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Week 423
You are on Week 424
Week 425

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 Four Hundred Twenty Four Ends Friday, August 7

"I have cooked for all of the crowned heads of Neopia," Garn boasted as he sprinkled some herbs into the pan of bubbling sauce on the stovetop. "It's been said that my Starberry souffle made Queen Fyora herself weep diamond tears at its deliciousness. I doubt the Underwater Chef could say the same."

The audience murmured, their voices sounding impressed, awed, really. The Zafara smiled to himself and moved to the next burner, where his perfectly delicate crepe was just ready to be flipped. With a practiced flick of his wrist, Garn sent the thin pancake spinning in the air before catching it expertly in the pan. The crowd ooohed and ahhhed at his skill, and well they should. He was without a doubt Neopia's best chef. The head chef at kelp was a mere dish-washer compared to him.

"Now, all you have to do is slide the crepe onto the plate, fold it like so, and then drizzle some of our delicious sauce over the top." Garn held the dazzlingly beautiful plate of food up for the audience to see. More than a few of the assembled Neopets looked ready to drool when they saw the gorgeous crepe with the artistic pattern of sauce crisscrossing it.

"On to the main course," Garn said, wiping his paws on the towel tucked into his apron pocket. Doing these cooking demonstrations for the masses was always fun for him; he liked to spread the appreciation of fine cuisine, of course, but mostly he enjoyed the throngs of admirers who mobbed him afterward, begging for him to sign their cookbooks.

"Today, I'm going to make the thickest, juiciest, most succulent Ransaurus Steak you've ever seen. It's a famous Tyrannian delicacy, but I'm going to give it a little twi..." Garn's voice trailed off as his gaze fell on the platter of ingredients before him. Instead of the thick Ransaurus Steaks that were supposed to be piled on it, there was...

Author: A Savoury Saboteur?
Date: Aug 3rd
...a few chunks of meat clinging to the bones. It was quite obvious what had happened. Someone had eaten his Ransaurus Steaks, and they hadn't even bothered to hide the remains. But who would do such a thing? He had no employees; he bought his own ingredients and only he knew where they were kept when he wasn't doing his shows. Well, now it seemed that someone else knew. Someone who wanted to viciously sabotage his demonstration. A disgruntled fan, perhaps, or even a rival chef. Then it clicked.

"The Underwater Chef," Garn muttered aloud. He was the only true rival the Zafara had. The only one devious and spiteful enough to ruin Garn's ingredients and leave such an obvious sign.

The audience was staring at him, still captivated, but the psychological spell of watching him cook was wearing off as he paused. If Garn quit now, he would be playing right into his rival's hands -- or fins, whichever the case may be. The show must go on! For now...

"I apologise for the delay, ladies and gentlemen! I am sure you will forgive me, as I have had a sudden brainstorm to make this meal highly delectable." He spun words around the audience and began to use what remained as a sort of backup plan -- not that they would ever know -- all the while fuming. And plotting on how to exact his revenge for this embarrassment on the Underwater Chef.

***

"Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome you to the first ever cooking demonstration held at kelp." A smattering of applause ensued, most of which was muffled by the water as they were, of course, in Maraqua. If that wannabe Zafara chef Garn can make this work, I certainly can! "Today, I will be preparing my famous Fish Special, along with a Tropical Fruit Bowl and, of course, kelp's Signature Ice Cream.

"I will start by boiling some water to prepare the angelhair pasta that the Fish Special is served with." The chef did so. The crowd watched with mild interest, nothing like the enthusiastic audience Garn got. The Underwater Chef knew this, and he also knew that gimmicks like this needed a few successful runs to build anticipation.

"And now, I will chop up the fruits, fresh from Mystery Island, to prepare the Tropical Fruit Bowl." He did so, rather quickly and without the flair that Garn usually showed.

"Next, I will begin to work with the main part of the Fish Special -- the fish themselves! Today, I am going to be working with..." His voice trailed away into nothingness as he stared down at the fish he had caught this morning. Or what was left of them. Sitting on the plate was a stack of bones with a little bit of meat left clinging to them...

Author: hawthorneharlyn
Date: Aug 3rd
If it hadn't been for one of the younger audience members releasing a hefty yawn, the Flotsam would have continued to stare blankly at his demolished fish. Snapping back to reality, the Underwater Chef turned to face his inattentive audience.

"Erm... well, I was going to make a Fish Special but it seems --" the Flotsam was interrupted as a number of audience members rose from their seats, the only individuals still seated beginning to cackle at the Chef's misfortune.

"Come on, let's go to that other restaurant... what's it called? Oh yeah, Cuisine a la Garn," said a tiny Peophin, her fin already propelling her toward the door.

A collection of murmurs signalled agreement and, as if at once, the audience worked their way toward the door. "Amateur," one called as she left.

Head hung low in defeat, the Chef gazed toward the mauled fish. Is this what he had amounted to? A platter of fish bones?

Ever since Cuisine a la Garn had opened, his profits had been falling drastically, his regular customers now preferring the foreign delicacies that Garn had to offer, such as Ransoorus Steak, or whatever it was called.

A warm hoof embraced his shoulder and the Chef turned to face a Uni Waitress. She gazed at him sympathetically as she spoke.

"It's OK, sir," she said sorrowfully. "Besides, not everyone left!"

The Flotsam gazed up. She was right. In front of him, amid the collection of chairs, was a single Xweetok, his face shrouded by a hat. As if at once the Chef regained himself, his professionalism once more gleaming.

"I'm sorry, sir, but I think the demonstration is over for today--"

"I think not," the Xweetok responded coldly, causing the Chef and waitress to lurch uncomfortably. "Your demonstration hasn't ended yet, dear sir."

And with that, the Xweetok removed his hat...

Author: icesmith
Date: Aug 3rd
First, the Underwater Chef gasped. His dutiful waitress followed soon after, and together they whispered his name as if the Xweetok were the greatest personality who ever lived, and they were unworthy to bask in his presence.

"Divound Madelen!"

"The famous food critic -- half of the Madelen duo!" said the Flotsam, hurriedly sweeping his hat off and bowing low. "It is a pleasure to meet you...even if we could have met in more favourable circumstances..." The chef surveyed the chairs longingly, as if wishing his audience would reappear out of thin air.

"I read your Neopian Times column whenever it comes out! You and your brother are geniuses!" the Uni gushed before clearing her throat and remembering who it was she was speaking to.

Divound, rather unfazed by their display of fanaticism, nodded absently. "Yes, and don't bother introducing yourself, sir. I know full well who you are -- you are the one they call the Underwater Chef, but being quite knowledgeable in fine dining affairs, I also know your real name.

"But I digress. I would like to see your demonstration. You see, my next article will be about your work. Please."

"But my -- " The Flotsam's gaze flicked momentarily to his plate of fish bones.

"Do continue," said Divound with finality, lounging in his chair and placing his hat on his lap as if it were a favourite Petpet.

* * *

Needless to say, Garn saved the show perfectly. Sure, the audience would probably miss the Ransaurus Steak, but he would have many more demonstrations to come in his bright, bright future. He could then create his signature dish -- and make sure all his ingredients were locked up even tighter than they usually were.

His fans left very satisfied, although Garn's sous chefs made sure nobody stayed behind, especially none of the reporters, the photographers, or the crazier aficionados.

For once in his glamorous life, the Zafara was in no mood for interviews or autographs, or any of the attention. He wanted to be alone. He wanted time to scheme and find a way to expose the Underwater Chef. And why shouldn't he suspect that conniving Flotsam? They were rivals, after all. Rivalries were often tainted with insults, showdowns, and most of all, sabotage.

"There's someone here who really wants to see you, Mr. Garn, sir," said a timid young Cybunny who tugged at her pinafore. "He says he won't leave until you see him."

"Didn't you tell him I'm not talking to anyone today?" Garn growled.

"Yes, sir, but he said that was not why he's here..."

With an infuriated but resigned sigh, Garn pushed past her and strode toward the deserted chairs and tables -- and had to blink several times before he was absolutely sure he was seeing who he thought he saw.

A Xweetok sat primly at the very front, his black bowler hat quiescent on the seat beside him. He adjusted his tie and smiled at the chef -- a smile that never reached the Xweetok's eyes.

"Greetings, Garn. That was a very excellent show of skill. I'm sure there will be no need for introductions here; you know perfectly well who I am."

"Deyru Madelen," the Zafara answered as formally as he could, drawing himself up to full height and shooing away his sous chef. "But... where's your twin brother?"

"He is away right now. But that's part of why I'm here. You see, after seeing how well you have been working, not only would I like to feature you in my and my brother's next column, I would also like to invite you to be the caterer at our birthday party, which will be a week from now." Deyru proffered a small envelope. "This also contains the address to our estate. Forgive me; it's not very polite of me to suddenly come out and ask you to cook at our party, but..."

Garn knew all too well how high he could climb up on the social ladder and how many points he could gain by rubbing shoulders with the Madelens. It only took him a second to nod and say, "I accept!"

They shook hands on it, the smile still not reaching Deyru's eyes.

And when Garn glanced over his shoulder at his work station, he saw the Ransaurus Steaks stacked up on his platter, as if they had never gone anywhere in the first place.

* * *

"I am impressed," said Divound, eating the last spoonful of Signature Ice Cream. "Fish Special or no, I would like to invite you to my estate. You see, Deyru and I will be celebrating our birthday in a week's time, and we would like you to cater and appear in our next article." He drew an envelope from the inside pocket of his jacket. "You will find everything you need, including our address, in there."

"R-Really?" The word was a mere squeak from the Underwater Chef's mouth. But he reached out with a shaking fin and took the envelope, clutching it as if it were the greatest treasure in all of Neopia. "You mean it?"

"Yes, I mean it." The Xweetok nodded, the corners of his mouth moving up, but his eyes remained unfathomable.

The Flotsam traded an ecstatic look with his Uni Waitress. But as they turned to each other, they also saw another surprise.

As if they had never been reduced to bones in the first place, a plate of fish was perched on the Underwater Chef's workstation, as fresh as they had been when they had been caught...

Author: precious_katuch14
Date: Aug 4th
The Underwater Chef hurried to his workstation with one mighty surge of his lavender tail and looked back through the curtain of bubbles he had produced to note that the Xweetok had hastily left the restaurant. Picking up the fish platter and sniffing with the well-trained nose of a seasoned epicure, he pushed his chef's hat back on his forehead, stumped.

He poked at the fish while he thought and remarked to the Uni Waitress as she approached: "I can think of two possible explanations for disappearing and reappearing seafood. One is that it was Divound Madelen himself who removed the fish when I was about to prepare my famous Fish Special of the Day."

"But... why?" the Uni answered, her pretty brow furrowed in consternation.

"Well, he has this party coming up, and perhaps he was trying to test me. To see how I work under pressure."

The Waitress whinnied softly to herself with doubt and asked, "And the second possibility?"

The Flotsam sniffed the fish once more before boldly declaring, "The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that our esteemed food critic has left behind this platter of fish as a recommendation, perhaps a command, with regard to the menu. Yes. That must be it."

Once more the Uni whickered under her breath, having learned in her tenure as his assistant that the Chef was a fragile gourmet genius who was incapable of accepting a dissenting viewpoint on any matter, but most especially with respect to his food, its preparations, even its mysterious origins (it would seem), and so she held her counsel and simply inquired, "What will you do now?"

"Well, I should think it would be obvious." The Chef averted his attention from the fish platter to speak directly, if condescendingly, to his hired help. "If I am to win a rave review in the Neopian Times for my catering prowess, I must return to my private kitchen on Mystery Island. I must work in secrecy, surrounded by my own staff, cooking pot and equipment." Waving his free fin around to indicate kelp with a dismissive gesture, he added, "The only thing I will be taking from here will be this." The Flotsam punctuated his sentence with a thrust of the fish platter under the Uni's nose, an act that left the Waitress with a fishy smell in her delicate nostrils for days to come.

***

The sous chef stammered as she pulled and plucked uncomfortably at her pinafore, "B-b-but I just don't understand, Chef Garn. Why would Deyru Madelen want to leave behind a platter of Ransaurus Steaks if he sabotaged you in the first place?" She was so intimidated by the famous Zafara that her long ears were quivering as they laid flat against her innocent face.

"It is not to question why," he snapped in return. Spinning the plate of meat under his approving, authoritative nose, he added, "All we need to do is to prepare these steaks according to my secret recipe for the critics' birthday party and a glowing review in the Madelen Brothers' Neopian Times column is sure to mine." Narrowing his eyes with cruel delight, Garn said, "I can't wait to see the look on the Underwater Chef's big stupid face when he reads the article and sees that I was asked to cater the affair in the first place. Oh, the idea of him first learning that I got the job only when he sits down on Saturday morning with his cup of Islandberry Coffee, his favourite newspaper opened to his favourite column... oh, the idea is just too delicious. That picture in my mind is the only thing that keeps me from running right out and telling everyone about this opportunity beforehand."

The Zafara placed a steadying hand on his sous chef's shoulder and steered her into the kitchen to start preparing the party's menu.

"We have much to plan and much to do," Garn stated.

From the shadows in the far corner of Cuisine a la Garn came a low chuckle...

Author: mamasimios
Date: Aug 4th
Garn, of course, heard nothing, too busy coming up with an appropriate birthday feast for Neopia's premiere food critics to focus on anything else.

The sous chef, with her sensitive Cybunny ears, did hear. "Did... did you hear someone laughing?" she squeaked.

Garn looked at her disdainfully. "I do believe the stress is getting to you. If you can't handle the pressure, I understand completely," he said, his voice laden with scorn, "and I'll be sure to write a glowing reference for your next employer."

The sous chef shook her head slowly. "No, I'm fine. It must have been nothing." Meekly, she followed him into the kitchen.

As soon as they had gone, Deyru Madelen emerged from his hiding place.

He was going to knock down that haughty Zafara down a few notches.

It wasn't that he particularly valued humility -- it was hardly a trait he cultivated in himself. But writing a negative review would certainly bring in the readers.

A positive piece on the mastermind behind Cuisine a la Garn would simply be echoing scores of other, lesser food critics. A scathing article, on the other hand, would attract attention. If he could give a good reason why the Zafara had rated so poorly, why then, he would be seen as opening the eyes of Neopians everywhere. Garn would be ruined, and Deyru Madelen would finally be viewed as Neopia's greatest food critic. No longer would he simply be half of the Madelen Brothers!

This time, his chilling smile did reach his eyes.

***

Hidden between the flowing fronds of kelp outside kelp, Divound Madelen watched as the Underwater Chef began the long swim to Mystery Island.

For too long the talent of the Flotsam had been overshadowed by that pompous Garn. What once had been the location for those seeking fine cuisine had fallen out of the public favour, and Divound intended to bring it back in.

If he could bring the Underwater Chef some positive publicity by having the Flotsam cater the Brothers' birthday party, and then write a glowing review, why then, the Underwater Chef's career would be saved, and Divound would be seen as having rediscovered a lost culinary treasure.

To write a mediocre review of kelp would be to echo countless other critics. He needed something new, something exciting, something that would cement his name, and his alone, as the greatest food critic in Neopia.

No longer would he simply be part of the Madelen Brothers. No, he would be Divound, and his brother would be left in obscurity.

He smirked, and then headed for home.

He had to tell his brother that he'd already arranged the catering for their little birthday bash, of course.

***

The two Madelen Brothers arrived home at exactly the same time, as fate would have it.

"Good afternoon, Divound," said Deyru.

"So nice to see you, Deyru," said Divound.

"You'll be pleased to know that I have already arranged for Cuisine a la Garn to provide food at our birthday party," said Deyru, his eyes glinting.

"Hm. That is unfortunate... you see, I, too, have made catering arrangements with the Underwater Chef," said Divound, coolly meeting his brother's eyes.

"Well, then," said Deyru, clapping his paws together. "It's clear that we'll just have to have two great chefs. Why don't we let our guests decide which of the two is superior?"

Divound nodded, his eyes never leaving his brothers'. "An excellent idea. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got my half of next week's article to start planning." He spun on his heel and headed up the stairs.

Deyru watched him as he left. So Divound had hired the Underwater Chef? He must be planning something, something that might ruin all of Deyru's plans.

Worse, to sabotage the Flotsam would be to harm Deyru's own scheme to see Garn publicly humiliated.

But wait...

It wasn't the Underwater Chef that he really had to sabotage, was it...

Author: cookybananas324
Date: Aug 5th
...no, it wasn't, because that would be much to simple.

He had to sabotage the party itself.

It would be a simple task of ruining the party, and making it look like it was Garn's fault. It wouldn't be much of a challenge, but it would be a bit harder that sabotaging the Underwater Chef.

After all, he did have a master saboteur on his side.

***

Divound sat at his desk, pondering how exactly to open the article. He needed something grabbing, something catchy. Something that would push Deyru out of the picture forever.

Divound could only imagine the fame and great fortune he would have to share without his brother. He would have all the Neopoints in the world and all the spotlight -- not just one half of it.

But it wouldn't be the article that would make the Underwater Chef so well-known, especially if he did not do better than Garn. All he needed was for Garn to fail, and he knew exactly how to do that.

He would have to sabotage the party itself...

***

Deyru knocked on the door. He was at a great friend's house -- one that could help him sabotage the party.

"Come in," a voice called from inside, and Deyru went in, rubbing his paws together with excitement.

"It's so nice to see you, Deyru," the figure greeted him, turning around...

Author: newmoon653
Date: Aug 5th
The sous chef smiled slyly, her Cybunny eyes crinkling in the corners.

"And you, my dear," Deyru said, taking off his hat and bowing low. "How is business at Cuisine a la Garn?" he asked knowingly, returning her smile.

"Busy," she answered scornfully. "But that shouldn't be for much longer. For months, I've been his apprentice and he still finds it irrelevant to know my name," she added hotly.

"There now, Sallia, your time will come."

"When you put a good word in for the editor-in-chief, right?" the sous chef asked.

"Yes yes," Deyru sighed impatiently, waving her eagerness aside. "You just fulfill your end of the bargain. I want Garn to be so humiliated, so depleted, so irrevocably denied by the public, that no one will eat so much as a fried scallop cooked by his hand, much less step foot in his restaurant."

Even the sous chef was chilled by the fervour the Xweetok showed.

"And what about your brother?" she asked.

***

"Don't worry about him," Divound answered, giving the Cybunny a dismissive wave. "Just stick to the plan."

"But," she interjected, "you both technically want the same thing... Garn in ruins and the Underwater Chef thrust back into the limelight."

Divound rolled his eyes. "You're forgetting. I can't possible have Neopia's sole attention if my brother goes and publishes his masterpiece, now can I? I need Garn to fail, yes. But it would be much more exciting if the Underwater Chef was losing, but managed to miraculously come back and win the competition by a hair. Yes, much more exciting," the Xweetok concluded, thinking to himself. "And best of all, my brother wouldn't have a story. Garn would experience public embarrassment, but the fickle citizens of Neopia would forgive him in due time, and the Underwater Chef will once again be the best."

Sallia sighed. "Sabotage Garn and help the Underwater Chef win. Got it. And you'll hold up your end of the bargain?"

"I'll tell my editor what a marvellous up-and-coming new food critic, you are, yes," Divound said impatiently.

***

Sallia sighed as she made her way back to Cuisine a la Garn, where she was instructed to be all hours of the day to help the chef prepare his recipes for the party. She had only managed to slip away by telling Garn that she had a bad case of Sneezles.

That lie was not as hard to spin as the reason why the chef's Ransaurus Steaks had been mutilated. It was bad enough she had to eat the bloody things (she cringed at the memory), but she had a hard time acting shocked and sympathetic for Garn afterward. But she was getting better at it... acting, that is.

She only had one more small errand to run before returning to the restaurant. She tapped lightly on the door of the Neohome before her.

The door opened, and a Uni answered, wearing a waitress outfit, the small name "kelp" embroidered on the front pocket. "How did it go?" she asked apprehensively. "The party's tomorrow after all."

The sous chef nodded, then added, "As planned. Finally, those chefs -- and those Xweetoks -- will get what's coming to them..."

Author: xx_neomania
Date: Aug 6th
***

It was the night of the birthday party.

Bright lights flashed through the air and music thrummed to a steady beat in the background as the most famous creatures to walk -- or fly -- in Neopia arrived. It was rumoured that even Queen Fyora had shown up, unable to resist the delicacies of the Chef Garn she had cried over, though it was also rumoured that Garn himself had spread that word around.

Guests milled about, sampling the Tchea and Voidberry juice that was being presented on silver trays and chatting with one another, showing off the accomplishments that each had amassed over the years.

The Zafara flipped his famous steaks in the air, grinning cheekily at the small crowd that had gathered before him. He could see King Skarl, drooling lavishly on the finely tended lawn he stood on, as well as pets who had more of a reputation for fine taste, such as the president of the PPL and the pirates from the Food Club.

The slice of Ransaurus practically glittered in the lights from the party, and flew beautifully through the night air before landing back in his pan, sizzling to perfection. His audience made noises of awe as he whipped himself back to facing his Virtupets oven and sprinkled some seasoning onto it. He was in his element, where nobody could threaten to overthrow him or take him from his throne. Not even that silly Underwater Chef, who was always dragging at his proverbial coattails.

Somebody tapped on his back.

Garn ignored it. After all, he couldn't leave his audience to hang, could he? He winked at them and plucked a bottle of his sauce -- made with his own special secret ingredients, of course -- and tossed it up to spin in the air before coming back down to his hand.

The tap came back, and Garn gave a suitable look of apology to his viewers before turning around and glaring at the tapping offender. It was his sous chef.

"Um, sir?" she asked, her ears twitching as she looked at around, not daring to meet his eyes. "I don't think you're going to like this."

"What?" snapped Garn.

"S-sir..." said the Cybunny. "Come with me..."

She grabbed his hand -- he would have to have a word with her about tugging him around later -- and pulled him away from his demonstration. He was extremely annoyed. His reputation was going to be gone in no time flat if she kept this up, so there was going to be no glowing recommendation for her for her next employers.

"Come this way," she said, bringing him past some of the many well-to-do Neopians running around the place. "He's over here."

"WHO is over here?" demanded the Zafara.

"You'll see," she said, before poking her head over a couple of bushes. She looked at him and pointed over the shrubs, releasing his arm. "He's right there."

Garn's heart froze as he looked.

"The Underwater Chef?"

***

The Flotsam jumped as he heard a startled exclamation from behind him. His assistant, the Uni waitress from kelp, paused as well, having just picked up a tray of his famous Fish Special.

"Garn?" asked the Underwater Chef. He was shocked, seeing the Zafara standing but a few feet from where he was standing, and then everything seemed to settle into place. "You're here to sabotage me, aren't you? Take away the little happiness that I have!"

"Me take down your happiness?" asked the other chef, his cheeks flushed. "You're the one who's messing my night up!"

"ME?"

"Wait!" said the Uni waitress. "Neither of you knew the other was going to be here?"

"NO!"

"Not at all!"

"Yet it seems like both of you guys were hired," mused the Cybunny sous chef.

"Are you guys thinking what we're thinking?"

"What are you guys talking about?" asked another voice, and all of the pets turned to look in one direction to see the Madelen brothers striding toward them.

"What's going on?" asked Deyru, looking at them both with a slight frown on his face. "Our two competitors aren't arguing, are they?"

"Competitors?" asked the Underwater Chef, repeating the obvious.

"We hired the both of you on purpose," lied Divound smoothly. "We thought it would be more exciting for the two of you to have a battle of... the stomach."

"Each of you have been given an ingredient that we would like you to use in preparing a meal for us tonight. After this, we will decide which is the better."

"We'll hire this chef alone for next year."

"And feature him in our article."

"Why didn't you tell us this?" demanded Garn, looking furiously at the two brothers. "I would've been preparing--"

"More than you already have been?"

"We will announce the contest in a few minutes, so go back to your stations, please," said Deyru, waving at them dismissively. The Xweetoks bumped into the sous chef and Uni waitress on their way out.

"Well, this is an interesting turn of events," stated the waitress.

"I'll say," said Garn, folding his arms grumpily. "No fair warning, even! But I shall not fear! I will win."

He was oblivious to the withering glare of the Underwater Chef.

"Well, we'd better get going," said the Flotsam, sighing. He looked at the Uni. "Madalyn?"

"Coming, sir."

"I'll see you after I've won, Chef," said Garn, his nose wrinkling as he said the last word. "I'll be -- wait. What's that?"

"What's what?"

"This," he said, picking up a piece of paper that had fallen to the ground. He frowned as he looked at it, and unfolded it. "It looks like an article... oh wow."

"What's wrong?" asked the sous chef.

"It's titled, 'The Downfall of Chef Garn'..."

Author: shadow_sabre_
Date: Aug 6th
Sallia feigned shock, as she gasped and peered at the piece of paper. "And look at the by-line. 'By Deyru Madelen'."

Garn growled deeply and screwed up the piece of paper. "This is an outrage," he screamed. Some of the guests turned around to look at the Zafara's fuming face, but just passed it off as culinary dramatics. "So that's their game."

"T-That isn't all," the sous chef muttered with a squeak.

"Well, what else could there possibly be?"

Sallia turned to the Underwater Chef. "I heard Divound Madelen telling Queen Fyora how he was going to sabotage your dish too," she lied. The Underwater Chef was a vain creature, and Sallia knew that the only way she could get him to turn on the Madelen brothers as well was to lie about their intentions. The Flotsam would never rebel otherwise, if he knew their article was to be about his triumph.

"Oh, the horror!" the chef exclaimed. "They think they can play me? I'm no fool."

The Uni waitress grinned from behind the Underwater Chef. "But why would they do such a thing?"

Garn stamped his foot. "Does it matter? If they're trying to ruin my career, then they must be stopped."

The Underwater Chef nodded in agreement. "So, what's say we play them at their own game?"

Garn raised an eyebrow. "What, so you can have the chance to ruin my restaurant as well? I have more sense than that."

The Zafara turned around and stormed back to the main party, followed by Sallia, Madalyn, and the Underwater Chef.

"Excuse me, Mr. Madelen?" Garn asked, walking up to Deyru Madelen, who turned around from talking to King Hagan.

"We're not quite ready for the competition to start yet, Garn. Please go back to your station."

Garn snorted. "Go back to my station? So that you can ruin my career, and sabotage my precious food?"

Everything apart from the blaring music had now ceased, and the guests all stood in shock, staring at the display in front of them.

Deyru simply laughed. "Garn, I don't know what you're talking about. I would never do such a thing."

"Well then, care to tell me what this is?" Garn threw the scrunched up critique-draft that he'd found on the floor at Deyru. "The review about tonight, in which you completely destroy my reputation."

For once, Deyru honestly had no idea what Garn was talking about. His review was still on his desk, and he hadn't even finished it yet. "Garn, you're creating a scene."

"Good," the Zafara replied simply. "Let everybody know what a fraud you are."

"What in Fyora's name is going on here?" Divound cried, as he came running over to the group.

The Underwater Chef frowned. "Well, you would know all about Fyora, wouldn't you?" he said, his voice laced with cynicism. "We heard you talking to her about your plans to sabotage my delicious meal."

Divound gasped. He wanted to tell them all that it was Garn who he was trying to sabotage and not the Underwater Chef, but he knew that that would ruin his reputation as a food critic anyway. "Queen Fyora isn't even here. She had a previous engagement."

"Another lie," the chef quipped. "Your articles and critiques were nothing more than engineered fakes."

"Wait a second," Deyru said, stepping in front of his brother. "You were trying to sabotage the Underwater Chef?"

"No!" Divound yelled. "I most certainly was not. But why were you attempting to sabotage Garn? To push me out of the picture, no doubt."

"How could you accuse me of that? You're the one trying to push me out."

With all the commotion, nobody noticed the Cybunny sous chef, grinning to herself at everything she had done. The party had been a complete success. Garn, the Madelen brothers, and the Underwater Chef would all be ruined.

***

Garn sighed as he sat in his cherished restaurant. It had been exactly three days since the embarrassment of the Madelen party, and he had suffered a terrible blow from it.

More often than not, Cuisine a la Garn was devoid of all customers. He was lucky to get ten in one day. He found himself cooking for Neopians less and less, and all because of those conniving critics. He was ruined. Nobody wanted to come to his restaurant anymore.

The Zafara sat at a table, the Neopian Times in front of him -- closed. It was the day for reviews, and Garn just couldn't bring himself to open the paper to see what had been written.

With a quick sigh, the chef pulled open the Times, turning pages as quickly as he could until he reached the food critic's page.

His eyes bulged as he looked down at the sheet of paper. There was no review from Divound or Deyru Madelen. Instead, another critique took its place. Garn read it with a frown.

'Madelen Mayhem, by Sallia Cathrite.

Fury was created at the annual Madelen birthday party this week, as reputations were ruined and careers were ended.

The pandemonium began when two of the finest chefs in Neopia were double-booked to cater at the star-studded party. Garn, from Cuisine a la Garn, and the Underwater Chef arrived, only to realise that they were both expected to cook for the guests.

Anarchy then began when it was revealed that the Madelen brothers -- former number one critics for the Neopian Times -- had engineered this to ruin the careers of both chefs, and gain spotlight for themselves.

Guests watched in horror as confrontations turned into arguments, and implications turned into accusations. While nobody really knows what happened, and who was plotting to ruin whom, one thing that is certain is the destruction of four careers.

While this newly appointed food critic didn't actually get to taste the food on offer, it is clear that Cuisine a la Garn is run by an uptight, rude, and arrogant chef whose food is no better. The Underwater Chef's creations were underwhelming and dull. Finally, the Madelen brothers were scheming and overrated. Rest assured that none of them will be on anyone's birthday list now.

One surprise, however, was Madalyn, the Uni waitress from kelp! Her calmness and elegance was just about the only positive thing from the evening. If you're looking for somebody who can deliver food to your table with ease and a smile on her face, she's the waitress for you.

Join me next week, when I'll be discussing Shenkuu's Exotic Foods store.'

Garn slammed the paper shut and banged his paw onto the table. "Just who is this Sallia, anyway?"

The End

Author: jayo289
Date: Aug 7th



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