The Fallen: Loved - Part Three
Javiod slid inside the castle unnoticed. With disregard to the clean floor beneath him, he shook the snow from his coat, allowing it to rain down around him. He’d gone for a hike through the woods, though the temperature was bitterly cold outside and snow was currently cascading down in sheets. He hadn’t been dissuaded by the wintery conditions, however, and he’d made a solitary venture around the general perimeter of the castle.
He’d been looking for Lupes he knew he wouldn’t find.
Slowly, Javiod began to trudge up the stairs to his room. He didn’t know why he’d taken up the habit of patroling the woods. His Werelupes were long gone. They hadn’t had any intention to be anywhere near the castle when they’d left. They’d deserted him, and he’d most likely ceased to exist for them the moment they’d left the castle boundaries.
They saw him as a traitor—maybe even a failure—so he didn’t know why he expected them to return. They obviously didn’t miss him as he missed them.
Javiod blew out a breath, closing himself into the confines of his room, and he went to his window. The window that looked out in the general direction of his brother’s castle.
While he hadn’t found the Werelupes, he had run across a few of the Zombies. Senza, the Aisha, and Testa, the Shoyru, had been quite the sight when he’d happened upon them. Javiod grimaced at the thought.
He hadn’t thought himself a fortunate creature to have happened across them. Not considering that Senza had been walking around beheaded while her friend, Testa, had been trying to locate where exactly Senza’ s head had rolled to when it had unfortunately loosened from her neck.
It had been unsettling to hear the disembodied voice of Senza’s head yelling for help somewhere in the brush.
However, because he’d somehow felt sympathetic through the unsettling feeling in his stomach, Javiod had helped the Zombies with their hunt, and, when he’d finally located Senza’s head near the base of the tree, he’d even helped Testa reattach it to Senza’s neck.
The Zombies had both been obviously gratified, and, upon realizing who he was, had offered him some information they thought would be pleasing to him in return.
They’d, coincidentally, just been returning from his brother’s kingdom—a place their kind often enjoyed causing mayhem in—and they informed him that Alston’s rule was wearing dangerously thin. It appeared that a great deal of the citizens were blaming their newfound unrest upon Alston, and they were growing increasingly hostile against the king that could do nothing to keep the zombies out of his kingdom and return peace to his Neopians.
Javiod sighed and pressed his forehead to the glass of his window. The cold glass tried to cool his forehead, but it could not seep entirely through his thick, wild brown fur.
He supposed he should have been gratified to find that Alston was dangerously close to being dethroned, but he could only feel strangely empty at the news. His insides felt hollow, as if he’d lost sight of his purpose.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Javiod didn’t move. He simply closed his eyes. He’d heard Wehn slide into his room this time, and he wasn’t surprised to hear his voice from the same chair he’d occupied last time.
“No,” he replied.
What was there to talk about? Even when he’d won, he’d lost. No victory seemed worth the casualties he’d suffered. He couldn’t even be happy that his brother was finally going to get what he deserved.
“It might help,” Wehn pressed.
Javiod sighed in response but remained mute. He didn’t have the energy to fight with Wehn. The young Gelert seemed to detect that he’d found Javiod’s moment of weakness.
“Maybe I can help you, you know,” Wehn offered. “I could help you get back at him.”
Confused, Javiod opened his eyes and turned, focusing on the Gelert sitting on his chair. Wehn’s face was serious, yet there was an eagerness about him that seemed to be his constant aura.
“How can you help me?” Javiod asked.
He knew he should have kept silent, or just refused, because he knew from experience that giving Wehn any kind of lead would keep the Gelert avidly going on for eternity.
Wehn lifted his paw and touched his amulet. “With this.”
Javiod’s brows furrowed. “I thought those were just heirlooms.”
He’d known they weren’t, but he hadn’t felt the need to press at the time. What exactly could they do that made Wehn think he could help him with it?
Wehn pursed his blue lips, seeming to debate over whether or not to discuss this obvious family secret.
“I’ll tell you what mine does if you tell me about your brother,” Wehn bargained.
Alston was a wound that he no longer wanted to discuss. Especially not with a naïve little Gelert. After all, from the sound of it, he’d already won that battle, and what good had that done him? He’d still managed to lose everything in the process.
However, it was becoming quickly apparent that Wehn would never stop questioning him until he gave him an answer that could satisfy him.
“Fine,” Javiod agreed.
Wehn grinned, triumphant.
“It’s the Amulet of Chaos,” he wasted no time divulging. “I’m the only one that can wield it, and it can make a whole mass of Neopians break out into a wild mob. Or, at least, that’s what Aunt Mezza told me.” Wehn pouted now. “I’ve never been able to try it out.”
Javiod’s eyes widened considerably. Who had been crazy enough to let that sort of power fall into Wehn’s restless paws?
“What about your aunt and uncle’s?” Javiod questioned.
Now it was Wehn’s turn to bulk. “I can’t tell you about theirs. That’s their secret. I can only tell you mine.”
Javiod nodded absently. Loyalty, he could respect that. Fascinating nonetheless, to think that the Gelerts had been hiding such power all along. So that was how Mezzanotte had kept her rule over the Haunted Woods all of these years. But what did her amulet do? Was it even more powerful than Wehn’s? Of course it had to be. She was Countess after all.
“Now,” Wehn’s voice cut into his thoughts, “tell me about your brother.”
Javiod tensed, his eyes immediately becoming guarded.
“You agreed,” Wehn reminded him quickly, seeing the reluctance.
Javiod sighed. The Gelert did have him there. Perhaps he could tell him a little without explaining a lot. Just enough to satisfy Wehn’s curiosity.
“My father named me king when he passed, and Alston, my brother, was jealous of me. He started plotting behind my back, devising ways to dethrone me,” Javiod began in a rush, forcing it all out before it could choke back in his throat. “He bribed a Werelupe on the night of my crowning, and...”
Just like that, Javiod spilled his past in a rush, telling more than he ever intended to. Telling everything. Wehn listened eagerly, soaking it all up like a sponge, and Javiod realized that perhaps that was what he’d needed all along. He needed to talk and be heard. He needed to release the things that he’d kept hidden away.
He kept talking and explaining and spilling his soul until he’d gone through everything, all the way up until Halloween night two months ago when his pack had deserted him.
He ended with that, wincing away from the brutal reality of it.
Wehn was quiet for several long moments as he consumed the vast amount of information that had been loaded onto him. Feeling foolish for telling his life secrets to a child, Javiod began to turn away, but the sound of Wehn’s voice stopped him.
“I can use my amulet against him,” he offered. “Then he really would get kicked out of the castle.”
Javiod’s face became immediately serious.
“No,” Javiod refused. “That amulet isn’t a toy, Wehn. It’s your responsibility. You have to wield it responsibly.”
Wehn pouted and looked away. “You sound just like Aunt Mezza.”
Javiod smiled despite himself and turned back to his window. Outside, the snow was still falling with passion, coating layer upon layer over the cold, hard ground of the Haunted Woods. He couldn’t see Alston’s castle through the sheet of snow, but he knew it was there, and his eyes were trained in that direction, peering through toward something he should have stopped looking for long ago.
When would he stop looking? Waiting? Wanting? When would he release himself from that endless disappointment? It didn’t matter if Alston tumbled from the throne. He would never be able to reclaim it. A Werelupe couldn’t rule that kingdom. The citizens would never allow it, and they’d proven that when they’d burned his home. They were far too frightened of him.
He needed to let it go, but some small part of his heart refused.
He didn’t understand why. That obsession had caused him to lose everything. Even his pack had deserted him, and he had trusted them completely. That wound was still very sore.
“Christmas is next week,” Wehn piped up suddenly.
“I know,” Javiod responded without turning.
Five seconds of silence.
“Maybe you can work things out with your brother.”
Javiod smiled grimly. “That will never happen, Wehn. I’ve stopped wishing for that.”
Five more seconds of silence.
“Well, maybe Rhoswen—.”
Javiod cut him off before he could speak of any sort of hope such as that, “No. They’ve gone for good. I’m alone, Wehn. I’ve come to terms with that.”
He hadn’t, actually. Not at all. He hated the solitude more than anything. With no one around, he was free to think of all his pain and suffering. With no one around, he wondered if he had ever been loved by anyone. But that was his burden to bear. It was all his fault, and he had no one to blame anymore.
No one but himself.
Javiod closed his eyes. “Yes?”
There was another audible silence, but Javiod knew that Wehn hadn’t left. He was still sitting in the same seat. Javiod could smell his scent well enough.
“It’s okay, you know,” Wehn spoke quietly. “Everyone makes mistakes.”
Javiod pressed his forehead to the glass again, begging for the chill to seep through his fur and cool him, but it wouldn’t. “I wasn’t allowed mistakes, Wehn. I have to pay for them now.”
Javiod waited for some sort of retort, but Wehn made none. After a few moments, he heard the Gelert push to his feet and tread toward the door. Javiod expected him to leave then, but Wehn’s presence remained, just before the door. Javiod didn’t want to turn around to see if Wehn was looking his way, so he didn’t. He kept his eyes closed and his head down, and he tried to melt into the glass and escape.
“Everyone makes mistakes,” Wehn repeated. “Christmas is time for family. You should be with your family, Javiod.”
With that, Wehn left, closing the door quietly behind him.
Javiod remained where he was as something more than a physical pain raced through his entire frame, squeezing his heart mercilessly. Everything ached. His head, his heart, all of it. He’d become nothing but a hollow shell for pain. The young Gelert’s words rang in his mind while images of his family flashed before his closed eyes.
First it was his father and mother, then his brother. However, the remaining images were those of his Lupes. They were his friends, his true family.
Javiod gritted his sharp, white teeth together and pressed the heels of his palms to his green eyes as Rhoswen’s face occupied his thoughts. Suddenly, a sound ripped up his throat, bursting from his lips without his consent. Another sound followed, then another, and another. The sounds came continuously, and it wasn’t until his paws began to feel wet that Javiod realized he was sobbing.
Impossible. He didn’t weep.
But how could he stop now? How could he not weep when he had nothing left?
Wehn was right. Christmas was a time for family, but his family had betrayed and deserted him. Javiod no longer had a family.
No family at all.
To be continued...