Today's writing notes:
Okay, so, um, this "short story" may end up being 3 or 4 parts... I regret nothing. Also, looking back at what was originally the short story, it does seem kind of odd to introduce so many characters and then not do anything with them, especially since I teased at the idea of them having entertaining interactions with my usual players. I thought, why not actually write said interactions instead of taking the lazy way out? And then it turned into an actual plotline about Celice getting some good character development, and sort of an all-around follow-up story to "The Spirit of Black Keep" and "Return to Lynwood" a little (because, Connor).
One thing I've had to ponder somewhat in writing about the Meridell region has been the fact that Meridell used to not exist. If you'll recall the old first Meridell plot, Meridell had originally been overrun and destroyed by Draconian forces in the First Meridell War, 300 years before the present day. Whatever happened to the Citadel after that, afterward Meridell was nothing but crumbling ruins (and a time warp). That is, until Year 4, when Lisha and her pals fell through said time warp and were reunited with her brother Jeran, who had similarly time traveled some years previous.
And then the Meridell of 300 years ago just sort of arbitrarily showed up on the world map, causing all sorts of confusion as we were able to freely access the world without any mention of time travel. From what I can gather, the official explanation is that Lisha and co.'s actions (along with the rest of Neopia who somehow also had access to past Meridell now) changed history so that Meridell was never destroyed, and thus the nation lived on until the present.
Buuuuut that presents a big logical hole: if the Meridell plots took place in 300-years-ago Meridell, why is Meridell exactly the same today, down to the same Neopets who presumably are not immortal? Why did the second Meridell war happen as though it had only been a few years since the first war?
Some authors suggest that the Meridell region still exists in a time warp, and every time we go there we are effectively traveling 300 years into the past, but to me that seems a bit convoluted and may raise more issues than it solves. Where is present-day Meridell, and if it's not ruined anymore, why don't we hear from any of the Neopets who now live there? What if our constant traveling to the past alters the future - our present - in unanticipated ways that wreak all sorts of havoc when we return to our own time?
So in my writing, although I have not explicitly stated it (yet), I use what I feel is a simpler solution: when Lisha and her friends saved Meridell, the entire region was, via its own time warp, brought 300 years into the future. For Meridell, the three-odd centuries between Lord Darigan's defeat and the present day simply did not happen, and the nation exists in Neopia's present in all of its medieval charm.
Maybe it's a little arbitrary, but it at least dispenses with all of the tangles of constant time travel, and also brings to light the possibility that perhaps that time warp existed in the first place for a reason--as a failsafe to save Meridell. Once that had happened, the time warp, in order to reconcile the presence of present-day Neopets in the past, simply brought all of Meridell through to the present.
... Actually now I want to write something about that.
Also, the timeline for Isengrim's pack fits in nicely to this turn of events; their fortress was destroyed in March Y4, and thus it can be assumed that they wandered gradually northwest and ended up in the Meridell region by April Y5 (when the First Meridell War ended and past Meridell became a part of present Neopia).
That gives the Werelupes roughly two years to invade Illusen's Glade unsuccessfully, discover the Burrows, and get themselves settled there before Isengrim decides to ally with the Darkest Faerie in November Y7. By Y16, when the events of "Worth Searching For" take place, Isengrim has had time to not only build up the Burrows considerably from what we see in the Darkest Faerie PS2 game, but appropriate a number of Brightvale's more remote villages for himself.
... Yes, I'm like the Tolkien of Neopets over here. (I'd love to work as a content writer for Neopets, actually.)