Escape from the Darigan Citadel!
It was an ordinary day like any other. Bittles the Blue Cybunny was out foraging in the forests near Meridell, when he saw his friend Lou the Green Blumaroo. Lou is a fun loving and loyal pet. However, he is not the sharpest tool in the shed, if you know what I mean. Anyway, Lou had some exciting news.
“Guess what!” exclaimed Lou.
“You’ve decided to join the circus and become the bounciest Blumaroo ever!” Bittles replied with a bit of sarcasm.
“No, silly Cybunny! I was in the outskirts of town making a trade with a Darigan Korbat. He told me to go to the Darigan Citadel if I wanted to make some real neopoints. So I went, and they have a list you can sign. When you sign your name to the list, you get 10,000 neopoints on the spot!”
“Okay, what does this have to do with me?” inquired Bittles.
Lou explained, “I want us to get rich together! Besides, this is FREE neopoints!”
Bittles chided him, saying, “There is no such thing as free neopoints. They probably want something big in return. I would rather earn my neopoints honestly. You should do the same.”
“But, this is REAL. All you have to do is sign your name to a sheet of paper, and they give you the neopoints!” Lou seemed to have his heart set on going to the Darigan Citadel.
Bittles finally gave in. “Alright, I’ll go with you, but only to make sure you don’t do anything stupid.” Bittles and Lou headed towards the floating citadel.
As they approached, Bittles got a strange nervous feeling. Unfortunately, Lou had jetted way ahead of him when he saw the city. Bittles couldn’t just leave Lou. Once they entered the city, Bittles noticed that the locals were not normal Neopets. They were creepy looking and they all scowled at the two friends as they passed. The buildings were tall and dark. There were lots of side streets. It would be easy to get lost here.
“Lou, I think we should head back home now,” quivered Bittles as he looked around.
“We’re almost there!” exclaimed Lou.
Finally, they could see a sign that said, “Sign up HERE! 10,000 NP!” Getting closer, Bittles could see that there was an old, grey Korbat dressed in ratty clothes sitting at a small table, and there were two Darigan Skeith soldiers guarding a door just behind the table. Lou was the first to reach the table.
Cheerfully, Lou asked, “I’d like 10,000 neopoints please!”
The old Korbat answered in a crackly, hoarse voice, “Sure thing. Just sign right here and walk through that door.” He pointed towards the door with the two menacing soldiers. Bittles grabbed Lou’s arm and pulled him aside.
“We shouldn’t be here. There is something bad behind that door. I know it,” Bittles whispered in a frightened voice.
Lou replied, “You heard the old man. All we have to do is sign our names and we get our neopoints!” Lou jerked away. He walked up to the table and signed his name.
“Right this way,” said the first soldier. The second soldier held open the door. Bittles tried to run after him, but the second soldier slammed the door shut.
“Let me in! I have to get my friend!” shouted Bittles.
“You must sign your name here if you want to save your friend,” said the old Korbat.
“Save my friend!?” Bittles thought to himself, “What does that mean?”
Bittles decided to forget it and sign the paper. After signing his name, the second soldier opened the door and ushered him inside. Once Bittles was inside, the door slammed shut. There was a dark, narrow corridor ahead lit by only a few lanterns on the walls.
“Hello? Lou? Is anyone there?” There was no answer, just echoes. Bittles made his way down the corridor. He noticed old wooden doors locked shut and old portraits on the walls. When he came to the end of the corridor, there were two staircases. The one to his left was pitch black and went down. The one to his right went up and was lit from above. He chose the one on his right. Finally, Bittles reached the top of the staircase. There were two more Darigan Skeith soldiers. One had Lou on a chain. They were talking about how the warden likes to play “games” with the prisoners.
“Oh no,” thought Bittles. “What will happen to Lou?”
Suddenly, Bittles had the urge to sneeze. He tried to hold it in, but he couldn’t. Achoo! The soldiers whipped around and seized him. They brought both Bittles and Lou back down the stairs and down the dark staircase. The soldiers tied them to the wall with chains and closed the cell door. Bittles could hear them laughing as they walked away.
“I’m scared, Bittles,” cried Lou.
Bittles replied in a stern voice, “Well, it’s your fault we’re here. If you hadn’t wanted free neopoints so bad... wait... What’s that?”
Lou listened carefully, but he couldn’t hear anything. “What are you talking about? I can’t hear anything. You’re the one with the super hearing. You’re a Cybunny, remember!” Then, although very faintly, Lou could hear small whimpers coming from the dark corner of the room.
Softly, Bittles inquired, “Who’s there? Come out. We won’t hurt you.” Slowly, a tiny grey snowbunny appeared from the darkness. She was shivering and crying.
“What’s your name? And, What are you doing down here?”
The grey snowbunny replied in a meek voice, “My owner was greedy and signed his name to that list, and now he’s serving in the Darigan army because he lost... well, um, I don’t have a name because I need a new owner to play with me and give me a name.” Lou and Bittles were quite taken aback by the fact that such a tiny grey snowbunny could survive in this cell.
Then, out of the corner came a very old, very insane Lupe shouting insanities and what-not. The only decipherable thing he said was that they called him “Number Five.” He kept banging his stick against the wall and yelling something about “Jelly World.”
“I’m glad they keep this madman locked away,” Bittles whispered. Lou nodded in agreement.
Suddenly, the cell door slammed open.
“You two!” shouted the Darigan Skeith guard. “The warden wants to see you.” So, Bittles grabbed Lou’s hand. Following close behind was the grey snowbunny.
“Stay close,” whispered Bittles. The guard led them upstairs to the warden’s chambers. After knocking, the guard opened the door and ushered the three inside.
There were not many decorations, just a large desk and chair. In the chair sat a Darigan Mynci with a scar near his right eye.
“I am Master Vex. Lord Darigan himself put me in charge of the prisoners here at the Darigan Citadel. It gets quite boring down here in the dungeons. Thus, I created a wonderful new game called Cellblock. But, I have grown bored with winning against the prisoners. I need a challenge. That is why I started offering 10,000 neopoints to anyone who can win a game against me. However, I have yet to lose a game.”
Bittles replied, “Well, we don’t want the neopoints anymore.” Then, turning to Lou, he said, “Let’s get out of here.”
Master Vex cackled menacingly. “You can’t leave. You must play me. If you win, I’ll give you 10,000 neopoints. But, if I win, you must serve in the Darigan army until Lord Darigan releases you. And, believe me; he doesn’t do that very often.”
“We never agreed to that.”
“Oh, but I’m afraid you did.”
Bittles and Lou looked puzzled.
“When you signed your name to that list, it was a contract saying that anyone who signs agrees to the terms I just gave you.”
“Well, I don’t know how to play Cellblock. It would be an unfair match,” remarked Bittles.
Excitedly, Lou bounced up and down exclaiming, “Oh, oh! I know how! I know how! My owner plays all the time, and I watch.”
Then, Bittles had an idea. “Wait. Let Lou play for both of us. We’ll go for double or nothing.” Turning to Lou, he whispered, “I trust you.”
Master Vex agreed, “I like the sounds of that. Double or nothing.”
With that, Master Vex set up the board and gave Lou his pieces. He let Lou go first. Move after move, the players began to sweat. It was a very intense game. Then, as if he had been struck by lightning, Master Vex realized he was trapped. No matter where he put his next piece, Lou was going to get 5-in-a-row and win.
“What!? No! How did this happen? I am the master at this game. No one has ever beaten me.” Master Vex started to rant and rave.
“Tell you what,” offered Bittles, “we won’t make you give us the neopoints if you just let us go home.” Lou gave Bittles an upset look.
“No, no. That’s alright. You won fair and square. Here, you each get 10,000 neopoints.” Master Vex opened a drawer in his desk and handed them each a very large bag of neopoints. “You better leave now before I change my mind.”
Bittles and Lou wasted no time. They grabbed the grey snowbunny and ran home as fast as they could. Finally, they had escaped from that awful place.
“Thank you for rescuing me,” said the grey snowbunny.
“We couldn’t just leave you there. Now, what should we call you? Ah, I know. How about Mr. Dust? I mean you do look like a dust bunny,” Bittles said with a smile.
“I like it!” replied the grey snowbunny.
Bittles turned to Lou. “Now Lou, have you learned your lesson?”
Lou replied with enthusiasm, “Yes, I have. Always watch your owner when they play games. You never know when you’ll have to save yourself from the Darigan army.”
Bittles shook his head. “Not what I was going for, but you’re not the brightest crayon in the box. You should have learned that anything worthwhile is worth working hard for.”
The next day, Bittles and Mr. Dust were out for a stroll to enjoy the nice weather. Then, Lou came bouncing up, as usual.
He was so excited. “Guess what! I found a way to get free jelly! That Number Five prisoner told me of this place called Jelly World and...”
“That’s enough out of you,” Bittles interrupted. “Now you’re beginning to sound just like that crazy Number Five prisoner. You know as well as I do that Jelly World doesn’t exist. It’s just a myth. Sheesh.”