This chapter was both the conclusion of an arc years in the making and a reaction to then-very current events. Just as the election of Donald Trump had made Taro’s rise more plausible to us, that same election made other forms of succession more palatable and interesting to think about. Troll succession has elements in it that would strike most people as barbaric. The incumbent or the challenger is gonna end up fucking dead. But there’s an unquestionable order to it as well, helped along by a mutually held respect for the process that, I swear, used to be part of American political life.

But it was long before 2016 that we had decided Harky would be overthrown, in a way that trolls would respect and acknowledge as correct. Earlier versions of the story had Frigg doing this, since she was already a “troll queen” in another sense and we liked the idea of the Big Five all ending up as leaders of nations—Byron of Fightopians, Frigg of trolls, Syr’Nj of wood elves, Gravedust of dwarves/Savasi, and Bandit of gnomes or at least outsider gnomes. It’s true that all of them, even Frigg, will evolve into some kind of role like that, even if their “nations” ended up smaller than we pictured at first. But as Penk became a more effective character, it got clearer and clearer to us he was Harky’s true successor.

In-universe, the Fire’s-Eye may have had its own ideas about this. Maybe it knew before we did.