The world fades into color as Hendrik blinks away the darkness at the edge of his vision. Then, he registers the shaking and bucking sending him into the air every so often. Then, his position, bent over with his hands behind his back. Hendrik blinks again, smelling a horse, recently washed, judging by the scent of soap intermingling with it. Hendrik tries to bring his wrists out in front of him, only to find they're stuck together. Oh. They're tied up.
"Huh. He's awake." Someone to Hendrik's right says in an off-handed manner.
Hendrik groans as he lifts his head up, feeling like it's made of rocks. He sees a tight black and purple suit covering the rider's back and arm, a sharp contrast to the horse's pure white flank. Hendrik can't see much else of them, other than a belt.
"Wh… where am I?" Hendrik's mouth feels too dry, like he hasn't drank anything in days. That might actually be the case. Hendrik forgets these things a lot.
"Far away from your human buddies." The rider answers with a smirk Hendrik can practically hear.
"Were you the one that… that tied me up?"
"No, my horse did." The rider scoffs. "Of course I tied you up."
"That… that was sarcasm, correct?" Goddess, Hendrik's voice is hoarse.
"Yep." The rider pops the p. He digs through what Hendrik assumes to be his bag, Hendrik can't really see it, and the rider holds out a piece of jerky to Hendrik with a thickly-gloved hand. "Want something to eat?"
Just then, Hendrik's stomach growls and twists painfully, making Hendrik acutely aware of his hunger. "Yes, please."
"Well too bad." The rider eats the jerky right then and there.
Hendrik groans and lets his head drop. "Where, exactly, are you taking me?"
"Somewhere you're not gonna like."
If Hendrik could facepalm, he would. Instead, he just sighs. He's too disoriented to recognize his surroundings, and his would-be kidnapper isn't helping. Guess Hendrik has to find out where he is the old fashioned way. With a grunt, he rolls off the horse and lands on the ground with a loud thud. He scrambles to get to his feet…
Only to find his ankles are bound as well.
The rider stops his horse and gets off. With no other option, Hendrik starts crawling as fast as he can. The rider just laughs and walks up to Hendrik, then picks him up and drags him back to the horse. Hendrik struggles against his hold, desperately wriggling in his captor's grasp.
"Ugh, don't make me cast Snooze on you!" The rider shouts as he claws for a stronger grip.
Hendrik rears his head forward and headbutts the rider. Hard. The rider stumbles, dropping Hendrik. Hendrik manages to get an impressive two feet away from the rider before he recovers.
"Fine! You asked for it! Snooze!"
Strong magic crashes over Hendrik like a wave, knocking the wind out of him. Hendrik's eyelids grow heavy and weary, threatening to pull Hendrik into a coma. Hendrik lasts about six seconds before his eyes shut, and all fight leaves his body with a sleepy sigh.
"…ell him I'm home, and that I've got a surprise for him."
Hendrik groans as he awakens. He vaguely registers armored feet stomping away from him. His hands and feet are still bound, but now Hendrik's laying on his side, on something much more comfortable than the back of a horse. Looking around, Hendrik realizes that he's indoors, in what appears to be a candlelit living room.
"Awake again, I see." Hendrik's kidnapper walks into view, wearing a tight, primarily black shirt and pants with purple accents, plus a dark pink scarf, with the ends thrown over his shoulder and the cloth pulled up to hide his face. "How do you like the couch? Is it comfy?"
"Where…" Hendrik's voice comes out so raspy it's unintelligible. He clears his throat and tries again. "Where-" Hendrik goes into a coughing fit that wracks his whole body.
The kidnapper rolls his eyes and takes out a waterskin. When Hendrik's coughs die down, the kidnapper holds the waterskin to his lips, and Hendrik graciously accepts, guzzling the entirety of its contents in seconds.
"Where am I?" Hendrik successfully asks, water dripping down his chin.
"Heliodor Castle." The man laughs. "You're dead, old man."
Hendrik stares at the man before him for several seconds. "Heliodor Castle?!"
"Yep. You're gonna die soon." The man sits in a comfortable-looking chair across from Hendrik and crosses his legs. "Might as well make your peace with it now, while you still have the chance."
Hendrik looks around the room. Now that he knows he's in the castle, he recognizes the room as formerly being the king's room, but now repurposed into a living room. "We… we are in Heliodor Castle?"
"Yep." The man takes a book from the table next to him and reads the back.
"Then… you must be working for Mordegon's forces."
"Yep." The man opens the book.
"So… you are a human working for the Army of Darkness?"
The man glances up at him and scoffs. "Won't be human for long, that's for damn sure."
"Why haven't you thrown me into the dungeon yet?" Hendrik questions, trying- and failing- to pull himself into a sitting position.
"Figured you could at least sit down for a while and be comfy before you die. It's no skin off my nose." The man carefully flips a page with dark pink gloves. "And don't even think about escaping. There's several guards outside the door, magic sigils on the windows that kill humans instantly, and all secret passages are either guarded or walled up. Also, I took your stuff."
Hendrik curses under his breath. "May I at least know your name?"
"Malachite." The man finally provides, glancing at Hendrik again.
"Malachite…" Hendrik mumbles. "Where have I heard that name before…?"
"Heard of me, have you?" The corners of Malachite's eyes crinkle as he bookmarks his page and puts the book down. "About time. I've been terrorizing the humans for months!"
Hendrik thinks for a moment. "No, I believe I have never heard of you before."
"I am certain I have heard the name Malachite somewhere else." Hendrik confirms.
Malachite groans and puts his head in his hands. "Ughhhhh, whyyyyyy?" He laments, bringing a hand up to run through his brown hair. Then, his chest shakes, and he sniffles. "I just want the humans to fear me…"
Hendrik sits there as Malachite cries. Hendrik glances around the room, looking for something, anything, to help him escape this situation. But there's nothing he can use. He has to sit there and listen to his captor cry.
Malachite suddenly stands up and walks behind Hendrik. "No! Don't cry! Don't cry." Malachite sniffles. "You wanna look tough when he gets here. Breathe, breathe, breathe…" Malachite takes several deep breaths, then sighs. He spends a few more moments behind Hendrik before coming back around to sit next to Hendrik.
"Um…" Hendrik lifts his head up and glances at Malachite's reddened eye (eye?). Now that Malachite's closer, Hendrik can see several scars peeking out from under his scarf.
"What?!" Malachite shoots Hendrik a glare.
"Spit it out!"
"…Nevermind." Hendrik sighs and puts his head down. "Could you set me upright?"
Malachite rolls his eyes as he brings Hendrik into a sitting position. "You could've just done that yourself."
The door opens. Hendrik and Malachite look to the person standing in the doorway. Pure, excited glee runs through Malacite's entire being, while for Hendrik, it's as if his blood has turned to ice.
For the man standing before them is none other than Jasper, second-in-command to the Lord of Shadows, and traitor to Heliodor Kingdom.