Lord Voldemort's grip on wizarding Britain tightens. Even Hogwarts is no longer safe as Death Eaters turn it into a battlefield. [Sequel to "The Path Chosen."]
By: Random Shinobi
Summary: Lord Voldemort's grip on wizarding Britain tightens. Even Hogwarts is no longer safe as Death Eaters turn it into a battlefield. [Sequel to "The Path Chosen."]
Author's Notes: There will be graphic violence and character deaths. And this time there won't be a happy ending. Like the earlier part, this a story for those who like magic mixed with martial arts and machine guns.
Disclaimer: If you recognize it, then it might well belong to J.K.R or to some of her affiliates. Or to some random people out there. I only claim my OCs and plot.
Special Thanks: This chapter is dedicated to LoveSnape, who has graciously betaed it. All mistakes remaining are mine, not hers.
Chapter One: Opening Moves
Loyalties are forgotten as people pursue their own agendas...
Morals are abandoned in the harsh reality of war...
And the world of black and white becomes shades of grey.
The inexorable destiny is fulfilled, revealing that Harry Potter's future is painted in blood red.
Daniel Evans stood in the middle of an empty park. It was around 9:30 pm - too late for children to be there anymore, but too early for drunken teens. That was fortunate for both children and teens, for Daniel liked neither of those. Children were too loud and partying teenagers were simply unbearable.
His fingers stroked the handle of a Desert Eagle hidden under his black leather jacket. It was not the most accurate or handiest of weapons, but it did pack one hell of a punch - more than enough to penetrate the hardened dragon leather many witches and wizards were so fond of wearing. Daniel couldn't blame them. He did have armour made of it himself, though he wasn't currently wearing it, for it was all too distinctive and exotic-looking to be used in the Muggle world. Armour made from the magical leather was far superior to any ordinary bullet-proof vest. It was lighter and it offered protection against magic as well as bullets and blades. Even acromantula-silk, which was far less durable than dragonhide, had a tensile strength nearly four times that of steel.
Magic was an astounding thing, Daniel knew. It was solely because of the inherent magic within those materials that they surpassed the industrially produced artefacts of modern science. That, however, did not mean that magic was superior to science. No, it was best to have the best from both worlds. By using a combination of Muggle tricks and enchanted items, Daniel had managed to create a path for him in a world that despised people without magic. Bloodied path, yes, but a path nevertheless. He couldn't really look back and feel proud, but the end always justifies the means... at least, he hoped so.
Hopefully, he wouldn't have to wait long for his contacts. But then, unlike most magical people, these guys were usually very punctual, and it was something he appreciated. Generally, it seemed, magical people were both sloppy and impractical. It was not a good combination. On the other hand, if they weren't so unsophisticated they would probably rule the whole world instead of hiding from non-magical folk.
Accompanied by two distinct cracking sounds, two black robed humans appeared out of thin air, bringing Daniel out of his musings. He turned his brilliant green eyes on the pair of magicians, both whom were masked, one crimson and the other golden in colour. Both also wore those impractical robes granted they were cut in the duelling style, making them little less inadequate. The only thing they were good at was concealing weapons, but he doubted that either of magicians hid anything more dangerous than enchanted blades.
"My nephew is apparently one of you," Daniel said as the two magicians walked slowly closer. He discretely scanned the area around them for possible ambush. One could never be sure when dealing with witches and wizards, as most of them barely even considered him a human being just because he was a Muggle. These Cabal mages hadn't yet tried to backstab him, but he guessed it was simply because they hadn't had the opportunity for it yet.
"Oh...?" the golden-masked wizard asked warily. "What makes you say that?"
Daniel shrugged and cocked his head slightly. "Nothing, I'm merely guessing."
The crimson-masked witch chuckled. "Yes... We know how you love shooting in the dark."
He nearly shook his head. Was that supposed to be a joke? It merely sounded perverted. "I assume you want me to do some 'shooting in the dark'?"
The wizard nodded slightly. "Well, yes... Ever heard of Sirius Black, the last remaining member of the illustrious Black family?"
Interesting... They want me to kill the first Azkaban escapee? Wonder why... "He's not a Death Eater," Daniel said, watching the two spell-casters intently. "Why would you want to...remove him?"
"We are aware of that," the wizard said nonchalantly, waving his gloved hand dismissively. "Our plans are proceeding nicely and we don't want him to put his spoon into the soup so to speak."
Daniel allowed a small smile to creep on his lips. "So... The weapons are ready?"
"Our agent will complete one of them tonight. The other just needs...a push in the right direction. Sirius might prove a bad influence if left alive, which is why he must go to his next great adventure."
"I see..." Daniel said thoughtfully, scratching the back of his neck. "What about the Weasley girl?"
The magicians exchanged quick, furtive glances before the wizard answered, "Impressive. I didn't think you actually knew what we were talking about. And to answer your question, she's part of the plan. Everything has already been arranged."
The witch put her hand inside her dark purple robes and withdrew a thick, bottle-green envelope. She threw it to him and he effortlessly caught it with his left hand, weighting it on his palm and subtly using the magic detecting ring on his middle finger to scan the envelope for any harmful enchantments. The scan took only few seconds and the results were negative; there were no traces of magic, hostile or otherwise. Of course, this didn't mean that it couldn't be poisoned with some non-magical toxin. That was why he nearly always wore gloves. Perhaps he was paranoid, but that was how he had managed to survive this long.
"That's your pay for your earlier services, as promised. Don't betray us and you will receive the greatest prize."
Daniel smiled and then softly whispered, "Revenge."
"Indeed," the witch said and Disapparated with a loud crack.
The wizard watched the green-eyed man before him for a few seconds in silence before vanishing as well, leaving Daniel alone in the darkening park.
Albus Dumbledore gazed out of his office window overlooking the Forbidden Forest. Thousands of stars glittered in the dark sky and Mars was shining brightly, like it had done since the first Hogsmeade weekend for over two weeks before.
Dumbledore sighed, closing his eyes for a second. He was growing weary of this war. How he just longed to retire from publicity and spend his remaining years doing research like his brother was doing... In all honesty, his research wouldn't be anything like his brother's, but still... Dumbledore sighed again. He couldn't do it yet; he couldn't abandon Hogwarts and Wizarding Britain in their time of need. If he left Hogwarts, the Dark Lord would conquer it in seconds.
Hogwarts was a bastion of hope for the magical Britain. If it were to fall, the people would lose their last vestiges of faith in the Ministry. Besides, Albus Dumbledore just couldn't leave the children to their deaths.
He would defend Hogwarts to the last drop of his blood.
Today, however, Hogwarts' safety was not his primary cause of worry. In addition to the exceptionally bright Mars, another, much more sinister astronomical event was happening. The planets had just a few hours ago slid into the Conjunction of the Snake and the ley-lines were burning with Dark magic. He could feel the tainted power emanating from the three lines crossing under Hogwarts. It was as if the darkness was begging to be unleashed.
Albus Dumbledore had a bad feeling that Voldemort was about to release it.
A younger and much more Dark wizard than the headmaster stood in the middle of an old chamber below Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. On the opposite end of the chamber was a giant statue of Salazar Slytherin. The emerald eyes of the serpent statues decorating the walls shone with an inner light in the darkness.
:Lights,: Harry Potter hissed in Parseltongue.
Suddenly, the darkness of the Chamber of Secrets was banished as a soft green light filled the ancient room. Harry could sense the ancient magic residing in the stones, even if the Chamber had been defiled by the headmaster. The old sorcerer had apparently tried to cleanse the Chamber of residual Dark magic. It was an attempt nearly amusing in its futility. The Chamber was built by Dark magic, build for Dark magic. It was not, nor would ever be, a domain of the Light.
A gigantic skeleton was residing at the other end of the Chamber, below the huge, stern-looking face made of grey stone. The bones were shiny and no trace of flesh remained. Harry knew exactly what curse caused an effect like that.
Killed by the Carnivour Curse, Harry thought with a smirk as he examined the gleaming white skeleton of the giant snake. And here I thought that Dumbledore hadn't used the Dark Arts for decades...
On the floor near the remains of the basilisk was a small burn mark. According to Ginny, that was the place where the Horcrux had been destroyed. That girl had really proved to be a fountain of information; He had gained much more than he had expected.
And the price had been a small one. While she was sometimes slightly annoying, training her gave him something interesting to do with his free time. Besides, it was always good to have someone watching your back, especially when this place was full of wannabe Death Eaters and sympathisers. In a formal duel he could take a dozen of the former at a time, but somehow he doubted they were going to fight fairly... It was no wonder really; challenging a superior opponent was simply stupid. No, they would wait for a moment of weakness - a moment when he would be stupid enough to turn his back on one of them in a place without witnesses.
How he wished he could take the offence... But trying to 'vanish' a bunch of other students under Dumbledore's eye couldn't end well. The ancient wizard wielded a terrible power, like Dark Lord Grindelwald could confirm. That is, if he was still alive...
Naturally, most of the student body had assumed that he and Ginny were spending their time together in the secluded corners of Hogwarts Castle doing God knows what, even if they had no proof what-so-ever.
Harry didn't really mind their assumptions, as they weren't thinking him as a Dark wizard anymore. Semi-dating a member of a prominent Light family had that effect. Besides, her brother's actions had been nothing short of hilarious.
The young wizard chuckled slightly. It was simply entertaining to watch the red-haired boy trying to control his explosive temper. Perhaps I should do Gin a favour and squash her brother's overprotective instincts.
Harry refocused on his task. With luck, he could complete his main objective today. He crossed his fingers, hoping for the best as he activated the charms laid on his eyes. A second later his eyes lit up, glowing like hot coals, and his pupils narrowed into snake-like slits. The transformation felt as if someone had just thrust red-hot blades into his eyes, but the pain faded quickly, leaving only a dull ache. Harry couldn't understand how Voldemort could keep the spell activated twenty-four hours a day.
With the Dark magic enchanting his sight, all shadows vanished and he could see everything with perfect clarity, from the meticulously carved serpents on the walls, to the magic, which suffused the whole chamber, illuminating everything around him in colours of green, black, and silver. Today the magic residing in this chamber and the whole world was unusually Dark due the Conjunction of the Snake.
"Yes," he whispered in elation when he saw what he had hoped for. Dumbledore, in his hurry to save one of his students, hadn't managed to fully destroy the Horcrux. The fragment of soul had been banished, but some of its profane magic had remained and anchored itself in the magical stone.
The Dark wizard took out a small phial of crimson liquid. It was human blood - more accurately, the blood of a certain redhead. When the Dark Lord's Horcrux had possessed Ginny, it had created a link; a link that Harry would use for his own ends today.
The Cabal had been quite sure that Ginny had been possessed by the spirit of a Horcrux, and they had planned on that assumption. Harry had been relieved when she had confirmed their suspicions. It had been all too easy to convince her into giving a few drops of her blood.
The Dark Lord had made a huge mistake when he had decided to use one of his Horcruxes to strike Dumbledore. His plan had backfired dramatically. The Horcrux had been destroyed and the ancient headmaster had obtained a confirmation that the Dark Lord really had split his soul. Harry took a deep, fortifying breath before he started to work.
Drawing a small runic circle around the scorch mark took over ten minutes, but he couldn't hurry. Even the tiniest mistake might be enough to reduce the whole Chamber into a stone crumble. That was the reason why ritual magic had never become popular; People generally weren't willing to risk their lives.
Once the complex circle of arcane symbols was completed, he lightly tapped the Charge Rune with his wand tip and channelled his magic. The red circle turned black.
Harry reached into his pocket and retrieved a dark glass sphere from inside. He closed his eyes, his fingers pressing tightly against the unnaturally cold ball, feeling the intricate web of runes carved on the surface against his fingertips. He stood there for a long while, staying completely still, captured within depressing thoughts. The sphere held an aura of unerring wrongness, but that itself didn't really affect him. It was just that Kheiron had enchanted the globe shortly before his death and seeing the item brought up too many painful memories. The young wizard opened his eyes, and took a deep breath before continuing with his job.
He pointed his wand towards the burn mark on the floor. Now or never, Harry thought, steeling his resolve. It would take decades for the planetary conjunction to happen again and without it this would be ten times more difficult. Today Dark magic flowed more easily and with a terrible power.
"Exitus Veneficus Mortalitas," Harry whispered softly, a green bolt of light bursting out of his wand tip. The spell hit at the burn mark and suddenly, the runes flashed a vibrant green, before swiftly turning back to their original red.
A second later the brilliant green bolt shot back from the floor, separating into a swarm of smaller sparks of green light, interspersed with a few black as well. The sparks gathered around Harry's wand, surrounding it like a sickly green halo.
Harry lifted his wand to eye level and smiled wickedly when he saw the few black spots in the green glow. Success!
He tapped the dark sphere once with his wand and the sparks flooded into the ball. The ultimate weapon against the Dark Lord was now ready.
Not many would have recognised the orb for what it was. It was a soul-trap, now attuned to Voldemort's magic and soul. If the Dark Lord happened to die anywhere around the sphere, his soul would be sucked into it.
It wouldn't matter if the Dark Lord had a bunch of Horcruxes if his soul was caged into the small glass globe. Once Voldemort's soul was captured, the Cabal would have all the time they needed to find and destroy all of the remaining Horcruxes, and when they were destroyed, breaking the soul-trap would cause the Dark Lord's spirit to pass on... Hopefully into Hell, if there even was such place.
While the plan was good, it had a simple but nearly overwhelming flaw. They would have to kill the Dark Lord in order to capture his broken soul.
Harry, however, didn't mind this flaw at all. He wanted to be the one to rip Voldemort's torn soul out of his body. He wanted the Dark Lord to feel some of the pain he continually inflicted upon others.
Revenge was always sweet... And Harry would have his, he was sure of it.
It was his destiny, after all.
"Can't you see he's just using you?!"
"I'm not listening to you!" Ginny yelled furiously, sending a death glare at the older Gryffindor girl. She couldn't understand why Hermione always squabbled about Harry and her.
"But you should," the brunette witch snapped back. "I'm only trying to help you!"
"Help me?" the redhead cried, disbelief evident in her voice. "I do not need your 'help'."
"You are just being..." The older Gryffindor witch trailed off when four seventh year students came from behind the corner. All of them had their wands pointed towards her and Ginny. She didn't know what they wanted, but it couldn't be anything good. "Ginny, behind you!"
At exactly that moment the older students shot a volley of bright red Stunners at them.
Ginny turned quickly, drawing her ten inch long holly wand with a dragon heartstring core in a single, fluid motion, but she had no time to dodge or cast a spell. Two Stunners slammed into her chest and the redhead's eyes snapped wide open, her mouth opening slightly, but no sound came out. She took a single shaky step backwards, before her fingers lost their hold of the wand, which clattered to the stone floor, sending a few fiery red sparks in the process. Her body collapsed unceremoniously on the floor a second later.
Unlike her friend, Hermione had had the time to cast a shield. Two Stunners hit the nearly invisible, silvery shield and were deflected in random directions. Seconds later another volley of red streaks of light hit her shield, which trembled terribly, but managed deflect the onslaught of curses.
Then the third round of Stunners hit her shield and it was finally ripped apart, sending silvery sparks of magic everywhere and emitting a soft popping sound. Two of the Stunners that had penetrated her shield, slammed into her stomach, sending jolts of dazing magic surging through her body. Everything went dark and her unconscious body hit the floor with a soft thud.
Harry was walking back to Gryffindor Tower, silently contemplating whether he should go after Voldemort now as he had the soul-trap, instead of being here the whole year as the original plan went, when he suddenly heard the tell-tale sounds of battle. After debating it for a second, he began running towards the noise. Kheiron had always said that he had a hero-complex. Harry didn't know whether his late mentor was right or not, but he did know that rushing headfirst into problems was just plain stupid. And at the moment, Harry felt rather stupid. He didn't let it stop him.
He dashed through empty corridors and soon reached his destination. When he came around the last corner he saw the two Gryffindor girls - Ginny and Granger - lying on the floor surrounded by four other people. One witch wearing Slytherin robes had taken a hold of both unconscious witches.
Before he had managed to do anything, the Slytherin witch, accompanied by the two Stunned Gryffindors, vanished accompanied by the whooshing sound of a portkey.
The three remaining people, whom all of whom were wizards, had all taken hold of an expensive-looking letter opener; It was obviously another portkey.
Harry's eyes narrowed. He would not let them escape. He aimed his wand at the offending object and thought, Accio!
The wooden knife was ripped from the hands of the wannabe Death Eaters. Or perhaps they were true Death Eaters. It didn't matter. Either way, they were his enemies.
Harry swayed casually to his left and the beautifully painted knife zoomed past him with great speed, shattering against the stone wall behind him and releasing a small cloud of bluish smoke as the magic abandoned the broken vessel.
The three wizards turned to him with murderous expressions etched on their young faces. Needless to say, Harry's face held no benevolent expression either.
As Harry watched them, he couldn't help but notice something interesting. The junior Death Eaters were all from different Houses. The tallest of three wore Ravenclaw colours and had hazel eyes and black, shoulder-length hair. On his right stood a short, blonde Hufflepuff; and behind them was a Gryffindor brunette. Harry didn't recognise any of them, which meant that they weren't in his year and so he assumed they were either sixth- or seventh-years.
If this is what happens when Houses cooperate, he thought wryly, then perhaps it is better that they stay divided.
The three opposing wizards took out their wands, pointing them at Harry, who was completely unfazed and showed no sings of being even slightly concerned with the threatening situation.
"Where did the portkey take them?" Harry asked, twirling his wand in his fingers in a show of supreme confidence. It would either make them underestimate him or reduce their confidence depending on their self-esteem and arrogance. Both worked in his favour. "Tell me and I might let you live."
The Ravenclaw wizard snorted. "Do you really think you could take us all and live? We have heard about your little cabaret at the Duelling Club, but we are in a completely different league from those kids. Unlike them, we fight seriously."
Harry merely smiled. "All the better." His wand suddenly stopped twirling and Harry lifted it into a mock salute. "It's obvious that this cannot be settled without violence. So... What are you waiting for?"
The black-haired boy narrowed his eyes. "We were on orders not to attack you, but now that you are here, I fear we have no other alternative. Kill him!"
The aspirant Death Eaters lifted their wands and yelled, "Avada Kedavra!"
Harry nearly sighed in a mixture of disappointment and resentment. It was always the same. They always started by spamming Killing Curses. While the curse was very efficient, it shouldn't be used nearly so often.
The Killing Curse was a highly effective shield breaker because of its supreme magical density. It would go straight through any known magical shield and could only be blocked with something physical. Though even then, that something should be heavy and dense, as the curse could easily tear through wooden doors and walls when cast by a competent wizard. Actually, with enough power and control even as simple a spell as a Stunner could penetrate doors with ease, but Harry doubted that there were more than couple hundred wizards and witches in the whole world who could do the deed. And that, if something, told about the degeneration of the magical community; The legacy of power and dignity forgotten. A few years earlier, Harry had many times wondered whether he was fighting for the wrong side. But then again, the fact that he agreed with some of the Dark Lord's goals most certainly did not mean that he agreed with his methods or even most of his aims.... Besides, he hated the man. The war had been personal from the beginning, but after the Dark Lord had killed Kheiron, it had become even more so. Now he had a true vendetta.
The Killing Curse, like every other spell with extraordinary spell-penetration, paid a heavy price for its magical density. It drained loads of magic and took a long time to cast. Any competent dueller could avoid or block the Killing Curse with something physical if it was cast unintelligently.
Spell-penetrating spells were to be used with precision. They were used as shield breakers and finishing moves; they definitely were not meant to be opening moves. Unnecessarily wasting your power was not a good way to start a duel. Then again, the Killing Curse inspired absolute terror in most people, so its ample usage against common wizards and witches was warranted. Against professionals, however, it was simply stupid.
It was clear that these low-grade thugs had never faced true specialists. Aurors, even common Enforcers, could easily annihilate them. Against Hit-Wizards they would have barely enough time to blink before being reduced to a splatter on the walls.
Magical combat wasn't about who had the most power or the most powerful spells. It was all about speed and strategy. One must know which spells can be blocked and which must be dodged, when to conserve one's power and when to burn it, and have a thorough understanding of which spells work well together and which do not. And above all, one must have a swift wand and feet. If one is unable to dodge spells, that person is as good as dead, for one cannot rely solely on a strong shield during magical combat. Like in the Muggle world, even the strongest shield always loses to the strongest of weapons.
Duelling was the greatest art - the truest test of one's own self-worth - and these three wizards were simply disgracing it. As seventh year Hogwarts students they should be in the upper echelon of power in the Wizarding world. Magic should have been a weapon of deadly elegance in their hands, but it wasn't. They were simple thugs with minimal skills and delusions of grandeur.
Harry didn't know what Dumbledore was thinking when he had decided not to train his students in the art of combat. It was utter insanity, especially during a time like this. In a peaceful world the skills wouldn't be needed, but as everybody knew, the world was far from peaceful. If the headmaster thought that by limiting the number of good duellers he could make the war less deadly, he was greatly mistaken. One does not need skill to kill - any idiot can do that - but one does need great skill to defend oneself effectively against stronger opponents.
Here we go again, Harry thought as he sunk into his Occlumency. He easily sidestepped the storm of green bolts of profane magic and quickly cast his own spell. With a mere thought and simple flick of his wand, he unleashed the Cinisafunis Charm.
In a sudden burst, the brilliant, reddish-orange ropes erupted from the tip of his wand, forming a large net and flying towards his opponents. The conjured ropes radiated terrible heat, causing the hallway's air temperature to rise a few degrees.
The three wizards all cast the same shield charms. Three similar, barely transparent, purple screens flickered into existence in front of them, totally covering them. Harry was sure the spell was some sort of variant of the Contego Charm.
The Ember Net hit the three shields and vanished without a sound as the shields absorbed the magic. However, the spell hadn't even been cast to truly harm the enemy wizards, but to force them on the defensive. A heartbeat later, Harry's toxic green Killing Curse sailed straight though the Ravenclaw's shield, hitting him squarely in the chest and ripping his soul from his body, the echo of the softly spoken lethal words 'Avada Kedavra' lingering for but a moment in the school corridor turned into battlefield. A small sardonic smile made its appearance on Harry's lips as the traces of the Dark magic he had summoned remained on his body, giving the most exquisite of sensations. That's how you use the Killing Curse, idiot!
The Killing Curse was the easiest Unforgivable to cast even if it was the most draining. The spell wasn't very complicated and the caster simply had to want the target dead, which was very easy considering that they were usually trying to kill him; it didn't require one to enjoy killing. Even when heavily Occluded, Harry could cast it without problems. Many other Dark spells required negative emotions and thus were far trickier if not completely impossible to be cast while using Occlumency. And even if they could be cast, it wasn't a sensible practice as it could all too easily lead to a bad case of the Dark Arts Psychosis.
If they had surrendered he probably wouldn't have harmed them much, but since they had tried to kill him, he gave them the same courtesy. It was not as if Death Eaters deserved any mercy.
The faces of the two remaining wannabe Death Eaters paled slightly at the sight of one of them dying, but it only served to fuel their determination to kill Harry. In just over a couple seconds they had cast another barrage of Killing Curses at Harry.
The green-eyed Dark wizard wasted no time in conjuring a large slab of solid marble to intercept the deadly curses. After the twisting bolts of sickly green light had slammed into the white stone, exploding into small balls of green fire and spraying a small amount of debris and stone dust around, Harry cast a supercharged Blasting Curse into the stone slab. The chunk of white stone exploded with a terrible cracking sound, blasting a deadly shower of sharp stone shards at his opponents with a nearly super-sonic speed.
The Gryffindor junior Death Eater wasn't fast enough in casting a shield and was ripped apart by the fast-travelling stone debris. In the next second, everything behind the unfortunate wizard was coated in thick, sticky blood and pieces of flesh. The very gruesome sight left Harry feeling slightly sickened, even with the emotional void created by Occlumency.
His last remaining opponent looked like he was ready to empty his stomach on the spot, but still managed to shoot a feeble cutting hex at Harry The green-eyed wizards easily dodged it and took a few steps forwards, eliminating the distance between them. Then he did the infamous, so-called 'squirrel-move' - going for the nuts, he placed a powerful snap-kick between the wannabe Death Eater's legs, lifting him couple feet off the ground.
Needless to say, the fight ended at this point. The enemy wizard's brain shut down because of the intense pain, and his body slumped unceremoniously to the floor.
Harry kicked the other boy's wand away from him, breaking a few of the wizard's fingers in the process, before Ennervating him.
The wizard opened his grey eyes, which immediately started watering. He was obviously in great pain, but Harry felt no sympathy towards him. The man had chosen to kneel before the Dark Lord. He had chosen to kidnap Ginny. Both of these were reason enough to end his pitiful life. Still, the man had valuable information and thus couldn't be killed... At least, not yet.
"And I ask again," Harry snarled "Where did the portkey take them? Answer or I will kill you painfully..." Harry lowered his voice to a menacing growl, "Very painfully. I can promise you that, scum."
"To the Dark Lord - it took them to the Dark Lord," the young man spoke out, displaying the fabled loyalty of Voldemort's servants. "I don't know exactly where. Please don't kill me!"
"I see," Harry hissed softly, his tone reminiscent of the Dark Lord himself. "What does Voldemort want of them?"
The Hufflepuff shuddered slightly at the mention of the Dark Lord's name. "I don't know. We just had to capture eight students," he answered, his voice trembling.
"Eight?" Harry repeated, his eyes narrowing. These guys were even worse than he had initially thought. Delivering eight of their fellow students to the Dark Lord just to gain his favour. It was sickening. As the Dark Lord had apparently not specified whom to capture, he would probably use them simply as sacrifices or potion ingredients. Or perhaps they were to be new toys for the Death Eaters. "I assume Ginny and Hermione were the last ones as you were already leaving."
The other wizard gulped. "Yes."
"Who gave you the mission?"
The wannabe Death Eater hesitated, his mouth working slowly, but no sound came out. Seeing this, Harry's lips curved into a small, fiendish smile. "Yes, if you tell me, your boss might very well kill you," Harry said nonchalantly. "But remember, if you don't tell me, I will most certainly send you to meet your two friends."
The wizard gulped again. "It was Lucius Malfoy."
"Thank you," Harry said and after a small pause he continued, "Avada Kedavra."
Harry stared at the newest dead body on his wake. He had already killed nine, and every time had been easier than the last. He grimaced; it was already far too easy. They had tried to kill him first, but that was a rather pitiful excuse. No, he had killed them because it was the right thing to do. Harry snorted. What a lovely world he was living in.
He was slipping. More and more. The blood on his hands tainted him. How many times had he let the Dark Arts consume part of himself to destroy his opponents? The void of emotions created by Occlumency didn't really help. It was a far too precarious balance. It shut out all positive impulses as well, and some of the darkness of the Dark Arts would always slip through. He could always sense the hefty feeling of power and control evoked by the Dark Arts even if it was dampened by his Occlumency.
Harry wondered how Kheiron had managed to avoid this trap. But then again, perhaps he hadn't. Harry knew very well his teacher had had a vicious streak. He knew that Kheiron had killed and tortured before...
When Kheiron had first started teaching him Occlumency, he had given a small speech on the subject, but had in no way spoken about the effects of using Occlumency with the Dark Arts. Harry could still remember his words by heart...
Extreme emotions are the key to unlocking the magic contained within one's soul. When you are angry, afraid, lustful, or madly in love you can do spells you may not have been able to in a normal state of mind, because then you have access to every drop of magic you posses.
Of these emotions, anger is the easiest to tap into, and is therefore the most trustworthy of said emotions. Anger also gives you the power to do what you must...to finish the enemy.
Dumbledore would undoubtedly say that you must avoid the temptation to use anger, that you should channel your love into your magic. Love, while arguably the most powerful of all emotions, is inheritably flawed. You can hardly muster much love when you are killing people who are attempting to do the same to you. Perhaps Dumbledore can use love to unlock his magic during combat, but he is a master Occlumens and frankly, quite...eccentric. Normal people would not succeed.
While fear and lust are easily accessible, they are not perhaps the best emotions to feel during a battle. Therefore, we come to the conclusion that anger is the best key to unlock a person's power.
But anger has its weaknesses too. Anger can easily lead to a blind hate, which leads to stupid mistakes...and stupid mistakes will get you killed. And thus, we come to our second conclusion - unless full power is needed, emotions should be succumbed during magical combat.
This is why I'm going to teach you Occlumency, Harry, which is the art of controlling your mind. Occlumency gives you the tools to clear your mind and seal distracting emotions away. It is a great tool for self-hypnosis. With Occlumency, you can also repel intrusions to your mind or you can make the intruder see what you want him to see. An accomplished Occlumens is a true master of his own mind.
Occlumency consists mainly of various meditative techniques and thus is mostly a non-magical art. The only magical applications of Occlumency are certain magic-suppressing techniques, which are used to fight against certain types of magical intrusions of the mind like the Imperius Curse and Veritaserum. That is not to say that these can not be fought off by sheer willpower alone, but such strength of will is so rare that it's hardly even worth mentioning.
The art of projecting one's mind outwards is called Legilimency and, unlike Occlumency, it's a completely magical art. Legilimency is like your Parseltongue, meaning that it runs in blood. No mud- excuse me, muggleborn has ever mastered Legilimency.
While Legilimency has the capability to destroy unprotected minds, it's mostly a subtle art like Occlumency. A master Legilimens is capable of touching people's minds without them noticing anything, gleaning bits of information in the process. While I could teach you Legilimency, I think it would be a waste of our time as you probably lack the ability. It is better that you concentrate on mastering Occlumency before even thinking about learning Legilimency. But if you really want to enter other people's minds, there is a spell that replicates a Legimency probe. However, it's crude and overly forceful and thus generally worthless.
Harry shook his head gently to clear his thoughts. He pocketed his wand and turned his gaze from the dead body. Things were spiralling out of his control. His time at Hogwarts had come to its end far before it had been intended. However, staying would now be far too risky. There was a chance that he could weasel his way out of this, but he would rather not risk it. Besides, he owed Ginny and he could hardly let her be killed. He would have to abandon his secondary objectives, but they weighted hardly anything in the equation.
It was time to visit Malfoy Senior. Of course, it would require careful planning, as the Malfoy Manor was a real fortress, undoubtedly much more difficult to enter uninvited than Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But then again, Hogwarts' wards were mostly against Dark creatures and therefore weren't harmful to most wizards.
Magical flames rose higher and higher towards the dark sky. The tongues of purple fire danced in the dark, illuminating the ancient forest around them in sinister colours and causing dark shadows to move in a baleful manner. The forest was silent, all animals - both magical and non-magical - cowered in terror, overwhelmed by the sheer amount profane magic released in their ancestral home.
Lord Voldemort was standing in the middle of a glowing circle of intricate green runes. His magic, fed by the Dark energies seeping from the earth, had taken a visible form and was now swirling around him as the inferno of ethereal, purple fire. He marvelled at his own power. He was indeed the most powerful sorcerer living! That foolish old coot had never been his equal, and after all the rituals he had undergone, Dumbledore didn't come anywhere near his raw strength. The only one I ever feared, Voldemort thought wryly, chuckling slightly. What a joke! The senile headmaster was growing older and weaker every day while his strength grew, reaching new heights with each passing night.
But it was not his strength that really set him apart from the aged headmaster; it was the willingness to use it. Without such will, that strength was more than useless; it was simply a waste, and the Dark Lord hated waste.
The Potter boy seemed far more willing to use his powers, but he was young yet, unlearned and inexperienced and therefore inconsequential - nothing more than a slight irritation. When they would meet for the second time, Voldemort was sure he would easily finish what he had started fifteen years previously. The brat wouldn't have a mother to die for him this time, and it was only a matter of time before his luck ran out. Voldemort smiled wickedly; he would enjoy annihilating the young wizard.
In many ways he saw himself in the Potter boy. Both were half-bloods, both magically strong, both Parselmouths... They even looked somewhat alike. Both were thin, had black hair and similar facial shapes. Voldemort's natural eye colour was also green, though a much darker shade than Harry possessed. Harry Potter was brimming with potential, Voldemort knew, but he would make sure that that potential would never be realised by the boy. He wouldn't allow the brat to become what the prophecy proclaimed him to be - a sorcerer with a power to rival his.
While the boy's master had had both knowledge and experience, he had lacked the raw power. Kheiron had barely had more magic than an average wizard and thus he was easily vanquished...aside the cowardly trick he may have tried in the end.
The Inner Circle Death Eaters standing outside the runic circle were awed by their Lord's show of magical power. They could feel the sheer amount of power emanating from the Dark Lord, and every single one of them desired a similar strength. It was a foolish wish, of course. Magic was a gift given at birth, and it could only be amplified to a certain extent.
Suddenly the tongues of purple fire turned downwards and connected with the runes. It looked as if the runic circle was sucking the flames into its depths. Within a few seconds the flames had vanished and the runic circle had begun emanating deep violet light. The circle was now charged and fully operational.
The Dark Lord traced a set of long forgotten symbols in the air with his yew wand. As he worked, the pitch-black sigils began to orbit around him, spinning faster and faster. Voldemort continued to draw symbols in the air, and soon he was soon surrounded by a perfect, swirling sphere composed of the sinister symbols.
Once Lord Voldemort had ceased his rune-casting and lowered his wand, the sphere collapsed and the sigils seared themselves into the Dark Lord's pale flesh, yet leaving his night-black robes untouched.
Voldemort gritted his teeth. Lesser wizards would have already fainted from the searing pain, but not him. He had already transcended humanity. He had already conquered death. Pain was nothing. Pain was for lesser men.
Soon the pain ended. A fiendish smile spread across the Dark Lord's lips and the first part of the ritual was now complete. "Bring me the sacrifices," he hissed to the surrounding Death Eaters.
Four of the Death Eaters stepped forward from the circle of dark robed men and women. Every one of the four was holding a struggling child dressed in Hogwarts robes. In tandem they threw the kids into the circle. Then they lifted their wands and all of them snarled the same incantation, "Avada Kedavra!"
The twisting bolts of green light hit the children, and their souls were ripped from their bodies. It happened so quickly that the unfortunate students had no time to even scream before death claimed them. The runic circle stopped them from passing over, and thus their souls appeared as pearly copies of their flesh and blood forms. They hovered over their dead bodies with disbelief and terror on their transparent faces.
Lord Voldemort raised his hands towards the blackened sky and softly hissed something in Parseltongue, before clapping his hands once. The sigils etched on the Dark Lord's skin began to move. The web of arcane symbols formed into four rows and uncoiled partially from Lord Voldemort's skin, coming out of his sleeves. Then they struck like snakes, each at a different child.
A thin line of black runes now connected him to each milky white soul. The spirits of the deceased children immediately started to struggle against the freezing, iron-grip of the runic serpents, but their efforts were to no avail. Their meagre powers couldn't overcome the mighty Dark Lord's. Voldemort smiled cruelly and his eyes burned crimson in the dark. "Bring the rest of our guests and the Horcruxes."
As his servants turned to obey his command, Lord Voldemort lifted his gaze upwards, towards the starry sky. Tonight, he thought. Tonight I will gain the power to crush all those who dare to oppose me!
A cold, high-pitched laughter echoed in the dark forest.
More Author's Notes: Betaing this chapter took longer than I had anticipated, but I'm very satisfied with the result. I have already written over 33000 words worth of this fic, and so the chapters will be coming as soon as they get betaed.
Anyway, read and review... or actually just review, as you have most likely already read the chapter to be reading this.