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||You are on Week 465
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 Four Hundred Sixty Five Ends Friday, June 25th
Shin swallowed the last bite of his Mound of Grulb and sat back contentedly in his seat, letting out a long belch.
"Well, Hyuk, my old friend, I've finally done it. I've realised my greatest dream, my lifelong ambition. As of today, I have eaten every kind of food Neopia has to offer. From the Acara Cold Summer Noodle Salad to the Zesty Zafara Burrito and everything in between." The Skeith grinned, rubbing his bloated belly. "Yes, today I am a culinary god. The Food Club and those snobs at the Gourmet Club have got nothing on me."
Hyuk, a wiry little Blumaroo, gave his friend a round of applause. "So what's next, Shin? Are you going to be content to go back to eating free omelettes?"
Shin picked at his teeth with one claw and shrugged. "Of course. I am a Skeith, after all. When it comes to food, we're not picky." His stomach gurgled, and he gave himself a few pats on the chest before belching again. "Obviously. Have you ever seen a picky eater tear through a Mound of Grulb that quickly?"
"So... hungry..." Shin groaned as he tossed in his sleep. Ever since finishing the Mound of Grulb that marked the culmination of his life's work, he hadn't been feeling quite right. His dreams had been plagued with images of food... food that he knew didn't exist in Neopia but that his mouth watered for. In his dream, he reached for the food with a greedy paw, but before his claws could close on it, the treats vanished into thin, delicious air.
The Skeith woke with a start, sitting bolt upright in bed. His stomach growled like a threatened Drackonack. He threw off the covers and opened his closet, pulling out his backpack and stuffing clothes into it.
"Must... find... new food..." Shin muttered as he packed. "So hungry."
Half an hour later, the Skeith was pounding on the door of Hyuk's Neohome. When the sleepy Blumaroo answered his knock, the Skeith pushed past him.
"We need to get you packed, Hyuk. We're going on a mission."
The Blumaroo blinked at Shin sleepily. "A mission? But you completed your life's work earlier. How can you have another mission already? I thought Skeiths were meant to be lazy."
Shin stopped cramming clothing into Hyuk's suitcase and stared at his friend. "You don't understand, Hyuk. I'm hungry. I've tried eating free omelette; I took soup from a pet at the Soup Kitchen and gulped it down. But nothing can satisfy me. I have to find new food..."
Editor's Note: This week's Storytelling beginning was written from an idea submitted by sadinei. Keep sending in your ideas for Storytelling beginnings, and they might just appear in an upcoming contest!
Author: Soup or salad?|
Date: Jun 21st
Hyuk rubbed sleepily at his eyes and laughed, "Shin, you have tried every food, in every combination, that Neopia has to offer. You've eaten at kelp and Grundos Cafe, the Golden Dubloon and The Coffee Cave. You've had free Omelette and Jelly and Soup. You've tried every hot dog, every pizza, every smoothie and slushie and ice pop. You've begged the Breadmaster and the Crumpetmonger to stretch their imaginations and have been a bigger menace to Meri Acres Farm than a Slorg invasion. There's simply nothing left to try."
The Skeith paused in his efforts to wad his friend's Blumaroo Jester Shirt into a small enough ball to stuff into the overflowing suitcase, ready to describe the emptiness he felt inside, when a shining yellow object on the clothing-strewn floor caught his gluttonous eye. "What is this I see?" Shin exclaimed. "Could this be the new food I crave?"
As he popped the object, round and glistening as a wet berry into his greedy jaws, Hyuk complained, "That was my Red Usul Keyring. Thanks."
"Well," Shin replied, closing his eyes as he savoured the new flavour, "that's not quite what I was looking for." Opening his eyes once more and grinning at the Blumaroo, he added, "But it wasn't bad. What else have you got around here?"
The Skeith began to pull the clothes back out of the suitcase, eying every object for its possible food value. While sniffing a straw Farmer Hat and giving its edge an experimental nibble, another shiny object on Hyuk's bedside table caught Shin's eye. "And what is that I see? And with a slight sprinkling of popcorn for garnish? I simply must..."
Hyuk grabbed the object from his table and said firmly, "That's my retainer. Don't even think about it."
Shin stuck out his bottom lip petulantly and turned to examine the further reaches of his friend's closet. He re-emerged from its jumbled depths holding a small, golden lamp, encrusted with jewels that winked mischievously in the light of the Roo Island Lamp that glowed warmly on Hyuk's desk.
"Don't you dare!" Hyuk implored. "You don't know what..."
"I do know that it looks... delicious." Shin held the lamp by its curved handle, dangling it teasingly above his gaping maw while a thin stream of saliva burbled out and hung perilously in midair, refusing to drop.
"Stop!" Hyuk commanded. "That's my... genie."
The Skeith carefully lowered the arm that held the lamp and snapped shut his jaws, finally dislodging the filament of spit, sending it on a freefall to the floor. He thought of all of the foods that he could command a genie to make, or better yet, he could command the genie to think of new foods, or better yet, he could command the genie to grant him the imagination needed to imagine the most extraordinary, never-before-imagined foods. Shin's eyes narrowed in a gastronomic dream.
Recognising that look upon his friend's face, Hyuk attempted to explain. "OK, I have a genie, yes, but there are some things you need to know. I have already used two of my three wishes."
"No matter," Shin replied dreamily. "I only need one wish, I just need to think of a good one."
"Well, another thing is that there are rules about this genie. You can ask for anything at all except for Neopoints, paint brushes, dubloons, Battledome weapons, Neggs, stamps, Nerkmids, Petpets, Usukis, books, or utility fish. Or gourmet food."
Shin turned toward his friend ferociously and sputtered, "Wh-wh-what good is it, then?" Raising the lamp back to eye-level and speaking directly in to the open spout, the Skeith bellowed, "I will be given something good to eat this evening, or by Fyora, I will eat this lamp itself."
"I wouldn't..." Hyuk attempted to advise, but he could only watch helplessly as, with a look of Skeithly determination, Shin rubbed fiercely at the lamp's rounded belly.
From the open spout a dark and foul purple cloud appeared, and following the cloud was...
Date: Jun 21st
An inconsistent form. It had no defined shape or colour, or even substance. One minute it was a pink and purple cloud, the next a seemingly solid mass of dark greens and blues, floating in the air. Whatever it was, it dropped to the floor, now a reddish orange puddle.
"Would you stay put?" Shin asked, irritated.
"Is that... a wish?" the genie asked. Though the genie wasn't substantial, its voice was. It had a deep, booming voice that echoed throughout the room.
"N-no" Shin said, shaken by the intensity of the sound.
"Why have you called me from my lamp?" As the puddle spoke, it slowly spiralled into the air, still a liquid, and started to converge into one solid form. The substance hardened, and its shape elongated. In just a few seconds the puddle had changed into...
"Balthazar?" Shin asked, slowly backing away. "You're not a genie."
The Balthazar lookalike sighed and quickly changed, now becoming an ordinary red Draik. "I am whatever form I wish to be, whether a simple cloud of smoke, or a recognisable form to you. Now, I ask again, why have you called me from my lamp?"
"Well..." Shin knew he had to be careful with his words. One wrong choice could easily waste this great power. "Will you answer a few questions first, without counting them as wishes?"
The genie thought about this for a moment. "It depends on what you ask. I may not answer, but you may try; go, speak your mind."
"How come you can't grant Neopoints, paint brushes, gourmet foods, or any of those other things?"
"I am a genie, bound to the lamp and the ways of ancient magic. These were the limitations set down when I was created. One may wish for a way to get Neopoints more easily, but one may not wish for the Neopoints themselves. Of course, you must be careful what you wish for. If you wish for a way to get Neopoints easier, I could easily set you in a group of thieves who will rob the National Neopian Bank. Or I could simply make you more lucky, and you would have a greater chance of things just coming to you. Your wish must be precise, and you must know exactly what you want."
Shin mused over this new information. He could wish for the imagination to create never-before-imagined foods, but what if those foods were impossible to prepare? Then he would be stuck with wondrous creations that only existed in his mind.
"This next question goes to both Hyuk and you, genie." Hyuk started at hearing his name called. He had been cowering in a corner, assuming his friend had forgotten him. He was so afraid of Shin having this power. Hyuk needed this last wish, he had been saving it for something incredible.
"Hyuk, what were your other two wishes? And genie, how did you grant them exactly?"
The Blumaroo's face fell. Was it wise to tell his friend what he had wished for? How his wish affected Shin too? Should he tell the Skeith that one of his wishes was...
Date: Jun 22nd
"I-I-I wished--" the Blumaroo stammered, looking from Shin to the genie, who had now taken the form of a dark faerie, hand propping her chin up lazily. The words seemed to be trapped in his throat and he covered his eyes with his paws. "I was just trying to help."
Shin growled, leaning back, a feeling of irritation bubbling up in his still very empty stomach. In fact, he seemed hungrier than ever. The feeling was almost painful now, and the desire to eat everything, anything in his sight, was growing by the minute. "What did you wish for Hyuk?"
There was a moment of silence before the genie sighed, fluttering purple wings and pushing a lock of hair from her eyes. "Well, since Sir Hyuk does not appear to want to say it, I will. The first wish was inconsequential, if not downright sad. He wished for a friend; he got you. The second the one that truly involves you -- he wished that you would be hungry until you had eaten all Neopia had to offer. He was just trying to make you happy, though."
The lengthy pause after this statement was only interrupted by Hyuk's whimpering and, as if to reinforce this newly acquired information, a long, low grumble from the Skeith's stomach. Shin's jaw hung open, large canine teeth poking from a cavernous mouth, tongue licking his lips unintentionally. He had met this Blumaroo while on a walk to his favourite restaurant, and though he had always been a big eater, now that he thought back on it, he had never felt desire for food as great as that which he felt after meeting his skinny friend.
"You made a wish that involved me... without even telling me?" Shin whispered, his mind awash with emotions: betrayal, fear, irritation, and hunger, so much hunger. He was about to lunge at the cowering excuse for a friend when he turned instead to the genie, anger evident in his every move.
"Genie, I wish to recall that last wish! I wish to not be hungry anymore." He watched as the genie changed forms yet again, the slender dark faerie melting into a speck of sand and then becoming a fire mote that hovered in the air above his head.
"I apologise, I really do. But wishes cannot be taken back, altered, or changed. They are like words: once out of the mouth they are said -- no more to be done about it, I'm afraid." The mote drifted upward until it made contact with the ceiling, scorching a black hole in the paint. Unable to control himself any longer, Shin dropped to all four paws and ripped a large chunk from Hyuk's mattress and swallowed it, though the cotton fibers did little to appease his maddening stomach.
"No! But he has eaten everything! Every food, every morsel, every bite! Why is he still hungry?" the Blumaroo called out, his eyes still a mask of guilt and terror. Shin nodded at this, staring up at the mote, which floated gently back and forth as if on a current of indecisive wind. Then, as sudden as a rearing Uni, the Snowager's face emerged where the mote had been, snapping its mighty jowls at the two Neopets, causing them to draw back.
"Because, obviously, he has not eaten all that there is to eat. And I would assume now that he has indeed run out of food, he will begin to feel the need to dine on, say, perhaps, a bed?" The genie's form swayed its head like an enchanted Hissi, though its eyes never left the Skeith's. "Don't you feel it? The feelings of hunger will grow stronger now, and faster. Soon you will eat anything you see that could possibly be eaten -- furniture, toys, buildings, Petpets. And once the hunger becomes unbearable, who knows what will happen?" The genie chuckled, an odd sight in the Snowager body. "Perhaps he may even eat Neopia itself."
Hyuk whimpered in despair even as Shin reached for another piece of his bed. "What have I done?" he moaned. The genie changed shape again, this time becoming a mirror image of Shin's own bulk.
"But, of course, where there is a will there's a way. I may not be able to grant you the wish you desire, but that does not mean someone else can't." At this piece of hopeful news, both Neopets looked up.
"Well, who? Who can help us?" Shin demanded, swallowing one of the lamps and casting the room into half darkness. His double chuckled, cocking his head to one side.
"Is that a wish--"
"No!" Hyuk cried, and the genie paused. "No, please, I need that last wish."
"But this is your fault!" cried Shin between bites of clothing.
"Enough! And don't talk with your mouth full, you foolish Skeith. You have a time limit, don't you understand? Eventually, you will lose your ability to think about anything but food, and you will lose all reason. You have only a day or two at most. So tell me now, you can find him yourself or--"
The genie changed form again, becoming shimmering dust in the air that slowly drew back into the lamp. "I can grant you your wish of being there, but that will be it. My power will be spent. What is your choice...?"
Date: Jun 22nd
"Yes, I wish for Hyuk and me to be there," Shin declared before Hyuk could say a word.
The genie's form began to disappear, along with the lamp and the room. The last thing Shin heard before closing his eyes were the genie's last words in a great, booming voice:
"Your wish has been granted."
Shin opened his eyes to see himself in a dark forest. Gnarled trees stood above him, their leaves withered. The path below them was worn, with tufts of yellowed grass sticking up in patches around it. But all this was not what made it scary -- it was the silence that enveloped Shin that made it frightening. Shin knew exactly where he was.
He was in the Haunted Woods.
"How could you?" Hyuk whispered, breaking the silence. As he spoke, Shin noticed for the first time that he was here.
"How could I not? I can't be hungry forever," Shin explained. Once he acknowledged his hunger his stomach rumbled, and he realised that the tree he was standing next to looked very delicious at the moment.
"But I needed that last wish!" Hyuk cried, burying his face in hands.
Shin snorted. "Oh, so you could be even more selfish than you were before? Yeah, that's a great idea."
"I was just trying to help," Hyuk murmured. "I didn't know it would end like this."
"Yeah, well, you know what they say. Be careful what you wish for," Shin said bitterly. He turned and looked down the pathway where it was slightly lighter than heading in the other direction, walking toward it. "I'm out of here."
"Wait, where are you going?" Hyuk called after him.
"To find the one with the power for the last wish," Shin shouted back, still walking.
"Fine, then I'll go this way!" Shin didn't need to turn around to see Hyuk to tell that he was angry. He heard the Blumaroo's footsteps move away in the opposite direction.
The Skeith sighed. Was it really fair to have picked that fight with his friend? Hyuk may have wished them to be friends and for Shin to be always hungry, but Hyuk didn't mean any malice by it. However, even though his intentions were good didn't mean that the outcome was just.
As Shin deliberated, he noticed that it was getting steadily lighter as he went along, which meant getting out of the forest wasn't too far off. It wasn't long before he passed the borders of the Haunted Woods to walk into...
Date: Jun 23rd
...the Deserted Fairground. Eerily silent, eerily empty.
Flashing red and orange lights hung from the spindly branches casting dim shadows, where small tents were lined up inviting you play various rigged games. Carnival music floated softly from somewhere in the fairground's depths, but other than that, Shin only heard his footsteps on the gravel as he made his way hesitantly forward.
Why would the genie send us here? Shin wondered.
He spotted a small rickety wooden cart with a weathered sign reading "Spooky Delights", and the Skeith ran forward, his stomach giving a painful lurch.
"Hello?" he called irritably, when he looked around and spotted no vendor. Well, if they were naive enough to leave their business unattended, then it was almost Shin's right to take something, considering the way his head swam and his fingers began to shake from the uncontrollable urge.
They were lucky he didn't devour their entire stand. Then he nearly gagged when he saw the only thing inside was a mouldy candy apple and a few purple candy corns.
His stomach growled as if to say, "Hey, it's as good as it's gonna get."
He gulped, pinched his nose, and swallowed the apple whole, nearly doubling over from gagging, all the while thinking of saving the candy corn to shove down Hyuk's throat.
"Psst, hey. You there. Skeith."
Shin jumped and turned around, squinting in the dark, unable to make out the tall darkened silhouette. He gestured to Shin to come closer.
"Want to play a game?" the figure asked, his voice rather hoarse.
Laughing nervously, Shin responded, "No, thanks. I'm sort of... looking for someone."
"Come on, alls you have to do is spin a wheel. Just step right up, grab hold here and... pull." He said the last word in a mere whisper.
Shin wasn't sure if he should refuse, but he also didn't like the idea of wasting time playing trivial games when he should be finding the one who might help him out of this mess Hyuk put him in.
"I don't think so..."
The shadowy figure lowered his head, and Shin could only imagine the frown gracing his face.
"You can win prizes," he tried one last time.
"Food?" Shin asked, his curiosity now piqued.
"Why, sure. Food, Petpets, Neopoints, plushies, lamps, disease--"
"Lamp?" Shin cut him off, his heart racing. Could this possibly be what the genie had been hinting at?
"Of course. Beautiful apple lantern lamp, all for the mere price of 100 NP. Would you like to take a spin?"
"Um..." Shin glanced over his shoulder, a small part of him hoping Hyuk would come bounding out of the trees, here to stand by his side, but the grounds were still silently empty.
"I suppose I would," Shin answered, approaching the cobwebbed wheel and grasping the small skull topping off the lever and giving it a tug.
The wheel gave one giant lurch and then began spinning, and as it slowed, Shin was able to make out the tiny prize pictures. For one heart-wrenching moment, Shin thought the wheel was going to stop on a picture of a skull and crossbones, but it gave one more tiny puff and stopped on a small outline of a wrapped gift.
Shin let out a sigh of mingled relief and excitement. It seemed the other was also holding his breath, for he too made a tiny whimpering sound, but Shin suspected it was more out of disappointment than anything else.
"Fair enough. Luck must be on your side tonight. One Tall Apple Lantern Lamp for the winner," the figure hissed, thrusting the lamp into Shin's hands as if he were glad to be rid of it. Before Shin could mutter even so much as a thank-you, a slight breeze picked up and the figure was gone.
Everything was fitting into place. He'd obviously figured out the genie's intentions for sending them to the Haunted Woods, and without Hyuk's help, no less.
And once he made the wish that would rid him of his everlasting hunger... for the first time, he let his mind wonder what he might ask if he had two wishes left over.
With mounds of ice cream cakes and sprinkled doughnuts on his mind, he eagerly rubbed the belly of the lamp...
Date: Jun 23rd
To his surprise, nothing happened. Shin rubbed the lamp harder and more forcefully, but no genie appeared. Shin looked around for the mysterious figure, hoping to get another spin of the wheel, but the figure had not returned.
Feeling hopeless, Shin wondered what to do next. He was alone in the Haunted Woods, without even Hyuk to help him, and he had no idea why the genie had sent them here.
After a moment, Shin's thoughts wandered, once more, to just how hungry he was. "This lamp looks tasty," he said aloud, surveying it greedily. Without another thouhgt, he stretched his enormous jaws and prepared to devour the lamp in one gulp.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," said a voice. Shin turned and saw Arnold, the Mynci who ran Test Your Strength, walking toward him. "Those lamps aren't supposed to be edible, you know."
"I don't care," snapped Shin. "I'm hungry!"
"Not to mention," added Arnold softly, "the lamp's potential magical properties."
Shin, who had nearly taken a bite out of the lamp, stopped and stared at the Mynci. "What do you mean, magical properties?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing you'd be interested in, I suppose," said the Mynci. "Let's make a deal. You give me that lamp, and I'll give you something to eat."
"Something new and delicious?" asked Shin excitedly, all thoughts of the genie abandoned and replaced with thoughts of food.
"Of course," said Arnold, "something delicious. Just hand over that lamp..."
Arnold's eyes sparkled with greed as he looked at the lamp. Arnold knew, from carefully observing what went on at the Wheel of Misfortune next to Test Your Strength, that the mysterious figure who sometimes appeared there rewarded a lucky few with objects of special magical power. Not everyone was chosen to receive such a prize, and most didn't realise their value. It was clear to Arnold that this Skeith had no idea what kind of power that lamp held.
Shin didn't notice the look of greed and malice in Arnold's eyes. Thinking only of food, Shin held out the lamp, and the Mynci reached forward, attempting to snatch it from him...
Date: Jun 24th
But as Arnold was slowly wrapping his greedy paws around the handle of the lamp, relishing the feeling of the cool metal and reveling in his success, Hyuk staggered out of the Haunted Woods and stumbled toward them, panting, "Don't... give it... to him!"
Glaring at the Blumaroo, Arnold gripped the handle of the lamp tightly and hissed at Shin, "Give it to me if you want your treat."
Uncertain of what to do, the Skeith held onto the lamp and looked back and forth between his friend, whom he had always trusted until he learnt what he had done to him, and this stranger, whom he didn't know whether or not to trust.
"Don't trust him, Shin," Hyuk said, as if he had read his mind. "No food in Neopia, no matter how delicious, will satisfy your hunger. Only the lamp can do that."
His uncertainty was replaced by clarity, and Shin yanked the lamp out of Arnold's paws, telling the Mynci, "Sorry, but the deal's off."
"Fine," Arnold hissed, turning around and vanishing into the shadows. He knew that he wouldn't have been able to overpower or outsmart the two friends, but he might be able to find someone who could.
"Now what?" Shin asked.
"Try rubbing the lamp again?" Hyuk suggested.
"All right," Shin said, rubbing his paw against the cool metal.
A few seconds later, grey smoke billowed out of the spout of the lamp, surrounding the air around the two Neopets.
"For summoning me, you shall be granted three wishes," a deep voice bellowed. "What is your first wish?"
"My first wish is..." Shin began to say.
But before the Skeith could finish, Hyuk blurted, "My first wish is to..."
Date: Jun 24th
"...my first wish is to have it so Shin has eaten every food in Neopia, so that he's no longer hungry." Hyuk grinned hopefully at his friend and explained quietly, "I thought maybe I could reverse the worst of my wishes, you know, make everything better. Just in case you worded it wrong and..."
The disembodied voice interrupted, "That sounds an awful lot like taking a wish back, which is impossible. Once a wish..."
"I understand," Hyuk replied, holding his hands up in front of the Tall Apple Lantern Lamp in a gesture that begged for patience. "I don't want to undo my former wish, just, um... fulfill it."
After a slight pause, the voice boomed, "Your first wish has been granted."
The Skeith narrowed his eyes at Hyuk and hissed, "I can't believe you wasted my first wish like that. Who are you to make wishes for me? It's not like we're really even friends." With a thoughtful tapping of his stubby fingers against his chin, Shin continued, "One wish unmade calls for another." With a formal clearing of his throat, the Skeith declared, "For my second wish, I want for Hyuk here to not be my friend anymore, that he find another friend."
The Blumaroo gaped most unattractively and began to protest in a series of short and abrupt squeaks and snorts.
"Listen," Shin explained. "I could have wished a lot worse on you after what you've done to me. You'll still have a friend, just not me. Understand?"
Hyuk nodded and shook his head, somewhere between agreement and disagreement, his eyes rolling in their sockets as though they had become loose in his bobbing skull, all the while continuing to emit the strange noises, sounding vaguely like a clutch of hatching Beakadoodles.
If a Tall Apple Lantern Lamp could be said to sigh, that is the noise that came from its depths as the sonorous voice declared, "Your second wish has been granted."
No sooner had the words finished their reverberations through the still night air than Arnold came shuffling out of the shadows and made a beckoning gesture of his head toward Hyuk. The Blumaroo beamed at the Mynci and shuffled over to join him as he disappeared once more into the bedimmed depths behind the blinking lights of the Fairground.
Watching Hyuk leave, Shin nearly doubled over from a painful clenching in his stomach. Clutching his rounded middle he moaned, "I thought I wasn't going to be hungry anymore. What's going on?"
The voice that responded was gentle and low, "Is the answer to that question your third wish?"
Desperate for relief and feeling helpless to negotiate, the Skeith sank to his knees and replied, "Yes, yes. Just please tell me what's wrong with me so I can make it go away."
"The emptiness you feel right now is the same emptiness that Hyuk had felt when he made his first wish -- a wish for a friend. That emptiness you are mistaking for hunger is, and always has been, a loneliness so profound that you have spent a lifetime trying to fill the void with food."
"Then give me food. Make it go away!"
"Ah, but you have used your three wishes."
"Then you have tricked me, and I will eat you after all, you cursed lamp."
Shin lunged for the lamp, grasping for the ripe apple top that glowed warmly from within, a warmth he was desperate to feel inside his own body now. As his fingers made the first brush of contact, the entire lamp disintegrated into a cloud of foul purple mist and streamed quickly through his clenching fist.
"What? You are the genie? The same genie as..."
"Duh." The cloud reassembled itself into a Bri Codestone that shook and trembled on the ground at the Skeith's feet.
"But why? Why would you go to the bother of sending Hyuk and me here to the Fairgrounds? Why did you say that I would find the one here who could save me from my hunger? What did Arnold and his rigged Carnival game have to do with anything?" The questions that swam in the Skeith's brain, coupled with his aching tummy, caused Shin's vision to blur and fade.
The codestone hopped excitedly and replied, "You have used up all of your wishes, and then some. But because I like your former friend, he who wished for one other than himself, I will give you a hint. When I sent you to find 'the one who could fulfill the wish that you desire,' who was the first Neopian you saw?"
"Arnold," Shin replied, stumbling with pain and confusion. "I already said, you sent us to see Arnold."
"That greedy Mynci was merely trying to take advantage of the situation," the codestone replied before turning to mist and then reforming itself into a Red Rocking Uni. As it gently rocked back and forth, it said quietly, "I am asking, who was the first Neopian you saw?"
"I don't... I don't understand," Shin complained and he, too, began to rock back and forth on the ground. Suddenly, the Skeith stopped and sat up. "I saw Hyuk first! Do you mean Hyuk? Hyuk is the one who could fulfill my desires?"
"Tsk, tsk, took you long enough. Too bad he's not your friend anymore..."
The Red Rocking Uni dissolved into fog and shot out over the dark trees of the Haunted Woods that reached like gnarled fingers beseechingly to the sky, leaving Shin feeling more alone than even he had been ever before in a solitary life. With resolve, he took to his feet and...
Date: Jun 25th
...walked away from the scene where he'd lost the best friend he could have ever wished for.
Shin sat at the benches of one of the harbours in the Haunted Woods, waiting for his ferry to arrive. He was going home to regret the wish he'd made, to regret dismissing a friend as great as Hyuk.
And the worst part was, even though Hyuk had been a great friend to him, he didn't deserve it. Hyuk had given up all he had for him and then some. He could have made any wish in the world -- to be famous, to be rich, to be the greatest Neopian the world had ever seen. Instead he gave it up for Shin, a Skeith who didn't even deserve it.
Perhaps it was a good thing that I made that wish, Shin thought remorsefully. Hyuk could have a much greater friend than I could have ever been.
At that moment, an eerie horn resounded through the harbour, signaling that the ferry had arrived. Shin stood and walked to where a Peophin was taking tickets.
When Shin walked up, he noticed that the Peophin was shrouded in fog, so that it was unclear to see exactly who it was. Shin handed over the ticket, and a familiar voice responded, "Enjoy your ride on the Haunted Woods ferry."
Shin gaped. "Genie? Is that you?" he asked quietly, though they were the only two on the harbour.
In response, the Peophin shifted into a mutant Hissi, both heads nodding. "I hope you've realised what Hyuk meant to you," the genie said.
"Yes," Shin replied, his voice tinged with sadness. "He was more than I ever could have deserved. I wish I'd never made that wish."
The genie, now a faerie Uni, smiled at Shin. "Sometimes you don't need a wish."
Before Shin could answer, the genie disappeared into thin air. Confused by the genie's response, he walked onto the ferry and sat in an empty seat. Soon enough, the horn sounded again, heralding two minutes before the boat left.
Just as the boat was about to leave, Shin heard the footsteps of another coming toward him, and he turned around. To his intense surprise, it was Hyuk, grinning widely as hurried to the seat next to Shin.
"Do you mind if I sit here?" Hyuk asked, and Shin shook his head, still confused. "Looks like we're going to be the only ones on the boat today," he continued. "What are you on here for?"
"I'm going home," Shin said slowly.
"That's nice," Hyuk responded, the grin still on his face. "I'm going home too, but I think I might be moving here. I just made a great friend, and he would like me to help out with his business. Oh, if you don't mind my asking, what's your name? Mine's Hyuk."
"Shin," Shin answered, smiling as he finally understood the genie's last words. Sometimes you don't need a wish. All you need is a second chance.
Date: Jun 25th
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