This is what has happened so far in the comic, because apparently explaining this stuff in previous strips isn’t enough for most people.
But you know what, this is why we learn how to tell stories. In the future I’ll do my best to do recaps even though I personally find them unnecessary in most cases. (This information will probably come up again).
The following has already been explained in the comic.
Pete is looking for an “Avatar” so that he can end his duel with Dragon. While Pete and Dragon can lend power to many of their followers, an Avatar is like a superuser an operates under special rules. By the rules of their duel, their avatars must fight until one is defeated in order for the duel to be decided. (Explained at Pete’s Trial)
Pete is priming King to be his Avatar. Because Dragon pulled off a cheap if completely legal move to basically corner Pete early on in the duel several thousand years ago, Pete has been trying to acquire different kinds of avatars–however he can only have one, so he needs one that has a chance against Dragon. This involves a bunch of weird exploits in the rules which are not terribly important in and of themselves, suffice to say that it requires King to be “broken in” to his position, kind of literally. (Explained at Pete’s Trial.)
Pete still hasn’t abandoned his plan with King. His deal with Keene is in line with the agreement he made to followers in general, explained below. In fact, until further notice, you can stop assuming that Pete will try for anyone but King, because King is his current best chance at defeating Dragon.
Pete’s deal with mortals to get his temple out of the desert was a general promise to his followers. “Followers” are somewhat thinly-defined; they do not need to worship the celestial per se, they only need to have a connection. (Not any connection, but it is a convoluted rules thing that is not terribly important anyhow)
Several years ago, Henry Milton found the temple and moved it into his backyard. This is what happens when you are an eccentric billionaire. Whether or not Henry Milton ever met with Pete directly has not been explained.
Pete’s promise was to equalize man and animal. This is a broad sort of promise, and he had all intention of keeping it; he would not care to make a promise to mortals that he didn’t want to do (even if it’s crazy), because why would he need to.
Neither Pete nor Dragon believe animals are lesser than men; otherwise why would they bother interacting with them so much? What they disagree on is whether the world can handle the equalizing. While this can be forced with enough miracle power, the material world runs on natural law and not miracles. Keep in mind that the food chain is still intact in Housepets, and if your hamburger can file a grievance against you, things aren’t going to stay stable for very long. Pete doesn’t think this is a problem because in the long run, things will eventually stabilize and anyone caught in the crossfire passes on to eternity, which is not a bad deal (for the most part). Dragon thinks this is a problem because there’s enough suffering in the world as it is without massive compounding. She’s not against equality, she merely thinks the world should go its natural course with only gentle encouragement.
Pete promised to use “all his power” with a rider indicating he could not use all his power right away. Why? Because his power is what’s being used to fight the duel with Dragon. If he uses it all, he basically forfeits the duel. Under the terms of the duel, whoever loses must become mortal for a full lifetime. So, if Pete loses the duel, he becomes mortal and cannot use his powers, which would defeat being able to fulfill the whole promise, which is why Pete cannot do that. It’s more a legal obligation than an escape clause.
Keene did not like this situation. While Pete is technically indebted to him, he doesn’t like the idea of the Earth having to be basically wiped out and started anew in order to make his ideal utopia come true. So he asked (told) Pete to meet him halfway; that Pete does not have to fulfill the complete terms of his promise so long as he works with Keene’s methods to attain animal equality.
This technically makes Keene a follower (or “minion”) of Pete, but not his Avatar. Since Pete and Dragon are in a duel, this basically boils down to this: Keene will not be able to get help from Dragon so long as he’s dealing with Pete. But since he barely had any interaction with Dragon at all before this, it is not that big a problem.
When Pete gets his Avatar, you will know. It is not a thing that passes without notice.
Sabrina is apprentice to Tarot, who is Dragon’s Avatar. This means that, should anything happen to Tarot, Sabrina takes on the role of Dragon’s Avatar. Although Sabrina doesn’t have Avatar powers, she does have some natural psychic ability.
(Implied) Tarot was apprenticed to Dragon’s previous Avatar. Avatars don’t live forever, they are in succession and take on the mantle one after the other. Dragon can transfer the power whenever she likes, but it must abide by the Convoluted Rules and succession is one of the methods that preserve the power the best.
The origin of Pete and Dragon’s duel has not been elaborated on, but it does have to do with their various differing viewpoints on all kinds of subjects that interest them. So, Pete’s deal with Keene is not technically part of his duel with Dragon; it is a side matter which he is spending a very small portion of his power on. Dragon does this too (see We’re Snowed In!). They are allowed to have lives outside of the game, though the various penalties stacked on top of Pete has limited his ability to be involved in the material world.
Ask questions! To be amended to.