Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)
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||You are on Week 372
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 Three Hundred Seventy Two Ends Friday, June 13
"Ugh, do we have to go this way?" Rayza groaned. The Poogle halted in the middle of the street, lifted one of her paws to her eyes, and peered around suspiciously.
"It's the fastest way back to my house," Pinton said with a shrug. The Tonu shifted the heavy packages in his arms and looked at his friend impatiently. "Why, what's wrong?"
"Old Mad Artor lives that way, doesn't he?" Rayza complained. "He's always sitting out on his porch, talking nonsense."
"Aww, my mum says he's harmless," Pinton replied. "Now let's get going."
Reluctantly, the Poogle shuffled after her friend, glancing from house to house as if she expected a ghost to jump out from behind one of them. Suddenly, she stopped short and pulled at Pinton's arm, nearly causing him to drop what he was holding. "There he is!" she hissed.
A seemingly old Gnorbu sat on a rocking chair, waving his cane about. White shocks of hair sprouted from the top of his head and cascaded down his face. As Pinton stared, however, a pair of shockingly young, vivacious eyes twinkled at him out of the depths of the snowy white forest of hair.
"A rainbow of sorts! The faeries told me not to! Charging down the races, and off we go sailing," the Gnorbu said, rocking calmly back and forth.
"What do you think drove him mad?" Pinton whispered, riveted in spite of himself.
"I don't know, maybe old age," Rayza said, pushing at him. "Let's go, he's scaring me."
"No, no," the Tonu insisted. "He doesn't really seem that old if you look closely. Something must've happened to him…"
Author: *cackles madly*|
Date: Jun 9th
Rayza stared at her friend as he pointed it out. "Of course he seems old," she said patiently. "Look at all that white hair. Have you ever seen a young Neopet -- not painted white -- covered in white hair? Nothing happened to him. Let's just go before he whacks us with that cane." She tugged on Pinton's arm weakly. The Tonu shook her off.
"You go if you want," he told her bluntly. "I'm going to stay here and find out what I can." For one second, Rayza looked as if she would have taken her friend at his word. Then, she reconsidered. Pinton wouldn't abandon her if she had wanted to stay.
"What are you looking to find out?" the Poogle asked resignedly. Pinton shrugged.
"Journals, old Neomails, whatever I can find that might have a clue, really," he replied. He took a tentative step closer to Artor. "Err... Mr. Artor?" he inquired cautiously.
"Look! See the trees riding the cloud. I should have heard before! Spinning and spinning on a carousel," the Gnorbu babbled on. Rayza stared at him. He turned to face her and she gasped; the same eyes that Pinton had told her about were locked right on her.
"Can we have a look around, Mr. Artor?" asked the Tonu.
"Babbling brooks and balmy breezes. Listen well to our rock," said Artor. Pinton and Rayza exchanged a look before entering the house, taking his response as a yes.
The interior of the house was dark. It looked as if Artor had memorised the way to wherever he slept, and went from outside to his room every night. Cobwebs draped from everything in their disuse. Rayza suppressed a shudder. "This place gives me more creeps than its owner," she murmured. Pinton pretended not to hear her. He was, instead, poking around various places. The Tonu had begun to lift the lid off of a chest.
"There has to be some --" He broke off his words with a startled gasp. Rayza was behind him in an instant, peering over his shoulder and squinting against the darkness...
Editor's Note: Schedule change! Until further notice, there will be two Storytelling winners on Mondays and only one on Fridays. The Monday winners will be chosen at 12pm - 1pm NST and 4pm - 5pm NST, while the Friday winner will be announced at 1pm NST. Sorry for the inconvenience; we're trying to find the best possible schedule! Keep writing!
Date: Jun 9th
Inside the chest was a book, far too large to fit on any shelf Pinton had ever seen. The cover was oddly devoid of dust, unlike everything else in the house.
But the strangest thing of all, the thing that had made him gasp in shock, was the picture on the cover.
It had been an exquisitely detailed painting of a shadow Gnorbu, but as soon as Pinton laid eyes on it the picture began to change. The brushstrokes had melted away, the colors began to merge and blend, and now all there was on the cover was an ugly, blotchy mess.
"It's magic. It has to be," the Tonu said, his voice edged with excitement. Surely this book would hold some sort of clue!
That Gnorbu on the cover... maybe it was Mr. Artor from before whatever happened to him!
Rayza did not share her friend's enthusiasm. "I don't think we should mess with it," she whispered urgently. "If it's really magic, who knows what it could do to us?"
"Quit being such a scaredy-Kadoatie," Pinton said harshly. "If you want to leave, then leave. Otherwise, give me a hand with this book."
Rayza bit her lip. She didn't want her friend to think she was a coward, and she also didn't want to abandon him. If there really was some sort of dangerous magic in the book, Pinton might need her help.
The Tonu had already grabbed one end of the enormous book and was trying to lift it out of the chest. Rayza took the other end in her paws and helped him. Grunting with exertion (that book was every bit as heavy as it looked and then some), the Neopets finally managed to lift the book out of the old chest, letting it drop to the floor with a loud thump that sent clouds of dust swirling up into their faces. After Rayza had stopped coughing, she wiped her eyes and took another look at the book.
The picture had changed once more. The cover now showed a pink Poogle and a spotted Tonu.
"It's us," Rayza murmured uneasily. "How?"
Pinton chose not to reply. He opened the book to the first page and started to read aloud.
"This is the story of two Neopets: a Tonu named Pinton, and a Poogle named Rayza."
"It knows our names!" the Poogle cried. "We should go now. I have a really bad feeling about this..."
Pinton ignored her interruption and continued to read.
"One day, they were headed home to Pinton's house after a long day of shopping. Along the way, they passed by the house of a Gnorbu known as Old Mad Artor."
Rayza found that she was mouthing the words as her friend read them. Something in that book felt as though it was drawing her in, and her fear was growing steadily.
She wanted to try one last time to convince Pinton to stop this and just go back to his house, only to find that she couldn't. She couldn't speak, and she couldn't look away. All she could do was keep reading.
"The Tonu was curious about the old Gnorbu, and wanted to know what had happened to make the elderly Neopet go mad. His Poogle friend wanted to go home.
"Pinton didn't listen to Rayza's advice.
"Soon, though, he found out that he should have..."
Date: Jun 9th
Rayza gasped in fear, forcing a petite paw down upon the cover of the book so it slammed shut, her friend glancing up in shock.
"Have you lost your mind, Rayza?" Pinton's question was hissed in low, furious tones, contrasting enough with his usual merry lilt that Rayza shrank back.
"I don't think we should keep reading. My mother says meddling with magic only leads to misfortune..."
Pinton shoved his friend's paw away from the cover as he released a derisive snort.
"Your mother also told us if we don't drink four cups of Borovan a day we won't grow up big and strong. Also that vegetables help you see in the dark."
The Poogle flushed and lowered her eyelashes slowly. This entire situation had her baffled. What kind of magical book changed its illustrations and story at a whim? It was as if the tome had a mind of its own.
What if it did?
The chilling thought was whisked away from Rayza's consciousness as quickly as it had been draped there; already her friend was heaving open the heavy front cover and preparing to read further into the story, despite the Poogle's whispered, panicked objections.
"Pinton wrenched the mysterious book back open, curiosity burning within him, even as Rayza shivered in fear. An ominous sense of foreboding washed over her in chilling waves, an understanding that whatever would come with the turn of the page wouldn't be anything she would welcome..."
The words, written in that strange, antiquated script, finished there. The first page was done, the corner of the book silently teasing and tempting, luring them into turning the page and discovering whatever horrid revelation awaited them. Hesitant, Rayza glanced to her friend.
"We shouldn't. Do you want to end up on your porch, rocking and babbling? Do you want me to end up that way?"
Guilt flooded through the Tonu and he blushed in shame. His friend had been there for him through thick and thin and here he was, ignoring her obvious fear and possibly endangering them both.
It wasn't fair and it wasn't right.
With a sigh of regret, the Tonu gently closed the mysterious book.
"You're right. Let's just..."
The sentence was cut short as both Neopets gazed upon that strange book cover in fascination. In swirls of shadow and shade the colors were melting and merging. Again the exquisitely drawn shadow Gnorbu was etched out before them... and he was moving. The brow was now furrowed, concern chiselled upon his features and pleading deep within desperate eyes. Leaning in close, the pair of Neopets struggled to understand the words the creature was mouthing, repeating them out loud as realisation dawned upon them.
"Turn to the last page..."
Date: Jun 10th
Pinton hesitated, unsure of what to do. His curiosity burned within him with such fury that it couldn't be doused, but Rayza was right. What if they ended up with white fur, babbling nonsense on their front porches? He looked to Rayza to make the decision.
The Poogle felt her friend's eyes on her. "I... I don't think we should, Pinton."
Pinton suppressed a disappointed sigh as he nodded. He'd hoped that if Rayza chose not to open the tome, then his curiosity would dwindle away. If anything, however, it was the opposite. The flames were only fed and they grew taller, higher, hungrier.
"C'mon, Pint," Rayza said with a smile. "Don't look so down. You just have to trust me on this one. We shouldn't tamper with magic."
"I suppose you're right," he said and grinned. "You usually are."
"Good." She took his hand and began to lead him across the dust-covered floor to the door.
"Shouldn't we put it back in the chest?" Pinton asked. An excuse. Anything to just touch it one more time. A glimpse of the last page was all he needed to satisfy his hunger.
Rayza stiffened. "No. Let's just get out of here as quickly as possible."
Behind them, the Gnorbu waved his arms frantically up and down. He jumped, mouthed words so quickly and desperately that even if the two friends were watching him, they wouldn't have been able to make out a single syllable he said. He looked frustrated, on the verge of tears. He watched them reach the open door and faded back into the book.
Rayza and Pinton whirled around, both hearts speeding up with the rush of fear. The tome lay open, its creamy parchment seeming to glow against the gloomy, dusty background. It was open to the last page.
Rayza tugged on Pinton’s arm. "Let's go."
He ignored her. "T-There's a picture of us."
"That tome is probably filled with pictures of us. It's telling our tale after all." The Poogle bit her lip. She was losing her friend.
The Tonu slipped his paw out of hers and walked, trancelike, toward the mysterious book. He turned once, beckoning to her to come with him, but she stayed put, shaking her head vigorously. And then he turned, and began to read.
Rayza could feel her heart beating wildly against her ribcage in fear. The air around them crackled with so much tension that it seemed her hair would catch fire. Their future was not for them to know. She didn't want to go anywhere near that book. Why was Pinton so stubborn? What if their story ended badly? What then? Would he be the same?
The Tonu turned around to face her slowly. His eyes were wide and glistening with unshed tears. His fur seemed to be a lighter shade of yellow than before.
"P-Pinton?" Rayza ventured. "Are y-you okay?"
He said nothing. He just carried the same shocked, dazed, blank expression.
His eyes focused on her as if he were seeing her for the first time. They narrowed dangerously. "How could you?" he spat, a tear rolling down his cheek.
"How could I what?" Rayza said the words before she could stop them.
"Y-You stole..." He shook his head. "You're going to steal..." The look in his eyes changed to one of pain. "You're going to steal my..."
Date: Jun 10th
Rayza's eyebrows shot up to the sky, and her jaw dropped at the absurdity of the statement. "What?"
The Tonu's pained look instantly changed to one of unbridled fury. "You know exactly what!" he spat. "The faeries! You've always wanted them, because I've always protected them! I should have seen through you all along. You're despicable!"
Rayza shuddered. Pinton's eyes weren't the same. They seemed to be filled with flickering fires, intense and crazed. The way he stared at her was frenzied. His mane was beginning to stand on end, looking as if he'd been electrocuted.
"Pinton, this is not funny," she said, her voice beginning to tremble. Something bad had just happened, but she couldn't quite place what it was...
"Yes," he seethed, "it's not! The poetry faerie, the glass faerie, the jelly faerie, the rainbow faerie... you want to take them all! You'll hoard them away in your little red boat and skip away and I'll never see them again!"
Faeries. Huh. Pinton thought she wanted his faeries? He had faeries? That was just... odd. And what type of faeries? Poetry? Glass? She was instantly reminded of Number Five. Anyone who could think there was a jelly faerie was crazy.
Rainbow. The word echoed around in her head. She'd heard that before today, but where?...
Oh, yes, it had been a part of Mad Artor's ramblings.
Her eyes widened in horror as realisation struck her.
The book had driven Mr. Artor mad. Now it had driven Pinton mad, too...
"Pinton?" she whispered. "What's your name?"
"What kind of question is that?" he snarled back. "Don't try to distract me! I know what you're after! You're going to put them in those little vases of yours and take them away!"
Pinton rolled his eyes. "Those ones you're wearing. You know, on your nose. Are you always this clueless?"
Rayza knew there was no use arguing, but she was desperate. "Poogles don't have noses!"
The Tonu hissed at her. "Yes, they do. You have three noses just as sure as my name is Pant. Wait..." His eyes narrowed. "Pant, Pent, Penta, Pinta... Punty! Yes, Punty. What a lovely word. The 'ee' sound at the end."
Rayza lunged out and grabbed his shoulders, shaking them. "No, it's Pinton!" Tears began to fall from her eyes. "We never should have come here," she sobbed. "Please... wake up..."
"Gah!" Pinton snarled, snapping out of his daze. "Let -- go -- of -- my -- FAERIES!"
He struggled and sent Rayza careening across the room and into a certain rectangular object.
The book, which had largely been ignored, flopped open...
Date: Jun 11th
...and fell into her lap. The pages fluttered wildly, resembling birds flapping their wings, until they came to rest on a single page.
At first, Rayza thought it was blank. But then the Poogle watched in strange fascination as letters appeared on the paper, tainting the white with dark ink like footsteps through the snow. Letters were written, words were formed, the process continued again and again until a sentence was written, a message.
I can help you...
"What?" Rayza cried. "Why would I want your help? Look what you did to my friend!"
Pinton seemed to have forgotten her completely. He was walking in circles, his eyes glazed. His lips were trembling and she caught snatches of words. "...rainbow...crazy cheese...horseshoe...don't let the faeries..."
Rayza blinked quickly, fearing tears would come if she didn't. She turned her attention back to the book. "Look what you've done... and to craz--" she paused and corrected herself, "Artor too..."
Words spiderwebbed across the pages once more. Believe me, if I had my way, none of this would happen.
Rayza just stared. How strange... the book seemed to be hearing her words, reading her mind. She shuddered. It was magic, after all; she shouldn't have been surprised... and not the happy faerie magic either. This was much worse, darker....
She looked up at Pinton again. The Tonu was waving his arms up and down like a bird. "Toast!" he barked before collapsing into intense giggles.
She turned away. She couldn't look... it was too...
I can help him.
She glared at the book. This was really starting to freak her out. "Look what you did. Why should I trust you?"
You just have to. I know how to free him -- all of them.
Rayza's eyes widened. There were more?
Please, just please, just listen to me. You're the only one who can help us.
The words seemed to plead. Rayza bit her lip. Should she help the book? Even after all it had done? But the way the words were written... it sincerely seemed like it needed help, like it wouldn't hurt her, like it wasn't the one that had changed Pinton. Could she trust it? Could she? Did she really have another choice?
Rayza stared at the pages. "Why, though? Why can't you fix this yourself? Why do you need my help?"
I'm afraid I can't answer those questions right now. They won't let me...
Strange how a bunch of random words scribbled across a page could seem so sad...
"But who are you?"
Nothing. And then...
My name used to be Artor...
Date: Jun 11th
Rayza nearly dropped the book in surprise. She wasn't sure what she expected, but it wasn't that.
"Mr. Artor?" she whispered to the book. "But, you're out on the porch. How could you be in the book too?"
That isn't me. The book wrote back. Well, it is and it isn't. I can't really explain. My body is there, but my mind is trapped in this book. Please. We all need your help.
There seemed to be a note of desperation evident in the rapidness of the appearing words and the hurried handwriting. Rayza still wasn't sure what to believe, but she was becoming more and more convinced that this book might be her only option. She glanced across the room at Pinton who was waving his hooves in the air and giggling at them like a small child. Taking a deep breath she bent back over the book.
"Ok, what do I do?"
There was a pause and then writing appeared on the page.
You have to finish the story.
She looked at it for a few moments. Finish the story? How in Neopia was she supposed to do that? She looked back down at the page, hoping for more precise instructions. More words had appeared on the page, but they weren't exactly comforting. You must finish the story without being drawn into it. Always remember the line between fiction and reality. Keep that clearly in your mind or you too will be drawn into the power of the book. You're our only hope, Rayza. Good luck.
"But wait!" she called urgently to the book. "You haven't explained how I do any of this!" She waited a moment, hoping for more assistance, but no more words appeared. "I don't even know where to begin," she mumbled to herself. She stared at the page. The words had been wiped from it, and it was now a clear, blank page.
She looked across the room at her friend who was now singing a song softly to himself. From the words she could hear it seemed to be about a mutant Chia, a boat, and large quantities of asparagus.
"Well," Rayza thought to herself. "Looks like I'm in this thing alone. And I guess there's no better place to start than the beginning." She flipped the book closed and reopened the cover to the first page.
She began to read: This is the story of two Neopets: a Tonu named Pinton, and a Poogle named Rayza...
Date: Jun 12th
One day, they were headed home to Pinton's house after a long day of shopping. Along the way, they passed by the house of a Gnorbu known as Old Mad Artor.
I've already read this, she realized. The beginning of the story had not changed.
Behind her, Pinton burbled happily to himself about the various flavours of jelly as he caressed an invisible Kadoatie.
Beginning to tremble, the Poogle skimmed down. The book was shaking in her paws. Pinton had read the story too... and when she looked at him, it could easily be a mirror of her future.
No, don't think like that. He didn't go mad because he read our story. It was because he read the last page, without being asked to... I can withstand the book. Artor told me it was possible...
Her watering eyes at last fell upon the last sentence she'd read.
Soon, though, he found out that he should have...
Rayza took in a deep, shuddering breath. This was it. This was the last bit of writing she'd already seen. Now, the story of her future -- and Pinton's -- was shrouded. She was jumping off the cliff, and she had no idea how far down the ground below was.
...listened to her.
Pinton read the book, and he became entranced. And like all the ones before him, he'd lost his sanity. He could not resist the spell.
His Poogle companion was terrified. Pinton flew at her in a rage, but was quickly distracted and ambled a ways off, singing nonsense happily to himself.
But poor Rayza had been unlucky enough to see the book's spellbound pages... and it spoke to her.
"Jelly welly jelly jelly! Smelly jelly, belly jelly, Skelly jelly, Felly jelly!" Pinton sang from behind her. "Orange and blue and Frownies too! So skipped the Gallion on his golden pirate ship!"
Shivering, the Poogle ignored him with a valiant effort on her behalf and turned back to the book. She felt as if it were tugging at her; rampant imagination, or a true magical draw? It's not real. Well, it doesn't have to be real. It's just a stupid book. Remember that. She was reaching the bottom of the page now.
The last Neopet to be dragged into the book was Pinton, but Pinton still had not awoken inside the pages. The one before that was a shadow Gnorbu by the name of Artor, who'd been a prisoner for twenty years.
Artor was a kind Gnorbu, an honest Gnorbu. Not the kind of Neopet that she'd have any reason to distrust.
But as gentle as he was, Artor hadn't told her one thing, because he had been terrified that he'd scare her off, and he'd be trapped in the cursed pages forever, along with myriad other lost souls. It was hard to blame him, really. But one had to feel sorry for the poor Poogle.
To free them, Rayza had to enter the book itself...
Irrational fear gripped her, so tightly that everything else seemed to vanish and fall away. The story's words instantly blurred, melting like candle wax and dyeing the page black.
Rayza's eyes flew wide open in pure horror, and the book slid from her now-unclenched fingers to the dusty floor.
Or it should have. Because there was no floor anymore, and certainly no book...
Date: Jun 12th
Rayza spun round, her eyes darting, her heart thudding. She wasn’t used to standing on thin air. Everywhere around her, there floated a greyish mist, punctuated by tall, crystalline pillars rising from the unseen netherworld to unimaginable heights. Each pillar was encircled by thick colourful ribbons, in which was bound a Neopet.
The mist was laden with silence -- a deep, pearly silence that seemed to drip with liquid heaviness. She had entered the place where Neopets were trapped in eternity.
“In eternity,” she repeated to herself, as she struggled to make sense of her surroundings. “Not for eternity. I’m here to take them back to the real world.”
Boldly, without looking down, the Poogle walked across the soft emptiness to the first pillar, where Mad Artor was bound. He seemed strangely serene, his white hair smooth and his face untroubled. His calm, wild eyes stared into hers, imploring and accepting at the same time.
Rayza took another step forward... and the onslaught of Artor’s memories nearly made her fall right through the mist.
“This is your last warning,” the manager of the Neopian Bank was saying. “Any more carelessness and you will lose your job at this esteemed bank!”
Artor, well-groomed and with an anxious young face, could only mumble and shiver in reply...
A wash of greyness, and then another memory.
“I can’t do it anymore, Mother,” Artor was sobbing to an elderly Aisha. “I’m sorry. This world, this life... it’s so bland, so endless. It’s not for me.”
“Then what in the name of Fyora do you plan on doing?!”
“But I don’t know. I don’t know the ending to my story. I’m trying to get there, but I can’t...”
“Get out there and earn some Neopoints, you good-for-nothing Gnorbu! We’ve raised you, we’ve fed you, it’s your turn to contribute something!”
Another wash of greyness, and then the book, the pages, the ink... More images. Artor rapidly deteriorating, his hair turning white, his young eyes sunken into madness and uncertainty, his soul lost in another time.
Rayza understood completely.
“It’s normal to feel lost, Artor,” she whispered, as she started to untie the knots, “but there’s beauty and meaning in the world. Life doesn’t last forever... there’s plenty of time to explore eternity when you’re done living. I’m young myself -- I can’t tell you how to live. But I have friends, I have things I love doing, I have family... I’m sure you can find ways to contribute too, to give and to love. Think of your mother, how she must be pining. Come away from this delusion, Artor. Free yourself from your unfulfilled dreams, and walk forth to make them real. Come with me...”
The last of the ribbons fell away. Artor continued to cling to the pillar, uncertain.
“You have to find your own beliefs to stand on,” said Rayza, encouragingly. “You have to find your own way and reach your own ending. Come on and finish your story.”
“I don’t know how,” he whispered again, but his body was changing, becoming young.
“You’ll discover how.”
Together they walked, and faced the next pillar. Pinton returned, strengthened by the call of the friend who had stood by him through all his mistakes and uncertainties. And more Neopets returned, awakened to the duty that they had yet to fulfil.
So on they walked...
They left the world of blurred desires, broke through the ribbons and entered reality with a flood of light.
* * * * *
In the rejuvenated brightness of Artor’s house, the three Neopets hugged for a long time.
“I cannot say thank you enough,” Artor said. “You’ve given me my home, my life, my career. You’ve rescued me.”
“Credit must go to Pinton for caring about a neighbour enough to take the first, dangerous step,” smiled Rayza.
“And credit to you, miss, for braving insanity to come free us,” laughed Pinton, bursting into song, “Cheese and pebbles, Spyder webs, so on it goes!”
“You aren’t going crazy again, are you?” said Rayza, alarmed.
Pinton and Artor laughed.
“Sometimes, it’s okay to be just a little crazy,” Artor winked, “so long as you know where you’re headed.”
Date: Jun 13th
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