Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 108,522,844 Issue: 217 | 18th day of Storing, Y7
Home | Archives Articles | Editorial | Short Stories | Comics | New Series | Continued Series
 

Murgoh: Part Two


by zephandolf

--------

The den that Murgoh was supposed to go to was the den where he and most of the Lupes in the pack had grown up. It was only used to raise young Lupes, but Savak often used it as a meeting place regardless. The den was an earthen cave hidden behind a large slab of granite. It was hard to spot from a distance, so it was perfect for hiding helpless whelps.

      As soon as they decided which way was home, the three siblings moved as fast as they could and still keep together. Even Ashley showed a little extra stamina on her part, which impressed Murgoh. She never did well running long distances. She was a decent hunter, though, even for her age. Somehow, she knew where prey was before anyone else did. But fighting was another matter. She never got the hang of it. Savak always said it was because she was so young, but Murgoh couldn't imagine her becoming any better at it.

      Melissa on the other hand was an excellent tracker and hunter, and she could match pace with Murgoh any day of the week. The only thing Murgoh had over her was his fighting skill, and a few extra pounds to bowl her over with.

      As soon as Murgoh spotted the den, his spirits lifted a bit. He was nearly home. He didn't care what Kosek said to him when he showed up. If they hadn't stayed out all night, they wouldn't know about this potential threat. As he drew closer, his pace quickened, and he didn't stop until he had dashed behind the boulder, and bowled straight into Kosek's hindquarters. Startled, Murgoh staggered back as Kosek, also surprised, swung about to face his assailant. As soon as he saw who it was, he huffed.

      "There you are," he said, annoyance seeping into his tone. "We were about to go out and search for you. Where are your sisters?"

      Murgoh shook out his fur before he responded. "They're coming."

      As he said this, Melissa and Ashley stepped into the den, holding back near the entrance. Kosek looked them over for a moment until he was satisfied that they were alright, then he turned back to Murgoh.

      "Now that that's settled, where have you been all night? I told you to come straight here!"

      "We got caught in the storm," Murgoh explained, trying to keep his tone even. "We had to make a snow den, but we're alright."

      "Murgoh?"

      Murgoh looked past Kosek to see his father padding across the den. He turned to Kosek when he came up next to him. "I'll take care of this," he said. Kosek hesitated for a moment, then nodded to Savak before he moved deeper into the den. Once the yellow Lupe had left, Savak turned to Murgoh. "Alright," he said. "Did I hear you right, you burrowed into the snow to escape the storm?"

      Murgoh nodded. "That's what we did," he said, a little nervous that his father was questioning him now.

      "But, I imagine it wasn't your idea," Savak said.

      Murgoh hesitated, but he lowered his head as he answered. "No, Melissa suggested it."

      "I see. I expected as much," his father observed. Murgoh looked up briefly to see his father look past him to his sisters. He looked down again as Savak's gaze fell back on him. "Could you explain to me why it took you so long to get home? This den isn't that far away from the pack's burial place. The rest of us got here before the storm really took hold of the plains and yet you three left before us and managed to get caught in it."

      Murgoh didn't look up again, but he could feel his father's gaze burning into him. He knew he wouldn't last long under Savak's eye. He didn't know why that was, but it must have been a father thing.

      "I was taking them to the den," he said, gesturing to Melissa and Ashley. "But I must have lost my way when the storm picked up. We slept under the snow, and when we woke up this morning, we... Melissa found out that we had wandered into a neighboring territory."

      Savak nodded. "I hope you got out without being spotted. You do know that border disputes are at their worst during the winter."

      Murgoh only nodded.

      "There's something else," Melissa put in, padding forward to stand beside her brother.

      "More trouble, is there?" Savak asked. "By Fyora, what else could my children have done other than cross into other territories? Have you started a war for us as well?"

      "It wasn't Murgoh's fault!" Ashley suddenly exclaimed. "And if we didn't get lost, we wouldn't know about Kelthar Moonbane!"

      "Kelthar?" Kosek exclaimed, crossing the den again. Behind him came Heysha, Lilia, Kovo, and Thassa. "What's this about Kelthar?"

      For a moment, everyone just stared at the quiet white Lupess. Then, Melissa turned back to Savak. "That's the other problem."

      "Alright," Savak said, turning from Ashley to Kosek. "Who's Kelthar?"

      "I only heard about him from my mother when she was still alive," Kosek said to Savak. "But he's an insanely ambitious Lupe who tried to take over all the plains. He had many followers, and many more Lupes who followed because they were afraid not to. Many called him the 'Scourge of the Plains'. Murgoh, your father Murgoh, built a temporary alliance with several neighboring packs to drive Kelthar from the plains. Some of the packs he gathered had already been driven from their territories. There was heavy resistance, and Murgoh came close to catching the tyrant. They fought each other and, when Murgoh cut a gash across Kelthar's face, the tyrant fled into the Haunted Woods. No one dared to follow him, and we haven't heard of him since." He gave Ashley a meaningful glance. "That is, until now. Who knows what happened to him in the woods, but this new Moonbane title is new to me."

      "Does this mean he's back then," Heysha asked. "Our pack isn't that strong. Our children make up half our numbers!"

      Savak glanced back at Heysha briefly. Murgoh couldn't see his face, but he must have given Heysha a reassuring look, because she calmed down a bit.

      "I've dealt with ambitious Lupes before," Savak said, rubbing the thin fur on his chest. "We'll pull through this."

      Savak started pacing around the den, apparently deep in thought. As he did this, Lilia spoke.

      "But back then, you had a Faerie to help you," she pointed out. "And a magical medallion to protect you."

      "A dark Faerie was controlling your mother," Savak said. "And Kaylee lost her so-called 'ambition' when her medallion lost its power." He shook his head. "We can't really do anything about Kelthar until we know more about what he's up to."

      As Savak paced about the den, Murgoh saw Kovo pad across from Lilia's side, giving him contemptuous look. Murgoh only smiled as he approached.

      "Over here," he growled as he passed. Murgoh didn't move at first, but he followed the brown Lupe away from the meeting. He sat down in front of Kovo, who was still giving him an angry glare.

      "Do you think that this is some sort of game?" the brown Lupe asked.

      "What do you mean?" Murgoh replied, the smile fading from his face.

      "Every time you get into trouble, you always seem to get out of it with only a few scratches," Kovo explained.

      "So I have a knack for saving my own hide," Murgoh said, shrugging. "Is that any reason to complain to me about it?"

      "Murgoh, Kovo, get over here," Savak called. Murgoh nodded to his father, then turned back to Kovo, shrugging. Kovo only narrowed his eyes.

      "One of these days," he said as he passed Murgoh. "You are going get into trouble, and there will be no one around to save your hide."

      Murgoh didn't move for a moment, watching as Kovo walked back to the assembled Lupes. What exactly did he mean by that? He knew Kovo didn't like him, but did he have it out for him? Shaking these thoughts from his mind, he followed Kovo back to the meeting. Savak started speaking as he approached.

      "Kosek," he said. "I want you to take Kovo and Thassa and work your way along the western border. See if any of the neighboring packs know anything about this tyrant. Heysha, take Lilia and Melissa along the southern border. I'll take Murgoh and Ashley to the north. If I don't find out anything about him on the plains, I might try asking Lukas. He has contacts everywhere."

      "I'm not sure if his contacts cover the plains, Savak," Heysha said.

      Savak shrugged. "He still might know something. Murgoh, Ashley, let's get moving," he said, turning to his children. To the others he added, "Everyone be back here tomorrow. Once we've shared what we've learned, we can plan our next course of action."

     * * *

      As they traveled across the plains, Murgoh trailed behind his father and Ashley for most of the way. He would rather be hunting for his supper than traipsing around, looking for information on a faceless enemy. He didn't know who Kelthar was, except that his name, and apparently, his reputation preceded him. He was glad, however, that he didn't have to deal with the more rambunctious of his two sisters. And, when Ashley wasn't in one of her frightful moods, she could be fun to have around.

      As Murgoh trudged up one of the many snow-covered hills on the plains, he noticed that his father had paused at the top and was gazing down at something on the other side. When he reached the top, Murgoh saw nothing down the hill but a small river, still flowing swiftly despite the cold weather. He looked up questioningly at the red Lupe, but it was Ashley who voiced the question on his mind.

      "What's wrong, dad?" she asked.

      "Nothing," Savak replied, shaking his head. "Old memories, that's all. I had a bad encounter with this river when I wasn't much older than you two were." The red furred leader said nothing more, but walked down the hill, keeping abreast of the river as he followed it upstream to the west. Murgoh stared at the river for a moment longer before following. What Savak had said had perked his interest, somewhat. He rarely heard stories about his father's puppyhood. There were a few stories about his grandfather, Murgoh, the red Lupe who had left the pack some time ago to take a final journey, alone. No one in the pack believed that he still walked Neopia at all.

      There were also stories of his grandmother, Jessie, a blue Lupess who was still living with her old owner, Jason. He had met her only once in his short life, and that encounter had been somewhat comical. He especially enjoyed the company of her housemate, Lukas, the red Kougra. The overgrown cat was a riot, wrestling with all three of Savak's children at once, and losing a few times, even when he didn't let them.

      As the midday sun tried vainly to pierce the overcast that remained over the plains, Murgoh found that his father was still leading them west along the river, which was starting to narrow the further they traveled. Having walked longer than he had before, Murgoh was starting to get tired. He moved past his sister to tell him when Savak stopped dead in his tracks, testing the air. He lowered his head cautiously, then looked back at his children, silently ordering them to keep low.

      Murgoh watched silently as Savak moved cautiously to the top of the next rise, peeking over the top. After a moment, he backed away a pace, then gestured to Murgoh to come over. When he reached Savak, the red Lupe whispered into his ear.

      "There's a pack of Lupes not half a mile from here," he said. The fur rose along Murgoh's back in nervous tension. He mustered up enough courage to take a peek himself. Looking over the rise, he saw six or seven Lupes gathered together, talking, joking around, and laughing. But they were in his father's territory! What were they doing here?

      "I've never seen any of them before," Savak said after a moment. "And I don't recognize their scents. What's worse, they're between us and home. We're close to old Haklar's territory, but I know those Lupes, and so do you."

      "What are these Lupes doing here, then?" Murgoh asked, baking away from the crest of the hill.

      "If these Lupes are who I think they are," Savak replied grimly, "then there's more where they came from, I'm sure. We're fortunate that we're downwind, but we need to move on, or they'll be bound to notice us."

     * * *

      After the close encounter with the invading Lupes, Savak led Murgoh and Ashley north across the river, which was narrow enough to jump across at this point. By the time the sun had made it halfway down the sky, the buildings on the outskirts of Neopia Central were clearly visible. Murgoh didn't really like Neopia Central. Most of the surfaces were as hard as stone, and his paws, being used to soft soil and grass, quickly grew tired on the concrete paths. The only thing that kept his spirits up about coming here was that he would get to see Jessie again. The only time he met the kind old Lupess, she had spoiled him a little, along with his sisters.

      The three Lupes entered a suburb a few hours before sunset, walking in line along the concrete sidewalk. Murgoh didn't look up to see the other Neopians playing in their yards in the last moments of daylight. He saw no reason to. Most of them were strange creatures to him, and he would only stare, like the ones who stopped playing would stare at him, his sister, and his father. He had to admit, compared to the typical Neopian, a wild Lupe was ragged looking.

      Finally, Savak turned from the sidewalk and approached a modest, two story house. Mounting the porch without losing the rhythm in his step, Savak walked up to the door and gave it several good knocks as Murgoh and Ashley sat on the far side of the porch near the path.

      A moment later, the door opened, and a human face appeared from behind it. The human, who Murgoh recalled was named Jason, smiled brightly when he recognized the red Lupe at his front door.

      "Savak!" he exclaimed. "My, it's been a long time."

      "It's good to see you, Jason," Savak said politely. Before he could go on, Jason noticed the two young Lupes on the other side of the porch.

      "And you brought your kids too!" he blurted. Then, he observed, "or two of them anyway. Where's that blue Lupess... what's her name..."

      "Melissa," Savak put in. "She's with her mother."

      Jason nodded. "Well, come in out of the cold. Jessie will be glad to see you all."

To be continued...

 
Search the Neopian Times




Other Episodes


» Murgoh: Part One



Week 0 Related Links


Other Stories


---------

Blast From The Past!
I had the oddest dream...

by velveteen

---------

Purple Pebble: Part Three
Feri and the Poogle and Shoyru had their arms up in the air, hands clenched in fists, screaming along with the crowd. Ollie felt her cheeks grow hot...

by mygoodguild

---------

A Word From Jhudora
Quit shaking, you puny mortal! I’m not going to turn you into a mortog... unless you don’t hear me out.

by lama12122



Submit your stories, articles, and comics using the new submission form.