I continued to ponder on what the Night Witch had revealed to me the next day, and the many days after that. It was the only thing I was able to think about, the only thing I even cared for at the moment. My brain told me to focus on battling, to focus on the goal I had made almost a year ago, but I went with my heart this time. It seemed so long since I had actually cared about the dream that had once mattered so much to me. But not anymore. I already knew very clear that I was not supposed to be a Cannon, and I deserved a chance to make my own decisions. I told myself over and over again that I needed to know why I was turned into a Cannon, even though this whole story of my past could have been a lie. My dream was no longer to be with Penny, no longer to reach Legendary Arena, but rather to become a human like I once was. Why should I continue living as an outcast when there was hope to be normal?
Anyways, here was what I had thought out so far about my past. I used to live as a human, more normal than I could ever be, in King James’s castle many years ago. A few events occurred during this time – Luna’s death, Ashley’s ban, and my transformation. The Night Witch must have purposefully turned me from human to Cannon and somehow erased my memory, for reasons who knew why. As for Luna’s death, I didn’t know whether it happened before or after I had turned into a Cannon, but I had a feeling that the two events were related… and Raven must have been behind them both. The information all made sense together, but I was missing the most important part, which I was soon to find out – her purpose.
In order to find out more than I already had, I needed to ask others for what they knew. Ashley, Percy, and Luna weren’t the only people living in the castle around ten years ago. There must have been more, plenty more who the Night Witch had not mentioned. In fact, even Penny was alive then, but probably too young to live in the castle until a few years later. She was, however, living in the castle when Luna had died, meaning that Luna could have been murdered only five or so years ago.
The more I thought this through, the more I was confusing myself, so I decided it would be better if I began asking around. I started asking people whether they knew anything about the Night Witch, but they all shook their heads and seemed puzzled at the question.
It soon occurred to me that there was one man who would surely know more about the Night Witch than any castle member would. His Royal Highness, King James, of course. He was certainly different from most normal kings. He was easy to talk to, and I knew he wouldn’t mind sparing his time to answer my questions.
I chose to ask him about Raven later today, a few hours before dinnertime. I wondered what he was doing at the moment. What did kings even do during their free time? It seemed to me that King James sat in his throne all day, but never once was he bored. He didn’t have his own council, he never attended meetings, he never trained soldiers, he never judged trials… he was obviously a very odd king. But I liked him that way, and I believed others would agree too.
I walked down the Main Hall until I was only standing a few feet away from the king’s throne. In his hand were five cards, each with a blue and golden crown on the backside, which I recognized as the Royale symbol. There was a big metal box sitting on the table before him. I assumed that there were more of these cards in the box.
He didn’t notice me, not even when I waved my hands to get his attention. “Hello?” I asked, when he still could not see me.
“Oh! Sorry, I didn’t see you there, Danny. What did you come here for?”
I was about to ask him about the Night Witch, but my curiosity drove me to the cards in his hand instead. “You own a card collection?”
“Well… yeah.” His face reddened a little, embarrassed by my question. “Do you want to see them?”
I nodded. He extended a hand to pass me the metal box, and I reached forward to accept it. There were at least five hundred cards in the box, and on each one was either a creature, a defense building, or a bottle of liquid. I realized that many of the creatures looked exactly like the castle members, and they probably were. There were plenty of duplicate cards.
“What do these cards do?” I asked him.
He smiled. “It’s really complicated.”
“Does each card represent a castle member?”
“They come in chests, don’t they?”
“Yeah. Or you can buy them from the Card Shop.”
“Uh… forget it.”
I raised a card that had a picture of a skeleton with a blue helmet and goggles. “You have a lot of these… of Bombers, I think. How come there aren’t like a hundred of these guys roaming around in the castle?”
“It’s hard to explain. I doubt you’ll understand.”
“Okay,” I handed him back the box of cards.
“So,” King James said, “You didn’t just come here to admire my Card Collection, I am sure. What were you really here for?” His voice was kind and gentle, soft as the wind.
There was a short moment of silence between us, until I spoke up. “Do you know who the Night Witch is?”
His kind face was replaced with a solemn, dark one, and I could see a hint of anger in his expression.
“Are you okay?” I asked, aware of his sudden change in emotion. Clearly, King James knew who the Night Witch was. From the disturbed look on his face, I could tell that he did not have a positive feeling towards Raven, and I did not blame him. The Night Witch was not a very likable person (no joke), and she and him could have been the greatest of enemies, for all I knew.
“No.” I did not like it when he was serious. “And you shouldn’t be either.”
Why not? “What’s wrong with the Night Witch?”
“Everything. Everything is wrong with her.”
“Why? Is there something that she did to you?” I wanted answers. If anything, I should be the one feeling intense hatred towards Raven. She turned me into a Cannon. She ruined my chance of ever finding love. What could possibly be worse?
“I don’t know how you know about the Night Witch or whether you’ve met her or not, but I suggest you stay away from her if you have. I just want to keep you safe, Danny. So please, be careful around her.” He did not answer my question, probably because he preferred to keep whatever Raven had done to him personal, and I respected that. He was my king after all, and it only made sense for me to accept the fact that he was not going to tell me every single one of his secrets.
“Yes, sir.” There was no point in staying here with the king any longer. The only new information I had found was that King James was hurt by the Night Witch, but I did not know how or why. I wasn’t sure whether this new piece of information was important.
I dipped my head once, turned around, and started to exit the Main Hall.
“Danny! There’s something I need to…” King James shook his head. “Nevermind.”
I would have a chance to think about what he might have been trying to say to me later, but for today, I needed some peace.
One day later, I came to the Main Hall after breakfast to meet with the Battle Team. Hunter the Mini P.E.K.K.A., Joe the Hog Rider, Violet the Musketeer,l and the Minions were already here. Larry, Harry, Merry, Cherry, and Terry (I forgot the rest of their names) had all arrived. The princesses, Hannah and Holly, were present, along with King James. I was the last to come.
There was one woman who I did not recognize. She had long, wavy black hair and was dressed in plain royal attire.
“Hello, everyone.” The voice I heard belonged to King James. “This is Cadey, my sister. She will be watching us battle today. She is currently in the Jungle Arena, so it would be great if she could give me a few battling tips. I would have also liked you guys to meet my older brother Josh. He has over 4000 trophies, but unfortunately, he could not make it today.” I heard a few people sigh in disappointment, unhappy that they would not have a chance to meet Josh. At least Cadey was here.
King James clapped twice, bringing us all to the Royal Arena. On the banner was written “伟大勇士 VS JamesTheGreat.” I had no idea what those symbols meant.
Holly, Hannah, and King James climbed onto their towers, waiting for the battle to begin. Cadey took a seat on the benches that were supposed to be reserved for the Battle Team, but no one seemed to care.
The battle began just a few moments later.
“Good game!” The king shouted from the other side of the Arena, laughing. What a jerk.
“Right about that,” Cadey muttered, “‘cause you already know you’re gonna lose.” I guess you could interpret it that way too.
King James flashed the enemy king a thumbs up. “Good luck!” He replied, unbothered by the taunts from the opponent.
The first three minutes of the battle flew by fast. Both sides had barely done any damage to the enemy’s towers. During the minute of overtime, not much changed. Whenever one side came up with a good push, the other side always seemed to have the right counters. The match resulted in a draw, like I had expected, and Cadey looked very disappointed.
The second the battle was over, Cadey stormed onto the Arena and yelled at King James. “WHAT. WAS. THAT? I have to say this, James, but you have a lot to learn if you’re ever going to get out of the Royal Arena. I don’t know how you even got to the Builder’s Workshop, but YOU HAVE THE SKILL EQUIVALENT TO THAT OF SOMEONE IN GOBLIN STADIUM! For starters, DO NOT START THE MATCH BY USING YOUR LIGHTNING SPELL ON THE OPPOSING KING’S TOWER! It puts you low on elixir where you’re vulnerable to an enemy push, not to mention the fact that you also activate the King’s Tower, making it much more difficult to attack. Also, HOW COULD YOU LET YOUR HOG RIDER DIE TO A SKELETON ARMY? You had a Zap in your hand, so use it. You could have gotten a lot of hits from that Hog Rider. Another thing I noticed is that you always defend without gaining the help of your Princess’s towers. THIS IS A REALLY BAD HABIT! You lose a lot of potential for making a strong push if your troops are weakened this way. Oh, and I almost forgot. There were five enemy skeletons coming down the lane towards your Arena tower. Five, James. FIVE. YOU DO NOT NEED TO WASTE YOUR ZAP ON FIVE SKELETONS. I know it’s only two elixir wasted, but the cycle of your deck changes, so your opponent can take that to their advantage. And I think I need to teach you how to properly place a Cannon on defense. I noticed that you always place it a few tiles off, and yes, it makes a big difference in the game. BE SURE YOU FOCUS DURING THE MATCH. I’ve seen you staring at butterflies, before, and don’t let me catch you doing that again. There’s always a chance that the opponent will send max-leveled Elite Barbarians down one lane if you are distracted.” She paused. “James, are you even listening?”
King James was staring at the wall and then turned to face Cadey. The rest of us were silent. I only understood about half of what Cadey was trying to tell him. “Huh, what? Can you repeat that again? Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.”
Cadey groaned and kicked a stone that hit Joe on the leg.
“Oops. Anyways, I give up on you, James,” she said.
King James sighed. “I get it, I suck.”
“Yes, you do.” Cadey was the most tactless person I had ever met. I wondered if Josh was the same.
“You know what? Why don’t you make the calls for the rest of today? Like, I’ll still be the one sitting on my tower, but you can be the general, telling them what to do.”
Cadey smiled, adjusting the bracelet that dangled from her wrist. “For once, I think you made the right decision, James,” she said. “Now, let’s wreck these noobs.”