Chapter 1 : The Map Room
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Charlie had just finished his fifth year at Hogwarts, and was unfortunately stuck at home with his boring mother and boring father. However, when his mum had suggested that they go to a historic house of a man who made lots of money from stealing gold from leprechauns, Charlie still disagreed.
“I’m nearly sixteen mum!” Charlie had yelled. “I am more than capable of staying home by myself!”
“And you have the maturity of a five year old,” his mother argued back. “Charlus Potter, you always find a way of making trouble. You’ll probably blow up the house while I’m gone.”
She did have a point. Charlie loved playing pranks with his two best friends, Blake and Connor. Blake was always the person on the lookout for teachers and the caretaker, Apollyon Pringle. Blake used the invisibility cloak most often, even though it was Charlie’s cloak. Connor, on the other hand, had knowledge of charms that nobody could rival. This became very valuable in planning pranks.
Charlie was the daring one of the group, who was eager for any type of adventure, and he was also the one who came up with the ideas for pranks. So an old historic house didn’t really appeal to him. At least he was allowed to bring Blake and Connor along. That made things better, but they couldn’t even find a way to make a boring old house fun.
“This parlor was decorated using much of the money James Chrysos gained from the leprechauns. Luckily, in his voyages, he was able to tell the difference between leprechaun gold and real gold…” the tour guide droned.
“We need something to do,” Charlie whispered to Blake and Connor. “Any ideas?”
“We could go to the gift shop,” Blake suggested. “I need a new sneakoscope.”
“Okay,” Charlie responded. “Mum? Can we go to the gift shop?” Charlie asked.
“Only if you promise you wouldn’t get into trouble, and that you keep your promise.”
“Okay, I promise,” Charlie said reluctantly. He never kept any of his promises, anyway. What’s one more?
Charlie wandered around as Blake bought his sneakoscope. He needed something for his mum for her birthday, but Charlie didn’t have much pocket money. His parents weren’t rich, but not poor either. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough money to buy a Cleansweep or a Comet- just a Silver Arrow. It was a good broom, but not nearly as good as a Cleansweep or a Comet. Those were the two best companies, and Charlie doubted there would ever be another to rival them.
After looking around the shop, Charlie determined that everything there was too expensive. Once Blake bought his sneakoscope, Charlie towards the end of a stairway, standing around. He just stood there for a few minutes, sucking in the smell of dusty china and rotting wood, when he noticed a rope strung across the stairway. On the rope was a sign, and in big red letters, it said, DO NOT CROSS.
“Boys,” Charlie said, turning around to face Connor and Blake, “I think we just found something to do.”
“Go past it, I assume?” Connor responded, looking at the rope lamely.
“Yup!” Charlie replied. “Come on! It’ll be fun!”
So the three boys ducked under the rope and climbed the rickety staircase up to the second floor. It didn’t look very interesting, however. It was just a simple hallway containing a few bedrooms and a bathroom.
“I think it was roped off because of repairs,” Connor said, gazing around the floor. “There is a lot of construction equipment.”
“This is boring,” Charlie moaned. “Come on let’s go back down.” Charlie and Connor started descending down the staircase when he realized Blake wasn’t with them.
“Blake?” Charlie called. “Are you coming?”
“Come back up here for a sec,” Blake called down. “I think I found something very interesting.”
Charlie eagerly came back up, wondering what Blake was found. Maybe he had found a golden plate or something! That would be awesome. Or maybe he’d found a cave of trolls. Or maybe…
Charlie, therefore, was deeply disappointed when he saw Blake point at a mark on the wall. At closer examination, however, he realized it wasn’t just a mark. It was an engraving. It was so tiny, smaller that his thumb’s width, and it blended in with the wall so nicely, Charlie wondered how many people had ever noticed it before.
“What is it of?” Charlie asked. “It’s so tiny.”
Blake, who had the keenest eye of the three, said, “I think it’s a leprechaun. It looks like it, anyway.”
“A leprechaun?” Charlie asked. “Is it really?” He squinted his eyes and saw a short, squat man with a bag of gold. A leprechaun.
Amazing possibilities of why the engraving was there burst through Charlie’s skull. There were so many hidden secrets in these walls; he could feel it. He placed a finger on the leprechaun. It was so peculiar; it even looked like light was coming in from within.
“Charlie?” Connor said shakily. “The leprechaun- it started glowing the second you put your finger on it.” Charlie could now see it as well. The light from it was steadily becoming larger, the leprechaun was pulsing and each time it became larger. In a few quick seconds, rays of light burst through the leprechaun, blinding all of them.
Crying out in pain, Charlie screwed his eyes shut. Even through shut eyelids, however, the lights were bright. He hoped he wouldn’t become blind-
And then it diminished. In a quick second, only the lights from the ceiling were left. Charlie opened his eyes, blinking back a few tears. He kept blinking, staring at the place where the engraving was. But now, it had disappeared, and in its place, was a-
“-Door,” Blake breathed.
“Merlin,” Charlie gasped. He stared at the door in wonder. He wasn’t hallucinating then, if Blake saw it too. The door was made of oak, it was round, and it had a shiny brass handle. The door fit in so nicely with the rest of the house, it was surprising that it hadn’t always been there.
Charlie placed his hand on the doorknob. He knew he shouldn’t open it; there were many horrifying things that could lay behind the door. But all Potters have a bout of natural curiosity, and a surprising knack for trouble. Feeling quite reckless, but curious all the same, Charlie turned the doorknob and opened it.
The first thing Charlie noticed was that the room had two dimly lit torches. They hung on the wall, so it was only really illuminating the edges of the room, not the middle. The room was so dark, despite the torches.
When Charlie glanced longer around the room, it was hard to suppress a gasp. For there were several pictures on the ground- yet they were huge. They were embedded into the floor, also. In fact, the entire floor looked like a giant piece of parchment. Charlie looked around, and he looked at the moving images. They looked so real, like anyone could step inside it and instantly be there.
The first picture was of a swamp. Clusters of trees were gathered around, and moss covered every inch of space. The water was barely visible, since algae covered the surface. Yet, Charlie could see something lurking under the water’s depths. He did not like that at all.
The next picture was of a burnt down forest. The trees were black and scorched, some even looked like coals. Those that weren’t in lumps, looked squashed and were bent in odd angles. Off in the distance, Charlie could also see the sparks of a fire. The fire was as clear as day, and since it looked like nighttime, everything else was dark.
In the third picture, Charlie could not determine where the location was. He could see a blade of grass here and there, but that was it. The thing that intrigued him, however, was the swirling mist. It sparkled and gleamed; yet darkness lay within the mist as well. It looked eerie and mysterious.
In the last and final picture, unlike the previous one, the atmosphere was bright and happy. The sun was even shining. Mountains stood tall and proud, further than the sky could reach. Below the mountains, forests blossomed and a sparkling river cut through.
Charlie pried his eyes away from the enchanting image and turned to look at Connor and Blake. Connor was staring at the images as well, looking quite apprehensive. Blake, however, had a torch in his hand and was currently gazing across the room. Charlie caught Blake’s gaze and walked towards him.
“What do you think this room is?” Charlie asked Blake.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Blake said. Connor walked over to them to listen. “The room is a map,” Blake finished. Charlie heard himself gasp.
“A map?” Charlie said, thoroughly confused. “How could the room be a map?” By now even Connor was nodding. Charlie didn’t understand.
“Look around, not just at the pictures,” Connor said. “A map shows several locations, and that is what each image is. If you look even closer, you’ll see a thin line connecting each location. It’s an unusual map, I grant you that, but it’s a map all the same.”
“But- but- I thought a map showed you a route through something!” Charlie said. “It guides you towards something!”
“And this one does,” Blake agreed. “It shows you the route to getting wealth. More specifically, it shows you what route you must take in order to get gold.”
“WHAT?!” Charlie and Connor yelled simultaneously. Now Charlie and Connor were both on the same page.
“Neither of you use your eyes, do you?” Blake asked.
“Well, you were always the one on the lookout for teachers during pranks,” Charlie mumbled. He did not like being insulted.
“Anyway, look at the ground at the middle of the room,” Blake continued. “Go there, if you must.”
Charlie started walking towards the center of the room. He had difficulty seeing, since there was so little light, but he saw enough. There were things written in black ink.
“Words,” Charlie whispered, staring, stunned, at the writing. Blake strutted over and held up the torch so the words were distinguishable.
“Read it,” Blake instructed, looking at Charlie and Connor in turn. “I already read it while you two were marveling at the pictures.”
Charlie noticed that Blake looked a bit pale. And scared. Something truly frightening must be written. Charlie took a deep breath and began to read to himself.
The message was in poetry, with great riddles and rhymes. It explained how James Chysos had found some leprechauns, and managed to find an entire cave full of gold. However, Chrysos just took some, since it was all worth thousands of galleons. Chrysos created this large room for somebody else to take the gold. He didn't want just anybody to take it, however. Chrysos created three dangerous and deadly tasks for whoever found the room to complete first. These tasks also was supposed to prepare the three of them for when they were supposed to face the leprechauns. The first one was to go across a swamp, the second one was to "cross some dragon fields" and the last one was to "pass the mists of night". At the end of each task, there would be a shoe that would transport the three of them back to this room.
The three boys stared at the message for a few minutes after they had finished reading. Charlie felt sick. He didn’t like the sound of this at all. Cross some dragon fields? Charlie paled at the thought. There was definitely something peculiar about that swamp, too, something bad was definitely underneath the waters. And those mists, too seemed odd. Surely, one of the tasks wasn’t just to walk through an ordinary fog? Something was up.
Yet… Charlie couldn’t help but feel a bit excited. When he was younger, he had always dreamed of being a knight and going onto a dangerous quest. Even at Hogwarts, he pulled off pranks simply for the thrill of trying not to be caught.
“Where do we start?” Charlie said simply, breaking the silence.
“Are you mad?” Blake gasped. “We can’t go running straight into danger!”
“The poem pretty much said we’ll must likely die!” Connor added. Charlie turned around to face them, fierce determination burning through his eyes.
“It’s no coincidence that we came here!” Charlie yelled. He needed them to understand. “Look, we’re probably the only people to ever find this! We really only were able to find it because we broke the rules by going to an area hardly anyone has ever been, and because Blake has an eye sharper than a hippogriff’s. We find this amazing place, and you’re just going to leave because you think it looks too dangerous?! We’re meant to be here, to go on this adventure. I’m not sure how or why I know, I just do.”
Connor took a deep breath and said, “I’ll come.” Blake, however, still looked slightly pale, and his eyes were glassy.
“Look, I know this scares you, and it scares me too, but I think we can do this,” Charlie said, staring resolutely at Blake. “We’re able to pull off all sorts of things at Hogwarts.”
“This isn’t a prank, Charlie!” Blake yelled. “If we screw up, we get more than just detention!”
“But I think we can do it,” Charlie said. “Look, we know each other so well that we can tell what the other is thinking. We each have different traits that make us like superwizard- I’m daring, Connor can find a charm to get us out of any situation, and you, Blake- you can sneak around quieter than a mouse. On our own- I don’t think any of us can do it. But together, with all three of us- I think we might stand a chance.”
Blake finally nodded, and said, “I’m coming. The two of you won’t be able to get out of any danger without me sneaking in and saving you guys at the last minute.”
“Great,” Charlie grinned. “Now, where do we start?” He turned towards Connor, since he was the smart one.
“Well, the poem says we have to go through a swamp,” Connor explained. “So we should probably first go over to the swamp picture.”
The three of them walked nervously over to the picture. The swamp looked more scary and looming than ever. Despite being the “brave” one of the group, Charlie found it difficult to resist a small shudder.
“Now what do we do?” Blake asked rather shyly. Charlie gave him a small squeeze in the hand, attempting to comfort him.
“I just don’t know,” Connor whispered. “The poem never said how we where supposed to get there.” The three of them stared intently at the picture, thinking. Charlie looked at it, fully realizing how big it truly was. The picture was as tall as he was, and that was just the picture, not the swamp itself. It looked so real, Charlie felt that one step onto it and he would be sucked inside. Charlie had a brainwave- that was it!
“I think we have to step on the picture and it will transport us there.”
“Are you sure?’ Blake asked, eyeing the picture rather warily.
“How do you know?” Connor pressed, staring at him with a demanding expression on his face.
“Just a brainwave,” Charlie said. “Come on.” Before either of them could protest, Charlie grabbed them both and stepped onto the picture. Sure enough, Charlie felt the ground jerk out from beneath him, and he felt them whirring far away from where they were… their adventure had begun.
This is for Alopex's Marauder Map Inspired Challenge!
As always, all reviews are greatly appreciated!