A Werhond's Gift
Somewhere in the dead of night, a deep, mournful howl could be heard in the distance. A soft thud of racing paws hitting the fresh soil of the Haunted Woods, along with the rustling of grass and bushes accompanied this lonely howl. Even though the sky was clear that night, the bright full moon could barely be seen through the thick branches of the forest. No other creature could be heard or even seen; no digging Zomutts or any mischievous Meepits were roaming the night. All pets and petpets knew better than to roam the Haunted Woods right now. Tonight, the Werelupe King was out of the burrow.
With all four paws pushing off the ground, the Werelupe King jumped on tall rock protruding from the ground. When his front paws made contact, he was already pushing off the rock with his hind legs, leaping into the air high enough to reach the top of some nearby trees. He got a rush of excitement every time he made one of these jumps, and it got better every time. His dark brown fur seemed to shine in the moonlight, and his bright red eyes sparkled. Being careful, he softened his landing by aiming his fall towards a soft clump of leaves that covered the forest floor, and continued running at full speed through the forest. An observant might’ve thought that he was in a hurry, but the truth was far from it. Tonight, it was Christmas Eve.
To say that the Werelupe King was not a fan of the holidays would be an understatement. Every Christmas Eve, while the other Werelupes celebrated in the burrow, the King snuck away from the pack for some alone time. Since the others were too busy feasting, dancing, and enjoying each other’s company on the side of the burrow opposite his room, it wasn’t a particularly difficult task. As far as they were concerned, this was simply a night where he had gone to sleep earlier than usual. Unlike them, the Werelupe King was not necessarily friends with anyone else in the pack. They all respected him, looked up to him, and responded his every command not because they liked him, but because he was simply stronger. Deep down, the only reason they did anything for him was out of fear. What was the point of celebrating a holiday of friends and family if one has none?
He shook his head while running, unknowingly picking up his pace in the process. Trying not to think about it, he focused on the trail in front of him. This patch of woods he had entered was slightly unfamiliar to him. The trees rose higher and their branches seemed to completely blot out any light from the stars. At times he almost needed to squeeze between trees to make it past them, almost ripping off his already torn blue shorts. He was glad he had left his claw necklace hidden at the burrow, as it would surely get stuck on one of these loose branches, as it had already happened last year.
He grinned when he saw a large tree trunk in front of him and jumped off it like he had done previously. Like last time, he was thrilled to be up in the air. Quickly finding a pile of soft leaves to land on, he aimed his four paws there but instead of finding soft, wet leaves, his paws went right through them!
In less than a second a loud thud could be heard as he hit the dirt bottom at least ten feet underground. His heart was still beating fast, and he could feel some pain on his front right paw. He tried putting some weight on it but the pain was immense and he had to quickly sit back, whimpering quietly. Leaning back against the rocky soil around him, he looked up and could see that there was no way he would be able to make it out of there by himself. He suddenly wished he had brought the necklace. Mustering all his strength he howled as loud as he could, hoping someone in his pack could hear him. There was no response.
After what felt like hours, some rustling could be heard nearby. Raising his ears high, he listened with hope and looked up to the top of the hole. The rustling got louder, and whatever it was, it sounded like there were multiple of them.
“Hello? Who’s there?” he growled, looking up desperately. Suddenly, a small furry head popped out and looked down at him. Not long after, at least ten more popped their ups around the hole, all looking at the Werelupe King with amazement. But what were these things? In all of his life in the Haunted Woods he had never seen this creature before. It was about the size of a pup, but looked nothing like one. It had thick brown fur with black spots, and what looked like white horns protruding from its head and back. It had bright orange eyes and large sharp teeth, which made the creature seem incredibly intimidating for its size. “What are you looking at? Help me out already! Don’t you know who I am?” He tried getting up again, almost barking at the creatures.
One of the bigger ones, probably the leader, barked loudly at the others. Whenever one failed to move quickly enough, it growled at it, barring its teeth. Most of their heads disappeared but he could hear a lot of noise around him. Their leader then disappeared as well, leaving him alone.
“Hey! Come back here!” the Werelupe King yelled, rising his head to try to see where he went. After a few seconds of silence, a fairly large rock that looked like it was flung from above came flying his way. Jerking his head to the right quickly he managed to avoid it as it hit the rocky soil behind him with a loud thud. “Stop that!” he growled, looking up anxiously. Before he had time to think, more rocks were landing inside the hole. Moving his head aside and using his undamaged paw to fling some rocks out of the way, he avoided them yet again. As he was about to look up and yell at the creatures again, a stone the size of his head was more than halfway in the hole and quickly struck him on the head, between his ears. He was out cold.
Several Hours Later...
Without opening his eyes, the Werelupe King awoke. He knew he was in hostile territory and didn’t know who or what was around him, so letting them know he was awake might be a bad idea. He knew he was lying on his back on cold, hard, rocky, yet even ground. He could also feel pain on his head where he was hit and a little bit of pain on his right front paw where he had hurt himself. Trying to not perk up his ears, he tried to pick up on any sound around him. Wherever he was, it was complete silence. The place itself smelled earthy and felt humid. It was hard to tell if he was under or above ground. Being cautious, he slowly opened his eyes.
It was pitch black. Great, all that use of other senses to identify his surroundings for nothing. Slowly sitting up, his already damaged head banged against something hard before he could be fully upright. Growling to himself, he reached his left paw up to feel what had just hurt him. It didn’t quite feel like metal, but the solid, round materials that greeted him were definitely bars. He felt around that area and was greeted with even more, rocky and crudely made bars. He was in a cage. His eye focused more on the surroundings and he could see the bars stretch the length of his body and root themselves on the ground. As he shifted inside to figure out how big this cage was, a pair of bright, orange eyes greeted his.
“What do you want from me?” the Werelupe King almost whispered, sitting up. “I mean, all I’ve really done tonight was run around a bit, sure I may have accidentally scared that family of Meow-”
His babbling stopped as an object resembling a small rubber ball hit his left leg. The creature barked at him, blinking its eyes a few times. “What am I supposed to do with this? This is useless.” He picked the ball up and threw it outside of his cage.
The creature quickly turned its back and ran out after it. In the darkness he couldn’t really see where the pup went but he could hear its paws pushing off the soil. Soon the orange eyes were greeting him again, and the ball, now slobbered, was rolled back inside the cage. Before he had time to throw it, what sounded like a door opened up to his right and a flash of light flooded the room. He quickly put the ball inside his pocket. In front of him stood a dirty looking Werelupe holding a well-lit torch. His light brown fur looked matted, and his green shorts were so ripped that it was amazing it had managed to stay on. The little creature ran to his side immediately.
“I see my Werhonds did a fantastic job tonight,” the Werelupe chuckled, still standing there, petting the Werhond. With the torch lighting the room, the Werelupe King could now see where he was. By the rocky walls around him it was definitely some sort of cave. This particular room was plain, with only his cage and an old, rusty door. The door itself had a plastic flap near the bottom that probably allowed these creatures to come and go. His smile quickly turned into a frown as he studied the Werelupe King. “What, where is his necklace?” He looked down at the Werhond, who now had his ears back and his tail between his legs. “You useless creature! How am I supposed to rule the Werelupes without the necklace?” He pushed the Werhond aside, causing it to whimper.
“You won’t find it unless you feel like fighting dozens of other Werelupes for it.” The Werelupe King smiled, thinking of his hiding place for it. The strange Werelupe almost roared, advancing towards him. As he did, he could see the red scar that ran from his snout up to his right ear. “Eldor? Figures you’d be trying to get revenge on me ever since I gave you that marking.”
Eldor growled in frustration. “You shouldn’t have won that fight. It’s supposed to be me in your place right now, and you can be sure I’ll make that happen,” he almost whispered, furrowing his eyebrows.
“It was a fair fight; you were simply unprepared for it. In the next few hours, the other Werelupes will realize I’m gone and come searching for me. If I were you I would let me out of here before you get another one of those scars.”
“Oh is that a threat? We’ll see who is king soon enough!” he barked, turning his back and going out the rusty door and slamming it shut.
Eldor was never the smartest of Werelupes, and this wasn’t the first time he had done something stupid. The first was probably when he challenged the Werelupe King to a fight when he was half his size, with little to no fighting experience. As he reflected on Eldor, he heard a quiet whimpering come from somewhere in the room. It was dark again, and very little could be seen.
“Hey, Werhond, come here, boy,” he whispered into the darkness. Silence. Taking the ball out of his pocket, he bounced it on the floor in front of him. “Don’t you want your ball back?” He kept bouncing it. After a few seconds, he heard the Werhond coming from the other end of the room, and soon his bright orange eyes were visible again. He reached his hand out to pet the Werhond but the Werhond backed away swiftly. “Eldor’s probably hurt you before, hasn’t he?” he whispered, grabbing the ball and holding it out the cage.
Slowly but surely, the Werhond approached and took the ball from his hand. As soon as the moment came, it quickly faded as a loud yell was heard from outside. The Werhond dropped the ball and ran out through the flap on the door, and there was silence again. Sighing to himself, he picked the ball back up and put it in his pocket again.
After a few long minutes, he heard noise coming from the door and this time was greeted with several pairs of orange eyes staring at him. He suddenly had an idea.
“Can you guys get me out of here? Please?” he pleaded in a whisper. The Werhonds looked at each other and communicated with a low growl and occasional barks. The one he seemed to have befriended, the leader, ran back outside as all others followed. Well, so much for that idea. Maybe he should have tried to use the ball to communicate instead. Before he could continue wallowing on his attempt at communication with the Werhonds, they came storming back into the room. The leader had what looked like a key in his mouth, and he quickly went to the cage door to put it in. “Way to go, Leader!” He smiled, trying to whisper it despite his excitement.
After he heard a soft click, the cage door swung open. Being careful with his damaged paw, he crawled slowly, trying not to make too much noise. All the Werhonds looked at him. He made his way towards the door and turned the handle very slowly. He pushed it open ever so quietly, but the door was so rusted that it still made a high pitched squeal. The hall in front of him was lit by a torch on the wall, and another room could be seen ahead, without a door thankfully. He made his way towards it slowly, trying to hear for any sounds. As he got closer, the Werhond he had nicknamed Leader ran in front of him, causing him to stop. Next, Leader and all other Werhonds walked into the next room as the Werelupe King waited in the hall, trying to hear anything.
A few seconds later, Leader came back and barked at him. He figured this meant he could go, so he walked in. This room looked like some sort of study, with old Neovian looking furniture such as a bookshelf (with no books, no surprise there), a desk with various bite marks, and a one person purple sofa. There was another torch in there, though dimly lit. There was another rusty door next to the table and bookshelf. The Werhonds pointed to it eagerly, as it did not have a flap for them like the other one did. He wrapped his hand around the handle and opened it slowly as he did the other one.
Finally, he could see the woods. He stepped out slowly and wasn’t sure about where he was. There were many shrubs and trees in front of the door, probably to cover the entrance. As he looked back he could see his place of captivity was a small cave. The sun was still not up yet, though the little he could see of the sky indicated that it should be in the next few hours.
“Hey! How did you get out?” Eldor’s yell came from his right side. He quickly turned his head just in time to see the raging Werelupe come running towards him. He ducked out of the way just in time for Eldor to jump and hit a nearby tree. The Werelupe King was too hurt to fight and tried to run away. Eldor saw him trying to escape and grabbed at his tail, causing him to fall. As Eldor was about to jump on him, Leader jumped up and bit Eldor on the leg. Before he had time to react, all other Werhonds jumped up and started attacking Eldor too. The Werelupe King regained his balance and pushed Eldor, causing him to fall back on a strangely familiar pile of leaves that gave way and let him fall into a familiar, ten foot deep hole.
“How do you like it in there?” The Werelupe King smiled, looking down into the hole. The Werhonds looked down with him, barking.
“Let me out of here! Please!” Eldor yelled, trying to jump out of the hole.
“Maybe later, Eldor. We’ll see.” He smiled, walking away. Eldor kept screaming at him but he just kept walking towards the burrow. All of the Werhonds had disappeared, except for one. Leader sat there looking up at him. In the distance, a few high pitched howls called for him. His ears perked up and he turned around, running through the trees to meet up with the rest of his pack. “Thanks,” the Werelupe King whispered, almost to himself.
On his way back to the burrow, he reached into his pocket and found the small ball the Werhond had given him. His heart almost stopped and he considered going back to give it to Leader for all his help with this ordeal, but he had no idea where he could be with his pack. After some hesitation, he grasped the ball tightly and continued his walk to the burrow.
For once, the Werelupe King was going to have a happy and easygoing Christmas morning. If only explaining this injury to the other Werelupes was as easy!