"Welcome, friend! It seems only a short while, but it has been close to three years since young Grodle and his friends returned to Pip-Pip Garden after their long journey to the Candy King's palace. The wise and joyful king happily gave the travelers the Golden Chocolate, the gift Grodle sought for his ailing mother's birthday. The magical chocolate healed her, and was a key ingredient in her birthday cake.

As they had grown so close during their trip, Grodle's group stayed in Pip-Pip Garden. Ilya, the pretty blond wingle girl, began to work on the Candy Tree farm. She could fly up to pick the delicious candies at the top of the tree few nooknaks could get to. Her sky blue wings fluttered and flapped, flying freely fro and to, dancing in the air as she plucked the candies from the tree.

Andrillalemossefronde, or as he was more commonly known, Andy- had been intrigued by the Golden Chocolate. He picked up the noble study of rare natural candies and soon started working at the Candy Bank.

Andrilla- Andy's twin sister Tiffianellaresemiura, or as she insisted everyone call her, Tiffy- had become something of a nanny. Her elvish stories and crafts had fascinated Grodle's numerous younger brothers and sisters when she'd visited, and they begged her nonstop to come back. And so, she did; more and more often, until Grodle's mother invited her to stay.

Kronwald, Grodle's sturdy dwarven friend, had also began to study rare natural candies with Andy, but as most dwarves do he worked in the mountains, tunneling and landscaping. The dwarves had an ancient rivalry with the wingles, and always said their underground halls and gems were better than the wingle's Sky Castle. Which of course they aren't, because it isn't all dark and gloomy like the dwarve's mountain halls. Even the Candy King's castle looks like-"

"Are you talking to yourself again, Ilya?"

The wingle jumped and spun around to face Grodle. She pointed an angry finger at him and said, "Well of course! The Summerfruit Feast is only two weeks away, and I have to practice for our presentation! Don't tell me you haven't been working on your part."

Grodle laughed and scratched the back of his neck. "But it's hard to! My little sisters keep pulling on the beard when I dress up as the Candy King."

Ilya looked down at her nooknak friend: like all nooknaks, he was short(not as short as the dwarves...) and had hair that refused to stay combed or brushed for long. "It's because you're so short! The costume beard reaches to your knees! Maybe we should get Andy to play the Candy King instead. He was an elf, right?"

"I dunno, it was kinda hard to tell with him sitting down, and with his hair and robes. And he talked more like a wingle, even though he had a Pip-Pip Garden accent."

"Perhaps he was a wingle who lived in Pip-Pip Garden! Or an elf who did! Oh well." Ilya sighed.

"Dontcha worry too much, Ilya. I bet some milk and cookies would help," Grodle suggested.

"They might. So, back inside! Milk and cookies, ahoy!" Ilya skipped along after Grodle, following him around the house to the kitchen door. He opened it for her and said,

"Be invited!"

"I shall not refuse your hospitality!"

Grodle's mother smiled at the children's use of the old wingle customs. She put down the plate of cookies on the table and declared, "And you will also not refuse these delicious cookies!" A few of her younger children came scrambling in at the mention of cookies, and began jumping over and around each other to get at the cookies first. She chuckled, and went to pour them some fresh milk.

"I couldn't stop them, Misses Gribblekins." Said Tiffy, walking in from the nursery. "The power of fresh baked cookies is too overwhelming."

"Ho ho! Indeed it is, Tiffy. You're welcome to have some, too."

"And thus, I am defeated." Tiffy curtsied, and went to join her friends.

Grodle's mother gave a sigh of contenment, and poured another glass of milk. Grodle and his friends have all grown these last few years. Tiffy is finally taller than Ilya, now... The elf maiden had about two inches on Ilya, and had gained a few more freckles. Her fine red hair was the color of autumn leaves, and done in a typical elf style: two braids, in front of the ears, and the rest falling behind the shoulders. Ilya's waist-length blond hair was in a simple ponytail that fell between her wings, her long bangs held back by a flowery hair band. Her son, though he'd grown, was still short- even for a nooknak. Misses Gribblekins smiled and shook her head, and put the cups of milk on a tray and took them over to the table. "Here you go," She said as she set down the tray. "Drink up!"

Tiffy handed Ilya, Grodle and his brothers and sisters their drinks, and gave one to Grodle's mother. Tiffy smiled, and took a small bite of cookie.

"Oh, these are chocolate chip! My favorite! Thank you, Misses Gribblekins." Ilya said.

"Dey my favewit too!" Added Grodle's youngest sister Grinty; the rest of Grodle's siblings were quick to agree. "Miss Tiffy!" Grinty said, with her mouth full. "Sing us da cookie song!"

Tiffy swallowed and nodded. Elves had songs for many occasions, so Tiffy had made one for the Gribblekins children's favorite treat. In her small, clear voice, Tiffy began the simple tune:

"Milk and cookies, milk and cookies

For my little Gribblekins!

With chocolate chips, or candy bits,

And a glass of milk.

Here's one for you, and one for me,

And a glass of milk.

Milk and cookies, milk and cookies,

For my little Gribblekins!"

Tiffy started over, and the Gribblekins children joined in, dancing around the table. They were all in perfect harmony, this being the only thing they sang well. As Tiffy held the last note, the children clapped and cheered for her.

"Oh! That reminds me, Tiffy: have you finished the song for our presentation? How's it going?" Ilya asked. "You sing well, I'm sure everyone will love it."

"I'm no great singer, but it is doing just fine. The part I'm working on now, I thought we all could sing together at the end, to finish the presentation. It's about the Summerfruit."

Grodle nodded. "It's really cool, I've heard her singing it a couple times. It sounds kinda elvish."

"Well, of course!" Ilya huffed. "Tiffy is an elf! And everyone knows elves are some of the best singers."

Tiffy smiled. "Can this be? You failed to mention the minstrels of the Sky Castle, Ilya."

"-After the minstrels of Sky Castle, of course." Ilya added, as though Tiffy hadn't spoken.

"I wonder what it looks like," Grodle said.

"It's supposed to be very similar to the Candy King's palace." Said Tiffy.

"It is." Ilya answered. "But the tower is taller! And, there are walls! Most importantly, it looks amazing at sunset; so beautiful even High King Gildas would cry." The wingle High King had become famous among the dwarves, and elsewhere, for having an unusually even temperament for a wingle. High Queen Irelyn was also calm for a wingle, but less so than her husband.

"Perhaps so beautiful, even the dwarves might cry?" Tiffy joked.

"They should-"

"But we wouldn't." Kronwald interrupted, having come in unnoticed. "We dwarves wouldn't cloud our minds with wingle architecture." He earned a wink from Tiffy, who'd caught his dwarvish joke.

"You liked the Candy King's palace, though." Observed Grodle. Quickly, Kronwald took a bite of cookie so he wouldn't have to answer.

"Everyone's got a sweet spot for the Candy King's palace," Tiffy said, smiling at Kronwald. "It's only natural Kronwald should like it."

"Indeed. Speaking of the Candy King, how's practice coming along, Grodle?"

"Good! I have some of my lines memorized, but it's hard to do it in the costume."

"I try to keep his little sisters away, but there's too many of them." Tiffy said. "The costume beard draws them in."

"Andy's lucky that he doesn't have to wear a silly costume. All he has to do is walk in and present the Golden Chocolate to Grodle! Its almost not fair..."

"I could make his part in the song harder," Tiffy offered.

"Wait!" Said Kronwald. "I just realized, we haven't practiced it all together!"

"That's right!"

"I didn't think of that!"

"How did we forget?"

"Andy won't be home from the Candy Bank 'til later, but he only has a small part. Should we go ahead and practice?" Asked Tiffy.

"Yes. I'll start us off: Welcome friend! It has been nearly three years..."

LATER THAT NIGHT

The shadow climbed up the limbs of the Candy Tree, silent as... a shadow. It had waited until everyone had gone home for the day, because it was about to do something that hadn't been done before: steal the Summerfruit. The fruit at the very top of the Candy Tree was the most famous in all Pip-Pip Garden, but surprisingly little was known about it other than that it was absolutely delicious. The shadow intended to study it, and then return it quietly later.

The Summerfruit loomed large above the shadow. After a few more moments, the shadow reached it, and plucked the heavy fruit off the stem. It stuffed the Summerfruit into its bag, and climbed down the Candy Tree.