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||You are on Week 867
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 Eight Hundred Sixty Seven Ends Friday, February 12
|Irwin sighed in contentment, wiping the sweat off his brow as he looked down at his work. A new row of strawberry plants had just been planted in the rich soil. His gaze roved over the rows where cabbages, potatoes, and herbs had all been planted the past few days. He hoped that with his tender care the plants could grow healthy and provide him with enough food for the coming season. The life of a farmer could sometimes be tough, but the Brown Kacheek thought it was well worth it. The feeling of accomplishment and the wonder at seeing new plants spring from the ground was all he wanted in life. He was happy.
The sudden drum of hoofbeats on a nearby path startled him, and he looked up. The Kacheek narrowed his eyes in a squint as he tried to see where the sound was coming from. Finally, a white shape burst from the line of trees at the edge of Irwin’s fields. He stared in surprise as a Royal Uni galloped towards him, closing the gap between them with surprising swiftness. As the Uni drew closer, Irwin could see the look of concentrated determination in his eyes, and it made the farmer nervous. What could a member of the Royal Court want here at his humble farm?
Letting out a resounding neigh, the Uni rose into a mighty rear beside the Kacheek, pawing at the sky with his hooves. When he dropped to the ground again, he cleared his throat. Irwin waited with bated breath to see what he had to say. Had he done something to anger the Court?
“A message from the King!” whinnied the Uni importantly. “The King’s Court is under attack by a dreadful monster! Each day it returns to destroy a little more of the castle. Our Knights have not yet been able to fight it off. Please spread word to all you know – the King is looking for recruits to help drive off the beast once and for all! Any that help will be handsomely rewarded.”
For the first time, the Uni seemed to truly look at him, fixing him with an appraising eye as he waited for a response. Irwin was flabbergasted. He was a farmer, not a fighter! How could he ever defeat a monster?
“I-I am sorry, sir. I fear I would be no help in the matter. I do not know how to fight, let alone destroy a fearsome beast. But I will spread the word to the Town and see if anyone there may help. And I can spare some of my crops if the recruits are in need of food?”
The Uni sighed, but seemed to agree that he would be of no help in a battle. “Keep your food, farmer – we have more than enough at the castle. But thank you. If you do meet anyone that can help, send them to the King’s Court at dawn in three days time. I must be off. Farewell!”
Irwin watched as the proud Uni galloped off again. He gulped at the thought of a terrible creature attacking the Kingdom, and shook his head in frustration at his uselessness. He felt like a coward, but what good would it do for him to join the fight if he didn’t know how? With a sigh, he turned his attention back to his own work. He was done planting for the day. He would put his tools away and then return to water the plants and seeds.
Picking up his tools, Irwin called for his Bika, Torrin. The trusty Petpet came trotting over immediately. He nuzzled Irwin’s hand, looking for a treat or attention, and the farmer rubbed the Bika’s nose affectionately. Torrin stood still as Irwin loaded up his tools into his helper’s saddlebags. He smiled, cheered by his little friend’s presence. As they turned to walk back to the barn, however, a sudden shadow fell over them. Irwin heard Torrin whinny in terror and the farmer looked up to see a massive shape blotting out the sun.
Date: Feb 8th
Irwin had never seen such a behemoth. He hadn’t even imagined such a thing. The sheer scale of it! A long, serpentine body sat on bloated hindquarters. A scaly neck was topped with a draconic head, crowned with spikes which were silhouetted as the rays of the sun fought to escape out from behind the monster. Irwin felt frozen in its shadow, fear and awe mixing awfully in his veins—from where he stood, the blocked-out sun looked like a twisted halo, fit for no Angelpuss, but a Devilpuss or Mutant! It was only Torrin’s frantic whinnies that brought him back to the moment.
Stumbling backwards, he could barely keep his hand on his Bika’s reins as the two of them sprinted back across his new strawberry plants. Dully, Irwin noticed Torrin’s hooves ploughing through the fresh soil. I’ll have to do re-do that tomorrow, he thought, his mind numb. If there even was a tomorrow. The wintry bite of fear spurred him on, icy and sharp. He could see the whites of Torrin’s terrified eyes as they slid behind the gardening shed that marked the end of Irwin’s farm, and the start of the forest.
The wood of the oak was mossy, and the fenny smell of the ancient woods bore down on them like a wet, musty breath. The monster bellowed, and the trees moaned, their wood resonating with the deep bass. Irwin clapped his hands over his mouth, and pulled Torrin’s muzzle close to him. The look on his beloved Bika’s face broke Torrin’s heart. He had rescued the poor petpet as a young foal from a farm on the other side of a castle, where he had experienced much hardship, and only through Irwin’s great love and care had the small Bika been able to blossom again. “I won’t let anything happen to you,” Irwin said fiercely. “To us.” Perhaps if he had been alone, Irwin would not have been as brave, but with the two of them there, he knew he had a duty.
Irwin had never considered himself a brave Kacheek, and he wasn’t sure he did now, either. But in him, somewhere under his trusty, soil-stained overalls, a sprout of courage lifted its leafy head from the heavy fear within him. Schemes flashed through Irwin's mind, as quick as the playing cards he liked to bring out with his neighbours in the afternoons when his work was done. The castle, he thought. They could lead the creature to the castle, and there the King and his knights could attack it. They were the finest in the land; surely it would be easy for them. But hadn’t the Uni said that no knight had been able to fight it off? His heart sank. There was no way he would willingly endanger his King by leading the monster to a defenceless castle. The brass cry of the castle’s alarm trumpets had already begun to ring out across the fields. Irwin peeked out from behind the oak, and shivered as he heard the monster echo the trumpets with a bone-chilling roar, its huge head swinging toward the sound. They could distract the colossus, lead it somewhere else—but where? The forest? Irwin had an awful vision of the dreadful thing crashing through the ancient trees, devastating the forest, and he and Torrin trapped among the trees as they splintered like matchsticks under the monster’s terrible feet. No, he thought grimly, the forest wouldn’t do.
But something needed to be done. Torrin whimpered, and Irwin patted his flank with more strength than he felt he had. Irwin ran his hands down Torrin’s fur, and glanced into the saddlebags. There were his tools: the spade seemed most like a potential weapon. Irwin seized it and held it out in front of him like a sword. He sliced the air a few times experimentally. The spade had a good weight to it. If only he had something for his other hand. A short stick, maybe. He glanced around, and his gaze alighted on a club-like branch on the tree across from him. Perfect. Irwin sidled to the tree and yanked on the branch. After a few attempts, it fractured off, dangling like a broken limb.
“Ouch!” a sibilant voice hissed. Irwin shrieked, and clapped his hand over his mouth again—had he attracted the monster? No, it seemed too preoccupied with the trumpets—before turning to the source of the sound.
It was a Cyodrake! A wild one—Irwin had never seen a Cyodrake before. It wasn’t as large as he’d imagined—perhaps it was young?—but there was something primal about its lone red eye, sitting like a yellow moon in its small purple face, rimmed with moss on which tiny pink flowers were blooming. He felt it belonged somehow to the forest; it had appeared so suddenly from the labyrinth of branches, and it leaned up against the tree like it would a friend. But everyone knew petpets didn’t talk. I must have imagined it, thought Irwin, and he grabbed Torrin’s reins, scooting away. The last thing he needed was to have something else attack him.
“You aren’t imagining anything.” The little wild petpet glared at Irwin. “That’s my tree you’ve just cracked,” the little Cyodrake said, with a spiny pout. “You could have asked.”
“Sorry,” Irwin said automatically.
“You’re forgiven,” replied the Cyodrake at once, blinking its eye. “Well, go on then. You’re going to fight. I can tell. The trees told me. But if you asked me,” it said airily, “not that you did—well, all I can say is that I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the Cyodrake concluded, and it smiled, showing every one of its perfect, needle-sharp teeth.
Date: Feb 9th
"Wouldn't do what?" Irwin asked slowly.
"Fight." The Cyodrake turned its head, the single eye a hypnotizing red as it stared at Irwin.
"But — but the monster!" Irwin cried. He couldn't help the fear that twisted through his mind. The great, terrible shape that cast his entire farm into shadow. The call that still echoed through the woods — the words of the Uni looking in desperation for someone able to face off against the monster. Wouldn't fight — nonsense! Someone had to fight!
Even if it ... Irwin swallowed.
"Is it a monster?" The Cyodrake asked, getting on to its feet and waddling back towards the tree with the broken branch. It was not entirely snapped off — a sharp pang in his chest. He had ruined this Cyodrake's home — all because he wanted a stick. He was a farmer, not a fighter. This great tree loomed high overhead with its dark green branches, the soft loam of a thousand seasons beneath his feet. Torrin whickered, nudging Irwin again. He reached over and gave the Bika a soft pat, trying to soothe those anxious nerves. He had promised to keep his petpet safe, he was loyal to his king — yes, it was a monster! They wouldn't be carrying up a great fuss if it wasn't!
"I saw it!" Irwin said defensively. "It was huge!"
"Does size make a monster? You are bigger than me and thus far, you've ruined my branch and threw me on the ground. I would call that monstrous. Are you the monster?"
"No! I'm — I'm just a farmer," Irwin said.
"Just a farmer — see what I mean?"
Irwin blinked. "You're saying ... it's not a monster?"
"I'm saying that just by calling something a monster doesn't automatically make it so. It's not like you've ... met it, right? So, how do you know it's a monster? And if you do not know it is, why would you fight it?"
"But the King — A member of the Royal Court himself told me of this monster and that it has been terrorizing the castle! You can hear the alarms from here!" Irwin said, throwing an arm in the direction of those sharp, desperate calls for attack. Cyodrake seemed unbothered by this. Its sharp, ivory claws helping it climb up the great oak tree and onto another branch. The dark purple of its scales helped it blend in with the cool shadows of the forest. There was a creeping sense in the back of his neck that he's being watched, that singular eye trained only on him.
"You can believe me or you can not, Farmer Irwin. I'm just giving you my opinion which you still didn't ask for. Honestly, I'm going out of my way to help you, the big monster that ruined my tree." That grin, revealing those teeth again and Irwin remembered those stories about how sharp and powerful those teeth and jaws could get. Cyodrakes were considered an incredibly powerful petpet — Torrin's impatient whinny reminds him of it.
He takes hold of the reins again and starts to step away when he remembers that he never told the Cyodrake his name.
Irwin turns around to face the wild petpet but the eye that was watching him is suddenly gone, vanished into the dark shadows of the forest. He swallows, gripping tight to the spade in his hand and the — branch that had neatly fallen to the ground in front of the great oak tree. A gift? A warning? Irwin didn't know much about signs and portents and the like. He was a farmer!
Taking the branch into his hand, he nods. Torrin plodding at his side, he heads through the forest. The noise of the castle begins to slowly fade, the heavy trunks of the trees enveloping him with their moss-heavy bark and the slow crawl of lichen. Irwin follows his nose, smelling the sharp cut of a breeze and the grass against the deep, heavy earth smell of the forest. That had to be the way out — or at least, a way out.
Where ... was he?
It looked like no part of of Meridell that he knew. The grass beneath his feet felt dry and parched, the soil loose and filled with stone, everything withered with the lack of moisture. A field, perhaps once but now it was — nothing. Torrin whimpered and Irwin nodded his head. He felt the same, unsure and scared. What was he doing? He needed to go back, he needed to tell the others about the monster!
He — watched as a great dark blot in the sky stretched great leathery wings, the wind shaking the trees as it beat down to slow its landing. There was a great foul smell in the air, rotting smells and Irwin covered his sensitive nose and stepped Torrin back. Was this the beast? Has he — stumbled right into it? His heart raced, fear making the spade tremble his hand.
Irwin held it up — what would that do against such a terrible creature?
And then he heard a sad, mournful cry coming from the monster. It was a sound similar to Torrin when Irwin first found him — alone and aching with grief.
Irwin put the spade back into the saddleback and walked Torrin back to the edge of the forest. "Petpets don't have good luck with beasts in Meridell. You just wait here, I'm going to take a look."
Date: Feb 10th
Torrin grabbed onto Irwin's sleeve with his teeth, trying to pull the farmer back. The Petpet's eyes rolled with alarm, but Irwin patted him on the neck gently to soothe him.
"It's okay, buddy. I think there is more to this "monster" than meets the eye... I have to try and help."
Torrin watched with worry as the Kacheek slowly made his way back to the withered field. He picked up the sound of sobbing once more. Cautiously, the farmer stepped forward until he could see the largest Mutant Draik he had ever seen. His heart pounded with fright and for a moment he froze in fear. However, he soon noticed that the beast's clawed hands were covering its face, and the Draik was wracked with heart-wrenching sobs. With a nervous inhale, the farmer stepped into view.
"Um... hello? I mean you no harm, g-good fellow. I-is there something I can do for you? Why are you crying so?"
The Draik's head snapped up in surprise, and Irwin caught a glimpse of puffy, red-rimmed eyes. The creature looked truly dejected and in spite of his fear, sympathy began to well up inside Irwin. He hated to see anyone so sad.
The Mutant sniffed loudly before responding. "Oh, you're just going to try and kill me too - I can see your fear in your eyes! Why does everyone think I'm a monster? I went to the castle to get help for my poor sister - she has been trapped in a cave by an evil faerie - but they thought I was there to do them harm! They barred the entrance to the castle and started shooting arrows at me, can you imagine? In desperation for my sister, I tried to climb the walls. How was I to know they weren't as sturdy as they looked? I accidentally knocked off a stone or two, and then the Knights thought I was destroying the castle! Luckily my scales are so tough that they couldn't hurt me. But no one would listen no matter how many times I tried to go back and explain, and now my poor sister is no closer to being rescued! Oh!"
He began to sob again, pointing a shining claw to a dingy-looking cave with several large boulders blocking the entrance. There was indeed a soft whimpering coming from the cave. Hesitantly, the farmer reached out and patted the Draik on his scaly arm. The other Neopet blinked, seemingly confused as to why Irwin hadn't run away yet.
"Do you need help moving the boulders? I have several tools back at the farm that might help," he offered.
The Draik shook his massive head. "No, I'm afraid no amount of strength can move those boulders. I tried! They seem to be enchanted. But the faerie didn't seem particularly powerful - I'm sure that the Court Wizard could help, if only I could talk to the King to request him! But they'll only attack me again!"
Sensing that the Draik would break into tears once more, Irwin hurriedly said, "What if I went to the King to ask for help? I met one of his Court just earlier today. Perhaps I could convince them to listen to me?"
"You would do that for me? You don't even know me!"
"Of course," Irwin exclaimed, "I can't stand for anyone to have to suffer. What's your name? Mine's Irwin."
"My name is Merek. Thank you so much for doing this, Irwin. Let me fly you to the woods at the outskirts of the castle. It's the least I can do. I can't let the Knights see me, though, so you'll have to walk the last bit."
So Irwin agreed to do something he never thought he would do, and in a moment the small Brown Kacheek had clambered onto the scaly back of the huge Mutant Draik.
How will this story end?
Date: Feb 11th
...The Kacheek looked over at his petpet. "I'll be back soon," he said.
And then they took to the skies.
"Alright Merek, this way!" guided Irwin as they flew through the skies. "This way to the cast--!"
"I know how to get to the castle, I've been there before," replied the Draik, a touch annoyed.
The Kacheek grinned sheepishly. "Heh, sorry. I was just caught in the thrill of the moment."
Merek gave him a bemused smile.
They landed half a mile from the heavily fortified castle, just outside its range.
"I will venture to the courtyard," started the farmer, "herald your arrival, and tell them what it is you desire. Hopefully that will convince them that you are not a monster that needs to be combated, and we can go and save your sister."
"That sounds excellent," agreed the Draik as he lowered the Kacheek to the ground.
Irwin ran to the castle. The Uni he had encountered earlier stood guard, along with a myriad of other "best and brightest" throughout the land. "Who goes there?" the Uni called as the Kacheek came into view. "Oh, it is you, farmer. Have you decided to take up arms after all?"
"No, do not fight!" he replied, gasping for breath. "The monster is not a monster! He is merely an oversized Draik, and is but half a mile from here -- he requests the assistance of the Court Wizard to free his sister from a cave." Irwin bowed. "Please, allow him admission."
The Uni frowned and looked toward some of the other knights. They nodded to each other. "Bring him here."
"Yes, right away sir," replied Irwin as he darted back into the brush.
"Alright friends," started the Uni once Irwin was out of earshot. "It might be a few days early, but we have the element of surprise on OUR side this time."
On cue, the Draik arrived. Irwin, who had been riding him, was lowered to the ground.
Merek approached as the guards stood, looking way up at him. This seemed to be a success. Step... step... "Hello--" he boomed warmly.
But his introduction was interrupted by a full onslaught from the knights and mages, with the clerics and bards offering support behind them.
The giant Draik roared as he tried to fight back, but was quickly surrounded and fell, tied to the ground.
Irwin took a step back, absolutely horrified. "What -- what is... THIS!?" he babbled dumbly.
The Uni gave him a disapproving look and galloped up to him. "You led him here, now fight, farmer!"
"No, I refuse to!" Irwin replied, but his words were lost on the battlefield. The farmer, tears in his eyes, looked over at the "monster"; Merek had a pleading look in his eyes, a look that said, "I trusted you, Irwin." The last thing the Draik saw was the Court High Wizard stride up and send a blast of magic that completely incapacitated the Draik -- Merek was out cold.
And then a thunderous uproar of cheering washed over everyone. The King and Kingdom were saved!
"STOP!" cried Irwin, loudly, piercingly. "ALL OF YOU!" he yelled in rage. "You took down this large innocent creature in his hour of need. None of the chaos he wrought would have happened had you just listened to him and HELPED him. YOU are the monsters. YOU ARE THE MONSTERS!"
The farmer hesitated and took a step back. The crowd was beginning to turn on him -- he did not have long before he would be surrounded.
"Tough day?" came a sibilant voice. Irwin turned in its direction, and saw the Cyodrake -- flashing its sharp grin -- riding Torrin. The farmer looked back and forth between Merek and the petpets. With a resigned sigh, he darted toward the latter, and the three ran into the forest.
"I'm sorry about your friend," began the Cyodrake as they hurried through the thicket. "You Neopets are cruel and ruthless."
"Only sometimes," Irwin defended. Thinking back to what had just transpired, he added, defeated, "Alright, perhaps most of the time."
"So what about you, Neopet?" asked the one-eyed petpet critically. "Are you cruel and ruthless?"
The Kacheek frowned pensively, and then with resolve. "I'll go to a neighbouring kingdom. I'll find another wizard or high priest or someone, anyone who can help Merek's sister -- and I'll try and seek help for Merek, too, if it's not too late."
"Good," replied the Cyodrake with a knowing smile. "I will stay with you, for now -- help you navigate the forest. And then you are on your own."
"With your Bika, of course," the Cyodrake finished.
They walked on in silence. Irwin started the day as a farmer -- as he had started every day for the past many years. Now he was not sure what he was. He wasn't even sure if he still belonged to the Kingdom.
But he was Irwin. He had Torrin. But, as always -- he was willing to help. And he was willing to seek justice.
And that would be enough for now.
Date: Feb 12th
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