The King of Werelupes: Part Three
A loud clang filled the house.
Jenn moaned and rolled over as she heard the doorbell ring, rubbing her eyes sleepily. Who would be calling at this time of night? She stretched, ready to get up, then decided that they could wait.
Something hard hit her window with a loud thunk.
In an instant she had thrown the covers off and stormed over to the glass, flinging it open and ducking as another missile flew through the air and chipped the window frame.
“Ember?” she said incredulously.
Her friend stood just outside the window, arms crossed, though she was smiling slightly.
“Yes?” Ember said.
“Why are you throwing rocks at my house at...” Jenn checked the clock on the wall. “Midnight?”
“Apsy snuck out a few minutes ago. I figured she was meeting with Fanger. Have you seen him?”
Jenn shrugged. “I dunno. Do you think I can keep track of my pets in my sleep?” she grumbled and left her room, hauling herself up the stairs until she reached Fanger’s door.
His room was empty.
She went back down the stairs to find Ember halfway through her window.
“What are doing?”
“I’m trying to get in, seeing as you haven’t opened your front door for me.”
Jenn grinned and watched her struggle to get her tall frame through the window. Finally she was through and they perched on the end of the bed together.
“Neither of them are here, so what’s your plan?”
Both of them jumped at the sound of the front door being flung into the wall. Jenn stood up and rushed out of her room to see Fanger in the doorway, his eyes wild.
“Ember’s house is on fire!” he said in a high-pitched voice. “And Apsy just dived into the flames.”
Ember had followed Jenn out, and now she gripped the door tightly, her face pale.
“Take me there,” she said.
Apsy felt the intense heat singe her fur, but she didn’t care, heading for Anubia’s room. It was the closest bedroom, being on the ground floor, because it was difficult for baby pets to climb stairs.
The kitchen was on fire, and it was spreading fast, but her sister’s room was still intact. She shoved open the door with a fierce whack of her paw and burst into the room, her eyes immediately being drawn to the bed.
It was empty.
She couldn’t tell if that was a good thing or not, so she backed out of the door and pounded up the stairs.
She could feel the fire becoming hotter, and it was roaring loudly now as it consumed more of her precious house. She was just glad the stairs were still intact.
She threw open Sky’s door. Empty. Sonikki’s? Empty too, her bed looking like it had just been slept in... which Apsy supposed it had. The final door was Ember’s, and she kicked it open.
The bed was empty, but the window was open and the curtains were flapping. Apsy padded over to the window and stuck her head out, brushing past the vines that conveniently trailed from the roof of the house the garden below. It seemed that her owner had climbed out the window and down the vines, even thought she could have just used the front door. Or maybe not, because of the fire.
Apsy shrugged. Now she knew why Ember hadn’t had the vines poisoned years ago.
The house groaned around her and she froze, considering climbing out the window, but then the ground beneath her gave way and she fell into the floor below, landing in the scattered ashes of her kitchen.
It was lucky that the kitchen had caught fire first, because now the flames had moved on. But the roof had only just started to burn. Still, it was still immensely hot, and she could smell her thick fur burning as she stood up, burning the pads of her feet.
With desperation she realised that the fire still burned near the window on the other side of the room. And now it was getting hard to breathe. As bits of burning debris showered onto the top of her head, she leapt through the flames and smashed through the glass.
She landed in the grass of her garden and sucked in the fresh air. She could feel heat on her back, and was considering moving away when something seized her by the scruff and dragged her along the ground. There was only one person she knew who would drag her – a fully-fledged Halloween Lupe – around.
“Ember?” She opened one eye blearily.
Her owner was glaring at her. She smacked Apsy over the head and she felt it ring.
“I can’t believe you would just run into a fire! A big, bright, burning fire! That can burn you! Argh!”
Apsy felt herself smile at Ember’s reaction. Then she remembered what she had found in the house.
“Where’s Sky and Anubia and Sonikki?” she asked.
Ember frowned and stared at burning house.
“You mean they’re not with you?” she said slowly.
Apsy shook her head, feeling dizzy.
At that moment Fanger appeared behind Ember. “Jenn's gone to the Hospital to get help,” he said.
Neither of them paid him any attention. Then Apsy felt her eyes roll up and saw Ember lean forward before she was unconscious.
“Is it just me, or does it smell in here?”
Anubia shifted around uncomfortably and then rolled slowly to her feet, squinting her eyes in the darkness.
It was dim, which meant that there was just enough light streaming through a hole in the roof to see by. She was in a cave, a small cave by anyone else’s standards, but by a baby Ogrin’s standards it was just under medium.
She turned and nearly stepped on top of her brother’s tail. Sky was leaning against a wall, eyes shut, breathing evenly. Looking closer she could see that the wall was a massive boulder. Beside the desert Hissi was Sonikki, studying the boulder carefully, running her white paws over it.
Anubia stepped forward and Sonikki turned, her face grim. She bent down and traced words in the dirt.
I think it’s an exit. Anubia nodded and the Halloween Cybunny rubbed out the words and traced some more. Do you remember what happened?
“No, not really. I just woke up and there was something standing above me and then I don’t remember the rest,” Anubia said.
Same. I wish I could have brought my notebook, though. Sonikki wrote. I think they were Werelupes
“Really? I couldn’t tell. They were just really big and... what happened to Apsy and Ember?” Anubia asked suddenly.
Sonikki shook her head.
If anyone had been listening their conversation they would have found it extremely odd because it sounded like Anubia was talking to herself. But anyone in her family would be used to it.
There was a loud moan from Sky and he opened his eyes.
“Wahappened?” he murmured groggily as he stretched.
“We were just trying to figure that out,” Anubia said.
Sky shrugged. “So did you figure it out?”
Anubia rolled her eyes.
She broke off and strained her ears to listen. There were heavy footfalls and then voices.
“...you manage it?” asked the first voice, sounding almost annoyingly confident.
“Kind of. We couldn’t find Silverfang, but we found her siblings instead, and burned the house.”
“Idiot! Why did you burn the house? Now she has to find a new place to stay, a place we’ll have to waste time finding.”
“But now she has a reason to find us. So we don’t have to go looking for her.”
“And how will she know it was you?”
There was a tiny silence in which Anubia imagined the owner of the second, more guttural voice, shrugging.
“She’ll figure it out. She’s bright enough. So why does the King want me to find all the Halloween Lupes I bewitched last time, anyway? I thought he was angry at me for bewitching them in the first place.”
“No loose ends,” the first voice growled, and suddenly the boulder was shoved away and an impressively large Werelupe stood in the gap, leering at them.
“Hello, kiddies,” he growled. “My name’s Macejaw. And this,” he pointed to the slightly larger Werelupe behind him, “is Shadowheart. Any questions?”
Sky started forward. “Not really, seeing as we heard your conversation. But I do want to tell you something.”
“Like what?” Macejaw growled.
“Ember won’t be happy when she finds out who did this. So you’d better watch out.”
The Werelupe snorted. “I’m not scared of some puny human or pet or whatever. But let me tell you something: You’re staying here until your sister comes. And when she does, I’ll have no further use for you.”
The boulder slid over the opening again. Sonikki leaned forward and wrote in the dirt.
He should be scared.
Apsy slowly regained consciousness to find Fanger leaning over the side of her bed.
“Where’s Ember?” she croaked.
Something flung itself across the room and pulled her into a hug, and though it hurt to be squeezed so tightly with her burnt skin, she didn’t really care. She could feel Ember was shaking and her fur was slightly damp from tears.
After several long minutes Ember drew back and grinned, wiping her eyes.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” she said, hiccuping.
“What happened?” Apsy murmured, her throat dry and raw.
“Well, for one you had first degree burns, which could have been second or third if you didn’t have such impossibly long fur. Thank Fyora it wasn’t flammable. I can’t believe you were so stupid!”
Apsy shrank back. Ember continued her tirade.
“You see a burning house and the first thing you do is barge right in without even thinking.”
“I was looking for my siblings.”
Ember froze with her mouth open and her face crumpled.
“Your siblings are missing,” she said quietly as she sank into a chair. “And no one knows where they are. If I hadn’t followed you when you were sneaking out, I would be wherever they are now.”
Apsy struggled to sit up. “Shadowheart,” she growled.
Ember shoved her back down, then froze.
“You mean that crazy Werelupe?” she asked.
Apsy nodded and Ember suddenly stood up.
“I’ll be back,” she said abruptly, charging out the door.
Fanger gave Apsy a weird look, and she shrugged.
“Me neither,” she said.
To be continued...