Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)
If you have any questions about the competition then read our awesome FAQ!
||You are on Week 625
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 Six Hundred Twenty Five Ends Friday, September 27
|Neiko dashed through the thick, foggy woods, mud splashing onto his fur. He darted around the dark trees, the sounds of the wind and his paws pounding against the dirt all he could hear. The Lupe had no idea where he was going. He was sure he was lost by now, but he had to keep running. He couldn't risk stopping for even a moment.
The woods were dark enough during the day, but at night it was close to impossible to see. All Neiko could see were the looming shadows of the skeletal trees as he approached them, and he barely eluded them as he sprinted. He fought to keep his eyes from drooping sleepily, and though his paws ached, he knew he had to keep on going. He couldn't go back home. He could never go back.
Finally, as he entered a clearing that he was sure was far enough away from the town, the Lupe collapsed in the tall grass, panting heavily. He didn't quite know where he was, but as long as he was no longer near his hometown, he would be safe. Nothing in these woods could compare to what he knew awaited him at home. His family would be so ashamed; there was no way they would ever forgive him for what he had done. Everyone he had ever known growing up would want him exiled; at least he had run away before the ceremony of banishment could be carried out.
Where would he go now, though? Neiko had never been far from home; the town he'd grown up in had been so tightly knit, and its citizens rarely left, unless banished -- the worst punishment imaginable for those in his community, and it had happened to him. Did he deserve it? It had been his fault, after all. He had made the choice; he had brought this upon himself. All he could do now was attempt to start over with a new life, in a new place somewhere, and forget about his unforgivable betrayal.
Neiko's ears perked up at the sound of rustling in the bushes behind him. The Lupe spun around, dark eyes wide and fearful.
"Who's there?" he called out.
From the thicket, a figure emerged...
Date: Sep 23rd
...Drawing closer to the clearing, the mystical figure was revealed by the moonlight. A slender Acara matriarch stared wisely into his eyes.
"My name is Marcen, matriarch of the woodland Acaras," she stated coolly. "I see that you are worn from a long night's journey. You are not the first to have come blundering through this hallowed wood from your proud city."
Each word calmly slid past the Acara's delicate lips, as if nearly a whisper on the breeze. Neiko began to consider that he had been watched since he'd left the city, but the thought was shaken from his head by others that were more pressing.
"What do you want from me?" he asked, trembling under his tired legs.
"Simply that you follow and speak with me for a while," Marcen said. In an instant he found himself following the matriarch back into the woods that had once caused him such fear...
Date: Sep 23rd
...Neiko followed the strange Acara obediently. His legs were demanding that he stop and rest, but something about Marcen made him reluctant to disobey her. His throbbing paws would have to persist for now, but hopefully not for much longer.
"Where are we going?" he asked, his voice still breathless and strained from running for such a long time.
Marcen kept her gaze straight ahead. "Do not worry, young one, we will be arriving before long. You'll have your rest soon enough." She walked at a brisk pace, much faster than Neiko could manage in his current state, so he was always a few steps behind her. As he looked up at her from behind, her slender form was eerily illuminated in the glow of the moon looming above.
"Now tell me, what is your name?"
Marcen seemed to murmur something quietly to herself. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Neiko. If you wouldn't mind just answering a couple more questions, I'd be interested to know just what happened to make you flee from that city of yours?"
Neiko cringed. It was something he wanted to forget, and was certainly in no hurry to retell the tale. "It wasn't my fault," he blurted out. "I was just trying to help, I promise. I was being trained as a blacksmith, and..." he trailed off, tears sparkling in his eyes.
For the first time since they had started walking, Marcen's head turned to glance at Neiko. "A blacksmith, you say?" He nodded glumly, still trying to stop his tears from falling. "We could use a blacksmith," she muttered before returning her gaze to the thickets ahead.
Neiko wiped his eyes with his paw. "Use?" he repeated in confusion. "What do you mean by that?"
She waved her hand in the air. "Don't worry, everything will be explained momentarily."
Marcen stopped so abruptly that, in Neiko's sorrowful reverie of the past, he almost walked into her. He hadn't even noticed that the woods had slowly thinned.
The Acara pointed ahead of her. "We've arrived..."
Date: Sep 24th
...The woods opened up into what you could call a small village, but it was actually more like a large collection of tents and firepits. There were small flames in said pits, and each tent looked well-kept, almost as though each one had its very own caretaker. It seemed like a quaint little place...
only it was empty. Neiko noticed, obviously, that there was no one there -- of course, everyone could have been inside the tents, but somehow... no, it felt empty. No one was there but him and Marcen.
"Now," the Acara began, turning to him with a dim smile; this suddenly made Neiko very uncomfortable. "Would you like to meet the inhabitants of my lovely home, or would you perhaps prefer to finish telling me your story first -- you know, without the watchful eyes of the other woodland Acaras."
Neiko glanced around the clearing, feeling a sense of foreboding, and yet... he realized, he still felt a sense of obedience toward this specific Neopian. It was unlike anything he'd felt before, but he couldn't deny or ignore her words.
"Um, i-if you don't mind, I'd rather explain myself in privacy." He didn't want a bunch of other strangers hearing about what he'd done, and he wasn't sure that he wanted to meet the kind of folks who were so that he couldn't hear their breaths inside the nearest tent with his keen ears.
Marcen nodded slightly, a more sober look upon her face. "Alright then, Neiko. Explain yourself, and then you can meet my beloved children."
"Children?" Neiko echoed with a shudder in his voice. That sounded... really scary -- or maybe it was just the night getting to him. Yeah, that was it.
"Yes," Marcen said, smiling slightly and then gesturing for him to follow as she made her way through the middle of the tents; he did. "I am the matriarch of this place. Of course I consider them all my children." They reached a particularly large tent with floral patterns around the pointed top; she pushed aside the door-like entryway and nodded at the Lupe. "Now... enter, child. We may discuss the reasons for leaving your home in the comfort of mine."
Neiko glanced about warily before nodding, unable to disobey her somehow soothing voice.
The inside of the tent was unremarkable; there was a very large, pink pillow that lay in the center of the area, a dirt floor covered by Gruslen-fur rugs, and a lantern filled with a reddish glow that obviously came from flame that sat near a small, bed-like setup of two pillows and a ragged (yet comfortable looking) blanket.
"You, uh, you've got a very nice home," Neiko complimented meekly; he may have done something unforgivable, but he would never forget his manners.
Marcen hardly reacted, but did murmur as she made her way inside. "You're very kind; we need someone kind."
Neiko wasn't sure if he liked how she'd said that.
The Lupe obeyed the matriarch when she gestured for him to sit with her atop the wide pillow in the center. Then, at her command, he began telling his story:
"Well, you see... I was with my training master, Juko, and I'd just finished repairing a very special possession of the mayor's..."
Date: Sep 24th
..."And what was this very special possession?" Marcen asked, her voice thick with sympathy and curiosity. The way she placed her paw on Neiko's made the Lupe shudder, but he didn't pull away. It was nice, after such a long night, to feel accepted by someone.
"A doll," Neiko answered. When he saw Marcen arch an eyebrow ever so slightly, he cast his gaze toward the ground. "It was a doll made entirely out of gold. What made it special was that it was passed down from generation to generation in the mayor's family. The mayor heard about my skills in working with delicate metalwork from Juko. He commissioned me to repair the doll because--"
Neiko paused. Even though he was certain that he was banished from his town, he still felt a certain degree of loyalty to it.
"Go on," Marcen said. She was holding Neiko's hand now, her soft voice lulling him into a sense of comfort again. "Tell me about the doll..."
Inhaling deeply, Neiko removed his paw from Marcen and bit the inside of his lip. If he wanted to truly start anew with a clean slate, he was going to have to tell the whole truth.
"See, the doll wasn't just a silly little trinket used for decoration. It was something more. It was, it was a container for a key. The mayor only told everyone that he was having me fix it because his youngest daughter broke its arm. The reality was that he had me fix it because the mechanism to unveil the key was broken and he trusted me to fix it.
I was able to fix it easily -- after all, the only thing wrong with it was that it was jammed when the arm got broken."
Here Marcen's eyebrow arched even higher. "And, that key... was it in the doll when you fixed it?"
Neiko nodded. "The mayor was trying to get it out without breaking the doll... and it was because of that stupid key that I'm stuck here right now." Closing his eyes tight, Neiko inhaled deeply. "See... the reason why... the reason why I ran away from my town... the reason why--"
No. The memories were still too fresh in his mind. He was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. Neiko broke down into tears and started crying while Marcen watched him impassively.
After a few minutes, the Acara stood up right as a tea kettle whistled in the back. She then returned with a hot steaming mug of something Neiko couldn't decipher. It looked like grog but smelled warm and inviting. The Lupe took the mug and sipped the strange liquid. He didn't know what it tasted like, but he knew that he liked it immensely. Within seconds the mug was empty and Neiko felt a lot better.
Once she saw that Neiko was content, Marcen smiled and took the mug from him. "You are welcomed to spend the night here, child. Rest and recover your strength because I believe I know how to make everything better."
Neiko nodded numbly. Sleep did sound good right now and his eyelids were starting to droop. "H-how?"
Marcen's smile twisted a bit as she watched Neiko. "Just trust me. I will make everything better. I must ask you, however, do you still have the key on you?"
Neiko nodded again. He couldn't help himself. He couldn't lie, even if he wanted to. He just wanted to sleep.
The matronly Acara grinned a toothy grin. "Good, because I have something I must ask of you before I can make things better..."
Date: Sep 25th
...Neiko shivered, a sense of uneasiness washing over him. The terror must have been evident on his face, because Marcen placed a strong paw on his shoulder and gave him a quick shake.
"Don't worry, my dear, everything is going to be fine. Now, may I please see the key?" Her grin was warm, but Neiko suddenly had a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. However, drowsiness was beginning to wash out his other emotions.
He reached into his back pocket and fished the key out. It was still faintly glowing a golden color, and still had an air of danger about it.
Neiko hadn't meant to banish himself by taking the key. While he was working it had gotten dirty, but he didn't have time to clean it at that moment, so he put it in his back pocket and continued to work since he figured that an ancient artifact like the key should stay dirty.
Well, that was his mistake. Someone walked by and spotted the key sticking out of his pocket and called the mayor to notify him of the "treasonous act." Neiko went his first thought and ran before the mayor could even figure out what was going on. He didn't put the key away; in fact, he hadn't even thought about it. The only thought in his mind was to get away.
Shakily, he held his hand out to Marcen. The Acara grabbed the key, a malicious grin spreading across her face.
"Thank you, dear," she said, closing her palm around the key. "Now please, rest up." She gestured toward one of the two beds.
Despite the fact that Marcen looked absolutely evil with the key in her possession, all he could think about was how tired he was. He crawled into the bed, wrapping the tattered blanket around himself. He soon fell into an agonized sleep, with horrible images of Marcen and the key haunting his dreams...
Date: Sep 25th
...He awoke to the screams of a Crokabek at dawn, and a set list of other peculiar noises. From beyond the tent hide, Neiko could distinguish sounds of chopping, branches falling, and stones scrapping against one another. He got a funny feeling, like there might have been a war going on just outside while he slept. Neiko chuckled at the thought, when suddenly an arrow shot through the tent just above his head, leaving behind a trail of sunlight that connected its point of entrance and exit. Startled, the Lupe rolled out of his bedding and hugged the floor as he made his way toward the door. Hesitantly, he poked his head out.
"Sorry 'bout that, mate!" a scrawny-looking woodland Blumaroo called out to him. The Blumaroo laughed in embarrassment as he fumbled with a number of arrows and a bow that looked to be a bit too heavy for him.
Neiko nodded politely. Looking around, it became clear what all of the noise was about. The once-quiet and peaceful clearing had become overrun with woodland creatures of all sorts, running around creating a ruckus. "What's going on?" Neiko asked the Blumaroo archer.
"Haven't you heard?" the Blumaroo began. "We're preparing to attack the northern village tonight!"
"What?!?" Neiko shrieked. His hand quickly dropped to his back pocket and he let out a gasp. "Where is Marcen?"
"Not sure," the archer answered as he drew an arrow and aimed it at a tree trunk. "No wait, I think she's helping with the construction of the battle ram, just over there," he finished with a directional nod of his head.
Neiko thanked the Blumaroo, then took off in a rush. His mind was stuck on his family and his friends back home. Though he ran from them, he didn't wish any harm on them, and so he had to call off the attack. He had to find Marcen. Neiko approached a muscular woodland Tonu, who was chopping at a massive tree. "Excuse me, sir," he interrupted.
The Tonu turned around and looked down at Neiko, frowning, and said, "I'm a woman."
"Oh!" Neiko accidentally let slip from his mouth. "I'm sorry, I couldn't tell," he said, then paused. "I mean, I didn't know... I, uh... it's just that you--"
"What is it you want, kid?" the Tonu scoffed as she continued to axe away at the tree.
"Marcen," Neiko replied, glad to change the subject. "I was told that I could find her here--"
"TIMBER!!!" the Tonu shouted as the gigantic tree creaked and then snapped, falling hard against the ground. The Petpets living in the tree took off in all directions, some lifting off in flight and others scampering away by foot. "She ain't here."
"Well, could you please tell me where I can find her?" Neiko practically begged.
"Going over battle plans, I think. Red tent. Now, get out of here!" the Tonu growled.
"Uh, yes ma'am!" Neiko confirmed nervously before running off toward the red tent. Before even entering, he could hear Marcen's silky voice from inside. He paused there for a bit, hoping to catch some information about the key, but a woodland Shoyru opened the door to the tent and caught him snooping.
"What are you doing here?" the Shoyru began to question.
"Neiko! You're awake," Marcen announced with delight before dismissing the Shoyru. "I was just saying how the sword maker needed a talented blacksmith assistant to help speed up production!"
"Marcen, we need to talk," Neiko stated as firmly as he could muster.
"Oh?" the matriarch Acara wondered as she placed her hand over her pocket. "Let's go for a walk, then..."
Date: Sep 26th
..."Marcen... Marcen, you can't do this..."
It wasn't until he and Marcen were a good ways away from the village commotion that Neiko found his voice again. His mind was still a jumbled mess between the aftershock of running away from home and the shock of realizing his "new home" was going to war against his "old home."
The Acara just smiled softly -- almost condescendingly, as if she was a mother amused by her petulant child. "Neiko, I'm only trying to make things better. For you... for everyone. You wanted me to make everything better, yes?"
Neiko paused for a moment and nodded slowly. Yes, he did want Marcen to make things better.
"So, what is it that you want me to stop doing?"
"This WAR!" Neiko blurted as he gestured toward the commotion back at the village. "I wanted things to be better, I didn't want my village--"
"The outsiders' village you mean?" Marcen asked as she stopped just at the edge of the forest clearing. "You are one of us now, and they are the outsiders."
Neiko wasn't sure how he felt about that, but decided that now wasn't the time to argue. "Marcen, please, I didn't want to hurt them. I just... I just wanted a chance to start all over."
A moment of silence passed as the wind rustled the leaves. Marcen looked up at the sky, as if she didn't hear Neiko speak at all. "It's almost midday. My, my, does time fly. Come, child, there's lots to do before sunset..."
When Neiko didn't follow her back to the tents, Marcen turned around. The smile she gave sent shivers down Neiko's spine and made his fur stand on end.
"Neiko, you have misunderstood everything," Marcen said. She walked over, took Neiko's paw, and looked at him in the eyes. "I promise you that I will not hurt anyone in the outsiders' village."
There was something sinister in the way Marcen said "I," as if she was implying something or someone else would hurt the village. Still, Neiko knew better than to accuse her of painting half-truths. He nodded slowly and slipped his paw away.
"So... why are you preparing for an attack?" he asked slowly.
Marcen only smiled mysteriously as she turned around to walk back to the village. "Uh-uh-uh, musn't ask too many questions, child. As they say, 'Curiosity killed the Kadoatie,' and why we are preparing for an attack is only something the grownups need to know. All you, Neiko, need to know is that, once this is done, life will be so much better... for everyone."
Neiko watched as Marcen walked back to the village. He also couldn't help but notice that her hand was placed upon her pocket protectively. Why, though? There was a sinister lump in his throat and a heavy weight at the pit of his stomach. He didn't like this, not at all.
"Tomas will need a blacksmith to help him with the armor; go make yourself useful," Marcen called out before she disappeared into the red tent again.
Neiko glanced over to where Tomas, a woodland Bori , stood. No, he couldn't do this. He couldn't help them with this attack. Try as he might to will himself to run back to the village, Neiko couldn't. He was still too scared, too embarrassed, too--
"Psst... hey... hey, you!"
Neiko froze at the sound of the voice.
"Yeah, you standing there like a lump. I'm talking to you. It looks like you could use some help..."
Date: Sep 26th
...Neiko turned to see the woodland Blumaroo crouching behind a tent.
"Psst! Remember me, mate?" he whispered loudly. Neiko nodded dumbfoundedly.
"Don't just stand there, get over here!" he said, gesturing for Neiko to come toward him. Luckily, Tomas had his back turned, as he was busy talking to the woodland Tonu. Neiko scrambled over to the Blumaroo, who was clutching his bow in one hand.
"What are you doing?" Neiko asked. "Don't you want to attack the village?" the Blumaroo scoffed.
"Does it look like I'm a warrior, like I want to do what Marcen says?" Neiko looked at the scrawny Blumaroo. He didn't seem like the fighting type. The Blumaroo continued.
"Well, I'm gonna cut to the chase: Marcen is not what she appears to be." Neiko looked at the Blumaroo, confused.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"I'll tell you all that I know. Marcen originally came to the village as an outcast, just like you, but she was exceedingly special. You see, she practiced magic, but what we didn't know is that she practiced... dark magic." Neiko gasped. Marcen was an outcast like him, and she practiced dark magic? "I'm sorry, but that's all I know. To find out the rest, you'll need to get whatever it is that she's holding in her pocket." The Blumaroo glanced around him as he finished his sentence. Neiko thanked the Blumaroo, who smiled and added, "Oh, by the way, my name's Trix, just in case you wanted to know." Neiko smiled back, but was interrupted by a familiar voice.
"What are you doing with this one, Neiko?" Tomas asked, glaring at the Blumaroo as if he was nothing more than an annoying pest.
"I was just... asking him what sword designs are the best." Tomas nodded, keeping his glare on Trix steady.
"Come, then. Our warriors need swords."
"Get that last sword finished, boy!" Tomas roared from the back room of the blacksmithery. Neiko wiped the sweat off his brow. Tomas had been forcing him to make swords for the last hour.
"Yes, sir..." he said glumly, looking down at the piece of metal he was working on. His head snapped up when he heard someone walk through the door.
"Trix?" he asked, not believing his eyes. The Blumaroo put a finger to his lips.
"Shhhh! I'm busting you outta here!" he said, looking around sneakily. Neiko couldn't help but smile. Grabbing a finished sword, he and Trix walked out of the blacksmithery, leaving Tomas to discover their absence. The two snuck around tents and crawled under fences until they reached Marcen's tent.
"C'mon, you need to go and get what Marcen has in her pocket," Trix said, moving a shoulder in the direction of the entrance. Before going, Neiko turned to Trix.
"How do you know that what I need is in her pocket?" he asked nervously.
"I saw Marcen put the key in her pocket," Trix said with a wink. "If you have the key, then her entire plan is useless, seeing as you have a barrier around your town." Neiko gasped. He'd forgotten all about the barrier! He mentally slapped himself. That's why the key was so important! Neiko said to himself dejectedly.
"But Trix, I also want to get the Marcen I knew yesterday back. She's changed." Trix looked down sadly.
"I'm not sure if you'll be able to do that, mate. If dark magic has pierced her heart all the way through, then nothing but the light from a noble soul can reverse the damage. You have a noble soul, though -- show that to her, and she might have a change of heart."
Neiko nodded and walked a few steps forward in the direction of the tent. Stopping a few steps from the entrance, he paused and smiled at Trix.
"Thank you so much. I'm sure you'll be a brave warrior one day." The last thing he saw was a wide smile spreading across Trix's face as he took the last few steps into the tent, ready to face Marcen...
Date: Sep 27th
...But then he paused. "Here," he whispered as he tossed the sturdy, sharp sword over to his new companion. "I must enter without a weapon... but if I can't succeed in reversing her evil, come aid me when the time feels right."
Adopting an authoritative air, Neiko entered the tent of the grand matriarch. "Marcen," he started, his voice firm and unrelenting. "I want back what is mine."
Marcen spun around, any semblance of congeniality replaced by a truly malevolent demeanor. "Neiko," she replied, grinning mischievously. "You're not with Tomas."
"The key, my lady."
Her smile resolved to a neutral line. "Neiko, you're not well. Come here, my child, let me comfort you in this time of sorrow and uncertainty." She motioned for him to come over with all the charm and care she had shown him yesterday evening.
He knew better than to wander into her motherly trap, however. The tenderness was a ruse; the compassion was poison. "No," he retorted, his voice rising. "My soul is pure and, through it, you can be rectified and--"
"Have you been talking to Trix?" she inquired in a tone suggesting that she knew the answer. "He spreads lies, I tell you. He wants this society to suffer." She grinned. "I've been forced to banish him several times, yet he keeps coming back. Perhaps I should silence him once and for all." The Acara turned around, her back facing the Lupe. "Now, return to the smithery... or perhaps I need to silence you, as well..." she trailed ominously.
"The key," he reiterated. "I won't leave without it."
"To give it would compromise our community, Neiko."
"You took this village and turned it into a thing of war, of destruction," the Lupe responded with a passionate fury. "A place of evil."
"On the contrary, I made it a thing of power." Marcen spun to face her guest, her eyes glowing like coals and her face, especially her grin, altogether frightening. "Soon, with the northern village in our hands, we'll be able to build an army powerful enough to bring everyone under our woodland influence."
"The key," Neiko said again, even more firmly. "Marcen, I demand you hand it over."
She laughed maniacally. "You demand me? I could demand you killed."
It was now Trix who entered the tent, sword ablaze. "You," he shrieked at the matriarch. "You wretch! You wrecked my life, my home... but I won't let that happen to another."
Marcen just smiled at him. "I had a suspicion you had talked to poor Neiko over here. Do your worst, Trix."
Trix took the sword and rushed it toward his enemy... but at the last second, he threw it toward Neiko. The Lupe caught it. He aimed it at her.
"Go ahead, Neiko. End me. Pierce the figure who gave you so much."
Seconds slipped into nothingness. Time ebbed and flowed around them.
Neiko dropped the sword. "I can't do this."
"What?!?" Trix exclaimed, dumbfounded.
"I can't kill another."
Marcen smiled. "You truly have the heart of a warrior," she sighed, her kindness returning. "After all I did, you still chose not to stab me." She withdrew the key from her pocket and handed it to him. "Take this, and return to your city."
He accepted the key. He stared at the piece of metal, then at her, then at Trix. He then ran out of the tent. He ran toward his home, toward his people... he'd have stories to tell and explaining to do, but surely they'd think him a hero in the end.
"Trix," Marcen started upon his departure, her malevolent quality returning. "Do leave."
Trix ran away.
Slowly, the Acara giggled. The giggling got louder. The key may have been gone, but not her will. One day, another from the north would slip up. If not... well, the wall couldn't be indestructible.
Victory. Unification. Conformity. Power among the woodland creatures.
Date: Sep 27th
IMPORTANT - SUBMISSION POLICY! By
uploading or otherwise submitting any materials to Neopets, you (and your parents) are
automatically granting us permission to use those materials for free in any manner we can think
of forever throughout the universe. These materials must be created ONLY by the person
submitting them - you cannot submit someone else's work. Also, if you're under age 18, ALWAYS
check with your parents before you submit anything to us!