The Werelupe Hunter: Part Four
Fanger waited for the brown Lupe to hit him again, but instead he was knocked aside by another brown blur.
He climbed woozily to his paws and stared as he saw the Hunter and Jorange exchanging blows. The Hunter was large for a non-Werelupe, and he was winning against Jorange, who was still weak from his previous fight.
The Hunter saw that Fanger was recovering and he jumped out of Jorange’s reach, growling in frustration.
“Don’t know who you are,” he growled at Jorange. “But I’ve got your scent now; so I’ll find you again.” He looked at Fanger. “You were lucky.”
Fanger strode towards the Werelupe Hunter, who held his ground.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m the Hunter,” the brown Lupe replied. “I’m going to make sure there are no Werelupes left. And Neopia won’t care, because they’re all afraid of you.” He laughed darkly. “Wait and see! I have a master plan and everything, but I won’t tell you puny mortals.”
The Hunter threw something to the ground, a potion, Fanger thought after there was the sound of glass shattering and a mini explosion that made him choke. When the smoke cleared, the Hunter was gone.
“Who was that?” Jorange asked.
Fanger finished coughing and looked at the Halloween Lupe. He was covered in bandages, and he had an Adventure’s Hat perched at a jaunty angle on his head.
“Where did you get that from?” he asked.
“Your brother lent it to me,” Jorange said. “I lost mine when those pets attacked me. Anyway you still have to answer my question.
“That was a Lupe that calls himself the Werelupe Hunter,” Fanger explained what Macejaw had told him and Apsy. “Thanks for helping me. I didn’t even see him coming.”
Jorange shrugged. “I guess we’re even now.”
“Why were you even here?” Fanger asked.
“Oh,” said Jorange. “Well I wasn’t very happy that you guys had just disappeared without me. And no offense, but you brother and sister scare me. So I came to find you. And I did.”
“I’m scared of my siblings too,” Fanger said with a grin. “Well, we’re leaving for the Haunted Woods to warn the Werelupe King?”
“You know the Werelupe King?” Jorange looked incredulous. “Or are you just assuming he’ll let you in?”
“Oh, we know him. We did him a favour. You know how the Werelupes were about to take over Neopia?”
“Yes,” Jorange said. They were walking towards Jenn’s house now.
“Well, they were being led by a false King, called Shadowheart, who managed to get them under a spell to obey him. We broke the spell and returned the King to the throne, and he gave us these necklaces so that we can enter the Werelupe Burrows at any time.”
Jorange peered at Fanger’s necklace, then he nodded, impressed.
“I wouldn’t mind going with you. But I should probably go home soon so Joe knows I’m alright.”
“Well, you can come to my house first if you want. Jenn won’t mind. She’s probably mad that you left so soon.”
Jorange gave a small silence and then became broodingly silent.
They walked in silence along the lit streets of Neopia Central as the sun sank down. Fanger worried a moment over Apsy, but then remembered that she was with three other pets and a very dangerous human. The Hunter wouldn’t be able to get her on his own.
To his surprise the house was mostly dark when they arrived. Only the hallway light was on. That was odd. Minotaur was usually upstairs in the Loft reading while Jenn stayed up there with him or went downstairs to lounge around on the couch. As for Kieavin and Gioama, well you never knew where they would be, but there would be a lot of lights and action wherever they were.
“Something’s wrong,” he said.
Jorange eyed the house. “If you say so.”
“It’s only just nightfall. There’s no way they would all be asleep right now,” Fanger explained.
Jorange shrugged. “Like I said, if you say so. Are we going to go in?”
Fanger nodded, then padded to the door. He could smell unfamiliar scents, but it wasn’t any Werelupe smell. The door was hanging ajar and his eyes narrowed as a growl sounded from the back of his throat.
He shouldered past the door and looked down the hallway. The carpet was scuffed – maybe more than usual, but he couldn’t tell. The smells were in here too.
Jorange came up behind him and looked into the first room, switching on the light. Jenn’s favourite chair was lying on its side forlornly. Fanger moved in and righted it, the growl building up in his throat. He moved through all the rooms, but they were all empty. The Loft was covered in the tiny white styrofoam balls from the beanbags.
“Well, this is new,” Jorange said when Fanger stalked downstairs again. Fanger shot him an evil look for being so calm about this. “Don’t give me that look.” Jorange adjusted the hat on his head. “I’ve been down here working my butt off trying to figure out why these scents are so familiar.’
“And?” Fanger growled.
“Well, here,” Jorange pointed at a random sport on the carpet, “is that spotted Gelert who attacked me and got his just desserts from your brother. And here is that shadow Eyrie’s scent. And some of the other pets. There are some new ones as well. Happy?”
Fanger nodded, eyes smouldering. He strode out onto the lawn, onto the lopsided black cross that Gioama had burnt into the grass. Then he threw back his head and howled.
When he was done, he looked at Jorange. “Well, what now?”
Jorange looked serious as he considered the question. “We tell your Lupess friend. Then I go home?”
Fanger nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”
“So unfair. Just because you're a great big Werelupe and you get to traipse off to the Haunted Woods by yourself. I could get through now without trouble because I’m mutant.”
Apsy lay sprawled on a couch as Anubia launched a verbal attack from the one opposite. She yawned.
“Because Fanger thinks you’re too annoying,” she said in a very serious tone.
“Oh, shut up,” Anubia snapped. “Why would he think that when he hangs out with you all the time?”
Sonikki dropped a piece of paper on Apsy’s head as she walked past, then did the same to Anubia.
Give it a rest! Apsy read. The scolding lost most of its effectiveness on paper, but accompanied by Sonikki’s look it was enough to make even Anubia stop talking. Apsy still wasn’t quite used to the fact that Anubia was now a guy. Stupid confusing lab ray.
She leapt to her feet as the doorbell sounded, scooping up her hastily packed backpack. She hurried to the door but Sky had got there first. She peered over his wings – no easy feet – and saw with shock that it was the spotted Gelert from a few hours before.
“What are you doing here?” she snapped, narrowing her eyes.
Sky folded his wings and moved out of the way so she could see better.
“I’m here to take you and your family into custody,” the Gelert said with a grin.
“Or really?” Apsy said. “How do you think you’ll do that?”
The Gelert gave a shuffle sideways so Apsy could better see the mob of pets on her lawn. She recognised the Eyrie, but then she noticed a pet wearing a Defenders of Neopia badge.
“Right.” She turned back to the Gelert. “What’s your name? And what makes you think you can just roll up here and – what was it? Take us into custody?”
“Well, I’m Luis,” the Gelert said. “And I work for Shilo, who’s right there.” He pointed at the brown Lupe wearing the badge. “He’s second to Judge Hog.”
“Really? Never heard of him.” Apsy turned to Sky. “You ever heard of this guy?” The Christmas Zafara shook his head, eyeing the pets with distaste. “Well, there you go,” said Apsy.
At this point the brown Lupe moved up the steps, moving with an easy grace.
“I’m a very, very new member of the Defenders,” Shilo said. “But I have authority. And any owner and siblings of any Werelupe in Neopia Central is to be taken into custody. As well as the Werelupes themselves.”
Apsy growled, and Sky spoke up.
“Do you really know where all the Werelupes live?” he asked. “There are a lot.”
Shilo grinned. “Oh, but there are more Werelupe haters than Werelupes. We’ll find them all eventually.” And he laughed, making Apsy’s skin crawl. When Shilo as finished he grinned. “Back to business. Are you going to come quietly?”
Ember shoved Apsy out of the way – a remarkable feat, but she was the only human that managed it – and fired a Battledome weapon at the brown Lupe.
Shilo leapt backwards and chuckled. He actually looked happy that he was being attacked.
“I guess that’s a no,” he laughed. Then his voice became shilling. “Get them!”
The pets on Apsy’s lawn surged forward, many taken down by Ember’s weapon. Ember turned to Apsy.
“Leave! You have to warn the King.”
“But what about you guys?” Apsy objected.
“Now!” Ember said in her most dangerous tone.
Apsy turned and fled down the hall, passing Anubia and Sonikki who were carrying similar weapons to Ember. She burst through the back door and into the shadow Eyrie from before. She didn’t even hesitate and ran straight through he Eyrie, taking huge bounds. She left the house behind and slowed down.
Her breath caught as two shapes loomed out of the darkness, and she crouched to defend herself.
“I think things are getting a bit busy around here,” Fanger said. “Let’s move.”
Apsy breathed a sigh of relief. She recognised Jorange, who had managed to find a Daring Adventurer Hat somewhere in his travels. She followed Fanger until the reached the Money Tree. It was mostly empty of people in the square that the tree loomed over. But there were plenty of large items that they could hide behind.
They crouched between a large cupboard and a dining table while a sheet fluttered in a branch overhead.
“Okay, what happened back there?” Fanger asked her.
“Well,” Apsy began, then told Fanger and Jorange what had happened.
“Shilo was a brown Lupe?” Fanger asked. “What colour were his eyes?”
“Why...?” Apsy paused and whacked herself over the head. “I’m so stupid. I didn’t even check. Do you think that was the Werelupe Hunter.”
“Probably. He said he wanted to get rid of all the Werelupes in Neopia. What better way than to stir up the population to hate them?”
“When did he say that?” Apsy asked.
“Fanger got ambushed by him,” Jorange explained, finally speaking up. “But I stopped him from painting Fanger or whatever. Then they had a conversation.”
“What he said,” said Fanger.
“So if Shilo is the Hunter, and he’s managed to weasel his way into the Defenders...” Apsy began.
“Yes, it’s bad,” Fanger said. “He doesn’t have to hunt by himself anymore. He has the whole of Neopia Central, maybe even Neopia, on his side to help him.” He ground his teeth together. “And he has Jenn and Ember. Do you think they’re being kept at Defender’s Headquarters?”
“Only one way to find out,” said Apsy.
To be continued...