Reunited: Part Two
Shanna’s father had always been a sailor. Often mistaken for a pirate by the appearance of his steel grey fur, he was nonetheless as honest a man as there ever was. Shanna also had two elder brothers, who she loved dearly. There was Smokey, the shadow Lupe, and then Snow, the pure white Lupe. No one would have ever guessed that they were fraternal twins. They were opposite in every possible way, and yet Shanna had never met two neopets who got along so well. They were, in essence, each other’s better halves. She also had a loving mother. Teradell had been her name. Never had anyone seen a more pretty striped Lupess, or a more kind one. And then, there was Shanna. Only a toddler, an adorable little brown Lupess. They were one big happy family.
But every family has problems. Snow, Smokey, and Shanna rarely ever saw their father. As a sailor, he spent most of his time away from their home near Neopia Central. And so it was decided, a day when he was finally home after a long voyage, that he would take his children with him on his next journey. Smokey had urged his father many times to take him along; he was very like his father before him, and loved the sea. Snow, however, had a terrible fear of water, and weeks on a ship would have been too much for him. Shanna had also wanted to go, though her mother thought her too young.
Still, Shanna’s father, Alexander, had wished to take his little daughter along, as he had spent little time with her at all.
Snow stayed home with Teradell, while Smokey and Shanna went sailing with their beloved father. Everything seemed to be well for the first days of the voyage, but on the fourth day, a terrible storm blew in. Shanna and Smokey hid below deck, safe from the gigantic waves. The thunder overhead clapped so loud it seemed to rock the boat. Lightning flashed so bright that many were forced to shut their eyes. Never had any of the crew expected a hurricane at this time of the year.
So, of course, they were not prepared for it.
Shanna supposed they had been shipwrecked. In truth, she couldn’t remember. A large tumultuous wave had swept the boat, knocking Smokey and Shanna into a wall below deck, after which she knew no more.
The next thing she knew, she had woken up on a creepy looking shore, all alone. The tiny little Lupess had then entered into the Haunted Woods. Only to find Sophie.
Sophie took her in, for a time. She gave her a home in her time of need, and cared for her when she was very young. When Shanna got older, however, about ten years of age, she ran away from Sophie’s shack, ready to face the world alone. That had been five years ago. Over those five years, no one had cared for Shanna the way Sophie had. It was certainly true what she thought of Sophie; she was harsh, but had a caring heart. She visited Sophie for the first time on her eleventh birthday, and what a pleasant reunion that had been. To her great surprise, Sophie had not been angry. In fact, Sophie thought the whole thing rather amusing, saying that the little girl was much too independent, and that Sophie could have never handled such a child anyway.
Which was, of course, Sophie’s way of telling her that she was proud that the brave Lupess could survive on her own.
She had never told Sophie the story of how she had arrived in the Haunted Woods, and Sophie had never asked, but now she knew, and she probably also knew why it was that Shanna left...
“So I finally learn the story,” said Sophie, in obvious awe of all the poor Lupess had been through.
“Yes. Now you know.”
“And you think that the shadow Lupe I helped earlier...”
Shanna tried to swallow from her suddenly very dry throat. “I have to hope, Sophie,” she rasped. “What if he’s here, somewhere, and all these years I’ve just been overlooking him?”
“I suppose now you’ll ask me if I knew where he went?”
Shanna nodded. “I would like to know.”
Sophie sighed. “I wish I could tell you, but I don’t know. He was heading deeper into the woods, I think, but I know not where he went after he left.”
Shanna stood abruptly from her rickety rocking chair. “I must go searching, then.”
Sophie pushed her back into the chair. “Now hold on just one minute, young lady. You’re most certainly not roaming about in this region of the Woods at this time of night! Much less in the middle of a storm, you’ll freeze to death, not to mention the Werelupes!”
“But Sophie, now that I know, I have to!”
Sophie glared and led her to the small bedroom. “No, what you have to do is stay here for the night, and leave in the morning to go searching.”
As Sophie began to walk out the door, Shanna heard her whisper very softly, “And I will go with you.”
Shanna awoke as early as she thought would be safe to do so with Sophie around. The sun had already risen, and she lay half awake for nearly an hour before joining Sophie by the fire. If she had risen at the moment she had woken, Sophie would have undoubtedly forced her to go back to bed.
“Young girls need their sleep,” the Swamp Witch often argued.
When she entered Sophie’s rather rundown living room, the Ixi was once again busying herself with a teapot, then, not seeing Shanna, disappeared through another door. The Lupess knew where this door led, and she often referred to it as Sophie’s “workshop”, the place where she made all of her world renowned potions. With the silence of a thief, she followed Sophie, wincing as the door creaked a little when she looked inside. Sophie didn’t seem to have noticed, however, and was turned with her back to the door, throwing things backward into her large cauldron as she hummed.
Not able to resist the urge, Shanna took a step inside and, across the creaky wooden floor, snuck up behind Sophie, and patted her gently on the shoulder. The Ixi jumped, knocking her head into one of the shelves above her, and potions began to fall down. Extraordinarily, she managed to catch all but one potion, which had shattered over her head after making a loud screaming noise. Shanna was rolling on the floor in laughter.
Much to her surprise, Sophie was also laughing merrily.
“What are you brewing today, Sophie?” Shanna asked the Swamp Witch once she had regained her composure.
Sophie bottled up a bit of the bubbling potion before answering, “Oh, a bit of this and that.”
Shanna knew she was not likely to get a better answer, so did not bother trying.
“Breakfast!” exclaimed Sophie, and shoved Shanna out of the room, following close behind her.
The Swamp Witch handed her once again a hot cup of tea, and some kind of stew. The Lupess pretended to take a bite, remembering the pastry.
“Sophie,” Shanna began guiltily, “You really don’t have to help me. I’m sure I could find Smokey on my own.”
Sophie took a bite of the stew, oblivious to the brown clump floating in it. As Sophie thought before answering, Shanna carefully poured her stew into a nearby plant. The plant hissed softly before wilting, and Shanna gave the bowl an apprehensive look.
“I do have to help,” said Sophie, who had thankfully not noticed her plant’s sudden death. “I know what it’s like to lose a brother, remember?”
Shanna nodded, remembering the tale Sophie had told her of Neovia and her brothers Bruno and Reginald.
“I came across them again, so surely we can find your brother and father.”
The Lupess gave the Swamp Witch a weak sort of smile, then carefully poured what remained of the stew offered her stew to a passing meowclops as Sophie once more headed into her “workshop”. The petpet ate ravenously, and once it had finished, its eyes went funny and it began to do a little dance on the floor. Shanna shook her head in disbelief, glad she hadn’t taken a bite.
Sophie returned a moment later, a bag thrust over her shoulder. “Well,” began Sophie in a matter-of-fact voice, “The Werelupes were obviously chasing him for some strange reason, as they don’t often have to chase for their meals. I also couldn’t imagine a whole bunch of Werelupes chasing after one Lupe, so they must have some other reason for chasing him than hunger.” She tossed Shanna her dark brown cloak, still talking as she did so. “Therefore I believe that it must be something important and they will keep searching for him...”
The brown Lupess cut her off. “So we have to find the Werelupes to find my brother.”
The green Ixi nodded grimly. “Where he is, the Werelupes surely won’t be too far behind.”
Dangerous work, to say the least. The Werelupes didn’t kill often, and usually their prey were only unsuspecting petpets. Still, Shanna was a Lupess. Sophie wouldn’t be too harmed if she was bitten, she would only have a nasty scar. However, if Shanna was bitten... well, she didn’t want to think about that.
The Lupess busied herself with lacing up her boots, trying to push those dark thoughts from her mind. When she had finished, Sophie spoke again.
The Lupess nodded in a determined way.
The Swamp Witch grinned. “Well, then we have some Werelupes to hunt!”
To be continued...