A Storytellers' Journey Through Legends and Folklore:Part Three
For exposition’s sake, the late morning sun beat down on the protagonists.
“Now then,” began The Storyteller after they watched Goober’s ship start to set sail back to Krawk Island, “we need to get to the Lost City of Geraptiku. And I dare say, we should make sure we do this as soon as possible – avoid all other potential legends we may inadvertently run into.”
“That sounds wise,” agreed the Pant Devil as he adjusted his reading glasses. “If we are, indeed, so close to the climax of the tale, prolonging the journey with any further rising action would simply bore the readers.”
Maria nodded. “Certainly, and be therefore unnecessary obstacles.”
Sorri smiled. “I can guide us to the Lost City – I accidentally found it the last time I was here, er, and Mumbo Pango, but that’s potentially another story – however,” she added in her low voice, with a sheepish yet knowing grin, “I do ask to be flown above the trees once we get to Geraptiku, if that’s OK.”
“No problemo, bad luck-ito,” said the Pant Devil. “I can most certainly fly you up again once we’re there.”
“Perfect,” she responded, clapping her hands slightly.
The Storyteller cracked his knuckles. “Alright, Sorri,” he began, before turning to address everyone. “Come now, quick, run or at least speed walk – let us make haste to the Lost City!”
And the four ran. They followed Sorri, and dashed as fast as they could through Mystery Island.
“Would you like to hear the legend of my mask?” asked the Tiki Tack Man as the protagonists dashed by the Tombola stand.
“Sorry,” said The Storyteller.
“Yes?” answered Sorri.
“I don’t even have time for the drum kit bit!” lamented the Pant Devil.
The Storyteller gave them both a glare. “Sorry,” he stressed, gesturing to the Tiki Tack Man, “but we haven’t the time to give you a proper go at telling your story – we’ve a climax to get to!”
“Alright!” he called back at them as they continued running. “In short, it keeps my power in check – without it I’ll overload and be destroyed!” he curtly concluded.
“Great to hear!” shouted back Maria.
“Would you like to hear the legend of Mumbo Pango?” asked the Underwater Chef as they ran by.
“No, I apologize,” said The Storyteller, having learned from the Sorri/sorry bit.
“That’s OK!” replied the chef. “He’s just very hungry and I was actually wondering if you could find—”
“Not enough time!” shouted back Maria.
“And why are you still called the Underwater Chef, anyway,” started Sorri, “if you’re on Mystery Island now?”
Maria gave her a stern look. “Don’t start poking plot holes in established canon – we’d be here for several whole series parts, yet,” she said to the faerie, who nodded apologetically.
A Kougra leapt out at them, causing them to briefly tarry. “Would you like to hear / ‘Bout my humble beginnings / As a folk poet?”
“Unfortunately, I’m not Alstaf,” The Storyteller replied with a jump.
“Yeah, no,” said Sorri, “but I loved you in A Brynnso Christmas Special 2!”
Rorru sighed. “This legend remains / A tale for another time – / For an Alstaf tale.”
They were so close! They could almost feel the stale Lost City air—
“Would you like to hear the legend of the Secret Ninja Training School?” said the Techo Master’s Master.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t think we could do that one justice,” said the Pant Devil.
“Fair enough!” commented the statue as they dashed by.
“Why hello there!” said Dr. Sloth’s right hand Grundo, Esterhazy, with his characteristic unending smile. “Would you like to hear the legend of my idol and soon to be yours?”
“Get lost Esterhazy!” hissed The Storyteller as they avoided the Grundo. “This isn’t the Space Station! Your cameo doesn’t even make sense here!”
“Well, I thought I’d try anyway!” Esterhazy conceded with a shrug, his grin unwavering.
Finally, they were on the outskirts of the Lost City of Geraptiku.
“OK, so, what’s the plan?” asked the Gallery of Evil One.
The Eyrie grinned. “We’ve been building to this for a long time, and maybe it’s predictable, but here’s what we’re going to do…”
He learned them all in for a huddle and explained the plan.
“What’s with the nondescript whispering?” asked Sorri. “I’m not sure we even got anything explained – it was just one vague sentence.”
“That’s the point,” replied Maria with a mischievous smile. “It is much more interesting for the readers that way, do keep our plans obscure. But you’ll know what to do, by the power of storytelling.” She raised her fist into the air.
“Fair enough,” the faerie agreed with a grin. Turning to the Pant Devil, she asked, “A lift, good sir?”
“I don’t know about the ‘good’ part… or the ‘sir,’ but…” he trailed before lifting her up, with a small yelp on her part, and flying her above the trees.
“You know the plan!” shouted Maria to the two of them before they flew off toward the Lost City of Geraptiku, leaving the storytellers behind at the start of the dense thicket surrounding the city.
“So,” said The Storyteller to his protégé, “are you sure it was wise to send away our guide? Are you certain you can lead us to the entrance of the Lost City, despite never having travelled there previously?”
The Aisha nodded as she took his hand and took the lead. “Of course.” She beamed at him. “Sending Sorri and the Pant Devil ahead of us was a great idea, oh Storyteller, for them to scout the area. But if we truly are supposed to be here – if the climax truly will take place in the Lost City of Geraptiku – it’s only natural that we protagonists should be drawn to it, that we would encounter it practically instinctively.”
The Eyrie gave her a small smile. “Sage advice.”
“Why thank you,” she finished with a giggle.
And they walked through the forest, Maria tugging her idol behind her. The hot high sun – for it was now a far cry from their “dark and stormy night” beginnings – scorched from overhead. As it reached its pinnacle, the gypsy and her companion found themselves below the sign reading, “GERAPTIKU”.
“Well colour me surprised, that Pant Devil was right after all,” relented the Eyrie. “I shouldn’t have doubted his literary capabilities.”
“I think each of us – and yes I include the Pant Devil and Sorri – has become more than capable of understanding the principles of good storytelling, and guiding a story to a logical conclusion,” Maria responded.
The Storyteller frowned. “We’re not quite at the conclusion yet… but perhaps you have a point. If they can do it, maybe anyone can inherit the power and wisdom required to guide Storytelling.”
The gypsy’s lips turned into a devilish smile. “With our guidance and presence, of course.”
The Eyrie guffawed. “True.”
She released his hand, and together they stepped past the sign and into the Lost City. “To the steps of the tomb?” asked The Storyteller.
“That does seem to be where the story is headed, yes,” Maria returned. “The climax should be on the other side of those tomb doors… But you know the plan.” She smiled semi-sarcastically at him.
The storytellers walked up to the tomb and ascended the first step… and then stopped.
And they waited.
And still waited.
And the story did not progress.
And continued to not progress.
And continued to not progress.
And still continued to not progress.
And then the doors to the tomb flew open. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING JUST STANDING AROUND!?” roared the Hissi ghost, the inimical antagonist. “YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO COME INTO THE TOMB FOR OUR EPIC FINAL BATTLE!”
The gypsy stuck her tongue out at her literary creation. “Come down here and fight us, then!”
“Yeah!” boomed The Storyteller with bravado. “If you want to progress the story, you’ll come to us!”
There was a raw vengeance in her eyes, and the book in one hand and the pen in the other. “You’re going to be SORRY!” She quickly flew down to the stairs to them.
“You mean SORRI!” yelled the Storytellers in chorus, dashing away promptly upon delivering the one-liner; the Pant Devil swiftly flew in and dropped Sorri in their place.
The faerie wailed a loud and eerie shriek, and every tree in a 10-tree radius collapsed.
Just before both Sorri and the Hissi ghost were buried, the Pant Devil flew in and stole the book and pen from the distracted antagonist.
The ghost screamed as the trees fell around her and her unlucky adversary.
The Pant Devil quickly bestowed the pen to Maria and the book to The Storyteller. “Write write write!” he urged in a panic.
“Don’t panic. We’re professionals.” The Storyteller opened the book, and started at what he saw; but nevertheless, he quickly flipped through to the first blank page. “Go Maria,” he prompted.
“‘In a feat of super-Neopian strength, Maria and the remaining protagonists quickly found and rescued their unlucky friend,’” the gypsy scribbled before they quickly dug Sorri out of the leafy, wooden rubble.
The Aisha handed the pen to her idol, who read aloud as he wrote, “‘And with the book and pen safely back in their control, the protagonists faced the one who had been locked away for 1000 years, now defeated and unable to cause further harm.’”
They heard a groaning from the pile of fallen trees as the Hissi ghost lifted herself out of it. “Ugh…” she moaned, much too weak to continue her assault.
“Well,” said the Pant Devil, “that battle and her defeat was certainly fast.” He flew over and pinned her to the ground so she was immobilized.
The Eyrie shrugged. “Remember, this is a contrived tale on legends and folkore – this was never an action-based story, and it would be absurd to switch genres and really draw out the climax.”
“Makes sense,” responded the Gallery of Evil One.
“But,” began the Aisha, “why did you start earlier, oh Storyteller?”
The Eyrie gave her knowing smile. “I’m impressed over your usage of the word ‘start’ in that context, because it really isn’t used enough.” And then he frowned and narrowed his eyes into slits before casting them on the antagonist. “It seems like SOMEONE’S been busy authoring,” he remarked in a tone which could have been either admiration or castigation.
“Eh?” inquired the Aisha, confused. “What do you mean?” She grabbed the book from him and started leafing through the pages – each one contained scribbles of text. It appeared to be a rough outline of the whole story, not fleshed out to the point where the characters were explicitly controlled, but there was a logical flow and at least some detail of each legend. Her eyes went wider than Sorri’s.
“Yes, I admit it,” admitted the Hissi, “I had written some stuff in that book. I didn’t realize what I wrote was actually occurring – not until much later, anyway. I saw your title, ‘A Storytellers’ Journey Through Legends and Folklore (Working Title)’, and started writing my supposedly fictional revenge story on how you two would go through the hoops of finding me, and all the legends and legendary creatures you’d encounter. But just after I scribbled that you encountered The Drenched, I finally took real notice of the written line about a ‘supernatural figure from Mystery Island who had just escaped from the deepest and darkest depths of the Geraptiku Tomb’ and I realized that that was me…” She looked at Maria. “And I realized the nature of my existence. And so I wanted to bring you here as fast as possible so—”
“So you could exact your revenge?” interrupted The Storyteller with a scowl.
“Well, yes, but also so that I could ask you to write a great ending to the story – one that sees me, your literary creation… well, happy and resolved.”
The Aisha practically melted at this. “Aww, why of course! I brought you into this world, the least I can do is make sure you have a nice time in it.”
“Wait,” said the Pant Devil. “Before the story ends – as we are undeniably in the falling action at this point – I wanna know how our plan worked.”
“The power of storytelling,” answered The Storyteller with majestic hand motions.
“No, I mean – she’s a ghost,” he said, pointing at her. “But trees can crush her?”
“Pshaw,” said the Hissi with a dismissive hand wave. “It’s fairly established canon that ghost Neopets can hold objects – just look at customization.”
“And it was pre-established much earlier, anyway, in this story,” continued the gypsy, “that she could hold objects – she did steal the book and pen after all.”
“Yeah, I know,” agreed the Pant Devil with a menacing grin only possible from a literary critic. “I just also know there are some readers who would consider this a poor plot point, so I was just playing Pant Devil’s advocate.”
There was an awkward silence, broken by the low hiss of Sorri: “Boooo!”
Maria shrugged. “Punny names all around. Anyway though, speaking of the book and pen a few paragraphs ago…” She grabbed the pen and the book and scribbled something down.
“Thank you!” said the Hissi, waving, as she disappeared from under the Pant Devil.
“Where did you send her?” inquired Sorri.
“On a cross-Neopia tour including but not limited to the Mystery Island beaches, the Lost Desert pyramids, the Deserted Fairground – she’s a ghost after all – and a Shenkuu mountain hike. Standard adventure fare that could be made into a postcard blog spin-off series.” The gypsy shrugged.
“That concept could work well as an ongoing comic series, I'm sure,” opined the faerie.
“Fair enough,” Maria said with a smile.
And then The Storyteller wrote, “‘And the Pant Devil received his—’”
“Battle Slices Stamp!” squealed the Pant Devil.
The Eyrie sighed. “‘—Battle Slices Stamp from…’ Oh I don’t know. ‘The Coincidence.’”
At once, The Coincidence was again above them and the stamp fluttered down. The Pant Devil caught it and squeed with delight.
“And that should essentially wrap up the story!” said Maria as she went to high-five her comrades.
But then The Storyteller started laughing.
“What is it?” questioned Sorri, her eyebrow raised. “What’s up?”
“Aside from The Coincidence, I just realized something,” he replied as he started to calm down. “All of the plot holes and loose ends, all of the inconsistencies with previous work, any real downsides to this story – it’s all OK. It doesn’t matter. It’s alright, because—” and he held up the book and flipped through the Hissi’s writing, “—it was all just FANFICTION!”
At that, Sorri breathed a sigh of relief, the Pant Devil clapped, and Maria laughed, too.
“Why,” started the Aisha, “you’re right! This entire story was literally fanfiction! We had and have nothing to worry about in terms of ensuring the integrity of the plot with existing material or established canon.”
“Indeed,” agreed the Eyrie. And then he turned and faced his fellow protagonists. “Now then,” he started, “I can either write you out and return you immediately to the places from whence you came. Or,” and he smiled barely perceptibly, “we can stay together a little while longer and go home the long way.”
“I motion that you return us home via your book,” said Sorri quickly.
“Agreed,” agreed the Pant Devil.
Maria couldn’t quite stifle a giggle as The Storyteller sighed, resigned. “I guess that settles that,” said the Aisha. “However,” she added, “you don’t have to write them out of the story quite yet.”
The Eyrie raised an eyebrow as the Faerie and Pant Devil looked suspiciously in the gypsy’s direction. “And do what in the interim?” inquired The Storyteller.
“Just end on a cliffhanger.” She grinned almost menacingly.
The Storyteller recoiled. “I beg your pardon?”
She placed her paw on his shoulder. “Not a complete cliffhanger, silly. After all, this story is essentially done. But who knows what topic the next or a future collab will bring? It could lead well into a new contrived tale featuring us venturing home!”
“Or it could not,” said Sorri, annoyed, in her low voice.
“Exactly!” exclaimed Maria. “Or it could not! In which case, a new tale starts, and it is just presumed by the readers that you two – or we all – made it home by whatever means we ended up getting home.”
The Gallery of Evil One nodded slowly. “Oh… like, end the story in such a way that it opens the possibility for a sequel? Even if that does not happen? But we obviously got or will get home?”
The gypsy grinned. “Exactly!” she again exclaimed.
“Ah, Maria,” said The Storyteller as he turned to face her. “Brilliant idea.”
She grabbed the hem of her vintage dress and did a small curtsy. “Why, thank you.”
Sorri frowned. “I didn’t realize you were wearing a dress.”
Maria shrugged. “Yeah, our attire was never well-described – chalk that up to legitimately poor character description.”
The four shared a good laugh.
The Aisha turned to Sorri and the Pant Devil. “Thanks for journeying with us, by the way! You two certainly helped the plot and moved this story along.”
“Oh, it was our pleasure,” responded the faerie. “Thanks for the platform to be involved.”
The Pant Devil grinned. “Indeed, thanks for the literary advice, and for making us into a great story.” He finally took off his reading glasses and put them away.
“It’s what we do as storytellers,” declared Maria, beaming, as she held high the golden book that was now hers.
“Well,” finished The Storyteller as he lifted his pen. “It’s time for us all to head home.”
Given the collaborative nature of the contrived tale, the protagonists shared the last line: “And it all worked out by the time THE END rolled around.”