Harry has a hissy, but manages to finally find his Red Minions. Fiery cornage is sure to ensue.
Harry skidded to a halt in front of a river that ran across the path. "What is it this time, Gnarl?"
"That river in front of you is much too deep for your Minions! Browns, Reds and Greens cannot swim. They are, however, remarkably good at drowning."
"You must be joking, Gnarl. You're telling me that these Minions can't pass through water that doesn't even come up to my waist?"
Gnarl harrumphed through the connection. "We Minions are not exactly the most advanced beings, Master. And these newborns even less so. Their brains primarily think of only three things: violence, treasure, and your Overlordship. Even you had to learn to swim, did you not?"
"Whatever, Gnarl. What about the Minions, though. I can't just leave them here."
"Oh, no need to worry about lost minions, they will automatically return to their Spawning Pit, no matter how far away it is. The exercise could do the louts some good." Harry rolled his eyes as Gnarl yelled at the Minions to make their way back to the portal from whence they had come, making his way forward through the shallow stream. "I do apologize for having to leave you on your own so soon, Sire, but drowning your army is quite the waste. If only we had Minions that could swim. Or float. Or… not drown quite so fast."
"I'll survive, Gnarl. It's not like I haven't been defending myself since I was a year old anyway."
"That's the spirit, Master!" Harry continued down the path, which seemed to only get darker the further he went forward. Despite his words to Gnarl, Harry felt a feeling of apprehension settle over him. With every step he took, the darkness seemed the crush down upon him even further. Every noise seemed to him the step of another enemy creeping up on him. Finally alone, Harry's situation seemed even more foolish than when he had agreed to it. He was Harry freakin' Potter. He was everything that evil – capitalized or otherwise – hated, and yet here he stood wearing armor that practically radiated disaster, using Minions that served Evil, and allowing the slaughter of dozens of seemingly innocent Gnomes. Certainly, they had attacked him first, but that could easily be attributed to the same reason that Bane had looked upon him with such disgust; he just seemed Evil.
And yet as he walked on, he knew – from experience now – that these Minions could help him defeat Voldemort. And that was more important than any personal struggle he might have with accepting such disgusting help. If it was true that the Minions were his servants and would do his bidding, perhaps it was possible for him to curb their evil ways, or at least prevent them from doing anything bad while he was around.
As Harry brought his attention back to the path, he found it obscured by a thick bramble of thorny vines. "You've got to be joking me," Harry growled with passion. He looked to the left and right, searching for a way to bypass the vicious plant, but the vegetation was much too thick. "I suppose it would be too much to ask you whether it's possible for me to hack or magic my way through this, Gnarl?"
"Of course you can cut through these vines, Master." Harry perked up, until Gnarl continued. "Unfortunately, I estimate that it would take you the better part of ten minutes to make your way through with your sword, and your current level of magic is of no use to us now."
Harry swung at the vines angrily. "This is so POINTLESS! If you'd let me bring along my wand, I could've just burned them away with an Incendio or cut them away with a Diffindo. Instead, I'm stuck here swinging a sword for ten minutes." He took a few more swings in silence. "What do you mean 'at my current level of magic,' Gnarl?"
"Along your travels, Sire, you are certain to come across certain artefacts that will expand your magical powers in a much more significant way than that puny stick you were waving around up until now." Gnarl retched. "Ugh, and with a Phoenix feather core? Those flaming chickens don't even have the decency to die when they should."
"Stay on topic, Gnarl."
"Er, right, Sire. Incidentally, you should never try to roast a Phoenix. It only encourages them." Harry swung down heavily, carving a particularly thick vine straight in half. "Anyway, these artefacts, which we Minions call Spell Stones, will grant you new, more exciting powers. Spell Catalysts are also a useful artefact, which will allow you to increase the power of these new spells. Who knows how many are out there waiting for you to discover!"
"What about my old collection of spells? You may not think them as valuable as these spells you keep talking about, but they still have a great number of uses."
"Well, I believe that when you discover how to use these new spells, you may find a way to learn to perform your old ones without the aid of that measly stick." As Gnarl finished speaking, Harry finished carving a narrow path through the thorny vines. He paused to wipe his brow before pushing triumphantly through the overgrowth…
Only to find another bramble of vines, even thicker than the last, blocking the path ten feet ahead of him.
Harry blinked stupidly at the plant in front of him, before ripping his helmet off and throwing it to the ground in frustration. He rushed forward to the vines with a yell, hacking wildly at the plant in a futile attempt to make it disappear. Already exhausted, though, he fell backwards after only a moment of his fury, panting heavily. Judging by the last thicket, he imagined that this one would take almost an hour to cut through.
After a moment, Harry retrieved his helmet from the ground beside him and placed it on his head. "Feeling any better after your little session, Sire?" Harry thought he sounded smug, but he was so exhausted that he didn't care much.
"Zip it, Gnarl. Just tell me if there is another way to get through these damned vines without hacking at them for an hour."
"If we only had the Red Minions available to us right now, then they would be able to make short work of those loathsome plants. Reds are fiery little blighters. Always handy if you need something roasted or burned to the ground." Gnarl contemplated for a moment while Harry struggled to catch his breath. "We're actually rather far into the forest at this point, and I can't imagine that the Reds would be much further. Try giving them a call and see if they answer."
Trusting Gnarl's council for a change – he hadn't been led wrong yet – Harry raised his left arm, and called out to his Minions. The sound of a horn echoed through his mind as he made his way to his feet again, and he called out once more, the horn even louder this time. His breathing slowed as he waited impatiently for something to happen. "What exactly can these Red Minions do?"
"As I said before, Reds are fiery little blighters. They have the ability to conjure and throw fireballs at their enemies, as well as obstacles such as these annoying vines in front of you. Do enough damage at once, and they can even set their enemies aflame! They can also absorb fire to help clear a path for you when one may not otherwise exist. Once we get them, we'll also be able to fire up the forge and get you some custom fit armour and weaponry."
Harry was certainly glad to hear that. He hoped they'd be able to at least create a set of armour that he didn't fall over whenever he moved. Just as Harry was about to give up and call the Minions once again, he noticed that the ever present mist seemed to be growing blacker and the air smelled smoky. The thorns in front of him suddenly glowed red before bursting into flames and burning away, parting to reveal a group of semi-familiar figures. Gnarl sighed in relief. "Finally, the Red Minions."
As they joyously ran to their new Master, Harry took a quick look at them. They were almost identical in appearance to the Brown Minions, however, their skin was red instead of tan, and they sported a small pair of curled horns atop their heads, giving them a devilish appearance. Harry was relieved to see them, since it meant that he would no longer have to make it through the Forest alone. However, the Forest's rather large trees were now burning down, and he really didn't feel like dodging falling branches through the rest of the path. Remembering Gnarl's words, he pointed to the burning trees and commanded the Red Minions to absorb the fire. They quickly snapped to work, and Harry watched amazed as the fire was sucked into their bodies, and almost immediately the fires were no more. "Handy," he muttered.
The Minions then ran back to him, babbling incoherently and pushing him further along the path. "I think they want to take you to the Red Minion Hive, Master," Gnarl said. "Though it sounds like there might be something else there as well."
"No kidding." Harry followed the Minions to a small cave that split from the main path. It was ridiculously hot inside, but he found himself able to see very clearly as a bright red light source was located in the middle of the small cave. It was very oddly shaped, somewhat resembling what a beehive would look like if it were built upward from the ground, and was constantly on fire.
"That's our Red Hive, Sire! Command your Minions to pick it up, and I'll send a Minion digger out to provide you with a portal back here to the Netherworld."
Harry did so, and about half his Minions picked up the Hive, slowly walking it out of the cave. "And what is that there?" Harry gestured to an object that looked like an ancient wheel carved with ancient runes.
"Unbelievable! The Red Minions have found you a Spell Stone, Sire, and an ancient one at that. From what I can see, that looks like the old Fireball spell. I haven't seen him in over a millennium. Bring him and the hive back to the portal, it's just over the hill from where you are, and we can really start making the Netherworld fit for habitation and domination."
Itching with slight discomfort, Harry followed the two artefacts out of the swelteringly hot cave and into the slightly less hot Forest, moving ahead of the convoy as he walked up the hill. All-in-all, he supposed it had been a rather successful little outing for all involved. Except for the one Minion who had died, as well as the Gnomes. Right now, he was just looking forward to returning to the Netherworld, doffing his uncomfortable armour, and sleeping for the rest of the day.
However, as he neared the top of the hill, he heard voices from the other side. He gestured for the Minions to all freeze in place, then inched his way to the top of the hill, peeking over at the offending speakers. Two wizards were examining an obsidian-black structure that was peeking out of the ground; the Netherworld gate that Gnarl had just had built. They were too far away for Harry to tell who they were, but he wasn't too keep on finding out if they were confident enough to make their way this deep into the forest.
"Is there any way they can use that gate to get into the Netherworld, Gnarl?"
"Of course not, Master. But they're much too nosy for their own good. You need to take care of them somehow, so they don't go blabbing our secret around before we want you known to the world!"
Harry considered Gnarl's words. He was right that he could not afford to let anyone see such an obviously evil figure strolling around the Forbidden Forest; it would incite paranoia and fear among an already scared society, and possibly even draw Lord Voldemort's attention to himself.
What do I do?
Who are the mysterious wizards lurking just over the hill? How will Harry deal with them? And why did I feel it necessary to end on a cliffhanger?
I dunno. But I do know that you all should leave me some reviews if you want the answers a little sooner. ^_^ If you get bored waiting, feel free to check my page here or at Ficwad . com for some new stories, and - in the case of Ficwad's site - a couple of original fiction pieces. Also, if you enjoy the Legend of Zelda series (Ocarina of Time in particular) then you should go look up May7733 on this site. She's a great writer, and her story, The Thief's Revision, is shaping up to be a great DarkLink fic.
Until next time!