The King of Werelupes: Part One
Author’s note: The King of Werelupes is a sequel to my series Curse of the Werelupe. You don’t have to read it to understand this series, but it would probably be a good idea.
I’d like to thank theschizophrenicpunk for allowing me to use her and her pets in this series, to do anything I want with. :D And also for inspiring me to write a sequel by ranting on about the Werelupe King. Wooo!
A long, undulating growl echoed through the trees.
A moment later a Werelupe appeared, moving slowly and carefully. To anyone watching, he appeared to be injured, but it was in fact his huge bulk preventing him from moving between the tight-knit trees.
The Werelupe was larger than the average Halloween Lupe - at least three times the size - and his muscles bulged and rippled as he moved. He slowly wended along an invisible path, heading for a gaping hole in the ground.
His growls became increasingly more frustrated as more and more trees barred his way. He snapped through the branches easily enough, but the trees themselves were old and gnarled, and did not budge an inch.
Overhead the gibbous moon hung in the lightening sky, and the other inhabitants of the Haunted Woods headed for various hidey-holes to sleep. Or – as was the case with the foreigners – stir and begin a new day.
Finally the Werelupe reached the hole and clambered inside, sighing with relief at the great expanse of space. It took him several seconds to realise that he was not alone, and he struggled to his feet, eyeing the other Werelupe warily. The second one was two thirds of his size, but he had an air of confidence, and confidence was the best weapon in battle, as he had learnt the hard way.
“So, Shadowheart,” the other Werelupe said smoothly. “Finally dragged yourself back to your kind? Failure is hard, isn’t it?”
Shadowheart growled. “Failure teaches us not to lose the second time.”
“But you might not have a second time,” the second Werelupe said conversationally. “The King was rather displeased with your efforts.”
“You can’t pretend to know what the King feels, Macejaw,” Shadowheart spat. “I was trying to do him a favour.”
“You’re not his deputy anymore,” the Werelupe called Macejaw said cockily. “I’ve been promoted.”
There was a long silence, in which both Werelupes contemplated each other. Then Shadowheart spoke.
“I’d like to see the King,” he said, making to move around Macejaw, further along the tunnel.
Macejaw blocked his way. His eyes had a trace of panic in them. But even as Shadowheart noticed this, it disappeared.
“The King is not seeing anyone at the moment. And he does not want you to return to the Werelupes... yet.”
Shadowheart paused. “Yet?” he queried.
“Yes... not yet. You are lucky that he has given you a second chance.”
“What must I do?” Shadowheart asked, turning to leap out of the tunnel.
“We have a bit of cleansing to do,” said Macejaw softly.
“Mum, do we have to go?” Gioama complained as his owner ushered him out the door.
Jenn just looked at him, brushing a strand or wavy brown hair out of her face. The fire Kougra sighed and padded out onto the lawn. Behind him, a large Halloween Lupe tumbled out of the doorway. Fanger grinned as he heard his brother complaining.
He pushed Gioama smartly in the back to help him on his way, and was rewarded be a small squeal of surprise as he sent the Kougra sprawling onto the grass. He quickly rushed forward and helped him up.
“Sorry, G,” he said. “I’m just not used to manoeuvring these massive paws.”
Gioama grinned and brushed off his fur, sending sparks crackling. “Hey, don’t worry about it. My fur looks better streaked with green anyway.” Then the Kougra was off, bounding to the gate eagerly, even though he had been complaining about leaving only moments before.
“You’ve been painted Halloween for ages, Fanger,” Kieavin said as she appeared through the doorway. “You should be used to being unco by now. I am.” The green Shoyru stepped down the steps with exaggerated care, yet she still managed to trample a few innocent flowers. “Whoops,” she said. “Mum loves those Blossoms.”
“Yes, I do,” Jenn sighed, shaking her head. Then she frowned and stuck her head back into the house.
“Minotaur!” she roared. “Gioama’s not getting out of it, so neither are you.”
“Yes, Mum,” the blue Yurble said sheepishly as he came out into the sunshine. “Just getting a book to read.” He held it up, but his owner didn’t bother reading the cover, locking the door behind him.
“Ember’s not that boring,” she said. “So you won’t be needing that. Besides, she has four pets as well.”
Minotaur grumbled good-naturedly. “No point in me leaving it behind now,” he said.
The fivesome set out through Neopia Central, Minotaur lagging behind with his head stuck in the book – somehow avoiding tripping over with ease – Gioama and Kieavin up ahead giggling at some hidden joke, and Fanger striding beside Jenn. Fanger noticed that passers-by gave him frightened looks, like he wasn’t supposed to be there, but he ignored them. He was used to it by now.
It had been a month since he had been painted Halloween, been tricked by a Werelupe called Shadowheart into joining his murderous band, and finally been rescued by his family. He could hardly believe that he had been so stupid as to fall for Shadowheart’s magic. But now he was wiser.
“So what’s Ember like?” he asked Jenn.
She grinned at him. “Oh, you’ll see. You’ll like Apsy too. I know you will.”
Fanger glared at her. “That was very detailed,” he said sarcastically.
“I do pride myself on my description,” Jenn said infuriatingly.
Fanger walked on in silence until Jenn stopped in front of a large but ordinary Neohome.
“We’re here,” she announced.
Minotaur promptly walked into her back, not paying any attention to where he was going. Jenn swiped his book and grinned smugly, like she had been waiting for an opportunity to steal it for some time. Kieavin and Gioama stood next to Fanger and gazed at it uncertainly.
“Are you sure she’s not mean or anything?” Gioama asked doubtfully.
“I’m sure,” Jenn said, ringing the bell hanging next to the door.
The echoes of the clang faded away into silence. Then the door was flung open and a human girl poked her head out. She was quite tall, much taller than Jenn, and her long black hair had a streak of red in it.
“Hey Jenn! ...And Jenn’s pets,” she said happily. Then she frowned. “I don’t think I’ve met any of you, but come in.”
They all went in, and Fanger looked around interestedly, still wondering who Apsy was. He paused in the hallway, after the others had tramped past, and lifted his nose to the air. Then he grinned. There was another Lupe in this house. Jenn had known all along.
Even as he thought this there was a soft “oof,” as someone walked into his side. He stepped away from the doorway and stared in surprise as another Halloween Lupe padded out, rubbing her forehead. She paused when she saw him, frowning darkly. Then she smiled, though a bit warily.
“I thought I heard the doorbell ringing,” she said shortly, eyeing him suspiciously.
Fanger stared back at her, recognising her from somewhere. But no matter how hard he racked his brains, he couldn’t remember where. He held out a paw. “I’m Fanger,” he said. “My owner Jenn brought us here for a visit.” There was silence, in which the other Lupe just stated at his outstretched paw. “Are you Apsy?”
She looked faintly surprised. “How did you know?” she asked.
He shrugged, suddenly feeling nervous. “Oh, Jenn mentioned it, that’s all.” A pause. “Your Neohome is quite nice.”
“Thanks.” Fanger was getting sick of awkward silences when Ember appeared through the doorway.
“There you are, Apsy,” she said. “And Fanger, I presume?” Fanger nodded. “Come into the lounge and have something to eat. Not that there’s anything good, seeing as I can’t cook. But I suppose if you were really hungry...”
Fanger was relieved to be leaving the hallway, and Apsy had stopped frowning.
“Just ignore Ember. The food she cooks is great. She just won’t admit it.” She padded ahead and glanced over her shoulder at him. “Sorry about the introduction. I just thought I knew you from somewhere,” she said brightly.
“So did I,” Fanger said quietly. She stared at him and barely avoided colliding with the doorway.
Fanger appreciated the homeliness of the Neohome and sat cautiously on the edge of a couch, scared that his weight might cause it to collapse. But Apsy plonked herself down beside him, and the couch stayed firm.
He looked around and spotted Minotaur talking to a Desert Hissi, who was looking uncomfortable with all the attention. Apsy caught his gaze.
“That’s my brother Sky,” she said. “He’s a little shy. I think it comes from being the only guy in the family.”
“Kieavin’s the only girl, besides Jenn,” Fanger said. “I don’t think she notices.”
As if to prove this very point, Kieavin skipped past the window, eyes fixed on the lightmite that she was chasing. Behind her trailed Gioama, chatting happily to a baby Ogrin and a Halloween Cybunny, who was holding a piece of paper and a pen and scribbling stuff down frantically. Apsy pointed to each of them in turn.
“And that’s Anubia,” she said, indicating the Ogrin. “And that’s Sonikki. She’s mute, so she has to write everything down.”
“Oh,” said Fanger. “Well, the Kougra is Gioama, and Minotaur is talking to... Sky. Wow. Too many names to learn in one day.”
“I know what you mean,” Apsy groaned. “This is the first time I’ve met Jenn. I don’t even know how she knows Ember.”
“That’s two of us,” Fanger said. “Five actually, if you count my siblings.”
“Oh, you can count to five?” Minotaur asked, popping up behind the couch. “You never cease to amaze me, brother.” And shaking his head, he disappeared further into the house, following Sky.
There was a brief pause, then Apsy looked at Fanger.
“Was he being sarcastic?”
He shrugged. “I never know with him.” He felt an uncomfortable twinge as he remembered the bitterness that had been between them only a month ago. “But I think he was.”
Apsy examined him once again. “I’m sure we’ve met somewhere!” she said. “But I just can’t remember.” She frowned at the curtains. “It’s too dark in here. Let’s go outside,” she suggested.
Fanger followed her and looked around at her garden. “I have to say, it’s much neater than our garden at home,” he commented. “But I think that’s because Kieavin likes to do the gardening.”
“I heard that,” Kieavin growled as she triumphantly held the Lightmite up in her claws. “I must go and show this to Gioama,” she said gleefully, trampling over a flowerbed in her haste to catch up to the fire Kougra.
Apsy blinked once. “I see what you mean about her,” she stated.
Fanger grinned. “She’s a bit of an enigma. So when did you get painted, anyway?”
She circled around him, still trying to recognise him properly. “Oh, a few months ago,” she said airily. “I got a bit... sick afterwards.” She stopped talking and frowned. “But now I’m better.”
Fanger was staring at her. “You got sick?” he asked incredulously. “So did I.”
Silence. Until there was a loud crash and the fence crashed inwards, buckling under some enormous weight. Fanger stared at it.
Then suddenly a Werelupe emerged from the dust cloud billowing in the gap. A huge Werelupe with gleaming red eyes. Fanger gasped and heard Apsy do exactly the same thing.
The Werelupe surveyed them. His eyes flickered over Apsy, as if he had expected to see her there, but then they sharpened when they came to Fanger. He snarled.
“Who would have thought?” he growled. “That I would find you here with Silverfang, Daggerclaw.”
Fanger stared with hatred at the Werelupe who had bewitched him a month before. And so did Apsy. In unison they spat the same name.
To be continued...