The King of Werelupes: Part Two
Shadowheart grinned nastily. “I’m so glad that you still remember me. I must have made quite the impression on both of you. A good one I hope.”
Fanger, meanwhile, was turning to Apsy. “You know him?” he asked.
“Of course I know him,” she growled. “He’s the one that caused me to be sick in the first place.”
“Quite right, Silverfang,” Shadowheart said lazily, and she snarled at him.
“My name is Apsy,” she spat.
“Is it?” Shadowheart seemed unperturbed. “I remember that’s what I called you for the most of two months.”
She glared at him, and he took the opportunity to face Fanger. “And you, Daggerclaw. What are you doing here? I thought you’d be spending time with you all-caring family.”
Fanger couldn’t stand the mockery in his voice. He leapt forward with a growl, but the larger Lupe simply tossed him aside. His eyes weren’t amused anymore.
“Did I hit a sore spot?” he asked slowly.
Fanger got to his feet and crouched down again, but before he could jump at the Werelupe, someone else got there first. It was another, smaller Werelupe, but his eyes flashed dangerously.
“You’re not here for idle chat, Shadowheart,” he growled. “You were here to take Silverfang, but you failed.”
He turned around and caught Fanger’s eyes, and Fanger shivered. They were pure blocks of ice.
“If I may introduce myself,” he said with a mocking bow. “I am Macejaw, second-in-command to the Werelupe King.”
Fanger blinked. “What Werelupe King?” he asked. “I thought that Shadowheart was leader of the Werelupes.”
Macejaw laughed and cast Shadowheart a scornful glance. “You are ignorant indeed. A Werelupe, not even knowing his King?”
“I’ve heard of the Werelupe King,” Apsy said loudly.
“That is beside the point,” Macejaw said, waving her words aside with a lazy forepaw. “Shadowheart is nowhere near the King. He merely serves him.”
“And I used to have your position,” Fanger heard Shadowheart mutter under his breath, but Macejaw didn’t appear to hear him. Instead he tilted his head to the side, listening intently. Then suddenly he leapt back with a snarl.
“There are others coming, Shadowheart,” he snarled. “You delayed too long.”
He caught Fanger’s eye. “You. You and your family were the ones that stopped Shadowheart the first time. But you won’t stop me. I’ll be back.”
He nudged Shadowheart, who took the lead in leaping through the fence and disappearing. Fanger started after them, but Apsy unexpectedly tripped him up.
“There’s no point,” she said to his back. “They’re going to come back anyway. Besides, the fence has enough damage.”
He growled just as Kieavin came barrelling around the corner, wings fluttering madly. “I heard a commotion... oh.”
The Shoyru paused and stood gaping. “What just happened here?”
Fanger climbed slowly to his paws as Gioama, then Sonikki and Anubia appeared also, all looking bewildered as they caught sight of the wrecked fence.
The two Halloween Lupes exchanged a glance just as Jenn and Ember came into view. Jenn stopped dead, looking like she had walked into a glass door, and Ember just stared. Then she cracked up laughing and walked over, sitting down between the two pets.
“Do I want to know what just happened?” she gasped.
Fanger looked at her, jaw agape, wondering what on Neopia she could have found funny in such a situation. After all, it was her fence. Apsy, however, grinned.
“No, I don’t think you do,” she said. She turned to Fanger and sent him a look that clearly said say nothing, then turned to her owner.
“Is there any food left? I’m starving.”
Ember stood up and put a hand on Apsy’s back, leading her towards the house. Fanger watched them go until Jenn came up to him.
“What happened?” she whispered into his ear.
Fanger looked around furtively, then leaned forward and said quietly, “Shadowheart.”
Jenn’s eyes narrowed, and she turned and began to drag Fanger towards the house.
“We’re staying inside,” she said.
Upon emerging into the living room, Fanger found Apsy sampling a pastry that looked slightly misshapen, but smelt excellent. He scooped two up in his paws and stared at her until she met his eyes.
“There’s something going on here,” she said in a low voice.
Fanger nodded. “That Werelupe... Macejaw, have you ever heard of him before?”
Apsy shook her head.
“But you know about the Werelupe King? How come I’ve never heard of him?”
Apsy seated herself on the couch as Fanger started to eat.
“Ember knows everything there is to know about Werelupes. The Werelupe King is, obviously, the king of all the Werelupes in the wild. And he’s not a tyrant or anything, but Neopians have always distrusted Werelupes, as I’m sure you already figured out.” She gave him a meaningful look.
“I know the feeling,” Fanger said, remembering the scared looks he was given in public.
“So he keeps his people mostly to themselves, in some hidden location in the Woods. No one actually knows where except for his Werelupes. But what really strikes me as odd is the fact that Shadowheart turns out to work for the King. After all this time I just thought he was a rogue. But apparently he was taking orders from the King, and I don’t know why the King would want to give Werelupes a bad name by using magic to brainwash them, and then cause havoc in Neopia.”
Fanger nodded wisely, pretending to agree with her. “So... what? Maybe they have a new King?”
Apsy shrugged. “Maybe. This Macejaw, though. He looks really confident. I can understand why he’s deputy. But what did he mean by ‘clean up’?”
They exchanged a horrified glance and Fanger swallowed the last of his food a bit too fast and ended up choking on it. By the time he had recovered Minotaur and Sky were back in the room, and Sky seemed to have gotten over his relative shyness, because he was smiling and chatting.
Apsy stepped on Fanger’s toe. He looked up, eyes watering, and saw that her paw was tracing something on the table. He followed it, trying to piece the letters together, and finally he got the full message.
Money Tree. Midnight
He barely had time to nod before Ember and Jenn entered the living room, talking carefully. Jenn looked up and grinned at him.
“Time to go home!” she announced. She looked out the window, where Kieavin was stalking a Moach. “But first we have to catch your sister.”
Fanger decided to use the door to leave the house to avoid the bother of disentangling himself from the Moquot wire. He pulled out his spare key and eased open the door, then shut it behind him, remembering to lock it.
It was dark. That was only natural considering it was night, but a half moon shed some light so he could just see. As usual, Neopia Central was busy even just before midnight. Early shoppers or something. He could see quite a lot of people inside the auction house. But he passed these until he reached the square where the Money Tree stood.
The tree was giant, its boughs shielding almost all of the square. This meant that it blocked out the moon. Fanger stepped into the shade and that’s where the troubles began.
Items and moneybags suddenly popped out of nowhere, a good deal of them right by his paws, so that every few steps he stumbled over something he could have sworn hadn’t been there before. He even walking into a giant bed and face-planted into the covers before he clambered over it and continued. He had no idea just where he was supposed to meet Apsy, but was sure that if he heard any loud curses he might be able to find her.
A few minutes later her he heard a voice.
“Ow! You stupid thing!” There was the sound of something being kicked along the ground and he stopped.
“Apsy?” he said tentatively.
The pet stopped and moved towards him.
“Fanger?” Smash! “Argh... I should have chosen somewhere else to meet. Do you want to move out into the light?”
Fanger shrugged, then realised she couldn’t see him. “Sure.”
After a careful minute of manoeuvring the two Halloween Lupes managed to find a seat by the edge of the square.
Apsy stretched and yawned. “So... where were we? Oh yeah. Why do you think Shadowheart is after us again?”
Fanger shrugged. “Revenge, maybe.”
Fanger thought about it. “Well... It was my family that saved me from Shadowheart last time, and broke his magic. But that doesn’t explain why Shadowheart was looking for you. Hey... maybe he’s going to start recruiting again.”
Apsy stared at him. “You broke the spell?” she said. “Wow. I tried and I tried, but I just couldn’t. After a while I forgot all about it.”
“Me too, until Jenn came along. I think it was Minotaur mostly. We didn’t really get a long before, but he said he wanted me to come back. So I just... did.”
The two of them had started to walk along the streets. Fanger was sure they were heading to Ember’s house, but he couldn’t be sure because he’d only been there once.
Apsy was silent for a while. “I think I remember Shadowheart telling me something about Macejaw when I was under his control. Actually, I heard him talking to his deputy Redfang. But he seemed to think that Macejaw didn’t like the way the King was running things. He thought that Werelupes were superior.”
She stopped and lifted her nose to the air. “Do you smell something burning?” she asked him.
Fanger took a whiff. “Yeah. Probably a roast or something.” His stomach growled and he grinned guiltily.
Apsy smiled also, but when they rounded the corner her jaw dropped open as she saw her house alight.
“Well, that complicates things,” Fanger said.
To be continued...