[Warning! You are about to read part 2 of Harry Potter and the Magic of Paragon. If you haven't read part one, you will have no clue what's going on. Please make sure to read that first. It's 127 chapters. I'll wait.
Back? Okay, let's begin.]
Time: One day after leaving Hogwarts castle
The woods were sparse and pleasant, with soft yellow sunlight filtering down though an endless variety of leaves above. Along the branches of the trees which held these leaves sang just as endless a variety of birds, and small fuzzy creatures darted and played along the trunks as well. No creatures suffered here, and fear was unknown. Curiosity, however, was not, and as the doorway of light opened into the forest, birds and animals gathered around to see what would happen next. Unsurprisingly, a girl named Susan with green eyes, blond hair and a bit of a swagger stepped though and looked around. A cat named Sparkle quickly followed her. The cat was a normal, every day, plain looking cat, but looked around as though it was intelligent. She was followed by a girl named Luna, who was gripping a wooden wand tightly. Luna had long, nearly white hair, and she was just a smidgen shorter than Susan. Both were dressed in traveling clothes, with good stout boots, sensible pants, and several layers on top that could be removed in warmer climates. Luna had a pouch hanging at her belt, which was bigger on the inside, and she carried all manner of things that might be useful on a journey such as this one. One particularly valuable book rested inside, so she might learn more magic along her journey. Susan, of course, carried nothing, having near instant access to her Pocket Dimension which held her own book of spells, along with various odds and ends she had picked up over the years. And of course she carried her own "paradise" around in the form of her Personal Dimension, in case they ran into a completely inhospitable environment.
Where they found themselves, however, was warm, with a pleasant breeze that rustled the leaves of the trees overhead. Both looked around with interest, but the trees, even spaced apart as they were, obstructed vision. Susan looked at Luna as if to ask "which way" but Luna just shrugged. Susan pointed, but Luna shook her head. She bent down and poked at the earth with her wand, and in seconds, a flower had grown there.
"Just so we don't start going in circles," she remarked. "I would hate to cut into a tree or anything here."
"Yes," replied Susan. "Let's not antagonize our host."
The two walked through the forest, with Luna making more flowers as they went to track their position, and they soon came back to what Susan recognized was the first flower Luna had made.
"But we've been going in a straight line!" she protested, looking at it.
"Then let's head this way."
Twice more they adjusted course, after returning to the spot they had arrived in, and came upon a cute looking cabin in a clearing.
"There she is," said Susan.
"If she's in."
"I don't think she can go anywhere…" Susan stepped up to the door and softly knocked.
"Come in," said a voice from within, and the door cracked open. Susan pushed it the rest of the way, and stepped into the room. It was a rustic looking living room, and she saw other rooms connected by doors, leading into a kitchen and possibly a bedroom.
"These flowers are lovely," said a small figure, coming from the kitchen. She held a vase full of the flowers Luna had been making, and set them down on a table.
"Lady Inari?" asked Susan, looking the girl over. She had fox ears, and wore a Japanese kimono. Her hair was fiery red, and she was about half as tall as Susan.
"Maybe I am, and maybe I'm not," she said. "Come in, close the door. Were you raised in a barn?" She giggled, walking through the other door, and the two girls looked at each other. Luna swung the door closed and they stepped after her. The room they entered was bare, but had a large circle drawn in chalk in the center. The girl was looking this way and that, obviously trying to decide what marble she wanted to go for. Colorful spheres littered the floor of the place, and Susan was careful where she was stepping as she saw them all. Sparkle batted one out of the way, and had to hold herself back from pouncing on it as it rolled. Human intelligence or not, she was still a cat.
"Look, my father told my mother, who warned me about your little games. I know who you are."
"Why did you ask, then?" She flicked a marble with her thumb, knocking one out of the circle.
"I felt it would be polite."
"Good. Politeness is important. What can I do for you, Susan? And aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?"
"Luna, this is the Lady Inari. Lady Inari, this is my friend Luna."
"Nice to meet you," said Luna, going to shake Inari's hand. There was a buzz and Luna jumped back.
Inari laughed, showing the buzzer she had. "Got you!" she said, grinning.
"Uh, yes you did. I must say, you're aren't what I expected."
"Didn't Susan tell you about me?"
"I thought she must be mistaken, or her father was having a little joke at our expense."
"While I would support the joke, no, this is how I am. So, you've come at last."
"It seems you know why I'm here. Saves me some explanation."
"You're here to track down your father," she said, knocking another marble. "I have to admit, even I'm a little worried. He hasn't checked in lately, and that's a problem."
"Do you know where he last was?"
Inari didn't answer for a moment. "No," she said at last. "I let them, and fate itself, guide the selection of worlds your father and his group went to." She held up a marble. "I sent them to the first world they went to, but after that, they had a choice of twelve."
"That isn't so bad. I feared it would be totally random, and I'd spend years searching. If I could even find them at all."
"It gets even better than that," said Inari, going over to a chest Susan hadn't realized was there. "I know I put it someplace…" She opened the lid and started rummaging through.
"These are worlds?" Luna asked Susan softly. She nodded. "I don't mean offense, but who are you, Lady Inari?"
She looked back over her shoulder. "I'm one of those higher order dimensional beings you've heard tell of. We're not all soul sucking monsters, you know." She went back to rummaging.
"Oh. Then how can we be… here?"
"Magic," said Inari.
"Here it is!" Inari announced, pulling out an old, brass key. "That's the bast way for you to proceed," she said, almost handing Susan the key. "Wait a minute, did I check you girls over?"
"Check us over?"
"Of course. I won't let you contaminate other worlds with disease from your own. Plus if you aren't fully healthy we'll have to do something about that before I let you go. World traveling isn't to be taken lightly, and you've got to be in top form if you want to do it. Don't worry, it won't hurt a bit."
Inari traced a weird symbol in the air, leaving behind a yellow trail where her finger had been. She completed it and slammed it into Luna, who was standing closest to her. The symbol vanished, and Inari closed her eyes and thought for a moment.
"Okay, you seem clean," she said. "No major diseases, and in good health. Next!"
She repeated the procedure for Susan and Sparkle, announcing they were also allowed to travel between worlds.
"I should hope so," said Susan, a little put off. "I don't recall being sick a day in my life."
"Probably because it wasn't important to the narrative," Sparkle muttered.
"But you could carry something that's harmless to you, but devastating to another world. You wouldn't want to be known as a plague carrier, would you?"
"I suppose not. I want to save worlds, not leave behind death wherever I go."
"Then what I did should be good piece of mind for you," Inari said, now handing over the key.
"It's magical," Susan said, taking it and doing a Magic Sense on it.
"That it is," giggled Inari. "I'll send you to the first world they landed on. It's up to you to track down what happened to them and where they went after that. This key will vibrate when you're near the place they left from. Stick it into the air like you were unlocking a door, and it'll open a gateway to the world they went to."
"I can follow them and figure out where they got stuck! Brilliant. Thanks a lot!"
"Sure thing. I wish I could do more, but this way seems the best way."
"It sounds good to me. I'm no more than 12 jumps behind them. I'll have found them in no time."
Inari smiled. "Be careful. Traveling between worlds is not to be taken lightly. Your father went with a group of three others, and he was much more powerful than you. But if you are dead set on going…"
"Very well. I will issue you this warning. You seem to carry your magic with you, as a Natural Magician. Luna, your magic seems quite personal as well. I say this because you may visit worlds that are totally dominated by technology. This will leave little magical energies for you both to draw upon. Also, keep in mind that magic between worlds may work very differently. But I suppose you know that, given how different your magics are and the fact you came from the same world. Until you know the rules of each world, be especially cautious."
"We will," the girls chorused.
"Good. Now, see if you can find where your father left from, and use the key. The door will stay open for some time, so secure it before you go through. The trip can be a bit… tricky."
"We seemed to pass through some kind of intermediary space," said Luna. "Is that what you mean?"
Inari nodded. "It has weather and moods of its own. Even I do not like to linger between worlds. Strange things happen there. Prepare yourselves."
Susan nodded, then held up the key and started walking around. It wasn't hard to find, as right outside the door it started vibrating like mad. She held it out and was fascinated when it seemed to slide into a lock. She gave it a turn and twisted it, then pulled it out. A glowing rectangle appeared, and Susan handed the key to Luna.
"Keep this safe," she said.
"Of course," Luna replied, dropping it into her pouch and drawing the top closed again.
"Thank you, Inari," said Susan. "We'll have news for you soon, I hope."
"I'm sure you will. You know the spell to come back here, if you need my advice. I'll have to make a note to discuss that with your father when he gets here. Not that I don't like visitors, you understand, but I would rather that spell not get spread around. You do understand, I hope?"
"Good. I wish you luck."
Susan grabbed Luna's hand, and Sparkle jumped up to Susan's shoulder, and they stepped through. The door closed behind them.
"Did I forget to tell them something?" Inari asked herself. "I guess it wasn't important…" She went back to playing with her marbles. (Only some of which she had ever lost.)
On the other side of the door, a strange, colorful space swirled around the three, and there was a sense of motion though no landmarks existed to gauge their progress against. All around them, in the distance, were doors of light, openings to other worlds.
It was through one of the these openings that a young boy tumbled, heading straight for the three of them.
"Flight," Susan cast in desperation, but nothing happened. "My magic-" she said as the boy crashed into her. This sent them spinning off course, and she felt Luna's hand slip out of hers.
"LUNA!" she called, as her friend spun off through this odd space and through a nearby door. Susan, the boy, and Sparkle sailed through another, and Susan hit the ground, getting the air knocked out of her.
"What has Zero Louise done this time?" she heard someone saying.
Susan opened her eyes, and all around her stood young kids, boys and girls. They seemed to be wearing some kind of uniform, and each had an animal of some kind at their side. They also held wands.
Didn't we just leave this party?
Underneath her, someone groaned. She remembered what happened and looked over at the boy that had crashed into her.
Are you going to let him get away with what he did? The Darkness inside whispered to her. You know what going off course means for the both of you.
"Shut up!" Susan yelled to herself, grabbing the boy by the collar and hauling him up to a sitting position. As much as she hated to admit it, The Darkness had a point, and she felt herself getting angry.
"What did you do?!" she screamed at him. "How could you have been so careless! Do you know what you've done? You've just stranded a friend of mine in some unknown world!"
He groaned and struggled to open his eyes. "What?" he managed.
"Answer me! Fix it!"
His eyes popped open. "What are you talking about? What's going on? Who are all you people?"
Susan jerked her head and looked around, the uniformed boys and girls had gathered around her, watching interestedly. Behind them all was an older man with a staff who exuded an air of responsibility and authority. "Never mind them, open that doorway, maybe I can still remember which one she went through."
"Which what she went through? Look, I'm in the dark about all this, you know?"
"What do you mean, in the dark?"
"I was heading home from getting my laptop repaired, okay? In the middle of the sidewalk I saw this glowing door. I couldn't resist going through it, like it was pulling me. I found myself here."
Susan blinked at him for a few seconds. "You're in the same boat as me? I- I apologize for shouting at you. I will now shout at the correct person." She looked around, marveling at the massed children and animals staring back at her. "Who is responsible for this debacle?" Susan shouted, releasing the boy and causing him to flop down again. Every kid there pointed to an embarrassed looking, pink haired girl that was looking down. Her hair was long, and she had reddish eyes, and was also probably the shortest person nearby. Susan stalked over to her.
"I have you to blame for all this?" she demanded.
"Blame?" said the girl, flushing. "I did the spell properly, I can't help it that a couple of plebeians… got in the way or something." She stepped over to Sparkle, and grabbed her up. "See everyone, I summoned my familiar, just like I said I would!"
"Please unhand me!" said Sparkle. The girl gave a yelp and dropped her, and Sparkle gracefully landed on all fours and smoothed down her fur with her tongue. "I am Susan's 'familiar' if you please, not yours. Now kindly explain what's going on! Believe me when I say you don't want to make Susan angry."
"You can talk?" the girl asked. "But I haven't completed the ceremony yet!" There was a general ripple of amazement through the ranks.
"What did you call me?" demanded Susan.
"Plebeian. You know, a commoner."
"You mean an NPC?" asked Sparkle.
"A what? I'm talking about someone who can't use magic."
"Can't use magic?" snorted Susan. "Elemental Attack: (Fire)," she cast, throwing flames into the air. Everyone there took a step back.
"Okay, you can use magic," said the girl, uncertainly. "Um…" she looked over at the tall guy.
He stepped up, pushing past the crowd. "Hello there, I'm professor Colbert. I do apologize for all this, on behalf of the magic academy. May I ask your name?"
"I'm Susan Felton. This is Sparkle. Can you tell me what's going on?"
He chuckled. "I can certainly try. Here, young man, let me help you up." He extended a hand.
"Thanks," said the boy.
Professor Colbert looked at him funny, but shrugged. "This is the familiar ceremony, where second year students summon their familiars." He swept a hand around, showing all the animals accompanied by wizards. "Don't ask me how, but somehow Miss Le Blanc de La Valliere has somehow called you all here."
"No, if I'm understanding this correctly, she called him." Susan pointed at the boy. "I just happened to be in the way. Honestly, yanking things out of their home dimensions? That's routinely done around here, is it? Rather irresponsible, don't you think?"
"Usually it's just animals," Colbert admitted. "And you, young man? What's your name?"
The boy stared back at him blankly. Susan's eyes darted between the two.
"Dude," she whispered, "he asked your name. Don't just stand there. Did you hit your head or something?"
"Oh, sorry. Saito Hiraga. You can really understand them?"
"What did he say?" asked Colbert.
"What's he saying now?" asked Saito.
Susan sighed again, closing her eyes and dropping her head. "You aren't getting any of this, are you?"
"I can understand you, and your cat, which is sort of freaking me out to be honest, perfectly. Anyone else just sounds like gibberish. So I've only gotten the gist of this conversation from what you say."
"Terrific!" said Susan sarcastically. She turned to Colbert. "He can't understand a word you people are saying. Do you have a Communication spell you can use?"
"No, sorry, I don't know anything like that," Colbert admitted.
"Seriously?" Why am I not surprised? Wanded magic is useless. "Fine, I'll just use mine. Give me a second. Pocket Dimension." Susan reached through what she expected would be a hole in the air, but nothing happened.
Okay, that's never happened before… She envisioned the symbols for the spell, and tried to once again make a Pluto check. Again, nothing happened. Her blood ran cold.
"I can't open my Dimension," she said to Sparkle.
"Don't panic. We know your magic works, you did it before. Let me try. Phase." Nothing happened. "Okay, now you can panic."
"Is something wrong?" asked Colbert.
"Is something wrong?" parroted Susan. "Is something wrong? I'm knocked off course, I lose my friend to the multiverse, now I find out for some bizarre reason I can't do Pluto magic here. Do you know what that means?"
"It means I'm stuck here, you idiot! All my stuff is in there! My book of magic, the spell to open the gateway back to Inari's world, my equipment, everything. I'm cut off!" She was shouting.
"Now, now, calm down. I'm sure something-"
"Calm down?" Magical energy started sparking off Susan's body. "You know the worst thing to say to someone that's getting angry? Calm down, that's what! That only makes it worse. You!" She whirled on the pink haired girl. "You got me into this. Fix it!"
"I can't," she said quietly. "I'm… sorry."
Oh, she would have to be totally cute. A little of her anger drained away. Focus, Susan! "I need to see whoever is in charge around here- immediately."
"Yes, that might be best."
"But I haven't finished the ceremony!" complained the girl, giving a little pout.
"Oh, you're finished," said Susan.
Colbert sighed. "No, she should finish. It is a sacred ceremony that determines a mage's life. That this unfortunate thing happened, as serious as that is, doesn't change that. However, can you be sure she was summoning this boy and not the cat?"
"My name is Sparkle," said Sparkle. "And I am Susan's three point Companion. We were legitimately traveling between worlds to follow the trail of Susan's father. This boy, Saito, has already admitted to answering the call of this girl here. He's your man, not me."
"My name is Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Valliere," said Louise.
"Just call her Zero," someone called. Everyone laughed.
"This is all very irregular. Very well, you may complete the ceremony with the boy," Colbert said to Louise.
"Can he do magic?" she asked.
"She's asking if you can do magic," Susan told him.
"What? Magic? No, of course not. Is that why they're wearing the funny clothes? They're some kind of wizards?"
Susan rolled her eyes. "He can't." Wait, what did he say he was doing before this? Right, getting a laptop repaired. Not exactly a wizard activity, that.
"He's a plebeian? I can't make a plebeian my familiar!"
There's that word again. And I thought 'muggle' was bad. "Oh, you're complaining now? Really? Are you sure about that? Do you want the list again of how my life and the life of my friend Luna is totally screwed up now thanks to you?"
"Look, I'm sorry to involve you in this-"
"Finally, an apology!"
"But if I don't, I'll be expelled. My grades… uh…"
"She does have a little trouble with magic," whispered Colbert.
"No?!" said Susan, pretending to be shocked. "I would never have guessed. I am shocked and surprised." Susan stopped and took a deep breath, covering her eyes with her hands. "You're loving this, aren't you Darkness? Probably laughing it up this very minute. Okay, getting upset isn't going to help me. I'm going to be calm and rational. Calm. Rational. Nope, not helping."
"We'll figure something out," said Sparkle. "Obviously they have dimensional magic, it's just reworking the spell to open a door here rather than somewhere else and pull someone through."
"No, summoning is Venus, remember? It happened to pull someone from another world, but it's still a summoning spell, not a dimensional one."
"Okay, we'll work out what's blocking Pluto magic and take it out so we can get access to your Dimension again. Or you could research a variant of the spell to talk to someone in dreams and ask Inari for help. What I'm saying is, we have other options."
"Right, you're right. I shouldn't panic. Okay, let's see your headmaster or whatever and get this whole thing straightened out."
"But the ceremony-" said Louise.
"Fine, fine, hurry it up. She still has some kind of ceremony to do involving you," she said to Saito. "I hope you're prepared."
"Look, can you explain what's going on?"
"Basically these people irresponsibly use magic to tear creatures, usually animals, from their home dimensions, rather than just going to a pet store like sane people. You got caught up in it. Due to billion to one odds our paths crossed while you were moving from one world to another, and I got knocked off course, coming with you. Apparently, this makes you some kind of wizard pet, like that floating eyeball thing over there." She pointed. Saito looked over and shuffled away from it. "That's you. You're a floating eyeball now. Congratulations. Is it better than being a tin dog? I don't know. Anyway, this girl, Louise whatever whatever keeps going on about this sick ceremony she has to complete or get kicked out of school. Personally, we're in the same boat- you should be working out how to get home and back to your life, same as me. I have stuff, important stuff, to be about. Namely to track down my father, and now, my friend who you briefly saw, who is now alone on an alien world. That about covers it."
"What's this ceremony?"
"No idea. It's usually animals so it can't be too perverse, I hope."
"I should say not," said Colbert, shocked.
"Does he understand?" asked Louise.
"As much as anyone can who's just been ripped from their home world."
"Then I will complete the ceremony." Louise stepped closer to Saito and said some ritual phrases, then kissed him.
"Oh, wait, maybe I'm the familiar after all," said Susan.
"Down, girl," said Sparkle. "Remember Luna."
"What, a girl can't get any sugar on the side- What the?"
As the two broke apart, magical energy started gathering around Saito. He looked terrified.
"What did she do to me?"
Susan did a Magic Sense. "I don't know what's happening, but something powerfully magic is going on. Brace yourself!" she said to him.
He screamed and clutched his hand, and Susan watched, half in horror and half with great interest as a group of symbols appeared on the back of it.
Saito passed out.