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Encountering Wild: Part One


by christinetran

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I still remember how cold it was the first time I met Wild. I was on vacation on Mystery Island with my pets, and it was cold the first night we stayed there. It struck me as odd, since the only reason why I vacationed there in the first place was to escape the snowpacked streets of Neopia Central. But it was a strange night, or to be more precise, it was a strange night for me. I'm pretty sure that my neighboring islanders had it normal, since I didn't hear any screams or whatnot.

     My pets and I were unpacking our belongings in house number 463 of The Island Getaway. The Island Getaway occupied a sandy beach on the east side of Mystery Island, and stretched for miles along it's golden coast. Within this little encampment were restaurants, food shops, entertainment centers, gamerooms, sailing docks, merchandise stores, and a ton of other places that were put up in order to make the visiting tourists feel at home. In other words, the Island Getaway was an exact replica of Neopia Central... except it was located on an island. A home away from home of sorts.

     The house I rented was made of bamboo, with a second floor and a balcony that overlooked the calm, teal waves of Neopia's ocean. That house cost me an arm, a leg, and my Eyrie's left wing in order to rent the blasted thing. It was 'supposedly' occupied by the infamous Meerca Twins and Chet Flash, and for some odd reason, that drove up it's price. Islanders nowadays, sheesh. But, unfortunately, it was the only house that was available when I traveled there, so, for now, it was to be my home for two straight weeks.

     "This place smells like a vegetable store," were the first words Hopper, my dainty Faerie Kacheek, muttered the moment she entered the house. I crinkled up my nose and nodded in agreement as I stepped through the doorway as well. "I thought you said that this would be a great place to stay, not a green place to stay."

     "Well, the brochure did say that 'The lovely rooms and furniture in our tropical houses will make you go bamboo," stated Bloo, a Christmas Grundo, as he lugged in our heavy luggage bags. His brow was dripping with sweat, and his red eyes were droopy and tired. Nevertheless, he continued to pull, drag, and slide all of the packs through the doorway.

     "Here, Bloo, let me help you," I said sympathetically and picked up a few parcels and placed them on a nearby bamboo table. "Hey, Hopper, maybe you can fly on over and help us. You do have arms, too, you know."

     Hopper gasped in shock when she heard me speak those words, and placed one dramatic paw upon her head. "Oh dear, you do not expect me to toil and work during vacation, do you, CT? Because that proposal shall drastically strain my fragile being, and drag me deeper into the depths of pain."

     I rolled my eyes in frustration. "Well, can you at least carry one measly thing?"

     "Certainly, CT dear," Hopper said with a smile and flew out through the open door towards the large pile of luggage that covered the front lawn. She came in a few seconds later, cradling Follikerise, her pet Zomutt, in her arms. "But I shall only carry my belongings."

     "But you didn't bring anything!" Bloo shouted in frustration.

     Hopper smiled sneakily at him as she carefully stroked the head of her pet Zomutt. "That's because I'm planning on going on a shopping spree. I didn't spend all my Employment neopoints on make-up, Bloo dear."

     Bloo rolled his eyes and slowly nudged me with his left elbow.

     "I told you we should've left her on the boat," he whispered to me in irritation. I simply laughed and grabbed a few more bags from the lawn.

     "Why do you question me for help when you could have just asked that lovely Eyrie of yours?" Hopper asked haughtily as she landed upon the floor, still stroking her striking Zomutt. "Where is Tiger and Genee?"

     "Tiger decided to explore the grounds a bit, and Genee went along with him," I said simply and dragged in a heavy, purple suitcase. "And they aren't helping because Tiger needs the vacation from you, and Genee might just electrocute all of our stuff."

     After we finished unpacking all of our luggage, and Tiger and Genee came home, we wasted our time before the fire of our new getaway. Tiger, a spotted Eyrie, was lounging upon the sofa, Hopper was playing checkers with Bloo, and Genee, a Skunk Lupe, was sprawled upon a plastic sheet I placed upon the floor beforehand. I could see the small sparks erupt from his fur as electricity surged through his body, and I bit my lip in frustration.

     It has always been hard taking care of Genee... well, not exactly hard, but it did prove difficult. His odd case of permanent shock-a-lots did put a dent on my bank account, since I always had to order specially designed items just for his use. Plastic was all he could touch, and occasionally, wooden floors and cement and stone, and sometimes jelly. But truthfully, they weren't real... just simple items placed upon the surface of Neopia in order to decor it's barren grounds. They had no life within them, and even if they did, it would be useless showering adoration upon an inanimate object.

     So when my family and I discovered Eochoniche, the white Anubis, in the Lost Desert, it was a blessing upon our heads. Not only was he immobile to being shocked, but he also yearned for company just like Genee. The little adventure that brought us to him still haunts my dream, though, and even if Eocho is a part of the family, I can't help but wonder why electricity doesn't affect him. Nevertheless, his story doesn't belong in this tale, and shouldn't be dwelled upon for more than a second.

     The fire crackled and split the bamboo logs in twos, and those split into fours and eights. It leapt and danced shadows upon the wall, but the brick hearth kept it in place and away from the flammable wooden floors. By now, we were all used to the pungent smell of bamboo, and our eyelids flickered dangerously each time we sniffed the tropical scent. I could see that Hopper and Bloo were blindlessly moving checker pieces around, and Tiger had already dozed off on the sofa. Genee's eyes were closed, but I knew that he was simply daydreaming. Genee was practically addicted to dreaming up fantasy worlds and lands, and I was addicted to listening to these tales.

     As I stared at his resting figure, my head instinctively turned toward the door. I heard something outside, and my heart jolted into my throat when I heard it. It was a soft growl, almost silent, but it was easily detectable in the quiet atmosphere of house 463. It sounded harmless, almost helpless, but nevertheless, I was scared. It was the unknown, the unexpected, and I feared that, so therefore I feared the creator of the noise outside.

     My sensible side was telling me to stay in the house and continue watching the flames snap, crackle, and pop, but curiosity took the best of me. I jumped quickly to my feet and walked towards the door, my hand stretched out towards it's bamboo doorknob.

     I pulled the door open, and pure darkness met my eyes. The sun had set hours before, and I knew that it was nearly midnight upon the island. I could hear the wind whistling in the trees, and the ocean waves continued to crash upon the coast... but I didn't find the creator of the unknown noise. Now that I think about it, I was pretty sleepy when I thought I heard it. It must've been imagined, a trick of the mind... or at least that was what I thought before I heard it again.

     The second time I heard it, though, a night cloud flew away from Kreludor, and it's moonlight fell upon the golden-black coast. It was a smooth, vast expanse of endless sand, but a large, red rock ruined it's monotony. No, wait, it wasn't a rock... or if it was a rock, it was a moving, breathing rock. I squinted my eyes, and I thought I could see a pair of what looked to be like ears, but these ears looked mangled and torn. Another cloud swept across the moon, and the oddly-shaped 'rock' disappeared from my view once more.

     "Is anyone out there?" I called out hesitantly as I clenched my fist, hoping against all hopes that nobody would answer. Fortunately, I didn't hear an answer... instead, I saw it.

     Moments after I called out, the cloud shifted away from the moon once more, and I saw that the rock was moving slowly towards me. The thing's ears were hanging limply against what I thought to be it's head, and I could see that simply crawling across the ground was dangerously excruciating to it. I squinted and took one awkward step out the door, and it was then that I realized that the 'rock' wasn't trying to move towards me... it was trying to move away.

     I was both confused and surprised at this realization, for if I were in that situation (weak and crawling), I would pull myself towards the nearest sound. Still bedazzled, and slightly worried, I started to slowly walk towards the moving rock. I think it heard my footsteps, though, because the moment I started to walk, it started to crawl along a teensy bit faster.

     "Do you need any help?" I asked awkwardly as I approached the oddly shapen rock. It answered me with a weak growl, and glared at me through slitted, bright, blue eyes. I carefully bent down, close enough to look at it, yet far enough to be safe, and examined it carefully.

     It was a Lupe. By the light of the moon, I could clearly see it's dark, thick, dense coat of red fur, and the white tips of his body were concealed with clumps of thick, grungy mud. Underneath his chipped and blackened nails were small, tightly clumped pebbles and beach sand. His fur was ruffled; every single hair strand was either out of place, bent, or hidden. Although his ears weren't torn or mangled (like I had guessed before), they were hanging limply at his side in an odd angle.

     Despite his rather unkempt condition, I instantly knew that he wasn't just any other Lupe. His eyes were a royal blue that's brightness even outshone the moon. Tired and weak muscles rustled underneath his skin and spoke of a time when they could overpower even the largest Grarrl. Although the weather upon Mystery Island was hot and humid, his coat was gloriously thick, and his tail even thicker. His snout was long, and his body looked swift, and the glimmer of his sharp teeth sent shivers down my spine. Nevertheless, his ragged and torn body called out to me, and I fearlessly answered it.

     Gently, I placed my hand upon his neck... or, at least I tried to. The moment I moved closer, his head snapped forward and a ferocious growl erupted from his throat. I quickly drew back, for I was surprised at how quickly he was able to react. The Lupe's eyes were narrowed now as he slowly withdrew his head back into it's prior position.

     "Don't worry," I said softly, hoping that it would be able to understand me. "I won't hurt you."

     The Lupe simply stared at me, it's teeth like a mirror to the shine of the moon.

     By now, I was in a complete rut. Curses to my conscience, for if it did not exist, I would've left the Lupe here a long time ago. But it does exist, and now, it plagued me as I gazed upon the fallen Neopet. I could tell that the Lupe was hurt, or at least slightly damaged. I wanted to help him... to make him stronger. Still, I knew that if I stepped forward, it could possibly be the last step I'll ever take. I did not want to underestimate a wild Lupe's strength, even if it was hurt. I continued to gaze, and it continued to growl.

     Slowly, I advanced forward, though my heart was a beating frenzy, and my head was drowning in sweat. The small breeze over the ocean collected, mingled once more and gently flew away from the blue horizon and upwards towards the beach. It rushed past me, cooling the beads of sweat on my face, and helped me breathe deeper. The wind also moved the dark clouds in the sky, and allowed stronger bands of moonlight to dance upon the beach. It was a calm wind, almost hypnotizing, and it was a lucky wind that night, too, for as it flew past, the Lupe lifted it's head to catch the breeze.

     It was in that moment that I saw the most amazing transformation, one that I shall not witness for many years to come. The mud seemed to release it's hold upon the Lupe's fur, and somehow it's thicker parts seemed to evaporate into air. The wind tousled, brushed, and rearranged the red fur, combing it with it's invisible touch. His ears were lifted high, almost as if they were proud to be ears, and his white chest seemed to gain mass and swelled. He wasn't a Lupe that was broken now... instead, he was a Lupe that can't be fixed.

     I inhaled deeply as I stared in awe at his transformation. His head was still held towards the sky, and his eyes were closed, as if he were sleeping. A deep growl echoed from his throat, and seconds later, he bellowed at the moon. His howl was deep, sad... but like his appearance, it was filled with infinite pride. And just as quickly as this howl was released, it ended, and the Lupe's head dropped upon the ground as if it were lifeless.

     Of course, I was surprised, but that still did not stop my conscience from kicking in. I placed one cautious hand upon the Lupe's now limp body and reassured myself that he had completely fainted. Once I had this reassurance, and double-checked it, I gathered the Lupe into my arms. It wasn't until then that I realized how massive the Lupe was; it was at least two times larger than my own Skunk Lupe, Genee. Despite it's size, however, I still cradled the Lupe's unconscious body in my arms.

     I felt sorry for it... and I immediately decided to hate whatever, or whomever, had harmed such a grand creature. I tried to brush some of the leftover mud off of his body, but most of it had already dried and firmly attached itself to his fur. So, instead, I used my left hand to lift his head so that I'll be able to look at it.

     He resembled a Lupe, and was practically identical to one... but something about him was different, though. His eyelids were the size of a normal Lupe's eyes, but they looked fragile and soft, as if they haven't been exposed to the outside world. The Lupe's snout was longer and thinner, and his nose was sharp and pointed. It's face structure was squarish, and the fur that clung to his face lay dangerously close to his skin, each strand both streamlined and short. I carefully brushed one paw across his cheek, and I heard him whimper fearfully in his dreams.

     I decided to keep him. I called him Wild.

To be continued...

 
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