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The Cookies That Wouldn't Crisp


by changethew0rld

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Nestled in a serene little village there lived a serene little bakery. Its siding was pink, its shutters were white, and a candy-decorated sign merrily proclaimed it the "Intellectual Bakery." Inside, Zhehi the Biscuit Ruki was happily preparing another batch of her popular iced cookies. The holidays were fast approaching, and the friendly Ruki knew that her business would pick up the closer it came to the Day of Giving.

     Zhehi was a skilled baker. She had two loves in her life--baking and reading--so she had merged them into one, opening her bakery/book store combination to the public several years prior. So far, she had achieved fantastic success and received instant popularity with her neighbors and the visitors to her little village.

     Zhehi smiled as she finished cutting her cookies into festive shapes, sliding a fresh sheet of cookies into her antique oven to bake. Her hands moved deftly, quickly icing a cooled batch of cookies and coating them in sprinkles. She arranged her finished cookies in small baskets, setting out a warm kettle of hot cocoa beside them. Her customers would appreciate these! Satisfied, she opened her shop for business for the day.

     Before long, curious customers began trickling in, stomping snow from their boots on the pink entry mat and calling greetings to Zhehi. After the Ruki passed around warm mugs of hot cocoa, her customers happily selected books and cookies to take home. Only a few hours after Zhehi had opened shop, her iced cookies were completely sold out--her best day of business yet!

     Just as a young Buzz was fluttering from the bakery with the last of the cookies, a rather disagreeable-looking dark faerie bustled inside. Upon seeing the empty cookie basket, she looked at Zhehi angrily and demanded, "Why are the cookies gone?"

     Zhehi was amazed; she had never had a faerie in her shop before! "I'm so sorry, ma'am," Zhehi said politely. "They sold out just before you came in. But if you'd like to wait a bit, I have a new batch baking that should be ready in just a few minutes..."

     The dark faerie cut her off with an impatient whisk of her hand. "I don't want to wait! You should always have cookies available for your customers; what a horrible store!"

     With a disdainful huff, the faerie whirled about and stalked from the bakery. Zhehi was devastated, for she had never had an upset customer before. Quietly she closed her shop and retreated to her oven, peering in at her cookies.

     Instead of the lightly-browned cookies she was expecting to see, her cookies were little more than limp white lumps of dough--as if they had never been cooked! Zhehi was shocked.

     "But this can't be... they've been cooking for a good twenty minutes now! They *have* to be done!"

     But much to her dismay, when she pulled the cookies from her oven and experimentally poked a claw in the center of one, her finger came away with a glob of uncooked dough.

     Much to her customers' confusion, Zhehi's shop did not open the following day, nor the next. Instead, Zhehi spent her days peering worriedly into her oven. It had not been a fluke; her cookies just weren't crisping, and with the Day of Giving just around the corner! She was able to bake cakes and pastries and muffins, but whenever she placed a sheet of cookies on the oven rack, they always came away limp and uncooked.

     How would she explain to her hopeful holiday customers that there would be no cookies this year? Sadly, the Ruki conceded defeat and gave up on her cookies, instead working twice as hard to make beautiful cakes and pastries. She would make such wonderful desserts that nobody would miss the cookies, she decided.

     Remembering the faerie that had been upset about missing her cookies, Zhehi prepared a special gift basket for her consisting of iced cinnamon buns, a small vanilla cake, and half a dozen chocolate-chip muffins. She set the basket aside, hoping the faerie would come back, and opened her shop to the public once more.

     Before long, excited customers arrived, but their excitement quickly turned to disappointed confusion when they learned Zhehi had not prepared any of her delicious cookies. Her other items were tasty, however, so the sad Neopets paid for their lonely cakes and donuts and vanished into the snow. Zhehi was about to close shop for the night, terribly missing her cookies, when the faerie from days prior pushed her way into her shop.

     The faerie glanced through the pastries for sale, but her eyes eventually landed on the empty cookie basket.

     "Why do you still have no cookies?! You would think you'd have learned your lesson!" She scowled at the Ruki.

     "I'm terribly sorry," Zhehi murmured, her eyes downcast. "No matter what I do, my cookies won't crisp. I tried so hard to make beautiful cookies for everyone, but I've failed."

     A sinister smile appeared on the dark faerie's face. "Good! Maybe now you'll be more careful about keeping your shelves stocked!"

     At once, Zhehi realized that her inability to bake had not been an accident, but was instead the doing of this strange faerie. She gasped and asked, "Have you put a spell on my cookies so that they won't bake anymore?"

     "I have," the faerie said. "I don't reward people who don't deserve it."

     Zhehi was hurt; she had prepared a special basket for this beautiful faerie, only to realize that she was the source of her troubles! She sighed, and reaching behind the counter, she lifted the festive gift basket and held it out to the dark faerie.

     "I'm sorry that you think I don't deserve anything, but I hope you'll accept this gift anyway. I put it together for you since you weren't able to get any cookies, and it would be a shame to let it go to waste..." She set the basket before the faerie and turned away to sadly begin cleaning up for the night.

     The faerie stared at the basket in amazement. She had put a cruel spell on the Ruki's cookies, yet Zhehi had gone to the trouble to prepare such a beautiful gift for her. She suddenly felt so very foolish...

     A short time later, Zhehi heard the door to her bakery quietly close, signaling that the faerie had left. Disappointed that she hadn't said anything before leaving, Zhehi emerged from the kitchen to close the shop. Her eyes widened and she came to an abrupt stop, looking around her bakery in disbelief.

     Every bin and basket in the store was filled to the brim with crisp cookies, just waiting to be iced. All the cakes and pastries that had sold out the previous day were back on the shelves, and the gift basket remained on the floor, this time with a small note attached to it. An astounded Zhehi pulled the note from the basket and read it:

     "I don't reward people who don't deserve it, but I bless those who do. May your cookies always crisp!"

     Overjoyed, Zhehi immediately set to work icing and decorating the abundance of cookies. When she opened shop the next morning, her cookies sold out in record time, and there wasn't one customer who minded the wait.

The End

 
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