Murgoh: Part Five
Each day for the next few days pretty much went the same
way. Murgoh woke up in time to see Orthas bring him his dinner. He ate, he went
to sleep, and woke to eat a second time, again with meat provided by the young
shadow Lupe. The brown Lupess came and went from the cave frequently. But the
old Lupe, though, spent a lot of time sleeping and only left the cave a few times
a day. As time passed, Murgoh eventually grew used to their company, even though
he still didn't know either of their names.
As the days passed, Murgoh grew stronger. On
the fifth day, he managed to stand up for a few moments. Two days later, Orthas
walked in to find Murgoh limping slowly around the fire. As the days drew on,
Murgoh grew closer to his daily visitor, as well. It started out that he didn't
say a word to him. When the first week was out, he started saying "hello" to
the Lupe when he came in, and "thank you" when he left the meat.
One day, almost two weeks after his arrival,
Murgoh mustered the strength to leave the cave. Limping slightly, he padded
around the fire and into the passage that, until now, had been unknown to him.
At the end of the passage, the red Lupe found himself standing on the edge of
a small cove, surrounded in a horseshoe manner by a rocky precipice. Several
caves lined this wall of rocks. The sandy shore of the cove, covered in snow
down to the tide line, dipped away from the rock wall to a small pool of salt
water in the center, cut off from the ocean beyond the cove with the passing
of low tide. Near where the ocean waters entered the cove, there was a tall
precipice, upon which a Lupe sat, looking out across the plains beyond the cove.
It was night. The stars twinkled brightly, unhindered
in their brilliance on a moonless night. Here and there on the banks of the
cove, Murgoh also noticed a number of Lupes, conversing between each other on
the beach, playing in the snow, or moving from one cave to another with various
"Murgoh? You're not well enough to be out here,
Distracted by the scene around him, Murgoh didn't
notice the familiar shadow Lupe until he spoke. Turning to him, he noticed that
Orthas had set his dinner at his feet.
"I suppose I am," Murgoh stated. "Seeing as
I'm out here."
"It doesn't prove a thing," Orthas said. "You
may have the energy to get out here, but can you make it back?"
"Sure," Murgoh said confidently. Turning around,
he limped back down the passage, closely followed by the shadow Lupe. By the
time he got back to his bed, though, he was feeling a little tired. It was a
bit of an effort to climb back into bed, and his companion noticed this.
"See what I told you?" he asked. "Although,
I'll have to admit, you're recovering faster than I expected. I think Nomad
is impressed as well."
"Who is Nomad?" Murgoh asked, having heard the
name twice. The other Lupe smiled.
"Sorry, that's what we call that old Lupe that
lives in this cave. I don't think anyone knows his real name, but we knew him
as a nomad, so the name stuck. He's been here for a while, I'm told. But…he
is getting old. Really old. He's starting to slow down a lot, needs more rest
than he used to…" Orthas trailed off, looking back to the passage that led out
of the cave. After a moment, he turned back to Murgoh and smiled. "Look, it
was nice, talking. But, I need to go."
"Wait!" Murgoh said. "What about that Lupess
who was with him?"
"Don't know her name, either," Orthas admitted.
"We call her Star Child, or Star, for short."
"Simple," Orthas said as he turned to go. "She
came to us from the stars."
Murgoh, alone again, pondered what Orthas told
him as he ate his dinner. For a little while, he started to wonder how Orthas
knew his name. He didn't remember telling anyone his name, in fact. He remembered
that the old Lupe, Nomad, knew his father, so maybe he knew his name that way.
Then, about halfway through his dinner, it hit him. Nomad and Star Child! Those
were the names his sister told him would shelter him when his strength was gone!
* * *
The days continued to slide by. Murgoh recovered
well from his injuries, but even now, he was still a little weak. He no longer
limped, but his stamina had dropped considerably from his injuries. It would
still take some time to get it back.
Once he was well enough to actually move about
the cove, Orthas took Murgoh on a short tour of the cove. He was told by this
young Lupe that the many caves served their needs and most of them branched
out into several smaller caverns, in which most packs could keep themselves
separate from the other Lupes, if they so desired. Smaller packs and loners,
however, either elected to live in mixed company, or were forced into the position.
Unfortunately, there wasn't much anyone could do about this. So many Lupes had
moved into the cove, it was inevitable that there would be space issues. Not
everyone could have their own cave.
There wasn't much of interest outside the cove,
Murgoh observed, but the tall precipice near the sea. It was about fifteen feet
high, and was wide enough to accommodate several Lupes at one time. This, Murgoh
found out, was what came to be the "lookout" post. And why not? You could see
a lot from up there; rolling hills, rolling waves, and almost every Lupe inside
or outside the cove for nearly a mile and a half.
The only other distinctive feature about the
cove was the pool of water in the center, which at this time of year was far
too cold to play in. It was fairly shallow at low tide, though, so if someone
was in a hurry, they could wade through it. However, such occurrences were rare.
Before and after his tour, Murgoh thought about
Ashley and her strange ability. The more he thought about it, the more it all
fit together, but the whole matter confused him. When she went hunting, she
knew where the prey was. When they were lost on the plains, she knew
that Kelthar's Lupes were coming before they arrived. When they were at Jason's
house, she knew that he wasn't going to make it home. She knew what was
going to happen before it happened. But how or why were still a mystery to him.
Lupes weren't known to have powers like that.
Late one evening, Murgoh found himself on the
lookout post, watching the half-moon cross the sky. His thoughts were wandering.
While walking around the cove, he spoke with a few other Lupes who, upon hearing
his name, recalled the Lupe who led the plains out of the clutches of the same
tyrant who threatened them again. Some remembered that Murgoh as being heroic,
if only for a few weeks; some of them thought bitterly of him for allowing a
pet Lupe to join his pack. Most of the Lupes weren't old enough to remember
the old Lupe at all, but those who had heard of him tended to follow the viewpoint
they were told. Murgoh, with some effort, decided to hide his family ties. The
last thing he needed was dirty looks from bitter strangers.
While his mind filled with these thoughts and
more, he didn't notice anyone else around him until someone walked up and sat
down beside him. Looking to his visitor, he recognized the brown Lupess, Star.
This surprised him. A lot of the time, when he saw Star, it seemed she was trying
to avoid him. He didn't know why, and never bothered to ask. The fact that she
sat next to him now baffled him. She must want something, but what was it?
"It's a beautiful night, isn't it?" she asked
quietly, looking up at the sky. Murgoh only nodded. "Winter is drawing to a
close, and I think a spring thaw isn't far off."
Murgoh didn't say anything. Did she want something
from him after all? Surely, she didn't come over just to talk about the weather.
Maybe if he said something. But what? He decided not to be direct.
"Uh…There are a lot of Lupes here, I noticed,"
he said, regretting it immediately. Just looking out at the cove at any time
of day, that could be plainly seen.
"Yes, there are," Star replied. "None of them
were here a few months ago. At first, it was just me and that old Lupe." She
shook her head. "No, that's not quite right. The first one here was…Nomad."
Her fur seemed to prickle in discomfort as if she had almost revealed something
she shouldn't. When Murgoh didn't say anything, she went on. "He found the cove,
empty, some time ago. He lived alone for the most part. When he got here, he
was too old to travel anywhere else. A neighboring pack visited him sometimes.
They grew fond of him, and kept checking in on him regularly. I…I showed up
next, 'from the stars', as they say. The pack that cared for Nomad found me,
half dead from my…my journey, and nursed me back to health. Fyora knows they
did their best, but some of my injuries would never heal completely."
She sighed and fell silent once again. Murgoh
knew without a doubt that she was hiding something…several things from him.
Namely, her and Nomad's real names. It probably wouldn't do him any good to
ask, but he thought he'd try anyway. However, when he opened his mouth to ask,
"The pack allowed me to live with them for a
while. I even helped them keep an eye on Nomad. I was fine for a while, but
because of what I've done in my life before, I wasn't comfortable living with
so many Lupes. I know that's surprising coming from me and seeing what I'm doing
now, but bear with me. Seeing as I wouldn't be fully comfortable living with
them, I decided to save them the trouble of constantly keeping an eye on Nomad
and take care of him myself. I'm not sure what really compelled me to do it.
I found out who Nomad was, and maybe that drove me to redeem myself from…"
She stopped short with a gasp. She looked nervously
at Murgoh, who was giving her an accusing look now.
"What are you hiding from me?" he asked.
Star didn't reply, staring uneasily at Murgoh.
She was saved from his piercing gaze when her name was called.
"Star! Star!" called a silver Lupe as he dashed
up the slope to the top of the lookout post. Star looked almost relieved to
be let off the hook, at least for a little while, and concentrate on something
"I think that that's one of Nomad's scouts,"
she said. This drew Murgoh's attention away from his suspicions about Star.
If this was one of the scouts, then maybe he had news of his pack.
When the Lupe reached them, Star nodded to him
in greeting. "Yes, what is it?"
"We found them!" he gasped, panting from the
long run. "We found Savak, and his pack!"
"What?" Star asked, a tone of worry seeping
into her tone. Murgoh didn't notice.
"Are they alive?" Murgoh asked, hoping against
Though he was still panting, the silver Lupe
gave him a cynical look. "Of course they are," he said. "They're on their way
here now, but they won't arrive until morning. Some of them are injured and
can't travel quickly."
Murgoh's head began to spin with relief. They
were alive! Ashley, Melissa…he would even be glad to see Kovo or Kosek if it
meant that his pack was safe.
"T-thank you for the information," Star stammered.
She shook her head. "Nomad should be informed as well. He's sleeping in his
den. Once you have told him, a place should be found for Savak's pack to settle
down for now."
"Yes ma'am," the Lupe said, nodding sharply.
Then he turned and bounded off again. Murgoh watched him for a moment. He almost
felt like dashing across the plains right then and there to find his family,
but he didn't know where they were. In his moment of relief and happiness, he
almost forgot about Star. Turning to where she was, he saw she was no longer
there. She had descended silently from the lookout post, clearly wanting to
avoid speaking with him for a while. The young Lupe shook his head. He didn't
care right now. Star's secrets could wait. His family was alive, and they were
coming to the cove.
To be continued...