Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 180,846,367 Issue: 386 | 3rd day of Eating, Y11
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Outcast: The Tale of Rhoswen - Part Two


by ayame_23

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Rhoswen dreamt of walking through a forest. A deep, dark forest full of ominous sounds in which an angry, bodiless growl was his constant companion. It was a frightening, disconcerting dream, and he was glad to be rid of it when he finally woke. That was until he felt the pain that riddled his arm, and remembered that he’d just experienced something far worse than a nightmare.

      Was he dead?

      Rhoswen blinked, wincing as sunlight spilled into his eyes and made them ache. He lifted a paw to shield them, and then jolted. Slowly, almost dazed, he closed his right eye, and was stunned when he could still see the fur of his paw shielding it. Impossible. He couldn’t use his left eye.

      For a moment, the pain in his arm was forgotten, and Rhoswen sat up, looking around, testing his eyes. Against his better judgement, he ascertained that he could, in fact, see out of both eyes.

      But... but...

      How? He rubbed his head, wincing as his arm sent out a sharp pang of hurt as he used it. He was still on the path to his house. He could see his house, even, from where he sat, but what was he doing here? Shouldn’t he have been...? Werelupe treats?

      Rhoswen felt sick, though he was certain that he was, indeed, still alive, and, if it made him feel any better, he had been bitten and hadn’t imagined that. His arm was an angry reminder of that.

      Confused, Rhoswen pushed to his feet. A little dazed, he started to take a few steps toward his house, and then froze solid from shock. He’d just walked three steps without limping.

      Almost terrified to look, he glanced down at his feet, and could only stare, stunned, for a long span of time. There were two perfectly normal, perfectly functioning legs attached to his body. As if he didn’t they were his, he tried to wiggle his toes, and nearly fainted when each clawed toe wriggled on command. How was this possible?

      Torn between panic and excitement, Rhoswen broke out into a run—an actual run—and sprinted the rest of the way up the path to his home.

      No way. No way, he kept repeating over and over in his mind, as he threw the door to his cottage open and ran inside without bothering to close it. Knocking over a small end table, he hurried into his bathroom, so excited he forgot to notice that he had to squeeze through the doorway as if it’d shrunk a size overnight.

      He could hardly believe he was actually in a hurry to get to his mirror, the one thing he avoided like the plague in order to avoid seeing himself peering back from the glass. Skidding to a stop in front of his mirror, he stared in amazement at his reflection.

      No scars. No bare skin. A perfectly normal, albeit excessively furry, face peered back at him with two perfect golden eyes. Stunned, he lifted a paw to touch his cheek as if to make sure that he was real.

      What had happened to him? He wondered, as his paw met solid flesh and fur. Where had his scars gone? Where had his mangled leg and damaged eye fled to? Where was his bare, ugly skin hiding?

      As if in answer, Rhoswen’s eyes caught the sight of his arm. He was wrong. Not all the scars were gone. Two circular, small scars were still left on his arm where the Werelupe had bit him.

      The Werelupe had bit him!

      Rhoswen gasped, his golden eyes going wide in his reflection. Was he...? Did that mean...? Was he a Werelupe? As if he only just now saw his true reflection, Rhoswen was forced to see that, along with the perfect eyes and legs, his fur had regrown in full, even fuller than a normal Lupe’s. It was long and shaggy with patches of brown, cream, and pale blond. And his reflection alone now took up the entire space of the mirror.

      He was huge!

      Rhoswen’s mouth gaped open, exposing fangs like the one on the beast that had attacked him. He was a Werelupe. A real, live Werelupe. The transformation must have healed all of his wounds. It must have made him perfect, because Werelupes, he’d heard, were all but indestructible. A burst of excitement swelled in his heart. He was finally normal!

      Well, sort of.

      Taking it all in, his eyes trailed over his reflection again, and, this time, he noticed the glint of gold reflection under the mass of his fur. Unable to believe there could possibly be any more surprises in store for him, Rhoswen reached for the sparkle of gold and lifted a golden chain out of his fur, surprised to find that it was a necklace looped around his neck. At the end of it hung a golden, crescent moon.

      How had that gotten there? Why would the Werelupe that had attacked him take the time to put a necklace on his neck?

      Did it matter? Rhoswen wondered abruptly, a grin splitting his muzzle. He was finally perfect! And he was going to show everyone!

     ~!~!~!~

      Things never changed. It was a lesson he’d learned early in life, and he’d forgotten it all too soon. For a fleeting, foolish period of time, he’d forgotten it, stopped believing it, only to reminded by the cold, hard reality of it. He was different, always different, and even perfection couldn’t make him the same. He would never have the normalcy he wished for, and he was sorry that, even for a moment, he’d been idealistic enough to believe that he could.

      Rushing into Brightvale, nearly delirious from the miracle of the Werelupe bite that gave him physical perfection, Rhoswen had been met with the same horrified stares as always, but this time they were followed by petrified screams and an outbreak of panic. By his appearance alone, chaos broke loose, and Rhoswen later had to wonder how he didn’t consider his new massive appearance might frighten everyone far more than his old one.

      Everyone feared Werelupes, everyone that had a brain at least. Werelupes were savage, unintelligent beings that couldn’t be trusted. They were agents of chaos and destruction, and left mayhem in their wake. They were fierce, mean creatures, and everyone knew it.

      Except for Rhoswen. He didn’t feel ferocious at all. He didn’t feel anything, nothing but the pain of rejection.

      Even when he came across Syfur, scrambling in the disoriented crowd of Neopians attempting to flee from him, he wasn’t rewarded with the respect he felt he finally deserved. When he’d pinned the Kougra against a wall, the Neopet had only looked up at him with fear and disgust, much the same as he had the day before.

      “Get away from me!” Syfur yelled.

      His voice was so high-pitched and girly, Rhoswen might have laughed at it had he not been in so much emotional pain.

      “But... But I’m not going to hurt you!” he tried to explain, momentarily surprised by the deep, gruff sound of his new voice, one that was no longer weak and broken. “I’m normal now, don’t you see? I’m just like you!”

      Syfur shook his head furiously. “You’re not like me! You’re a freak! A monster! Get out of here! You don’t belong here! You never have!”

      If Syfur the Kougra had ever been right about anything, he was right about this. He didn’t belong here. He never had. It had just taken him a long time to figure that out. For the first time ever, the burn behind his eyes resulted in real tears that welled and spilled into his fur.

      Pained and humiliated, Rhoswen finally saw what he had to do. He had to leave, to go somewhere where freaks were normal. He hung his head and left Brightvale, ignoring those that fell over themselves just to get out of his way, and he headed into the woods, no longer afraid of the long and lonely hike that would take him to the Haunted Woods.

     ~!~!~!~

      He was grateful, yet saddened, to find that he was relatively left alone in the Haunted Woods. After much searching, he’d finally given up the idea of finding a decent housing arrangement and gave in to sleeping on the forest floor near a fire he constructed nightly. His fur was thick enough that the coldest of nights left him unbothered, and he didn’t fear the prospect of monsters springing out at him in the night. At least physically, he was the most awe-inspiring monster in the Haunted Woods now.

      On the day he finally did receive company, Rhoswen wasn’t entirely sure that he wanted it. It happened on a particularly dark night. Clouds passing through the sky took intervals covering the moon and blanketing the Woods in darkness, but Rhoswen, who could see quite well now with his Werelupe eyes, had built a fire and was sitting on a log beside it, staring into the flames and wondering if he truly had a purpose, or if he ever had, and hadn’t just been some mistake.

      He was prodded from his silent contemplation by the sound of lumbering footsteps coming in his direction. Lots of lumbering footsteps. Obviously, whoever was headed his way was making no secret of it, and, as far as he could tell, they seemed to be coming from every direction. For a moment, Rhoswen had a blinding, irrational fear that it was Syfur’s gang, and they would soon be grouped around him, calling him names and pushing him.

      It was ironic that he was relieved when, instead of Syfur, a small pack of Werelupes stepped into the clearing, all large and powerful-looking. Rhoswen eyed them all in turn, suspicious, but somehow not afraid, until one finally spoke.

      “Found him.”

      Rhoswen turned to the one that had spoken. He was around the same height as him, but the Werelupe’s fur was dark black, showing signs of a deep red according to the way the fire light reflected on it. His eyes were equally as dark, appearing nearly black as well. His voice was deep and rumbling, and a little choppy, as if he wasn’t used to speaking.

      “Excuse me?” Rhoswen said to him. “Found who?”

      The Werelupe lifted a large paw to point at him. Several of the Werelupes around him whispered to each other.

      “Our king,” the Werelupe declared, and the whispering Werelupes fell quiet.

      Rhoswen blinked, lifted a brow. “Pardon? Your king? Who? Me?”

      The Werelupe nodded. “Yes. That’s what I said.”

      He spoke a little slower now, as if he suspected that Rhoswen was a little dim. Rhoswen could only stare at him in turn, too confused to be insulted. After all this time alone, his first encounter with others would, of course, have to be crazies. Though, he had to admit, it was slightly gratifying that no one had screamed and run away from him yet.

      “You must be mistaken,” Rhoswen told him. “I’m not a king.”

      The Werelupe’s eyes narrowed, studying Rhoswen skeptically, and he turned to a pale brown Werelupe at his side. He muttered something to him under his breath, and the brown Werelupe nodded.

      “Yes, Lyekan, it’s him,” the brown werelupe replied.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Outcast: The Tale of Rhoswen - Part One
» Outcast: The Tale of Rhoswen - Part Three



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