So now, after all that messing around with the two comical subplots and suspense attached to the third, and after a few bread crumbs dropped in earlier chapters, we finally see our first image of the real “chessmaster” of the story, at least as far as Erica, Phil, and I were concerned, because… drumroll, please…

…HR was supposed to be playing the game directly as Harky.

That’s why HR and Harky have relatively similar names.

You can see how this might’ve played out, I imagine. HR was trying to eliminate the Five, and how better to do it than to inhabit the one single intelligent being who, as we’ll see, can fight any of them to a standstill and could’ve beaten all of them at once? By “piloting” Harky and therefore controlling the World’s Rebellion, HR could’ve continued to pursue the Five after their resurrection. Arguably, that’s not too far off from what he did, but had we continued to pursue the idea that the two beings were basically one and the same, Harky would’ve grown more and more obsessed with the Five as things went along, eventually to the detriment of troll interests.

I don’t know that we formally decided not to have Harky be HR’s instrument so much as drifted away from it and forgot about it. Erica’s departure probably sped up that process: she wasn’t there to remember for us and explaining things anew to John made us rethink some stuff. It was for the best, as Harky quickly became much too interesting a character to dismiss as “just the real bad guy’s hand puppet.” But yeah, that’s one reason we waited as long as we did to introduce HR: because in our own minds, we had done so with a whispered name in Chapter 4.

NEXT: Phil’s main contribution to the series as an artist!