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Moonlit Peaks: Part Seven


by battlesunn

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Zarrelian groaned inwardly as yet another ugly, mangy, foul-smelling Lupe came jogging up, bowing before him and engaging in a series of barks, grunts and yips like some rabid Doglefox. Zarrelian practically burst into tears from boredom. He had been sitting on a cold, uncomfortable rock in the snow for the last three hours, doing nothing but listen to the Lupes' heated confessions. The Ixi rolled his eyes, thankful that at least last night's storm had petered out, ensuring a nice, clean night to serve as a backdrop for his getaway.

     The Lupe seemed to finish, and he scuttled off back to the rest of the pack, his head respectfully lowered. Zarrelian had to admit one thing. At least the pack knew how to show him the proper respect. Zarrelian had no doubt that it was his "divine countenance" that had convinced the Lupes that he was an all-powerful figure of myth and legend.

     Zarrelian noticed then that the little snowy clearing that he was sitting in had grown strangely quiet. There were no more Lupes growling in his ear; quite the contrary, in fact. They were sitting in a ring around the Ixi with their heads bowed, bushy tails curled around their paws. Zarrelian tugged nervously at his collar. It wasn't the most comforting sight, for the Lupe pack's quiet vigil was somewhat disconcerting.

     All of sudden, a low howl was heard. Zarrelian snapped his head and caught sight of the wizened blue Lupe from before, howling to the sky. The Ixi shuddered. He hated the sound of Lupe song. The Ixi's owner had only just managed to break his Lupe brother, Mordegan, out of the habit of howling at the full moon, as per Zarrelian's request.

     It wasn't long before the rest of the pack joined in, and it was then that Zarrelian remembered exactly what HowlingWinter had said a few nights earlier.

     "At that time, the Lupes will start howling. They will howl for about thirty minutes," she had said.

     Of course! Zarrelian thought, mentally kicking himself. The sun is setting, and the moon'll be fully visible in roughly half an hour or so. Yes, they'll sing the moon in. And then... The Ixi gave a small shudder. And then, they'll throw me off Poogle Peak to fly their stupid secrets up to the moon. Ha! Like the moon cares. Fyora, I hate Lupes.

     Zarrelian leaned back, gazing idly at the beautifully clear sky as he listened to the howling, hoping that the haunting melody wouldn't wind up being his eulogy.

     Indeed, almost exactly thirty minutes later, the Lupes abruptly stopped howling. The moon had risen. Even Zarrelian had to admit that it was an inspiring sight. The mountain, glistening silver in the celestial light, formed a gorgeous frame that encircled the glowing disk in the sky, its jagged, moonlit peaks silhouetted and backlit by the heavenly body.

     The Lupes began howling again, energized and full of adrenaline at the sight of the moon. They rushed forward and bore Zarrelian upon their shoulders, carrying him off to the edge of Poogle peak.

     The Ixi tried to calm himself down, taking deep, soothing breaths. I'm going to be okay; everything will be fine, he told himself. Zarrelian tentatively looked over the cliff for the first time.

     "Eeep!" he screeched, clinging desperately to his captor's arm. "No way! I am NOT going down there! Look how high it is! I can't even see the bottom! No, no-- AHHH!" Zarrelian screamed as the Lupes chucked him off the peak, howling a triumphant sendoff.

     The Ixi careened through the sky, the air riffling through his fur. "Ahh! I'm never going to see Maraqua rebuilt!" he cried. It was then that he remembered his wings.

     "Oh, yeah. I forgot about those," he said aloud as he swiftly flared his leathery wings. They were quickly caught by the wind, billowing as he was shot upwards. Zarrelian giggled.

     "Whee! This is kind of fun!" He glanced back up at the Lupes, who were still standing at the edge of the peak, gaping with shock and confusion at their ex-Lungar. Zarrelian stuck his tongue out at them. "So long, broom tails! Haha!"

     The Ixi glided leisurely along the cliff face, keeping an eye out for the alleged cave opening. It didn't take him long to spot, for Flurry was waiting anxiously at the entrance, the bright yellow stars on his coat practically glowing in the moonlight. Zarrelian grinned.

     "Here I come, Flurry!" he cackled, angling his wings slightly so that he could soar closer to the cave. The Ixi winced in pain. Clearly, his wings were still more or less frozen. Flurry reached out and grabbed Zarrelian by his front hooves, pulling him into the tunnel.

     "You did it!" he happily exclaimed, encircling the Ixi in a tight hug. Zarrelian made a face of disgust and wriggled out of his grasp.

     "Ugh, don't touch me, please! I've dealt with enough Lupes to last me a lifetime," he said. Flurry chuckled.

     "I'm just glad you made it out alive." The Lupe cast a glance in HowlingWinter's direction.

     "Should we head out now?" he asked, in a slightly less cheerful tone. The white Lupe nodded slowly.

     "Yes, we should probably get going as soon as possible. The Lupes can't get to us in the tunnel, but even so... I'm not really comfortable hanging around here for too long." She pricked an ear as the sound of enraged snarling reverberated throughout the small tunnel. The Lupes above were clearly not too pleased at the farce Lungar.

     Zarrelian cackled at the pack's aggravation. "Serves them right, if you ask me. They never even brought me an after dinner mint."

     It was certainly a strange procession of pets that made their way up through the tunnel to the Snow Faerie's cabin. In the lead, a female white Lupe with an extraordinarily thick and fluffy coat, followed by a shaky starry Lupe and a very jovial Halloween Ixi. Flurry made a point of calling to attention the entrance to the tunnel from under the stump.

     "Hey, have we passed the stump yet?" he asked. HowlingWinter continued to march forward.

     "We passed it a long time ago. There are several entrances to the tunnel, most of them known only to the Snow Faerie and myself. There are actually quite a few underground pathways, a whole network, really. It was initially dug by some of the residents here to use in case a giant blizzard eliminated any chance of traveling above ground. Nowadays, no one really uses them. I sort of expanded on the tunnels a bit for my use; I think I mentioned that I dug this particular one myself. There are some pretty confusing twists and turns in here, too; there's one tunnel that'll take you right into the Snowager's lair. Needless to say, I wouldn't recommend that one. Don't worry, though. I know this maze like the back of my paw."

     The trio walked the remainder of the journey in silence. Zarrelian was too content to say anything, while Flurry and HowlingWinter were too lost in their own thoughts to speak. After what seemed like hours, the white Lupe stopped and scurried to the side on the tunnel, sitting on her haunches. She jabbed a paw to the tunnel's ceiling.

     "There's a small trapdoor up there. It'll lead you straight into the Snow Faerie's cabin," HowlingWinter said, her tone betraying her apprehension at being back at the home of her former master. Flurry stared pointedly at her.

     "I think that you should come up with us," he said evenly. Zarrelian looked from Flurry to HowlingWinter and then back again.

     "What is with you guys?" he demanded impatiently. "If you're not going to go up, then move aside so that I can!"

     Flurry shot him a meaningful glare. "Just a second, Zarrel." He turned back to the nervously fidgeting white Lupe.

     "You can't hide from your old skeletons forever, Howl," he said gently. HowlingWinter sighed.

     "I suppose you're right. Come on, let's go up."

     Flurry reared up and pushed the trapdoor open with the top of his head, placing his paws on the edge and pulling himself all the way up. Down in the tunnel, Zarrelian and HowlingWinter heard his gasp of surprise.

     "Mr. Bronston?!" the starry Lupe exclaimed. Zarrelian's jaw dropped.

     "I don't believe it... Mr. Bronston found me in Terror Mountain! He must have built in radar or something!"

     The Ixi perked an ear as he heard Mr. Bronston's dry reply from above. "Yes, Zarrelian. It's rather like your own. Of course yours is more along the lines of Search and Annoy."

     Zarrelian jumped up through the trapdoor, skittering a bit on the polished hardwood floor. He was mildly interested to see Mr. Bronston lounging against the Snow Faerie's worktable, a phalanx of winged Neopets behind him. He saw a Christmas Zafara, a Halloween Kougra, a Faerie Gelert, and to his dismay, a Darigan Lupe, all of them harnessed up to a ramshackle wooden carriage. His teacher folded his arms and strode over to the Ixi, he grabbed the hapless pet by the collar and pulled him up to his face.

     "The trouble you've caused me," he growled. "I won't do anything now, because I wouldn't want to lose face in front of our gracious hostess over there." The Draik jerked his head over to the Snow Faerie, who was looking rather annoyed at the unexpected intrusion of her cabin. He glared back at Zarrelian. "But I can assure you, that when I get you back in school, you are going to write the longest, most difficult essay on Jeran that you have ever been assigned!"

     Zarrelian groaned. "What is it with the Lupes?" he cried.

     It was then that HowlingWinter made her entrance. She heaved herself up from the tunnel, landing daintily on the floor of the Snow Faerie's cabin. Mr. Bronston glanced at her with interest.

     "Who's she? You didn't have a second buddy, did you Zarrelian? Because that would've completely undermined the system," he said. Flurry answered.

     "No sir, she's not one of your students. She's..." He took a deep breath. "She's my sister." Flurry looked at the Snow Faerie, who was giving the white Lupe the iciest of stares, which is saying quite a lot, for the Snow Faerie. "I guess you recognize her, Ms. Snow Faerie."

     The Snow Faerie scowled. "Of course I recognize her," she hissed through clenched teeth. "That ungrateful Lupe defied me, even after I had shown her so much kindness!"

     HowlingWinter bared her fangs. "That's not true and you know it!" she barked. Mr. Bronston raised his eyebrows and exchanged a confused glance with Zarrelian.

     "Do you know what's going on?" he mumbled. The Ixi shook his head.

     "No idea."

     The Snow Faerie took a menacing step towards the Lupe. "I took you in when no one else would! I fed you, raised you and taught you to speak!"

     HowlingWinter's hackles rose. "And in return you made me your slave!"

     "That's not true! I asked for a little help running errands, that was all."

     "You bound me to you magically without even telling me! I couldn't leave if I wanted to!"

     "Because you had to pay off your debt!"

     "You didn't mention a debt when you 'adopted' me!"

     "ENOUGH!"

     All eyes in the cabin flicked towards Flurry, who was standing in the center of the room, his gaze hard and his chest heaving. He took a rattling breath and went on.

     "You won't get anywhere by arguing," he said. "Neither of you is truly right... Howl, you were wild at heart and craved your freedom, Snow Faerie, you had a kind soul but you were unwilling to let go. But that was all in the past; you can't keep on dwelling on it. You have to let go, both of you."

     HowlingWinter ducked her head, scuffing the ground sheepishly with her paw. "You're right, Flurry. You were right about everything. I--" She glanced at the Snow Faerie, choking on her words. "I owe you an apology, Taelia. I should've been a bit more grateful to you."

     The Snow Faerie narrowed her eyes, but then sighed, relenting along with the Lupe. "I, too, should apologize. I was wrong in casting the spell on you, I had no right to do it without your consent." She knelt before her and put her pale hands on the Lupe's shaggy white shoulders, her eyes level with HowlingWinter's.

     "I always knew that you could never be truly domesticated. That is why I bound you to me, because I was afraid that you would leave me, as I knew you eventually would. But, as I said, I could not keep you caged. You belong only to the mountain, HowlingWinter."

     The Lupe laid her head on the Snow Faerie's shoulders, their silent truce unspoken but understood by both. The silence in the cabin was broken by Mr. Bronston's impatient cough.

     "I hate to shatter the lovely sentimental atmosphere, but we really should be going. After all, another storm's supposed to break in a few hours and I need to get these pets home."

     Zarrelian was only too happy to oblige, practically lunging into the Draik's carriage, but Flurry was more hesitant. He gnawed his lower lip uncertainly, staring at his sister with a mixture of emotions clouding his deep green eyes.

     "I... I don't know if I want to leave you, Howl. All my life I've wanted a sister, and to know that I have one and then to just leave you all alone on this mountain... I mean, maybe you could come with us, back to Neopia Central. Or I could stay here with you instead, what do you think?" he asked anxiously. HowlingWinter gave him a gentle smile.

     "No, Flurry. Your place is in Neopia Central, with your owner. My place is here, in the wilderness of Terror Mountain. You can't force them to mix."

     Flurry blinked rapidly to hold back his unshed tears. "But I'll miss you," he pleaded. "I'll probably never be able to see you again!"

     The white Lupe placed a comforting paw on his starred shoulder. "Maybe not, Flurry. You may never see me again. But no matter where I am, or where you are, I'll always be your sister." Her lips quirked into a smile. "Officially and emotionally."

     A single tear ran down Flurry's royal blue cheek as he gave his sister one last nuzzle before he turned and padded solemnly into the waiting carriage. Mr. Bronston regarded him with narrowed eyes.

     "About time. Now hurry up and sit down, I want to make it home in time for dinner." Zarrelian licked his lips.

     "Ah, me too!"

     The Draik shouted a quick command to his team of fliers, who set off, rumbling out of the Snow Faerie's cabin and up into the crisp mountain air. Flurry leaned his head against the streaky window, watching the glorious full moon with a mixture of sadness and acceptance. He felt a small jab in his side, and turned around, only to see Zarrelian grinning at him.

     "Looks like we made it, huh Flurry?" he asked. The Lupe felt a small smile twitching at the corners of his lips.

     "I guess we did," he replied, feeling a bit more content. Zarrelian yawned and wriggled in his seat, a blissful grin creeping across his oversized face.

     "It sure will be nice to get home. I'm really looking forward to being back," he said. Flurry allowed his gaze to rove back to the small window, his warm green eyes taking in all the beauty of Terror Mountain.

     "Yeah," he murmured. "Me too."

     The carriage snapped around as the fliers switched direction, setting a course for Neopia Central. The makeshift taxi was framed by the glowing silver moon as it traveled, while in the distance, a Lupe howled.

The End

 
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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 Five
» Moonlit Peaks: Part Six



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