Anyway, as I threatened to do, I also wrote a short story that attempts to tie up some unexplained items and loose ends of the Champions of Meridell plot. I won't give away too much, but it mostly takes place before the First Meridell War, as King Hagan and Master Seradar learn that King Skarl has obtained a mysterious orb, and they determine to try to get to the bottom of things.
I wanted to explain two things with this story:
1) The nature of Darigan Citadel, both historically and in the aesthetic of its citizens. In the Flash animations for the CoM plot, the Orb is stolen from a place that looks like the polar opposite of Darigan Citadel, an idyllic utopia where we see a non-freaky-looking Grarrl and Korbat who are heavily implied to be General Galgarroth and Lord Darigan. This gave the impression that Darigan Citadel Neopets were once perfectly normal Neopets who were hideously mutated when they lost the Orb.
But not only is this incredibly depressing, but I realized it doesn't square with my headcanon that Neopets from the Citadel (or at least from the nation it came from) helped build Black Keep in Brightvale's Market Town. If you've ever played the Darkest Faerie PS2 game or at least seen screenshots/videos, you'll see that Black Keep has a remarkably post-Orb-Citadel-esque aesthetic about it, and that inspired me to think that the Darkest Knight hired mage-architects from the past equivalent of the Citadel to build his fortress. (Because, if Darigan Citadel itself is anything to go by, its citizens seem to be remarkably adept at magically-aided structural engineering.) It also explains why Kass likes the place so much--it reminds him of home.
Not wanting to lose that idea, I wrote what I like to call an expanding upon canon. Nothing in this history contradicts canon--I don't believe it's ever canonically stated that Darigan's people were the first owners of the Orb, and I don't think anything ever says that Darigan's people naturally looked like normal Neopets. So I took a few loopholes and ran with them. :)
Also addressed is the matter of the Citadel's name. It's called Darigan Citadel and its ruler is Lord Darigan. But Darigan has likely not ruled the Citadel, or at least the country it came from, for the entirety of its existence, and he does not strike me as the type of guy vain enough to name his own kingdom after himself.
However, in several places on the website, "Draconian" is used as the possessive for Neopets/items from the Citadel, and that got the wheels in my head turning. What if Draconia is the name of the nation the Citadel came from? What if "Darigan" is just a descriptor that's fallen into the common vernacular? I think this makes much more sense, and it's why I try to use "Draconian" as a possessive in my writing more often than "Darigan" (usually unless I'm describing the paint brush color).
2) The existence of the time portal to medieval Meridell, and why all of modern Neopia can now access Meridell like it's no big thing. I talked about this more in a previous post, but it all gets explained, hopefully neatly, in the story.
Anyway, more fun times were had in Brightvale with this story. It was fun to write Master Seradar again (he also shows up in "Worth Searching For"). He's got some Gandalf-like spunk in him and there's some fun good-natured bantering between him and Hagan.
Characterizing Hagan was fun too; I like to picture the guy as a good, fair ruler of his people, but also self-righteousness personified, and someone who thinks he's just too clever for his own good. He and Seradar are on good terms and he sees Seradar as a trusted adviser in magical matters, while Seradar puts up with Hagan's airs because Hagan is such a generous patron of learning.
Oh, and this story also explains what Brightvale was doing during both Meridell Wars. So I think it clarifies things rather nicely, and provides a good prologue for the Champions of Meridell plot.