A People Deceived
"Give that back, Jedder!"
The young Techo's cry seemed to be the only
sound to penetrate the eerie stillness that always hung about the Darigan Citadel.
Her little scaled feet tapped against the cobblestone streets as she rushed
after the small Darigan Skeith who had stolen her precious toy, a figure shaped
and sewn in the likeness of Lord Kass himself. Their wise and grand leader.
The little Techo had grown up in the postwar times, after their war with Skarl.
Now they lived in peace, thanks to the grace and wisdom of Lord Kass. All her
life, the majestic Eyrie had guided them. Posters, speeches, and fellow pets
spoke of his greatness. It wasn't something that could be denied; it simply
was. Lord Kass's goodness was as firm and unchangeable as the cycle of the seasons.
At least, that was the young Techo had heard. That was how she had grown up.
"No way, loser!"
Grinning madly, the young pet continued to rush
forwards, arms flailing outwards in an effort to grab at Jedder, who somehow
managed to just evade her grasp. Wild, blonde pigtails flew out behind her as
she rushed along, passing a weary Blumaroo whom she did not even notice. He
stood off to side, in the street perpendicular to the alley she and Jedder ran
on. His expression was hardened, worn. He could remember the times before Kass,
before the beginning of the deception. They said he was a good leader, that
going against him was unthinkable, unspeakable. Most of the pets worshipped
and obeyed his every law and word. The Blumaroo shook his head. Who was he to
criticize them? Was he any better than any of them, as they all flocked around
Kass like babaas around a shepherd? If he was, then why did he still stand there
in that haunting alley, plastering a poster to the wall, an image of Kass depicted
with the words "Our Beloved Leader" etched upon it? He didn't have a choice...
to go against Kass was lunacy, and those who did so anyway, well...
The little Techo watched in glee as Jedder tripped
over an uneven sidewalk, sending her Kass plushie flying into the air. The little
pet leapt up, arms flailing in an effort to catch her toy. She hardly the noticed
the mass of pets in front of her, but just before the doll landed safely in
her arms, she managed to catch the words that it seemed all the pets were hanging
"A time of peace... a time of prosperity...
a time of understanding!"
"Hee!" giggled the Techo as the plushie landed
safely in her open arms. She clutched it tightly to her chest, hugging it happily.
"That hurt!" exclaimed Jedder, rubbing his head.
"Shh!" scolded an older Scorchio, "Lord Kass
The young Techo looked up, eyes wide. Kass?
Here!? Really!? She stood on tiptoe, struggling to catch a glimpse of their
glorious, benevolent leader. However, the large crowd of pets in front of her
made this task near impossible to complete. She frowned, and leapt up. She almost
squealed in delight; she had just managed to catch a look at Kass. Their noble,
majestic leader stood at the top of a podium, a large banner stretched out behind
him. His impressive figure blocked most of it, but the little Techo could piece
together most of what it said, which was, "Long Live Lord Kass!" Aye, cheers
"But there are those who would take our newfound
freedom, my friends. Those who would steal it from us..."
The young pets exchanged glances with each other.
Jedder's face work a mask of confusion, but the young Techo girl's features
were etched more with concern. There were those who would go against them? Against
Kass? But... why!?
"...Those who would lead us to another war!"
A small gasp escaped from the lips of the young
girl. Who were those, who were they? They who were so hateful towards Kass and
his people they would dare take arms against them all?
"In the name of selfishness! In the name of
greed!" The Eyrie's voice started to rise to a near roar, and the Techo girl
hugged her doll even tighter against her chest. She drew comfort from the object
fashioned in the likeness to the actual creature that caused her fear.
"In the name of King Skarl!" he finished dramatically,
pausing to allow for the townspeople's reactions.
A large, silken red banner was suddenly unfurled.
It depicted the head of King Skarl, ruler of Meridell, a venomous expression
upon his face. His eyes were red, and carnivorous teeth jutted out of his mouth.
He seemed to be snarling, if it was possible for a picture to do so. He thrust
a pudgy finger out of the picture and towards the crowd below, and large, yellow
block letters clearly stated "I HATE YOU" below his unflattering portrait.
The little Techo gasped once more, grasping
the little toy even tighter. Immediately and instinctually, many in the crowd
felt their blood boil at the sight and words, their teeth clenched in venomous
anger. Of course! Skarl, that fat pompous bloke, of course that idiotic Skeith
would be the one to wage war on them again, wouldn't he?
But the Techo wasn't among those who instinctually
felt as such. She was young, and a spark of innocence still lived inside her,
a spark that had been snuffed out of most of the older pets. It was a small
spark, a tiny, dwindling fire that lessened in size with every speech and every
poster praising their leader. But hers still flickered, and so for a moment
she stood, suspended in childhood innocence, wondering. Confusion alighted itself
upon her. Why would Skarl attack them? And why did he look like that? He didn't
really have red eyes, huge teeth... he didn't look like the monster they painted
him to be. So why would they do that? Why would they claim he possessed this
false hate against them? It was too much for her small, jovial mind to handle.
She was young and doted upon trivial things. This was not of her concern. And
so she sat off to the side, admiring and playing with her little doll, as Jedder
tried to clamber his way through the crowd.
"I can't see! I can't see!" he exclaimed, much
to the irritation of the surrounding pets. Meanwhile, Kass continued.
"Are we going to let him wage war against us
"NO!" the crowd shouted back.
"Are we going to let him attack us!?"
The clink of chains. The little girl looked
from her toy. She was in the very back of the crowd, off in the street. In her
immediate line of vision she could see the legs of two purple Eyries. Her gaze
traveled up their forms, to reveal the stoic expressions worn upon their faces.
"Are we going to let him ruin everything we've
Her mouth opened in shock, and she gaped after
what was held suspended between the two Eyrie guards. Her eyes were wide with
disbelief and confusion. There was Galgarroth, the once trusted advisor of Lord
Darigan. He was a noble Grarrl, and yet now here he was, chained between two
of the citadel's guards. Metal and shackles kept him bound, a steel-constructed
muzzle trapping his mouth shut; the Grarrl could not have spoken if he wanted
to. He stood, stooped over, his back hunched. The old advisor's posture had
changed dramatically, as there had once been a time when he would have been
seen standing high and noble. What wrong had he committed to merit this treatment?
His sad red eyes were sympathetic. Sympathetic? Yes, that was it. They were
not filled with fear or sadness for his own fate, but they his gaze seemed to
indeed be filled with sympathy.
"Then I ask you, my people... I ask you..."
Sympathy for who? His own self? No, that would
be pity, and though that too was trapped with his eyes, it was not what dominated
his expression. She could only watch as the Eyrie guards brought their arms
back, and then rushed forwards, flinging the once trusted General over the side
of the Citadel, and for the first time, the little Techo girl felt herself doubt
in Kass's lordship. But no, she couldn't! How could she even dare think such
a thing? To doubt in Kass was to commit treason.
"... What should I do!?"
"Attack him first!"
"Show him who's boss!"
"The people have spoken!" bellowed Kass, "And
the will of the people must be obeyed!" He withdrew his sword, holding the shimmering
blade up into the air. The people cheered and yelled, praising their lord and
"Death to Skarl!"
"War it is!"
She was too young. She felt it and knew it,
and yet, despite her age, she felt she knew what it was she saw in the old Grarrl's
eyes. It was sympathy, yes, for the old advisor felt pity and remorse for the
citadel of Darigan, the citadel he once knew.