Chapter 12 : Bones
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“I don’t know. It could be anything…”
The pause allowed the pair of them to speculate all things that could be found in an ancient city whose population was wiped out in deadly battle with Romans. Rose hoped that the explanation could be placed on a ghost or something similar. At least then the threat level would be a lower as the damage they could cause would be much less than a living person. What the others had said about a rival also seeking Acanthus meant her thoughts were far from happy.
This rival family, whoever they were, had a habit of cropping up in conversation whenever something bad occurred.
“It’s probably nothing,” Lorcan laughed nervously. “Charlotte may have just fallen or Anthony could have seen a spider. You know what he’s like when he sees one. It’s probably something innocent.”
“Yes, it’s probably just that. Nothing else.”
The use of all the probablys and maybes kept on swirling around in Rose’s mind. She knew there was a specific reason why neither of them were using words such as ‘certain’ and ‘definitely’ but she didn’t want to be the first to voice the exact reason why.
“Maybe we should go back,” Rose mumbled. “The sun has nearly set, after all. As we don’t know our way around Acanthus very well it might be a good idea to head off now while there’s still some light.”
Lorcan’s head, which had been fixed upon the ground, immediately shot up. “Yes, that's a good idea. I can’t take any good photos in this light anyway.”
He gave Rose a curt nod before heading towards the corner they had just turned around and back down the streets lined with the houses, away from the epicentre of the town. Away from the Temple of Osiris. Rose couldn’t help but laugh at how Lorcan was even more desperate than she to escape this city.
Rose turned her head briefly and saw a slim, porcelain coloured stick jaunt out of the doorway to the temple. She turned her body fully round this time, and the more she concentrated on that single area the more she began to notice more of these slim, porcelain coloured sticks. They appeared everywhere, cropping out of everything. The more she looked, the more she found. As if they were waiting for her.
Bones. They were bones. Nothing else could account for their shape and colour still being intact, and the fact that they were in the doorway to the temple of death almost seemed fitting in a morbid way. Turning her back on them, Rose let out a brief shiver. It probably wasn’t anything, she reassured herself. Besides, the fall of Acanthus was a notably brutal one, and it was probably from that.
Swiftly looking from left to right to check that there were no other disturbances, Rose carried on in her way. All she could do was ignore the tales Rashidi had told her of how all those who sought out the city never reappeared after setting off. It would be crazy to assume that those bones were the last remnant of them.
Rose and Lorcan recounted to the others what they had heard earlier by the Temple of Osiris, but to her surprise they all appeared to be rather nonplussed about it.
“I wouldn’t worry too much about it, Rose dear,” Charlotte said. “You know, I have often heard about stray cats and other animals roaming ancient sites. I often find it rather amusing that they’ve probably discovered things that we’ll never lay our eyes on.”
Even David wasn’t all that supportive of what they said. “As only the two of you heard it, I agree with Charlotte. A simple explanation, such as a cat, is probably the reason behind it. After all, all of us were roaming Acanthus at that time and didn’t hear it. Then as Anthony thinks he was near to you when it happened and didn’t hear a thing, it was probably something minor.”
Anthony gave a small nod before changing the subject to their plans for tomorrow, but Rose paid no attention to it. She knew there was something else to it, she could sense it. Whether the sight of those bones by the temple made her opt for the supernatural reason behind it, or the fact that none of the others heard it either, it just seemed too obvious for it to be a cat.
She turned her head to face Lorcan and saw that his eyes were screwed up, with the rest of his face echoing that position. It was his theorising face, Rose noted. Whenever he did that he tended to be pulling various pieces of evidence to try and come up with something that resembled a theory. Rose could only hope that it was a theory relating to solving the mystery of the scream.
“Where’s George?” Edward asked, his head rising from the map he had been studying. “Has anyone seen him? He should be here to see this.”
The others, except Lorcan who was still immersed in his thoughts, nodded in agreement and leaned across the cracked, wooden desk to analyse a scrappy bit of parchment. The cursive, Egyptian script swopped up and down the page, with a few words being beyond recognition either torn under many years of handling or faded under the sun. Edmund pointed towards the bottom of the page and noted the small set of hieroglyphs doted at the edge, the wispy ends of the parchment making a few of the endings obscured.
“I think this is it, the map to where they hid all the jewels. I found it while walking around today.” Edward allowed his statement to be fully immersed before continuing on. “The Egyptian on here is poor making it hard to understand, but I am able to make out the gist of it. It is essentially showing where everything was hidden in the case of an attack. Though it’s questionable whether the treasure is still there given how the Romans ransacked everything, killed everyone and then left.”
The harshness of Edward’s words left them all silenced. Having now seen the city and being able to imagine its former beauty, Rose could hardly believe that someone would have been able to tear it all to pieces. A cough from the corner indicated that the conversation was ready to be resumed.
“They do have some magical history experts at the British Museum, don’t they?” Anthony asked for confirmation and received a nod from Edward. “We could always ask them to translate the hieroglyphs for us so we know exactly where it is. After all, I’m sure that we’re all clear this is purely for academic purposes and not personal ones. We will be donating the finds to them anyway.”
His eyes glared across all of them, and they meekly nodded in return.
“Edward, what did you say about a local group of people who wanted to reach Acanthus too?” Lorcan suddenly piped up, bursting out of his reverie.
Edward looked taken aback to say the least. He scratched upon his brown stubble, his gnarled fingers twirling around the hair as if that held the answer to Lorcan’s question.
“I’m afraid I don’t remember all that much. I only heard them briefly mentioned when I was attempting to buy the map and caught a quick glance of them. They weren’t all local, I should say. I believe a Spaniard and possibly an English man were among them too. They didn’t seem that menacing, but obviously I stayed away from them due to the way we were competing for the map. Why? If I may ask that question.”
“No reason.” That was a lie, Rose thought. She could see his face begin to screw up, returning to theorising. "I simply wanted to know whether we may have company soon or not.”
“I doubt we will, Lorcan.” Edward grinned at him. “Without the map, it must have been impossible to get here even being equipped with locals. Do not worry; this discovery will solely be ours.”
The others broke off into chatter, but Rose felt no inclination to join in. Lorcan’s question and reason for it were the only thing absorbing her at the present. What if someone was following them? What if the reason for the scream was them? Rose tried to chase the what ifs from her brain, they only brought trouble with them.
As soon as they set off on the third morning of their travels, Hasani stalked ahead of the others, remaining firmly at the front of the group, not letting anyone else dare to usurp his position. Though, Hermione noted, Hugo and Ron weren’t exactly keen to take it either.
She watched her husband and son make placing their rucksacks onto the back of a camel and climbing onto the back of it a particularly laborious and time consuming task which she had managed to complete in a matter of seconds. Their distant mumbles to one another as they slopped sun cream onto their burnt patches entertained Hermione as she watched their disgruntled faces as the white liquid refused to rub into their skin.
“If they read the book I deliberately placed on the table beside them, they would know a spell which meant they didn’t have to go through this,” Hermione whispered to herself. Normally, she would have expected Hugo to have read it but ever since she invited Hasani along on the trip they seemed to have divided into rivals - Ron and Hugo and she and Hasani – so he promptly turned to ignoring her. Something she didn’t want to occur when they were meant to be on a family mission.
“Ron, Hugo,” she hissed at them. “Get over here now. Hasani is meant to be guiding us but if you insist upon dilly-dallying along we will never even catch up with him, wiping away any hope of finding Rose.”
Ron’s face, in the small areas which hadn’t been burnt burgundy, turned red, but he made no attempt to move from their camp-site of last night to their starting position for the trek. “Well, you know that they always used to that you were the brightest witch of the age? Doesn’t that mean you could help us find this Acanthus place and Rose? It’s just Hugo and I feel that Hasani can’t exactly be trusted after what he did to you the first time.”
“No, it most certainly does not mean that. Anyone with sense would realise that venturing off into the Sahara desert without a guide is equivalent to suicide. As I’m sure neither of you want that, we will trust Hasani with everything we have. He has as much to lose, if not more, by not finding Rose and the others so he will do his best to take us there. Do not question that.”
Hermione tugged on the reins of her camel, letting it gently slip into a trot, leaving the others behind her. She glanced up at the sky, noting the swaths of grey cloud had enveloped the blistering sun. To her, the grey of the clouds suffocated her almost as much as the heat did. The sun gave her hope that Rose would still be burning on elsewhere, with that now gone from her she didn’t have much of it left.
Having ridden in a solitary silence for the past four hours, Hermione almost glad to see that Hasani dismount from his camel a little way ahead of her. Normally she would be tutting about how this time could be spent getting further along and nearer to Rose, but this seemed to have a sense of hope about it.
Hasani’s hands sifted through the sand, each particle thrown away with no thought; his hands just kept on ploughing, deeper and deeper. As Hermione approached him, shimmers of silver began to flicker about; replacing the sun’s old trick before it had been encased in cloud.
“Have you found something?” Hermione peered over his shoulder, noting that the sand had encrusted into the deep gorges of his knuckles making it look like sandpaper.
Hasani’s back gave a little spasm, and he turned to face her, a predatory scowl fixed upon his face. “I did. I saw some silver from the camel and came to search for it.”
Hermione paused for a few seconds waiting to see whether he would indulge what he had found, but not such sign was given off. She would have to step in then.
“Do you mind if I have a look? It might be of some use to the investigation, so we could find out whether they were here or not.”
The molecules of sand slowly streamed out of his knuckles as he unclasped it to reveal a small silver comb. When Hermione’s eyes fell upon the second object she mimicked Hasani’s earlier action and felt her back give a little spasm.
“Do you recognise it?” Hasani asked eagerly. It was the first time he had appeared remotely close to happiness ever since she said she would help him, Hermione realised.
“I do,” she answered with the same tone. “Rose always used this comb. She got it from her cousin Molly a few Christmases ago as a sort of joke present, but Rose always liked it for some reason. I never knew why, but people are odd about little things like that.”
Hermione gave a little shake of her head when she noted Hasani’s confused expression.
“Excuse me wittering away. Mothers can’t help it when they start talking about their children. Anyhow, it gives a certain sign that they here. I don’t know whether it was dropped by accident or a sign, but it could be useful.”
Hasani gave her a small smile, or, Hermione thought, as Ron would say, a sign of hope he was a human underneath. “It is ok. I do not mind you talking about her like that. It shows you were a good enough mother to know that about your child.”
Sensing she could this might be the chance to ask a vaguely personal question, Hermione said with some trepidation, “Do you really think so, Hasani?”
“I do. I know my mother, if she hadn’t died…” Hasani gave a little cough and lowered his eyes. Hermione glanced up and saw that Ron and Hugo were standing beside them, glowering at the pair of them. “We should be off. We will not reach our daily target otherwise.”
He gave Hermione a curt nod before hurrying off to his camel. As quickly as he opened up, he was closed off once again.
Marching into the dining room where the man was held captive, Scorpius glanced around. The room’s layout was perfect for a gaol. Its interior built for protection against the desert winds with thick walls, high windows and no door leading outside meant that the chance of escape from here was very low.
Turning to the man, Scorpius eyes him up; his name was still unknown as was his purpose and reason for his actions. He doubted he would ever find out the truth about it all but it wouldn’t hurt to try for one final time. Raising his wand, he muttered the counter-charm to Silencio, but the man didn’t make any recognition when the wisp of light hit him.
The man’s face was cast down at the floor, the same face which had been etched into his mind ever since Rose and Lorcan had been taken from him. The same face which hadn’t yet revealed anything to him. He could be a relation of someone they knew, he could have been a secret foe they had all this time. He could be anyone.
“I’ve come to ask you some questions,” Scorpius announced, glaring down at him. His blue eyes met the man’s brown, each one flickering with their own anger. Except the anger didn’t last long in the man before the ends of his eyes flicked up in laughter.
“Ah, I see you’ve given me the delightful pleasure of being able to speak,” the man chuckled, no confidence being edged off of it despite his position. “I would have thought that you would have learnt something by now, though Scorpius. The something being that I have no reason so answer your questions.”
“I’m armed though.” Scorpius raised his wand and jabbed it into the man’s arm, the muscles twitching on impact.
“Yes, but we both know that you won’t kill me. You probably won’t even injure me knowing you. I wouldn’t mind all that much if you did. I have caused the chain of events and nothing can stop them from reaching the climax. My death would mean nothing. I have achieved my goal.”
“It would mean something to me,” Scorpius said defiantly. “I will do it if you don’t answer me. What’s your name?”
The man looked a little bit perplexed and gave a little cough before replying. It only gave Scorpius a small amount of pleasure to see him writher against his binds as he did so. “Is that all you want to know? I thought you were an impertinent young boy who wished to know everything. Perhaps I was wrong…”
“Yes, perhaps you were wrong, but it still doesn’t change what I want to know. What is your name?”
“I suppose you have been obliging enough to keep me alive and with food, so I might as well divulge this information. It shouldn’t cause too much harm, after all. My name is Frederic Russell, are you satisfied now?”
Scorpius headed towards the door now he had that vital piece of information. He had no wish to spend any longer in this room, in this prison, when he could be saving Rose. He just needed to find someone with the surname Russell in the past and make sure that Rose was as far away from him as possible.
“Say hello to dear Rose and Lorcan when you meet them again, Scorpius.”
Scorpius turned, facing the man, or Frederic, and saw that Frederic‘s face was twitching about with glee, the effect being more laughable than anything else.
“I will, and I’m sure that they will want to exchange the same courtesy to you.”
He mustered the greatest look of loathing he could before hurrying out of the door. For once in his life, Scorpius felt no pity for him. Some people’s evilness was irredeemable and Frederic Russell was one of those people. Whatever fate was meant for him, Scorpius was sure it was one that was matched his actions.
“Are you sure that you won’t come?” Scorpius asked Dalila, the opaque glass containing the potion dangled in his hand, ready to be consumed.
She shook her head and gestured to her grandfather who was absentmindedly staring at the floor. “I cannot leave him. I know he will die, probably soon, and I want to be there for that,” she whispered to him, casting her grandfather an anxious look. “For someone to die alone is a terrible fate. I want to see him to his last days as he saw me through so much of my life.”
Scorpius nodded at her, conceding defeat. “It has been a pleasure to know you, and I’m sad it has to end like this.”
“But you will come back, won’t you? I thought you were rescuing Rose and Lorcan, coming back here so we will return to Cairo together?”
“You will find a way back,” Rashidi announced. “I sense it. Though not all of you will return, I know some will. You need to take the potion with you, I believe. Once the person has died in the past, drinking it will return the others to their natural time period.”
“I’ll see, Dalila. I’m not sure whether I will find them or even if we’re going to be able to find a way back. Don’t wait too long for us. It might not be advisable given that the man is still here. I would try and apparate him back to Cairo if you can. You know where you want to go this time so it might be easier doing it that way than with the camels. Hand him over to the Ministry, they’ll know what to do with him.”
Dalila nodded back and opened her mouth to say something when Rashidi began to speak.
“You will find a way back,” Rashidi announced. “I sense it. Though not all of you will return, I know some will. You need to take the potion with you, I believe. Once the person has died in the person, drinking it will return the others to the natural time period.”
Scorpius’s eyes focused on Rashidi’s. “Is this true? If so, it saves me a lot of worry of having to research how to get back while there.”
“It is. I remember hearing a rumour about a potion like this before, but due to the complexity of it, I had never met anyone who had either made or consumed it. However, even though the creator of the potion is not the most trust worthy, I believe he recounted the correct effects of it. Therefore, it is the same potion I just mentioned.”
Dalila jumped up at that point and ran over to the table where the other vials of the potion were placed. Scrapping them into her hands, she walked back over and handed them to Scorpius.
“Take them then.”
“Thanks.” Scorpius smiled up at her and she returned it before hovering back towards her grandfather, as if her presence kept him on for the last few days.
Scorpius passed the cup from one hand to the other, watching the grey liquid roll around it. He traced the rim of it with his finger, clearing it of any specks of dust. He knew he was delaying drinking it, but he assured himself that most would in a case like his.
“Are you ready?” Dalila asked.
He gave a small nod, not wanting to look at them. Raising the cool glass to his lip, he felt his insides burst into flames as the thick liquid seared down his throat.
Author's Note: AHAHAH! I've been so excited to post this chapter and the next one I'm squealing right now, because so much happens and all the separate plots and people are all coming together now and dramatic stuff (yes, more so than time travelling) will really begin from now on and yeah I'm so excited for you guys to read it! I really hope you liked this chapter, and if you have any thoughts on this or predictions about why I'm so excited feel free to say below! Also, this story is so close to 100 reviews, so if you want to be awesome and help me reach I will love you forever! ♥
Thanks for reading and wow was that a long a/n!
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