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.”]
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.
Chapter Seven: Reborn in the Dark
A descend into the Night,
To taste the lure of might,
Leads to an unholy blight.
She was breathing heavily.
Partly it was because she was constantly on the move; dodging, spinning and jumping, but mostly it was because the air was uncomfortably hot and filled with thick smoke and suffocating dust. In addition the disgusting smell of sulphur permeating the room was almost enough to make the young Auror gag.
The air was so suffused with magic that she could actually feel the charge in the air as a static electricity tickling her skin. The feeling was almost pleasurable but that was absolutely nothing compared to the invigorating rush of pure, blazing power that came from fighting with magic. Magical combat was the greatest thrill in the whole world, of that she was sure. The feeling the power surging intimately through your body with every spell you cast and the rush of adrenaline filling your bloodstreams offered a thrill to satisfy even the worst adrenaline junkie. In combat you really felt like you were alive. Perhaps it was just because every breath you took could easily be your last.
And although the four duellist were all unharmed, discounting a few small gashes and minor burns, the magical battle had devastated to the room around them. Expensive carpets were partially immolated and cut by stray curses and rare books torched and ripped apart by magical explosions. The once exquisite pieces of wizarding and Muggle art laid broken on the floor and even the walls and floor hadn't been spared of the destruction; if anything, they had taken the brunt of it. Large burn marks, walnut-sized holes and hairline fractures adorned surfaces everywhere.
Nymphadora Tonks could definitely understand why some people grew addicted to duelling. The stronger you were magically and the more magic you used, the stronger the feelings become, and she had heard that by using the Dark Arts those pleasurably sensations grew hundredfold. However, as she knew the other more nasty side-effects that came with such unsavoury practises, she stayed clear away from those spells. Although it definitely seemed that the three other duellists didn't share her sentiment on this matter.
A simple flick of her wand batted an approaching Dark curse away from her. Sidestepping yet another ray of pulsating light, she jabbed her wand towards Lucius Malfoy crouched in aggressive Neo-Serpent duelling stance in stark contrast to her own defensive Classical Auror -style, and muttered a single word of quasi-Latin. A cone of swirling flames shot out of her wand tip with a low roar, but to no avail as a quick Flame Freezing Charm robbed her fire-spell from all of its burning heat.
The'frozen' flames washed over Malfoy Patriarch leaving him totally unharmed. And while the Dark wizard was still covered in the cold flames, he shot a filament of red light at the female Auror, who fluidly sidestepped the spell. The lethal hex buzzed past her ear like an angry wasp, burning a few errant strands of her pink hair. Asecond later a loud boom signalled that the spell had exploded against the wall behind her.
The fight was steadily getting deadlier, which was saying something considering that it had already been ridiculously deadly the moment it started. Tonks was sure that this was easily the most lethal fight she had ever partaken in.
In the beginning they had fought as teams, but the fight had quickly degenerated into two separate duels – mostly because Bellatrix had begun goading Harry about his dead mentor and parents. Needless to say, the young and prideful wizard hadn't taken that very well and had instantly started focusing almost solely on the Lestrange bitch. Things had gone only worse from that point.
Firstly the two had just shouted general nastinesses at each other while they duelled, but within a few minutes Bellatrix and Harry had gone completely Dark Arts happy – they were shooting the blackest spells left and right without any restraints what-so-ever. The pair was using the Dark Arts with such gleeful abandon that she and Lucius had to spent half of their time to dodge and deflect stray curses instead of fighting each other. And by the Dark Arts Tonks meant the true Dark Arts that drew power from and empowered negative emotions, not those other nasty spells that the Ministry had for some reason felt need to classify as Dark.
As Harry was concentrating on Lestrange, she did her best to keep Malfoy busy. The older man was an experienced duellist, and he knew some very nasty curses and hexes, but Tonks was sure she could beat him. She was not an elite Auror for nothing and Lucius couldn't have any real combat training, right? But then again, he was using Neo-Serpent; a style perfected by the Dark Lord himself less than two decades ago...
Dodging the yellow streak of a Flesh Ripping Curse, she returned fire with an Annihilation Curse, which was an almost ridiculously powerful variant of ordinary Reducto.
The Head of the Malfoy family reacted in an instant and her high-powered spell was rebounded towards the ceiling in a flash of bluish light. Aheartbeat later the curse tore into wooden panels with a mighty explosion, causing sawdust and small fragments of smoking wood to rain down on her.
Lucius'wand flashed through a simple motion, but nothing seemed to happen. The split second it took her to remember to what spell the wand-motion belonged was almost enough to spell her demise, but not quite. She threw herself flat onto the floor just in time to avoid the heavy cabinet zooming over her by the courtesy of an ordinary Summoning Charm.
Once the large oaken cabinet had flown ever her, Malfoy quickly banished it towards her again, attempting to squash her against the floor. This time she was ready, however, and the expensive piece of furniture shattered against a strong Proteus shield.
Even before all the scraps of the large cabinet had hit the floor, she was back on her feet, sending a small arrow of fire zooming towards the enemy wizard. The next second saw three more, similar fiery bolts bursting out of her wand tip.
Lucius Malfoy swayed to his left and the sizzling spells shot by him, the last of them nicking his expensive designer robe and burning a small smoking hole on it. Snarling some profanity, the Dark wizard brought his wand down in an slashing movement, releasing an arch of lethal, purple fire from the tip of his wand.
Tonks dived away from the Dark curse's path and waved her wand in acomplicated pattern. There was a faint whistling sound as the invisible blades she had just conjured cut through the air, zooming towards the wizard. The Swedish Shredding Curse was a very deadly spell, capable of reducing people into tiny chunks of flesh.
It was only at this point that Tonks realized that she had been aiming to kill her opponent for some time now. Perhaps it was simply because he was aiming to kill her, but on the other hand, she had fought against Death Eaters before without feeling the urge to make them head shorter. What had changed? Was is simply because Malfoy was asuch bastard or had she changed?
Malfoy quickly brought up a hasty shield and the barrage of almost invisible blades were deflected and scattered into every possible direction, forcing her to erect a shield too to protect herself from the few stray wind blades.
The young Auror was just about to cast another spell when a pained, high-pitched feminine shriek cut through the air. She dared a quick glance over her shoulder to see what was happening.
Bellatrix was on her knees and there was a large cut on her side and she was missing her left arm. Her right hand was grasping the arm stump in adesperate attempt to stop the severe blood flow. It didn't seem to work all that well as scarlet liquid was spurting through her fingers. Then it hit her, she had managed to kill Bellatrix Lestrange, the infamous murderer of many far better Aurors than herself. All by a total accident to boot. One of the wind blades deflected by Malfoy had hit the Dark witch from behind her. It was so absurd that the young Auror wanted to laugh, and she probably would have if she hadn't been in the middle of a duel.
She turned her attention back to her opponent just in time to see atwisting, dark blue jet of light blasting squarely into her already almost faded shield. The shield exploded into a cascade of faint, purple sparks with a loud crack like a window shattering, and she looked down only to see a small smoking spot on her silvery-blue dragonhide vest. The spell had went through...
There was a flash of icy coldness before her world went dark.
Iason sprinted through the dark corridors of Malfoy manor as quickly as his old bones allowed. None of the Death Eaters he had passed on his way here had even given him a second glance, let alone questioned his presence. He had to suppress an urge to curse them for their stupidity. It would be so ridiculously easy to AK a few of them... He was decidedly tempted, but knew better than to abandon his mission just because he could score a few notches on his wand.
House-elves had an extremely fine-tuned ability to sense magic, and it was this ability that was leading him straight to his target: the strongest source or magic in the manor. He arrived to an impressively enchanted door, and he could clearly sense the main ward-stone behind it. Now, how could he get through this blasted door to shatter the stone and bring down the wards surrounding the building?
“Elf!What are you doing here?”
He swivelled on the spot and suddenly stood in front of a young redhead witch, his eyes widening in recognition.
“Miss Weasley?” the elf voiced his surprise. What the hell is she walking here alone and unguarded? the old elf wondered. Has she just escaped or something? By looking at her clothes that didn't seem too probable. The witch was wearing flowing, dark robes of some velvety material. Her black over robe with silver and deep green trim hung wide open, revealing a high-necked dark-red under robe with hems and the collar richly embroidered with thick golden threads woven in a highly complicated patterns, and a wide, burgundy coloured silk sash that went around her slim waist.
The girl smiled fiendishly and let out a small but very sinister chuckle. It certainly wasn't an expression he would have expected from her. “Not exactly, Iason.”
Alarm bells went off in his head and he instantly summoned his house-elf magic and attempted to banish the witch away from him, hopefully with such a force that she would be knocked off or killed when she hit the wall. However, her form didn't even budge despite best of his efforts. Instead, she waved her had lightly and it was Iason who found himself zooming backwards through the air. The hard stone wall interrupted his flight in a very painful manner. His head cracked on the impact and he was barely conscious when he hit the floor.
“You need much more focused magic if are intending to penetrate my shields, you pathetic little elf,” the teenager said arrogantly, her wand suddenly appearing into her gloved hand. Iason found it very hard to concentrate on all three of her as the world kept spinning in a very interesting manner.
“However, such ineptitude is all but expected from pathetic sub-humans such as yourself,” the witch continued her racist spiel, her voice becoming more intense with every word she said. “Consider yourself honoured that I will show you some real magic before your worthless life expires.”
The last thing he saw was a flash of sickly green light.
When Iason's soul was ripped from its earthy container, the only regret he had was the fact that he got killed by a blood fanatic preaching the pureblood gospel. Shameful, it was...
Dark magic burned within him, bringing pleasurable sensations and...hatred. The Siren's song of the Dark Arts beckoned him like never before. He could feel the inviting darkness boiling just beyond the Occlumency barriers that were quickly losing their strength, becoming less and less opaque with every passing second. Soon they would be totally gone, leaving him no protection against the Siren’s song of the Dark Arts expect his own mental resilience, which he doubted would last very far at all. But perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing as once the mental shields were gone, he could properly use every Dark spell he knew. He would gain unfettered access to a multitude of extremely deadly spells, and it might be enough to defeat his current opponent. Besides, it wasn’t like that going Dark Arts happy once would cause any lasting harm, right?Anyway, seeing how things were going, it wasn't like he had any real choice over the matter.
The final nail to the coffin was the sudden rush coldness that signalled the bond between him and Iason had shattered, broken beyond all repair. His friend for over a decade had died...
His mind barriers bend and leaked at the sudden influx of emotions, unable to suppress them... Then the shields were gone and Harry blinked as anger and hate rose through him like a tidal wave, drowning his mind in a feeling of euphoria and desire to use more Dark magic. His wand flashed through three complicated motions almost automatically and Harry channelled his hate and malice – his new-found need to cause pain to his enemies – into a spell. Adark rope of the blackest magic came out of his wand tip. The Dark spell even further amplified his anger and sent a shiver of pleasure through the young wizard's body.
He lashed out with the whip, intending to introduce Bellatrix Lestrange to the world of pain. Even the smallest scratch from the thing would hurt nearly as bad as the Cruciatus. The Dark witch, however, didn't cooperate and fluidly ducked under the whip, while shooting a vicious Lung Collapsing curse at Harry. The Dark Lord's favourite bitch even had the gall to grin gleefully all the time, causing yet another wave of hatred and fury in the young wizard.
Harry sidestepped the curse almost lazily and waved the pitch-black whip again. This time Lestrange didn't dodge, instead intercepting the lash with a purple dome-shaped shield. The whip coiled tightly around the shield, growing in length so that went around the whole thing afew times.
For a moment it seemed like a standoff; The whip couldn't penetrate the Contego shield, but neither could she do anything else but to uphold the defensive spell unless she wished to experience an exceptionally painful death. But then the young wizard smiled evilly and his left hand moved towards his utility-belt. Harry drew his spare wand with almost theatrical slowness, before jabbing it towards the enemy witch and gleefully intoning the two deadly, forbidden words, "Avada Kedavra!"
The twisting jet of sickly green light shot out from his wand and tore through the purple shield without any effort at all, but unfortunately Bellatrix Disapparated just before the Unforgivable would have hit her. Apparently the bitch was keyed to the wards.
Bellatrix reappeared a few yards from where she had left and shot a yellow Skin Shrivelling Curse at Harry, who cancelled the whip and quickly conjured a small slab of stone to intercept the curse. After the Dark curse and the conjured slab had collided with a small explosion, aflick of the young wizard's other wand sent the stone hurling towards Lestrange.
The witch easily avoided the zooming slab of grey stone and answered with a curse of her own, which in this case happened to be a more explosive version of Neutering Charm. She was indeed a crazy bitch. But then again, Harry had to admit, it wasn't like most of his own spells would result in a clean or painless death either, if anything they were both painful and messy.
A simple Protego deflected the Emasculating Hex towards the ceiling and Harry sheathed his other wand while ducking his head to avoid a Dark version of the Cutting Curse that Bellatrix had tossed after the other spell.
Soon the two combatants fell into a steady rhythm. Deadly streaks of light were exchanged between them with nearly insane speed, each spell humming with lethal power. Still, it was no longer the all-out duel it had been just a few moments ago. Both expert duellists had tried their best without too much success, and were now conserving their power and waiting the other to make some mistake they could capitalize. And as both combatants were riding their Dark Arts high, they were pretty much bound to do something stupid sooner or later. Most likely 'sooner' rather than 'later'.
Luckily Bellatrix was the first to screw up. In the heat of the intensive duel she forgot to be mindful of her surroundings, and it cost her dearly when a stray spell from Tonks and Malfoy's duel that hit her from behind. Harry watched as an invisible blade flashed through her, splattering blood everywhere. In a shower of blood she had lost an arm and gained a deep cut on her side. As Harry, unlike Bellatrix, had seen the wind blades approaching, he easily sidestepped the few of them scattered into his direction.
The black-haired witch dropped to her knees, screaming some highly graphic profanities. Harry didn't really care what she said or would say, and so a single wave of his wand sent Bellatrix's head rolling on the floor in a flash of silver light. Her headless body collapsed to the floor, blood fountaining from the severed neck. Everything nearby – including Harry – was quickly coated in her sticky and supposedly 'pure' blood.
And so the wicked witch died for her second time. Harry hoped that the bitch would stay dead this time, but knew it was probably just afoolish wish considering that her Horcrux or possibly even Horcruxes were still intact and hidden somewhere around the globe. Perhaps she had even done the sensible thing and sunk the severed piece of her soul into the bottom of an ocean in an indestructible and Unplottable box...
Lifting his eyes from Bellatrix's headless corpse and the growing pool of scarlet liquid, he turned his attention to Malfoy and Tonk's duel only to see the female Auror getting hit by a Soul Writhing Curse.
“No!” yelled Harry in horror and disbelief as her body fell backwards and hit the floor with a soft thud. The spell was almost bad as the Killing Curse, the primary difference being that the victims of the Soul Writhing Curse took a few agonizing minutes to die... And there was no known counter-curse, or at least Harry knew none. She was as good as dead...
Harry's red eyes pored into Malfoys'. The young wizard was breathing heavily and he felt almost a painful urge to wipe the self-satisfied smirk from the blonde's lips in a very permanent manner. His fingers clutched the wand so tightly that his knuckles went white, although it wasn't like anyone could see that due the armoured gloves he wore. Lucius killed Tonks, now Harry would kill him in return. It was only fair...
“I was going to take you alive,” the young wizard snarled through his clenched teeth, a single flick of his wand sending a Blood Jellying Curse at the older wizard, “but after that I don't feel so merciful.”
Lucius easily, almost casually, parried the Dark curse with his wand, deflecting the blue jet of light towards the floor, and cast a hex of his own. “You are idiot if you think you can bea-”
The wizard suddenly stopped speaking mid-word and fell to floor in aheap, Sirius calmly walking in from the door behind him. Harry's eyes met Black's and surprisingly the fathomless grey eyes held no elation, instead they were full of sorrow and some measure of anger.“They got Ama,” he said sadly and shook his head dejectedly. “I'm sorry... But at least it seems we got Lucius.”
Before Harry's brains managed to fully register what his godfather had said, the floor creaked behind him and he turned instantly to face...“Ginny?”
“Harry?” asked the red-headed, brown-eyed witch who had just walked into the battle-scarred room. She was looking at him with a wide-eyed expression. “Is that really you?”
Harry stopped the flow of magic into his eyes, causing them to revert back to their original, striking shade of green, and took off his Cabal mask, putting it back to his belt. “It's me, yes. But are you really you? Don't move. Finite Sortiarius!”
The last two words were the incantation of Magic Destroying Hex, a spell strong enough to cancel most knows spells and magical effects, including Imperius and Polyjuice. The spell was a bit stronger than Finite Incantatem, but the main difference was that unlike with the Spell CancellingCharm you couldn't choose what spells you removed from the target, the spell would destroy them all. It wasn't exactly a healthy spell to use on another human being, but at this point Harry was beyond such minor inconveniences. It was not like the charm would kill or permanently harm her.
There was a customary flash of blue light as the spell took effect, but nothing else seemed to happen, except for her looking slightly nauseated. Harry lowered his wand, the witch really was Ginny and not some Death Eater impostor. “Are the others here?”
“No, I don't think so. Last I–” she told him, but stopped as Sirius yelled, “We got some company!”
“Damn it!” Harry swore loudly and turned towards the trouble. Sirius was already shooting spells through the doorway. “I have got enough of shit! Perite!”
There was flash of yellow light that signalled the Area Banishing Hex, and the wall between Harry & Co. and the incoming Death Eaters exploded towards the Voldemort's servants with a deafening bang. And apparently the wall in question had supported part of the upper floor as the whole building shook and portion upstairs collapsed... directly onto the Death Eaters. The young wizard lifted his eyebrows in surprise. The hex had came out with much more power than he had expected... or ever managed before.
He could hardly see anything because of the suffocating dust that filled the air, but knew that unless the Death Eaters had had shields ready, they must have died, bludgeoned by the fragments of the exploded wall and then crushed under the collapse.
At this point Harry brought up his own shield to ready himself for the possible retaliation. Nothing seemed to happen though, until he heard a gentle whispered coming from behind him. The softly spoken words were followed by a twisting green jet of light that travelled past his shoulder, missing him only by a few inches, and to his horror hit Sirius squarely into his back.
As his godfather's now soulless shell crumbled on the floor, Harry turned slowly to face Ginny, who had her wand pointed directly into his heart. Wisps of dark smoke curled upwards from the wand tip alongside with an occasional bright spark, glowing with the same terror inducing shade of green as the dreaded curse it had just spat out. The girl had even the audacity to smile widely... His Dark Arts corrupted instincts were screaming for her blood and death, but most of him was in a state of shock.
“Why?” was all that the young wizard managed to say as he stared the redhead, hardly believing what had just happened. Shock and fury battled within him, and fury was slowly winning. Things were definitely not going as they should. This whole raid had already been beyond fucked up... And now Ginny turned out to be a bloody traitor... His fingers tightened almost painfully around his wand and his silver hand balled into a fist, a few red sparks bursting out of his wand tip.
“Why not, Harry?” she countered flippantly, as if she was talking about weather and not about joining a murderous madman. “Why not join the winning side? Lord Voldemort offers you too a chance to join him. I suggest you take it.”
Harry watched her unblinkingly, the raw hatred inside him reaching new heights with every passing second. It felt like Dark magic was begging to be released. And I used to actually like her, he though. What a fool I am. It was almost ironic. He had killed her kidnappers. He had came here here to save her. He had even taught her the Killing Curse during the almost three weeks he had spend teaching her. And she had just joined the Dark Lord and used the spell to kill his godfather. It was amusing in a very morbid fashion... But Harry wasn't laughing. Not by a long shot.
Kheiron. His parents. Iason. Amaterasu. Sirius. Tonks. They were all dead. All gone. All because of Voldemort. All because of her!
He was desperate. He was hurt. He felt betrayed. And above all, he could bear the though of someone dear to him dying. And like it is in the human nature those feelings quickly morphed into anger. But it wasn't pure anger, no, it was stained... Tainted and amplified by his ample usage of the Dark Arts, and he knew it. Harry knew he should give in.
Surprisingly he found that he didn't care. He was already beyond reason...
In the hatred he found his solace. It was something in which he could hide from the world; hide from all the pain. Against all sensibilities he rewove his decayed Occlumency shields, bottling all the hatred, anger and fury inside. Brimming with mindless anger was far better than wallowing in pain, of that he was sure. At least, unlike pain, anger would help him to get his revenge. It was the only thing he had left anymore...
He closed his eyes for a second and when he opened them again his irises were blood red, just like the Dark Lord's. Harry turned his gaze at the young witch, his snake-like eyes burning with unbound hatred and malice. Hatred always needed a someone or something to be directed at, always needing some outlet, and Ginny Weasley had just volunteered herself...
Then he smiled. And mind you, it wasn't a nice smile, it was as fiendish as smiles go. It was a smile that a vampire could have before sinking its teeth into its victim. “What about 'no'?” His voice was soft and perfectly controlled, lacking any trace of the emotions burning so brightly within him.
With those words Harry exploded into motion. Gracefully bypassing the blindingly fast curse shot by Ginny, he quickly sent a Dark Shrivelling Curse towards her, which she calmly sidestepped. Then he was already within an arm's reach of her, and struck with the speed of a striking cobra. The small blade seemingly appearing out of nowhere and cutting through the air in a wide arc.
The witch reacted in an instant and actually managed to shift her position so that the blade aimed to her throat cut her cheek instead. She waved her hand slightly, sending a wandless Banishing Charm at Harry.
The spell caught Harry by surprise as he had certainly not expected wandless magic from a girl of his age, and so the young wizard was hurled across the battle-scarred room. He hit the wall with a loud thud, but his enchanted clothes and armour protected him from any real harm and he hardly even felt the crash.
Ginny lifted her left hand to her cheek on which Harry's short blade had cut a thin red line. When the hand came off, her fingertips were stained with crimson...and something yellow. The witch stared her dirtied fingers with something alike of amazement on her pretty face.
Then she turned her accusing gaze at him, her face now a mask of pure hatred. Harry just smiled fiendishly in return. The young witch's whole body was shaking noticeably and her wand slipped from her suddenly limp fingers, clattering against the blackened floorboards.“You... You...” she said weakly, almost whispering.
“Yes,” Harry answered coldly and lifted the thin stiletto into his eye level, admiring its elegant form and excellent workmanship...and the thin layer of yellow substance coating the silvery blade. “It was poisoned. You should be unable to move by now, you traitorous bitch.” With every word more and more of the hate and fury he felt seeped into his voice, eventually turning into a hateful hiss that only a Parselmouth could manage. “It's a pity that this particular poison doesn't usually kill or even cause severe pain, if anything it numbs all sensations and makes you drowsy. Oh well... That can be easily remedied.”
As if by a cue the witch fell to floor in a heap, her whole body twitching lightly as she tried hopelessly to stand up again – to move. Her futile struggle lasted less than a minute as her body quickly lost the remainder of its mobility, leaving her unable to even lift her head from the floor.
Harry rose back to his feet, putting the poisoned dagger back to its holster while walking to Ginny, using his foot to turn her head so that she their gazes met. “You know, if I were a Death Eater and you my helpless Muggle victim...” Her pupils dilated slightly in terror and Harry grinned as he could almost taste the exquisite fear she radiated. “Well, I'm sure you know exactly what would happen... But for some reason I don't feel like sullying myself with a worthless, traitorous bitch like you.”
The look of relief on her face was enough to turn Harry's smile into something outright sinister and he almost laughed out aloud.“However, that's far from saying that you are safe...” Then the young wizard lifted his wand and pointed it at the prone witch next to him. "Crucio," he whispered harshly and the Dark magic rushed through his body and mind, eager to be released.
The tainted magic poured out of his wand tip and connected with the girl. Oh... And how she screamed. Her pained scream and unrestrained sobs were balsam to his tortured soul. He knew that the pain caused by the curse transcended anything that was physically possible. Cruciatus wasn't a simple illusion of senses; the Dark spell tortured the soul itself. It could all too easily rip both sanity and magic from aperson.
Harry Potter smiled cruelly, obviously enjoying her suffering, and the flow of magic intensified as he put all of his considerable power behind the Dark spell. Ginny's screams rose a few octaves higher and her body was now convulsing uncontrollably on the floor while Harry rode the waves of almost orgasmic bliss, panting like a mad dog.
Now, filled to the brink with Dark magic, another emotion rose within him...
Raw power flowed through his veins, and he had never felt more alive. He felt invincible and like all those unfortunate sorcerers to fall prey to the Dark Arts Syndrome, he laughed. It was a cold, mirthless laughter, devout of all emotion except dark joy.
He laughed until it hurt... And then he laughed some more.
He couldn't help it.