King Victor narrowly dodged a swing that left the wall behind him in rubble. He cast a spell and sent out a powerful energy blast, but as it neared its target, the Prince was gone. King Victor cursed in Latverian and ordered his guards to fire at will, but even they could not hit the Prince. Namor's laughter echoed around the room.
King Victor quickly cast a spell of protection around himself that deflected Namor's next blow, sending the ruler flying across the room. Namor quickly got up swung again, aiming to pierce the magic protecting King Victor. At the right moment, King Victor used a lightning spell and grabbed hold of Namor's arm, sending electricity up and into Namor's body. The Prince howled in pain as electricity coursed through him, but then vanished.
King Victor growled. "What magic is this?"
Namor cast aside the trident and attacked the King head on once again, dodging the attacks from the golems using King Victor's weapons. Some of the attacks simply bounced off of Prince Namor's skin.
"I don't know who you are," said the Prince, "but this battle is boring me. Leave at once, or I will force you to."
King Victor laughed. "I am King Victor Von Doom of Latveria, and no man commands me!" He unleashed a barrage of magic that forced the Prince to cover his eyes.
"Why have you come here?" demanded Prince Namor over the deafening noise of the magical blasts.
"You have committed an injustice against this village that I cannot allow!" retorted King Victor, advancing forward and throwing a punch at Namor.
"I highly doubt that a King from a far-away land would care so much for such a puny village!"
"When it is the village of my consort, the genius Reed Richards, I will defend it to my dying breath!" King Victor landed a punch against Namor's temple and the prince was sent flying once again. King Victor advanced on Namor, backing him into a corner and unleashing a hailstorm of magic-enhanced blows.
"Consort?" Namor's lips curled into a sneer. "You surface-dwellers disgust me. A King taking one so lowly as his consort!"
"There is nothing lowly about Reed Richards!" King Victor said, in between swings.
"The man cannot even create a decent weapon!" Namor's fist collide with King Victor's face, sending his mask falling to the floor. King Victor did not notice as he cast a spell of protection and resumed his onslaught.
"You are too arrogant to acknowledge his brilliance!" King Victor shouted, "he is the only man truly on par with my own genius!"
Namor stopped fighting to laugh. It was a cruel laugh, one dripping with contempt. King Victor shot a beam of magic at him as he laughed, but Namor just disappeared and reappeared. King Victor finally noticed a gem embedded in the Prince's gauntlet. It must be the source of his power! he thought.
"Your brilliance? Your genius?" laughed Namor. "I've been holding back!" King Victor prepared to launch another attack but found himself frozen.
"My time gem is infinitely more powerful than your puny magic!" Namor said. "I've been humouring you with this battle, King Victor of Latveria. But your time is over. Reed Richards will create me the ultimate weapon, and for your attempted interloping, I will kill him when I am finished."
King Victor screamed internally, struggling to move. He was truly frozen, but he was not beaten. After many years as a great sorcerer, he could cast magic using only his mind. It would just take time, and he wasn't sure that he had that.
A brilliant beam of light shone through the room, striking Namor and knocking him off of his feet. King Victor found that he could move a fraction, and he began to cast spells with more urgency. Namor cursed and stood up wearily.
"What is this sorcery!?" cried the Prince.
Standing in the ruins of one of the council room walls was Reed Richards, holding a large, glowing staff. "You wanted the ultimate weapon, Prince Namor? Well, here it is!"
Reed Richards trembled as he was led through the main building. He wasn't sure he had enough nerve to actually use the weapon he had created. He didn't want to hurt the Atlanteans, who he was sure had families of their own in their mysterious world under the sea. He knew that the Atlanteans would not extend him the same courtesy. The guard escorting him took no notice of his trembling, and for that Reed was grateful.
A crash shook the building and Reed fell to the ground. The guard moved to help him up but was knocked down again by another blast. Reed wondered what could be causing such a commotion and shakily got to his feet. As soon as he was upright, Reed ran away from the guard and in the direction of the crash. Could it be that the villagers had risen up against their captors? Reed's heart filled with hope.
Reed stopped before a huge hole in the wall and hid behind it as glowing green assaulted his eyes. It wasn't the villagers, that was for sure. Clutching the weapon, Reed peered around the corner.
It was King Victor, and he was fighting Namor! Reed's heart leapt with joy. King Victor was holding his own against the tyrant! Reed longed to be by his love's side but knew that he'd only get in the way.
Reed could hear vague shouting over the fighting, but he couldn't make out what they were saying. Reed clutched the weapon tighter and leant in, looking fully inside the chamber of battle.
"There is nothing lowly about Reed Richards!" He heard, and he was instantly warmed. King Victor thought of him in such a high regard? Reed had never known that King Victor thought of him as an equal.
"You are too arrogant to acknowledge his brilliance!" Reed heard, and he wanted to embrace his King so badly. Then he saw King Victor freeze and heard the Prince's cruel laughter.
This could not do. If Victor was willing to risk himself for the sake of the village, then Reed knew he must shed his own cowardice. He picked up the weapon fully, keyed in the code to charge it, and stepped into the room and pointed it at Namor.
Reed took a deep breath and fired. It was a direct hit, and Namor was sent flying. The Prince stood up slowly and shakily. Reed keyed in the weapon to allow more power to flow through it.
"What sorcery is this?" said the Prince.
"You wanted the ultimate weapon, Prince Namor?" Reed said, with more confidence than he felt, "Well here it is!"
Reed shot another beam out of his weapon at Namor, who fell once again. A large puddle was growing underneath him.
"How?" murmured the Prince.
"I'd explain it, but I don't think you'd understand it," Reed said. King Victor found himself smirking.
Namor tried to cry out for guards, but Reed raised the weapon at pointed it at his head. "How many more shots can you take?" asked Reed, with a trembling voice. King Victor noticed this instantly. This wasn't his love. Reed was gentle, but the King supposed that everyone had their limit.
"You will leave this village at once, or I'll turn this weapon on your entire army!" Reed cried.
Namor slowly got to his feet, glaring at both Reed Richards and King Victor. "I think not. I will not leave this village until I get what I came for!"
"Is your grudge with Attuma really worth your entire army?" asked Reed.
"My Kingdom is worth everything to me, and I will sacrifice anything to keep my people safe from oppression!"
"Including oppressing people of a different Kingdom?" King Victor said.
"I don't have to answer to you!" cried Prince Namor, before beginning to cough.
"I had no idea that his kingdom was so at risk from this Attuma fellow," Reed said to King Victor. "He hinted towards it, but I never knew...perhaps I should continue making his weapons."
"You will do no such thing!" King Victor snapped.
"And why not?" asked Reed. "Your scar is almost healed. Soon, you'll have no use for me."
"I need you, Reed Richards," said King Victor, "not your science, not your skin tonic. I need you."
"Truly?" asked Reed Richards, lowering the weapon slightly. He did not notice Namor trying to get up.
"Truly," said King Victor, walking to Reed, and placing his hands on his shoulders. "I love you, Reed Richards."
"And I you, King Victor von Doom."
"Disgusting." Namor stood up, visibly shaking. "You surface dwellers disgust me. Such a union…a king and a commoner? Two men? How nauseating."
"I wouldn't expect one as small-minded as you to understand," said King Victor, holding Reed's hand in his. "You will leave this village at once."
"Small-minded?! I am contemplating war on a scale that you filthy surface dwellers couldn't begin to understand! I will not leave this village until I receive what I came for!"
"You are defeated, Namor. Leave at once." Reed Richards said, his voice no longer shaking.
"If I leave, I have condemned my people to die," Namor said. "I may have been defeated without honour, but I would rather die than let harm come to the people of Atlantis."
King Victor stole a glance at his golems. Namor was truly a better ruler than he. King Victor had allowed his own selfishness to harm his servants, his most loyal subjects. All because he wasn't willing to allow shelter to a poor woman! King Victor realised, in a rare moment of humility, that he had failed his Kingdom. It would not happen again.
"Prince Namor," said King Victor, "I have brought with me many weapons of magic and science. I intended to use them to defeat you, but now…" King Victor looked at Reed, then back to Namor, "These weapons could be useful in the fight against this Attuma."
"If the weapons designed by the most intelligent surface dweller were inferior, what arrogance possesses you to make you think yours would be any different?"
King Victor gently took Reed's weapon from his hands. Reed gave him a questioning look but loosened his grip. King Victor lay the weapon on the floor. He took out a pouch from his cloak and began emptying it onto the floor, making a circle around the weapon with mysterious white powder. Then King Victor sat down and began to chant. He called upon the mystic forces of the tides to begin, and then took a deep breath. He was attempting magic he had never been able to complete before. Somewhere in his heart, he knew the force he was calling upon would give the weapon the power it needed, and that he would be able to channel it. The weapon began to glow an eerie green and rose into the air, hovering above King Victor's face as he chanted. When the spell was complete, the weapon slowly settled back onto the floor. The king picked it up.
"Behold the ultimate weapon," said King Victor, handing it to Namor. The prince looked at it from all angles, turning it and twisting it.
"Does it still function as before? Will it incapacitate an Atlantean as powerful as myself?"
"It will do that and more," replied the king. "Reed's design was flawless in the realm of science. It could strip the life-giving water away from one of your people, but with my magic, the water cannot be reabsorbed unless the wielder wishes it so."
"Attuma will be powerless to resist such a device." Namor could not keep the astonishment out of his voice.
"Is that what you wanted?" asked Reed. "Will you leave Baxter in peace now?"
Namor nodded slowly. "You have pleased me, Reed Richards. You have defeated me in battle, and have created a device most powerful. And you, King Victor von Doom, have made the device unstoppable. I am loathe to admit it, but I shall owe you both my kingdom."
"Then I propose an alliance," said King Victor.
"An alliance? With surface dwellers?" Namor laughed. "Truly you jest!"
"Look at what the technology of the surface has done for you this day." Reed Richards said. "Think of all that our two people could learn from each other."
"And you have seen the power of my magic," said King Victor. "You know that Latveria would be a powerful ally."
Namor sighed. "You speak the truth. Very well, an alliance shall be forged between the country of Latveria, the village of Baxter in the county of York, and the glorious Kingdom of Atlantis." Namor held out his hand and both Reed and Victor shook it. "My armies shall restore the village, and undo the damage we've caused before we return to Atlantis."
Reed Richards smiled. King Victor squeezed his hand.
Namor stood up proudly and called for his army, who had been slowly making their way to the battleground after their encounter with Reed's weapon. "Come, my army," said Namor, "let us begin by clearing the rubble of my battle with King Victor." The army saluted their prince and immediately began to work.
"I gotta tell ya, Reed," said Ben Grimm, throwing an arm around his friend's shoulder, "you've really outdone yerself this time."
The Atlanteans, grateful for the help of Reed Richards and King Victor, had done more than rebuild what had been broken. They had reinforced the walls of the village, rethatched the roofs of the houses, and had rebuilt the village hall into a magnificent building. While they did this, they answered the many questions of Reed Richards about their kingdom and their technology. King Victor had remained in the village, his golems assisting in the rebuilding process. It was the day that the Atlanteans were to leave, and the whole village seemed to pulse with excitement and energy. Reed and Ben stood on a hill, admiring their home.
"It was nothing, really," said Reed, "only the careful application of science."
Ben grinned, rubbing his friend's head affectionately. "Whatever you say, egghead."
Reed spotted Susan Storm coming to them, her brother Johnny in tow. Reed waved at them, gesturing to them to join him on the hill.
"The village feels so different!" Susan said. "It's as if a spell was cast over it."
"Knowing that King fellow, I wouldn't doubt it," Johnny said. Ben elbowed him. "What?"
"Be nice to Reed's new beau!" Ben noticed Susan look downcast, but caught her eyes and smiled. Susan smiled back.
"Will you go back to Latveria with the king?" asked Susan.
"I don't know," Reed replied. "I owe it to the king to finish healing his scar, not that he needs it."
"You should go find him," said Johnny, "make sure that he's not arguing with Namor over the size of stones for the wall again."
Reed smiled, recalling the argument. The two rulers were equally stubborn and hot-headed. An alliance between them would certainly be interesting.
"I shall do that," said Reed, waving goodbye to his friends and departing down the hill.
Reed smiled and waved at all the villagers he passed on the way to his house. King Victor had refused to stay in the mayor's home, choosing instead to stay in Reed's humble dwelling. Reed blushed, remembering sharing his bed with the king every night since he had come. It was different to make love to the king on his own bed.
Reed got to his house but noticed a group of unfamiliar people standing around it. Where were the golems? He wondered. The people standing in front of his house were neither Atlantean or from the village of Baxter. Had people of the nearby towns come to ask for his help again? Reed did not know how his reputation had spread so far!
The people seemed to be staring at their own hands in wonder. Perhaps a skin disease? Reed thought. One of the people looked up and saw him coming. "Reed!" he called. It was a younger man, barely out of childhood, but with compact limbs and a short body. He had no hair, and a glint in his bright blue eyes that was so familiar. The man ran towards Reed and embraced him, twirling him around and around with hidden strength, laughing merrily.
Reed chuckled nervously. The man set him down. "It's so good to see you with my own eyes!"
"You'll have to forgive me," Reed said, "but I don't recognise you. Have we met at a town fair before? I attend so many to show my inventions, I apologise if I've seen you before and…"
Reed's speech was interrupted by the laughter of the man. "You've seen me before," he said. "Many times."
"Where did we meet?" asked Reed.
"Why, the castle of King Victor von Doom in Lateveria!" replied the man.
It slowly dawned on Reed. "Herbie?"
"In the flesh!" said Herbie, standing proud.
"Is that Reed Richards?" Reed heard from inside the house. Reed excused himself and moved slowly through the people gathered, the former golems, who were now jumping and running and singing and laughing. Reed opened the door and found King Victor sitting on the bed, wearing his long green cloak over his head and facing away from him.
"Yes, my love?" said Reed.
The King slowly turned to face him, taking off his cloak as he did so. Reed gasped.
"The curse has been lifted," said King Victor, smiling a smile Reed found most radiant. "I am whole again."
"But how?" asked Reed.
"An old woman cursed me one night when I selfishly would not give her shelter. That was the origin of my scar," said King Victor. "She said that it would only recede when I learned to love someone outside of myself, and they love me in return."
Reed walked over to King Victor's side. He gently caressed the king's face, running his fingers over the perfect cheekbones and full lips. Reed smiled.
"Now, I am truly beautiful." King Victor said.
"To me, you always have been," said Reed, leaning down to capture the King's lips in a kiss.