DARIGAN - Few were surprised when war was announced last week. Like most,
I'd been following the plot in Meridell, wanting to know what evil person would
wish to wage war against such a peaceful place.
And then, just before the war was announced, we got part eight of the plot.
In this part, we learned that Meridell was once a diseased, dying land, until
King Skarl sent his soldiers to retrieve a magic orb, which would bring prosperity
to the land.
Basically, he stole the orb. And so when the floating citadel arrived, and
war was declared, I wasn't surprised. After all, when King Skarl's knights stole
the orb for Meridell, they were plunging another land into the same disaster
they were facing.
But there have already been articles on Skarl's agenda (see ''Meridell:
Shades of Grey" and ''King
Skarl - Good or Evil?" in week 66). I was curious about this Darigan
person. Where are his lands? What made his minions look so strange? Was it the
loss of the orb? Where did he get the orb from in the first place?
So I packed my bags and headed off to Meridell. My pets decided to stay at
home, voicing the opinion that I was likely to return in pieces. Loyalty is
Meridell, when I arrived, was definitely not the happy land I remembered from
previous visits. Some of the peasants had bars on their doors, and the few people
who visited the shops did so hurriedly, darting from place to place. The reason
for their unease was obvious: overhead was Darigan's citadel, blotting out the
sun and casting its shadow on the land.
I gulped, but decided to follow through with my plan. I headed into the hills
behind Illusen's Glade, past the camped Meridell army. Thankfully I was far
enough out of the way that no sentries noticed me and asked me what I was doing.
I don't know how I'd have explained it to them.
I was now presented with the problem of reaching Darigan's citadel. I craned
my neck upwards--it was directly above me, surrounded by black clouds.
I whirled around, to find myself staring at a large purple and black Skeith--one of Lord Darigan's shock troopers.
A greenish-brown Moehog emerged from behind the Skeith, fixing me with a distrusting
stare. ''What are you doing here?"
I clutched my notebook, realizing I must look ridiculous. ''Please--could
you take me to your leader?"
No, I don't know why I used those words either.
Both the Skeith and the Moehog stared at me. They turned away and conversed
in an unfamiliar tongue. I scribbled in my notebook, speaks a different language.
Finally the Skeith lumbered off, and the Moehog turned back to me. ''Come this
way." I followed him, now I'd dedicated myself to this.
One of the black clouds floating around the citadel detached itself, floating
down in front of the Moehog and I. The Moehog clambered on, and I reluctantly
followed him. The cloud lurched off the ground, which prompted me to curl into
the fetal position and whimper while the Moehog rolled its eyes.
The cloud made its ponderous way back up to the citadel. I stared at the dark
buildings, and at the tower looming over the floating town. It was to this tower
that the cloud went, while I was starting to seriously regret my decision.
About two feet from the tower's base, the Moehog jumped off the cloud. I was
about to do the same, when the cloud suddenly decided to follow natural laws
again, and I fell the last two feet to land painfully on my backside. The Moehog
snickered. Blushing angrily, I followed him as he led me through the doors of
the citadel and up a long, dark staircase.
The room at the top was dimly lit, with a ceiling that disappeared into the
gloom. Opposite the doorway was a desk and a large chair, turned away from us.
The Moehog bowed to the chair. ''Milord, there's someone here to see you."
''I told you I didn't want to be disturbed," said an annoyed voice from the
''Please, sir," I said tentatively, ''might I have just a few minutes of your
There was a pause. ''Why?"
''It's for The Neopian Times. A newspaper," I clarified.
The person in the chair sighed. ''Five minutes. That's all, and if you annoy
me I'll throw you off the tower."
Having come all this way, I was disappointed to be granted only five minutes,
but the threat was incentive enough to make it quick. Flipping my notebook open,
I asked, ''Sir, first of all, where are you from?"
''A land unknown to you, and I'd prefer to keep it that way. The last thing
I need is a lot of peasants tramping off to make things even more of a disaster."
''If you didn't want trouble, sir, why did you come here?"
''Because that blasted king of yours stole something very dear to my people,
and me" Lord Darigan growled.
''Sir, where did you get the orb from in the first place?"
Darigan sighed again. ''A powerful wizard made it when he was traveling through
my land. It remained there, and we were untroubled by famine or disease, until
Skarl," he spat the name, ''sent his knights to steal what was rightfully mine."
''But if you take it back, Meridell will starve," I pointed out.
''Skarl didn't seem to care that he was condemning my lands to plague and
disaster!" Darigan snapped. ''I'll take the orb back and Skarl can find some
way to survive. Maybe his faeries will help him, but I hope he'll starve."
''How did you get to know King Skarl in the first place, sir?"
''He's my enemy. I have to know all I can about him in order to defeat him.
I don't suppose you know anything about him, do you?"
''Uh, no sir. Only that he's king of Meridell."
Darigan growled in annoyance, and I backed away slightly, glancing behind me.
The Moehog had disappeared. ''Why don't your subjects look like regular Neopians?"
''Our country has been plagued with famine and disease since Skarl stole the
orb. Conditions like that are not productive for happy and cheerful coloring."
''What will you do if you regain the orb?"
''When, not if, I regain my orb, I will heal my lands and return to teach
Skarl the price of stealing from me."
I swallowed. ''Sir, if you were the one wronged here… why do you make your
citadel all black and evil looking?"
''Because I want the people of Meridell to be afraid of me. I want them to
be sorry for what they did."
''Since your, um, disagreement," somehow I thought he'd object to my calling
it a vendetta, ''is with King Skarl, why don't you try and, ah, talk it out?
Rather than wage war?"
There was the sound of a fist being slammed on the chair. I winced. ''Do you
think Skarl would just give up the orb if I went and asked him politely? No!
He doesn't care about lands beyond his borders."
Darigan growled. ''I'm not going to argue comparative morality with you. Go,
before I decided you're an annoyance to be gotten rid of."
I gulped. ''Thank you, sir," I squeaked, then darted to the door and fairly
fell down the stairs.
The cloud was there again when I got out, but the Moehog wasn't. I clambered
on, eager to get out of there.
The cloud seemed to have a grudge against me. This time it dropped me five
feet, and I landed flat on my back. I fled at top speed back to Meridell, and
hightailed it home from there. My pets were rather surprised to see me back
in one piece.
Author's Note: Thanks to Starhamster42 for the cloud transportation idea!
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