Ember and the Chocolate Ball: Part Three
The remaining hours leading up to the much anticipated event had finally passed, and Ember, along with the hundreds of other lucky guests, was finally standing in front of the Chocolate Factory gates eagerly awaiting entry.
She took care to arrive early as to not be the last to be admitted, though she also did not want to be the first to enter, for she was too nervous and decided it would be prudent to follow suit behind more experienced guests. She looked as brilliant as ever in the outfit Sabrina had conjured up for her, and with the extra blush Ember applied before the ball, it made her cheeks even rosier than usual. She stood ready with her chocolate fan in hand and Sabrina’s bow resting comfortably on her tail, though internally she was a nervous wreck. What if she wasn’t going to be invited back next year? Would all of her hard work have been for nothing then?
As these questions and many others ran through her mind, the factory gates suddenly yet slowly swung open, and after showing the front guards the golden invitation, Ember and the other eager guests were finally permitted to enter. And while all the others seemed to rush in in droves, Ember entered cautiously and was awestruck by the sites before her.
The grand hall was decorated to perfection, and the entire atmosphere was nothing less than dazzling, for no other place in all of Neopia seemed worthy of hosting such an extravagant celebration. Even the largest castle in Faerieland paled in comparison. In fact, most of the decorum appeared to be made of something sweet; the streamers were made of a dozen flavors of licorice, and the flowers on the tables sat in vases made from solid dark chocolate and were constructed from every edible delicacy ranging from taffy to toffee, and everything in between. Even the wallpaper was lickable, for the different pictures of fruits printed on it teased the taste buds of enraptured guests with the flavors of a thousand different fruits such as strawberry, banana, and pomegranate.
The chandelier at the center of the entire event appeared to be made of a rock candy derivative, with its crystalline structure and pure shine outdoing that of actual diamonds. Hundreds of tables were elegantly arranged and decorated throughout the hall in soft pastels, and no less than fifty different tables lined with gourmet foods and the creamiest of desserts, as the guests had their choice of whether they wanted dessert now or later.
There was a chocolate fountain comparable in size to the famous Money Tree, numerous games with unreleased chocolate delicacies as prizes, and an enormous chocolate cake draped in strawberry frosting and realistic candy flowers, for both a tasty and elegant touch, which would be served at the end of the evening. Ember stood shaking and bewildered as she took in all that her senses would allow her before she finally found a place card with her name on it at a table in the center of the hall.
She sat down at the table and looked warmly toward the other guests seated there.
“Hey look, it’s that waitress from the Pet Spotlight!” Ember turned around to see two Kougras staring at her in fascination. “See! I told you it was her!”
“Whoa, you’re right!” said his companion. “And she really is made of chocolate! I’ve never seen a real chocolate pet before.” He looked up and addressed Ember this time. “We loved your story, Ember. I never knew being made of chocolate could be such a hassle, but you do it with real style.”
“Why, thank you!” said Ember, blushing. As they walked away suddenly others started coming up to her as well.
“Hey look, it’s that Ember girl! I told you she was really made of chocolate!” Ember looked to see two Cybunnies admiring her. “Ember,” said the one who had spoken previously “Is it really true you used to be a waitress?”
“Yep, sure is,” responded Ember pleasantly. “I used to work in a small cocoa shop in the Neopian marketplace.
“Wait, do you mean Mr. Jimm’s?” asked the second Cybunny. Ember nodded. “We go there all the time! I knew I recognized you from somewhere! We both loved your spotlight entry. It took guts to enter the way you did, writing a letter. I don’t think I could do that. It’s nice to see you again!” They walked away and Ember stared after them, amazed.
To her surprise, Ember was greeted with many similar remarks from various guests such as, “Aren’t you the chocolate waitress?” and “I loved your spotlight entry!” and “Your dress is gorgeous!” Ember was grateful for them, for she did not know she had such a following. In fact, wherever she went that night, whether it was to get a glass of hot cocoa or even just to wash her paws, guests of all ages seemed to recognize her.
But it wasn’t just her spotlight win that attracted attention. Alongside the comments that applauded her for the spotlight, she received even more compliments on her attire, with many calling it “the most beautiful dress Neopia has ever seen,” and “The faerie queen herself could not have done better.” These many compliments were only the beginning of what would become a fantastic evening for Ember. For the next few hours Ember was bombarded with endless remarks of adoration and envy, and no matter what she did she could never find herself completely alone. As she sat at her table indulging in sweets while chatting up the elite of Neopia, however, three jealous faeries sat watching her from the other side of the grand hall.
“Look at her,” Lexi scoffed as she spied Ember talking with a handsome young Werelupe. She was wearing an elegant dark purple dress modeled after the dark princess collection, but since she belonged to one of the richest families in Faerieland, her dress was not available to the public. “What makes her think she’s better than we are?” she whined as she continued to stare at Ember grudgingly.
“I know,” Beatrice agreed. She was wearing a sparkling prom dress, only hers was baby blue instead of the standard teal color. “How does a waitress afford such luxury?”
“I told you how already!” Lexi fumed. “It was Sabrina, that little brat. She’s the one who did this!”
“What exactly did she do again?” chirped Melena, wearing a sparkling faerie dress with green trim. “Didn’t you say she came home later than usual last night?”
“Uh, yeah, as in she actually came home from somewhere, and that was suspicious enough. Since when does she have anywhere to go?” Lexi was furious now. “That’s when I knew something was up. I questioned her and kept her in her room until she would tell me where she was all evening, but she refused to tell me anything.” She gave another glance towards Ember’s direction. She was now talking to what appeared to be a Gelert prince. This seemed to fuel Lexi’s anger even more. “That’s why she’s still in there even now.” Beatrice and Melena gasped in surprise.
“You mean you never let her out?” questioned Beatrice.
“That’s what I said, isn’t it?” spat Lexi. “She went behind her own sister’s back, and so now she has to pay the price. Why, do either of you have a problem with that?” She eyed them both carefully.
“Oh no, of course not!” the two of them chimed together.
“Good,” responded Lexi with a satisfied smile on her face, hearing exactly what she expected to hear. “Because she deserved it.”
“Well, it’s not like you can do anything about it now, right?” asked Melena. “I mean really, the chocolate servant is already here, what are we supposed to do?”
“Oh, there’s plenty we can still do,” said Lexi coolly. “Everyone may love her now, but not if they find out that she’s sabotaged the Ball’s grand finale.” Beatrice and Melena gasped again.
“You mean she really tampered with the statue they’re supposed to be unveiling tonight?” Beatrice questioned again.
“Nah, probably not.” Lexi shrugged. “Which is why I’m going to make it look like she did. If I can make everyone believe that little peon desecrated a monument to one of the most celebrated figures in Neopia, not only will she not be invited back next year, but any and all favoritism she once had will be gone forever. And I know exactly how I can ‘prove’ it was her.” She then pulled out a small box that was hidden inside a secret compartment within her dress as she motioned for her sisters to come closer. She then carefully removed the lid as to keep the object inside concealed so that no one else could see it, and the three of them gazed at it together in awe. They all then began to laugh deviously as they stared menacingly in Ember’s direction.
“It’s incredible,” observed Melena, “But where did you get it?”
“I don’t like to reveal my sources,” said Lexi coolly, “However, when you are as rich as we are, it is possible buy almost anything, even something that doesn’t seem like it should be for sale.”
“That’s brilliant!” cried Beatrice.
“Ingenious!” piped Melena.
“Indeed,” agreed Lexi. “With this, that Usul is as good as gone,” and the three of them stalked off to carry out their misdeeds.
To be continued...