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||You are on Week 661
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 One Ends Friday, June 20
|She really shouldn't be here right now.
Although she knew this for a fact, Remi also knew better than that. After all, the first rule all journalists learn when working the field is this: if you shouldn't be somewhere, then you should probably be there.
This rule was especially true for the journalists of her type: the thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. Some Neopians got their kick collecting stamps. Others spent their time lobbing Yooyuballs around with their friends. Remi, on the other hand... Remi chased down criminals.
The chill night air pressed against the back of the white Ixi's neck as Remi glanced left and right. Before her stood Shenkuu's most famous building: the Lunar Temple. A full moon framed the building in a picturesque, almost peaceful, manner. On any other night, Remi would have snapped a picture of this beautiful sight. Maybe she would have even penned a few lines of poetry as well. Not tonight, though -- tonight there was something foul in the air.
Slipping through the glaring yellow caution tape, Remi took extra care to make no noise or sudden movement. She had to be fast and sneaky. Fast and sneaky wasn't her first priority, however. Delicacy ranked much higher on her list.
Rule number two: disturbing the integrity of the scene means disturbing your story.
It is for this reason that, even though she wasn't a forensic scientist or a detective, Remi always wore gloves when visiting a scene. It was best not to disturb the evidence or leave any evidence behind.
As Remi slunk through the blackened corridors, she blinked every so often to take a mental picture of the temple's interior -- the perks of having a photographic memory. However, as Remi made her observations she felt as if she had to congratulate the thief. They had left absolutely no trace of mischief at all: the corridors were spotless; not a vase or scroll out of place; there wasn't even a single scuff mark on the woven carpets.
As Remi approached a pair of large crimson doors with twin crescent moons on either side, the white Ixi felt her heart pounding in her chest. This was it, the moment she had been anticipating ever since her partner in journalism, Patrick, had given her the tip. It was in this very room that the thief had gotten in and stolen something very valuable in the day's early morning.
There were two reasons why Remi stood inside the Shenkuu Lunar Temple right now:
Reason 1: to find out exactly what the thief had stolen.
Reason 2: to find out exactly who that thief was and report on it.
All of Neopia deserved to know, after all. All of Neopia deserved to know, because travelers from throughout the world came to visit the Lunar Temple and seek counsel from the wise Gnorbu. For the past week, however, the wise Gnorbu had fallen ill and was confined to his bed. When Patrick told Remi this, the Ixi immediately suspected foul play. The wise Gnorbu was without a doubt poisoned.
There had been a lot of hush-hush cover up about the wise Gnorbu's illness, and now the Shenkuu authorities had been keeping quiet about this recent theft, as well. Remi couldn't help but smirk.
Rule number three: the tighter the lid is kept on a secret, the bigger the secret... which means the bigger the story.
That was the reason why Remi immediately packed the bare essentials and high tailed it out of Neopia Central. She'd been in Shenkuu for barely an hour before going straight to the temple while the scene was still fresh. Now that she was here, Remi felt that familiar burn of anticipation.
The smirk lingered as Remi snapped the glove around her wrist and reached forward to place her hand on the stone cold handle.
"Let's see what's behind door number one, now, shall we?"
Date: Jun 16th
...Remi slowly turned the handle and eased the door open, inch by inch. Not a single squeak of a hinge, she thought to herself with a smile. When the door was open wide enough, she quickly slipped through and--
Suddenly, bright lights burst on and loud footsteps came from all sides. Remi put an arm over her face to shield her eyes, but she wasn't fast enough to avoid being blinded for a few seconds. As she blinked hard to clear her vision, she heard slow clapping.
"Well, well, well... if it isn't everyone's favorite reporter."
Remi knew the voice well. "Thanks for the warm welcome, Inspector Seldon." Her vision slowly began to return, letting her make out the blurry shape of a green Tonu slowly advancing toward her.
"We all knew it was only a matter of time, didn't we?" the Tonu said to the dozen 'pets in police uniforms who had surrounded Remi the second she had walked into the room. "You write your reports on all those crimes and you learn what the thieves did and how they got caught. 'I'm smarter than them,' you think to yourself. 'I won't make the same mistakes.'"
Remi grimaced. "You don't really think that I did this, do you?"
The Tonu shrugged. "Returning to the scene of the crime is a common behavior for criminals, isn't it?"
"Three things," Remi said, hands on her hips. "One: if I'm really as smart as you say I am, then I'd know that returning to the scene of the crime is the easiest way to get caught, so why would I do it? Two: if I were to turn to a life of crime, why would I start by stealing an obscure artifact that has no value to me? Lastly, three," she said haughtily, "if you've brought half the force here for a stakeout, then that means you're really desperate to catch this guy, which means you could use my help."
The Tonu turned away from her and huffed. "If you expect me to share my evidence with you or ask you to consult on the case or something else equally ridiculous, then you know the answer is no."
"Of course not, inspector. All I ask is that you let me look at the crime scene for a few moments."
"Why would I let you do that?" Inspector Seldon asked. "You're breaking and entering. By all rights, I should arrest you here and now!"
"There's four reasons why you won't do that," Remi said. "Shall I list them for you?"
The Tonu rolled his eyes. "Fine, you can look around for two minutes, no more. If you find anything, though, then you have to tell me about it, understand? Concealing evidence related to an ongoing investigation is a serious offense."
"Of course, inspector," Remi said sweetly. She smiled serenely but was fuming inwardly. She shouldn't have been caught like this -- and by her rival, Inspector Seldon, no less! Humiliating. She'd been too eager for this story, and as a result been hasty and broken some of her own rules. Now, as a result, she had to deal with the police sticking their noses (or, in Seldon's case, horn) into her reporting. No more mistakes, she resolved. I look the crime scene over, gather whatever clues I can, and then I'm out... hopefully without having to deal with Inspector Seldon again. At least, not until I bring the real criminal to him in handcuffs. Then we'll see who's the better detective...
Date: Jun 16th
...With that thought, the Ixi began her scan of the temple. She chuckled inwardly at the convenience Seldon's appearance had brought. He'd given her light - bright light, at that - something very valuable to someone searching for evidence. It had one major con, however. The light would allow Seldon to bear witness to her every motion, even the slightest movement of a limb.
What would a true journalist - no, a true criminal - do in this situation? Remi thought as she made her way towards a large stone table set in the middle of the room. The Ixi walked quickly, holding her small handbag in her left hand tightly. She felt the Tonu's eyes boring into her more deeply with every step she took, but kept her posture straight.
Once she reached the table, she took a second to scan its surface. As expected, there was nothing of interest. Kneeling down, Remi took a second look at the table, only this time from the underside.
Rule number three: Look at a problem from every angle there is. Never underestimate the situation. The Ixi smirked, happy that her memory wasn't failing her at this crucial moment.
"One minute," Seldon quipped from behind her. Then, mockingly, "it seems like our super sleuth can't crack this case." Remi grit her teeth but continued to scan the table; then the floor beneath it.
Aha! I think I see something! the Ixi thought excitedly as she noticed a small, golden object nestled beneath one of the table's legs. Remember, be inconspicuous. A stealthy journalist is a successful journalist. A few seconds ticked by before she made a move to grab the object. A grunt of curiosity arose from the police officers gathered behind her, but the object was in Remi's purse before any of them could blink, much less raise suspicion.
"Time." Seldon grunted. The Ixi turned to face him, the hand that clutched her purse trembling slightly. Remi felt alive - like a fugitive hiding from the authorities - when she did work like this. It was what made being a journalist worthwhile.
"Did ya find anything?" a Kougra called from behind Seldon. The Tonu stared at Remi, his eyes repeating the same question.
"No," the Ixi lied, putting on her best innocent expression. “But I'm feeling generous today, so I'll let your squad handle this case. There are far too many loose ends for a mere journalist like me to tie together." Her voice carried throughout the temple, and Seldon's lips turned upwards into a smug smirk when he heard it.
"I knew you'd come around, Remi. Now, get out of here and let the real experts do their jobs." Remi smiled, feigning thankfulness, then stood and began her trek towards the door through which she had entered.
When she felt the blast of air it emitted when Seldon slammed it shut, she immediately breathed a sigh of relief.
Thank Fyora that Seldon's so dull! I thought for certain he would've said something! she thought as her pace quickened. A low rumbling sound from in front of her brought her attention up to the doorway leading outside; more specifically, to the rock that was slowly lowering itself in front it.
Breaking into a sudden sprint, the Ixi knew she wouldn't make it before the rock blocked her escape route; she slammed into the cold stone just as it hit the floor of the temple. She had been so close to discovering the next clue - but Seldon had been one step in front of her.
He knew I was bluffing! But how? Remi thought frantically, her desire to find the thief blotted out by rage towards the Tonu briefly. Another rumbling sound echoed through the temple, this time emanating from behind her. After a moment, bright light flooded the chamber in which the Ixi stood. She understood what - no, who - it was instantly.
So this is it, huh? Snuffed out before I got to see my evidence. She flipped her purse open silently and felt around it until the golden object was grasped in her paw firmly. It's not like Seldon is going to let me see it later - I might as well take a good look at it now. With this final thought driving her, Remi withdrew the object - a small scroll. She unfurled it, and read quickly. A gasp escaped her lips as the words flashed through her mind. At the same time, a cry from Seldon echoed across the room.
"The door's been sealed! We're trapped!" Remi, mouth still agape, let out a shrill sound as the scroll slipped through her paw and onto the floor. As it bounced, the Ixi's photographic memory brought a chilling remembrance of the words written on it back to her...
Date: Jun 17th
..."No, you are trapped," Seldon said as he stepped toward her. Remi saw his silhouette--a dark shape against the spotlight that focused on her. "Funny how the 'investigator' knew exactly where to look for this."
He bent down and picked up the scroll. "We'd been searching for hours and never found it." Seldon unrolled the scroll and scanned what was written on it. "Too bad it doesn't tell us what they took. But you might, seeing as how you clearly know."
Rule number four: Sometimes you have to give a little to gain a lot, Remi thought, like not being treated like a criminal. "It does tell you what they took, just not directly. Inspector, just think about it." The words from the scroll haunted Remi. "They laid out a plan to bring Kreludor spinning out of orbit to crash into Neopia. What do you need to steal from the Lunar Temple to do that?"
"Why don't you tell me?" Seldon said. Remi still couldn't make out his face, only the outline of his form.
Remi couldn't see a way out of it. If Seldon couldn't figure out on his own that the thieves must have stolen the Wand of the Moon--he hadn't even notice it was missing!--he was never going to deduce that from what was written on the scroll. And if she didn't give him something to convince her that she was innocent, she wasn't going to get to delve any deeper into the mystery. Remi was sure she could solve it, and it mattered much, much more now than it had a few minutes ago.
"The Wand of the Moon. The thieves stole the Wand of the Moon."
"The scroll doesn't mention the Wand of the Moon at all. Of course, you would know about it if you were in cahoots with them!"
"No!" Remi cried. "Inspector, why would I want to do something like this? What do I possibly gain?"
"Setting yourself up to save Neopia," Seldon replied coldly. "Lock her up."
Remi sat on the bench in a cell a few blocks from the Lunar Temple. Outside the barred window, the sky was just starting to glow red and orange. As she had for the last few hours, she wracked her brain, trying to piece everything together.
Seldon was pretty dull, but he still managed to get the job done. If he wanted to report to his superiors that he caught the thief, he could try to scapegoat Remi. The only problem with that plan was that he would have to get her to tell him where the Wand was, but she didn't know.
It suddenly struck her as odd that Seldon hadn't come to interrogate her. If he thought she was involved, he would want all the information he could get out of her, but he hadn't asked a single follow-up question to the scene in the temple.
That could only mean one thing.
As the realization struck Remi, she heard footsteps in the corridor outside her cell....
Date: Jun 17th
...Remi sat up straight and braced herself, ready to defend her professional integrity. She had decided to keep her theory about Seldon to herself for now. For one, she wasn't entirely sure that Seldon had stolen the wand, though her journalistic intuition lead her to believe he was somehow involved.
Secondly, no one would believe her over the honored and respected detective. Lastly, she wanted to bust Seldon herself. In order to do that, though, she needed to convince whoever was coming for her that she was innocent.
Rule number five: always tell the truth... unless it keeps you in jail, and then you tell them whatever they want to hear.
She heard the jingle of keys and the heavy steel door was slowly pushed open, just enough for a pair of bright blue eyes to peek around the frame.
"Patrick!" Remi breathed as her friend entered her cell, his bushy Meerca tail waving merrily behind him. "How did you know I was here?"
"The best journalist knows everything," Patrick said with a wink, "but I'm not the best, so I bribed one of the officers at the scene who said Seldon arrested you."
Remi smirked as the two exited the cell. "Let me guess -- you used your cunning and ingenious sleuthing skills to lift the keys from the guard as well, correct?"
"Of course," Patrick said matter-of-factly. "I assessed the scene and deduced the precise time that the Grarrl guard took for his bathroom break, and how he conveniently left the keys on a nearby hook. I question their security measures... someone should really look into that."
"Another time," Remi whispered, flattening them both against a wall as another guard meandered past. "We have a more pressing story on our hands."
"You mean the Wand of the Moon being stolen?" Patrick asked innocently.
"Yeah... wait, how do you know abou-- never mind." Remi shook her head. After many years working with Patrick, she was still surprised by how efficient he was at his job. He could be the best journalist, better than Remi by far, but he didn't seem to take the job as seriously as she did. "I need to get back inside the Lunar Temple without Seldon or any of his cronies seeing me." She turned to Patrick, eyebrows raised.
He shrugged. "Piece of cake..."
Date: Jun 18th
...Patrick will never cease to amaze me, Remi thought as they were climbing to the top of the large pine tree, which the Meerca claimed had grown right next to one of the smaller windows in the Lunar Temple. How did he know all of this?
They had just climbed up the steep hill, not daring to use the main path, and the Ixi was starting to feel a small ache in her legs. Patrick seemed to have no trouble, though, as he jumped from branch to branch.
They finally reached the top of the tree and Patrick jumped on the window sill, helping Remi inside the room.
Remi was extremely grateful that Patrick had come to her rescue and that she now had a good chance again of writing her dream story, which she had been looking forward to ever since she'd arrived in Shenkuu.
The Ixi and the Meerca looked around the room, quickly realizing that they had arrived in the wise Gnorbu's own bedroom!
Rule number six: never invade somebody's privacy, unless it's absolutely necessary.
Remi concluded that, in this case, it was necessary, since there could be clues or evidence right at her fingertips that could ultimately help her story along.
Patrick searched with her, although this time it was the Ixi who found it first: a small flask lying under the wooden bed.
Just as Remi was going to inform her friend about the discovery, he put a finger to his mouth signalling her to be quiet.
They could hear the distinct sound of voices...
Date: Jun 18th
...or, rather, one very loud voice -- Seldon's -- underscored by a hum of softer ones. Remi froze, glanced over at Patrick for instructions, and then looked back at the flask, which lay under the bed looking impossibly benign. I could grab it before they arrive, she concluded.
The voices crescendoed, then came abruptly to a stop.
"The door's locked," Patrick whispered, his voice barely louder than a breath. "It'll take them a minute to get it open."
"Why are they here?"
"They're probably looking for him," the Meerca responded, gesturing to the bed. Of course, Remi thought, remembering suddenly why she had come in the first place. The Wise Old Gnorbu's fallen ill. That's why he's not there...
The door quivered ever-so-slightly: Seldon and his minions' attempts to open it had come to a standstill. Regardless of what Patrick would have thought, Remi made a decision quickly and grabbed for the flask, the sudden movement distracting Patrick so that he tore his gaze away from the door.
"What is that?" he hissed.
"I don't know," Remi responded. "Let's find out."
She turned and crept back toward the window, where she proceeded to lever herself back over the windowsill. "Are you just going to stand there or what?"
"No," Patrick said quickly, running to join her.
Just as she was leaning across toward the tree, the doors burst open and Seldon, flanked by his cronies, stood at the entrance. The Tonu's eyes first took in the sight of the empty bed, then widened at the sight of Remi and Patrick mid-escape. "Get them!" he bellowed.
There was no way the two of them could make it down to the ground before Seldon's minions got them, but it just so happened that rule number seven was to always think fast.
Remi pulled out the flask and brandished it in front of their faces -- distracting them for a moment, but a moment was all she needed -- and then pulled out the cork.
Instantly, a pale, silvery, substance -- not quite a gas, but not entirely liquid, either -- spilled out from the flask, filling the room with condensed, bottled moonlight...
Date: Jun 19th
...As Seldon and his minions fumbled through the sudden blinding light, Remi and Patrick managed to slide down the tree and run away from the temple. Once a safe distance into the woods, the pair stopped to quickly catch their breath.
"We have to go back," Remi panted. Something didn't add up. She closed her eyes and thought back to what she had learned at the beginning of that night. The Wise Old Gnorbu had fallen ill... and was supposed to be confined to his bed! He wasn't there, though. Moreover, the door had been locked from the inside.
Patrick took the small flask from Remi's hands and swiftly examined the bottle. "Flask of Liquid Light," he said conclusively. "It stuns the opponent with brilliant light. Seldon and his cronies are going to need ten minutes for their retinas to recover."
Remi shook her head. "Nothing makes sense now. The question is, where would the Wand of the Moon--" All of a sudden, a cold chill crept over her.
Rule number eight: question every piece of evidence and trust no one, not even the seemingly most innocent Neopian you come across.
Patrick had told her the thief had stolen something very valuable in a specific room in the temple. He knew she would find the item. He knew she would be subsequently caught, and he knew to come get her from the jail cell.
Patrick knew about the Wand of the Moon, and Patrick had known about the tree that led right to the Gnorbu's room, where the Gnorbu was missing and where the door was locked from the inside.
All these years, the Meerca's uncanny brilliance had simply gone unquestioned by Remi. She took it for granted that he was always one level above her when it came to investigative journalism prowess.
Rule number nine: there are rarely such things as coincidences. The universe is rarely ever so lazy.
"The flask was lying under the bed because the Gnorbu had tried to defend himself with it from someone," Patrick said, still looking at the flask with a curious expression. "It must have slipped out of his hand at the last minute. That, or the attacker overpowered him."
The Ixi slowly raised her head to look at her partner. "And the Gnorbu needed ten minutes to recover..." she said, reciting Patrick's words from earlier.
Before she could react, the Meerca raised the flask high...
Date: Jun 19th
...Remi's arm knocked the flask quickly out of Patrick's paw. At that moment the Ixi was thankful for her quick reflexes.
Rule number ten: a journalist needs to stay in shape in case of any kind of trouble.
"You know, I thought you would have figured it out earlier. I must be a better liar than I think I am," Patrick said with a look of triumph on his face.
"No," Remi said, catching her breath. "Our longtime friendship blinded me from this, and for that I am a fool," the Ixi finished as she leaned up against a large rock.
"So, what are we going to do now?" Patrick asked.
Remi knew Patrick knew that she couldn't just walk into Seldon's office and turn him in. No one would believe that a journalist such as herself was that naive. Patrick had been with her all along, and Seldon, no doubt, assumed that he was her accomplice in this whole scheme.
She was still surprised that the Meerca was not running away.
"There's nothing I can do and you know it Patrick. Why are you still here anyway, just to gloat?" Remi asked him with her arms crossed defensively.
"There's no need for me to -- I've tricked the famous journalist Remi, an Ixi that is known for her cunning and genius investigation skills. However, I do still have respect for you. I thought we could split the Neopoints that I make selling this. You did, after all, have a big part in helping me steal it," Patrick said as he took out the Wand of the Moon from his backpack.
Remi could not believe his arrogance and shook her head.
"So, you're just a common thief looking to make a quick buck. How pathetic," the Ixi replied angrily.
"Common? Far from it, Remi my dear, but yes I am a thief. If it wasn't for you distracting Seldon this whole time, though, I would have never pulled it off. So, I do owe you one for that," Patrick said as he twirled the wand in his paw.
"You know I would never accept a part in this. You also know I am going to figure out a way to explain this to Seldon eventually. You're not going to get away with this, Patrick," the Ixi said with a stomp of her hoof.
"Eventually being the key word in that sentence. By the time you get this all settled I'll be long gone. I've learned how to cover my tracks from the best." Patrick looked straight at Remi as he spoke those words to her.
He has a point, Remi thought, since she did train him. She had taught him all she knew about how to be a journalist.
"I know what you're going to ask next and the answer is no," Remi said sharply.
"Come on, now. You have to let this go. We'll both go our separate ways and live new lives. Your days as a journalist are over and so are mine," the Meerca said, trying to sound like he cared about Remi's well-being.
"A true journalist never lets anything go," Remi said in response.
"Rule number ten -- I should have known you'd bring that one up now. Well, then... do as you wish. I have an appointment that I cannot be late for. It was fun while it lasted Remi, and for what it's worth, I will miss our partnership," Patrick said holding out his paw for a shake.
Remi kept her arms crossed in defiance and said nothing.
"Very well, Remi... very well. Have it your way," Patrick said in a sombre tone.
Patrick was putting the Wand of the Moon back into his backpack and ready to take off. He waved so long to Remi and the Ixi looked to the ground in defeat. There was then a rustling sound coming from the tall grass behind Patrick.
The Meerca was completely stunned. It was...
Date: Jun 20th
Remi's eyes brightened as she eagerly waited for the Tonu to take down her former partner. While he slowly stepped out of the grass and walked toward the pair, Remi couldn't help but smile in relief. However, Seldon calmy passed by the Ixi and went over to shake Patrick's paw.
"Excellent job," he congratulated.
"You didn't do so bad yourself," Patrick replied.
Tears began to form in Remi's eyes as she realized her instincts about Seldon weren't wrong, after all. They just weren't complete.
A sinister laugh spewed out of Patrick's mouth. "You are far too gullible. I don't know how you got to be a such an acclaimed journalist." The Meerca feigned his stunned face as he sarcastically cried, "Oh no, Inspector Seldon! I'm innocent!"
The Tonu joined in Patrick's hysteria. Mocking the Ixi, he said, "There are three reasons you won't get away!" Returning to his straight face, he added, "I swear, if I have to hear you list out every single one of your thoughts one more time..."
"Thankfully you won't," Patrick interjected. "From now on, all she'll have to count will be the number of bars on her jail cell."
It all finally made sense to Remi. Seldon and Patrick had worked together. Patrick used his friendship with her to lure her into the theft as a suspect, while Seldon's knowledge and employment as a crime inspector would add credibility to the story that she assisted the Meerca in stealing the wand.
Falling back into disappointment, the Ixi feared the revelation was too late. She just had to remember, though -- she was a journalist -- and as she'd just stated, a true journalist never lets anything go.
Picking herself back up, Remi quickly searched her memory for something she could use against them. "I think you're forgetting something," she carefully said. Thinking off the top of her head, she continued, "The wise Gnorbu knew what had happened to his wand... why do you think he wasn't in his bedroom?"
Seldon and Patrick looked at each other in befuddlement.
"He went to tell the Defenders of Neopia. That item is probably at the top of their smuggler's list now. You'll never be able to sell it." While she had no idea if this was true or not, she remained calm and cool as can be under the pressure. "If you can't sell it, then how will you afford to disappear, Patrick? Covering your tracks costs a lot of Neopoints. You won't even be able to afford a decent disguise."
The Meerca's cheeks began to turn a bright shade of red. Panicked, he looked down at the wand and tossed it to Seldon as if it were a Gormball made of fire. "I didn't steal it... it was all his plan!" he pleaded.
"What are you doing?" the disgruntled inspector replied. "You're not backing out of this plan. My career is depending on this case!" he stated, shoving the wand back in Patrick's paws.
Patrick quickly rebuffed as the two pushed the wand back and forth.
Peeking off to her side, Remi quietly slipped away back into the woods. She made her way back to the Lunar Temple where the wise old Gnorbu greeted her.
"Oh, wise one," the Ixi timidly called. "I know what happened to the Wand of the Moon."
With a gentle smile and a mild nod, the Gnorbu welcomed the Ixi back into the temple, where she could gather her evidence and finally write what was bound to be the biggest story of her career.
The End b>
Date: Jun 20th
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