Me, Marley, Piccolo, Edward, Cecil, Erdrick and Rose stand before the gates separating Dragonheart Palace from the rest of the city.
The guards watch us approach, and I address them.
“The King of Drakonia requested our presence at the castle.”
One of the guards nods.
“We were told to let you through. Open the gates!”
The gates slowly open.
I’ve told the rest of the party where we’re going, and of course, Nadia too.
I’ve got a plan.
As always, I’m not telling you the plan, dear readers.
But hopefully, the plan won’t be needed.
I mean, Harvey didn’t look like a pawn in that guard’s memories. He looked assertive. Demanding. Bossy.
Or he’s just playing the part of a king. Obviously, the crown went straight to his head.
Well, of course. Where else is a crown supposed to go?
How about up his ass?
What is with you and shoving stuff up people’s asses, Niv?
It’s painful and humiliating for them, and hilarious for me. Y’know, like when Slayer rapes a monster.
As we walk through, we see a large courtyard, and at the center, a statue of who I presume to be Harvey. It looks like he did in those memories.
It doesn’t look that old. I’m guessing it was raised after Harvey took the throne.
The space between the wall and the castle is otherwise filled with gardens, gorgeous gardens, with many flowers we’ve never seen on Earth.
There’s a few familiar flora, too.
Edward and Cecil look up at the statue.
“He’s aged poorly, Eddy.”
“It’s the stress of ruling a kingdom, Dad.”
Edward’s got a point. You’ve seen how poorly our presidents age, right? They spend four to eight years in the White House, and they come out looking like they spent forty years in there.
A bunch of guards, marching in formation, pass us, heading towards the gates, chanting as one.
“Gather to our defence! Our family and friends! We fight for justice here! Together until the end!”
“Wut am dat abowt?”
“Well, they’re soldiers. Probably a training exercise.”
We’re the only people here who aren’t soldiers.
Rose looks around.
“This place is beautiful! Why doesn’t Harvey let everyone enjoy it?”
Nadia explained it to me. She grew up exploring these gardens.
So I explain it to Rose.
“Lorik did that. He was a better king than Harvey. Old Harv probably wants to keep all of this to himself.”
“Hawv-ee am a sewf-ish pwick. Oop. Sowwy, mistah See-siw.”
“No, it’s alright, he is a selfish prick.”
We make our way up to the castle doors, and once again, the guards let us in.
One of them is the guard who initially invited us.
“His Majesty is not happy that you kept him waiting, Mr. Korkea.”
“I’m not happy that he didn’t give me time to wait for my friends. So I guess nobody’s happy.”
As we head inside, I toss the guard a gold drake.
“Except you. Don’t spend it all in one go, dude.”
“Th-thank you! That’s more than I make in a month!”
These guys deserve a raise.
Once inside, another guard escorts us to the throne room, decorated in red and gold.
“Here they are, Sire.”
We find Harvey, sitting on the throne, looking as stone-faced as that statue out front.
And sitting next to the throne, someone sitting in a wooden chair, wearing a black robe and hooded cloak, their entire body obscured, including their hands. A black staff is propped up against the chair, the staff topped with a cracked glass sphere, full of what looks like black smoke.
I can feel the malice coming from them. That must be Dehak.
I’m getting Scha flashbacks, is anyone else getting Scha flashbacks?
It’s a different kind of malice, Niv. The Tennebites, they feel a sort of passionate malice. They devote themselves to hatred. Their entire lives revolve around exterminating everything not of Tenneb.
But this guy? He’s radiating a sort of passive malice. Like the kind of guy who would kill someone in his way, just because it’s easier than asking them to get out of the way.
The kind of guy who kills people, and just doesn’t care. Who barely even notices the people he kills.
The kind of man who would kill the world to rule over the corpses.
Harvey addresses the guard who brought us in, and the two other guards flanking the doors.
“Leave us. We have private matters to discuss.”
The guards leave.
Then Harvey turns to Cecil.
“Hello, Cecil. Long time no see, Brother. So… how’s showbusiness?”
“Not bad, not bad. So, you mind telling me…”
The grin fades from his face.
“…what the ABSOLUTE FUCKING FUCK IS GOING ON HERE, HARV?!?”
Harvey is stunned into silence, so Cecil continues.
“Seriously! You ran away from home, and vanished without a trace! You know the grief killed our parents, Harv? We thought you were dead! But then I find out that you… you… you went to a world of magic and became a king!”
Edward steps up.
“How did you even learn about Drakonia, Uncle Harvey?”
Harvey manages to speak.
“Uncle? Ah, that’s right. And you are…?”
“Edward. I’d say call me Eddy, but I only let my friends call me Eddy. So far, I’ve got no reason to consider you a friend.”
I step up next.
“Dis gun be gud.”
Harvey peers at our fluffies.
“Since when does Earth have woollies?”
And I smirk.
“So you’ve been here that long, huh, Harv? They’re called fluffies on Earth. Didn’t you ever get homesick? Didn’t you ever try to find a way home? Or were you just too busy after you put a knife in King Lorik’s back?”
Harvey gapes silently at me, so, like Cecil, I continue.
“Oh yeah, we know how you got onto that throne. We know you murdered Lorik.”
“FUCK YOU, THAT’S HOW!!! Harvey, perhaps I should introduce myself. My name is Calvin Korkea. And I am the strongest man alive. Seeing as you’ve been playing kings and castles here for at least a decade, I didn’t expect you to know that. But I know everything I need to know about you. And I think I know who brought you here.”
I point at Dehak, who hasn’t said a word the entire time.
“He did. I couldn’t tell you exactly how. I don’t have all the puzzle pieces. But I know one thing: you’re not really in charge here. He is. I know a pawn when I see one, and now that I’ve gotten a proper look at the two of you, I can tell who the real boss here is.”
I march towards Dehak.
“Let’s see what this asshole really looks like. I’m guessing there’s a woolly under that hood.”
Did you guess that too, dear readers?
Everything I’ve heard about Dehak leads me to believe that he’s the Umbra of Magicca.
Hell, when I was calling Nadia via magic mirror, to tell her about this, Panthera chimed in, and told me about François’ duel with Dehak.
So the bastard’s got a grudge against the Faucheuse family! Just like Umbra!
Harvey tries to protest.
“Know your place, you commoner piece of–”
“You aren’t the only king in this room, Harvey. In fact, you’re not a king at all. You’re. A. Pawn. Zip it. Your turn to talk is over.”
I grab Dehak’s hood. He makes no attempt to resist, oddly enough.
“Let’s see who’s been moving the pieces.”
And with one good hard yank, I pull the hood down.
Revealing absolutely nothing underneath it.
The entire robe and cloak collapses, like…
A leaky balloon. Did he just teleport away and leave his clothes behind? Do we need to go look for a naked wizard?
No. I still feel that malice. He’s still in the room.
My train of thought is interrupted by a voice, laughing.
A deep, raspy voice.
Deeper than Umbra’s. Raspier than Umbra’s.
Coming from that cracked glass sphere on the staff.
And the voice speaks.
“Oh, such an inaccurate guess, Mr. Korkea. You were expecting a woolly’s body? Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The truth is… I’ve got no body at all.”
The voice chuckles.
“Of course, that’s why you’re here. My name is Lord Dehak. Archmage, Royal Mage, and greatest mage of all time. And you… are mine.”