A Weewoo flew through the window of a rather plain Neohome, toting the latest Neopian Times. Rimos took the newspaper, thanked the small Petpet, and went to flip to the comic section for a laugh that early morning. Instead he received a shock.
LAST DARIGAN GENERAL CAPTURED, exclaimed the headline on the front page. The Battle for Meridell had ended over two years ago, and only now did they say that all of the worst of the war criminals had been found and imprisoned.
LAST DARIGAN GENERAL CAPTURED
King Skarl announced yesterday that his army had captured General Kroge. During the Battle for Meridell, Kroge was one of the closest allies of the principal antagonist, Lord Kass. Two years have passed since Lord Kass was defeated and disappeared, and at long last, General Kroge has joined his fellow criminals in the dungeons of Meridell Castle. The most recent capture before yesterday was of General Wrak ten months ago.
"I appointed a team of highly skilled soldiers to hunt for the worst Darigan outlaws shortly after the war ended," Skarl says. "They are the best that money can buy, but unfortunately, these Darigan fellows proved to be very crafty and skilled in evading capture. However, with the capture of General Kroge, I can safely say that the entirety of Kass's Upper Command is under lock and key."
Rimos dropped the newspaper onto the table. He took a gulp of orange juice, donned his hat, and left his rather plain Neohome in a hurry.
Eight hours and many, many miles later, Rimos arrived in Meridell. Despite his desires to yell at King Skarl, he refrained from going to Meridell Castle; his destination lied on the northern outskirts of the land.
Rimos walked past the castle, past Illusen's Glade, past Meri Acres, toward Brightvale. He soon saw a wooden sign. "Thank you for visiting the paradise of Meridell," it read. That hadn't been there on his last visit. Rimos shook his head and kept walking. Soon something else caught his eye - not because it was out of the ordinary, but because he recognized it. Three large trees planted close together marked the way to his destination. He turned right.
A small entrance to a cave was what he wanted, and it was what he found. Rimos, despite being a Bruce, was rather skinny, and was able to fit inside the hole.
"Welcome back," he heard a voice say to him. "What is the reason for this visit?"
Rimos took out his copy of the Neopian Times and threw it to the cave's inhabitant. "News today."
Silence for a minute. Then, "I see. Kroge has been captured." A pause. "They say they have all of the generals captured. This means you did well... General Rimos."
Rimos nodded. "We can only hope that Kroge does not speak of me to King Skarl and his people - if I am captured, it's very possible that you will be found."
This time it was Kass's turn to nod. "Too true. I would just as soon have removed him long ago, so that he would never be captured... but of course you know that."
"I'm not as merciless as you, Kass."
"So I've noticed. But is that a good thing, or bad? The truth is, no one can say without a doubt."
Another silence. "How long has it been since your last visit, Rimos?"
"Over two years."
"I remember that visit well... I gave you a paint brush so you could change form Darigan to Green. I see you used it." Kass paused, as if in remembrance. "You know, I haven't had any visitors since then. No one else knows I'm here. Tell me, what has happened since then in the world? Is Lord Darigan still in power?"
"Yes, sir, he is. Not much has changed."
"If only I could have power again... Ah, but I know this is preposterous. I wouldn't stand a chance if I tried again to make a stand..."
Another silence. "Kass, do you regret your actions?" Rimos asked his former superior.
"No, General Rimos, I do not. I wanted power, and I did what I thought would get me closer to it. It's unfortunate that my actions were not sufficient to give me the land of King Skarl, but I do not regret anything that I did. I am loyal to myself."
Rimos nodded. Kass continued, "I know, Rimos, that you wish you could undo some of the things you did - or some things that happened under your authority. Here's the difference between us: we think differently. That's it.
"I want power. I'm not sure how to describe what you want - justice, perhaps? You want the innocent to be safe. And if what I want, and what I do to get what I want, goes against what you want, you need to try to do something about it. Life doesn't stop just because you don't want something to happen.
"You call me merciless. But it's not me - life is merciless. Circumstances are merciless, and there's nothing you or I can do to stop that."
Rimos nodded yet again. "Kass, I need to go... There's something I need to do."
"I understand," Kass replied. "And while I don't know why you want to do it, I will support you."
Rimos turned and began to exit the cave. He was almost outside when he heard Kass call his name. "Rimos?"
Rimos turned. "Yes, Lord Kass?"
"Thank you for your service... during the war and after." Kass gave a salute, and Rimos returned it before leaving the cave.
The next day, a Darigan Bruce appeared at the front gate of Meridell Castle, asking to see King Skarl. The king was not busy, so he was permitted entry under close guard.
"King Skarl?" Rimos said. "I have a confession to make."
Skarl sat up a little straighter, intrigued. "What exactly is it that you would like to confess?"
"Well... It will take some explaining. How many generals do you think there were during the Battle for Meridell?"
"Six. And we have all of them in our dungeons. Why?"
Rimos paused. Are you sure you want to do this? he asked himself. After a moment, Yes. "There were seven generals. Near the end of the war, I predicted that Kass would fall, so I did everything that I could to hide any evidence pointing to my presence. Here are the documents that can prove it." Rimos outstretched his hand, holding many papers that had been hidden away for over two years. "Imprison me."
"How did they catch you, old friend?" Kroge asked after Rimos had been welcomed by the other prisoners in the dungeon.
"I turned myself in," Rimos said, despite knowing what would happen next.
"What?!" General Kroge was taken by surprise, and then shook his head. "Rimos, I always knew you were an odd one... but turning yourself in? Why?" The other prisoners murmured their agreement to the question as well.
Rimos thought about what to say. Something came to mind, something Kass had said the day before... Something which rang true for the general as well, despite the differences between the two.
"I am loyal to myself."