One Last Song: Part Three
Although many people in Happy Valley knew of the feral
pair of Lupes living on the mountain, Kaiya and Radom really didn't know any of
them. Many viewed them as a nuisance, disregarding that it was because of their
lack of fortune that they had no home or owner or family to speak of, not any
fault of their own, and the only reason they were forced to steal sometimes was
because the villages wouldn't give them a chance to work for food or pay, and
there was certainly nothing to eat on the mountain. Too many people were blind
to the misfortunes of others, and so Radom grew up with no other children as friends.
But they did have one other person.
Although Radom had no idea how they had met,
all his life his mother had been friends with an elderly Blumaroo, who lived
alone on the mountain and whom they would visit from time to time. He gave them
food and a warm place to stay when they came around, but his mother refused
much of any help at all, even from their friend, so they didn't see him very
often. His name was Evette, and he had become something of a grandfather to
Radom, engaging the Lupe pup in faerie tales and wild adventures around Neopia
whenever they visited.
Although Kaiya had never left Terror Mountain,
Evette had done a bit of traveling in his youth, and through him Radom learned
all about the wonderful distant lands of Neopia. Somehow Kaiya was able to tell
him stories as well, of adventures in deserts and oceans and tropical islands,
and sometime he would dream about crossing the icy sea and visiting those worlds
for himself someday. This mountain was all he knew, and the world beyond it
It was on an occasion such as this that he learned
about something that most of his life had eluded him.
Radom and Kaiya had come to visit Evette one
crisp morning, his quaint little wooden cabin heavy with snow but glowing with
warm golden light. The two Lupes sat on the rug in front of the warm fire, while
their old friend sat in a plush grey chair and finished a dramatic tale about
a fellow who had climbed a volcano in Tyrannia in one adventure.
Evette was declining as the years caught up with
him, but although he was often seen hobbling about with his cane, he was still
full of spirit. His red and white striped fur was faded and he had a wispy white
beard on his chin; he was small and wrinkled, but his dark eyes twinkled behind
round spectacles as he spoke, and with each story he gestured excitedly and
fell right into place as though he had seen it all himself.
"You always tell them like they really happened,
Mister Evette," Radom had mused that day, his tail flicking against the ground
as he watched the admired Christmas Blumaroo.
"It's just Evette, my boy, how many times must
I tell you? And, I'll have you know," he added, that familiar warm twinkle in
his eyes, "they are quite real."
The pup's ears perked up curiously. "But I thought
they were all faerie tales!"
His eyes widened in wonder as Evette chuckled.
"You know, there is always some truth to faerie tales. Not in that they tell
us that darkness exists... but because they tell us that darkness can be conquered,"
he said softly, in that mystifying way of his. The Blumaroo leaned forward,
his expression overly delightful, as though he had some huge secret on his tongue.
"Do you know who those stories are about, my boy?"
"Are they about you?" Radom perked up, knowing
that Evette had done some traveling when he was young. "Did you do all those
Chuckling to himself, Evette leaned back in his
chair. "I'm afraid not." He glanced at Kaiya, who had been watching quietly.
They exchanged a strange, knowing look, and then the Lupe nodded slightly. "Radom,"
Evette continued, looking back down at the pup, "most of those stories were
told to me by... your father."
"It's true." Kaiya was watching her son now,
a look of outstanding compassion sparkling in her eyes. "Your father told me
everything I know about the world beyond this mountain. Those stories are all
about him. Things he did."
"Your mother thought it was about time you know,"
She nodded slightly. "I know we haven't ever
really talked about him, but..."
Radom's eyes were as wide as they could possibly
be, and his mouth hung open in a look of comical shock. He had only ever heard
his father mentioned in passing, a real enigma, and had never met him before
in his memory. "But... how...? Where is he? I... I don't..."
"His name is Etsu," Kaiya began slowly. "And
he's... different than us. And somehow... people couldn't understand that."
"Etsu is a Desert Lupe. He was unlike us in that
he was wealthy and lived with a human who could buy him expensive paint brushes
and petpets and anything he'd like." Evette, too, was explaining gently and
slowly, as if reflecting.
Etsu...? He had never even heard the name before.
Radom could only gape at the mention of an owner and wealth. "But- but if he
had an owner, why didn't he help us? Where are they now?" he stammered, staring
at his mother in bewilderment.
Kaiya, in an act extremely unlike herself, was
now staring at the wall as she spoke. "That's just it, Radom. He was fortunate
and tame, while I was ill-fated and wild. And his owner... was the least understanding
of all. Your father saw you when you were very small, Radom. You wouldn't remember.
But after that... neither of us ever saw him again."
"His owner took him away. He had greater things
to do, worlds to explore, goals to accomplish, and the human apparently didn't
think any of that would ever happen if they stayed on this blasted mountain."
Evette was frowning slightly, and between the two of them, Radom wished he could
just shrink down until he couldn't see them anymore. "But Etsu loved you both
very much. It wasn't his choice. I just thought you should know that. We don't
know where in the world he is now, and haven't heard of him since he left. I
know all this because Etsu and I were good friends. Since we were young we have
known each other, and that's how I met your mother and you."
He had always wondered how they had become friends
with the elderly Blumaroo. And it was through his father? The one that vanished
when he was a baby and never was seen again, because people didn't understand?
Why couldn't people just accept...? Radom was alright with it; he had never
met the Lupe so therefore didn't miss him, and all he could honestly need was
his mother, so it wasn't Etsu's absence that bothered him. It was that human.
How could he tear them apart? How did people DO things like that? "Mama," he
managed after a long silence. "I wish people would listen to your song. It's
the prettiest one in the world."
Kaiya looked to her side at him, her eyes widening
slowly. It was a look Radom had never seen on her before. And then, slowly...
she smiled. "Thank you, baby." She bowed her head to nuzzle his face gently.
Smiling softly, Evette just watched them in silence.
"I love you, Radom. More than anything."
"I love you too, Mama." He rested his head against
her chest and closed his eyes. That heartbeat against his ear now was all he
would ever need for things to be alright.
"Well, I don't see why I shouldn't come with
you. I need to pick up a few things in the valley, anyway."
"But people will think poorly of you if you're
seen with me, Evette."
"Oh, pish-posh!" He waved one white and red paw
dismissively. "If you think I'm not going to be seen around a dear old friend
because of those insensitive brutes, you've got another thing coming."
Kaiya smiled softly despite herself. "Thank you,
He just coughed in reply.
Turning toward Radom, another smile escaped Kaiya
at his already grumpy expression. "We won't be long, Radom. Evette and I just
need to talk and get a few things, alright? You can stay here in his house until
we come back. Won't that be nice, honey?"
"I guess," he grumbled. "But I wanted to come."
"Ah, nonsense! You just sit here and help yourself
to anything you need. You can play or eat or--" Evette supplied an imaginary
verb with another wave of his hand. "We won't be long, my boy. Chin up."
"Okay... thanks for letting me stay here, Mister-
I mean, Evette."
"Think nothing of it. Now off we go, Kaiya."
The Lupe gave Radom another quick nuzzle before
following Evette out the door. As the pup settled himself down on the rug in
front of the fireplace, she called back lightly, "Bye, honey."
The rest was just a blur. Perhaps an hour later,
the door had burst open and Evette had staggered in, heaving and breathless,
drained of color. He looked like a ghost, stunned and frightened beyond thought.
There had been an avalanche. Happy Valley was
alright and taking precautions, and only a few people had been hurt.
But Kaiya hadn't made it.
There was a sound in Radom's head. He wasn't
thinking. It was just a silent howl.
He must have fainted, because the next thing
he remembered was being held by Evette some time later. Radom felt sick. Broken.
Cold. Like all the world had stopped around him. He, to the present, can still
only remember tidbits of the next few days.
Evette would feed him and speak softly. He told
Radom he could stay with him for as long as he liked. When Radom remembered
what his mother would want him to say and managed, "Can I repay you for the
food and everything...?"
Evette had simply replied, "You could try. But
I won't take it."
Radom would wish for Kaiya. He would wish for
a million things that he could never have. And once, while crying hysterically
in Evette's arms, he wished that it didn't hurt so bad. "Wh-what d-do you w-wish
And the Blumaroo had held him close and replied,
"Just... for tomorrow. Because... you never know what will happen tomorrow."
To be continued...