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||You are on Week 749
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 Seven Hundred Forty Nine Ends Friday, December 2
|The backstage was crowded with many Neopets dressed in gorgeous and eye-catching outfits. Amongst them were a pink Elephante in a dainty ballerina outfit and a disco Bruce who was covered from head to toe in hip hop clothing and accessories. Although the two of them were very close friends, their personalities differed greatly. The Bruce was twice as confident whereas the Elephante was twice as nervous compared to the other competitors.
"Don't worry, Annie," the Bruce slapped his friend's arm lightly, causing her to jolt in shock, "you'll totally nail it! Just get them moves all in your head and you'll be totally fine."
"I - erm - I guess I'll try my best, Finn," she mumbled. "Good luck to you too."
Finn waved his hand in dismissal. "Nah, keep the luck. Looks like you'll totally need it more than I do."
Soon, the competition began and one by one, the dancers took to the stage and performed with zest. They skipped and whirled and waltzed and executed complicated moves flawlessly. The performances made Annie so anxious that her paws were trembling slightly.
It was then Finn's turn and he walked up the stage with a confident air. As soon as the music began, he danced fervently to the catchy beat. The audience clapped along to the song and Annie had to admit that he was indeed stealing the crowd's hearts.
However, all the lights in the venue suddenly went out during the middle of his performance. It sent the audience into a frenzy and many Neopets were screaming and running around. The competitors were panicking as well and yelling, their voices on top of one another that it was hard to understand. Annie was very frightened but stood still as she couldn't think of anything to do to help the situation.
Fortunately, the lights were turned back on a few minutes later and order was soon restored. A moment later, a Zafara next to Annie screamed, jolting her for the second time.
"Lisa's gone! She was here just a moment ago with me!" the Zafara said with a panicked voice.
Annie and the other dancers glanced around. It didn't take them long to realise that many more of their companions were missing too. Annie then turned towards the direction of the stage to make sure that Finn was alright ... to find out that he was gone as well!
"No," the Elephante's voice trembled, "please tell me this is a dream." As she stared at the spot where her friend stood moments ago, she spotted a piece of colored paper on the floor. She walked up the stage and picked it up.
It was a note. The handwriting was huge and messy, but legible. It read:
The show cannot continue without me.
The most fabulous Warren
A clue was already in Annie's hands. Apparently, a Neopet named Warren had abducted the dancers but there was no other information. She took a deep breath and calmed herself. She had to figure out the solution to the crime in order to save her friend. The Elephante scanned the stage and before long, she found another clue. It was ...
Date: Nov 25th
...a single white feather, sitting quietly on the wooden platform. That could only mean one thing - whoever this Warren was, he was likely either a Pteri or a Lenny. That certainly narrowed the list of suspects down. She walked briskly over to it, examining it closely. The feather, though white, bore a strange golden streak near the edges. Twirling the feather in hand, she re-read the letter once more, frowning at the hastily scribbled words on the paper.
"Strange..." she murmured to herself. "Who really is this Warren? What does he want?"
"Information about him exists in the archives, Annie," a solemn voice answered.
Spinning around, Annie came face to face with their dance instructor. "Wait, what?" she blurted out.
"It was a long time ago. Here," the Wocky sighed, handing her a yellowed piece of paper. Annie took it, eyes widening at the headlines that screamed out to her: 8 NEOPIANS FEARED MISSING - 'WARREN' SUSPECT NEVER FOUND.
"Wait... are you saying this happened once before? And the missing Neopians were never found?" Annie cried out in horror.
"Sadly yes," the Wocky sucked in a breath. "And that is why we have always made it a point to...invite this Warren for every performance. It's just that... it's been so long since anything has happened, and... we thought it was all over...that perhaps the curse had been lifted..."
"Invite him? Curse? Over? ... What?" Annie asked in confusion. Just what was going on - and why did she have a nagging feeling that the Wocky had been hiding a secret? A secret, so terrible, that it had to be kept behind closed doors?
Licking her lips, the Wocky turned to gaze at the Bruce. "Look, Annie. There's something I need to tell you...
Date: Nov 28th
...about Warren. He was our star pupil. He was one of my first batch of students. He was a quiet young Pteri, determined to learn everything about dance that I could teach, and so enthusiastic that he would stay back after all the other students had left to practise. He wanted to become the best dancer in all of Neopia. . ." Safeera stopped and seemed lost in thought. A sad smile played on her lips. "He really was a wonderful dancer," she said softly.
Annie waited impatiently for her instructor to continue. Her friend was missing! She didn't have time to listen to this. She had to find him! The Wocky didn't seem to care about these missing people. She was staring into the distance, pondering some dim memory.
"But something happened?" Annie asked finally.
The Wocky came to earth with a start. "Yes. It was terrible. We had a show one night. Warren was our star performer. This was to be his break-out performance. The managers of Sticks N Stones were attending—they are old friends of mine—and were looking for people to be backup dancers for their band's shows. After that, who knows what heights he might have reached?"
Annie wondered what had happened to Warren. And what was this curse Safeera had talked about?
"He started dancing. The crowd went wild. He pirouetted, he leapt, he tap danced better than me! But as he moved, a part of the stage, which was weak, gave way, and he crashed to the ground." The Wocky looked sadder than ever. "Perhaps it was my fault. I should have made sure everything was safe. But I never dreamed . . . Anyway, Warren was seriously injured. We rushed him to the hospital but his beautiful white wing was torn and he'd fractured his leg. The doctors did their best, but . . ." Safeera sighed.
"So he couldn't pursue his dream?" Annie guessed. But what did this have to do with kidnapping pets?
"Yes, he couldn't dance like he used to. This incident changed him. He refused to accept the fact at first, and insisted on coming to class and practising as usual. But the pain was too much for him. He collapsed once in the middle of class and I finally told him I would not teach him further because I didn't want his health to get worse. He got mad. He got up and said, 'I curse this class and all the dancers here, but I curse you especially! If I can't dance, no one can.' Then he left the hall and never returned."
The Wocky sighed again. "I dismissed it as melodrama. Warren was hurting and so he lashed out. But later that month, during our show, the lights stopped working and when they came back, 8 neopets had disappeared. We suspected Warren, of course, but the police could find no evidence tying him to the case. He had a rock-solid alibi. Warren sent me a letter a few weeks after this incident, however, saying that he wished to be invited to all future performances I might hold, to see if any neopet showed the kind of promise he had shown. I made sure to do that. Last month, however, he was here for our grand biennial show, and it was the best performance we'd had in ages. Lisa and the others did so well! But I caught a glimpse of Warren towards the end, when everyone was clapping, and he looked angry. I suspected that the sigh of other neopets doing what he dreamed of doing was unbearable to him, and decided that I wouldn't call him again, for his sake. But clearly that was a mistake."
Annie exclaimed, "Let's go look for him! We can't let him get away with this! Let's call the police!"
Safeera shook her head. "There's no point. He clearly knows how to cover his tracks from the police. He will evade justice this time as well."
"But . . ."
"What bothers me is this curse business. I think the curse Warren made was no ordinary statement. It had some magical power behind it. We must seek the help of someone who knows magic to find these neopets."
From behind them a deep voice said, "I think I can help you with that. I hail from Neovia and magic is in my blood . . ."
Date: Nov 29th
The two turned around and spotted someone they didn't expect to see. A Lupe was standing there, holding a book in one hand.
"I'm sorry, should I know you?" Annie asked.
"Oh forgive me," He said, giving a slight bow, "My name is Reginald. I come from Neovia."
"I...still don't know you." Annie said, not placing the Lupe from anything she should know.
He sighed. "My younger sister is Sophie the Swamp Witch."
"OH!" Annie said, "Wait, but..."
The Lupe held up a hand. "To answer your inevitable question, no, I'm not a warlock, I meant that metaphorically. What I AM, however, is a scholar."
He closed the book in his other hand and looked towards the pair. "While I might not have innate magic, I have probably researched more on curses and spells then anyone outside of Lost Desert explorers."
"Are you sure you can't call your younger sister to help?" Safeera asked.
Reginald sighed. "You know, I don't have to help. And dear Sophie is just as likely to turn you into a Morthog for disturbing her. Now, would you like my assistance, or not? Because I'm already four steps ahead in figuring out what's going on."
"Oh forgive my rudeness." Safeera said, "Please, help us take care of Warren in any way you can."
"Thank you." Reginald stated, "Now, when it comes to magic and curses, you need to know the basics of what they're attempting. Now, this only happens when Warren is not invited. That means there's a trigger spell involved. Likewise, the disappearances. There's two likely possibilities to explain this. First, he's either transported them, a teleportation. However, considering the years past from the previous incident, it's unlikely that they would be held for so long with no escape."
"So what does that mean?" The Elephante asked, all of this talk going over her head.
"It means that we're dealing with hiding something or someone in plain sight. Transmogrification. The cursed spell turned the poor Neopian's caught by it, into something else. And the evidence for that is..."
Date: Nov 30th
..."right out in the entrance hall." The Lupe waved his hand for Annie and Safeera to follow him. "I've come to this building several times and never looked at it twice, but tonight I showed up late and... well..." Reginald trailed off.
"What? Well what?" Annie asked. "What are you talking about? Where are Finn and the others hidden?"
Reginald gestured to the large trophy cabinets that lined the walls, displaying the various awards that had been given out over the years in competitions. He led them to a particular section, filled with statues of various Neopets in the middle of dance moves. From a distance, they appeared normal but up close, Annie and Safeera could see that each little golden dancer bore a look of fear and discomfort.
Annie's eyes were drawn to a statue on the bottom row, a statue of a disco Bruce. "Finn!" she shrieked, pounding on the glass. "Hang on, Finn! We're going to help you!"
"I don't think he can hear you," Reginald said.
Safeera was gazing at the display case in muted horror, her mouth agape and tears pricking at the corner of her eyes. "My... my students. How did I not recognize my own students... out here this whole time," she stammered.
Annie had been gazing at the trophy of Finn closely, as she noticed something strange. "Hang on, these trophies are engraved. They all say they were awarded to 'The Most Fabulous Warren for his Most Fabulous Performace'!" the Elephante exclaimed in shock.
"Until I overheard your story of Warren being injured, I had always just assumed he was a star dancer from years past. But yes, it appears he has been turning your students into statues awarded to himself. Now, I have good news and bad news," Reginald explained.
"The good news is that most spellcasters leave a signature when they cast - their own subtle, unique twist on the spell. It's not always noticeable - in fact most Neopians would never notice one - but when you study magic as I have, you know how to find them."
"But we already know it was Warren," Safeera said. "No offense, but what good is knowing who cast it when we already know who cast it?"
Reginald held up a hand. "I know. I'm getting to that. As I said, most spellcasters leave a mark, but where it gets intriguing is when you observe the signatures left by students and novices. The magical signature becomes kind of a blend of their own method and that of their instructor. That signature has faded a bit in the later ones, but the earliest statues point to who taught Warren, and they might know where he is."
"So, what's the bad news that you mentioned?" Annie asked.
"The bad news is that while I know who taught Warren, I'm not sure how willing they will be to talk to us," Reginald replied grimly. "You see, the Neopian who taught Warren how to perform this curse is..."
Date: Nov 30th
Annie whistled low in her throat, as Safeera furrowed her brows. "Wait, can't we just find another faerie to break the spell? Undo the curse?"
"If only it were that easy," Reginald shook his head sadly. "You see, the spell signature required to reverse it is that of Jhudora's, or Warren alone. That is the rule in the spellcasting realm."
"So I guess we can head to her cloud then?" Annie suggested. "After all..."
Before Annie could finish speaking, a thin wisp of smoke engulfed the three Neopians. Initially, it was no thicker than the dust in the morning sun, but it quickly billowed and roared all around them, trapping them in its epicenter.
"What's happening?" Safeera screamed in terror.
"I think she heard us call," Reginald replied, trying to control the tremble in his voice.
When the smoke cleared, the three Neopians found themselves no longer in the theater, but face to face with Jhudora.
Annie yelped and leapt back, earning a laugh from the malicious faerie. "Well then. I do not like people talking about me...or my students...behind our backs," Jhudora folded her arms. "So. What do you want?"
"Well..." Reginald began. "We would like to find Warren."
Jhudora cackled. "I do know where he is, of course. But what makes you think I'm telling you?"
"Uh... we could complete some quests for you?" Annie swallowed.
Jhudora snorted. "Ha! I have a following of Neopians who're willing to help me on that. Offer rejected."
"Is there anything you want? Anything you need?" Safeera asked desperately.
Jhudora sighed. "There is nothing that I need, younglings. The real question is... How much are you willing to sacrifice to find him?"
"Anything!" Annie cried out instantly.
"You, young one." Jhudora suddenly gazed at Annie, her eyes burning like coals. "Anything?"
Annie returned the gaze. "Name your terms," she replied, sounding braver than she felt.
"Very well," Jhudora snapped her fingers and an hourglass appeared in Annie's hand. "I give you an hour to speak to Warren. If you can convince him to undo his spell, your friends will go free. But if you fail..."
She raised a hand in the air. The hourglass suddenly rattled. A slew of distorted screams emanated from within the glass, as wispy smoke pulsated against it.
"If you fail," Jhudora repeated, "You join them in the glass, trapped forever in the threads of time."
There was a long, uncomfortable silence as Annie took a deep breath. "Fine."
"No,, Annie!" Reginald stepped forward. "How do you know she's telling the truth?"
Safeera nodded, staring at her in horror. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Saving our friends," Annie said softly. "Whatever it takes."
Jhudora clapped her hands and laughed. "How noble and sweet, dear little Bruce. But you might wish to know... I never lose a bet."
Purple smoke engulfed them once more, as Jhudora's voice echoed in their heads. "You have one hour... the clock is ticking!"
When the smoke cleared, all three collectively gasped as they found themselves ...
Date: Dec 1st
... at the entrance hall once more. Hovering in the air in front of them, facing the cabinets, was a white Pteri who exuded grandness. Exquisite gold streaks lined the edge of his tail feathers. Annie remembered the detail of the feather that she had picked up from the stage when Finn first disappeared - it was the same as Warren's.
As if on cue, the Pteri looked away from the trophy cabinets to face them. "Hello all," he greeted and spread his wings. "How can I, the most fabulous Warren, help you?" The Pteri grinned, but there was no genuine kindness behind that smile.
Annie stepped forward. "Warren, I -"
The next moment was a flash of activity. A green ray of light shot out of Warren's right wing and hit Annie directly at her shoulder, turning her to stone immediately. Reginald reacted, but before the Lupe could do anything, he too, was turned to stone.
"You do not have the authority to talk to me," Warren hissed, anger flaring in his eyes. In the blink of an eye, however, he was back to his bright self again. "Safeera, how have you been doing?"
Safeera glanced at the statues of Annie and Reginald in horror. "Warren, please stop what you're doing," she begged.
"Care to give me an excellent reason?" he asked.
An hour wasn't a lot of time. Safeera had to hurry. She decided to tell the truth. "I'm sorry, Warren. I really am," she began, a sad look on her face. "I really wanted to continue teaching you but the decision I made was for your own good. Had you continued, I don't think you'd even be able to walk right now! That injury of yours was too serious and I'm truly sorry for that."
"What good does apologizing do, Safeera?" Warren feigned a pitying voice. "You know that I love to dance but you ruined it! My dreams, my hobby, my career!" He couldn't control his emotions and practically screamed the last word.
Safeera shook her head. "I had to. I tell my students how great you are, that you were one of my most promising students, that you would shine brighter than the stars if not for that injury. I've shown them videos of your performances and they thought that you were amazing." The Wocky choked, tears beginning to burn her eyes. "You can come to my academy and show them your dance in person, if you'd like."
Warren was taken aback by the offer. "Really?" he asked, "can I really come back?"
"Yes you can, Warren," the Wocky replied. "I cordially welcome you back but ..." she paused, staring at the Pteri straight in the eyes, "I don't want you to exert yourself or that injury might recur again."
"Safeera ..." he mumbled, wiping a stray tear that had formed at the corner of his eye. Then, with a wave of his wing, the statues of Finn, Annie, Reginald and the other dancers were surrounded with purple fumes. When the thick vapor dissipated, all of them had returned to their original selves.
Safeera heaved a sigh of relief while Reginald blinked a couple of times, confused. Annie held her head in her hands. "What just happened?" the Elephante asked.
Before the instructor could reply, the three of them and Warren were engulfed in the same smoke that transported them to Jhudora's cloud about a half hour ago. Sure enough, they saw the dark faerie perched on her throne when the smoke cleared.
"Looks like you've failed," the dark faerie cackled delightedly.
"What do you mean?" Safeera exclaimed. "We managed to convince Warren!"
"Now, now dearie, I assigned the task to the Elephante, did I not? She hasn't done her part of the deal, has she."
Warren stuck out a wing to prevent Safeera from speaking any further. "I will handle this," he declared, and stepped up to face Jhudora, his former teacher ...
Date: Dec 2nd
..."Send us back Jhudora. The Elephante was under the guidance of Safeera, so Safeera completing the task should supersede--"
"Your logic bores me," Jhudora dismissed. "And what ever happened," she starting, a crooked grin forming on her face, "to the idea of capturing seventy-seven dancers in stone and using their energy to heal your injury?"
Annie gaped. "That was your plan this whole time, Warren?"
"Oh, Warren..." Safeera just shook her head. "If I saw how serious this was to you I would have let you... I would never have forgiven myself if something had happened, but..." She turned away. She couldn't finish her thought.
The Pteri frowned. He had no idea she had cared for him so much.
"Jhudora," he proclaimed. "Send us back to the stage."
She hissed. "And why--"
"I'll tell you why," he practically yelled. "Because you're Jhudora. You love a challenge." He paused as she considered this before continuing, "I challenge you to ten moves -- you have ten shots to hit me. If you do, you may take my energy and do with it as you please. But if you cannot, you let us all go free."
The Dark Faerie appeared unamused. But in a cloud of smoke, there were transported; Warren was on the stage, Jhudora, alongside the teachers and students, in the audience. "My accuracy is 99%," she heckled him, shooting a purple ray right over top of his head. "So I'll give you one for free. Do your best, Warren!"
"That's The Most Fabulous Warren to you."
Jhudora shot a blast of green at him, and he gracefully outmanouevered it. She gaped, and the audience cheered. "No more nice Jhudora," she called to him as she shot at him again and he twirled around it.
A beat was playing now in the background. Safeera had turned on Sticks N Stones.
He jived, he ducked, he leapt... and the audience was amazed. This was his element. This was what he was born to do. "I'M THE MOST FABULOUS, BABY!" he roared.
Jhudora was soon on her last shot. This shot was taking forever. She was waiting for him to tire.
At last the track ended, and Warren hesitated. This was it. She knew the pause. She had been aiming at this. Jhudora blasted...
And Warren screamed. His leg had burst again, he fell... but it was exactly what Jhudora had not anticipated.
In a scream of purple haze, she disappeared.
The crowd rushed up to see Warren.
"Are you OK Warren?" Safeera asked, practically in tears.
He just lay there, collapsed.
The Pteri awoke in the NeoHospital surrounded by Safeera and her dancers. Annie came up to him, Finn in tow. "We'd like your autograph, Warren the most fabulous."
He smiled at them. He had had his moment now, he had inspired the others. "Anything for fans."
Date: Dec 2nd
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