The Warden's Tale: Part Two
General Galgarrath shook his head sharply. “The Three have filled your heart with such thoughts that you believe yourself a traitor, Vex? You are a hero!” he snorted.
Vex held up a tired hand. “I am not done. I have yet to tell of my actions during the reign of Kass...”
Master Vex watched the parade with unease. There was something familiar about the way Kass was conducting things. Even though he was vastly different than Draconis, up to the point of rejecting the honorary title of Darigan that all former Lords and Ladies of the Citadel had carried, he still seemed to draw upon a common source of power as his unfortunate predecessor. Master Vex shook his head as he listened to the speech. Kass was yelling to the crowd, promising them days of glory and plenty, where they would live without fear. There was nothing wrong with that, but somehow, it disturbed him... Sighing, he returned to duty in the dungeons. Eyrie Guards were everywhere. Frowning slightly, Master Vex entered the inner dungeon chambers, only to be greeted by the sight of more Eyrie Guards harassing the Yellow Knight. “Get OUT of here, you feathered nuisances!” Master Vex shouted, slamming his fist against a nearby Cellblock table. The two players, ordinary tourists, looked scared beyond measure that Master Vex was actually right in front of them- shouting. The Eyrie Guards scrambled to leave as Haksol glared and began to get up from his seat. Sighing, Vex went over to his adversary. “Are you alright?”
“Other than the chains, yes,” the Knight answered wryly. Vex grinned in reply, but the Knight frowned. “Actually, I am beginning to get worried.”
Vex stiffened. “I told you, the Citadel does not condone physical punishment. Those Guards will be strictly talked to.”
The Knight shook his head, and Vex began to get frightened. “No, I no longer fear my own treatment. It is you that I fear for.”
“Me?” Vex said incredulously. “Me, the Warden who has kept you here for years?”
The Knight nodded. “You were a formidable adversary, but you also helped me to escape. You served your own country well, and did not want to have me back in the prisons. I know for a fact that you had a most tremendous row with the present ruler over keeping Meridell prisoners of war from the Invasion in the Citadel dungeons. I also know that you were thinking of me in particular.”
Vex sat silent as the grave. “How much more do you know?” he managed to ask. He looked unnaturally pale.
“Tourist gossip is hard to come by; you know that.” The Knight snorted. “And the tourists are diminishing by the hour. I don’t know the particulars, my friend, but I smell trouble on the wind.”
At that moment, an Eyrie Guard burst in and glared at Vex. It was obviously no longer safe in the Citadel Dungeons, Vex thought with a groan. It wasn’t long before he was proven correct in his guesses. No more than five days had passed when the interrogations began. They began informally, and Master Vex was caught unawares. The first step came in the form of tourists from Meridell.
“So then,” one would ask, “what do you think about your new leader? He seems energetic enough.”
Master Vex often replied, “Lord Kass is a very skilled warrior and giver of speeches. The people seem to like him.” It was all he could do not to say that he thought Kass was following in the steps of Draconis. He was not prepared for the next step of the game; questioning by Citadel citizens.
“Master Vex,” they would whisper, “Lord Kass has just finished a wonderful maneuver! Meridell won’t be bullying us any more, no sir. Isn’t he amazing?”
Master Vex was the master of self control, and that was what saved his face. He knew that they were whispering because the Yellow Knight might otherwise overhear them, but the attitude still made him want to turn and glance in the direction of his prisoner, as if to make certain he was still there. By now, Master Vex had begun to see that there was a trap being set for him. His only reply would be, “Ah, yes, Lord Kass has always been a very skilled tactician.” By the time the interrogation became formal, he had already witnessed a very disturbing scene.
During one of his rare respites from the dungeons, he was walking down the corridors when he heard Lord Kass talking to someone. At once, he became suspicious, for he was reminded of a similar occasion years before, when Lord Draconis Darigan was still in power. Silent as the night he forever existed in, he crept up to the doors of the Chamber. Strangely enough, there were no Eyrie Guards posted. What Master Vex heard, however, chilled him to the heart. It was a conversation between Lord Kass and the same three figures that had brought Lord Draconis Darigan to his eventual death; he was sure of it. He barely managed to put enough distance between himself and the Chambers when he ran into a patrol of Eyrie Guards.
“Halt! What are you doing in the corridors without authorization?!” one of them shrieked, grabbing Master Vex with a grip of steel. Before Master Vex could answer, however, the Chamber doors burst open, and Lord Kass entered the scene. To Vex’s horror, he was wearing a charm that pulsed with the same twisted power as the corrupted Orb had done on the chain worn by Draconis Darigan.
“Release him,” Lord Kass said coldly. “Take your posts, Lieutenant. You have neglected in guarding my Chambers.”
Master Vex felt circulation returned to his arm, and scowled at the Eyrie that had grabbed him. Without another word, he turned sharply on his heels and stalked back to his dungeons. There was no doubt left in his mind; Lord Kass was under the same influences that had previously led the Citadel to war. The next step in the interrogation was not in the form of actual questioning, but a series of events.
First, Lord Kass began to buy large amounts of weapons for his new army. His second step was to have Morguss develop new spells of destruction. His most drastic move, however, was the dissolving of the Darigan Council. Lord Kass had obtained absolute power. Master Vex had been under close watch, and only learned of the changes when it was far too late. Master Vex knew that his next few moves would be similar to that of his own game, and the stake was his life.
Shortly after the Council was dissolved, Eyrie Guards began to question key people of influence. People were swearing loyalty to Kass left and right, and the Eyrie Guards kept coming to the dungeons to talk to General Galgarrath and Master Vex. By this time, the prisoners had communicated through a kind of code via Clop, and every time a guard entered, they would begin to fight. It kept the interrogators away for several weeks, but one day an entire squadron showed up and subdued the prisoners by force. The captain of the squad then questioned them openly.
“You are very clever, the two of you, but you have nothing to fear from us. We just need to know if you will swear loyalty to Lord Kass,” he said suavely.
General Galgarrath grimaced. “Is that all, captain?” he barked. The Eyrie looked startled, but nodded. “Bah! Do not bother us with trivial matters. Leave us be!” he growled, slamming his fist onto the table. The captain narrowed his eyes but only commanded the guards to leave. When they were all gone, an uneasy silence fell the cells.
“You should not have done that, General. You have greatly angered them. I do not think that will go over well at all,” the Yellow Knight said. The General looked pale, but sighed in agreement.
Master Vex sighed. If only he had told someone about the figures before, then it would not have come to this! Still, he was probably only imagining it... “I can’t agree with you more. I fear for you, Galgarrath,” Master Vex said softly. He was unable to say any more, as Eyrie Guards quietly returned to the dungeons. Master Vex resumed his post, but had a sinking feeling that he was being outsmarted at his own area of expertise.
By the time the Zafara Double Agent came to his quarters one morning, he realized he was in danger. She asked him the exact same questions, but offered him some advice in addition to the interrogation. “You do realize that your life is most likely on the line,” she said slyly. “And if you can get that Chia to talk, I’m sure Lord Kass would forgive your former actions.”
That was the last straw for Master Vex. “No,” he said forcefully. “And I demand to see General Galgarrath at once.”
He was unprepared for the sudden attack of two gigantic Eyrie Guards. His arms were twisted behind his back, and it was all he could do not to scream in pain. He did gasp, however, when a familiar figure stepped out of the shadows and looked upon him with as much feeling as the three figures that controlled him. “I see you will cause trouble, Darzul Vex. You are lucky to have fallen upon my mercy. I can only execute one member of the former Council without drawing attention, and Galgarrath was arrested last night.”
Master Vex snarled in fury. “You wouldn’t dare, Kass! He is your friend and comrade!”
A sharp white pain stopped his speech, and Vex heard a cold, heartless laugh as the stars faded and he could see again. “Oh, I wouldn’t dare, would I? I was so looking forward to having dealt with you personally. You are so arrogant.” Kass spat. “However, Galgarrath is stronger. You yourself have chosen his fate. I will not execute him. He will be given to the mercy of gravity.”
Master Vex could bear it no longer. Using an old technique known only to his species, he managed to disarm both his guards and rushed at Lord Kass. He regained consciousness a few minutes later in chains, at his desk, with Lord Kass staring smugly down on him. “You are lucky I used the flat side of my blade, Vex. Otherwise, you would have lost the left side of your face.” Sure enough, his left side smarted terribly. Vex moaned in pain. “For your impertinence, I will be certain that the former General is thrown off on your side of the Citadel. You are hereby stripped of your rank and placed under arrest. You will remain a prisoner here until I decide otherwise. And you had better hope I don’t decide otherwise. You would be joining Draconis and Galgarrath if you followed that road.” With that, Kass turned sharply on his heels and left the dungeons. Master Vex was left in humiliation as the Eyrie Guards followed and posted a watch outside the dungeon entrance.
The Yellow Knight sighed. “I’m sorry it had to come to this. I would much rather be under your power than in the same room as that villain. Take it from a veteran, Vex; don’t try resistance or heroics. You would be captured, but as you are already captured, you would be executed on the spot. He knows of your ways, and you would not be given a second chance. This is your second chance. I doubt that Eyrie would stop at just one death for his purposes,” the Knight said grimly.
Darzul Vex sighed, rubbing his wrists. “I couldn’t agree with you more,” he said bitterly.
“So that is what happened...” Galgarrath said slowly. He shook his head. “But I am alive, my friend! I was saved by Aerial Knights who recognized me from the Invasion as the commander who led the main assault against the Citadel fortress. They are trying to make you feel guilty about what happened! Well, do not let them.”
Master Vex shook his head. “That is not what worries me. What worries me is that I stood by, twice, and let leaders bring the Citadel to almost total annihilation. I recognized the signs, but did nothing. There is a saying that goes, ‘All that evil needs to exist is for good men to do nothing’, and I did just that. And evil reigned,” he finished bitterly.
Galgarrath smiled wryly. “Master Darzul Vex, you did nothing of the kind. You were tricked and outmaneuvered by three formidable creatures of darkness. They nearly had you now, with their antics regarding your memories and conscience. Yet you did the right thing, like you always have done. In the past, you used your authority as a Council member to warn us, but we did not listen. And just now, you saved the Citadel a third time by letting me know that they were trying to get at you.”
“Saved it a third time? What do you mean by that? When did I save it even once to begin with?”
“The first time was when you acted calmly and quickly when The Three completely transformed what was left of Draconis Darigan. Your efforts to persuade the rest of the Council to see the truth and your wise choice in contacting me saved thousands of lives on both the Citadel and in Meridell. The second time was when you resisted the interrogation of the Zafara Double Agent. My resistance alone would have been seen as just one old figure of a forgotten war wheezing about nothing. But you are a well known figure for the current generation as well. The two of us together brought sense into many Citadel citizens who consequently resisted Lord Kass. And as for the comments that you chose my passing,” he laughed heavily, “I was told that if I resisted, you would be forced to face Lord Kass in hand to hand combat. I did resist, and I broke Kass’s wrist. Consequently, he decided to throw me off the Citadel. I gather that your resistance was confirmation that he was not the hero he thought he was. It also told the rest of Neopia, as the Gallery currently states, that heroes often suffer for their people, and may not see their efforts, but the fact that they were worth suffering for is a sign of great character.”