Something is not what it seems...
Echo was a young Cybunny. He had long, floppy ears and a cute little ball of fluff for a tail. He had bright blue eyes, and cute little paws to match. Echo was a baby Cybunny, although he was almost a year old.
Echo had decided one day to paint himself the color baby, but ever since that day, he's been teased because of it. Echo decided one day that he wanted to show everyone that just because he was different in so many ways, didn't mean he wasn't brave or strong. He was going to go straight to the Haunted Woods. His parents had always stressed to him the dangers of the woods because of the legend of the Werelupe that claimed the woods as his own. Echo just saw it as an attempt of keeping him away from the Haunted Woods. Not today. Today was the day that Echo was going to go and find this Werelupe. So without hesitation, Echo grabbed his favourite Blue Cybunny Backpack, packed some essentials like food and water, and headed out to start his adventure. Lucky for him, he already lived close to the Haunted Woods.
There were quite a few things that Echo had instantly regretted, but this to him was a quest to prove that he was a tough and brave bunny. He wanted to be recognised as the one to fight against this Werelupe, even if he thought it was fake. He came up to what looked like acres of overgrowth, and large metal gates that blocked his entry. They had rust all over them. On closer inspection, Echo could see the gates could be pushed open. So with all his might, Echo pushed as hard as he could to open them. It was no use. Being so tiny, he could only open the gates so much. Twitching his little nose, Echo wondered how he was going to get in. He suddenly had an idea; he was only a tiny little baby Cybunny. Perhaps he could squeeze his way through the gap he had created. He took off his backpack and chucked it through the gap. Then he moved himself between the gates into the gap. With all his might, Echo managed to squeeze his way through the gates and into the next part of the woods. Shaking the dirt off, Echo turned around to look back at where he had come from. It was like the gates were trying to keep something in, not to keep others out.
Echo continued to travel the paths towards what looked like a village right next to the woods. There were rumours that there really was an actual village within the forest but not many returned to say there was. Hopping through the seemingly deserted village, he was surprised that not a single thing was open, up until he stopped to a halt. There were massive claw marks against the door. What had exactly done this? Could it have really been a ferocious Werelupe? Echo laughed nervously out loud. This was getting a little above his head but he felt he must continue otherwise his adventure would have been for nothing.
Echo rested at this village for a while. Laying on his back, he suddenly saw someone dressed quite differently. They were in clothes that he hadn't seen anyone in before, and they held a staff, maybe they were magic. He had a bound of excitement. Echo had always wanted to learn magic. Everyone would always say he was too young, what did they know anyway?
"Hey, wait!" Echo called out, suddenly not having realised that he was now chasing this Neopet without a care in the world for the danger that may have been present. Of course the Neopet who Echo had called out to had stopped, her head tilted just as she heard the young Cybunny's voice. She just smiled, for she had already foreseen this meeting.
"You called?" her voice showed she was relaxed, waltzing towards Echo. Should he be afraid of this Neopet? She got closer and closer until she suddenly stopped in front of Echo. Now that she was close up, Echo could see she wasn't bad. She had large, bright green eyes. Her hair, all wavy and long, flowed down to just below her waist. And she was wearing a cloak and what looked like a witches hat. Echo had heard eerie stories about witches who lived in Neopia, some were good. Some were bad. Now that Echo had gotten a closer look at her, he thought maybe he should ask her about the Werelupe.
"Ummm, I'm sorry for bothering you Miss, but I was wondering if I could please ask you some questions?"
Her bright green eyes lit up, dancing with enthusiasm.
"Please, call me Sofie. And what might your name be, young Neopet?"
"My name is Echo", he said with a hint of concern. What was this Neopet planning?
"Echo, hmmm?", Sophie responded. "You don't have to be concerned, young Echo. I'm not going to harm you. Sophie lifted her witches hat up so you could see more of her face. From further inspection, you could now see she meant no harm.
"It's my friend, Edna the witch you have to worry about. She tends to turn wandering Neopets into Slorgs."
The look on Echo's face must have been a giveaway, because Sophie stopped and giggled.
"It's ok Echo", Sophie said with a small smile on her face.
"Edna hasn't entered these parts of the woods in a while. She mainly stays in her tower, to create weird potions that aren't really worth her time, but she insists they will one day make her ruler of the Haunted Woods. We are yet to see any results."
Sophie's expression changed to that of worry, but turned around and pointed to the tall, grey tower in the distance.
"That's Ednas tower. As long as you don't step foot inside, she will have no problem with you."
Echo hopped over to Sophie and looked up at her.
"Please, Sophie. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about the legend of the Werelupe that is supposed to be contained in these woods?"
"I have some information that might interest you. Please, let us head back to my hut near the swamp."
So, without any hesitation, Sophie and Echo started heading to her house that was a hut by the swamp. Echo had all these questions running around in his head. Was the Werelupe dangerous? Could Echo really battle him for self approval? What was Sophie's involvement in this whole thing? Echo started to feel a little bit upset and homesick. Maybe he wasn't doing the right thing. Sophie, who could feel the emotions of other Neopets through her magic staff, stopped and turned around to face Echo.
"We are here, and not a minute too late. If I'm not mistaken Echo, you're feeling a bit homesick. Am I right?"
"How did you know?", Echo said with a look of complete surprise on his face. He blushed a little bit. Echo was wanting to be a tough and brave Cybunny. Not someone who showed his vulnerable side. Sophie just smiled, and waved her staff side to side. Echo took one look and smiled too. Sophie didn't have to say anything, Echo knew now that her staff was magical and indeed, so was Sophie.
Sophie opened her hut door with one swipe of her magic staff, which was glowing a bright yellow color. The two Neopets walked inside and sofie took off her witches hat. She ran her hand through her long hair and looked at Echo. She then gestured him to sit down on the babaa wool rug that she had sewn herself. Echo sat down and stretched out. They had been walking for what seemed like hours, and these rugs were the comfiest he'd ever felt.
"So, youre an Ixi", Echo said, while he was trying to stifle a yawn.
"I've heard about them. They're very nice Neopets, but once you get them on your bad side, look out."
Sophie had a bit of a giggle. She walked over to her cauldron and started stirring the pot. Echo's eyes were starting to droop, but he tried his best to keep them open. Suddenly, there was this scratching noise coming from the door of the hut on the outside. Echo tilted his head just as Sophie turned around.
"Would you please open the door? I expect its my little Meowclops coming back from hunting."
Echo stretched, yet again, then got up and hopped over to the door. What was a Meowclops? He slowly put his paw on the handle of the door and pulled it open. In waltzed this Petpet that Echo had never seen before. It took one look at Echo and meowed, rubbing itself along Echo's fur, and purring. It had only one eye, but that didn't bother Echo.
"Meowlops likes you", Sophie said with a grin on her face. He doesn't usually take well to strangers. He must know you have good intentions."
Echo patted the Mewoclops on the head and gave him a scratch under the neck, then went to go lay down again on the rugs. He really was having trouble keeping his eyes open this time. As Echo started drifting off to sleep, he had no worries about where he currently was or who he was with. Sophie went back to stirring her cauldron.
"I wonder if this will be enough", she said as she poured her potion into vials.
Sophie then got up, and gestured for her Meowlops to keep Echo company.
"I have to go and run a few errands, Meowclops." Sophie was putting on her witches hat again and gathering her staff and vials.
"Please, keep Echo company while I am gone. If he awakens, give him a sign that I will be back soon."
Sophie gathered up the last of her items, opened the door of the hut, and left. The door closed shut on its own. The Meowclops walked over to Echo, who was curled up on the floor, and curled up beside him. Meowclops was purring so hard, it's a surprise it didn't wake Echo. The two of them slept for what seemed like hours, until Echo was awakened abruptly by what sounded like leaves crunching from outside. Echo got up quickly, accidentally standing on Meowclops tail and waking him, followed by a loud hiss.
"I'm sorry, Meowclops", Echo said.
He gave Meowclops a few gentle pats until he was purring again. Meowclops licked Echo on the cheek to say he was forgiven. Echo was wanting to know what had awoken him. Something was out there, and something knew that Echo was in here. Suddenly, from outside Sophie's window, Echo saw two large red eyes staring at him from a distance. Then another two showed up on the left of those eyes, and another two on the right. Six eyes were now staring at Echo from outside, and he could now feel himself starting to sweat. Without looking away from the eyes, Echo started backing up until he was against the back wall, and closed his eyes for a brief moment. When he reopened them, the six large red eyes had disappeared, and had left Echo feeling shocked.
After what seemed like forever, a familiar voice spoke from outside.
"Echo, are you awake? Could you come out here please?"
It was Sophie. Echo sighed with relief and opened the door. He hopped outside and a look of shock came across his face. Sofie was standing there, her hair was a mess, and her robes had holes in it from what looked like claw marks. The same claw marks that Echo had seen from the door way back at the start of his adventure, on the door of the very first hut in the first village he came across. All Echo could do right now, was stare.
"Echo", Sophie said softly.
"I'm having to recover after something terrible happened while I was away. You may need to travel alone for a bit while this happens. But I was able to find the things I needed, so I am wanting to entrust you to complete this take for me. Can you do that?"
Everything was now happening so fast. Echo's brain was trying to work out what was going on. Shaking this feeling of fear off, Echo looked at Sophie and nodded.
"What do you need me to do, Sophie?"
Sophie beckoned Echo over to her. She was using her staff to hold herself up, which was now a dark green. She grabbed Echo's backpack, which had been left near the entrance of her hut, and started putting little vials filled with dark green liquid in. Sophie then closed up the bag and Echo was then able to put it on his back, but he was still unsure what Sophie needed him to do.
"If you follow the winding path straight ahead, you should come to a cave", Sophie said as she was pointing to the winding road that was straight ahead.
"You are a brave Cybunny, and I'm afraid that I cannot join you on this next part of your journey".
Sophie then took the orb from the top of her staff and gave it to Echo.
"This orb will be able to light the way for you. There is a prophecy, that a Cybunny would enter these woods on this day, and will be able to set free the Werelupe that is currently residing in the cave that I told you about. Echo, I believe that you are that Cybunny that they talk about, and I believe that you WILL be able to do this."
All Echo could do at this point, was stare at the orb, which now was glowing a bright yellow in his paws.
"Don't worry, Echo", Sophie said, as she was now able to stand up properly.
"I have plenty more orbs stashed away."
So, without looking back, Echo started his journey to find out what had attacked Sophie. He could feel her gaze as he got further and further away from her hut. Echo felt sad that Sophie couldn't join his exploration, but as she said, this was his journey. The winding path seemed to have gone on forever, when Echo reached a part of the woods with a sign.
"DO NOT ENTER! TRESPASSERS WILL BE DEALT WITH ACCORDINGLY!"
Echo thought of turning back, but something inside of him made him want to continue on, despite the warning. He took a deep breathe in, and continued on his way. A few hours later, Echo came to a stop. There was no where else for him to go. The winding road was blocked by a dark cave, and the rest of the land was covered in thick trees and bushes. Far too thick for a young Cybunny to be traveling in. What was Echo to do? He didn't really have any light to guide him into the cave. Or did he?
Echo took the orb that Sophie had given him out of his backpack, and hoped that it would be lit up in the same yellow glow it had when he left. But instead, it was glowing a dangerous red. Come to think of it, Echo didn't know what these glowing colors meant. But red couldn't be good, right?
Suddenly, from inside the cave, came this vicious growl, followed by a loud barking noise. A Lupe of some kind? Lupe's were notorious for hunting Cybunnies, and if this was a Lupe, Echo was in big trouble.
The growling and barking started to get louder, and Echo heeded the orbs warning of a red glow by backing up, ready to flee. But before Echo could take another step, the six large red eyes that he had seen last night, showed up from the inside of the cave. Surely this couldn't be the Werelupe that the prophecy talks about? Echo was now shaking so badly, that he was afraid he was going to drop Sophie's orb. He grabbed his backpack and opened it to put the orb in. Before he could do up his backpack, a loud voice boomed from inside the cave.
Echo froze immediately. From inside the cave, a figure was starting to emerge. Echo turned his head and covered his face with his paws. This can't be happening this early on in his adventures. For what seemed like forever, Echo slowly opened his eyes and looked at the beast that had now emerged from the cave. It was large, red and had three heads! It was standing up as tall as it could, its two eyes from each head looking down on me.
"What are you doing here?!", the beast exclaimed. "Did you not see the sign that said no trespassing?!"
"I-I'm sorry Sir", Echo whimpered. "I have come to seek out the Werelupe of the Haunted Woods. Sophie the Ixi witch sent me."
Silence engulfed the air as the beast was examining Echo, trying to see if he was telling the truth.
"My name is Luperus. I am a three headed Lupe that guards this cave from intruders. If Sophie has sent you, then I trust her judgement."
Luperus let out one last loud growl before he stood aside so that Echo could enter the cave. Echo opened his backpack one more time, and removed the orb. It was now glowing the same shade of green that it had when he first met Sophie. That must be a good thing, right? Echo gathered all his things and started to go towards the cave. He looked at Luperus, and nodded. It didn't take long, but Luperus was now on Echo's side.
Echo continued to enter the cave, and the green luminescent light from the orb, lit up the cave. There were arrow markings along the cave wall, pointing out which way to go. So far, there was only one way to go, so Echo continued. A few moments passed, and Echo was met with a decision to make. The cave had now split into two sections, with no markings as to tell which way was which. However, Echo could hear running water coming from somewhere. Cybunnies were really good at hearing, so using his large ears, Echo listened intently in hopes of finding out which was was which. Seconds passed, and Echo decided to take the left path. The orbs light changed from green, back to yellow. Perhaps yellow meant that something lay ahead?
As Echo continued on the path that he had chosen, it eventually opened up into a larger cave. Like a secret cave that was concealed by the other cave and the grassland that was surrounding Sophie's hut. This cave looked like it went on for quite a bit. It was a very large open field-like cave. It had grass everywhere, and rocks that formed shelter. Suddenly, without notice, something rammed into Echo's side, knocking him over. As Echo got up, he gasped. In near view, there were at least a dozen Werelupe standing around, each one with its head down low, growling. Echo only knew what a Werelupe looked like because he had researched before coming on this adventure.
Echo then focused his attention on the thirteenth Werelupe, who was standing on all fours with his teeth bared. He had blue shorts on, a necklace with a tooth attached to it, presumably one of the Luperus's teeth that always regenerated itself, and large red eyes, just like Luperus himself. All the other Werelupes were brown in color, but this one was grey, and had a golden earring on his left ear. He must be special in some way. And he must have been the one to tackle Echo beforehand.
As the Werelupe was inching towards Echo bit by bit, Echo reached into his bag to find the vials of green liquid that Sophie had left him. What were they for exactly? Echo didn't exactly have much time to be asking himself questions. He was about to become this Werelupe's dinner! As the Werelupe started towering over him, Echo grabbed one of the vials, pulled off the lid and tipped it over the Werelupes head. The Werelupe stopped. Echo started to breathe a little slower now. What was happening? The Werelupe started to glow the same green color as the vile of liquid, and suddenly the Werelupe looked down at Echo, confused.
"What happened", he asked softly.
Echo just couldn't find the words to speak. He really thought this Werelupe was going to harm him. The Werelupe stood back, this time on two legs and looked at Echo more clearly.
"It seems as though you have saved my from doing a dangerous act, young Cybunny. I am known as the Werelupe King. I am sorry if I startled you, but I was not acting on my own accord. You see, years and years ago, I was just a Werelupe, enjoying life with my pack. Next thing I know, everything turns black, and I am not able to control my actions. I am led to believe that Edna is responsible for this. She put a spell on me that made me the vicious Werelupe I was. Anyone I scratched, would turn and obey Edna's every command. Lucky for Sophie though, she was magical so my claws won't affect her."
Echo just looked at the Werelupe, stunned. How did he know that Sophie got clawed?
The Werelupe cleared his throat, and nodded towards the orb.
"You may have been wondering what the orbs glow colors each meant. Green means everything is ok and to continue your path. Yellow means to be cautious, but can also be used as a lighting guide. And red... red means to be prepared for danger. I've known Sophie for quite some time, she's always full of surprises. She was right though, you were the Cybunny in the prophecy. That's the reason why the Luperus didn't attack. You didn't see it, but the orb had glowed white then, and showed the Luperus Sophie's intentions, and the fact she thought you were the prophecy."
Echo looked down at the orb now, which was infact glowing white, and Sophie's face was there. She was smiling. So that's how the Werelupe knew he had attacked her.
"You have saved me and therefore saved my pack from creating havoc and destruction upon Neopia for Edna's evil bidding. Please, take this necklace as a token of our appreciation."
The Werelupe took of his Luperus tooth necklace and put it around Echo's neck. Echo looked down at it and smiled. Echo bid farewell to the Werelupe pack, and headed back out of the cave, and back towards Sophie's hut. In the distance, Echo could hear the Werelupe pack, howling in appreciation. Down the winding road and through the village, Echo returned to Sophie's hut and knocked. Sophie emerged, smiling.
"I knew that you could save us all from Edna's evil doing, and bring peace back to the Haunted Woods once and for all. Please, keep the orb I gave you as a token of MY appreciation, and to keep in touch once you leave here."
So, after also bidding Sophie farewell, Echo returned to the first village he'd come across before meeting Sophie, and the big rusty gates. He again took off his backpack and threw it to the other side through the gap. He then squeezed himself through and took one last look at the Haunted Woods where his adventure first started. Echo was no longer a loser. Echo was the hero that saved all of Neopia-kind.