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||You are on Week 552
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 Fifty Two Ends Friday, April 20
|This was not a good day for Aldric Beign.
The Altador Cup was less then two months away, and it was very obvious to the captain of Team Moltara that things weren't going as smoothly as he had hoped that they would. The off-season was coming to an end and Team Moltara wasn't anywhere near ready.
The entire off-season had been one disaster after another. First, their practice field had been ruined when an underground magma tunnel had burst through a wall. Then, by the time they'd gotten a new field built, their Yooyu grabber had malfunctioned. It took three days to get it open and save those poor trapped Yooyus. After that, they were so rattled that it was nearly a week before the Yooyus were willing to participate again.
Some days, it feels as if fate itself wants to keep us in last place, the Kougra thought to himself with a sigh.
And so, he found himself walking the streets of Altador, having to deal with yet another setback. The team's uniforms for this year had gotten mixed up with those from Team Terror Mountain, and he'd just gotten back from meeting with Prytariel to exchange the uniforms.
However, instead of heading right back to the dock to board the next ship to Moltara, Aldric Beign decided to head to the colosseum. It was still empty, although in only a few weeks, it would be filled with screaming crowds of Neopets eager to cheer their team to victory.
I wonder if we'll ever get to the top of the pedestal... he thought as he wandered around the colosseum. The Kougra soon found himself before a section featuring tributes to the winning teams of previous cups, starting with the first winners from the Haunted Woods and going all the way up to last year's champions from the Virtupets Space Station.
Aldric Beign stared wistfully for a moment before sighing and deciding to head back home.
"You look troubled," a voice suddenly rang out. "Perhaps I can be of assistance..." it continued. The Kougra looked around, wondering who else was here.
Finally, he spotted the one who was addressing him, hidden in the shadows of the colosseum walls. It was a blue Krawk in a top hat and a long purple coat...
Date: Apr 16th
...Aldric's eyes widened in surprise. He recognized the Krawk immediately; his tophat and coat were practically trademarks. Their owner, after all, was fairly well-known -- much more so than the captain of the Moltaran Yooyuball team! Though the darkly amused blue Krawk staring back at him wasn't exactly famous, so much as infamous...
"Krawley," the Kougra breathed, hardly believing his eyes. The sinister Neovian figure wasn’t exactly one he expected to just meet on the streets by chance -- much less meet at all.
"In the flesh," Krawley acknowledged with a throaty chuckle. Despite the warmth that was prevalent in Altador in the spring months, Aldric felt a chill sweep down his spine and involuntarily took a step back. He was no coward, but there was something about this Krawk that filled the air around him with menace.
"W-what..." he began, but embarrassingly his suddenly-dry throat stilled the words before he could speak them. Coughing to clear his throat, he tried again. "What do you want?" he asked, his bravado betrayed by the slight quaver in his voice.
Krawley's eyes narrowed slightly, his smile growing just a little wider, just a little more menacing. "I just want to... help," he said, his teeth gleaming brightly. Swiftly, he stepped toward the team captain, chuckling again when Aldric took another involuntary step back.
"Help with what?" the Kougra demanded, hating how his voice still shook.
"Let's just say that it benefits me if Moltara does well this year," Krawley smirked.
Despite himself, Aldric raised his eyebrow. "How?"
"That, boy, is none of your concern, but believe me, my interest coincides quite nicely with yours," the Krawk practically purred.
Aldric bristled at the term "boy," but let it pass. "How could you help Moltara anyway?" he asked, crossing his arms across his chest in a false attempt at bravado.
Krawley grinned and tossed something at him from the depths of one of those dark purple pockets. Aldric caught it effortlessly; it was a business card, glossy white and blank but for a neatly-printed address.
"Meet me there, in two days," the Krawk instructed.
He stared at the card in confusion, wondering what it had to do with him or Krawley. He knew that address, but it wasn't anywhere near Altador, or even near Neovia. What did it have to do with Yooyuball?
"I don't understand -- why do you want me to..." he began, but started in shock when he glanced up.
Krawley was gone, almost as if he had never been there. The only proof that Aldric hadn't imagined the odd encounter was the trim little card in his paw. If he were smart, he'd tear it to bits and toss it in the nearest trash. There were monsters in the Haunted Woods that were safer to be around than the Krawk he'd just met.
Aldric pursed his lips. It couldn't hurt to meet Krawley there, though, could it? Going didn't commit him to anything... he could go, hear out the Krawk's plans, and just leave, couldn't he?
Nodding, he tucked the card in his pocket and set off...
Date: Apr 16th
...for Techo Mountain in Mystery Island. What a mystery, indeed. Why did Krawley, Neovia's most renowned sinister citizen (which, in and of itself, said a lot about his character) want to meet on such tropical, sunny paradise?
No matter his motive, it surely must be no good, the Kougra thought to himself. He knew that very well. So then, why was he walking like an automaton toward the Altadorian harbour? Aldric nervously swallowed, unsure of whether to turn back immediately or carry on in the direction of the docks. Surely, his teammates would have discouraged him from going to meet the blue Krawk. After all, they were his friends -- they would certainly tell him that going to meet Krawley wasn't safe, that they didn't want him to unwittingly become a pawn in one of the Krawk's nefarious schemes.
Yes, Aldric Beign knew his teammates well enough to be certain that they wouldn't want their captain doing anything shady in exchange for a chance at victory. Ironically, it was for them that the Kougra bought a place on a trade ship making the two day journey to Mystery Island -- Krawley’s delay suddenly making sense. It was for them, because they worked harder than any other Yooyuball team, only to see their efforts sabotaged by unrelenting bad luck. It was for them, because they deserved to win this year. Wouldn't it only be fair to compensate for the catastrophes that they'd had to endure via some, let's say, exterior help? Yes, it was for his teammates that he was going to hear the Krawk out... and they did not need to know anything about it.
During the trip, the ship that Aldric Beign had boarded was blessed with extraordinarily good weather. It was so good, in fact, that he reached Mystery Island half a day before the set time of his meeting with Krawley. Apprehensive, the Kougra captain decided to take a stroll around the Island Marketplace, hoping to distract himself from what was ahead of him. While strolling about, he found that there was an endless array of exotic (and tacky) objects on sale, many of them advertised by energetic natives who eagerly threw flower necklaces over the heads of anyone that looked like a tourist.
Despite being a Kougra, Aldric looked very much like a tourist himself, with his Moltaran clothes and magma coat. So, of course, while he was unsuspectingly glaring at a tasty-looking Funnydew Melon in a tropical fruit shop, an overjoyed island Acara girl shouted a pleasant welcome in his direction while attempting to place a cheery pink flower necklace around his neck.
"Be careful with that!" Aldric yelled, trying to warn the girl about the dangers of placing a vegetal accessory near the flaming head of a magma Kougra. It was too late, however, and the island girl shrieked in terror as the necklace burst into flames in her very hands. Losing her balance out of surprise, she fell over into a basket of Tobbie Fruits.
"I'm sorry!" the Kougra balbutiated, crouching to help the unfortunate fruit merchant get to her feet.
"It's okay, really," the Acara answered, giggling nervously as she stood back up. "This is the first time I've seen someone with flames all over their head. I wasn't sure if they were real," she said, smiling and picking Tobbie leaves out of her grass skirt.
"Well, you see," Aldric began, stopping abruptly when he noticed that the Acara had completely stopped paying attention to him as suddenly as she had assaulted him with her traditional welcome gift. Instead, she'd begun staring at something on the ground with round, blank eyes, in which shone more fear than Aldric Beign had even thought possible.
She was staring at Krawley's little white card, which had fallen out of the Kougra's pocket when he bent over to help the island Acara back to her feet. Aldric's jaw dropped as he tried to think of an explanation, somehow feeling that something was very wrong, but he didn't have time to say a word. Swiftly, the Acara picked up the card, grabbed his paw, and started running.
"Hey! Let me go!" the Kougra protested as he tried to wrestle himself out of the Acara's surprisingly tough grip. His attempt was in vain, however, and Aldric soon found himself being helplessly led into a barricaded grass hut...
Date: Apr 17th
"Wait in here with the others," the Acara quickly ordered with a look of sincere importance in her eyes. "I'll be back soon to explain." Then, without missing a beat, she turned and left the hut, leaving Aldric standing alone and confused in the entryway.
The inside of the hut was dimly lit and decorated with a quaint simplicity. Wooden tiki faces were spread evenly along the woven grass wall and a few hammocks hung, supported by a couple of posts, on the far side of the room. The most interesting thing about the small shack, the focal point, was a centered circular table garnished with a few familiar faces.
Aldric took note of the three Yooyuball players seated at the table. There was Kakoni Worrill of Faerieland, Leera Heggle of the Lost Desert, and Altador's "Trapper" Remis, all of whom bore the heavy look of embarrassment.
"About time Moltara showed up," Leera boasted as he folded his arms and stared at the wall, avoiding eye contact.
Aldric, picking up on the fact that he was possibly the only one who had no idea what was going on, asked, "Why are you all here?"
Leera scowled as he examined Aldric and replied in a condescending tone, "The same reason you're here." He flashed a white card that was identical to the one Mr. Krawley had given Aldric at the colosseum.
Aldric blushed, realizing what this meant, and jumped to defend himself, "No! I wasn't going to--"
"Cheat?" Leera interrupted. "Sure you weren't," he continued in a mocking manner. "I suppose you just happened to be in the area, with the same calling card, no less."
There was an awkward moment of silence as the athletes hung their heads in shame. Aldric joined the three at the round table and hesitated for a moment before mumbling, "So what now?"
Kakoni spoke up. "Well, this is what we know. We all have something in common. We're each the captain of our team, and none of us did so well in last year's cup. I think this might be a--"
There was a loud commotion coming from outside the hut that broke the conversation. The captains quickly rose from their seats and went outside when, to their surprise,...
Date: Apr 17th
...the Krawk responsible for their meeting stepped into sight, a smirk drawn on his face.
"Krawley, what's this about? Why did you bring us here?" Leera said, fighting back a shiver as his eyes turned to meet him.
"You're a liar and a cheat!" Kakoni said, hitting his flipper against a patio table angrily.
"Oh, but I haven't lied my friend, and was it not you who traveled here with the intention of 'cheating?'" Krawley said, his sinister mouth stretched to form what was supposed to be a smile. Kakoni frowned and looked away. "I will help you... or, rather, one of you," he said, placing a folded piece of paper down on the center of the table.
"Whoever finishes this task first will be awarded my special... 'assistance.' The losers will go home and never speak of any of this again," Krawley said as he slowly paced away.
"Or what?" the green Poogle on the opposite end of the room challenged, his face red with anger.
"Or risk being removed from the tournament altogether when you're found out for attempting to cheat. We all know how shameful that would be -- what a disappointment you would be to your team, to Neopia. That's why I hope you all try your hardest to complete this task. After all, your team needs you..." he said, then resumed leaving.
Aldric attempted to follow Krawley after a few moments of silence, but again the Krawk had seemed to vanish, losing the Kougra almost immediately. He returned to the hut and sat down with the others, the four of them looking at the paper that had been placed between them.
"Someone open it," Leera said, breaking the silence. They sat for a few moments more, waiting for somebody to reach for the paper.
"It can't be that bad," Remis said, picking up the paper with a trembling paw. They gathered behind him as he slowly opened the worn parchment and placed it on the table in front of him.
"Oh, yeah. I'm sure the scary villain is just blackmailing us so that we'll volunteer at the Soup Kitchen," Leera said, moving Remis aside with his hooves.
Leera read the scribbled, blotchy ink aloud...
Date: Apr 18th
...Somewhere on this island grows|
A blossom scented like a rose,
And though it may appear mere flower
It is an object of great power.
You four were drawn here by your greed,
But also by an inner need
To retire as great champions,
And that is what you can be, friends.
But only one among you will
Find the bloom and seal the deal;
Now scatter to the corners four
From mountaintop to sandy shore,
From jungle green to seabreezed sky
Now scatter, scamper, run, and fly;
Each to your own true element
To gain glory, fame, and excellence.
There was silence when Leera stopped reading, as each of the four stood puzzling over the message. "Not much of a poet, is he?" Leera asked. "It makes him a bit less menacing, really. Feet of clay and all that."
"So, we need to find a flower?" Aldric asked. Remembering the profusion of blooms he had seen everywhere since landing on Mystery Island, he added, "How will we possibly know when we've found the right one?"
Just as Leera tried to nonchalantly turn the note face down again, Trapper picked it up and said, "Our Mr. Krawley, helpfully, included a drawing of the flower."
The group gathered and studied the unique looking bloom.
"Well, if we're supposed to 'scatter' to our 'own true element,'" Leera said, "I'm wagering that I'm to search the sandy shores -- being from the Lost Desert, you could say that I have sand in my blood."
"Hmm, I suppose," Kakoni added. "I might have an affinity for air, as I'm the only flyer here. I guess I'll take the sky."
Aldric felt uneasy, not knowing how the message could apply to him, and said, "Mountaintop or jungle? I don't know what that could mean for me."
"Trapper" Remis placed a paw around the Kougra's shoulder and said, "I'm thinking that, since I'm green, I should take the jungle."
"That leaves me the mountaintop?" Aldric asked, still not certain that he was reading the cryptic instructions correctly. As much as he didn't want to actually cheat, if one of the captains here was going to gain an advantage in this year's Altador Cup, he wanted to be sure that it was him.
"Of course," Leera chuckled as he led Aldric to the door of the hut. Opening it, he pointed a hoof at the smouldering peak of Techo Mountain. "It's a volcano, my boy. Full of gas and hot air, just like you."
As the others laughed at him, Aldric could feel the heat building in his belly. The same fire that fuelled him to become the best Yooyuball player that Moltara had ever known now propelled him toward the table. He snatched up the drawing of the flower and, feinting and dodging through the others as they cottoned onto what he was up to, the Kougra burst out of the door in a mad dash for that smoking peak...
Date: Apr 18th
...There was some distant part of him that felt bad for ditching his fellow captains, and he had to remind himself that there could only be one winner, one team that got lifted up from the bottom of the standings. Crinkling the paper with his tight grasp, Aldric ran up the slope of the mountain, past the tourists throwing lodestones into the volcano. Finally, he found himself in a cavern.
What kind of flower grows in a volcano? he wondered to himself.
It was dark in there, but thankfully, years of living underground (plus the light from the magma) had given him plenty of experience navigating in darkness. It didn't take long at all for him to locate the patch of flowers, growing in a corner. Every one of those blooms were an exact likeness of the sketch on his paper and, plucking a few, he ran back to the little shack, confident of his victory.
What he didn't count on, however, was the other team captains running back as well.
Of course, he thought. If it was so easy for me, it must have been easy for them as well...
Why had it been so easy for him? It was actually rather suspicious. Why did Krawley want him to do this again?
As they approached each other, each team captain eyed the others warily, as though frightened of what they might do. Aldric tightly held on to his flower, and saw that the others were doing the same...
Date: Apr 19th
...He took note of Kakoni's longing face, his beak parted with concentration, and of Leera's anxiously desperate expression. Even "Trapper" looked more determined than Aldric thought he had ever seen him.
This thought made the Kougra falter his stride, and he came to a panting halt a few feet from the door of the hut, making the other captains turn to look at him inquiringly.
"What'd you stop for?" "Trapper" asked with a gasp. He was clutching his side, the flower waving precariously.
Leera was closest to the hut. Aldric saw him eye the door hopefully, but the goalkeeper made no move toward it, although he still held his flower in the air as if presenting it to some invisible maiden.
"One of you go," Aldric said, not looking at any of them. He wasn't really sure what had prompted him to say such a thing, but once the words were issued, he felt the uneasy knot inside his stomach loosen.
"What?" "Trapper" asked.
"Yeah, what are you playing at?," Kakoni demanded.
"Nothing," Aldric said truthfully. He again noticed the other captains glance eagerly at the door, but no one made a move. "It's just... well, Moltara's used to being in last place, so I reckon we've gotten pretty accustomed to it," he finished, waving his hand. "One of you go," he repeated.
"Don't be daft," Leera said, taking a step away from the hut. "Lost Desert has won the cup, for crying out loud! If anyone deserves a shot, it's one of you guys," he said, a smirk playing at the corners of his mouth.
Kakoni sighed. "Seriously, if anyone needs help, it's Moltara." He, too, was smiling.
Leera and Kakoni both looked sharply at "Trapper."
The Poogle shifted his feet, then rolled his eyes. "Yes, I suppose coming second to last every year is a bit better than last," he muttered sarcastically.
"Together?" Aldric proposed, struck by a sudden idea. "Krawley just said whoever finishes first, but if we tie..."
The four captains exchanged brief looks of agreement before they all stepped forward together...
Date: Apr 19th
...The door swung open as soon as they stepped forward, and out stepped the Acara girl from before.
"Where have you all been? I told you I would be back to explain everything..." Her voice trailed off as she stared at the flowers in their hands, "Oh no, please tell me you didn't actually do what Krawley told you to..."
All four of them stared at her, confused, as surely such a common flower was no great harm.
"Take a look at this," the young Acara said, taking out a pocket sized book. "The flower all four of you have been sent out to look for is known as the 'Scarlet Scam.' It only appears to those who are selfless of action but with a tainted heart, and now that you have found it--"
Krawley stepped out of the shadows and laughed. "And now that you have found it, I'll be able to carry out my plans."
The captains stared at him despondently, in a daze, and did nothing to stop Krawley as he snatched the flowers from them and took off...
Date: Apr 20th
...He seemed to coast more than run, and was gone in a flash. His shadowy form retreated behind a dark patch of trees -- into The Lost City of Geraptiku.
He'd adapted one of the many old ruins into a makeshift laboratory. That's where he brought the flowers to concoct the Scarlet Brew.
It would be one of Krawley's most sinister and powerful mixtures yet. This potion threatened to put each of the team captains under his control. He could then command them to win or lose a game, to suit his own desires.
For honest sports enthusiasts, that would ruin the very purpose of the Altador Cup! There would be no sportsmanship, integrity, challenge, or true teamwork in that. Yes, Mr. Krawley really was evil.
"He went this way!" the Acara girl shouted and took off running. The team captains all followed behind, swallowing their gullibility and shame.
When they emerged in Geraptiku, it wasn't difficult to find Krawley. He was in the pyramid with the strange crimson glow about it.
The team captains stood in silence for a moment, exchanging glances with one another -- as if they were acknowledging their mistakes and were in agreement that the resolution would only come if they could all work together to thwart Krawley's plan.
It was Aldric who started off toward the pyramid first. Leera, "Trapper," Kakoni and the Acara girl followed.
They peeked through an open space between one of the stones and observed Krawley, who'd lain the flowers on an altar. He was reading something from a book; a bubbling cauldron sat beside him on the floor.
"On the count of three..." Aldric whispered. "One, two, three!" he counted off, and then they all darted through the door at once -- interrupting Krawley, but not stopping him!
Krawley tossed the flowers into the bubbling cauldron! This was a rare occasion, due to the fact that Mr. Krawley was actually happy. Tossing his head back, he cackled wildly!
"Not so fast!" the Acara girl called out and then stepped forward. She held a small wooden stick in her paw.
Krawley glanced at the stick and snarled at her. "I can make any of your wishes come true!" he said in an effort to tempt the Acara girl.
"That won't be necessary," she retorted as she tossed the Cherry Wish Stick into the bubbling cauldron. "I have only one wish: I wish that you were a Yooyuball!"
Krawley shrieked as he began to shrink. His skin grew even more leathery as he became round and small.
Aldric wore a smirk as he threw the Neovian Yooyuball across the field! The Altador Cup fanatics were going wild. This year would, indeed, be an interesting tournament.
Date: Apr 20th
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