White Weewoos don't exist. *shifty eyes* Circulation: 197,128,178 Issue: 965 | 29th day of Swimming, Y24
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Brightvale: true winner of Meridell vs Darigan?

by helpfuldan


Brightvale remained relatively secluded from the wider Neopian world, until the 11th day of hiding in Y6, when the proverbial gates were flung open following its 'discovery'.

     Of course, the kingdom was not truly 'discovered' on this day. Thought to have existed even before the time of Altador's founding, it was only following the conclusion of the Meridell vs Darigan wars that this peaceful neighbour, some 50 miles away, began to draw attention from the outside world.

     Before then, it had quietly sat back, with its population engrossed by their own thirst for knowledge and drive to make their own 'discoveries' from afar. They are now considered one of the most well-read, scholared nations in all of Neopia.

     For the past 18 years, their burgeoning economy has been boosted by a fledgling tourism drive and promises of a rich standard of living, led by the city's own head of state, King Hagan (AKA "Hagan the Wise").

     I took a visit to Brightvale, to find out how the kingdom became the real beneficiary of a timeless war that they played no part in.

      A Quest for Knowledge

     Perhaps Brightvale's most famous location (beyond its centrepiece castle, of course) is the Wheel of Knowledge. So, what better place to start?

     Stepping inside the modest stone abode of the wheels' keeper - a friendly Draik - it is difficult to comprehend this being the personification of Brightvale's most important export - knowledge.

     For some time, a misunderstanding of Brightvalian's thirst for knowledge by wider Neopia had given the kingdom's citizens a reputation for being 'snobbish'. This humble wooden wheel, however, has transformed the accessibility of education for the whole world.

     The friendly Draik I mentioned (who wished to remain nameless, such is their commitment to spreading learning opportunities that any personal commendations pail into insignificance), was stoical in their assessment of their role: "One merely wants to see a brighter future for the whole of Neopia.

     "If we are able to share our population's research in a fun way, then this is as worthwhile as any farm in Meridell or Petpet battle in the Citadel.

     "In fact, we believe we are delivering a service unlike any other across the whole of Neopia. And that is why we have become so popular."

     Of course, the use of the wheel only attracts a small donation from those who visit. And whilst knowledge may lead to monetary gains, it certainly doesn't prop up the economy of a 240,000-strong population.

     There is, however, a place right over the other side of town, which certainly helps to fill Brightvale's coffers.

      Brightvale Motery

     A simple building amongst the wider grandeur of Brightvale, the Motery is by far one of the most popular spots in this fair land and consistently proves to be the true shining example of the strength of the nation's economy.

     "I know exactly what it is" says shopkeeper, "Neopians just love our Motes - captured right here in Brightvale".

     Truth be told, ALL Motes are captured in Brightvale and its surrounds. Quite why Neopians, in some cases, pay over 100% more for Motes here than ones they can grab at any of the Neopia's Marketplaces is really quite the mystery.

     Perhaps it's the allure of them being 'new' or it is the enjoyment of vacation playing with people's minds, but either way there can be no doubt that this is one of the key entry points for Neopoints into this thriving economy.

     From Bronze to Metal, Ice to Water and even Weewoo, Motes can seemingly be made from almost anything. Traditionally used in the Battledome as one fearsome weapon, their force within this environment has plummeted.

     But as one of Neopia's traditional items and therefore tradeable commodities, they now occupy a huge portion of the souvenir market - and one that Brightvale is ideally placed to cash in on.

     By comparison, Meridell does offer a little more diverse shopping experiences, even though they are a little more traditional. Fancy a berry, cheese or potato-based snack? Merifoods has you covered. And there is no denying Kayla has proven herself as one of Neopia's finest alchemists.

     But this saturated market of medieval goods certainly does not draw crowds like Brightvale's Motes.

     And to finish the shopping experiences, just a couple of words on Darigan Citadel - "overpriced toys". That's it. That's the paragraph.

      Through the Stained Glass

     Whilst Motes have people visit, it is Brightvale's famous stained glass that is one of the kingdom's most recognised and sought-after exports.

     With almost 100 window designs to choose from off-the-shelf, Neohomes as far afield as Mystery Island, Roo Island and Shenkuu now have a little piece of Brightvale adorning their exterior. (Or are they interior?... "Windows", eh?)

     It is rumoured that even King Skaarl opted for some Brightvalian glass during the last refresh of his castle. Whilst no direct link has ever been proven, take a look at the large Meridell shield window next time you are in the area - the resemblance to the classic style and craftsmanship that comes from Brightvale is uncanny.

     And this perhaps would never have come to pass, had Brightvale not emerged as the dust settled on the Meridell vs Darigan wars.

      Pick Your Own vs Be Served The Finest

     My final stop in town is the eponymous "Fruits of Brightvale".

     Such is the quality of Brightvale's fruit, the official Neopedia even references it as a contender vs. those that Mystery Island produce on in the southern hemisphere. Some praise, that is.

     Whilst I tuck into a fresh Dewy Apple - its sweet juice taking my tastebuds on an incredible pleasure journey - it is quite clear that, despite its farming heritage, Meridell pales in comparison. The medieval kingdom's Pick Your Own used to be a huge draw some 15-20 years ago, but now you are lucky to score a rotten Nutritional Blockberry amongst the Dung and Bits of Barbed Wire. Poor produce and a poor experience.

     Fruits of Brightvale, on the other hand, know exactly what they are doing. Grown in almost identical, fertile land to that Meridell has to hand, Brightvale's exports are vibrant, flavoursome and, importantly, bountiful, by comparison.

     From the most accessibly priced Jipple Pear and Grenelon, right through to the exquisite Prickly Merato and Flaming Blooble Fruit, there is something in every price bracket to match every taste and every desire.

     Plus, there are even preserves to take home - Squibble Berry Jam, Grenanna Jam and Strypedillo Jam are some of my personal favourites.

     And none of the graft is needed. Served up by the incredibly kind Acara shopkeeper and chef, this is perhaps the best spot for food on Neopia's western peninsula - let alone just Meridell or Darigan Citadel.

      Room for improvement?

     There is possibly only one area where Meridell and Darigan Citadel still have the upperhand over Brightvale - Yooyuball.

     Debuting at the very first Altador Cup, Brightvale's 6th place finish in 2016 was their only single digit finishing position in the first 14 years of the competition (they competed in 13 tournaments in this time).

     A significant upturn in form in the past three years, however, has seen them finish in 3rd, 8th and, just this year, 4th place.

     Could Brightvale be on the brink of becoming an Altador Cup powerhouse?

     Fresh off the back of this year's impressive run in the competition, goalkeeper Orie Dinelle told me, "people love an underdog, but underdogs very rarely win anything.

     "We've been held back by this tag for far too long. Our reputation has always preceded us."

     Homegrown Dinelle is now in her second spell with Brightvale. After a brief time away from the team following the conclusion of the second Altador Cup, she has been a mainstay for the past 13 tournaments.

     "They say '13 is unlucky for some', but that was perhaps our best performance in a tournament. Sure, we've finished higher once before, but our long-term goals are starting to become reality. We're now focussing on the near future and what we can do for our kingdom.

     "We're proud people, but still a young nation to wider Neopia. We've focussed on academia for so long that it has taken some time for our sporting pedigree to catch-up. But it is now.

     "We'll be back next year. And we'll be going for it all!"

     Strong words from Dinelle, but she did not appear to just be paying lip service to the idea of winning the Altador Cup in the not too distance future.

     Sports truly has always been a second thought in this kingdom. There is no archery, no Kass Basher like in Meridell. And therefore very little pedigree. But this the plucky Brightvale Yooyuball Team are ones to watch, as they continue to remodel themselves as a slick sports unit, rather than their 'dirty play' moniker.

     There is no getting away from the gap that still exists between themselves and their two conflicted neighbours

     Darigan Citadel have never finished outside of the top nine teams, and followed up there AC2 win with their second title in this most recent edition, AC17.

     Meridell's history is slightly more erratic, but have also enjoyed consistent finishes in the top half of all teams. This year's 3rd place finish makes it three top-place positions in the past five tournaments.

     Wise words to finish

     Unlike his largely ridiculed brother, King Hagan rules over a kingdom of well-educated, driven Neopians who are keen to see their young nation continue to develop and grow year-on-year.

     Hagan's clear vision for each export of his kingdom - produce, tourism, education and now even sports - has put Brightvale at the forefront of Neopia.

     Whilst Meridell has struggled to shake off its medieval ways, and Darigan Citadel has never recovered from Lord Kass's mismanagement, Brightvale is been allowed to thrive. And therefore, proven itself as the true winner of the Meridell vs Darigan wars.

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