Chet Flash wuz here Circulation: 192,783,880 Issue: 662 | 12th day of Gathering, Y16
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Xocolataphobia


by iljanmw

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Also by totalvideogamefreak

Counting down to the most hippity hoppity celebration of the year, Neopian parents and their babies are looking forward to the Annual Chocolate Ball, which will be held on the fifteenth day of gathering, Y16. This is usually a time of great merriment. Pink party balloons are hung on the mailboxes of each Neohome. The Money Tree is decorated with piles of confetti. And even Snarkie has been spotted wearing an Autumn Wool Coat while skipping down the street. Why then is Candice the Chocolate Cybunny packing her suitcase in haste, hoping to catch the next passenger boat to Terror Mountain? She is afraid of being accidentally mistaken for a Large Milk Chocolate Cybunny and placed in a basket. The last thing she wants is to become dessert, especially with so many hungry children eagerly anticipating the amount of sugary goodness they will be consuming on this festive day. So she dons her Ancient Warrior Helmet, Armour and Gauntlets before picking up her shield and locking up her clothes boutique in the Neopian Marketplace. For the next twenty-four hours, this Cybunny intends on taking the necessary precautions for her own survival by fending off greedy paws and battling her way to an isolated cavern, far away from the frantic excitement plaguing the city.

     Upon descending on the frosty terrain, Candice hesitates. It's so desolate with only the bitter wind for company. As far as she can see, none of the tourist attractions or shops are open. The Advent Calendar has been abandoned until the Month of Celebrating. The ice rink is cracked, needing to be resurfaced. The ice cream cart has been overturned. Even the Wintery Petpets are quiet, probably huddling together to stay warm.

     "My oh my," Candice thinks quietly. "What have I gotten myself into?" While reviewing the sequence of events that has led to her quick departure from Neopia Central, this Cybunny slowly makes her way through snow banks and falling icicles. She half-expects to run into the Scratchcard Kiosk Wocky, but it slowly dawns on her that he must be one of the stars in the parade, handing out free prizes to those wearing the most stylish hats and fashion forward apparel.

     "At least nobody will find me here," Candice affirms as she surveys the landscape once more, spotting the empty Slushie Shop and the inactive Ice Cream Machine. "It is a good thing that Dr. Sloth and his minions find any excuse to take a vacation or they could easily capture Terror Mountain with even the flimsiest of weapons like a Mechaberry Bomb or an Asparagus Powered Ray Gun. Even his nemesis, the Space Faerie, is supposed to make a guest appearance during the fireworks display on Kiko Island, rendering her services unavailable to stop an onslaught of evil robots and killer clones or to prevent an invasion of brainwashed Grundos led by one of Dr. Sloth's top subordinates, Commander Garoo. While pondering the nefarious deeds of this evil genius, the weather takes a turn for the worst. Darker clouds begin to loom overhead. The temperature drops ten degrees below zero. And the few flurries of snow soon turns into thick sheets of ice. Candice's situation is steadily becoming more perilous – she knows that if she is caught outside after sunset, there is a chance the Snowager might leave his cavern in search of a midnight snack. If caught, the only time she could safely escape would be between 10 and 11 PM NST when he falls asleep – according to documented reports by Hugo and Lilian Fairweather – but could she dodge his jagged fangs and bone-crushing tail long enough to survive? Candice doesn't want to bet her life on it. She is too much of a realist to overlook the threat that this colossal worm poses. But what alternative is there? No immediate solution presents itself...

     Reminiscing about her childhood, Candice recalls one of her mother's stories about a toy repairman at the top of the mountain who, for a small fee, would fix Broken Gumball Machines or Ripped Mutant Chia Plushies and make them look brand new, almost as good as if they had been bought in their original packaging at the Neopian Bazaar. It had always been a dream of hers to meet this mythical handyman in person, but with volunteering at the Soup Kitchen and completing jobs at the Faerieland Employment Agency, she never had enough free time.

     "Today's the day," Candice muses to herself. Since she knows how to sew and stitch fabric in addition to having previous experience working with electrical currents, perhaps Donny would accept her as his temporary apprentice, keeping her safe from both the festival goers and the Snowager. Resolute in her decision, she begins to plow a path through the snow with only her bare hands and a shield to use as a shovel. Just as she is beginning to make progress, the Ice Devil lets out a jarringly ominous laugh, reverberating against the exposed walls of the uninhabited shops and subsequently echoing throughout the bare mountainside. Immobilized by fear, Candice stops dead in her tracks. Did he know something she didn't? It was more customary for this floating felon to steal items from preoccupied sightseers or unsuspecting travelers than to instill fear in them by hovering nearby, camouflaged by his surroundings, while maliciously snorting loudly every couple of minutes.

     "Something is wrong," Candice knows unconsciously, but she shrugs it off as she approaches the ski lift. The doors are locked and her anxiousness intensifies as she immediately realizes that the only way to reach her final destination would be to bravely traverse the rest of Happy Valley and venture deep into the Ice Caves, while climbing over stalagmites and avoiding sudden drops or cliffs along the road. If she were to stray too far off the beaten path, this reluctant Cybunny could also become the next victim of an unforeseen avalanche onset by the cataclysmic roar of the Snow Beast in one of his temperamental moods. Nevertheless, despite the precariousness of the climate conditions, the ruggedness of the terrain and the imminent danger presented by ferocious and oversized Petpets, it is the thought of meeting her childhood hero that instills a newfound motivation in Candice.

     "I can do it," she insists. Thus, with much trepidation, but with just as much confidence and determination, this hopeful Cybunny faces overwhelming odds without even the slightest inclination to look back.

     Halfway up the glacial trail, however, Candice notices that she is having difficulty extending one limb out in front of the other. Peculiar at first, this minor discomfort soon escalates into a daunting crisis. Forget the Snowager. Ignore the Ice Devil. Disregard the Snow Beast. Candice has something more life-threatening to worry about – her chocolate exterior is beginning to freeze! At this rate, she would only make it as far as Colouring Pages before solidifying from head to paw. Having already lost feeling in her extremities, it is only a matter of time before this Cybunny turns into the equivalent of a Chocolate Joy Fun Pop. She would then be at the mercy of any critters, small or large, roaming the region. She once heard about Blue Gabars who, besides blending into their natural environment due to the color of their fur, had unnerving accuracy when tossing snowballs from fifteen feet away. And they are the least of her concerns. Perhaps Terror Mountain had not been the best location to choose for a hideout. Just then, Candice has a sneaking suspicion that she is not alone. A small diamond of sweat forms in the middle of her back.

     "Something is wrong," she whispers for the second time. The wind continues to howl, pierced almost inaudibly by a slow, menacing cackle. The Ice Devil is nearby. Who else could it be? What was he up to? Could he be waiting patiently for Candice to ice over before making his move? He must have known all along that Chocolate Neopets do not stand a chance in this frigid atmosphere, making them easy targets to pickpocket.

     "That must be it," Candice silently acknowledges as her heart skips a beat. Reaching the toymaker's shop is now out of the question. She must retreat before she can no longer move her muscles. But how? How? How? It would take too long to descend the mountain by foot. There must be another way or else the consequences would be unbearable. Panicking, Candice feels the corners of her mind begin to congeal. She is running out of time. Tick tock. Tick tock. Precious moments are being lost. Regaining control of her emotions, a shiny smooth surface to the West catches her eye. It sparkles in the few rays of sun that pokes through the roof of the caves. Mesmerized by how the light dances on its downward sloping structure, Candice goes to investigate, stumbling over her own two feet in the process. Its beauty is unprecedented. Relying on her instincts as opposed to looking for shelter, this Cybunny continues to stare at a mile long slide and, not just any slide, but the same one the Snufflies built on February 8, 2008 in order to provide a quick escape from pesky Gabars should the need ever arise. With a bit of luck, it seems that Candice has found the perfect exit route just in the nick of time, especially since she has already lost all control over her facial expressions. Not wasting any time, she hops onto the slide's slippery slope and rides it all the way down to the bottom of Terror Mountain. Seconds later, the Ice Devil lets out an infuriated moan as he realizes that his one attempt to rob the Cybunny of her possessions has been foiled. His fitful rages can even be heard as the passenger boat leaves the dock, heading back to Neopia Central. It almost makes you feel sorry for the crook... almost, but not quite.

     Back in her hometown, the festivities have begun to dwindle as the sun sets over the horizon. The semi-deflated pink party balloons bounce around aimlessly in the air. Confetti litters the streets. Even Snarkie is nowhere to be found. Candice hastily makes her way through the remaining crowd, bumping into strangers, knocking over trash cans and, unfortunately, even being mistaken as inventory in the Chocolate Factory. Slipping away undetected though proves to be significantly easier than evading Neopia's most notorious villains because she was placed on top of a dusty shelf next to an open window. It seems that this Cybunny underwent a major transformation from the owner of a slightly profitable clothes boutique to a bold adventurer following in the footsteps of Roxton A. Colchester III. She had always dreamt of what life would be like as a famous Lutari, swinging from jungle vines with Myncies, swimming in Jetsam infested waters and stealthily sneaking into forbidden territories including, most notably, Edna's Tower, Lord Darigan's Chambers and the Lair of the Beast.

     "These death defying stunts are the quintessential components of any successful journey," Candice reflects as she unlocks the door to her Neohome and immediately crawls underneath the covers of her Air Faerie Canopy Bed, slowly losing consciousness. She is much too modest to even consider that her own actions merit the same type of recognition as her role model. Even though few Neopians can claim to have outwitted the Ice Devil, this Chocolate Cybunny is more concerned with her Cloud Pillow Set than looking for trouble. Tuckered out by the day's affairs, she drifts off to sleep while mulling over the warmth and coziness of her own bedroom. Never again would she be frightened to such an extent that she would forgo her own home in hopes of finding a more 'secure' hiding place!

The End

 
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