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Harry Potter and the Slavic Scrolls by Sebastian07
Chapter 15 : A Lesson in History
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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The dark clouds swept in on Harry, leaving him in a feeble trance.  He didn't want to believe it.  Indeed, thunder cracked over head as if as an omen. Dark purple and deep blue clouds rolled in, ushering in the rain.  It started as a drizzle but came down faster and harder until it turned into an outright down pour.
 
Harry was back in Britain from his seemingly useless trip to Greece.  He had returned first to the destroyed Ministry to find the job done with the muggles now sworming all over it.  From there Harry could sense the new concentration of power, Hogwarts.

Harry glided down to the steps of the white marble. The rain was falling, pattering against his face, soaking into his hair and robes.  A tear escaped from one of Harry's eyes.  There was no cry, no sob.  Harry was not prone to such display of emotion, but the wretched saddness of this disgraceful act swelled up in him nonetheless.  Not even in death could this great man find peace. Dumbledore's tomb was split open once more.
 
The broken tomb tempted Harry's anger.  He was furious with himself most of all.  Though in good faith, he had acted foolishly.  He had put that damned wand back into Dumbledore's grave, wishing it to remain there and die forever. Harry had invited this. But this cursed wand would not be silenced. 
 
"Kaan," Harry groaned aloud through clenched teeth.  Kaan had beaten him at every turn.  Not just beaten - humiliated.  "KAAN!" he yelled out.
 
But why?  Nothing was making any sense.  What was Kaan doing?  Kaan wanted the Key, he had it.  He wanted the Scrolls, Harry had given back the Key to their temple.  But Kaan had enlisted Harry to enter the Trials, Harry to deliver the Scrolls. Harry had reached them, their volumes immense, but that is also just as he sensed Hermione's desperation, another confusing fact.  Kaan had sent his minions out before Harry had even returned, why?  And Why didn't Kaan just get them himself?  The Trials were a terrible challenge, testing the challenger both physically and mentally, pushing them to the very edge, but Kaan was a great wizard in his own right as he had proven this to Harry in Tabor.  Then why?  Kaan could not get the Scrolls himself.  Why?

And then the wand? Anatol Kaan did not use a wand, he refused to handicap himself on anything that could be destroyed or taken from him, but then again, this was the Death Stick after all. Was it another trap, another form of blackmail, to force Harry back in? Kaan had Hermione, promise him her and Harry would be more than happy to deliver them.  And then, how did Kaan even know of the wand's location?  Had he broken Hermione..?  Harry grimaced at the thought of it, of the horrors she must be facing now in the hands of that sadistic man.  It was all his fault!  How could he have let this happen?!  And then a second possibility came to Harry.. Ron.
 
Harry grew more nervous.  He swept his hand up past his chest, drawing out the small leather pouch he wore there. The ties loosened themselves... and finally, Harry exhaled in great relief as the corner of a silvery cloak began snaking its way out like some Egyptian asp dancing for the flute.  Harry was mesmerized by it.  It had been so long since he'd last used it - it... so very beautiful, so very old, but yet, still so flawless.  Well, it was a Hallow after all.
 
Harry turned to his left and stared off across the horizon.  The ancient trees of the Forbidden Forest stood dauntingly.  A heavy fog rose from the trees' canopy.  Surely, even if Kaan had learned of its whereabouts... Harry wasn't sure if even he himself could find it!  But he had to be sure, he had to know. Kaan was up to something more. He would have to go in and look for it.
 
Exhausted, Harry summoned what strength he had left and lifted off from the banks of the loch.  This time, as he rose, a trickle rolled down him opposite - the odd sensation of the disillusionment charm.  Invisible to the naked eye, Harry swept low across the grounds, flying as fast as he could.  He disappeared, dashing between two narrow trees without pause, off into the Forbidden Forest.
 
He did not slow down a tick, but quickened his pace ever faster.  Time.. time was not on his side. Hermione. Harry weaved back and forth amongst the trees for an untold distance, only coming to a stop deep within, at some unmarked destination.  There was nothing obvious that would have given this place away. Harry closed his eyes and let his instincts take over.  Ghostly memories returned to him of opaque spirits surrounding him at his summoning.  Harry held out his open palm as he envisioned them: his mother, his father, Sirius and Remus.  Harry stepped forward, his eyes still closed but his feet sure, restracing his steps to Aragog's old lair, to the clearing where he'd died once before.  Harry turned over his hand, just as he had done two years ago, just as he remembered letting the Stone fall then to the forest's floor.  Harry opened his eyes and looked to his feet but there was only tangled brush.
 
Harry wasted no more time.  With his wand drawn, he aimed at the ground and the forest's once peaceful floor suddenly erupted as if he were yielding some supercharged leaf blower.  And, just as the debris were cast up about waist high, it suddenly burst into flame and disintegrated as ash. 
 
Harry quickly paced back and forth amongst the trees, ripping up all the old, rotting leafs and sticks and limbs, leaving the ground bare and naked.  Though he searched and he searched, making wider arcs and circles from where he'd started, he did not find what he was looking for.  The last few gusts of wind choked off as Harry gave up.
 
"It could just be lost," Harry tried to console himself, but in the pit of his stomach, he knew the truth.  He knew "he" had it.  That Kaan had somehow found it too, but to what end? 
 
Harry took in for the first time the wide swathe of scorched earth he had left in his wake, all bare and burnt - no more leafs, no more twigs, and nowhere to be found, a little brown stone, left long ago, abandoned and forgotten.  It had been - resurrected.
 
'What was Kaan up to?' he could only ponder. "Oh Hermione, what have I done.."

Harry had had a plan.  A solid plan that had been contrived perfectly, put into motion long before he had entered the Trials or returned to Britain.  The witch!  Get her the ring and she would give him his answers!  That was his ace in the hole.  That damned witch Pythia had promised him answers, all he had to do was deliver the ring. He had gotten the ring - at such a price - but she had given him nothing in return, only meaningless riddles, no answers. That damned witch, you should never trust a snake! And added to Harry's utter failure in Tabor, Kaan was now on the move, daring to strike out in Britain, destroying the Ministry, his power swelling.  And now, now he had two of the three Hallows. What was he doing, to what aim? 
 
As Harry stood in thought, unsure of what had happened and what he would do next, the forest fell quiet and still once more.  His eyes still traced across the bare ground, hoping against hope that they would wander across the abandoned Stone.

"It is not here," a whisper crossed him.  Harry was shaken.  Had he said it?  No.  Still under the disillusionment, Harry spun around and slashed his wand before himself, loosing a bright red light into the distant trees.
 
There was indeed another wizard, just in the shadows.  It happened fast and Harry was left struck.  The wizard swept up his wand in a fluid motion and the most unusual thing happened.  Statics of enegery seemed to erupt from everywhere, from the the trees, from the ground, from the bushes and leafs, from the forest itself, making their way like small streams feeding into a massive white river of energy.  The wizard's blast swallowed Harry's less powerful stunning spell as it came hurdling towards him.
 
The invisible Harry was surprised but with the flourishing of his own wand he was able to conjure another strong spell that saved him from being torn apart.  As the two spells collided, a large explosion blew out, rippling a shockwave through the trees, but the two powers held even.  Harry was forced to let the disillusionment charm roll off him. As if on cue, both rolled out of the spells, letting them go.

A swell of soil and rock and leafs and branches crashed in as a wave around Harry, but with a burst energy Harry blew it all back, then releasing another stunning spell at the uninvited wizard - but the wizard was gone in a swirl of his robes. 

A bright whip of engery flourished out from his flank, sweeping across the forest's floor but Harry flipped as agily backwards as a skilled gymnist.  Upon landing, Harry spun again casting yet another strong stunning spell but the attacking wizard deflected it with the wave of his wand.  Running right at him, the attacking wizard cast out a large ball of blue energy. 

Harry was only just able to create a forceful Protego shield and was blown backward from the collision.  As he was flying back, Harry swept his wand around, grabbing hold of a massive fallen tree trunk and sent it hurdling at the rapidly closing wizard.  Harry's back had just collided with the forest's floor as he heard a loud bang and saw a mist of thousands of pieces of splinters that was the trunk as the other wizard blew it apart. 

Harry tried frantically to scramble to his feet, but just as he made it to his knees the wizard was on him.  Harry tried to aim his wand but the attacking wizard grabbed Harry's wrist harshly and twisted it defensively away.  And then Harry felt the smooth wood of his attacker's wand pressed hard against his vulnerable neck.  Harry grimaced, awaiting the inevitable.  He'd been beaten again.  He'd failed again.  "Oh Hermione, I am sorry."

"Open your eyes Harry, I am not your enemy."  The voice..  Harry's eyes snapped open and he looked up in disbelief at his attacker.

"Byron?" Harry muttered.

"Me."

"But, why?"

"Easy now, Harry, you attacked me, I'm not your enemy," Byron repeated again.

"What are you doing here?" Harry's shock turned to anger.

Byron only frowned, letting go Harry's wrist and removing his wand from Harry's throat.  "Stand up," Byron said, helping Harry up by a strong hand on his shoulder.

"It was you?" Harry muttered through clenched teeth.

"What was me?"

"It's not here, you said.. it's not here.  What's not here?" Harry's temper was spiraling out of control.

"You must forgive me for intruding upon you Harry, but there is dearly little time and we must-"

"What's not here?!" Harry shouted out Byron, raising his own wand to Byron's chest. 

Byron did not respond, he only frowned, and he did not seem concerned at Harry's shaking wand at his chest.

"I know Harry, I know what happened in Tabor, I know that he has her.." Byron ignored Harry's demand.

"You don't know a thing!" Harry was trembling, everything - everything! - was not as it should be, everything was out of his control.

"Please Harry, if we are to save her, we will have to act quickly," Byron said as he placed the tip of his index finger atop Harry's wand and slowly forced him to lower it.

'Save her, save Hermione.. but Byron, how had he..?' Harry shook off Byron's finger from his wand and stuck it back into his chest. "You seem to know a lot, old wizard, too much!  How do you know so much!  How did you find me here?!  What's not here?!" A deepening suspicion took hold of Harry.

"Please, Harry, I am your friend.  I am your ally.  I, Harry, am the Head of the Department of Mysteries, it is my job to know.  Hermione was one of us, Harry.  I will get her back, we can still save her - together, Harry, think of Hermione," Byron's voice was smoothe and calming. 

Harry could feel a deeply calming sensation creep up on him.  It had almost worked, his knees grew weak at the mention of

Hermione's name. "NO!" he yelled back at the old wizard, anger in his voice.  He knew this trick and he would not succumb to it. "I am thinking about Hermione, only Hermione!  Now, damn you, what's not here?!" Harry again demanded, the light of a coming spell igniting at the tip of his wand.

"The Stone Harry, the Ressurection Stone.  He took it, just as he has taken the wand, just as he has taken Hermione."

"W-what?" Harry mumbled.  Harry cringed in pain as his head felt as though it could explode, his old scar had returned.  What was happening, how had Byron known?

"Time, Harry, please.  We need to act!"

"Time?  Act?  We?" Harry scoffed, "I don't need anyone's help!"

"Your stubborness and your arrogance precedes you," Byron's mood shifted from calm to urgency.  "I thought Dumbledore would have-"

"Dumbledore is dead!" Harry yelled at him.  "His rotting corpse lies within that marbled tomb. I've just seen it. The Dumbledore you're referring to is nothing more than a portrait!"

Byron only shook his head, "you must see reason Harry, if you are to save her, if WE , are to save her, we need each other, Harry, please."

Harry was left trembling, clenching at his temples.  Anger, pain, saddness, anxiety, fear, all was welling inside him.  He was so confused, everything was coming apart, everything was falling apart around him and he was helpless.  Harry was brought out of his mad confusion by a firm hand on his shoulder.

"No one doubts you, Harry.  You will save her.  But you are so very young, Harry Potter. Yes, you've accomplished so much in your short years, overcome obstacles no other wizard could dream of, you are so very capable.  But what you don't understand Harry is that power and strength alone cannot prevail.  Some things can only come with time Harry, with experience. What you lack Harry, is knowledge, wisdom."

Byron paused and Harry's eyes turn from Byron's hands to his eyes.  "Go on."

"I can offer you that knowledge, Harry.  I have fought against Kaan and his kind for a long, long time.  All my life.  Alone, you cannot accomplish anything, you cannot save her alone.  You do not even know where to find her."

"And you do?" Harry demanded.  Byron nodded.  "TELL ME!" Harry lifted his wand once more.

"Not yet," Byron said.

"TELL ME or so Merlin help me!" Harry threatened.

"And then what will you do, Harry, go charging in?  No doubt you'd be able to raze half of Kaan's castle and kill and mame half his men before you fall but you will fall Harry, saving no one, only delivering yourself right into Kaan's trap and he will have again beaten you.  He will have beaten us all."

"I don't care!  The castle?!"  Harry was anxious.  Byron had said it, he said the castle!

"You don't care about saving her?  About saving us all?"

"Hermione!  She's all that matters, all I care about is Hermione!"

"And you will save her Harry, you will save her, but first there is so much more to understand, to be prepared for."

"WHAT?!" Harry shouted at him, "What is there to understand?!  I'll rip that damned fool from limb to limb!" a madness grew in Harry's eyes.

"Like you did in Tabor, Harry?" Harry winced at Byron's harsh but true words.  Harry had let him take her.  He had failed. 

"You will defeat him Harry, you will save her, but you must first be prepared.  You must understand."

"Understand what?!" Harry again shouted.

"You must understand Kaan.  You must know your enemy.  This struggle stretches back as old as time itself.  This is all much more important than you or I Harry, more important than her, and she understood that Harry.  That's why she joined us."

"The Unspeakables?"

"Yes."

"What am I suppposed to understand?!  Know what?!" Harry's patience was wearing thin.

"You must understand that Kaan is not only powerful, but that his experience and his plan stretches back centuries, hundreds upon hundreds of years, and it is now all coming to fruition, and if he wins Harry, if we let him win, why, I cannot even begin to tell you of the darkness.

"What in Merlin's name are you talking about?!"

"To understand, we must look back to the beginning, to the beginning of us all.  Professor Binns has informed me you were never much for history, so I will expound."

"In the beginning, before there were civilizations, when mankind was at its infancy, when we little more than savages, little more than our ancestrial apes.  The world was a harsh place then, the strong survived and the weak perished.  It was a brutal, raw beginning and it was we who were the weak ones.  Magic was just at it's infancy. It was the giants... the giants who ruled the lands.  And then there were the centaurs and the minotaurs, cyclops and ogres, trolls and a hundred other beastly creatures that were more savage, stronger, more violent than we.  No, we were much closer to the bottom of the food chain then.

"We were a feable species.  We were forced for thousands of years... always on the move, always running from the giants and other stronger creatures.  But then the unthinkable, unexplainable happened.  The first of the magi were born.  Now mind you there was no Hogwarts to teach them and hone their skills. It was all brand new.  It took generation after generation to even begin to understand our capabilities and even then, as you well know, our magic is near useless against the giants.
 
There was one though, we remember him as Father," Byron took breath, looking once again off into the darkness before he continued.  "The world was in anarchy, survival of the fittest, and nothing could beat the giants."
 
Harry gulped.  He felt the idiot by not already knowing this, but at the same time was extremely impatient.  Time they did not have and he did not know what this damned lesson had to do with anything?

"His name was Olympus.  He was the first to defeat the giants.  He lead his tribe high into the mountains where they built a fortress and armed it against the giants.  And as the saying goes, the rest is history."
 
Harry waited for him to go on.
 
"It was an Eden. His tribe found total peace within the high mountains.  Its steep cliffs provided them inpassable walls and deeper within its lush valleys supplied a surplus of food. With the new found peace, Father was able to delve ever deeper into the arts of magic... He was able to supply their every need.  And it was then, even in our first hours that the true, that the ultimate quest had begun.  The greatest quest that would shake us even still today."

"Years passed by. The one generation passed to the next. It was then, there on that mount that the first and most terrible enemy was taken on and conquered, Death."

"Death?" Harry asked, not understanding.

"Death.  We are fortunate, able to do things the muggles could only dream of, but in the end, we were still the same.  We all die. And it was then that we set out to overcome a greater enemy than the giants or tyranny or greed, Death.  And Father beat the giants.  He beat the tyrants.  He delivered to this new world the first civilization and also, the first defence against death.  His descendants grew in number and others from the outside flocked to his city.  As his age mounted and his arts refined, it was then that the muggles first began to worship him and his children as gods.  It was the beginning of the Golden Age, the age of the gods."

"This is all very interesting," Harry interupted, "but what in hell has it got to do with Kaan, with saving Hermione!"
 
"It was the Golden Age," Byron simply went on, though as he spoke, he did so with a certain glimmer in his eyes, speaking as if he were not simply recalling a lesson in history, but a memory.  "Mankind flourished, spread across the globe, beating back the giants and all other magical beings as they went. The hunted became the hunter.  We were now the masters.  We overcame so much, and now all that was left was death.  We could not beat Death."

"Oh, elixir's were created, magical foutains purified, powerful potions boiled, stronger enchantments conjured, magical stone's and gems created to staive it off, you've even learned of some of the darker ways one could tie their souls to this world, but all these things had one utter flaw.   While they could prolong life, stop aging, fend off disease and illness, simply put, they could not stop you from being killed.  Voldemort learned that the hard way.  In the end, they only prelonged the inevitable."

"As we reached our greatest heights, the world coming together as a glorious, massive empire, nothing was impossible and all the greatest minds were bent on conquering this last foe.  And then there was one, a Slav, deep in the mountains of Transylvania.  He'd already created a powerful elixir that had extended his life for hundreds of years, but still he was not satisfied.  He could still die, he could still be killed.  With the longevity of his life he delved deeper and deeper into it, meddling with all sorts of dark arts and the like, uncaring of the consequences, only one objective in mind: Immortality, true immortality.  And to everyone's coming horror, he succeeded where others had failed."

"Immortality?" Harry asked breathlessly.  "Kaan?"

"No, not Kaan.  I know with your courage you are not one to show fear, but I remind you Harry there is great power in names and I will not invoke his here, now, nor ever again.  His magic is of the darkest kind. He is an ancient and there are few who could compare to him.  He has achieved unthinkable things and almost every type of Dark Art of this age can be traced back to him.  And his greatest creation, an elixir, a true elixir of immortality, made of the blood of demons, was made by his hand.  The tests he'd done to create it, the poor souls who were experimented on..."  Byron shivered with the thought of it, "I cannot even begin to desribe the horrors that came out of that land. "

"This elixir, this foul blood, it destroyed the soul, leaving the lifeless creature dead, but still alive, to survive and walk this world forever.  It turned the host into one of the darkest beasts ever known.  And not just immortal, but stronger, faster than any human could ever imagine. They were hunters, warriors, beasts.  All their senses increased tenfold, but all of them mad, insane, crazed and ruled by the bloodlust."

Harry thought of the creature that attacked him in the dark alleyway.  Could it be?

"At the time, we did not know what was happening.  These ghastly creatures were emerging from everywhere and nowhere.  They would attack human and animal alike, devouring them, for that was their curse, alive but always hungry, thirsty for more... blood. The beast was unstoppable, nearly unstoppable, like I said, their strength and their speed was unimaginable.  And they were spreading like a wild fire. They carried the virus with them.  If you were not fortunate enough to be killed in their attack, you'd be cursed to walk as one of them.  But, they were not infoulable.  Sever the head, rip the body and burn it to ash," Byron gripped his hand into a hard fist in anger, "that was the only way to kill it."

"That sounds an awful lot like..." Harry mumbled in astonishment.

"That's because that is exactly what they are.  A high meeting was called, Warlock's from across the known lands gathered.  We pinpointed the creatures' origins to the land of the Slavs.  We formed a sacred band, sworn to destroy these hellish beasts.  We called ourselves the Pratori."

"The battle was terrible and many a great witch and wizard fell in that war.  In this war.  We found the source, their creator, but he had by then perfected the elixir and transformed himself.  He was a powerful wizard to begin with but he was now an immortal, a true immortal.  He had retained all the benefits of the transformation, the strength, the agility, the speed, his skin as hard as stone, his senses that of the ultimate predator, and he had worked out the flaws, the animalistic craze and insanity of the firsts, but not the bloodlust."

"he is the Immortal, not alive nor dead. The undead. And we do not know how to destroy him."

"You mean, he's still alive?" Harry asked.

"Yes," Byron said, "but I will get to that.  He unleashed hell out of Transylvania and it spread like a wildfire across the world.  The Black Plague."

"The Black Plague?" Harry asked confused, recalling the muggle history of it, "during the Middle Ages?"

"Yes, during the Dark Ages. The barbarian hordes drove out and the downfall of the gods and the Golden Age was brought on with the rise of the Dark Ages.  We slipped to the utter brink," Byron's voice was low and monotone, pain evident in it, recalling many a dark and terrible memory.

"But that was a disease, spread by rats.."

"Naturally, Harry, with the onset of the Secrecy Act, we had to alter many things in the muggles' history that concerned us."

"Alter, you mean.."

"I mean that the devil in Transylvania found a way to beat death and and the subjects of his dark expirements were now spreading across the globe, killing and slaughtering and infecting others, everyone, and I mean everyone in their wake.  Whole villages, entire cities and regions left extinct.  They were dark times Harry. Dark, dark times. We mounted all we had against him and the war was awful.  We were losing.  A new order was brought to this world and those once proud witches and wizards who ruled like gods were pushed underground.  It was now His realm, his and his alone."

"He had his minions of the infected, but these were not wizards and we could still destroy them, but not him. But as was inevitable, wizards did become infected and those that could retain their sanity were great assests in the battle against him.  He saw this.  It frightened him.  He could not allow another to be his equal.  Afraid another infected wizard might challenge him, he forbid any to turn and would kill any wizard that became infected, but that did not mean he did not have a large following that still turned to him.  And his minions, the poor muggles he turned into his creation, they were so strong."

"We were lost.  Some of us turned to dark magic ourselves.  In the name of the greater good, we created our own ungodly creatures to fight back against him.  Things spiraled out of control.  I'm afraid to admit that it was us who created the werewolf."

"Remus..?" Harry muttered.

"Yes, the virus still exists to this day, regardless of our efforts to purge it from this world.  As dark as it sounds, Harry, it worked.  The werewolves were the perfect weapon to track and battle the vampires.  After hundreds of years of watching our once glorious empire fade to ash and shadow, the tides finally turned and we gained the upper hand.  It was then that the Beast yielded to his own fears and allowed the first of the wizards to turn, to become vampires, but again, he infected them with an impure form.  It could make them strong, fast, monstrous.  It could extend their lives, stopping all aging and sickness and other ills, but he left himself a trump card if he ever needed it.  They could still be killed through physical violence, and kill them we did!"

"Kaan?" Harry asked.

"Yes, this is now where Anatol Kaan comes into the story.  A powerful wizard in his own right, Kaan was the Beast's highest lieutenant of whom were turned.  The war went on for a thousand years.  It seemed as if it would never end til we were all dead. But then, the unthinkable happened.  I cannot explain why.  Perhaps it was his many years, the many deaths, the near extinction of our race and people., but... the Beast gave in. I've never, to this day been able to grasp what changed him but he did.  He now betrayed his own followers and together, with the Pratori, the last of the vampires were then hunted to extinction.  They did not go down without a fight though, Harry, a viscious, bloody fight.  And they had tasted power.  They would not relinquish it."

"There was only one hope for them.  The Beast had logged his research, the secrets not just to how he created the Vampire but many, many dark arts.  He wrote them in his tomes, the Slavic Scrolls."

Harry's eyes grew wide. 

"With the Beast having surrendered, the mighty Kaan took over as the defacto leader.  The hordes swarmed to him for protection.  But with the Beast now on our side, they had only one hope, to find the Scrolls and finish the transformation. The Scrolls had to be destroyed, but alas, the Beast would not allow it and the Pratori was in no position to force it.  His life's work was in them, all that he was.  A compromise was reached.  They would be hidden, hidden in a place they could never be reached by Kaan and his kind-"

"The Land of the Dead.." Harry interrupted Byron to Byron's own surprise.  Harry had learned a lot in his travels abroad.  He had learned rumors of the Slavic Scrolls, not in the rich history that Byron was revealing to him now, nor the dark secrets that truly laid within, but enough to peak his interest.  It was how he had met Pythia and she who had sent him to Egypt in search of the Gateway to that realm, but the gateway was not there, it had been uprooted from its diases.

"You are correct, Harry Potter," Byron said.

"Correct?" Harry asked.  Had he been thinking aloud?  "But why, why the Land of the Dead."

"Is it not obvious?  For the same reason Kaan has been recruiting the strongest of wizards to go in after it and not himself, a more than capable wizard.  Because the Land of the Dead is the one place the, undead, cannot go.  And to further protect them against those most unfortunate and dooped souls who dared to cross over at Kaan's bidding, we stowed them away within what you call the Trials.  They are not simply trials Harry.  It is a realm meant to kill and dispel any who ventures into it.  It's challenges and obstacles draw off the power and strength of the intruder.  The stronger the wizard, the stronger the protections.  But just to be sure - and to the Egyptians absolute protest and resulting war - we, I, ripped up the Gateway to the Land of the Dead-"

"And it now stands in the basement of the Ministry, within the Department of Mysteries," Harry shivered in horror, picturing Sirius' placid face as he drifted past the veil.

"Yes.  So how you reached it Harry, how you made it to the Trials and have claimed to have read from the Scrolls I find hard to believe.  But, seeing you now, knowing what Hermione told me of your fight within her apartment, in the Carribeans when saving your family and no less what you did in Tabor, well, I start to wonder."

The dark images returned to Harry.  Of the cave, of the stairwell leading down into the placid water that when he was once submerged all went black and a terrible coldness and emptiness swept over him.. "Yes," Harry mumbled. "Kaan has made another."

"So I've learned."

"But, Byron, how could I have passed to that realm without dying?  How had I made it back to this world.  I saw Sirius, I watched him pass, I watched him die.."

"The Hallows, Harry."

"W-what?" Harry stumbled.  "No, I'd given them up, I had cast them away, long ago, right after Voldemort.."

"No, Harry.  What you did, though maybe a little foolishly but most honorably, was try to destroy them.  To let the Death Stick's power fade with your own life, for the Stone to be lost, but it does not matter if you store your possessions in a vault at Gringotts or beneath your mattress.. or within a sealed tomb, or forgotten on some forest's floor, they are still very much your possessions, that is, until someone takes them from you."

"What, no," Harry whispered.

"Yes.  And this knowledge only perplexes me further.  In light of your recent success, I was convinced that Kaan had kidnapped Hermione to force you to go back in, to deliver the Scrolls, but then why would he have taken the Hallows from you, breaking the magic?"

This was all just too much for Harry.  He shook his head in confusion.

"Since we have stomped out and erased the Egyptians dark magic of crossing over, being able to return through the Gateway, I know of only a few souls that were capable of making the journey.  You with your Hallows, Voldemort with his Horcruxes, and a couple others I dare not reveal their secrets.  But what I fear most now Harry, is that you surprised Kaan in Tabor.  He intended to take you back then, but he had not anticipated your true strength.  I am afraid he may have diverted to plan B."

"Which is?" Harry asked anxiously.

"I can only guess, mind you, but stealing the Hallows... he needs only one more then he can pick who he wishes at will to cross over, strengthened by them, they could be successful, just as you were."

"Then we hide it, we bury it!"

"No, I am afraid we'll need it."

"Need it?  The Invisibility cloak?" Harry asked even more confused.  "I know its useful but its just a cloak, there's other ways to conceal yourself, other ways where your not left hunched beneath a cloak, vulnerable still," Harry remembered Dumbledore's words from his first year 'I don't need a cloak to become invisible.'

"I'm afraid your knowledge is limited here too, my young warlock.  May I ask, will you take it out, put it on?"

"But why?"

"Please," Byron asked.

Harry shook his head in doubt but acquiesced nonetheless, just to amuse him.  Harry brought out his small pouch and retrieved the fine cloak he hadn't used in years, draping it over himself, feeling almost foolish.  "Now what?"

Byron raised his hands before Harry, his wand in one, and said, "Integer Turpis!"

Almost instantly the cloak shrank violently around Harry, wrapping itself tight, completely about him, like a second skin, suffocating him, and then.. he was nothing, he was a ghost.  No, not a ghost for you could see and feel a ghost. He was air.

. . . .

The sky was pitch blank, only the lights of the ferry could be seen reflecting off the rippling water.  The poor, lost young man stared out into nothingness.  He was so lost, so afraid.  He could hardly remember who he was anymore.  He could see his feet step out before himself, but he did not control them.  He could see his hands reach, but he did not command them.  He could not think, he could not act.  All was a deep fog, an unyielding haze.  He was lost. 

The visions he was having were horrible, terrible nightmares.  He wanted to cry out, to claw at his temples right to his brains.  He wanted to hurl himself over the side of the boat and drown in the river for all he'd seen and all he'd done, but he couldn't even command himself to do that.  No!  It was not him, but it was.  He was going mad.  The voices!  The Voices!  Mad!

"Hello there," a soft voice interupted his internal insanity.

The red headed young man turned and stared blankly at the young girl who couldn't have been no more than eight or nine.  But her hair, it was red like his.  And her face, he knew the face, but he could not place it.  It stirred some closed off memory of his formal self, but he could not break through the mist in his mind.

"Shouldn't you be with your parents, you're a little young ot be wondering around on your own," the red headed young man said disdainfully to the red headed young girl.

The young girl frowned sadly.  Drooping her shoulders she turned to leave, but just as she did, she parted with, "Don't worry, you'll find your way, Ron." 
 
 


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