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A People Deceived


by lockshensa

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"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...

      "Oof!"

      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 onto.

      "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 is speaking!"

      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 to that!

      "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 again!?"

      "NO!" the crowd shouted back.

      "Are we going to let him attack us!?"

      "NO!"

      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 built!?"

      "NO!"

      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!?"

      "War!"

      "Attack him first!"

      "Show him who's boss!"

      "WAR!"

      "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 his decision.

      "Death to Skarl!"

      "Yeah!"

      "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.

The End

 
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