Murgoh: Part Ten
Guided only by the half moon, the two Lupes first snuck
around the cove, trying to find the elusive brown Lupess. Finding nothing, they
widened their search to outside the cove and still found nothing. The scent trails
leading to and from the cove were already stale with the cold. Clouds began to
gather as they ventured farther from the cove, and it soon began to snow.
Shivering for the third time since they left
the cove, Murgoh stopped and sat down, trying to keep in what warmth he had.
"I think we should stop and try again tomorrow,"
he said. "I'm starting to freeze, and we've been searching for hours."
Orthas hesitated. "But…what if something's happened
to her? What if Kelthar's Lupes…" He cut himself short, as if afraid of the
"If I remember what my father told me about
Kaylee, whom you know as Star," Murgoh said. "Then she's more than capable
of taking care of herself. She survived Mystery Island on her own, and she lived
through her journey from the stars to Neopia's surface. I think she can hold
her own against a few of those Brutes. Now come on! The snowflakes landing on
my nose are not melting!"
Disgruntled, Orthas nodded in agreement, and
Murgoh led the way back to the cove. The falling snow grew thicker as they trudged
through the fresh layer of white powder. A faint crunching noise made Murgoh
stop and listen. When Orthas noticed and stopped as well, the sound was more
distinctive, before it too stopped.
Someone else was out here.
If it were someone friendly, they wouldn't have
stopped like that. Were they being stalked? And if so, by who? As Murgoh tried
to think of something to do about it, the crunching footsteps came back, at
a quicker pace. It meant only one thing to the young Lupe. Attack!
"Run!" Murgoh yelled to Orthas. The two Lupes
darted in different directions, and Murgoh hoped that the stalker, whoever it
was, would lose them both. To his despair, it didn't lose him, and after only
a few bounds, it knocked him down.
Murgoh tried to get up, but he was quickly pinned
down by his assailant. Straining to see who it was, Murgoh saw a faint green
outline of a Lupe against the moon above him.
"I thought I had killed you before," said his
attacker. "No matter. I'll remedy that right now."
His eyes widening in fear for his life, Murgoh
struggled frantically to get away. When he expected his attacker's jaws to close
on his neck, the weight of his body was suddenly lifted from Murgoh, who quickly
dashed a few paces away, turning suddenly to see what had happened.
To his surprise, the green Lupe was fighting
with a dark colored Lupe, throwing clouds of snow everywhere. There was jaw
snapping, growling as the two bounded around each other, rolled each other over,
and each trying to get the upper hand in the fight. At one point, the two rolled
out of sight behind a snow bank, and everything went suddenly silent.
Hesitating, Murgoh chanced a look and padded
slowly to the top of the mound of snow. There, the darker Lupe, a brown Lupe,
released its grip on the green Lupe's neck, letting the now lifeless form drop
into the snow. Then it backed away hesitantly and sat down, panting heavily.
Peering at the Lupe through the snow, Murgoh
suddenly caught a whiff of the Lupe's scent. It was none other than Star, the
Lupess they were searching for all night.
Slowly, Murgoh padded down the bank and closer
to the Lupess, who gazed glassy-eyed at the green Lupe. She hadn't noticed Murgoh
"Star?" Murgoh said. The Lupess didn't respond.
Was she hearing anything right now?
Perhaps her given name, Murgoh thought.
The Lupess slowly turned her head in Murgoh's
direction. Her glassy gaze faded slightly, and she smiled at him.
"I couldn't let him hurt you," she said softly.
"Now after all we did to bring you back to life."
Assured that she wouldn't blindly lash out at
him, Murgoh moved a little closer, looking the green Lupe over. He had seen
this Lupe once before, and his scent confirmed his suspicions.
"This is…was the Lupe that attacked me," Murgoh
said. "He's one of Kelthar's thugs."
A distant howling made both Lupes turn. Through
the haze of snowfall, Murgoh could make out two more Lupes out beyond the cove.
"No!" Star growled. "There are more of them!"
"They're not yours?" Murgoh asked.
"Our scouts don't signal that way," the Lupess
pointed out. "It's too risky because it attracts attention." As she said this,
the two Lupes, hearing no response from their fallen comrade, moved away, and
out of sight. Star sighed. "We're done for now. Kelthar will surely find us,
now his scouts know where to look."
"Murgoh!" Orthas called.
"Over here!" Murgoh returned. In a moment, the
shadow Lupe rounded the mound, stopping short as he spotted the green Lupe lying
dead in the snow.
"Is that…the Lupe that attacked us?" he asked.
"Yes. And it was a good thing Star was around,
or I'd be just like he is now," Murgoh stated.
"There's no time for chit-chat," Star said suddenly,
turning to Murgoh. "We need to tell Nomad what has happened here. It won't be
long before those Lupes return with more of their friends."
"Dad will want to know too," Murgoh said. "He's
forming an army to overthrow Kelthar."
At the mention of Murgoh's father, a flash of
fear crossed Star's eyes. But she blinked it away. "Yes, I suppose he should
know, then. Nomad said I shouldn't fear the past. Perhaps now is the time I
took that to heart." Shaking the snow from her pelt, the brown Lupess sighed.
"Let's head back to the cove, then, and get this over with."
* * *
"There you are!" Savak said to Murgoh as he
entered the den. "I think Kosek is right; you are making a habit out of wandering
off. Where were you?"
Murgoh, ears down, walked right up to Savak
and, summoning up all his courage, he looked his father square in the eye. "We
need you in Nomad's den," he said. "Star has returned, and she wants a meeting
with you, Nomad, and Haklar…now."
Savak studied his son for a moment. Murgoh saw
how his father was thinking over what he had just said. Hopefully, he realized
that something more important than his tardiness had surfaced.
"You didn't answer his question," Kosek said,
walking over from the other side of the cave. "Where were you?"
"Not now, Kosek," Savak said, shooting a glance
at the yellow Lupe. He nodded to his son. "Alright. I'm probably not going to
like what news she has, but I can see I must go. You stay here and get some
rest. And Kosek." He turned to Kosek, who flicked his ears nervously. "Watch
the door and make sure he doesn't wander off again."
"Very well, Savak," Kosek said, nodding his
head to his pack leader.
As Savak left the den, Kosek turned to Murgoh.
His face showed no expression, but the Lupe seemed tense. Nervously, Murgoh
left the den entrance, moving to Melissa, who was curled up next to Ashley,
sound asleep. When the red Lupe sat down next to Ashley, the white Lupess opened
her eyes slowly, and looked up at her brother.
"Hello, Murgoh," she said softly. "I didn't
get to talk to you since we left grandma's house."
"Yeah, I know," Murgoh said. "And, I was meaning
to ask you. How did you know I would end up here?"
For a moment, Ashley held her brother's gaze.
But she turned away after a moment. "I can't explain it," she said finally.
"Images come to me, feelings, and other things. The dream Melissa had, and the
dream you had…they're almost like what I experience. But…it's not the same.
It was only an instance. And…I think…those dreams had an indirect source."
"What do you mean?" Murgoh asked. Her sister's
ability was confusing enough without her trying to analyze his dream.
"The light you saw in your dream might have
been the source of it," Ashley stated. "And if that's true, then she's keeping
a close eye on you. Your mysterious rescue is proof enough of that."
Murgoh didn't respond. What she said made sense.
Someone was watching him. But who? And on top of that, why would she bother?
What was so special about him, or Melissa for that matter? She had dreamed about
that same light.
"You should know, though," Ashley stated, looking
away to the den entrance. "When the coming battle puts you over the edge,
your guiding light will fulfill her promise once more."
Getting to her paws, Ashley yawned and stretched.
"I'm hungry," she stated, causing Murgoh to push his previous thoughts aside
for a moment. "I'm going to go and find something to eat. Do you want something,
"No, I'm fine," he replied, mystified by her
cryptic prediction. Ashley shrugged and walked to the den entrance, presumably
to speak with Kosek about getting a snack.
After Ashley left, Murgoh tried to go to sleep,
but he wasn't tired. Too many thoughts were swimming through his head and he
couldn't shut it out. In compromise, he decided to lie where he was, his head
resting on his paws as he stared blankly across the den. The whole dream thing
bothered him, especially after what Ashley told him. Her prediction confused
him ever more. There was also Kelthar to consider, but that seemed beyond his
control. The discovery of his grandfather came to mind briefly, as well as his
father's former adversary. Then his thoughts wandered to Melissa and Orthas.
It seemed so strange to him that his sister would find interest in that orphaned
Lupe. He didn't know why that was. Perhaps it was just concern for her well-being,
being her brother and all. But as he thought of it, somehow he came to the conclusion
that, since Orthas seemed to be much like he was, this kind of relationship
didn't seem that bad. This thought comforted him, and it wasn't long before
he finally closed his eyes for a restful sleep.
* * *
Later that evening, Murgoh woke up to familiar
voices coming from the den entrance. He recognized his father quickly. As he
yawned and stretched, he heard the other speak.
"I don't know, Savak. Are you sure?" She asked.
The voice was Star's, and she seemed anxious.
Looking to the den entrance, Murgoh didn't really
see either of them. They must have been just around the corner, and yet he could
hear them clearly.
"It would be worse if you didn't," Savak replied.
"At least allow her to get to know the real you, and not who you were under
"She already hates me for what I did to her,"
Star pointed out. "I don't think she'd want to speak to me."
"Kaylee," Savak said calmly. "She barely knows
you. She's been without you most of her life." There was a pause in that moment.
"I remember she regretted leaving you behind on the Vengeance."
"But that was my choice," Star pointed out.
After a moment, she sighed. "I suppose you're right. I'll go see her."
Murgoh tried to look less interested than he
was as Star poked her hear around the corner. After a moment, the Lupess padded
slowly into the den, moving directly across to where Kosek and Lilia were. Lilia
was sleeping, but Kosek was watching Kovo and Thassa who were playing in another
part of the den. When Kosek looked up to Star, he gave her a cool expression.
"May I help you?" he asked.
Star hesitated. "I…I would like to speak with
Lilia, alone if possible."
Kosek's ears rotated back and forth. "You know
my wife?" he asked.
"Yes," Star replied. "You see, I'm her…"
"Mom?" Lilia asked. She had woken up at that
moment, and was now staring wide-eyed at the brown Lupess.
"Hello, daughter," the Lupess said.
"Mom, I heard you were here, but…what are you
doing here?" Lilia asked sternly.
"Wait, this is Kaylee?" Kosek asked. "I thought
she was a shadow Lupess."
"Be quiet, Kosek," Lilia growled.
Star looked back to Savak, who nodded to her,
urging her on. "Savak suggested that I speak with you."
"About what?" Lilia asked.
"About…us, for starters. I know I've allowed
myself to do some terrible things in the past, but I'm as close to being the
way I was as I'll ever be."
Lilia glared at Star for a while before she
replied. "Alright," she said finally. "I'll talk with you." She looked to Kosek,
then back to Star. "But not here. We'll take a walk."
With that, the island Lupess got up and padded
stiff-legged out of the den. Star followed, but she paused as Savak whispered
something reassuring to her. When he was through, the brown Lupess nodded, then
proceeded to follow her daughter.
Once they had left, Savak walked over to Murgoh,
sitting down in front of him.
"It was a long meeting, but we finally have
a feasible battle plan in place," he said. "You'll be in the battle, as I promised.
Haklar is rounding up the troops again, and my father is working out the final
details." He leaned closer to his son. "This will be a long week for many of
us. There will be some battle training, and plenty of drills for everyone. Do
you have any questions?"
Murgoh studied Savak for a moment. The red Lupe
seemed steady as a rock, but as he looked at him, something in his eye told
Murgoh that he was, of all things, nervous. Though, Murgoh had to admit, he
was as well.
"When the battle comes," he said finally. "Can
I be with you?"
Savak didn't respond immediately. It seemed
he was examining his son like Murgoh had studied him. Finally, he sighed and
said, "I suppose you're old enough to fight with the rest of us. But are you
sure you're ready to be on the front line? There will be plenty of fighting,
and I won't be able to fully protect you."
"I'll be alright, now," Murgoh replied. "I panicked
last time, but I've grown since then. This time, I'll be ready."
Savak nodded. "Alright. Keep resting then. Training
starts tomorrow morning."
With that, the older red Lupe turned and left
the den once more. When he left, Murgoh curled up on the ground where he was
before, but he couldn't go to sleep yet. His mind was filled with many worries.
What had he gotten himself into?
To be continued...