“Eh, thought you could try to get out again?” the red Grarrl guard snarled at me as he threw me back into my cell. I flew across the room from the force and hit the back wall, landing on the floor with a disgusted look on my face.
“You’ll never escape, traitor!” he laughed, shutting the cell door and locking it. I growled and ran at the bars, gripping onto the cold metal.
“I will escape one day, believe me. And when I do, I’ll make sure you live to see it,” I muttered menacingly, looking into his cold, beady eyes.
“Of course, Valrigard,” he laughed mockingly, walking away. “The day that happens will be the day that I learn to fly.”
I howled in anger and threw my body at the bars, as if they would fall open. I had been in here for too long, and I had come too close too many times. It was aggravating to see the least, and I was beginning to give up hope. If I didn’t escape, I was bound to rot in this dank cell for the rest of my days.
“Will you just stop it already?” a prisoner down the hall complained. “You’re never getting out of this hole!”
“Yes, I am!” I shouted back, pounding my fist against the wall. A pain shot through my body and I winced, holding my injured hand before falling onto my cot in the corner of my cell.
“Yes, yes, I am,” I whispered feebly, but this time only to myself, as if to reassure that I would one day escape.
I rested my head against the wall, the cold stone cooling my cheek. I sighed and closed my eyes. My life hadn’t always been like this. One time I had been but a child, a young blue Draik growing up in Meridell just like any other. I could still remember that horrible day when it had all begun, so long ago...
“Valrigard! Valrigard! Are you playing with that silly play sword again?”
I heard my mother’s voice calling from far away, reminding me of the chores that I had skipped so I could sneak out here to the woods behind our house to practice my swordsmanship. I ignored her calls. I was too focused right now to address her. I was having a good day and I couldn’t stop now.
My wooden sword in hand, I slashed at the imaginary enemy, pretending that I was a great knight for Meridell. With my trusty sword I was undefeatable, invincible to any foe. I was on the front line now and battling the greatest threat to Meridell that the world had ever known.
“On guard, on guard! Surrender now or face my wrath!” I shouted, ignoring how young my voice was. Right now I was General Valrigard, wise beyond my years.
“Oh foolish Draik, you are but a boy! I am a talented war mastermind, so it is you that shall face my fury!” he retorted, his glowing red eyes narrowing as he gripped his sword.
Just as I was about to finish him off, I felt a strong hand grip me from behind and yank my sword out of my hand. I crumpled to the ground, staring up at the force that had left me powerless.
It was my mother, of course.
“Valrigard! How many times must I remind you that you need to go water the crops? The food is not going to grow on its own!” she told me, her red Aisha hands on her hips as she glared down at me.
“I’m sorry, Mom, I was practicing with my sword!” I told her excitedly, attempting to pull it out of her hand.
“Oh, Valrigard,” she said softly, her expression softening, “one day I am sure that you will be the greatest fighter Meridell has ever seen. But right now you are a young Draik, just a child. A child who needs to do his chores, might I remind you!”
“Can I at least have my sword back?” I asked, smiling, staring at my small wooden sword in her hand.
She shook her head, grinning. “Maybe after you do your chores!”
I stuck my tongue out at her, before hurrying off to do her chores. I heard her lovely laughter carrying throughout the land we owned as I sprinted toward the crops, grabbing the watering can on my way. Purposely, I poured too much water on each of the plants, pretending they were my enemies and I was bringing their demise.
After I was done watering the crops, I headed back toward the house where I knew my mother was waiting with my sword. She waved at me from the doorway, still a distance away, smiling. I began walking toward her, when suddenly a horrible shaking swept through the ground. My mother screamed and I began to run toward her, when a giant crack appeared beneath our house. It began to spread and the last thing I saw was my mother yelling for me, her arms reaching out as her and my house fell into the giant fissure.
“Mother!” I screamed, collapsing on the ground, crying.
The shaking continued, although I don’t know for how long. When it finally stopped, I remained on the ground, the tears falling from my eyes. I looked up and stared in horror at the hole that now stood where my home had once been. I stumbled toward it, standing at the edge, in hopes of seeing my mother, but all I saw was a deep darkness that seemed to go on forever.
“Mom,” I whispered, closing my eyes.
After a while I stood up and looked into the distance, starring in horror when I saw a large piece of land floating in the sky. Not knowing what to do, I ran to the town square, where a large crowd had gathered.
The king told us that the Darigan Citadel had become a gruesome, horrible place. And they had waged war on us. Amidst the crowd, I felt something inside of me harden. It was Darigan’s fault that my mother was gone, that the only life I had ever known collapsed upon itself. Staring off into the sun, a hatred grew inside of me, and I knew that I would never be the same.
The memory ended and I felt a throbbing in my heart. The wound seemed fresh, even though it had happened so long ago. But it was what had begun my treacherous life.
I had enlisted to fight for Meridell, even though I was so young. The older fighters had laughed at me because of my age, but I had learned quickly and soon became one of the most experienced troops on the battlefield. My anger and thirst for vengeance fueled my fight and in just a few short months I went from a young, innocent Draik to a cold-hearted trained fighter.
By the time the war ended, the king had noticed my skills on the battlefield and I was hired as one of his personal guards. However, after learning that the king had lied to us and he had been the one to harm Darigan Citadel and instigate the war, I grew disgusted, wanting to quit. Before I could resign, though, someone framed me for a crime that I had not committed, and the King I had so loyally and selflessly served sentenced me to a lifetime in the dungeons.
Now, here I was, a sorry excuse of a Draik fallen from grace. I had once sentenced criminals to these very same dungeons and now I was considered one of them; ironic, really.
A guard walked by, whistling as he did his rounds. I saw something hanging from his pocket, very loosely. As I looked closer, I saw that it was a ring of keys. I darted against the wall, hidden by the shadows, and waited for him to walk by again. A few minutes later he came back around and as he was walking away, his back to me, my hand darted out, noiselessly pulling the keys from his pocket.
I retreated back into my corner of shadows, staring in awe at the keys in my hand. A small smile spread across my face as I realized what my next escape plan would be.