|The Chocolate Factory doors opened to reavel an amazing array of perfectly placed decorations.
Paul the Skeith gasped as he gracefully walked through the factory doors. This was his first time attending the ball, therefore he was a little nervous.
Paul made his way into the grand hall, following many excited Neopets, this was when he noticed a shady character lurking near one of the dessert tables.
As the music started a crowd of Neopets started to gather on the dance floor, blocking the Skeith's view.
As Paul weaved in and out of puffy fabric hurdles he heard a voice shout from the crowd.
"The Kiko shopkeeper has been kidnapped."
The Skeith scouted out the voice, to see it belonged to...
Date: Sep 19th
...the Mystery Island Kitchen Chef, the Flotsam renowned for his meticulous recipes and elite clientele. The Kiko shopkeeper recruited him for the Chocolate Ball to make this year's event more high-profile than the last, but now the attention at the ball was directed at something more sinister than anticipated.
"The Kiko shopkeeper has been kidnapped," he continued, "and this was the ransom note left behind." The loud murmurs among the crowd hushed to a nervous silence as the Chef Flotsam passed around the message left behind on crumbled baking paper. Paul the Skeith brushed by members in the crowd and made his way to see the note. The ransom note was a rushed scrawl in childish handwriting that read:
We have the owner of the Ball.
You have five hours to not stall
And empty the Factory's funds tonight
Or he remains with us, out of sight.
Leave the Neopoints at the Kadoatery
By morning light and he'll be free.
As the content of the note made its way around the Ball guests, the whispers grew to nervous chatter to panicked uproar. The Chef quieted the crowd once again, his booming voice echoing off the walls intricately sculpted from dark chocolate, "Did anyone see anything suspicious?"
"Yes," Paul found himself responding automatically, "I saw someone."
The crowd oriented toward him, eyes wide like candy drops. The Chef pleaded, "Please, tell us, what did they look like?"...
Date: Sep 20th
Paul felt himself start to sweat at all the attention on him, and he started to wonder if it was such a good idea to speak up, but then the Chef pleaded once more, "Please! We must find him before it's too late!"
Steeling his nerves, Paul admitted, "Well, right before I entered, I remember seeing this shadow near the trees. It was really dark but I think I saw wings.."
"A winged neopet.." The Chef repeated thoughtfully, "Well, that narrows it down, but not enough.. Do you remember anything else?"
Paul frowned, trying his hardest to think about it. Suddenly, he spoke, "Ah! There is something else..."
Date: Sep 21st
..this figure was very tall, taller than a normal neopet. And it looked like the figure was wearing a dress and a cloak." Paul replied.
"Tall with a dress, like a faerie?" Shrieked a nearby Ixi. "Why would a faerie capture the shopkeeper?"
The Chef pondered for a moment then spoke slowly. "I think we are in great danger. There is only one faerie in all of Neopia who matches that description and hates chocolate enough to wish to run the ball."
Paul Gasped. "You don't mean.."
"Shh." The Chef hushed Paul before he could finish his thought. "We cannot talk here, we don't want to ensue panic on the other guests. Follow me."
Paul followed The Chef through a door and down a long corridor. The Chef stopped midway down the hallway and pulled Paul into an open doorway.
"It wasn't safe to speak there, she may have been listening." The Chef said in a hushed tone.
"What do we do?" Questioned Paul.
"I have an idea." The Chef said, "But it is very dangerous. Will you help me?"
Date: Sep 21st
Paul gulped as he felt a shiver run down his back. Taking a deep breath, he slowly nodded yes.
The Chef gave him a small smile of approval. "Good, now here's what we need to do..."
Paul gasped, shocked by the Chef's words. "There's no way we can--"
"Are you going to back out now?" the Flotsam asked while staring deep into Paul's eyes.
"I--I can't po--"
"Look, that Kiko. We've never told each other names, but he's one of my very good friends. There's no way I can possibly give up on him. If you can't help me, then I'll have to do this alone."
Tightening his hands into fists, Paul blurted out, "No, please let me help! I...I let fear get the best of me."
"Alright, then let's begin the preparations..."
Paul huffed and puffed as he ran from the basement storage to the kitchen, carrying a jumble of assorted items and ingredients. Meanwhile, the Chef was in a frenzy in the kitchen, handling a multitude of pots and pans; sweat poured down his face from the all the steam and smoke in the kitchen.
After carefully placing down a bucket of chocolate and a carton of eggs, Paul turned once more to the Flotsam Chef and asked, "I think that's all you asked me to bring from the storage. What should I do next?"
Without turning around, the Chef shouted back, "All that's left is that one last thing from Space Station. There won't be any rocket ships that'll be going there right now, but my friend is waiting near the entrance of the hall. Talk to her; she's the only way you'll be able to get there and back before dawn tomorrow with the Gormb--"
Paul nodded hurriedly before the Chef and finished his sentence and ran back up the stairs. As soon as he reached the first floor, he spotted a small figure leaning against one of the pillars near the entrance. Walking up to her, the Skeith asked, "Are you the one who'll be taking me to Space Station?"
The rather short Usul raised an eyebrow and popped the bubblegum bubble she had been blowing up before replying...
Date: Sep 22nd
..."I did you one better," the striped Usul replied in a chipper voice. She handed Paul a box with a perfectly round, bright blue Gormball inside. Paul looked from the box to the Usul and back again. How had she managed to acquire it so quickly? Then again, she did look a bit familiar...
"Being an annual participant in the Gormball Tournament has its perks," the Usul explained. "One of those perks is that I can get Gormballs sent to me for practice at pretty much a snap of my fingers."
"You're Ursula!" Paul exclaimed. "Oh my gosh, I'm such a big fan! Could I maybe get your autograph?"
Ursula nodded at the box. "I'd be happy to hook you up, but you should probably get that back to the Chef. Clock's a ticking after all," she pointed out. "But be careful with that. Gormballs are notorious for bursting at the slightest provocation, and I won't be able to get another one quickly."
"I understand," Paul said hurriedly as he began to back his way down the hall toward the kitchen where the Chef awaited. "Thank you! I'll get this to the Chef right away!" And he turned, box in hand, and began to dash to the kitchens...
Date: Sep 25th
Paul entered the kitchen and ran over to The Chef. "I have the Gormball," he said in a hushed tone.
"Perfect," replied The Chef. "Now listen close to the next part of my plan."
Paul leaned close to The Chef.
"Once I drop this Gormball into this giant pot, it will explode." Said The Chef. "The explosion will cause mass panic in all of the guests. This is a good thing, the panic should please The Kidnapper. She will thrive off of the panic and show up just to watch it all unfold and laugh about it as it happens. When she shows up I need you to keep your eye on her and follow her. We need to find The Shopkeeper and rescue him."
Paul exhaled, he had been holding his breath. He knew how dangerous this plan was. "Okay," he squeaked.
"Hurry and get back to the guests." The Chef said as he opened the box containing the Gormball.
Paul looked around at all of the guests laughing and smiling. When suddenly a loud BOOM echoed in the whole room as everything trembled. Screams erupted from all of the guests.
"What was that?" Shrieked an Ixi.
"I don't know," yelled Paul, "but we better evacuate."
The crowd made its way to the doors leading out of The Chocolate Factory. Paul followed the crowd, scanning it as he walked. When he was almost at the doors Paul locked eyes with the cloaked figure from earlier...
Date: Sep 25th
Now's the chance! Paul thought to himself. He slowed down his pace, dawdling near the exit as he waited for the figure to make the next move.
Soon enough, the figure made her way out with the rest of the guests. It was fairly easy for Paul to trail her because of her tall stature. He followed behind at a safe distance, all the while trying to blend in and keeping his head low to avoid being suspected.
It wasn't long before Paul saw the figure walk through the doors to some sort of warehouse. The Skeith slipped through just in time before the door closed with a bang. Quickly, he found a hiding spot behind a tall stack of boxes.
"Looks like your refined little party got disrupted," the figure scorned as she lowered her hood; it was indeed none other than Jhudora, "and it's not even my work to boot!" Paul then heard the sound of fingers snapping twice. Curious, he extended his head a little to the side and took a peek.
Right in front of where Jhudora stood was the Kiko shopkeeper, somewhat unharmed. He watched the Kiko get up from the floor and dust himself.
"You're happy now, aren't you? All my chocolate goodness has gone to waste!"
"Oh yes! My plan is a success! See you next year!" One moment, the dark Faerie was cackling and the next, she was gone in a puff of purple smoke.
"Hey, let's get back to the factory," Paul said as he revealed himself to the shopkeeper, startling him.
"There's no point in returning," the Kiko mumbled dejectedly. "Might as well just cancel this year's Ball."
"Nothing was destroyed actually," the Skeith explained. "You see, the Chef and I planned to create havoc amongst the guests in order to trick Jhudora into believing that the Ball had been sabotaged. In actuality, all we did was pop a Gormball to scare everyone. I'm sure that the Chef had already gathered all the guests and told them about the whole situation."
Instantly, the Kiko's face brightened up. "Then what are we waiting for? Let the Chocolate Ball commence!"
After that, the Ball went on smoothly and became a hot topic among all the guests for the rest of the year.
Date: Sep 25th