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||You are on Week 760
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 Sixty Ends Friday, February 24
|Lunara had always found her calligraphy lessons to be extremely boring. Continuous, monotonous swishing movements that could make anyone exhausted at having to hold a brush only just after a few minutes. She didn't understand why members of royalty were required to learn that particular skill. The Cybunny couldn't bear it at all.
Or so it was, until that day.
That day, she had explored the palace undergrounds and came across an Amulet of Lapis Lazuli. It wasn't any ordinary necklace - she was able to hear a plethora of voices when she wore it. Talking, singing, screaming, whispering, anything. Because of its special ability, Lunara was elated by her find and treasured the amulet very much.
She brought it with her wherever she went, and it served to be a great accompaniment, especially during her calligraphy lessons. They were no longer a bore; listening to the many conversations in her head calmed the wave of ennui that was overwhelming her. In addition, she could learn many new things that she naturally couldn't since she was always holed up inside the castle. Newly released items and various lands' economies were among her favorite topics.
About a month later, on an uneventful day, Lunara was absentmindedly listening to the voices playing in her head while attending to her usual calligraphy class, skipping from one conversation to another in the hope of finding something interesting. It wasn't for a while before one particular conversation caught her attention.
"Are the armies ready for the coup d'état?" a female voice spoke.
The second voice was gruff. "Yeah. We just need to bide our time before laying a siege on the Shenkuu palace."
"I'll report it to Shin."
The short exchange between the two was over. Aghast, Lunara jumped up from her cushion and bolted for the door, ignoring her surprised tutor's shouts for her to return. She headed straight for the Great Hall, hoping that her father would be there.
When she reached her destination, she threw the majestic doors open and rushed in ...
Date: Feb 20th
“Father!” Her shout echoed around the chamber. A few of her father’s trusted advisors milling about paused to give her a harassed stare for her sudden outburst.
“Lunara,” said a slightly older Kougra, closing the aged book in his paws and approaching her with a concerned expression. “Calm down child. Shouldn’t you be in class?”
“Goro, where is father?” Lunara asked frantically, scanning the room for the hulking Gelert form of the emperor.
“He was called away for the day on town business,” Goro answered, eyeing her over his spectacles. “He will be back tomorrow morning.”
“No,” Lunara whispered. Was it simply a coincidence her father was away or was this part of the plan she’d mistakenly overheard? Either way, the timing was too sinister. This was not a conversation she could keep to herself.
“Goro,” Lunara hissed. For some reason, she leaned in closer so nearby ears wouldn’t hear. “I think Shenkuu is going to be attacked.”
The Kougra’s eyes widened, extenuating the wrinkles on his forehead. “That is a very serious statement, child. Matters of military are no basis for jokes.”
“I am being serious,” Lunara said. “I overhead someone saying there’s going to be a coup.” Lunara left out the part where the statement had been overhead through a mysterious amulet discovered under the palace grounds which she had, on more than one occasion, been forbidden to explore.
She was surprised that Goro placed a firm paw on her arm and led her forcibly out of the hall…
Date: Feb 21st
"Your father will be hearing about this when he gets back!" Said Goro in a stern voice. "Your jokes are not welcome here, go back to your calligraphy class."
With a sigh Lunara made her way back to class. She could not stop thinking about what the voices had said.
Later that evening, when Lunara was finally alone in her room, she began to toy with her amulet once again. She flipped through voices, until a familiar female voice caught her attention.
"Shin," the voice said. "Everything is set in place, we are ready to attack Shenkuu."
"Well done," replied a rough male voice. "We will attack at sunrise."
Lunara felt sick at what she had just heard. She had to warn Goro, but he wouldn't believe her. The only way Goro would listen to her is if she told him about the amulet.
Lunara knew what she had to do. She took a deep breath and made her way to the main hall where Goro would be.
"Goro," Lunara said. "There is something we must discuss...
Date: Feb 21st
Lunara trailed off, puzzled. Goro was not in the main hall, where he always was at this time of night. It was deserted, but for a member of the cleaning staff. The Yellow Meerca was dusting the lanterns that hung overhead, balanced precariously on his tail. The Meerca's name was Shu, Lunara remembered, and was very friendly. Lunara hesitated for a moment, then walked up to him.
"Excuse me," she began politely, looking up at the Meerca, "I was wondering if you happened to know where I could find Goro. I need to speak to him urgently."
Shu looked down at Lunara, then dropped down to the floor and bowed at once. "No, your highness," he said. "The last time I saw him was this afternoon. He was headed out of the palace, but I do not know where he might have gone."
Lunara was now seriously worried. If both her father and Goro were gone, who could she turn to for help? She was totally unprepared for such a situation. She was beginning to wish she had paid more attention to her military tutor...
The Meerca looked at Lunara in concern. "Is there anything I can help you with, your highness?"
Lunara blinked rapidly to keep her tears of frustration in. "No, I don't think so. Thank you for offering."
As she turned away, the amulet slipped out of her pocket onto the floor. She bent down and picked it up. When she straightened up, she noticed Shu looking at the amulet with a strange expression on his face.
"Where did you find that?" Shu whispered, his eyes glued to the amulet.
Lunara looked at the amulet, then back at Shu. "Do you know something about this?" she asked.
"Yes. That amulet is..."
Date: Feb 22nd
"the Amulet of Lapis Lazuli." Shu's eyes were fixated on the amulet as he spoke. "It hasn't been seen since ancient times. Few still know the tales of the Amulet. The legends of old tell of the many magical powers is possessed."
The lanterns that Shu had been cleaning began to flicker as a wind blew through the hall. Shu's voice trailed off and his expression changed from excitement and awe to one of concern.
"You highness," Shu's voice was almost stern now. "One of the powers this Amulet possesses is the ability to listen to the conversations of others. Is that why you were looking for your father, the King, earlier? And why you are now looking for Goro?"
Lunara paused. Shu clearly knew a lot about the Amulet, and he was always friendly and kind to her. But could she trust him?
Lunara crossed her paws out of anxiousness. The wind blowing through the hall seemed so loud now.
Date: Feb 22nd
"I overheard that they are going to attack at sunrise," she said carefully, voice almost a whisper, because Goro had not given her a chance, and Shu had no reason to believe her.
Shu studied her, and Lunara stared back at him, expression unwavering.
"I believe you." Shu's voice jolted Lunara out of her thoughts, "and if what you hear is true, Shenkuu is in big trouble. Maybe this would be the key to our solution." He gestured to the amulet.
"May I take a closer look at it?"
Shu seemed so fixated on the amulet that for a second, Lunara almost doubted him.
But it is Shu, she reminded herself silently. Shu, whom she had practically known since she was born, who she had turned to when she was hungry for a midnight snack, when she had scrapped a knee, and when expectation of her being 'the daughter of His Majesty' became too heavy for her shoulders.
Date: Feb 23rd
... decided to put her faith in Shu.
However, what Shu requested a few moments later made Lunara concerned again.
"Your Highness, will you allow me to keep this amulet for the night? I promise I will return it tomorrow morning."
Reluctantly, Lunara nodded assent. Shu had done so much for her over the years, so repaying a small favor couldn't hurt much.
Or that was what Lunara had thought.
At the crack of dawn, Lunara made her way to the Meerca's quarters. She stopped herself from knocking on the sliding door when she heard a shuffling sound. Maybe Shu was changing clothes; Lunara decided to wait outside for a little while.
A hushed sound from the room snapped Lunara back to attention. Unable to make out the sound, she leaned in and put her ear to the door. She let out an involuntary gasp when she heard Shu talking ...
Date: Feb 23rd
...to Shin, whose voice she recognized from the Amulet!
"...it's right here. Lunara gave it to me quite willingly yesterday evening," Shu replied.
"Perfect, perfect. That Amulet is the key to this whole plan. Was there any trouble, regarding its powers?"
Now that she heard the two of them talking, Lunara could hear their voices sounding similar. Shu and Shin... could they be related?
"No, she overheard you discussing your plans to seize the palace, but no one believed her. As far as I know, the only person she told was Goro and that old oaf is probably still slumbering peacefully."
"Excellent. Now, you are quite sure the passage you opened is secure?" Shin asked. "No one will have found it overnight?"
"Lunara's the only one who wanders where she isn't supposed to, and she was in her chambers all night," Shu replied.
"Let us go and meet with the rest of the troops then. In but a few hours, you will be out from under the thumb of the Emperor, brother."
"Trust me, I look forward to it."
Lunara realized just in time that the end of the conversation meant that Shu and Shin would be exiting the room. She hastened away, determination setting in. Shu betrayed her and now he was ready to betray her father as well. Very little angered the Cybunny princess, but this had done the job. She was ready to tell her father everything and not stop until he believed her and took action.
While making her way to the Great Hall, however, Lunara was not very careful and she squeaked in surprise as she rounded a corner and ran straight into...
Date: Feb 23rd
"Father!" Lunara gasped.
"Lunara, what are you doing near the staff quarters?" the Emperor said sternly. "This is no place for a princess to be wandering around!"
"I must tell you something, Father. It's urgent!" Lunara clutched at her father desperately, eyes wide with fright.
Seeing his daughter's fear was genuine, the Emperor's face softened. "Calm down, Lunara," the Gelert said in his most soothing voice. "Is this about what you told Goro yesterday, about someone attacking the palace?"
"Well, yes!" Lunara said in surprise. She thought the Kougra had dismissed her concerns, but perhaps he had taken her warning seriously, after all.
"Come with me, daughter, quickly," the Emperor said as he turned her away from Shu's quarters. "There is something we must discuss."
The two hurried down the hall toward the Emperor's chambers. The guard standing in front of the large double doors that led to the Emperor's rooms stepped aside as they approached to permit them entry.
"You see," the Emperor said as the door closed behind him, "though Shu has been part of the palace staff for years, we have suspected as of late that his loyalties may have been shifting," the Emperor said sorrowfully. "Goro has been investigating this issue for me, and he discovered Shu had recently been contacted by his long-lost brother, Shin. Shin was the bad seed of the family, always getting in trouble with the law." The Emperor bowed his head sadly. "One day, years ago, Shin just disappeared and no one heard from him until he reached out to Shu."
Lunara, who had been listening intently to her father's story, shook her head in confusion. "But what are we going to do?" she asked. "They are going to attack any minute!"
"Lunara," her father chided. "I am the Emperor of Shenkuu! Do you think I did not have a plan? I had been trying to shield you from this treachery, to protect you, but I should have known you'd become involved somehow." The Gelert sighed in exasperation. "Here's what's going to happen..."
How will the story end?
Date: Feb 24th
Lunara waited patiently in her chambers. She was nervous; very nervous, but tried to keep calm. So many things could go wrong with this plan - Lunara would just have to make sure that she was successful.
There was a quiet knock at the door. Lunara straightened up, and said clearly, "Enter."
Shu walked in, then bowed to the princess. "Good morning, your highness." Shu's voice was as friendly and polite as ever. "I hope you slept well?"
"Yes, thank you," said Lunara. She scanned the face of what she thought had been a friend. There was no trace of the treachery she knew to be forthcoming.
Shu closer to the princess. "I apologize for borrowing it so suddenly, but I learned a great deal about the attack from it. I believe I can stop the attack, but I need your help."
Lunara jumped up, trying her best to appear panicked. "What do you mean?" she cried.
"Hurry!" Shu took Lunara by the hand and led her out of the door. They raced down the hall, almost running into the occupants as they rushed past. They ran out into the garden; the light was so bright in contrast to the indoors that Lunara stumbled. Shu helped her regain her balance, then led her towards the far corner of the gardens, which was shaded by graceful willows and graced with the soothing presence of a waterfall. As they passed one of the larger trees, Lunara was suddenly grabbed by someone that had been lurking behind it.
Lunara gasped, not even needing to act surprised. Holding on to her left arm was a Blue Meerca. He had an air of menace to him that became even clearer as he growled, "So nice to finally meet you, princess."
"Who are you?" Lunara demanded, though she knew from the moment he spoke that this was the infamous Shin. "What do you want with me?"
Shu kept a firm grip on Lunara's other arm, and answered for his brother. "This is my brother Shin, soon to be the new Emperor of Shenkuu! With your father away and his heir arrested, our army will have no trouble taking the palace." Shu and Shin proceeded to tie up Lunara. "In a matter of minutes," Shu continued, "the army will come through the secret tunnel that was carved into that waterfall." He gestured with his tail towards the feature.
"The passage is in the waterfall!" Lunara called out. Shu and Shin glanced at each other in confusion, which turned to shock and rage as several of Shenkuu's most prominent sorcerers released their spells of concealment and started jointly casting a spell to reveal the tunnel. "There it is!" shouted one of the sorcerers, as a gaping hole appeared in the rock face. Lunara could just barely make out an army on its way through the tunnel. The Emperor, who had appeared along with a few palace guards and Goro when the sorcerers dropped the spell of concealment, commanded, "seal the tunnel!"
The rock face began to close slowly at first. When the hole was about a third of the initial size, it snapped closed with a loud bang, startling a few Kazeriu out of nearby trees.
As Goro hurried to untie Lunara, the Emperor looked sadly down at the two Meerca who were now surrounded by palace guards. "Why, Shu?" he asked quietly.
Shu glared up at the Emperor. "You ask me why, when I had the chance to enter the academy as a scholar but you denied my entry, just so I would be shackled to your spoiled daughter for the rest of my life?"
The Emperor looked at Shu in confusion. "What do you mean? I never knew you had aspirations to enter the academy."
Shu burst out, "Don't lie to me. I know - " he stopped short, then turned slowly to face Shin. "It was you, wasn't it." It was not a question.
Shin tried to smooth it over. "I needed a way to get into the palace, so I just removed your application from the academy. Once I was Emperor, I could have gotten you into the academy anyway-" he stopped talking at the look on Shu's face.
The guard holding Shu and Shin spoke awkwardly into the ensuing silence. "Shall I place them in a holding cell, sire?"
The Emperor waved a paw in resignation. "Yes, please. Perhaps they should be separated, as well."
The guards led the prisoners away, followed by the sorcerers and Goro. The Emperor started walking back to the palace, stopping short when he realized Lunara was hanging back. "Lunara, are you coming? You shouldn't be late for your lessons."
Lunara called, "in a minute, Father." The Gelert shrugged and continued on. Lunara picked up the amulet that had fallen from Shu's fingers in the excitement of the morning, or had he dropped it on purpose for her? As Lunara picked up the amulet, she heard the voice of the female she had heard earlier. "The plan has failed, Master. We should have known better than to trust those Meercas."
A new voice joined the female's. Lunara could not tell whether it was male or female, nor whether it belonged to a Neopet at all, but it was scratchy and soft, and chilled Lunara to the core. "It does not matter. This is only a minor setback, and there are many more plans to put into play. We will have what we want, soon enough."
Date: Feb 25th
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