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Curse of the Werelupe: Part One


by rachelindea

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“Fang-er!” The singsong voice drifted through the rooms and gardens of the small Neohome, sending a flock of white Weewoos into the sky. “Fang-er! Where are you?”

     The house was silent, save for the tramping of a green Shoyru as she raced around the lounge room. Her scales were thousands of tiny emeralds, and her tail was a huge mace as it sliced through the air and knocked an intricate vase from a nearby table. It split in half on the floor.

     “Fang-er!” she called again.

     “If I tell you where I am, will that stop you from talking?” snapped a disgruntled voice.

     A large but scrawny red Lupe eased his lean frame through the doorway, glaring at her. His crimson fur glinted in the early morning light as he moved to stand directly in front of her. Then he spotted the vase lying on the floor and rolled his eyes.

     “Kieavin, that’s the fourth one this week.” He sighed, heading towards the kitchen to find the broom. He stopped and sniffed the air.

     “Kieavin, isn’t Jenn usually in here cooking breakfast at this time of day?” he asked suspiciously.

     The Shoyru gave a mischievous chuckle and tapped her nose smartly. “It’s a surprise,” she said gleefully, her voice turning singsong once more.

     “Not much of a surprise now, is it?” Fanger asked, knowing that his sister would miss his sarcasm. “I guess you’ll be dancing around the kitchen while you hold me in suspense?”

     He opened the door to the pantry, forgetting about the broom, and pulled out two slices of bread. Kieavin didn’t answer, being too busy waltzing into the table. Fanger sighed and began to spread his food with Home Made Marmalade. Surprisingly for something won at Tombola, it was actually remotely edible.

     The soft click of the front door closing reached the kitchen, and Kieavin raced out of the room. Fanger moaned and stuffed his paws in his ears in preparation of the inevitable explosion. Unfortunately it didn’t work.

     “Jenn-i-fer!” Kieavin’s voice pierced his head with remarkable clarity. He winced. “Have you got the thing?”

     There was silence for a few seconds, and assuming that the worst was over, Fanger removed his paws.

     “Shh, Ki. Else he’ll hear you,” scolded a soft voice.

     Fanger carried his breakfast into the lounge. His owner, a short girl with chocolate brown eyes and long dark hair cascading down her back, looked up. She grinned guiltily at him.

     “I already heard Kieavin. It’s hard not to,” he said wryly.

     “Great,” Jenn exclaimed. “Now I only have to wait for your brothers to wake up so I can give you your present.” She seemed to be bubbling with excitement.

     Fanger perked up. “Is it a pair of earmuffs? That would be really appreciated.” He pretended to be eager, casting a meaningful look at Kieavin. She took a moment to figure out the insult. Then she scowled at him, her mouth opening to retort.

     “Task, must you two start fighting at this time of morning?” interrupted a stern voice.

     Three heads swivelled to the corner of the lounge room, where the blue Yurble sitting there had already returned his eyes to the book he was reading. Tucked into the oversized armchair, his short, stocky figure seemed almost comical. A pair of green eyes peered over the top of the latest Neopian Times for a single second.

     “What?” the Yurble demanded indignantly.

     “Minotaur,” Kieavin was the first to speak. “Don’t just sit there being anti-social. We didn’t even notice you were there. It’s almost as if you were avoiding someone.”

     “I can’t possibly bring to mind who that would be,” Minotaur muttered under his breath.

     Fanger snorted surreptitiously into his breakfast. Jenn glanced at him disapprovingly, but couldn’t help a small smile. Minotaur looked at him as well, and lifted an accusing paw to point.

     “You shouldn’t eat food here in the lounge,” he said smugly. “You’ll ruin the carpet.”

     “His majesty looked up from his book for more than five seconds to grace me with his scolding,” Fanger muttered darkly, turning into the kitchen. His second youngest brother’s superior attitude really got to him.

     Just as he was leaving, a young fire Kougra padded happily into the room, clutching his toast and chewing contently. Bright flames devoured the black background of his coat, and every so often a spark fell to the carpet, smouldering. Eager amber eyes shone brightly as they smiled in welcome.

     “Didn’t you hear what I just said to Fanger?” Minotaur sighed. He ran a paw through the fur that framed his face like a mane. It was another comical feature, making his head looking too big for his body.

     “Huh?” said Gioama.

     “You’ll spill crumbs all over the floor.”

     The youngest in the family shrugged and shook out his fur. “I can always clean it up later.” His attention moved to the food, and he settled down.

     “You wouldn’t have to clean it up if you didn’t make the mess in the first place,” Minotaur said, to no effect. Gioama had lost interest long ago.

     “Does bread come from breadfish?’ he asked. “And why don’t breadfish go all soggy, anyway?”

     Everyone in the room gave sighs of exasperation at his naivety as he finished with a shake of his head. Jenn smiled at the silence that followed.

     “Well, now that we have everyone here, I can show Fanger his present,” she said brightly.

     At once Kieavin was hopping about the room with impatience for a surprise that wasn’t even hers. Minotaur rolled his eyes. Gioama watched with curiosity. Fanger grinned at his owner, waiting as she rummaged through the pockets of her huge jacket. At last she pulled out a paint brush.

     The paint brush looked like quite plain, with no fancy decorations like the Royal or Faerie variety. But the paint on the bristles was quite strange. Two orange eyes peered out from a black background, and Fanger shivered at the eeriness. He felt like he was being watched. Then his jaw dropped as he realised what it was.

     He rushed forward and knocked Jenn over in his haste to thank her. She laughed and gently pushed him away, holding out the paint brush for him to take.

     “It’s Halloween,” she told him.

     “Whoooo!” Gioama leapt to his feet, prowling about the room, eyes wide. “You’re gonna be a Werelupe,” he said, purposely adding a slight quiver to his voice. “And you’ll go hunting by the full moon and—”

     “Those are just stories,” Minotaur interjected, scoffing. “They’re just made up so that cubs like you won’t get lost in the Haunted Woods.”

     “Cub?” Gioama said indignantly. “I think not!” He puffed out his chest proudly. Fanger grinned and shoved him playfully.

     “Fanger. You’re still spilling your crumbs,” Minotaur chastised in a highly superior voice.

     “You’re not telling G off,” Fanger objected.

     “That’s because you’re almost a thousand days older than him. And the oldest, so you should be more responsible.”

     “Actually, we’re both the eldest,” Kieavin piped in, fluttering her wings.

     Minotaur stared at her. “No one would be able to tell,” he stated bluntly. “Not with you skipping around the house singing. And to think Jenn is trying to train you up for the Battledome.”

     “Minotaur.” Jenn’s voice was dangerous. The Yurble subsided into silence.

     Gioama leapt to his feet. “When are we going, Mum? Now? Please say now. I want to see Fanger all big and scary.”

     Jenn patted him on the head. “Maybe later this evening. Right now I’m starving. I had to get up early to get the paint brush. Have you ever been shopping at the marketplace by yourself?”

     Gioama purred and leapt onto his favourite lounge, stretching out to his full length. Fanger shoved his legs aside and sat down next to him, excitement welling in his chest. Minotaur had returned his maned head back to his newspaper. Jenn grinned.

     “Anyone want a proper breakfast?”

    

      Many hours later the fivesome wended through the busy streets of Neopia Central. Minotaur still clutched his issue of the Neopian Times, a sour look on his face. Fanger strode boldly along, not caring that his paws were caked in dirt. Kieavin was flying, though whether through common sense or not it was hard to tell. Gioama was having trouble pulling his paws out of the mud as the rain bucketed down.

     Dusk was still in the air, though it was hard to tell with the thunderous clouds looming overhead. Fanger felt himself searching for a moon in the sky, even though he was trying to believe Minotaur when he said that the stories about Werelupes were false. He glanced back at his brother, who was staring gloomily at his soaked newspaper.

     Jenn walked ahead, navigating through the crowds. Even with the rain pelting down at full speed, there were still many determined Neopians ploughing through it to their destinations. Jenn was just as stubborn, making a beeline straight to the Rainbow Pool.

     “It could at least be indoors,” Minotaur muttered as they beheld the giant fountain sitting magnificently in its large square. Water poured from both the sky and the actual fountain itself, creating thousands of little ripples against the water. Fanger bounded straight to the edge and peered in.

     “Look well, O brother,” Kieavin said with mock sincerity. “This is that last time you will ever see your red pelt again.”

     “Yeah,” Gioama said eagerly. “You’ll have long brown fur and massive fangs and huge baggy pants.” He giggled. “And these really freaky green eyes that glow weirdly!”

     “Are you ready?” Jenn asked him, laying a hand on his shoulder.

     Fanger smiled up at her. “Yes. Thank you so much!”

     “Thank me after you’ve been painted,” she told him. “Now over the edge with you.”

     She grabbed his legs and tipped him over the edge. He did a graceful but unintentional forward roll into the water with a loud splash. He emerged spluttering to see her leaning nonchalantly over the edge, grinning guiltily. He splashed water at her, knowing that in the rain it would have no effect.

     Gioama jumped onto the ledge, tail curled around him as he watched his brother. He passed Jenn the paint brush he had been so reverently holding, and she took it. Then she put the tip on Fanger’s head.

     He felt a strange warmth run through his body, unusual in the rain. Then his eyes glazed over and he collapsed in the water. To his family, it looked like he had fainted, but his eyes were still open, if not a little glazed. Gioama jumped in and held his head above the water.

     “What’s wrong, Mum? This didn’t happen to me.”

     Jenn shook her head wordlessly, grasping the Lupe’s paws and hauling him out. Minotaur watched them, but made no attempt to help.

     “Perhaps he caught a cold,” he suggested.

     Kieavin strode past him and helped lift the almost unconscious Lupe out of the Rainbow Pool. He was much larger now, which was saying a lot, and his now muddy brown fur was sodding wet, and creating even more weight with its extra length. Gioama was wide-eyed, circling the pair anxiously.

     “Is he going to be okay?” he asked.

     “Yes, honey, I’m sure he is,” Jenn answered, but right now she wasn’t feeling so sure. “Let’s just get him home. Minotaur, snap out of your trance and help.”

     The blue Yurble jerked away from her harsh tone, noting the worry in her voice. He stepped forward. With the help of his siblings and mum, Fanger arrived home.

To be continued...

Author’s note: Just to make sure that any readers are all aware of this, I know half the things in this story aren’t true to my current account. For example, my Neohome, which will probably remain in its current dismal state for a long time. And the fact that it is unlikely to find a Halloween Paint Brush in the Marketplace. Also, Fanger has not been painted yet, though I’m working on it, and my name is NOT Jenn. Jennifer is just a really cool name. :D With that all said, I hope you enjoy the story.

 
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