Harry takes on Chilotha. Here comes the pain.
Disclaimer - You are Harry Potter. It's probably best that you don't own yourself and someone named JKR. Maybe it will make what you are about to do easier? Show no mercy!
Acknowledgements - The Alpha Fight Club crew (naturally) and FairyQilan's beta. I'd also like to thank the horde of reviewers from the last chapter that forced me to alter my update schedule. You can put your pitchforks away...please?
Chapter 21 - I'll Write on Your Tombstone, "I Thank You for Dinner"
September 6th, 1996
"Tonare! Pello Hostis!" Pure righteous anger fuels the strength of your spells. Chilotha's shield barely holds the blasting curse and the banisher breaks through tossing him across the room like a rag doll.
You wait for the sickening crunch that never comes as Collins' possessed body apparates just shy of the wall. Damnation! Move! Where is he? Seconds pass as you furiously scan the room. There! He's back up on his blasted platform.
Chilotha cackles, "Such power you have boy. Your death will make a magnificent Horcrux, replacing the one you destroyed." He runs his wand along the length of his left arm drawing his own blood. A tiny stream of blood follows his wand and he hurls it at the ground. The blood turns into a meter wide column of flame that starts moving towards you.
"Never seen Bloodfire before boy? It will be the last thing you ever see."
"Vertexicis!" Let's see how blood magic stands up to elemental magic. The vortex of wind causes the living column of fire to flare and then dim, but not completely fade. It continues moving forward! You take a hint from the bastard and Apparate as both the Bloodfire and a nasty severing charm race towards you.
Reappearing on the other side of the lobby, you go for something lethal and thrust your wand at Chilotha, "Acidus Lampas!" A spray of acid erupts from your wand tip. He crystallizes it with a dismissive wave, as the Bloodfire changes directions and starts for you again.
You want this fucker dead! He killed Bill! "Arresta Contego!" An almost solid barrier of dueling magic surrounds your wand and you smack his next two curses away like a beater. It's time to fight smarter. You leap to your left putting the Bloodfire between you and Chilotha.
"Attero Glaicius!" Shards of ice fly through the column further weakening it but continuing on to their real target. An angry cry tells you that your ruse worked.
You barely duck the blasting curse that he replies with, as the two of you Apparate.
He spots you first and some kind of wounding curse grazes your arm drawing blood and sends a sensation like an electrical shock through your body. The Bloodfire begins moving faster. "The more you bleed the faster it moves. I'm through toying with you. It's time you die!" Chilotha summons a second column of Bloodfire. "Do you like it? I can do more! They will hunt you down." Sidestepping your blasting curses, he conjures two more of the Bloodfire drawing blood from each limb.
There's probably some ridiculously easy way to deal with these things. The problem is that you don't know it. You Apparate to force all four columns to change direction and try to time your strike - now!
"Vertexicis!" The wind fans the Bloodfire directly in front of your enemy. It momentarily strengthens and sends the flames back into the retreating Wizard. A blood curdling scream is your reward for a well played tactic.
Still a bit of pain doesn't really help you with the four fire elementals stalking you. You send a geyser of water into the original one, diminishing it to about half of its original strength.
The blood magic must be difficult to maintain as his spells are more simplistic now. It's too bad that simple spells can be just as lethal. A well-placed disarming curse knocks you backwards and tosses your wand into the air. He summons it to his hand and laughs at you while halting the columns of fire.
"A suitable trophy, perhaps I should use it to create a new Horcrux. There is no hope for you now little Animagus! I'll finish your friends and then deal with the Daemon."
"How do you plan to do that?" Keep him talking. They always like to talk. When you move, you need to be faster than you have ever been before!
"Oh I helped summon it, little fool. When Riddle destroyed my other Horcrux as the sacrifice needed to summon it, the act linked my life force to the binding rings. Even had you succeeded in killing me, the circles would fade and the Daemon would be free. It sees things. It knows things. Some of them come to pass others do not, but it lies to me as much as it tells the truth. It is how I knew you would come. It wants to be free, to destroy, but it also must guard Riddle's Horcrux. After the last group stumbled on the city, the creature created some kind of barrier. Nothing living can leave. Even I cannot leave without getting rid of it. The secret is virtually useless until the Daemon's barrier is gone."
Chilotha stops for a moment almost lost in thought. "That's right! You must know the Secret! So, you read the runes from my corpse. Let us close that loophole. I always expected Riddle to betray me, so I took precautions. My error was thinking that he wished to replace me as the leader of the cult. Instead, he killed my followers first. There was no one left to perform the ritual to return me to life."
He laughs clearly not noticing his lack of sanity. "Even if I fail to banish the Daemon, it will be free. When Riddle comes back here, it will kill him and he will be trapped as I was - for eternity! It is perfect! No matter what happens, I triumph!" An intricate wave of his wand and his Inferius corpse appears in the room. He looks at it in contempt and disgust before having the nearest Bloodfire consume it leaving only scorched stone in its wake.
Tilting his head, he watches his corpse char in the flame. You use the distraction and make your move. Apparently, he assumes you don't have a spare wand - his mistake. You pull it out and put everything you have into a /Lacero/. The poorly matched wand weakens the spell, but it still manages to almost sever the arm he shields himself with at the last second. Your wand in that hand clatters to the ground. You try to summon it, but he steps on it.
The original column of Bloodfire disappears. Well that's one way to get rid of the stuff! The heat sizzles as one of the other columns gets too close and your wand arm burns before you can Apparate.
Reappearing on the platform you hastily apply a numbing charm that doesn't do much to stem the pain. Chilotha whips his wand and fully removes the dangling arm from his body. Seconds later, a silvery arm begins growing in its place. Is there a fucking trick Riddle didn't steal from this guy? You try and summon your holly wand again, but he must have somehow stuck it to the floor, while you were treating the burn.
Choosing simpler spells to counteract the less than capable wand, you throw a reductor at him. His new arm absorbs it and remains undamaged. The only thing it does is give you enough time to send more water into a closing column of fire.
The unnerving thing about him is that most of his spells are silent and completely foreign to you. This is the first time you've really heard him chant a spell. "For the one who has wronged me, for the one who has wronged me - Persecutus Manus!" The hand flies through the air faster than it could have been banished and it's flexing its fingers. Maybe it's better if he sticks to silent spells! You banish the Hand, but it immediately flies back towards you. You Apparate away from it and the two remaining Bloodfires. He's chanting something. What is it this time? Oh shit! He's chanting an Anti-Apparition ward.
You need solutions - fast. It dodges your blasting curse and slams into you; knocking you to the ground like one of Dudley's meaty paws. You block its next attack with your non-wand arm, but it leaps up and grabs you by your throat, clenching and choking as you struggle to remove it. It won't let go!
Gurgling, you desperately try to pry it off, as the pillars of fire close on your position. Wordless magic is one thing, but try wordless magic when you're getting strangled. You try and think of anything you might know about Blood Magic. He's still controlling the arm maybe he'll feel this. You reach down to your belt and yank your bone carving chisel and stab the arm. Yeah! He felt that! The impaled hand lets go briefly and you hurl it into the approaching Bloodfire.
The hand thrashes momentarily and stills as the Bloodfire around it reduces the appendage to ashes. The good news is you interrupted his concentration enough that he is back down to one weak looking Bloodfire. Maybe, he's wearing down as fast as you are. All this apparation is really taking a toll on you.
A cutter digs a gash into your leg and you fall to the ground. The flesh around the wound blackens instantly. No, he's definitely not weakening as fast as you hoped. You dissipate the final Bloodfire, but a bludgeoner knocks you back into the wall. The two of you trade curses from long range. If you only had your regular wand!
You half-close the bleeding leg wound and stagger to your feet. The injury forces you to hop in an almost comical manner. Like a pair of punch drunk boxers, the two of you trade curses as you close the distance. This nearly useless wand is taking all the power out of your spells. Your weak shield buckles under the onslaught of blasting and crushing curses, but still you keep fighting. Chilotha Apparates to your left and blasts you off your feet and spinning into the wall. You hear the crack of bone and see your foot pointed in the wrong direction. Somehow you held onto your wand and shield the next spell, reflecting it back at him. He's got the momentum and he knows it. You need a distraction in a bad way, but doubt any is coming soon.
The distraction you hoped for comes in the form of a scream and a troll's body stumbling down the steps. Hack must have hit that ward! You hit Chilotha with a piercing curse drawing blood from one side of his chest. Hopefully, it collapsed a lung.
If you had a minute, you would wonder how Hack got back here, but instead you press the advantage using bludgeoners to hammer away at him. Neither of you are in good shape right now. Hack is on his hands and knees struggling to rise. Hurray for having friends!
He must sense that he's outnumbered as he throws a killing curse at Hack. You hurl another weak bludgeoner at him and turn your head hoping not to see another friend die. The curse explodes on impact with a floating cot.
Kwan gracefully leaps over Hacks bulky form and sends a bone crusher into Chilotha's shield. Knowing you're in no shape to help him, you begin your own Anti-Apparition and Portkey chant. It's one of the few magical things Jake Collins had taught you. You hope that, in whatever place he is in now, he appreciates the irony. It's very draining for one wizard to do alone, but you have the power and the will. Kwan sees what you are doing and nods moving forward and shielding curses from his former partner. You keep moving your wand and repeating the chant as Kwan and Chilotha trade blows.
Hack rises with a murderous look on his face and charges forward blocking a curse with his wooden shield and swinging his club making Chilotha retreat backwards. He dodges the first strike, but the backstroke catches him spinning him to the ground.
You can see the Dark Wizard fading fast. Had the two of you kept fighting, it's anyone's guess who would have survived. Kwan and Hack are fresh, powerful and angry. Chilotha is doomed. It's only a matter of time.
Kwan's wand moves in a precise circle and then twists sending a massive bludgeoner through Chilotha's shields. He follows it with a severing charm and some kind of incendiary curse that he definitely has never shown you before.
Burnt, disarmed, bleeding, and now missing most of a leg Chilotha is on the ground in front of the two. Kwan gestures to Hack and the troll's club halts before delivering the kill strike. Chilotha's hand is held up and he looks as if he is pleading for his life. You want to scream at Kwan, but you don't dare stop your chant.
Straining your ears you barely make out Kwan's last words to Chilotha. "Nice try, but Collins' Korean not that good." A severing charm decapitates the would-be Dark Lord as you collapse along the wall.
You feel like you are going to pass out, but you maintain consciousness. Kwan sits down beside you and starts dressing your wounds. "Words do not express how stupid you are! Thought you were done being stupid. Did mother nurse you with the good luck potion? No one survives being that stupid without help!"
"He killed Bill. I wasn't thinking."
"Would Bill want you to run headlong against a madman when you have two other wizards and a troll to fight with you? Idiot!" To emphasize his point, he whacks your head with his palm. "Better yet ask him yourself."
You're still dazed from the quick slap to your noggin to process what he is pointing at. There on an antique broom sits Bill Weasley. You damn near faint for the second time.
"How? What? Who?" Your eyes cloud over with tears only adding to the confusion.
Bill holds up a circlet of gold. What the hell is that? His voice is quiet and he tries to calm you down. You're losing it. "But I saw..."
"The Mayan armband Harry, I asked Thundercloud to show me what it was like to be an Animagus. We were working with it when Collins attacked us. It took me a second to remember I had it on. That's what I was trying to tell you on the roof."
You're speechless. The mouth moves, but no words will form. Your best friend is alive! But that means, "Thundercloud?"
Kwan answers, "Leapt into the path of a killing curse that was coming for me."
You don't know what to say or feel. Part of you feels ashamed that you are happy Bill is alive. Is that wrong? Everything feels wrong! You feel numb, sick, and guilty. Distantly, you hear Bill say, "Hack, get a blanket. I think Harry is going into shock."
You watch the troll ransack your cot and bring back a blanket as Bill sits next to you and starts working on more of your wounds. They keep talking to you, but you can't seem to respond at all. You're so tired. It feels like you've traded one friend for another.
"Who was winning?"
"Neither. Dark Wizard had stupid boy almost down, but he was beaten too."
"Damn Harry! I read up on the history of this region. If that guy was really Chilotha the Serpent Priest, you just took on South America's version of Voldemort! How did you know?"
You stare at his beaming face for a second or perhaps a minute, "De Soto told me."
"A statue. Trying to get to the exit. Fly up into the cavern and shoot sparks."
"What? You're not making much sense. Kwan have you got a pepper up potion? Thanks. Here Harry drink this. It will help clear your head." He forces the vial to your lips and you comply. It takes a minute to focus. "Take a minute and calm down. Focus for a minute. There you go, good man. Sorry I gave you a scare mate."
Bill looks at Kwan, "Would you look after our friend? I know he wouldn't want to end up as one of them." Kwan nods grimly and gets up heading for the wrecked cage. Fresh tears well up in your eyes. You don't want to watch but you owe it to the man, who taught you how to become an Animagus. He's another death to feel guilty about, another person you weren't quick enough to save. Watching Kwan revert the American Indian back to his form and severing his head brings you back to reality. It's a damn shitty life sometimes.
In your mind the faces of Fleur and the Weasleys are replaced with Lauren's. The shock and horror on her face, 'But you told me it wasn't that dangerous out there!'
Some clarity begins to return to you. You try to answer Bill's questions. "De Soto told me; he's a statue. He helped me learn the secret of this place. He's trying to make it to the entrance and get out in case we didn't stop Chilotha. Someone needs to fly up into the cavern and light their wand. He'll head for the light or back to the Ministry building. Bring him back here. How'd you get Hack here anyway?"
"Ratty looking magic carpet, it looks like rubbish, but it still flies. Nice bit of goodies up on the roof. So, that's how you were able to Apparate and make a Portkey! Damn good work! A statue huh? We should go get him."
Mental clarity is returning and with that comes a horrific realization, "Bill, the Daemon! Chilotha said it would be free after he dies. He tied his life to the binding circles. When they're gone the Daemon will be free!"
Bill looks very alarmed. "We'll find the statue and see if this was a bluff. Otherwise, we could be in serious trouble."
Roughly two hours later, you realize it wasn't a bluff. You're riding on that ratty nasty magic carpet; still in a good bit of pain. You can feel the tangible barrier preventing you from moving forward. Kwan's keeping a look out for any wandering Inferi, while you and De Soto investigate the barrier.
You suppose the upside to being a living statue is that technically, he isn't living. He passes through the barrier with ease. So it isn't a complete loss as you hand him the journals. You watch the statue head down the passageway about 20 paces to ensure it is beyond the wards and set the journals down on a rock. They should synchronize themselves in about six hours. It'd be nice to hear from the outside world. You and De Soto will come back and get them. Bill is waiting on Kwan and they are going to inspect Chilotha's temple and see if they can get close enough to inspect the bindings on the Daemon.
"We should go now. Nothing left here." Kwan mutters ruefully and climbs back on to the carpet. He levitates De Soto along as the three of you head back to the bank.
"Well?" Bill's waiting anxiously for a report.
You sip another pain potion. "No good. Even though I know exactly where I am, I can't get past the barrier. What do we know about Daemons?"
"They're big, mean, and nasty. Most of them are highly resistant to magic and stronger than a giant. When they get close to you they start to sap your magic and weaken you further. That's about all I know? Anyone else have anything to offer?"
Hernando De Soto looks at the four of you. "Once I was able to get close enough to see it. The Daemon stands perhaps twenty feet tall. It has four clawed arms, legs of a goat, and horns of the ram. I think I saw a tail but the barrier is somewhat hazy and I was being harassed by the Inferi at the time. All the treasure is there in the temple. Chilotha and Riddle moved it all there for ease of access. For a few years a portrait in the temple was able to keep tabs on it for me, but one day the portrait ceased working. I do know that the spirit of Chilotha would often float outside the barrier and converse with the beast. Your Riddle returned three times before the painting stopped working. He taunted both Chilotha and the Daemon while removing most of the treasure. I have no idea if he has returned since."
Bill nods his thanks. "Come on Kwan, we should go."
"I want to go to."
"No Harry, you should sit this one out. You're in no condition to go anywhere. If it wasn't for the whole Secret Keeper thing, you wouldn't have gone to the exit."
"I'll stay on my broom. Besides, you might need me." Nice false bravado, you probably couldn't take on Ginny Weasley's pet puffskein right now, but you're getting better at 'talking tough'.
Bill reluctantly agrees and you clamber onto your broom and push off with your non-immobilized foot. You've got your holly wand back and surprisingly your new spare used to be Chilotha's wand. It's not quite as good a match as the holly, but it feels quite powerful. Secretly, you picture a scene of you telling Riddle where you got this wand right before you kill him. Hey, it's your dream! Why not make it a good one? Bill orders Hack to stay in the lobby with De Soto.
You float over to your trunk and retrieve the Mossberg. "Hernando, are you familiar with shotguns?"
"No. The real Hernando occasionally used such weapons, but I am certain that there have been changes in the last four centuries."
"When we get back, I'll show you what little I know. We may need all the firepower we can get our hands on."
The Temple of the Winged Serpent looms in front of the three of you. Your curse breaker glasses show no hint of active wards other than preservation charms. A further investigation shows many that have been deactivated, probably recently by Chilotha. None of them are impressive, but then again this is just the outside of the Temple and no one is taking anything for granted.
"If nothing else, we can try and refocus them to attack the creature as it leaves the temple. They'll probably just irritate it, but I'll take whatever I can get." Bill whispers.
The outside of the temple is in remarkably good condition, it looks like so many of the Aztec, Incan and Mayan ruins that decorate tourist pamphlets throughout the region. The fact that it is so close to the larger school made it easy to overlook. Hell, you originally thought it was part of the school! Floating up the steps on the Dragonfly you look at the intricate carvings on the obsidian columns of serpents with great feathery wings.
Kwan levitates a struggling Inferius into the entrance, while the two of you verify that it doesn't activate any of the wards. Satisfied, the three of you continue with your borrowed shield ahead of you.
Once inside, you are able to appreciate what it must have looked like in its heyday. They were apparently a well funded group of bloodthirsty lunatics. The detail on the faded paintings is striking, most depicting ritual sacrifice. It's almost a relief that all of them are frozen in place now. You'd hate to see most of these things in motion.
Many of the statues are adorned with gold and silver inlays. You idly wonder if De Soto ever got jealous.
The three of you move carefully through the central passageway. Every few feet both you and Bill check for the still non-existent wards. At the end of the corridor, you see a pair of closed doors. From the cracks underneath, you can see the telltale signs of a potent magical energy.
Bill seems extra nervous at the doors. He checks them five times and conjures a small mirror to peer under the door. You can't blame him, you're scared too. Unless Chilotha was lying there is a no-shit conjured from the nether regions Daemon on the other side.
Bill motions to Kwan, who uses the Inferius as a door opener. The doors open slowly and you stare into the Great Room of the Temple. Is it just your imagination or is the Inferius struggling harder to get free of Kwan's magical grasp? Perhaps it doesn't want to be here either! Your ease your broom into the room.
You feel the hair on your neck rise. There is a palatable feeling of fear and despair permeating this room. It reminds you of the moments at the lake with Sirius, right as you looked up and saw the scores of dementors circling. Are daemons and dementors somehow related? The Great Room is about fifty meters in length with a concave roof that rises some thirty meters. Two things dominate the room. The large steps leading to what can only be a sacrificial altar and the creature perched on the altar like a throne. A hazy wall of magic only allows you to drift perhaps five meters into the room. Past the wall of magic, chests full of gold litter the ornate pews in a rather haphazard fashion. If this only the paltry remainder, then you'd hate to see all of it! Still, one object commands your attention - the Daemon.
A deep, rumbling bass voice greets you. "At long last, my adversaries arrive. I am eager to take your measure in person. Ah yes, the Curse Breaker, the Hit Wizard and the boy Hero. I see you did not accept Chilotha's oh so generous offer. Only a few realities offered that possibility. Oh, do come closer mortals! You are safe for the moment. My restraints are still there; sadly for you they will not be around much longer."
De Soto wasn't lying! The daemon is a monster. The smell of brimstone assaults your senses. The ram's head smiles an evil grin at you as it rises and descends the steps. It's doing this on purpose and projecting an aura of fear forcing the three of you back.
It continues in a cruel hiss as its forked tail pounds the stairs, "Yes. See the instrument of your doom. Let your tiny minds comprehend my glory. Know what you will soon face and know that you have no hope. I will feast on your souls. I will grind your bones into powder. The smell of freshly ground bone has always been one of my favorites. It has been far too long..."
You gulp and somehow force yourself forward. It's still caged. It can't hurt you. You repeat that like a mantra and force the broom forward.
"Good! Good! You still have spirit. I prefer the brave ones over the cowards. I'm glad you lived boy. The realities where you didn't offered precious little amusement to my farseeing eyes."
You find your voice. It takes a much longer than you thought it should to find and it certainly doesn't come out sounding like the brash arrogant insufferable son of James Potter. Instead, it is more of a croak combined with a whisper. "Glad you're not disappointed."
"Of course not Harry Potter, your death will be but the first of thousands."
"Don't you have to stay and guard the Horcrux?" Speaking of which, where is the damn thing?
One of its four arms pats its stomach. "I think I'll take it with me. Adding its power to mine has allowed me to see things that might have happened and things that never will. I have seen so many things in my brief stay in this dimension. Would you care to hear some of them?"
"Oh, you remind me of the few times it was someone named Neville here instead of you. He was always more of a brute; foolishly hoping to best me with force, but I know you Harry, you're the more clever type - already thinking of a plan. Sadly for you, I've most likely already seen it. By all means put the wards on the steps outside of the Temple. The little man-eating plants will trim the fur on my legs back a bit. I've allowed them to become mangy over the last few years. Is the little fair haired girl here with you in this reality or is it the eagle's offspring? No? Pity, the death cries of your females are so very pleasant. Perhaps, I shall seek both of them out, after I have disposed of you?"
Most people who claim to know you are always quick to point out that you are rash, impulsive and easy to anger. Given your upbringing, those particular quirks shouldn't really be a surprise. Still, anger isn't necessarily a bad thing. In your case, anger always seems to trump fear. "You sound pretty smug from inside your cage. I have little fantasies too, creature, but I live in reality. You've still got to get by us."
It gestures with one of its clawed hands and the Dragonfly falters dropping both you and the broom to the ground. This is your first, but most likely not the last encounter with a Daemon's nullification field.
"Learn your place mortal - at my feet! I am eternal. Your words are bold, but you lack any power to enforce them. I am power! The feeble energies you command are but a flicker of a candle and I am the burning glory of the sun!"
Kwan sticks his barely moving Inferius to the wall. He helps you stand and keep your weight off your injured foot. Bill is shaken out of his momentary paralysis and begins checking the binding circles. You simply glare at the monster as it regards you with seemingly casual interest.
You pull your wand out and try a simple light spell. The tiny glow is pathetic. You force more power into your spell and it grows marginally brighter. Both Kwan and Bill see what you're doing and try a few spells of their own. The results are not very good ones. Kwan's cutting curse barely severs the head of the almost paralyzed Inferius. Normally, it would have left a small trench in the wall behind it. You strain to make your light stronger and notice the Daemon's gaze locked firmly on you. It can weaken you, but it can't take your magic away. After a minute the standoff ends with you canceling your spell.
You look at Kwan and whisper, "What about a killing curse?"
The Daemon leans as close to the barrier as it can and laughs, "What do you think prompted your kind to start making these little baubles you call a Horcrux in the first place. I am body, but my soul is elsewhere, but do please try for yourself child. Try it right now in fact! I'll lower my head and you can strike me now! You'll never have a better chance! Hurry, before I change my mind..."
Bill warns, "Don't even think about it Harry! Not while the bindings are still in force."
Five minutes later, Bill looks up from the concentric rings and the runes surrounding them. The ones in the outer ring have already started disappearing. "Best I can tell no more than seventy-two hours."
Spreading its four arms to accentuate its massive size the creature looks down at Bill, "I will tell you this one truth mortal, for I am feeling generous. You are wrong. The barrier will fail on its own in sixty-eight hours. Of course, you could release me now and spare yourselves the agonizing wait? It matters little to me. I am patient. I was ancient long before your kind was little more than a talking monkey. Hours are but seconds to me."
As you turn to leave, you cast a glance over your shoulder at the creature. It has already turned and started stalking up the steps to the altar.
"My dying arse, it isn't it impatient!" The Dragonfly in your hands pulses again as the Daemon's hold on it relents.
The three of you get airborne avoiding and mostly ignoring the Inferi attracted by your presence.
Bill asks, "So, what did we just learn?"
You smile and add a bit of gallows humor, "That in sixty-eight hours, we're in deep shit?"
He shakes his head at you, "Even when it tells a truth, it isn't necessarily true. They'll fail on their own at that time. It'll break free before then. Never believe anything one of them says. What do you think Kwan? My guess is eight to twelve hours before that happens it'll make its move. So, we've really got at most sixty hours. Let's get back to the bank and figure out how we're going to fight this thing."
You watch Kwan nod and decide to add, "If they never tell the whole truth, does that mean that Dumbledore is part Daemon?" At least that gets a brief smile out of Bill.
Bill and De Soto seem to have really hit it off. He's rather fascinated by the object and actually knows who this Bernini bloke was. You're 'borrowing' Maria's chisel to replace the one that was melted in the Bloodfire. Hopefully, you won't get a chance to thank her anytime soon. The bodies of your two fallen teammates have been moved into one of the small offices. The sadness over their loss will have to wait. Kwan joins the group and shows that he knows a bit of carving and as the three of you begin chiseling in earnest; the statue describes how the city was destroyed.
The Cultists attacked during a quidditch game at the school, when most everyone was in a central location. Chilotha's followers were by no means overwhelming in numbers, but the confusion, surprise, and ferocity of the attack overwhelmed the population. They had already raised the Necro wards, which created even more havoc as those killed came back an hour later. The Necrodragon you finished had been Chilotha's 'pet'. It had been killed in the assault on the Ministry.
You listen as Hernando describes the harrowing days that followed the slaughter as the few remaining pockets of resistance fell to the Cult of the Winged Serpent or the horde of the damned that walked the street. For the next two months, from a secret room in the Ministry, the statue had conversed with paintings and learned that the city was being ransacked and that anything of value was being moved to the temple.
At the end of the third month the paintings told him that something had happened to the Cultists. All of them had joined the ranks of the Inferi. Only then did the statue leave its hiding place a see first hand what had become of the city. He spoke of his first encounter with the detached spirit of Chilotha and piecing together the truth behind the story of the destruction of this city.
Six hours later, you set your chisel and pile of Dragon Bone aside and massage your aching wrists. You've been carving like a maniac. Bill's still much faster, but you are definitely getting better. Currently, you're trying to duplicate Maria's 'Old Faithful' ward and wondering if a geyser of scalding water will be enough to slow the wretched thing down.
Kwan and De Soto's return was bittersweet. Bill's Order journal glowed with the light of unread messages, but your journal did not. Bill gives you a sympathetic look as he hands it to you. You're a pretty easy to read person and the disappointment on your face must be evident.
I'm taking a break from carving. This won't be a long note. I'm healing again. We've lost two more people. A dead wizard named Chilotha possessed Collins. He killed Thundercloud. I originally thought he had killed Bill. I took him on and the two of us beat the snot out of each other, until Kwan and Hack showed up and finished him. Kwan had to kill his best friend.
My broken foot should be usable by tomorrow. The other wounds are nasty. I never heard most of the spells Chilotha used, but the wounds he made are infected. Fortunately, my totem is helping fight off the curse. It's one of the perks of being an Animagus. So, I'll be back on my feet again, shortly.
I have to be. There's a demon here and the bindings keeping it imprisoned are failing. It'll be free soon and it has created some kind of barrier preventing us from leaving. Bill estimates maybe 48 hours before it breaks free. I met it. I don't know if you remember seeing me when I first came out and caught sight of the Horntail, but I think you get the idea. It taunted me. Apparently, it has some kind of divination powers. It must know quite a bit about me. It threatened to come after you after it's done with me. When you read this, go find Dumbledore and show him this. Hopefully, he's already found you.
There's a magical statue with us now. He's the echo of the Spanish Conquistador Hernando De Soto. Kwan's showing him how to shoot the AK-47 and my shotgun. We're not sure how many shots he'll get off before the Daemon uses its powers and neutralizes him, but we'll take every bit we can get.
I've been carving so much both my hands ache. We're going to make our stand here. For a change the hundreds of Inferi outside will help form a shield for us. We're going to set our wards in layers here and we're not going down without a fight. Bill was telling me about one of his favorite movies about a pair of Outlaws and their final stand. Apparently, between the Daemon and the Inferi, the entire Bolivian Army is outside waiting for us.
Wish us luck, we'll need every bit we can get. I know it might sound selfish, but I'd really like to hear from you again.
Bill tosses you the Order Journal. "I'm headed upstairs and outside to set up our first copy of the Armageddon ward. Go ahead and read for a bit. To borrow from our friend Maria, that Dumbledore has some serious cajones."
September 1st, 1996
William and Harry,
I must congratulate you on your numerous successes. I am curious how you managed to pierce the veil of secrecy that protects the city. Perhaps you will be kind enough to share this remarkable discovery? I must ensure that your method cannot be used against our Headquarters. I am also impressed that you managed to perpetrate such a ruse so successfully. In retrospect, it all makes so much sense now.
I have taken the liberty of reviewing the mission reports and came to the conclusion that Harry has been in some rather perilous situations in the past few weeks. Again your resourcefulness amazes me.
However, I must insist that Harry be returned to England as soon as possible. I understand that you probably will not get this message until you solve the quandary of being inside a location that you do not actually know, but it is imperative that Harry come back with all due haste. His presence at Hogwarts is vital to the safety of everyone and the war effort.
Harry, I assure you that I have a suitable training regimen prepared for your return. I have made arrangements for you to continue in Potions with Professor Slughorn. I will also be giving you private lessons concerning Mr. Riddle.
We have thus far been able to mostly conceal your absence, using a bit of polyjuice and a certain Auror's natural abilities. I fear that this ruse will not hold up under close scrutiny, so I encourage you to make haste back to Hogwarts.
I would like to apologize for the unfortunate sequence of events that triggered all this. You deserve a full accounting and I would prefer to do it in person.
Oh boy! You should pack right now and run off to Hogwarts to take Potions! That would solve everything wouldn't it! Too bad there's a little hitch in those plans, involving a Daemon. Suppressing your urge to choke someone you press on.
September 2nd, 1996
William and Harry,
I understand from your report that you encountered numerous Inferi and that you sustained losses. I am curious as to why you are working with the Goblins; I would urge caution in dealing with Goblins, when there is salvage to be had.
As there is not much I can add that I have not already covered, I will simply wish you good hunting. I would be remiss if I did not pass along this warning. I have no doubt in your skills, but I strongly recommend that you do not attempt to destroy the Horcrux. They are powerful and dangerous artifacts. I myself sustained a grievous injury in the destruction of one that I recovered over the summer.
I will reassure your friends that I have heard from you and that you are well. They are very concerned for your welfare and do hope to hear from you. All are eager to heal the breach in your friendship.
If you're willing to cast a killing curse, a Horcrux isn't necessarily that difficult to destroy. Why is he giving you advice anyway? You destroyed the Diary and Chilotha's just this morning. Based on results alone, you're more qualified on the subject than he is! Maybe it's a sign of all this stress, but there is this throbbing vein in your neck. At least it isn't on your forehead! Otherwise, you'd be turning into Vernon!
September 3rd, 1996
Hopefully you will read this soon. I do not agree with your assessment that Tom would place his Horcrux in the vaults. I believe he would place more significance in other buildings that, perhaps, held a special meaning to him.
From what little I know of his history and that of the area, I suspect he was in league with a notable wizard of the area and former supporter of Grindlewald named Veras Chilotha. I understand that most hold him responsible for the disappearance of their city. To this day, he has a scattered following. They believe that he will return for his loyalists and lead them back to the city that is their promised land.
If I may be so bold as to offer a suggestion, I would search Chilotha's home. They were either in league or they were rivals. If Tom vanquished Veras, the site of the battle would be of great significance to him. As there has been no mention of Veras since then, I suspect he met a fitting end.
Again, I must reiterate that Harry's presence is required in England. I hope your injuries heal quickly and that Harry remains safe in your care. Please tell Harry that I have informed his friends that he has been located. They hope he will return soon. You need only specify the date and time we should meet and I will come personally.
At first you want to scream that this is proof that even a blind squirrel can find a nut at some point, but you have to admit that Dumbledore does have a brain on his shoulder. He just chooses not to use it! You skim through the entries for the fourth and the fifth; it's more of the same condescending drivel! You arrive at the most recent entry.
September 6th, 1996
First, I must express my condolences on your loss. Losing a team member is never easy. I also hope that William's injuries are on the mend and will pass on the information to Miss Delacour after I finish writing this.
I gather from the tone of your letter that you are quite angry with me at the moment. Again, I apologize for any transgressions against you. I shall endeavor to explain myself.
Other than Occlumency and the Patronus training, I believe we discussed the lack of training in my office after your Godfather's tragic demise. I wished you to have a childhood and it was only the events of the Triwizard tournament that forced me to recognize the error of my ways. I would have begun training you when your name came out of the Goblet, were it not for the rules that forbade any additional coaching of the participants.
The end of the tournament also amplified the danger of your connection to Tom. As you are quick to point out, I am quite human and prone to mistakes like everyone else. Until you master Occlumency, I did not wish to draw Tom's attention to you any more than necessary.
I had hoped this year would be different. I must admit to my part in dosing you with the attraction potions. It was my intention to help you foster a relationship with Miss Granger in the hopes that, much like your parent's relationship, she would provide the same level of support and stability which Lily provided to James in his darkest hours.
I did not count on young Mr. Weasley's attraction for Miss Granger upsetting this arrangement.
I was busy on a different project, when Arthur and Molly opted to change out Miss Granger for their daughter. I was not consulted in this and under no circumstances would I have agreed to any obliviations. I can only hope my words can properly convey my sincerity on this point. I will also pass on your warning to them, but hope as time passes you will find it in your heart to overlook their errors in judgment. I have, in my own fashion, expressed my disappointment with them in this matter.
As to your finances, again I must ask for your forgiveness. I made terrible assumptions and I did not even consider asking for your permission. In doing so, I have injured your relationship with Remus, who is quite distraught over the entire affair. I ask that you place the blame for this squarely on my shoulders. Remus acceded to my wishes in your best interests.
I see only in hindsight, that I have run roughshod through your life like a veritable herd of Hippogriffs through a crystal ball shop. I would only ask that you give me the opportunity to make amends.
Words fail you. Coherent thought fails you. Bill should have saved this for right before the Daemon gets here! The anger might have given your spells the extra power they needed to really damage it! You grab a quill. This deserves a response.
We have somewhat succeeded in reopening the lines of communications. I have had what you might call an eventful day. We don't need to ration out Dreamless sleep anymore. That minor problem has been taken care of.
Unfortunately, that problem was Veras Chilotha. Riddle wasn't the only one with a Horcrux here. Chilotha was a disembodied spirit and he did a Quirrel on Jake Collins. I was able to destroy his Horcrux and Kwan finished Chilotha, but not before Chilotha killed Thundercloud. By the way, you might want to remember that there is no defense for the Killing Curse. The same applies to a Horcrux. Take it from the boy who has destroyed more of them than you!
That's the good news. Yeah, losing two more party members is the good news. Do you really want the bad news? The bad news is there is a bound Daemon here guarding Riddle's Horcrux. It literally ate it and it's erected some kind of barrier that prevents us from leaving.
The even worse news is the bindings on the Daemon are failing. Chilotha's life force was bound into them. They'll be down in about 60 hours, but we can only assume the creature will break out before then.
Any advice on Daemon fighting would be appreciated. I understand you and a few others fought a lesser one in the past. This one is about 7 meters tall, 4 arms, a ram's head and legs if that helps any.
So in summary, we're down to 3 wizards, a troll and our new friend - a living statue of Hernando De Soto. We have to fight a Daemon. You'll know if it get's by us. I'm guessing the path of destruction across South America will be hard to miss. It'll have the Horcrux in its stomach.
Right now, I couldn't give a shit about who wants to make it up to me. My timetable is full for the next seventy or so hours. Check back after that. Have your people get in touch with my people!
If you're looking for forgiveness, I'm sorry to say I don't have any to spare. You'll just have to live with it. Considering what I am up against that probably means it'll just be you doing the living.
Harry James Potter
"Harry, do you want to come up to the balcony? I'm going to test the Purple Armageddon ward."
"Just let me climb onto my broom and I'll float on up there."
A few minutes later, you're floating up there. Kwan moves over to you and peels the bandaging from your thigh carefully avoiding your Jaguar totem stuck to the skin. "Totem seems to be helping. Cursed flesh reverting - always thought that was a myth. We should move it to around your foot. Cursed wound might annoy you, but you need to be able to use foot soon." After Thundercloud had broken his leg fighting against the Goblins a few weeks ago, he showed you how to use your totem to help speed healing. You have no idea if it has been in your possession long enough to really work, but the results speak for themselves.
Kwan's logic is sound and you cancel out the sticking charm and help him relocate it to your ankle. The tiny jaguar feels warm. "Did you take Thundercloud's totem? If we get out of here, we should get it back to his family."
The Korean smiles at you and pats a pouch that must contain the eagle totem. "Worry about surviving first, anything else can wait."
Bill interrupts, "Okay gentlemen, let's try out our own copy of Purple Armageddon. I've got it set up on the other side of the street. One Curious George coming up!"
Bill easily transfigures a brick left behind the wards into a small orange monkey. It proceeds to jump up and down and make noises, which attracts the attention of the ever present mob.
Sure enough they turn towards it and several begin pushing forward. You see the first one approaching the edge of the wards. The wards flare and a stream of purple energy crackles into the creature disintegrating it. The mob falters as the energy sweeps across the front ranks destroying several of them. For a moment the push of the Inferi behind them pushes another ten into the 'kill zone', but the rest are already falling back retreating from the lethal wards. Hack is whistling and cheering as each Inferi gets toasted. He knows a big evil monster is coming and wants to do his best to crush its skull - ignorance is bliss. You almost wish you didn't know what was coming.
When it stops, you share a look with Bill and Kwan; everyone has the same basic realization. Bill is the first to voice it. "Damn that's right! They can't see yellow and red, but they can see purple!"
"Probably would have been more useful a few days ago." You reply, but you can see the wheels in Bill's head turning. "What is it?"
"Fleur and I were watching this one movie on the telly. Oh don't give me that look, we occasionally stopped to rest. It was called City Slickers. You ever seen it? No, I guess not. It was about a group of guys, who knew nothing about handling animals going on a cattle drive." He's bouncing up and down, even on his injured legs, like a little kid, reminding you of Ron, when he has to pee.
Kwan rubs his chin thoughtfully. You're still trying to determine what Bill is saying. You decide to demonstrate your masterful command of the English language, "Huh?"
"The first thing I thought when I saw that thing was 'We need a fucking army'. Gentlemen, look below you. I present our army! We're going to have ourselves the great Inferi cattle drive of 1996. We're going to cram a thousand Inferi right down its fucking throat and see how much it likes that! We'll still ward the bank and fall back here if this doesn't work, but I say we hit it as hard as we can when it's trying to come out of the Temple."
Someone once said, 'The best defense is a good offense.' It's a fine saying and it's so very true. If the lying Daemon is to be believed, it may have already seen this many times, but seeing yourself fight an army of walking dead is one thing - actually doing it might be another thing all together. For you, life has reached a new level of 'bizarre'. You're about to lead an army of the dead into battle and you're probably still the underdog. Last time you checked, you're still a good guy - right?
Author's notes - As you may have noticed, Bill isn't as dead as many of you thought. It was always supposed to be Thundercloud that died there. This was not a knee jerk reaction to the reviews insisting Bill live. Otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered giving the female Goblin that armband back in chapter 14.
Of course, Bill and the rest are safe for the moment, but the final battle of this story is coming next chapter...
If you haven't already, give my new story, The Lie I've Lived, a try. Thanks for reading, Jim.