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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 307
You are on Week 308
Week 309

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 Three Hundred Eight Ends February 2

"That must be where they make the chocolate molds! Look at those tins of little Chia shapes!"

"It's not that exciting, Mirial; keep your voice down."

"Hey, Kiva, where do you think they keep the finished chocolates?"

"You know, on second thought, maybe sneaking into the Chocolate Factory wasn’t such a good idea..."

The Xweetok giggled, her laughter echoing eerily along the walls of the factory. "You're always so worried about everything, Kiva," she said carelessly. "You know you're just as curious as I am to see the inside of the factory."

"Yes, but curiosity never led anyone to do something good," her Gelert friend responded morbidly, shaking his ears in disapproval.

"This is so exciting, though! Look at the lollipops over there!"

Rolling his eyes, the Gelert trotted after his excited friend. Something nagged at the back of his mind. "Hey, Mirial," he said worriedly. "We've been through a lot of twisting corridors since we've arrived; do you remember the way back?"

Author: Candy Monster
Date: Jan 29th
..."Of course," said Mirial, unblinkingly. "You go back past the marshmallow vat, then turn left when you come to the taffy pull - or was it right? Yes, it was right, I'm sure - and then left at the conveyor belt with all those chunks of toffee on it - or was it fudge?"

"It was caramel," said Kiva, scowling.

"Caramel, then. Anyway, I'm sure you go left there, then at that circular room with the huge bowl of milk chocolate - now there were several doors in there, so I guess we'll just have to try each one until we see something familiar-"

"Argh!" Kiva exclaimed in harsh, whispered tones. "Great, now I know we're lost."

"Oh come on, it wouldn't take us that long to find our way out. This place can't be all that big," Mirial said, her voice echoing in the iron rafters high above them. "Anyway, at least we won't starve!"

"Yeah, well, I would prefer to live off some healthier foods," Kiva, who had been a long-time customer of the Health Food store, remarked peevishly.

"Oh, don't be such a sourpuss. Admit it, you love chocolate just as much as I do," said Mirial, as she peered through a doorway to their left. "I wonder what's down that corridor?"

"Be quiet!" Kiva whispered abruptly. He thought he'd heard the soft slapping of footsteps on stone, coming nearer and nearer to them, but suddenly they stopped at the sound of Mirial's voice. Heart-pounding, he hurriedly followed his friend through the archway and down the corridor as noiselessly as he could, hoping to find a hiding place.

After a few turns, they came across a large door made of cherry, oak and and a pale-colored wood Kiva couldn't place, with each piece of wood placed in long, sloping patterns.

"I wonder what's in there?" Mirial said, placing her paw on the doorknob.

"Don't, Mirial - let's just wait here a while and then leave, I heard footsteps a moment ago-" Kiva began, but the Xweetok was already opening the door.

Walking through the doorway after his friend, Kiva suddenly found himself in a large cave. Long walls and tall ceilings of a smooth, brown rock with a wide stripe of white or a long, large squiggle of dark here and there completely surrounded him. Fire-lit lamps were scattered on the walls, where the rock around them seemed to have melted, for they were fastened to a wall of iron behind the brown rock.

"Is this a cave of... wax?" Kiva questioned slowly.

"No," said Mirial, breathless with wonder, "It's made of chocolate!

Mirial placed her paw upon a stripe of dark chocolate on the wall, stroking it as if it were a beloved Petpet. "I've always wondered where they get all their chocolate. This must be it! But I wonder why it's here? Where did it come from?" she said, but faltered abruptly as the slab of milk chocolate beneath her feet suddenly began to wobble unnaturally.

With wide eyes, Kiva grabbed Mirial's paw and pulled her away from the heaving piece of the floor and behind a large stalagmite made of white chocolate. Peering around the side of the sweet stalagmite, Kiva saw the hunk of milk chocolate swing upward, like a trapdoor, revealing....

Author: aurulent_peridots
Date: Jan 29th
...a shaft of light. Peering down into the light both Kiva and Mirial were near blinded by its intensity that seemed to continue much further than either of them could see.

"I wonder what's down there," murmured Mirial squatting next to the trapdoor and trying in vain to see into the light.

"I bet it's dangerous," replied Kiva darkly. "Let's just try and get out of here."

“Are you kidding me?” the Xweetok asked incredulously. “Let’s go down there!”

“What? No, no, no, no, no.” Kiva shook his head edging slowly away from the trapdoor. Grabbing one of Mirial’s paws he tried to pull her with him but she would not budge. “Come on,” he urged. But Mirial was not listening. Her gazed was transfixed upon something that the Gelert was not able see inside the trapdoor’s depths.

“Look,” whispered Mirial pointing into the light. Squinting into the glare, Mirial had found that her eyes had slowly adjusted to the brightness. She was now able to make out a round floating figure down there.

“I don’t see anything.”

A frustrated sigh escaped from Mirial. She rolled her eyes, “You’re not trying Kiva. Come down here next to me and just look for a while. Let you eyes adjust to the light.” After a few moments the shape began to materialise for Kiva. He gasped, “Is that a Kiko?”

But Mirial did not have a chance to reply. The footsteps that they had heard before had returned. And they were close. Kiva listened whilst Mirial held her breath. They looked at each other in fear when they heard a hand close upon the doorknob and twist. Swallowing his fear Kiva grabbed tightly onto his friend and plunged into the blinding depths that lay beneath the trapdoor.

Both Mirial and Kiva received a shock when they landed. They had assumed that the fall would be long and were astounded when they stopped their descent rather abruptly and landed in a white, cushion-like material. Mirial was the first to recover from the fall and said quietly, “Is this marshmallow?” She plucked at the whiteness and placed some in her mouth with a contented smile.

“That’s exactly what it is, strangers,” a new voice boomed across the room. Looking around Kiva had difficulty locating the source of the sound. At last, after taking in the the harsh lights that illuminated the gigantic marshmallow room and the many passages that led off it Kiva’s eyes found the Kiko he had seen before. “Hello,” he said weakly.

“Hello? Hello?” The Kiko’s voice was outraged when he continued: “You fall into my domain, your friend here eats some of my precious marshmallow and all you can offer is a pitiful, little ‘Hello’?”

Mirial and Kiva exchanged shocked glances then looked back at the Kiko who was now leering at them. “Erm... who are you?” asked Mirial.

A look of annoyance crossed the Kiko’s face as if the answer was obvious. “Well, of course I am...”

Author: squire_genevieve
Date: Jan 30th
“... the owner of this factory.” With an air of great importance, the Kiko reached up with one hand to adjust the top hat resting at a jaunty angle upon his head. “Can’t you tell?”

Both pets glanced at each other anxiously before Mirial, her head cocked to the side, spoke up. “Hey... Aren’t you the shopkeeper who sells chocolates in front of the factory? I always thought you looked a little bit more... orangey-yellow,” the Xweetok noted, her nervousness apparently forgotten. “And didn’t you have a goatee?” Her companion nodded slowly, half to himself; this pet did look familiar, now that he thought of it. The hat, the cane... it was all coming together.

The Kiko rolled his eyes at this observation and gave a long-suffering sigh. “I employ a look-alike to man the front of my shop for me, of course - I have more than enough work to do down here, I don’t have time to spend dealing with customers! Now that that’s out of the way, would you mind enlightening me as to what exactly you two are doing in my factory?”

Kiva, shooting an I-told-you-so look at Mirial, spoke first this time. “Sir, I’m sorry, really... my friend here dragged me into this, and I kept telling her it was a bad idea-”

“Hey! What’re you ratting me out for?! I didn’t force you to come along!”

“- but she wouldn’t listen, and by the time we got here we were already lost, so-”

“I told you, I know the way back!”

Shaking his head in annoyance, the Kiko held up one hand. “Enough, enough, already! I get the picture! Ugh.” He rubbed his forehead theatrically, looking as though the weight of Neopia was pressing upon his shoulders; Mirial and Kiva both felt he was being a bit too dramatic about the whole thing, but neither was going to say anything to that effect. “Honestly, it’s not the first time this has happened, but I never get used to it. Why on earth can’t you just take a guided tour or something?!”

The Xweetok stared at him blankly. “Um... There are no guided tours, sir. That’s why we snuck in, in the first place; there’s no other way to get in here.”

“... I suppose there isn’t,” the Chocolate Factory’s owner admitted. “Well, be that as it may, trespassing is trespassing, and that’s all there is to it. Now out with the both of you! Shoo, shoo!”

Mirial groaned at this, but Kiva looked almost relieved. “I guess the guard up top will show us the way out, then? I heard someone chasing us, which is why we jumped,” the Gelert admitted, thumbing toward the trapdoor they had come tumbling out of. “That was a member of your security staff, huh?”

The Kiko, who had been preparing to return to his work - whatever that was - froze and turned to face Kiva. “There are no guards inside this building,” he said slowly, alarm creeping around the edges of his voice. “All of my security is outside - I don’t trust anyone enough to let them patrol the inside of the factory at night.”

Raising his eyebrows, the Gelert opened his mouth to ask a question he had a feeling he already knew the answer to, but was interrupted by the sound of the trapdoor lifting once more...

Author: _vespa
Date: Jan 30th
...Eyes widening, the Kiko grabbed one of his uninvited guests with each fin and gave them a sharp tug. Unable to drag them along behind him due to his inherent deficiency of limbs, he quickly released the younger Neopets, hissing over a nonexistent shoulder as he turned away, "Quick -- follow me. I want to see it before it sees us."

Mirial's overwhelming and thrice-cursed curiosity begged her to stay where she was and witness the mystery intruder's arrival, but the grip that Kiva's sharp canine teeth found in her mane effectively discouraged that notion, and the Xweetok reluctantly allowed herself to be half-led, half-dragged into one of the numerous passages that branched off from the blinding marshmallow room.

As he and his friend followed the Kiko through the winding, branching edible corridor, Kiva reflected grimly that if they hadn't been lost before, they most certainly were now. Were they to become separated from their guide, they would never find their way out of here. Of course, there was an obvious solution to that.

Keep up with the darn Kiko.

By now, Mirial was demonstrating an ability to keep up without having to be dragged, so Kiva gratefully detached his muzzle from the suffocating sea of fur that adorned his friend's neck and began to gulp at the comparatively free-flowing air, which was a balm to his oxygen-starved lungs despite being almost sickeningly sweet. Breathing through his mouth hardly helped, but what was by now the all-too-familiar sound of slapping feet gave him plenty of reason not to stop.

After a few minutes -- not nearly soon enough for Kiva's tastes -- the Kiko veered sideways through an open door with a hiss of "In here!"

Following him, the children found themselves surrounded by a eye-bewildering myriad of screens whose grey-hued visual offerings gazed back at the Neopets from their places in the soft, sticky walls. Most of them depicted mundane corridors and a bizarre variety of rooms whose colourful edible novelty was muted by the grainy black-and-white quality of the screens, the whole ensemble seeming to stare at the children like a strange compound eye. Among the assortment of rooms and halls, one picture stood out, its presence broadcasted by a single significant distinction: something in it was moving, lumbering into view...

Author: sarahleeadvent
Date: Jan 31st
..."Karsok!" hissed the Kiko factory owner.

"Bless you," offered Mirial kindly.

Whirling toward her impatiently, the Kiko rolled his eyes. "I didn't sneeze," he growled. "It's the name of the Jetsam you see in the sceen."

Kiva held out a paw, delicately touching one of the screens. It had a smooth, hard quality, like glass or stone. "I've never seen anything like this," the Gelert whispered in awe. "What is it?"

"Candy screens." The Kiko waved his arm vaguely, as if dismissing the topic. "I've had them since I can remember -- the lenses are made of rock candy, enchanted so that they use the energy of the entering wavelengths to depict motion instead of color." His brow furrowed into a sea of wrinkles. "But we have more important things to concern ourselves with just now, I think."

The three gazed at the screen, where Karsok was looking back and forth, as if deciding which way to go.

Abruptly, the Jetsam looked up.

His face crinkled into a sharp-toothed grin; triumphant, he reached up a fin and the screen vibrated wildly, then blinked out into darkness.

"He's spotted the cand-meras!" cried the Kiko, turning an even paler shade of yellow. "Now we won't be able to track him!"

Mirial glanced to the factory owner with fear in her wide eyes. "Excuse me," she said timidly, "but who exactly is Karsok...?"

Author: laurelinden
Date: Jan 31st
...The Kiko gave a start at this, and gestured frantically at the screens once more. “‘Who is Karsok’?! THAT is Karsok, evidently! Why, I’ve never heard such a foolish question! A better one would be ‘What is Karsok?’ or perhaps even ‘WHY is Karsok?’, as in ‘Why is Karsok traipsing about my factory making a general nuisance of himself?’ Oh, me,” he groaned, “why must troubles always come in threes?”

Kiva glanced back up to the rock-candy screens in time to see the hulking Jetsam come into view once more, and he recognized the hallway behind him as one the small group had been racing through minutes earlier. Without warning, a flat-tipped tail lashed upward, and the screen went blank; another cand-mera had obviously been destroyed. The Gelert decided that it was in their best interest to play along. “Fine, fine. Why are you so frightened of this Karsok, then? Besides the fact that, you know, he’s big and has a lot of sharp teeth,” he added hurriedly.

Frowning, the chocolatier seemed lost in thought - perhaps reliving some unpleasant memories - before turning from the screens and shoved open the door they had ducked through. “All right, I’ll tell you -- but let’s run while we can, shall we? Karsok won’t have an easy time finding us in these corridors, but he can be... very persistent.”

As they started off down another twisting hallway at a much less frenzied clip than they had been traveling at previously, Mirial and Kiva listened with curiosity and alarm as the Kiko related his tale. “We used to be colleagues, Karsok and I. Many years ago, it was our greatest ambition to open a chocolate shop. Nothing quite so grand as this one, of course; just a small establishment where we could satisfy Neopia’s sweet tooth and support ourselves by doing what we loved. Of course, the candy business is not exactly an easy one for two amateurs to break into, so we both devoted ourselves to coming up with ideas for new and unique products, ones that would dazzle our customers and set us apart from our competition.

“Of course, as you can no doubt tell, this partnership was not destined to last. We had a bit of a...” The Kiko paused, his face contorting with distaste as his mind turned to an incident he did not care to remember. “... A falling-out, as it were.”

“What happened?” Mirial asked as she trotted along beside him, with an engaged interest that bordered on nosiness.

The Kiko rolled his eyes. “I’m getting to that, if you’ll kindly let me finish. As the years passed, we both grew impatient with our progress, and we began to take different directions with our work. The biggest problem arose when Karsok attacked me outright, claiming that I had stolen part of his research for a splendid new type of candy, but as the success of my factory skyrocketed, his cries of protest were more or less drowned out.”

The Xweetok’s eyes widened. “Woah,” she murmured. “But you didn’t actually steal his research, right? Was he trying to frame you?” Kiva remained silent, observing the Kiko’s uncomfortable expression with interest.

The factory owner avoided Mirial’s gaze. “Er... well, you see, it was... there had been a-”

“Go on, then!” A harsh, jarring voice met the group’s ears, and the two younger pets yelped in unison, whirling to face the source of that terrifying sound. The Kiko, miserably, knew what awaited them.

As frightening a figure as Karsok had made when viewed via cand-mera, he was infinitely more intimidating in person. His dark, grey-green scales glistened wetly in the dim light of the corridor, and his sickly yellow eyes radiated pure menace. Underneath his terror, Kiva found himself wondering how it was possible that this creature had ever wanted to open a candy shop. He knew that even if they bolted now, they had no chance of outrunning him; if he had caught up to them that quickly, they were hopelessly outclassed in terms of speed.

“Continue your story,” the Jetsam rumbled, a strange sort of glee dancing in his eyes. “You were just getting to the good part...”

Author: _vespa
Date: Feb 1st
...The Kiko squeezed his eyes shut. "There was a misunderstanding!"

"Sure there was." Karsok slid forward, showing several rows of sharp and jagged teeth. "Why wouldn't you look the nice little Xweetok in the eye, partner?"

"It was my idea, Karsok!" The Kiko's voice had gone very high, and he was edging backward.

"It was your idea, but you gave it up! Never work, you said. Never sell, you said! You might have suggested it, but you never believed it could be done."

"That didn't mean you had any business just -- just snapping it up like that, out from under me!" the Kiko said indignantly.

"Snapping it up!" Karsok snapped his mouth shut, gnashing his jagged teeth together. "You threw it away, 'old pal.' Wouldn't put the work in. Dismissed it the day you came up with the idea! Well listen." He leaned closer, looming over the smaller Kiko. A gleaming drop of salt-water fell onto the Kiko's nose, making him blink and shake his head, trying to back away. "I spent years figuring out how to make them. And you swiped it and claimed it was all your work!" A long, low growl, and he turned to look at the two children. "That's why he doesn't trust anybody in here. A liar and a thief expects everybody else to be like him."

"But what was the idea?" Kiva asked a bit timidly. "I mean... neither of you has said, yet."

"The idea!" Karsok nearly drooled. "Why, Grarrl Gobstoppers, of course! Those were MINE!"

Kiva and Mirial looked at each other in dismay. After a moment Mirial (to Kiva's chagrin) gave voice to the thought vibrating between them. "Grarrl Gobstoppers? Eeeewww!"

Karsok made a sound in his chest like the distant growl of thunder, and moved abruptly--

--downward?

The Kiko had edged a little further back during the conversation, and as Karsok was beginning his lunge he had snatched at a lever, yanking it down with all his strength. A pit, a chute, opened up beneath the Jetsam in the floor. Kiva and Mirial cried out and jumped back as the Jetsam fell -- it was right at their feet.

But Karsok was swift and strong, and he seized the edge of the floor with his fins and his teeth. The soft, sticky material began to give way, sagging and tearing...

Author: schefflera
Date: Feb 1st
...He continued thrashing about, and a large section of the floor dropped lower with the Jetsam's weight, but it didn't snap off. A brief look of fear flashed in Karsok's eyes and he stopped moving, concentrating on hanging on. When the floor stabilized, though, he grinned evilly and started climbing. He reached out, grabbing solid floor under one fin, while ripping away the hanging section with the other. He shook it furiously until it broke into smaller pieces. He had one such piece in his hand, and he flung it upwards, trying to hit the trio. They jumped back, and it missed them by inches, instead sinking into the floor. The Jetsam hoisted himself up, but with the lost structure, yet another section of the floor broke. The Jetsam fell into darkness.

"Get out, now!" the Kiko yelled to the kids, but it was already too late. They hardly had time to turn around before the floor on which they had been standing shifted suddenly and then snapped off, sending them in after the Jetsam.

It was dark, too dark to see anything but the light from the previous floor high above them. Mirial rubbed her head, and stood up. She couldn't even see her paws in front of her face, let alone what she was standing on, but it felt soft though slightly rough.

The Kiko knew exactly where they were, and battled his way through sticky candy to reach the light switch. He flicked it on, revealing a deep room completely covered in cotton candy. The substance was reminiscent of spider webs in the way it ran from wall to wall, wall to floor, floor to roof, everywhere.

Mirial stood up and looked around, awed once again at her surroundings. Then the ground beneath her feet began to move, and she glanced down. And screamed.

Karsok groaned and opened his eyes, starting to roll over. That was when he noticed that one of the kids had been unfortunate enough to have landed right on his belly. The Xweetok tried to jump away, but Karsok snatched her out of the air with unbelievable reflexes. Clutching her tightly in both fins, the Jetsam stood up, and deep laughter rumbled from within him. His grinning face focused on the Kiko. "Now, I came here for one thing, and if I don't get it, well, your little friend here will suffer the- AGH!"

Mirial had bitten Karsok, and he unintentionally let her go. She landed on her feet and then raced through tangles of sugar to come back to the Kiko's side. "Where's Kiva?" she asked breathlessly.

"I'm up here," groaned his muffled voice, and they both looked in the direction of the sound, which was up. Near the roof, they could see a patch of yellow fur - Kiva's back - protruding from a mass of pink cotton candy that was near the roof.

And in front of them, the huge Jetsam came tearing through the cotton candy in their direction, the floor shaking beneath his weight...

Author: 081388
Date: Feb 2nd
..."Stop!" the Kiko yelled. "This isn't just a store room. Kiva, DON'T MOVE!"

"But I'm - I'm slipping," Kiva grunted, scrambling to keep hold on the long metal rod under his paws.

"Then just fall - LET GO, KIVA--" the Kiko shouted from the tasty pink tufts below, when Kiva felt something give. The metal rod slid downward, slipping through his paws and sending him down into the sea of cotton candy, as a deafening whirring reached his ears.

"Oh no...." the Kiko moaned as Kiva landed a few feet from him, sending bunches of cotton candy flying in his wake.

"This... this isn't that 'world's biggest cotton candy maker' we always used to fantasize about, is it, pal?" Karsok yelled over the raucous noise, fear written all over his watery face.

"Can't you see for yourself?!" the Kiko called back.

A tall skinny formation in the middle of the tufty chamber began to spin around rapidly, the whirring growing louder than ever. Long loops of fluffy pink candy were slung over the four Neopets, burying them within seconds.

"Kids!" the Kiko shouted, emerging from a small mountain of pink cotton. "The only way out of here is down - Kiva, take my hand and your friend's - you, girl, you take--" the Kiko paused, and frowned. "You take Karsok's hand. Now!"

Kiva grabbed hold of the Kiko's flimsy little fin and took Mirial's paw. Mirial, looking rather shocked and with a disgusted look in her eye, grabbed the Jetsam's slippery fin. The Kiko then dived down into the folds of sugary cotton, pulling the four Neopets after him.

After many moments of almost sickly sweet softness and stickiness and not nearly enough air, they fell through a metal door and out into a dimly lit chamber, bringing trails of cotton candy behind them.

Pulling a swath of cotton candy away from his eyes, Karsok gaped at the factory's owner.

"You - you could have just left me in there--" he said, shocked.

"But I didn't," the Kiko said grimly. "Now that I expressed that act of kindness, will you kindly leave my factory?"

Karsok bristled again, and responded, voice rising yet again, "No! You have been nothing more than a thief! Saving me from getting buried in a ton of cotton candy doesn't take back what's happened in the past! You stole my research!"

As the bickering ensued, Kiva took a look around him at the metal chamber in which they currently and rather stickily resided. There were many doors, each with a label on them. Peering around the side of the metal door they had just rocketed through, Kiva saw that it bore a sign saying "COTTON CANDY." The one to his right said "GUM," and the two on his left read "JELLY" and "CARAMEL." Looking at the door behind Karsok, who was still furiously arguing with the Kiko, a light bulb clicked on in Kiva's brain.

"I can hardly believe you ever dared to steal my work, but you did!" Karsok yelled at the factory owner.

"But it was my idea first! I wouldn't have taken it, you know, if you hadn't packed up and gone to Mystery Island, saying you'd had enough of the candy business and wanted to try your hand at the Gadsgadsgame championship!"

"Oh, so now you're trying to rub in the fact that I lost that, too?!" Karsok roared. "And I thought you would stoop no lower!"

"We worked together as a business, and that work you did was part of the business. You left the business, and didn't say you didn't want me to use your research. I have every right to use the research you left behind, and you - you have no right to come barging in here, destroying my factory and contaminating the candy with saltwater!"

"I want the Grarrl Gobstoppers! And I want your word that you'll never make any more of them!"

"You've no right--" the Kiko began.

"I WANT THE GRARRL GOBSTOPPERS!" Karsok thundered as he advanced on the Kiko menacingly.

"You really want the Gobstoppers, Karsok?" said Kiva, swiftly running past him and to the metal door behind him, putting his paws on the door's handle. "Well here, then - you can have them!"

It was as if all of the balls or any other remotely round thing in the world had rocketed out of the doorway. Clash, crash, clamor, roll! the gobstoppers all screamed at the four Neopets as they spilled out of the door.

Karsok didn't know what hit him. In the huge clattering of hard candy balls hitting the metal floor, he was swept up in their wake, completely covered and trapped.

"Great work, Kiva!" cheered Mirial.

As the three Neopets tried to wade out of the sea of gobstoppers, they were again showered with a spray of the round candies as, with a loud grunt, Karsok's head and fins emerged from the summit of the candy mountain.

"You will pay for this!" Karsok growled, jabbing his fin at the Kiko threateningly.

"I am not going to pay for this. Well, actually, I suppose I will, because I'm going to make a deal with you," said the factory's owner as he bounced up to the Jetsam. "You see, I am interested in investing in a new line of chocolate covered fruits. Exotic fruits. And since you have spent much time on Mystery Island, particularly during the Gadsgadsbogen festival, I am hoping you may be able to assist me in finding some good deals on Mystery Island fruits, perhaps? And I'm not asking for old time's sake, you know. The pay will, of course, be quite excellent."

"Hmmm," Karsok murmured, contemplating. "What about my Grarrl Gobstoppers?"

The Kiko sighed. "It was wrong of me to use your research when I'd given up on them myself, even after you'd left the candy-making business. And I suppose I have you two to thank for helping me see that," he added, looking gratefully at the Gelert and Xweetok.

"Anyway," he continued, turning back to the Jetsam, "I definitely think some credit is due. How does 'Karsok's Grarrl Gobstoppers' sound to you?"

Karsok grinned. "You've got a deal, old pal!"

* * * * *

Many months passed from the day that Mirial and Kiva had been sent home from the Chocolate Factory, after each had been given a large bag full of truly delectable sweets out of the factory owner's thanks and also after promising never to set foot in the factory again.

It was the beginning of the Month of Gathering, and Kiva couldn't help thinking how lovely the trees were getting, with their branches just beginning to turn gold and scarlet as he walked, whistling, down the dirt path outside his Neohome towards his mailbox. The metal creaked slightly as he opened the mailbox, and he pulled out a stack of envelopes.

He began to shuffle through them, but paused as he touched a small slip of paper. It was made of a shiny brown paper that winked in the fall sunlight, and its edges and letters were a glistening gold. He stared at it, positively gaping, when a pattering of paws running at a madcap pace made him look up.

"Kiva! Oh Kiva, you won't believe what I got in the mail today!" Mirial said, eyes shining with joy and excitement. "Oh, you've got one too! I'm so glad! Can you imagine how much chocolate there will be there? And all the newest, greatest treats? Oh, Kiva, I can't believe we've been invited to the Annual Chocolate Ball!"

The End

Author: aurulent_peridots
Date: Feb 2nd



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