This chapter is dedicated to DoubleCross♥. Thank you for always being so amazingly supportive of me and my writing. :)
NOTE: In this chapter, we explore and reveal more of the cottage, as well as dive deeper into the development of the characters. Good stuff. ;)
Chapter 5: The Banquet
Despite all the rush and excitement of the events that preceded, Isabel had no trouble settling down and fell into a deep, peaceful sleep for the remainder of the night. When she finally opened her eyes, she slowly rose and blinked a couple times as she stretched.
“Did everyone sleep well…?” she asked. There was no response. She looked around and realized she was by herself. As she took her time getting out of bed, she suddenly heard a voice.
“Dude, this blue, stuffed lion keeps staring at me with its beady eyes…it’s creeping me out!” a user named MarcTechGuy1313 noted fearfully.
“Gimme that!” Isabel said quickly as she grabbed the stuffed animal and walked away.
Wondering where everyone was and what she wanted to do next, she decided to wander through the hallways that she had never bothered to check since she had started living at the cottage. If she was lucky, maybe she would be able to sneak past Sydney.
After walking around aimlessly for about ten minutes, Isabel began to get discouraged, as none of the users were to be found.
“You’re looking for your friends, aren’t you?”
Isabel said nothing as she turned around to see precisely the person she was trying to avoid. Looking concerned, she retreated.
Sydney smiled, “Don’t worry, I’m in a better mood, today,” She then moved a dresser, revealing an elevator. “This is the hidden passage way to the hotel,” she explained. “I already showed your friends the way, so they’re all there,” she pressed the button. Isabel remained silent as she walked into the elevator with Sydney.
“Just wait ‘til you see this!” Sydney beamed as she crossed her arms. The doors slid open.
Suddenly, right before Isabel’s eyes was a gigantic center, bursting with activity. Both her Wiki Buddies and Cartoon Pals alike were seen all over, taking part in the various incentives that the hotel had to offer. Floor after floor, Sydney pointed out the many different rooms and activities.
The enticing smell of chlorine filled Isabel’s senses as she was lead to the first hot spot of Sydney’s tour. Before her was a gigantic, magnificent pool with a large waterslide, lazy river and hot tub. Next, she was shown to a game room with a bevy of amenities, such as pool table, a ping pong table, a vending machine, foosball and a striking flat-screen TV. Still further ahead was an amazing spa with relaxing, new-age music playing in the background. Isabel, herself, was tempted to throw herself on one of the comfy beds and get a massage right then and there. They then passed by a fancy restaurant with the irresistible fragrance of wood-grilled food wafting through the door. Lastly, Sydney presented the most impressive and remarkable room: the ballroom. Inside was a vast palace of epic proportions with a glorious floorboard that shined brilliantly in the light.
Isabel was in awe and completely struck by all that she had just witnessed. Everything was suited so perfectly and uniquely to the way she had imagined it, and to see every last one of her Cartoon Pals and Wiki Buddies being present and a part of it all nearly moved her to tears.
“So, what do you think…?” Sydney asked zealously.
“…It’s so beautiful!” Isabel choked out emotionally. She then collapsed and swooned passionately into Sydney’s arms.
Sydney chuckled nervously as she looked around in embarrassment, “Yes, yes it is, sweetie…”
“Well, I guess I’ll catch you, later…” Isabel said as she calmed down.
“Wait…where do you think you’re going…?” Sydney asked defensively.
Isabel was slightly caught off guard by her question, “Oh, I don’t know…maybe catch up with Choo, xx, AJ, Slappy….my best friend, Tuba…”
“Why would you do that?” Sydney asked.
Isabel blanked for a moment and was at a loss of words, “You’re really not grasping the whole ‘these guys are my whole life and I love each and every one of them dearly with every fiber of my being’ thing, are you…?”
“…It’s an iffy concept to me…” Sydney admitted as she wrinkled her face in discomfort.
As they both stared at each other in slight uneasiness, things were similarly disconcerted in the game room as BrittanaKlaine, Candycoateddoom and Alica123 were playing pool.
“Want to play another round?” Brittana asked.
Alica was deep in thought and very distracted.
“Alica..?” Brittana urged.
“So, wait…we’re all just going to roll with this..?” Alica asked sternly.
“Roll with what..?” Brittana asked in misperception.
“Us living here…we’re all just okay with that…? None of you guys find this odd or suspicious…?” Alica asked warily.
Candy chimed in, “Well, yeah, I guess it’s a little weird, but we’ve got a sweet deal, here; I mean, just look at this place! Plus, we all get to be together, which is amazing…”
“Yeah, but it’s all a little too perfect; I feel like we’re not being told everything we need to know…” Alica disclosed.
Candy stood and paused in silence for a moment, “...Well, we trust Toon, don’t we…?”
Alica sighed in aggravation, “Yeah, I guess, but if it were anyone but Cartoon, I think people would be more concerned…”
Candy chuckled, “Just try not to worry about it too much and just enjoy yourself here, while you can!” She then spiked a ball at her.
Alica smiled dimly.
“Um...hey,” a soft voice said gawkily from behind.
Alica turned around. It was Becky.
“Hi…” Alica awkwardly acknowledged her.
In that instant, all the noise, bustle and commotion that was going on around them seemed to just cease and melt into silence as they stared intently at each other. After a while, Becky twiddled her thumbs and sadly walked away.
Alica sighed deeply, feeling overwhelmed with everything that was going on.
Meanwhile, Tash was quietly drifting through the many hallways in the hotel, feeling a bit chary and guarded.
“Hey, there!” Lucy snuck up on him.
Tash smiled, “Oh, hey, Lucy…”
“Come on, let’s go do something!” Lucy said eagerly.
“Sure, what do you want to go do?” Tash asked.
Lucy looked down for a second and then slowly looked back up; “Well…we could go to the pool…” she smiled discreetly.
Tash narrowed his eyes as he smirked, “But we don’t even have bathing suits…”
“On it,” Sydney popped up out of nowhere and snapped her fingers, making bathing suits appear on them.
“Well…that was convenient…” Tash said as he raised his eyebrow.
Lucy laughed cheerily, “I know, right!? Come on, let’s go!” she took him by the hand as they made their way to the pool.
When they finally got there, Lucy took a deep breath and grinned luminously. “It’s so nice, here!”
“Yeah…I suppose it is…” Tash said.
Lucy then did a cannonball that splashed all over him. Tash edged his toes near the pool, feeling cautious.
“Get in!” Lucy took him by the arm and pulled him in.
“Whoa!” Tash disappeared under the water for a few split seconds.
“Ha-ha, Tash…?” Lucy rifled frantically for him.
A sense of utter relief flowed over her when his head finally popped up. “TASH!” she ran to hug him. “Don’t die on me!”
He choked a little, “God damnit, don’t ever do that, again!” he snickered pseudo-angrily.
“Oh, come on, don’t be a baby! At least you’re refreshed, now!” Lucy said.
Tash sneered and rolled his eyes, “Whatever…”
Lucy playfully splashed him, which prompted him to splash her back. This went on for about an hour.
Later that day, Sydney gathered all of the users and informed them on how things would work living in the fantasy world.
“You guys have everything you need to survive, here.” she said.
“What about our electronics that we unknowingly had to leave behind when we got here?” a user named ILoveSeddie1234321 asked.
“Yeah, what about our cellphones..?” xx inquired.
Sydney snickered, “Phones…you can’t call or text here, you don’t exist!”
“What about our iPods..?” Tash asked.
Sydney gave him a menacing look, “Psh, you’ll survive…”
Tash then pouted like an unhappy toddler, “B-But I need my music…”
Sydney groaned and rolled her eyes, “Ugh, fine…” She snapped her fingers and his iPod appeared.
Upon witnessing that, a user named DragonManiac17 was stunned with shock, “Wait! If you can do that can you poof me a fatcake!?”
Sydney gave him a weird look, “Um, sure…” She did her thing.
He squealed with delight when the fatcake appeared in his hand. Moans of pleasure came from his mouth as he began to savor it.
“What about books?” Alica asked.
“Yeah, what about my Hunger Games!?” Candy hollered.
“And Harry Potter..?” Lucy asked.
Sydney chuckled, “The magic in those books aren't real…the only real magic is between my fingers…” She rubbed her fingers.
“Come on, we need books…” Candy said.
Sydney groaned again, “Okay, fine…” The books appeared.
At that point, Isabel came walking through, “Oh, my gosh! Hey, everybody! I’ve been looking for you guys, all day! It’s almost like someone was sending me on a wild goose chase, keeping me from you…” she glared at Sydney.
Sydney looked around nervously, “Oh, I would never do that…”
“Hey, wait a minute…” Isabel said, “Where’s the computer…? This can’t be my fantasy world without a computer!”
“Right over there,” Sydney pointed to a seemingly obvious computer at the end of the hallway.
In the spur of the moment, everyone freaked out and started yelling as they ran over excitedly to the lone computer. As it was slowly powering up, they all suddenly realized how stupid it was to get so ecstatic over this, because they were already together, and didn’t need the wiki to communicate, anymore. They all shared a laugh.
Isabel then smiled deviously, “…You know what we should all do…?”
“What..?” Slappy asked.
She jumped on the gargantuan couch sitting in the middle of the game room and grinned slyly, “Watch iCarly…”
This suggestion was taken with enthusiasm. “Aw, yeah!” Churchpants said as she high-fived Seddia.
“Sydney, could you poof us up like, the complete DVD boxed set, please…?” Isabel asked.
“…Yeah, I really don’t want to…”
Isabel tried to keep her cool, “Listen, I don’t want to fight, again…you’re just going to have to deal with the way things turned out. These guys are my friends…my best friends…”
“Okay, fine; you can watch your stupid web show within a show!” Sydney retorted. She snapped her fingers.
“Come on Lucy, let’s go!” Tash said readily.
“Um…actually, I don’t really want to…why don’t we just stay out here, for a while; just the two of us…” Lucy offered anxiously.
“Come on, we haven’t seen or heard from Toon, all day; besides, it sounds like a lot of fun…” Tash pointed out.
“Well, okay, I guess…” Lucy reluctantly gave in.
“Okay! So, is everyone here!?” Isabel asked heartily.
“I think SFG is still in the bounce house…” a user named Jon23812 noted.
“…There’s a bounce house!?” Isabel asked breathlessly.
“I f*cking love this place!!” Isabel said joyously.
For the next few hours, everyone devotedly watched the many wonderful episodes of iCarly. Midway through Season 2, they took a short break.
For whatever reason, Isabel was drawn to the ping pong table. She casually bounced the small, white, plastic ball and bounced it off the edge of the table with a paddle.
“You play?” Slappy suddenly asked her.
“Huh..? Nah, I don’t even know why it’s here; I’ve only played it in gym…” she chuckled softly.
Slappy snickered, “Well, I bet I could beat you, any day…”
Isabel scoffed, “And what makes you so sure…?”
“Um…easy. I can beat you in just about anything athletic…” Slappy challenged.
Isabel was beginning to get annoyed, “Oh, really…?”
Slappy smirked, “Yes, really…”
“Um…guys…” Samlovesham hesitantly attempted to avert their attention from behind the couch.
“Well, what if I was to challenge you to a ping pong game, right now…?” Isabel asked.
“Well, then I would beat you…” Slappy responded.
“Guys..? The show…? That we’re watching...? Remember…?” Becky said in an irritated tone.
“YOU’RE ON!” Isabel said in a gruff voice.
“Come on guys, really…?” Tash said fretfully.
“Yeah, must we do this, now…?” PurpleJerk wailed.
“FINE! Tomorrow evening at 6:00! You and me! At the park! Ping pong match!” Isabel declared.
“I’ll be there!” Slappy said in a serious tone.
“Guys…this is not a good idea…” Samlovesham warned them.
“Yeah, I’m with SLH on this one…” Tash agreed.
“TIME FOR THE MIDNIGHT BANQUET!!!” Sydney loudly announced.
“…What midnight banquet?” Isabel asked.
Sydney groaned softly, “The one that you always daydreamed you would have with all your ‘wiki buddies’…you’re welcome…”
“OMG! Thanks, Sydney! Although, I don’t recall it being at midnight, and didn’t I imagine it during Thanksgiving…?”
“Are you coming or not!?” Sydney asked flatly.
“Ha-ha, yes!” Isabel beamed.
Before she could step out, Sydney stopped her and took her aside, “Hey, what the heck is going on between you and baldy!?” she demanded.
“N-Nothing…” Isabel responded as she chuckled nervously.
Sydney all of a sudden became outraged, “…Did you have a thing with that guy!!??”
Isabel blushed, “…No…”
Sydney gave her a death stare.
“Yes,” Isabel shamefully confessed in a little voice.
Sydney shook her head in disgust, “Oh, Izzy…”
At that, Isabel guiltily scampered out of her way.
Within a few minutes, everyone flooded the banquet room. The entire table was delicately set with all of Isabel’s favorite dinner dishes as well as thousands of chairs, each reserved for all the users. Isabel sat between Slappy and Samlovesham.
After a long, pleasant period of eating and enjoying each other’s company, Isabel stood up, tapped her glass and proposed a toast, “Excuse me? May I have everyone’s attention, please?”
All of the side conversations slowly faded into a hush of respectful silence.
“Um..okay. I just wanted to start out by saying that I always knew…” She paused briefly before she continued, “I always knew that someday, somehow, we would all eventually find one another and finally be together…sure, I was expecting it to be under slightly different circumstances, but regardless, I always believed that it would happen…and I know that not all of us were on the best of terms prior to being here…”
There was a slight unease that came about when Isabel mentioned that.
“…but despite all the drama that had affected us during our time on the wiki, we were all still able to remain strong, and that’s something that I’ve always admired about us, and I think it’s exactly what has kept our community alive and running for so long…”
Sydney, who was sitting patiently at the end of the table, listened closely to Isabel’s speech; insightfully nodding her head.
“…Anyway, I guess I just wanted to thank each and every one of you individually for the many ways you have all truly touched and changed my life…” She first turned to Churchpants, “Choo, you were one of my very first friends on the wiki, and from early on, you have always been there to support and defend me. We still remain very close to this day, and I am immensely thankful that I have gotten to know you so well…you’re just awesome!”
Churchpants smiled fervently.
Next, she turned to xx, “xx, from the moment we met, you have always been extremely sweet and have stood by me through thick and thin…I know that whenever I have a problem, or if I’m just feeling down, I can come to you and you will listen and understand. You don’t know how much I need this, and how much it means to me that you’re actually willing to do it…it’s an incredible feeling…”
Xx melted a sincere smile. Sydney was beginning to melt, as well.
She then turned to Slappy, “Gosh, Slappy, where do I begin..? Thank you for putting up with me…and all my antics. You’ve probably seen every side of me; the best and the worst I have to offer…and yet you’re always there; making me laugh, cheering me up, and making me feel a little less like a monster and a little more like a human…”
Slappy seemed genuinely surprised at this proposal and sympathetically raised his eyebrow.
Isabel closed her eyes and envisioned something for a moment before turning to the next user, “Samlovesham….oh, my Tuba…how I love you so…” she began emotionally, “You’re just amazing in so many ways that I can’t even comprehend….what can I say? You’re my best friend and I…” she choked up, “I love you…”
Sydney couldn’t take it anymore, “Okay, that’s ENOUGH!” She began dragging Isabel out of the room.
“NO! Come on, Sydney! I wasn’t finished! I didn’t get to everyone! Ugh, Sydney…”
Once they were both out of the earshot, Sydney began bawling hysterically.
“Sydney, what’s wrong!?” Isabel asked in concern.
“I’M SORRY!” Sydney shrieked.
“…What?” Isabel asked.
“I’M SORRY I TRIED TO TEAR YOU GUYS APART, I WAS JUST JEALOUS; I DIDN’T WANT TO LOSE YOU!”
“NO, it’s not! I just…I…I’m sorry…”
“No, Sydney, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have accused you of such harsh, horrible things, yesterday. I know you had nothing to do with them being here. I guess the idea of endangering my wiki buddies put me over the edge and I wasn’t thinking straight…”
“No, no, that wasn’t your fault! The truth is, I know you care about them and I can tell they care a lot about you, too…”
They both stood in silence for a moment as Sydney sniffled.
“…You know, the wiki will always have a special place in my heart, but there’s always going to be a special place in my heart for you, too…”
More tears welled up in Sydney’s face.
“You’ve had an equally powerful influence on my life, and creating and developing you has made me who I am today…”
Sydney blinked graciously and gave Isabel a long, meaningful hug.
“Now, let’s go finish eating!” she said with a chuckle.
Isabel grinned,“Yeah, all this sentiment has worked up an appetite.”