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||You are on Week 726
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 Seven Hundred Twenty Six Ends Friday. April 22
|The dust was so thick, so incredibly caked, congealed and crusted along the ancient plain that it was almost crimson, thought Jazz. Most of the Tyrannian Plateau, at least, the sections that had been built upon and developed, provided a stark comparison with the tourist-targeted prehistoric style buildings and neat, mocha-toned dirt… But not here. Here, in the same pit she had knelt, digging and sweeping for the past six months, the dirt was red and ancient, untouched for… Well. Who knew?
The sun seemed to have lowered now. It was hard to keep track, and anyway, keeping an eye on the time was for those who spent their days searching for the ancient hints of lives lived long ago. It was only an excited cry from a few feet away that jerked Jazz back from her ponderings on dirt colouration.
“Jazz! I mean… Boss! I found something! For sure this time!”
Ciar’s excited cry would have brought a thrill to most Neopian archaeologists, but Jazz had worked with the enthusiastic blue Poogle for far too long to get her hopes up. Really, they may have shared the common bond of Poogle-kind, but that was where the similarities ended. Jazz, an experienced archaeologist, featured on the cover of countless ‘Neodig Monthly Magazine’ editions, decades of experience under her belt... Ciar. What did Ciar have under his belt? Except maybe a couple of comic books and some gum. The kid couldn’t have been more inexperienced.
“Ciar… Before I come over there… Is it another stick? Because we talked about this…” Jazz fought hard to keep the exasperation from her tone. The kid was just trying to help. But sheesh!
“No! I swear! It isn’t like the last five sticks!” The excited cry echoed around the area. Jazz supposed that half of Tyrannia was able to hear it. That was, if they weren’t distracted by the heavy aroma of stinking omelette.
Jazz sighed, heaving herself up from the dirt and wandering over. As she could have predicted, Ciar was waving a very old, but very wooden stick with an excited air that was far beyond what it merited.
“Ciar.. it’s a…” She paused. As she had lowered her head to shake it in despair, she caught sight of her assistant’s dusty boots. But it wasn’t the fact that Ciar clearly had forgotten to tie his shoelaces again. She sometimes wondered if he actually knew how… No. It was the tiniest glimmer. A strange, unusual sheen, an object that had no business in the dirt of a Tyrannian dig.
Slowly, Jazz’s eyes widened and her breath caught in her throat.
“Ciar… Do you realise what you’ve just stepped on…?”
Date: Apr 18th
"What...OH!" Ciar stepped sideways, revealing a dusty Scarab Medallion embedded in the sand beneath. With a look of surprise (and albeit confusion) Jazz jumped to the bottom of the gaping hole and knelt beside Ciar.|
A wide toothy grin shot across Ciar's face, "We did it Jazz! We found the treasure--"
"-No," Jazz whispered underneath her breath. "If this is what I think it is, we're far from lucky. Keep the sand from sliding down, I'm gonna take a closer look..."
Jazz took a soft hand brush from her tool belt and gently cleared off some of the dirt from the Medallion to reveal the gleaming turquoise underneath. The gold and purple sparkled under the light of the glaring sun.
"Just as I thought..." Jazz's grave expression grew darker. "But what's this doing here in Tyrannia?"
"Who cares?" Ciar interjected. "Let's just take it and go!" And before Jazz could react, Ciar swiped the medallion out of her hand and tried yanking the rest of it out of the sand. But no budge.
"What's wrong with this thing? Why isn't it coming out?" Ciar tried yanking it again.
"Let go of it!" Jazz said. "If you don't you'll be curs--"
But before Jazz could finish, the necklace gave way to something else hiding in the depths below. Both Poogles gave a horrible scream as they stared at the bony fingers intertwined around the artifact.
"WHAT IS THAT?" Ciar shouted as he hurriedly tried climbing out of the hole.
Jazz looked at the clenched skeleton hand and recognized the thin bracelet hugging at its wrist. "It can't be..."
Date: Apr 18th
Her look of curiosity was replaced by fear as she backed away from the hole.
"It's... it's..." she started but the words failed to come.
"What is it?" Ciar prodded his senior. Although he was scared, things were getting to be quite interesting.
"The Awakened," Jazz finally managed to utter with a slight tremble in her voice as she watched the skeleton's hand writhe about in the red dirt.
The blue Poogle gasped and stepped back. "I've heard of them! But don't undead creatures need to be summoned by those Xweetok twins, if I'm not mistaken?"
They fell silent for a short moment as the information slowly registered in their brains. Then Ciar broke the silence.
"Then that means ... those twins are nearby!"
Jazz nodded. "We have to warn the other archaeologists in the immediate area and leave now! This is dangerous!"
"But what about the medallion?" the assistant asked. "Isn't it an important artifact?"
There was no need for Ciar to ask that question, for that was exactly what Jazz thought as well: whether to grab the medallion with her or not. To risk her life to obtain an artifact of the utmost value or to flee safely without the clue that could reveal a ton of things?
She didn't ponder for long before she made up her mind...
Date: Apr 19th
"Ciar, I want you to go alert the other archaeologists."
Ciar gaped at her. "But, what about you?"
Jazz took a deep breath and let it out. Obtaining this artifact wasn't just a matter of value. If she left it here, with the twins...
She pulled a dirty handkerchief from her belt. "I'm going to get the medallion. I'm trusting you to clear the area, Ciar. Understand?" Obviously, she couldn't let him be anywhere nearby when she freed the Scarab from its skeletal prison. "I'll be fine, but I don't want to risk..."
The blue Poogle, for once, understood immediately. "You don't want me to mess it up," Ciar murmured reluctantly. He nodded. "I'll go."
And with that, the terribly inexperienced archaeologist scrambled out of the hole and ran off.
With him gone, Jazz knelt by the writhing skeleton fingers. She could tell it was making progress; another hour and it would be free.
Thankfully, zombies tend to be very slow.
Still, she had to be careful. With /utmost/ cation, the archaeologist wrapped her handkerchief around the medallion and began working it away from the Awakened. Sweat beaded her brow.
"Almost..." she breathed. "Just a little..."
Jazz fell backwards at the abrupt loosening of the artifact. She almost laughed, as it appeared that she'd managed to release it without being cursed, but then she heard a sound. Looking up, Jazz watched as the Awakened's arm withdrew into the ground, slithering almost, like a worm might dig itself a home.
Dead silence. Jazz swallowed nervously. Hadn't it been midday just a moment ago? Her fears were confirmed when two voices rang out, turning her spine to ice...
Date: Apr 20th
"Looks like there is no one-"
"-out here to greet us."
Jazz crouched down immediately, although the defensive move was of little help in her current situation. She was in a hole in an open area where buildings were scarce, providing her with practically no place to hide from the twins.
However, the movements of the skeletal hand caught Jazz's attention and panic rose up within her throat once more. It was wriggling uncontrollably and with much more force than usual, trying to free itself from the hard-packed dirt. She noticed that the dull pink gem adorned on the bracelet on the body hand glowed faintly. Could this possibly mean...
"That the bracelet is the source of power by which the Xweetoks resuscitate dead creatures!" As soon as she yelped out those words, she put her hands to her mouth. What in Fyora's name was she doing, screaming in the middle of a vast and empty plateau? She had just unintentionally revealed her whereabouts!
Sure enough, two heads popped up at the top of the hole, startling Jazz greatly. She couldn't tell the difference between Lanie and Lillie - they were identical from head to toe. They even took turns to complete a sentence.
"Hurray. There is some one-"
"Over here whom we can play with. Please-"
Jazz just stared blankly at her hands while she racked her brain for solutions to escape the situation. All she had with her was her essential toolbelt and the cursed medallion but a seed of an idea had slowly started forming into an escape plan...
Date: Apr 20th
It was lucky the dust had been so thick, really. It made her appear as if her veneer was crusted, old, crumbling. Ancient. Undead, really. Hoping beyond hope that the curse was a fallacy, she slid the bracelet down her own wrist.
It was a bit of a gamble… But what were you supposed to do with two eerie twins, gazing at you with their identical creepy gazes, looks of spooky curiosity lacing their delicate features. In the end, it may have been a gamble, but it was the only chance she had. Jazz let her shoulders droop and her eyes roll up in her head. She did her best to emit what she hoped were rasping, wheezing sounds, and with a lack of coordination that would have made Ciar proud, she dragged one arm into the air, waving the medallion as if swinging a pendulum.
The twins looked curious, a little confused, and rather impatient. Again, their harmonic voices rung out, one following the other in a serpentine manner.
“We asked you to-”
“-introduce yourself, please!”
The archaeologist tried to roll her eyes further back in her head, lurching a little in a manner she hoped was convincing.
The word trailed off, as if she had forgotten how to correctly use her tongue, how to pronounce her own name. Perhaps, she hoped, she sounded like someone the twins would be accustomed to.
One of the undead.
She didn’t dare to hold her breath. Anything to keep the charade for long enough. Just giving her time, buying precious seconds in the hope that Ciar would arrive with help. The Neopian police force. Sloth’s army. A shovel. Anything!
And yet… one of the twins gave a delighted laugh, her sister’s giggle chiming in, following like an eerie echo. It would have sent chills up Jazz’s spine, if she wasn’t already so terrified that she had frozen a little in fear.
Jazz tried not to blink. Had… it worked? Did the twins really believe she was one of their minions? Trying her best to lurch against the side of the pit, as if she lacked all control of her own form, she released her best impression of an undead groan- one she had picked up in the pits working with Ciar, as he repeatedly dropped shovels and spades on her foot.
The twins looked like they might skip in delight. This wasn’t really something Jazz needed to see. She lurched her hand upwards again, then her breath caught in her throat. On her wrist…
The bracelet was glowing.
Date: Apr 21st
Jazz felt the trinket start to shake as it tugged at her wrist. The Twins' look of delight distorted into a conveyance of horror as the dark violet light grew brighter and the bracelet rattled even more vigorously.
In a moment, Jazz's hand lurched forward of its own accord and a blinding light, powerful enough to shake the ground beneath and blot out all notions of reality, enshrouded them in a scintillating purple haze. The Twins fluttered about helplessly as the dark light smothered them and weakened their resolve.
"No!!" They echoed, trying to break free of the power that held them captive.
In her awestruck stillness, Jazz suddenly found the willpower to speak:
"What is it that you came here for?" She shouted among the conflict of opposing forces.
"That fiend-" they said, weakly pointing to the skeleton arm sticking out of the ground.
Jazz looked back at the bony hand still holding fast to the medallion.
"He stole our bracelet-"
"and weakened our powers. However-"
There was a slight hint of pleasure that ran across the mouths of the Twins.
"He was careless to steal from Sutek and now-"
"there is nothing left!"
Jazz contemplated the fate of the unknown Neopian buried in the sand, but fixated her attention back on the Twins.
"I won't let you torment others any longer," she said assertively. The power rippling out of her wrist became overwhelming, and she felt the evil influence of the bracelet overpowering her conscience. With one flick of her hand, she could--
Startled, Jazz looked to the source of the one who called, and beheld with great astonishment that it was Ciar.
"What are you doing?" Ciar said.
At that moment, the dark energy in the bracelet faded, and Jazz regained her composure.
"I...I don't know," she said.
Taking their chance, the Xweetoks broke free of the weakened dark magic that bound them and with a single inaudible incantation, they vanished in a whirl of thick, black smoke. Not without leaving behind a trail of evil laughter, of course.
At their disappearance, the only thing Jazz could do was to stand in some dismayed consternation, unable to comprehend the magnitude of what she would have done if Ciar had not come back for her. She looked at the bracelet, now trembling at the light that began to spark within her and without hesitation, she ripped the bracelet off and tossed it to the sand.
"Did you send for help?" Jazz asked as she turned to Ciar.
"Yes, they're on their way."
"Good..." Jazz eyed the fading sunlight regretfully. "I don't want anyone to ever use that bracelet again."
Date: Apr 21st
"I-I think we better keep it with us," Ciar commented. "Y'know, for research a-and just in case someone manages to fix it and..." he gulped, looking at his boss with a worried look.
Jazz turned to face Ciar. For a moment, the amateur Poogle was terrified that he had offended his senior but instead, Jazz was beaming. "That's a great idea, Ciar!"
"Really? O-okay!" said Ciar a little too cheerfully, glad that Jazz hadn't reproached him. He picked the bracelet up with his handkerchief, folded it up nicely and slid it carefully into his shirt pocket.
"Let's call it a day," Jazz muttered, wiping her brow. The two climbed out of the hole and trudged along the sand, walking further and further away from the now-unmoving skeleton hand. The more experienced of the two Poogles felt somewhat bad for the Neopian buried in the sand but he or she was already dead. It would be inappropriate to mess around with a corpse.
The sun was sinking lower into the horizon, casting the entire plateau in a reddish-brown hue. The Poogles' footsteps echoed across the land; the few Neopets who had been milling around hours ago had all returned to their homes. It was just Jazz and Ciar left.
"Say, boss," Ciar started, "when I saw you wearing that bracelet, I heard the twins mentioning something about Sutek. What was that about?"
"I don't really know, to be honest," replied Jazz. "Sutek had tons of treasures buried in his Gebmid (tomb), so I believe that they were referring to that."
"We'll inform the team of archaeologists who are in charge of that area in the Lost Desert and hand over the bracelet to them. Frankly, I'm more than happy to get rid of it." She looked at Ciar's pocket with contempt for a brief moment. "As for us, we've got to get busy with the cursed medallion."
"Oh! That's right, I'd almost forgotten!" the younger Poogle exclaimed. Together, they headed off into the distance where the shadows of the darkening sky enveloped them, ready to start on a puzzling artifact and uncover a part of Neopian history.
Date: Apr 25th
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