Pumpkin King

Chapter 56

Hyde sat on his throne in a relaxed fashion. He wasn't worried at all that his enemy had invaded his home. There was even a small, whimsical smile on his features as he thought about how close he was to achieving his goal of taking the Valmagus.

But then a puddle of slime seeped through the floor in front of him. He furrowed his eyebrows and his smile changed to a scowl as Alec rose out of the slime looking much worse than he had before.

"What happened?" He asked darkly.

Alec took a few breaths, trying to regain his composure. "Crest…that, that loser was stronger than you lead me to believe." He replied, trying to keep the anger out of his voice. He was furious with himself for losing to his old companion.

Hyde made a noncommittal grunt. "El Cid. I suspected he might have it. The armor chooses its wearer, after all. Once the father was taken out of action, it was only natural it would pass to the son."

Alec growled. "And you were going to warn me when?"

There was a chuckle from one of the shadows surrounding the room. The shadow had spiky hair and malicious grin. "If you weren't such a weak ass, maybe you could have won no matter what they pulled out of their sleeves."

Alec turned to the figure and glared at him. Despite being beaten, the darkness inside him made the others wary of him. But now that the challenge had been made, the figure didn't back down.

Alec was about to lunge at him when Hyde asked, "Were you able to take any of them out of commission?"

Alec flushed angrily before turning back to Hyde and lowering his eyes. "No."

"That is…disappointing." Was all Hyde said. The room was silent, waiting to see what Hyde would do next. But he didn't react in anger or disgust. Instead, he simply lifted an arm from the chair and gently placed it on a small figure that had been sitting next to the throne, almost entirely unnoticed by the others. The little shadow looked up at Hyde but didn't say a word.

"You're time has come, my little Hellscythe."

The figure stood up and a little girl no older than ten stepped into the light. Her turquoise hair was tied up into two tails. She wore a black dress that went down to her knees and a couple of strings were wrapped around her neck like a choker, forming the letter 'x'. Her skin was snow white, but her eyes attracted a lot of attention. They were blood red.

She curtsied to Hyde and bowed her head. "Yes, papa."

As Tamashi made her grand appearance at the guild, Erk and the others were slowly making their way through the Nightmare's End hideout. They were all frustrated by how Alec had escaped, but there was nothing they could do about it now. Hopefully they would run into him again as they headed deeper into the enemy's lair.

Erk, Dante, and Lorelai stood in awe of Crest's shining armor as they walked.

"Dude." Dante said. "Not gonna lie. That is freaking awesome."

"Ditto." Erk replied dumbly.

"What he said." Added Lorelai.

Crest cracked a smile before taking a deep breath and letting it slowly out. And as he did so, the golden armor, along with the shining blade vanished, leaving him back in his normal clothing. He rolled a shoulder and grimaced slightly. "Been a long time since I've swung anything like a sword. My muscles weren't prepared for it."

He smiled sadly. "I remember my father donning that armor. A more glorious sight I've never seen." He shook his head. "I had thought the armor lost forever when he fell to Dream."

They came across some stairs leading down into a dark abyss. There were no torches or lacrima to light the way. Before anyone could respond to him, Crest stepped forward, standing in between Charlotte and Becky.

"Could be a trap." Will said, staring into the abyss.

"Probably is." Jack replied. Then he turned to Becky. "Think you can take a look?"

The girl nodded before a magic circle appeared around her. "Take Over: Serpent Soul." Her body flashed with light and then she was gone. Looking down, everyone could see a small, black snake slither toward and down the stairs.

"Think it's safe to let her do that?" Lorelai asked.

Jack nodded. "In the dark, she is almost completely invisible in that form. She'll be fine."

They stood at the top of those stairs for a tense couple of minutes before Becky slithered back up to them and changed back to normal.

"All clear. I didn't see any traps or ambushes waiting for us. It gets a little brighter near the bottom and it leads into another room. Didn't have time to go check it out though."

"Then let's go everyone."

But as Pumpkin King descended the stairs, they didn't notice a small form staring down at them from the ceiling. She was standing on the ceiling like it was the floor, her red eyes watching them closely. At her feet, a black cat rubbed against her legs affectionately.

"Hyde." A man said flatly. His bald head gleamed from the light of the lacrima. "Was it wise to send such a small girl against a guild like Pumpkin King alone?"

Hyde's eyes slowly moved to the Steel Fist representative. "Do you doubt my decision Samuel?"

Samuel shook his head. "Not at all." He said soothingly. "I just wonder, what makes the girl so special?"

Hyde let out a low chuckle. "My little Angel has power none of us could achieve. My only wish for her is that we had more time to let her grow and mature." He scowled. "I fear Jekyll may have coddled her since she's so young. I do not want her treated like a child. She is, and always will be, my tool."

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