Snow on the Brightvale Hills: Part Three
The Haunted Woods were dark and misty. Outside the air was
cool and fresh, perfect for the Month of Awakening. Inside the Woods, however,
it was cold, damp, and miserable. Telperion and Gemini stuck close together, and
Requiem walked with his head low. None of them spoke.
At last, they came to the main town. All manner
of terrifying monsters passed them by, leering and drooling disgustingly. Requiem
stepped in front of the two Lupes and snarled, indicating that the creatures
should get on their way, lest something unspeakable should befall them. Many
complied, not wanting to get into a tussle with the three strong and, frankly,
FRIGHTENING Neopet travellers.
"And you say you're afraid of these creatures?"
Gemini murmured to Requiem. The Uni rolled his red eyes and walked on. Telperion
smiled, and received a hideous grin from a toothless old Zafara crone for his
pains. He soon discovered that smiling is not good in the Haunted Woods.
As the trio passed the Brain Tree to enter into
the thick forest behind, they heard a deep, creaking voice call to them. Slowly,
feeling terror mount in their bodies, they turned. Sure enough, the great Tree
had its burning red eyes fixed on them. "WHERE ARE YOU GOING?" it boomed.
"We--we're going to see the Werelupes," Telperion
stammered. "To save our brother."
"WHY DO SUCH A FOOLISH ACT?" the Tree asked
them. "TO DO SO IS CERTAIN DESTRUCTION."
"We want to help our brother. He's important
to us. We can't just let him be taken!" Gemini said.
The Tree pondered this answer. "I SEE. ALLOW
ME TO GIVE YOU A PIECE OF ADVICE, YOUNG SAPLINGS," he said to them, prompting
a small smile on each face. "STAY ON THE PATH. MUCH WILL TRY TO LURE YOU AWAY,
BUT NO MATTER WHAT, STAY ON THE BEATEN ROAD. TRUST NO ONE. STAY TRUE TO EACH
OTHER. YOU HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO YET."
The three were puzzled, but thanked the Tree
politely. The Tree bowed to them. If you've never seen a tree bow, my friend,
you are missing out. It was one of the single most amazing things Telperion
had ever seen, and one of the highlights of this journey for years to come.
The trio bowed back and walked through the trees onto the trail.
The wind was like ice. It cut through Telperion's
thick black coat like shards of glass. Gemini shivered and whimpered softly,
and Requiem stood next to her for warmth. At last, the Halloween Uni stopped
and looked at his companions. "We should rest here for the night," he said.
"We won't be able to fight well if we're not rested properly." The two Lupes
agreed and lay down, curling up close together to share body heat. Requiem lit
a fire with his flaming hooves and they leaned in close to it, their faces bathed
in the warm, flickering glow. The three of them talked for some time, each partaking
of the delicious Everlasting Apple. The fire seemed to make the Woods less damp
and dreary, and soon the three fell asleep with full bellies.
Telperion was plagued by terrible nightmares.
In his dreams, Falanor appeared as a hideous Werelupe, and he attacked both
Telperion and his older sister. Telperion tried to reason with his brother,
but Falanor merely roared and snapped at them. It was clear that this was not
his brother and never would be again. Falanor launched himself at his younger
brother, his teeth like ivory daggers, and it was at this moment that Telperion
awoke with a cry.
The young Lupe looked around, somewhat disoriented.
Gemini and Requiem were sleeping soundly by the dying embers of the fire, and
the woods were black as pitch. Somewhere deep in the woods, Telperion could
hear someone crying. Their voice was soft, like a child's, and they were begging
for mercy. Telperion's Lupine instincts kicked in at that point, and without
a second thought, completely forgetting the Brain Tree's advice to stay on the
path, he ran into the forest to aid the crying, lost soul.
The young Lupe wandered in the pitch-blackness
for an age. All around him, voices were crying out for his help. "Where are
you?" he called to them desperately. They merely cried louder and more frantically,
whimpering for someone to free them from this torture. Just when Telperion was
about to give himself up for lost, he was terrified to hear his brother's voice
joining the others. With renewed energy, he started to run madly through the
twisted trees, shouting for his brother.
Something tackled him and pinned him to the
ground, and a hissing voice whispered urgently in his ear. "Hush, you fool!"
whispered the voice. "Don't go running around shouting in the middle of the
night like this! Any number of things could have heard you!"
"Who are you?" Telperion said shakily.
The stranger got off of him and let him up.
It was a female Kougra, its fur black as night, with elegantly pointed ears
and broad wings. "My name doesn't matter. All I can say now is that you are
far from the path, and nearing Werelupe territory. I would advise you to turn
back, but that would do nothing. No one can escape these woods, unless they
fly." The Kougra smiled, showing off wicked fangs, and spread her wings. "Fortunately,
"Do you know the way to the Werelupe camp?"
Telperion asked her. "I must go there at once. They've taken my brother and
I must help him."
The Kougra's yellow eyes flashed and she bared
her long fangs. "I don't like the idea... Lupes always chase Kougras, and these
are Werelupes we're talking about... but you do need my help. Without me, you'd
never make it out of here alive." She thought for a few moments, then nodded.
"I'll take you to their camp, yes, but then I'm leaving. The Werelupes took
a few prisoners along the path, and will have them tied up by now. If we hurry,
we can make it there before they eat them." Telperion shivered, and the Kougra
smiled at him. "Relax," she said, "I'll protect you."
"I can protect myself," the young Lupe said.
"I've got this." He showed her the Werelupe Claw that hung around his neck.
She peered at it in astonishment.
"Where did you get that?" she breathed.
"A gift from Queen Fyora herself. I also wear
the Faerie Tabard, blessed by the faeries, so no harm can come to me."
The Kougra grinned at him. "I like you, kid.
Come on, we should hurry."
The two went in silence. Telperion was amazed
at how quietly and stealthily his new Kougra friend moved through the shadows.
Her dark coat (and his as well) melted into the darkness like ice into hot water.
All either could see of the other were their eyes. Hers glowed like lanterns,
and his were bright and eager for adventure.
Eventually, they reached the edge of a clearing.
"This is where I leave you," whispered the Kougra. "The Werelupes are just beyond
those trees; if you listen, you can hear their talk." Telperion could indeed
hear their deep, growling voices. "I don't dare go nearer. Good luck to you.
I hope you find your brother safely," the Kougra said, and with that, she disappeared
into the darkness like a ghost. Telperion crept slowly forward, keeping himself
hidden in the shadows. He reached a break in the trees and looked out. What
he saw horrified him.
A fire was burning in the centre of the clearing.
At least a dozen Werelupes were milling about, talking and laughing. Their laughter
was little more than hoarse snarls, and the sound sent shivers down Telperion's
spine. Near the fire, tied to trees, were Gemini, Requiem, and Falanor. Gemini
and Requiem were both struggling mightily, but Falanor was limp in his bonds.
Gemini looked around and said something to Requiem; Telperion thought he saw
her lips moving to form his name, but he couldn't be sure. The Claw around his
neck was glowing with a fierce blue light. Telperion hastily moved to cover
its light with his paw, but it was too late. He'd been seen.
The Werelupes yanked him out of the trees and
threw him to the ground. "Look what we have here," one of them growled. "A little
spy! Come to join your comrades, pup?"
Telperion snarled fiercely and snapped at the
Werelupes, who laughed. The young Lupe stood up straight and held his head high.
"Release my siblings, and release the Uni!" he demanded. "Or by Fyora's name,
I shall annihilate you all!"
"Big words for such a small pup!" one of them
"Do not mock him!" called out an aged voice.
An old grey Werelupe came forward through the crowd. "He wears the Claw. Fyora
has blessed him; we cannot touch him now!"
The Werelupes were silent, wary... all but one.
That one was young and strong, his fur a deep red-brown. He scoffed openly at
the old one. "Don't be a fool, grandsire," he said. "This pup could be killed
by one swipe of my paw!" The Werelupe demonstrated by striking Telperion across
the face. Gemini shrieked as she watched her brother fall.
In an instant, Telperion was up and snarling.
The Claw was burning blue and the Faerie Tabard shone as the Shadow Lupe seemed
to grow in stature. He snatched up the Fire and Ice Blade from where it lay
near his sister and brandished it. "Come to me, if you dare," he growled fiercely.
The reddish Werelupe roared and lunged at Telperion.
The Fire and Ice Blade flashed and set the Werelupe's thick fur alight, at the
same time biting at his flesh, numbing it painfully. The Werelupe let out a
howl of pain. "Get him, you fools!" he roared to his comrades. Telperion ducked
them and slashed the bonds of his companions, and they snatched up their weapons.
Gemini took the Fire and Ice Blade from Telperion and plunged into the fray
with a shrill battle cry. Requiem reared up, whinnying fiercely, and brandished
the Sword of Skardsen. He slashed at the enemy, blocked their attacks with his
shield, all the while sending beams of dark magic from his spiralled horn. Telperion,
for his part, fought hand-to-hand, tooth-and-claw, like a wild thing. He bit
and clawed and slashed, and the sounds of battle rose high into the stillness
of the night air. Blood flowed freely, and soon every Werelupe fled the camp,
howling and whimpering.
"That was amazing!" Gemini cried, embracing
her little brother. "You really have grown up!"
Telperion smiled at her, then turned towards
Falanor. The Tyrannian Lupe made no sign of life. "Falanor," Telperion whispered.
"Wake up... please..." Tears shone in his eyes, for his brother made no reply.
Suddenly, the familiar motes of light surrounded
the four of them, and soon the Haunted Woods vanished around them, and was replaced
by the beautiful scenery of Faerieland. Fyora herself stood waiting for them.
"You have done marvellously," she said, smiling broadly. "But you are injured,
and that is why I brought you here." She gestured towards the Healing Springs,
and the Water Faerie who ran it indicated that they should bathe in those magic
waters. The three slipped in, and soon felt their health restoring. Then, with
Fyora's help, they dipped Falanor into the water. They waited anxiously, and
soon joy flooded each of them as the Lupe opened his yellow eyes.
"Gemini," he said hoarsely. "It's you... And
who are these two?" he asked.
"This is Requiem, our dear friend and guide,"
Gemini said through her tears of happiness. "And this amazing Shadow Lupe, this
hero, is our younger brother Telperion."
Falanor sat up and gaped at his brother. "Telperion...
Telperion grinned and threw his arms around
his brother. They were a family again at last.
Upon their return, Tabby immediately burst into
tears and hugged them all close to her. She then launched a massive celebration
and invited everyone they knew. After it all was over, and things had calmed
down, Tabby welcomed Requiem into her home as the fourth pet. Things worked
out well. Falanor went on to become a stay-at-home pet, choosing to keep Tabby
company around the house, rather than going out to explore. He also developed
a fear of being taken while he slept, so he and Tabby began sharing a bed. Requiem
took Falanor's room and was later painted Pirate, so that he could look at himself
in the mirror without shuddering. Gemini bought him the paintbrush, and continued
to save up her money for her next adventure. Telperion, for his part, became
the Battledome pet. He spent many hours a day training with the Fire and Ice
Blade, and learning to control the magic of the Werelupe Claw. The rest of his
time was spent with his family.
The next winter, it snowed again in Brightvale.