Lord Darigan stared up at the sky, thinking about the Usul child he had come
to love, Sally. It must be hard for her, to grow up in the midst of all these
wars. He could remember his own childhood as though it was just yesterday…
* * *
It was a beautiful day in Neopia. Some young Neopets
were playing ball. To their dismay, a red Grarrl hit the ball too hard, and
it sailed into a thorny patch. After groaning, they drew straws, and a blue
Korbat went to retrieve it.
A large, green Korbat flew down to
where the children waited.
“Excuse me, but have you seen my
son today? I need to talk to him.”
Most bowed, recognizing their lord,
and then a purple Mynci answered, “Yep—he’s playing with us.”
“He’s getting the ball,” added the
“He got the short straw,” explained
a green Peophin.
There was a rustling noise, and the
Korbat emerged from the plants. His clothing and skin were slightly cut, but
he was grinning and holding the ball. He stopped smiling when he saw his father
“Darigan!” cried his father.
“You’re the heir to the throne! You just shouldn’t do things like that!”
“Now come on. I have to talk to
Darigan waved apologetically to
his friends, and followed his father back to the castle.
When they got inside, they went
to a large room. They sat down at the table, and the big Korbat sighed.
“Normally I’d talk to you about
what you can and can’t do, but we might not have time. You see, I got a letter
from my brother, Harold. Your cousin is coming to stay with us for a while,
possibly a long while.”
Darigan looked up, startled. “Um…
Dad? Uncle Harold and Aunt Lisa don’t have kids…”
“They adopted a little Eyrie just
this month, but they’ve been so busy, they’ve been having trouble giving him
attention, which is why he’s coming. He’s about your age. My brother says that
he’s the most perfect little boy, unlike you. Maybe he’ll knock some sense into
you. He said he has a wonderful sense of his position, and is not at all the
sort that would crawl around in thorns! Anyway, I want you to be nice to him,
like your mother would, and make him feel at home. I must warn you, Harold also
described him as ‘a little eccentric’ and said that he ‘has a bizarre sense
of humor,’ but then again, he also described your friend, Vex, as psychopathic,
so I wouldn’t worry.”
“So, is there any special reason
as to why he’s coming here instead of to any of our other relatives’
“He said that the kid had been begging
for days to see the castle. It’s some sort of obsession with him—power in general.
Now don’t go getting any wild ideas, Darigan. I know you’re not particularly
thrilled with being royalty, but you can’t give the throne to your cousin!”
Darigan sighed. “Okay.”
From the other side of the door,
a voice called, “Uncle Garwin?”
Lord Garwin, Darigan’s father, cried,
“That’s him! Quick, Darigan, get on an outfit that isn’t torn! And comb your
fur! Try to look presentable!”
Rolling his eyes, Darigan obeyed.
When he returned, his father opened the door.
A fire Eyrie trotted in and looked
around. He had two small braids near the top of his head, and every feather
looked like it had been waxed.
“I’m here!” he announced, in case
they hadn’t noticed.
Lord Garwin smiled. “ You’re every
bit as handsome as Harold said you were, Casey.”
He blinked. “Uh… my name’s not Casey.”
Darigan walked up to him. “Don’t
mind him; he has trouble with unfamiliar names. I’m Darigan.”
The Eyrie studied him, and then
he said, “Hello, Darigan. My name’s Kass.”
* * *
Shortly after Kass’s arrival, Darigan was showing him around the castle.
“This is the armory. Erm… I guess
there’s not much to say about—”
“Why don’t you like being royalty?”
interjected Kass suddenly. “At least, I hear you don’t. I think it would be
“But Dad thinks that I shouldn’t
do things that might get me dirty or something like that. I can play with my
friends, but I somehow should stay clean. It’s in ways like that that I get
singled out because of who I am. So I don’t really like it.”
“Yeah… but… have you ever felt like
throwing someone off a cliff?”
Darigan stared at him. He stared
at him for a long time. Finally he said, “Uh, no.”
“Ordinary people can’t do things
like that. But rulers can!”
“Maybe, but only a tyrant would actually
do it! You think about pushing Neopets off cliffs?”
“Only once or twice, like when I
get really mad. Hey, if you don’t want to rule, I’ll gladly take your place!”
Darigan shook his head quickly. “I’m
not allowed.” He avoided indicating that now he was afraid of what might happen
if he put his cousin on the throne. “Anyway, do you want to meet my friends?”
As they walked out, he warned, “They
might find you odd and vice-versa.”
Once outside, he looked around, concluded
that his friends had gone home, and went over to one house. He knocked on the
A purple Mynci answered it. “Hi Darigan!
Who’s your friend?”
“Hi Vex. This is my adopted cousin,
Kass. Kass, this is Vex.”
“Nice to meet you, Kass.”
Just as Darigan was confident that
his cousin wasn’t going to say anything strange, the Eyrie asked, “Are you a
duke or something?”
Vex gave him an odd look. “No…”
“Well then, what are you?”
“Nothing yet, but I’m going to be
the next warden!”
Kass didn’t look very interested.
Darigan jumped in. “Vex, why don’t
we go find our other friends?”
He agreed, and they went to another
Before he even knocked, a red Grarrl
opened the door. “Never, ever, EVER invite Haskol to your house!” was his greeting.
A purple Skeith appeared in the doorway
behind him. “Sorry for breaking the wall. Ridella made me mad.”
Kass stared at them as though they
were particularly colorless rocks.
“That’s Galgarrath and that’s Haskol,”
said Darigan. “Guys, this is my adopted cousin, Kass.”
“Are any of you going to be important
when you grow up?” asked Kass.
Haskol grunted. “I’d like to be a
guard. They’re important. Without guards, prisoners could escape and enemies
could invade! What about you?”
“Hopefully, I’ll be the best.”
Galgarrath rolled his eyes. “You
want to be ‘the best’? That’s got to be the lamest thing I’ve ever heard!”
“You’re destined to be the next court
jester, aren’t you?” asked Kass.
“This,” a new voice interrupted,
“is the saddest argument I’ve ever seen!”
A green Peophin called Ridella was
standing in the doorway and shaking her head.
Glad for an opportunity to change
the subject, Darigan said, “This is Ridella. Ridella, this is my adopted cousin,
Before Kass could make another one
of his comments, a small voice cut in.
“Could anyone tell me where the castle
A nervous looking brown Aisha, with
golden hair walked towards them.
“Don’t talk to her,” advised Kass.
“She looks like some kind of unimportant peasant.”
Ignoring him, Darigan said, “The
castle’s over there. Are you okay?”
“I’m scared. My parents sent me here,
and I don’t know how to act in front of lords! Nobles are scary!”
Trying to hide a smile, Darigan suggested,
“We could come with you.”
She smiled. “Thank you! That would
Kass jumped in. “Well tough, because—Hey!”
he cried indignantly, as he saw Darigan, Vex, Galgarrath, Haskol, and Ridella
all march off with her.
On the way, they introduced themselves.
The Aisha’s name was Tara.
They went as a group to the throne
room, where Lord Garwin sat.
He blinked as they bowed. “Err… oh!
The little Aisha’s here!”
Tara smiled nervously.
Vex whispered to Darigan, “Is she
another crazy relative?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “And
Kass is just a little odd, not crazy.”
“That’s the understatement of the
year,” muttered his often grumpy friend,
Lord Garwin said, “Tara is a dancer.
She’s also some sort of mage, or so I hear.”
Tara nodded. “Yes, I suppose I am
Garwin smiled. “Isn’t that wonderful,
Darigan?” To Tara he added, “He’s my son.”
Tara glared accusingly at Darigan
for not telling her, when Kass walked in.
After glaring at everyone, he walked
over to her. “So, I think I heard them say you’re a mage. What do you do?”
She trembled. “Hypnosis,” she whispered,
Before Kass could say any more, Ridella
pulled Tara away.
“Your dream is to become an interrogator,
isn’t it, Kass?” she asked.
“He wants to be ‘the best,’” mocked
Kass’s feathers puffed out, and he
let out an angry screech.
“If you’re going to fight, go outside!”
exclaimed Lord Garwin.
Kass flounced out, grabbing Darigan’s
arm and pulling him along.
Darigan looked at his friends and
Once they were outside, the Eyrie
asked, “Why are they your friends?”
“Why not? They’re all fairly nice
“But you are the heir to the throne!
You’re way superior to them, just like me.”
Darigan looked at him like he was
crazy. “I don’t care! There’s nothing wrong with our friendship!”
“What about that Haskol guy? He’s
a huge, ugly Skeith!”
“I don’t care if he’s a talking rock!
Haskol is my friend, just like Vex, Galgarrath, Ridella, and Tara. And you,
“If I were the future lord,
I’d never be friends with them! Maybe the mage, but—”
Darigan couldn’t take it anymore.
“Well you’re not the future lord, are you?! You never will be!” He was a little
surprised when he shouted that.
A day ago, if someone had told him
that he had a cousin that wanted to rule, he would have happily let him rule.
Now, however, after talking to him, a part of him was determined to keep Kass
away from power.
Vex and the others peeked outside,
wondering if the argument was over.
Suddenly, a flickering light caught
Darigan’s eye. He turned to look. It was coming from the forest.
He frowned. “What the…” Then he realized.
“The forest is on fire!”
Kass temporarily forgot about the
fight, and the cousins raced towards the blazing forest, with Darigan’s friends
To be continued…