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||You are on Week 640
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 Forty Ends Friday, January 24
|Excitement crackled through the air and Ellsworth could hear the hum of constant conversation, even with the door shut to his dressing room. The Elephante smiled as he checked his perfectly coiffed hair and straightened his already-impeccable suit. The Neopies were always an exciting event, but Ellsworth felt like this might be the biggest ceremony ever. "And the winner is..." he practiced aloud, watching himself talk in the mirror. "And the winner is..." His smile only grew, for his velvety voice was as commanding and rich as ever, and he rewarded himself with a Juppie swirl bonbon.
A small knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. "Five minutes to curtain, Mr. Ellsworth."
"Thank you," Ellsworth said, "I'll be right there." He winked once at his reflection before leaving the room. He didn't head directly to the stage, as would have been expected. Instead, he walked directly to the large vault where the Neopies were housed until being awarded. He always liked to carry one of the gold statuettes on stage with him at the opening of the show, so that everyone knew the prize for which they were competing.
He confidently walked up to the vault, which was being guarded by a rather muscular Gelert. He nodded to the guard, who turned and unlocked the vault. "I see you're with us another year, Fred," Ellsworth said politely.
"Yes, sir," Fred replied, "I wouldn't miss it." He swung open the heavy vault door.
The vault appeared empty.
Ellsworth stared in disbelief -- his mouth was open wide, as if he wanted to scream but could make no sound. "This can't be..." he finally managed, "this just can't be."
Every Neopie was gone, but the vault wasn't as empty as Ellsworth had originally thought. At the bottom of it, there was a single sheet of paper...
Date: Jan 21st
..."Look up!" the paper read. The hard, blocky letters on the paper looked both mechanical and businesslike.
Rather confused, Ellsworth decided to look upward as the paper had said. To his surprise, the Neopies were stuck the ceiling of the vault, as if they had been glued there.
"Fred," Ellsworth said, "the Neopies -- why are they stuck to the ceiling of the vault?"
Fred entered the vault, looking straight up at the dangling Neopies above. "I don't know..." was all Fred was able to utter before his watch and sunglasses flew toward the ceiling, sticking to it in a fashion similar to that of the Neopies.
"A magnet!" Ellsworth exclaimed. "Why would the top of the vault be magnetic?"
Puzzled, Fred offered to seek assistance. "Do hurry back, Fred," Ellswroth said. "The show starts in twenty minutes!"
Just moments after Fred's departure, the vault door slammed shut, sealing Ellswroth inside.
"Hello? Hello?!?" Ellsworth shouted with a trembling voice, slowly turning toward a green light that appeared in the corner.
"Why, yes. Hello to you, Mr. Ellsworth..." a voice hissed from the light. "Want to escape? Want your Neopies back? Spell or starve..."
Date: Jan 21st
..."What is this?" Ellsworth snorted. "Some sort of practical joke?"
"If it were, would you find it funny?" the voice asked.
"Definitely not," Ellsworth puffed. "As the main representative of the Sixth Annual Neopies, I demand that you shut off that incessant light and return the Neopies to me."
The light dimmed enough for Ellsworth to see a small screen lying in the corner. Strings of rapid green numbers were sliding across its face.
"Who are you?" Ellsworth asked.
"You may call me NV2. So, how about it, host? Want to play a game?"
The Elephante stood there in the glow of the neon light, watching the tiny golden trophies on the ceiling twinkling in his peripheral.
"Do I have a choice?" Ellsworth asked, sensing the answer.
NV2 chuckled. Or, at least, Ellsworth thought he might have chuckled.
"Not really. I have been ever-so-bored at the Space Station and quite abashed at not being included in your little awards ceremony. Tell me, why is there not a category for best technological genius?"
Ellsworth planted his hand on his hip. "Look. I don't make the categories. I'm just the attractive face. I could, er... suggest it to the committee for next year."
"Nice try," NV2 said. "Come now. Time is wasting. There can be no awards ceremony without the awards... or its host."
Ellsworth tried to think quickly. Certainly Fred had sought help and they would be returning, worrying about his absence. Yet his spirits fell when he realized there was no way anyone was getting through the inch-thick steel door that was blocking him from freedom.
"There is no way out or in," NV2 said, reading his mind. "I have devised a program that seals the door so that even a stampede of raging Moehogs would not dent it."
"Very well," Ellsworth sighed. "If I play your game, then you'll let me go?"
"If you win, I'll let you go," NV2 agreed.
"What if I lose?" Ellsworth asked, catching the inflection of NV2's statement.
"You starve, of course," NV2 said, "with only your precious trophies for company..."
Date: Jan 22nd
..."Fine, I'll do it," Ellsworth said. He needed to stall the demented screen by any means. In the back of the Elephante's mind, he still had hope that he would be rescued in the end, despite NV2's declarations about the door. Certainly Neopia would not let the most important host of the year stay trapped in the vault! Perhaps Fred would call the Defenders of Neopia team.
A 10x10 grid appeared on the black screen. Each square block contained a single random letter.
"The object of this game is simple," NV2 said. "Spell ten words by joining the letters. The letters can be of any length, but you can only use blocks adjacent to each other. Diagonally, horizontally, or vertically."
"Okay," Ellsworth agreed. The game seemed easy enough. He was about to press a letter when NV2 spoke again, a tint of malice in his voice.
"Of course, you only have five minutes."
A timer appeared on the top right corner of the screen, reading 5:00 in red numbers.
"Okay, fine," Ellsworth agreed in exasperation. Hurry up, Fred! Where are you? "Any other rules?" he added.
NV2 seemed to smirk, if it could. "In a typical game of Spell-Or-Starve, those are all the rules. However, because this is such a special day of the year, I've decided to... tweak the game a bit."
Ellsworth was not liking the sound of where this was going. "What tweaks?" he asked slowly.
"I will ask you ten questions, one question for each word. The words must answer my questions. The questions begin easy, but progressively get harder."
"Right, as if this isn't hard enough," Ellsworth said sarcastically. It's okay, Ellsworth, just play the game, he thought to himself. Keep this whacked machine company. Soon you'll be in the spotlight onstage, and you'll probably even get some huge publicity from the story!
"Ready?" NV2 asked.
"Fantastic," NV2 said as the timer began counting down. "Question one: what is a 6-letter word for champion?"...
Date: Jan 22nd
...Ellsworth's heart pounded in his chest as he mentally rummaged through his vocabulary banks. Champion... the Elephante tried to remember any synonym of the word, maybe a nominee's name or something. Finally, after much thought and twenty seconds had passed, the perfect word came to Ellworth's lips.
"Winner is my answer," he declared proudly as he stepped forward to the board. To his shock and dismay, however, there was no W on the grid. NV2 chuckled, the robotic sound spreading through the small room.
"Try again," was all it said. Ellsworth looked up nervously at the timer, which seemed to tower over him.
"Erm..." the Elephante began, desperately searching for another answer. At last, it finally hit him.
"Victor! Victor is the answer!" He breathed, relief washing over him as he saw the word he sought scrambled in the tiles. Touching each one softly, he chained the letters together to form the word "victor." A growl from NV2 was heard as the letters turned green and a ding sound echoed through the vault. Ellsworth breathed a sigh of relief as the timer stopped ticking down.
"Dumb luck, that's all," NV2 muttered, its figure wavering on the monitor. "On to the second question. You'll starve, just you wait..." the robotic voice trailed off, and Ellsworth jumped back with a start as he noticed the tiles changing. A new set of letters replaced the old ones, and the timer increased by five seconds. It now displayed four minutes and twenty five seconds. The Elephante gulped, preparing for anything NV2 could shoot at him. The seconds ticked by ever-so-slowly before NV2 spoke again.
"What is an eight letter word for amiable?"...
Date: Jan 23rd
While Ellsworth played his game with the disturbed NV2, Fred the Gelert was back at the vault. However, he hadn't brung any help with him. Instead, he was standing back in front of the vault like nothing was wrong with it at all. He hadn't gone to get help at all. In fact, as soon as he heard the vault close, he returned to his post.
Every few seconds, the Gelert would look at the clock, as if he was waiting for someone or something.
Soon... he thought to himself, a small smile forming on his face.
A few moments later, one of the many Neopie stagehands came rushing through the hall carrying a wooden clipboard. When he saw Fred, he came to a stop and approached the Gelert security guard.
"Fred!" the Chia exclaimed. "Have you seen Ellsworth? He's due for a last-minute makeup touch-up and the Neopies start in less then twenty minutes!"
"Nope," Fred said. "I haven't seen him at all, Wez. Did you check his dressing room?"
"I've just come from there!" Wez said. "I thought he might be here at the vault to collect the trophies. Oooh, where could he be?"
The Gelert ignored the fretting Chia and checked the clock again. His smile was starting to fade as the stagehand wasn't leaving.
"Maybe he's in a bathroom?" Fred offered, trying to rid himself of the stagehand. "You know he loves those Juppie swirl bonbons. He might be washing his hands."
Wez shook a bit before dashing off, not saying a word. The Gelert sighed in relief as the plan was still in effect.
"That was a close one."
Fred turned to see where the voice came from, only to see a green Shoyru with blonde hair peek out from behind the corner.
"Don't worry," Fred said. "Everything's still going according to plan. Thanks again for your assistance with this, Gyro. The nerve of them not nominating my baby brother Sandro for Best Hair. I figure some time in the vault with your friend will show Ellsworth the error of his ways."
"Anything to help a fellow Seeker," Gyro replied. "It was a pain to transfer all of NV2 from the Space Station to here, but it will be worth it. I suspect that, by now, he's forcing Ellsworth to play one of his twisted games and..."
The Shoyru stopped when he heard the sound of wood hit the ground, and turned around.
Wez the stagehand was there, having heard just enough to know what was going on. Less than a second later, Wez was off and running.
"Watch the vault!" Fred said. "I'll go after him!"
The Gelert took off after the Chia, leaving the Seeker at the vault.
Gotta find help! Wez thought to himself. "Someone! Anyone..."
Date: Jan 23rd
...A few seconds ticked by before the Elephante put his finger to the screen and spelled out the word "friendly." The letters instantly turned green and vanished from the screen. Ellsworth looked at the remaining time and cheered, "BOO-YAH! That only took me six seconds! I thought these were supposed to get harder?"
NV2's display screen dimmed and brightened as it grumbled in disgust. "You still have three more questions to answer," it said menacingly.
"I'm sorry," the award show host said sarcastically, "do you need time to think some up? I've got plenty to spare."
"Your arrogance amuses me," NV2 said with a mechanical laugh. "It appears as though I've made an error of judgment in presenting you with only vocabulary questions," it continued as a set of letters appeared on his screen. "Let's see how you are with riddles."
The Elephante forced down a worried gulp as he waited for the riddle.
"Once the fairest in the land,
Until a wish became my curse.
Twisted reflections held in hand,
From magic mirrors I disburse.
Who am I?"
The clock began ticking down as Ellsworth repeated the riddle over and over. "Magic mirrors? Wish became my curse?"
"Stumped are we?" NV2 teased.
"New rule: no talking!" Ellsworth snapped at the screen.
"It's my game and I'll make the rules," NV2 started with a tone of superiority to his voice. "Fair enough, though," he acquitted.
"These letters you gave me don't make any sense! How am I supposed to make a word with these?" Ellsworth said as he struggled to unscramble the four letters. He couldn't help but glance at the time. Has it really been forty five seconds? The stress was really getting to him now, but there was no way he was going to let it show. He had to keep a strong face. Get me out of here, Fred, he wished silently.
Suddenly, there was a loud bang that shook the entire vault...
Date: Jan 24th
.."What was that?" Ellsworth cried as he struggled to maintain his balance.
"It's nothing," NV2 replied, its tone odd and crackling. "Solve the puzzle!" NV2's screen flashed briefly in the darkened vault.
"It was something," Ellsworth mumbled as something fell from the ceiling and missed his head by only inches. Looking down at the floor, he saw it was a single Neopie. Thankfully it hadn't broken in the fall, and the gold statuette twinkled innocently in the evil light of NV2's screen. The Elephante bent over to retrieve the fallen award.
Another Neopie the suddenly fell, and another, and another. Ellsworth covered his head to protect himself as the dense air briefly filled with the tiny gold statuettes.
"Ans... wer... the... que... qu..." NV2 was trying to say, but its voice was coming in and out, and at irregular speeds. It almost sounded as if it was desperately trying to speak around hiccups. The screen then suddenly went off completely as the heavy vault door slowly opened.
"I see him," he heard Wez shout. "He's okay."
Ellsworth blinked a few times in the bright light before plastering his best smile upon his face. "I am, indeed, okay," he said, stepping forward. Just before he stepped out of the vault, however, he turned and looked back at the now-empty screen of NV2. His face was oddly vulnerable as he whispered, "Vira. The answer was Vira."
When Wez had heard of Fred and Gyro's scam, he'd run to find some help. Fred had gone after him, and the Chia thought that he would surely be caught, since Fred was in far better shape. Still, concern for his safety as well as Ellsworth had given new speed to his short legs, and he had been able to beat Fred to the stage. Once onstage, all he had to do was announce that the Neopies were being held hostage and all the potential winners were ready to be his allies. They easily subdued Fred, who'd admitted that he had done this because he felt his brother had been slighted during the nomination process. As a group they walked to the vault, only to find that the Shoyru had abandoned his post. Fred continued to insist that there was no way to rescue Ellsworth because NV2 had locked the door from inside.
It was Corbin and Kell who had come up with the plan. The two crafty brothers reasoned the door was sealed with magnetism and quickly fashioned a machine from some items they found backstage that reversed one of the magnetic poles so that, instead of attracting, the seal holding the door would repel, which would allow it to be opened. It would also force a surge of magnetism to flow through NV2, briefly clearing its memory banks and rendering it harmless. Thankfully, their plan had worked flawlessly.
"Now everyone," Ellsworth announced in a rich voice, "it's time for the show. Just remember that, no matter who gets awards tonight, you are all winners!"
The crowd erupted with a cheer as they headed back to their seats. Ellsworth realized that his feelings had been right all along. This surely would be the greatest Neopies ever!
Gyro watched the scene unfolding from high above the stage. He saw Fred being handed over to the authorities while that silly, pompous Elephante celebrated what he thought to be a win. The silly fools! Of course he could rescue Fred in an instant, and he could have crafted a trap that Ellsworth would have never escaped from, but it hadn't really been about that. He couldn't have cared less about who won what award... that had never been his agenda.
He smiled in the shadows. Soon, everyone would know what the Seekers had really been up to here.
Date: Jan 24th
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