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||You are on Week 660
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 Sixty Ends Friday, June 13
|Shirley felt like she had a forgettable face. She was the kind of girl that was easily lost in the crowd. Overlooked. Unnoticed. This usually didn't bother the timid Aisha because she typically preferred to remain unseen, but there were times when she wished she was someone more exciting and noticeable.
Perhaps that's why she loved her masks.
Her obsession with masks began innocently. A friend had been throwing a masquerade ball and begged her to attend. At first Shirley had protested, but her friend already had a gown and mask for her to wear. Shirley took one look at the Fairest of Feathers Mask and almost decided against wearing it. Without a doubt it was beautiful, but it was far more showy than something she would have typically worn. Still, she didn't want to let her friend down, so she took a deep breath and put on the mask and gown before entering the ballroom.
It was an experience like no other. It was as if that mask had changed her. She was no longer plain, shy Shirley. Rather, she was an exciting and elegant stranger. For the first time in her life, conversations became easy and she loved the fact that all the eyes were on her. She didn't stutter when she tried to speak or find herself trying to hide in a corner. She was an entirely new Aisha, and she didn't want the party to end. Of course, the party did have to eventually come to a conclusion and Shirley reluctantly handed the mask back to her friend. The next day, however, she hurried out and spent her hard-earned Neopoints on her own Fairest of Feathers Mask. Her new hobby of collecting masks had officially begun.
She had so many masks hanging on her walls that a few visitors to her home found it creepy and unsettling. All those blank, painted faces hanging from their appointed spots were a bit unnerving, but Shirley loved her collection. To her, each of those masks represented a different side to her personality. There was her Pretty Flower Mask for when she wanted to feel delicate and lovely; her Spyder Mask hung nearby for when she wished to be dark and just a touch dangerous; at the far corner hung her Holiday Thief Mask for those moments when she wanted to be just a little more daring (and, perhaps, a bit felonious) for the holidays.
Shirley was happy with her collection, but she always wanted to add more. She just knew there were more sides to her personality than she had ever dreamed possible, but the only way she could discover these new facets was with more masks. Thankfully, most masks weren't all that expensive.
Earlier today, she had retrieved a package from her porch of her latest purchase -- a Meowclops Mask. She wasn't sure what sort of personality that sort of mask might release, but she was eager to see as she brought the box into her living room to open it. Shirley quickly tore through the tape and opened the box, but then paused. There was a mask nestled safely inside, but it wasn't a Meowclops Mask. There must have been some mistake with her order, but this new mask fascinated the Aisha. "What is this?" she asked aloud as she picked up the mask to examine it...
Date: Jun 9th
...the mask in the box was predominately black with gold patterns -- patterns that glittered like starlight -- flashing across its surface, outlining the feathers and the eye holes. There was a symbol between the eyes in the same starlight gold, a sun with six curving rays.
Shirley scanned the walls of her living room. This new mask reminded her of her Mask of the Caster, though it was much more sophisticated and considerably less gaudy. She ran her paw over the feathers and surface but, despite the glitter-like quality of the gold sections, the mask was smooth.
She placed it back in the box and crossed the room to her bookshelf. This didn't seem like one of the masks from Masks of Mystery Island, and she was sure she wouldn't find information on it in her well-worn copy of Mask Making. She flipped through the pages of Behind the Mask, but knew she wouldn't find anything there, either.
Half disappointed that she would have to wait a few days for a new Meowclops Mask to test it out and half intrigued at the new mask, Shirley picked it up again, untied the black silk ties, and placed it over her eyes.
Just as she started to tie it behind her head, she heard a knock on the front door. The Aisha quickly finished the knot and opened the door.
"Josephine!" Shirley called out with a smile. Her friend held up a bright blue envelope with Shirley's name written on the front in beautiful script.
"Tonight! I know it's short notice, but I thought... you know, no one ever does anything fun in winter, so... you'll come, right?"
"Yes, of course," Shirley said. She kept smiling, but as she spoke, she looked beyond the porch for the first time. The only source of light on Membury Close were the scattered streetlamps. "Josephine," Shirley asked, "what time is it?"
"About four, why?"
"Where's the sun?"...
Date: Jun 9th
..."What do you mean, silly?" Josephine asked. "It's right where it always is. Aren't you going to invite me in?" Without waiting for an answer, the Kyrii brushed her way into Shirley's living room and began talking fervently about her plans for the party.
Shirley fumbled with the knot behind her head and squinted instantly as the sun burst into her vision from behind the mask. She lifted it again and the sun disappeared from the sky, replacing the baby blue with a sheet of black, spotted by twinkling stars. "Weird," Shirley breathed, giving the mask a hesitant look.
"Are you even listening to me?" came Josephine's voice.
Shirley turned and gasped, dropping the mask entirely. When Shirley had opened the door to greet her friend, Josephine had be wearing a long, flowing blue dress, and her mane of shockingly red hair had been short and beautifully styled.
Yet, standing here before her now, Josephine wore a simple yellow top, jean shorts, and her hair was unusually long and billowing.
"Your hair--" Shirley spluttered.
"I know, I know," Josephine said, rolling her eyes to the few tangled bangs caressing her eyes. "I'm getting my hair cut and styled for the party when I leave here. Oh! Just wait till you see my dress. It's--"
"Blue?" Shirley interrupted.
"Yeah," the Kyrii exclaimed. "How'd you know? Anyway, here's your invite. You'll need it to get in. This is going to be the best masquerade ever! See you later tonight." With that, Josephine let herself out and left Shirley to herself.
The Aisha felt uncomfortably aware of the black mask staring at her from the floor and she snatched it up quickly. Could it be possible? Shirley wondered. Did this mask let her glimpse the future?...
Date: Jun 10th
...Just to make doubly sure, she put it back over her face and tied the black silk with trembling hands behind her head. It felt so cool and light, yet strangely heavy. She urgently strode over to her reading table to find the clock.
There it was. Nine o'clock. Shirley pulled at the silk ties behind her head -- fumbling as she did so -- and peeled the mask off. Was she only imagining it, or did the mask adhere to her head a little more strongly than before? She shook her head and blinked. The clock now said four o'clock.
Five hours... the mask gave her glimpses of the world as it would appear five hours into the future.
This must be powerful magic, Shirley thought, looking down at the silent black mask in her hands. The gold pattern glinted around the eye-holes, making it seem as though the mask was winking at her.
Her heart spluttered in her chest. To calm herself, Shirley sat down at her reading table and opened Josephine's invitation.
You are cordially invited to attend the Summer Masquerade at 46 Membury Close, starting at nine o'clock tonight. There will be games and cake, as well as a contest for the most original outfit. Come dressed!
Shirley read the words over and the thudding in her chest ceased. She became aware of a new emotion: glee. The tingling feeling wiggled and spilled to the very ends of her limbs, like a laugh about to burst.
She knew precisely what she could do. She could take a stroll through the neighbourhood right now. The mask would show her what all the other partygoers would be wearing. She could then come up with an outfit that no one else had thought of and win the contest for the most original outfit!
Never again would she be boring, shy Shirley. All eyes would be upon her that evening in Josephine's mansion.
Bouncing on her feet, the Aisha placed the mask over her face, tied the black silk ties behind her head, and danced out into the night...
Date: Jun 10th
...Her plan worked beautifully. Shirley hummed as she skipped along the sidewalk, waving at her neighbors. Some of them were donning their nightclothes, others were in beautiful dresses and suits of varying colors and patterns, and still others were in almost Halloween-like costumes. It was these outfits she paid attention to as she tried to think of something unique.
In particular, Shirley noticed one of the more fashionable girls in the neighborhood, a Kacheek named Pamela, wearing a stunning outfit. A gown in a variety of colors -- some of which blended together, others that created stark contrasts -- fit her form perfectly. It was decorated with styled ruffles and designs made from sequins, jewels, and feathers. Her hair was tied up with matching ribbons and a tiara completed the look.
Shirley knew that outfit would be her primary competition immediately. It was easily the most unique look she had seen on her walk. Plus, Pamela looked very proud of herself. She must be very confident in her idea -- and Shirley had to admit that, if she had seen it tonight like everyone else, she would have been stunned. Now, all she needed to do was figure out how to beat Pamela.
Shirley walked back to her house and began gathering articles of clothing and various masks with which to pair them. As she walked through her bedroom, something caught her eye. The Aisha had completely forgotten she was still wearing the mask, until she saw her reflection in her mirror...
Date: Jun 11th
...And reeled back as she saw The Werelupe King staring back at her.
There was no mistaking it: the bone bracelets around his thick, furry arms, the skull adorning the top of his head like a crown, and his usual snarl twisted in an expression of horror.
Shirley looked down at her paws through an opening just below the mask's eye hole. They still resembled Aisha paws, but for how long? The mask seemed to tell the future, based on Josephine's question and the stroll she'd just taken. What did the Werelupe King have to do with the masquerade?
Shirley cautiously laid her paw across the smooth, cold surface, unable to tear her gaze away from the hairy beast she would become.
A fierce resolve boiled in her core, not unlike catching a case of Bubbles. Unlike the illness, however, Shirley was determined to show Neopia any personality, any face she wanted, and she was determined to make the crowd like her. Any decisions she made had to be prudent and thought out carefully so that her reflection would not come to pass.
Not taking her eyes off of the mirror, Shirley gripped the black silk ties and pulled hard, absolutely certain that she'd have the creative spark necessary to outdo Pamela's outfit and, therefore, all of Neopia. Why, if she continued, all of Neopia would be hers! All hers!
The ties fell limply next to the sides of their head, as though they absolutely refused to get in the way of the once-timid Aisha. The mask, however, held fast.
Shirley drew her breath sharply and quickly as she, calmly as she could, tried to match the clothing she'd set out with the masks. The mask was probably stuck due to sweat, which was most likely due to nerves and excitement for the ball.
The Aisha gripped the mask and pulled. Her entrails turned to ice as it still held on to her face for dear life. Shirley's breathing quickened and she frantically began rummaging through her dressers for something, anything, magical or not, to help get the mask off -- without hurting it, of course. Shirley knew that the mask was far too valuable to simply destroy. Scissors, for example, would perhaps ruin any chance at all of her bearing the title of Most Original.
Shirley let out an exasperated sigh and continued to try and match the clothing. She could remove the stuck mask later.
As the Aisha was debating which shoes to pair with which dress, she felt a tingling, and then an itching, right between her eyes where the mask was pressing most firmly against her face.
She attempted to scratch it through the mask, but to no avail. Curious, she made one more effort to get the mask off with her paws, but to her dismay, she felt the sensation spread even more quickly across her face, until it spread to her cheek, outside of the mask.
Curious, she put a paw to her cheek and was even more shocked to find a patch of fur on it, growing ever so slowly...
Date: Jun 11th
...She immediately recoiled in horror, knocking a lamp off her dresser that fell to the floor with a loud crash. Shirley's heart beat wildly as she reached her paw up to her face again and felt the coarse, matted fur.
"No, no, no! What's happening to me? Is this a dream? It must be!" Shirley exclaimed, her breath coming out in short, quick gasps. Rushing to her feet, the Aisha ran to her mirror. The reflection in the mirror had not changed. The Werelupe King's face still stared back at her, his blood red eyes boring into hers.
A shiver ran through the Aisha that chilled her to the bone. This was no dream. It was a nightmare, and she was living it. The adrenaline coursing through her steeled her panicked mind.
"I must find out where this mask came from. I have to get the box." Shirley whirled 'round and raced down her stairs toward her living room. She frantically grabbed at the brown box that the mask came in, turning it over. She then noticed something that she had not noticed before. The brown box that had previously been taped in brown packing paper and tied with string was so unassuming that she had not realised that, aside from her name written on the front in a scratchy scrawl, there was nothing else, not even the Aisha’s address.
It then dawned on Shirley that someone had placed this package on her porch and it had not been delivered through the post as she had originally thought. Shirley felt sick to her stomach. Someone had intended for her to put on the cursed mask. Her mind immediately jumped to wild conclusions. It must have been...
Date: Jun 12th
...the Werelupe King himself! No, too implausible. Pamela? Nah, Shirley's competitive attitude toward her was new, and the Kacheek had never displayed animosities toward Shirley before. Was it a fellow mask collector trying to incapacitate her and steal her collection?!? She quickly dismissed this thought and realized she was essentially grasping at straws; besides, those crazy plotlines only happened in works of fiction.
That's when another individual struck her: Josephine.
She gaped. Of course. It was too simple. That Kyrii had to be responsible for the catastrophe in which Shirley found herself.
Yes, the two were friends -- former friends? -- but their relationship, originally, was based on Josephine taking the lead, guiding timid Shirley around and trying to get the Aisha involved in festive shenanigans.
Ever since she first placed that Fairest of Feathers Mask upon her face, though, Shirley had slowly gravitated away from Josephine's guiding hand and toward a greater control of her own social affairs; her many masks -- her gamut of personalities -- only furthered the divide as the Aisha adopted a series of personas foreign, and arguably more thrilling or entrancing, than anything Josephine could come up with.
That Kyrii was jealous of Shirley! That fiend was resentful of the fact Shirley could mingle on her own, and envious that she was now little more than a forgotten host in comparison to the extravagance Shirley would undoubtedly bring to the party.
So then, Josephine had to put an end to it.
The Aisha's fists clenched inadvertently as she started storming around. Josephine would pay for this. "You'll pay!" she roared to no one in particular.
Shirley then caught a glance of herself in her mirror and was reminded once more of the Werelupe King. Was her best friend really at the root of this, or is that what a more evil force wanted her to think?
She patted herself. The long and knotted hair was becoming more prominent.
Following a deep breath, the Aisha decided she'd better do something to put her ill mind at ease. She was already getting an urge to howl at Kreludor.
She would go and confront Josephine.
First, though, she needed something else...
Date: Jun 12th
...Shirley decided to put one of her larger masks over her magical one. This would cover up her growing fur (for the most part). She then got her black dress with long sleeves and a long hem to cover up any remaining fur.
At this point she was not dressing to win the best costume prize. She only wanted to look suitable enough for the party.
Shirley was going to go to Josephine's house, but stealthily. She did not want her friend to recognise her. Some investigation was needed, and what better way to do it than tonight? Josephine would be busy with guests and would never notice Shirley looking through her room. The Aisha wanted some solid evidence before she confronted Josephine.
As her outside was changing, so was her inside. Shirley felt her senses growing and becoming more powerful, which was all the better to her in this case.
Shirley felt almost giddy as she walked out her door. Her Kyrii "friend" was going to be diminished in front of the whole town. In a way, she was going to "unmask" Josephine before everyone at the party.
The Aisha walked down her block with heavy steps. She was becoming more fired-up the closer that she got to Josephine's house.
Then, within what seemed like only moments, she was there. A few houses away from the party and looking from behind a large tree she could see Josephine, who was happily greeting her guests by the door.
"Oh, Josephine... your days of popularity are coming to an end. Just you wait until I expose you for the villain that you are," Shirley said quietly to herself while staring intently at the Kyrii.
Shirley then crawled behind some shrubbery along the house next to her. As she got to the back of Josephine's house, she saw a window opened on the second floor.
With her growing Werelupe-like abilities, she knew she could climb up to it.
With a silent jump, she got up to the window in no time. Shirley carefully climbed into the room, which turned out to be Josephine's. It was empty and the door was closed, so she felt secure.
The Aisha then began looking around the room for clues. Shirley looked through her closet and dresser drawers before thinking to look under her bed. There, she saw something that she could not believe...
Date: Jun 13th
...and her breath tore from her as she gasped. Heavy-looking leather books sat mixed in with bottles of strange, glittering substances inside a large cardboard box. What was stranger than the lurid colour of the vials' contents was the bundle of Werelupe fur that had been tucked into one corner. Shirley lifted it out gingerly, mind whirling, before she set it aside and scanned the book covers. There had to be something here to give her a clue as to what was going on.
Shirley focused on the book with the least visible dust. Flipping through its pages, she opened the book to where it had been marked by a bookmark. The Aisha-turned-Werelupe felt herself frown as she read the words on the yellowed paper. "Temporary morphing potion." This book was a spell book, she realised. Her heart skipped a beat and she continued reading with some excitement. Could this potion be what Josephine had used on her?
Her frown deepened as she recalled that she hadn't drunk anything that day that she hadn't prepared herself. No, some other magic had been worked on her, through the mask that she had been given. A flash of red caught Shirley's eye and, noting that the subtitle "Kyrii morphing potion" had been circled in red ink, a sudden suspicion dawned on her. Josephine had made and used this potion on herself! It would explain the fur that Shirley had found as the coat Josephine had shed when she'd transformed. That meant, stunning as it seemed, that Josephine was really a Werelupe.
Shirley's paws moved of their own accord and she found herself turning the pages to the second one that was marked. "Permanent morphing potion," she read, ice prickling up and down her spine. Josephine had scribbled a note on the bottom of the page and Shirley skimmed it with increasing dread. "Add to party punch around seven o'clock." It wasn't relevant to her specific predicament but, if what Shirley suspected was correct, incredible though it was, then Josephine was perhaps planning to turn the party guests into Werelupes, too.
Fury exploded from Shirley's core and, as adrenaline coursed through her veins, she jumped to her feet. She wanted to go down and confront Josephine immediately. However, she forced herself to take a deep breath in a conscious effort to calm down. She had the evidence to show the others that Josephine was up to something but, despite her strong inclination to storm downstairs, she wasn't sure if going down raging and screaming was the ideal way to go about it.
Instinct prompted Shirley to take the spell book back up. Maybe there was a remedy -- an antidote -- to whatever Josephine had done to her. Shirley's hairy paw paused at one page and she looked it over eagerly. A smile tugged at her lips and she began to chortle with a wild kind of mirth. She hadn't found a remedy, but she'd discovered something almost as good.
Her steps quiet, Shirley slipped down to mingle with Josephine's other guests in the main living areas of the house ten minutes later. The beauty of a masquerade ball was that everyone was in costume and no one, Josephine included, would immediately recognise her as a real Werelupe. She was well-covered, in any case, in her long-sleeved dress and large outer mask. Her thoughts were verified when a partygoer grinned at her and said, "Hey! That's a really cool, original costume!"
She spotted Josephine talking to Pamela near a table of refreshments. The Neopet tossed her short red hair over her shoulder as she complimented the Kacheek on her gorgeous ruffled outfit. Shirley gritted her teeth as she sidled close. It was only when she stood by her false friend's side that she was assured that Josephine had no chance of escaping and opened her mouth. "Josephine," Shirley said, pulling off her outer mask.
Josephine's lips parted and, eyes widening, she took a step back. Shirley could see recognition in the Neopet's gaze, though Josephine tried to blink it away. "I'm sorry," Josephine started, "who..."
"You will be sorry." Shirley's temper rose and she looked from Josephine to Pamela. The pretty Kacheek was on the verge of taking a sip from a cup she held and Shirley yanked it from her grasp. "Don't drink that!" Shirley hissed. "It's been spiked," she explained, her voice growing louder with each word, and she turned slightly to regard the Neopets gathered around them. "Josephine has spiked the punch with a morphing potion. If you drink it, then you will turn into a Werelupe."
"What?!?" Josephine spluttered, eyes darting from face to face. "That's preposterous! I don't know who you are and why you'd claim such a thing, but that really is ridiculous. I would never." Her mouth tightened defensively, though she'd started to twitch. "Why would I?"
Shirley moved closer, intending to show Josephine that she had no easy means of escape. "I have proof," she told Josephine, holding up the spell book and the bundle of Werelupe fur to the listening crowd, "that you were originally a Werelupe and that you've been dabbling in morphing potions. You turned me," Shirley went on, pointing at her face, "into a Werelupe." She paused to emphasise her words before warning the others. "If you drink the punch, I promise you, you will become as I am." She shifted back to the party host. "As for why you spiked the drinks, I think, Josephine, that you'd be better suited to answering that question."
"I don't know what you mean." Josephine shook her head and her features tensed as the other guests converged, looking increasingly trapped.
"Jealousy, perhaps?" Shirley pressed.
The words evoked some feeling in Josephine and she appeared to snap. "You have no idea," the Kyrii bit out, "what it's like to feel ugly all the time. I hated... HATED... being a Werelupe. It's only now that I'm a Kyrii that I've gotten a shot at being the centre of attention but, with you around, that's impossible. You have no idea, Shirley, and it's so unfair!"
Anger drove Shirley to cackle. "I never told you who I was," Shirley reminded Josephine and Josephine blinked, shocked. Her ex-friend had not only admitted to having been a Werelupe, but to having recognised Shirley. That was as good as an outright admission that she'd been responsible for Shirley's misfortune.
"That's true," Pamela piped up, looking between them. Her eyes had rounded and she appeared both intrigued and terrified. "You said, Josephine, that you didn't know who this was." Her words were followed by general mutters of agreement. "If you insist that you didn't spike the drink,” she suggested, "then why don't you take a sip? Show us that it's harmless."
Josephine's shoulders sagged. "Fine," she said. "I'll admit it. But," she went on with some spite, looking at Shirley, "I can't help you reverse the curse. Magic as powerful as the spell on that mask can only be undone by the Werelupe Sage... and I won't be leading you to him."
"We'll see about that," Shirley said with a laugh, filled with the sense of her own power. She was no longer plain, shy Shirley, but someone to whom all attention was directed... someone interesting. Nodding at the nearby windows, she commented, "I read something just now about Werelupes and full moons. It seems that, if you were born a Werelupe, the light of a full moon will turn you back into your true, original form." Striding to the closest window, she ripped open the curtain to allow the moonlight into the room. "Isn't tonight a full moon, Josephine?"
"No!" Josephine's cry echoed throughout the room and she fell to the floor as her body began to contort and her limbs elongate. The Werelupe's eyes glowed dark red and she bared her sharp teeth as she rose back to her feet a few seconds later. "How dare you?" Josephine seethed. She stopped and shook her head. "No, it's okay," she reassured herself. "I'll just whip up a new potion tomorrow."
"Not," Shirley said, grinning, "without your spell book, you won't." She removed the leather object from her pockets briefly before stowing it back away. Warmth spread across her cheeks as her laughter intensified.
Josephine's face twisted and she pushed her way through the crowd and out the door. As the Werelupe began to howl at the night sky, Shirley followed her. Shirley's own howl was every bit as triumphant as Josephine's was anguished.
She rather liked this feeling of invincibility.
Date: Jun 14th
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