Mar 31st
Ali frowned. Why had his father never told him any of this? To think that the simple shop owner was involved with ancient artefacts and secret codes... it was enought to make Ali's head spin!

"Okay," he decided. "So all we have to do is find my father and get him to tell us the passcode!"

Elisa nodded with a smile. "That's basically it, yes," she agreed. "Perhaps your father will have returned home by now."

Ali watched as Elisa slithered over to the opening of the tent and pulled back the flap. She peered down the streets and then turned back to the Shoyru, nodding her head. "The coast is clear," she said and Ali released a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding, clutching the necklace to his chest.

The way back to the shop was surprisingly uneventful, but Ali couldn't help but feel on edge. Every shadow of a palm tree was a villain ready to pounce and every gust of hot desert wind felt like a knife at his throat. Eventually the two Neopets returned to the shop.

Ali entered first, feeling reassured by the familiar tinkling of the bell as he opened the door. "Father..?" he ventured, but then he gasped.

His father lay slumped against the counter, unconscious. Behind him was...

Author: chernobyl44
Date: Mar 31st
...the hulking form of a mutant Lenny, rummaging through what used to be a perfect pyramid of sandstorm globes. At the sound of the shop bell, she turned her head just enough for Ali to catch sight of one foggy eye before violently swinging an enormous wing around the shop, knocking various knickknacks to the floor. A Coltzan's Shrine figurine clocked Ali's father on the head, and the older Shoyru turned his head and groaned.

"Father!" Ali gasped and almost started over to help him, but Elisa pushed him back with her wing.

"Thuru! How dare you enter here?"

The Lenny, apparently called Thuru, squawked angrily. "The necklace was promised to my lord," she rasped.

"Neither you nor him are entitled to the necklace," Elisa hissed. "And you will never find it."

Without warning, Thuru picked up Ali's father in one, giant wing and raised the other high. "You'll not stop us from what we were promised!" she screeched, and a sharp, green glow emitted from what Ali now realized was a ring on the Lenny's indistinguishable finger. In less than a moment, the light had become so bright the Shoyru was blinded; it lasted for only a moment, however, and when it had faded...

Author: peronalodis
Date: Mar 31st
... the Lenny had vanished, along with Ali's father.

"No!" Ali cried. "Where did father go?" His hands began to tremble and his lips quivered; he was almost on the verge of tears. Hurting his father was a remorseless action in itself, but to kidnap him for no wrongdoings was absolutely callous.

"Snap out of it!" Elisa's sibilant remark snapped Ali out of his daze. "I know where Thuru is headed. Follow me!"

The Shoyru was once again tugged along by the arm as the Hissi led the way out of the shop and across the sandy dunes. After running for some time without any thought, he came back to his senses.

"Where are we going?" he panted, trying to keep up with Alisa.

"To Qasala," she replied curtly. The skies were almost starless, providing almost no light for Ali to make out further than a few feet of his surroundings. The Hissi though, it seemed to him, had really sharp senses so he decided to rely on her sense of direction.

"How do you know where the Lenny is?" the question came out of Ali's mouth as soon as it bubbled up in his mind. Sure, the Hissi could be trusted but he doubted that she would know where the organization's headquarters were.

Elisa glanced at Ali before she faced the front again. "Thuru and I used to be best friends and we knew each other really well. We worked together to protect the necklace before she was tempted towards the evil side."

"Best friends?" Ali was quite surprised. He couldn't see how a desert Hissi could get along with a mutant Lenny.

"Yes." She didn't elaborate any further. They travelled in silence and soon, the Hissi came to a halt. "We're here," she announced.

Author: azusa_k
Date: Apr 1st
It looked to be a stretch of sandstone that made up the city wall of Qalasa. Ali frowned. Had the Hissi gone quite mad?

But as the Hissi played around with the bricks in wall, one of them slotted and an entranceway appeared. Ali gasped. It didn’t lead to the other side of the wall, either, but instead led down.

“Are these a passageways? I thought we needed the passcode to get into the city,” Ali said, peeking cautiously down into the dark hole. He had no real desires to head down there.

“We’ll need a passcode to get out the other side, since this passage leads to palace itself. I’m betting on Thuru having taken your father down here, knowing we would be going to the palace,” Elisa said. She began to slither down the steps into darkness. “Come on, we have no time to lose, for we must get there before Thuru has a chance to call reinforcements.”

Ali gulped. He didn’t much wanted to walk into pitch blackness where a Mutant Lenny might be lurking, but what choice did he have? Once they’d walked to the bottom of the staircase, Elisa stopped, and Ali heard a shuffling. A moment later, a bright light illuminated the tunnel.

“That’s much better,” Elisa said, handing the torch she’d just lit to Ali. “Come now, but be quiet - we don’t want Thuru to hear our approach before we’re even seen.”

Ali nodded, and followed behind her as she snaked her way through the corridor. They walked for quite some time, before Elisa came up short, making Ali almost bump into her.

The Hissi put a finger to her lips, and then pointed towards a corridor leading off from their own. Ali listened closely, and he could hear a faint clicking sound that he presumed came from the Lenny’s claws against the sandstone floor.

Ali nodded, and Elisa took a deep breath before she led them around the corner and down that corridor. Thuru looked up as they approached, and a grin appeared on her misshapen beak. Behind her, Ali could see his father had been tied up with a rag stuffed in his mouth, but he looked like he was awake.

“I knew you would come here. You’re so predictable, Thuru,” Elisa said, and the smile on Thuru’s face began to falter. "You always have been.”

“Oh yeah, you want to see predictable?” And as Thuru said it, she suddenly lunged at Elisa.

But the Hissi was ready, and the two began to fight, exchanged kicks and punches at a speed that made Ali dizzy to watch. Instead, he took that as his cue to race to his father, who was indeed awake. He tore at the bindings with his claws, and pulled the rag out, before he embraced his father.

“I’m so glad you’re safe,” Ali said.

“You too, son,” his father replied, before his tone became hardened. “You have the necklace? Good, come on, let’s go while the Lenny is distracted with your friend. I know the way to the palace from here.”

Ali felt bad leaving Elisa behind, but he knew there was nothing he could do for her. Instead, he took off running with his father towards the end of the hall, which seemed to be a dead end. However, after the wall opening outside, he knew this was probably a secret doorway too. And indeed it was.

Ali’s father tapped the wall in a strange pattern with his paw, and with the sound of scraping stone, a doorway appeared.

“No! Stop right there!” the Lenny called, and Ali looked back to see that Elisa had beaten her. The Lenny lay hunched on the floor, and Elisa had slithered up behind them.

“Quickly, before she can recover to follow us!”

The made their way up the narrow staircase on the other side of the door, and heard the door slam shut behind them. Ali would’ve felt claustrophobic if it weren’t for the urgency in which they ran up the steps.

Finally, they came to another door, to which Ali’s father said a word in a language Ali didn’t understand, and that opened too. On the other side, the huge and sprawling palace of Qasala stood. Ali couldn’t help but widen his eyes, his mouth dropping open. He’d never seen such opulence in his life before.

There was a Desert Elephante standing near the door, and Ali’s father walked straight up to him.

“I am Davide of Sakhmet. Tell King Jazan I’m here to see him urgently,” said his father.

“Oh, hello Davide! It’s been a long time,” the guard said, his tone changing rapidly. Ali couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Follow me, I’ll tell his Majesty that you’re here immediately.”

They followed the guard to outside huge double doors, and were told to wait outside while the guard went in. A few minutes later, the door swung open, and the guard announced them to the King.

It was some kind of visiting room, filled with plush armchairs and chaise lounges. On a high-backed velvet chair sat the king himself - Jazan! Ali couldn’t believe it.

“Davide, it’s so good to see you again,” King Jazan said. “What have you come so urgently about?”

“We found the necklace that summons Razul that our enemies had been looking for, and so we have bought it to you for safe keeping,” his father said, bowing to the King. Elisa and Ali followed suit.

His father motioned for Ali to give the necklace over to the King. He did so, trying hard to disguise the shaking in his hands, but failing miserably. The King took it from him, and smiled.

“I thank you,” he said, looking directly at Ali. “We have been looking for a long time for this, and all of the Lost Desert could have been destroyed should my father have been reawakened. I’m indebted to you once again, Davide, and to your friends. Now with this, and with your information, we will be able to stamp out the enemy camp for good.”

“It’s an honour to have protected you and your kingdom once again, Your Majesty,” Ali’s father said.

Ali looked at him, more confused than ever. Again?!, he thought.

***

After refreshing themselves at the palace, Jazan had ordered some Unis be made up for them to cross back across the desert to Sakhmet. To home, to less hectic times. They were almost half way across before Ali couldn’t resist any longer.

“How do you know King Jazan, father?” Ali said, his words quick as they bubbled to the surface. “And what did you mean by protecting him ‘again’? And - and! More importantly, why do we run a poky souvenir shop when you're well known in the palace and by the king?”

His father chuckled, and grinned at him. Ali saw that Elisa hadn’t been able to resist a smile either, obviously knowing the answer to those questions.

“That’s a very long and strange story, son,” he said. “Maybe I’ll tell you one day."

The End.

Author: phoenix_through_fire
Date: Apr 4th



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