Tarquin masterfully explains to Elan how every hero needs a villain, and that the villain gets to live in wealth and power for some time before being defeated. Furthermore, if Elan ultimately defeats Tarquin, it will make him more famous than ever. Any way you slice it, Tarquin has already won.
- Panel 1, Page 1
Elan: Dad, I just—I don't understand you! How can you be like this? Don't you know that bad guys never win??
Tarquin: Like most things, "winning" is a matter of perspective.
- Panel 2, Page 1
Tarquin: You're a bard, right? How many stories have you heard in which a single hero vanquishes a wicked empire?
Elan: I dunno... dozens, I guess.
- Panel 3, Page 1
Tarquin: What is the one thing they all have in common? The one fact they all share?
Elan: The hero always wins!
- Panel 4, Page 1
Tarquin: No, the one thing they all have in common is this: The wicked empire exists.
Tarquin: It has existed for some time, and it will continue to exist if no heroes intervene.
- Panel 5, Page 1
Tarquin: Don't you see, Elan? The rules of drama to which you subscribe as a bard tell us that such tyrannies can exist—
Tarquin: —indeed, MUST exist—
Tarquin: —and persist long enough that no one realistically thinks that they can be defeated. Else, where's the drama in a hero opposing them?
Tarquin: And if such kingdoms are necessary, why shouldn't I rule one?
- Panel 6, Page 1
Elan: But a hero always DOES oppose them! And beats them!
Tarquin: You know, Elan, you can't always fixate on the negative. You should try being more optimistic.
- Panel 7, Page 1
Tarquin picks up a glass of wine
Tarquin: If someone conquers an empire and rules it with an iron fist for thirty long years, and then some paladin breaks into his throne room and kills him—
Tarquin: —what do you think he's going to remember as he lays dying?
Elan: ...That good triumphed over evil?
Tarquin: No, that he got to live like a god for three decades!
Tarquin: Sure the last ten minutes sucked, but you can't have everything.
- Panel 8, Page 1
Elan: But in the end—
Tarquin: The end of what, Son? The story? There is no end, there's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.
- Panel 9, Page 1
Tarquin: Somewhere between "villain of the week" and "good triumphs over evil," there's a sweet spot where guys like me get to rule the roost for years.
Tarquin: As long as I go into this accepting the price I may eventually pay, then I win—no matter what actually happens.
- Panel 10, Page 1
Tarquin: And hey, I was willing to make that deal when I thought it would be some random peasant schmuck taking me out.
Tarquin: Now, I can really see the big picture.
- Panel 11, Page 1
Tarquin: It's YOU, Elan.
Tarquin: If anyone will ever defeat me, it will be you.
- Panel 1, Page 2
Tarquin: I knew it the moment you told me you were a hero. All the pieces fell into place.
Elan: Ok, well, then, let's do the swordfighting thing again, only this time, don't block.
- Panel 2, Page 2
Tarquin: No, no, no! I'm not going to take a dive for you. You need to EARN it. Besides, it's too early. We just met. The tension needs to build more.
- Panel 3, Page 2
Cutaway to Elan wearing a black cloak and standing alone on a gargoyle in the rain.
Tarquin (inset): You need to do some serious brooding about how you're doomed to fight your own father.
Elan: I can't... and yet I must!
Tarquin (inset): Plus, I have the rest of the continent to absorb.
- Panel 4, Page 2
Tarquin: So, you go finish up your little plot and come back in, say, ten years?
Elan: Dad, I can't let you hurt all these people for ten years!
Tarquin: Well, if you want, you can force the confrontation early...
- Panel 5, Page 2
Tarquin: But the way these things go, you'll probably end up losing a hand or an eye or something.
Elan: Oh, right. Like, a big burn on the side of my face, at the very least.
Tarquin: Right! Exactly.
- Panel 6, Page 2
Tarquin sips his wine.
Tarquin: Besides, I'd think you would be happy about this.
Elan: Happy?? To find out my dad is a no-good bad guy?
Tarquin: Sure. It'll make a great story.
- Panel 7, Page 2
Tarquin: Think about it. An epic for the ages! Father vs. son! Hero vs. villain! One rebel vs. the force of an empire!
Tarquin: They'll tell stories about us until the end of history!
- Panel 8, Page 2
Tarquin: My name will be immortalized forever.
Elan: As a villain!
Tarquin: So what? Audiences always think the villain is cooler than the hero is, anyway.
- Panel 9, Page 2
Tarquin grins maniacally.
Tarquin: That's the beauty of it all, my son.
Tarquin: If I win, I get to be a king.
Tarquin: If I lose, I get to be a legend.
- Panel 10, Page 2
Tarquin: I'll inspire a thousand more leaders to follow in my footsteps. And it'll all be thanks to you, my boy.
Tarquin raises his glass in a toast.
Tarquin: Here's to us, Elan. We're going to tell the best story EVER.
Elan looks terrified
- Panel 11, Page 2
Elan runs away.
- Panel 12, Page 2
Tarquin calmly sips wine.
- In page 2, panel 5, Tarquin and Elan refer to:
- "losing a hand" as Luke Skywalker does challenging his father before his jedi training was complete in the 1980 film Empire Strikes Back.
- "a big burn on the side of my face" like Zuko in Avatar: the Last Airbender receives for challenging his father's opinions at a young age in the 2005 episode "The Storm".
- In page 2, panel 11; the white structure in the middle of the balcony is visible where the Empress of Blood has been seated on her throne, which means she’s been within earshot of the comic events since #754. Still, she’s likely been too distracted by the parade, or by being awesome.