The Tale of the Odd Valentine
Author's note: This story is based off the information found in the Book of Evil. Enjoy!
The cold mansion rose above the forest like a thorn, scraping the overcast sky while lightning shrieked around it. Black windows were devoid of light, all save two little dots near the highest tower. As rain began to fall lightly on broken shingles, one light turned off, but another flickered and remained. It was a dreary night on Valentine’s Day eve.
The room was a vast hall, an empty feasting chamber with three tables, one at the head and two flanking the sides near the windows. At the end, a bright, glowing fireplace was freshly set, while the rest of the room was illuminated by candelabras that held tall wax candles. It was old fashioned, but the original owner seemed to have a preference for such.
A broken chair was dragged into the hall, its cushions tearing apart in some places to reveal the hidden springs. In the chair sat an ambiguous form, blue and translucent, gripping the arms of the chair with its formless limbs.
Other than the crackling hisses and snaps of the fire, and the pitter patter of rain outside with the occasional thunder, there was a comfortable silence.
“I am alone.”
The equally ambiguous voice was soft, but spread through the entire chamber. The form in the chair leaned back and gave a gurgling sigh.
“I am always alone.”
For a few moments, it seemed as if the dreary, abandoned place was transformed into something of beauty and splendor, fuzzy as if it was a memory scraped up from the recesses of a wistful mind. The torn, fallen trappings were pulled back up, and cheery voices ran the breadth of the room. Tables were filled with good food, chocolates and drink, while musicians stood near the fireplace performing a lovely sonata to the delighted guests. This was all before the master disappeared mysteriously one fine evening, leaving his castle in the Haunted Woods to deteriorate.
Professor Arnold Wizzle was a confectioner of the highest degree. He owned a business that spanned from Neopia Central to Altador. He was notorious for many things: his odd choices of investment, his genius, and in turn, his insanity. Wizzle was an inventor as much as a business-techo and confectioner, and sought to produce the best and the finest candies. Candies better than the mysterious Chocolate Factory Kiko’s creations.
Wizzle’s dreams came true when he created the Jelly Chia on the eve of Valentine’s Day. Though most stories told of how he wanted to sell his creation for many neopoints, the truth was that he wanted to give it as a gift to one of his dearest friends for the holiday.
“This Chia will toil for you, answer your every whim and wish, play without fail and if you are ever hungry it is a most delicious blueberry flavour!” Wizzle declared.
What he didn’t realize was that the Jelly Chia was fully sentient and mysteriously disappeared one day when the professor was having hunger pangs prior to sending the gift. Since then, the business deteriorated and fell apart. The massive empire Wizzle created over years crashed in mere days.
The Jelly Chia moved then to Wizzle’s forgotten mansion, and lived there ever since. He still frequented the abandoned chocolate factory where he was created to see what he could find. Just yesterday he went there; after all, the entire mansion was near the end of the Haunted Woods and he could bounce to Neopia Central at whim.
And during his scavenger hunt around the warehouse there, he brought back something that intrigued him. It was a box in the shape of a heart, dusty with age. The chocolates within were gone, but on the back there was a note.
I hope you enjoy these chocolates I made for you. I know they are nothing compared to your candy, but it is the thought that counts. It is almost Valentine’s Day, and I am so glad you asked me to be your valentine.
The Jelly Chia flipped the note in his gelatinous paws, his thoughts in turmoil. He had read it hundreds of times now, but the concept of a ‘valentine’ eluded him. What he made sense of the note he tried to reciprocate. Yesterday he spotted a Blumaroo and an Acara walking near the deserted chocolate factory where he was playing in, and tried to ask them to be his valentine (early though it was), but they ran away in fear instead.
This saddened the poor Jelly Chia.
He was not mean, like the book of evil said. He was actually a kind and gentle soul, who only wanted companionship. What happened to Wizzle was only a response borne of instinct and fear. He didn’t mean for it to happen, yet news spread like wildfire and he became an outcast very quickly.
He never knew love or happiness. Others would have quickly turned dark-hearted should they have been in his squishy shoes, but the Jelly Chia chose to become untouched.
A twig in the flames cracked and fell with a soft hiss while the fire delicately consumed it. Outside the rain began to lessen in strength, but thunder still rumbled ominously. The Jelly Chia paid no heed as he thought about Valentine’s Day.
What was it? A celebration of sorts?
His gelatinous brain began to piece together the information he acquired while skimming the shadows of Neopia Central. It was a time when you have cards and flowers to others and - according to what he inferred from the note - chocolates and candies. But for what purpose, the Chia had no idea. He knew only that this Sarah and Arnold were close friends. Perhaps these ‘valentine’ cards were given only to good friends, and maybe colleagues?
The Jelly Chia jerked his head, the action causing his entire body to jiggle. He didn’t have friends, but he had many colleagues!
Instantly he leaped out of his chair, his darker blue hair flopping up and his feet splaying wide as he waddled towards a recent issue of the Neopian Times that lay forlorn in the corner of the room, thrown there by his own paws. The Chia returned to his chair with it and began to flip eagerly through the pages.
He found the book of evil page, an article dedicated to giving a quick rundown of most of the characters in the darkling tome. The Jelly Chia didn’t see his image (for which he was glad) but he did see the scowling face of Vira, a once beautiful Acara who turned evil and had her abode in the Haunted Woods, just like himself.
The Chia ignored the splatters of jelly he left on the newspaper and cast it aside. It was only a few hours before Valentine’s Day, and he knew exactly what to do. Again he jumped off the chair and began to waddle out the door of the hall. Even though it was raining outside and lightning forked like a Hissi’s tongue across the furious sky, the pale blue form made good haste to the abandoned Chocolate Factory on the hill on the outskirts of Neopia Central.
After the massive storm yesterday, Vira noted that the land looked worse than ever. Trees fell, blasted by the lightning, and eardrums were still numb from the screaming thunder. She found herself quite pleased with the scenes of devastation around her, where floods washed through the Woods with unimaginable strength and tore everything off their foundations.
The Acara sat quietly upon a stump that once held a majestic but twisted tree, smirking but at the same time concealing her disappointment. Today was Valentines Day after all, and before her hideous transformation it was her favorite day of the year. A time of love, happiness and giving that rivaled the Day of Giving itself. She remembered getting the cards and candies, enjoying the attention of all who sought to be her valentines.
Now, of course, such fanciful thoughts were no more. She was ugly, as twisted as her vanity. She both relished the change and regretted it, enjoying her anger and lamenting over it. She couldn’t change the infinite courses of time, but deep in her heart, past the shell of hatred, she wanted to be back to the way she was. Of course she would tone her vanity down a bit, but she had started to despise the spade tail, the bloodshot eyes and the leathery wings that sprouted from her back.
She wanted to be cherished again, not despised. Not like that was going to happen any time soon. As long as mirrors shattered every time she looked into them, so would the anger remain.
Vira sighed to herself and flexed her olive wings, picking a single flower that had survived the storm. The flower deteriorated upon touch, as always, so she cast it aside and snorted roughly. This was her beauty now.
Suddenly she heard some kind of squishing noise. The Acara whirled around so quickly that she would have just been a blur, standing up on the stump with an air of authority. “Who’s there? Show your face!”
Her eyes suddenly fluttered to a small square of paper that was billowed by the wind and had landed neatly at the foot of the stump, right in the blighted mud of the Haunted Woods. She swiped it up with her tail, wondering what kind of sniveling request was written on it, and instead received quite a shock.
In letters that seemed to be written by an oaf (though she had to admit there seemed to be a lot of time spent in the spelling of a single word), scribbled roughly, was a different kind of request.
She looked up with surprise and spotted a blob of blue that now waddled into the glade, its form remotely resembling a Chia with its hair, hands and feet, but was devoid of a face. The Jelly Chia looked up at her and revealed something that was hidden behind his back. Was that a box of candy? It looked stale, old and rotten, and in a different scenario she would have been tremendously offended by the gesture, but the little card reversed everything.
“Can you be my valentine?” the Jelly Chia asked, saying the exact same words that were written on the card.
Vira was taken aback. For the past five years she had never been asked such a question, and the suddenness of it all was flooring. Her anger returned, an ancient anger fueled by some twisted thought that this was just a mockery of her condition, but she tempered it and instead chose to smile. The Acara accepted the rotten candygram and nodded. “Yeah.”
She didn’t know whether it was just her imagination or not, but it felt as if the Jelly Chia was delighted by her response. Likewise, she felt happiness swell in her rage-hardened heart. But truly it was her imagination when she spoke the three words that hadn’t even dared to pass her lips for too long.
“Happy Valentine’s Day.”