The Annual Chocolate Ball: Only for the elite!
My nose was pressed anxiously against the glass of the front window of my Neopia Central home. I stared at the mailbox and the garden gate constantly, waiting for it to swing open, and let the Post Pteri in. I was sat in an uncomfortable position, on my tiptoes and craning my neck over the window sill. I heard a little hysterical giggle behind me, and I whipped round to see my little sister Ixvy behind me with a grin on her face. She was carrying a tray of crumpets (The Crumpetmonger’s speciality, no doubt) and a steaming cup of tea.
“Honestly, Lainora, I’ve never seen anybody so excited for the mail to come.” She laughed openly, setting the tray down on the small coffee table in my room. I could smell the crumpets, and my stomach rumbled greedily.
“Thanks,” I said, ignoring her jibe and helping myself to breakfast.
“No problem. So, what’s so great about this event, anyway?” She made a face. Jealousy was not an emotion Ixvy had to experience too often. Being the youngest on the family, she generally got what she want.
I stared at her, my mouth dropping open. “What’s so... What’s so great?!” I gabbled. “It’s the Annual Chocolate Ball!”
“So. You aren’t even a chocolate pet,” Ixvy pointed out, raising her little eyebrows and sticking out her pointy little tongue.
“Duh.” I rolled my eyes. She was right, of course. I wasn’t a chocolate pet, I was a Royal Kacheek. It was my Chocolate Best friend who had suggested I come to the ball. Her name was Scenses, and she loved the idea of a grand ball just as much as I did.
“It’s not just for chocolate pets,” I explained to Ix, repeating Scenses’ very words. “Once every year, the Annual Chocolate Ball is held in the Chocolate Factory. The guests are selected by the famous and mysterious Kiko who works there. He only invites the elite.” I paused for a moment to flick my hair behind my shoulder proudly.
“Well, all that sounds... great. But what’s actually there? Do you just sit there eating chocolate?” She gave a little giggle.
“No!” I said indignantly. “The hall changes its appearance each year. But last year, it was said to have the most beautiful marble chocolate floor, which had a kind of cold fridge-like layer underneath it all to stop it melting. Everyone was wearing the most lovely gowns and their food was all chocolaty, but not sickly, you know? And the chandelier was all candy, and the goody bags! Chocolate to last you a year!” I took a deep breath and smiled triumphantly at Ixvy.
“Pfft. Sounds way too good to be true. I wouldn’t want to be there anyway, it’ll only be a disappointment.” She turned on her heel and flounced out through the door.
I stuck my tongue out childishly behind her back, then turned back to my garden-watch.
Oh my! Oh my!
The Post Pteri had swung open the gate quietly, trying to remain unheard. He was carrying a whole bag full of Neomail under his wing. I ran from my window seat, into the hall, and pulled on the front door handle. The Pteri looked startled as I bolted down the garden path, only to stop in front of him and grin wildly.
After he had recovered, he smiled back warily. “You want this, I presume?” He pulled a thick, rich brown envelope off the top of his mail-pile and handed it to me with a grin.
“Y-yes. Thank you!” I squeaked, and took the envelope off him.
“Good day to you!” the Pteri said once, before taking flight to the next house.
My fingers trembled as I read the writing on the envelope. It was a deep gold, elegant script. The stamp was a 10NP Chocolate Factory Stamp. I flipped the envelope over, and gently peeled back the paper flap, to reveal the invitation inside. In the same gold script as on the front of the envelope, it read:
Dearest Miss Lainora,
Mr A. Mysterious Kiko requests your company at the Annual Chocolate Ball.
Regardless of whether you can attend or not, we ask for your reply before the 14th day of the Month of Gathering, for organisation purposes.
The Chocolate Team
Below that was an R.S.V.P. Once inside, I grabbed my nicest pen, and signed my name, along with an elegant ‘Yes’ as an answer to the question ‘Will you be attending the Annual Chocolate Ball on the 15th of the Month on Gathering?’.
Grinning to myself, I grabbed my jacket off the hook in the hall, and skipped excitedly out of the door. Scenses would be thrilled to hear I got my invite.
- - -
It was the 15th day of the Month of Gathering, and Scenses and I were walking up to the wondrous Chocolate Factory, wondering what it would hold inside (other than chocolate, of course).
I was wearing a gown of the finest light pink silk, flowing and perfect for dancing. My deep teal hair had been beautifully styled by Scenses, tied into intricate braids and then pulled up into an elegant knot on top of my head. On my feet were shoes of pink satin, with tiny bows in a pattern around the heel. Scenses had sprayed me with ample amounts of ‘Eau De Daisy’, insisting that it was a sweet fragrance, and not at all overwhelming. I’d let her play dress-up with me, because she had been to the ball before, and had learnt that extravagance would be applauded here.
Scenses had dressed elaborately herself, with a gown of a deeper pink, with expensive gold accessories. Her scent was as sweet as candy, and her chocolaty skin shone with radiance. She carried a delicate chocolate fan, which she has bought specially for the occasion.
She smiled at me encouragingly as we reached the large door of the Chocolate Factory. There was a large Skeith there, who reminded me instantly of the Skeith who guarded the Neopian Bank. His beady eyes narrowed in on us as we gave him our names. He let us through, with a firm nod and a large toothy grin.
“Very high security,” Scenses whispered in my ear. “You won’t find any party crashers at this event!”
As we walked through the grand oak doors, my weeks of dreaming and guessing about what was in this wonderland became a reality. Except this was so much better! My imagination was not broad enough to think up this fabulous sight.
The floor was a glistening chocolate piece of art, with different shades of the most delectable chocolate in Neopia. White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate and Plain Chocolate had been artfully melted and then re-frozen into the most gorgeous patterns and designs, just laid into the floor like an architect's dream.
I stared up at the large ceiling, which was stained-glass candy, to see so many different colours shining down onto the ballroom floor. The music was soft, elegant, relaxing and made me feel like... eating chocolate. Which was good, as a waiter was walking past at that very moment, with a tray full of glorious treats like Chocolate Covered Toffee and bags of Chocolate Covered Peanuts. I grabbed a handful of each, thanking the waiter. Scenses laughed merrily at my greediness, and grabbed two flutes of chocolate milk from another passing tray. I took one gladly, and happily took a large gulp. It tasted creamy and frothy and was delightfully ice-cold. We met up with Jequl, Scenses’ Chocolate Usul brother. He looked dashing in different shades of rich purple. His suit was a fine velvet, with real silver trimmings. His accessories were as elaborate as mine, though they were a stunningly bright silver.
Jequl offered his arm to me for the first dance. I took it as we walked to the grand floor. Twirling across the ballroom, I felt like the luckiest Neopet alive. Come to think of it... I was quite lucky to be invited to such a fabulous occasion, wasn’t I? And... well... I wasn’t too nice to Ixvy that day when I received my invite. In fact, I was rather smug towards her. She did not deserve that. She was only showing a deep interest in my happiness, after all.
I abruptly stopped dancing, and giving my apologies to Jequl, I scanned the room for Scenses. She was dancing with a happy looking Royal Blumaroo. When I approached them, he bid us farewell, and left me free to talk to her.
“Scenses...” I enquired casually. “They don’t let you... take stuff from here, do they?”
“What do you mean?” she asked, her face wrinkling in confusion. She turned to take a glass of chocolate milk off a passing waiter.
“Like, chocolate, take some home...?” I felt embarrassed at my words, not wanting to sound cheap.
Scenses burst out into a tiny stream of girly giggles, before saying: “Of course! What fun would the Chocolate Ball be without its freebies?”
“Right. I just figured Ixvy would like some chocolate, too.”
The night drew to an end, and as the last song drifted to a close, the dance floor began to clear. The chocolate floor was left looking as stunning as it was at the beginning of the night.
Scenses and I had already donned our fine coats and stepped out into the crispy cold night. I had several fancy goodie bags hooked over my arm. They were made of a rich brown paper, that reminded me of the invitation I had received. The delicious chocolate treats inside were wrapped in a luxurious golden foil. I breathed deeply and grinned hugely. Tonight was not just about me, it was about making people happy. Mr A. Mysterious Kiko had made so many people happy tonight, simply by inviting them. Now, I could share the joy and let my little sister in on the chocolate dream.
I creaked my front door open as silently as I could, and gently shut it behind me. I was in later than usual, and feared I would wake up my family. When I turned around, however, I found Ixvy curled up on the large armchair in the hallway. She was in her fluffy purple dressing gown, in a gentle sleep.
“Ix... Ixvy. You can’t sleep here, honey,” I murmured to her quietly. I scooped her up in my arms, trying not to rattle her. Before I could even take a step, however, she jolted awake.
“Whoa, Ixvy! Don’t startle me like that,” I hissed, annoyed.
“You’re the one spoiling my beauty sleep, I have a right to tell Mom... Hey, what’s that?!” She was totally distracted as her eye caught the glimmering gold foil from within the goody bag, that still hung over my arm.
“It’s for you,” I grinned wickedly. “If you promise not to tell Mom how late I was in.”
“Yes yes yes! Just gimme! Gimme!” she whispered eagerly. I handed her the fancy bag.
As she rifled through its contents, her face lit up. She stopped suddenly and reached up to wrap her arms around my waist, and pull me into a tight hug. She looked up at me gratefully.
“Thanks so much, Lainora! You’ve made my day!” Her little cheeky grin made me hug her back tightly. I cared for my little sister.
“That was the plan, honey.”
Thanks to bregger123 for letting me use Scenses and Jequl as characters! Thanks TNT for publishing me! :)