We're off to see the School
The following day dawned much as the previous had, with breakfast being a quiet affair and the Lord holding Court. The difference was that today was Sunday – a public session was traditionally held on this day (though none of the stewards had honoured the tradition) so instead of meeting with the council Harry sat upon his throne to hear the cases that his people brought before him.
Sable informed him that his was the highest court on Azkaban – if someone wished to dispute the ruling of another they could bring it to a higher court to be overruled, but none could overrule him. As Lord Caer Azkaban, his word was law.
The session proved rather enlightening for Harry, as several citizens came before him to ask that he reverse the rulings of the ministry stewards. Apparently, one attempting to blackmail a servant into being his bed slave was not the only such incident in recent memory. He met the girl in question, as she asked that her marriage be recognised and they not be sentenced for it. Having already heard the story, he swiftly ruled against the Steward.
"The previous Steward's actions against you are nothing short of criminal," he informed her, "The next time he sets foot on Azkaban, he will be dealt with. Severely."
"Thank you, My Lord." she almost whispered her gratitude, "All Hail the Lord Azkaban! Long May he Rule!"
Others times Harry had to rely on Sable's advice, as well as Hermione's more general knowledge, to unravel the case before him. Nobody noticed their telepathic advice, but to Harry it was invaluable. Part of him wished he didn't have to do this, wished that he could pass off the duty to someone better qualified, even realised that he could probably get away with it if he tried. He still felt that he had a duty to these people, however – whilst they may forgive him if he chose to abandon them, he couldn't force himself to do it. So he sat through an hour and a half of petitions, righting the wrongs of the stewards.
. . .
"So that happens every Week?" Harry asked Sable as they rode into town later.
"I can not say, My Lord." Sable frowned, "It has been too long since we have had a Lord that honoured the tradition. I would suspect that most such sessions would be considerably less busy."
"Could you please let the people know that they do not have to wait for a public session to bring their cases to me." Harry sighed, "I can not always be free, but if they need to raise an issue I don't want them having to wait all week for what may be an urgent matter."
"Thank you, my Lord. I shall do so." Sable rose and knelt by the steps, allowing Harry to exit the coach and take in the building.
"Azkaban School for the Magically Worthless?" he read from the sign.
"A joke on the part of your previous Steward, My Lord" Sable explained, still kneeling.
"I'm not laughing," Harry spoke tightly, "Get rid of it, and have a proper sign replace it."
"It will be done, My Lord."
Harry swept forward, trying to ignore the sign as he entered the ancient hall. A narrow walkway wrapped around the outside of the building, sheltered by the overhang of the upper story. Sable opened the broad door and followed her Lord through to meet the headmistress.
"All Hail the Lord Caer Azkaban!" she greeted them, "Long may he Rule!"
"Headmistress Ribbeck," Harry greeted her.
"May I presume you have come to judge the tournament?" she asked.
"Tournament?" Harry asked.
"We are hosting a series of Little War tournaments over the summer." she explained, "One of them is today."
"I am afraid that I am not familiar with 'Little War'," Harry admitted, "You would find me a poor judge. I actually came to inquire about lessons."
"Lessons, My Lord?"
"My researcher and I where forced to cut our education short after our OWLs," Harry explained, "I was informed that you may be able to assist in rectifying that issue."
"I am afraid that we do not practice wand work here, my Lord." She replied with a slight frown, "though our Potions and Herbology courses are integrated and considered second to none. Runes and Arithmancy courses are compulsory, though Astronomy can be difficult given the fogs. We also teach basic muggle courses and Magical Theory, as well as some forms of magic that have fallen out of use."
"An excellent basis, I assure you." Harry informed her, "I was not expecting you to be able to cover everything, and I can find other tutors for Wand Work. If you don't mind me asking, which muggle courses do you cover."
"Reading, Writing and Arithmetic." she replied, "I wanted to add a basic Science curriculum..."
"But the Stewards wouldn't let you." Harry finished, "Why don't you show me this tournament, and we can discuss options. Can you look into hiring a muggle Science Tutor or do you need help?"
. . .
Little War proved to involve little model wizards running around a little model battlefield, fighting for victory under the command of the players. Harry spotted the Commander of his Guard watching the tournament, correctly guessing that she was here to judge the event. He drifted over to exchange a few words, asking about the game and whether it was used to teach tactics. It was, she claimed, used for learning tactics – teaching requiring a little more.
Most of the time he spent with Headmistress Ribbeck. She already had contacts in the muggle teaching community who could locate science tutors with some knowledge of the magical world, though she thanked her Lord for his offer of assistance, so most of the time she spent describing the magical arts they taught. Much of the magic he was familiar with, such as potions, was what she termed 'Passive Magic' which merely required a magical presence to work. This was directly opposed to wand-work, which was what she called 'Active Magic', as it required the expenditure of magical power. She also spoke at length on what she referred to as 'Semi-active Magic', forms of passive magic designed to interact with active magic.
"So, you're saying that the magic of potions comes entirely from their ingredients?" Harry inquired as they stood at the back of the hall, "A muggle could use it?"
"Muggles can use potions, yes, My Lord." the Headmistress replied, "But they can not make them. Whilst the magical power of the potion lies entirely in the ingredients, it requires a magical presence to act as a 'Catalyst', I believe it is, and spark that magic to life. A squib has a magical presence, and is thus able to do passive magic and observe things that are blocked from muggle eyes, but no magical power, hence their inability to cast spells."
"I think that I understand," Harry mused, "Does the magical presence have to be the potion maker, though? Could you enchant a cauldron, perhaps, to provide the magical presence and allow the creation of potions by muggles crafters?"
"I… I do not know, My Lord." Headmistress Ribbeck swallowed before continuing, "I do not believe anyone has ever tried before, especially since the Statute of Secrecy started keeping the magical world separated from the Muggle World."
"The Commander of the Guard is preparing to induct muggles into my forces, and hence our world." Harry explained to her, "I thought it might me nice if they could participate in at least a little of the magic."
"In times past the Lord of Azkaban has used a magical ritual to bind muggles to his service as squibs," Sable interjected, "That may prove more satisfactory than enchanting a better cauldron."
"Look into it." he instructed her, before turning back to Ribbeck, "Though I am not sure that I quite understood your explanation of 'semi-active magic'. Is there some way you could demonstrate for me?"
"The models are an example," she explained, gesturing to the tournament, "The tables are charged before use, and power the models' actions. The models themselves are slowly built up of papier-mache layers over a wire and wood skeleton – individual strips of papyrus are soaked in a special potion and wrapped around the skeleton to dry. Between the runes inscribed on the wood and the potion soaking the model they acquire a rudimentary awareness, but lack energy and direction. The table provides the energy, in the form of animation, whilst the players provide them direction. Most of the models you see in place here are being directed by their creators – they tend to bond, somewhat."
"I see." Harry frowned, taking it in.
"I could also show you the Amulet Racks in one of our Ward Archives," she offered.
"You use semi-active wards?" Harry asked, surprised.
"For the most part," she agreed, "The island itself boasts some highly impressive defences, si it was always felt that lavishing too much on a school was unnecessary. Regardless, each year we hold a competition amongst the school children to craft a protective amulet for the school. The winner gets to place the successful entries in the Racks."
"Show me," Harry commanded, following the Headmistress as she obeyed.
. . .
Headmistress Ribbeck lead her Lord to her office before opening a deeper chamber with a simple key. The room beyond looked almost like a library, save that instead of shelves of books there were racks of loose parchment. Most of them where about A5 in size, and decorated on one side in a deliberate hand. Harry did not stop to read what was written on these amulets, drifting amongst the racks that had obviously been in use for centuries – the room was huge!
"We use parchment amulets, for the most part, My Lord." Headmistress Ribbeck was explaining as he looked around, "As they burn out after a single use it is generally deemed inefficient to use a more hard-wearing material. Some of our amulets are made in papyrus, but that rots after a few centuries in our climate. Excellent for prototypes and experimentation, acceptable for personal protection, but not as good here."
"Why must the amulet burn out after a single use?" Harry asked, "Could they not be designed as multi-use?"
"Each amulet is formed of a sheet of parchment with words inked upon it using a magical ink. We teach the creation of these magical inks in potions and, just like more conventional potions, the power is in the liquid. The inks are merely meant to be written with rather than drunk. As the power is in the ink itself, it is consumed when the power is used, which in turn destroys the amulet. The destruction of the amulet lets us know that it has been used, which is why they are all indexed carefully. Multi-use amulet's are possible, but much more complicated, and tend to have their own limitations. Some of these amulets will provide protection for a considerable period, for example, but that period begins as soon as they are activated and lasts until they burn out. There is no way to reset them once they start."
"So, how do they work?"
"Each amulet provides a different protection, depending on the materials, words and runes used." Ribbeck explained, "When they are touched by magic that matches that criteria, they activate."
"Two obvious issues with that explanation," Harry frowned, "How do you prevent multiple amulets from triggering simultaneously during the a single attack, and how can they be touched by attacking magic if they are buried in the centre of the school?"
"To the first issue, that is a large part of why we use the Racks my Lord," the Headmistress explained, "They regulate the function of the amulets. The nature of the amulets also makes it unlikely that any single attack would trigger all simultaneously, but that theory is highly complicated and the racks assure it. As to the second," she sighed, "That is a significant weakness of the system. If an attacker where to, for example, attempt to use a reductor curse to vaporise the front door, the magic would never touch these amulets and so they would not activate."
"I hope that there are other defences on the main doors." Harry told her.
"Of course, but not here. If our hypothetical attacker were to use a flame charm against the building with the intent of burning the entire thing to the ground, the spell would saturate the entire building even if the initial flame created was quite small. Saturating the entire building would naturally touch our archive here. There are smaller archives in other sections of the building to ward against incidents that might only saturate a small area – though those mostly ward against magical accidents in schoolwork. The school hasn't had to ward off an actual attack for centuries."
"Interesting," Harry mused, thinking that it had been a mistake to leave Hermione researching her latest project in the library – she would have loved this, "Do we have an amulet rack back at the castle, Sable?"
"No, my Lord," she replied, confused, "We have some excellent wards in place over the Island, and most especially the Lord's Castle, though none of this nature."
"Have one added to the castle, and another to the main library," Harry decided, "The winner of the yearly contest can add their amulet to the castle's defences, the runner up to the library. Make a new tradition to remember me by."
"We would be honoured, My Lord," Headmistress Ribbeck agreed as she knelt before him, "Though I am unsure what use our amulets will be compared to your current Wards."
"Perhaps none," Harry shrugged, "But unless they disrupt the current wards I am not going to turn them away. If nothing else, let it symbolise that no magic is to meagre to be worth a Lord's attention."
"A bold statement, My Lord," Sable answered, "I see to it as soon as we return. Do you have any preference as to the deployment of the rack?"
"Leave that to the experts," Harry replied, "Though we may want to display the latest addition publicly, at the very least."
"I will see what can be done,"
"That being said, can we proceed with those planned lessons from Monday?" Harry asked the Headmistress.
"Of course, My Lord." she replied, "We shall meet you in the castle at four."
. . .
Unfortunately for Harry, he had no time to linger. Taking his leave of Headmistress Ribbeck, Harry lingered in the halls for only a moment, watching as a few of the Little Wars reached their conclusion before proceeding out. He had an appointment with the Island Wandmaker before lunch, with both magical and muggle combat practise immediately after.
The Wandmaker lived in a cosy cottage a short distance from town, a bountiful Herb Garden at the front and a sweeping grove of eclectic trees behind. The area was saturated in climate charms to support the various plants in Azkaban's otherwise unforgiving climate. Some of the plants on display looked downright tropical to Harry as he stepped up the path. Sable knocked as he approached the door.
"All Hail the Lord Caer Azkaban!" cried the balding man who answered the door, "Long may he rule!"
"Shelly Almsman, I presume?" Harry politely inquired.
"At your service, My Lord!" he replied, "Do you require a wand? Perhaps a singlestick?"
"I am not sufficiently comfortable with singlesticks to try casting with one yet," Harry replied as the man let him in to what was obviously a public sitting room, "Though it would be good to have one of my own by the time I am ready. I would like you to have a look at my current wand, however."
"Holly and Phoenix feather," the man murmured as he ran his hands over the wand, his eyes distant, "Very fine work, though perhaps a touch pedestrian. I could craft a wand that would be born for you, if you prefer. A touch more refined than this, though you have clearly bonded well."
"A touch more refined?" Harry echoed.
"You should find your magic more precise and controllable, especially now that you have come into your magic. I would also likely be using different materials, so the wand would likely favour different magics, though for everyday use the difference would likely be minimal, if not negligible."
"In a life or death encounter, however, even the tiniest fraction of an advantage can prove essential." Harry countered.
"Which is why I often craft such wands for many of the ministries Aurors and Hit Wizards," Shelly agreed, "Though most retain their original wand as a backup."
"You provide the ministry with Wand crafting expertise?"
"Not directly, my Lord."
"Though the prison and Island is yours, my Lord," Sable explained, "Under Treaty the Ministry is still obligated to contribute to the prison guard, most especially for the purpose of escorting prisoners to the island. Your forces are banned from operating on the mainland, save as your bodyguards, meaning we can not collect prisoners until they reach Azkaban. As a positive side effect, almost every member of the Department for Magical Law Enforcement passes though Azkaban at some point, and they are effectively your subjects while they are assigned here. Few enjoy the prison, though many settle in the town. I am reliably informed that more retired Aurors live on Azkaban than anywhere else in Britain."
"Interesting," Harry mused, "So the DMLE is made predominately of Azkaban Citizenry?"
"Citizens of Azkaban can not operate away from Azkaban." Sable reiterated, "As such, no serving Auror is actually a citizen of yours. Most of them consider that little more than a technicality, however, and the people of Azkaban welcome them as one of our own when they are here."
"Take your time with the wands, then," Harry asked Shelly, reclaiming his Holly wand and passing another over, "I'll take every edge I can get, but I would also like you to take a look at my spare wand."
The old man took Harry's muffled wand and turned it over in his hands a few times, a perplexed look growing on his face as he did so.
"My Lord," he finally exclaimed, "Where did you get this wand? It clearly has power, yet I can not sense either the wood or core with any clarity. They are there, of that I have no doubt, but the readings I am getting are confusing to say the least."
"It is an inherently muffled wand I purchased in Knockturn Alley," Harry informed the man, "The maker informed me that she crafted it from fragments of several broken wands, and that the conflicting magical signatures effectively muffle spells cast from it. The aurors might find that useful, but I wanted to ask if you could craft a singlestick in this fashion?"
"I doubt it," he replied, glaring at the wand as if it had personally offended him, "Using more than one piece of wood weakens the weapon, it'd rupture as soon as you used it."
"Standard versions would still be useful to the Aurors, I would imagine." Harry sighed as he took his wand back.
"Why, my Lord?" Shelly inquired, "What does this muffling actually do?"
"It confuses the magical signature, making it harder to detect or understand," Harry replied, "From what I understand, trying to unravel the makeup of a spell cast by this is no easier than to unravel the makeup of the wand itself. Muffled spells are also a lot harder to detect, allowing users to cast at least some spells without fear of setting off alarms and wards. I managed to test that before I came here, at least."
"That does sound like something the Aurors would be interested in," he admitted, "Though I don't understand how this can even work. Would you be able to put me in touch with the crafter?"
"She runs a stall in Knockturn Alley, most evenings, I believe." Harry went silent for a moment as he conferred with Hermione before continuing, "Her name is Mary Frankenstein."
Shelly Almsman gasped in shock, a mixture of hope and terror flooding his face.