When Grandma Was Grey
Tammy loved when it rained. Her family stayed in. Her mama made Meaty Chia Soup. Her grandma told stories that made the day go by like a lightning bolt.
The baby Kougra watched heavy, grey clouds roll over the hills that bordered Neopia Central. She pressed her paws to the window of her family’s tidy Neohome and waited for the first droplets to collect on the panes before the downpour came. Thunder clapped in the distance, and she grinned.
“I should hurry to the market before the rain starts,” Tammy’s father called as he hurried out the door. “See you later, darlings.”
The baby Kougra rushed to her father’s feet to whine in protest. But before she could beg her father to stay, her mother rushed in front of her planted a quick peck on Tammy’s furry forehead.
“I’m right behind you, honey,” her mother chirped. “I promised to help at the Soup Kitchen, and I’ll be late if I wait for the storm to pass.”
She put her paw on Tammy’s cheek.
“We’ll be back before dinner, okay?”
The door slammed shut as thunder rolled closer to Tammy’s Neohome. The Kougra’s heart sank. Now who would play Smug Bug Board Game with her?
A lump grew in her throat as she returned to the window. It had just begun to drizzle.
“I know you were hoping for a family day, little one …” said Anna, Tammy’s grandma, as she shuffled over to the baby Neopet. “ … But maybe these will cheer you up.”
Tammy’s urge to cry went away with the sound of her grandma’s voice and the smell of hot Banana Cookies.
Tammy raised her nose in the air and inhaled deeply. Maybe today wouldn’t be so bad after all, she thought.
“Will you tell me a story, Grandma Anna?”
The elderly Neopet thought for a moment as Tammy blew carefully on the Banana Cookies in both of her paws, trying to cool them.
“I think I’ve told you all of the stories I know, little one.”
Tammy stopped blowing on her treats and pouted deeply. “But …” she whimpered, feeling tears coming again.
“Oh! Except for one,” Grandma Anna said. “Can you guess what colour I was before I became elderly, Tammy?”
“I dunno,” the little Kougra said quietly. She bit into one of her treats and got comfortable.
“Well, guess,” Grandma Anna said with a laugh.
“Were you … a Faerie Neopet?” Tammy’s eyes were wide with excitement.
“No, not a Faerie. Guess again.”
“Were you … a Snot Neopet?!” Tammy snorted at her own joke.
Grandma Anna laughed and cuddled Tammy.
“No my dear,” she said. “I was Grey.”
Tammy gasped, confused. Her grandma was always so happy, it seemed. She couldn’t ever imagine her being dull and sad all the time.
The rain was coming down hard now.
“You’re probably thinking all Grey Neopets are dull and sad, but my life was full of adventure before I became an elderly and moved in with you, and your mommy and daddy.”
Tammy leaned in, chomping loudly on a cookie.
“Before your mother was born, I traveled the globe as a successful merchant. When one day, many years ago …”
Anna was being modest to her granddaughter about the massive Neopoint empire she had amassed in her youth. For years, she ran an extremely lucrative trade route between Faerieland and Neopia Central, which also took her to many corners of the world to provide supplies.
Whenever trouble broke out in Neopia, Anna was among the first to be asked if she would supply one side or another. Of course she would never ever do business with cursed princes, witches, or maniacal “doctors,” but she had the opportunity if she wanted it.
“ … When one day, many years ago I received a strange letter,” Grandma Anna continued. “It wasn’t signed by anyone. No return address. It simply said: ‘Bring us the cage that holds great power, and the lock that will keep it sealed.’”
“Who was it from, grandma?!” Tammy squealed.
Anna didn’t know at the time. She received many requests, but no customer had ever hidden who they were. How was she to deliver the items … whatever they were.
A cage that holds great power? A lock?
Anna was leading a massive caravan of goods toward Faerieland as she thought hard about who could have sent the letter. A feeling of dread rose within her. It hadn’t been long since Faerieland was restored from the terrible curse that turned all of its faeries, including Anna’s dear friend Baelia, the Grey Faerie, into stone. Could this be another dark plot?
Anna remembered that Baelia was once saved from a cage that had a magical lock. Surely someone in need of such items had no good intentions for them, Anna thought.
Anna reached the halfway point in her journey to Faerieland. And just then, the path before her became very dark. Anna called for help immediately, knowing she was in danger.
A terrifying voice erupted from the shadows that shrouded her path ahead.
“When will you have the cage and lock I requested, merchant?” boomed the shadow.
Anna was shaking, but contained her fear.
“I know those items will not be used for good,” she yelled. “I will not do business with you! You cannot scare me!”
“Silly merchant,” the shadow boomed. “I know this is your regular route. If I meet you upon it again and you do not have the goods I ask for, it will be your last day as a trader.”
And with that, the shadow disappeared.
Anna rushed her caravan to Faerieland and immediately told Baelia about the encounter, suspecting that dark forces were after her again.
“Dear Anna, I thank you so much for telling me of this nefarious scheme!” Baelia, the Grey Faerie said. “It may be the Dark Faerie Jennumara once again seeking to rob me of my powers completely.”
“We have to do something, Baelia,” Anna told the faerie. “If they aren’t after you, it’s certain that they’re after another faerie. We must do something to stop them.”
Anna gave Baelia the mysterious letter. Baelia scanned it for a moment and then grinned mischievously.
“I know just what to do,” the faerie said.
As Anna returned on the route to Neopia Central from Faerieland, she had some very special cargo on board. Baelia, the Grey Faerie, was hidden among piles of clothes and Neofurniture, waiting for the shadow to strike.
Just as expected, Anna’s path was shrouded by a strange darkness. She knew her strange customer had arrived.
“I – I have what you seek,” Anna said hesitantly, and walked over to the covered compartment where Baelia was hiding. She wasn’t sure her friend’s plan would work, but she sure hoped it was going to.
The shadows writhed and then disbursed to reveal a beautiful Dark Faerie wearing an ugly smirk.
“Well done, merchant,” she said as she slinked toward Anna, unknowingly walking into a trap.
“My name is Anna …” the grey pet grumbled. She became increasingly nervous the closer the Dark Faerie got to Baelia. She wore a look of guilt the smug faerie didn’t seem to notice.
“You will be compensated well for not being foolish,” the dark faerie said with a mean laugh.
Just then, Baelia sprung forth and flung a Supernova at the Dark Faerie. The Dark Faerie reeled backward and screamed in frustration as light engulfed her.
“Did you seriously expect to get away with this, Spirella?” Baelia yelled triumphantly. “I will be reporting this immediately to Queen Fyora.”
Baelia turned to Anna. “I couldn’t have done this without you. You’ve surely stopped great harm from coming to Faerieland again …”
Tammy had eaten all of the Banana Cookies by the time her grandmother finished the story.
“Wow! Ms. Baelia sounds so cool, just like you, grandma!” Tammy squealed.
“Maybe one day I’ll introduce you to her, on a rainy day like this,” Grandma Anna said. “This is her favorite weather too.”
It would rain all day. Eventually, Tammy’s mother and father returned, and the family ate Meaty Chia Soup for dinner and played Smug Bug Board Game. The day went by like a lightning bolt.