Murgoh: Part One
Author's Note: If you want answers to some unexplained events prior to this
story, read the Savak series: The Medallion, The Search, and The Redemption. Thanks
to those who already have.
It was snowing lightly on the Neopian Plains. The layer
of clouds that overcast the area was thick enough to block out most of the moonlight
from Kreludor, leaving the rolling, snow-covered landscape in the dark. An occasional
winter breeze carried snowflakes from their intended paths, and as quickly as
it picked them up, it left them again, allowing them to fall to the ground once
Amidst the snowy haze and darkness, seven Lupes,
two adults and five half-grown pups, sat silent and solemn as they stared into
the pitch-black depths of a small cave. None of them moved, and none of them
spoke. One of the younger ones, a dusky red Lupe named Murgoh, angrily scratched
at his ear as a snowflake blew into it. He knew how serious this moment was,
and tried to keep his temper in check. He could sense the pack's tension from
his mother, Heysha, who was seated next to him, her gold charm laden necklace
glimmering slightly, even in this light. The trim blue Lupess was holding her
composure well, considering what had happened. So had the other adults, and
especially his father, Savak, the pack leader.
Murgoh stopped scratching at his ear when he
heard pawsteps coming from the cavern. Two Lupes stepped out of the cavern.
The first one was Savak, a trim red Lupe, with thin, gray fur just below the
neck; the result of an accident long past. The second was Kosek, a lithe yellow
Lupe, and the only other adult male in the pack. Savak, his head and tail low,
walked into the semicircle of waiting Lupes and sighed silently before he spoke.
"It's done," he said. "Gerthen is resting with
his ancestors now."
Without another word, Savak passed the gathered
Lupes, not even glancing to anyone. Murgoh saw his mother watch him sadly as
he passed, the charms on her gold necklace glinting in the slight moonlight
that penetrated the clouds. She pressed her nose to his side as he passed, but
he didn't respond. Once he had passed, Heysha sighed and, noticing that her
son was watching her, smiled grimly and said, "Gerthen was very close to your
father. He's taking it hard, but he'll be alright." This said, she stood and
followed her husband across the snowy plains.
Murgoh didn't really know how close his father
was to Gerthen, but he was close to the old Lupe too. After Heysha left his
side, the young Lupe clawed at the snow irritably. He never had a chance to
Murgoh turned around when he heard his name,
and saw the yellow Lupe behind him. Kosek was standing over Murgoh's two sisters;
a blue Lupess named Melissa, and the smaller Ashley, a white Lupess. When Kosek
was sure he had Murgoh's attention, he continued. "Take your sisters back to
the den. Lilia will be along presently with Kovo and Thassa."
"Why do I have to take care of them?" Murgoh
asked, his fur bristling slightly. He didn't want to have to watch his sisters.
Kosek, however, didn't seem to understand that. The fur on Kosek's back rose
slightly as he leaned closer to the young Lupe.
"Because I told you to," he growled slowly.
"Now get going, or I'll have your ears off!" Then he padded past Murgoh to Lilia,
a petite young island Lupess, and his two pups who were waiting for him. Thassa,
a yellow Lupe like her father, was very quiet, and hardily spoke to anyone but
her brother. She was even more somber on this occasion, if that was even possible.
Her eyes followed her father as he approached, but she didn't say a word.
Kovo, on the other hand, was watching Murgoh.
Like Kosek and Savak, Murgoh and Kovo weren't on the best of terms, mostly due
to the fact that Murgoh often pulled pranks on the hapless brown Lupe. Kovo
was a little older than Murgoh was, and if it came to a fight, Kovo was more
likely to come out on top. Fortunately, it rarely came to that. Though Kovo
was glaring distrustfully at Murgoh, the young red Lupe paid no heed. He was
still angry about being ordered around by Kosek.
"Stupid Kosek," Murgoh mumbled once Kosek was
out of earshot. He didn't know why his father hadn't driven the Lupe off yet.
They never were on the best of terms. Kosek always seemed to have something
to complain about. When Kosek gave Murgoh a nasty look, Murgoh jumped to his
paws and moved to his sisters.
"Come on, let's go," he growled, passing his
siblings. The two Lupesses quickly padded after their brother, struggling to
match his pace, which was swift due to his anger. He didn't care about anything
around him, or who was following in his footsteps. As they passed quickly over
one hill, Melissa managed to catch up and walk alongside her brother.
"Will you slow down?" she asked in a terse tone.
"You know Ashley can't keep this pace for long through these drifts."
"Maybe she should have grown faster, then,"
Murgoh snapped. He stopped suddenly as his sister cuffed him heavily between
the ears and he stumbled into the snow.
"That's not fair!" she yelled. "She got very
sick last year, and you know it!"
Standing up, Murgoh furiously shook the snow
from his fur and rubbed the top of his head. "Did you have to hit me so hard?"
he growled. "Man, you could have broken the skin with a blow like that!"
"I shouldn't think it would hurt you too much,
being so thick-headed," Melissa sneered.
This was the last straw for Murgoh. With a snarl,
he jumped on Melissa, and the two siblings proceeded to wrestle with each other,
growling, barking, and throwing snow everywhere, until a high wailing stopped
"Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!" Ashley whined.
"I don't like to see you two fight!"
For a moment, neither of them moved as they
watched their upset sibling. Then they broke apart, sitting a few paces apart
as they straightened their fur and licked fresh sores.
Though some of his anger had subsided with the
fight, it hadn't completely been spent. However, for Ashley's sake, he had to
control himself. "Come on," Murgoh said finally. "We should get to the den,
or we'll be out in this all night."
Melissa nodded in agreement, and the three continued,
at a slower pace.
As they traveled, the storm picked up. The gusts
grew into a persistent wind, and the snow was coming down thicker. Murgoh had
to slow the pace as they trudged along, until Melissa stopped him again.
"We'll never reach the den at this rate," she
observed, raising her voice to be heard over the wind. "Maybe we should stay
"Here?" Murgoh asked, his voice also raised.
He gave his sister a cynical look. "In the middle of the storm? Are you nuts?"
"We could burrow a den into the snow," she said.
"We would be safe from the wind and the cold, and sharing our body-heat will
keep us warm enough until tomorrow."
Murgoh thought this over. He knew that Melissa
was right, but he didn't want to admit it. Briefly, he looked at Ashley, who
was looking blankly, almost distantly, out into the storm as the wind ruffled
her fur from behind. As she shuddered slightly, he realized what a pitiful sight
it really was, and he relented. "Alright, we'll stay here tonight," he said
as he started digging into the snow. "Come on! Ashley's getting cold."
Working together, despite their fight earlier,
Murgoh and Melissa dug deep into the snow, throwing piles of the white powder
out into the storm. It took some time, but they dug a chamber large enough for
the three of them. Once this was done, Murgoh peeked his head outside again.
Melissa came up beside him in a moment.
"Come on, Ashley," Melissa called to her sister.
"You can have the middle, it's warmer there."
Ashley turned slowly to them. For a moment,
Murgoh thought he saw something odd about the way she was looking at them. But
when she blinked briefly, shaking her head, she looked fine.
"Are you coming?" Murgoh asked. "Come on, I
think the storm's getting worse."
For a moment, Ashley only sat where she was.
When Murgoh thought about going over and pushing her into the den, Ashley nodded
silently, and she padded inside. Turning around a few times, she lay down in
the middle as her sister recommended. Exchanging glances, Melissa and Murgoh
joined her. As he lay down to wait out the storm, all Murgoh could think of
was how Kosek was going to scold him tomorrow when he found out that they didn't
show up at the den like they were supposed to.
* * *
Murgoh opened his eyes suddenly, and realized
that he was no longer in the snow den. He was floating in the clouds. In fact,
there were clouds all around him. As he started to wonder why he was there,
and how he came to be there in the first place, a bright, yellow light appeared
in front of him. This light zoomed around in front of him, and then darted around
his head for a moment.
There was a flash of light, and Murgoh found
himself engulfed in darkness. He couldn't see anything around him, though he
seemed to be standing on firm ground. Then he heard a menacing snarl. After
a moment, a figure appeared in front of him. Arching his back in hostility,
a massive Lupe, broad-shouldered, brown, and almost crazed in appearance, glared
at Murgoh with a look that could kill. Murgoh had never seen a Werelupe before,
and he had never intended to after hearing all those stories about them. But
he couldn't help but examine this one. Aside from its dominant features, he
noticed the eyes, which glowed in the moonlight, were almost blood red. A long
scar had formed across the left eye, creating an even more frightful appearance
for this creature.
Murgoh could only study this creature for a
moment before it raised its maw up into the darkness, sending forth an angry
howl. Then, growling once more, the Werelupe lunged at him. Murgoh braced himself
for the hit.
A flash of light brought Murgoh back to where
he was before, floating in the clouds. The flying yellow light was floating
right in front of him. He couldn't distinguish a form in the light, but he heard
a female voice coming from it.
Come what may, I will be watching you,
the light said.
Murgoh was about to respond when the sea of
clouds around him disappeared. Firm ground was under him, and he sat upright,
opening his eyes. It was dark where he was. It was also cool, but warm bodies
nearby told him he was not alone. Then it dawned on him: he was back in the
snow den with his sisters.
Looking around, Murgoh noticed that the snow
den entrance was completely snowed in. It took him a moment to dig through it
all before he could get to the surface and have a look around. Several inches
had fallen last night, which insulated their makeshift den even more than before.
It also covered their tracks from last night, so Murgoh didn't know which way
they came from, or which way they were going.
Climbing out of his little hole, Murgoh shook
the snow from his fur and took in the sights and scents around him. It was morning.
The cloud cover from last night had thinned considerably after the snow stopped,
though the skies were still a gray overcast. The landscape around him was white
with snow as far as the eye could see, as it had been for the last month. The
scents on the air were faint, and he could barely distinguish a Lupe scent among
After a moment, Melissa climbed out of the snow
den, stretched, then moved to stand next to her brother.
"What a night," she said. "What a storm. I'm
surprised the den didn't cave in on us."
"Well, it didn't," Murgoh pointed out. "And
now we need to figure out which way home is."
Melissa nodded absent mindedly, sniffing the
air. "What's that smell?" she mumbled to herself. Before Murgoh could respond,
she moved away, tracking the air currents. Shaking his head, he left her to
it and poked his head into the den to wake Ashley. When he saw her sleeping
so soundly, he hesitated. For a moment, he didn't want to wake her, but he knew
they had to get moving. Gently, he prodded her shoulder.
"Ashley," he said softly. "It's time to get
up. We need to get back home, or Kosek's going to have my hide to line his part
of the den."
With a moan, the white Lupess opened her eyes.
She suddenly went stiff, gazing blankly ahead with a faraway look that sent
a chill down Murgoh's spine and made his fur stand on end. She growled for a
moment, then suddenly scampered backward into a corner of the den as if she
were afraid of something.
"Revenge!" she rasped. "Dark ambition. An eastward
march. Oppression. Resistance. Open warfare… Murgoh!" she snapped the last word
so suddenly that Murgoh nearly backed out of the den. Holding his ground, he
"Ashley, what's wrong?"
The young white Lupess shook her head, looked
around briefly, and then looked to her brother. Her faraway look had disappeared,
but it was replaced with a fearful expression. "We need to leave," she said,
almost a whisper.
Seeing she had returned to normal, Murgoh felt
his fur fall down on his back. "That's why I woke you up," Murgoh explained
gruffly. Ashley shook her head.
"No, we need to leave now! Something's
wrong! It's dangerous here!"
"Murgoh, get up here!"
Murgoh backed out of the den and saw Melissa
padding quickly over to him. "What's the matter this time?" he asked.
"We need to get out of here!" Melissa said.
"You've led us out of our territory. This is one of the western territories.
I think there's a rival pack near here."
"What?" Murgoh glanced confusedly from Ashley
to Melissa. "It's not my fault! You know how bad that storm was!"
Melissa shook her head. "It doesn't matter.
We just need to go. Ashley, you need to get up, we're leaving now."
A distant sound caught Murgoh's attention, and
he rotated his ears behind him to listen. He heard snarling and angry barking
coming from the west. Unnerved, his fur stood on end again.
"Scratch that! Get back in the den!" he snapped.
Melissa hesitated, but jumped in anyway. Murgoh followed, staying near the surface,
peeking out at the activity above.
Several Lupes came into view, dashing across
the snow-covered plains. Murgoh wondered what they were running from until he
saw their pursuers. Nearly a dozen Lupes were chasing them, driving them straight
into the east. Murgoh shrank away into the den as some of the pursued Lupes
passed near them. A moment later, he heard the rest of the Lupes come to a halt
around the den. Though it was muffled, he could hear someone up above make a
simple announcement to the others.
"We've done it, this territory is ours!"
In response to this, the other Lupes howled
together in triumph. Murgoh shot a warning glance to his sisters to stay absolutely
silent, but he realized that Melissa was way ahead of him, trying to keep Ashley
When the howling had died down, the same Lupe
continued his announcement. "Soon, all the plains will be ours! Lupes everywhere,
wild and domestic, will fear the name of your leader, the Scarred one, Kelthar
"All hail Kelthar! All hail Kelthar!" the other
Lupes chanted. Soon, this too died down, and the speaker piped up once more.
"Come, my brothers. Lord Kelthar will reward
you all handsomely for this victory!"
Cheers rose up among the Lupes as they started
to move deeper into their territory. Murgoh hoped against all odds that their
den would go unnoticed. A few of the Lupes passed so close they could look inside,
but none did. He almost yelped in fright as one of them stepped into the roof
of the den, stumbling for a moment, but he moved on without a second thought.
It wasn't until the sound of pawsteps had faded completely that Murgoh peeked
outside the den again.
Once again, the Neopian Plains was left in its
cold calm of winter slumber. The snow around the den was completely disturbed
after the Lupes had chased out their rivals. As he looked around, he couldn't
see any of them anywhere, even in the distance.
"What are we going to do, Murgoh?" Melissa asked
as she stepped out of the den. Ashley followed closely, too frightened to speak.
Murgoh wasn't entirely sure what to do. He didn't
know what it was, but even the mention of this Kelthar ran shivers down his
spine. It was as if he feared this Lupe before he even knew who he was. Shaking
his fur out, only one solution presented itself.
"We need to tell dad," he said silently. "There's
no doubt in my mind that this Kelthar character is going to be trouble."
To be continued...