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Her Mother's Warning


by sarah_the_insane

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Eshe strode confidently through the great Jungle Ruins, a smirk playing 'cross her face. In a paw was a crudely-made spear; at her side was a weak healing potion her mother had given her.

      "Be wary, Eshe," her mother had warned her. "Though you are strong, you are not as strong as the terrible White Lupe that roams the Ruins." Eshe had laughed. Her mother's stories no longer scared her as they had when she was younger. Besides, she had never seen a white creature, much less a Lupe. Her brother Mosi, her elder by 6 seasons, claimed he had once.

      "It was big," he said vaguely, "With fur as thick as ours, but the color of dirt. It was slow and old, but half-killed me before I managed to defeat it."

      "But what happened to its body?" she had demanded, as it was her tribe's custom to bring their kills home to eat and use their skins as clothes.

      "It vanished." Oh, how Eshe had laughed when she heard that! A huge creature that had almost killed her brother when it was old, and Mosi young? That vanished when you killed it? Mosi had probably angered a Pygmy again, and was so ashamed that he made up his encounter with a Lupe. Ha. Phantom-creatures.

      And yet her Grandfather, who disliked fantasy greatly, mentioned once seeing a Lupe when he was young. So Eshe was out to discover if there was such a thing, and eliminate it if there was.

      The air in the Great Hall grew chilled, and Eshe decided it was time for a rest. Shooing a Buzz away from her, she put down her spear and curled up by a pillar to rest. 'There's no such thing as Lupes,' she thought disdainfully as sleep claimed her.

           ~

      Eshe was a small babe, huddled in her mother's safe embrace, staring past the leaping flames of the family's fire into the darkness. Her brother Mosi was sitting nearby, wrapped up in grimy linens and telling the Tribe about the great creature the color of dirt he had killed, but whose body had vanished shortly after.

      "But I don't know what it was," he admitted, looking at the Elders questioningly. "Do you?"

      "A Lupe," said Eshe's grandfather. Eshe felt her mother shiver suddenly. Looking up, she saw her mother had a wild excitement and fear in her eyes.

      "How do you know?" asked Mosi. Grandfather snorted and said nothing.

      "You say it had a long fluffed tail, large feline-like ears, but a long muzzle, much longer then a Kougra's. I'm sure it must have been a Lupe," said Eshe's mother. Her voice trembled, and the young Zafara felt her shiver again. "Besides," she continued, "Lupes are one of the few creatures that would come here and kill us, even when they themselves are dying."

      "How do you know, Mama?" asked little Eshe, looking up at her again. Her mother smiled.

      "I'm going to tell you of a tale of a young Zafara, long long ago..." she began. Grandfather huffed and stalked off. Mother rolled her eyes and went on. "Her name was Rudo, and she was a brave and strong Chieftain. But many other creatures wished Rudo dead, for she was cruel to those outside her Tribe. They conspired against her, and tricked her, leading her to a place where a great monster lived."

      "Scary!" squealed Eshe, covering her face with her paws.

      "Yes, scary," said her mother. "The monster was a huge and dreadful beast. It was as white as the moon and taller than our spears. It walked on two legs, as we do, with a tail like we have, but it was thickly furred. It had feline ears, demon eyes much wilder then our own, and long, long fangs.

      "When Rudo came across the monster, it was sick and weak, and she felt no fear. She tried to kill it, but the beast was much stronger then she thought; why, even stronger then the greatest Shamans! It beat her lovely mottled gray coat into ugly black and blue stripes, stole her spear, and left her lying hurt on the ground. Her Tribe found her and saved her, but they say the Terrible Monster, the White Lupe, stalked her and her Tribe while Rudo lived, and even after her death."

      Silence greeted her final words. The rest of the Tribe seemed stunned.

      "I fought one and lived!" said Mosi suddenly with pride. "I must be stronger then Rudo!"

      "Quiet, Mosi!" scolded Mother. "The White Lupe is stronger then others of its kind! It could be anywhere!"

      Eshe let out a sudden scream and pointed into the darkness.

      "There! There! The White Lupe's watching us!" she wailed, terrified. The Tribe was struck silent again, peering into the darkness, the fur on the back of their necks standing up. A sudden growl was heard, and they scattered, leaving behind a deserted fire… and a White Lupe.

     ~

      Eshe sat up with a gasp, her fur damp with sweat. The dream had been so real, and yet she was sure that was not how the memory had happened. Her mother had told the story, yes; and she herself had gone into hysterics… But did she really see a Lupe? No. It must have been her imagination, made overly active during the story by terror.

      'I'd better get moving, anyway,' she thought to herself. Something made her uneasy about this place; something she hadn't noticed before. It felt like she was being hunted, like some great predator was stalking her. She shook herself and reached for her spear- but it was gone!

      Eshe scrambled to her feet, looking wilding around. Her potion was still there… but where was her spear?! Had some Angry Buzz taken it from her while she slept? She looked upwards to see if the culprit was overhead, and heard a growl behind her…

      Slowly, dreading what she might see, Eshe turned around. Her worst fears were confirmed: Lupes did exist. For coming forward, with an iron staff and huge shield, was a great White Lupe. The air around it glowed with magic and fire, and Eshe saw that it had taken her staff- and broken it.

      'It's going to kill me,' thought Eshe with a whimper, 'And my only weapon is my claws! Oh, I should have taken Mama's warning seriously!' She cowered against the pillar, and the Lupe took a step closer.

      "Oh, Borovan, it's another Jungle Zafara," groaned the Lupe, but all Eshe heard was fearsome growling. She made up her hind and pounced on the Lupe, her claws seeking its eyes.

      At once she felt a burning pain; the Lupe's wall of fire! She, in her desperation, had forgotten it! She scrambled away, patting her fur quickly, trying to put out the flames. The Lupe roared and pointed its wand at her, and she felt weaker and weaker. Again she threw herself at it, not caring of the flames burning her this time. The Lupe would kill her if she didn't kill it; she was sure of that. She tried to hit it with her potion, but the Lupe threw her off, and she flew into the column. Sobbing, she dropped the potion, running for dear life. Amazingly the Lupe did not follow, but instead took her potion and placed it in its sack.

      "I am so sick of fighting those Zafaras," it growled, but Eshe was too far away to hear it. She kept running towards home.

      A day later her family found her, exhausted and near dead. Her fur was burned hideously, and her once bold attitude was gone; leaving a paranoid and easily frightened maiden. The rest of the Tribe either felt sorry for her, or scorned her; several other bold warriors went out in search for the Lupe, and the few who returned home where as terrified as Eshe. The Chieftain forbid anyone else to go in search of it, for their people were becoming too weak to protect themselves. Eventually, Eshe's family left the Ruins, and made a deserted cave their home.

      And the Lupe? It left the caves, thoroughly sick of being attacked by Angry Buzzes and Jungle Zafaras.

The End

 
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