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An Old Friend


by therock4678

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Lord Darigan sat perched atop his throne in his dark castle on a gloomy morning. Rain pittered against the clouded windows and black stone that made up his home. His bony knuckles cracked quietly as he clenches and relaxes his hands. His eyes focus on nothing in particular as his mind wandered, as it tended to do after the theft of the orb that belonged to him and his people. Even years after the war in Meridell, Lord Darigan continued to feel the effects of his devastating loss.

     Not the loss of his faction during the war, but the loss of himself. Lord Darigan felt as though he'd lost so much of himself and was left a shadow of what he used to be. What he was supposed to be.

     His solitude is broken by thick, heavy claws rapping on the door to his private chambers. Lord Darigan snaps out of his foggy stupor and growls from his throat.

     "What?!" he barks. His wings flap with frustration, and his tail flicks with irritation.

     "My Lord, you have a visitor. They have requested to-" Galgarroth's voice answers through the doors but is dashed away by an angry howl on the other side.

     "I said no visitors! I do not wish to be disturbed! Send them away!" Lord Darigan pounds a clenched fist onto the armrest of his throne. The impact of the blow reverberates throughout the room, ringing in his own ears.

     Once again, his chambers were silent. The echoes of Lord Darigan's outburst swirl in his head. Regret already begins to seep into the tired Lord's heart.

     He was not a bad Korbat. He's not a monster...not anymore, at least. Sometimes the shadow of that monster will bubble out no matter how hard he tries to banish it.

     With a sigh, Lord Darigan slowly rises to his feet and leapt down from the raised, floating rock platform his throne stood. The impact of landing on bare, bony paws stung as it always had ever since he'd been taken by the orb-induced plague.

     He hesitates before slowly cracking the door open.

     Galgarroth stood on the other side, as expected. His wide-eyed expression is quickly replaced by one of worry.

     "Are you feeling alright, sire? I know you did not want to accept visitors, but I thought..." he trails off, not wanting to start an argument or make Lord Darigan's mood even worse.

     "Who...was it?" Lord Darigan finally asks. His voice is raspy, sore from his sudden shout after staying silent for so long.

     "An Usul, sir. She claimed to know you and was very persistent with gaining an audience with you. We tried to turn her away as per your order, but she insisted. After hearing for herself that you did not wish to be disturbed, she fled." Galgarroth states blandly. He did not seem to care for the situation. He was more interested in Lord Darigan's health. He began to usher his sickly Lord back into his chambers.

     "I see. I don't recall knowing someone like that. Did she happen to have a name?" Lord Darigan breathes an exasperated sigh. Why did he even bother getting up?

     "She said it was Sally-" Galgarroth answered but was lifted into the air by his shoulders when Lord Darigan switched from being a sickly old monarch to an obscenely strong and healthy brute.

     "WHERE IS SHE?!" Lord Darigan howls with anger. Galgarroth is frozen when he stares into the eyes of a long forgotten monster when he looks into the eyes of his Lord. Lord Darigan shakes him for an answer, and he snaps out of it.

     "She-She left, sire! She's probably heading for the door to go home!"

     

     Sally did not run for the exit, but she was walking very briskly. It seems as though the entire castle heard Lord Darigan's shouting earlier.

     She'd only intended to visit an old friend, despite the warnings of her family. It seems as though they were right about Lord Darigan; that he did not care for her and only used her to save himself all those years ago. Perhaps he did not even remember her or...

     "You there! I demand that you halt!" Lord Darigan's voice boomed so loud in Sally's ears that she immediately froze. Lord Darigan needed only a single flap of his powerful wings to launch himself forward enough to land in front of Sally. She swallows a lump in her throat despite her mouth having gone dry.

     Lord Darigan straightened himself up to full height and peered down at Sally. Being an Usul, Sally was already small, but his gaze made her feel even smaller. He was sizing her up, looking over her carefully as if searching for something.

     Finally, his ears flicked, but his stance remained rigid.

     "What...is my name?" Lord Darigan finally asks.

     What a strange question, Sally thought. "Uhm...y-you're Lord Darigan, right?" she squeaks.

     "I am...but that is not the answer I am looking for."

     "...M-Mister Scary?" Sally asks and tries to straighten herself up. Despite having grown up since they'd last seen one another, she barely managed to reach Lord Darigan's waist.

     Lord Darigan, however, had changed a lot since then. He was no longer the sick, weak, and emaciated Korbat she'd found curled up in the cornfield near her family's home. He was still very scary, though. He was still Mister Scary.

     The corners of Lord Darigan's mouth twitch, then slowly turn upwards into a smile.

     "Sally? It has been so long." he finally says with a surprising warmness. "This is an unexpected visit, but it is a welcome one, indeed. Why is it that you have come here?"

     "Well, Mister Lord Darigan, sir...I just wanted to ask for something..." Sally began before going quiet and looking at the ground. Her ears bend back in apparent embarrassment.

     "Very well. Come this way. We can discuss this in private." Lord Darigan offers his bony hand to Sally, whose paws are still so small, she can only hold onto two of his fingers.

      Lord Darigan leads Sally to his chamber. Galgarroth follows closely behind until Darigan stops him by attempting to wave him away for dismissal.

     "Sir, I...excuse us, ma'am." Galgarroth waves for Darigan to lean in.

     "Your Lordship, perhaps I should accompany you inside. We do not know her intentions. She could be an agent of Meridell sent to harm you." Galgarroth whispers.

     Lord Darigan's fists clench in fury, but he suppresses it for fear of scaring Sally once more.

     "You insult me, old friend. You think of me to be so feeble that I cannot defend myself in my own home? To insult my guest, to whom of which I owe my very life? If she has indeed come to strike me down, then so be it. She has given me life once before, so if she wishes to take it back, then it shall be hers. Good day and begone!" Darigan snarls, and Galgarroth takes the very obvious hint to leave his master alone.

     Lord Darigan watches Galgarroth take his leave and round the corner at the end of the hall before closing his door.

     "Now then, Sally. Let us discuss just what it is that you want from me today." Lord Darigan leads Sally to a small table and beckons her to the chair. She has to jump up to reach the seat, and her legs dangle off the edge while Darigan seats himself across from her. Sally feels a little silly seeing that Lord Darigan's feet actually touch the floor.

     Darigan extends his hand to Sally and magic forms into a small, softly glowing ball of golden magic at his fingertips at the tips of his sharp nails.

     "Now...what is it that you wish? Treasures? Power? To become a member of my court? You may walk out of here a princess if you so choose." he said as images danced in the orb with his words. In the orb, Sally saw visions of gold and jewels, a scene of her commanding a vast army, a picture of her seated on a high throne surrounded by nobles and other dignitaries, and a long, flowing gown with a crown that were just her size.

     While Darigan's offers were incredible, Sally had something a bit more humble in mind.

     Never once did she ever think to have such luxurious things, nor did she want them. She had everything she needed back home and was quite happy living a quiet life among the fruit trees and Babaas.

     Instead, Sally reaches to her back and pulls her bag to the front of herself and opens it. She places a wrapped lunch in Darigan's opened hand, and the magic in it dissipates.

     Lord Darigan blinks. He was wholly unprepared for this. He watches silently as Sally pulls out a lunch for herself and even sets a few small cakes and still warm tea on the table. The clever Usul had kept the tea warm with a small bottle of liquid fire in the bottom of her bag, and she sets to pouring it into the teacups she's brought with her.

     "Buh...wha?" Lord Darigan unceremoniously blubbers and coughs to clear his throat. to shake off his surprise. He was wholly unprepared to deal with this.

     "All those things you wanted me to have are all lovely, Lord Darigan, sir...but I can't accept them. All I wanted was to spend time with you again. I brought lunch! I remember how you liked my mum's cooking when I was little, so I asked her to make it for us. I hope that's okay." Sally finally says as she pushed the teacup and saucer to Lord Darigan.

     "You came all this way, several kilometres in the sky where many of your people fear to tread...just to sit and talk?" Lord Darigan asks with bewilderment evident in his voice.

     "And to eat! That's...okay...right? L-Lord Darigan?" Sally asks with a sudden sheepishness. Perhaps she had stumbled over a certain boundary. She had considered Lord Darigan her friend when she was a child, but she had grown up now.

     They both had.

      Lord Darigan glances down at the Usul-sized wrapped lunch in his hand. It was wrapped in a large leaf and tied off with a bit of rough string.

     A soft, genuine smile crept onto his face. He looks up to face Sally and nods.

     "Of course it is, old friend. I could not ask for anything better."

     The End.

 
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