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Savak: The Medallion - Part One

by zephandolf


The eastern sky was painted in hues of red and orange as the sun peeked over the horizon, shedding light on the Neopian plains. Caressing winds blew through the rolling hills, whispering soothing messages as the lush green fields whispered soothingly in return.

     In an isolated portion of the grasslands, five Lupes gathered at the base of a hill. Their physical motions may have been calm enough, but their voices rang with a certain urgency. A young red Lupe, Savak, detected this right away. He was the youngest member of the pack, and he was feeling uneasy. The tension in the pack was high, and he did not know if he could help.

     "Food is becoming scarce," said the yellow Lupe, Kosek. He wasn't very big as Lupes go, but he made up for his size with his agility and speed. He was the fastest runner in the pack, and everyone knew it. "If we stay out here too long, we may have to scavenge in the streets of Neopia Central anyway."

     Food was scarce. It was the same story for the past week. They may have caught a morsel here and there, but there had been nothing for three days. The entire pack was beginning to starve. This is why the meeting was called in the first place.

      "Submitting to scavenging is degrading!" the silver Lupe Gerthen said. He was one of the older members of the pack. He was starting to lose his fighting edge, but his wisdom was indispensable. "Prey has simply moved on, and we have to follow. It's the way of nature."

      "Gerthen is right," said Jessie, a blue Lupe. Jessie was Savak's mother, so he had no objections to her opinion. However, since she wasn't born a member of the pack, her opinions weren't taken very seriously, especially on the part of Kosek. "I'd rather keep off the streets if I could," she added.

      "Why would that be?" Kosek asked. "Would you be tempted to return to the pet's life?"

      "ENOUGH!" snapped the white Lupe, Murgoh. "We're not going to get anywhere by bickering!" The rest of the pack fell silent as he spoke. Murgoh was the oldest member of the pack, and he was the pack leader as well. The symbol of his authority, a small gold medallion, rattled at the end of its gold chain as he shook out his ruffled fur.

     Next to Savak, Murgoh had more respect for Jessie's opinions than anyone. From what Savak was told, he had invited Jessie into the pack not long before Savak was born. No one he asked knew why she left her old life, and Jessie was always reluctant to tell him. She didn't even tell him who his father was, or what he was like. Savak did find this a little annoying, but it mattered little. What mattered was that Murgoh brought her into the pack, and he always took an interest in what she said.

     As any good leader would, Murgoh considered all his options carefully before making a move. When the pack was silent, he turned to Savak. "Savak," said the white Lupe. "You haven't spoken yet. What do you think?"

     Savak wasn't sure how to respond. He'd never been asked his opinion on anything before. Looking from Jessie, to Gerthen, and then to Kosek, Savak took a deep breath, and addressed Murgoh. "To tell you the truth, humans frighten me," he said. "I'd rather be as far from them as possible. I say we follow the prey."

      "Then it's settled," the leader said. "We follow the prey. Kosek, go south and see what you can find. Gerthen, go to the east as far as the bay. Jessie, go west to the forest. Don't venture into the forest, though. It's haunted. I'll go north as far as the outer limits of Neopia Central. Signal if you find anything."

      "What am I going to do?" Savak asked nervously.

      "You're coming with me," Murgoh said. "Don't worry; we're not going to run into any humans. Let's go. They day is young, but we have a lot of work to do."

     Nodding to Murgoh, Jessie and Gerthen bounded off in the directions given. Kosek lingered a moment, glaring at Savak before he ventured off to the south, leaving Savak alone with the pack leader.

      "Kosek thinks a Lupe who is not born wild has no place in the plains," Murgoh said glumly to himself. "Even if you were born out here, you were born to a Lupe who wasn't." Then, standing up, Murgoh started walking north. Savak padded quickly after his leader, not wanting to be left alone.

      "Why did you pick me?" Savak asked when they reached the crest of the hill.

      "I need to know what you can do," Murgoh said without stopping. "It's my responsibility to know the strengths and weaknesses of every member of the pack. What they can do, what they can't do, what kind of abilities they have…everything." Murgoh paused at the bottom of the hill, turning to Savak. "You're becoming an adult. One journey in your life is coming to an end, and another one is about to begin." Savak just stared blankly at the white Lupe, who in return smiled briefly at him before continuing north.

     The sun rose higher in the sky, warming the plains below as the two Lupes crossed over several more hills. When they reached the top of yet another hill, Murgoh stopped again, testing the air for any stray scents. He smiled with satisfaction with the results.

      "Do you smell that, Savak?" Murgoh asked. The red Lupe sniffed the flowing currents of air, catching a faint but familiar smell. His stomach growled with anticipation.

      "I smell prey," Savak said.

      "No," Murgoh said. "You smell lunch!"

     Murgoh took the lead again, slightly crouched, the pads of his paws betraying no sound. Savak followed as quietly as he could, stepping lightly, avoiding brushing against the tall grass. The scent of prey was growing steadily stronger the further they ventured, but it seemed stale and old. There was another scent on the air too, Savak noticed, after they crossed a small river. It was too faint to tell for sure, but it smelled like another Lupe was in the area.

     At the top of the next hill, Murgoh flattened himself against the ground, peering over the edge. Savak joined the white Lupe, crouching down next to him. There was nothing at the bottom of the hill. But it seemed that the scent was coming from there. Puzzled, Savak looked to Murgoh.

      "It should be down there!" he said to himself. "It has to be!"

     Slowly, the white Lupe crawled down the hill, following the scent. Savak stayed where he was, testing the air. The other Lupe scent was gone now. But there was another scent, one he didn't recognize. It was a tangy scent, and a little musty. It was hard to make out what it was, exactly.

     When he reached the bottom of the hill, Murgoh circled around, trying to track the scent he so desperately sought after. "It has to be here!" he mumbled to himself. "The scent leads here, so it has to be here!" At the top of the hill, Savak stood up, watching despairingly as the pack leader circled around at the bottom of the hill, his medallion dangling, nearly dragging along the ground.

     Suddenly, the young red Lupe jumped back in surprise as something rose out of the ground around Murgoh! A clanging SNAP sounded and lingered in the air. Having fallen behind the crest of the hill, Savak didn't know what happened. Cautiously, he peered over the crest of the hill again.

     At the bottom of the hill sat a large metal box cage, engulfed in a cloud of dust. Looking closely, Savak spotted a motionless white pelt lying on the cage's dust covered floor.

      "Murgoh!" Savak cried as he dashed down the hill. When he reached the cage, he peered inside at the white Lupe. He sighed in relief to see his chest rising and falling rhythmically with every breath. He was alive!

      "Murgoh?" Savak said. "Murgoh, are you alright?" the Lupe didn't respond. "Hang on, Murgoh," Savak said. "I'll get you out."

     Desperately, the young Lupe bit down on one of the metal bars. When he discovered he couldn't gnaw through it, he tried pulling it out. When that didn't work, he took a step back and rammed into the cage, and again, and again until finally he collapsed, crying in frustration. The cage wasn't going to open. He felt useless, and unable to help his leader.

     Savak didn't know how long he lay there until he finally lifted his head and looked to the sky. The light was fading. It was late afternoon! He must have fallen asleep. He had to get Murgoh out of this cage and get him back to the pack!

     The young Lupe started by sniffing around the cage, finally trying to think things through. It smelled strongly of that musty tang he smelled before. This must be what metal smells like, Savak thought. It also smelled strongly of Lupe. It wasn't the scent of any particular Lupe, but the scents of many, many Lupes captured in this contraption.

     Jumping on top of the cage, he examined the cage lid, trying to find some kind of release. He couldn't find one. He clawed at the edged of the lid, hoping to find a gap, or a hinge, or something. The scraping noise he made was loud, and it would scare away any prey in the area. This went completely against the hunter's instinct, but he didn't care, he needed to get Murgoh out!

     "Unh…What is that…Savak?"

      "Murgoh!" Savak's heart nearly stopped completely when he heard Murgoh's voice. Leaping off the cage, the young Lupe was going to tell Murgoh how worried he was, and how frightened he was, and about his attempts at getting him out. But he was so overjoyed that the old Lupe was awake, he didn't know where to start.

     Murgoh pushed himself upright and shook his head. "Blasted contraption!" he mumbled. "When it closed in on me, I hit my head." Getting up, the Lupe paced around the cage. "It doesn't look as if there's a way out of here."

     "There has to be!" Savak objected. "We have to get you out of here so you can lead the pack!"

     "Calm down, Savak!" Murgoh growled. "We're not going to get anywhere if we start panicking."

     Savak fell silent, shifting restlessly from paw to paw. "W-well, what should we do?" he asked. As he did, a distant howling caught his attention. Both Lupes looked to the south, their ears alert. It was the hunter's call!

     "It seems Jessie found the prey," Murgoh said, smirking. Then, in a lower voice, he said, "Listen, Savak. Go south and get Jessie for me."

     "Why?" Savak asked. "What good would that do?"

      "Jessie used to live in Neopia Central. Chances are, she knows about contraptions like this. Now GO!" he barked. "Bring the rest of the pack if you can!"

     Savak was going to protest, but he found himself running south already. He was running as fast as he could. He'd been given a direct order from the pack leader, and he had to carry it out. He only hoped that what the white Lupe planned was going to work.

To be continued...

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