The kingdom of the Blood Elves was ancient, having been forged when the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt had been built by the Pharaoh's magicians around 2,551 BC. In what would become Europe in the modern age, seven great clans lived across the land but as the years passed, three of the seven fell to disease and war. After years of strife and inner war, the remaining four clans came together and given authority to a single, most trusted family to become the first High King and Queen. During this time, the first order was the design and construction of a series of fortresses and outposts that would mark the boundary of the new kingdom. Once the final stone had been put into place, the four clans moved into the land, one moving from England and the other three from Germany, Netherland, and Spain. With the strengthened army and fortified walls, the Kingdom of the Blood Elves as they were now called manned a continued observation of the borders.
Commander Serkin walked the rampart, eyeing the warriors on the current shift. Quite a few of them were young ones barely a year out of Miroslav's training. Only one was actually keeping a steady eye on the tree line that ran a mere five hundred feet in front of Fortress Uaithne. He started down the stone stairs, reminding himself to ask Captain Markus to send the elf to him, knowing the young elf would be a great captain someday if properly trained and given a chance to prove himself.
The fact was he, himself, was getting old for this.
Already the coldness was beginning to seep into his bones and his mind slowing down. An Elven warrior needed to be quick on his feet and nimble in mind lest he would cause his own death and perhaps another. If you could not trust yourself to be wary of the battlefield, how could your companions trust you in the field of war?
Serkin stopped; head angling toward the paddock were the Seraphinas were enjoying a day out of their stalls. Usually, they were calm, munching on their oats and barley or frolicking around with each other. Today, they weren't. Restless, the steeds were nervously prancing around, heads tossing every which way. Every now and then, one would whinny, ears back along its skull, eyes wild.
"Markus!" The captain up on the rampart leaned over.
"Is there any disturbance on the front?" The Elven warrior that had caught his eye started, hand drifting to his bow where it leaned ready against the battlements.
"No, sir! All's quiet. We caught sight of a few animals that had crossed the fields in front but other than that, nothing."
"How many animals crossed it?"
The captain took a moment to answer. "Quite a few actually. More than usual as we only see an animal a day at the most-"
"How many!" Serkin wanted an answer, not an evasion. "How many animals did you see?"
"About 30 in the last few hours."
Serkin's head whipped around. "Thirty animals in the last few hours where you would only see one a day? How come you didn't notify me of this earlier?" The captain didn't meet his eyes. The hairs on the back of the Elven commander's neck rose, a warning sign. He started back up again, gazing out between the embrasures out toward the tree line, catching another stag running to the south. Lining up with the captain, he gave the order for the Seraphina Guard to prepare.
"Don't you think you're overreacting, sir?" The captain cringed at the look Serkin gave him.
"Something is approaching this way if the animals are running from it." Serkin's sharp eyes began flicking from tree to tree. "I would rather have the Guard mounted up and sweating for an entire week before I get caught with my trousers around my ankles and bow lax, captain. Perhaps that's a lesson you should learn well."
The captain gave a brief nod, hearing the insult insinuated underneath the comment. He started down the stairs. He wasn't even half way down when the first boulder came hurling out of the forest, cracking against the wall.
Yells sounded along the rampart, the guards moving to conceal themselves from their attackers. More boulders came hurtling out of the tree line, striking against the fortress, others gouging into the field before the fortress. Serkin knew immediately what those boulders were for; to provide cover for an invading force.
"Archers!" Serkin commanded, motioning them to line up along the ramparts in ranks. "600 meters in front! Notch!" The archers pulled an arrow from their quivers, setting them into their Elven long bows. "FIRE!" Dozens of the deadly missiles launched into the air, zipping past Serkin's head and angling toward where the boulders were coming from. Just as they were about to enter the canopy, they suddenly lit up, turning to ash.
Serkin's eyes widened then narrowed in realization. "There are wizards there. Hold your fire."
"Wizards?" His captain shifted. "Why would they want to attack us?"
"They wanted us to join forces with them against the British Ministry. One of the Clans has ancient roots in the Isles and they were trying to goad us into helping them. However, I have received word that King Shahriar denied their request for allegiance." The rampart shook as a large boulder struck right under them. "However, wizards are not powerful enough to send such large boulders at us."
The Blood Elf who Serkin had his eyes on came up to them. "Giants. I have been hearing rumors that they have also been visited the Death Eaters."
"The Giants would not join them." The Captain scoffed. His face reddened as Serkin raised a hand to his face, halting any further comments.
"What is your name?"
"Arkimidis, sir." The Elven warrior replied.
Serkin looked at the tree line, knowing the constant barrage would bring the wall down. "Captain, you stay here and make sure the wall isn't breached. Arkimidis, come with me." He headed down the stairs. "Mount up!"
The paddocks began bustling into activity, the waiting warriors quickly preparing their steeds. Word spread through them, large pikes rising with sharpened blades. Light glinted off mithril armor and black dragon leather. An Elf came, holding the reins to his white Seraphina, blue flames flowing in the breeze.
"Commander, cavalry ready!" Captain Bayard rode up next to him, his scarred face set in a grim expression.
"Prepare for wizard attacks. They must be with a squad of Giants. Capture as many as possible. Kill the Giants. Arkimidis, stick with Captain Bayard." Serkin waved his hand and the side gate opened. He gave his Seraphina a nudge, leading the cavalry forward.
Silent and swift, the cavalry moved just as they had been trained. Even then, as the cavalry swung around behind the attacking force to strike them from the back, spells and curses came at them. Serkin flicked out his hand, a shield surrounding his steed even as a curse struck a young warrior's steed from the side, the Seraphina shrieking as it went down in flames and light.
A few cavalry warriors continued thundering on, searching for the Giants.
Serkin pulled his sword from its scabbard, seeing a robed figure sending green, red, and purple curses at the young ones. Without warning he charged. But the wizard caught sight of him and sent a curse at his steed's legs. The next thing Serkin knew, he was tumbling through the grass, rolling to his feet. A flash of purple light, his sword absorbing it, the blade instantly rusting to a dark red color.
Moving across the ground, Serkin dodged another spell, and with a quick thrust, sent his sword across the man's neck, severing his head from his body.
A second Death Eater screamed at him, the voice feminine. The wizard's body hit the floor as a spell landed right in front of him, the ground exploding outward. He landed hard but he was up on his feet.
"DIE, YOU FILTHY CREATURE!"
Serkin flicked his hand out, a green shield surrounding him just in time to reflect a spell back. His sword swung around, aiming for the arm holding the wand but the Death Eater Disapparated to another place, sending a new barrage of spells. They moved together in a deadly dance, light and metal slashing through the air.
Across the battlefield, a giant roared as a number of Elven warriors surrounded it, pikes held at ready. One warrior pulled his arm back and aiming quickly jabbed his arm forward. The pike entered under the giant's arm, slicing right between his ribs. The Giant roared in pain, arm catching the pike, breaking the shaft into pieces. During the distraction, another warrior jabbed into its back.
Serkin jumped high, a Dark spell landing where his feet had been before. Dark purple flames rose up, the tree next to it, igniting quickly. The bark curled and blackened. Using his sword, he deflected another spell.
"Avada Kedavra!" The female Death Eater yelled, her wand emitting a green light but not at the Elven commander. Serkin watched in horror as a new warrior caught it in the arm, his sword immediately dropping from his lax hand. He drew a blade from his belt and flicked it at the Death Eater who screamed as it slid into her spine in her lower back.
Another roar of a dying Giant ripped the air. The one Death Eater assumed was the leader stood up straight. "Retreat back to the Manor!" Pops around the forest echoed, the robed figures disappearing, leaving a few behind. The Giants gave a final look before they took disappeared into the forest.
"Cover the battlefield and check the wounded." Serkin commanded. An Elven warrior nodded, motioning for the remaining warriors to break up. As a squad set up a line where the Death Eaters had left and another began checking the dead bodies, Serkin walked over to where the warrior had been caught by the green spell. Turning him over, Serkin could see the face was frozen in realization, eyes wide and unstaring. A shadow fell over him.
"Do you know who he is?" Serkin asked, closing the eyes.
"H-he's my younger brother." Arkimidis replied, his voice trying to keep steady but failing.
Serkin's head snapped up. "My condolences." He said softly.
"We knew what we were signing up for." Arkimidis swallowed.
The Elf Serkin had commanded just moments earlier came up to them. "We have thirteen dead warriors and four dead Death Eaters with two injured but stable and one critically injured. The one you took down, Commander. Also among the dead is Captain Bayard."
Serkin sighed. "Where is she?"
"Over there, being tended to. They are stabilizing her for transport back to the city." The Elf led them to where Elf healers were surrounding a lone figure laying face down. "She took the knife to her spine, severing it. Blood loss is minimal."
"She won't be able to walk." The chief healer said. "The most we can do is get some feeling into her legs but that's it. "She should be ready to go in a few minutes."
"Filthy creatures!" The woman hissed, her eyes rolling crazily. Serkin picked up the silver mask where it had been discarded. "You will all die by my master's hand."
"Your master has been defeated once before. This attack has not ruled him into our favor and may in fact force the kingdom to join against him." Serkin watched as the dead were being collected. "What's your name?" The woman managed to spit in his face. Wiping it off, he looked at her. "Unlike the Ministry, you will not be tried as easily, for when it comes to war criminals, which you are, the maximum penalties are given. Everything you know will be found. Tell Markus that he is in command while I'm gone. Keep the shifts active and rotating throughout the night. Be alert for anything out of the ordinary. I will report to Shahriar. Arkimidis, you're coming with me."
"Commander, will they attack again?" The Elf asked hesitantly.
"No. Voldemort has learned that he has underestimated us and we are now aware of his treachery as well as having lost his Giants. It would not be wise for him to launch an assault now without his new allies. Prepare the cavalry for another Giant attack in case however. You know what to do."
Akane ran through the halls, her boots thudding against the marble floor, her long hair flowing out behind her. She ran up the steps to her father's study, bursting through the door. Shahriar looked up at her, Lords Fannar, Merari, Moriarty, Shantus, and Zethrys turning around as well.
"Akane, what is the cause of your abrupt visit?"
"Uaithne, the outpost near the outskirts of Bistrita, has been attacked by a small group of Giants and wizards. They were able to repel the attack but we lost a number of warriors. Commander Serkin are heading here to personally deliver the details to you, Father."
"Have they identified who the wizards are?"
"Yes. Commander Serkin has informed us they were Death Eaters."
"Hermione what are you doing?" Ron peeked over her shoulder, taking a look at what she was doing. "Werewolves? 'Mione, we did that back in third year when Professor Lupin was teaching."
"I know but I've noticed odd about our new friends." Hermione flipped a page, reading a new passage. "Haven't you noticed anything about them?"
"Other than the fact that George and Fred have taken them under their wing or the fact that Hala is acting like Ginny did back in her second year? No, not really. Why?"
Pulling out her calendar she presented it to Ron. "I've noticed that Cosmas and Damian both have disappeared during the full moon during the last two times. The next full moon is happening on Tuesday but the only thing that is puzzling me is the fact that they haven't disappeared the day before or after like Professor Lupin did."
"Maybe because they're not werewolves? I mean, they sometimes disappear with Hala and Shyamal for night time flights."
"I didn't notice that."
"That's the point, Hermione. Hala is in the Second Year dorms while you're in Fifth Year dorms." Ron placed a finger on the edge of the calendar. "And what if they are werewolves?"
"Would it matter? Professor Lupin is a better man than most of the wizards I've seen. He is more compassionate, understanding, and smart." Hermione tapped a chin. "The only way we can know for sure is if we wait until after. If they do disappear on Tuesday during classes, then we'll confront Shyamal on Wednesday."
"Is that wise? You know how protective Shyamal is of his siblings." Ron shifted under the look Hermione gave him. "I'm just saying. I don't want to duel him after seeing him against Potter and Malfoy. He might get- you know- angry that we found out."
Hermione fiddled with that calendar. "I know. It's just that they have this sense of mystery around them. I've noticed they don't speak Romanian or Bulgarian where Durmstrang is located. And their English is slightly accented but they speak it rather well. I've also noticed that the twins speak in another language I can't quite identify."
"We don't know their history. I mean, why should they?"
His bushy friend was quite for a moment. "I have this need to find out about them." She sighed. "We'll have to wait and see."
"If you're sure, Hermione." Ron handed her calendar back. "Do you want to go down to Hagrid's? Colin just told me that he saw smoke coming from Hagrid's hut."
"Sure, why not? Hermione gathered her text books, shoving them into her school bag. As they were leaving, Ron caught sight of something. His face started turning red but Hermione quickly grabbed his hand and pulled him through the portrait into the hall. "Don't even think about it Ron."
"B-b-but he was leaning toward Ginny! She's fourteen! She's too young to have a boyfriend!"
"That's her decision. Honestly, Ron. Ginny can defend herself. I think you saw what happens when you piss her off." Hermione huffed, steering her friend down to the grounds. "Come on, Hagrid will be happy to see us."
Shyamal had known Eclipsis would grow fast. He didn't realize just how fast.
By the first week, he could no longer keep him in his pocket as it was getting obvious he was keeping something from his fellow students and the professors. He had quickly fashioned a small ankle chain from one of the necklaces Akane had given him when he was smaller. Using the techniques he had cast on himself to hide his true features, had induced a glamour charm into the necklace.
Eclipsis, hidden as a baby owl, was carried up to the Owlery where Shyamal talked to his Snowy owl, Hedwig. Thanks to his care and nurturing, she had slowly come out of her shell with the help of the other three owls. The past weeks, the four owls had taken to flying around the castle in loose maneuvers, much to the enjoyment of the students and staff. Hedwig had taken him under wing, making sure Eclipsis ate enough to keep up with his growth spurts. It was under her watchful eye, that Eclipsis began hopping from one perch to another, despite protests from the other owls. Two weeks old, Eclipsis was about as big as large teddy bear.
Shyamal hated being away from Eclipsis but he had no other plan at the moment. He sighed, knowing the glamour charm would only hide so much. By the third week, he had a feeling Eclipsis would be as huge as an extra large teddy. He heard his name being called, looking at Ron and Hermione walking up the steps from the outside.
"Where are you walking from?"
"Hagrid's. He just came back from a journey so we decided to visit him today before we head back to class on Monday." Hermione told Shyamal as they started climbing the stairs back to Gryffindor Tower.
"Oh, he's back? I've been hearing that Umbridge is looking for a reason to get him removed as the professor for Care of Magical Creatures."
Ron snorted. "Hagrid's a good professor. He knows his stuff and teaches it well but it's the bloody Slytherins that disrupt his classes." The Prefect went on and told Shyamal what happened between Malfoy and a hippogriff named Buckbeak in Third year. "Slashed him up good but Buckbeak was sentenced to death. Luckily, he escaped right before the executioner was sentenced to kill him."
"I've only meet Hagrid when we first arrived. He seems an okay bloke." Shyamal stated.
"Yeah but sometimes he forgets that the rest of us aren't half-giants with a fondness for dangerous creatures. I remember the la- hold on, the stairs changing." Ron said hanging onto the banister as the marble staircase swung around.
"That's odd. This staircase doesn't move that way." Hermione looked around. "It's supposed to swing the other way to the East side of the fourth floor." The staircase came to a stop at a blank wall, right between two portraits of wizards dueling witches. "That's extr-" Her words were cut off as the stoned began to fold backwards on itself, revealing a new passage.
"Is it safe, do you think?" Ron asked, glancing backward. The opened hall they had just came through suddenly closed, leaving the hallway ahead the only option. "Bloody bugger, I say we get off this staircase and into a hall before the staircase decides to disappear as well." Before Shyamal or Hermione could say anything, Ron started down, cautiously entering the passage. "It looks alright."
Shyamal followed, hand drifting to his side, ready to un-holster his wand. "Looks like the other halls, just empty." It was true. Grey stone lined the walls, ceiling, and floor, stretching out to another opening. At the opening on either side, stood two suits of armor, pikes held ceremoniously in front of them at parade rest.
The three walked forward, looking around. They walked past the suits and into a large circular room. Four tapestries lined the walls, one of each carrying the shields for the four Houses of Hogwarts. On the floor in the exact center was a thick circular line made of entwined threads of red, green, blue, and yellow, an 'H' carved deep into the center stone.
"Have you ever seen this before?" Shyamal asked the other two. They shook their heads.
"Hogwarts: A History never mentioned a room like this." Hermione moved to the line, crouching right next to it. She pulled out her wand, tapping the edge of one of the threads. It glowed a bright purple before fading. "I've never seen something like this before. It's been infused with magic so it must have a purpose. But what, I can't exactly say."
"But why would that staircase bring us here?" Ron asked, uneasily looking around. "Do you think Dumbledore knows about this place?"
"He didn't know where the Chamber of Secrets was." Hermione stood up, walking around. "There could more secrets about Hogwarts than what even he knows about, probably even what he believes about. Hogwarts was built over a thousand years ago. Who's to say that every single little tidbit of information was passed down about what's in these walls?"
"You should have definitely been in Ravenclaw." Ron muttered. "Well I'm getting hungry so I think I'm going to head back-" They jumped around as a clash reverberated throughout the room. Ron looked at the suits of armor whose pikes were now crossed, blocking the way back. "I guess I'm not hungry anymore."
Shyamal crouched down near the line as well. "This place is a dead end so there has to be a way out of here and I bet it's this circle." He moved to the 'H', looking over every detail. Warily, he stood up and with a deep breath stepped into the circle. A flash lit up the space and when the two remaining Gryffindors looked again, he was gone.
As the light faded away, Shyamal flicked his wrist, his wand settling into his palm.
He was in an altogether different part of the castle, white gleaming marble adorning the room now. Looking down, he saw the same etching of the 'H' and lines were on the floor. He stepped off then stepped back in.
"Bloody hell." He was stuck here in an unknown place. Deciding to see where he was, Shyamal headed for the opening that resembled the one in the previous room he had been in. This time, they were carrying large broadswords and white flowing capes. Glancing at them as he passed, he saw no movement.
The passage way was short with heavy oak doors at the end. He was about to push open one of the two when he heard his name being called. "I'm down here!" A second later, both Hermione and Ron were swiftly heading to him, the red-haired boy looking slightly tousled. "What happened to you?"
"When you disappeared, Ron started to panic slightly and tried to go back the way we came. Needless to say, the suits were having none of it." Hermione summarized.
"You'd think a suit of armor would be slow." Ron shrugged. "Now I definitely know the only way backward is forward."
"Where do you think we are?"
Shyamal glanced back at the door. "At this moment, I'm thinking we're in another part of the castle that no one knows about. The walls and everything, however, seem to have marble facing at the very least." He motioned toward the door. "I was about to open it and see what is on the other side."
"Might as well, eh?" Together the three of them pushed the door, stumbling slightly as it eased swiftly around.
"Oh my." Hermione breathed, taking in the sight.
It was another circular room but this one was grander than the last one.
It looked like they were in a courtyard surrounded by high walls of white stone the stretched out to a large castle that looked even grander than Hogwarts. Shyamal could see the castle was built right into the face of a large mountain, the steep cliffs on either side continuing to rise to the mountaintop that was hidden in the white clouds above. Before them, a large courtyard filled the area, grass waist high and golden yellow, gently waving in the breeze. The fountain before them bubbled gently, clear sparkling water cascading down from the mermaid's vase into the pond at its base.
"If I didn't know better, this looks like something out from the Lord of the Rings." Hermione said, tilting her head every which way.
"The Lord of the what?" Shyamal asked.
"It's a fictional Muggle book, quite popular."
"It looks like a haven or a fortress." Shyamal motioned to the entrance on the other side of the courtyard. "Maybe the way to go back is in there?" They moved forward.
"If we're lucky, there can be brooms to ride back." Hermione shivered. "I hate riding brooms."
"For all we know, Hogwarts can be far, far, away."
"Honestly, Ron. Don't you remember the mountain that's to the North of the castle, the one that is part of the range of mountains that surround this valley?" At his blank look, she sighed. "We're on the mountain next to Hogwarts that sits right on the boundary lines of the grounds? It's about a mile from the school."
"It's still Hogwarts then. Perhaps the Founders built this one too." Shyamal didn't remember anything like this from the books in the Blood Elf's library. "What exactly should we find?"
"A way out that's for sure." They passed a gated arch, entering another passage. Another pair of oak doors stood, this time, great lengths of iron running across it.
They pushed a door open and entered what resembled the Great Hall. Opposite them sat five marble statues, three men and two women right where the Staff table would have been.
"It's the Founders and Merlin." Hermione was literally bouncing on her feet. "That's Salazar, Helga, Merlin, Rowena, and Godric!" She named off the statues from left to right.
"Indeed you are correct, Ms. Granger." The three teens spun around to see a woman in black robes standing right behind them.