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Moonlit Peaks: Part Five


by battlesunn

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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 starry Lupe.

     "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 her explanation.

     "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 you, too?"

     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 towards her.

     "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 up soon."

     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 somewhat exhausted.

     "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...

 
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Other Episodes


» Moonlit Peaks: Part One
» Moonlit Peaks: Part Two
» Moonlit Peaks: Part Three
» Moonlit Peaks: Part Four
» Moonlit Peaks: Part Six



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