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Murgoh: Part Eight

by zephandolf


"Murgoh!" Savak gasped. "Dad! What are you doing here?"

      "I live here," the old Lupe replied, coughing again. "I have been for some time. And I already know why you're here."

      Savak glanced at Star briefly before he padded up to the old Lupe. "I didn't think I would ever see you again. I…I thought you'd be dead by now, the way you left when I became pack leader…"

      "I'm as surprised as you are on that point," Nomad replied. "I didn't think I would last long after I took that medallion off. But it turns out that I lived quite a bit longer than I expected. And I have a bit longer still, if only I can get over this cold."

      "But…But I was told you were dying," Murgoh put in.

      Nomad gave his grandson a surprised look. "Dying?" he asked, as if shocked at such a notion. "Who said I was dying?" He sighed. "By Fyora, all I do is develop a cough, and everyone thinks I'm going to drop dead at any moment."

      Savak smiled, then turned to where Star was standing. Murgoh looked too, and noticed that she was no longer there.

      "Where did Kaylee go?" Savak asked.

      "It doesn't matter that much, does it?" Nomad asked, coughing. "She'll be back. My caretaker won't leave me that easily."

      "Caretaker?" Savak asked. "Dad, do you know what's she put me through after you left?"

      "Yes, I know all about it." Nomad sighed. "I have a lot to explain. Come, have a seat by the fire."

      Murgoh, watching Nomad and Savak in their first meeting in years, didn't notice his mother until she prodded him in the side. Looking up at her, she smiled at him. "I think we should leave these two alone for a while," she said, turning to go. Reluctantly, Murgoh followed as Heysha led him outside the cave. At the entrance, Orthas looked up at him as he came out.

      "What's all the commotion in there?" he asked. "Does your father know Star?"

      "Star?" Heysha asked.

      "He knows Star and Nomad," Murgoh replied. "In fact, I just found out that Nomad is actually Murgoh, my grandfather."

      "Murgoh?" the shadow Lupe asked. "You mean the Murgoh that led the plains Lupes against Kelthar the first time he tried to take over?" Murgoh nodded, and Orthas just smiled. "Calling you and him the same name would get confusing after a while. I don't know about you, but I think I'm going to keep calling him Nomad. I'm used to it anyway." His ears drooped. "It's too bad he won't be with us much longer."

      "He's not dying," Heysha pointed out. "He's only developed a cough, nothing more."

      "Really?" Orthas asked. He shook his head. "I'm glad he's going to be alright, but maybe he should have a talk with a certain someone about making rash assumptions. Never mind, though. Come on, let me show you where the rest of your pack is staying."

     * * *

      "Murgoh? Murgoh!" Melissa exclaimed. Murgoh smiled as his sister ran to him from the other side of the cave. His smile faded when Melissa kept running, bowling him over. There were excited and surprised yelps coming from the two as she wrestled him to the ground. In a moment, Murgoh found himself nose-to-nose with his sister, with her on top. Grinning happily, she licked him on the end of his nose.

      "Get off me!" Murgoh demanded, struggling free of his sister.

      Melissa let him go, giggling despite herself. "I'm sorry," she said. "We thought you were dead. But then Dad told us you were alright, and then these Lupes found us…Oh, I'm so happy to see you!"

      Melissa nuzzled Murgoh again, who didn't move this time.

      "I thought you all were dead, too," Murgoh admitted, looking around at the rest of the pack who were gathered in the small cave.

      "You seem to be getting in the habit of wandering off and not telling us," Kosek called from the other side of the cave. His tone was harsh, but there was a light of humor in his eyes.

      Heysha didn't say anything, but smiled at her son as she moved past him to sit down next to Ashley.

      "Savak told us you disappeared during his fight with Kelthar," Kosek said. "What happened?"

      Murgoh hesitated. He didn't know how to answer that. The fact was, he started to run off, at first, but he didn't escape. He also didn't want to explain himself to Kosek. He'd had enough trouble with that Lupe already.

      "Oh, leave him alone," Heysha said. "Savak wants to know what happened too, and Murgoh doesn't need to explain himself twice. Although, I do have interesting news for you. You know about the Lupe who actually lives in this cove, right? The one called Nomad?"

      "Yeah, what about him?" Kosek asked.

      "Hey, Murgoh," Orthas called, entering the den, and distracting Murgoh from his mother's response. Orthas paused a moment when he saw Melissa, but turned back to Murgoh. "I have some food ready for your pack, but I need help bringing it in. Want to lend a paw?"

      "Sure." Murgoh moved to follow the shadow Lupe out when Melissa whispered to him.

      "Isn't that the Lupe that met us outside the cove?" she asked.

      "Yeah," he replied. "Why?"

      "Just asking," the Lupess said, walking away to Heysha. As she left, Murgoh shrugged, then went to help Orthas out.

     * * *

      It took several trips to bring enough food for everyone, and by the time they were finished, Savak had settled himself into the den after his long conversation with Nomad. He didn't say what they discussed, and though Murgoh was curious, he didn't expect his father to tell. It was a private conversation, after all.

      Orthas removed himself from the den as soon as his task was finished, leaving Murgoh to settle down with the pack. Most everyone was talking about one thing or another, and Murgoh just resigned himself to eating until Kovo sat down next to him.

      "Murgoh," Kovo said. "When we last spoke, I said the next time you got in trouble, there would be no one around to save your hide. But when I said it, I didn't expect you to go out and prove my point."

      "Neither did I," Murgoh replied after swallowing his food. "I suppose you want to gloat then?"

      "Not at all," the brown Lupe said. "I was just as worried about you as anyone when you went missing. When you live in a pack like this, every member is family. I may not have been nice to you, Murgoh, but I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to you. No Lupe would want that."

      Murgoh smiled. "Thank you, Kovo."

      "Don't mention it," Kovo said. A smile crept onto his face as he added, "And keep your nose out of trouble, okay?"

      Murgoh smiled, but he didn't reply. After this Murgoh was able to eat in silence for a little while. But later, during the meal, Savak told Murgoh what happened to him. He knew he was outnumbered, and did the best he could to hold Kelthar off so the help he had summoned a moment ago could show up in time. Heysha, Kosek, and Lilia all arrived moments later and helped Savak to fight off the invaders. Savak ordered Ashley to run to where the other pups had been told to wait, and would have told Murgoh the same, had he been around. When Savak realized he was no longer anywhere nearby, worry crept over Savak, and distracted him enough that Kelthar managed to bite deep into his shoulder before he and his Lupes were finally driven off.

      Realizing that Kelthar was likely to return with an army at his back, Savak decided they would have to leave their territory if they wanted to survive. There was still no sign of Murgoh, even though they searched the surrounding plains in the storm. Once they had given up hope of finding him, they set out. Progress was slow with Savak's wound, and they had to stop many times to tend to it. It was many days before friendly Lupes found them and told them of the cove, and of Murgoh's whereabouts.

      "And then they brought us here," Savak concluded. "The funny thing is, the first thing I wanted to do when we got there, aside from eat, was find you. Then I found my father as well, which really surprised me."

      "If it makes you feel any better, I didn't know until just before you came in," Murgoh said.

      Savak smiled, but he said nothing more.

      "So, what happened to you?" Heysha asked.

      Hesitantly, Murgoh related what happened to him. He told them how the green Lupe in Kelthar's party chased him as he tried to escape, then left him for dead on the plains. When he mentioned the bright light that surrounded him, Savak's ears perked up with interest, but he said nothing. Murgoh went on to mention the cavern he woke up in, and its other occupants, Nomad and Star, and Orthas who brought him food every day. The days after that, as he told them, weren't all that interesting.

      "What do you remember about that light that you saw back on the plains?" Heysha asked him when he was finished. "The light that you saw around you after Kelthar's attack?"

      "Not much, really," Murgoh replied, a little surprised that she would bring it up. "I think it spoke to me. I might have been delirious. With wounds that bad, who wouldn't be?"

      Heysha nodded. "What did it say?"

      Murgoh thought for a moment. "I think it said, 'Come what may,' um… 'I will be watching you.' I'm pretty sure that's what she said."

      "She?" Savak asked. "Are you sure?"

      "It sounded female," the young Lupe replied.

      His father nodded, smiling. Heysha didn't say anything else, but exchanged a look with Melissa. At this point, several questions swam through Murgoh's head, and he couldn't help but ask one of them.

      "What's this all about?" he asked.

      "Melissa's had some dreams," Savak replied. "Dreams of a Werelupe. This beast appears out of the darkness and attacks her. And every time, there was a light, like a Faerie, which said what you said: 'Come what may, I will be watching you.'"

      Murgoh stared at his parents in disbelief for a moment. "I…I had the same dream."

      "You did?" Heysha asked.

      "Yes. I had a dream like that when we were on the plains. But, what's does it mean?"

      "I have my suspicions," Savak said after a moment. "But I would have to consult an old friend to be sure, and we're in no position to do that now. One thing is certain, though. Someone's watching over the both of you." Savak sighed. "It's nice to know that I'm not the only one looking out for my children, but it still leaves the problem of Kelthar."

      A silence fell over the pack at the mention of the "Scourge of the Plains". And no surprise, it was a grim subject.

      "I had a chat with one of the patrol Lupes," Kosek said finally. "He said that Kelthar's forces are running free all over the plains, killing or driving out what Lupes they find."

      Savak nodded grimly. "He's using his old tactics, for the most part. Murgoh…Uh, my father said that he was just driving Lupes from their homes last time, those who didn't join him. But now…he's gathering no followers. Those who heard that Kelthar was on the rampage fled before he even showed his face. Many packs escaped assault, and those who were attacked…few, if any, survived."

      At this point, Murgoh thought back to Orthas's story. His pack had no warning, they were given no mercy, and with the exception of the shadow Lupe, there were no survivors.

      "Kelthar's methods aside, I want to know. What do we do?" Kosek asked. "We've lost our territory, like most of the Lupes here. Kelthar is sure to hear of this place. It won't be safe for long."

      "I had assumed that the Lupes running this place already thought of that," Heysha put in.

      "They certainly have capable Lupes patrolling around the cove," Lilia added. "Even after the scouts found us, we ran into a patrol on our way in. They questioned the scouting party, probably trying to decide whose side we were on."

      "It may not be enough," Savak sighed. "Kosek's right, Kelthar will no doubt find this place before long. Since he isn't building his strength as he goes along, it may get easier to breech his defenses if we wait long enough." He turned to Murgoh. "If the dreams you and your sister had have any bearing on our current situation, and I think they do, then any action to overthrow Kelthar should not be taken lightly. No one knows what happened to him while he was in the Haunted Woods, and I don't care to find out the details. There are rumors, though, that he's learned many things during his exile. He gathered his followers, built his strength…and he's done something that no Lupe in his right mind would pursue openly. That is, many of the rumors surrounding Kelthar say that he's become a Werelupe."

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Murgoh: Part One
» Murgoh: Part Two
» Murgoh: Part Three
» Murgoh: Part Four
» Murgoh: Part Five
» Murgoh: Part Six
» Murgoh: Part Seven
» Murgoh: Part Nine

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