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While Evina was standing alone with his back toward the others, he could hear them talking. "I came on this adventure to have fun," one of the other toons said. Evina didn't know which. "I didn't know Harry would try to take us to some weird, nonexistent place. Why don't we just go home?" He felt anger building up but decided to ignore it.
Once we get to Pete's Palace, he thought, they will see who's right and know that they're wrong. But... what if Harry has gone crazy? What if this is all just a joke? He's nicknamed Hysterical Harry for a reason. Nobody has ever heard of Pete's Palace or dip before. It's not on any of our maps! Has he really gone places that no one has been to before, or has he finally lost his marbles? Has the Toon Council really been keeping this truth from everyone?
Evina was getting hungry, so he went to the dinner table where the others were already seated. He struggled to forget about his doubts. It wasn't good to think that Harry was leading them to certain doom. He began eating the stew, surprised that it wasn't as bad as it looked.
After a few silent minutes, Pink decided to speak up. "Uh, Harry, how far is it to Pete's Palace?" she smiled smugly.
"It's right on the other side of those mountains. You can't miss it," he said.
The other toons looked at each other then back at Harry. Nobody said anything else for the rest of dinner.
Simeon stood up and yawned loudly. "Well, I think it's time to hit the hay," he said. "I can't walk any farther."
Everyone seemed to agree. They were exhausted from their hiking and almost about to fall asleep standing up. Their sleep the previous night had not been as good as they hoped, so nothing was going to keep them awake now.
They were just about to step into the tent when there was a sudden burrowing sound behind them. Everyone spun around to see a small hole that had appeared in the ground. A yellow mole stuck its head out of it.
"Oh, it's just a mole!" Simeon sighed with relief, and the others sighed as well.
The mole remained motionless for a moment, staring at them with a lopsided grin on its face before it suddenly darted back underground. The toons watched intently, waiting for it to come back. A few seconds later, there was a loud drilling noise. The hole grew wider, and the mole climbed out with a Bossbot suit on. It wiped itself off and proceeded toward them with a wicked madness in its eyes.
The toons were jerked awake by the sight of it. They screamed and ran up to the mountain as fast as they could. The molder didn't pursue them but instead took out a camera and snapped a picture of them. He pulled off his rubber yellow mask and put it away, revealing the true evil looking red mole underneath. He grinned at the fleeing toons, pleased with himself and promptly flew away into the starry desert sky.
The toons continued running for several more minutes. Only when they were completely convinced he wasn't chasing them did they stop to rest and catch their breath.
"What was that thing?" Simeon shouted as he gasped for breath.
"I'm not quite sure," Harry said, "but I think it was a molder. I warned you it's a dangerous place out here. It's probably safe to go back now."
They dragged their exhausted selves back to their camp. They couldn't find any trace of the molder, but its empty hole was still there. Everyone went to sleep.
The next morning, they got up late and ate a large brunch. They cleaned up their camp and started walking back to the mountain and up its slope, determined to make it to the other side. After a few hours, they stopped at a point halfway up the mountain. It was much larger than it looked from below.
"I am tired of all this hiking," Goopy gasped. "I wish I knew of a glitch to take us to the other side."
Everyone was fatigued, but excited to see what was really on the other side. They were anxious to know if Harry was really as crazy as they all thought he was. Several more hours of uneventful walking passed before they reached the summit. There was a large frozen oak tree standing there with acorns scattered over the snowy ground. Behind them they could see the outline of Acorn Acres and other parts of Toontown far away.
"I'll call this place Nutty Summit," Simeon declared. "Get it?"
Harry groaned and rubbed his back. Nobody was amused; maybe they seemed annoyed if anything.
"Hey, I'm just trying to add a little humor," Simeon said.
They walked over to the other side of the summit and looked straight down. They gasped with astonishment. They saw at the foot of the mountain a wide, green valley, and at one end of it, a large white glimmering palace. To the west, they could see a line of trees in a forest that went on for as far as they could see.
"You were right!" Pink exclaimed as tears welled up in her eyes. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you before! I thought you were crazy!"
"You thought I was crazy?" Harry said with surprise. Nobody heard him because they were already jogging down the mountain as fast as they could. Harry grabbed a few large snowflakes from the ground and put them in his pocket. He had a feeling they might need them later.
Evina tripped over a rock and fell. Then he went tumbling painfully down the mountain. The other toons seemed to trip too.
"AH! OUCH! OOF!" They cried with each bump until they finally hit the bottom. Harry arrived a few minutes later.
"What a painful way to descend a mountain! It couldn't hurt to just walk!" He gave them each a snowflake to replenish their laff points.
They saw ahead of them a huge white stone wall going around the neighborhood. There was a tall gate that opened through it. They ran straight to the gate, and it opened automatically to let them in. They entered and examined the old street that they were in. It was lined with old-fashioned houses and stores that fascinated them.
"This place must be older than Harry!" Zany cried.
"No, not even close," Harry said.
They walked through the street. There didn't seem to be anyone around. Then they saw the tunnel that led to the center of the neighborhood.
"Are you ready?" Harry asked.
"I guess we're as ready as we'll ever be," Evina said.
Together they cautiously walked into the dark tunnel. A moment later they reappeared on the other and witnessed a majestic sight. There was a sparking fountain in the middle of the park. Carefully trimmed shrubs were placed around the perimeter made to look like toons standing in ridiculous positions. A few benches were also seen scattered around and everything here had a fancy looking P engraved on it. There were several streets connected to the park, and the massive palace stood on the north side. There was a toon headquarters, a clothing shop, a gag shop, and a trolley, just like all the playgrounds back home. But there were no toons to be seen anywhere. They could only hear the splashing of the fountain and the chirping of the birds. It was quite charming. There was something magical that made them want to stay here, but the silence was awfully foreboding.
"I wonder where everyone went to," Goopy said.
"It doesn't matter," Harry said, "we just need to find Pete and talk to him as soon as possible."
They jogged over to the giant golden doors leading into the palace. Harry opened the door and went in as the others followed behind. The main hall was empty too, but they could tell that the floor was recently polished. At the other end was the elevator to Pete's throne room. They shuffled inside, and the doors closed.
"Uh, Harry," Evina said.
"I've heard some stories about Pete. I didn't believe them much, but now I wonder. Isn't he a little, you know, selfish and rude?"
"Yes, he does have a short temper, and he's greedy too," Harry admitted as they began to ascend, "but he can be a nice toon when he wants to be."
The elevator reached the top in no time. The doors opened to reveal the face of a huge Big Cheese. "Hello, toons," he said with a malicious sneer. "I hope you enjoyed your trip."
Before the toons could react to anything, they were tied up by other cogs hidden in the area. Then they were dragged to the center of the room where several other Big Cheeses stood. Pete sat on his throne gazing at them with madness in his eyes.
"May I?" the leader of the cheeses asked.
"Fire away," Pete said.
"Ok, here's the first question," the cog sneered in their faces. "What are you doing here?"
"We will never tell you!" Evina shouted without any hesitation.
"Is that so? Then maybe you need some time to reconsider. THROW THEM IN THE DUNGEON!" he commanded. The other cogs promptly went to pick them up.
"B-b-but that's not part of the deal!" Pete stammered.
"Not part of the deal, eh?" the Big Cheese laughed loudly.
All of the toons, including Pete, were locked in the cold, cheerless dungeon. Harry got the last snowflakes out of his pocket to replenish all their laff points.
"So, what is this all about, Pete?" Harry asked him quite calmly, though the others could notice he looked very frustrated.
"Well, I uh... It all started when those Big Cheeses came in with this mole guy. I was scared out of my wits, but then the mole guy showed me a picture. It was a picture of you toons running up a mountain. The boss of the cheeses said that the toons in the picture were coming to see me and that they were going to ask some questions. I was going to refuse until they offered me five million jellybeans! I couldn't resist; I told them they were only allowed to ask questions, and now we're here. Those dirty, cheating, two-faced—"
"Okay, I've heard enough," Harry interrupted. "How could you forget that the cogs are our enemies? They can never be trusted!" The other toons were sort of amused seeing Pete sob like a baby. "Did they tell you why they wanted to talk to us?" Harry continued.
"No, I guess they think there's something special about you guys."
"I think it's because they know about our quest," Harry said.
"What quest?" Pete asked. He looked just as perplexed as he had since they arrived. "Because whatever it is you are doing has caused my whole neighborhood to shut down!"
"This is Evina, Pink, Goopy, Zany, and Simeon. I am taking them on a quest to find out where the cogs came from."
"That's very interesting, but I don't really know what the big deal is. They almost never come around. I personally haven't seen one cog until today, but the Toon Council still ordered me to build a gag shop in the playground."
"You've never seen a cog before!?" Harry shouted.
"No! Have you?"
"Well, as a matter of fact, I have. Where we come from there are lots of cogs."
"And just where might that be?"
"Over the mountain."
Pete gasped. "Over the mountain? But nobody's been allowed to leave the boundaries for years!" Pete took out his shticker book and showed them his map. It was just like their books, but the map had completely different locations on it. Everyone was confused.
After a moment of silence, Harry spoke again. "I have another question, if you don't mind, how are we going to get out of here?"
"Oh... um... I always leave a key under the doormat in case something like this ever happened." He looked embarrassed. "I guess it came in handy after all."
He groped under the bars and the doormat directly outside. Soon he had pulled out a large rusty key. He quietly unlocked the door, and the others were about to escape when he stopped them. "Wait a second! There are five level 10 cheeses in there!"
"It's snow big deal," Harry laughed. "I think you worry too much. Maybe when we get home you should come to my crisis management sessions every Thursday at seven. We are experts at defeating cogs."
Pete watched them rush out of the dungeon. "You could have kept the cogs on your side of the mountain, you know!"
Goopy swung the door open, and all the toons ran into the throne room.
"THEY ESCAPED?" a Big Cheese hollered with disgust.
"Obviously," the molder said in a strangely deep and sinister voice, "but we can handle them." Then he cracked his knuckles and smiled. The toons saw the light glint off his razor-sharp teeth.
Pete walked in but regretted it. He ran and cowered behind his throne. The other toons lined up on one side of the room, and the cogs lined up on the other side. Pink began by throwing a Birthday cake at the leader of the cheeses. Cream splattered everywhere around the pristine room.
"You want a fight? I'll give you a fight!" bellowed the cog as he took out his golf club. Golf balls flew everywhere. Some of them broke the windows and knocked paintings off the walls. The other Big Cheeses started running straight at them.
Harry took several trigger boxes from his gag bag and tossed one to each of them. "Press it now!" he said.
The big cheeses were stopped in their tracks and fell into trap doors that suddenly appeared on the floor. The toons pulled out fire hoses before the cogs fell back into the room. They splashed water everywhere, and all the big chesses slid around the slippery floor. It wasn't long before they short circuited and exploded in a fury of smoke and gears. The only one left alive was the molder.
"I'm immune to your pathetic gags so don't even try to waste my time," mocked the molder. As he was talking, Goopy sneaked up behind him and pulled off his head. The molder screamed, and his Bossbot suit fell to the floor. It was completely hollow. "Let go of me, you fluffy freak!" he screeched as his head was stuffed into a plastic bag by Simeon. He wrote Send to Bossbot HQ then dropped it in the mail chute.
"Great job!" Harry cheered, giving them a pat on the back. All the toons were hurt, but none of them had gone sad.
"What an amazing suit!" Harry exclaimed as he examined the Bossbot suit in detail. "This looks like it's in perfect condition! We might need it later." He folded it up and put it in his bottomless pocket. "Oh, and Pete, you can come out now."
"Is it over?" he whimpered.
"Yep, you're safe now. Let's go outside." The toons walked to the elevator while trying not to slip on the wet floor.
"We're really sorry about the mess." Zany said sincerely.
"Oh, that's really no problem," Pete replied. "You guys saved my life! I'll offer you each ten thousand jellybeans."
"That's not necessary," Harry said. "We were glad to help. And in any case, we wouldn't be able to carry jellybeans with us."
They exited the palace to see the sunlight once again. Then they marched out to the middle of the park.
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