Removing the Muzzle: General Galgarrath's Story - Part One
“And that concludes our Council meeting,” Lord Draconis Darigan said in a relieved voice. At the look on Master Vex’s face, he frowned. “Unless you had something to add, my friend?” he said with a wry smile.
Master Vex scowled and pulled out a Neopian newspaper. Celestial raised an eyebrow. “What is this, and what does it have to do with us? I thought that by now you had learned to ignore journalists.”
Master Vex snorted. “That is the Neopian Times. And I don’t get bothered by the writing of most journalists, because most don’t bother to talk about me. They love to speculate on Draconis. This one, however, seems to have a fixation on me.”
Darigan looked up from the story he was reading and raised his eyebrows. “How did they get their hands on this conversation?”
Master Vex ran his hand over his scar and sighed. “I’m afraid that the Citadel needs some repairs. The war damaged a great deal of the structure on the doors, and I’m afraid my quarters are no longer soundproof.”
“But the sound is still muffled. How could anyone have heard that conversation?” Celestial protested.
Master Vex shook his head. “Eyries have ears sharper than sharpened talons. One of that blasted troublesome Eyrie trio that you continue to shield overheard the entire conversation while hiding for some type of searching game.”
General Galgarrath grinned. “Ah, so that is where that new statue had come from!” he said mischievously. His grin faded as he saw the smirk on Master Darzul Vex’s face. “Now what?” he grumped. “You have something in mind that you didn’t tell us about, am I right?”
Vex snorted and went to the Chamber doors. With one burst of energy, he flung the heavy doors wide open, and Celestial jumped up with a cry. “Why, Kyrouge! What are you doing here?”
The Christmas Shoyru smiled. “Hello, Celestial,” she said calmly. “If you will sit down, I can tell you why I am here,” she said with a hint of amusement as the Chamber doors fell closed again with a boom. When Master Vex had returned to the table, she looked directly at General Galgarrath before sweeping her gaze across the Council. “I apologize for the inconvenience,” she said, becoming uncomfortable, “but I was told I might be allowed to interview a Council member for a twin story to ‘The Warden’s Tale’. I talked with Master Vex earlier, so I asked him who might be able to give me the most interesting complementary story.” She fixed her eyes on General Galgarrath again, and said with a slight quiver in her voice, “He... he suggested you, General, but if you don’t want to-”
General Galgarrath glanced nastily at Master Vex before interrupting. “So that is what you were up to...” he said with a grunt. Master Vex smiled shamelessly. “Oh, alright,” he said huffily, turning back to the small Shoyru, “I will do your interview. Where exactly would you like me to start?”
Kyrouge1234 brought out a notepad and turned over a few pages after scanning them. “I would like you to begin with the day of the invasion...”
General Galgarrath sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair. “I would like there to be a general disclaimer for the readers when you publish this,” he said wearily. “I will tell you what I remember, and I will tell it in the manner I remembered it. Memories are odd things; they can fade, be substituted, twisted, or even forgotten. Some may not believe me... but this is what I can recall...”
Galgarrath sat eagerly in the courtyard, watching the younglings play while their parents prepared for the celebration of the Founding. It was a warm summer day, with a slight breeze flowing in from the northeast, and the effect of a great deal of sun had left the muscular Grarrl in a sedated mode. He glanced over at his friend and leader, Draconis. At least a decade ago, Draconis had taken on the title of Lord Darigan; some knew him only by that name, as they had known the Lords and Ladies before Draconis, but Galgarrath tended to continue to address the Korbat by his birth name. Sighing peacefully, Galgarrath dreamed happily about the food that would be provided at the upcoming festival. Draconis grinned. “A perfect day for a Founding celebration, eh, Galgarrath?” he said, nudging the Grarrl in the stomach. “Remember to leave some food for me this time.”
Galgarrath snorted at the last comment. “There is always plenty for everyone... besides, you had left your plate untended. And by the way, that incident was when we were younglings ourselves.” He reminded, gesturing toward the giggling youngsters. He glanced at the sundial and frowned. “Where is the rest of the Council? I thought they would be here by now.”
“Let me see... Morguss and Celestial are in the lower levels of the Citadel, but I have no idea what they are doing. Kass should be here shortly... he was going to bring drawing paper so that he could sketch a scene of the courtyard. Darzul Vex... now where is that Mynci?” Lord Draconis Darigan muttered.
“Darzul is looking for his pan pipes,” Kass declared. He smiled with amusement at the surprise in the faces of his friends. “Oh, come now! I told you I would be back shortly.” He chuckled.
“But you did NOT have to sneak up on us, Kass!” Galgarrath said through narrowed eyes. “You should have at least told us you were approaching.”
Kass shrugged. “Sorry. By the way, Galgarrath, did you prepare another one of your famous feasts again?” he said with a frown.
Galgarrath sat up straighter in his chair. “No,” he said with a hint of suspicion in his voice, “I did not prepare any food at all. Why do you ask?”
Kass shook his head. “Oh, then it must be Morguss’s doing.” He seemed oblivious to the glances of his friends. “We really should talk to her about accidentally starting fires.”
Draconis bolted out of the chair he was sitting in. “What in the name of the Founders are you talking about?!”
Kass seemed surprised and alarmed at the reaction of his leader. “Well, I smelled smoke on the wind, and I had assumed that perhaps Galgarrath burned something he was cooking. But I see now that it must have been Morguss.”
“All the cooking was finished several hours ago! How long ago was this?” the Korbat pressed.
Kass shook his head. “It was on my way here... only two minutes, at the most...” His feathers looked ruffled. “Is there something wrong?”
“Morguss AND Celestial are BOTH in the lower levels of the Citadel!” Draconis hissed angrily. “Someone’s house could be burning!”
It was then that Galgarrath heard the screams. Screams of surprise, of fear, of pain. By the looks on the faces of his friends, he could tell they had heard it as well. “Something is wrong about this...” Kass said awkwardly. “Should we go and investigate?”
Draconis held out a hand. “Wait...” he said in a choked voice. The courtyard was silent but for the coming noise. Then, out of nowhere, something whizzed by and struck his left shoulder. He cried out in pain, and the courtyard became swarmed with fierce pets clad in sheets of metal. Kass shot up into the air and uttered a horrendous shriek that Galgarrath recognized as a well known signal for danger. However, Galgarrath did not have time to reflect on it, because the crazed creatures were advancing...
Smoke started to pour in as buildings nearby were set aflame. Although there was nothing but his heavy leather clothes to protect him and nothing but his bare hands that he could use in return to the attackers, Galgarrath felt his blood rising as he was struck with a sword. He swept his arms left and right, and pets went flying at the force of his blows. Surrounded and filled with the battle rage that his species was infamous for, he barely registered his wounds. He found himself fighting back to back with Kass, and the two were desperately trying to make their way over to Draconis, who was using a staff to block oncoming blows from a furious Lupe.
It was then that Kass broke away and was able to come to the Korbat’s aid. Galgarrath was about to follow when he heard a familiar cry of pain. He whirled around to see Darzul Vex being bound by a malicious Skeith. Upon seeing the combat between Draconis, Kass, and the aggressive Lupe, Master Vex wrenched his hands out of his gloves and ran in their direction. Furious, one of the captors unsheathed a sword that glowed a surreal shade of greenish-brown. “VEX!” Galgarrath roared, trying to warn his friend. The Kougra was upon the Mynci and all that Galgarrath had time to scream was, “THE SHIELD!” With the reflexes of a coiled reptile, Vex snatched a nearby shield and raised it to his face just in time to prevent the left side of this face from being sliced off, but a second too slow to prevent the blade from striking his left eye. The Mynci howled in pain, shuddered, and moved no more. Galgarrath was beyond rage; he was on a warpath. Before he could get his claws on the Kougra, however, he took a heavy blow to the head and was overcome by darkness...
When Galgarrath finally came to three hours later, the courtyard was not recognizable. The grass was stained red, and buildings burned in the distance. The once proud statues that had dotted the area were shattered, and the pillars of stone were knocked aside. The sundial had been wrenched out by a desperate citizen to use as a shield, and the shining Orb that was a symbol of harmony between the Founders was gone. A weary Eyrie slowly walked toward him, and Galgarrath gasped when he saw who it was. “Kass!” he cried out hoarsely.
The Eyrie whirled around, holding a wicked looking sword that had been dropped by an invader. He was no more recognizable than the courtyard itself; his once proud feathers were missing in patches, his beak chipped, his wings snapped, his feathers covered with dirt and grime. Suddenly, his eyes softened. “Galgarrath! You’re alive!” he rasped as he ran over to help the Grarrl up. “When I couldn’t find you, I thought that you hadn’t survived...”
Galgarrath snorted weakly. “What is the extent of the damage?” he said mournfully. He tried to walk, but nearly fell over as a bolt of pain ripped up his leg. Looking down, he noticed that it was broken in two places, apparently from being trampled by a Uni or two.
Kass shook his head and supported Galgarrath with a strong grip. “We don’t know yet... They looted a lot of things, things that can never be replaced, and burned almost a quarter of the land. After they grabbed the Orb, they just turned around and left.”
“Now what would they want with the Orb of the Founders? It isn’t made of precious metals...” Galgarrath said in annoyance.
Kass shook his head gravely and clacked his beak in a shared annoyance. “No one knows. Come on, we are almost there...”
“Where are we going?” Galgarrath demanded. He felt tired, and wanted some water to ease his throat.
“We are going to see Morguss. She should be able to help you with that leg,” Kass replied. Fifteen minutes later, Galgarrath was recovering next to Kass and Draconis. Vex still hadn’t been found yet, and Draconis was delirious. He apparently was arguing with three different beings, but there was no one around other than Kass, Galgarrath, and the healers. Galgarrath sighed. It was going to be a long week...
Draconis finally broke free and entered the waking world five days later. One of the first things he did was discuss what had happened with Kass and Galgarrath. “So Vex is still alive... that is good, we will need him.” Lord Draconis Darigan sighed.
The tone of his voice aroused Galgarrath’s curiosity. “Need him? What do you mean by that?”
“We need leadership in this time of crisis.” The Korbat sighed. “I can’t do everything myself. We don’t know if they will be coming back or not. We need to start putting up defenses right away...” He sat up with a grimace. “I want the two of you to be in charge of that. You are the only two that survived the attack that have the necessary leadership skills and knowledge of what is required.”
“The only ones?!” Kass squawked. “But that would mean we have automatically been given the rank of ‘General’! By the Founders, Draconis, I’m a painter, not a warrior!”
“You will be given charge of air patrols. A guard will have to be formed... preferably of Eyries,” Darigan replied heavily. “As for you, General Galgarrath, I would like you to train all surviving able bodied pets for a plan of defense in case of a second attack. We will meet later in a few weeks.”
“You can skip the meeting, Galgarrath. They have already heard about it from this,” Vex interrupted, holding up the newspaper.
Galgarrath grinned. “Oh, but that was from what you knew. I should tell you, Vex, that when you came into the room I wondered if you could see out of your left eye. Then I saw all the grey in your hair and goatee-”
Vex stiffened. “I did not, and do not, have grey hair,” he growled. “And even if I did, that happens when someone gets too much stress,” he muttered.
Ky rolled her eyes. “You spent all of your time on the Citadel until you went down to fight yourself, correct?” she said after looking through some notes.
Galgarrath nodded. “Yes, I spent a great deal of time training those who were unable to acquire arms on the ways of hand-to-hand combat.” He shook his head. “By that time, several extra advisors, not formally part of the Council, had been selected to direct the ground efforts. I can’t recall their names at the moment, but there was a Skeith, a Krawk, and a Tuskaninny... They all stayed behind, but I was called in when Jeran appeared on the scene. I had the honor of facing him in combat myself...” he shook his head again. “I doubt Jeran remembers it. I was probably just another disfigured creature to him. As for me, I am very surprised I lived through that event...” he said with a grimace. “I am sure you don’t want the details about that. Very shortly after that, the castle was overrun.”
Ky shook her head. “Actually, I am very much interested...”
“So,” Galgarrath snarled, circling with his opponent. “I meet the famous Jeran at last.” He spat. “The famous Jeran, hero of Meridell. Hero for what?! Theft, arson, and attacking of defenseless citizens?!” he growled, ducking aside as the Sunblade narrowly missed his right whisker.
“It is not the role of a knight to question his superior,” Jeran snarled, raising his shield to block a whip-like attack by the Grarrl’s armored tail. “I was not on this so-called raid!” The Sunblade was stopped with a shriek of metal by Galgarrath’s own sword. Jeran was startled to see how old the Grarrl looked.
“You are wrong. It is not a tale, no matter what your people will continue to say,” he said sadly, parrying nearly every blow that Jeran sent his way. Jeran was frustrated, and his frustration showed. “Oh, don’t start thinking that you are up against a monster just because I am besting you.” Jeran’s shield came up to meet a spiked fist. “I just happen to benefit from knowing what to expect.”
Jeran raised an eyebrow as he feinted to the left and tried to strike the Grarrl’s unprotected middle. The Grarrl simply ducked down and whipped his tail to trip Jeran. Jeran jumped just in time. “Oh really? And what would that be?”
The Grarrl’s eyes grew cold as he remembered the razing of the Citadel. “I have learned to expect... no mercy!” he snarled, beginning an all out attack. Jeran was kept on the defensive as the two fought over quite a distance and Jeran turned the tide by scoring a hit on the Grarrl’s shoulder. The Grarrl roared in pain but continued fighting. This time, however, the favor was with Jeran.
Jeran could not understand why the Grarrl was not retreating, as he was bleeding heavily and his breath was ragged. The very essence of him screamed to strike the horrendous beast down, but he faltered when he heard the horns blaring for retreat. Glaring at his opponent, he turned and sped off to answer the call. The castle had fallen.
Galgarrath sighed with relief and searched for some cloth to staunch his wounds with. He finally found some scraps of a torn Citadel flag among the rubble, and after attending to himself, he entered the former throne room. Several Citadel Draiks were keeping guard, but relaxed when they saw their commander enter. “The Orb of the Founders has been retrieved and sent back to the Citadel. What are our orders, General?” one of them asked wearily.
General Galgarrath shook his head. “Just wait here until we receive some new orders. Try to restore order here, if you can.”
“With all due respect sir, what do you mean by that?” one of them said with a frown.
Galgarrath gestured around the room. Fallen statues and other signs of battle were everywhere. “Once we recover from the fatigue, we should attempt to clean up.”
“Sir?” the Draik repeated with a tone of enormous disbelief. Galgarrath sighed and sat on the floor.
“If the castle is to be taken, then it will serve no purpose to us in a state where we can hardly move around in it. If it is to be returned, then I don’t want to sink to their level by raiding the place and leaving a mess behind.” He shook his head. “Either way, it needs to be straightened out. See to it in the morning, and start the night watch.”
Galgarrath was helping clean the next day when he got an unexpected visitor. “You!” he snarled. “What are you doing here?!”
The Yellow Knight held up his arms. “Wait! You have to listen! I have something to tell you!”
One of the Draik guards narrowed his eyes and jabbed with his spear. “How did you escape from the prisons anyway?” Galgarrath had a moment of panic. If Master Darzul Vex had been hurt...
“Master Vex sent me. You have to listen! Darigan has gone completely insane!”
General Galgarrath sighed. “Well, the next thing I knew, I was up on the Citadel, in this very room,” he said softly. “You know the rest of the story.”
Master Vex cleared his throat. “But that isn’t the whole story. You still have to tell us about the reign of Kass...”
To be continued...