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Lifestyles of the Affluent and Illustrious: Valrigard: (The Traitor?)

by the_wanderer128


SOMEWHERE IN MERIDELL- "How do I look?" I asked Lupo, as I put the finishing touches on my disguise. Lupo looked me over quietly, and shook his head.

"Like a fool," he said, bluntly. Okay, so it wasn't the most brilliant costume, but I really didn't have a choice.

When tdyans came to me, asking if I could do a "Lifestyles" interview, I gladly accepted. This was my chance to prove myself to my beloved Neopian Times Appreciation Guild. Of course, when I saw the words "Extremely Hazardous," next to the risk assessment on the assignment sheet, I gained the distinct impression that she and the others were trying to get rid of me for good…

Needless to say, the NTAG members lined the hallway laying old copies of the NT, and white Weewoo feathers in my path, as I left for my assignment. I guess this was their way of initiating the new guy.

I was to interview Valrigard the Draik, who resided somewhere in the village of Meridell. Reading through his dossier, I discovered that Valrigard was a decorated Knight of Meridell; who had a near-perfect record in his service. But mysteriously, his record goes blank, and simply has a note saying, "Valrigard the Traitor has been banished to life in the dungeon, for his crimes." It never says what his crimes were. But it does tell about his famous escape from the dungeon that was thought to be escape-proof.

Through shady meetings, and private messages, I arranged to meet Valrigard in his hide-out. Of course, getting to his hide-out would prove difficult. After two wars, there were Grarrl guards roaming the streets of the village, enforcing the strict curfew in place. Luckily, my genius reared its shiny head, and gave me an idea to get past the guards. Using my sewing skills, I forged an elaborate costume out of who-knows-what.

Putting it on, I at least looked somewhat like a Grarrl guard. Of course my Lupe disagreed, but who cares what he thinks? Moving silently through the darkness of the streets of Meridell, I crept quietly towards the address that was given to me, by one of Valrigard's closest friends. I wanted to get there quickly. That costume was starting to chafe me.

Upon arrival to the address, I rapped on the door three times, to let the resident inside know who I was. The door opened, and a Zafara greeted me, and hastily closed the door behind me once I had entered. After I removed my costume, I was led to a small trapdoor in the floor, and the Zafara knocked on it three times. The trapdoor swung open, and a small, purple Draik appeared.

"Are you Valrigard?" I asked. The Draik nodded his head.

"Yes, I am the one you seek. Are you here to interview me?"

I nodded my head. "Good," he said, as he led me down into the cellar, where he stayed. As I descended the small, wooden ladder, I looked around and saw a small darkened chamber that was his home. The walls appeared to consist of nothing but earth and rock, and a few planks of wood were all that covered the floor. As for furniture, all I could see was a small, Spartan bed, a desk and chair, and a lantern. I shook myself out of my daze, and took out my notepad and pencil.

The wanderer: Thank you for allowing me to interview you.

Valrigard: It is my honor to be interviewed.

The wanderer: So tell me how it feels to be the only one to successfully escape the Meridell prison?

Valrigard: It has done me no good. I only wanted to see my family again, but everyone out there is looking for me, it seems.

The wanderer: Which brings me to my next question: Why do they call you "Valrigard the Traitor?"

Valrigard: *sits silently for a moment* Someone framed me for a crime, they didn't bother to share with me. I was set up, and I let them know this. Yet, they throw a Knight with a clear record into the dungeon, never to see the light again.

The wanderer: So you say you are innocent of the charges against you?

Valrigard: Yes, except of course, for the charges that involve my escape from the dungeon.

The wanderer: Ah, yes. Your escape… So how does it feel to be famous for that?

Valrigard: I have mixed feelings about my escape. I am happy that I am out of that wretched place, but take a look around; this cellar is just another dungeon I am forced to remain in.

The_wanderer: Were you aware of the game that was created, to portray your harrowing escape?

Valrigard: *surprised* They made a game out of my escape?

The wanderer: Yep. It draws a large crowd everyday.

Valrigard: They have no idea what I went through in the dungeon… I was forced to eat gruel and stale bread, and never saw the light the entire time I was down there. And worse, there I was, innocent of the charges of treason brought against me, and I was locked down there with some nasty criminals, who were actually guilty of something.

The wanderer: I see. So this motivated you to get out of there?

Valrigard: Yes. But more importantly, I wanted to see my family again.

The wanderer: And did you?

Valrigard: No… As soon as I got out, all of Meridell was looking for me. I ran for the closest house, that belonged to someone I could trust. *points to the Zafara* Jamari was kind enough to take me in, and hide me in his root cellar.

The wanderer: So how long have you been down here?

Valrigard: Two years, and counting. I do occasionally go in public, in disguise of course, to get some fresh air, and move around. But I can't go far. I'm still a wanted Draik, after all.

The wanderer: Wow. This sounds like a harsh lifestyle. Do you think the charges will ever be dropped?

Valrigard: I'm counting on making myself unseen, long enough for people to forget. Once that happens, I should be able to sneak out of here, unnoticed.

The wanderer: Well good luck with that.

Our interview was suddenly interrupted by a loud banging on the door upstairs. Jamari the Zafara, Valrigard's protector, went upstairs to answer it. We remained quiet, as we heard muffled voices above. After what seemed like an eternity, Jamari re-emerged from above. "Who was that?" I asked Jamari.

"A street guard, wanting to know who that Grarrl guard was that he saw walk in here, so he can report him for slacking off," he replied.

"Oops," I whispered. "Oh well. Let's continue with the interview."

The wanderer: Is this the first time a guard has visited your home?

Valrigard: No. They check all villagers' homes from time to time. So far, they haven't discovered me.

The wanderer: Do you think you will ever see your family again?

Valrigard: I hope so, my friend, I hope so.

The wanderer: Well, I thank you for allowing me to interview you.

Valrigard: It was my pleasure. But please… could you do me a favor?

The wanderer: Anything.

Valrigard: *hands over an envelope* Could you deliver this message to the address on the envelope? It's for my family. I would send Jamari, as always, but the guards are starting to become suspicious of him.

The wanderer: Sure.

After saying our goodbyes, Jamari led me out of the cellar, and back up to the first floor of his home. I quietly put my disguise back on, so that I could get out of the village unnoticed. As I walked down the darkened streets of Meridell, towards the residence of Valrigard's family, I quietly reflected upon our interview. I felt bad for Valrigard. He had everything at one point, and then lost it all in an instant. When I reached his family's home, I simply slid the note under the door. I didn't bother to give it to them personally.

It was still dark when I trudged through the door of my own home. As soon as I entered Lupo and Taekush greeted me. "So how did it go?" Lupo asked. "Fine… fine." I muttered. Taekush brought a piece of paper up to me. "I found this on the ground…" Taekush said. I grabbed it and walked to my desk, so that I could get started on publishing the interview, so tdyans wouldn't sic the Meepits on me, for belated articles.

After a while, I decided to read the paper that Taekush handed me. It was a wanted poster for Valrigard. It read:

Wanted: Valrigard the Traitor
Substantial reward for the one who
brings him in alive.

"Hmph," I sighed, as I looked out the window towards the night sky, "He's no traitor…"

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