Pumpkin King

Chapter 48

Back in their hideout, Alec was kneeling in front of Hyde. The room was still cast in shadow, with only Alec revealed by the light.

Hyde was smiling as the slime wizard finished his report. "So, we are now at war." He chuckled. "If I know Jack, he's probably gathering his forces, ready to storm us."

A younger man spoke up. His glasses flashed from the light of the lacrima. "Indeed. But that is precisely why we took measure against that." He spoke to one of the men by his side. "Go ready the barrier."

The man scowled. "Why the hell should I obey a worm like you? Huh?"

Then Hyde turned to them. "Jilo." He said in a heavy voice. Jilo froze and slowly turned to his Master. "Jekyll is not only my son, but our main weapon on taking the Valmagus." Even from the shadows, a terrifying aura appeared around the man. "You will listen to his orders. Understand?"

Jilo shook visibly as Hyde spoke to him. It felt like the weight of a mountain had been set on his body. He swallowed. "Yes, Master." The weight instantly left him and he took in a deep breath. Glancing around, he saw more than one pair of eyes shining with glee at him. Griping his hands tightly, he left without a word.

It was then that the brown haired woman that had had her arms wrapped around Wave stepped into the light with Alec. She was staring at him accusingly. "Alec." She breathed. "What happened to Wave?"

Alec grinned sickeningly as he stood up and looked at her. One or two people in the shadows took a tentative step back from him. No matter how long they spent with him, there was just something wrong about him that made them wary of him.

"Didn't you hear my report, Rose?" He laughed. "Wave is gone. Poof! Into thin air."

Rose glared at him. Unlike the others, she had nothing to fear from the deluded man. With a flick of her wrist, roses erupted from the ground and wrapped themselves around Alec tightly, binding him in place.

Alec looked down slowly to see the thorns from the rose vines biting into his skin. The he looked back up just as slowly, still smiling. But in his voice there was no joy or lightness. "When I gave Pumpkin King our message, Wave was already missing. All I saw was a single, glowing jack-o-lantern. You. Know. What that means~"

The room was still before the vines slowly released Alec and crumbled to the ground. "No…" Rose said softly. She fell to her knees, not believing what Alec was saying "Not Wave."

Alec cackled. "Yes Wave! Once again, Pumpkin King has taken what you hold dear! Isn't that right, Rose?" He leered.

Rose froze. "My family…my home…burned to the ground…" Her teeth clenched and her fists shook. "And now my Wave." She growled and shouted, "Pumpkin King!"

Erk and the others stared up at Val in disbelief. "You're saying," Erk said hesitantly, "that this whole time we've been sharing a guild with a demon?"

Jack chuckled. "Yup!" He smiled behind his mask but tried to appear more serious considering their situation. "He's been sealed so we've all been completely safe. No need to worry."

Reese looked at Rosemary appreciatively, who was sitting at the bar with a mug in front of her. "You must have some serious magical muscle to keep a demon like that locked up. Wouldn't want to meet you in a dark alley."

Rosemary glared at the boy. "Damn right you little snot." She spat. Then she took a drink from her mug. "It wouldn't even be a fair fight…I'd be beaten in a heartbeat."

Reese blinked, but before he could say anything Erk and Dante jumped in front of him with irritated looks.

"What are you talking about?" Erk demanded.

"Yeah," Dante added, "every time we even look at you wrong you plant our faces into a wall or the floor."

Rosemary didn't even turn to face them. She just took another long drink and said, "I can handle you like children without magic. But in a serious fight, I'd be beaten."

Bertrand looked at her sadly as she went silent. "All her magic is focused on keeping the seal intact." He explained. "At every moment, she's being drained by that accursed demon."

Will looked up from Julio and Lucinda. "That kind of strain would kill a normal human in a manner of days." He pulled out a bundle of candles from his pockets and placed them around his two unconscious comrades, their blue flames dancing steadily. He turned to Rosemary. "You must have a strong will."

Rosemary didn't look up from her drink. "I manage. But…I can't leave this building."

That stopped Erk and Dante from their rant. A thoughtful looked grew on their faces. "Now that you mention it…I've never seen you leave the guild." Erk noted.

"Yeah." Dante agreed.

"If I left, the pull of the seal would strain my body to the limits in order to keep the flow of magic strong." She sighed sadly. "Even a foot outside would kill me. That's the burden I bear to keep the Valmagus locked away."

"But…I'm confused." Lorelai said softly. "If…if all your magic is being used to keep Val sealed up, then how did you lock away my emotions when we infiltrated Demon Horn?"

"That kind of seal is simple." Rosemary scoffed. "I didn't even need to use any of my own magic to do it. I designed it so that the magic it required came from your own body."

"Oh…" She replied softly. Then she hid behind Dante. Rosemary was very intimidating.

"Well now you know the rhyme and reason to everything." Jack interrupted. Holding up his arm, Peeko let out a caw from the rafters and flew down to perch on his hand. Jack brought him over to his shoulder and smiled as Peeko took his usual place. "Pumpkin King is here to keep the world safe from Valmagus. But now these Nightmare's Begin people want to use Val's power for their own ends." He turned to this entire guild. "As your Master…no, as a fellow human, I have no right to ask this of you. If we do this, we'll be putting our very lives on the line. But how about it. To protect our families, to protect our friends, to protect the very world we live in. Will you go to war with me?"

There wasn't even a second's hesitation in their answer. One and all, each and every member of Pumpkin King's voice resounded through the air. "Aye!"

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