Unforeseen Adventures: The Tomb - Part Five
Dan pushed himself to the limit, tearing through the undergrowth of the jungle after his siblings. He didn’t even spare a second thought for the treasure that they had dropped. Kura was supposedly leading them south and Dan hoped that the village of Geraptiku was close. Werelupes were not supposed to venture out of the forest, and they should be safe there. Then again, they weren’t supposed to live in the Geraptiku jungle, either. It was just his luck that there would be a full moon tonight....
A nearby howl told Dan the Werelupes were closing in. His heart hammered and his mind raced. They could not outrun the them; Werelupes were far too big and fast for that.
So what could they do? Dan’s mind was drawing a blank on that question.
But he had a slightly more pressing worry: He was falling behind. Dan was sure that if he looked behind him, he would be able to see the Werelupes on his tail. He kept his eyes fixed straight ahead.
Another howl sounded as if it were coming from right behind him. It startled Dan so much that his paw caught on a root jutting up out of the jungle floor. His leg twisted agonizingly, and he fell with a yelp of pain. A big, dark shape was moving out of the corner of his eye, headed straight for him—
Dan’s head snapped up at the sound of his name. Thunder. What in the name of Fyora was he doing?!
“Thunder, what in the name of Fy—”
“Shut it and get up! Can you walk?” Thunder was at his side, trying to help him up.
Dan winced as he tried to put weight on his right front paw.
“I think I twisted my ankle!”
“You’re going to have to run on it, OK? Go! I’ll be right behind you.”
“I don’t think I—”
“You have to, Dan! Just do it!”
Dan didn’t waste anymore time arguing. He bolted in the direction his sisters had gone, almost tripping once again as the impact of his running jarred his injured paw. He gritted his teeth and hurried on, stumbling every few seconds.
A menacing snarl sounded behind him closely followed by a yelp of pain that Dan could swear came from Thunder.... He stopped running and spun around. What he saw made him freeze.
Thunder and a gigantic Werelupe were fighting. The Werelupe was more than twice Thunder’s size, its massive paws bigger than Thunder’s head. As Dan watched, Thunder swiped at the Werelupe one last time before dashing around and sprinting right for Dan, yelling at him to start running. Dan obeyed without a second thought.
Time seemed to mean nothing to Dan; he didn’t even notice as the howls began to fade. All he felt was the pain of his ankle that overshadowed all else. Therefore, it came as a surprise to Dan when he stumbled out of the jungle and found himself on the edge of the Geraptiku village. He collapsed on the ground, clutching his injured ankle and taking shallow, sharp breaths. He could hear shouting from not far away, but the meaning of the words was lost to him. Dimly, Dan registered that Thunder was limping up to his side.
“You all right, Dan?” he asked. There was something in his tone that Dan could not place.
“I’ll be... fine. Just—need to rest,” Dan panted. “What about you?” He hadn’t noticed that Thunder was shaking. Dan tried to focus. Something was very wrong. “Thunder, what’s the matter?”
The frantic cries of Inanna and Kura drowned out Thunder’s answer.
“Are you guys OK?” Inanna shouted.
Kura’s face was white. “What happened to you? We lost you, we were so worried—what’s wrong, Thunder?”
Thunder was now shaking so hard that he could hardly stand. His eyes were shut tight and his voice was shaky and breathless. “It... bit me.”
Kura and Inanna gasped. Dan’s heart seemed to drop all the way down to his toes. A Werelupe bite. Dan had only heard about them from stories others told. There were two ways to become a Werelupe. The most common way to do it was to paint a Lupe Halloween, though that only changed their appearance. The other way to become a true one was to be bitten by another Werelupe. This happened very rarely, and Dan had not truthfully believed it until now.
“Can’t you do something about it?” Dan pleaded. He looked to Kura. “Isn’t there a cure or something?”
“Not for a Werelupe bite. I can’t do anything about those.” Her voice was unsteady and frightened.
“We have to get him home to Meg!” shouted Inanna.
Kura shook her head. “No, he can’t walk. We’ll have to wait until he’s fully transformed before we can go anywhere.”
“How long will that take?” Dan asked, his eyes on his brother.
“No more than a few minutes, thank Fyora. Then he should be okay.”
“He won’t be... dangerous, will he?” Anna’s voice was truly terrified.
“I honestly don’t know,” was all Kura whispered.
Dan watched helplessly as Thunder continued to convulse. Slowly, his sleek, jet black fur grew shaggy and became a deep chocolate brown. He even started to get bigger; the change was especially noticeable in his shoulders and paws, though he was not nearly as big as the wild Werelupes had been; his black leather collar looked painfully tight now. Even his gritted teeth became longer and sharper, the fangs more prominent.
At last, the violent shaking ceased, and Thunder was still, aside from his deep panting. Slowly, he opened his eyes. Dan noticed that they also had changed from yellow to bright green. Thunder looked down at his oversized paws and examined the rest of his body, turning in circles. He faced them once more and flicked his tail back and forth several times.
“My tail doesn’t hurt anymore,” he said with a grin.
Dan stared at him for a second before he started to laugh. Anna and Kura joined in and Thunder continued to smirk at them. But Kura broke the joyous mood all too soon.
“Do you feel all right, Thunder?” Her voice was concerned.
Thunder cocked a brown, bushy brow at her as he adjusted the length of his collar. “Of course I’m all right. Never felt better. I feel so... so much stronger. And bigger. Still hungry, though. How do I look?”
“Absolutely terrifying.” Inanna was grinning, though her voice still shook.
“Do I?” Thunder seemed cheered by the thought.
“Definitely,” Dan managed to gasp. His ankle, momentarily forgotten, was burning with pain once more. He was almost sure that it was broken now.
Kura looked horrified. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Dan! We should put a splint on that; let me see what I can find....”
It didn’t take Kura long to make a splint out of a pair of sturdy sticks and the bloodstained bandanna that Thunder no longer needed for his tail. Dan breathed in slowly from his mouth the whole time she was working, thinking about the walk home that was sure to be slow and painful.
“There,” said Kura with a satisfied tone. “That should prevent it from moving. You did a lot of damage to it by running on it, though. Dan, you’ll probably need to go to the hospital in Neopia Central. Do you think you can walk home with us?”
Dan shook his head. His stomach churned sickeningly at the very thought.
“You could climb on my back, Dan,” offered Thunder. “You don’t weigh much, and I feel like I could lift an Elephante right now.”
“Yeah, do that,” Kura answered for him.
Dan normally would have argued, but he figured his poor paw was damaged enough already. He allowed Inanna to help him up onto Thunder’s back. It made him feel like a child being given a piggyback ride, but he knew he could not hobble all the way back home with a broken leg.
Dan’s eyes began to droop as they made their way out of Geraptiku and into the sleeping village of Mystery Island. No one was awake to see them pass by, for which Dan was extremely grateful, though he knew Meg had to be freaking out. It was long past suppertime.
He was only half-awake for the rest of the trip. When their bamboo house came into view at the edge of the jungle with a light on in the living room window though, he was no longer tired. Inanna reached the house first. She rapped the door three times with her paw. There was a moment of silence, followed by a crash in the direction of the sitting room as someone inside scrambled to the door. It was wrenched open seconds later, revealing a frenzied and apprehensive Meg. For a moment, she simply looked relieved, but her happiness at finding them home safe quickly passed and transformed into anger.
“Where in the name of King Skarl have you been?!” she screeched. “Do you have any idea how worried I’ve been? I was on the verge of calling the Defenders of Neopia! Don’t you ever scare me like that again, or I’ll—”
She paused, her eyes wide. “Thunder? What in Neopia happened to you?”
“He’s a Werelupe now,” Anna informed her.
“Yeah, Meg, I’m a Werelupe,” Thunder raised his voice to be heard above the others. “Could you let us inside, please? We promise we’ll explain everything, but Dan has a broken leg and he should probably be taken to the hospital....”
At that, Meg swept them inside asking no more questions. She told Thunder to come with her to bring Dan to the Neopia Central Hospital. The girls stayed home, promising to wait up for them until they got back.
Dan found it hard to stay awake on the trip to the hospital as Meg fussed over his leg while Thunder assured her that it was nothing too serious. He was so tired. Unbidden thoughts of fluffy feather pillows and a soft bed kept cropping up in his thoughts.
Finally, they reached their destination. The Green Gelert doctor was kind, gentle, and obviously experienced with people like Meg. When she refused to stay in the waiting room and told him flat out that it was stupid to even suggest such a thing, he did not argue.
It all passed in a blur to Dan. A cast was put on his front leg, the pain dulled, and they were on the way home again in no time. The journey back felt like minutes. He must have fallen asleep. It was now almost dawn as they reached the house; the first clouds on the horizon were starting to turn a faint pink.
Kura and Anna had fallen asleep on the couch in the sitting room. Meg flicked off the light murmuring,
“I don’t want to wake them; they can sleep in there for a few hours. Thunder, you should go try to get some sleep. You too, Dan.”
They nodded. Thunder crept as quietly as he could up the stairs. His now bigger body and paws left him a little awkward on his feet. Dan made to follow him, but he stopped halfway to the steps and looked back. Meg was still staring into the living room, apparently lost in thought.
“Meg?” he said softly.
She jumped a little at his voice. “Yeah, Dan?”
Her face broke into a loving smile.
“Thanks, baby,” she whispered.
Dan returned her smile then turned and limped up the stairs, down the hall, and into the room he shared with Thunder. The Werelupe was already asleep on his bed, snoring loudly. Dan saw the pouch that Thunder had filled with neopoints on the bedside table—the only treasure they had been able to bring home.
Dan crawled into his own bed, hugging his old Rainbow Gelert Plushie close. He smiled as he closed his eyes. Sure, his birthday present for Meg was lost somewhere deep in the Geraptiku jungle. Nevertheless, he knew that she had been more pleased and happy that he had remembered her birthday than she could have been with all the treasure in the world.