Voice of the Neopian Pound Circulation: 197,128,178 Issue: 965 | 29th day of Swimming, Y24
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by birdinggal


Their land is a peaceful one. Prosperous. Ruled by the benevolent and wise Lord Darigan. Those who live in the dominion know nothing of wars, nor famine, nor plague. Why would they? The Orb in their courtyard keeps all ills at bay, casting a protective glow about the Citadel's inner walls. No harm has befallen them for as long as anyone can remember, nor will it in times to come. Not with the Orb to protect them.

     It is for these reasons they choose to take in the weary knights from a faraway land; for surely they can share with these poor unfortunate souls the bounty of the land. Why, it would be wrong not to, while they have so much, and these strangers have so little.

     Yes; with so much to share, they have more than enough to help.



      …They stole the Orb…

     They stole the Orb.

     After all that was done to help, they stole the Orb.

     They invite these weary soldiers with open arms, give them food and shelter, and this is how they repay their generosity? By stealing the land's most precious treasure?

     Lord Darigan despairs over what to do. How can help his people? What will become of them? Without the Orb's protection… what hope do they have?

     But no. He must think positively. His people are counting on him. Looking to him for guidance. He must be strong, for them. He must give them hope, somehow.

     As he paces, deep in thought, there is a sound from the shadows in the corner. A whisper. He looks, but no one is there. …Perhaps he just imagined it. Yes, that must be it. All the stress is making him hear things that aren't there. It's just the stress. Things will be better soon. They'll find the Orb and bring it back, and then everything would be alright.

     Everything had to be alright…



     His people are dying.

     In such a short amount of time, disease and sickness plague the land. There is famine. Drought. Suffering.

     He doesn't know what to do, how to help. His people are losing hope. There is still no word on the whereabouts of the thieving knights or the Orb. But still… he must do something. There has to be something he can do… anything!

     It is then, from the shadows in the corner, the whispers come again. Vague promises of help – help for his people, help for their suffering, and most importantly, help to find the Orb.

     This time, he begins to listen.




     That is the name of the kingdom that stole the Orb.



     It wouldn't be "merry" for much longer…



     The Orb is once again theirs. After so many years, it is finally back with its rightful owners.

     Why, then, does it refuse to help? The land is still in chaos. They’re still cursed. They’re still suffering.

     So what is he doing wrong, Darigan wonders? There has to be something…

     As he cradles the Orb, looking over the mockingly prosperous land below, the whispers return.

     One speaks of revenge. After all, shouldn't Meridell suffer as they have made his people suffer?


     Yes, they should.

     And they would.



     All around him is fire and flames and smoke and enemies and those who were supposed to be friends, his allies – against him, they were all against him! After everything he's done – after all he's sacrificed!

     The whispers are back, though now they carry no promises of help, or vengeance on his enemies. No; they, too, are against him now.

     He falls to his hands and knees with a cry of anger and despair. It’s over. It's all over. All he did was for nought. It doesn't matter. He has lost. Failed.

     And now, he knows, as his vision dims, he must pay the price…



     Nothing. Everything is strange. What is this? What is that? Who or what is that… thing? staring back from the water?

     It does not remember.

     It hears strange sounds, but does not care to pay attention to them. They speak strange things and say strange things, and It does not understand them.

     There are more important things to worry about, anyway.

     Like food. Shelter. Safety.



     Shelter, at least, has been found. No one bothers It here. Which is fine by It – It doesn't like all those Others with their Loud Voices and Pointy Sticks and Flaily Fire Containers. At least all it takes is one well-placed screech to send them running. But even so, It detests them all. All of these "farmers", as they call themselves, could just go away and leave It alone.

     …Well, except the strange little fluffy-tailed one who brings food. She was okay.

     What is that she calls It? "Mister Scary"?

     Well, It doesn't know what that means, but it sounds nicer than YAAAAAARRRRGH or BEGONE WITH YOU or SWEET MOTHER OF FYORA WHAT IS THAT THING at least.

     Perhaps, It thinks, It will just stay here for a while. There is plenty of food, after all, brought by the one with a fluffy tail.

     Yes… here was a good place to be. A safe place. And as long as the little one is around, It knows no one will dare to bother It.



     They're hurting her. The big creatures with the metal bodies are trying to take her away.

     She is scared – terrified – but still shouts for It to run as the creature begins to drag her away from the barn.

     Oh, it'd run alright.

     Run a fist straight into their face.








     Darigan, Darigan, Darigan.

     Darigan, Darigan, DARIGAN.




     He has to leave.



     The fighting must be stopped. Kass – his old friend, his trusted general, must be stopped.

     But he has listened to the whispers. Darigan can tell he has. If he can just break their power…

     But no.

     He tries, but Kass runs. The voices are too much for him.

     And now, they dare try and deceive him again. To suggest he'll come back to them.


     Never again.

     Not ever.

     He doesn't need them anymore. He banishes them, never again to listen to their poisonous whispers, their treacherous teachings.

     He is free.



     The war is technically over, but tensions are still high.

     Understandable, Darigan knows, and they have every right not to treat him as one who could be trusted after all he's done.

     But things are improving, albeit slowly.

     Friendships are being mended and made anew. For the sake of everyone, both in his land and the one below, they must try and get along. To make things right.

     Perhaps with some time, things can return to some semblance of "normal", whatever that may be…



     Twenty years.

     Has it really been twenty years since it all happened?

     Darigan shakes his head as he gazes out his tower study's window. Twenty years… It seems like such a long time, and yet, not that long at all.

     Peace has managed to be kept, thank the fates, and the peace will hopefully last, though there are many in the Citadel who still yet distrust the Meridellians below. They have, after all, suffered much from the theft and loss of the Orb.

     But peace was being kept, and if both sides were willing, would continue to last for a long, long time.

     The End.

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