A Merry Candychan Tale
Androcles had been buzzing with excitement for the past several weeks. Christmas was just around the corner, and he could not be more thrilled.
We had spent far too much time decorating our little spot in the Ice Caves in preparation for the big day. We couldn’t fit a tree up there, and nor could we carry one (although Androcles would disagree), so we had scrounged around the in the trash of the local shops until we found green-colored objects. We had piled them together just so, until they resembled a vaguely tree-like shape.
Then we spent the next three days decorating our “tree.” We found pieces of colored glass, dropped neopoints, ripped bits of wrapping paper from early Christmas presents, and other odds and ends, which we piled onto and around our green, triangular stack, and I must say the sight was picturesque. It was interesting and kooky. It fit us. If anyone was an odder couple of individuals than Androcles, a crazy Snow Candychan, and myself, the most adorable Chocolate Candychan, I wasn’t sure who those people could be.
Christmas was two days away, at this point, and Androcles was restless. The Snow Candychan paced back and forth while I concocted secret plans.
“What’s wrong?” I asked him finally, after his ho-humming made it clear that he wanted a bit of attention.
“You know what I was thinking?” he started off, while I mentally thought the rhetorical No. “I think we should throw a Christmas party.”
“Oh, well, that’s a neat idea,” I said cordially.
He grinned. “I just knew you’d think so! So I’ve already sent out the invitations and everyone’s said they’d come.”
“And the problem is...?”
“The Snowager won’t come,” Androcles said sadly. “Which is especially troubling. I wanted to have the party down by his stash. All the Neggs and everything. It would have been bright and cheerful.”
Knowing Androcles, the next question was obvious. “How are you going to get him to agree?” I asked.
He grinned at me and came closely to whisper the idea in my ear. If there was ever a time in my life that I could have been described as “pale,” this was it.
Smiling eagerly, he grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the entrance of our enclave. Apparently, I wasn’t going to be permitted a say in this decision.
We approached the Snowager, although I did so unwillingly, and Androcles shoved me forward, until I bumped lightly into him.
“Come on!” he called out in a rough whisper. “He won’t really take you up on it.”
Swallowing hard, I looked up at the Snowager, who was now peering at me with a gleam of interest.
“Um, good day, Mr. Snowager, sir,” I started nervously. “I don’t know if you know me, but...”
“I know you,” he said in his raspy voice. “You’re his,” he nodded toward Androcles, who was hiding, “sidekick.”
I put my palm on my face; even after all this time hanging around Androcles, I was only just getting used to the fact that no one would ever know my name.
“Yes, well, anyway, he’s a dear friend of mine, and he would just love to throw a holiday party. No nasty pets will be invited, so you don’t have to worry about that. The thing is he would just love for you to attend. And um...”
“Come on!” Androcles whispered loudly again. “It’s going to be fine.”
Easy enough for you to say.
“And um,” I started again, “I’m apparently willing to let you nibble on me, if you let us throw the party.” I held out an arm, closed my eyes, turned my head away and whispered, “Make it quick.”
An odd sound filled the Caves, at that moment. A sort of scratching, like an eerie wind. I opened my eyes and it occurred to me that the sound was the Snowager’s laugh.
He brought his head close to me, and asked, “The party means that much to you?”
“Apparently.” I blinked.
“Well, my little Chocolate Candychan, I’m not hungry right now.” He pulled away from me, and curled into a small circle on his pile of goodies. Closing his eyes, he sighed, “If it means that much to you, you can have it down here.”
I quickly retreated away from him, towards the safety of Androcles’s company, however safe that’s supposed to be, and we both called out and waved, “Thank you, Mr. Snowager.” He huffed in response, and we took that to mean, “You are lovely little Candychans who I’d never eat.”
I looked over at Androcles, and we both let out a sigh of relief, which quickly turned into laughter. “I told you nothing would happen!” he clapped me on the back. “Now, come on! We must make plans for the party.”
Androcles spent the next few hours begging Moon, the poor Negg Faerie, to let us have some “defective” Neggs, as he called them, as if that would be sure to charm her into assisting us. Moon was working at the time, trying to convert Neggs into tokens and selling Neggs, so Androcles knew he could bug her enough that she would give in just to make him go away. He’s good at knowing when to push buttons to get what he wants.
And it worked. She dug up some old, plain Neggs that she hadn’t colored yet and handed them over.
She was looking pretty irritated at the time, so I grabbed his hand, and hustled him out the door. Androcles called out cheerfully, “I hope you’ll come!” as he waved. Moon really is a kind spirit; she waved back and offered a smile. Apparently, she was used to Androcles’ antics.
We settled back in our spot and worked on decorating the Neggs. We used glue, which we had to take turns sitting on to keep it thawed, bits of colored foil, dead Christmas string lights, and other bits that we could get our hands on. Our Neggs were... creative, as the best way to describe it.
I had found an old discarded sweater, so we took it apart and used the thread to string together the Neggs. Snowager was sleeping at the time, so we took it down there and hung it up in the area around and above old Snowy. We wanted him to be able to enjoy our string of Neggs as well.
After all our hard work, we knew tomorrow’s party would be a good one.
For once, I think, I woke up early enough to actually be able to see the pretty colors a sunrise would make. It only lasted about five minutes, but it still counts.
Androcles was nowhere to be found, so I started in on making the food and drink. He was probably off looking for any early guests.
I started a fire, and did my best to make do with the limitations on cooking that I had. Typically, I just purchased any food, but this seemed as good as time as any to show off my culinary expertise.
I stuffed a turkey with grackle and roasted it over the fire. Off to the side, I wrapped up potatoes with tin foil and shoved them close to the fire, but sort of under the dirt. Finally, I made a quick casserole with green beans and onions, placed that in a dish and shoved that close to the fire. Now, it was just a matter of waiting.
After a little while of dozing and poking the fire with sticks, Androcles showed up. “The guests are arriving!” he exclaimed cheerfully.
“It’s almost all done.” I smiled back.
“Good. I got all the finger food and candy out already, but I’m sure they’ll be ready for some real food.” With that, Androcles kicked off and floated down toward the Snowager.
“Hey come back here!” I yelled after him. How was I supposed to carry all the food down without his help?
Sullenly, Androcles reappeared, tried his best to shuffle the food onto plates, and together, we carried it all down there.
I finally got a glimpse of all the people present. So many Candychans had come. Many of them were Island Candychans, from when we stopped to visit Jhuidah, but there were many others who I didn’t recognize. Rainbow Candychans chatted cheerfully with Pirates, and Mutants tried to spook Ghosts. I even spotted a quiet couple, a Grey and a Plushie, sitting off to the side, away from everyone else. I waved at them; they looked surprised but they waved back.
When Androcles said he invited everybody, he really meant it.
I grabbed Androcles, and together, we went over to the Negg Faerie and pulled her toward the center of the crowd, close to the Snowager. We danced like maniacs, even though there was no music, and laughed about how ridiculous we must look. Snowager was pretending to be sleeping, but his scratchy laugh was floating around us.
After a while, Moon was sweating, and waved away our attempts to keep her dancing. With a laugh, she said she needed to cool down, and floated off to go grab some punch.
Androcles and I took the moment to sit down, snuggly between the Snowager’s eyes.
“It’s a good party.” I smiled at him, and he nodded back contentedly. “So... I got you a little something-something.”
Androcles lifted an eyebrow and peered at me. I handed him a poorly wrapped box, as tape doesn’t want to stick at the temperatures on Terror Mountain, and offered him the biggest grin. Inside, he found a shiny keyhole-shaped object attached to keys as part of a necklace. I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to represent, but it was shiny. Androcles grinned and looped it around his head.
He didn’t say anything, but he gestured up to our spot. I followed him there, and he dragged out a large box. Taking off the lid, I peered inside. There was a creamy red pot with deep red hearts around it. A nice white ribbon was tied around it. “So you can cook more often,” he said softly, and smiled.
I grinned back, and I knew for sure that the real gift was what he didn’t say. He may be crazy, but he is my best friend. And he wanted me to know that.