Murgoh: Part Three
Murgoh nimbly landed on his feet after being thrown from
his opponent. At his next opportunity, he threw himself at the Kougra once more
as he was distracted by Ashley on the other side. Murgoh's attack threw the Kougra
off balance, making him completely open to an attack from the white Lupess, who
rammed into the Kougra hard enough to knock him off his feet. Before he could
get up, Murgoh and Ashley both climbed onto him to pin him down. For a moment,
the Kougra struggled to get free. Then, he stopped struggling and gave up, laughing
"Alright, you got me," Lukas said, straining
to look at his captors. It was the next morning, and while Savak was exchanging
news with his mother upstairs, Lukas and the two young Lupes had moved to the
living room. After talking for a little bit, they moved the furniture away from
the center of the room, creating a wide open space to wrestle. This was what
they did last time they came over.
When the Lupes let Lukas up, the Kougra shook
out his fur, then smiled at his competitors. "You're getting pretty good at
this, and your teamwork is improving."
"Thanks Lukas," Murgoh said, feeling a surge
of pride from the praise the Kougra was offering. "We're going to need the practice."
Lukas's expression suddenly grew more serious
at this, and the young red Lupe regretted saying anything at all about their
situation on the plains. "What will you need the practice for?" he asked.
"In case Kelthar makes a move," Ashley blurted
There was a long, awkward silence following
this statement. Murgoh, stunned, could only stare at his sister, who was watching
Lukas innocently, while the Kougra glanced from one Lupe to the other, clearly
holding back his true feelings toward what the young Lupess had said. After
a while, Lukas took a deep breath, then asked, "Who's Kelthar?"
"Lukas," Savak said, entering the living room
from the hall. He glanced at Murgoh and Ashley briefly as he approached his
old Kougra friend, but he said nothing to them. "We need to talk. Privately."
"Sure, Savak," Lukas said, with an uneasy glance
to Murgoh. Murgoh said nothing, but only lowered his gaze, his ears falling
against the back of his head. Out of the corner of his eye, the young Lupe watched
as his father and the Kougra left the room. Then he turned to Ashley.
"Nice way to get Lukas worried," he mumbled
in Ashley's direction. The white Lupess, hurt by his remark, lowered her ears
"I'm sorry," she said. "It just came out. It
"Well, next time," he replied scornfully, "make
sure it doesn't."
Leaving his sister to mope, Murgoh moved toward
the hall, hoping to catch what Savak and Lukas were discussing. They were talking
down the hall from him in hushed tones, their backs turned. Even straining to
hear, he could only catch a few words here and there. Something about rumors,
a mention of activity somewhere, and the name Kelthar was spoken a few times.
Murgoh was thinking about sneaking down the hall when he felt something prod
his hind leg.
The red Lupe could barely hold back a yelp of
surprise as he jumped away from what had touched him. Looking back at where
he was, he saw his sister there. He barely noticed a worried look about her,
but he pushed that out of his mind as he stepped closer to her.
"Ashley!" he growled. "Don't do that! I'm trying
to find out what they're talking about!"
"I know," she replied, looking at her paws.
"I'm worried about that too, but I need to talk to you. I don't know if I'll
get another chance."
"You bet you won't," Murgoh said. "Not with
the way you're acting."
"T-that's not what I meant," Ashley pleaded.
"Murgoh, when I woke up after the storm…I saw things. I…I don't know how say
Hearing a sound from upstairs, Murgoh hushed
his sister and listened to the sound of pawsteps coming down the stairs. Grandma
Jessie was coming. Not wanting to be seen, he shrank back behind the doorframe
and waited for her to pass by. He caught sight of the blue Lupess briefly as
she passed, but she didn't notice him. After that, Murgoh didn't look back around
the corner. He was sure that, if he did, his father, who would be looking at
Jessie, was sure to see him. What would he think if he found his son by the
Listening carefully, Murgoh couldn't distinguish
any particular words, but he did hear the three Lupes start walking back to
the living room. A fear of discovery surged through him, and he turned to his
sister. "They're coming back!" he gasped. "Come on, let's get away from the
Surprised, Ashley did as her brother said, and
they moved back to where they were. A moment later, Savak and Lukas reappeared
in the living room, in seemingly lighter spirits than when they left. Jessie
followed soon after. They were all smiling in an almost jovial manner as if
they were sharing a private joke. When they walked over to Murgoh and Ashley,
Savak nodded to the door.
"Come on, you two," he said. "We need to be
heading off soon, but your grandmother will want to say goodbye before you go."
"Alright," Ashley said sadly. She didn't like
goodbyes, but she understood that they were necessary sometimes. She padded
up to Jessie, who crouched down in front of the small white Lupess.
"Goodbye, little one," she said. "Keep safe
and do as your father says." She gave Ashley a quick lick on the end of her
nose, which brought a brief giggle out of the small Lupess. After that, she
got up and moved to stand next to Savak. The red Lupe smiled down at his daughter
before turning to Murgoh.
"Aren't you going to say goodbye too?" he asked.
"Yeah, sure," Murgoh said, smiling weakly to
his father. It wasn't that he didn't like Jessie. He loved his grandmother.
But he was just not fond of goodbyes either. He pushed his sadness aside as
he walked up to the blue Lupess, who nuzzled him as he came close.
"You've grown so much since I last saw you,"
she said. "You look just like your father. I'm sure you'll be just as strong
as he is now when you grow up."
Blushing under his fur, Murgoh nodded meekly
to Jessie, muttering goodbye before standing next to Savak with his sister.
Once Murgoh had taken his place at his father's
side, Jessie walked over to Savak, and looked him square in the eye. "Keep safe,
will you?" she asked. "Even when you were chasing Kaylee, you worried me."
"I'll try to keep out of trouble, Jessie," Savak
said calmly. "But you know just as well as I do that trouble often finds us
anyway. None of us know exactly what this Kelthar is planning." He leaned closer
to Jessie, his voice lowering almost to a whisper. "I promise, though, that
I will come back before the winter is out."
Giving Jessie a quick lick on the cheek, Savak
led the way to the front door. When they stepped out on the porch, everyone
exchanged a few quick goodbyes, then the three plains Lupes padded up the front
walk and turned down the street, headed for home.
As they walked down the street, Murgoh glanced
occasionally at his white sister. She was being awfully quiet; more so than
usual. The way she looked to the ground as she followed her father; either she
was deep in thought, or she was upset about something. Moving closer to her
and matching her stride, Murgoh asked, "What's the matter?"
For a moment, Ashley did nothing but follow
in Savak's pawsteps. Then, she stopped. Murgoh stopped as well, wondering exactly
what his sister was up to. He was about to ask when she looked at him with that
same faraway look that had unnerved him back on the plains. Before he could
say anything, she spoke.
"Remember this," she muttered. "Before you
get to our home, an aging nomad and a star-child will shelter you in theirs
when your strength has faded."
Murgoh turned, surprised, to his sister, who
withdrew into herself once more. He thought to ask her what she meant, but he
knew that when Ashley withdrew, it was often hard to get anything out of her.
"Are you two coming or not?" Savak called back
to them. "It's a long way home, and I want to get there before nightfall."
* * *
They were deep into the plains as the sun rose
high above them. Even before they entered their territory, Murgoh could tell
that his father was nervous. His movements were stiff, and his fur bristled
at any unexpected sound. A southerly wind carried with it dark clouds from the
coast. When he noticed this, the young Lupe stopped in his tracks and scented
"Another storm's coming," he said.
"All the more reason to get home as soon as
possible," Savak stated bluntly.
"Alright, I'm coming." Murgoh turned to follow
Savak again when he noticed that Ashley had stopped as well. She was looking
to the south, her fur bristling. Worried, he moved closer to his sister.
"Ashley, are you okay?" he asked.
"Something's wrong," she muttered softly. "They
These words immediately made Murgoh feel uncomfortable.
Last time she felt something wrong, a whole band of Kelthar's Lupes drove a
pack out of their territory. Nervously, he prodded his sister.
"Come on," he said. "Let's go before…before
they show up."
Ashley obliged, following at her brother's side
until they caught up with Savak. The older red Lupe had stopped in his tracks
and was carefully scenting the air. After a moment, he growled, saying, "Intruders."
"How observant of you."
Surprised, Murgoh turned to see four strange
Lupes padding confidently across the snow to them. The one in the lead, an old
looking brown Lupe, had to have been one of the largest Lupes Murgoh had ever
seen. Blood-red eyes glared in hostility at Savak. The massive scar across his
left eye and several others that marked his muzzle made Murgoh guess that there
were more to be had under his fur. This Lupe had seen a lot of action.
"Who are you to come trespassing on my territory?"
Savak demanded. "I'm sure we've never met before."
"Not personally, no," the intruder said. "But
your reputation precedes you, Savak, son of Murgoh. You're the hero of the plains,
saving most of its population from, what did they say, an evil shadow Lupess?"
"You have me at a disadvantage, then," Savak
stated. "I don't know who you are."
"Surely my reputation must have preceded me
as well," the brown Lupe said. "I'm told that many parents tell their children
to behave if they don't want me to take them in their sleep. You see, a long
time ago, I was well known on the plains." His eyes narrowed as he glared at
Savak with an unveiled hatred. "That is, until your father changed all that."
"Kelthar!" Murgoh noticed the surprise in his
father's voice. He guessed that Savak didn't expect to meet the "Scourge of
the Plains" this soon. Savak continued. "What do you want with me?"
Kelthar examined the claws on his paw for a
moment. "Well, I want your territory, for one. There's no use in ruling the
plains if you can't have it all." Then he looked to Savak, grinning maliciously.
"I also wanted to take revenge on your father for denying me my place as lord
over all the packs. Unfortunately, I've learned that Murgoh is dead. And, since
he's not here to receive his punishment, you'll have to do."
Slowly, the four Lupes advanced on Savak, Ashley,
and Murgoh. Scared as he was, Murgoh found himself unable to move. He could
only watch as Savak placed himself between his children and Kelthar's Lupes.
As the intruders continued their advance, Savak raised his maw to the air, releasing
a long, desperate howl. Murgoh's hopes rose slightly. His father was calling
However, when Savak howled, Kelthar dashed up
to the red Lupe, bowling him over. "Stop that!" he ordered. Startled, both Murgoh
and Ashley backed away from Kelthar for a moment. But when Savak retaliated
by biting Kelthar's leg, Murgoh and Ashley jumped into the fray as well, beating
the brown Lupe back.
Then Murgoh suddenly felt himself get knocked
aside. Shaking his head, the young Lupe looked up to see one of Kelthar's Lupes
padding after him. He was a good sized green Lupe who snarled viciously at Murgoh
as he advanced. Looking past this Lupe, Murgoh saw his father and Ashley fighting
off the other three Lupes. But even as they did, it became clear to Murgoh that
they couldn't hold them off for long. A fear came over the young Lupe and, without
thinking about it, he felt himself get up and run. He ran back east as fast
as his legs could go. He ran for fear of his life. Even when he heard another
howl, he didn't stop running. He didn't notice anything until he was knocked
off his feet.
Landing with his snout in the snow, Murgoh quickly
got up and turned to face his attacker. He didn't get a chance to see him as
a blow fell across his face. As he tried to get up and run again, he felt his
attacker bite his leg. Fear driving him, he turned on his attacker and bit at
anything he could reach. He didn't even know what he bit, but he heard a yelp
just before he felt a jab in his stomach that sent him flying once more. This
time, when he hit the ground, he landed on his back and the breath was knocked
out of him. He tried to move, but he couldn't. All he could do was watch in
fear as his attacker stood over him, rubbing the spot on his neck where Murgoh
"You'll pay for that, you brat!" he exclaimed.
Unable to do anything else, Murgoh whined as he closed his eyes, awaiting the
* * *
A strange, fluttering noise aroused the young
Lupe. He didn't know how long he had been out. He felt weak and numb. He didn't
have the energy to move. He managed to crack open his eyes for a moment. In
that moment, he saw snow falling around him. The dark clouds were further darkened
as night began to set in. A chilling wind washed over the white hills, scattering
the snow flakes. Before he slipped into unconsciousness once more, he noticed
that the snow around him was a lot brighter than it should have been, as if
a light were shining over him. A soothing female voice spoke to him, saying,
Come what may, I will be watching you. However, he didn't have time to
think about this before he slipped away into a dreamless sleep.
To be continued...