The month-long trek from my destroyed clan across the desert had left me many things.
It left me with sharper claws.
It left me with a leaner physique.
It left me with a new mentality.
But, most of all, it left me feeling numb. My clan had been detested--no. Hated. My clan had been hated by another, and it was due to this hatred that I no longer belong to a clan. In fact, I was one of the few survivors who made it out of the other clan's prisoner chambers, after the battle. They had sent many a Lupe after me, placing a high price on my head.
None of the bounty hunters had succeeded, needless to say. I wouldn't be here telling you this, if they had. But that is beside the point.
The desert had taught me one very important lesson: everyone hated me.
So I hated everyone else.
I remember the day my trek ended very well, in fact. The desert sands had molded to grass. Finally, I could no longer see the endless sands stretching out to a vacant horizon. Finally, I could see skyscrapers and a motley of buildings, in the distance. As I stood on a rock outcropping, taking the distant city in, I felt a twinge of fear. Just a tiny twinge, but a twinge, nonetheless.
After all, this place had to be very populated. If everyone hated me here, too, then I could easily be outnumbered. I had to be on my toes.
Parched and weary, I dragged myself into the city. Many shot me strange looks, but that was to be expected. After all, I was bone thin and covered in scars from many a battle. It didn't help that I belonged to a mutant Lupe race. To them, I must have looked like a pound escapee.
I did not care. As long as they were not attacking me, I did not care. I drank from the plentiful rain water gushing out of a shop gutter, savoring it in my mouth. It was as though my tongue had turned to sand, itself. I lapped and lapped and lapped some more, right up until I heard a voice from behind me.
"Uhh... I wouldn't drink from that, if I were you."
I whirled around, growling lowly and crouching low. I was ready to spring, if need be. Then I saw this strange creature--something I had never in my life encountered before. It certainly was not Neopian--tall and lanky and standing on her hind legs. She had a shaggy brown mane coming down off her head and eyes of green. It had to be the most bizarre monster I had ever seen in my life.
My philosophy? Attack first. The thing yelped when I pounced at her, darting backward and spilling bags all over the ground. I toppled her over, pinning her to the ground.
She wailed in pain, again, flinching and whimpering on the ground. She was just like the prey I used to catch in the desert, and she excited me. Lively prey. I could smell her fear and feel her longing to run away.
I wanted to chase her. But, when I let go of her, she had frozen completely. I felt my spirits plummet immediately, and I growled as means to tempt her into escaping. Still, she did not move. She wasn't even whimpering, anymore.
Had she fainted from fear? The prey I had hunted in the desert used to get so worked up, they'd faint almost instantly. I craned my neck forward, pricking my ears and listening for her heartbeat.
That's when a large, shoe-clad foot shot up and hooked me in the jaw. Surprised, I was jarred to the left from her sudden attack. My eyes widened, and it wasn't until I comprehended what had just happened that I began to grow very, very angry. She glared defiance at me, and I knew I had obviously opened up some sort of fight in her. Now she would not run.
Cursing, I readied myself to attack again and to end this quickly. My fun was over and taking down this girl was becoming a chore. But her attacks did not stop there, oh no. In fact, she grew manic. She picked up some food from the bags she had spilled and chucked it at me. One item after another. I managed to dodge a good few of them, growling lowly in my throat and sinking my claws into the concrete. She was going to pay--now!!
That's when one item suddenly cracked into my face, exploding all over the place. She had frozen, again, eyes wide. It was as though she knew she had crossed the line. I, meanwhile, had went rigid, as well. The substance that was all over my face had dripped into my mouth. It melted on my dry tongue and slid down my throat. The tiny portion of food egged my stomach on, and I suddenly realized how hungry I was. I could not remember when I had eaten last.
Attention turned to the food, I began to lap the creamy substance up off the ground. It held a sweetness that had long since been frazzled out of my taste buds. My tongue passed all around my muzzle and all over my paws and the concrete. I wanted more--more! Food such as this could not be wasted!
The girl looked on in astonishment. I watched her out of the corner of my eye--seeing an expression of almost reluctance. But mostly relief. She proceeded to reach a hand out toward me tentatively, and I lunged forward, clamping sharp fangs down into her skin. She yelped and ripped it out of my grip. I had kept it loose, fortunately for her. I could no longer be bothered with fighting with her, anyway. I had food. Actual food.
As she nursed her wounds, she shot me a reproachful look. "Well, now that you have neogitus all over the ice cream," she started, "I guess you can have the rest of it."
I snarled at the girl, wondering how she knew how to speak in Lupine tongue. I lashed out with my claws, and she flinched. Foolish girl. I was only getting the carton of the remaining cream. I dragged it toward me and stuck my muzzle in. It was so 'cold' and soft. I lapped and lapped and lapped until there was no more. She looked on in fascination, gathering up the other items that had spilled as she did so.
She placed them back in one bag and rose to a stand. Using a foot, she kicked another carton of ice cream at me. "Here. Have this, too. It's melted, anyway," she murmured grudgingly. Then, she whirled off and took off at the speed of light. I watched her go, my interest in her having long since faded. Then, I turned back to the unopened ice cream. Snorting, I scooped it up in my jaws and headed off down the sidewalk.
Hey, no use in letting it go to waste.
The ice cream was long since gone, and I was still hungry. All I knew was that I needed more food and stealing would be risky in such a place as Neopia Central. I wondered if perhaps that girl was still hanging around. She had been smart enough to hand over her food, earlier. Maybe with a few more threats, she would give me more.
I followed her scent all the way up to a disheveled building. Sure enough, there she was with two other creatures. I recognized them as a Gelert and Kougra. The two were pawing at each other, and I thought that they might have been fighting. But, to my disgust, they were only play-fighting. I waltzed right up into the yard, glancing up at the girl. She had met my gaze from where she was sitting on the doorsteps. She rose to a stand, speaking urgently to her two others. The Kougra obliged to what she said and headed inside. The Gelert, however, snarled at me and began edging toward me.
"Jakalo!" she hissed. The Gelert ignored her, which was unwise. I sent him yelping back to his owner, four deep gouges in his nose. He cowered behind her, and I wondered if the cowardice ran in the family.
"What do you want?" she asked me, narrowing her eyes.
For the first time in nearly a month, I used my voice. It boomed from inside of me, rattling in my chest and coming out in baritone. Last I had heard it, it had been a little higher pitched. It did not hold the same innocence as it used to.
"You have two choices, whatever-you-are..." I drawled. She seemed surprised to hear me talk... as though I were some primitive idiot who could not compose sentences. "Give me whatever else it was you had in that bag. That, or you can give me that Gelert, behind you. Either would taste fine."
The Gelert, Jakalo, yelped and sank lower to the ground. This seemed to infuriate the human, though I could tell she was fighting back fear. She stank of it.
"I---I already gave you food. Why don't you go steal from someone else?" she demanded. I shot her an exasperated look. Why couldn't she just do as I said? "And, anyway, this is my property. I can call the DoN on you, you know."
"Whatever." I began advancing forward, heading toward the two. The girl shrank back which made the Gelert overcome his fear. He rose to a stand, snarling. I shot him a piercing look, and the snarl died away into a whimper. Once again, he sank to the ground. I continued to the door, fully prepared to barge into their house, if I had to. The girl held her ground, though, as well as the Gelert.
"You're not getting in!" she hissed. She darted backward, motioning to Jak. The Gelert followed after her, and together they dashed in through the open door. They slammed it shut in my face, and I heaved a low sigh. Terrific.
I sat out there on the doorstep for hours afterward. It no longer had anything to do with food. I just liked to watch them peer out the window nervously at me. When night had fallen, though, I grew impatient. Prepared to take the door and to take it off its hinges, I just about did so until the girl relented. She came out with a tray of food, head ducked downward. She walked by me, as though not even noticing me. Then, she set it in the corner of her yard resolutely. It was almost as if she was admitting defeat.
Once she had backed away, I stalked over to come and sniff the meal, suspiciously. It was not poisoned, so I assumed it was safe to eat.
"I don't know your name, you know," she piped. Was she still standing there?
"You don't need to know it," I responded, swallowing a chunk of meat.
Her face contorted into a frown. "...I'm Lavamitten," she told me.
Did she honestly think I cared? She was basically my food-servant. Her name had no relevance, to me. I did not respond. I just kept on eating.
"Where are you from?" she asked. Still, I did not answer. She seemed to be growing more and more awkward, and I reveled in her discomfort. Stupid girl. Then, "You look as though you came from a desert. There's a lot of sand in your fur." I shot her an unamused look.
"Brilliant deduction," I grumbled, voice dripping with sarcasm. She flinched. Wow. Sensitive and stupid. Next, I went back to eating. She looked on to me, for a moment. Then, she spoke again.
"You're far from the Lost Desert. 'Got anywhere to stay, tonight?" she asked. Once again, I shot her a look that rivaled my last.
"You're willing to let a complete and total stranger--one who is trespassing, nonetheless-- stay in your home?" I asked. 'Not like I would take her up on the offer, anyway. I didn't need her.
She shook her head from side to side. "If you're staying anywhere, you're staying in the basement."
I snorted but made no comment. Soon, I had polished up all my food. I shoved the tray back at her and turned away. "Go back inside, now," I mumbled. "It'd be rude to ask for seconds. So I might just eat you instead."
She scowled again, not taking kindly to being ordered around or threatened, apparently. She stayed right where she was. Tch. Bold moron, she was. "...You are welcome to stay here, as long as you stay away from Zhilshe and Jakalo..." she told me.
"Are you going to make me?" I asked her, quietly. The girl took the opportunity to look indignant, and I heaved a sigh before lowering myself into a lying position on the ground. "Go now," I repeated. She nodded and rose to a stand. Then she was going back to her house. It wasn't long before I had fallen asleep...
I woke up to something being draped over me. It was long and warm--like the afternoon sky in the desert. I lifted my head, thinking that everything that might have just happened to me was just a dream. But no. Here I was, sleeping in the corner of a fenced-in yard. A blanket was over my gaunt form, and Stupidmitten was heading back to the house. Had she given me this blanket?
"My name is Kekio." The sentence came out of my mouth before I could stop it. She stopped walking but did not look back at me. Had the twit even heard me...? Then, she nodded her head. And, without another word, she headed back to the house. I watched her go, then lowered my head to my paws.