Harry Potter And The Dark Throne
Chapter Two: First Steps
"Bah, you call that a magical education? No shamanism, sorcery or even basic demonology? And you've never heard of crystal, totem, spirit or chi magic before? No enchanting, glyphs, alchemy, necromancy or magical theory. No, sire, I would say your knowledge of the eldritch forces in the multiverse are most sorely lacking. Of course, as overlord, you would only need what knowledge you wished to have, but as a mage..." The old imp scowled picking another battered tome from the floor and setting it on one of the few intact tables in the library. He skimmed the page before making an agreeable grunt and carrying it to the table where Harry sat.
"And now that we've covered some of what I need to learn, why imps?" The overlord in training asked angrily, irritated at the assessment of his skills.
"Ah yes. This tome lists the creatures traditionally found in service to an overlord. You will notice it is quite thick and yet only holds those seen frequently enough to be noted on multiple worlds." The elder caressed the grimoire's dusty cover while extracting a monocle. The book purred softly in reply.
"The larger and more powerful a creature is, the more energy is required to create it, regardless of the energy type. Further, the wider and more varied an overlord's minions are, the thinner collected energy must be spread. Giants, dragons and similarly powered beings tie up so much power to create a single one that nearly a thousand human warriors can be created for the same price. Also, what power accrues towards their creation is typically inaccessible until they are brought into being. Only an established or lucky overlord can reliably gather the power to furnish such beasts and with an established overlord, there is enough tactical ability to make creating them a flagrant, excessive waste. Something that is more show and intimidation than useful. Bah!"
Harry was almost tempted to add a 'humbug' as the old imp slapped open the enormous book.
"The last overlord, she was something like you; eager to learn and devoted to applying what knowledge she acquired. She found mention of the greatest, most wicked overlord to ever lead a horde across the known multiverse." The short creature scowled, flipping through the pages with bony fingers, his scaly skin rasping against the brittle parchment. "Olimar." The page flipping halted, one gnarled fingertip pointing to an image of a root-like humanoid with a single leaf swaying high over its head.
"Where?" One of the brown imps cried, moving his club as though to shield his face.
"Pikmin?" Harry asked, utterly unimpressed by name or picture.
The imp that had been hiding behind his weapon whirled at that name, knocking himself out on a particularly high stack of rubble with a squeak of terror.
"A truly evil being. With just himself, six versions of pikmin and a form of interdimensional transportation for his army he stripped entire worlds of all life upon them. This very world we're on, or even my lord's own were victims of this. Ancient humans once colonized the multiverse simply by trailing behind Olimar as he wiped out everything large and powerful enough to repel them in his insatiable quest to plunder everything he encountered for the greater glory and wealth of something called Hocotate Freight."
"Really?" Harry asked, staring at the book's illustration with blatant disbelief.
"Pikmin were small and weak, with only an extremely basic set of powers, but that made them cheap and numerous. Much like them, we imps were designed to be affordable, swarming minions. Similar to pikmin each color of imp have a special ability and an immunity. The only true difference is that we lack a variety immune to everything and capable of evolving, like the bulbmin." The decrepit creature turned to another page, displaying an illustration of a round, polka-dotted creature with two stubby legs and a leaf sticking out of its back.
"You realize I only understand what you're saying in a general way."
"Of course sire. The main offensive abilities able to slay large swaths of minions simultaneously are primarily elemental in nature. Fire, lightning, poison and water are the main weapons employed, either by sorcerers using area effect spell or by mundane engineering and weaponry. Being magical constructs, most bullets are actually less effective than blades or heavy blunt strikes would be, thus the enemy must fight directly where, by virtue of number, we have the advantage."
Harry nodded slowly. "I can see the need for that. And abilities? How much are minions capable of?"
"Should my lord not mind the expense of paying for increased costs, almost anything. That being said, the imps have only a few abilities. Reds are capable of some small flame manipulation and absorption. Greens are capable of becoming invisible and dealing immense damage by 'backstabbing' the unaware. Blues can heal injured minions and harm those enemies with astral forms when others cannot touch them." The old minion flipped through a few more pages.
"And evolving is a process Overlord Gaya developed, where a minion is purchased as a cheap, relatively weak individual and then grows more powerful either the longer it lives, the more battles it fights or some combination of the two. If fell out of favor during the war to decide his successor as they destroyed enough focus points to make the only means of gaining mana killing things. For generic, carbon copy minions, gathering mana or life force or such to send to their master is a simple task. For evolving minions it is difficult to not consume the energy to further their own evolution, often they absorb half the energy they attempt to collect simply by trying to collect it."
"So if the imps were based off the most successful minion to ever exist, how did the last overlord lose?"
"We are not the only ones to have recorded and remembered Overlord Olimar. The instant nearby peasants started describing us a wizard caught on. Typically after an overlord enters a new world, they conquer an area, charge absurd taxes and collect a harem of beautiful maiden sacrifices from local villages, though depending on the overlord's gender and tastes that may vary a bit... From there resources run out and they expand to maintain their lifestyle, eventually forcing some chosen one or champion to kill them by chance or skill in a one on one fight. Occasionally you get a more violent overlord who starts wars for fun, but they regularly get themselves crushed under a lack of foundation and resources that makes their army desert them."
"I sense a 'but' coming." Harry noted, finishing the page of the tome the wizen imp had turned to.
The ancient minion grinned sinisterly in response. "Pikmin and their overlord were unstoppable. Something so similar, perhaps improved, perhaps weakened, marked the previous overlord as an evil great enough to rally eight heroes long before she actually did anything other than start building up her forces. Such a shame, your predecessor had been preparing to sweep over more than a few worlds and had even chosen this one specifically because it lacked almost all high magic and technology."
Harry was silent for a few moments, deciphering what he'd been told. "Wait. Why would an army of minions desert their master?"
"Ah, an insightful question. When designing their own minions, an overlord can 'trait stamp' them. Which is to say, they can determine what traits the minions are capable of having to diversify themselves and sometimes make it so that certain types of minions always have a specific trait. Things like strength, resilience and fearlessness are always popular, adding just a little extra oomph of battle potential. And other things like intelligence, agility or loyalty are ignored more often than not, meaning that minions of those species don't particular excel at those things."
Harry considered that. "And why wouldn't an overlord want loyalty or intelligence in their minions?" He noticed the odd, proud sheen in the old imp's eyes before he quickly changed the subject. "But that's enough of that. Tell me about Olimar, how did he fight, how did he manage things, that sort of stuff."
The elder frowned thoughtfully, understanding the request and the insight behind it. Truly magnificent, this overlord could become even greater than the one before him promised to be. Minions alone could not handle everything, where his predecessor had thought only of forging the ultimate minions so that she could avoid doing any work personally, the new overlord wanted to make both himself and his minions a reflection of the pinnacle of evil overlording. It did his greasy, blackened heart good.
"Overlord Olimar... We do not know the exact means by which he began his reign, only that when he forged or discovered the pikmin he was in desperate need of their help to survive. Why or from what are lost to us, though we know that he succeeded and then began using them to improve his wealth and standing. He fancied himself a scientist, learning as much as he could from the beasts he slew and constantly improving himself and his army with whatever he could find. He could on occasion work the pikmin into a berserk frenzy with as little as a gesture and petrify their adversaries with as much effort."
The antiquated imp paused, thinking hard. "By himself he was not of any real power. He was fast though, very fast, such that, weak as he was, he could kill any foe he could reach with his bare hands by running rings around them or making them use their own power against one another... I do not believe he had any truly eldritch powers of his own, everything he managed to do was simply by expanding his abilities as much as he could whenever the opportunity or material presented itself. Also, aside from the pikmin he had some number of loyal officers, ones that assisted him with research or finances, made or improved his equipment and helped command the pikmin... Somewhere between four and a hundred I think..."
"He caused global extinctions with just a hundred people?" Harry was in near awe at hearing that. It wasn't too outrageous, after all Voldemort and twenty odd followers could keep an entire country quaking in fear, so why couldn't a hundred like minded individuals kill everything on a planet?
"Most sources indicate fewer than ten, really. And with the pikmin doing most of the work, there wasn't any particular need for a command structure. Remember this, sire, destroying and killing everything you encounter takes far less effort than conquering and ruling even a single world."
"Hmm, I suppose that part might not be something I want to copy from him. Alright then, what knowledge is available on magic here?" Harry cast his gaze over the broken shelves and smashed tables.
Gnarl scowled, looking around. "Very little, I'm afraid. Most overlords have lacked innate magical powers since the originals ascended from 'dungeon keepers' to 'demon-god kings' and rely upon artifacts for both magical energy and spells to use. What was available here was mostly intended as trophies from previous masters of the Tower and were scattered about in displays, completely unorganized. On top of that when the heroes vanquished the last overlord, the 'wizard' took almost everything he believed could expand his own capabilities. That being said, there is a modest cache of 'spares', and a decent number of beginner texts that weren't as impressive as the ones used for showing off." The old imp lurched to his feet, shuffling towards one of the library walls. "I should warn you, while I know much of magic and can detect it quite readily, I myself lack any developed ability to manipulate it outside of a few specific abilities the Tower grants me to forge the new overlord and what damaged artifacts we have on hand."
Harry waved him off as the brickwork peeled itself back to display a small vault with about thirty-five books resting on two shelves at shoulder height.
"I fear charcoal will have different effects than chalk, my lord. Perhaps a less advanced transmutation circle to start with?"
"If I may, sire. Ah, I see. I will have a translation of these within the week."
"No, I believe it's suppose to more of a 'ugnh' than a 'wagh' of effort, sire."
"No no no! Using an arcane, lost language is almost as primitive as that stick magic you were trained in. Speak the words for the spell plainly in your own language, even they are just a crutch you will one day move beyond my lord."
"Hmm. This rune is rather impressive in its precision. I had never conceived of using alchemy to create perfect runes..."
"Again! Always keep at least one barrier between yourself and your foes. And slope it away from you, a flat shield is easier to break."
"Yes, yes! Chain lightning, stunner, fireball, now teleport! Blade, freeze and shield yourself! Blade again, stunner, unseen push and... Perfect, my lord, perfect."
Concern was now full blown panic. How could this have happened, right under his very own nose?
To think that, somehow, Barty Jr. managed to overcome the programmed plan of 'trophy portkey' and then rewrite his own mind so as to not remember any of it and even had perfectly real looking replacement memories to boot. But even with his plan deteriorating, Dumbledore now needed the death eater at the school, if for no other reason than to try and catch his eyes for more than a brief glimpse and break through whatever combination of spells was keeping him from the knowledge he desired.
To lose Harry Potter was a disaster. The papers were in outcry, first over the boy being an attention seeking psychopath trying to garner their focus by pretending to disappear, and now slowly transitioning into speculation over where he was and what happened to him. It had only been two weeks and already the press was started to probe his defenses, preparing to turn popular opinion against him.
Fudge had been a permissible weakness in the grand scheme of things, in fact he was only there so that when the time came any mishandling of the situation would fall off of Dumbledore himself and land firmly in the man's lap. But without Harry, victory was no longer assured.
Fudge was too much of a vulnerability, he would have to be removed.
And sacrificing himself to cleanse the ring for Harry was no longer an acceptable tactic either. Without the one, center piece of it all there was only one true option left.
Dumbledore would have to shore up for a real war. This was no longer a carefully scripted and choreographed tale of good triumphing over evil, this was a true battle of the light versus the dark. That meant the education he'd been giving the students was no longer acceptable, a competent defense against the dark arts teacher would need to be found for next year. He might even have to remove the curse on the job.
As the wizard began unraveling the web he'd built over the years, a slow horror dawned on him.
He was not of the forces for good. Good may well do what small evils were necessary but it would not allow so much to slip past it through simple inaction. He had crafted the perfect plan, superb in every conceivable way and yet... Yet once the plan was set he allowed evil to sink and fester within society, simply because he had calculated using that same corruption as a measure.
He planned to need a new dark arts professor each year, as Harry would need to be limited in that regard for a time early on and replacing professors in rotation would more easily let him manipulate what was known and what was unknown to the boy. And so none of the children got an education of any value and for over fifty years of men and women who had stood against the darkness and survived were allowed to succumb to the curse, killed or otherwise incapacitated towards continuing their work.
He'd segregated the houses to create the mood he'd needed for Harry to become relatively self sufficient and in doing so allowed Slytherin to wallow in its pureblooded views, corrupting the innocents condemned to it. Ravenclaw separated themselves from the others with walls of books and a need to learn, caring not what went on beyond their ability to further their knowledge though it would never find any use as their reclusive nature turned them from helping any but those that could overpower and threaten them. Hufflepuff was a sadder case, the outgoing nature, hard work and loyalty reserved and limited to within their own house, the fierce protectiveness of the badger driving away what others sought their friendship as he'd trained all the houses such offers from beyond your own dorms were either a trick or a trap.
And Gryffindor, cut off from the knowledge of Ravenclaw, the cunning of Slytherin and the drive of Hufflepuff was destined only to arrange themselves against their foes and leap in, unpracticed and unprepared, their daring recklessness earning them only small victories before they were snuffed out. Where before they had been the heroes of legend, willing to do what others feared to try and succeeding with a Ravenclaw's knowledge, a Slytherin's plan or a Hufflepuff's assistance, now they were like a cavalry charge on a machine gun nest. A heedless forward assault ignoring subtly and putting everything into a single wave with no reinforcements and no fore thought.
What had he done?
"Had we a smelter and were you the typical, non-magical kind of overlord, I would insist we make or find some weapons and armor before this. As it is... Welcome, my lord, to the Mellow Hills. As you can see it is a cheerful, bright and colorful area, with clean, pure air and frolicking beasts and such. It also makes me sick!" The imp viciously trampled a small patch of flowers. "Now, each world works in slightly different ways. In this case any special minions or allies will have to take the main portal or any way point gates you find to and from the Tower. Generic, carbon copy minions such as the imps, will instead create their own summoning points, in this world the simple glowing pile of rocks you see there."
Glancing at the miniature volcano shaped portal, the overlord called up the five brown imps with a thought.
"Yes, very good sire. Now, let us try collecting some mana from those fluffy, bleating lower lifeforms over there. Kill one. Don't worry about running out they spawn faster than the locals can kill them."
Feeling just the tiniest bit guilty, Harry flung a blade spell at the nearest sheep. It fell over, a single glowing orb popping out of it.
"Expecting some sort of gore were you? Bah, this world regrettably lacks that element, here things die, fall over and fade away. Your predecessor was somewhat... weak stomached." The old imp scowled slightly. "But that's in the past. The orb you see before you contains that beast's 'life force'. In some worlds you can drain it away without or before it dies. It can be, and often is, referred to as 'mana' as well."
The young wizard pulled the orb to him, watching with surprise as it vanished into his body on contact.
"Mana has a variety of uses, but for the moment we can only use it to spawn more minions until more of the Tower's artifacts are restored. Now, I would suggest you clear out the field before scouting too far beyond. I just can't take this fresh air, so I will remain in the Tower unless you require otherwise my lord."
"Maybe a break from all this talking will help." Harry finally got a word in, his ire at being consistently cut off making the words slightly acidic.
The old imp grinned thinly. "Yes, I do believe you are ready, sire." With that he bowed and slumped back onto the portal.
Thinking it over, the new overlord set the minions about clearing the field, feeling a small need to get more experience directing them before going into a real battle. It was surprisingly easy, the imps could simply sense where he wanted them to go and went there. Getting them to do anything else, though...
After clearing the field of sheep and, oddly enough, pottery, he came across a glowing rock... stump... thing... It was a simple stone cylinder, glowing yellow brightly enough that he knew it was some sort of magical item without even consulting his higher senses. The minions carried it off to the portal as he continued on towards the town.
There was a fallen pillar on the path.
"The way is blocked sire. Might I suggest summoning your minions and..." Gnarl's voice began from somewhere unseen.
One levitation spell later, Harry cast the stone remnant forward and off to one side.
"...Or you could just levitate it aside, I suppose. All the same, you really need to call your minions, my lord. They are your greatest weapon... Or at least will be once we get them some proper equipment. Do keep in mind your magical reserves are far from infinite. Ah, and the minions have just arrived with a command upgrade, allowing you to summon more minions to the field."
"Wait, why would I need a command upgrade? Shouldn't I just be able to-"
"Never mind that now, master, there are halflings afoot."
Harry turned his attention onto the two short, fat white-eyed things before they scurried into a nearby barn house. His minion scampered up behind him with a thought.
"Gah! It's some sort of halfling beasties, come to get poor old Bob! You're in league with the pumpkins!" A nearby man tied down to a scarecrow post cried, flapping his hands at the wrist.
"Silence." Harry wasted a spell, not wanting to hear the weirdo ramble on. With a gesture the minions jumped into action, smashing pumpkins left and right. In the meantime Harry summoned the pillar back to him and levitated it for a moment before banishing it at the structure. It flew through the air, end over end, before smashing straight through the building, collapsing it and tumbling on to crash into the river beyond. The overlord frowned, having thought he used a little less power than that.
The halflings didn't give him much time to consider, waddle/running out of the ruins with swords drawn. Straight into the ten minions flailing wildly at pumpkin. The poor, short humanoids were instantly overpower by the more numerous short humanoids, leaving their looted corpses to disappear the same way the sheep had. It was rather anticlimactic. So far this looked like it'd be much easier than surviving any given year of Hogwarts.
The minions formed ranks behind him as he continued on to Spree, the voiceless, insane farmer rambling on soundlessly in their wake.
"Would you look at that Martin, some strange halflings are standing at the gate." An idiotic sounding peasant said from across the river.
"I don' know, Marty, those don' look like no halflings I've ever seen before. Sides' what about the tall one?" The exact same voice replied.
"Could be two halflings standing on each other's shoulders. Hey, prove you're not a halfling and go rescue our lost villagers from the slave camp."
Harry stared at the twin peasants for a moment. "Gnarl, what kind of world is this, exactly?"
"Nevermind that now, sire. It's best we see about this slave camp, we need access to that village."
Annoyed, the new overlord stomped down the road around a bend created by some trees.
"The Tower Heart, sire! The halflings must have been using it to grow pumpkin, stupid little…" Granl's voice degenerated into angry murmurs.
"Wait, so they just left the one artifact that powers every single higher function the Tower has sitting around, ungaurded, right outside between the human village's entrance and the Tower." Harry was somewhat disbelieving as he looked over the huge, swirling, arcane marble.
"Yes, well, even with the power of the Tower Heart, they must have thought sunlight was required."
"But if they took every other scrap of magic they could find, why would they leave the most powerful thing just sitting around like this?"
"Apparently Melvin Underbelly got it among his share of the loot. Clearly they assumed without the Tower Heart that no new overlord could arise."
"I don't like this. This absolutely reeks of a trap."
"Just get the Tower Heart out of there sire!"
Shrugging, Harry wove a simple levitation spell onto the artifact, only to have it slide off.
"Ah, ahem. I may have forgotten to mention, any of the Hearts we encounter are completely immune to magic, and in fact actually absorb it. As a means of preventing other overlords and rival magic users from tampering with them, you see. Have the minions carry it."
Grumbling, Harry sent the small horde forward, where they proceeded to smash a path clear of pumpkins before half of them grabbed the orb.
Just past the pumpkin field was the trap Harry expected. Except instead of trying to stop the Tower Heart, they tried to avenge their pumpkins. One quick chain lightning later, Harry swore off bothering to rule this world once he was done rebuilding the Tower.
"Quickly Sire, the minions have found a new path." Gnarl exclaimed, bringing the future master of all back onto task.
"Is there a way to shut off this thing except during emergencies?"
"This is no time to jest, master."
I realize the terminology in Overlord for mana is used for magic and life force is used as I'm using mana here, it's sort of a hint as to another crossover that will appear later. A heavy-handed, perhaps far too obvious hint.
This chapter is unfortunately locked into overlord canon. Next chapter will not be. Sorry for the predictability.