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Two Sides to Every Story


by danneq

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You! What are you doing here? This place is off limits to the public, buddy, you need toβ€”

     Hey, don't touch that. You think just because this place is made of stone means nothing can be broken? You break something on my watch, it comes off of my pay. Now get lost. You're not allowed to be here.

     What?

     What?

     Crazy kid, I ought to chuck you in one of the cells just for asking about that. A cold and slimy cell, and you'd deserve it, too. Who do you think you are, asking questions like that?

     What's it matter to you, anyway? It happened years ago, it's not like it'sβ€”

     Okay, okay, fine. Yeah, I was there. I was one of the guards on duty the night Valrigard broke out. What of it?

     No, I will not answer a few questions. And keep your voice down, will you? We all got in some deep trouble over that night, you think I want people being reminded I was there?

     Cut it out! You shouldn't go poking your nose where it's not wanted. You care about the truth so much, you should move on to Brightvale. I hear they like knowledge there.

     I already told you, no questions. And put your Neopoints away. I don't want 'em.

     Adding more will not change my mind. I mean, really, bribery? How dare you! I'm a guard of the noble kingdom of Meridell, I've got honor and...

     Oh. Oh, my. That's quite a lot of Neopoints.

     Well. I suppose I could answer a few of your questions. Just a few, mind! I do have a job to do, you know. You're lucky my captain isn't here. She'd have thrown you out the second she saw you.

     The captain? Nah, she wasn't there. She got hired a little while later. After that big mess with Valrigard, they decided they needed some new blood to straighten up the place, so they in brought her and a few others.

     Of course it's made a difference. You haven't heard of any other breakouts, have you? No escapes, no fugitives on the loose? No? Yeah, I thought not. Captain's tough, makes the guards want to be stronger and the prisoners want to behave. She's just got a way with people, I guess.

     Me, I'm too soft. I can be downright generous, if you catch me in the right mood. Which is the only reason you're still here, by the way.

     Heh. No, a few more Neopoints wouldn't hurt at all. Awfully nice of you, buddy. Where was I?

     Oh, right. Me and my generous side. Take Valrigard, since you're so interested in him. He's a dirty traitor, right, and most of the guards tended to give him some flak. You know, skimping on his meals, rattling the bars of his cell, calling him nasty names. That sort of thing.

     But me, I actually feel bad for the guy. And on my shift, if there wasn't anyone around, I might maybe slip him some extra food or some fresh water. And my sister, she makes these pumpkin cookies that, well, let's just say I'm not a big fan. Don't tell her I said that, okay? I'd never hear the end of it if she found out, and you do not want to cross my sister. Believe me, she is one scary lady.

     So anyway, whenever she'd put some of her cookies in my lunch, I'd give 'em to the traitor, so's not to waste 'em. He seemed to like 'em well enough.

     What? Don't be silly. Of course he's a traitor. No question about that in my mind. King Skarl himself told him to stay in that cell. Not too hard, really, all he had to do was sit there, to keep quiet and eat his twice-a-day-meals and not cause any trouble. But did he listen? No, he did not. There is most decidedly no Valrigard sitting in that cell. Defied his king's direct orders, he did. That makes him a traitor by any definition.

     Innocent? Pah. Don't even get me started on that one. Innocent Neopians mind their own business and don't cause trouble. They, I don't know, collect stamps and fetch things for Faeries, or whatever it is you folks get up to in the outside world. Wouldn't know, myself. I've been working this job too long. Getting too old for it, maybe.

     Anyway, what innocent Neopians don't do is go stealing swords and breaking out of prisons. Emphasis on the "breaking" there, by the way. That Draik caused some serious damage in this place, knocking doors off their hinges, throwing tables at guards, smashing windows... You name it, Valrigard probably broke it.

     Fyora's blessings, you should've seen him that night. With that red sword and that look in his eye? It's like he was a madman. I've never seen anything like it.

     Desperate? Yeah, I suppose he must have been. He hadn't seen the sun in a few years. I can see how that would get to you after awhile.

     Valrigard wasn't crazy, though. At least, not from what I saw. The prisoners that go mad, they're pretty easy to notice. They get this look in their eyes, and then a few weeks later they'll be muttering to themselves or rocking back and forth in a corner. I hear they've got this fellow up in Darigan that can't even talk anymore. He just thumps his hooves against the ground or something, makes folks guess what he wants.

     But Valrigard never did any of that. He was pretty quiet, actually. Mostly just sat and brooded. I think he liked to be left alone. But he'd talk to you, if you asked him something. He always wanted to know about current events. I let him borrow my newspaper, sometimes.

     And a lot of good being nice to him did me, I tell you! You'd think all that rapport would mean something, but did he go easy on me that night? Don't make me laugh. There I was, just trying to do my job and capture the escaped prisoner, and then WHAM, down I go. Hey, you want to see my scar? It's a nice one, runs right across my stomach, let me just...

     No? Spoilsport.

     So yeah, that's all I've got to say about the infamous Meridell Traitor. Three quiet years, and then he sends our good reputation to the Rubbish Dump. He made the best guards in all of Meridell look like complete fools, and I really don't appreciate that.

     Even worse is how badly my pay got cut afterward. I mean, hey, it's not like it was all my fault! I'm just one Grarrl, there's only so much I can do! You'd think the higher-ups would've been a bit more understanding. I've got a family to support, you know. Guarding dungeons doesn't pay well to begin with, so let's just say I wasn't eating gourmet meals after that debacle. Though, heh, I think I'll have to treat myself tonight, thanks to you.

     So what about you, eh? Why's all this matter so much to you?

     ...Fine, fine, keep your secrets. Not like I really care.

     Wait, did you hear that? Shh, I'm trying to listen!

     That's it, you need to leave, now. I can hear the next shift of guards coming. If they catch you here, we'll both be in trouble. No, no, not that way! Take this door here, it'll lead you out the back. Quick, now. If they catch you, you're on your own. I'm not sticking my neck out for you just because we've had a nice cozy chat.

     Oh, and buddy? This conversation? It never happened.

     Got it?

The End

 
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