There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 115,191,906 Issue: 230 | 9th day of Running, Y8
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The Shadow Lupe


by the_lugonzbi_stone

--------

Mystery Island was a place of great beauty, and it was great for relaxing. At night it was quiet and peaceful... but not exactly easy to wander through.

      On that moonless night, one pet could be found trudging through the thick, colorful land that made Mystery Island so famous. He was a lone Lupe; quite tall, but thin, as if he had not been fed in many days, and with fur that seemed to be made of the shadows themselves. He went on his way silently, carrying a black-bladed sword in his paw.

      The odd Lupe paused briefly and turned his steely silver gaze up to the sky, as if counting the constellations. After a moment, he lowered his gaze and continued on.

      He was known by a few of the islanders, mostly because he often stopped by to play Tombola. They said he called himself "Lord", and he had been wandering around for the past few months. Some said that he had once been a knight in Meridell, and had been banished because he had done something terrible. Others claimed that he had been sent to protect pets in need. No one ever had the chance to talk to him, though, so the rumors remained rumors.

      The Lupe paused as he spotted a clearing ahead. With what sounded like a sigh of puzzlement, he thought for a moment. The clearing could mean there was a neohome there, or it could simply be a clearing. He glanced up at the gap between two trees. He needed a place to rest; it was getting late, and he was tired. He could resume his wandering in the morning. An irritated growl rumbled in his throat as the thought of wandering passed through his mind. He was tired of it -after four years of it, who wouldn't be? Still, he had sworn to, many years before...

      He shook his head to clear it of such annoying ideas and started to walk toward the clearing. He stopped by the two trees he had seen before, and peered through the gap.

      To his disappointment, the clearing was already filled by one of the oddest-looking neohomes he had ever seen. It was mixed-and-matched; one room was made out of a white, fluffy material that looked like clouds; another, out of brick; one out of stone... and was that white chocolate...? To add to the confusion, another structure, shaped like an "L", rose up from the first floor. It was a hideous building, and completely out of place in Mystery Island. There didn't even appear to be any gardens...

      Lord glanced down, noticing a barbed wire fence around the house. So that was the security, hmm? It certainly wouldn't be successful. A good thief could just jump over it...

      An unfamiliar wave of childish curiosity washed over him. Who could live in such a strange building...? He slowly approached the fence and carefully jumped over it. The fence had been built closely to the house, so he had to press against the brick wall in order to avoid being injured. Perhaps the designer of the security had been smarter than he thought.

      Slowly, still pressed to the wall, he crept around the brick room, until he came to a door. Perfect. Now, how to get inside...

      "But Lugonzbi! I don't want to sleep!" a whining female voice exclaimed, from inside the room. Lord winced. Looks like he would have to find another room...

      "I know, I know." It was another female. This one sounded human. Lord guessed that she was Lugonzbi. "But please try. You need to rest after you lost in that battle... "

      "Again." The first voice again. This was starting to be entertaining. "I always lose."

      "You'll get better soon." Lugonzbi sounded soothing and annoyed. It was an interesting combination. "It just takes patience."

      "But I don't like patience!" Lord shook his head and turned around slightly. There was a window, there, and he took the opportunity to peer inside. The room was covered in red and fire decorations. In the corner, close to a fireplace, a brown haired girl was attempting to get a tiny red Shoyru to sit down.

      "No one does." The girl finally pushed the small Shoyru down, and wiped a bead of sweat away from her forehead. "That's why it is so important. Now go to sleep, Seeker. I have to put Jennifer to bed as well."

      "Awwww." The Shoyru -according to the human, her name was 'Seeker'- pouted. "All right. 'Night, lugonzbi."

      "'Night." The human walked to one of the exits, and paused to turn the lights off before walking out.

      Puzzled, Lord remained there as he thought over the conversation he had overheard. It was certainly odd, he reflected. The owner and the pet seemed to get along well, though... and neither seemed the type to build such an odd structure. Perhaps it was that Jennifer... Once again, he shook his head, and crept over to the room made of white chocolate. There was a conversation going on in there as well.

      "Lugonzbi, can't you leave the light on?" Another female, he reflected.

      "Well, all right. I suppose it can't do any harm. We'll just have a larger electric bill."

      "Thank you!" Lord found that, as before, he was standing very close to a window. He pulled himself up again to peer through it. This room was decorated with pinks and whites, and a white Peophin was standing in the middle of the room, chatting quite happily with the girl. The girl mostly yawned and nodded, not really paying attention to what her pet was saying.

      After a few minutes of this, the girl raised her hand to stop the Peophin from talking. Lord nearly let out a sigh of relief. The Peophin simply didn't know when to stop talking... his ears had actually started to hurt.

      "Look, Jen, I'd love to stay and chat, but I have to help in the Soup Kitchen early tomorrow. Sleep well!" She walked out and quickly closed the door behind her.

      Lord watched as Jen wandered around for a while, but eventually became bored, and quickly crept around her room.

      There didn't seem to be anything interesting about this family. The design of the house was strange, but that was the most unusual thing about them. It was time for him to find a campsite. Carefully, he pulled away from the wall, and paused when he realized he couldn't see the barbed wire fence, for the only light was the light the stars gave off. He would have to guess. He took a deep breath, and jumped...

     ----

      Lugonzbi jerked out of her trance-like state as she heard a cry of pain. She stopped walking -if you considered dragging your feet with your eyes half closed walking- to her room, and quickly ran into Jennifer's room, where she could have sworn the noise had come from. But the Peophin was peacefully asleep...

      She frowned and turned to the door to the outside. Carefully, she pushed it open. The light from the room illuminated a large, black figure, who was currently struggling to get out of the barbed wire that had caught it.

      Lugonzbi leaned against the doorframe and watched as the figure stopped struggling and looked up at her. It was a shadow Lupe, she observed, one whom she had seen a few times at the Tombola shack. He had been quiet and impassive then. Now, she noticed a trace of fear in his hard silver eyes.

      She took a step toward him, and he didn't shrink back. Carefully, she knelt by him and removed the barbed wire. She pricked her own fingers in the process, but she didn't really mind. He never moved, making it easier for her to get it done.

      Once the barbed wire had been tossed aside, she stood. He got up carefully as well.

      "I've seen you around before. Lord, isn't it?"

      A mute, slightly curt nod was the response.

      "What were you doing sneaking around my neohome?"

      "I was curious who would live in such an odd building," he replied bluntly, and quietly. His gaze never moved away from hers.

      She didn't respond immediately, but took the chance to look him up and down. "You look half-starved. Where is your owner?"

      "I do not have one." His reply was cool.

      "Where are you from, then?" Her brow furrowed slightly as she thought. She had a spare room; she could let him stay for the night.

      "I am from many places."

      "Name the first one, then."

      "Meridell. I was a squire... but I left."

      It was a shame that his black fur gave him the ability to hide his facial expressions. She could not tell what he was thinking.

      "Why did you leave, then?"

      There was no answer. Lugonzbi gave up on the questions and switched the subject.

      "Seeing as I am partially responsible for those wounds, I suppose I should tend to them." She stepped aside and motioned for him to come in. "I will get you something to eat as well."

     ----

      Two weeks had passed since Lord had first arrived, and early that morning, Lugonzbi could be found sitting in the main room downstairs, drinking a hot cup of borovan. In her free hand was a copy of the Neopian Times.

      She glanced up as Lord walked in. He looked better; his fur was not matted, and the haggard expression he had often worn was gone.

      Seconds after Lord came in, Seeker followed. On his first day there, Lord had kindly taught Seeker a few Battledome moves. The Lupe had quite a remarkable sword, and he was skilled, so ever since then, the young Shoyru had thought that Lord was the sun and the moon. To Lugonzbi, it was both amusing and surprising, for Lord had never given any signs that he didn't like Seeker's constant company.

      At times, Lord would seem to vanish and reappear about an hour later, looking at peace. At the trading post, there were rumors about a strange shadow pet that went around helping others. Sometimes, the things the pet did were small... like guiding a small pet back to its owner. Other times, it would find stolen objects, or the thief.

      Lugonzbi suspected the shadow pet was Lord, but she would never be able to get him to admit it. So, she kept quiet and observed how he got along with her other pets.

      Lugonzbi pushed her thoughts aside as Seeker tugged on her sleeve.

      "Jennifer said you went to the pound yesterday, and came back with some papers! Are we going to have a new sibling?"

      The girl glanced at Lord, who, oddly enough, was watching her intently. She turned back to Seeker. "Yes, actually... if he agrees, of course."

      "Cool! Who is he? Maybe I can talk him into it!"

      Lugonzbi grinned and pointed to Lord. "You'd better start, then. I have the feeling it's going to take a while."

      A few minutes passed of Seeker repeatedly begging for Lord to stay. The Lupe eventually agreed, and Lugonzbi had to admit it was probably because of sheer annoyance. This had sent the Shoyru flying out of the room, probably to tell the whole island that her hero was now going to be her brother. Lugonzbi and Lord were left in blissful silence that neither of them felt compelled to break.

      Eventually, Lugonzbi set her paper down. "That stone room you're staying in... the one that only has the coconut bed... what kind of furniture do you want in it?"

      There was no hesitation. "Stone."

      Lugonzbi looked at him curiously. "Why stone?"

      "It is simple and cold. It suits my lifestyle, and the way I wish to be."

      "Ah... " She paused. "Lord, you never told me why you left Meridell."

      He glanced down at the table. "Yes, that would be a bad start to this relationship, wouldn't it? Keeping secrets from each other is never good... " He paused. "I treated my fellow squires badly because I felt I was superior. Instead of being sent away, or something equally as fitting, I was merely scolded. I knew I was wrong, so I left myself. I vowed that instead of insulting others, I would help them instead." He turned his gaze up to Lugonzbi. "I get the feeling you knew this all ready."

      "Some of it," she agreed cheerfully. "Now, we need to fill out some paperwork... "

     ------

      To this day, Lord still lives with me and my other pets. He wanders off sometimes, and he still insists on uncomfortable stone as furniture, but we love him for it all the same. He's cold, but as he once told me;

      "If I ever let myself get attached to anything, I might be afraid to leave again. And in order to follow my vows, I must never become too tied down."

      He stays with us, but there is always the chance that he might leave. I don't like it, but if he didn't... well, that wouldn't be him.

      A protector cannot properly do his job if he is tied down.

The End

 
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