Memories of a Lord: Into the Plain of Darkness
The feeble sunlight, pale and shrouded, failed to pierce
the lingering fog atop the moors of Meridell. The grass, still slick with its
morning dew, glistened with the glow of the sun's weak light. Morning was atop
Meridell now, and the skies were at last clear of the night's darkness.
Dark shapes cast silhouettes upon Meridell's
plains, making the thickets and grass almost twinkle. Shadows from the shimmering
lights above Meridell's proudly-standing castle drew attention. By the dawn,
when all the farmers in Meri Acres, peasants scattered along the plain, and
regal Neopets living inside of the Meridell Castle had risen from their slumber,
they were able to read the message.
Upon the top of every hour, when the belltower
rings out the time, five Novas shall be released. Until the throne has been
renounced, and the revered Lord Kass has been claimed King of Meridell, the
land will not be spared from the Lord's attack. Surrender, or the citizens of
Meridell shall perish.
Lord Kass, the infamous master of the Citadel
soaring miles above the ground, promised destruction for the quiet country unless
the throne was renounced. The Dark Novas twinkled alongside the fading dawn
as they spelled out the message. Only then would the Eyrie call back his Nova
attacks, now firing down along the countryside upon the peak of each hour. Lord
Kass's ill repute was too much for the citizens to take this with ease; each
of them knew what he would do if the throne was surrendered and he was raised
as king. No matter the outcome, there would be no victory to be won for Meridell.
Where the emerald-winged Korbat lay, the wind
rippling the lengths of grass across Meridell's infinite plain could be seen.
The treetops swayed dangerously with the gusts, creaking and groaning as if
in pain under the pressure. A bough of one of the ancient redwoods bent under
the pressure, only to snap, soon falling in a thicket patch and crushing it.
That's Meridell if Kass isn't stopped, he thought to himself bitterly.
A Korbat, unattainable of flight and lacking strength enough to wield a sword,
was not going to save the country from the scourge. Even if he had once brought
war upon Meridell, nearly crushing it, as Lord Darigan. Which he didn't, or
so he tried to convince himself. This land was beyond saving now, but those
craftsmen continued to repair the castle's tower, as if thinking that would
save them. Nothing would.
"No," Shard said strongly, biting back at his
own dispirited thoughts. He turned his head north of the castle, toward the
twisted lands known as the Dark Plain. The land, tainted with the dark magic
of the Darigan Citadel, was bereft of all life. Jagged peaks and canyons of
stone consumed the land, formed with rock as dark as obsidian. The sky was ever-night
and covered with thick plumes of grey cloud. "I can go there and find a way
up to the Citadel." From there, he could stop Lord Kass. In secret, of course.
He'd have to give out as little information about himself as possible. He had
been all too open about himself with Valrigard and the Ixi duo. He would not
leave himself vulnerable again.
Getting to his feet, Shard held out his wings
to aid his balance. A Korbat who could not fly was a very unfortunate Korbat,
indeed. Taking an unsteady step forward, Shard began his journey into the Plain
A dry heat had consumed Meridell as Shard walked. The grass, once lush and
a healthy forest colour, was yellowing and only appearing in sparse tufts. Shard
doubted it was on the heat's account. The closer the Dark Plain was, the more
withered and life-deprived the terrain became. Only an hour had he been walking,
and already the life and luster were missing. An hour...
With a blinding flash and a distant explosion,
five bright lights shot from the Citadel, which had grown significantly in the
hour. The Korbat tilted up his head, watching as the five Novas spiraled from
the airborne castle's spire, raining down upon Meridell. The first, falling
out of its flight into tumbling plummet, landed somewhere in the depth of the
Dark Plain. Why Kass would attack his own domain was a guess for anybody. The
second Nova branched off from the other three to land off east of Meri Acres.
Dust rose from the trees that concealed the farmland. The final three soared
quite a distance before landing, creator an audible explosion and large craters
aside the Meridell Castle. Shard breathed a sigh of relief; minimal damage had
Turning his head away from the castle, Shard's
eyes caught a lone figure in the distance. The figure, with the stature of an
Ixi, was galloping across the parched ground towards him. He was clad in a dark
blue sheet over his face and the black garbs a Whinny stallion would wear. Taking
a step forward, Shard opened his mouth to ask something of the Ixi, but stopped
short. The figure was gaining ground, and showed no signs of slowing his run.
Shard cried out as he threw himself out of the
Ixi's path, breaking off into a roll. The Ixi dug his hoof into the ground,
skidding across to a full stop. He made a couple of bounds in the air, kicking
its limbs, before charging after Shard again. "Hold o--" The Korbat's plea went
unheard, for he only had the split of a second to roll out of the Ixi's path.
Pulling himself to his feet, Shard stared straight
at the Ixi, awaiting his next attack. The Ixi, however, paused; he reached into
his garments, retrieving a long scroll. He rose the scroll above his head and
spouted some foreign words. A torrent of orange and red flames burst forth from
the parchment, cascading through the air at Shard. He held up his wings over
his face for defense, still feeling every mite of heat the fire possessed.
The Ixi dug his forelegs into the ground, preparing
to attack again. Shard flung his body across the distance separating them, latching
his arms around the battle garments. The Ixi's foreleg rose again, holdings
the scroll in its clutch. Shard wrapped his wings around the arm, struggling
to pull it down. More bursts fire were sent forth, creating pyres across the
plain as the two struggled over the parchment. The Ixi struggled to pushed Shard
aside, but he only countered with digging his legs into the tufts of grass even
harder. His foot slipped, sliding across the hem of the Ixi's garments. The
two fell to the ground, the garbs of Shard's foe tearing down his back. The
Ixi's face, youthful with a lustrous green pelt, was revealed.
"Evrit!" Shard exclaimed, memories of the young
Ixi rising. Shard had awakened in the house of the Ixi, where his mother had
taken care of him during his slumber. The Korbat had eavesdropped upon a conversation
between the Ixi's mother and Lord Kass, discovering his own identity, only to
deny it. He had fled before he could be turned in. "What are you doing here?"
Evrit's eyes squinted tight in glee and a giggle
of laughter followed. "I'm patrolling the border between Meridell and the Dark
Plain! Hah, with the pillowcase over my head, it looked as if your skin was
all blue and warty!" His head was bent with laughter, though Shard was far from
doing so. "So," the green-pelted Ixi began, "you're heading to the Dark Plain?
Can I come? Please? I could help you beat all of the guards and defeat Lord
Kass and we could go on an adventure and save Meridell and then we'll become
heros and everyone wi--"
"No," Shard said firmly. "No, Evrit. You will
not follow me to the Citadel. Go home. Rosella will be waiting there for you."
At that, the Ixi's ears drooped, and the corners
of his mouth turned down. "No, she won't be there. She's not at home. A couple
of days ago, Lord Kass came to our house to collect more taxes from her. He
really meant it when he said she shouldn't yell at him. I was getting water
from the well, and when I came back, I saw his monsters far away carrying her
A pang of guilt caught Shard in the chest. It
certainly wasn't a wonder why Evrit wanted to do battle with Kass's subordinates.
"So," Evrit said, layering back on the cheerful
veneer, "I wanted to ask you, but you left. When I got back, my mother refused
to tell me who you were. Who are you, Korbat?"
Shard hid his would-be wince. So much for his
secrecy plan. "Okay, Evrit. I'll tell you. My name is Lord Darigan. At least
I think I am, because that would explain so much... but... no!" He clawed at
the sides of his head, wincing with frustration. Too much ambiguity. "I don't
know who I am. Just call me Shard. Kass has to be stopped, Evrit. I'm going
to the Dark Plane right now, and somehow I'm going to get up to the Citadel
and defeat Kass." Evrit's eyes lit and his mouth opened with awe. "No, Evrit.
I can barely hold my own let alone keep you safe. Please... just stay here."
"But you won't have to worry about yourself
so much, Shard! I can help protect you. It's not like I haven't before," the
Ixi said, running his hoof along the edge of the scroll upon the ground. And
like a rush, Shard recalled the night before, when the throng of Meridellians
had charged at Shard, only to be kept at bay by a blinding light and a flash
of some sort of energy.
"That was...?" Shard let his sentence roll of
as Evrit let out a gleeful guffaw. "Okay. Hold your own, and you can come. Be
careful. The Dark Plane is as safe as a marrow in the jowl of the king, with
as deft of a demise and surety of being crushed." Blinking, Shard tried to remember
where the quote had come from. It felt as though he had said it many times over,
yet couldn't recall saying it once, or even who the king of Meridell was.
Casting aside his inquiries, Shard trudged across
the stone-strewn ground, Evrit gamboling after him. If he can keep his mind
on this, Shard thought, he'll might be able to be of some good. Evrit
stepped aside to stick his snout in a wilting starflower. If...
After a quarter of an hour, the landscape had
changed dramatically. All life was soon gone, including the wilted grass and
lifeless trees. Darkness had overcome the sky, along with a many clouds, each
grey and swirling above the stone summits.
Evrit's attitude had soon changed since their
entrance. His jovial laughter and good-spirited comments died away, only to
be replaced by timid curiosity. He watched with tremulous eyes as the two walked
passed a suit of silver armour, tarnished, now let to rust. What remained of
its former owner was unseen - Thankfully, Shard though, raising a brow
in Evrit's direction -- but it could be supposed that it was a remnant from
the first war, when Shard had attacked on Meridell.
Lord Darigan, the Korbat corrected himself absentmindedly.
"They see the armour..." whispered a voice from
the shadows, cast by a stone hillock. "The green one is scared. He sees the
armour, and fears for his mother... the white one, the one who has committed
terrible deeds. That one, bringing war on my homeland..."
The whispers stopped. Whoever had been speaking
seemed to notice both Evrit and Shard casting stares around to see who had been
"Shard," the Ixi whispered, the quaver in his
voice obvious, "who's talking?"
Before an answer could be given, out from the
shadows walked a Draik, scaled blue with scarlet eyes. "Shard!" the Draik exclaimed,
a large smile appearing on his face. "It's you! I haven't seen you in such a
"Valrigard," Shard muttered. "If I recall correctly,
it has been but hours, and you abandoned me to the mercy of the disgruntled
Valrigard, not the least bit taken aback, let
out a boisterous laugh that was much unlike himself. The Draik had acted quite
mysterious back in the dungeon of Meridell Castle, saying things that had sent
shivers down the Korbat's spine. "Oh, we can focus on the past, or we can look
towards the future! You and your accomplice will not want to miss the chance
of reaching the Citadel, would you?" As if to answer the question Shard was
about to ask, the Draik added, "Why else would you possibly be in such a place?
I could help you. I could fly you up to the Citadel, grant you access to a place
that'd be otherwise forbidden."
Shard eyed the Neopet suspiciously. The pet
could not be trusted, for more than one reason, but it seemed that he had few
other options. "What's in it for you?"
"It's quite obvious, isn't it? Kass will be
defeated, and the land I protected as the general of the Meridell army will
"You made it sound as if you were a soldier,
before, Valrigard. Not a general."
Valrigard belted out another guffaw, one that
seemed to echo throughout the wasteland. "Of course! But with the Eyrie defeated,
who can say what this will mean for Meridell?"
Evrit pulled Shard back towards a cliff wall,
though Valrigard did not seem to mind. In fact, he did not seem to notice. He
was sniffing the air as if he detected someone unpleasant in the Dark Plain.
"Are you going to let him help us?" Evrit whispered
hoarsely. "He was whispering weird things before."
"It's odd, Evrit. This entire situation." Shard
cast his gaze upon the Draik. "He seems so different than the Draik I met in
Meridell, but... it was obvious that something wasn't right with his mind. I
don't think he'll try to hurt us, even if his motivation isn't quite obvious.
His muttering in the darkness certainly wasn't easing, I know, but I still don't
think Valrigard is any harm. And with our lack of other choices, I'm afraid
we'll have to trust him, Evrit."
The Ixi nodded hesitantly, and stepped forward
with Shard to the Draik, who turned his head to them. "Okay, Valrigard. You
can help fly us to the Citadel. I'm warning you, though. If you repeat what
you did back in Meridell, then you'll not escape from me again."
Without saying anything, the Draik nodded his
head, an excited smile appearing on it. After Shard and Evrit had taken several
steps forward each, Valrigard took up shuffling after them, only bothering to
gain any ground after the two had vanished behind another stone ridge.