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||You are on Week 733
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 Thirty Three Ends Friday, June 24th
|The darkness is encompassing. Absolute.
It’s difficult to tell time when you have no means to gauge its passing. Sunrise and set, high noon, even the gentle light of the stars – they’re all blackness to me, indistinguishable and impermeable. Not a trace of the world outside makes its way here; not light, not sound, not even the heat. I miss colors. It’s been five sleep cycles since I’ve seen any.
The darkness is not infinite – perhaps it would be better if it were. But my hands have traced these walls, their grooves and ridges and snaggled ancient stones, too many times to hope there might be some corridor or handle I’ve missed. Above me, well. There must be something there, since I’m pretty sure that’s the way I came, but your average Ruki doesn’t have wings. Not that I’m your average Ruki, granted, but… still no wings. Maybe I should have gone for that Faerie Paint Brush after that last great haul. Even a Transmogrification Potion would have done the trick. Hindsight has this obnoxious way of being right all the time. After all this time alone in the dark, I can practically give it its own personality.
It’s the perils of tomb raiding, I guess. Ancient Sakhmetians weren’t known for keeping mercy in mind as they built their traps.
My supplies have carried me this far – there aren’t many things I’m thankful for right now, but the necessity of packing plenty of water for marks in the Lost Desert is one of them. But I’m morbidly aware they won’t last forever. Already I have more empty bottles than filled ones. My trusty lantern has long since gone out, shattered in the fall – what I’d give for its simple flame right now!
I don’t know how far underground I am. If somebody doesn’t find me soon… well. Let’s just say, hypothetically, that if someone were to find me at a time that isn’t soon, they might mistake me for one of the tomb’s original inhabitants.
Yeah, there are some things that I’d just prefer not to think about.
So how did I get here? Well, that’s a long story…
Date: Jun 20th
My name is Lucas, and I'm a relic-retriever. Exploring hidden places and searching for potentially expensive items is my specialty. It's a very luck-based job, if I'm being honest, but the payoff can be really worth it - I mean, if you can manage to survive most of the situations you will face. I usually work by and for myself, but I usually take one or two job opportunities when necessary.
Oh, but back to the question. I'm trapped inside a Sakhmet tomb because of a series of mistakes I made during the last few hours. I was looking for an item, as you've probably already guessed. What item? It's a statue of the head of an Anubis. This time it's not for me, but for a Neopian who came to me. Nevermind that for now. The job didn't seem dangerous at the time and I would be paid nicely, so I took it.
I've had a good amount of time to think about what lead me down here, and I think it all began the exact moment I entered this abandoned temple...
Date: Jun 21st
You see, usually, when I take these jobs, I try and scope out the place first. You know, get a feel for what I'm supposed to be expecting. But the place in question was old and sacred, and it just felt plain wrong to ask around about it.
The map I got from my client had me go through the outskirts of the city, straight into a whirling sandstorm that I'd waited days for. ("You can't find the entrance without being lost.") I thought it was weird at the time, but most of my clients are-- and the thing about this job is trust. You can't go into these situations without at least sort-of trusting your client.
Anyways, I walked headfirst into this whirlwind and had to close my eyes because I couldn't see where I was going. Once I could no longer feel the sand and the wind on me, I thought I was good and lost enough to begin searching for this place.
The map was vague, but said nothing about a giant stone obelisk carved with Ancient Sakhmetian, and the feeling of being watched by at least a dozen Ghost Kyrii grinning from an omnipresent darkness behind a shadowy entrance.
But, you know me. I never turn back...
Date: Jun 21st
… And perhaps, not turning back was going to be my downfall.
The entrance had been surprisingly cool. I was startled as I felt the simmering heat of the whirling, tempestuous desert sands ease, and a cool, shadowy darkness settled over me. Were the haunting gazes I felt I might have glimpsed in the darkness a reality, or my mind toying with fear?
In these situations, it’s difficult to tell. But getting lost in the sandstorm hadn’t been the last time I would wander aimlessly. For even now, when I slowly spun, I couldn’t see any form of light behind or ahead. Thank Fyora I still had the lantern.
Oh, the lantern. How I longed for that friendly glow now. How I had taken the merry, dancing light for granted!
As I lifted the shimmering structure, I found myself in something of a passageway. There was no sign of the entrance way. At least, I couldn’t see any path back to natural light. The angry, seething hiss of the sandstorm had dissipated, and there was only the sound of my own, slow breath.
The passage walls were ancient. They crumbled here and there, where the etchings that decorated them had been struck too deeply. Strange figures, characters I didn’t recognise. I’m not an academic, but I’ve seen enough ancient symbols… But these… These were different. Strange, swirling patterns, series of flowing dots. Rudimentary sketching of figures engaged in mysterious rituals. And there, the figure of an Anubis. Faint, but visible. In fact, it almost seemed… To shimmer.
Curious, I reached out to trace the lining of the etching. And that was my mistake. As I touched the cool stone wall, the entire passage began to shake…
Date: Jun 22nd
I felt the wall part between the touch of my fingers, splitting the Anubis figure in half as a new darkness spilled from the entrance-way that now lay before my eyes.
The shaking of the walls subsided, but the glow in the eyes of the Anubis still remained, a glaring enticement as if it dared me to move further into the blackness. Having no other choice really, I took a step forward past the green eyes whose gaze was so transfixed upon me.
I was a bit more wise this time, gently feeling along the walls and lightly stepping where I tread, careful not to slip a wire or trigger a trap. Surely if I were to slip up now... it would be my last mistake. For something in the gaze of the Anubis and in the sinking darkness ahead told me that not many adventurers had come this far, and I wasn't sure of there being any to leave since.
To my astonishment, the etchings and strange symbols I had seen before began appearing one by one, lining the walls and illuminating the path before me. As the darkness dispersed I could see there were no traps, but the light was not a hopeful one, no, something more sinister lay in its entrapment - and I was moments away from finding out what...
Reaching the end of the passage way I came to a door, very thick, very sturdy, but the symbols that laced the walls did not touch it. There were no handles, no knobs, nothing to twist or configure to get it open. But my nerves quickened, and I took courage to swat the dust and the cobwebs off and leaned my body into it to budge it open.
After several moments of exertion, I gave up thinking there was no way to open this without some sort of a key. So leaning my weight against an adjacent wall, I began thinking about another course of action before feeling something suddenly give way underneath my shoulder...
Date: Jun 22nd
My reflexes kicked in and I jumped back instinctively. A jagged piece of rock had retracted, much to my surprise. It then slid downwards to reveal a small pull lever built into the rock. I was inwardly impressed by the mechanisms of the tomb and also with my luck for avoiding traps and finding the hidden solutions so easily, which usually doesn't happen very often. But right now, I'm not so sure anymore.
It was fairly obvious that the lever was the 'key' to open the heavy metal door. I had visited too many ancient sites not to know this fact; concealed objects were almost always the answers to problems. There was a door which couldn't be opened in this case, so I pulled the lever without a second thought.
A sudden grinding sound filled the whole passage. Although I'm pretty used to these kinds of things by now, the deafening screech of metal against rock did hurt my ears, which was made worse by the loud reverberations. Boy, was it one robust door.
When the door had opened fully, the first thing that caught my attention was the soft emerald glow emanating from the eyes of the Anubis statue. I was momentarily transfixed by it and took a step forward into the rocky enclosure. I didn't realise that there were cracks in the ground nor the surrounding walls until a green light appeared where my foot made contact with the floor and began spreading across those fissures. It was a beautiful sight as it slowly permeated every inch of the rocks; the whole room was soon engulfed in the glow.
However, the same could not be said for what happened after because a few seconds later, the ground began to rumble and shake, and pebbles started to come loose from the ceiling...
Date: Jun 23rd
To what little credit I can give myself here, I reacted fast. I wasn’t so dazzled by the sight of the thing I’d come here for that I couldn’t recognize imminent danger. One needs good reflexes to stay in this line of work for long, and I’ve been in the business for ages. Over the years, I’ve pulled through walls that rain arrows and acid pits and more giant swinging spiked hammers than I ever needed to see in my life.
My point being, when I felt that rumbling – clearly that lever had done a little more than just open the door to the treasure room. So I hurled myself forward through the doorway and towards my prize – and not a moment too soon, because already the corridor behind me was crumbling, falling away into an abyss my frail lantern could not light. I knelt down on the cool stone, lungs heaving for breath as adrenaline rushed through me.
Problem was? The cracks hadn’t stopped at the corridor.
I’m… not going to describe the sound I made just then, but suffice to say I’m not terribly proud of it. Bright green lines were racing across the floor around me, in front of me, beside me. Stone sizzled, split, and roared as the floor shuddered apart. The temple shook as if in an earthquake – great chunks of rock were breaking, breaking and falling away.
I only barely managed to grab my lantern in time before the cracks consumed the ground beneath it. Already the stone beneath my feet was splintering. The far end of the hall was already gone.
The Anubis statue stood alone in the chaos, undisturbed, as the room around it crumbled into nothing. Its eyes seemed to glare at me, like the ghostly jade was alive and contemptuous of me.
So, of course, I took a running start across the shattering stone and leapt straight at it.
This wasn’t as mindless as it sounds. A jump up might have saved me about two seconds before I fell into the darkness along with the rest of the room – a jump forward might have sped it up. But the statue and the tiny ring of stone around it were the only things that were unaffected by this earthquake, and I was desperate for anything to hold onto.
I made it. My fingers curled around the Anubis’s stone jaw. My front feet scrabbled helplessly at the etchings on its chest while my hindlegs braced themselves against its back. All the while, I desperately clung to my lantern and its merciful light.
I hung there for dear life for the better half of a minute, watching as the floor around me crumbled into nothing and the room receded into an empty darkness even the statue’s glow could not light.
I don’t know how long I waited there, mouth dry, until the shaking subsided and the rumbling roar of falling stone quieted to silence. And then I was alone, with only the statue’s austere gaze to keep me company.
With the din silenced – but the danger no less present – my thoughts began to race. I had no doubt this was the statue I’d come here to reclaim – its head, anyway. I wasn’t the fondest of desecrating artifacts, but by this point I had more than a few bones to pick with this temple, so I could let it slide just once. I had packed a chisel along with everything else. Unfortunately, taking the head off was going to be slightly difficult when I was gripping said head for dear life.
How was I even going to get out of here? As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have wings, and without those or a floor, the latter of which I’d been taking for granted, I wasn’t going to leave the way I came. Or go anywhere at all. I was trapped where I was, and where I was was not a good place to be at all. The statue stood alone on a plinth no wider than itself, far too thin to stand on, and Fyora knew how long that was going to remain before it too crumbled into the darkness.
It was then I realized my grip was beginning to fail.
My palms were slick with sweat – how could they not be, after what I’d just gone through? Unfortunately, that sweat was slippery and wet and just generally everything you don’t want on your hands when you’re hanging for your life over a bottomless void.
One finger slipped from its perch. Then another. I struggled to adjust my grip, to wipe the perspiration from my paws and recapture my tenuous hold. My arms began to shake. My legs scrabbled desperately at smooth stone.
I had to think fast. But – wasn’t danger how I’d progressed through the rest of the temple? Touching suspicious symbols had opened the path; the only way to unlock the room that held the statue had been to trigger the trap I’d just escaped from – a trap whose only escape had been a leap of faith.
I looked down. Murky blackness looked back. Some quote about staring into abysses flitted through my frazzled head for one absurd moment.
A third finger slipped. I swallowed.
That’s when I made the biggest – and perhaps the last – mistake of my life.
With a yell, I let go and plummeted into the abyss…
Date: Jun 23rd
And landed with such a thud that I wasn't sure if the blackness around me was now me passing out or just the sheer darkness.
I had no desire to ever go back to work again.
And that's how I ended up here. In the dark. With nothing but a few bottles of water to keep me company. Not my ideal picture of a Friday night. I take what I can get.
The space is small. Tiny, even. The walls are circular. Enclosing me into the absolute darkness. I am normally a startling shade of red. Now I am camouflaged into the rest of the black.
My bottles of water are down to two. According to my counting underneath my breath, I have been consuming a bottle every two hours.
My, still wingless, back aches like nothing I have ever experienced before. There is not enough room to sit.
Oh, how I miss the beautiful glow of my lantern!
I trace the walls once more. I know every snag, crack and fold in the cold rock.
What I would give for a pair of wings!
I have given up on counting. All I know is that the minutes are passing agonizingly slow. I'm too thirsty not to take a single sip. Possibly two. Who's counting?
I pick at a part of wall that is bulging out. My nail breaks and tinkles to the floor.
My breath is the only sound I have known for at least two days. Maybe longer. How am I to know?
My pack is in tatters. The chisel I was supposed to have packed is nowhere in sight.
How I long for a glimmer of hope!
Surely an aide will come to me soon...?
Date: Jun 24th
… As days meander into nights and time passes for what seems an eternity, I lose track of hours. Hours are nothing here. I am nothing here.
We sit entombed, the Anubis statue and I. Slowly, I begin to feel myself going a little insane. I speak with it. Cursing it for my predicament, demanding it share with me details of the mysterious, cloaked client who sent me to what seems will be…
Water runs low. Only a few friendly drops remain in a solitary bottle to quench my thirst. I’m contemplating drinking them and sleeping, for I’m so very, very tired, when I hear the faint echo of footsteps.
Staggering to my feet, I croak helplessly.
“I’m down here! Help!”
I suppose they might not be friendly, but at this stage, does it matter?
But what greets me is soft laughter. I KNOW that laughter. I heard it when my client and I met, when he spoke about a mysterious statue head within a temple that I now know all too well.
I know every inch of the cursed place, really.
“Lucas, Lucas, Lucas. You appear to be stuck. I’m impressed though. Your provisions have kept you going longer than other pets have… er. Would have.”
I ignore the comment, so tired, so parched that dizziness causes spots to dance before my eyes. I can’t see where he speaks from. Only darkness and those merry spots, twirling and bouncing within my line of vision.
“Please… Get help. Get water.”
The voice is soft and soothing, melodic, almost. It does nothing to calm me, just increases the rising desperation within my soul.
“I’ve sent others, you know. They never come back with what I need. How many adventurers have I had to haul from this temple, hmmm?” The voice sounds sympathetic, but there is mocking beneath that kind question. Subtle sneering within the tone. I cough helplessly.
I attempt to ask why anyone needs an Anubis head so badly, but dehydration steals my words. It doesn’t matter, my client appears to understand.
“Why, I should have explained. What an oversight! The statue is very old, Lucas. With a horrible curse attached to it. The eyes are priceless. I’m sure you’ve seen that stunning emerald glow. Well, not emerald, my friend. Something far more precious. A magical substance. But if removed, they’ll turn their attacker to a form much like the statues own. Golden, replicating those magical eyes. I long for those gems. I could USE those gems, Lucas.”
I cough violently. I feel the dust of days… Or is it weeks… The dust within my lungs. I manage to croak even as I roll my eyes. How many of these foolish legends exist? I’ve seen so many supposed ‘cursed’ objects. There isn’t such a thing. Just warnings to keep fools from treasure.
“I’ll give you the gems. I’ll give you…” I break into coughing, dragging muyself to the statue. I don’t bother looking for my client. My eyes are dim, and my energy must focus on the task ahead. The voice sounds delighted.
“Oh, there’s a good fellow! Get me the gems and I’ll take you with me!”
An odd turn of phrase, but who cares? Using what strength remains, I sink my broken nails behind the first gem that makes up the Anubis’ eye…
And the entire room spins, melting to gold.
In a majestic house on Krawk Island, as the mist shrouds everything within sight, cloaking the ominous location from prying eyes, I study the unusual fellow I’ve come to meet. Amazing, the things he has in this oversized shack. Ancient status of every type of Neopet you can imagine, cast in solid gold. I wonder how old they are? The one closest to me, a Ruki, has a stunned expression on his features. I note that there is almost every species here, except my own. Well, that’s an oversight, isn’t it? Ignoring the most important type of Neopian in your statue collection! Rude.
Oh, sorry. My name is Grisha, and I’m an adventurer. I plunder tombs, collect relics. That sort of thing. Been a lot of work as of late, and this chance seems like too good an opportunity to give up. Oh, sure. Stealing antiquities might seem a little dodgy, but a Lupe has to eat, doesn’t he?
I study my client. The hood he wears cloaks his features, but he seems to be smirking a little.
“So you’re after this statue of an Anubis?”
The client nods, smiling sweetly.
“I need it for my collection…”
Date: Jun 24th
What happens next? (write the next paragraph of the story!)
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