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Vexed by Vex: a Cellblock Interview


by guy_sebastian_crazy

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MERIDELL - Some days ago, while I was tapping my pen resolutely against my notepad and doing field work by staring out the window aimlessly at the fields of Meridell, I realised that no-one had interviewed Master Vex in a very long time. The evil warden of the Darigan Citadel? I hear you say. Why would anyone want to interview such an under-handed, spiteful and just plain mean Mynci? I would, generally because I was short on neopoints and my publicist was about to eat me. Never hire a Skeith.

As I made my trek to the Citadel, I reflected on the history of Vex. The warden who watched over the prison blocks of Darigan was the some-what celebrated inventor of Cellblock, the ever popular puzzle game. Or at least popular enough until he beat an unwitting player and stole their neopoints, in which case he is very lucky to have bars between himself and his players.

I banged on the Citadel doors and awaited an audience with the warden. When he arrived for the interview, he seemed agitated.

Me: Thanks for talking to me, Master Vex. It’s an honour to speak to you.

Vex: [rather nervously] Umm, yes, yes indeed. [looks at a guard, Haskol] Make sure that Barallus is watched closely.

Me: [opening notepad] Now, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about the game itself, then we’ll move onto the more personal questions...

Vex: [jumps slightly] PERSONAL questions?

Me: [desperate to keep Master Vex calm] Oh no! Just a couple of questions about how you got the job here and so forth, is that okay?

Vex: [visibly relaxes] It’s fine. What was your first question?

Me: Okay, here we go... my first question. How did you come up with Cellblock?

Vex: [stretches out like he’s been asked this before] Well, y’see during the last Meridell war, we didn’t exactly get a lot to do down here. We’d capture a couple of Neopians, throw ‘em in the dungeon and just leave them there. It was so boring.

So I was watching this tiny Kacheek we caught, see? And he was playing with a couple of coloured stones and lining them up. That’s when I had the brain wave. I grabbed Haskol’s old chess board and told the Kacheek that if he could beat me by lining up five of his coloured stones in a straight line before me, I’d let him go. Well, as you can imagine, the Kacheek tried and tried, but failed every time. He’d try every day and would keep failing.

So I issued a challenge to the prisoners; we’d start a tournament. Starting from Clop (he can’t even speak), if you could beat each prisoner, then the two guards and finally me, I’d let you go. So far, no-one’s done it.

Me: [flipping over the page] But the word spread that you had invented a new game...?

Vex: [nodding] Yes, word reached Lord Darigan. He said that I should open the tournament to non-prisoners for a fee. Those who lost would lose their points and fund the upkeep of the prison. Those who won would receive a pay-out from the Lord’s personal treasury.

Me: [arching an eyebrow] But haven’t non-prisoners beaten you?

Vex: [looking anxious] Umm, no, no they haven’t! Is that what they’ve been telling you? They’re lying! No-one has beaten me!

Me: Are you saying that if a prisoner ever beats you, you’ll set them free?

Vex: [sniggering] You honestly believe that?

Me: [looking back at her notes] Forget I asked that.

Vex: Indeed. Do you have any more questions?

Me: Yes, I do. I’d like to talk you about the prisoners.

Vex: [troubled] What about the prisoners?

Me: Oh, just general questions. Let’s start with Clop. You say he doesn’t speak?

Vex: [shaking his head] No. We’ve tried all the usual things; torture, starvation, hanging from the ceiling by his rear hooves. We even went the left field tactics and tried being nice to him. Nothing worked. All he does is bang his hooves on the floor for yes, no, I’m hungry and who knows what five and six bangs mean!

Me: And what about... [checks notes] Prisoner Number Five?

Vex: [laughing hard] What about that barmy old codger?

Me: Doesn’t he have a real name?

Vex: [shakes head] If he does, we don’t know it. He’s been in there for as long as I can remember. Always yelling crazy theories about this non-existent JELLY WORLD. Pfft, as if that was real.

Me: [leaning forward excitedly] You know, I have my own theories about that place...

Vex: [firmly] Next question.

Me: [slightly annoyed] Fine, then. [consults notes] Why do you still keep these prisoners locked up in the dungeon?

Vex: [shrugging] Lord Darigan’s orders. I suppose he’s got his reasons...

Me: [raising an eyebrow and shuffling notes] I see...

Vex: Shouldn’t we wrap this interview up soon?

Me: What? Oh, yes. I’m sorry. Of course. Could you tell our readers how you went about getting the job of prison warden?

Vex: [suspiciously] Why would they want to know that?

Me: Well, there are quite a number of unemployed pets out there who are looking for jobs and I thought that maybe Prison Warden or Prison Guard would be an up-market choice....

Vex: And why is that?

Me: [struggling to justify the statement] Well... er... Skeith or Grarrl owners would... oh never mind. The point is how would you go about getting this job?

Vex: [satisfied] Well, I got the job during the Meridell war. I signed up to work for Darigan and he needed a highly intelligent pet to run his prisons. Naturally I was the only choice, well, the only choice worth considering.

Me: So you just apply at the keep?

Vex: That’s the general consent, yes. Listen, is this nearly over? I have a prison to run, you know and there are people lining up to play Cellblock.

Me: Just two more questions, sir. The first is what happens to all the points that you win from the people who lose?

Vex: [irritably] I told you, it funds the upkeep of the prison.

Me: But the prison is falling apart...

Vex: [angrily] One more question! You’ve used enough of my time!

Me: Alright, here’s my last question... why is Barallus kept under such high security?

Vex: [leaping up] THAT’S IT! NO MORE! HASKOL! REMOVE THIS REPORTER AT ONCE!

While running for my life from the Citadel, I noticed a long line of eager players outside the doors to the prison. But I stand by what I said before.

NEVER hire a Skeith.

Author's notes: My first article finished! Hurrah! If you’re reading this, it means I was successful once again. Neomails accepted but guild invites are out. And Skeith owners can keep their comments silent and their pets away from my door.

 
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