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||You are on Week 539
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 Five Hundred Thirty Nine Ends Friday, January 20
|The day that changed my life started out as a quiet, peaceful sort of day, with no foreshadowing of the coming events. I had awoken that morning to find that the world was covered in a freshly-fallen blanket of snow that sparkled like icy diamonds. Since I had no plans for that day, I welcomed the snow and the beautiful, pristine scene that greeted me each time I looked out my window. It was a lazy winter day, and I was determined to enjoy it.
I am ashamed to say that I didn't get much accomplished. I prepared some hot tea and made my way into the study. My plan was to work on my memoirs or perhaps get some reading accomplished, but alas I did neither. I simply sat in my overstuffed chair sipping my tea and watched as the silent flakes danced to the ground. Normally I would have chastised myself for such inactivity, but that day just seemed so serene.
I'm not sure how much time had passed when my reflective mood was interrupted by a knocking upon my front door. My study is located at the back of my house, so I hadn't seen anyone approaching. Quickly, I sat my teacup on a coaster and hurried to my front door. It was a lovely day to be inside watching as the elements did their frozen dance, but not a good day to actually be out in the weather.
Opening the door I was surprised to see my dear friend, Professor Peyton, standing there bundled up in a rather large, orange coat. I quickly invited him inside and took his coat, which was generously covered in new snow. He was still shivering as I shut the door.
"Dr. Peyton," I said, putting his coat in the closet, "To what do I owe the honor of your visit in such weather?"
To my surprise, he shook his head. "I came here with very important news, Lucas," he said, "Have you heard about the young Zafara who became lost while exploring a cave up near Terror Mountain recently?"
"Why yes," I answered, "I read about in the Times just this morning. According to the story she was rescued and it looks like everything is okay."
My Eyrie friend nodded. "That's what the article said," he explained, "but there's much more to the story. Thankfully, I am friends with the editor, so I begged him not to mention one bit of detail -- something I'm sure you'll be quite interested to know."
"What is that?" I asked.
He reached into a large pocket on his sweater and pulled out a sheet of notebook paper. "The Zafara claimed to have found a large room in one of the caves," he said, "and there was a treasure sitting upon a stalagmite fashioned into a pedestal. When asked to describe the treasure, she drew this." He handed me the sheet of paper.
I gasped as I unrolled the paper, and felt a chill ripple up my spine that rivaled the most frigid wind. "This can't be!" I exclaimed, "That's only a myth!"
"That's what I thought as well," he said, "but the resemblance is uncanny."
"The Golden Wand of Ithilia," I whispered, "Can this really be true?"
"I'm not sure," Peyton answered, "but once this news leaks out, every treasure hunter in the world is going to be looking. We have to be the ones that find it first, if it even exists."
I nodded slowly, knowing that my friend was right. Besides, if this relic actually did exist, then the stories about it might be true as well...
Date: Jan 17th
..."Well, then. What are we standing around wasting time for?" I exclaimed as I turned, made my way back to my study, and pulled my old travelling case out from under my desk.
I flipped back the lid of the case in haste, causing a cloud of dust to dance up into the air. I stifled a cough as I moved quickly around the room selecting objects, seemingly at random but with a clear purpose in mind. It may have been several years since I'd had the chance to stretch my explorer's wings, but it was something I'd never forget how to do. Ever since I'd been a young brown Lutari, looking at map books full of distant places and history books bursting with tales of exotic treasures, adventuring had been in my blood.
Adrenaline flowed through my body and focused my mind as I carefully selected the books and instruments I felt we'd need on our journey.
In fact, I became so absorbed in my packing that I forgot all about my poor friend Dr. Peyton, who was hovering in the doorway to my study.
"I don't think you'll be needing those, Lucas." My Eyrie friend cut through my thoughts, startling me as he pointed to the old sandals I'd carelessly thrown into my case.
"No, I suppose not," I replied with a laugh, then frowned as I asked, "Shouldn't you be home by now packing, too? You are coming, aren't you?"
"Of course I am, my dear friend! I wouldn't miss this opportunity for all the Borovan in Neopia!" Then, winking, he stepped to the side to reveal a large pile of cases and boxes of every imaginable size stacked neatly in the middle of my hallway. "I packed before coming over, and have already arranged passage for us with a caravan of travellers heading toward Terror Mountain in..." Dr. Peyton paused to glance at his wristwatch, "three hours and 42 minutes' time."
"Hey there! Dr. Peyton and Mr. Jules?" A loud rough voice called out toward us as we exited the hired cart that had transported us and all of our luggage to the meeting place.
"Yes, yes. That's us," Dr. Peyton (whose first name was Neil) replied as he forcefully winched one of his cases out into the snow while I reimbursed the cart driver with a handful of Neopoints.
“Oh, good, 'cause we really need to be goin'. The sky is looking mighty dark. I fear we have a storm brewing." The owner of the loud voice, a large blue Lupe, came forward and held out his hand in greeting as a large grin split his face from ear to ear. "Ma name's Roop, by the way. Nice to be doin' business with yer. I'll give ye a hand with them cases and we'll be off."
I gratefully handed one of the heavier cases to Roop, but as I did so a shiver ran down my spine -- a shiver that, I suspected, had nothing to do with the weather...
Date: Jan 17th
...No, it was something else. My experiences had taught me to trust my instinct, and my gut was telling me something was off about this Roop character. Before I could dwell on this any longer, Neil trundled past carrying a weighty suitcase.
"Lucas, I don't suppose you could give me a hand to the rest of the bags, could you?" He panted as he heaved a trunk into the caravan.
"No problem," I replied, already forgetting the weird superstitious moment. I was mapping out our journey in my head, tracing my finger along maps in my mind's eye, trying to think of the quickest route to the Ice Caves from my home at the foot of Terror Mountain.
By the time all the equipment was loaded, the sky had darkened and a chill wind had picked up to a mighty gale, spinning icy crystals into the air.
"Looks like a blizzard," I muttered, still deep in thought as Neil and I loaded ourselves into the cart. He looked up in surprise from the Neopian Times article.
"That's odd. We haven't had a blizzard in over thirty years down here." He looked around mildly interested before returning to the newspaper. "If I could just find out where this Zafara went. She said that she was a tourist looking for the Snowager's cavern... And she got lost in some tunnel on a platform near the Snowmuncher cave.."
Neil grabbed a book of maps and quickly rifled through. Suddenly he gasped.
"Lucas, it's all here! Look! See that little cave there?!" He jabbed a finger at the book, almost poking a hole in the page. "And here's where she came out! Just there, a little cave to the left of the Snowager! Lucas! It has to be there somewhere!" He looked up at me eyes shining, panting from excitement. I knew how he felt. I was so filled with energy, I felt like running to the Ice Caves. If the Wand was real...
Suddenly, the wagon hit a bump and one of the bags was thrown off the back. Roop appeared not to have noticed, and kept driving. Without thinking, I jumped out of the cart and scrambled over to it. I heard Neil call my name, but it was muffled by a gust of wind. Inside the cart I hadn't noticed, but the blizzard had gotten worse now. And suddenly the caravan was gone, and I was alone, in the middle of nowhere, trapped in a blizzard with nothing but a single bag...
Date: Jan 18th
...The excitement and prospect of treasure that had been driving through my veins quickly chilled as dread took its place. Clutching the bag, I stared out to where the caravan had just been, fruitlessly searching through the thick sheet of white snow. Surely Neil would have signaled Roop to stop- surely he wouldn't have driven off without me!
"Neil!" I shouted, but the harsh wind tore my words out and their sound was lost to the raging snow.
"NEIL!" I tried again, panic lacing its way around my words as I began to rapidly scan the empty world around me. It was no use, though- the white seemed to engulf the landscape itself. I couldn't even tell where the horizon and the ground met. The wind roared angrily in my ear, snapping at my exposed fur and chilling itself through what now felt like a rather thin coat. I shivered violently and clutched the bag harder as the fierce storm raged around me.
Fear's cold grip tightened around me, but as another freezing gust of wind whipped against me, I realized that I couldn't continue to stand in the middle of the storm. I began to trudge my way forward- or at least I hoped that it was forward. The blizzard pushed me back. Already I was coated in a layer of thin white snow, but I continued forth.
I trudged my way through the knee-deep snow for what felt like hours until my hand collided with a solid wall of ice in front of me. Feeling my way around the ragged edges, my hand suddenly slipped through as I located the entrance.
"Oh, thank Fyora," I said out loud as I gratefully hurried into what I could see now was the gaping entrance to an ice cave. The pain and noise of the storm tearing at my ears suddenly stopped as I entered into the shelter. Breathing hard, I turned and stared out into the white world from which I had just escaped. I stared out, still in shock and unable to comprehend my situation. It seemed like centuries ago since I had set out on the "adventure" with Neil. Had I only just seen him moments ago?
Suddenly I remembered the bag that I had jumped off the safety of the caravan to retrieve. I quickly sat down and opened it. As the bag unzipped, the bag's luggage spilled forth onto the ground. My eyes widened as I stared in disbelief at the contents of the bag...
Date: Jan 18th
...For the most part, they were pretty standard for a journey such as ours. There was a hefty ice pick, a compass, and a couple of unlit torches (which were all but useless to me, as the flint required to light them did not appear to be in this bag).
It was the final item that made the breath catch in my throat. Gingerly, I picked up the slender wand to examine it more closely. It was smooth for the most part, and tapered toward the bottom. The top was fashioned into the shape of a Tasu's head, the eyes set with tiny glittering rubies and the gaping maw clamped around a multi-faceted sapphire. It almost seemed to emit light as the little sunlight that had filtered through the clouds and whirling snow reflected clearly off of its immaculate golden surface.
"The Golden Wand of Ithilia," I whispered to myself in disbelief. "But what... why... how in Neopia?"
Something wasn't right, though. I frowned and gripped the wand firmly in my hand, closing my eyes for a moment. Now, I had dabbled a bit in the study of magic in my youth, and while I am no expert sorcerer, I should have been able to at least sense the kind of power that the wand should've practically been radiating. I felt nothing from it, however.
So, this was a fake then. A brilliant move by Neil, really -- crafting a near-perfect replica of the wand with which to replace the real one, thereby distracting any future treasure hunters for a time while we got it to a safe place.
I might have stopped to wonder just how my Eyrie friend had managed such a remarkable replica in such a short time, but at that moment my thoughts were sidetracked by a new realization: I was in an ice cave, and an ice pick was among my current possessions. A quick survey of the cave itself told me that it didn’t directly connect to any other caves or tunnels within the mountain, but with a bit of luck there might be an opening somewhere blocked off by no more than a thick sheet of ice. With the blizzard still raging outside and no food rations to tide me over until it subsided, exploring deeper into the mountain seemed to be my best option.
Therefore, I grabbed the ice pick and repacked the other contents of the bag, hoisted it onto my shoulder, and began to swing the pick at one of the ice walls, all the while dearly hoping that I would come across something other than solid rock...
Date: Jan 19th
...For what seemed like hours, I desperately picked at the hard ice walls here and there. Even though the blizzard outside of the cave was still furiously raging, I sweated a lot due to the hard work. With no food supply, I gradually became extremely hungry. At one time, I even considered crunching on the crumbled ice that lay by my feet, dislodged by my ice pick.
Just when I was about to succumb to my aching tiredness, I suddenly noticed that, instead of crumbling away, the icy wall I was relentlessly picking at had a crack on it.
"Yes!" I breathed, wiping sweat from my forehead. "There MUST be something behind this sheet of ice." I continued to pick at it, only this time with shorter stretches between each swing and with more determination. My excitement started to rise as the crack became bigger and wider. "Nearly there!" I grunted.
With a final effort, I swung the pick as hard as I could and it landed upon the icy wall with a large "THUD!"
"I did it!" I cheered, slamming the wall with my hands in joy.
Suddenly, I heard a piece of ice fall behind me. The wall I had been picking at was in front of me, so what was happening back there? The floor beneath my feet started to tremble violently. I slowly turned my body around and stared up at the ceiling. It was starting to dislodge... and fall.
With panic replacing my excitement, I desperately looked around me for a means of escape. I then remember the crack I had opened, spun 'round rapidly and dove headfirst into the darkness beyond.
As I lay on the floor in the pitch dark, I could hear thundering crashing sounds. There was no light coming from that direction, so I figured that the hole was now blocked. I hurried to my feet and started hitting at the wall that had been clear before, but was now blocked as tight as a drum.
Already tired from my previous effort of picking at the walls, I turned my back and leaned against the cold wall. It was only then that I noticed a small shiny object gleaming in the distance...
Date: Jan 19th
...Drawn like a Lightmite to a flame, I rushed to the source of the glow and was gratified, but somehow unsurprised, to find what I had been seeking all along: atop a slender stalagmite perched a golden wand of incomparable beauty, the Tasu head staring at me with ruby eyes, its mouth grasping a glittering sapphire, everything about it conforming to the details of the ancient myth.
As I reached out to touch the Golden Wand of Ithilia with fingers trembling from equal measures of excitement and exhaustion, something caught my attention from the corner of my eye: in another alcove of the cave shone a faint golden aura. I moved toward it and was astonished to see yet another stalagmite with yet another Tasu glaring at me with its jewelled eyes. Wary and confused by the meaning of this second wand, I decided to leave them both untouched for now.
I began to explore the cavern, keeping to its perimeter, and in all I discovered seven wands on spindly rock pedestals. As there had only been one true Ithilia, I knew that there must only be one true wand, and sat in the middle of the dim and dank cave to ponder the facts.
My brain, weary from the day's exertion, protested as I tried to focus my thoughts on the puzzle of the wands. As I sat and thought, exhaustion overtook me, and I fell into the grasp of sleep.
The black void of my deep slumber was pierced with a golden light a thousand times brighter than the Neopian sun, and whether I was still sleeping or not I could not tell, but I had to shield my eyes with both my arms as a voice, clear yet spectral, began to speak.
"Lucas," the voice chimed, "you come here with pure and scholarly intention, yet one follows whose motives are not as clear. I cannot stop you from taking my wand from its ancient hiding place, but I must warn you before you try: the true Golden Wand of Ithilia is protected by powerful magic. You have one attempt to choose between the wands you have discovered, but if at first you choose incorrectly, you will be banished from the Cavern of Confusion. Although you will remember what happens here, a lifetime of searching will never return you to this spot. It is up to you to choose... or not choose."
The light was extinguished as quickly as it had appeared and I lowered my arms, still not certain if it had been a dream or not. I didn't have much time to worry about it: a new voice reached my ears.
"That's it, Perfessor. I knew ye could find the spot. Start diggin'."
I moved closer to the source of the voice and could hear it on the outside of the cave wall. I put my ear against the cool stone and was startled when the sound of a rock hammer rang against the outside. I jumped back just as the hammer's sharp point broke through the thin wall between us and scrambled to hide myself behind a large boulder on the far side of the cave. From my position, I could see clearly as my good friend Neil, Professor Peyton, was forced to enter the cave through the entranceway he had just created, at the point of a sword held by that scoundrel Roop.
"All right, Perfessor," the Lupe said, "as I said to ye afore, the last time I were here I tried to take a fancy golden wand off of a ledge and, the next thing I knew, I was outside the Snowager's cavern, dazed about everythin' but the image of that wand. That image has haunted me fer years. Now that ye got me back, I want ye to bring me that wand." To further compel my friend, he jabbed lightly with the sword tip, adding, "And what with all yer learnin', ye better be knowin' which one it be."
From my hiding place I looked around and could see each of the seven wands on their pedestals and knew that Neil could see them, too. From this vantage, however, I could see inscriptions in the rock face above each stalagmite, and though they were written in ancient faeriescript, years of study had granted me the knowledge necessary to transcribe them.
Yes. I knew at that moment which was the true Golden Wand of Ithilia. I knew what danger awaited my friend if he chose incorrectly. I knew what disaster awaited us all if Roop was allowed to leave with the true and powerful wand. I knew what I must do...
Date: Jan 20th
...I dashed from out of my hiding place, grabbed a wand and proclaimed loudly, my voice echoing off every inch of rock in the round cave, "I've got the Golden Wand of Ithilia!"
"What?!?" Roop yelled in disbelief as he saw me there holding the wand. "I thought ye had disappeared when I threw yer bag over!" he shouted angrily in my general direction. Directly following that he sheepishly drew away; he had revealed more information than was necessary.
"Lucas?" Neil asked as he saw me, rubbing his eyes as to be sure I wasn't just a trick of the light. "You're alive?"
"You bet I'm alive," I said as I waved the wand at hand in his general direction. "And I've got the wand."
It was then that I really took note of the phrase Roop had just contemptuously uttered. "Wait," I said, speaking softly to him, "why did you want rid of me?" I pointed the wand in his direction now, ready to cast a spell if necessary.
"Wait, don't do anything ye won't be regrettin'," the Lupe said calmly and cautiously as he dropped his weapon. He then sighed. "I had to ensure that ye would leave Neil's side. You see, I've been in this cave once before, and were told by a voice in blinding light that I must be choosin' the correct wand, and that failure to do so would leave me in an almost amnesiac state -- while I would be rememberin' the transpired events, me soul could never be findin' this room ever again. So, after I heard that ye was lookin' fer it, I knew it might be me only way back..."
I now understood. He wanted me away, so that if Neil failed to choose correctly and a similar situation arose, I could then be found and serve as a backup, since I would still be allowed into the cave.
I stared into Roop's eyes with an odd sense of compassion, until they suddenly flamed up as he yelled at me, "Wait, how do I know that's the real wand?" He went to try and pick a random wand up, but it wouldn't budge.
Hesitating, I responded. "Can't you read the ancient faerie texts? They state that, once the correct wand is picked up, the others become unmovable."
Roop stared at me with disbelief. "Ye mean that, this entire time, ye were able t' read the texts of the ancient faeries?"
I nodded with a smile of self-satisfaction.
"That's better than old Neil can do over here," he drawled as he pretended to jab the professor with a sword that was no longer in his hand. Neil still winced, though; whatever he had been through had left him somewhat traumatized.
"Regardless," I started as I walked toward the empty pedestal, "it says its the wand right here." I dragged my fingers upon the scribbles on the side of shaved rock from which I had oh-so-courageously drawn my weapon. Roop followed quickly behind. I read aloud:
"The Golden Wand of Ithilia lays here,
From any or all who wish to do harm,
Taken, its owner has nothing to fear,
Safety shall always be found in the charm."
I waved it frantically in front of the Lupe, and he eventually snapped. Running back to his slender sword, he picked it up and threatened to stab Dr. Peyton.
"Wait!" I shouted. "How about a trade -- the wand for this sword?"
"What?!?" Neil shouted as he looked upon me with a crazed look.
I replied, "No, it's okay. Roop can have it."
Neil had long since learned to trust me (as I learned to trust him), and his look of reproachfulness suddenly resolved into that of curiosity.
While I stared smiling at my Eyrie friend, Roop quickly ran up, snatched the wand, and sprinted out of the corridor faster than any criminal I had ever seen, shouting at his escape, "I've got the wand! I have the golden wand! Yippie!" Soon, even the echo of his excitement died down into nothingness.
I walked over to Neil. "That wasn't really the wand, was it?" he said with an inquiring look on his face.
"Nope," I said. "I just tricked Roop into thinking it was, so you'd be safe."
"But, if you can read the faerie texts and knew the real wand, why didn't you just take that one to defend me with?"
"Look, neither you nor I know what the real wand does. It's powers are just a legend -- it might just act as a flashlight, for all we know. And besides," I said, smiling, "if I did take the real wand it would be out in the public for anyone -- especially Roop -- to take advantage of. Roop will figure out it's a fake in no time, but he'll never be able to find the place again."
I glanced at his melancholy expression. "Sure, we might not ever study it, but it's better that its powers are safe from harmful hands. And hey, I'm a pretty good on-the-spot poet, eh?" I smiled.
The next thing I remembered was being outside the Snowager's cave, a dazed look on both my and Dr. Peyton's faces.
"I'm telling you, that's what happened!" I said as I glanced toward my Lutari friend Lucas. The two of us had recently been on an adventure to locate "The Golden Wand of Ithilia."
I had told him my side of the story, and how I was held hostage by Roop and his gang, eventually until he disposed of the others as I knew more information than them combined. Eventually, I was in a situation where my life depended on whether I not I obeyed the nefarious Lupe.
Likewise, Lucas told me his side, of how he had gotten sidetracked by his bag and been stranded in the cold, fighting for his life.
He regaled me with tales of the events that followed, such as how he icepicked his way through to the treasure chamber, much the same that way I had done.
"Look," I told him again from the comfort of his mountaintop home, "you saved my life by tricking Roop into thinking the wand you gave him was the real one!"
He had no memory past the point where he drew the wand from the pedestal, whereas mine operated quite fine from its observant view. I assumed that, as I had never touched the wand, mild amnesia had never effected me, nor was my soul "damaged" from prodding my way into the cavern later (though I could never say that aloud for fear Roop might come 'round again).
"No, impossible," he responded, "I mean, do you really expect me to believe that I could come up with rhymes just like that?"
I sighed. It would be a long road back to my little cottage at the summit. "Alright, Lucas... you weren't a hero. It's late, I had better be going."
I sipped my last bit of tea and went to fetch my coat.
"Have a safe ride home, and please don't hesitate to call if you need anything!" Lucas responded. "I'd love to go on another adventure with you sometime."
I nodded and walked out of the door.
The sky was clear -- there were no signs that a blizzard had occurred here not two days previous.
Date: Jan 20th
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