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Murgoh: Part Six


by zephandolf

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Murgoh couldn't sleep that night. He was too excited. He never thought he'd be overjoyed to see his family. In anticipation of the moment, he stayed out all night on the lookout post outside the cove, looking out across the plains expectantly. It wasn't until the eastern sky started to glow with the coming dawn that he saw any Lupe at all.

      The young Lupe was sitting down in the snow, trying to contain his anticipation. Several times that night, he had paced around that spot, which was clearly evident by the well-trodden snow around him. As he sat there, Orthas came up quietly behind him and sat at his side. The shadow Lupe was quiet for a moment, and Murgoh wondered if he was going to speak at all.

      "I'm happy for you," he said finally. "Your family is still alive, and they're coming here." When Murgoh gave him a questioning look, Orthas smiled back. "Nomad told me."

      "I can hardily believe it myself," Murgoh said, turning back to the plains.

      Orthas dipped his head. "I wish I was so lucky."

      A feeling of awareness crept along Murgoh's spine. "I-I'm sorry," he said finally.

      "Don't be," Orthas said grimly. "It's not your fault. You had nothing to do with it. Kelthar's Lupes caught us by surprise. They were ruthless in their assault." He smiled sadly. "That funny thing is, I only escaped because I was being punished."

      "What for?" Murgoh asked.

      "I and a couple of my friends snuck off to the Haunted Woods. We were forbidden to go there. We didn't stay too long; got spooked. We were caught on the way back. Since I led the party, I got the worst punishment out of all of them. While they were given extra chores for the day, I was forced to hunt the rest of the day without a bite for myself." He sighed. "I was on my way back with a batch of prey when the attack occurred. The pack was well outnumbered. Several of them tried to flee, but were quickly taken down. I only escaped because I had a head start, and no one knew I was there." He looked to the west, where the night sky was beginning to fade. "Sometimes, I wish I had stayed to fight. But I don't think I would have made much of a difference anyway."

      Murgoh was stunned. Orthas had run from battle just like he had. He still felt bad for abandoning his father, but he knew now that he wasn't the only one to make that mistake.

      "My story isn't all that different," he said finally. "Kelthar confronted us directly. It was just me, my father, and my sister Ashley. I tried to run, but one of the attacking Lupes caught me. You already know the result."

      "You're still a very fortunate Lupe," Orthas pointed out. Then he paused. "You saw Kelthar?"

      "Yeah," Murgoh replied.

      "What did he look like?"

      "Well, he looked like a normal brown Lupe to me with a scar across his face."

      "A normal Lupe?" Orthas asked, almost disappointed. "Are you sure?"

      "He was right in front of me," Murgoh said. "He was bigger than my father, and his companions. Why, what did you…?"

      "Murgoh!"

      Orthas was interrupted by a green Lupe dashing up the slope. The Lupe skidded to a halt as he reached them, driving a rut into the snow.

      "Murgoh!" he gasped, trying to catch his breath. "Nomad wants to see you, in his cave!"

      "Now?" Murgoh asked. "But…but I…my family…Cant this wait until later?"

      "There might not be a later," the Lupe said, shaking his head. "He's been so weak recently. I think…I think he's dying."

      "Dying?" Murgoh asked, scrambling to his paws. "I know Nomad's been sleeping a lot lately, but I didn't think that his life was fading."

      "I'm not really surprised it's happening," the Lupe replied. "But I'm a bit surprised that it's happening now. You haven't been around long enough to see how his energy has been fading over the last few months. Nomad might have been keeping it quiet, but many of us knew anyway." He paused. "The sad thing is, no one really knows him well. No one knows where he comes from. And yet, everyone here respects him like he was a member of their pack."

      Murgoh didn't know how to respond to this. He cast an uneasy glance to Orthas. The shadow Lupe, though he looked worried, only shrugged.

      "You'd better go," he said grimly. "You don't want to disappoint a dying Lupe. I'll keep an eye out for your pack."

      Hesitating a moment, Murgoh nodded gratefully to Orthas, then followed the Lupe down to the cove, suddenly admiring how much the Lupes in the cove seemed to respect the old Lupe. It was a marvel that a kind old stranger could mean so much to so many, just by opening his home to those in need.

      It didn't take long for them to reach Nomad's cave. At the end of the passage that led to the main cavern, the green Lupe held back. "He wanted to talk to you alone," he said. "I'll leave you to it."

      Murgoh watched a moment as the Lupe went back down the passage, then he stepped into the cavern. He didn't get far. As soon as he rounded the corner, he ran directly into Star, who was just leaving. Murgoh backed off suddenly, shaking his head.

      "Excuse me," he said. "I didn't know you were there."

      "That's alright," Star replied, smiling. "I was going to get some water for Nomad. I'll be back in a moment." She looked back into the cavern. "Keep him company, will you?"

      "Sure," Murgoh replied. "He called me down here anyway."

      Star gave Murgoh a surprised look, then peered back into the cavern. "That little sneak. I didn't even realize anyone else had come in here." She shook her head. "It doesn't matter. I'll be right back."

      Star moved past Murgoh down the passage, leaving the young Lupe alone in the cavern. Once she was gone, the young Lupe rounded the corner, and took a good look around. The fire was burning as it always had. But, somehow, it seemed stranger. It was as if knowing the warmth it gave to an old Lupe would not be needed for long. He didn't want to move further, but he had been summoned. The respect he had for the old Lupe was enough to make him walk around the fire to where Nomad kept his bed. The graying red Lupe was there, lying very still, with a fur thrown over his back to keep him warm.

      Murgoh hesitated. He didn't know what to do. Did Nomad want to talk to him, or did he just want his company? As he pondered this, the old Lupe's eyes opened, and he spotted Murgoh in his uneasy state. Nomad smiled, raising his head.

      "Murgoh," he said, his voice weaker than it was before. "I'm glad you came. Come. I'm told that Savak and the rest of your pack have been found." Murgoh nodded. Nomad coughed. "That is good. I would like to see old Gerthen again."

      The young Lupe hesitated. "Nomad, I don't know how to say this," Murgoh muttered, unsure whether to continue. It seemed as if the old Lupe knew Gerthen, but he didn't want to be the bearer of bad news. Finally, he decided: Nomad had to know. "Well, see, several weeks ago…What I mean to say is…Gerthen's died recently," he finally stated. Nomad looked surprised.

      "I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't know."

      "I know you didn't," Murgoh replied. "And it's alright. Only, it was a bad day for me."

      "Oh?" Nomad asked, with a cough. "How so?"

      Murgoh looked up at the old Lupe. "It's because, well, I liked Gerthen. I…I liked him a lot. And, just like that, he passed away. I kind of expected it, he being so slow and all, sleeping a lot. Then, when it came, it was all so sudden. He passed away in the night, and none of us had a chance to say goodbye. The rest of the day…I was feeling angry and irritable. I fought with my sister while we were going home…"

      Murgoh sighed briefly, then he continued. "My sisters and I were caught in a storm that night, and the next day, we witnessed some of Kelthar's Lupes driving a pack from their territory. Then, the next day…they did the same to us, except I got separated from everyone else. For the longest time, I thought they were dead too. For a while, I blamed myself for not staying to help my father fight Kelthar. But, I thought it over many times since I've been here. Now I realize, even if I had stayed, even with what fighting skill I had, we wouldn't have lasted long against him."

      "And yet," Nomad said, "your pack survives, and they are coming here now."

      "What does that prove?" Murgoh asked.

      The old Lupe smiled. "It proves that Savak had either luck, skill, or both on his side when he met Kelthar in battle. At least, enough to allow him to escape alive."

      Murgoh looked at his paws. "I…I never thought of it that way."

      "Being as excited as you were to find out they're alive, I doubt you took the time to think that possibility over," Nomad stated, coughing again.

      Murgoh smiled in embarrassment at his own glee. It seemed Nomad was right. But, thinking about it, Murgoh began to wonder how his father had actually pulled off an escape. Another cough from Nomad brought to mind the state of the old Lupe's health.

      "Are you alright?" Murgoh asked.

      "Well enough," Nomad said, shifting his weight slightly. He sighed slightly. "When I heard your father was coming here, I had hoped that I would see my old friend again." He turned to Murgoh. "We were good friends, a long time ago, Gerthen and I."

      Murgoh's ears perked up with interest. He knew Gerthen as a friend? It must have been long before he was born that the two knew each other.

      Nomad coughed and smiled again. "I imagine you're surprised that I could know someone in your pack personally. Come, have a seat, and I'll tell you the story of how Gerthen affected two great trials in my life."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Murgoh: Part One
» Murgoh: Part Two
» Murgoh: Part Three
» Murgoh: Part Four
» Murgoh: Part Five
» Murgoh: Part Seven
» Murgoh



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