Murgoh: Part Nine
"I hope you're joking," Kosek said. "A Werelupe? We can't
fight a Werelupe."
"I wish I were," Savak replied. "True, it's
only a rumor. But, even rumors can have an element of truth to them. And with
Murgoh and Melissa's dreams, I'll have to assume, for now, that Kelthar is a
Werelupe, or he controls one."
"But what about when we fought him?" Murgoh
asked. "He wasn't a Werelupe then."
"No, but a Werelupe only shows its true form
at the light of a full moon."
"That's only a week away!" Lilia pointed out.
"And it's the perfect time to attack the cove,"
Another grim silence fell over the pack. It
all seemed so hopeless. It seemed that, if they were to survive at all, they
had to leave the plains. All because an insane Lupe defeated so long ago came
back to terrorize the plains for his own selfish purposes, and the Lupe renowned
for defeating him was now too old to travel, let alone fight. Not only that,
but the crazed Lupe had increased his strength over the years as well.
The fact was, when Kelthar was defeated before,
it was at the paws of an army of Lupes, determined to liberate their home from
his iron grip. Now, two generations later, most of those Lupes were gone. Then,
Murgoh wondered, why couldn't an army like that be built again?
"Um," the young Lupe said tentatively. "Couldn't
we…ask some of the Lupes in the cove…if they wanted to fight against Kelthar?"
"You mean raise an army?" Kosek asked. "Are
you crazy? Most of those Lupes are at their wit's end, just for being driven
from their territory!"
"But he has a point," Savak put in, smiling
at his son. "It seems this young Lupe of mine thinks like his grandfather. I'm
not sure how he pulled it off before," he said standing up. "But I at least
know where to start. Do you want to come with me, Murgoh? It might be good for
you to learn how to deal with Lupes from other packs."
"Uh, alright," Murgoh replied hesitantly, following
after his father out of the cave.
* * *
Murgoh tagged along after his father for much
of the afternoon, keeping silent for the most part as he observed how Savak
spoke to each group of Lupes he came upon. The rate of success was mixed. Some
wanted to fight, some didn't, and some weren't sure if they were able to go,
but would if the odds seemed in their favor.
As afternoon settled into evening, the two red
Lupes found themselves with fewer volunteers than Savak had expected. Only about
two dozen Lupes said they would definitely go and fight with Savak, which, from
reports of Kelthar's activities, was probably half the number they needed for
a decisive victory.
"It's just not enough," Savak said, whacking
aside a pawful of snow. "We've talked with nearly every pack here, and less
than half of them are willing to go."
"What if we went to talk to some of them again,"
Murgoh offered. "Tell them how many Lupes are going with us?"
Savak nodded. "It might work, but some of them
said they didn't want to talk to me anymore. Besides that…"
Savak cut himself short as he spotted something
past Murgoh. The young Lupe turned, and he spotted a familiar looking blue Lupe.
That is to say, that was what he was in his prime. In his advanced age, much
of his blue fur was graying, adding a salt-and-pepper effect to his original
color. The Lupe, and several of his companions were being escorted into the
cove by several scouts, as Savak's pack had.
"Haklar!" Savak exclaimed. The old blue Lupe
turned in their direction. When he noticed Savak, he gave the red Lupe a smirk,
told his pack to keep with their escort, and padded in their direction.
"Well well, if it isn't Savak, the leader of
my neighboring pack," the old Lupe said in a gruff voice. Looking down at Murgoh,
he added, "And his pint-sized offspring, a spitting image of his father."
Murgoh blushed slightly, but he didn't turn
away, and kept his mouth shut.
"I didn't expect to see you here, Haklar," Savak
said. "What brings you to this cove?"
"I'm not sure," Haklar replied. "Old memories
just seemed to draw me to this place. This is where we gathered when Kelthar
attacked before." He glanced around. "And by the looks of things, it serves
the same purpose now."
"Another thing that happened back then is an
army was formed," Savak said glumly. "But, it doesn't seem that will happen
this time around."
"And why not?" Haklar asked. "I would have guessed
that someone would have mustered something together by now."
"I tried, but many are unwilling." The red Lupe
sighed. "I'm sure my father had better luck than I did."
"Your…father?" Haklar asked.
"Murgoh," Savak said. "I know you two knew each
"Yes, but he never told me he had a son," the
old Lupe said. He smiled. "I can't believe, living next to each other for so
long, that I didn't notice how much you look like him."
"Well, when he led the pack, he was white,"
Savak pointed out.
"As you were, for a little while if I remember."
Haklar shook his head. "But enough about that. We have business to attend to.
I need to know who you talked to…"
"Everyone," Savak put in. "Less than half are
willing to fight."
"Er, right. Ahem…well, maybe I can be more persuasive.
I do still hold some influence over a number of Lupes. Come on, take me to the
Lupes who refused you."
As Savak stood to lead the old Lupe on, Murgoh
spoke up. "If it's alright with you, dad, I'm going to stay behind."
Savak gazed at his son for a moment, then nodded.
"Alright," he said. "I've dragged you around long enough this afternoon. Just
be back to the den by nightfall. By that time, we may all need to talk."
Murgoh nodded back, then bounded off to another
part of the cove.
As he wandered about on his own, he listened
to some of the mutterings among the other Lupes. Many of them talked about Savak's
efforts to raise an army against Kelthar. Some, in response, mentioned Murgoh
and how he had done the same beforehand, but this brought little comfort to
the younger generation.
After a while, disgruntled at how his father's
efforts were going, Murgoh went back to the den his family was staying in. None
of the pack adults were there. Kovo and Thassa were sharing a meal together
off to the side, Ashley was sleeping in another corner of the den, and to Murgoh's
surprise, Melissa was sitting with Orthas, talking quietly together. He was
about to move in their direction when Kovo called him over. Hesitating, Murgoh
went to meet the brown Lupe.
"Has your father put an army together yet?"
he asked as Murgoh approached.
"It doesn't look like it," the red Lupe replied.
"But, there's no other way to reach Kelthar."
"Well, if it comes to it," Kovo said. "I'd be
willing to follow Savak into battle. We were there before Kelthar was, anyway.
He has no right to come back to the plains and try to take them again…Murgoh,
are you even listening to me?"
"Huh?" Murgoh asked, turning back to Kovo. He
was distracted by Melissa and Orthas, who were still talking. When he grabbed
Murgoh's attention, Kovo looked past him to the two young Lupes.
"They've been together off and on all afternoon,"
the brown Lupe said. "If she were my sister, I'd be bothered by it too. But,
you have to realize, she doesn't often see Lupes from other packs, let alone
male Lupes her age. What pack does he come from?"
"Orthas has no pack," Murgoh replied grimly.
"Not anymore, thanks to Kelthar."
Kovo nodded. "I see. I'm sure, by now, there
are many Lupes like that."
Murgoh nodded in agreement, lying down with
his head on his paws. He didn't rest there long before raised voices entered
"I'm not letting them go, Savak!" Kosek said.
"I don't want to risk that!"
"Do you think I do?" Savak asked. "We need all
the help we can get. They're almost adults now, and fully capable of taking
care of themselves."
"What about Ashley?" Kosok asked. "We both know
she's no fighter."
Murgoh glanced briefly at his sister across
the cave. She had woken up to the ruckus, and was looking scared and confused,
glancing from Savak to Kosek and back.
Savak, in turn, glanced at Ashley. "I know,"
he sighed. "But, the problem is, all the packs that are going are sending
everyone they have. I can't just let them do that and not follow suit.
How would that make us look? How many packs will stay with us if they bring
their children and we don't bring ours?"
"I want to go!" Thassa blurted out suddenly.
Everyone looked in her direction, surprised that she had spoken up at all. Murgoh
recalled how quiet she usually was. Speaking out like this was not like her.
"I'll go too," Kovo said, rising to his paws.
"And me too, if you'll let me, dad," Ashley
said in a quiet voice.
"We're going as well," Melissa said from where
she lay, glancing at Orthas.
Savak looked long at Melissa and Orthas before
sighing and looking to Murgoh. "Well, aren't you going to volunteer?" he asked.
"I wasn't going to speak out," Murgoh said.
"But I certainly don't want Kelthar to rule the plains. And I most certainly
don't want anyone telling me what to, or what not to do. I'm going."
"I guess we're outnumbered either way," Savak
said to Kosek. "Do you want to force them to stay?"
Kosek sighed. "No. I can't do that. As you said,
they're old enough to take care of themselves." He glanced around at the young
Lupes who voted against him, then looked back at Savak and smirked. "Except
"Who wants to go, regardless," Savak pointed
out. "If it's any consolation, I'm not putting any young Lupes on the front
lines. As young as they are, these Lupes would best serve supporting the veteran
fighters, watching their backs, as it were." He glared at Murgoh. "That means,
no running off to be heroes, or anything else that'll get you in trouble." He
turned back to Kosek. "I need to talk with Haklar about tomorrow's meeting.
Would you like to join me?"
"Sure," Kosek said, padding after his pack leader.
Once they were gone, Murgoh, and everyone else looked at Thassa.
"Well, that was something new, Thassa," Kovo
said. "Usually, you only talk to me."
Thassa blushed lightly, but said nothing more.
Kovo shook his head at his sister's embarrassment.
"Murgoh, could I talk to you for a moment?"
Orthas asked. Murgoh nodded, and Orthas led him off to another part of the cavern.
"What is it?" Murgoh asked.
"It's Star," the shadow Lupe replied. "I haven't
seen her all day. After she left Nomad's den, she just…disappeared. I'm worried
"You want me to help you look for her, don't
you?" Murgoh asked. Orthas hesitated, then nodded. Murgoh sighed. "Alright,
we'll take a look. But we can't stay out too late. My parents would get worried,
and I'd rather not let Kosek have another go at me."
Looking back to make sure no one was watching,
the two Lupes slipped out of the cave to look for Star.
To be continued...