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Of Kelp and Health


by evanescent_pudding

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KELP: 50,000 miles under the sea, north of the Maraquan ruins and amongst the buildings of New Maraqua, there is a glamorous, luxurious first class restaurant, easily outstripping the Golden Dubloon tavern: KELP. Given 5+ stars by the INRA (International Neopian Restaurants Association), Kelp was first established in Year 7, re-opening after nearly a five year absence when old Maraqua was destroyed. When the news spread that Kelp had thrown its kitchen doors wide open once more, Neopians from Terror Mountain and the Lost Desert were making their way to New Maraqua to try its excellent cuisine once more, though I think they might've just gone for the novelty...

     However, for two Neopet owners, this was a different case. Just struggling to make a living in the world and to feed their Neopets, Czenko and Abrax had only just heard a whisper sweeping over the desolate part of Tyrannia where they worked. Intrigued by this, they put together their savings for an entire week, rented out some tuxedos from the Clothing shop, and went down to New Maraqua. It wasn't hard to find Kelp; there was a gigantic sign over the roof that was above all the other rooftops and it was easily the most elaborate and colourful building built.

     Walking (or swimming, rather) to its entrance, they met the reedy Maraquan Scorchio and said, 'We're with the Neopian Health Committee. We've come to inspect your establishment here,' in their most polite, non-Tyrannian voices possible.

     The Scorchio peered down his gigantic list of reservations, and finally seemed to stop at a small note scrawled on the very edge of the paper, as if it was a recent addition.

     He said, in a sophisticated tone, 'Yes, we do seem to be having a Health inspection...' - Czenko and Abraxs' breathing eased - '...but not until next year!'

     Flabbergasted and trying to keep their cool, they quickly tried to think of a plan, but the Scorchio had a smug look on his face, as if he knew why they were really there. 'I'll save you the trouble of answering yourselves, then,' he said, in a tone that a cop would use if they managed to find a culprit and were interrogating them with success, 'You're surprising us by coming about 346 days earlier!'

     Feeling overly relieved, they agreed to this, and the Scorchio said, 'Very well,' while chuckling and holding open the entrance for them. 'Your table's over there in the corner, number 13...'

     But neither owner took much notice of this, because only one thought was in their minds: 'We're in!'

     ***

     My partner and I walked into the room with caution. We had never been in a place like this before, and we expected that the place would be decorated beautifully with not a thing out of place. Both of us were staring at all of the paintings, flowers, and tables. Each table was flawlessly carved into a work of art. Maraquan pets were carved into the legs, and they all seemed like they would jump right out of the wood. The fine silk tablecloth only added on to the luxurious table.

     'This is your seat,' the waiter Scorchio said. I snapped back into my senses for the most part. Abrax and the waiter were a few tables ahead of me. I swam quickly to my table, but I happened to stumble over a chair. I did some front-flips and flew through the restaurant, upsetting my empty stomach. A Maraquan Aisha screamed as the chair hit her.

     Abrax caught me in the middle of my fourth front flip. 'Czenko, what do you think you're doing?' he whispered into my ear.

     I shook my head. "Nothing's wrong, I'm just being a little spacey."

     The waiter handed us our menus. 'Ha! We don't need menus silly! Those are only for dorks,' Abrax said unexpectedly.

     'Yes, we need to sample every food you have. Start with the best. I'm waiting,' I grabbed my fork and knife in my fists and pounded the table to show that I was impatient.

     Abrax stared at me in shock. The waiter was walking away with scribbles on his notebook. Then he looked back and said, 'Would you like water with that, sir and ma'am?'

     'Please," Abrax replied. He put on a fake but polite smile at the waiter as he walked away. He then turned back and said to me, 'Czenko, what are you doing.'

     I smiled, quite proud of myself. I thought the way I acted worked perfectly for the restaurant. 'You have to show the waiter who's boss, and that we want our food quickly.' My stomach growled as I said those words. 'I didn't eat anything all day for no reason.'

     'But he's a waiter! He waits on us anyway.'

     I smirked and leaned back in my chair.

     ***

     The Scorchio wafted through the restaurant, twisting through the small amount of space between the tables as nimbly as a Mootix. When he reached the kitchen doors, they opened on their own and he went inside. The kitchen was a gigantic room made out of sparkling, white coral. Long counters streamed from the other side of the room and only ended about ten or fifteen feet away from the doors. Dozens and dozens of Maraquan Chefs of all species were working away as if they were about to feed a dozen Turmacaluses and a Mumbo Pango in the next hour. At the very back was the boiler, a gigantic cube of coal-black inflammable coral. Inside it was a gigantic waterproof fire, tended to with the essence of Maractite, which was created when newly found Maractite had not been used and ended up expiring. Every now and again, a chef near the end of the counter would take a shovel, scoop some of the aqua-coloured rock into the boiler that powered the Maractite lamps, stoves, and other Maractite items at the restaurant, and continue back towards their cooking.

     The Scorchio waiter ripped the Health Inspector's order into six separate pieces and placed each one on a rack above the counter. The notes on the rack told the chefs what to make, and since these were a special order they were placed with higher priority amongst the other various orders. The chefs realized that they had their work cut out for them with just one look at the paper. Each counter specialized in a different course: appetizers, drinks, soups, the main course, desserts, and salads. They already knew that this was going to be one of the biggest orders they would ever have.

     The appetizer chefs looked up on the red sheet of paper on the rack. 'Yolk beans?' a chef said from near the end of the counter. 'Those are usually main courses!'

     'Yes, they are,' said the waiter. 'But this is an important order, so just work with them!'

     The same thing also happened with the other counters: Coral Reef Salad, Chocolate Cream Shells, Boiled Maraquan Gumbo, a jug of Krakuberry Juice, and their best Spaghetti Soup would take all of their energy and efforts into perfecting, but the Scorchio Waiter insisted that they make haste and cook them as fast as they could.

     As the chefs took out their ingredients grumbling, the Scorchio waiter caught up with the Head Chef who was patrolling the counters. 'We may have a problem with these health inspectors…'

     ***

     Abrax and I sat at our table. I was rather impatient. My stomach was empty and it was just dying for something to run down my throat.

     'So, how do you think the food will taste?' Abrax said, trying to make a conversation during the wait.

     At first I wanted to tell him that I was just hungry, but I didn't. 'There has to be some flaw in this restaurant… maybe the food?' I looked around at the other tables, starting to drool at the sight of just a small amount of sauce on a plate being dined upon by a strict-looking Maraquan Kau.

     'I don't know about that, Czenko. This place looks better then I have ever dreamed. It's too good to be true. I think the flaw is the price. Why would somebody come here to pay all of that money?' Abrax said.

     I looked at a diamond necklace a Maraquan Krawk was wearing. 'These Neopians are rich. They don't care how much money they spend.'

     'You have a point," Abrax said back. He began to stare at the kitchen door. I realized I wasn't the only one that was hungry. 'Why don't we play some kind of game while we're waiting,' he said, snapping out of a trance. 'You know, to get us off of the idea of food.'

     'A game sounds like fun,' I replied, 'But what?'

     For a few seconds there was no reply between the two of us.

     'How about Rock, Paper, Scissors?' Abrax suggested.

     'That's perfect!' I jumped.

     We played three rounds. The first two rounds were both ties, with Abrax finally beating me in the third round with paper.

     ***

     'The drinks are served!' said a waiter, approaching their table after the third round, and just in time too: Czenko had developed a malevolent look of venom.

     Czenko was relieved. Taking one, she said, 'Great, I'm parched,' and tipped the Krakuberry Punch over, so that it looked like she had accidentally spilt it over Abrax.

     'Oh, I'm so terribly sorry Abrax!' Czenko said in her fakest tones of politeness. 'Waiter, could you bring me some more juice?'

     'You meant to do that!' Abrax silently snarled, cleaning up the spilt juice from his suit.

     Czenko only grinned and sat down, and once again began waiting for the appetizers to come. With the drinks the waiters had also brought two small bowls of what appeared to be soup. Taking a spoon, she dipped it into the water and brought it to her mouth.

     'Lemony,' Czenko said, rather dreamily. 'What, did you see a ghost or something?' she responded at Abrax's look of shock.

     'That's the fingerbowl!' he said in a hoarse whisper, taking his fingers and dipping them into the water.

     'Oh, right... aheh...' Czenko said, blushing. Cleaning her own, the waiter soon returned with a gigantic platter of yellow shapes with brown in the center.

     'The appetizers have been served,' said the waiter, bowing and returning to the kitchen.

     'Wonderful!' Czenko said, and reached, with her bare hands, towards the Yolk Beans. Before she managed to even touch one, Abrax slapped her hand, and she withdrew it with shock. 'What? I'm HUNGRY!!!' she snapped in anger.

     'Use a spoon to get it on to your plate first!' Abrax hissed back, nervously waving to the Maraquan Kau, who was giving them enquiring looks.

     Czenko looked down at her forks, spoons, and knives. There appeared to be at least a dozen of each, and none of them were labeled. Taking a wild guess, she took a spoon and scooped three of the appetizers from the platter and placed it on her plate. Picking a fork and knife at random, she cut it into many little pieces, but she pressed down with her knife too forcefully; her Yolk Beans, which had been cut into fragments, were flung into the air, and before she or Abrax could stop them they had landed, with a loud SPLAT, on the side of the Maraquan Kau's head.

     'How DARE YOU!' she cried, getting up from the table. The entire restaurant had gone quiet. The Kau, taking no notice, continued. 'I am ALLERGIC to eggs! If I come down with Neopox or the NeoFlu, YOU'RE going to be paying for the medicine, and I assure you that whatever disease I catch, I'm not going to make it cheap for you!'

     She stormed out, the Yolk Bean pieces falling, one by one, off the side of her head and on to the floor. When she was half-way across the room she slipped over the last piece of appetizer, causing her to literally slide out of the restaurant, demolishing tables and spilling plates of food in her trail.

     After she had left, an unnatural hush fell over the restaurant. However, two seconds later, the noise level rose up again, and the angry Scorchio waiter approached their table.

     'Well, she didn't sprout out in rashes, so I know your appetizers are healthy... hehe...' Czenko said nervously, spooning more Yolk Beans on to her plate and knocking over her Krakuberry Juice with her elbow just when the waiter had left their table.

     ***

     I waved my hands frantically in the air. 'Waiter! Waiter!' I called out to the Scorchio, yelling above all of the people so he could hear me. Krakuberry Juice was soaking into my dress, leaving a huge, red stain.

     Before I could shout anything more to the waiter, Abrax clapped his hand over my mouth. 'What do you think you're doing?' he whispered in embarrassment. I could see him glowing red like the Krakuberry Juice. I didn't answer Abrax's silly question: he knew the answer already.

     After an annoyed growl from the waiter, he showed up at the table. "Sorry waiter, but the Krakuberry Juice spilled everywhere. We are sure to get disgusting stains from your juice.' I said in a rather cheeky tone.

     'Hurry, grab us some napkins,' Abrax ordered, getting to the point. He grabbed the napkin on his lap, and began quickly mopping up the delicious juice.

     'To think of all of the perfectly good juice, ruined,' I said to myself. Thinking quickly, I began sucking up the juice off of the table. 'Even though it's spilled all over the table, it still tastes pretty good!'

     The waiter appeared in a few minutes with two large handfuls of napkins. We each grabbed some and started wiping the juice away. We actually almost managed to get it all out.

     'I'm so sorry about this, waiter. Our inspections aren't normally like this,' Abrax told the waiter, now redder than ever.

     'Waiter,' I spoke up, 'I think I'm ready for the next course. After what happened to the Kau, I feel myself getting sick from the food. Something else would be better, much better.' The Scorchio left after a quick bow.

     Abrax took another bite of the appetizers. 'You know, you're not a very good health inspector.' After chewing and swallowing, he then added, 'And what's wrong with this food? It's delicious.'

     I stared at Abrax, and then at my soggy meal. It wasn't soggy until the juice had spilled. 'I have my reasons, Abrax. You know, you're not the best health inspector either, but at least we get a meal out of it.'

     'Newsflash Czenko, we're not-'

     I gasped, covering Abrax's mouth before another sound could come out of his mouth. "How dare you try to lie in front of all of these people," I covered for him.

     ***

     The waiters soon arrived with the Coral Reef Salad, which went by almost smoothly if bits of coral hadn't fallen on to Czenko's silk dress and simply refused to come off, making it look like little bits of dandruff had fallen from her somewhat elegant hair which was tied in a bun and threatening to come loose at almost any second. The homemade Spaghetti Soup also came and went; they received furtive looks from pets near their table because Abrax was using his salad spoon and Czenko a plastic spork from her handbag.

     Finally, the main course arrived: their famous Maraquan Gumbo, a lavishing amount of sweet and sour sauce placed on the most delicious tentacles in all the fine seas, with a healthy helping of sausages and beans underneath.

     'Bon appetit!' said the Maraquan Uni that served them their dish, and with a bow she went away.

     'This looks great!' said Czenko, and before Abrax could stop her she had dived right inside the bowl and began eating at lightning speed, creating a disgusting sound like a plunger that had gotten stuck in a sink and the water underneath had began gurgling.

     Several Neopets from nearby tables had put down their forks, spoons, and knives and had gotten up and left, so that many bills and boxes had to be given to them at lightning speed by extremely tired waiters. Luckily, none of them saw Abrax rush over to the side of the table and pull his 'fellow health inspector' out of the gumbo, as she had been eating like a starving pet that had just been rescued from the pound.

     'Remember your proper etiquette!' he hissed, picking up his soup spoon to scoop up some of the gumbo that Czenko hadn't eaten on to his plate and started eating with his pie knife and steak fork.

     'Sorry,' Czenko said, and not bothering to wipe the brown sauce that was all over her mouth, she took a fork, pulled the entire bowl towards her, and started to eat directly from it.

     'No, no, NO!!!' said Abrax, and ignoring the stares of his fellow consumers he took back the bowl and hissed to Czenko, 'Spoon it on to your plate first!'

     'Oooh... right!' said the nervous owner, taking a spoon and poking at the Gumbo. However, once again she used far too much force, and the entire bowl flew into the air and shot straight above the other Neopets in the restaurant, leaving a trail of sausages, beans, and sauce as it flew through the air. It went through the kitchen door, and by the loud screams, shouts, and clatters of pots coming from it, they guessed that it had caused quite a commotion to the chefs and waiters receiving, making, and dumping food.

     Suddenly, the maractite lamps near the ceiling flickered and went out.

     ***

     All of the consumers in the restaurant groped around in the darkness; multiple screams and clattering-noises filled the air. Finally, after quite some time, the lights flickered and came back to life, revealing a scene of utter chaos.

     Many wigs on multiple classy Neopets were askew, hundreds of shattered plates, utensils, and food littered the floor so that it looked like a swamp, and several tables were overturned. All of those horrific things didn't even come close to the trouble which we had gotten in that was waiting at the opened double-doors of the restaurant.

     There, standing in extremely expensive black suits with horrified but haughty expressions on their faces, stood a Kacheek and a Jetsam.

     The REAL health inspectors.

     Many eyes darted from our ratty appearances to their superior ones. The soft music stopped, along with all kind of sound: I could've sworn that the water had even stopped moving.

     Slowly, the doors to the Kitchen opened, and an entire army of waiters and chefs came out, with the Maraquan Scorchio waiter leading them on. I knew what was going to happen, and resisted the urge to innocently ask, 'Can we at least have a box as we're obviously going to have to take home the Chocolate Cream Shells.'

     'Out!' he roared, sending life back into the restaurant when he came within reach of our table. 'I said, OUT!'

     We were ambushed: two waiters hooked their paws under our armpits and, with a supernatural force, booted us out the doors, shooting past directly above the health inspectors. Behind, I could hear the Scorchio waiter say, in extremely flaccid tones, 'Welcome to our restaurant...'

     Abrax and I emerged about a quarter of an hour later from the ocean: we were on the shores of Tyrannia. Helping each other up, the two owners stood at the edge of the Jungle, looking towards the sea.

     'Well, you gotta admit,' I said, starting to grin. 'That was one heck of a dinner!'

The End

 
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