Highrock Pack History Songs: Storm Surge - Part Two
“Don’t worry, Bingseer, he’ll be fine. Look, he’s coming around now.”
Thorn ached all over. Groaning he opened his eyes. “W... Web? Sir? What on Neopia are you doing here?”
The Beta snorted indulgently. “Saving your pelt, that’s what,” he said, sounding amused. Suddenly, Thorn remembered the tan tail he had grabbed the night before. It had been an Island Lupe’s tail!
“But how did you know where we were?” he asked.
“It wasn’t hard to guess, youngster. I know about Bingseer needing to be near the ocean. I’ve been following at a discreet distance the entire time. When that storm blew up, I knew you’d need help.”
Thorn winced. “Why follow us? Are you going to force us to come home?”
Web snorted. “How cruel do you think I am? If I tried that, I would be sentencing Bingseer to his death. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not that much of a sadist.” He sighed. “Thorn, I want to help. We both know that if it comes to a fight you’ll be toast. There are a lot of dangerous things out there, and it helps to have an extra pair of paws that aren’t weak as water. No offense.”
Bingseer chuckled. “None taken. Personally I’m glad to have you on our side. And I don’t have paws anyway.”
The island Lupe turned back to Thorn. “The River is swollen from the rain last night. It’s not shallow enough anywhere to ford, and it would be stupid to try and swim it.”
Thorn’s eyes widened in dismay. “Then what do we do?”
The island Lupe chuckled, pointing with his tail at a small path in the cliff face. “That is a human trail. It’s normally impossible to reach from the canyon floor, but the water pushed us just high enough to make it.”
Bingseer smiled. “I’ll swim down here while you guys take the path. Everybody wins.”
The blue smiled, limp with relief, then pushed himself to his feet. “Let’s get moving. If we’re to get to the ocean in time, we can’t dally.”
* * * * *
Thorn shuddered. Every night was the same. Howling winds, rushing water, and roaring thunder. His pelt was soaked, cold, and heavy. Not conducive to sleep. Bingseer assured Thorn that this was normal.
“It’s summer,” he said, “the season you call the Warm Wet. During the summer anywhere near the ocean is pelted by rain constantly. I think that humans call them ‘hurricanes’ or ‘typhoons’.”
This knowledge didn’t exactly make it better.
As the sun set on their eighth day, Thorn smelled something new. It was a tangy smell, one that seemed to revive Bingseer slightly. This was good. The Merlupe was looking very gaunt, and his swimming was noticeably weaker. Finally, Thorn asked Web what it was. The island Lupe grinned. “That’s brine you smell,” he said, “and kelp, seaweed, and fish. Those smells mean we’re close to the ocean.” He laughed. “C’mon, youngster, let's go!” he howled and dashed off.
Bingseer seemed just as eager, putting a little more life in his swimming. However, his weakness was apparent, and soon the land Lupes had to slow for him. Thorn felt a drop on his nose, and snorted. Great, it was going to rain. Again.
Web turned to Thorn. “We’re almost there. Should we push on, or stop for now? It looks like it’s going to get really nasty tonight.”
The island Lupe was right. Dark clouds boiled overhead, and the ominous sound of thunder warned of a real tempest. However, when Thorn saw his weakened friend, he knew he had no choice. “Let’s push on,” he said. Web nodded, as if he had expected no less.
As the rain drummed on his blue pelt and the thunder tried to warn the travelers off, Thorn was forced to wonder if this was such a good idea.
* * * * *
Thorn dug his claws in with every step. He had believed that the storm that first night had been bad. He was wrong. It was a gentle drizzle compared to the awesome might of this storm. Forks of lightning split the sky, casting frightful shadows. The pelting rain drowned out the scent of the ocean, and the wind tried its hardest to pull Thorn’s feet out from under him.
Suddenly the travelers rounded a bend in the canyon, and Bingseer let out a cry of dismay. Blocking their path was a huge wall of boulders.
Web and Thorn exchanged a look of despair. They might have been able to scale this wall if Bingseer were healthy, but in his weakened state there was no way. He wouldn’t even be able to haul himself out of the water.
Thorn looked at his Beta, “What do we do?” he asked hopelessly,
Web turned away, his expression clouded. Finally, he mumbled, “I guess we go back.”
“What!” the blue Lupe yelped in disbelief. The older Lupe shook his head.
“We can’t get over this thing. It would destroy Bingseer to try.”
“It will destroy him not to try!” Thorn snarled.
“We have no choice! Let him live out the remainder of his days with the pack. We tried. We failed. I’m sorry Thorn, but there are times when you have to admit defeat.”
The blue Lupe glanced at his friend. Bingseer met his gaze squarely. Thorn could see resignation and sorrow in the Merlupe’s eyes, illuminated by a streak of lightning. He turned slowly to face his Beta. He said, “No. I refuse to surrender. There must be a way.” He spun around and dashed toward the rock pile, snarling, “There MUST be a way! Somehow, I will save him!”
Web yelped in dismay. “Don’t be a fool! Stop! Thorn, come back!”
The blue Lupe ignored his Beta, struggling to scale the mountain of boulders. His claws had no traction on rocks smoothed by years of rain pummeling them. A sudden vicious gust of wind knocked his hind legs loose. He scrabbled at the rocks with his forepaws, trying desperately to regain his balance. With a tremendous heave, he pulled himself up and resumed his assent. All of nature seemed to be roaring in fury at his impudence. Unperturbed, he continued to climb with stubborn determination. Finally, he stood at the summit with the full force of the wind ripping at his pale blue pelt. A dagger of lightning shot a few miles to the east, but he felt the sonic boom and dug his claws into the rocks to keep his balance.
Suddenly, like a flower bud exploding into bloom, an idea formed in Thorn’s head. He crouched, each muscle coiled in readiness, his fur standing on end in fear despite being thoroughly soaked.
Then he saw what he was looking for. That faint glow in the clouds was his only warning. He launched himself straight upward, the muscles rippling beneath his pelt. His joints propelled him upwards like a springboard, and he flew ten feet straight up into the sky.
At that same instant, an explosion of force generated by negatively and positively charged molecules rubbing together ripped across the sky. According to its nature, it sought the fastest path the earth below in a desperate bid to discharge its pent up force. It franticly searched for the highest point on the earth.
And it found it.
All of Thorn’s senses were overloaded with data that his simple carbon based brain could not hope to translate. He was blinded by fierce light, deafened by the roar of exploding molecules heated to hot to fast, numbed by the sheer force of every pain receptor on his body going haywire. His veins surged with the pure, awesome might of nature itself, so much that his pelt could not hope to contain it.
If that is what it takes to save Bingseer, he thought, and wrenched his body into a nosedive. He scented his fur smoldering, but he was beyond caring. He plummeted to earth like a meteor.
He expected to feel the pain of his fragile body contacting the hard stones. But he never even saw himself fall. He was swamped by darkness, and his last sensation was the sound of an explosion...
* * * * *
He wasn’t in pain. That was what Thorn noticed first. He hadn’t been expecting to wake at all, but if he had awoken he had resigned himself to the inevitable pain. However, there was none. He opened his eyes.
The tan and white face of Web loomed over him, eyes bright with concern. Relief flooded the Beta’s expression when he saw that Thorn was alive. “That was stupid,” he said sternly. “That was dangerous and stupid.”
Thorn struggled to rise, and managed to get himself into a sitting position. He glanced over towards the rocks. There were none.
“Close your mouth, Thorn, you’ll draw flies,” Web said with a smirk. He chuckled. “That was a good plan, and it worked well. Never EVER do it again.”
Thorn nodded dumbly. “Wh... Where’s Bingseer?” he asked.
Web shrugged. “Once he knew you were alive, he went home. He needs some time to recover, but don’t worry. He’s going to be just fine. And you will be quite the ladies' man when we get home. That’s an exotic look you have going there.”
Confused, Thorn glanced at his reflection in the river. His pelt had darkened into a deep shade of royal blue, except for a few jagged stripes. His original sky blue color remained in the form of lightning bolt shaped stripes all over his body. He grinned. He looked good.
Steel chuckled as he realized that the pups had fallen asleep. He had the attention of their mother, though, who spared him a look of gratitude. “Thank you, Steel, “ she murmured. “I thought they’d never calm down.”
The iron pelted Lupe flicked his tail dismissively. “It’s my job,” he pointed out. “I enjoy it. Do you want to go hunting with me in the morning? I’m sure that Leaf would be willing to babysit.”
The white Lupess smiled. “I would like that very much.”