Categories > Books > Harry Potter > The Ten Plagues


by Jeram 0 reviews

Harry's search for the elusive Horcruxes takes a bloody turn, leading him into the crossfire of an invisible war - fought not between dark and light, but over the control of reality and magic itsel...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Harry - Published: 2014-08-08 - 8800 words

Disclaimer: All non-original Harry Potter characters belong to JK Rowling and her affiliated companies. I'm just taking them out for some overdue cleaning.

Previously: Seeking the final hidden Horcrux, Harry found himself in an odd reality where he was informed by an image of Helga Hufflepuff that Harry was the only one who could complete a task, as per usual. This one had him gaining the specialized weapons of the Founders, each with its own affinity to a particular elemental magic. He has defeated the champion of Hufflepuff, gaining the Axe of Earth powers, and the champion of Ravenclaw, gaining the Mace of Water powers. He has a good feeling what's coming next.


The volcano was intensely and ridiculously hot even from a distance, and Harry began to sweat even as he stood across rapidly melting ice walkways. Soon the ice melted faster than he could reform, and Harry used the Mace to propel him through the water instead. But he didn't quite have tight control, and flopped onto the rocky, blackened surface of the volcano.

"That was quite the well done dismount."

Harry turned to see a thin and gaunt man in a hooded robe and a tightly trimmed beard. The man floated a bit above the ground, as had Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.

"Salazar Slytherin," Harry said carefully and got to his feet.

Slytherin made a huffing sound and shook his head. "So suspicious. I know your thoughts, of course, and your memories. A function of the spell that creates this image to communicate with you."

"Um," Harry felt a bit worried. He hadn't exactly had the best history with the Slytherin House over the years.

"Don't be an infant," the Founder snorted in derision. "I have no idea about what happened to me after I created this image, nor do I care. I have a purpose here, and your acrimony with my Heir is irrelevant. At this point in my life, I did not even have children, nor did I want them. Riddle seems a fool in my eyes, and you can tell him that when next you meet."

"He won't be happy to hear that," Harry said with a laugh.

"I am a bit surprised that you haven't asked any of us why you can understand our language," Salazar said with a grin. "Despite my knowledge of your memories and history, it seems like it should've been the first thing you asked about."

Harry frowned as thought about it. "But isn't it just English?"

"If it was Parseltongue, it would be an understandable mistake," Slytherin hissed and then continued out loud. "But yes, we spoke English, of course, but it wasn't your twentieth century nonsense - according to your own memories, it would be called 'Old English'. A bit jarring from my perspective, but it's been nearly a thousand years, so I suppose that isn't too odd."

"Oh, yeah!" Harry realized he had learned a bit about it in primary school. "So what's your deal with the volcano? Fire monsters and the like?"

Slytherin made a snorting sound. "Such eloquence, Potter. Yes, indeed, this is the Trial of Power and Passion, braving the flames with your typical sort of approach. I think that this particular one suits you a bit better than the ones from my illustrious partners."

"And I don't suppose you can tell me what to expect?" Harry asked. "Perhaps what sort of fiery monster that has your weapon? Or what the weapon even is?"

"Such curiosity," said the Founder. "You are certainly getting more comfortable. That is good. You will need such confidence. As for my Weapon - it suits me. That is the only clue I will give you for now. And the monster is exactly what you'd expect as well." He shook his insubstantial head. "Really, it is ridiculous - Rowena using an old Norse incantation. She always was such a showoff. And Godric... well you'll find out about that soon enough, assuming you live through this Trial."

"And... um... Helga?" It took Harry a moment to recall the name.

"She and I both used classic Greek constructions," said Slytherin with a smile. "Ah, but I suppose that gives a bit away. I must stop doing that."

Harry frowned at the unfairness. "But why? If you want me to succeed, why can't you tell me more?"

"Simple." Slytherin shrugged. "The less you know, the better it is. Your capability to wield each Weapon is directly associated with the difficulty you have in winning it. I've cheated a bit to help you out, but I need to be careful. In the end, you will need to have every advantage. And I will answer any remaining questions you have afterwards; besides anything I still can't tell you, of course."

"Of course," sighed Harry. "Right then, see you after." He walked gingerly down the path into the only visible entrance, a cave that led not to darkness, but orange fire.



So Moses stretched forth his hand toward the heavens, and there was thick darkness over the entire land of Egypt for three days. They did not see each other, and no one rose from his place for three days, but for all the children of Israel there was light in their dwellings.

The heat was beyond reasonable - although Harry expected that without his holding of the Mace, he'd have already passed out. Thankfully either Slytherin or the lava had created a path that Harry could navigate. He walked and walked, sweating from every pore, occasionally spraying himself with water. If only he could have paid a bit more attention in History! That flame freezing charm sounded glorious in his current situation.

A low chattering sound echoed through the rocky hallways, and Harry tensed up, holding his weapon aloft. He carefully walked forward and into a larger chamber. A small score of charred skeletons turned to face him. They were much like the skeletons he had destroyed already, expect that these particular ones were also on fire.

"Reducto!" As soon the spell impacted one of the undead creatures, Harry leaped forward, swinging the Mace far faster than he had expected - it hit one's skull and burst it into small fragments of smokey bone. Another few spell blasts and the incredibly quick motion of the Mace and Harry stood triumphantly above the remains of the undead.

"Easy enough," Harry said, breathing slightly heavily.

As he walked further and further into the heart of the volcano, the heat steadily increased and new difficulties arose. Harry stopped to take a break, and then he heard an odd chittering sound, soft but just weird enough that it caught his notice. And then a feeling of warmth, localized somehow, coming from behind him. An attack!

Harry whirled, catching something with his Mace, causing a hideous screech that stopped as it hit the wall. He then saw several more of the creatures; a sort of large glowing lizard, near the length of himself, with heat evidently wafting off them in spades. The one he had caught lay ruptured against the rocky wall beside them. Two more lizards leaped towards at the same instant that Harry jumped forward, but his movements, enhanced by the power of the Quicksilver Mace, easily caught the head of one lizard and smashed it against the other. A hideous cracking sound happened, and lavalike goo oozed from the broken skulls of the monsters.

With more screeching, the remaining lizards ran away and into small rocky pits and the ceiling. Harry continued the way he had already started, every so often taking a look behind him for any other ambushes. The path was filled with nothing except a few difficult places to walk for close to an hour, until Harry found himself in a small open room.

"Oh, hell," Harry said and grimaced as he brushed the sweat of his eyes. A simmering lake of lava stood before him, which was problematic already, although there were a few decently sized rocks dotting the lake that could probably take his weight if he was nimble enough. But then there was the literal ring of fire; a circle of flame that had to be magical, blocking his path in the middle of the lake. The only way through would be to jump over rocks and then over the circle itself, landing precariously on the rest of blackened stone to make it to the safety he saw on the other side.

Harry tried to use his Hufflepuff Axe, the one with the power over earth, but although a bit of the path rose, several cracks instantly began to form. Harry ceased his efforts, lest he cause the entire path to collapse into lava. He tried to generate water from his Mace, but this only caused steam in the extreme heat of the chamber.

So Harry sighed and readied himself to get to the other side. He checked his boots for any problems and patted down his robes. Sufficiently finished wasting time, Harry sighed and prepared to run across. "Just imagine it's like riding a broom," he mumbled, not that this helped much, but that was all he had. He jogged a bit at first, just enough to make it to the first few rocks. Then he leaped to another, and second, and a third, refusing to look down, as the circle of flames grew ever closer.

With a deep breath, Harry leaped, closing his eyes for a brief second. Suddenly he could easily imagine he was on something like a broom, and the room's configuration was obvious. He landed lightly, skidding slightly, but easily recovered. With a bit more care, he jumped the remainder of the rocks, filling making it to the other side.

After that, Harry took an enormous breath in and smiled. Then a pair of hooves smashed into his back, nearly sending him into the lava. Harry managed to grab a hoof, which was on fire, but the flames only hurt him in a minor way, barely a scalding. He used the leverage to smash at where he guessed the beast's head was, hitting it square on. It squealed and fell back, letting roll to recovery.

As Harry got up, he could see his attacker: a night-black horse with hair made of pure fire. But it was bleeding bright orange blood from the side of its head where Harry had struck it. It whinnied and turned back to Harry, but he was ready this time. As the fire-horse raced towards him, Harry grabbed the Axe and pushed slightly. The ground below the creature exploded, and the horse was flung towards the giant flame of circle. But somehow it managed to pass entirely through without fire without hitting anything and landed with an enormous thud on the other side.

"Oh come on!" Harry shouted with frustration. Then he saw that the horse had broke its legs, crying almost piteously. Harry actually felt a bit bad, even though the creature had just attacked him. Trying to convince himself, he decided that it was all somehow in his head so there was nothing to feel guilty about. Instead, he continued onward, vigilant even more so as he walked, not willing to get ambushed again.

Soon enough, he could feel something ahead, just around a corridor. So he inched forward, careful to be as quiet as possible, until he snuck a peek ahead. A frightful looking lizard-woman with snakes as hair was being attacked by an actual werewolf. The wolf managed to rip off some of the whirling snakes, and then the medusa - for Harry was certain that is what it was - turned her head to face the werewolf head on and met the larger beast's eyes. There was a large cracking sound, and then the wolf was suddenly a statue, quickly beginning to crack and blacken with the ambient heat.

How was he supposed to get past this? Harry wondered and pondered this, thinking of various stratagems and possibilities. Using the Axe might work, or it might cause the entire cave to collapse. Attacking might do the trick, even Harry could avoid the eyes of the medusa. But how could he possibly fight without seeing?

And then Harry spotted an even worse problem; it was a dead end. There was no tunnel leading off, yet there had been no other path forked off before now. But before he could begin to despair, Harry saw something behind the medusa: a small hole in the ground, just about big enough to fit through. He recalled then the name of the trial - Power and Passion, or something like that. So it wasn't about bravery or cunning by themselves, but a combination besides. So Harry gauged the distance a few times in his head, and then he began to run forward, his eyes closed tightly.

His shoulder got swiped slightly from the the medusa as he passed her, but there was no actual wound. But the distraction was enough that he did not quite remember where the hole had been, and Harry fell into darkness, stumbling down rocks that seemed to go on forever. Finally, Harry had the sense of mind to use Arresto Momentum to slightly slow himself down, and then he slowly floating down into another chamber, this one very large indeed.

Slytherin was there waiting for him.

And slowly clapping in the most sincere yet sarcastic manner Harry had ever seen. It was almost wondrous to behold.

"That was, without a doubt, one of the finest and worst performances of magic without using magic I have ever witnessed," said Slytherin in a level, exceptionally dry tone. He smirked slightly. "I must say I can hardly wait to see how you deal with my Champion." The Founder paused and looked Harry over. "Be Wary, Potter. This particular foe will be more insidiously dangerous than those you've faced. You know, poison can be a dangerous thing to those unprepared." He held up his hands and closed his eyes.

"What?" Harry asked in horror.

"Prosengisi, Ydra tis foĢ±tias!" Slytherin intoned and the room shook. The ground in front of Harry crumbled into lava and the head of dragon, bright ablaze and furiously angry lifted from the fires. And then another head. And another.

"Bloody monsters," muttered Harry and held tight to the Mace as the hydra climbed out. It had no limbs to speak except a long, barbed tail with three wicked looking claws. The monster wasted no time, breathing out a burst of fire, forcing Harry to jump aside.

The clawed tail came a moment later, but Harry managed to whip his Flail to deflect, the weapon moving faster than he could have managed normally. Then the left head came forward, and Harry threw up a Protego and darted aside, but then the right head breathed out fire while the middle lunged forward, shattering the magical protection entirely. Another few near misses, and Harry used his Axe to pull up a ring of protective rocks. He paused for a few seconds, breathing heavily, and then two heads crashed heavily into the rocks, nearly breaking through. Harry realized he didn't have much longer before he was in danger again and he thought quickly.

He had his Axe with the ability to manipulate the earth and ground, and the Flail that worked on water and... ice. Harry selected a particularly pointy rock and created a thick sheen of ice that was rapidly beginning to melt, so he knew he didn't have long. And then waited then for just the right moment. As one head finally smashed past, Harry banished the rock directly into the hydra's mouth and shouted loudly. It worked, as the head moved forward, biting down on the sharpened rock. With a screech, the eyes in the head rolled back and it slumped to the ground.

Not wasting any time, Harry grabbed the Axe and pulled at the stone he could sense in the ceiling as hard as he could above the hydra's head. And then the ceiling emptied, stone and rocks falling everywhere, including the beast, but at first it only seemed to getting angrier. Until one very large piece of the ceiling fell onto one of the heads, crushing it entirely and trapping the other head behind a pile of rubble.

Harry felt a sudden burst of excitement and joy; he had done it. And then he saw a sudden movement out of the corner of his eye, something rocketing straight for his face. Harry dropped, but was struck with great force in his right shoulder. The barbed tail of the hydra had raked a bloody wound on his arm. It didn't look that bad, but then Harry began to feel terribly weak and and a drowsiness came over him. He slumped forward.

"Damn it, boy!" Slytherin shouted in fury.

Only once had Harry felt this slow, debilitating weakness before, when he had been bitten by the basilisk. He realized suddenly that Slytherin's comment about poison had indeed been a hidden warning. Harry knew he had little time left, so he pulled out the axe in his right hand, but dropped it - the hand was already too weak. The screeching of the remaining head focused his attentions, and he did the whole thing left he could think of: he Banished the flail directly into the hydra's face and saw it bite deep into the monster's skull. It ceased making any noise.

And then he fell onto the ground, his strength gone.

"Get up, Potter!" Slytherin said. "You must get to the weapon before it's too late."

Harry used his left arm to push his head up too look. The hydra was beginning to crumble into dust, leaving nothing behind. Except the tail. The barbs remained, leaving what appeared to be some sort of glove with claws.

"The Dragon's Claw," said Salazar, although his voice was beginning to fade. "It can cure the poison for this and all other venoms of lower potency, but only if you wield it posthaste! Hurry! I cannot help you until you have it!"

Harry groaned, but he knew the Founder was telling the truth. So he pulled with all his strength, his vision blurring and his breath coming in shorter and faster. For what seemed like hours, Harry dragged himself to the claw along the floor, never allowing for a single moment to think of anything but moving, pushing, staring straight ahead, all while his eyes teared and his arm began to turn a hideous shade of gray and green.

Finally he reached the claw and used his working hand to force the other one into the glove, fumbling and nearly losing his grip. But then he managed to get his hand inside the glove and he panted heavily, feeling like he was losing consciousness.

Then in seconds, Harry felt a burst of energy flood his entire body and his vision cleared. His breath became normal and his arm began to heal. In less than a minute, it was as if nothing had happened at all.

"I can't believe it," Harry said, marvelling at the claw. "The antidote worked so fast!"

"I am relieved," said Slytherin with a deep sigh. "I will admit that readily. But the good news is that while you wear this glove, no poison can harm you, unless it is worse than the specially bred hydra, of course."

Harry frowned and said, "Is there anything even that bad?"

"Not any you're likely to ever come across," said the Founder. "In any event, I believe it is now time for you move on. You know wield my ultimate weapon, the Unguis Draconis." He paused. "Dragon's Claw, of course. As Sharp as Venom Burns, I used to say."

"So, what was the deal with Gryffindor?" Harry asked, grimacing as he stretched his arm.

"How do you mean?" Slytherin asked. "Oh I see. The incantation. I used a classic Greek construction, as you heard, but Godric, braggart that he is, has an old Perso-Hebraic summoning."

Harry scratched his chin thoughtfully. "I don't think I know that term."

"Just a very old language, that's all. It's the sort of clue that wouldn't be helpful even if you knew what I was talking about," Slytherin admitted. "And I'm afraid I can't explain past that. Lessens the efficacy of the journey, and thus the ultimate goal. But take heart, Potter. You have already won three of our weapons. I rather think you are on course to win a fourth."

"Nice to hear you have some confidence in me," Harry said only a bit sarcastically. "I guess there's nothing else you can tell me?"

Salazar stroked his beard for a minute and then smiled. "Nothing about the quest, but I actually do have something useful for you. A way to command any snake or snake-like creature with Parseltongue."

Harry's eyebrows rose. "Even basilisks? Or Nagini?"

"A bit late to help you with her, but yes," said Slytherin. "Here is the command." He then hissed something recognizable but not like any particular word.

"What does it mean?" Harry asked.

"No direct translation into English," Salazar replied. "Now, repeat it, please!"

Harry hissed back the best version he could of the command.

Slytherin nodded. "Good enough. Now, see you soon!" He waved a hand and the volcano erupted, sending a sputtering Harry into the air. He almost began to scream until he realized he wasn't in any pain at all. The Weapon working its magic, clearly.

He landed near a great tower, one reaching towards the sky. And one that seemed oddly familiar for some reason, but Harry could not figure out why.

"Ah, Harry, well done! Well done indeed!" It was another floating apparition, but his was one Founder Harry knew exceedingly well, as his portraits were all over the Gryffindor Tower.

"Hello, sir," said Harry as he got to his feet.

"Please, Harry, call me Godric." The . "We are of the same house, are we not? And I am quite proud of what you have accomplished so far."

Harry shrugged, trying not to show how pleased he was with these remarks. "The trials were a pain, but I struggled through them."

"P'shaw!" Godric scoffed with a wave of his hand. "I mean that I am proud of your life as a whole, although your actions in the Trial are exactly what I'd expect from a member of my House."

"Yes, well," Harry paused and then sighed. "Godric, there's no need to bandy words about. I know you can't tell me anything of importance."

The Founder nodded.

"And you're going to just tell me I need to defeat something at the top of the tower to get your ultimate weapon."

Godric nodded.

"So unless there's anything else, I'll be on my way."

"Oh, I should mention something," said Gryffindor. "This is the Trial of Flight and Freedom. Now then! I will see you at the top!"


"Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people." - Carl Jung

Harry pushed through the door to find himself at the pinnacle of the stupid tower. His clothes were ripped in several places from the claws of the gargoyles, and his left arm hurt from breaking apart the stony garuda. But he was alive and mostly in one piece.

"Godric!" Harry yelled out. "Let's get this over with already!"

The phantom Founder frowned at him and shook his head. "You have had a tough few days, I understand. We'll get to it then. Please, Harry. Good luck."

Harry nodded tiredly, readying himself for the upcoming battle.

Godric closed his eyes and raised his hands up to the sky. A circle of glowing blue light burst from the ground and began to shimmer the air in waves of distortion. "L'yalot shed shel shamayim b'shem melech Pazuzu!" The Founder shouted loudly, and then a form began to coalesce within the circle, a demonic bird with glowing eyes and feathers that seemed nearly metallic. Upon his head was a small crown, but other than his talons, the demon had no other weapons.

The bird screeched and then it flung itself at Harry, who responded by sending up a wave of fire using the claw. With another angry shriek, the demon fell back and began to fly higher. It waved one of its wings and suddenly several feathers shot towards Harry.

He had a feeling that they weren't ordinary feathers. A quick Protego deflected the first wave, but then another came, and another, and Harry was forced to leap around the room, jumping and ducking. But he couldn't avoid all of the projectiles, and one feather sliced through his leg, then another his right shoulder.

Harry hissed and sent a silent Sectumsempra at the demon. Nothing happened to the feathers, but the downy chest and face showed an instant scar. The bird monster screeched and dove towards Harry, who waited just a few seconds, and then threw up a cloud of icy fog in the demon's face. Using the Axe, he dislodged a few stone bricks and set them ablaze, banishing them at the monster. It tumbled to the ground under the assault, and then Harry attacked, sending Reducto after Diffindo, slicing and smashing, until he got close enough to strike.

And then as the bird reared up, Harry jumped up and bit the clawed glove into the neck of the monster. It shook mightily and threw Harry off, but he tumbled to safety.

Surely that had been enough?

The creature stumbled for a moment, tried to fly, and then fell to the ground. It managed to pull itself on one knee, and then shockingly, it pulled a giant feather from its back and presented it to Harry. Of course, he quickly realized it was no feather, but a sword. A very familiar sword.

"It is my sword, of course," said Godric. "But not exactly the one you know. This weapon was given to me by the original Merlin, passed down through generations. It is the original, the ur-weapon that was the template for the one you wielded against the basilisk."

"I thought it was goblin made," said Harry carefully, trying not to offend.

"I switched it, of course," said Gryffindor with a laugh. "A classic prank! This is the real one, hidden from normal sight. Take it, Harry. This is the Caledfwlch. Or perhaps you might know it better as Caliburn, or Excalibur."

That name Harry recognized and he reached for the sword. As he lifted it, he felt new energy surge through him, and his injuries were as nothing once more.

"You have the power of four elements," said Godric. "But with the power of air, you also know can fly."

"Wicked," said Harry with a grin. "Flying without a broom? Ron'll be jealous."

Gryffindor smiled. "Indeed. Now then, Harry. Please adjourn to that palace you see in the sky. We will be there."


"Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself." - Desiderius Erasmus

The palace was old and crumbling in places, but it floated in midair nonetheless. A vicious wind blew past the outside of the structure, but Harry found it surprisingly pleasant. Aftereffect of the new sword, he figured. He found flying with his will and mind alone a natural extension from flying with a broom, after a few missed starts and attempts, he couldn't imagine anything else. Utter freedom, that was what it was, Harry knew that.

The four Founders stood there, watching him as he floated inside. Hufflepuff wore a large smile, while Rowena seemed as cool as ever. Salazar had a begrudging look of respect, Harry thought, and Godric just seemed filled with House pride. It was a good feeling, to see Hogwarts represented like that.

"So here's the deal," said Harry. "I expect full answers, no dishonest, no hidden meanings. Nothing I'll find out later because it's more proper that way. I feel like I've fighting through fire and ice for days, using new weapons I've never heard of and muscles I didn't realize were attached. So I'm not in the mood."

Godric laughed. "Ah, such refreshing candor, eh, Salazar? Remind you of anyone?"

"Enough," said Slytherin, rolling his eyes. "Potter makes an excellent point. You probably have questions, and we can provide many, if not all, of the answers. Just recall that these projections are akin to the living portraits you've found, albeit more advanced."

"Okay, fair enough," agreed Harry with a nod. "So why am I here?"

"You are needed," said Rowena, folding her arms. "Needed to provide your unique blend of chaos and courage to defeat a foe none of us could destroy."

Harry felt a shiver run down his back. "Of course," he said with an acid tone. "Who is this ancient Dark Lord that the Founders couldn't kill?"

"He is the Rex Ater, the Dark King of Atlantis," Helga said. "A very old and deadly wizard with the power of a different elemental power than any of us. A deeper and more powerful, the element of darkness."

Harry made a face. "Sorry, but that sounds a bit silly."

Salazar snorted. "Hardly," he said. "This is the power to absorb energy, magic, and all other elemental forces. The Rex Ater was the master of this, although we were only the latest generation to try before you. The original Merlin taught us using a similar sort of image, one that has long since faded."

"I heard you mention the 'original' Merlin earlier," said Harry. "What do you mean by that?"

"Merlin was a popular name for magical children," explained Helga. "The Merlin most people know was such a boy, one that was actually in Salazar's house. But there was one, a great power and wizard, that came centuries earlier."

Rowena seemed almost about to smile as she said, "He was truly a brilliant man."

"Her only mental equal," said Godric in a mock whisper, and Rowena glared at him.

"You have heard a story already of how the wizards of Egypt mysteriously vanished, correct?" Slytherin gave Harry a piercing look. "After you were kidnapped and enchanted by those pesky Sustainers."

"Yeah, I remember that," said Harry. "Although a lot of info was thrown at me that day. But hey, I think you're looking at my memories wrong. They removed my curses, they didn't add additional ones."

Salazar shook his head and looked disappointed. "You had almost figured it out a few times," he said. "Yes, you clearly had been enchanted to be besotted with the possessed Weasley girl, but you cannot tell me all your attractions were false!"

Harry was about to answer 'of course not!' when he thought for a minute. "Actually, I guess I still think of her as hot. For some reason, Cho was just really affecting me. Wait." He frowned. "Are you saying that they made me specifically into Cho? I already was attracted to her!"

"I recognized the spellwork," said Salazar. "Such a curse works better when the subject already has such feelings. In this case, they were amplified, much as they said. But instead of simply removing the curse, they transferred instead to a different maiden."

"Damn it!" Harry cursed.

"This is a pointless discussion," said Ravenclaw with just a touch of impatience. "Getting back to the relevant facts," she almost spit these words. "The wizards in Egypt were indeed vanished, but through no accident of their own. It was this dark king, once the ancient pharaoh sorcerer Merenptah, that had all absorbed all magic in Egypt from the underlying subjuncts of reality, killing all wizards and witches there instantly."

"But there was opposition," said Godric. "The ancient wizard Moses, master of the anti-magic, who used a series of horrific magical plagues over all of Egypt, weakening the power base of Merenptah and forcing him into exile. For even Moses could not fully destroy one that can absorb magic itself."

"I didn't realize Moses was real," said Harry. "I know he's from the Bible, but to be honest, I never really studied that."

"No worries on that front, Harry Potter," said Helga with a smile. "We had the Muggle writings in our time, of course, although they were usually in Greek or Aramaic. It was always interesting to see how the Muggles interpreted things."

"The original Merlin was taught by Moses and became a master of the light element," said Salazar. "As you might expect, this is the opposite power from the darkness, the capability to create magic anew, restore, and enliven. Thus Merlin was able to battle Merenptah to a standstill, balance entirely, and Merlin managed to seal his essence here, in the deep subjuncts."

"And a subjunct, just so I'm totally clear," said Harry. "Are these sub-realities I've been visiting."

Ravenclaw nodded in approval. "Precisely, Mr. Potter. You see, the Egyptians had discovered, as the Sustainers told you, the secret of accessing the subjuncts. But Merenptah had a terrible plan, one to reach a deep level of magic, the subjuncts that underlay all reality. He planned to pull together all subrealities into a chaotic, amorphous mess so he could gain ultimate power."

"Of course he did," said Harry with a sigh. "Would it have even worked?"

"It is impossible to say for certain," said Salazar. "But Merenptah was clearly mad, and his actions would likely have merely destroyed all life as we know it."

"So bad, then."

Godric laughed.

"The first secret society was formed soon after by Moses," continued Rowena, looking cross. "It is called Vita Tribuo, although by our time its message had been corrupted, as they believed all subrealities were a mistake of magic and the proper course was to combine into a singular reality."

"But Moses saw things change for the worse as the second wars of reality began," said Hufflepuff with a sad look. "The armies of Atlantis sought to merge realities, 'fixing' that mistake, although they had no evidence

"So which one is right?" Harry asked.

"Oh, who knows?" Salazar said with a scoff. "For all we know, merging would just be like a world we normally see, except without access to the various subrealities. Or perhaps the attempt would destroy magic entirely. Not knowing, that was the position of Moses, and then the original Merlin, his apprentice."

"Ah, so because Moses was actually there, and he taught Merlin, who taught you," said Harry in realization. "You actually know what you're talking about!"

"Indeed, Harry," said Gryffindor with a nod. "Merlin started his own group to protect against the radicals, the one that became the Sustainers. Obviously they got out of hand, but he used them as proxies until he could take down and hide the dark king in this elemental subreality."

Hufflepuff frowned. "You won't like hearing this," she said. "But there's a prophecy."

Harry felt a headache coming on and he grimaced. "I don't like hearing that at all."

"The wording doesn't matter, as it's not even in English," Hufflepuff said quickly. "The point is that it says that only a mastery of all elements can destroy the wielder of darkness. Which is you."

"But I actually earned it this time," said Harry and he felt a bit better. "It wasn't a total accident!"

"Well," said Ravenclaw. "If we're being technical about it."

"We don't need to be," interrupted Godric. "Let's just move on. We tried to destroy Merenptah using all of our powers combined, but it only served to make him stronger. Us three, besides Helga that is, tried to circumvent the prophecy by switching up our elemental affinities to our weapons, but that just made them impossible to wield at all. Except for Helga, who was so stubborn she came out the better for it."

Helga laughed, a rich, pleasant sound. "About right, Godric. But the question is how you can defeat Merenptah, Harry Potter. After all, you can clearly use four elements, that is clear."

"But to fulfill the prophecy," said Ravenclaw. "It is clear that only one that also can utilize light and dark elemental magic will suffice. And yet, we cannot use it, so we cannot teach you how."

"How do you know I can use it?" Harry asked.

"The fact that you can use such different elemental powers seems to imply it," said Salazar. "At least, we hope so."

"That is the important part," said Godric. "Now we can let you ask any question you like. If we know, we will answer."

This was so unexpected and wonderful, Harry could barely breath for a few seconds. When he got his wind back, he thought carefully until he came up with a question. "So which secret group were you guys a part of then? You clearly knew about them."

"We did," said Ravenclaw and seemed nearly happy about it. "But as you may have surmised, we could not align with any. Either their conclusions were unfounded, radical, or unknown, or their methods were dangerous and immoral."

"The Sustainers," interjected Godric.

"The original board at Hogwarts was filled with the informed neutrality," continued Rowena. "Although I am certain than in a thousand years, that is no longer the case. These families were the Blacks, the Browns, the Greens, the Grands, and the Whites. Oh, and your family as well."

"I've heard of the Blacks, of course. And there's a Lavender Brown in my year. The others I don't recognize."

Helga shrugged. "It was a long time ago. They may be all gone by now."

"Well, that's good to know, anyway," said Harry. "But here's another question. Do you have any idea what this Anubis charm really is?"

"It is what you suspect it to be," said Salazar. "One of several spoils of old Egypt that Merlin crippled to prevent from being used. Now, we don't have precise knowledge of what is going on, but I think we can figure it out using your memory."

Rowena tapped her chin thoughtfully. "If you analyze the context and evidence, assuming that your memories are mostly trustworthy, I believe that your Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore was able to reactivate the Charm to tie it using your unique connections to the Horcruxes so you and you alone could utilize it. An ingenious solution."

"Ah, that does make sense," said Harry.

"Anything else, Harry?" Godric asked with a kind smile. "If not, there's no time like the present!"

"I guess not," said Harry, although this was only because he was so tired, nothing else came to mind.

"Merlin left this one advice for you, or whoever would come to fulfill the prophecy," said Salazar. "Translated, it means 'In, then out, all then none'. I hope that will help you." He gave Harry a grim smile. "I have a feeling it will."

They moved aside to reveal a hidden doorway, which opened as Harry approached. He took a deep breath and stepped inside to find a dark room, although he found himself able to see the shadowy figure in the center. The creature was hunched over and shivering, covered with chains and muttering meaningless words and sounds. Suddenly it looked up and glared at Harry.

"I see you," said the Dark King, his face unrecognizable and covered with black. "I see you clearly, speaking the language that they never spoke. The feeding stopped when you stopped coming, but the hunger never does." He tilted his head up and raised his arms, each manacled to the floor with a long chain. "Have you come to set me free, child of the slaves?" He then tried to move forward, but he fell, constrained by two additional chains, one one each leg.

"Tell me your name," said Harry as he saw the old king struggle against his restraints. "Tell me why I have come."

The shadow stopped struggled for a moment and said nothing for a long minute. "I am old," he said finally. "I am the Pharaoh of a dynasty long lost, the savior of a race of heroes and powerful gods. We brought the miracles to the common folk, and how were we repaid? With treachery and death. With other magics and hidden confusion. They cursed my name, and cursed my lineage. All because I stepped where none would dare, all to save my people." The man rattled his chains. "I am Merenptah."

He gnashed his teeth and Harry could somehow feel the glare. "And you are here to kill me. But you won't be able to finish the job."

Harry felt the throat dry and he licked his lips, hand on the Sword. "And why is that?"

"Because you cannot destroy that which is destruction itself," said Merenptah. "Even your king of slaves could but force me away. I brought Atlantis down around him!" The shadow screeched this as he tried to raise an arm. "And his child apprentice was lucky, with the exact opposite power. And even he, the master of light, could but keep me here. You have no chance at all."

In, then out, all then none.

"Huh," Harry scratched his head. In, then out, all then none. "Oh. Wait a minute." And then Harry smiled. "Now I get it." And he pulled out the Giant's Axe and yelled, leaping forward as the ground itself pushed him forward. With a fierce cry, the Axe came down on the shadowy figure, and the room shook. But the man was unharmed.

"Ha!" Merenptah spat and began to laugh. He stretched an arm, his right, and then he broke one of the chains. "Foolish boy! You only serve to break these bonds set by your teachers years ago!"

"Figured as much," said Harry as he fell back out of reach of the grasping hand. And he raised the Quicksilver Mace, sending forth a spray of icy shards, all straight for the heart of the man in the dark. As Harry had expected, Merenptah broke another arm free, but this only meant there was little time remaining.

Harry raised his hands, the Claw on his left and Sword hoisted by his right hand and focused for a second. A burst of fire jumped out and then became a tornado of flame, torrenting and twisting until it knocked the old king off his feet.

Merenptah began to laugh and he broke his last chains. Small tendrils of black fog began to appear all over the shadow's body, coalescing quickly much larger tentacles that began to reach out towards Harry, who leaped aside, using the power of the Sword to fly further out of harm's way. But then the king seemed to grow in size, his shadowy form flickering as the light began to draw inexorably like a black hole.

Of course, Harry realized that he only a few moments before he could dodge aside no longer. The riddle of the elemental force had confused him when he first heard it, but when he considered how the Founders' weapons worked, as channelers of magic, it fell into place.

"Fawkes, don't bugger me now," Harry muttered with a silent prayer and he pulled out his wand. As the darkness sped closer, Harry closed his eyes and used the only spell he could think of, hoping his Latin wasn't entirely wrong. "Ego sum patronum." The light burst forth suddenly, spreading the room awash with clarity, and the Dark King fell back, screeching with pain. It was magic that was obvious then, and Harry sensed the light elemental power underneath like it had always been there, like it was just another weapon. Except this one connected to his being down to his soul.

Harry turned the wand onto Merenptah and lowered onto the ground as the light focused into a beam. The old pharaoh held up his hands and he began to laugh.

"This is just the same stalemate as always," the man said and Harry felt he could almost see past the shadows. "You cannot defeat me with balance."

"You're right," said Harry. "Light elemental only balances, it heals and restores. So what does dark elemental magic do?"

"A riddle?" Merenptah said with an odd note of curiosity in his voice. "The obvious answer is well known. Darkness is the lack of light, so as magic it represents absorption and loss, death and theft of power. That is why it is the ultimate power." He smiled, and Harry could finally make up the unnerving gap in the face of shadows where the mouth should've been. "That is why I was able to defeat my enemies in the time before the revolt."

"But Moses had one over on you, didn't he?"

"The false prince?" Merenptah made the sound of spitting, although no fluid appeared as he stayed, helpless, under the light. "That man was a worse creature than you take me to be. I only destroyed the magicians by accident, but he... he destroyed everything else without mercy, because only that would hurt me."

The answer was close, Harry could feel it. He almost had it. "And how did you find this power?"

Merenptah said nothing, as if he was trying to force the memory from so long ago. "It has been a long time, child. But the knowledge comes to me slowly, like the drip of a melting ice block in the sun. It was forbidden to explore, so we were taught. But my father taught me that the dynasty of wizardkings was paramount, and thus anything was permitted to save the country. Even at the price of my soul."

"Your soul?" The word twinged something in Harry's mind, and then it all came together. There was one source of light he carried, the phoenix and holly wand, but that phoenix had also also given a feather to a different man. A man that left a piece of himself in Harry's head.

Harry concentrated on his scar, what he always tried to avoid at all other moments. He found it there, the elemental force that ate away at his magic and life, now unlocked as other forces were unlocked. The darkness flowed up and down, through his wand and back to the Pharaoh on the floor. Harry's eyes felt odd, as all light seemed to twist and dim in the room, but the shadow man made a sound of surprise.

And Harry pulled back, the balance from light connected to the pull from darkness as he drew back the miasma around the dark king. His scar pulsed and ached, and burned and burst with agony as power coursed through his mind. Harry felt his mouth scream, but he could hear no noise but a rush of wind and smoke. But just when he felt he could take no more, the struggle ceased, and Harry fell to his knees. His scar pulsated with pain, but it was dulling more with each second.

Harry looked up to see a very old man, skeletal in appearance, and with a look of utter shock on his face. Merenptah looked at his hands with wonder. His skin was gray and mottled, and it seemed to be fading into near translucence.

Merenptah met Harry's eyes. "I don't feel it any longer. The hunger is gone." His body twitched and spasmed and he collapsed on the ground. "It's fading." He said this with a toothless smile. "You've done it, boy. I never thought I'd feel my own mind again."

"You're welcome," said Harry with a slightly dry tone.

"As you say, so I reply: Thank you, child of slaves. No one should live this long." And then he crumbled into dust.

"You bloody did it!" Slytherin said, appearing suddenly. "I almost cannot believe it."

"I always knew a Gryffindor would figure it out," said Godric, walking through the wall into the room. "It was obvious."

"It was carefully planned, you mean," said Rowena, although she had a pleased expression on her face. "The old prophecy has been fulfilled."

"Wait, so that's it? The prophecy is finished?" Harry could scarcely believe it.

"Oh, not yours," said Helga from behind Harry, startling him. She laughed at his reaction. "Your prophecy is outside our knowledge, so it's probably still relevant." She shrugged. "Or not, I don't know."

"Very helpful, Helga," said Salazar dryly.

"Our time is ending now, Harry," said Godric, and indeed Harry could see the man begin to fade. "The elemental lock we put here is ending as well. You are the first wizard to know they have such powers, but now there will be others."

"It is a dangerous tool, but do not forget your wanded magic," cautioned Rowena. "The wand is capable of nuance and careful control. Soon enough, the world will gain new masters of this elemental power."

"I understand," said Harry. "But you know... I really came here for the Horcruxes."

"Fare thee well," said Godric. "I am proud of you." And he disappeared.

Helga nodded. "And so from me as well," she said, and too vanished.

Salazar sighed. "Mr. Potter, before I am gone utterly, a word, or perhaps, a request, if you will."

Harry nodded and said, "Of course." He hoped Salazar might tell him where to him find the Horcrux, so it was important to agree.

Salazar gave him a weary look. "I know you have enmity with my Heir, understandable and logical," the Founder said. "And of course, the Horcruxes must be destroyed for the good of reality. But I entreat this to you to consider: Does he really need to die? If you can avoid it, that will pay you back for all my help to you here."

"I'll try," said Harry with a grimace. "But I can't promise if he tries anything. And the location of the Horcrux?"

Slytherin shook his head. "Sorry, Mister Potter, I don't know where it is. I never did. But let me give you secret password for a hidden room in my chamber." He whispered another untranslatable phrase in Parseltongue and waited for Harry to repeat it. Salazar gave him an approving nod. "Good luck," he said. And he vanished.

Only Rowena remained, and she seemed confused about it.

"Ma'am, I don't suppose you know about the Horcrux?" Harry said this, fearing the worst.

And then a light appeared in Ravenclaw's eyes. "Of course!" She smiled, and Harry was suddenly reminded how pretty she was when she wasn't so dour. "My diadem. It hold me here, because it is the connection between my reality and that of the Horcrux fragment."

"The diadem?"

"My head covering, the circlet," Rowena explained and then her face became sad. "You know, I think that the Gray Lady is related to me. She has a familiar look from your memories." She tapped on her chin. "I will give you the diadem of course, but can you pass on a message to the Gray Lady?"

Harry nodded. "Of course," he said. "If she'll hear me."

"Listen well and listen to me," intoned Rowena and Harry felt a weird twinge in his mind. "Mors mea est cogitatio mea; cor meum no est corona mea. These words are the memory of your mind." And Harry's mind twinged again.

"Um, I'm not sure I can remember all that," admitted Harry.

"You will," said the Founder. "I just made a small adjustment to your mind." She gave him a satisfied smile. "I thought ahead."

"Oh." Harry wasn't sure how to feel about it, but he needed the Horcrux... "Okay then."

Rowena took the diadem off her head and tossed to Harry, who caught it easily. It felt solid in his hand, and familiar in a sinister way. Harry knew she was right, that it was indeed the final Horcrux.

She began to disappear and she smiled. "Ah, that was it after all. Luck, Harry Potter. Good luck to you." And she was gone.

A rumbling suddenly sounded nearby, and the palace shook. Harry didn't know what effect "unlocking" the elemental powers would have, but he decided not to stick around just in case. With an ease he could not have fathomed a day earlier, Harry disappeared to the main reality.

Harry reappeared in the Weasleys' store, mentally exhausted but feeling free of physical pain. Bill and Fleur looked up in surprise and neither seemed to be able to say anything.

"Bloody hell, Harry," said Fred, his mouth agape. "What the hell have you been through?"

"I'll tell you guys later," Harry said and tossed the diadem on the ground. "First, let's take care of the Horcruxes." His eyes glinted. "I'm in the mood to blow something up."


Next time…

A firstborn dies, a firstborn lives, and a firstborn survives.

Aseret HaMakot

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