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||You are on Week 675
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 Seventy Five Ends Friday, October 10
|All across Neopia, shops simply buzzed with motion: potions, spellbooks, candies and the like were being sold like hotcakes. The owners had to frantically scramble to restock their shops fast enough to satisfy the customers, who seemed as endless as the Magma Pool’s lava.
Not so the Tiki Tack shop.
It lay on the outskirts of the Mystery Island marketplace, simultaneously crammed and deserted -- crammed because there were many souvenirs and trinkets that the island store had to offer and deserted because nobody would buy them. The Tiki Tack Man sighed and dusted another shelf packed tightly with age-old Cherry Wish Sticks.
He didn’t blame the customers, really; the Halloween season was fast approaching, which meant a slow tourist season, seeing as he only sold items that nobody truly wanted around Halloween. Just as the Tiki Tack Man finished dusting the shelf, a face peeked into the shop, its owner wondering if he would see a monstrous heap of items or nothing at all. "Yes, you can continue shopping," the Tiki Tack Man said mechanically, knowing why the Neopet had come. "You haven’t been banned from restocking yet."
The figure left.
The shop arguably had as many items as the Snowager's towering hoard, but it was as if time in that shop was suspended completely. Even the Hularoo dolls on the counter had stopped swaying.
The Tiki Tack Man wiped his brow and sat down in his overstuffed chair behind the merchandise counter, the former giving an unceremoniously squeaky protest from his weight. For the seventh time that day, the Tiki Tack Man was glad he had a mask on. No one could see the disappointment in his eyes or the frown that furrowed his face every time a Neopet -- no, not even a potential customer, those were long gone with the summer -- would enter just to check on their shopping status. No one would even say a kind word to him, except perhaps a hurried "Thanks!" as they ran off to seek bargain treasures halfway across Neopia.
To make matters worse, the Tiki Tack Man was alone for so long that he began to question the value of his items -- and he was fairly sure the items felt the same way. Even the vibrant sand bottles he'd painstakingly arranged into various shapes seemed to lose their luster. The coconut masks had such peculiar expressions that the Tiki Tack Man was almost able to read a coherent question in their forms:
"We're not worthless, are we?"
In the months of Swimming and Hiding, he'd been able to rebut with a booming, "Of course not, dear ones!" but in the months of Gathering and now Collecting, he, too, fell silent.
It was hopeless. All that was left for him to do was to disguise his voice into somewhat cheerful tones every time someone walked in, determine whether or not the brief visitor was capable of continuing to shop, and keep the place clean. Surely he could hold out until the month of Celebrating, when many came to Mystery Island to find solace and heat.
The shop bell tinkled and the Tiki Tack Man automatically sat up straight, yet continued to look down at his counter. The perpetual grin on his mask would be welcome enough for whoever walked in, but a little extra wouldn't hurt. "Welcome!" he greeted, his voice betraying his true facial features.
The first step was completed. Now, to see if the visitor could restock. The Tiki Tack Man closed his eyes and concentrated, anticipating a result in his thoughts.
The befuddled Tiki Tack Man blinked and looked up. He nearly fell out of his chair with alarm and surprise upon finding that this visitor was none other than...
Date: Oct 6th
...Edna the witch.
Suddenly, one of the most sought-after Neopian celebrities during the month of Collecting was standing in the Tiki Tack Man's humble shop. "Uh, umm... hello, Edna! How can I help you today?" he managed to stammer, still surprised by his new visitor.
"Hello Tiki Tack Man," she said in her ethereal, yet somehow still spooky, voice. "Unfortunately, I do not come with good news today. I am in a bit of a... situation, if you will. Would you help me save Halloween?"
The Tiki Tack Man was glad that Edna couldn't see the face he had made behind his mask. He couldn't help but be shocked by the witch's presence and the strange proposition she brought to him, but he also felt a sense of gratification and pride that she would come to him.
"Save Halloween? How can I help you save Halloween here on Mystery Island? Don't you think that should be a job for someone over at the Haunted Woods?"
Gravely, Edna said, "The Woods have been compromised." A long pause hung in the air as the Tiki Tack Man waited for her to explain, but she was a witch of few words. Compromised? What could that mean? The Tiki Tack Man's stomach dropped so far that he thought he heard it hit the floor.
The Tiki Tack Man realized that he was lost in thought. Did he actually want to help save Halloween? This holiday had caused him nothing but grief for years, slowing down his sales and putting his small shop dangerously close to bankruptcy on numerous occasions. On the other hand, he knew how many Neopians loved this holiday, so he made his decision.
"Well, yes... if I can be of any assistance, then I will gladly help you. I'm just not quite sure how I will be able to be of service. You're a very powerful witch, and I... well, I'm not." At that moment the Tiki Tack Man felt something brush against his leg. He looked down and saw Edna's infamous pet Meowclops. The sight of the Petpet was oddly encouraging to the Tiki Tack Man.
"You, sir, are integral to my plan. The first step, however, is a spell that I must perform right here in your shop. If you would, please step back for a second and hold on."
The Zafara began speaking a few weird words that the Tiki Tack Man didn't recognize. As she did so he noticed the air around him begin to glow...
Date: Oct 6th
...and he then felt like his stomach was being pulled up through his mouth before being plunged back down. He then fell back heavily.
"Oof!" he let out, winded. "What did you--"
He stopped talking, suddenly looking around him. No longer were they in his little Tiki Tack shop. They were instead at the bottom of a ditch and the Tiki Tack Man was sitting in wet dirt, staring up out of it. Above them, the outlines of trees kept out much of the moon's light, but Edna held a glowing orb before her that helped them to see.
"Quickly, we don't have much time!" she whispered, and, floating the orb upward, she began to climb out of the ditch.
The Tiki Tack Man got up and stumbled after her ungracefully. "Are we in the Haunted Woods?" he asked, matching her volume. The trees were gnarled and without leaves, and the gentle chill made it obvious they were no longer on Mystery Island. He shivered in his short-sleeved shirt.
Edna nodded back at him and used her free hand to put a green finger over her lips. The Tiki Tack Man wasn't sure he could hold off on the questions for very long, but rolled himself out of their hole first before turning to her.
"I thought you said the Woods were compromised?" he asked, looking around suspiciously.
The green Zafara huffed and looked up at the towering Tiki Tack Man.
"They are," Edna said sternly, raising her voice slightly, "and if you don't put a Negg in it, you're going to get us caught!"
She extinguished her glowing orb and indicated for him to follow as they made their way through the dimly lit undergrowth. The Tiki Tack Man mouthed sorry at the angry-looking witch, although inside he wanted to remind her that he was helping her to save Halloween, a holiday that he didn't even like. He made a mental note that, once they were out of the woods (both literally and proverbially), he would have to ask her why it was him she needed, anyway.
"But... who would be try to sabotage Halloween?" he asked, trying to stay as quiet as possible as he kept up with her strides through the thick trees. He couldn't help it -- his curiosity was getting the better of him. Besides, the fact was that the woods seemed deserted. She shushed him again before immediately stopping dead in her tracks, for, from behind a dying redwood, out stepped a Neopet... blocking the way for the two Neopians.
"Why, Tiki Tack Man, that would be us," the 'pet said, grinning...
Date: Oct 7th
...The Tiki Tack Man squinted, trying to see the figure. All he could see initially was the blue hue of the Neopet, but as she came closer, he realized it was a Xweetok. A ghost Xweetok, in fact.
The Tiki Tack Man, seemingly entranced by the Xweetok's eyes, took some time to get his bearings before asking, "Who are you? Why do you want to sabotage Halloween?"
The ghost Xweetok was less than amused by all of his questions, but she answered anyway. "I am Alana. WE are the ghosts of the Haunted Woods. For years, we've endured this Halloween that all Neopians love so much. We've dealt with the noise for ages, with Neopets stomping all over our graves just to get a little scare from a ghost, and with everyone disturbing our rest. We have decided that we're done with all of that. Last year's Halloween was the final one."
Edna was noticeably annoyed. She was not going to let a few ghosts get in the way of Halloween. She started walking again, ignoring Alana. The Tiki Tack Man followed, but they were soon stopped by a host of other ghosts.
"I told you: there will be no Halloween," Alana said as she turned to look at the two. "We already know what you're planning, Edna. It won't work."
"Then why are you trying so hard to stop me?"
Alana quickly grew angry. Her red eyes seemed to get redder and her blue glow got a bit brighter. "Because you're an annoyance and you need to be stopped!"
The ghosts rushed toward Edna and the Tiki Tack Man. Again, Edna said a few words that the Tiki Tack Man didn't recognize, but Alana did...
Date: Oct 7th
...The next thing he knew, the Xweetok and the rest of the ghosts slithered in all directions, disappearing into the darkness of the trees with a whispered dash.
"What just happened?" the Tiki Tack Man whispered. "Did you cast a spell?"
Edna scoffed, her face scowling. "I didn't have to. Ghosts are just a bunch of scaredy-Kads. They don't like magic, so they don't bother me. It's the rest of the Haunted Woods I'm worried about." She continued along the path, her eyes darting left and right.
"You? Worried about other Neopets?" the Tiki Man asked, scrambling to follow.
"Well, if these ghosts scare off all the Neopets from coming to the Haunted Woods, then who will fetch items for me? I'd actually have to find all the ingredients for my potions myself."
The Tiki Tack Man saw her shudder in a patch of moonlight. "So, what do you plan on doing?" he asked.
Edna paused, causing the Tiki Tack Man's ginormous stomach to collide with the back of her head. "Ugh... watch it, will you? I need to put these ghosts to rest once and for all."
As the duo inched along in the dark, the turrets of Edna's tower slowly began to appear above the trees. Although the Tiki Tack Man would never have imagined being excited to see such a place, the idea of escaping the eerie presence of the woods was a welcome sight.
His curiosity could be squelched no longer. "Why exactly do you need my help?"
Edna peeked at him over her shoulder, the orb reflecting in her eyes like a giant moon. "I need your mask..."
Date: Oct 8th
..."My... my mask?" the Tiki Tack Man uttered in a whispered tone. He could not believe what she was asking him. His mask was a part of him -- he had worn it for so long and he never took it off... not even when he slept.
"Yes," Edna replied plainly.
"You cannot be serious, though," the Tiki Tack Man said as he began to slowly back away from Edna. "Why in Neopia would you need MY mask? Can't you get someone else's mask, or make your own mask? My mask is my whole identity, and if... if I took it off, I would not feel whole. It's become my second skin."
"Oh, stop being such a weakling and hand it over! I'll give it back when I'm done... besides, I think saving Halloween is more important than your feelings being hurt," the Zafara told the Tiki Tack Man as she tapped her wand against her orb impatiently.
"Well, if you want it so badly, then why can't you just spell it off me?" he asked as he turned his back toward Edna.
Edna sighed. "Because, in order for this to work, you have to willingly allow me to use your mask. It won't work if I force it off of you without your permission," she responded.
At this point the Tiki Tack Man was completely confused. He had no idea what kind of help his mask would be in saving Halloween, nor did he understand why Edna could not just take the mask off him (it seemed easy enough).
"I bet you have no idea who made that mask, do you?" Edna asked him as she shook her head in disbelief...
Date: Oct 8th
...The Tiki Tack Man racked his brains for any hint of a memory in which he’d been given the mask, or even a time when he hadn't been wearing the mask. Certainly he hadn't been wearing it from birth! Alas, through the fog of memories, he could come up with nothing. The Tiki Tack Man looked at Edna, who was still waiting for an answer.
"No," he admitted sheepishly. "I don't know who made my mask."
"That doesn't surprise me," Edna replied bluntly. "You did, after all."
The Tiki Tack Man blinked in surprise, his features betraying his ever-unchanging mask.
"How, though... why?"
"You have a powerful magic in you contained only by that mask. I don't know what happened, or how you got that magic, but I do know that you sacrificed your memory and kept a witness nearby to remind you to use it only when absolutely necessary."
The Tiki Tack Man scoffed. Him? Magic? Witness? "I assure you, the only magic I possess is what every shop owner in Neopia possesses -- to be able to discern restock ability in most Neopians."
"Why do you have a mask at all, then?" Edna retorted. "You're not shy, are you?"
"I'm telling you, it's a part of me. I'm not shy in the least!" The Tiki Tack Man felt heat rising in his cheeks and was now, more than ever, grateful for his mask. "So, how is it that you were my witness? I don't even remember talking to you before today!"
"That's not even the point," Edna said with a sigh. "Do you want to save Halloween or not?" Her voice softened by a few degrees. "Look, I've asked Sophie, Kauvara, and even the faeries, but none of them are willing to deal with ghosts -- their codes, honor, and fears forbid them. In other words, by coming to you, I'm going over their heads. Also," Edna continued upon seeing the Tiki Tack Man put out a hand to begin a rebuttal, "I know the risks involved. If I take off your mask, even if you willingly allow me, the blast could do things to me that I couldn't even do to Neopets. In other words, you have to channel your magic into the graves to keep the ghosts from casting their counter-spell. Seeing as you haven't done that before..." she trailed off.
The Tiki Tack Man glanced back through the thick, dark forest, squinting at the tombstones some distance away. He didn't want to mess with ghosts as much as anyone -- the problems nearly always came back to haunt anyone who did so -- and literally, at that.
"Why didn't you speak to the Faerie Queen?" he asked, stalling.
"She wouldn't listen to me. She had protecting of her own to do. I couldn't blame her, really." The Zafara shrugged.
The Tiki Tack Man sighed and looked down at the oddly pleading Zafara. He had never liked Halloween, but then again, at what point in the year had his shop been truly profitable? He'd have been lucky if he broke even in the summer, even with the Tombola running at the same time. Besides, with Edna as his magical "witness," he was more than a bit skeptical.
Then again, what did Neopets have to look forward to in the month of Collecting if there was nothing to collect?
The Tiki Tack Man sighed again. "All right," he replied, resigning himself and bowing. "Take it."
Edna gingerly edged forward, reached up with her paws, and yanked. There was an odd scraping sound as the mask left his face. The Tiki Tack Man felt the cold air purr against his cheek for a split second before a rumbling heat rushed through it.
The facial beam of burgundy light instantly deafened her senses and she was thrust to the ground...
Date: Oct 9th
...The Tiki Tack Man forcefully screamed, the timbre of his yell piercing the Haunted Woods air like a saw through butter.
Edna, managing to roll away from the stream of burgundy shortly before she succumbed to its destructive effects completely, clutched the treasured mask with all of her might; it was worth far more than her hearing, which she imagined had to be gone by now. Looking up with wide and terrified eyes at the poor shopkeeper, she panted heavily... what would she do? What could she do, but wait for the ghosts of this Haunted Woods terror group to be scared off?
Edna had done her research. "Ghosts are naturally repelled by energy, being intangible themselves, and magic in its purest form is one of the greatest sources of energy in Neopian existence," she had written as the subject of one of a number of theses on "Magic and Witchcracft in the Haunted Woods." It was why ghosts were afraid of her. "The positive energy contained in magic and the negative energy of the ethereal annihilate each other, should each be existent in sufficient quantity."
Indeed, there was no way the ghosts of the Haunted Woods would chance being present in the presence of this power-wave, nor were they likely to return.
When the ringing in her ears reached a point where she believed her skull was resonating -- "To get an object to resonate in its natural harmonic frequency is one of the most efficient and effective ways of destroying it," she had written in another paper -- she used what strength she had remaining to perform a "Cut and Paste" spell, which was an advanced form of item teleportation, instantly returning the Tiki Tack Man's mask to the face of its master. Luckily, he was severely weakened by this point, as well, and the wave of burgundy had started to trickle.
With the mask now back on his face, the Tiki Tack Man crumpled to the ground, barely breathing, barely alive.
He woke on a stone-cold slab beside stone-cold walls in a stone-cold tower.
Edna sat beside him. "Welcome to my stone-cold abode," she said with a grin. "Well done, Tiki Tack Man... because of your contributions, we have saved Halloween." She gave him a bowl of soup that was oddly warm. "You had quite a shock there, but the ghosts are gone. I've scanned the Woods so many times and with so many methods that even Alana seems to have deserted the cause she so vocally supported."
Somehow, the Tiki Tack Man felt... angry.
"I'll call that a personal win," the witch finished.
"I wouldn't." The Tiki Tack Man folded his arms. "You used me, and I almost died in the process."
Edna tilted her head. "What do you mean? You said you'd accompany me to help save Halloween, and that we did."
The Tiki Tack Man hesitated. "You were there when the magic stuff happened to me the first time. Tell me why... tell me everything."
The witch gulped, visibly perturbed.
"And then, I want you to switch me back to normal..."
Date: Oct 9th
..."You're normal already," Edna sharply replied. "This is how you were, this is how you'll always be."
"This is NOT how I've always been!" The Tiki Tack Man got up and walked away. "I want to be how I was."
"Without the magic?" Edna asked, like she couldn't believe what he said. "Why would you want to get rid of such an amazing gift?"
The Tiki Tack Man didn't answer. It's not that he didn't have an answer -- it's just that he didn't want to say it.
"I can't take it away, anyway," Edna went on. "You're stuck with it. Be happy I gave it to you. It's stronger than you know."
What the witch said set the Tiki Tack Man off, since what she'd said earlier didn't match up with what she was saying now.
"You said that I always had it!" he replied.
Edna gulped. The Tiki Tack Man picked up the Zafara by her robe. The fear in her eyes was showing.
The Tiki Tack Man asked through his teeth, "What did you do?"...
Date: Oct 10th
...Edna knew that she'd slipped by mentioning she'd given him his magic. "Whoa," she said, trying to make sure her voice didn't shake. "Put down the Zafara."
"Answer the question!" he said, feeling his face get hot. "What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything that you didn't ask me to do..."
"Liar!" the Tiki Tack Man yelled. "Whatever you did to me, it erased my memory, didn't it? That's why I can't remember."
"Tiki..." Edna tried to calm him down, but she was interrupted before she could even say his name.
"What happened? What did you do? I want the truth this time. If I'm so powerful, so strong, then it seems like it'd be in your best interest to just answer my question truthfully."
Edna couldn't see his face through his mask. She couldn't tell whether or not he was bluffing by his expressions, but she could hear his voice well enough to know he sounded serious.
She sighed. "Put the Zafara down. If you'd really like to know what happened, then I'll tell you. You won't like it, though."
The Tiki Tack Man relaxed, but only slightly. He took a seat and place the Zafara right next to him. "Go on, then... tell me."
Edna wasn't thrilled to be in the position she was in at the moment, but she was ready to get out of it. She wasn't going to let all of her hard work go to waste. She took a scroll off of her shelf, opened it, and smiled. "Here it is," she said.
"You wanted to know what happened. I keep record of everything in these scrolls. One of the many lessons they teach you when you train to be a witch is to keep track of everything you do. It may come in handy one day."
Edna carefully and stealthily slipped her hand into a jar of sand that she had under her desk. She then cleared her throat. "You could not sleep... or, you didn’t sleep. Sometimes I just forget which, and I forget to write it all. Forgot, I mean. Things got difficult, um, from sleep deprivation. Townsfolk today... oh, I mean, that day and, well, I could have been... may have been able... regret?"
"Stop, stop. You're not making any sense..."
Edna quickly blew the sand at the Tiki Tack Man. He didn't expect such a weird attack and, evidently, was caught off guard. Within seconds he was sleep.
Edna sighed in relief as she plopped down. She'd never been good at the "Every Fourth Word" spell. It took too much improvisation, her weakest skill. The words of the spell, however, she'd written ahead of time, just in case she needed to use them:
All things from today
That I may regret.
It wasn't her best spell. She'd only had time to spend a minute or two on it before she went to get the Tiki Tack Man. It was effective, though. At least, the sleeping part was effective... only time would tell if he'd forgotten everything, too.
Edna peeked into the Tiki Tack Man's shop the next day to see if her spell'd had the desired effect. From the window, he looked the same as he had when she'd come the day earlier, but it was always hard to tell with that mask.
She felt a somewhat bad for what she'd done. Had he not been so insistent that his memory of the incident be kept hidden from him forever, she'd have gladly told him. After all, she gained nothing from keeping it secret. She felt guilty for what had happened, but she felt no shame. After all, taking the potion was his idea, an idea he soon realized was a bad one when he couldn't control it. She'd given him a choice between learning how to control his new gift or giving it up completely along with his memory. He'd chosen the second. The mask had been crafted by him, however. She'd simply enchanted it.
"I hope this doesn't happen every time I need him," Edna said with a sigh.
Date: Oct 10th
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