Moonlit Peaks: Part Five
Flurry paced restlessly in the small cave that he and Zarrelian
shared. The Ixi was sleeping, his lips twitching into a small smile as he dreamed.
Flurry scowled. You'd think that he would've at least bothered to stay up and
help with the escape plan.
Flurry was very worried. He didn't know exactly
what the Lupes had planned for him and Zarrelian, but he was certain that it
wasn't going to be very pleasant. The Lupe snarled in frustration, raking his
claws down one of the cave's stone walls. He froze at the piercing noise that
it made; frightened that he may have woken somebody up. He heard a few grunts
and growls as the Lupes in the adjoining caves stirred in their sleep, but no
one appeared at their cave's entrance, and no one seemed to have awakened. Flurry
mentally chided himself for being so reckless. Slashing at rocks wouldn't help
him come up with a good plan of action, that was for sure.
He sighed, sitting down on the cave's floor.
He was tired, and wanted desperately to sleep, but how could he? Not when their
lives were at stake, for he was positive that they were. The Lupe pack was treating
both pets with a certain amount of respect and even fear, but Flurry knew that
that would quickly dissipate after they learned that Zarrelian was indeed a
regular Halloween Ixi and not some mythological being.
The Lupe was just about to give up and call it
a night when his ears were accosted by the sounds of soft footfalls and claws
clicking on stone that signaled an intruder in their cave. Flurry whirled around,
and had to stop himself from yelping in shock at the figure before him.
It was the white Lupe. She stood in the darkened
entrance, her snowy coat, which was extraordinarily thick and shaggy, ruffling
as she slowly advanced on him. Flurry took a shaky step back.
"What do you want?" he stammered, holding up
his paws in defense. "Please, don't hurt me, I--"
The newcomer cut him off. "I'm not going to hurt
you, Flurry," she said calmly. Flurry dropped his paws, regarding the Lupe suspiciously.
"How did you know my name?" he demanded warily.
The white Lupe smiled.
"I've known you since you were a pup, Flurry.
But we don't have time to talk about that now." She quickly crossed the cave
to the slumbering Zarrelian and nudged him awake.
"Wake up," she ordered, giving the Ixi's wings
a firm tug. Zarrelian blinked, rising to his hooves as he yawned loudly.
"What is it?" he grumbled, still not fully aware
of the white Lupe's presence. Flurry cleared his throat. The Ixi whirled around.
"What is-- AHH! Flurry, there's some crazy Lupe
in the cave!" he screeched. The white Lupe clamped a paw over his mouth.
"Quiet!" she hissed. "Do you want to wake up
the whole pack?" Zarrelian shook his head, his eyes wide and desperate. The
white Lupe sighed.
"Good." She removed her paw from Zarrelian's
face, prompting the Ixi to launch into a mini-rant about Lupes and their general
lack of common etiquette. The white Lupe allowed him to continue with his rambling
tirade for a few more moments before silencing him with a meaningful glare.
"Alright, both of you sit down over there." She
jerked her head towards the back of the cave.
Flurry, still feeling a bit dazed from the set
of revelations that he had just been presented with, stumbled clumsily over
to the designated spot and plopped down on the ground, staring intently at the
white Lupe. Zarrelian had an entirely different manner about him. The Ixi stomped
to the back of the cave, shooting a glare at the white Lupe as he did. Still
grumbling incoherently under his breath, the Ixi sat down next to Flurry, crossing
his arms in front of his chest and scowling at the strange intruder. The white
Lupe eyed Zarrelian and gave a disdainful sniff, shifting her gaze to the befuddled
"I have some important things to tell you," she
began, lowering herself gracefully to her haunches. "First-- my name. I am HowlingWinter,
though you can call me Howl if that's too much to swallow." Zarrelian made a
scathing remark about the Lupe's name, but no one bothered to call attention
to it. HowlingWinter continued.
"I have lived in these mountains for my whole
life. Well, not my whole life, but a great part of it. I spent a small period
of time with an owner, a girl who adopted me officially but allowed me to run
free in the Terror Mountain wilderness, for I was born a wild Lupe and would
not live any other way. But I'll tell you about that later. Right now there
is a matter of incredible importance that must be discussed right now." She
settled into a sphinx-like position and scooted closer to the two pets.
"You're both in very great danger. Especially
you," she muttered, nodding at Zarrelian. "This Lupe pack has mistaken you for
Lungar, the Messenger of the Moon." Flurry grinned with realization.
"I knew it! I knew that they had mistaken him
for a figure of Lupe mythology, I just couldn't quite remember the name!" he
said, happy to have finally solved the mystery that had been nagging at his
brain for the last little while. HowlingWinter nodded.
"Yes, that's exactly what the Lungar is, a very
important character in Lupine lore. You see, the moon, especially the full moon,
is very special to wild Lupes. Even domestic Lupes can often not resist howling
at a full moon. Am I right, Flurry?"
Flurry nodded earnestly. "Yeah, I always howl
at the full moon. It has this strange effect on me; it's like I can't help it."
Zarrelian snorted, rolling his eyes. "It's every
month with you Lupes," he grumbled. HowlingWinter ignored him and went on with
"Anyway, the legend goes that on the night of
the full moon, a messenger is sent up to space to tell the moon the secrets
of every Lupe in existence. If the Lupe has done good things throughout the
month than he is rewarded, and if he has done bad things than he is punished."
She looked pointedly at Zarrelian. "By pure coincidence, the traditional physical
description of the Lungar coincides perfectly with the attributes of a common
Halloween Ixi." HowlingWinter began to tick off traits on her paws.
"Red fur. Leathery bat wings. A forked tail.
Small horns. Large head. Hooves... The list goes on." She raised her head and
stared thoughtfully at the Ixi. "They truly believe that you are the Lungar
incarnate, and in two days they will expect you to listen to the secrets of
every Lupe in this pack and then fly up to the moon."
Zarrelian couldn't help it. He burst out laughing.
"Haha, that's crazy, I can't do that! The moon? That's like a billion miles
away! And I can hardly fly at all, these wings are mostly decorative. Plus,
they've been pretty much perpetually numb since I got to this lousy mountain."
HowlingWinter raised her eyebrows. "Of course
you can't perform the ceremony. And that is exactly why your life will undoubtedly
be cut rather short this coming moon."
Zarrelian stopped laughing. The Ixi's eyes widened
and his bright red fur paled. "Wh-- what? They'd KILL me?" he asked incredulously.
The white Lupe sighed exasperatedly.
"Wild Lupes are a very proud species, Ixi. Once
they learn that they have been deceived, they will be highly offended. Not to
mention, Ixi are prey Neopets. The only reason that you aren't being digested
right now is because of your uncanny resemblance to the Lungar."
Flurry shook himself out of his enraptured stupor.
"What about me?" he asked. "Shouldn't they have attacked me? I mean, wild Lupes
don't take kindly to strangers in their territory." He cocked his head to the
side. "Come to think of it, how did you get in here? Shouldn't they have jumped
HowlingWinter nodded thoughtfully. "I'm not entirely
sure of the answer to your first question. I think that's it's because of the
fact that you were with the Ixi; they probably think that you're his Neopian
guide or something like that. You would fit, anyway. Your coat has stars on
it. That's not exactly a common color among wild Lupes, and it ties into the
celestial theme of Lupine legend."
Flurry pawed the ground impatiently. "What about
you?" he pressed. HowlingWinter sighed, lowering her gaze.
"The wild Lupes fear and hate me because I am
different from them. My fur is white, not to mention unusually shaggy, and white
is a foreign color. In addition to that, I have been marked by the Snow Faerie
as one of her... servants. It's a long story, and I'll tell you about it later,
but the wild Lupes can sense it, and they detest the Snow Faerie. I only managed
to sneak in here because everyone else was asleep. There was a little night
guard, but I was able to knock him unconscious fairly easily. That's why I was
in such a hurry to speak with you both, I haven't much time."
Flurry had wanted to ask more about HowlingWinter's
mysterious past, but Zarrelian interjected, dominating the conversation once
again. "Well, what are we going to do?" he demanded. "You've just told me that
my expire date is coming up, but what can I do about it? I'm not going to meet
MY end at the paws of a bunch of scruffy, smelly Lupes."
HowlingWinter regarded Zarrelian with a look
of utmost contempt. "Calm yourself, Ixi. I was just about to get to my escape
plan." Her face hardened and she grabbed Zarrelian by his collar, dragging him
"Know this, Ixi," she growled. "I'm doing this
to help Flurry, not you. Personally, I think that I would rather enjoy watching
you be thrown to the Lupes, but because I think that it would upset our star-spangled
friend here," she jerked the Ixi towards Flurry. "I'll help you out."
She released her hold on Zarrelian, sending him
tumbling unceremoniously to the ground. The Ixi clenched his teeth and shot
the white Lupe his best death glare, but HowlingWinter paid him no attention.
She had drawn herself up again, preparing to outline her escape plan.
"Okay, listen," she said. "Attempting a flat
out run won't help you. These Lupes have lived in this region for ages and they
can follow a scent through fresh snow very easily. And believe me, a tiny little
white Snowbunny is a lot tougher to track in a blizzard than two large, brightly
colored pets, and these Lupes do the former all the time. Now, here's what you
have to do." She tapped Zarrelian forcefully on the head.
"In two days Kreludor will be full. Not only
will it be full, but it will also be winter solstice, the longest night of the
year and the night when the moon is most powerful-- even more powerful than
the sun, as the legend goes. Anyway, the Lupes will rouse your Ixi buddy at
the crack of dawn and trot him out into the central clearing to start listening
to the Lupe's confessions. This will carry on for a few hours, until the sun
begins to set. At that time, the Lupes will start howling. They will howl for
about thirty minutes or so, give or take. Then, they will oh so ceremoniously
pick up the Ixi and fling him from the highest peak so that he may flutter up
to the moon and have a nice little tea party with it." Zarrelian snorted.
"How do you know all this stuff, anyway? Do you
speak wild Lupe?" he asked skeptically. HowlingWinter stared at him in the eye
and began to make a series of snarls, interspersed with growls, yips and little
barks. Flurry's face lit up.
"Wow! You can communicate in Lupine!" he exclaimed.
HowlingWinter smiled benignly at him.
"Of course I can. I was born on this mountain,
I grew up here. Don't you think that I would learn the local dialect? In fact,
Lupine was all I could speak until the Snow Faerie took me in. She was the one
who spent all those painstaking hours teaching me Neopian." She flicked her
bushy tail haughtily.
"Now, if his Lordship will allow me to continue,"
she snapped, flicking her gaze to Zarrelian. The Ixi nodded, feeling annoyed
at having been so theatrically corrected. HowlingWinter smirked.
"Thank you, your Excellency. Now, here's what
we're going to do. The Lupes will toss the Ixi off Poogle Peak."
Zarrelian made a funny noise in obvious contempt
for the name of the place that he was to be thrown off. HowlingWinter chuckled
at the Ixi's distress.
"Right. It's got a very catchy name. Anyway,
once they do, you'll have to flare your wings and keep them flared until
you're able to drift down a little ways. There's a small cave in the side of
the mountain that leads into a tunnel that'll take you right under the Snow
Faerie's cabin. She's pretty sympathetic towards little lost Neopets, and she'll
help you get home. Flurry and I will be waiting in the tunnel to reach out and
grab you so make sure that you get yourself as close to the cliff face as possible.
The Lupes can't get to us in there, because there's a secret entrance that only
I know about."
Flurry was a bit unconvinced. "Are you sure that
no one else knows about it?" he asked. HowlingWinter's icy blue eyes glimmered.
"Quite sure, I was the one that dug it." She
turned back to the two pets. "So that's what we'll do, alright? I won't be far
from here, though I've got to scarper pretty soon, the sun will be up in a few
minutes and I can't risk getting caught. Flurry-- they won't have you under
as tight surveillance as the Ixi. Meet me in the hollowed out stump by the West
side of the cave tomorrow night, the night before the solstice, so that we can
get safely into the tunnel. The Lupes won't bother looking for you so long as
'Lungar' is still safely in their custody."
Flurry nodded resolutely. "I'll be there."
HowlingWinter smiled. "Good. And now, I'm afraid
that I'll have to bid you adieu, for the morning hunting party will be getting
The shaggy white Lupe gave them each one last
nod of acknowledgement and then bounded out of the cave, her snowy white fur
looking almost ghostly in the shifting shadows. Flurry leaned back, feeling
"Whew," he said. "That was certainly a lot of
information! At least now we've got a surefire way of escaping." He glanced
at Zarrelian, noting with some mild surprise that the Ixi had not wasted a second
of time after HowlingWinter's departure and had gone straight back to sleep.
Flurry shook his head, marveling at the Ixi's audacity for slumber. The Lupe
yawned, realizing that he was quite tired as well.
Feeling a lot more relaxed now that he knew he
would soon be back home, Flurry curled up on the stone floor and closed his
eyes, engaging in one of the most peaceful sleeps that he had ever had.
Mr. Bronston stood with his makeshift team of
winged Neopets to the side of the small carriage that he had rented. The Draik
had managed to rig a harness that connected each of the pets to the carriage,
thereby creating a safe and relatively comfortable method of traveling up to
Terror Mountain to retrieve his lost students. Some of winged pets were less
than happy with the arrangement, protesting that it made them feel like some
sort of sled team, but they complied nonetheless.
Mr. Bronston nodded to his fliers and climbed
into the wooden carriage, shutting the door behind him and shouting a few words
to the team.
"Okay guys, let's move out!"
The tiny compartment rocked from side to side
as the winged Neopets lifted from the ground, beating their wings and soaring
into the air, speeding off towards Terror Mountain. Mr. Bronston stared ahead
with steely resolve glinting his narrowed yellow eyes.
"I'm coming, Zarrelian and Killerflurry," he
muttered to himself. "I just hope that you aren't too hard to find."
To be continued...