Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 197,004,487 Issue: 956 | 18th day of Running, Y24
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Illusen and the Chocolatier


by precious_katuch14

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Tmbrosinno’s professors thought he would become a powerful sorcerer, or perhaps enter King Hagan’s inner circle as a decorated scholar, after graduating from Brightvale University with flying colours. They couldn’t be more wrong.

     Instead, the chocolate Gelert set up a shop called The Chocolate Parade in Brightvale. What set it apart from other candy stores was the fact that many of Ambrosinno’s treats weren’t just delicious or detailed; they could run, jump or dance. Ambrosinno used his gift of magic to animate his chocolates, much to the delight of his customers. They would peer into display cases and watch little chocolate Blumaroos bounce around or see a chocolate model of Meridell Castle deconstruct itself before putting itself back together again.

     The Gelert was in the middle of placing a lazy chocolate marshmallow Plumpy into a comfy box for a young Scorchio when he heard the bell over his front door ring, heralding still another customer. When he looked up to see who it was, he gasped, and so did the Scorchio.

     “Illusen?”

     “You must be Ambrosinno,” the earth faerie said as she stepped inside, waving to the Scorchio who had waved at her before running out of the shop. She looked around in amazement. Many of Ambrosinno’s treats had to be placed in glass cases or closed displays so they wouldn’t accidentally fall out or even escape. “I’ve heard of you, but all of these…you made all of these?” Illusen spread her arms to indicate his entire shop.

     He nodded vigorously, stepping out from the counter. Illusen could see his tail wagging enthusiastically as he gestured to his wares with a flourish. “Yes! Everything you see here is my life’s work. So, did you want a chocolate Meridell Castle replica for Illusen Day, perhaps? Oh, I also managed to create a small chocolate tree that will bear truffles once – “

     Illusen shook her head as she approached him.

     “No, I came here because I need your help.”

     * * *

     “Each year, there’s always some sort of food or dessert made for me on Illusen Day,” said Illusen as she stirred chocolate in a simmering pot. Ambrosinno had closed the shop for the day and watched her as she worked. “But this year…I want to give back to everyone. This time, I’d like to give them gifts, and little chocolates are a good start. The magic I can handle, but the actual chocolate making – oh no.” She gasped as she stepped back from the pot and hurriedly put out the fire underneath. “Oh dear, I should’ve paid more attention to the chocolate!”

     Though the chocolate Gelert flinched at the sight of the chocolate forming grainy clumps in his pot, he kept his cool and began pouring water, watching as the chocolate became thinner, more and more like syrup.

     “I made sure to be careful with the fire this time!” said Illusen. “I’m so sorry!”

     “Did you dry the pot like I told you to?” he asked as he set the chocolate aside before selecting several new blocks of the stuff. He gasped when he saw a crawling chocolate Larnikin and immediately picked it up, flicking it expertly into the nearest jar.

     Illusen nodded, more than a little impressed by his swift capture of the Larnikin.

     Ambrosinno looked awkward as he said hesitantly, “Er…did you dry it well enough?”

     The earth faerie cocked her head to one side as she thought. “As well as I could.”

     “Perhaps some water was still left inside. That caused the chocolate to seize up.”

     “And I thought I was past burning the chocolate.” Illusen sighed. “I’m sorry, Ambrosinno. It looks like I still have a lot to learn about making chocolate.”

     While chopping up the chocolate blocks into chunks, the Gelert looked up at her and smiled. “I still do, myself.”

     “But you’re already running your own shop! That’s admirable.”

     “Heh, not as admirable as Meridell’s very own faerie guardian. I know magic, sure, but I’m not exactly the combat type. Anyway, there are still a lot of techniques I have yet to learn, and making chocolate isn’t always as easy as it looks. I’ve had chocolate seize up on me too, and I’ve burned some…” Ambrosinno chuckled as he tipped the chocolate chunks into a completely dry bowl. “My cousin still insisted on trying it, no matter how many times I warned him that burned chocolate tasted terrible. I’ll never forget his face, it was priceless.”

     “A lot of Meridellians talk about you. It’s how I found out you were one of the best chocolatiers around. Even if you did make mistakes before…look at you now.”

     Ambrosinno let out a barking laugh and blushed. “It wasn’t easy getting to a point where I knew exactly how to keep chocolate from seizing up. So much trial and error…anyway, it’s okay that you’re making mistakes. I think it’ll be easier for you to remember what to do the next time you make chocolate.”

     Illusen gave him a mock pleading, exasperated face.

     “Actually,” he said, “you said you wanted to give back to everyone. Why don’t you ask me to make your chocolate treats? I can make them look like just about anything, even tiny versions of you…”

     “What?” The earth faerie’s eyes widened. “I can’t do that! I can’t just impose! That’s why I wanted you to teach me, so I can make them myself.”

     “Well, Illusen Day is not far away,” the chocolate Gelert answered, stroking his chin. “I think I can make it with a couple of chocolate golems for the occasion.”

     “But – “

     “It’s still giving back even if you ask someone to do it and that someone says yes, isn’t it?” he said cheerily.

     Illusen sighed, pinching a lock of her hair. “I suppose. I just wanted my chocolates to be special.”

     “They are! I mean, they will be.” said Ambrosinno. He snapped his fingers; a chocolate golem resembling a Skeith lumbered into the kitchen with a large crate, which it left unceremoniously by the door. “They’re special because they’ll be coming from you. Even if I made them, I would be making them for you to give away, as your gifts.” The Skeith shuffled toward a counter and stood there, still as a statue. “What do you say, Illusen? Just tell me what you want me to create, and we’ll do it for you.”

     “’ We’?”

     “Heh, me and my chocolate golem army. Can’t really run a shop like this on my own, and I haven’t found anyone willing to be my apprentice yet.”

     “At least allow me to help. Even if I still have a lot to learn about making chocolate…”

     The Gelert spread his arms with a flourish. “I would be honoured, Illusen! Er, if it is all right with you…”

     “I offered to help, Ambrosinno. It’s not like you’ll be ordering me around.”

     “Right, right!”

     * * *

     Illusen Day was in full swing in Meridell. As was tradition, the banquet was held just outside Illusen’s Glade, with many prominent faces and figures in attendance. The usual themed brown and green food was there, as well as all the presents everyone sought to give the faerie, but there were two standouts this year: the mint chocolate desserts shaped like Illusen’s wings which flapped and fluttered a few inches off the table, and the centrepiece of Illusen made with caramel and green icing.

     And though it was Illusen Day, it may as well have been Ambrosinno Day with the number of times he had to shake hands with the affluent, the illustrious, and those who were neither. He finally managed to take his leave after King Skarl mentioned wanting to take as many of the wing desserts back to the castle, and found Illusen examining a long, emerald gown that had been a gift to her.

     “So…I was right, wasn’t I?” he quipped, winking. “Looks like everyone enjoyed your gifts. And my, ahem, bonus.” He pointed discreetly at the chocolate Illusen statue. Already, a royal Meerca was breaking off a segment of its skirt to place on his plate, while a table-sized chocolate golem armed with a knife was already cutting up chunks for a throng of excited Ixis. “It didn’t even matter who made them. What mattered was that they appreciated them.”

     The earth faerie smiled and shook her head. “Yes, Ambrosinno, you were right. Thank you. I know you’ve been shaking a lot of hands lately, but…” She extended a hand for him, and much to her surprise and delight, he took it immediately and shook it vigorously.

     “I appreciate you too, Illusen. That’s why I threw in the chocolate statue. Thanks for everything you do for us. Helping keep Meridell safe, teaching Neopians about nature and magic, and of course, occasionally handing out Neopoints to the poor and needy.” The chocolate Gelert beamed. “It was my pleasure, helping you for this year’s Illusen Day.”

     “Which reminds me, I do have some Neopoints lying around with your name on them.”

     “Haha, you can give them to me later. But my chocolate-making lessons are still free. Stop by my shop the next time you’re in Brightvale!”

     “Maybe I should’ve bought your Meridell Castle replica after all. I would’ve saved you all this trouble.”

     “Are you kidding? Having the honour of sharing with you my love for chocolate…that’s my favourite part.”

     

 
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