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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 13th day of Swimming, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 99 > Continuing Series > Fates Entwined: Part Two

Fates Entwined: Part Two

by scriptfox

“Daddy, I want to go!”

     Lord Sarkif looked down fondly at his oldest son. “I’m sorry, Luparn, but it’s much too dangerous for a six-year-old cub such as yourself.”

     “But it’s no fun being stuck here!”

     “No fun? Why, you have your mother and new baby brother and...”

     “All he does is cry. Please???”

     “And you’re whining yourself. No, Luparn, hunting wild Skeiths is not for you-- not yet. When you’re older maybe….”

     “Aw, you always say that!”

     “Luparn! If you’re going to be Lord Luparn one of these days, you’d better learn to mend that attitude.”

     “Yes, Father. But... why do you have to go?”

     “Because King Mordeo commands all of his lords to this hunt.”

     Luparn thought that one over for a minute as the preparations bustled around him and his father. He finally looked up and solemnly declared, “I don’t like King Mordeo.”

     “Luparn!” His father grabbed the boy’s muzzle. “Don’t you ever say that again-- not ever! King Mordeo is your liege lord-- and mine, too. You will give him the respect he deserves!”

     Luparn’s tail tucked itself between his legs and he gulped. “Yes, Father.”

     Sarkif let out a small sigh of relief. “When you’re older, you’ll understand these things better, son.” And faeries willing, he’ll understand why he must keep such thoughts to himself! Sarkif took one last look at his son’s face and hoped the reddish hue cast on his it by the setting sun wasn’t an omen. Fortunately, the cub had apparently been scared enough so that he behaved. He waved meekly to the small procession as it rode out of the castle.

     Luparn waited until everyone was out of the castle grounds and no one was paying attention to him anymore before he scooted into the stable. Miss this hunt? Not on your life! He slid into the stall where Tyche, the gelding his father had given him for his last birthday, quietly nibbled on some hay.

     “Here, boy, c’mon, we’ve got a ways to go....” Luparn gently stroked his horse as he led him out of the stall. Halting immediately outside the door, he swiftly scrambled up the door and onto Tyche’s broad back. It never occurred to him to bother with a saddle or bridle. He and Tyche knew each other much better than to bother with that stuff. Leaning forward over his horse’s neck, he gently kicked his heels and they were off.

     Luparn’s luck held; no one saw him leaving the grounds. Outside, he gave Tyche his head and they set off in pursuit of his father’s party. The last few rays of sunlight gave way to dusk as they trotted down the track.

     “Ahh, Lord Sarkif,” King Mordeo grunted.

     “Milord.” Sarkif reined in his horse and bowed formally to the Draik.

     “Good to see you. The hunt looks to be fine tonight. Ah, the light of the moon and the smell of the air.... I can wax poetic, you know.”

     “Yes, sire, though I admit I fancy the smell rather than the light.”

     Mordeo’s chuckle was taken up by the crowd of mounted henchmen behind him. “Yes, you Lupes do have a problem seeing at night.”

     Sarkif gritted his teeth. “As you say, sire.”

     “Perhaps we should give you a Draik as an escort.... But no, I’m sure you’ll want the honor of capturing some of these Skeiths for yourself. You’ve got the leftmost flank tonight, Lord Randin next to you, I, of course, in the center....”

     Lord Sarkif managed to bow and dismiss himself with a muttered acquiescence. Once out of earshot, he let out the breath he’d been holding. “Draiks!” was all he said.

     “I do believe the king has gained a few pounds,” one of his men remarked.

     “Looks like it. He probably couldn’t fly now if he had to. But why should he? He sits and eats off the fat of the land....” Sarkif and his men continued their quiet grousing as they headed off to their section of the hunt.

     Tyche’s pace had slowed as he and Luparn neared the beginning of the hunt. By the time they came close to the Draiks, Tyche was in a slow walk with the shadowed figure of Luparn tucked to his neck. Luparn’s keen hearing picked out the voices before he saw anyone, and he pulled Tyche to a stop.

     “I still can’t believe he said that, can you?” a gravelly voice chortled.

     “Oh yes I can,” rasped the response. “I’ve always told you that Lupe had just a bit more pride than sense. It’ll be his downfall one of these days, mark my words.”

     There was harsh laughter. “How long before you can tempt him into something nasty enough to justify getting rid of him?”

     “Oh, a while yet probably. Besides, I’ve got my eyes on richer holdings than Sarkif’s little patch of ground.”

     “Good one, Mordeo. We’ll let him simmer till he’s ripe for the picking!”

     Luparn went rigid with fear and anger as the cruel laughter of the Draiks echoed into the night. He whispered to Tyche, and they began edging away from the source of the voices. He had just begun to feel confident again when it happened.

     “Hey!” A soldier leaped up from seemingly out of nowhere.

     “Yaaaa!!!” Luparn let out an instinctive growl, and Tyche caught his fear. They trampled the soldier to the ground as they took flight.

     “SKEITH!” came the choked cry from behind them.

     Luparn tucked himself back into Tyche’s mane as the cry rose behind them. There were hissing sounds around them. Tyche stumbled to the left as something hit Luparn in the right leg. Luparn’s cry of pain was lost in the frenzied screaming of his horse, and the world turned to a blur of pounding impacts as both he and his horse wound up on the ground.

     “Hold up you fools, it’s someone!”

     Luparn lay in a semiconscious daze while the crowd of Draiks surrounded him. “Hey, it’s a Lupe cub. What’s he doing here?”

     “I don’t know, but we can always find out....”

     “Forget it, Yarkin,” came Mordeo’s voice. “He’s a stray. Don’t bother bloodying your knife on him. Is Sket okay?”

     “Yeah, he’s bruised up pretty bad, but he’ll be okay.”

     “Good. We would have had a score to settle with the brat here if he’d been seriously hurt....”

     The pain and shock finally had their way with Luparn, and he sank into the beckoning blackness.

     A hard bed below and a flickering candle on the wall above greeted Luparn as he came to. He recognized the castle physician’s voice at the door.

     “Yes, he will recover, Lord, though I don’t know how much use he will retain in that leg. Some, to be sure, but how much only the faeries know.”

     A muttered curse in his father’s voice. “Well can I at least see him?”

     “Of course… he should be coming to any time now.”

     Lord Sarkif strode into the room and stared down at his son. Luparn’s eyes opened just enough to return the gaze. “Well, the mighty hunter returns. Are you proud of yourself?”

     Luparn coughed as he cleared his throat. “No.”

     “We had to destroy Tyche.”

     “I know.”

     Lord Sarkif blinked. How in the name of the Dark Faeries...? “I... see. You realize, of course, that you have just been confined to bed for an indefinite period while that leg heals.”


     “Is that all you have to say? Just ‘oh’? No regrets over your extremely stupid actions?”

     “I....” Luparn stopped as his father glared at him. A curiously adult look passed across his face for a moment. “No, I don’t like it, but it was necessary.”

     “‘Necessary’? Interesting word. Necessary to making you see sense, maybe. And maybe laying in bed with nothing to do but think will help that!”

     “Yes, Father, you’re right.”

     Lord Sarkif nodded abruptly and left without saying another word. He walked down the corridors of his small castle in a thoughtful mood. Things had gone well enough, but he wasn’t quite sure if he liked that weird blend of acceptance and maturity in Luparn’s tone or not.

     Far to the south, a shadowed Lupe cub woke, screaming in pain. Gasping for air, he looked frantically around his bedchamber. The incense lamp wafted its usual perfume to him and the drapes were motionless in the quiet air.

     A plump Wocky shoved her way through the curtained doorway. “Coltzan! Coltzan, are you all right?”

     Coltzan sighed. “Yes, Mumsey, I’m fine... just a nightmare.”

     “Oh, you poor dear. You get back to sleep, you hear?”

     Coltzan smiled wanly and nodded as his nurse left. A nightmare, that’s all it had been. He rubbed his right leg and flexed it, trying to shake the pain out of it. Just sympathetic twinges from that dream... whatever it was. He sighed and lay back down, wishing that he could believe that reassuring thought, but afraid that he’d not get any more sleep tonight after all.

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Fates Entwined: Part One

Fates Entwined: Part Three

Fates Entwined: Part Four

Fates Entwined: Part Five

Fates Entwined: Part Six

Fates Entwined: Part Seven

Fates Entwined: Part Eight

Fates Entwined: Part Nine

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