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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 24th day of Hiding, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 144 > Continuing Series > Before We Knew Him: Part Five

Before We Knew Him: Part Five

by feriku

The years passed peacefully under Darigan's reign. Master Vex became known as "the kind warden," and he and Galgarrath became powerful figures in society. With considerable effort, Lord Darigan got used to not trusting General Kass and the lovely Tara. He became better friends with the destructive Haskol, and Ridella began to fill the hole in his heart that the loss of his father and two friends had created. Demona's Orb became a shadow that he tried to ignore in the wonderful lives that his people were leading. Life had become normal, when the Faerie decided to wreck things again.

* * *

Darigan woke up suddenly in the night. Unsure of why he had woken, he listened carefully for anything that seemed out of the ordinary.

     Then he heard a faint voice. "Now the whole castle's probably awake!"

     "You try falling off a wall!" and angry voice hissed back.

     Quietly, Darigan opened the window. He could see several figures dropping into the courtyard. He gasped.

     Grabbing his cloak, he hurried into the hall, and went outside.

     "You bungler!" growled a Gelert to a Kacheek as they saw him approach.

     A white Kougra stepped forward. "I know this looks odd, young Korbat, but this is not what it seems. I wish to speak with the ruler of this fair land."

     "That would be me."

     "Oh! Err…we were hoping to talk to you…and…we were instructed to come here and see you as soon as possible…so we were climbing over the wall…" He trailed off.

     "Wouldn't your leader understand if you waited until morning?"

     The Kougra sighed. "Our leaders…well they can be nasty." He shivered. "It is rather chilly out here. Perhaps you and I can talk indoors?"

     Darigan hesitated, looking at the others.

     "I'll watch them," said Ridella, emerging from the bushes, dressed for battle. "I heard noises, and decided to check it out."

     She saluted as he walked off with the Kougra.

* * *

They sat down in a library inside of the castle. The Kougra seemed to have a perpetual smirk.

     "So," asked Darigan, "what did you want to talk about?"

     The Kougra looked around. "Nice place you have. Nice land, big citadel, lovely garden…and a simply splendid orb."

     He blinked. "Uh…"

     "It is magic, is it not?"

     "Yes, the orb is magic."

     "To get right to the point, our king feels that we should have it. The Lady Illusen agrees. So…we want it."

     Darigan blinked again. "You want the orb?"

     "We have, in fact, been instructed to return with it or not at all, and we aren't going to disobey them."

     He almost laughed. He had been looking for an excuse to get rid of the orb for years! "You can have it."

     The Kougra stopped the speech that he was making, jerking suddenly. "Y-you're giving it to us? You're not even going to argue or fight?"

     "To tell you the truth, I don't want it."

     "Oh dear." He looked rather distressed. "I never imagined this. My orders were quite exact. I expected us to have difficulties, namely a battle. My apologies," he said, bowing, just as a bell tolled in the distance.

     There was a very old bell tower not far from the castle. In the past, it was used to signal an attack. But with the lack of wars, it slowly faded into just a memory. Even when Demona attacked, no one had thought of it. But now, someone was using the ancient bell tower, to announce a battle.

     BONG bong!

     Darigan hurried outside. What he saw made him remember Demona's attack.

     BONG bong!

     The Neopets that had accompanied the Kougra were running everywhere, lighting things on fire.

     BONG bong!

     Up in the tower, a Peophin could be seen ringing the bell.

     BONG bong!

     Darigan saw his friends come charging out, followed by several others, some not even squires.

     The Kougra came out. "It appears they got a little carried away. Again, I apologize," he said, before trotting off.

     Even as he glared at the Kougra, a sense of impending doom made him glance up at the bell tower. Without quite knowing why, he flew up to the belfry.

     Ridella was there, lying on the ground. "Darigan," she gasped. "I tried to stop them. There were just two many… What did they want?"

     "They wanted the orb. The Kougra gave them the command to attack, without knowing that I didn't want it. It'll be okay, Ridella. You'll live."

     "I wouldn't count on that. I think the spear that hit me had a slow acting poison on it. I'll live for a while longer; how long, I don't know. Go-Don't look at me like that! I told you, I think it's a slow one, and I'm a good judge of poisons! Now go protect your people. I'm not going anywhere…"

     After hesitating, he left. The sun was just rising, and the Kougra and his troops were leaving, with their prize.

     He helped extinguish the flames, and he listened to Kass rant about going to war. Then he went back to the tower.

     Darigan carried the weak Peophin down to a building that wasn't destroyed, and laid her on the bed.

     Ridella was right; it was a slow poison, and she stayed in the same condition for a few weeks.

     He had been closer to her than his other friends had been, and he barely noticed what was happening in the world around him, until Ridella commented on it.

     "You've changed. We've all changed."

     Darigan looked startled, and she gave a laugh, which quickly turned to a cough. "You're too upset. Most of us notice when we have a transformation thing going on, but not you!" She smiled sadly. "But no matter what happens in the future, remember that what you look like has nothing to do with who you truly are. And you need to get back to the real world, or else you'll wither away." She sighed, but smiled at him. "Farewell, Darigan, my friend."

     Then, Ridella's eyes closed for the last time.

     "No," whispered Darigan. "Ridella, no…"

     He walked out, looking as zombie-like as Tara.

     The days until the funeral all seemed to blend together. Vex and the others did their best to cheer him up, but he didn't until the day of the funeral, when he remembered that Ridella had told him to get back to the real world.

     When the funeral was over, he announced that he was going to avenge Ridella. No one argued. Other lives had been lost, their crops were dying, over half of them wanted the orb, and a lot just didn't like the way they now looked.

     It took a lot of research, but finally they found a spell that could make the entire citadel fly. And so, they all gathered together, and lifted off.

     It was exhilarating, having the ground beneath your feet shake itself loose from the surrounding land and lift into the skies.

     "Whee!" yelled a little Zafara, making Darigan truly grin for the first time in a long time.

     They didn't actually know where to go. Their only real clue was a name: Illusen.

     Finally, they stopped, and hovered over a small village, where Darigan was going to get information about where they wanted to go.

     "Good luck," said Vex, patting him on the shoulder as he went down.

* * *

It was a very small village. The villagers were known to be superstitious and were generally unfair to anyone who didn't look "right," as they put it.

     Darigan wasn't exactly welcomed. All the Neopets watched him warily, and many even went inside.

     Uncomfortably aware of all of this, he looked around uselessly, until a white Aisha walked up to him.

     "Excuse me, sir," she said. "Are you lost?"

     "Kind of," he replied. "I stopped at this place to get help, but…" He trailed off.

     "You mustn't mind them. They have a thing against…well, Neopets like you. Anyway, what are you trying to find?"

     "A place that's home to someone called Illusen."

     "Meridell," was the instant response. "It's the kingdom to the west of us, ruled by King Skarl. It's a great place. While you're there, I recommend playing Potato Counter and Tower of Turnips!"

     Slightly confused, Darigan returned to the floating citadel, and was greeted by Vex and Galgarrath.

     "What did you find out?" asked Galgarrath excitedly.

     "We're looking for Meridell, to the west. Their king is called Skarl. Oh, and for fun, they count potatoes and stack turnips."

     Vex hit himself on the forehead. "Of all the Neopians that could've attacked us, we got stuck with the nuts!"

     Darigan laughed.

     Vex sighed. "I don't want to go to war!"

     "No one wants to," said Darigan.

     "Kass does," muttered Galgarrath. "He's thrilled."

     "It's not really him," he whispered.

     "What?" asked his friends?

     "Nothing," he lied.

     I can't drag them into this! he told himself. But then, he recalled Demona's laughter and final words, three spectral figures that wanted war, and a charm, a circlet, and an orb. Suddenly, he did not want to go anywhere near Meridell, much less fight against its people. However, things had gotten out of Darigan's control. The Citadel was steadily moving west, and many wanted revenge and their beloved orb. They were getting closer to Meridell by the day, and war was inevitable.

To be continued…

Previous Episodes

Before We Knew Him: Part One

Before We Knew Him: Part Two

Before We Knew Him: Part Three

Before We Knew Him: Part Four

Before We Knew Him: Part Six


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