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||You are on Week 734
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 Thirty Four Ends Friday, July 1
To: The honourable King Skarl, Regent of Meridell.
From: King Hagan, ruler of Brightvale
It has been some time since we’ve spoken. In fact, I rather think it has been years. I was, therefore, surprised to receive your gift last week. How kind of you to remember my birthday, even though you always said that it was the worst day of your life.
I have to confess, even in a kingdom devoted to the pursuit of knowledge, my wisest advisors and I have had some difficulty deciphering what the gift IS. I understand that it is oval, like a Draik’s egg, and black, like the deepest night, but I see no way to open it and confess that I am at a loss as to what it does. Perhaps we could have tea and you could enlighten me?
To: That other kingdom
From: Skarl, the mighty and magnificent.
How stunned I am to hear that the King of a land that speaks of its own wisdom is unable to work out the function of my humble little present! I would have thought your wise advisors had it sorted in seconds! I suppose fortune doesn’t always favour the wise, even if mother and father certainly did.
I did want to comment, while I write this, that I notice that SOMEONE seems to have moved the pebbled path that defines the borders between our two realms exactly three feet to the left, giving Brightvale more room. I don’t wish to cast accusations on your people, of course, but may I suggest you find a way to fix this? I would hate anything unfortunate to result from this aggressive action!
Perhaps, if you can’t work out what my gift does, there IS someone who could tell you. Might I suggest…
Date: Jun 27th
... a certain professor by the name of Professor Lambert whom you may find to be of help. However, I must warn you beforehand that he wishes something in return for his involvement. What he wishes for, I will leave it to you and your team of scholars to figure out, although I should think that the answer is rather obvious.
I sincerely hope this tiny dispute between the both of our lands will end as soon as possible, for I do not want something bad such as a war to ensue from a such a trivial matter.
To: The reputable Professor Lambert, leader of the Seekers.
From: King Hagan, ruler of Brightvale.
Dear Prof. Lambert,
Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Hagan and I am the ruler of the land of Brightvale. I am absolutely delighted to make your acquaintance.
Regarding the purpose of this letter, I am writing to you as I am baffled over a certain object that my dear brother, King Skarl of Meridell, has so kindly gifted to me for my birthday. It remains to me a complete mystery even after much discussion with my advisors about what the object that is now in my possession holds. My brother had suggested that I seek your assistance in deciphering the puzzle of the gift.
It would be marvelous if you could come over to my palace for some lighthearted discussion over tea. I have also heard that you are currently very keen on the subject of the Obelisk situated in Tyrannia. Perhaps I could enlighten you with information regarding the site, for I do own several books on it.
I am looking forward to your reply.
"This is interesting."
The sound of parchment crinkling as it was unrolled and the soft dip of the feather pen soaking into the dark black ink echoed in the eerily quiet room.
To: Your Majesty, King Hagan of Brightvale.
From: Prof. Lambert, an inquisitive member of the Seekers.
Dear Your Majesty King Hagan,
It is a pleasure to receive your letter. This gift of yours has piqued my interest. Therefore, I will gladly accept your invitation. Please do let me know the date and time of the said meeting.
However, I must first mention that I do have one condition for this meeting. That is...
Date: Jun 27th
...a matter with the Thieves Guild. For you see, during a recent skirmish with them in our attempts to study the Obelisk in Tyrannia, one of their number made off with my prized umbrella. Now, it doesn't have much value to it, but it was a gift from my niece and it has a great deal of sentimental value.
I understand that one of your former soldiers, a Kougra named Brynneth, or Brynn for short, is currently working with a former Thieves Guild member under orders from Queen Fyora. I imagine even if he is a former member, he would be able to return my prized umbrella in a most punctual and practical manner.
I look forward to hearing the good news, and I will make my way back to Brightvale as soon as it is back in my possession.
With great knowledge,
"Oh dear...." King Hagan said after finishing the letter, "Well, I suppose there is nothing else I can do."
Once more, King Hagan began a letter.
To: The Noble and Wise Queen Fyora
From: King Hagan, Ruler of Brightvale.
Dearest Queen Fyora,
Allow me to begin by stating that I hope that the repairs of Faerieland are going well. The sooner that your home can return to the sky, the better Neopia shall be for it.
However, I do not write you simply to wish you well. As it stands, I have a request for you. To make a long story short, I have come into possession, thanks to a birthday gift from my brother, a mysterious object. In order for it to get the study it requires, I must ask to have Captain Brynn and her partner for a short while. A small matter with the Thieves Guild has come up, and it is believed that they would be best to solve it.
It would mean a great deal to myself, my kingdom, and all that desire knowledge if they could return to Brightvale post-haste.
With best regards,
To: Your Majesty, King Hagan of Brightvale
From: Queen Fyora, ruler of Faerieland.
Dearest King Hagan.
It would be my honor to assist you in the pursuit of knowledge in any way that I could. However, it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that at this time, I am unable to send either Captain Brynneth or Hanso, formerly of the Thieves Guild.
However, if there is an issue with the Thieves Guild, I suggest speaking to the 'power behind the throne' as the saying goes...
Date: Jun 28th
…and contact Kanrik himself.
I recognize reaching the leader of the Guild is no small feat, and that striking an accord with him may be an even greater one, but I have been attempting to minimize a certain Ixi’s involvement with the Guild as of late, and would prefer to keep him away from negotiations at this time. I’m sure, with Brightvale’s long and storied history, you’ll be able to tempt Kanrik into cooperating with something in your possession. If the situation becomes grave enough, I have a variety of harmless artifacts he doubtless covets - though, of course, this is something I trust you will not take advantage of unless no other option presents itself.
Do feel free to continue this correspondence, though! I regret I cannot provide the services you seek, but it’s been far too long since we’ve discussed the finer points of ruling with wisdom over your excellent tea.
Wishing you success on your endeavor,
Hagan frowned as he folded up the letter, its thin, lavender stationery seeming to glitter subtly in the throne room’s light. His thick mustache quivered upon a stiff lip. “My,” he remarked to no one in particular, “this has become a somewhat tangled state of affairs, has it not?”
A scholar such as himself had every reason to match wits with one as venerable in the field of philosophy as Professor Lambert, and to speak with the wise and merciful Queen of Faerieland was nothing short of an honor, but dealings with this sort… he was none too eager to begin.
Still… in the pursuit of knowledge, some sacrifices had to be made.
He sighed and dipped his quill in a fresh pot of ink.
To: The Illustrious Kanrik, Head of the Guild of Thieves.
From: King Hagan, Ruler of Brightvale.
I recognize this correspondence may seem somewhat out of the blue, and would like to assure you that this is all done in good faith. As we have not previously crossed paths, allow me to introduce myself – I am King Hagan of Brightvale. The matter that drove me to reach out to you is somewhat urgent, and I would appreciate a prompt response, as time is of the essence.
It has come to my attention that an umbrella belonging to a certain Professor Lambert has recently come under the purview of your Guild. As you are a cunning and resourceful individual, I trust you have considerable control over the activities of your members. The Professor has tasked me with the recovery of this item in order to gain his assistance deciphering a certain item my brother, King Skarl, has recently left in my possession. It is a most unusual artifact whose identity thus far defies deduction, and I require none but the brightest minds to unravel its make and purpose.
I understand your modus operandi and do not expect charity. For the return of Lambert’s original umbrella, I bring the Brightvale treasury to the table – though I would, respectfully, remind you of my reputation as not only a just king, but a very clever one, as we begin negotiations.
I eagerly await your response.
I don’t bother with pleasantries, and I’d advise you do the same. The larger the letter is, the more likely one of the junior members is going to get the bright idea it’s something valuable and nick it from the couriers.
I’ll be blunt – it took me several hours to verify this wasn’t just an elaborate prank. Those are several hours I’m not getting back, so make this worth it.
Yes, the umbrella you seek is in our possession. After that delightful affair in Tyrannia – let’s just say that very few of our number have any desire to reunite a certain Gnorbu with his pointy parasol. The number of times I’ve been stabbed with that thing… You must understand, it’s simply not in our nature to hand back our souvenirs. Hold your Neopoints; we’re not interested. While normally I’d be more receptive to emptying the contents of your coffers, this is a matter of pride.
However, I find myself considerably… intrigued by the nature of an artifact that could baffle the great King Hagan himself. If you want that smarmy Professor’s umbrella so badly, then I have a proposal…
Date: Jun 28th
... that will be in both of our interests.
A meeting at the place of your choosing. Allow me to take a look at your artifact and the umbrella is yours.
Hagan dropped the letter to his desk. A musky aroma wafted through the study.
"My, oh my," the king said, shaking his head. "What have I gotten myself into?"
Hagan realized that the last letter he sent may have been a bit too detailed. Sharing information about his mystery artifact with a master thief may not have been one of his wiser moments.
The king sat and thought for a long while. If he were to meet up with Kanrik, his curious gift could end up falling victim to yet another theft. If he were to deny a meeting, Hagan could very well end up on the Thieves' guild bad side. Being on their good side was scary enough.
"I must go through with it!" the king said out loud, attempting to reassure himself of his decision.
Hagan speculated that with taking every precaution and selecting a highly protected area in his own castle, his gift would surely be safe. He lifted his quill once more to respond to the master thief.
To: Kanrik, Head of the Guild of Thieves.
From: King Hagan, Ruler of Brightvale.
Though it pains me, I will try my best to skip the pleasantries. I would like to make your loss of hours worth it. Please join me for afternoon tea tomorrow. Tea will be served on a private porch off of my study.
Don't bother with the tea. Come alone and tell no one. I am bringing ...
Date: Jun 29th
...the umbrella. I will be arriving promptly an hour past noon. Don't keep me waiting. No need to reply.
The next 24 hours were nerve wracking for the wise King. He paced and pondered and questioned every decision he has made in these recent days. "Should I call for my guards to join the meeting," he asked out loud to himself. The hours passed and day had turned to night. Hagan was restless and counted the hours for Kanrik's arrival.
Hagan finally fell to sleep in the wee hours of the morning and awoke to his guard rapping on his chamber door to wake him of his slumber. Immediately, his stomach filled with dread. The hour of Kanrik was upon him. There was nothing to do but brush himself off and hope for the best.
A dark, hooded figure pressed open the King's porch door where the nervous King was sitting, quietly panicking to himself as he held his mysterious artifact in his hands. In stepped the Gelert thief, Kanrik and, with an abrupt slam, the door was again closed.
"W-welcome, Sir Kanrik. Thank you for trekking all the way to the Kingdom of-"
"What did I say about pleasantries?" Kanrik interrupted the honourable King, towering over him menacingly. "I'll skip the chit-chat: hand me the artifact and you'll get that pathetic Gnorbu's parasol back. Make one wrong move and your hands are as good as gone."
Was that a threat? King Hagan was taken aback but obliged to the Thief Leader. Kanrik searched the artifact. He turned it slowly in his hands and looked intently.
"Hmm," Kanrik grunted. He tossed the umbrella and the artifact back to the King and turned to leave. "You have an interesting item there, Hagan. It'd be a shame if something happened to it." Kanrik chucked menacingly and left promptly.
What did he mean by that last statement? At this point, Hagan had no cares in the world. He's just happy he made it out of this meeting with the artifact and his hands. The King had no time to lose. He once again sat down with quill in hand and scratched onto a new piece of parchment.
To: My dear colleague, Professor Lambert
From: The esteemed, King Hagan
Greetings from Brightvale, my good sir. After many a letter written and more anxiety than ever needed, I have managed to retrieve your prized parasol. It wasn't easy, but a man of my stature can really get the job done if need be.
Now that this setback is out of the way, I urge you to....
Date: Jun 29th
…journey at once to fair Brightvale, so you might collect your prized parasol, which, I assure you, is in pristine condition despite its wanderings. Of course, it would be an honour should you find the time during your visit to glance at my artefact. After such trials and deliberations, I confess that my curiosity is more stirred than ever.
I anxiously await your reply.
To: The “wise” King Hagan
From: The illustrious, generous, brilliant and seriously handsome King Skarl
I’ve heard a little story that you, for all your comments about wisdom and enlightenment, have not yet deciphered the purpose of my little gift!
Goodness! Were mother and father perhaps mistaken when they suggested you were the ‘bright’ one?
Better work it out soon, brother. You don’t want to leave it sitting around. Trust me.
To: The wise and benevolent King Hagan of Brightvale
From: Professor Lambert
My parasol is secured? This is most wondrous news! I will have to enquire, once we meet, how you managed to gain it from that wretched fiend, Kanrik. I will, of course, set out at once and will be more than happy to look over your mysterious item. I am confident that our combined wisdom will decipher the enigmatic thing, and find the answers you seek.
Please expect my arrival at noon tomorrow.
Hagan sighed, rubbing his temples with trembling fingers. What a fine mess this had become. Professors with parasols and thieves with sweeping cloaks, strange items and veiled threats… This was all a little much for serene, peaceful Brightvale. He gazed out the window to the sprawling emerald fields and sighed softly. Best get on with things.
The weary King stood and stretched, then turned to gaze at the clock. The massive, wooden structure ticked the moments away merrily on the nearby wall. He had several hours until Lambert arrived, just enough time for some tea and perhaps indulge in a short rest. That sounded perfect.
It was only as he turned back toward the window that he frowned, eyes then widening slowly.
The mysterious object was…
Date: Jun 30th
... beginning to grow small, white spots all over! The King sprang over to the artifact and snatched it up, inspecting it thoroughly. With hours still until the Professor arrived, the King fearfully stuck the item beneath a glass container just in case that whatever the enigmatic thing was doing was harmful to his health.
Time ticked slowly and the King found himself pacing back and forth, not lifting an eye from the strange artifact. He thought back to the letter that his brother wrote. What in Fyora's name did he mean by "you don’t want to leave it sitting around?" Could this item in fact be a weapon? Or possibly a time based prank that Skarl elaborately set in place? Either way, King Hagan had enough of the object all together. His joy of finding out what it was had slowly turned into dread. This happy birthday present had become not-so-happy after all.
Finally, the clock's hands reached the hour of noon, and promptly there was a knock at the chamber's door. Not to the King's surprise, it was Professor Lambert standing outside staring intently at his pocket watch.
"Ah! Good King. It's about time you opened that door. I was beginning to worry. It is already 12 seconds past the hour!" the Gnorbu professor stated.
"Good day to you, Professor," King Hagan said politely, trying to ignore the snarky tone in the professor's voice. "I suspect your journey here was a pleasant one. Now, onto business," Hagan exclaimed, rubbing his hands together eagerly.
"Yes, let's," Lambert said. He held his hand out to the king. "I demand my umbrella at once!"
King Hagan side eyed him and handed him the umbrella. Lambert took it and kissed it, which made the king slightly uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the king walked over to the artifact and began to take it from the casing. "This," he spoke, "has been driving me nuts for weeks!" He passed the black and now white-spotted item to the Professor and watched his face intently.
"This..." Lambert spoke slowly. "This is why you brought me here?" King Hagan wasn't sure but it seemed as if the Professor was agitated. "Boy, it's a good thing I'm getting my umbrella out of this, otherwise this journey would've been a complete waste of my time. A man of your stature surely should have known what this is. I'm ashamed to call you a wise king." There it was again. Now both the Professor and the King's own brother were questioning his intelligence. "Judging by these white spots and this distinct texture of the item, I must declare that this is simply just a....
Date: Jun 30th
The king blinked. "A... a what?"
"A distraction from something of more significance, Hagan," Lambert replied, his condescension thick. "This item is nothing out of the ordinary in any way whatsoever." The Gnorbu held it up to the light. "Its base is a common Night Stone, black and oval. The dots are painted on with a mix of white paint and Kayla's Vanishing Potion." He turned the object slightly and its dots disappeared again.
Hagan promptly snapped up his jaw from its previous gaping-mouth position.
"Whomever sent you this clearly wanted your mental faculties completely occupied from a greater task at hand," the professor continued as he casually tossed the object aside. It hit the floor and broke in two with a crashing noise.
"What did you do?!" Hagan barked at his guest, gesticulating wildly. "That was absolutely uncalled f--"
"King, stop your hysteria." The tone in the Gnorbu's voice made Hagan freeze; he looked to where Lambert was pointing, down at the ruins of that which had captivated him for past few weeks.
Between the shards was a note. Hagan picked it up and read it aloud.
To: Such a clever king!
From: An even cleverer king.
My dearest brother,
Congrats! You've opened the stone! Now, how long did it take for your ever-so-suppressed brutish ways to take over and finally reveal this note?
My Neopoints are on nothing short of a few weeks.
If, by some miracle of Fyora herself, you've cracked the puzzle in a matter of hours, or even a matter of minutes, congratulations! I willingly state my mental inferiority to you -- because that matters so much to you! Feel free to swap the To and From.
And if not, do note that I had the pleasure of laughing at you every single day. It has brought me genuine joy to know that I have confounded Brightvale's crowning gem for weeks on end. I have not laughed so heartily -- and haughtily -- in years! You're more ridiculous than my jester, Hagan.
Oh, and as a final closing note, through your time captivated you undoubtedly have not considered the flagrant violation of Treaty 1 I had earlier warned you about. This, of course, concerns the official border between our two kingdoms, which has been moved three feet in Brightvale's favour -- just in case your mind is too frazzled to remember.
Meridellian troops will have been sent to march toward Brightvale exactly thirty days before the anniversary of the Discovery of Meridell. Due to your lack of co-operation over these past few weeks I fully intend to rectify this dispute myself... and I fully intend my armies to take whatever else my kingdom needs to secure the integrity of her border.
Hagan turned an even deeper green. "That was yesterday," he said to no one in particular, despite Lambert right beside him. "They should be on Brightvale soil tomorrow..."
The Gnorbu frowned at the king. He really did look unwell... When was the last time the Skeith had showered? "
Come now." The leader of the Seekers snapped his fingers in front of Hagan's face; the king failed to even blink he was such in a daze. "King Hagan, wake up."
Nothing. Lambert frowned and proceeded to jab Hagan in the back with his umbrella. "I said get up!"
"Ow!" Hagan quickly rubbed where he had been poked; he now understood Kanrik's frustrations.
"Listen to me, Hagan. Meridell should be encroaching as we speak." The two locked eyes. "Go, get your troops together and defend that border. Be speedy, and move it back three feet if you can. But now is not the time to mope about, lest you desire tomorrow to be known as the Victory of Meridell..."
Date: Jul 1st
King Hagan snapped up. "You're right!" He slammed a claw on the table. His kingdom was at stake; there was no time to daydream.
"I've got to get to the border immediately," the King reached for his dusty armor, opening an equally dusty case to get to it.
The metal felt so strange over his comfortable scholar's robe, but he paid no attention. War was on the horizon--well, Skarl would most likely wage war. Even for the littlest things, Skarl had been known to throw tantrums, and the border was no empty cookie jar.
King Hagan blinked. When had the border been moved, and by whom? He certainly gave no such order.
"I'd go with you," Professor Lambert said, once more snapping Brightvale's king out of his thoughts, "but I've got to protect my umbrella from being stolen again.” He stroked it gently, which made King Hagan feel uneasy.
"Very well," King Hagan dismissed him with a claw in an attempt to hide his discomfort.
The helmet was the last part of his armor to go on. King Hagan hesitated, wiping a thin, greasy layer of dust off of the helmet, staring at his reflection for a few seconds. He sighed as he put it on at last and rang a bell for a page.
The Zafara practically sprang into the room. "Yes sire?" he piped up, knowing nothing of the land dispute.
King Hagan's mouth tightened into a thin line, nearly made invisible by his moustache and beard.
"Rally our best troops and prepare a turkey dinner as elaborately and as quickly as you can," King Hagan's voice boomed, authoritative. Perhaps his brother would be appeased with good food, as he often was.
The smile on the page's face shattered as he at once understood the implications of the order. "Right away, sir!"
Hagan watched the Zafara go, and strode out himself.
It was no use.
The sun was at its zenith, much too merciless and far too late for anyone to even consider moving the border.
That didn't stop King Hagan and his troops, however. The Unis panted, knowing full well there simply couldn't be any stopping before their destination.
King Hagan surveyed the edge of his land in dismay. There was indeed a curve of about a yard's width stretching in favor of Brightvale, but the recent rain of two days before and the baking sun of yesterday and today had set the pebbles in the earth and had cracked the latter, as if to assert their power.
What was even stranger, the king noticed, was that not a single Meridellian soldier was in sight. There were only two possibilities.
"Half of you, scour the way we came. Report any evidence of spies or scouts via Petpet."
The sound of hoofbeats against the dry, damaged earth was pitiful.
King Hagan glanced at his remaining men. Half the sorcerers were disguised as swordsmen. A good strategy in the best of times, but with his army diminished further by circumstance, it may as well be a mediocre one.
"Shall we commence digging, Your Majesty?" The Uni beneath him asked, doing his best to conceal his exhaustion.
Hagan was not fooled. He could feel the Uni's sides belling in and out. The king dismounted and looked at his company.
A faint smile graced his moustache as his troops stared back in determined agreement. Even in the face of nearly-certain war, the army of Brightvale would do what they could to prevent it.
Such loyalty could never be taught in lessons or books.
"Absolutely!" he boomed, removing his dagger from its sheath and plunging it into the bone-hard dirt. If the border was only half moved by the time all of Meridell's well-trained army arrived, so be it. King Hagan knew several war strategies like the back of his claws, and he would use them according to the conditions on the battlefield.
His troops followed suit, using hooves, claws, paws and spades to drag the pebbles out of the stubborn ground.
King Hagan panted, glancing over at the warriors using their strength for digging rather than fighting. Heat radiated inside his armor as he struggled with the stubborn rocks. By the looks of it, the sun and exertion were sapping the energy from his troops, as well.
One bright soldier dumped his entire water canteen on the hardened soil, and the king made a mental note to promote him. "Do as this young lad does!" he panted, using a good portion of his water ration to loosen the pebble border.
The sun had crawled across the sky three feet when King Hagan heard snickering.
The King stopped digging and held up a claw. Several soldiers, unaware of this, continued digging.
"Scout the area," he told the Uni next to him, and was swiftly obeyed.
Hardly ten seconds had passed before the Uni dragged out a blue Skeith in a royal robe, screaming to "get his hooves off of him."
King Hagan's jaw dropped, but he swiftly regained his composure. "Hail, King Skarl of Meridell," he raised a claw and greeted his brother with clenched teeth.
"Greetings, brother," Skarl harrumphed in reply.
"Are you alone?" a soldier asked out of turn, and received a stern glare. King Hagan made a mental note to demote him.
"Of course!" Skarl's good humor returned instantly. "It was hilarious watching you all sweat and toil just to move the border back!"
King Hagan scowled, tempted to forgo all formalities. "King Skarl, what is the meaning of this?" He fought to keep his voice from booming again.
"My men moved those stones a few feet away just in time for the rain, which conveniently washed away their footprints and helped set them in deep." A smug smile crossed the Skeith's lips. "And you would, of course, have the foresight to prepare for war [i]and[/i] try to move the border back before my forces arrived."
King Hagan was fuming, but an unpracticed eye would not notice anything outside of an occasional beard twitch.
Skarl, however, noticed everything. He thumped a claw onto Hagan's shoulder. "Come now, I'm not even angry; this has been quite an exciting experience altogether. There will not be any war; I’ve had my fun."
Hagan's troops watched in disbelief.
All this time...King Hagan's head was spinning to think of it.
"Well, I'm off," Skarl casually patted his brother's arm and waved to the troops before simply walking away. "Remember what Mother and Father always told you, another year older, another year wiser?"
Skarl practically skipped back to Meridell.
"Another year older, another year wiser," Hagan mused to himself. That was what his parents had always told him on his birthdays, but it had never been truer until now.
It was a long and weary ride back to the castle, and King Hagan of Brightvale was extremely quiet the entire way. The harrowing experience with the Thieves Guild, the correspondence with the Faerie Queen, the meeting with Professor Lambert: all of that had taught the king something incredibly important:
Skarl was not to be underestimated.
Date: Jul 6th
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