Chapter 1 : xi
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Heavy, dark storm clouds had been covering the British skies for the past fortnight, not letting one glimpse of sunlight pass through to the world below. Everyone was anxious. It was a feeling of unease that only grew with the weather constantly depriving people of sunlight and happiness; all anyone could feel due to the endless dreadful weather was now worry and fear. And fear they should, for evil was spreading fast throughout the countryside, strangling, engulfing and intoxicating everyone it could get its disturbing hands upon. It was simply impossible to escape the evil plaguing England. Even Muggles were realising that something was terribly wrong, despite being unable to put their fingers on it. The magical community of Britain, however, knew exactly what the cause of everyone's unease was. One man. One man and his pack of loyal followers, killing witches, wizards and Muggles alike; it mattered not to them anymore. They had all long ago been corrupted by malevolence, and by power.
A brilliant bolt of lightning flashed fiercely throughout the nearly pitch-black day, briefly illuminating the countryside before plunging everything into darkness once more. Moments after the sky was lit up, a clap of thunder boomed deafeningly across the countryside. The sound was so loud it was as if a thousand angry giants were banging their fists atop rock faces, only for the strength of their blows to be too powerful for the earth and the rocks broke free, tumbling vociferously towards the ground and land with a tremendous crack of stone breaking on the ground far below.
A young boy with scruffy brown hair and wide hazel eyes filled with fear, no more than thirteen years of age named Travis Derwent, pulled his raincoat closer to his body for warmth as he ran along the darkened footpath of his hometown of Little Hangleton. Even the overhead street lamps couldn't sufficiently light his path home. As a result, he was just going by memory, helped out every so often by the bright flashes of lightning, giving him no more than a glimpse at the path in front of him before casting the world into darkness again.
Another dazzling flash erupted in the sky and Travis quickly averted his eyes towards the source of the light, trying to spot a familiar landmark to see where he had to go next. His gaze quickly fell upon a dark shadow in the distance, looming over the village like it was a part of the landscape itself. It was a large manor house in various stages of decay, covered with ivy and sporting several broken windows.
The Riddle Manor.
Of course, his parents had told him all about the legend of the Riddle Manor, of how old Mr and Mrs Riddle and their only son, Tom Riddle, had all died of unexplainable circumstances at the dinner table. How their gardener, Frank Bryce, had been accused of killing them, only to be later acquitted of all charges once the evidence pointed elsewhere. Travis knew full well that the case hadn't been solved, and he, just like everyone in the village, still found it a fascinating topic to discuss various theories, despite that fateful night happening thirty-six years previously, long before he was born.
Travis coughed loudly as he ran to take shelter from the rain beneath the awning of a nearby closed shop, shaking from the cold and wondering what his mother was cooking them both for lunch. He hoped for something warm and filling to chase away the cold. He pulled his drenched raincoat closer to his body and gazed back up to where he knew the Riddle Manor would be standing in the distance, waiting for a flash of lightning to show the decrepit building once more. His wish was granted soon after and the hillside was temporarily shown to him, along with the old mansion, but this time Travis' eyes spied something which made his jaw drop in shock, and confusion etch itself within his mind.
He was sure he'd just seen a man, larger than the mansion itself, sitting nearby the old building, lazily breaking the branches from surrounding trees in order to scratch his back with them.
Travis shook his head to get the insane thought from his mind and instead waited, his legs locked into place as a deafening roar of thunder echoed overhead, hundreds of times louder than it should've been given the boundary of hills encasing it to just the small valley. He waited patiently and shivering under the awning for the next bolt to light up the sky and put his wild ideas to rest as he shook like a leaf in a storm. He was sure it was just a silly trick of the light, but, as the next flash exploded throughout the darkness and his eyes focused on the place he knew the Riddle Manor was bound to be, he felt the blood drain from his face as he found the enormous man. He knew instantly that it couldn't just be a trick of the light to have seen it twice.
A million thoughts sprang into his young and confused mind, but all such thoughts were pushed from his brain as a cold, cruel voice spoke from right behind him. Travis jumped a foot into the air and spun around quickly, only to loose his footing and land with a hard bump upon the pavement. He sat up upon the ground and blinked as a bright light was trained upon his face, coming (from what he noticed with amounting confusion) appeared to be a stick of wood. Once his eyes had adjusted, they focused upon the person holding the stick and raised his eyebrows in disdain. He noticed first of all that it was a woman who had scared him out of his mind, and that she appeared to be wearing something rather strange. She wore a long and heavy looking black cloak and a mask covering most of her face, a mask (which Travis noticed with a shudder) appeared to be made from bone.
"Who are you?" Travis asked cautiously as the wind howled louder than ever, making cold shivers run down the length of his spine. His eyes fell back upon the bright light at the end of the piece of timber. Although he knew it was just a piece of badly chopped wood and couldn't possibly hurt him unless she jabbed it in his eye, he couldn't help but feel that he should fear it more than that for some reason.
The lady chose to ignore his question, instead, she extended her arm to hold the stick closer to his frightened face, making him swallow hard and look anxiously into her dark eyes hidden behind the evil looking mask. "What did you see, boy? Upon the hill?"
"I..." Travis furrowed his brow, knowing how silly what he was about to say would sound, but the angry look upon the woman's face put all thoughts of sounding crazy from his mind and he answered her truthfully. "I thought I saw a giant-"
"You don't think anything. You either did, or you didn't. Which was it?" she snapped, holding the stick closer to his face, making fear swell up within Travis' chest, threatening to strangle his heart whole.
"I saw a giant," Travis squeaked, putting the sound a mouse could make to shame. He made to get up, but his legs seemed to have turned to jelly, preventing him from doing so.
The lady smiled cruelly. "You're pretty smart, for a Muggle. Not many can spot a giant in daylight, let alone through a storm such as this." Travis didn't exactly know how to reply to this so he decided, sensibly, to keep his mouth shut. Not only did the frightening woman confirm that it was a giant he had seen sitting upon the hillside, but he had called him a Muggle, something he had no idea the meaning of. He was about to ask for her to repeat herself when she instead spoke in her cold and unforgiving sounding voice. "Too bad no one would believe you even if you were given the chance to tell them about what you saw."
Travis furrowed his brow and bravely said, "I don't understand-" before he was again cut off by the woman, this time by her laugh. It was frenzied and boisterous, which sent chills from his head to his toes and everywhere in between, and made him feel a lot colder than the horrendous weather belting against the valley could have ever achieved.
"What I mean, Muggle, is that you won't be alive in able to do so." The fear Travis had been feeling moments before seemed to grasp a tight hold upon his heart, making his blood pump faster about his body. The woman's cold laugh washed over him again as his eyes focused on hers, seeing them gleaming with hate and something he could plainly see and not misunderstand at all. He saw her insanity.
Travis was about to yell for help, just as an intense flash of lightning illuminated everything once more, including the crazy lady standing over him, and he noticed she had drawn back the stick she held tightly in her hand, seeming ready to attack him with it. He watched horror-stricken as she opened her mouth and bellowed two words as a loud crack of thunder occurred and rang throughout his ears, along with a terrified scream emitting from his petrified body, the sounds mingling harmoniously together as they faded in the strong wind.
Travis wasn't paying much attention to the weather anymore, or the giant upon the hillside or even what his mother would've been cooking for lunch once he'd arrived home. Every fibre of his being was focused upon a wave of horrifying green light spewing forth from the pointed stick the woman was holding and rushing towards him without any signs of dispersing before it would surely hit him, something which he knew, deep down, could only mean bad news.
The last thing Travis Derwent ever remembered was a bight flash of green light, accompanied by the cold, fanatic laughter of the deranged lady standing over him, before the green light hit him square in the chest and he remembered no more.