The Climatic Battle! Brace yourselves for one wild fight.
Acknowledgements - I can't say enough about the folks at Alpha Fight Club. They constantly challenge me to produce something more worthy of putting out there. This chapter goes out without FairyQilan's helping hand, but ZanyMuggle did a rather comprehensive prebeta and I decided to put it out before I leave for vacation. In addition to the folks at AFC, I'd like to thank Crys and Aaran St. Vines for taking time to comment on the chapter prior to its release. I know, enough of this crap! Let's get this show on the road.
Chapter 22 - This Game that We Animals Play is a Winner
September 8th, 1996
It's funny how 'Life' can be measured. Most folks your age don't even stop to consider it. They're as 'immortal' as far as they're concerned - never stopping to wonder how it will all end. Look how far that got Cedric. He was a stand up guy. You might get a chance to tell him soon, but you hope not.
That get's you back to the measuring part. Time is ticking away. There's one of two ways this is going to end. You'll either be dead soon or you won't be. What was once sixty hours has shrunk to a mere thirty-six. You're hands are numb from the carving chisel, but at least it's offset by the throbbing pain in your ankle. Pain is your friend. It reminds you that you're still alive.
Setting your carving tools down, you take a moment to rub some cream onto your wrists and feel the penetrating warmth pierce the numbness in your hands. It reminds you of batty old Arabella Figg constantly using rubbing cream for her joint ailments. Hell, considering that she turned out to be a squib, you might even be using the same stuff. A quick check with the old sniffer confirms that it's the same cabbage smelling stuff. You always wondered where the smell came from, when in fact she was using a magical balm all along - right in front of your little mushroom arse. Yeah that's right - Harry 'Shroom' Potter, kept in the dark and fed a bunch of shit.
You swill some juice down the gullet; gagging and wishing that you had drank first before applying the stink-balm. Another misstep you can learn from. How many more errors will the fates allow you to make, before it throws the fatal one your way?
You adjust your glasses and look down at the Dragonbone spear in your hands. Bill's shaping spell did a nice job creating a blade for the three meter long piece. It's a stabbing spear and not a throwing one. You're carving a group of three runes right out of a household warding book. These self-sharpening runes were meant for knives and cleavers, but spears work just the same. You space them out on the open face of the spear tip, to form a triangle. In the middle of the triangle you carve a Celtic rune symbolizing 'pain' and hope that it adds to the wounding ability of the spear. Hack will need every advantage you can give him against that monster.
Kwan's got a cauldron of growth serum boiling. It's meant for Humans and no one knows if or how well it'll work on your troll buddy, but it's worth a try. You move down to the shaft. Norse is the choice for this set. Translated they mean 'Cursed Enemies'. You wonder how much crap all the guys in the Gryffindor dorms would give you if they could see you outlining your pencil traces with nail polish. That's right, ladies, gentlemen and trolls of all ages - nail polish: the Cursebreakers best friend. Bill's good enough that he uses a toothpick in for fine work, but you are still mastering the little applicator brush. Bill laughed at you when you asked why he didn't show you this earlier. His answer of, "If you don't learn to do it the long way, you'll never appreciate the shortcuts," didn't sit well with you.
You can cook, clean, and use nail polish. It's surprising that you don't have a girlfriend already. Bill was nice enough to tell you that you'd make some guy very happy someday; he followed it with a theory about Percy swinging that way. Oh wait; there are all those life and death situations - that's probably the reason for your lack of female companionship.
Once the runes are painted, you start in on the carving with the chisel, tapping with a hammer to make the indentations and then pushing the shavings aside. Much of wardcrafting is repetitive work. You doubt that most would have the right mindset for it. Using Bill as an example, you have to be creative, obsessive, and apparently have a violent streak that you carefully suppress around the folks that 'just wouldn't understand'.
Bill is working on another Purple Armageddon. Hopefully, the three of them and everything else you have in the 'kitchen sink' will do more than just give the Daemon a tummy ache. Bill's a good man and he has everything to live for. He's the big brother you never had and always wanted. You thought you'd lost him once and Chilotha learned one last lesson in the mortal realm - an angry Harry Potter is a dangerous Harry Potter.
Kwan and De Soto are retrieving the journals and Hack's thunderous snores can be heard from the other side of the lobby turned throne room. Makes you wonder how the battle would have gone, if Chilotha had saved the energy he wasted on the whole 'omnipotent wizard' transfiguration of all this and used it in the fight.
If the Daemon gets past the five of you, thousands will die both Magical and Mundane. It doesn't really care, now does it? Too bad none of the books in De Soto's stash are titled Daemons and Their Weaknesses. How about Banishment for Beginners - Back to the Nether Regions in Five Easy Steps? Of course, if they were, they'd be in Spanish, Portuguese, Toltec or Mayan, so maybe it wouldn't be worth the headache anyway.
The dry humor keeps you going as you finish 'Cursed Enemies' and flip it over and begin the linking line to the controller rune. Only thing left is to carve the 'Unbreakable' set. It looks pretty empty though. With a bit of inspiration, you grab the nail polish and inscribe a few more characters on the shaft.
As you begin carving them Bill looks at your work curiously, "What are you doing over there, Harry?"
"It needs a name. The three question marks are from a fairy tale. The Troll asks you three questions. If you don't get them right, he kills you. I figured that I would name it before I carve the Unbreakable runes."
"Sounds like a winner, Harry. Do you have any other bright ideas on fighting this thing?"
"Well, it's kind of hard to fight a creature that can see everything we can possibly come up with. Even with hundreds of Inferi, I feel like we're the underdogs. Every time I've fought somebody, they've underestimated me and I've been able to use that to my advantage. That's just not going to happen this time. If anything, it's overestimating me."
Bill considers what you said for a minute, "Harry you're a genius. It's seen everything we can do right? Well let's confuse the hell out of it. If that's the case, it's probably seen itself lose a few times. The more cluttered the battlefield is, the more it will be looking around for some kind of danger sign."
You stare at him stupidly wondering where this is going as he continues, "It'll be looking for all the signs that something isn't going well. Everything we can use to slow it down means another spell we can hit it with. What else have we got? I doubt any of Fred and George's crap will be any more than a distraction to it, but we should look at different types of potions. Spells don't have a lot of affect against it, but potions might remain unchanged. You ever brew up a batch of boom juice?"
"I've had five years of Potions with Neville Longbottom. I've seen my fair share of cauldron explosions. Heck, our very first lesson he made some kind of blistering agent. I bet I can reproduce it. We can use some buckets and banish them into it."
"I'm sure Kwan knows a few recipes and I can recreate some of the twins more memorable disasters."
Bill feels his holstered wand, "Kwan and De Soto just crossed the perimeter alarm upstairs. Maybe Dumbledore will have some more ideas to add." Kwan hands the glowing journal to Bill and sets the non-glowing journal down.
Dear William and Harry,
I have arrived in Sao Paulo with Alastor. Our communications should be easier now. I shall start with the obvious, if there is a way for you to leave, I strongly suggest you flee. It is not that I doubt your courage or your skills. Quite the opposite, I believe you will fight to the best of your abilities.
You say the Daemon has raised a type of barrier preventing living beings from crossing. If you recall our visit to the house where Professor Slughorn was hiding, he transfigured himself into what appeared to be an inanimate object. Perhaps, this barrier can be fooled.
If flight is not an option, I recommend hiding and conserving your supplies. Consider this practical advice. The Daemon will be impatient with its freedom. If you can outlast it, it will leave. It is likely too large to fit in all but the main tunnels under the bank. The moment I hear word that the creature has escaped; I will offer my assistance to the Brazilian authorities.
Should both flight and hiding be impractical and you are forced to fight, I recommend avoiding direct damage spells. Banishing items into it will counteract its resistance. Litter the battlefield and impede its progress. Attack it from multiple sides and use your numbers to your advantage. The books I have consulted indicate that some may generate auras of terror, panic and despair. The one I fought did not have this ability.
As I have stated, it is not a matter of your abilities, rather the overwhelming nature of your opponent. I wish you the best of luck no matter what course of action you are forced into choosing.
Bill looks up from reading the entry. "Well that was mostly useless. We can try the transfiguration thing, but the Daemon's magic is different from ours. The hiding thing, I'm not so sure. Who says it can't change size? Hell, it might even be able leave the barrier up when it leaves or set up a small one just around the bank. Plus, the thing can see the future, so once it gets out into the open; it's not exactly going to run into situations where it doesn't think it can win. We have to stop it here and now, if you know what I mean?"
The statue chimes in from over by the pile of cauldrons, "From the few conversations I had with Chilotha's disembodied spirit, I believe that the monster will raze the city before it leaves. If you choose to retreat into the tunnels, you should consider trying to tunnel your way out of the mountain."
You shake your head. "I think being buried alive once is one time too many. I'm not sure we'd survive another time. We've got two sappers still. Think they would weaken the barrier enough for us to get out?"
"I took them out there while you were sleeping. They didn't do anything but charge. The barrier was unaffected."
You look up hopefully, "How about we blow them up? It could disrupt the barrier."
"Let me think this through for a sec." You watch him scratch his chin, "It might work, could kill us too, but if we're going to risk offing ourselves like that, how about we blow them up on the Daemon instead?"
"That ability it has to weaken magic will take a big bite out of them."
Bill nods his head and looks over at the other remaining wizard in your group, "That makes the odds of it not killing us a bit better. It'll still probably be strong enough collapse the temple on it. What do you think Kwan?"
The Korean thinks it over. "Attack it while it is still contained in the bindings. Daemon won't get close enough to sappers otherwise. Start battle on our terms instead of Daemon's."
Bill starts talking with Kwan and De Soto about the best formulas for explosive potions, as they set out several cauldrons and start sifting through potion ingredients. They agree on using a chemical trigger to detonate the sappers and are discussing filling vials and hanging around the necks of the Inferi and turning them into mobile bombs. That beats your idea of giving a Daemon a nasty rash.
Oddly enough, De Soto can brew potions, but can't carve runes. When you ask it why, it responds that part of rune carving is about the intent of the carver. Since he isn't technically a living creature it won't work. He does offer a suggestion to you that your next weapon should use Toltec runes. His rational is if the Daemon was summoned using Toltec rituals, a runic weapon using that magic might be more effective against it. It's probably a load of crap, but magic is really all about intent of the caster and if you believe Toltec runes against a Daemon summoned in South America will work better than other types of runes than it'll probably work.
You finish the Unbreakable runes and activate the controller runes to 'turn the spear on'. It's crude, but it looks effective. Carrying it across the lobby, you set it next to the stirring troll. He smiles at your work and holds the weapon like a newborn baby.
"Hack like Puny Harry's spear. Can't wait to use." He stands up and begins taking experimental thrusts with the spear and wraps some rope around the shaft where he wants his grip to be.
You could actually wait a few weeks for him to use it, but that's not going to happen now is it? "I've got enough time to get you a shield and maybe a club. Which one do you want more?"
Hack takes only a second to think it over, "Shield; Hack use stab with spear and block with shield."
Sifting through the pile of Dragonbone that dominates one corner of the lobby, you opt for a sizeable chunk of the creature's breastbone. You cast a few cutters to break it free from the few chunks of remaining ribs and begin shaping it using the carving spell Bill taught you. You focus on a roughly oval shape and are pleased as the solid mass of bone begins conforming to the image in your mind. You use a couple of temporary sticking charms to affix the straps cut off of Glurg's old shield and have Hack test it to see how it fits on him.
"It'll feel lighter when I add a couple of charms to it, but how does it feel right now?"
Hack nods appreciatively, but wants the straps adjusted slightly higher and made a bit tauter. It takes three attempts, but he's satisfied with the position of the shield and the tension of the straps. You mark the spot with nail polish apply the adhesive potion - fearing that the straps would simply fall off if you used a charm. Taking three of the smaller curving teeth, you arrange them on the front to form a crude shield boss with two of the fangs curving upwards between one curving downwards. The Troll eyes the improvement to the design.
"Hack likes to bash with shield, but bash goes like this and not like this!" He gestures with his arms showing you the motion across his body and you rearrange the teeth with two pointing left and the third pointing right. You're not really an expert on shield design now are you?
With more liberal use of the adhesive, the fangs are affixed to the shield forming the shield boss. Using a carpenter's pen you trace the twelve runes that you are going to carve into the front side of the shield. Once done you use the nail polish to outline your tracings and start carving.
"Bill, how are you going to reply to Dumbledore?"
Bill looks up from the potion ingredients he is dicing and says, "I reckon we'll mention that the Daemon has precognitive abilities and if it isn't fought here and now, there's no guarantee that they'll be able to get it in the wild. Next break, Kwan and I will run out and try that transfiguration thing, but I'm guessing it won't work. How long is that shield going to take you?"
"Two hours. Three hours max."
"After that everyone takes a nap and then we all fly over to the temple and start setting the OK corral up. A lot of Inferi should follow us. There are some big stone blocks from one of the smaller collapsed pyramids. We're going to levitate them and set up places for us to stand that the Inferi can't get up on. De Soto is going up on a roof with the M21. He's gotten good enough with it and that's got a longer range than the AK, which should keep him outside the Daemon's range. We'll keep that and your shotgun with us."
The statue nods, "It should be easy to hit something that big. I just do not know if this man made weapon will do much damage to a hellspawn."
Bill just claps his hands together. "Doesn't matter, we do as much damage to it as we can. If we injure it enough, people on the outside might be able to kill it. Harry's going to make Portkeys for us to fall back here. If they won't work, we'll try brooms and carpets. If that doesn't work either, then it's been nice knowing you in this life, gentlemen."
As you work on your carving, Kwan pronounces the growth serum ready for testing. He fills a bowl and hands it to the Troll who drinks it. Seconds pass and nothing happens, but then Hack begins to swell in size rising from his three meter mark to just under five meters. His shirt and trousers rip, reminding you of that green superhero from the comic books. Bill clicks the stopwatch to note the time it took for the dosage to affect the troll and clicks it again to time the duration.
Hack's increased size lasts only two minutes and fades while you are setting up a second set of straps on the shield for his increased size. Though Hack will only be just a bit over the Daemon's waistline, it's an improvement. Kwan begins bottling the rest as Hack's stretched clothes fall to his feet and you get a closer look at the troll than you ever wanted. No wonder the girl trolls like Hack!
As you return to your carving, your eyes wander over to your correspondence journal. It hurts a bit. You would have liked to hear from Luna again. Do you even want to write another goodbye note? It seems a bit pointless now doesn't it? You've probably said all you can say - not much heart left to pour out is there?
Damn, there's so much Dragonbone dust in the air around you, that some must have gotten into your eyes. Just wipe it away and keep carving.
After returning from a big fat failure at attempting to fool the barrier, Bill tries to get you to sleep. Sure, no problem there, Bill. Just lie back and relax, and let your cares drift away. Like that's really going to work!
"Stupefy!" You manage an angry look at a grinning Kwan as the bolt of energy hits you and you fall over with the last conscious thought being, "I suppose that'll work."
Sometime later you wake up somewhat bleary-eyed. Bill looks at his watch and shakes his head. "Stupefy!" Damn this is getting old quickly!
In the end you get just about five hours. Bill and Kwan each took half that amount. You don't know whether or not to be flattered or angry. "You needed the rest and quite frankly, you're the most powerful wizard out of the three of us. You're also just coming off a fight. Harry, we need everything you've got. If any of us has enough power to punch spells through its hide, it's going to be you."
Your anger deflates a tad. It's hard to stay mad after someone tells you how much they're counting on you. "I'll do my best Bill."
"I wouldn't expect anything less from you." He pauses for a moment and points over at the table, "I threw together some sandwiches. When we finish off the Daemon, you need to pop out and get us some supplies. I used the last of the PB and J. All we got left is bologna. Hack doesn't mind it, but I'm not sure I'll ever eat it again."
With DeSoto still working the cauldrons, Bill wakes Kwan up. Hack joins you as the four of you share your last meal. The four of you eat in a sullen silence. As you finish up, Bill gets out a sheet of paper and an envelope for you and Kwan.
He pulls a sealed envelope out of his trunk and sets it on the table. "I've already filled mine out. It's my will and testament and instructions for my burial. Kwan, do you want to stick with the one you gave me at the beginning of all this? Okay, it's just you Harry."
How many sixteen year olds, fill out a will? Who is still left that you really want to give anything to? Well, here goes nothing...
I, Harry James Potter, do hereby declare that this is my last will and testament. In the likely event of my demise in the near future, I would like the following things to happen.
To either of the survivors of this mess - William Weasley or Kwan Chang Ho, leave one quarter of my material assets and my profound respect for treating me like a man. I would be more specific, however I have no idea what my assets actually are. In the event that either of the above is also joining me on the next great adventure, Fleur Delacour will receive Bill's share and whomever Kwan designates as his beneficiary receives his share.
The next one quarter of my assets is to be given to Fleur Delacour with the hopes that she will share some with her younger sibling.
The final one quarter I would like split between Lauren Starless Sky of the Lakota Sioux, Rubeus Hagrid, Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom. You four deserve more happiness than life has given you. Lauren, I wish I had taken you up on your more than generous offer - I'm still regretting it. Luna, I would like you to have my cloak and my map - may they serve you well.
That disposes of my material assets. I would like thirty sickles placed on a plate and given to each of the following people. If they do not understand the significance of their thirty pieces of silver, Hermione should be kind enough to explain it and my sentiments behind the gesture.
Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Ginevra Weasley, Molly Weasley, Arthur Weasley and Remus Lupin.
To Percy Weasley, I leave the assurance that you were right about your family all along and my Weasley family jumper to remind you that it wasn't just you.
To Charlie Weasley, I leave my Firebolt broom under the condition that the Firebolt is never used by Ginevra or Ronald. Bill assures me that you are a better person then the rest of that lot and I trust him with my life.
Free my owl, Hedwig. If she allows one of you to take her, she is more forgiving than I.
To Remus Lupin, you are either a traitor or you are easily misled. I don't really care at this moment. I leave you my photo album. Sit and stare at it. Maybe you'll figure out where you went wrong.
To Dobby the free elf, I leave my thanks and any of my clothes you care to take.
To Francisco Colastos (Machado), I leave my copy of Golinard's and the hopes that you will put it to good use many years from now.
I disown the Dursley family, but would like them to be provided a complete list of my assets and one knut each, so that they can know exactly how much I was worth even if I did not.
To Draco Malfoy, I leave a snitch. Even with me being dead, you still probably won't catch it, but maybe one of these days...
To Severus Snape, I leave a slinky for no other reason than to make you wonder why I am doing this.
To Albus Dumbledore, I leave nothing except my old hand me down clothes from the Dursleys. I do not leave my forgiveness, gratitude or respect. You'll have to walk the road you paved with good intentions. Don't expect any comforting words from me.
Finally, to Tom Riddle also know as Lord Voldemort, I offer my congratulations and one knut. Perhaps now that I am gone, you're fair game for everyone else. I recommend you start looking over your shoulder...
Anything else I have is up for grabs. You vultures can pick over it at your leisure.
Harry James Potter
'The Great Inferi Cattle Drive of 1996' is coming along nicely. Hack and Kwan are floating slowly out in front on the tattered old magic carpet with the troll dangling his legs in front of the ravenous zombie horde like he is sitting on the edge of a pool. Kwan conjures a small animal or two to keep steering them. You and Bill are flying along the sides casting the colored flames and driving any of the Inferi that start wandering away from the herd - Harry Potter, magical cowboy. Well actually, it's South America so - Harry Potter, magical gaucho. You need an enchanted bolo. That'd be cool.
One of the Inferi captures your attention. It's an Abraxan with a broken wing and both its back legs broken, but still dragging itself forward. Perseverance, you like that in your zombie hordes. Any zombie horde you get from here on out will be held to this standard!
You know you're being a bit silly, but it helps take your mind off the almost impossible task ahead of you. The dull thud of so many feet on the pavement is like the monotone beat of an army. The bizarre procession heads down the main street towards the large school and the nearby temple.
You mood sobers upon entering the main square and your good humor evaporates. This courtyard might be the last place you ever see. If you fall here, your animated corpse will likely wander here until Riddle comes back to check on his Horcrux. Would he recognize you? Take you back to England and turn you into some kind of trophy?
Banishing the morbid thoughts from your mind you circle back to pick up more stragglers. This continues for a good thirty minutes while the horde is moved into position and temporary firewalls are set up to keep them from wandering off. It's almost like an angry mob waiting for a politician to come out and address them. The Daemon's 'press conference' is scheduled for roughly one hour from now. There will be a violent explosion followed by a question and answer session. Please keep your questions brief and to the point. The Daemon will then interact with the audience as time allows. Finally, there will, hopefully, be a victory buffet served in the lobby of Gringotts for all those with special invitations.
The stark scene in front of you is probably a metaphor for your life. Your life should have been more fun. It's been exciting, bordering on terrifying - to say the least! Still, there isn't any sense in trying to delude yourself about how enjoyable your life has actually been.
Standing on a block of stone three meters high you watch the remaining Inferi herded out through the temporary firewalls. Kwan spread a bunch of oily goop that will make the permanent firewalls slightly inside the temporary ones. It should keep them back for a few minutes - provided the potion being spread all over it keeps the colors right.
The courtyard in front of the temple has been divided into zones for your battle. The area around the temple is the initial combat area. The Daemon will have to wade its way through the horde of Inferi in the area. You're not kidding yourself. They'll just slow it down. Even the ones that have necklaces decorated with vials of 'boom juice' around their necks.
After the firewall is the ward zone, three purple armageddons, three 'fun with severing charms', two pocket geysers, two 'fields of screams', two of Fred and George's portable swamps, five other one shot wards and a half dozen of Kwan's origami firebombs comprise the wards waiting for it once it crosses the firewall barrier. Past the 'ward zone' is the carefully constructed 'safe zone' littered with debris that can be banished into the Daemon.
So many ideas were discussed and discarded. Conjured and transfigured items were deemed unlikely to last long enough to seriously affect the Daemon. You still liked the idea of all these transfigured bear traps, but after wasting a half hour trying to make one, Bill advised you to stick to what you can do for the time being.
While you and Bill were carving your little arms off, Kwan was out here pushing around these massive blocks you're standing on. No wonder he looked knackered when he got back from picking up the journals. You aren't even sure you could lift them. When you asked him about it, he just smiled and said that he didn't. He used a spell to make the ground slick and used banishers to nudge them into the courtyard.
So here's the last line of defense - the four of you standing on these big blocks. You're on the right. Kwan's in the middle. Bill's on the left. Hack is standing on his stone which is closer to the 'ward zone' than the others. Kwan thinks that it'll come straight for you and he and Bill should get free shots at its backside. Hack will drink his growth serum and try and hold it off while the rest of you continue to hammer away at it with spells and firearms. You salute De Soto from his shooters position on top of a nearby two story building. He has a dozen twenty round magazines and the intention of firing every last round.
You look over at Hack, who is nervously thumping his spear against his shield. Three gourds filled with growth serum sit on the rock at his feet, next to several small stones and a ridiculously huge handgun. You and Bill concocted the idea of shrinking and lightening some large stones. Hack gets to play a high stake game of Plunk. Hack should be able to hurl them and as they hit the Daemon's negation field, they'll grow and become heavier without losing their speed. The results should be pleasant.
Hack's gun is an engorged Browning 9 millimeter. The troll's packing heat! Magic has truly turned it into a 'hand canon'. Hopefully, he'll be able to use it before the charms on it fail. He only has one thirteen round ammo clip to work with. Growth charms never seem to work just the same. Subtle variations in the magic seem to cause this.
Bill's rearranging the runes of the closest severing charms. Kwan has finished getting rid of the Inferi in the 'ward zone' and is flying back to his perch.
Inside the temple is a big wet streak, more of the oily flammable goop that no one is sure what it is. It leads to the two sappers and four jugs of Kwan's special 'boom juice'. You get to light the fire from your Dragonfly and Portkey back to your spot behind your stonewall. Over two hundred meters separates you from the blast, but Bill assures you that it's going to be a big one.
Finally, there's nothing left to do. All four of you are on your platforms lost in your own thoughts. Bill sighs loudly. "Anyone have any last requests. If you have to pee now's the time." Everyone gets a laugh out of it. "I said it before and I'll say it again - it's been an honor. Now let's finish this! Harry, whenever you're ready. Let's get this show on the road."
It would be nice to be flying on the Firebolt one more time, but you've come to like the Dragonfly. The air rushes by as you pick up speed and look at the courtyard from a bird's eye view. The hundreds of Inferi mill about the entrance to the temple. You wonder if you'll be joining them in an hour or so. What's it like being an Inferius? You'd just kind of hang around all the time looking for something to kill?
You stop by the building where Hernando is set up in his shooter's nest. "Good luck."
"The 'real' Hernando De Soto died long ago. He was tired of wars and fighting. It is one of the reasons I was made, in the hopes that I could provide counsel to future generations and avoid such horrors. If we are victorious, this city will be rebuilt and I can try again."
"It sounds like a noble calling."
"It would be nice if more people were to take it up. Fight well, young warrior."
You go full out on a quick trip around the cavern, enjoying 'one last moment in the sun' as it were and pull into position above the temple. Raising your wand up in a dueler's salute you meet each of your comrade's eyes. It's a powerful moment - the last bit of calm before the storm. You cast an /incendio /at the liquid fuse and activate the Portkey as the fire starts racing towards the sappers.
Reappearing behind your block you duck and cover waiting for the largest explosion that's about to come. For a second you're afraid that it didn't work, but then you hear the blast and the shaking of the ground around you. You use your broom and fly back up to your granite island. You chug a pepper up potion and use your wand to clear the dust cloud billowing out from the wreckage as the remainder of the temple begins to fall. A few of the Inferi were blown backwards through the firewall and were incinerated by the wards.
Briefly, you entertain the notion that nothing could have survived that, but you know it isn't going to be that easy. Even your 'inner eye' can tell you that! It's just a matter of time before that thing digs itself out. Bill's waiting for the first sign of the damn thing to ignite the inner firewall. Minutes pass. You've got the pepper-up 'jitters'. You should have waited to drink that potion. It's tempting to grab the Dragonfly and do a quick flyover, but you resist the urge.
The crack of the rifle tells you that Hernando on the roof has spotted something. You can't quite see what he is firing at as several fallen columns block your view. The statue shouts, "It's coming out of the wreckage near the center!"
"There! I see it!" Bill shouts raising the rifle and firing a shot. Over the top of the fallen column, you see a clawed hand grab onto the stonework. The Daemon's pulling itself free as the Inferi are shambling towards it. The hand becomes an arm as the creature removes more debris. Kwan begins firing his rifle as the creature's head becomes visible. Moments later it stands upright among the rubble already tossing Inferi aside in all directions. When it strikes the fourth or fifth one, there is a small detonation as the potion-equipped Inferius explodes.
It's a long way off, but you fire a percutio. The concentrated magic of the piercing curse might be strong enough to penetrate the Daemon's thick hide. It connects, instead with an Inferius clutched in its upper right arm and being used like a shield and a club.
"Freedom!" The Daemon's voice booms like a sonorous charm. Sadly, it looks far more eager than injured. You remind yourself that Daemonic magic seems to be defensive in nature - auras of fear, magical negation fields and barriers preventing people from fleeing. Combined with its size, strength, dense flesh and ferocity and it's a pretty nasty package.
Bill, Kwan and De Soto continue the rifle fire as the Daemon wades through the mass of the dead. Three of the four arms clear a path as the fourth drops the zombie and grabs a hunk of stone. It uses the boulder like a shield in front of its face as a bullets ricochet off of it. Its cloven hooves trample the hapless zombies into the ground. Apparently, it doesn't really care about the rest of its body. You cast a reductor which is blocked with the rock blowing chunks of it away. The Daemon discards the rock and scoops up another one. Shit! This is getting you nowhere!
As you hurl another long distance love tap at the nether monster, you picture Uncle Vernon kicking his way through an army of poodles. That's what it reminds you of, minus the ram's head and all that.
Congratulations. Your most damaging long range spell has given it the equivalent of a paper cut. Only a few hundred more and it might actually feel something. Too bad the Necrodragon is long gone. You could use one about now.
Holstering your wand, you grab the rifle sitting next to the shotgun. You're not very good with the replica Winchester 1873, but if you're going to get the same results, then you might as well conserve your strength. The 1873 is pretty wimpy compared to the penetrating power of the other rifles, as you recall Dudders going through his cowboy phase - one guess who was Geronimo? Give some credit to Jake Collins; he sure liked to muck around with his weapons. Normally, it holds only ten bullets, but thanks to the wondrous thing that is magic, you loaded seventy rounds into the lever action weapon. As you squeeze the trigger and fire the first round, you hope this isn't your own Little Big Horn.
Trying to make each shot more accurate than the last, you begin to feel the first telltale signs of the Daemon's aura. The binding rings dampened it significantly. Your hands shake slightly as a feeling of panic starts to build. Bill stops firing momentarily and ignites the inner firewall and activates the wards and the cheering charms. The magic takes the edge off the growing terror.
The Daemon is over halfway through the Inferi. Hack opens up with his enlarged pistol. He manages five shots before the pistol shrinks in his grasp. Two of the bullets causing the first real wounds ripping flesh off of its leg and opening a hole in its stomach.
You work the lever action and no bullet loads. You discard it and draw your wand. Now that it's closer, you want to see if your spells have anymore effect. You snap off a spell chain link in rapid succession.
Only the blasting curse hits and it is ignored by your target - not a very good sign.
Kwan shouts, "Everyone blasting curses together now!"
Three blasting curse streak towards it. All three strike it and it barely stumbles.
It's never too early to try something Unforgivable, "Crucio!"
The Daemon stops for a second and looks at you almost amused, before continuing its forward progress through the Inferi - an even worse sign. To your amazement, Bill sends off a Killing curse. You didn't know that he had it in him! The target dodges, so you don't get to see if it would do anything.
You can feel the presence of the negation field pulling at your magic like a lead weight. You ignore it and continue casting spells with Bill and Kwan. Few of them hit, fewer still cause any damage. Instead of tossing the Inferi to its side like rag dolls, the Daemon is beginning to hurl them into the ward zone. The energy of the wards roars to life and begins disposing of the zombies.
"Shit! I knew I should have waited to activate the wards." Bill screams as zombies explode from the wards. The odd thought occurs to you and you make a note, if the two of you survive this, you'll have to ask him if he has 'other' premature problems.
Swallowing hard, you watch the Daemon barrel through the firewalls leaving the decimated horde of Inferi behind and tossing the zombies still clutched in its claws ahead of it. Already the wards which would have normally burned Hack and maybe even Grawp to ashes look feeble and insignificant against the terrifying hellspawn.
The scene is something out of a feverish nightmare. Buffeted by jets of scalding water, burnt by magical fire, shocked, sprayed with acid, and bitten by carnivorous plants - the Daemon pushes forward. You feel the cheering charms fail and the panic that nothing will stop this monster returns in full force.
A crushing kick detonates one of the Purple Armageddon's. Hack nails it with the first of his miniaturized boulders and knocks it backwards. It scrambles to its feet and scoops up the full sized stone. Hack braces looking like he's ready to play a bit of dodgeball, but the Daemon hurls the stone into another ward cluster detonating it as well. Seconds later, the last remaining Armageddon is destroyed.
Shockingly, it stops. It stands there in the middle of a field of carnivorous plants letting the ever weakening severing charms hit it - demonstrating its superiority and mocking all of you.
Angered, you banish nearby debris at the hellspawn as Hack throws more boulders. Bill and Kwan follow suit allowing Hack to score two more hits and actually elicit a howl of pain from the creature.
Now out of boulders Hack drinks one of his potions. The occasional crack of De Soto's rifle continues causing damage like tiny insect bites to the thick skin. You're running out of debris to banish as it swats a trio of barrels aside like plush toys. The growing troll adjusts his shield, grips his spear and steps off his perch to meet his destiny.
The last wards fail. It's just the five of you against this unholy monster. The panic momentarily incapacitates all of you. Bill takes a couple of steps backward and falls off his perch. Seconds later he stumbles around the side of his makeshift platform looking pale and ashen.
You need to do something! Otherwise, none of you will be able to hold your wands to cast a bloody spell! Happy thoughts! Happy thoughts! Doing victory rolls over an Inferi mob - good enough! A barely corporeal Prongs emerges from your wand tip.
Prongs dashes ahead, sprinting towards the two giant combatants circling each other. It attacks the Daemon who lets out an angry snarl as sideswipes the phantom. You see it shake that hand like it's been stung. Hell, that's just about as much damage as anything else has caused so far. Hack closes and jabs his spear into the Daemon creating an oozing wound on his side. Two of the Daemon arms lock onto the spear and it becomes a tug of war.
Bill and Kwan see how effective your patronus was as a Thestral and an Irish wolfhound leap from their wands. You cast a second patronus as the terror continues to grow. To your immense frustration, it's even more formless. The three patroni disrupt the Daemon enough that Hack is able to wrest his spear back from the monster and immediately score another hit. This time the Daemon is too quick and steps inside of the Troll's guard. Four arms work in devastating succession knocking the spear to the side and viciously clawing Hack. The troll smashes his shield into his opponent's chest creating a jagged wound with the Dragon's teeth embedded in the shield.
The Daemon repays the injury by ripping the shield off of Hacks arm obviously dislocating Hacks arm from his socket. A hoofed leg slams into the troll's gut and sends the bleeding troll across the ground.
You try to summon another Prongs but only mist comes out. Try a different memory. Amy in the shower! Karina snuggled against you! Killing Paulo! It isn't working! Kwan can still summon his Thestral! Hack's potion must have worn off as the Daemon lifts the smaller troll upwards. Hack needs your help!
"Come on Dad! Expecto Patronum!" Nothing comes out this time - not even mist. The Daemon turns its gaze on you and the terror intensifies into a horror you've never felt before. James Potter can't save you. He couldn't even save himself. Panic overcomes you. You freeze. It'll all be over in a minute or two. You could activate your Portkey back to the bank, but why prolong the inevitable. You sag to the ground in defeat even as you watch Bill cast another patronus. He needed you to come through and you didn't. You're a failure, just like Snape always thought.
That thought strikes something primal in you. You scream in defiance. You will not let it end this way. You will not go out on your knees crying like a bitch! They're counting on you and there's only one person that can save you now - there's only ever been one.
"Expecto Patronum!" The memory is stepping off the plane onto Brazilian soil. The Daemon was right; 'Freedom' is a powerful feeling.
Even in the presence of the dampening field, you feel the power as the guardian spirit leaps from your wand. It isn't the stag. It's the jaguar. You haven't been a boy for a long time. You don't need your father to save you. You'll save yourself.
Glowing with power the Jaguar races towards the Daemon and captures its attention. Bleeding heavily and impaled by four sets of claws, Hack thrashes to free himself and manages to pull out his 'tiny knife' from his belt and drive it up into the Daemon's chest sending a steaming stream of foul ichor into Hack's face. The Daemon throws Hack to the ground opening horrible wounds from which the troll struggles to rise.
The hellspawn moves to finish the crawling troll, but your Patronus leaps on the Daemon as the monster rips Hack's blade free. The spectral jaguar clamps down on the upper arm and claws with both front paws. Kwan's Thestral rams it in the face Bill's hound nips at the creature's legs. The Jaguar fades leaving behind a nasty looking scorch mark and blackened flesh on the Daemons upper left arm. De Soto's rifle shot rips through the damaged flesh lancing it like a puss filled boil.
The Daemon shakes off the other two patroni and starts heading straight for you. You summon another one feeling the exhausting draw on your energy. You can't stop now. The jaguar leaps down and puts itself between you and the charging Daemon slowing it down.
You notice Kwan off his platform and charging its side, slinging curses from his wand. At less than five meters, he whips the AK-47 around and empties a full clip into the hellspawn ripping into its flesh at close range as your spells impact into it adding to the damage. Your patronus attacks and damages it further, but it's just not enough!
Kwan, casting a spray of acid from his wand, is swept aside by a claw that opens a gaping wound in his stomach and for good measure the Daemon slams its hoof down on his right leg shattering it. White hot rage courses through your body dispelling the fear. You hurl a blasting curse so fueled by rage that it knocks the enormous creature backwards and sends it staggering backwards. Take that motherfucker! The effort causes you to sink to your knees but you can't stop now and you summon another patronus.
You're back on your feet before the Daemon is. Should you use the Mossberg? You're not doing enough damage! What's that in its hand? Kwan's pouch dangles from one of the bloody nails. It just noticed it too and it stopped. It looks confused - even scared as it tries to rip the pouch snared on its finger nails.
Kwan must have boom juice in the sack. "Tonare!"
The concussive blast of energy strikes the pouch dead center just missing the claw that it tried to use as a shield.
The bag explodes, but it seems different from boom juice, much different. The flash blinds you and you stumble off the platform and hit the ground pretty hard. 'So much for the nimble Jaguar Animagus always landing on his feet', you think trying to clear your vision and you groping for your wand.
When your eyes finally start processing images you see something that challenges even a person who believes in magic. A giant spectral bird is fighting the Daemon. Did you summon Fawkes? It's like the Chamber of Secrets all over again! No, it's not a phoenix. It's an eagle!
The realization hits you like a brick wall. Thundercloud's totem was in the bag. The totem was a part of his life's energy and now it is free.
The giant eagle drives the Daemon backwards and away from the badly injured Kwan. Your patronus attacks it again taking advantage of the disoriented creature. The eagle is beginning to fade, but it swoops towards the stone where Hack had stood and picks up something. The bloodied Daemon turns towards you again only to stumble to the ground poleaxed, a blast of green energy slamming into its backside from Bill. It turns in anger towards the Cursebreaker, hurling a chunk of rock at him, but quickly starts back towards you.
You can only stare at the eagle in its glory as it drops something at your feet and resumes his attack against the Daemon - a gourd full of growth potion. You experience a second bit of dÃ©jÃ vu as you flashback to your second year battle. For a moment, you aren't sure why Thundercloud gave this to you, but then you realize what you have to do.
As the Daemon tries to drive the fading eagle away, you pull off your Dragonhide vest and kick off your boots. Opening the gourd, you drink as much of the foul potion as you can swallow. As you feel yourself staring to grow and bursting out of your trousers, you cast another patronus, toss your wand to the ground and change into your Jaguar form. Why didn't you think of this before? You're the ultimate predator in this part of the world. It's time to prove it!
You don't really have a means to measure scale, but you must be nearly as large as Fluffy. Strength floods your body. A strange sensation passes through your body as the white mist of your patronus envelopes you, merging with you and revitalizing you. The patronus is a guardian spirit as is the inner animal. It makes so much sense now.
The eagle gives one final screech and fades from view. Almost an encouraging, 'Give it hell kid!'
Both you and the Daemon circle each other. Out of the corner of your eye, you see Bill levitating Kwan out of the way. The Daemon looks at you and speaks, "So we are down to the final two outcomes. Let us see who the victor is!"
It charges with its four arms spread wide. You leap to your right and sprint towards him bounding at the last instant and swiping your mist covered claws.
Like a locomotive slamming into a petrol lorry, the two of you hit. You yelp feeling like a pair of sledgehammers just pummeled your right side and suffering the fiery pain of a claw slicing a wound into your left shoulder.
Your front paws claw away at its chest and neck as you try to get closer to the Daemon's neck. The sound of the protective mist scalding the monster's flesh wherever the two of you touch mixes with its snarls of rage. A fetid smell of bodily fluids assails your nostrils threatening to overwhelm you, but your powerful jaws crush down on its forearm and the bone snaps with a loud crack. Gagging at the taste of whatever it calls blood you wretch, but press on as the momentum of battle carries both of you two the ground.
You and the Daemon are locked in a deadly embrace rolling across the ground. Pumping your back legs and feeling your paws rip open long gashes on its legs as you feel the weight of the beast press down on you.
Pain courses through you as claws dig into your flesh, kicking hard and slashing with your right paw you injure it and push it away from you rolling away from it and coming up unsteadily on your four legs. Both of you bleed from numerous wounds as the circling begins again, albeit with the two of you staggering slightly. Looking much worse for wear, the Daemon's whole front is blackened from contact with your patronus barrier. Its flesh ripped, shredded and oozing bile as both of the creature's left arms hang uselessly to the side
Your senses scream at you to flee as the primal instinct of self-preservation wars with your need to destroy this aberration. Milliseconds too late the Daemon spins and absorbs the blast of another Killing curse from Bill and backpedals slightly. The most lethal curse known to humans is nothing more than a sucker punch to it! You move to its vulnerable side seeking the opening you need. You have allies. It doesn't and moves to keep its left side away from you waving two claws defensively warning you of the injuries it will inflict if you come closer.
Suddenly, the hellspawn's right eye explodes as a rifle round strikes it cleanly. The Daemon howls and covers its wounded eye with one of the remaining arms. There's your opening! Finish it!
You leap forward once and bound into the air coming down on top of it. Twisting, clawing and biting you attack in a frenzy of energy. The white hot pain of its counter attacks only fuel your need for retribution. Ignoring your own agony, your maw finds the target you've been seeking. Claming down on the Daemon's neck you feel the ache of your teeth and the enormous pressure you put on them. Foul blood fills your mouth from the unnatural meat. You keep crushing and squeezing as your opponent's attacks weaken.
With a startling snap the Daemon's neck breaks chipping some of your teeth as the two of you collapse in a heap. Moments later you shake free of the monster and backpedal before collapsing on your side. The white mist begins to fade and you stare at your blood matted fur breathing raggedly. You convulse spewing the foul blood and flesh of the Daemon on the stone street.
Small red headed meat runs towards you. "Harry change back, I can heal you better in human form!"
You start to comply feeling very lightheaded as the Cursebreaker suddenly starts growing.
The uninjured Bill levitates you back onto the same block as Kwan and levitates Hack onto his block ahead of the advancing group of Inferi that is now inside the newly surging magical firewall. He summons your broom and wand. Telling you to start closing your wounds, Bill works on Kwan for a minute before helping you more of your wounds. He pours a blood replenishing potion down your throat.
"I think Hack's a goner." Bill says sadly.
For some reason, you shake your head. "No. Not yet. He's still alive. Go check him out and get him to safety before that group of Inferi gets to him. I'll keep an eye on Kwan." You drag your tired body over to the badly injured Korean. The sound of rifle fire starts again as De Soto tries to pick off the approaching zombies.
Bill climbs on the broom, "Okay, look for any wounds I didn't close on Kwan. If I'm not back in two minutes, give him another replenisher. In five minutes, I want you to take a second one. Try and clean off his wounds, but I don't know if he'll keep the leg. I'm not sure even magic can fix it."
As Bill flies off, you look at Kwan's left leg. It's a crushed mess and still barely attached. You almost vomit again, but have nothing left to offer other than a bit of bile. With trembling hands, you lift him into a cradled position and arch his head back pouring a tiny bit of the potion into his mouth making certain that it goes down the right hole before giving him any more. You repeat the process four times and check his airway and breathing afterwards. Shallow and faint, but he's still there. Bill returns and conjures you a blanket. You realize that you are naked. Good thing Kwan's unconscious otherwise he'd be mocking you! Then again, you're alive!
"Don't know how you knew, but you were right. He's still alive. I'm gave him a double dose of blood replenishers and sealed off his worst wounds. I need a pepper up before I work on him some more - be right back. Merlin's big ass enchanted balls, Harry! Unless I use a pensieve and swear on my magic, I don't think anyone's ever going to believe this story!"
You mumble back to him shivering slightly and pulling the blanket tighter, but feeling strangely happy before realizing the cheering charms are working again, "I just want to see that bastard Dumbledore's face afterwards."
He replies with the same sense of false cheer, "You'll get your chance. That's for damn sure."
Despite the oozing wounds that you have to keep closing and the jolts of pain every time your body moves, you feel happy to be alive. You won. "Hey Bill, I wonder what kind of stuff we can carve out of a Daemon's bones?"
Bill sputters the potion he was drinking and whoops in victory - apparently another victim of the cheering charms, "Now that's what I'm talking about! I've never heard of someone working with Daemon bone before. Hell, after I do my next check on Hack, I'll see if I can collect some of its blood. Who knows what a real Potions Master would pay for a chance to experiment with some. We might even be able to find a hide-worker that can work that skin into some nasty, badass armor, but the bones, they're all ours Harry! The best Breakers in the world will be begging us for a finger joint and we'll make them pay through the nose! Think of all the beautiful schemes that are ours for the taking!"
"Go finish cutting its bloody head off! I don't know if the Necro wards will work on it or not, or if my bite prevented it, but I'd rather not find out."
"Right you are fellow Cursebreaker! Damn some Inferi are trying to eat our prize Daemon! Shoo! Get away! Keep watching Kwan." He flies off to tend to the troll and chase a few Inferi away from the Daemon's carcass, as you wonder if he's gone off the deep end. If he has, you might join him. It seems like a nice place.