Curse of the Werelupe: Part Two
Gioama stared moodily at the wall of his brother’s bedroom. Outside thunder shock the sky, and lightning scorched the overhanging clouds, arching to claw the earth.
It had been several hours since they had arrived back at the Neohome, soaking, cold and with their happiness from the morning thoroughly doused. Fanger still stared despondently into space, lying serenely on his be. He didn’t move once, not even a flicker of his eyelids. His eyes glowed a luminous green.
“Blink!” Gioama shouted, losing his patience. “Move, anything. Just stop staring!”
A rustle outside the room sent him spinning around. Minotaur stood there, arms folded, his mane puffed out at odd angles. It looked like it had finally dried, and was now in static mode, so that his head looked larger than ever.
“You do realise that he can’t hear you?” the Yurble said smarmily.
“Well, he has ears, doesn’t he?” Gioama growled. “Ha can hear me well enough. At least he listens, unlike somebody.” His voice was verging on tearful.
“Why are you so horrible to everyone?” Gioama demanded. “It’s like you only pay attention to your needs, and no one else’s. And you don’t listen to anyone except Mum. Sometimes you even ignore her.”
Minotaur’s ear twitched and his face hardened. “Have you ever been to the Pound?” he hissed, voice dripping with venom.
“I’ve been to the Pound,” Kieavin said as she stepped up behind him, forcing him to take several steps into the room. Two thin tendrils of smoke coiled from her nostrils. A bad sign, and something only beheld by Gioama twice before. Every time the reason was Minotaur.
“And you go skipping and dancing around the Neohome like you’ve had the best life ever,” Minotaur snapped.
Kieavin’s nostrils flared. “So what? I’m having the best life ever, and I appreciate it so much that I don’t go moping around like I have something particularly nasty attached to my foot.”
Minotaur was silent. Then he heaved a great sigh and brushed past her to the door. He paused and turned back.
“You wouldn’t understand,” he said sadly, all anger gone from his voice. “To think that you wouldn’t even ask you own brother about his time before the Pound.”
Then he left the room.
The silence that he left in his wake was complete; there was no inhaling or exhaling of breath, no crackle of thunder, nothing but silence. The smoke drifting from the green Shoyru’s nostrils dissipated in the air. She blinked once, then rustled her wings, breaking the silence.
“It’s not like he ever asked me,” she said, disgruntled.
“But did you ever want to be asked?” Gioama asked in a small voice, feeling a little shocked by Minotaur’s reaction.
His gaze followed her out through the doorway, and she didn’t answer. After she was gone Gioama padded to the window, rubbing away the veil of condensed water that had settled against it, and peering out.
The sky was clear, and millions of tiny stars glittered against the ebony night like. The enormity of the huge space caused Gioama to feel nauseous all of a sudden, and he turned away. Then on a sudden urge he looked again, staring through his ghost of a reflection and lifting his eyes higher. It was then that he noticed that the moon was still blocked by a huge, grey cloud..
* * *
Minotaur sighed and ran a paw through his mane. He was still feeling drained from that talk. He usually didn’t mention his time in the Pound, or before it, especially not with Kieavin in the vicinity. But tonight his emotions had been stretched completely. He sighed again and climbed laboriously up the stairs to the Loft.
The Loft sat atop the house, perched in the centre of the roof, and with a perfect view of the surrounding suburbs. Not that seeing numerous Neohomes – some bare patches of land with one tiny room, others huge mansions that towered over them – was a sight that many would call peaceful. But it would do for now.
The Yurble was surprised to see Jenn sitting in one of the beanbags scattered haphazardly throughout the room. Her eyes were closed, and she was breathing deeply. Whether she was asleep or not was something Minotaur didn’t feel like finding out just yet.
He sank down into a beanbag tucked neatly in one corner, at the same time sliding out a book from underneath. This was the perfect reading spot, with a window just above him and the doorway far away. He opened the book and rifled through the pages, finding where he had left off.
“Oh, Minotaur, you’re up here.” Jenn’s voice drew his gaze, and he smiled tightly, not in any sort of mood for idle chitchat. Not even from his Mum. She caught his look straight. “Is something wrong?” she asked in a worried voice.
Minotaur gripped the book tightly. “Oh, nothing. I just got my youngest brother to hate me. And maybe my sister too.”
Jenn gave a small smile as she tried to imagine Gioama ever holding a grudge for more than a few hours. “Don’t worry, honey. It can’t have been that bad.”
Minotaur held back a snort and looked away, sinking lower into his chair. “Kieavin and I were discussing the pound,” he said wryly.
Her face became remorseful. “You know I didn’t have a choice, Minotaur,” she said softly. “But it was hard caring for all three of you at the time.”
“And now I’m back, and you have a fourth pet,” Minotaur retorted dryly. “I could have stayed.”
Jenn stood up and came over to him, sitting cross legged on the ground to be at his level. She smoothed down his mane sadly. “I’m sorry, Minotaur,” she said. “And I can say this: None of you will ever have to go to the Pound. Not while I’m still here in Neopia.”
Minotaur shrugged off her hand, at the same time holding back his tears. Then he snatched up his book and stumbled down the stairs.
* * *
Kieavin passed Minotaur on the stairs, and stopped with surprise. Had those been tears glistening on the blue Yurble’s cheeks? It was a sight that rendered her speechless, and at once she felt bad for having a go at him about the Pound. Who knows, maybe he had a worse time than she had. And maybe he couldn’t settled down like she had. After all, she was always looking on the bright side of life.
She smiled, remembering Fanger accusing her of chasing something shiny when she had first arrived at the Neohome. That had been a few days after he was born, and they were both young and carefree, like Gioama right now. Kieavin sighed. Fanger shouldn’t be ill like this. And Gioama shouldn’t be seeing his eldest brother sick either.
She headed up to the Loft. It was the only room she hadn’t yet turned over in her search for Jenn. Her Mum had been absent almost since they had come home. Kieavin felt a rush of gratitude for her owner, and took the stairs two at a time.
Jenn sat where Minotaur had left her, on sitting on the floor. She was staring out his favourite window, and didn’t look up until Kieavin gave an exaggerated cough and flashed her a wide smile. Her owner smiled back.
“What do you think is wrong with Fanger, Mum?” Kieavin asked, doing a little pirouette and then settling down on the floor. Her owner gave an amused smiled. The Shoyru hadn’t missed Jenn’s forlorn face, and she was trying to lift the gloomy mood.
“I don’t really know, Ki,” Jenn said. “But I bought it from the Haunted Woods Market, so maybe... maybe there was something wrong with it.”
“Do you think so?” Kieavin’s voice became indignant. “Well go back and demand an explanation.”
Jenn laughed. “Do you know how many shops there are in that marketplace?” she asked.
“Well, a couple of hundred thousand should cover it,” Jenn said, her voice completely serious.
Kieavin felt her jaw drop, and snapped it shut. “What?”
“And now you see why I can’t just go in there and find the shop again. It would take days, if I could manage it at all.” Jenn’s face fell.
Kieavin leapt to her feet. “There’s got to be someone in the Haunted Woods that would know what’s wrong. I mean, Fanger’s a Werelupe now, and there are heaps of them living there. I’m sure you could find something.”
“Well...” Jenn began, but a skittering of paws interrupted her as Gioama entered the Loft.
“Of course!” the Fire Kougra cried, his tail in overload in his excitement. “We could all go, and I could see more Werelupes and stuff!” He pranced around the room.
Jenn laid a hand on her back to save him from having a rather painful collision with the wall.
“I’m not so sure, honey,” she said. “We can’t leave Fanger here by himself when he’s still getting better.”
Kieavin stood up. “But we have to do something.”
Jenn smiled. “That’s why I’m going by myself. No, don’t argue. I can’t have you running unchecked in the Woods, both of you. You need to keep an eye on the Neohome. And Fyora knows Minotaur could have a few days without me.”
“What’s this about Minotaur?’ Gioama asked, curiosity sparked.
Jenn sighed. “Don’t worry yourself about it,” she told him gently. “Now I have to go pack so that I can be ready to spend a few days in the Haunted Woods. I’ll leave tomorrow morning.”
No begging from Kieavin or Gioama could convince her to take them with her, so they wore rather peeved looks the next day as she left the house. Then they returned to watching Fanger’s bed, hoping for a sign that he was getting better.
To be continued...