In which gruel is served, Cellblock is played, and someone orchestrates an elaborate escape.
Master Vex woke up in a dingy dungeon room, just down the hall from many other dingy dungeon rooms, on a bright and sunny day. A bright and sunny day which meant nothing to any of the inhabitants of the lowest level of Darigan Citadel, because windows to the outside world were nothing more than whispered remembrances to most within. Even to Vex, because after all, guarding the dungeons was a full time job.
At least the door to his particular dingy dungeon room opened from the inside.
A quick morning meeting with Galgarrath and several of the other guards revealed that no prisoners had escaped during the night. Nobody so much as shook a cell door. Just like the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that.
It was more interesting, he mused, back when they got new prisoners more often. The ones locked up now had been there for years. They had long since given up their desperate proclamations of innocence and their fantasies of escape.
And so he went on with his day, which was just like every other day. He ordered his scrumptious breakfast down from the Citadel kitchens and made sure to eat within full view of some of the cells and their inhabitants. He made sure the prisoners received the most horrid looking gruel the kitchens could find and had it specially shoveled in during his breakfast, as well.
After breakfast, he made a point to discuss his various new plans involving painful prisoner treatments with his guards. Loudly. Loud enough for everyone in the dungeon to hear.
Mid-morning, he marched up and down the dungeon halls, taking extra care to look especially menacing. He made sure his shoulder armor was polished well enough to reflect the torch light harshly into prisoner eyes. His boots were specially soled to click ominously as he walked, causing the sound of heavy footsteps to echo off the walls. And of course, he walked just fast enough that his cape billowed dramatically behind him, just for some extra flair.
After lunch, which really was just the same as breakfast what with the lack of windows and all, Vex began his favorite activity of the day: Cellblock.
Surprisingly, none of his prisoners were as excited by the prospect. Vex was not sure why, as he was perfectly serious about granting their freedom should they beat him in a game. There were just perks to having made up all the rules, after all.
"Look, Clop, are you even trying here?" Vex despaired not five minutes after sitting down with the odd Moehog. Five minutes in which he already won seven games.
CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP.
"You know that nobody knows what four clops means, right?"
"Oh, now you're just being snarky."
Vex shot his prisoner a glare through the bars, packed up the game, and moved on to the next cell.
"Afternoon, Barallus, how's it hanging?"
And the bug-eyed Korbat, who was indeed hanging upside down from the ceiling, shook and rattled his chains.
"Excellent. Shall we?" Vex gestured at the Cellblock board.
A short while later, after Barallus had knocked a good portion of the pieces to the floor from trying to place them with his tail, Vex was fighting a persistent twitch in his left eye.
"Alright, I think that's enough for today, mm?"
Barallus shook his chains again.
Vex seriously contemplated unlocking him from the ceiling just for the possibility of an actual game. Except, Lord Darigan had specifically requested that Barallus receive this particular treatment and none of the guards, even Vex, knew why.
Looking into the crazed eyes of his prisoner, Vex suddenly felt less safe even on the other side of the bars. He picked up the pieces and left as quickly as he could while still making sure his cape billowed appropriately behind him.
Vex squinted into the darkness of the back corner of the next cell.
"Meekel?" he called.
He heard a soft whimper in response.
Vex sighed. "Meekel, fancy a game of Cellblock?"
This time he got more of a slight wail.
"There are no Skeith guards here, Meekel. Just me."
A louder wail.
"Why do I even bother?" Vex wondered to himself, and left the petrified Squire Meekel crying in his cell.
He walked past the next cell without a glance. He had personally released the Yellow Knight from the dungeon during the war, and nobody has taken up residence here ever since. That particular act did not win him any points with Lord Darigan at the time, though he more than made up for it by opposing that mad eyrie Kass and he got to keep his job after all.
He almost wished he hadn't.
In the last cell, Vex checked on the old Lupe prisoner to make sure he was still alive and kicking. He had not heard any crazy shouting from him in over two hours. Maybe even insane prisoners could grow bored of this place.
"Well prisoner five, any chance you want to tell me your name today?" Vex asked. It was a long standing mystery in the dungeons. None of the current guard staff had been around when this inmate was incarcerated, and their predecessors did not seem to think he would last long enough in a cell to warrant decent records.
"Eheheheheeeee..." The mad Lupe cackled a bit to himself and banged his walking stick against the wall. It was a bit too short to be a proper walking stick, but it wouldn't do to hand the prisoners a potential weapon.
And it was not like he had anywhere to walk to, anyway.
"I didn't think so." Vex sighed. "How about a nice game of Cellblock, then?"
He got a nice percussive symphony on the cell bars in response.
When his ears finally stopped ringing, Vex began setting up the game board. "I will take that as a yes," he said.
"Eeehehe... hehehe..." Prisoner Five shuffled closer and sat down.
Half a game later, Vex paused and squinted down at the board.
"Are you trying to draw a flower with your pieces?" He asked in disbelief.
The Lupe just stood up and banged on the bars again, this time coupled with some howling, too.
A little less than amused, Vex packed up the game and went to coordinate dinner and the extinguishing of the torches for the night.
The next morning, he had a brilliant idea.
"Ok Barallus, if anyone asks, it was me." With that, he released the chains which bound the prisoner with a loud click.
Immediately, the Korbat took flight and opened his mouth in a silent screech.
Or at least, it was silent to most of the inhabitants of Darigan Citadel, anyway.
Later that afternoon, after the situation was... taken care of, Vex found himself standing in front of Lord Darigan.
"Well, well, what do you have to say for yourself?" Darigan asked with a raised eyebrow.
Vex thought the Korbat ruler did not look nearly as intimidating when he clearly was nursing a headache from the supersonic screeching of the prisoner this morning.
He struggled to keep his face neutral as he replied, "I am not sure what you mean, my lord."
Lord Darigan looked faintly annoyed, though mostly he just looked like he wanted to crawl back into bed.
"Very well then. In light of current... events, you will be placed on suspension for two weeks."
Vex did his best to paste a contrite look on his face, and he hoped it looked somewhat real. "I... understand, my lord. I will not fail you again." He bowed to hide his face as a triumphant grin threatened to break through.
Lord Darigan waved dismissively in his direction. "Yes, yes, see that you do not. You are dismissed."
Vex made a hasty retreat, head still down.
As he left the Citadel through the front doors and soaked in the fresh air and sunshine for the first time in years, Vex allowed himself a smirk.
He heard Mystery Island was nice this time of year.