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Remember the Citadel

by kjcanimals


"I lost the battle, but won the war it seems, how... amusing." –Lord Darigan

Ten years ago the kingdom of Meridell was discovered by a group of young, but brave, adventurers. These four were unexpectedly thrown from the future into the beloved medieval land of farming, potato counting, mortog kissing, and cheese rolling.

In just a few days, the land of Meridell will celebrate the tenth anniversary of this event with great celebration; immense fanfare; and no doubt, an enormous banquet given by King Skarl himself. Parties will be thrown across the land from Ye Olde Petpets to Meri Acres Farm and everywhere in between in honor of these explorers and the great Discovery of Meridell.

But ten years ago a second kingdom was also discovered, a kingdom whose memory is far less honored or celebrated. Nearly ten years ago, the Darigan Citadel was first spotted hovering on Meridell's horizon, and the first creatures bearing the now-familiar purple and black were seen in the land. Ten years ago marked the beginning of the legendary Darigan/Meridell Wars, an epic struggle that would drastically change the makeup of both lands.

These wars were terrible for both countries; but although most of the fighting was done on Meridell soil, it was the Darigan Citadel who bore the brunt of the damage in the long run. It was the Darigan people who suffered from plague and famine after the loss of the orb. It was their once noble leader who was driven mad with power and destroyed by it. Afterwards, the treachery of Lord Kass did as much, if not more, damage to his own land than the destruction his war machines brought to the land of Meridell. If the Lord Darigan had not returned when he did, both Meridell and the Citadel alike might have been destroyed: one by the armies of Lord Kass and the other by the control the Three held over the Eyrie leader.

All this took place long ago; none but the older Neopians clearly remember those times. The two countries are now at peace. King Skarl may even invite Lord Darigan and others of the Citadel's elite to that banquet of his. The majority of the Citadel's occupants bare no ill-will against Meridell. (After all, it is the produce of that bountiful land that keeps the Darigan people from suffering from starvation.) They have come to accept, and even enjoy, the darkness of the Citadel. They have fully embraced who, and what, they are.

The Darigan Citadel is not a land used to receiving favors; they do not expect their appearance to be honored. Few ask to be remembered. Even fewer expect it. Instead, they will quietly fly down to join their happier neighbors in the celebration at the castle. They will add their bets to the turdle races and laugh along with the others when an unfortunate neopet has a mortog explode on him. With some encouragement, they will hopelessly throw out a random number to guess how much the marrow weighs or attempt to figure out just what enjoyment the Meridell peasants find in counting potatoes. They will try their luck in berry picking at Meri Acres Farm, ignoring the glares and whispered comments of the older farmers whose memory of the war machines moving across their fields still lingers.

The Darigan minions will pretend not to hear or notice these looks and murmurs. However, if one takes the time to notice, he may see a glint in their red eyes, a slight twitch of their wings, a sadness in their faces. Though they refuse to clearly show it, they do hear; they do notice. Their memory lingers as well: memories of the madness of Lord Darigan and of the treachery of Kass, memories of the magical orb that was stolen from them, memories of the long battles that followed.

The Citadel's occupants are a proud people. Few of them will speak of their hardships and misfortunes, but that does not make these thoughts any less real for those who do not. They are still found in the eyes of the Darigan warrior who gazes down at the land of Meridell as he guards the gates of the Citadel, in the grunts of Darigan's yooyuball team as they fight for the honor of their homeland, in the determination of every Darigan minion to press forward regardless of the way the past has treated him.

The Citadel will not be seen as weak. They have turned difficulties into strength, misfortune into determination. Like their redeemed leader, the Darigan minions have picked themselves up and pressed forward. They do not ask for anyone's sympathy, nor will they hide in anyone's shadow. The Citadel has plenty of its own shadows. Therefore, they walk with their heads held high and their fingers not far from their weapons. They are Darigan minions, and Darigan minions will not be seen as second rate to any.

I do not write all of this for the sake of drawing undue attention to all that the Darigan people have endured over the years, but merely to bring to remembrance in the midst of the celebrations. Accept this as a simple plea from a single Darigan minion who has stood for the good of the Citadel from the beginning. I ask only for what the rest of the Citadel's people desires, but will not ask for. I do not ask for a celebration; I do not ask to be honored. I merely ask for what every loyal Darigan minion silently fights for: not to be forgotten.

Remember the proud people overhead, who refuse to let their misfortunes lower their heads. Remember the people who were forcibly given the ill-effects of the orb and who suffered much because of it. Remember the ones who remain strong and determined despite all that they have suffered. Amidst all the feasts and celebration in honor of the tenth anniversary of the discovery of Meridell, remember the Darigan Citadel; for the majority of Neopia will not.

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