Not All Werelupes Are Bad
I’ll never forgot that one fateful night in the middle of the Month of Hiding.
It was late, around midnight. Pitch black darkness spread as far as the eye could see, the stifled light of the stars hidden under swirling clouds. Even the moon was trying to hide that night, only a sliver of its silvery surface visible to the eye. The whole sky was velvet black and soft; it looked so close, like I could touch it.
I was in bed. Now, any normal Neopet would be sleeping. But of course, I’m no normal Neopet. I was awake, reading a book I’d tried to read about fifteen times, insisting to myself that I could scour knowledge out of its many pages of fancy script and difficult puzzles.
Let’s just say it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. And I, being the demanding golden Shoyru that I am, hate when things don’t go the way I want them to go. I was trying to read but couldn’t interpret the script. I was trying to solve the puzzles but kept hitting dead ends. Even an intelligence of 228 couldn’t help me here.
So I took a break. I closed the dusty old book shut and rubbed my forehead gingerly, wincing; I had a splitting headache. Staring at unreadable script for hours on end starts to take a toll after a while, you know?
That’s when it happened.
A long, shrill, petrifying howl. The whole room seemed to shiver as it reverberated through the thick walls. I found myself shaking at the noise, my whole body covered in goose bumps, cold sweat forming on the back of my neck. Anxiously, I wiped it away with the back of my hand.
“It’s just a Lupe or something, Chili. Don’t worry about it. Just read.”
But I was lying to myself, as usual. I knew it had to be more than a Lupe. A Lupe didn’t make that noise. Lupes made cute little barking noises, not loud, terrifying howls that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
I waited a while, but didn’t hear the howls again. Once I opened the book and tried to read again, my headache took control of me, pounding my head with an invisible, merciless wooden hammer.
“Gah. It’s hopeless,” I said in desperate frustration. “I’ll just go to bed.”
I closed the book and put it under my bed, turned off the light, and snuggled under the covers. Closing my eyes, I immediately started to drift off, giving in to the soft sheets and smell of lavender laundry detergent.
But not for long.
The second I started to doze off, the howls started again. I lurched straight up in my bed as I heard them, and felt my skin prickle as if being pricked by millions of needles as the howls filled the otherwise deathly silent room. The howls sounded so close. Like they were coming from inside the walls themselves.
Perturbed, I tried my hardest to just doze back off again. But it was impossible now. I kept waiting for another howl. Every little noise made me flinch. My sister Shyiira snoring softly in the room beside me. Flinch. A Spyder crawling across the floor with quiet, hairy legs. Flinch. The wooden shutters banging absently against the glass windows, like they did every night. Flinch.
Then I heard it again.
That long, horrendous howl; the one that made the flowers in the room wilt and my brave action figures cower in fear behind their plastic shields. I held my breath until it stopped. I think I almost ran out of air.
That’s it. I’m going to investigate.
Feeling 40 part brave 60 part fool, I jumped out of the comfort of my bed, determined to find the source of the noise. Opening the window, I almost jumped out, but hesitated. My sword lay at the edge of my bed, its shimmering tip looking friendly.
“I hope I don’t have to use you,” I said out loud to the sword, as if it could hear me. Not to self: Find better things to do then talk to inanimate objects. Neopets will start looking at you funny. With a shrug, I jumped out the window and flew into the motionless night.
Looking down, I felt rather blissful. The calm breeze cooled my face with gentle sweeps, and the stars had come out to greet me, twinkling kindly at me. Even the moon seemed a bit less shy, coming out from behind its solitary grey cloud.
A rustle in the trees below caught my attention. Fear and excitement rushed through my veins as I flew lower, toward the source of the sound. I landed on the mossy ground with a dull thud.
Shading my eyes even though there was no sun, I looked around. Everything looked... normal. Nothing extraordinary. The crickets were chirping, the river was gurgling, and the wind created a soft whistling noise.
Stumped, I shrank to the ground, resting my head in my hands and focusing down on a moldy rock. “It doesn’t make sense,” I found myself saying out loud. “I know I heard something, and I saw something too. Where’d it go? Was I imagining it, or was it really there...” my voice trailed off.
Instantly alert, I spun around in the direction of which I’d heard a thump. It almost sounded as if something big had dropped.
Or maybe not something. Maybe it was someone.
With painfully small steps, I advanced toward the noise. I felt like each step could be my last. One step. I’m still alive. Two steps. Still alive. Three. This isn’t too bad... Sure, my head was spinning. Sure, each step I took might mean me being closer to death. Sure, I was a bit scared. But I was alive. For a few more seconds. I counted each second. One. Two. Three. Four. Five...
Five hundred and twenty two... My eyes were starting to droop. I was tired. My feet ached and I didn’t see anything anywhere. Ready to admit defeat, I began to shuffle back home.
A noise stopped me. It was a soft rustling noise, near the prickly bushes behind me. My heart skipped a beat or two as I heard it, and my eyes slowly turned in that direction...
That was when I saw him for the first time.
He was a tall Werelupe, towering above my head. And he was standing on two feet, like a human would. His eyes were a light jade, menacing and cold, yet scared and confused a the same time. Razor sharp claws stuck out from his hands, unforgiving and relentless. His whole body was muscled to an extent that it was scary, and was covered in thick, chestnut fur. Clad in only some threadbare navy shorts, he gave the appearance of being a discombobulated, compunctious outcast.
I just stood there. My feet were rooted to the spot by invisible vines, holding me in place. I tried to send a signal to my brain. Move. Move, Chili. Sweet Kreludor, MOVE! What‘s wrong with you? But my brain didn’t listen.
My knees were shaking under me, barely supporting my trembling frame. I stared back into those cold eyes, my own probably wide and full of angst. Each unending second made me more and more fearful, more and more desperate to get out of those wretched woods...
But it was funny. The wolf wasn’t attacking me. In fact, he’d done the total opposite. He sat down in front of me, folding his paws delicately in front of him and looking up at me with innocent eyes.
I blinked. Hard. Just to make sure I wasn’t imagining this.
But he was still there. Still giving me that childish grin.
So I closed my eyes for a moment, counted to ten, and he was still there. Still staring at me with huge, viridian eyes.
He wants me to do something. He wouldn’t stare at me like that for no reason. What does he want me to do? Timidly, I help out a hand, knowing it could be snapped clean off in a matter of seconds. The Werelupe cocked his head sideways then extended his neck toward my hand. I winced and closed my eyes, waiting for him to bite me.
I felt something rough against the palm of my hand, scraping against it like sandpaper. Something rough and wet. Sweet Kreludor. He’s licking me. I peeped one eye open and yes indeed, he was licking my hand, like some cute little puppy.
After a moment, I withdrew my hand. The Werelupe just looked at me, his shining eyes making even the star’s mighty fire look dim. I wondered if I could communicate with him.
“Can you speak?” I asked gently, my tone soft.
The Werelupe shook his head.
“But you can understand what I’m saying?” I prompted.
The Werelupe nodded.
I paused for a moment. “So, why are you looking at me like that?” I wondered why I asked him. It wasn’t like he could answer.
He pointed at something; his fingers were long and skinny, his fingernails sharp and dirty. I followed his gaze and saw that it ended up on a stick. Just a plain old ordinary stick, one that come off of a tree. I just stared at it, wondering what on Earth he’d want with a stick. But even as I stared, no sudden comprehension, no burst of understanding came to me.
The Werelupe trotted over and picked it up between his menacing teeth, then came over to me and nudged my hand. I took the stick and stared at it, then at him. My gaze flickered back and forth. Him. Stick. Him. Stick.
Then it hit me. He wants me to play fetch with him. This five foot ten monster wants me to play fetch with him. That’s like Balthazar letting all his faeries go and parading around town in a frilly pink tutu and passing out rainbow jelly beans to little Neopets.
But I didn’t want to make him angry. Obediently, I threw the stick as far as I could, watching it fly away as if it had wings. The Werelupe sprinted after it, faster then a speeding bullet, and was back with it before I could even blink.
He dropped it in front of me, looking up at me with his tongue hanging out, waiting for me to throw it again. After a moment’s hesitation, I did. He returned even faster then he had the first time.
All at once, I smiled. This was kind of... fun. Even though I was basically just standing there and throwing a stick as far as I could, this was fun. I was starting to understand why my brother Starfeather loved playing fetch with his Juma, Joy.
The smile grew bigger each time. Soon it felt too big for my face, like the smile on a carved pumpkin. I took little notice of the sky as it melted from midnight velvet into a light sky blue tinted with orange. If I had been inside, the clock would have read 4:32.
But the Werelupe noticed. He gazed up in worry at the twilight sky, then glanced back at me, meeting my eye.
I’ve got to go, his eyes said.
“Will you be back?” I asked, my tone melancholy; I’d miss him. He was fun to be around, and I knew if we ever met again we could become good friends.
The Werelupe nodded once and turned from me, and bounded off noisily into the deserted forest. I watched him for moments after he’d disappeared from site, mystified and in awe.
I shook my head and blinked hard, turning and flying back home, the whole way back half expecting to hear his penetrating howl pierce the silence again.
But I never heard it.
He was gone.
Reality has a way of sneaking up on me and crushing me with dire defeat, spiraling me into vivid and unwanted realization.
I hate reality.
Feeling jaded and grouchy, I flew through my still open window, and did a quick inspection of my room. Door was closed. Bed still messy. Book still where it was. Nobody had been there while I was gone. Normally I’d feel relieved. But at the moment I was weary and ready to sink into my covers.
Collapsing onto my bed, I let my sword fall to the floor. It hit the carpeted floor without making a noise. I closed my eyes slowly and drifted off into sleep, stashing all my worries away and letting sleep engulf me...
“Chili! Chilllliiiiiii! TIME TO WAKE UP!”
Blearily, I opened my eyes; my eyelashes were sticky with yellow crusties and I felt awful. The first thought that came to my head was: Sweet Kreludor, I played fetch with a Werelupe last night.
Then I turned my attention to whatever had waken me; it was Starfeather, of course. Starfeather is my little brother, he’s barely even a week old but already is as much trouble as a handful of Flouds in a carrot bin. He’s a Pteri with bright blue plumage, accented by shimmering golden stars, and he’s about the quickest little thing you’ll ever see. He’s always been a handful.
“Alright, Starfeather, get off,” I mumbled, weakly trying to push him off my bed. He wouldn’t budge.
“Not till you get u, sleepy head! Gosh, it’s already 11:30, you’ve slept in too late!” he chided, clicking his tangerine-colored beak in a disapproving fashion.
Well, that woke me up.
Instantly and without warning I jumped up from under my covers, causing Starfeather to yep in surprise and fly away, looking patronized, his face pulled into a scowl.
I took no notice of his distress and quickly flew down the carpeted stairs with great urgency. Hopefully I hadn’t slept in TOO late, and that Anna was still in the kitchen and not at work yet; I had a million questions about Werelupes to ask her.
She was still there.
She was standing by the sink with her back turned to me, washing the dishes; I stared at her hair for a moment while thinking of how I was going to address the whole Werelupe problem.
Maybe I should catch her off guard.
“Hi, Mom,” I said cheerfully, plopping down on one of the chairs near the table.
Anna turned from her scrubbing of the dishes to smile at me, showing her neon green braces. “Morning, Sleeping Beauty. You slept in late. Did you get an okay night’s sleep?”
I nodded. “Yes, I slept fine. I was just thinking about some things.”
She turned to look at me, obviously curious. “What kinds of things?”
Time to go in for the kill.
“Werelupes,” I responded, bracing myself mentally for her answer.
Anna’s posture stiffened. “Oh,” she said thoughtfully, and also seemingly worriedly. She pushed some straight brown hair from her face and pondered how to respond.
“Chili I want you to end this fascination with Werelupes before it gets too bad,” she said, her voice full of authority.
“Why?” I asked quickly, maybe a bit too quickly.
Anna sighed, sounding tired. “They’re not good, Chili. They’re cruel and wild, and they’re the things nightmares are made of. I should know. One snapped off my friend Pearl’s finger.”
“They aren’t all that bad,” I retorted, feeling a need to stick up for my Werelupe friend.
Anna eyed me curiously and with slight annoyance that I wasn’t agreeing with her like I normally did. “How would you know? You’ve never met one,” she replied.
I found myself smiling a smile that was too big for my face once again.
If only she knew.