Charlotte followed Cad's echoing footsteps as they squelched along the river of sewage. She didn’t look at the garbage, preferring to focus on the hint of chocolate in the otherwise rancid air. She was also distracted by Cad. Was she being paranoid, or did the Skeith seem to be very familiar with this particular stretch of the Neopian sewer system?
But it was undeniable: the air did smell like chocolate. If Cad was lying, then what could explain that?
As they squelched in silence, the tunnel seemed to get darker. More ominous. The smell of garbage more concentrated.
“Cad?” Charlotte ventured.
“Hmmm?” he said, rather idly, as if they weren’t traversing a subterranean dump.
“Are we almost there?” she said.
“Oh, yup, real close now. Straight ahead---do you see that light?”
Charlotte did see a light, maybe eight Lupe-lengths ahead, glowing against the wall up ahead. Cad stopped when they were in front of the light, which was really a hole, from which the light was emanating.
“I have to confess something, Charlotte,” Cad said. “I haven’t been entirely honest with you.”
Charlotte’s heart caught in her throat.
“I don’t know a way into the Factory. But, I CAN get you those coins. You see, my name is Cad---short for Cadwallader Constentatious III. I’m the heir of the preeminent private candy collection of my father, Cadwallader Constentatious II. I accidentally dropped a whole box of rare Chocolate Balthazars into this Kacheek-sized hole. I threw my Nova down there to get a better look. That’s where the light comes from.” Cad was starting to speak fast and anxiously. “If you can go down there and get back the Chocolate Balthazars, I’ll give you all the chocolate coins you could ever want!”
Charlotte stared at Cad. “But---but why were you in the SEWER?”
Cad looked down sheepishly. “It’s the only place where I can escape the pressures of my family. I'm starting own chocolate collection down here... away from my dad.”
Actually, Charlotte did understand. She always wanted her brother, her parents, her friends to be happy. She did everything for them. That was what had brought her to the Chocolate Factory in the first place, and the reason she had met Cad at all. It could be a lot of pressure sometimes.
“I’ll help you, Cad,” said Charlotte. “But promise me one thing.”
“What?” said Cad.
“Can you find a better place to hang out than the sewer? Why don’t you come over to my house? My brother Bill would love to hear about your collection. He LOVES chocolate.”
Cad was speechless. (As you can imagine, being the heir to a candy fortune didn't leave you many opportunities for making genuine friends. They were always in it for the chocolate.)
“I would... really like that, Charlotte,” he said.