I glare up at the sphere of the staff.
Edward and Cecil are keeping their eyes on Cecil, and so is Erdrick.
Rose flew off, and neither Harvey nor Dehak seemed to notice.
“You have got to be kidding me. This is what it’s about?”
And Dehak’s voice replies from the staff.
“This is what it’s always been about.”
“So what happened to your old body? Did Fra-- Auldryn destroy it? If so, how did you-- oh, now I see. You’re a lich aren’t you?”
“Ohoho, finally, you get one right! Yes. I am a lich. The greatest lich of all, in fact.”
Marley waddles up, looking up at the staff.
“Su am dat stickie yu fai-wak, uh…”
“Phylactery, and yes, it is, you stupid shite-rodent.”
“Shite-rodent? Oh, that must be your equivalent to shitrat. So why couldn’t you just regenerate a new body, Dehak?”
“Because that gaudy braggart damaged my phylactery! Permanently! He thought it was crueler than simply destroying my phylactery outright! He thought he could trap me in my phylactery for all eternity! But the idiot didn’t bother to make sure I was powerless in here. Sure, my power is limited in here. I wasn’t a threat to Auldryn anymore after that. But he was only thinking about himself! I had just enough power left to do all of this! Luring Harvey here… ordering you to the castle… it’s all part of my brilliant master plan.”
“Revenge on Auldryn.”
Of course, I can guess how François did all of that. And it should go without saying that he can’t do stuff like that anymore.
“Among other things. And to do that, I’m going to need your help, Mr. Korkea.”
Marley sighs, and Piccolo rolls his eyes.
“Mawwey can gess wut hewp Dehak wan.”
“If Piccowo had a skettie tweet fow ev-wee time dis shit happund, Piccowo wud be suuuu fat.”
Dehak disregards them entirely.
“Here’s the thing, Mr. Korkea. If I am to achieve any of my goals, I need a body.”
“Then why not just take his?”
I point at Harvey, still sitting in his throne, looking completely outraged at losing control over current events, but unable to really do anything about it.
He’s not a king, he’s just an asshole with a shiny hat.
You’re the only real king in the room, Cal.
“His body? Bah. He’s just as worthless as my animal spies. Oh yes, I’ve been watching you.”
“So that fly I squished was…”
“Yes. I was seeing through its eyes, until you crushed it. But no, what I need is the most powerful body I can find. A body that can withstand having my twisted, wretched soul in it for more than five minutes! And with the death of Panthera, with Auldryn beyond my grasp, there just wasn’t anyone else in Drakonia who met my high standards. At least, until you walked in. You, with power that trespasses into the domain of the gods! You, Mr. Korkea, possess the perfect body. With your body, nothing could stop me!”
He’s just like Umbra.
And all those other assholes who leeched off my power.
“Dehak, I’ve been through this shit before. You heard my fluffies, right?”
“I don’t talk to shite-rodents.”
“Maybe you should have. I’m not going through this shit again. I think, instead, that I’ll finish what Auldryn started.”
I notice an odd look in Harvey’s eyes. I feel him suddenly panicking.
He looks at the staff, then at me, and then shakes his head, almost imperceptibly.
What’s he trying to tell me? Not to destroy the staff?
You’ll be doing Harvey a favor, Cal. He’s been Dehak’s bitch since he got here, and how long ago was that?
Without their phylactery, there’s nothing binding the lich’s soul to the mortal realm. You’ll be doing the entire kingdom a favor, Cal.
“Dehak, I’ve had so many people come after me because they envied my power. I’m completely, absolutely, totally fucking sick of it. So, because you had the sheer gall to do the same shit all of those assholes did…”
I grab the staff with both hands, lifting it over my head, preparing to swing it down onto the floor like a hammer.
“…I’m sending you on a one-way trip Down There. I’d tell you to say hi to all of those assholes for me, but they’re all super dead.”
Dehak starts laughing maniacally.
“You idiot! You’ve just given me what I wanted!”
And then everything suddenly goes dark.
I open my eyes, seeing clear blue skies above me, and an endless ocean beneath my feet.
And a pool table, with a popcorn maker and a fancy hat on it, and a bed, the mattress appearing to be stuffed with money.
Oh, I know where I am.
And I see…
Or what I assume is Dehak.
He’s taller than me. His entire body looks like it’s made of the same black smoke in that sphere. His features are hard to make out.
He laughs, in his deep, raspy voice.
"So this is what it looks like in your mind, boy? It’s not as chaotic as I expected."
"That’s because you haven’t met US yet, Dehak!"
Nivlac appears, looking just like he did during our mental battle at Bran Castle.
So, like me, but as a vampire.
Dehak turns to him.
"Who are you?"
"Nivlac. I’m Cal’s dark side. Call me Niv, everyone in Cal’s head does."
The Memories of everyone I love appear, all glowing golden, surrounding us, speaking as one.
"It’s already far too crowded in here, Dehak. You’ll have to go."
"Where did all of–"
"And you’d better not sit in my seat, Dehak. You will NOT hijack my Champion."
And then Fi appears.
Looking like a beautiful woman, with shiny, sky blue skin, slightly darker but no less shiny long hair, eyes glowing cerulean blue, everything below the neck covered by a dark blue cloak.
I smirk at Dehak.
“Weren’t expecting this, were you? You thought you could separate me from my friends, but they’re always with me, even if only in spirit! I think you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, Dehak.”
He snarls at me.
"Don’t underestimate me, boy! I’m the mightiest mage there ever was!"
"Bullshit. BULL. SHIT. François kicked your ass! Oh yeah, that’s what Auldryn calls himself these days, he’s a friend of Cal’s! And so is OUR side’s Archmage! Cal knows plenty of mages who are better at it than you could ever be!"
Fi nods, smiling.
"And Cal’s got power that surpasses any magic."
The Memories all glare at Dehak.
"Power you could NEVER wield, Dehak. Because it’s power that comes from the very heart! And you don’t HAVE a heart!"
"Oh, how trite. I’ve ripped many a heart out. The power of the heart is worthless."
I scoff at the bastard.
“Of course you would say that. That’s what all those other assholes I’ve dealt with said. You just don’t have an original idea in your head, do you? Pathetic.”
Nivlac bares his pointy teeth.
"Yeah, and I can tell you EXACTLY how trying to take the wheel will work out for you. I suggest you fold. Run away while you still can, Dehak."
"He’s not going to fold, Niv. They never fold."
“That don’t mean it’s not worth giving them that chance. Dehak, you know virtually nothing about me, but by now, I think I know everything about you. Because I’ve seen it all before. Do you have a single move to make that I haven’t seen before?”
Dehak starts laughing.
"Oh, yes! I do! While you’ve all been blathering on, I’ve been looking at your memories. Not of those you love. Of those you and your loved ones have killed!"
Dark clouds start rolling in.
The water beneath our feet changes.
Not into blood.
But into black ichor.
Cold, dead hands rise out of the ichor.
Cold, dead hooves, and cold, dead claws.
Dehak laughs harder then ever, as the walking corpses of all of my dead enemies rise out of the black ocean.
"And oh my, there’s a lot of them! You sure have been busy! Look what you made, this morbid scene!"
“How the fuck did you–”
"Because I embody necromancy, idiot boy! I’ve taken it further than anyone else!"
Dehak orders the unliving memories.
"Kill the boy. Kill his imaginary friends. Clear this place out for me."
And they all gladly oblige, rushing me, Nivlac, Fi and the Memories as one.