Murgoh: Part Seven
"It was many years ago, before you were born, before Savak
was even born, that the first trial took place. Gerthen and I were already good
friends and almost inseparable. I was a bit older than he was and I knew him all
his life. That silver Lupe often looked up to me, though, and I enjoyed it. We
played games together, hunted together…we even pulled a few pranks when no one
was looking," he added with a smile. The smile faded quickly as he went on. "Life
was a riot to us, until war came to the plains. A crazed Lupe had gathered together
a massive army with the intent of taking over the plains. He attacked many packs,
gathering strength as he marched east from the Haunted Woods. In time, our pack
was assaulted, and many of us scattered. Most of them I never saw again. After
the attacking Lupes had left, I came upon my pack leader, a middle aged white
Lupe, who was dying from the wounds he received. Before I could say anything,
he removed the symbol of his power from his neck and pushed it in my direction.
Then he died.
"The symbol, which he gave to me, was a medallion
of gold. It had no markings, and there was visibly nothing unusual about it
except that it had an uncanny luster to it. When he gave this medallion to me,
I could only assume that he wanted me to take the mantle of the pack, if it
still existed. So I put it on. Immediately when I did so, the power embedded
in this medallion bleached my fur white. When I looked upon the body of my former
leader, I saw he had turned yellow. I could only assume that this was his original
color, considering what had happened to me.
"It took me weeks to gather the pack together
again. The few who remained were not happy that I was now the leader. Most of
these were Lupes I had pulled pranks on. Gerthen was the most supportive Lupe
out of all of them. And, though no one liked that I was leader, we all agreed
that we had to leave the plains unless we wanted to die, or live under the iron
grip of that insane warlord who was taking over the plains.
"We traveled along the coast, thinking it best
to go to Neopia Central. If the plains weren't going to support us, we had no
other choice. Eventually, we came upon this cove. And when we did, we were all
surprised to find it full of Lupes, refugees from the 'Scourge of the Plains'.
These Lupes were suspicious of us at first, not sure whether to trust us or
not. After what had happened to them on the plains, I wasn't surprised. But,
as we came to know these Lupes, I quickly realized that, gathered here, there
was an army big enough to threaten the very warlord who had driven these Lupes
from their homes.
"Recognizing the power that existed among the
Lupes in the cove was one thing. Convincing them that it was there was another.
It took me three solid weeks to build up their courage enough to make a stand
against the 'Scourge of the Plains'. I had other Lupes to help me, though. Gerthen,
of course, assisted me, and Haklar, a friend of mine from another pack helped
as well. There were others too, though I forgot most of their names. Within
a month, I had a hundred Lupes willing to follow me onto the plains to confront
the one who had driven them from their home.
"As we left the cove to fight Kelthar, I noticed
something strange near the cove. In the distance in the direction of Neopia
Central, I saw three figures: a Lupe, a Kougra, and a Human. I didn't know why
they were there, and I didn't really take notice of them then. I was too busy
with the task at hand, and forgot about the trio for some time afterward.
"Far to the southwest, we found Kelthar's pack.
Around sunset, our army attacked. It wasn't a short battle. This warlord was
well protected. Many Lupes on both sides were gravely injured. It was some time
before I even reached the 'Scourge'. With both armies fully occupied, this warlord
and I were free to do one-on-one combat. We both went all out, trying to overcome
the other. He almost had me a few times, I must admit, but I gave him a few
bites he won't forget. Near the end of our fight, I struck a blow across his
eye, leaving a welt across his face. It was at this point that Gerthen broke
through the battle lines with half a dozen Lupes behind him. The 'Scourge of
the Plains' took one look at the silver Lupe, lost his nerve, and called for
a retreat. He and a few of his followers fled back into the Haunted Woods where
they came from.
"After this, life on the plains resumed as it
always had, with fewer Lupes than it had when the whole affair had started.
My pack, especially, had less than half the number it had before. Some of the
Lupes had died. Most had either fled, or decided they would rather live in another
pack than be led by me. I didn't mind. I really didn't want to be responsible
for too many Lupes. I didn't think I was ready for it.
"In early spring, about a year after the war
had ended, a second great trial came upon me, even if I didn't realize it. I
was patrolling alone in the northern part of my territory when I decided I wanted
to visit the cove where the plains Lupes assembled so long ago. There was something
about this place, something peaceful that drew me here, even when the packs
were gathered back then. I was skirting the perimeter of the cove when I came
upon a blue Lupess. I didn't even realize she was there until I came over a
rise and found myself face-to-face with her. Her fur was perfectly groomed,
she was well fed, and very healthy. She was also quite a bit younger than I
was. I knew she couldn't have come from the plains, even before I saw the collar
around her neck. She had to have come from Neopia Central. Stunned by her sudden
appearance, all I could mutter was 'hi,' to which she responded 'hello.' I'm
sure we would have continued the conversation, had she not been called away
by her owner. As she approached the Human, I noticed a young red Kougra there
as well, and I realized that that was not the first time I had seen her, nor
would it be the last.
"I returned to that spot as often as I could
for weeks after that, hoping she would return. Finally, about a month later,
she did. She was back on the plains, accompanied by her owner and the Kougra.
For some time, I only watched them from a distance, trying to decide how I could
approach them, or get the Lupess's attention. I didn't know what it was at that
time that drew me to her. To my surprise, the Lupess noticed me before I could
decide what to do. When she did, she slipped from her owner, unnoticed, and
came to meet me. We talked for a bit, she and I. I found out that she came to
the cove every month with her owner, but she had never seen another Lupe out
here, let alone a wild one, since the pack had gathered over a year ago. In
turn, I also told her a few things about living out on the plains. I didn't
get to tell her much, though, before her owner called for her. As she rose to
leave, she told me she would meet me there next month, which was exactly what
"Not only did I meet her that next month, but
we met for months after that. I came to know this Lupess pet very well, and
she marveled at the stories I had to tell about my life and the stories I had
of other Lupes from the plains. Back at home, though, the Lupes in my pack were
growing complaisant. My mysterious disappearances every month had them speculating
about what I did out there, alone, and unescorted. Even Gerthen was wondering
what I was up to. Though I knew he was trying to remain loyal to me, he did
confront me on this issue. Proud as I was, I shoved him off as soon as he brought
it up. I should probably be glad he didn't stop there. In fact, I don't know
what would happen if he didn't follow me that morning.
"The weather was cooling off as fall approached.
I had snuck off yet again to visit this Lupess. As I said, Gerthen followed
me across the plains. I didn't even suspect he had, until I met her at the cove
again. It was around then that Gerthen appeared. He asked the questions anyone
would ask when faced with that situation; 'What are you doing? Is this what
you've been hiding from your pack? Who is she?' Of course, I couldn't find the
words to answer. I was shocked and hurt that Gerthen had followed me onto the
plains. Before I could form an answer for my friend, the Lupess responded for
"'I came tonight to join your pack,' she said.
'If he has done any wrong on my account, I am sorry for it.' Her response did
come as a surprise to me, because I was thinking of asking her to join us, but
I didn't know how to ask. It was foolish to think that we could maintain a relationship
as far apart as we lived. I had hoped that she would come to live with me, but
I didn't know if she would even consider leaving her owner, let alone suggest
leaving openly. Gerthen, of course, supported me when we broke the news to the
rest of the pack. Even if he did disagree with my methods, which were sloppy
anyway, he told me that what's done is done, and we can't change what has happened
"No one was happy when we led the Lupess in
among the other pack members. There were split opinions of her, and of me, among
the members of the pack, and some of them left, joining with Haklar or other
neighboring packs, unwilling to have a 'pet' living with him. Only a pawful
of adults remained after a few months. Word spread around the plains that I
had gone soft, allowing pets to join my ranks. The ones who were open to my
decision found out, after a while, that the Lupess, with a little training,
was just as capable as anyone else. And though our pack was small, now, we were
fully capable of protecting ourselves."
Nomad fell silent as his story finally came
to an end. Murgoh blinked silently at the old Lupe, unsure of what to say. Many
thoughts were swimming around his head, and one of them he knew to be a key
to one of his suspicions was just out of his reach. What was it?
"You were in my pack, then?" he asked, thinking
of nothing else to say. "Before I was born, I mean. You were one of us?"
"I would think that was obvious by now, but
I have a closer relation to you than that," the old Lupe said with a weak chuckle
that turned into a cough. He cleared his throat before he continued. "You see,
that blue Lupess I fell in love with, the one who came from Neopia Central,
is living again with her former owner. She is your Grandmother, Jessie."
Everything clicked into place at that moment.
Murgoh stared wide-eyed at the old Lupe, looking at him in a new light. Nomad's
true name formed on his lips, and were uttered as a whisper.
"Murgoh?" the young Lupe asked.
Before the older Lupe could respond, there was
a commotion down the passage leading from the cave. There were voices, loud
voices, that could be heard clearly.
"Savak!" said Star's voice. She was clearly
"You!" Savak replied, also surprised. "You're
here? But how? On the Vengeance…how did you make it off?"
Star appeared at the end of the passage, backing
away from Savak as he entered the cave, followed closely by Heysha.
"Dad!" Murgoh exclaimed. He was excited to see
his father. But, what had gotten him so worked up about Star?
"Savak?" Heysha said. "Is…is that who I think
it is? Is that Kaylee?"
Savak didn't respond. Nomad had coughed again,
and this had attracted Savak's attention. His eyes, which were already wide
with surprise, grew wider as they fell on the old Lupe sitting across from the
cave. Murgoh could only imagine what was going through his father's mind at
that point. He could only watch as the old red Lupe smiled at him, saying in
a calm voice, "Hello, son. It's good to see you."
To be continued...