Harry gets his first taste of Overlording.
Action in the Forest
All was peaceful in the small glen. A pair of birds flew amongst the trees, revelling in the sparse sunlight that managed to sneak past the thick tree branches. A beetle the size of a person's head buzzed along, then stopped abruptly as it found itself entangled in a spider's web. It struggled valiantly to escape as the owner of the web in question, a spider easily the size of any normal human, came along, sinking its fangs into its prey. The beetle quickly ceased moving as the venom took effect, and the giant spider began wrapping its meal up.
It was around this time that all hell broke loose. Quite literally, in fact.
Without any warning, an explosion ripped through the small clearing, tossing aside giant trees that had stood for thousands of years as if they were nothing more than saplings. A giant stone pillar rose from the earth at the origin of the explosion, swiftly growing into a claw-like structure that stuck out of the ground menacingly. The base of the structure projected a blue aura, casting the obsidian formation in an eerie glow.
For a moment, everything was unnaturally quiet in the forest, before a low grumbling came from the belly of the earth. The blue aura glowed even more intensely, send arcs of energy spitting everywhere, while the grumbling continued to get louder. All at once, the lights and sounds faded, and a dark figure stepped out from the portal.
Actually, stumbled out would be a more accurate description. Harry cursed at himself as he regained his balance. Though Gnarl had assured him that his armour was enchanted to increase Harry's strength so that the armour would not incapacitate him, he had still not anticipated the challenges the cumbersome armour would create in his flexibility and overall ability to move. "Remind me to smack that old Minion when I get back," he muttered.
"Now, really, is that how you would treat your most devoted servant, Master?"
Harry looked around in surprise. He could've sworn he had just heard Gnarl speaking, but the ancient creature was nowhere in sight. "Gnarl?" he called out. "Where are you?"
And again Gnarl spoke, as plainly as if he had been standing right next to the young wizard. "The jester, perhaps, Master, but hitting me would serve no purpose."
Harry spun around, nearly losing his balance again in the process, but was still unable to locate the source of the voice. "Gnarl, this isn't funny, tell me where you are."
"Still in the Netherworld, of course. I daren't go out into the world these days; I'm not sure my constitution could bear the sickeningly sweet sounds and smells of nature. Bleargh!"
"How the bloody hell is it that you are talking to me, then?"
"Through your helmet, Sire. There's a direct magical feed that allows me to see and hear everything you do right from the comfort of the hellish pits of the Netherworld."
Harry grunted. "Great for you, Gnarl. Now would you mind telling me what I need to do to get out of this wretched armour?"
"Of course, M'Lord. If you would be so kind as to look to your left, we can get started." Harry obliged, and saw four miniatures of the portal on which he stood. Three of them seemed pure black, but the one closest to Harry glowed a tan colour. "These are called Minion Gates. As you can see, of the four gates, only one is active. Focus your will on it, and call forth your Minions to do your bidding." With a grain of scepticism, Harry did as he was told, pointing his left arm at the hole in the ground, and concentrated on summoning some of the Minions he had seen earlier. To his surprise, a group of ten Minions popped out of the Minion Gate with little cries of happiness, who all immediately ran to Harry. "Ah, look at those keen little Evil faces. Ready to loot and pillage at your command. Currently, you can only summon Brown Minions; you must find the other lost Minion tribes before you can summon them as well. Now, let us continue."
Not knowing how to progress, Harry took a look around the small clearing, noticing the damage his entrance had caused. Oops, he thought sheepishly.
"Fret not, Master. As I said, we are far from civilization, though you may recognize where we are since you've ventured here before. More than once, if memory serves."
Confused, Harry looked past the nearby destruction and into the surrounding forest. Beyond the small patch of light caused by the Netherworld Gate's appearance, the forest was nearly pitch-black. Mist swirled around the trunks of trees that were twice as wide as Harry was tall. Harry was still clueless until he saw a giant spider scurry through the undergrowth and away from the disturbance that was Harry. In a flash, Harry knew.
"We're in the Forbidden Forest."
"Right you are, Master. Now, the reason we are here is to find the Red Minion Hive. With this artefact in your possession, you will be able to control, as the name implies, Red Minions. Devilish little blighters, they are, and necessary to power up the forge. Our sources indicate that they have set up camp somewhere in this area."
"Got it, Gnarl." Harry noticed a small path that wound through the vast trees. He moved as if to follow it, but found himself stumbling over the downed branches again. The Minions chuckled at his misstep, as Gnarl spoke to him.
"Hm. Perhaps you had best get more comfortable in your armour before we head out, Master. Draw your weapon and practice on some of those trees. We wouldn't want you to hurt yourself when the time comes, hm?"
Harry's temper flared at the snide comment. If it was so easy, then why didn't Gnarl come out here himself? His blood hot from something other than the suit of armour, Harry forcefully drew his weapon from his side, a long sword with a silver guard in the shape of a Minion's head and a ruby imbedded in the pommel; glowing red runes adorned the blade itself. According to Gnarl, unfortunately, he would be unable to use his wand while wearing his Overlord armour. Besides his complaint that "brandishing a twig at your enemies wouldn't threaten a fairy," it seemed that a different type of magic was harnessed as Overlord. To be frank, it had all gone quite over Harry's head, but he took the old Minion at his word for now.
Harry had been given a choice back in the Netherworld between an axe, a mace, and the sword he held in his hand now. He looked at the sword in appreciation; besides the fact that he doubted he would've been able to raise, let alone use, the other heavier weapons, the sword reminded him of a similar one he had wielded five years previously. If he could slay a basilisk with the sword of Godric Gryffindor, then he was sure that he would be able to wield the sword of the Overlord with similar success.
Doing his best to ignore the bloody past of the weapon, as well as of the armour he wore, Harry moved forward, slowly at first, then with more certainty as he became accustomed to his extra height and weight, with the Minions following obediently in his wake. Walking up to one of the enormous trees, he struck at the tree, using it as target practice. With every blow he landed, the Minions egged him on. His form was hardly passable, but he only planned on using it if his Minions failed to stop anyone. Harry gouged out sizable chunks of the bark every time one of his strikes landed. Finally, he took one last mighty slice at the trunk before he left...
And watched in amazement as the blade cleaved the tree in half. The Minions cheered as the behemoth fell to the ground, and Harry stared at his hand. The power almost seemed too much to be real. "Well done, Master!" Gnarl said. "However, we seem to have a problem" Harry sighed as he surveyed the tree, which had fallen right in the way of the path out of the small glen he was in. "Our way is blocked! But we have strength in numbers. Sweep all your Minions into that tree, and they will work together to clear it from the path."
Harry absentmindedly wondered why he didn't just walk around the tree, but figured that he should just do what Gnarl told him to. Raising his arm, he silently commanded the Minions to move the tree from the path, and then they all proceeded to trudge down the path together. "Now," Gnarl said, "we need to keep an eye out for any evidence of the Red Minions."
"Like what?" asked Harry.
"Well, considering the fact that the Red Minions have a rather fiery personality, I'd say any part of this dank forest that is or was on fire recently would be a good place to start." Gnarl chuckled evilly, but Harry found himself distracted by a noise he heard just off of the path.
"Quiet, Gnarl!" Harry reached for his wand, cursing when he realized it was still in the Netherworld. At least I still have this big-ass sword, he thought. Suddenly, an acromantula leapt into the path, stopping Harry and the Minions short. The giant arachnid stared at the group, saliva and venom glistening on its mandibles in the moonlight.
The Minions quickly moved in front of their Overlord to protect him from the threat, as Gnarl spoke to Harry. "An acromantula, sire! I suppose I don't need to tell you how ferocious they can be. Still, it would be unwise to engage it in close combat. Command your Minions to attack that overgrown bug!"
"But what happens if one of the Minions gets bitten? They'll die, won't they?" Harry asked desperately.
"Have no fear, your Minions will gladly die for you. They're very loyal," Gnarl said. "Better that an expendable Minion be sent to the grave than you, M'Lord."
Harry ground his teeth in frustration as he commanded his Minions to attack the acromantula. With savage battle-cries, they charged the hideous spider, attacking it with their clubs. However, the spider, which was bigger even than Harry, would not go down without a fight, and it thrashed at the Minions, knocking two aside with one of its legs, attempting to bite another. The combined force of the Minions was proving to be overwhelming, however, as the spider sustained more injuries as time went on, though it showed no signs of giving up any time soon. Harry watched helplessly as one of the Minions managed to climb onto the acromantula's back, hitting its head with the club it held, but was subsequently caught by the spider, biting the Minion and injecting its deadly poison into the Minion's body. As it gave a final twitch and died, the acromantula hurled the dead creature away as it continued fighting the remaining Minions.
As Harry stared at the dead Minion, he felt rage growing inside him. Even as the Overlord, he was unable to protect anyone; though he had only known the Minion for a short while, the fact that he was unable to save it burned inside Harry as fiercely as had the deaths of Sirius and Dumbledore. He was still hiding behind others to do what he should. No more, Harry thought viciously. He gave the Minions the command to retreat to him, which they did immediately. The acromantula, emboldened by its kill, followed quickly in their wake, which was exactly what Harry had been hoping for. Ignoring Gnarl's protests, Harry allowed his rage to bubble forth as he did back in Little Whinging, and then pointed at the charging acromantula.
Streams of lightning burst forth from his outstretched hand, slamming into the spider and driving it, screaming, to the ground. He let the energy flow for a few seconds, then allowed it to dissipate. Somehow, the spider was still alive, twitching feebly on the ground in front of Harry. His anger not yet sated, Harry walked slowly up to the now pitiful predator, raised his sword, and drove it into the spider, which finally died.
The Minions all cheered as their foe expired, along with Gnarl. "Well done, Master. I never would've guessed you would be able to harness the Evil energy like that." When Harry did not respond, but instead walked over to the dead Minion, Gnarl added, "Sire, you must realize that people and Minions die during times like these. Death is an inevitable part of war." It felt strange to Gnarl having to explain to this boy things he and the Minions grew up knowing, but he knew it was necessary to start converting him into the Overlord.
Harry responded sadly, "That doesn't mean I have to enjoy it."
Gnarl grunted noncommittally, and then brought Harry's attention back to the corpse. "See those glowing orbs, Sire? That is Lifeforce. Gather them, and they'll collect in the Netherworld, allowing you to summon more Minions from the gates. Remember that Lifeforce equal Minions, so the more you gather, the more Minions you can control." Harry walked up to the corpse of the spider and reached out. The three white orbs were absorbed into the glowing circle on his left gauntlet.
Suddenly, Harry heard more noise coming from the path in front of him. More acromantulas? He thought desperately. He settled into a battle stance and drew his Minions close again, noticing that the noise sounded more like the pounding of hooves rather than the scuttle of hairy legs, just as a centaur came pounding out of the mist, stopping in front of Harry and the corpse of the acromantula. Harry was visibly worried (or at least would be if his face was visible). The last time he entered the forest, after all, the centaurs had threatened to kill him, so if there was more than one, he could be in serious trouble.
"Stop, evil creatures," the centaur said. With a start, Harry recognized him as Bane, whom he had encountered during his first trip into the Forbidden Forest. "I know why you have come here. You and your little imps coming seeking the fire-starters." Bane shuffled his feet uncomfortably, as if what he was saying pained him.
"Bah," spat Gnarl. "Bloody centaurs. I absolutely despise those stargazing nincompoops. Staring at the skies at night, insisting that they can read the future. As if fate ever stopped an Overlord from taking power. Nonsense."
Harry decided the best action would be to continue listening, so that he did not reveal his identity, nor antagonize the irritable centaur further. The last thing he wanted was to have to deal with an angry centaur herd. "Though we normally do not allow outsiders on our land, our leader has decreed that you be allowed to retrieve the creatures you desire. If you follow this path, you will eventually find their lair. Know this, however," Bane said with a glint of steel in his eye. "After you secure your friends, you will leave this forest at once and never return, or you shall face the wrath of the centaurs. And I doubt you shall find us as easily slain as that spider you so noisily disposed of. Good-bye, and may we never meet again."
With that declaration, Bane turned around and galloped into the mist and left Harry and his Minions alone once again.
So there you have chapter six, and finally some damn action! I hope you all enjoyed it, because it took me forever to get past a couple parts. I have no questions for you this chapter, but I do still have a request. Coming up soon, I'll be publishing another fanfiction which will be a Harry Potter / Kingdom Hearts crossover, (I like doing crossovers, could you tell?) and it'd be pretty awesome if all you guys read that one too! Okay, and I lied about the question, but it has to do with the other fanfic, but I really don't care whether I lied or not, just answer the question. ^_^
What should my new crossover be called. Right now the working title is Wizarding Hearts, but if you have other ideas, feel free to let me know what you think would be a kick-ass title for a kick-ass crossover. You guys R&R (read and review) while I get some R&R (rest and relaxation). Peace out!