The Sorceress and the Prisoner: Part One
The mist drifted lazily through Darigan Citadel, a permanent fixture for many years. It was a bleak, dark place, which promised destruction and evil at every corner. Looming over Meridell was this giant lump of rock, spiked and sandy in colour. In the middle was a large, glowing red crater. No one knew what was down there, and no one ever tried to find out. The most impressive part of this small area of floating land was the huge palace, grey and navy and threatening. Lord Darigan’s Chambers. Lord Darigan was indeed, as the name suggested, the ruler of this land, but little was known about him or anyone else that lived here. An oddly shaped arena for petpet battles had been built years back, but not many dared to participate. A small shop overcrowded with unsold toys stood next to the arena, and behind that was a village. The village was home to around a thousand of loyal Darigan “minions”. Not much was there to do, no, other than challenge the prison wardens in the dungeons, for the people of the village. Lord Darigan was always busy and rarely left his chambers; he was correcting the treachery that had taken place at least a decade before. This was all that was known of him. No one was permitted to enter the palace aside from himself and his guards, and important visitors.
The treachery was of his most faithful general, Kass. He had gone to war with Meridell, the town in which the citadel floated over. It was now a peaceful, prosperous town, while Darigan Citadel had gone to ruins after the war that they had lost. There had been two wars, and both were not favourable to Lord Darigan. He refused to talk about them now, insisting that the evil ways of what he used to admire were now gone and forgotten. This was believed by King Skarl, the King of Meridell, and there was a long awaited for truce between the two places.
The King who had stolen from him previously. Taken from Lord Darigan the precious magical orb that allowed his kingdom to flourish and prosper. The orb that had broken in half at the end of the war. Lord Darigan kept the halves as a reminder, and every day, he worked at a way to repair it.
Lord Darigan behaved like he was now good, but the humiliation of losing to a bumbling, grumpy old fool always pricked at the back of his neck like a constant reminder. What could have happened if they had won? The question swam through his mind often, even once a day. As more time went on, the less suspicious Darigan Citadel seemed of starting another war. Not that they were going to. At least, not as public as the other wars had been to start with. This would have to be secretive and sneaky, to get a head start. More guards had been trained over the years and he had an army of tens of thousands. Just incase he ever changed his mind about the truce.
The constant supervision of a certain knight always pushed his feelings towards a third war further. Once a month, without fail, Sir Borodere would visit the chambers at a random time and day. Even after ten or eleven years he still did this, and the assumed opinion that they would strike again angered Lord Darigan more than anything else.
As though the knight had read his thoughts, there was a loud knock on the door. Lord Darigan grumbled and quickly put away a few papers of important documents. A Darigan Grarrl poked his head around the door and was about to speak when the Lord snapped at him.
“Had I told you to enter?” He asked, scowling. “I hadn’t realised you were a mind reader.”
“Apologies, my Lord.” The Grarrl murmured. “Sir Borodere is at the front gate for his monthly visit.” A sneer crossed the guard’s face. “Why do you still entertain him with your presence, Lord?”
Lord Darigan waved an impatient hand at him. “Allow him to enter. You have no place to speak your opinion right now, even if you are my advisor.” As the guard turned to leave, however, Darigan whispered, “Our time will come, Galgarroth. Very soon.” The Grarrl did not make any inclination that he had heard what Darigan had said, and continued out of the room, but the sneer on his face quickly turned into a smirk.
Sir Borodere entered the room Galgarroth had left a few minutes later, dressed in full armour as usual with his arms folded. His sword was at his side but he carried no shield with him. He was a Blue Lupe, and with him was an air of confidence and heroism. That was what he was, after all – a hero. It was he and many others who had saved Meridell from its doomed fate, despite what
King Skarl had told reporters for the Neopian Times and Meridellians. Lord Darigan didn’t care for the Lupe, in fact never seeing him again would be far too soon, but he had grown to admire the way he didn’t show a shred of fear when he entered his chambers. Lord Darigan could, after all, defeat this knight in a flash if he wanted to, but it was Sir Borodere’s knowledge of knowing that if he did this there would be unspeakable consequences that kept him undeniably comfortable with his visits.
Now, he drew a chair and sat on it, whilst Lord Darigan sat behind the desk he worked at everyday. There was a moment of silence before Lord Darigan greeted him in a tired voice. “To what do I owe this pleasure, Sir Borodere?” He sighed, signing a piece of paper with his signature. “Surely you must tire of these repetitive visits aswell?”
Sir Borodere smiled knowingly. The greeting was relatively the same every month. “Now now, Lord Darigan, you know it is my duty to check up on you.” He gazed around the room. The walls were stone, the floor was stone, but the furniture was wood, and Lord Darigan’s chair was even made more comfortable with purple velvet on the seat. A hole in the wall let the moonlight in (the sun never appeared in Darigan Citadel, much to manys’ confusion).
“Has anything changed lately?” The question was asked in a light-hearted tone, but there was always a depth of seriousness in there.
The two of them had a strange relationship. They were courteous, there was no question of that, but it was clear neither of them liked the other. Lord Darigan behaved in a remarkably polite manner, but talked down to the Lupe at times, and the Lupe always spoke with a hint of suspicion. Both of them distrusted the other, but while Sir Borodere was as honest to Darigan as he was to King Skarl, Lord Darigan gave the same treatment, and he was not truthful to King Skarl at all. Sir Borodere was the only one who ever visited him. King Skarl had never actually set foot on Darigan Citadel, but they often conversed through Sir Borodere or letters. The letters were no longer frequent, however, and in fact the last had been at least four years ago. Lord Darigan had no doubt Sir Borodere reported everything said in these meetings to the king, though, and always carefully chose what he was going to say.
Now, he let out a low chuckle. “Do you truly expect me to answer that question with the reply you have wanted for so long?” He grinned, baring his sharp, yellowing teeth. Dental hygiene was not on Lord Darigan’s top ten of things to take care of.
“Wanted?” Sir Borodere echoed with a frown. “You misunderstand what I want, Lord Darigan. I don’t want another war. I want Darigan Citadel and Meridell to remain in a truce and pleasant to each other forever. I want the two areas to work together and even establish a common ground, and friendship. These visits are to bring about this connection, but nothing has ever been worked out from it.”
Lord Darigan held up a hand to stop his speech. “You assumed the answer I would never give to you as an honest reply was war.” He informed him, causing the knight to wince in realisation.
“Part of you wants the glory once more, Sir Borodere. You want to refresh your status as a hero. The King’s Champion. There is nothing wrong with that – everyone is selfish, after all. But while you crave this third war between us, I want to sustain our truce. That is the only reason I have allowed you into my chambers for this past decade.”
“No –” Sir Borodere was cut off once more.
“If it is war you want, Sir Borodere, you will have to search elsewhere for it. I do not relish in the thought of thousands of my soldiers dying for a useless cause.” Lord Darigan stood up and walked over to the door leading out of the cold room. “I think this concludes our meeting for this month. Goodnight.”
The knight rose from his seat but faced Lord Darigan, staring him in the eyes. “You have twisted my words, Lord Darigan. I will remain civil with you for the sake of Meridell. War is never the answer for anything. Remember that.” His words gave no reaction from Lord Darigan, who merely opened the door for the Lupe. “I hope there can come a day when we do work together. It is clear today is not that day.”
“It would appear not,” Lord Darigan replied dryly. “You know, you are a very good knight, Sir Borodere. Almost too good. But you have one flaw.”
“What would that be, Lord Darigan?”
“You’ll find out for yourself, one day. Now leave.”
After he had left, there was another knock on Lord Darigan’s door. The Lord called that they could come in, and Galgarroth opened the door, though did not enter the room. A malevolent expression was on his face. Lord Darigan groaned. “Two visits in one day, Galgarroth?” He inquired. “What is it now? I have to plan a few things.”
“I should hope one of those plans is our next invasion, Lord Darigan.” Galgarroth commented, stepping inside the room and closing the door behind himself. “None of what you said to Sir Borodere was true, was it?”
Lord Darigan frowned. “You may rank highly in terms of loyalty and combat skills, but it is not in your place to eavesdrop.” He said quietly. “Sometimes, you assume a higher place than you deserve. I hope you remember what happened to the last person who did that.”
Galgarroth nodded, knowing he had overstepped the mark slightly, but inside his head he simply admired Lord Darigan. Lord Darigan would destroy anyone on the spot if they double-crossed him now, and Galgarroth was hungry for another war, one they could win, and had trained himself beyond anyone else he knew, so that Lord Darigan could redeem himself from his humiliating loss all those years ago. He was second in command to Lord Darigan, his most powerful guard, but often hated the way he was spoken to, as if he was a mere minion to the Lord. “Of course, Lord Darigan. Excuse me.” He turned to leave, but Lord Darigan addressed him directly.
“Prepare the soldiers.” He murmured. “I will give the order once I have planned some more. Consider this a warning for impending war in the next six months. Maybe even six weeks, or six days. Train them like no one has been trained before.” He stared out into the night sky and admired the stars, as if they were sequins in a silk blanket to warm the world. “Sir Borodere is about to get what he has always wanted. If it is war he wants, it is war he gets. Only this time, he will not come out as the hero.”
Lord Darigan smiled as he drew up some strategies later that night. This time, it would all work out. “First, I need to find a weakness.” He muttered to himself. “There is his sister, but she has the annoying defence of her glasses. How will I get to her?”
To be continued…