The Cold, Clear Day in Happy Valley
Boomer hummed softly to himself as he sipped his coffee milkshake. It was another clear, but cold, day in the Happy Valley, not that the cold bothered him. Boomer was perfectly happy to sit alone in his easy chair and read the newspaper. It was Wednesday, after all, and he might as well enjoy his day off.
It was also two days before Krawk Day, and many had traveled down to Krawk Island to celebrate, leaving the small village at the base of the mountain relatively empty. It was pretty far away, but as Happy Valley was mainly a tourist attraction and all of the tourists were crammed on a small island in the south, Boomer was free to relax without the worry of being bothered.
However, Boomer was finding it a bit more difficult than he thought it would be to relax. For you see, Boomer was not reading the Neopian Times, but rather the Mountain Weekly, the local newspaper. And the article about the warmth and festivities in the south had been shoved to the later pages, leaving room for the “more important” holiday. Although most of the neopets world turned away from Grey Day, being as sad as it was, the Mountain Weekly embraced it. On the front page was the much re-run story of the heroic Tavi, who had saved the first recorded Grey Faerie from certain death seven years ago.
With her superior observance skills and quick thinking, Tavi challenged the wretched lock to a battle of intelligence. Risking her forever imprisonment, the brave youngster fought against the powers of darkness and prevailed, saving the saddened Baelia from her captor.
Blah, blah, blah. Boomer had read it so many times before. More than half of the small newspaper was filled with articles, pictures, or editorials commemorating Tavi’s bravery. Although it was a good thing that Tavi had saved the faerie, where were they now? As far as anyone knew, poor Baelia still didn’t have a new name (which she needed to regain her powers) and Tavi had disappeared with her after the first year anniversary. Grey Day had gone from celebrating Tavi and Baelia’s courage to celebrating all the grey pets in the world.
Not only was Boomer angry about how such a nice holiday had been ruined by despair, but also that even after everyone had lost interest, the Mountain Weekly still ran the same old stories to try to get people to “support the cause” again. What cause was there anymore? Tavi, the hero of Terror Mountain, had fled and taken Baelia with her, never to be seen again.
Boomer folded up the paper and finished his coffee, trying to relax. The Kacheek had adjusted to the harsh cold long ago, but for some reason he felt the need to throw another log on the fire, although it was still early. He sighed.
“Perhaps I’ll go for a walk instead,” he said aloud, trying to relieve the pressing quiet. Boomer sat very still, as if waiting for someone to respond. He may not have acted like it, but Boomer was rather lonely.
Standing, the Kacheek walked into the front hallway and donned his scarf. After straightening it in the mirror (he did have to look presentable even if he was unlikely to see anyone), Boomer opened the door and left his one story home. There was no one outside and the snow was nicely packed on the sidewalks, giving the look of a winter wonderland. However, Boomer did not stop to appreciate the scene before he started on a brisk walk towards the town center.
“Morning, Boomer!” called Mrs. Ply from her front step. The shadow Bruce waved to Boomer, holding her mail in one hand and a shopping bag in the other. “I’ll be making cookies later, be sure to stop by!” she told him, holding up the bag.
Boomer waved back. “I definitely will, Mrs. Ply, thank you!” Mrs. Ply retreated into her house with a smile. Boomer was almost to the square and Mrs. Ply was the only person he had seen.
When he reached the square, the first person he noticed was Mr. Chipper.
“Hiya there, Boomer!” said the blue Lutari. “Fancy some ice cream?”
“Sorry, it’s a bit too early for me. And I didn’t bring my coupons anyway,” Boomer replied.
“Ah, that’s fine. Bit of a slow start today, anyway. Well, I guess I’ll see ya around!” Mr. Chipper walked away, whistling.
“Chipper as always,” Boomer thought. It was rather nice in the town square, empty except for the shop owners and a few Neopians doing some quick shopping before settling into their homes for Grey Day. People weren’t really supposed to have fun.
Boomer had walked to the ice rink to find it empty, as it should be, except for one person sitting on a bench on the other side. “Maybe I’ll sit, too,” thought Boomer. And with that, he chose the nearest bench and sat down to enjoy the quiet.
“Excuse me,” said a voice. Boomer opened his eyes. Had he fallen asleep? The sun looked to be a bit farther along in the sky. Perhaps he had been in that state, the almost dreaming one but not quite...
“Excuse me,” said the voice again, a little firmer. “I don’t want to disturb you, but you are in danger of falling off this bench.” Boomer looked down and found that he indeed was very close to falling to the ground and skidding across the rink.
“Ah, yes, thank you,” Boomer replied, adjusting himself. He looked up to find himself looking at the pink eyes of a Kyrii.
“Of course,” the Kyrii replied. She stood still for a moment, and then turned away.
“Oh, erm, sorry, but do you have the time?” Boomer asked her. The Kyrii looked at her watch.
“1:50. You’ve been asleep for a while. You were here when I left to get a slushie and you still were after I came back.”
“Yes, I didn’t sleep very well last night,” Boomer replied. The Kyrii cocked her head to one side, considering something.
“Mind if I sit?” she asked after a moment.
“Oh, no, not at all.” Boomer adjusted himself to make room for her on the bench. There was a slight pause.
“So,” Boomer began, “I haven’t seen you around. Are you just visiting for Grey Day?” he asked, acknowledging her grey color.
“Yes,” she answered. “I’ve been grey for a while, but this is the first time I’ve come to Terror Mountain as a grey neopet to celebrate it. Tell me, I know Grey Day is sad and all, but why are there so few people?”
“Well, not many people live in the Happy Valley for starters,” Boomer told her, “and few remember that Grey Day used to commemorate Baelia and Tavi. Do you know their story?”
“Ah, yes, quite well,” the grey neopet replied with a nod. “I used to live on the top of Terror Mountain, and although that was a while ago, I still know the story.”
“It’s quite a shame that those two disappeared,” Boomer said. The Kyrii nodded again.
“So tell me, why did you become grey?” he asked.
“Oh, well, my friend was turned grey and she couldn’t get out of it,” she began. “But one day I stumbled upon a Grey Paintbrush and painted myself so she wouldn’t feel so alone.”
“Really?” said Boomer, slightly shocked. “Well... then you are a true friend indeed! Your friend is very lucky to have you by her side.”
“Yes...” The Kyrii stared at the ice rink as if she were remembering something. “We are very good friends,” she told Boomer, keeping the same expression.
“How selfless of her, to condemn herself to a life of grey for a friend,” thought Boomer admirably.
“Anyway, though, do people still remember Tavi and Baelia around here?” she asked Boomer.
“Well, yes,” Boomer started. “The local paper runs tons of articles about them this time of year, but the people around here also celebrate all the grey neopets on Grey Day. Unfortunately, the rest of the world seems to have forgotten the Grey Faerie, even in Faerieland from what I’ve heard.”
“Really? Even in Faerieland?”
“Well, I’m sure Fyora still knows, but poor Baelia seems to have faded from everyone else’s minds.” The Kyrii look slightly saddened to hear this, but she quickly recovered.
“I see... I suppose it’s because no one knows anything about them,” she said.
“Yes,” said Boomer, “I suppose. They did disappear six years ago, so I wouldn’t expect anyone to remember too well, except up here. But even up here no one really does anymore.” The Kyrii nodded.
“That’s too bad...”
“Yes, they were both very brave. Our kids need role models like those two.”
The Kyrii smiled. “Yes, I suppose so.”
Boomer smiled as well at her response. At that, the clock tower chimed twice.
“Well, I suppose I had better get going,” Boomer said, standing. “Will you be in town much longer?”
“No. I’m actually on my way to Shenkuu.”
“Really?” Boomer asked. “That’s quite far. Are you traveling with your friend?”
“Not too far, really, and yes,” the Kyrii replied, standing also.
“Where is this friend of yours?”
“Oh, well, she’s around somewhere,” she replied vaguely. “Thank you for talking to me,” she said.
“No, please, thank you,” Boomer told her, remembering his loneliness. “Maybe you both could stop by for dinner later?”
“No, thank you, but we really must be going as soon as possible.”
“I see...” said Boomer. The Kyrii paused.
“Well, goodbye,” she said, turning.
“Oh, but wait! I didn’t even get your name,” said Boomer. “I’m Boomer.” The Kyrii turned around.
“Mine’s Tavivannia. It was nice talking to you, Boomer,” she told him.
“Yes, you too,” he replied. “Well, if you’re ever around again, be sure to stop by, and bring your friend, too!”
“I’m sure she’d like that,” she said. “See you around.” Tavivannia turned again.
“’Bye,” said Boomer. And with a smile, Boomer returned to his home, feeling a little less lonely than he had before (but of course not before stopping at Mrs. Ply’s for some delicious cookies first).