Chapter 23 : 22- Poisonous Introductions
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Cecilia stood on the very edge of the grassy cliff top. Her eyes closed, her mind deep in thought and a dark green dragon skin bound book with lime green pages tucked under her arm as she allowed the heavy rain to pound therapeutically against her pale face. There was a rustling sound that came from directly behind her causing her to spin on the spot, wand drawn and aim in the direction of the disturbance.
“Easy.” Said the tall, elderly man in a cracked but thick Norwegian accent. The rain was bouncing off of his balding wrinkled head, repelled by an Impervious Charm; Grindelwald’s symbol swayed from side to side around his neck as he walked towards her.
“What have I told you about sneaking up on me, Akrahn?” Cecilia snarled, withdrawing her wand.
“I thought there vas a difference between sneaking and merely valcking tovards you.” He replied, a grin on his face.
Cecilia turned away from him and said bitterly “What do you want?”
“My men are becoming restless and ve are running low on supplies. So I came to tell you that, if you do not give the order to attack soon, I vill.”
Cecilia sighed and a grin of her own crept up onto her face. “Then you will be ordering your men to their deaths. I know you’re not unintelligent. You know as well as I do what obstacles we face and that we do not have the numbers to tackle them.”
She heard Akrahn give off what sounded like a growl. “Of course I know of the obstacles. I helped design them. Vat does Selvyn say of this? Surely he must be as eager to act as my men.”
Cecilia unconsciously tightened her grip on the book under her arm and she knew Akrahn had noticed. “You have news?” He asked, a hint of eagerness in his voice and she heard him draw nearer, unnerving her.
“Selwyn has his own distractions to be dealing with at the moment.”
“And vat, may I ask, is a bigger distraction then our struggles here?” Akrahn asked. He was right behind her now and she had to force her hand to stop twitching back towards her wand.
“Our wand maker was injured during an assassination attempt, if she dies it would be a huge step in the wrong direction for us and we have recently discovered our American counterparts have... had difficulties.”
Akrahn gave a small chuckle to himself and said “I take it by the vord ‘attempt’ that all did not go according to plan.” Cecilia remained quiet, trying to keep calm. “And by ‘difficulties’ you mean that coward, Ambrose, finally lost his nerve.” Cecelia’s heart skipped a beat as Akrahn said this and, moving even closer, he spoke calmly and quietly into her ear so that he was barely audible over the sound of the rain. “You promised me more men to make an army, you promised me the assistance of Marius Yvault himself and you promised me this vould be quick-”
“Oh have some patience!” She snapped back before she could stop herself and Akrahn raised his thick eyebrows as she turned to face him. “You and your men are armed and alive aren’t they? Which in itself is a miracle after that stunt you pulled to kill the Minister. Reinforcements will come and as soon as they do we will plan our next move but until then you are just going to have to wait.”
The two of them stared at each other, each of them trying to unnerve the other. “I vill give you von more day but after that, I take back control and I vill be sure to send Selvyn a clear message of vat happens ven he treats me like a pawn in his little game.” And Akrahn left back towards the campsite.
It seemed to take several minutes before Cecilia noticed she was breathing heavily and was hotly flushed despite the weather. She sat by a nearby tree and once again closed her eyes, again loosing herself in her thoughts. There was a sudden vibration from underneath her arm and she tore open the book. She stopped at the page that was vibrating violently and, taping the page with her wand, muttered “Magic is might.”
Immediately, words began to scribble themselves in Selwyn’s cramped handwriting onto the page forming into his message.
Felicia will live. Just heard from Cade and Morgana. They will join you shortly.
Cecilia found herself breathing a small sigh of relief as she read the last part of the message, which faded at the second tap of her wand. Sure enough, mere minutes later, there was a slight popping sound, that was muffled by the rain, accompanied by the voices of what seemed to be a crowd of at least a hundred people. At the head of the crowd were two stumpy look-a-likes who strolled towards Cecilia as soon as they saw her.
“About time.” She said quietly so only they could hear. “Akrahn was becoming impatient.” And she nodded towards the elderly wizard who was now indicating to their new arrivals where they would be resting. “Is he here?” Cecilia asked. “Did Marius agree to join?”
“Eventually. He said he wanted to hear what Selwyn had to offer and he seemed grateful for breaking him out of prison.” The female of the two whispered. “But he’s the reason we’re late.”
Morgana turned to face the crowd moving towards their resting area. At the head of them, Akrahn was talking with a tall hooded figure, a number of knives strapped around the leather waist of his dark brown robes.
“A lot of these guys are people who owe him.” She continued.
“Or people he’s got dirt on and have no choice.” Cade said with a smirk towards the two men, a hint of admiration in his round hazel eyes.
“So what do we do after we’re finished here?” Morgana asked indicating her disgust of the heavy rain. “Now Marietta’s been ousted, getting back isn’t exactly going to be easy. Especially with this many people.”
“Selwyn says he’s working on it.” Cecilia said. “And just be grateful we have this many people. The more of us there are, the better.” Cecilia then noticed that Cade had turned sharply away from Akrahn’s direction and turned to see the two men walking towards them.
“…And this is Cecilia Lox.” Akrahn said as he and Marius Yvault reached the trio. “She has been helping us prepare for the assault, so I vouldn’t get your hopes up.” He finished, smirking as Marius outstretched a gloved hand to Cecilia.
“I’ve heard a lot about you, Marius.” Cecilia said accepting the outstretched hand. Marius did not respond immediately though Cecilia saw his eyes move up and down, examining her.
“Now, now Akrahn. I’m sure Selwyn would not ‘ave sent ‘er if she was not capable.” He said in a surprisingly calm and soothing French accent.
Suddenly, before Cecilia could release the handshake, Marius effortlessly pulled her towards him and, before her hand could even touch the handle of her wand, she found herself mere inches from Marius’ pale, expressionless, thin face. One of the knives that had been strapped to his robes was now digging into her throat. As his dark brown eyes peered deep into her own, paralyzing her with fear, he murmured “Zough I ‘ave been wrong before.” He released her and, as she stumbled back grasping her neck, he, like Akrahn, sneered at her.
“Vell,” Akrahn said, interrupting the silence that had erupted between Cecilia and Marius. “Now that introductions have been made, might I suggest ve revise our strategies.”
“A very good idea.” Marius said pleasantly and, from the pocket of his robes, he pulled out a small vial of violet liquid. “But you might want to take this.” And he threw it to Cecilia, who caught it with her free hand. “Bloodroot Poison iz not a pleasant way to die.”
Cecilia pulled her hand away from her neck and on close examination saw in the blood that had leaked from the shallow cut, tiny shinning specks of black amongst the red. Eyeing Marius, she drank the thick potion but as soon as she had swallowed it she vomited violently and fell to her knees spitting out what remained in her mouth. “What did you do to me?” She panted.
“It just means ze remedy iz working.” Marius said, again offering his hand to her. “But I must zay, I am surprised. Most people faint after taking ze antidote.”
Cecilia forced herself to stand on her shaking legs without Marius’ help. “We shall meet you in ze tent in five minutes.” Marius announced as he surveyed Cecilia, though whether it was with interest or contempt, she could not tell.
Cecilia did not answer, but instead continued to glare at Marius as he turned away towards the campsite, Akrahn right behind him.
“Thanks for having my back.” She said menacingly to Cade and Morgana.
“Hey, you didn’t see him fight in Enfer Vann.” Cade said. “And that was without his knives.”
Cecilia glared at them. “Well then, you’d best not be late.” And after spitting again in their direction, they left towards the tents.
What was Selwyn thinking? She thought to herself. Could he really control these people and trust that they wouldn’t curse or poison them all in their sleep? She touched the cut on her throat again and realised it was still bleeding. Sliding her wand across the wound, it healed instantly, though it didn’t help the shakiness that the antidote she had taken had caused.
The rain was getting heavier and she turned to get another glance at tomorrow’s destination; a large towering fortress, its pitch black walls designed to both intimidate and confine all those within.
She knew she was going to be expected soon and she turned away from the direction of Nurmengard before heading to join the others.
An ear-splitting, bloodcurdling scream rang throughout the dingy house that Mosby Elfrin sat within as he scribbled away in a thick green book.
Although a number of lanterns had been lit around their new headquarters, the constantly drawn curtains forbad any natural sunlight from entering adding to the musty atmosphere of the decrepit, neglected interior.
Slumped on the floor opposite Mosby, Draco Malfoy lay; his blond hair dirty and tangled and one of the sleeves of the dark robes he wore were stained with his own blood.
Mosby looked up from his writing as he routinely had been to check on the Malfoy when he noticed from the sudden pained expression on the pointed face that the prisoner was finally coming round.
“So,” Mosby said as he finished what he was writing before taping the page with his wand, making the scribbles vanish at once. “I finally get an audience with one of the famous Malfoy’s.”
Draco blinked wirily as he focussed on Mosby when another scream of pain filled the room. This seem to rouse the young man much more quickly for he then tried to stand before realising his hand were strapped behind his back and bound to the floor. Slumping back to his original position, Draco let off a grunt of pain as he leaned towards the arm that was covered in blood.
“Easy now,” Mosby said in an amused tone. “Felicia’s Gouging Hexes aren’t exactly something you recover from by exerting yourself.”
“My… son…” Draco stammered dryly. “My… wife… mother…”
“They’re alive.” Mosby replied in a tone that sounded as though the sentence had ended with “For now.”
“Oh please don’t tell me you need to ask who would want you here.” Mosby interrupted disappointedly. “Come now Draco, Selwyn told me you were intelligent.”
Fear crept up on to Draco’s pale face when he finally turned his head in the direction of the screaming.
“Well, you got there eventually.” Mosby said, drawing his chair closer to Draco. “But I wouldn’t worry too much. Selwyn’s given us strict instructions to hold off on killing any of you.” Although this clearly did not comfort Draco, it did grab his attention. “Something to do with your mother and Potter.” Mosby answered in response to the look. “Selwyn said he wanted to see if something was true and for that we may need you to still be breathing. We’re just relieved that Lestrange was having so much fun catching up with your father.”
Draco gasped at this as though Mosby’s words had physically hurt him. “What do you want?” He croaked. “Anything, I’ll give you anything. I’ll do anything just… please…”
Mosby felt a twinge of annoyance at the pettiness spark within him before he snapped “Begging, Draco? Pathetic. And to think there was once a time when I actually idolised your family. How close you all were to the Dark Lord, how the great champion of the Purebloods Lucius Malfoy was one of his closest followers…” Mosby stared into the flame that flickered and danced within a nearby lantern. “How Draco Malfoy had become the youngest to be accepted into his inner circle.” He then turned his attention away from the light and towards the man now staring up at him. “But despite your closeness with the greatest Wizard who’d ever lived, while I toiled away trying to become an Auror and a willing, loyal spy for him, you grew to resent and eventually betray him.” Mosby then leaned over to pick up the wand he had left on the desk where he had been writing at. “Why?”
Surprisingly, at this Draco gave a small smileless chuckle. “Why? You’re asking me why? The man couldn’t have cared less for those who followed him. Even his favourites weren’t exempt from torture should they fail at the slightest task.”
“Like killing Harry Potter?” Mosby replied darkly. “Small tasks like that?”
“Look, I understand,” Draco began in a defeated tone. “I was like you when I was younger. I revered the Dark Lord. The way my father spoke of him, you would have thought him capable of changing the world with a click of his fingers. But growing up with that in mind, truly believing that one day his return would elevate me above everyone else… It was isolating.”
Mosby was peering down at Draco, his earlier annoyance drowned out with curiosity.
“There was no one I could turn to.” Draco admitted and there was a pain in his voice that had nothing to do with the gash in his arm. “And when you’re backed up against the wall and everyone from all sides appears to be against you… it can break you.”
Mosby narrowed his eyes at the prisoner. “Is this your feeble attempt to try and sway me over to your side?” He spat but Draco shook his head.
“Like you said, I’m not stupid.” Draco replied. “But you asked me why I, along with the rest of my family, renounced the Dark Lord and I answered. Because he broke me.”
“Wait, that’s why you betrayed the Dark Lord?” Mosby said laughing. “Because you were weak?”
“Yes.” Draco replied sadly. “I was young, stupid... and weak.”
“Well as sad as your tale of woe is, I think you’ll find that isolation will soon be the last thing any of us will have to worry about.” Mosby explained.
“Will it?” Draco asked and Mosby noticed that he wasn’t prying into the plan, but genuinely asking sympathetically.
Mosby scoffed and he felt the spark of anger light up once more. “You prattle on about how unfair everything was for you. You spent two years in the service of the Dark Lord while I’ve spent the past nine on the run and trying to survive while those I hated rose to power and hunted me. While you turned tail and gave in, I remained loyal to my values and was punished for it. But, unlike you, when I had my back against the wall, I didn’t falter. I stayed strong and found Selwyn and together we have made our dreams come to fruition; and soon, I will finally have the respect that a those pure of blood deserve.”
Malfoy looked as though he was about to retort when there was a loud bang and the door of the room swung open to allow Lucius Malfoy to be thrown through.
“Taking it easy on him then?” Mosby asked with a cruel laugh as Lucius landed at his feet between him and Draco.
“Well what can I say? It’s been a long day.” Rabastan Lestrange growled as he kicked Lucius out of his way and entered the room himself; a fresh scar added to his face and several burn marks were still visible on his hands and neck from his duel with Potter. “Ah, I see junior’s awake too.”
“Dra… co…” Lucius croaked from the floor as his son stared sorrowfully at him.
“Draco Malfoy,” Rabastan greeted. “My how you’ve grown. With a wife and son all of your own too.”
Draco looked suddenly up at Rabastan and Mosby watched as Draco’s face turned to one of defiance. “Don’t you dare lay a finger on them.”
“You dare threaten me, boy?” Rabastan yelled and he kicked Draco hard in his arm wound earning a wail of pain from him. “You insulant, traitorous little-”
“Rabastan,” Mosby interrupted. “He’s taunting you so as to steal your attention away from his family. Isn’t that right, Draco?”
For the first time Draco looked murderously up at his captors. Rabastan spat at him. “He always was a cunning little snake.” He said before kicking Draco a second time. “You better thank your lucky stars that your scum of a mother has it in with your boyfriend Potter,” He then leaned over and finished in a low voice “Especially if Selwyn succeeds in recruiting Crabbe.”
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