Hey friends and fans! Kairomaru is bringing you another chapter of Harry Potter and the Artificer Legacy! Work has begun for the coming conflict. Harry has some requests to fulfill for the Order. Shield Cloaks will protect them, not as well as Basilisk Hide, but still pretty solid. Ward Breakers to get them through the protections that're undoubtedly set up by Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Not to mention he's still working on the scabbard Artifact to contain Dourfrost.

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Chapter 60 – Preparation for Conflict

In his workshop at Wood End Cottage, Harry was hard at work on creating the Shield Cloaks for the Order of the Phoenix. He was referencing the measurements he'd taken for each member, barring Snape. That had caused some words to be had, but in the end the Potions Master had scoffed even as Dumbledore relented on his insistence. The cloaks were a rather effective item, if Harry said so himself. A mix of Creature Craft with standard Enchanting and a bit of Tailoring skill. It was acquiring the materials that had been the biggest hold up so far.

"The outer layer is Graphorn Hide and the inner layer is Dragon Hide. All of the fasteners and buttons are sewn in beneath the folds of the cloak to prevent them from being targeted by Charms that would force them off the wearer." Harry nodded to himself at his design. Each cloak would possess the power to render most spells null upon contact. Especially powerful spells may overwhelm them, but the amount of power they'd block would most likely save the wearer's life, even if the cloak was damaged in the process. "There's five already done, just need a few more to outfit the rest of the Order." He continued his work on the sixth Shield Cloak with speed that came from practice.

He'd left the construction of the two dozen Ward Breakers to the Erdunn Dwarves. That had saved him enough time to focus on the cloaks, while not neglecting the Artifact Scabbard that he was in the process of making. Empowering it during creation and making it out of fire-aligned materials was the only way that he'd have any chance of making it strong enough to contain Dourfrost. Having to be the master of each material was thankfully not an issue, since he had most of the materials on hand already. Now it was merely a matter of refining and strengthening each of the materials individually, synergizing them as he brought them together, and making use of the Creature Craft symbolism of reuniting Dragon Fangs with Dragonhide to further boost the fire-aligned power of the scabbard.

"So much to do, and on a bloody deadline too." Harry cursed to himself as he continued to stitch Graphorn Hide and Dragon Hide together. The fact that Graphorn Hide was tougher than normal leather was making it more difficult, but after five rounds of this process, Harry was certainly refining his methods. "No other hide is nearly as magic resistant though, so it was either this or wasting the last of the Basilisk Hide." He shook his head at that idea. No way was he wasting the last of his millennium-old Basilisk Hide. He'd use that for an Artifact at some point, he was certain.

-Malfoy Manor ~ Wiltshire-

"You've done well, Lucius." Voldemort's cold voice gave meager praise as he looked over the newest recruits that Lucius had gathered up. "I see your trip was successful." In the main hall of Malfoy Manor stood a large gathering of foreign Wizards and a few Witches.

"Yes, my Lord." Lucius kept his head bowed and accepted what little he could get. Keeping the Dark Lord neutral in opinion of him would be infinitely better than a negative opinion. He dared not hope for a favorable opinion for the foreseeable future. His loss of the diary that he'd been entrusted with had not been forgiven, even after the punishment that he'd suffered and nearly lost his life from. "As you ordered, I traveled to other parts of Europe to find those of like mind to our cause."

That had been a trip of several days. Thankfully, such things were easy with Magic and a lack of concern about crossing borders illegally. Without bothering about legality and the bureaucratic red tape, Lucius had been to almost a dozen countries in a handful of days. His recruitment had borne an almost surprising number of new recruits, though many of them only spoke English as a second or even third language. Communication aside, the total number of Death Eaters would now stand at just over three-hundred. Far more manpower than they'd ever had back in the Seventies. The biggest difference being that now every Death Eater bore the Dark Lord's Mark. Something that Lucius still didn't understand the purpose of, but was too fearful to question.

"With so many, I will not be stopped by a setback like last time." Voldemort hissed in a way that reminded Lucius of Nagini. The large serpent was still seen slithering around the Manor, usually following after the Dark Lord, or secure in one of the interior rooms.

"Yes, my Lord." Lucius agreed almost reflexively.

"My Lord." Snape bowed as he stopped his approach a respectable distance away from Voldemort. "The inner circle members are cognizant again. They should be ready to serve in the next few days." He informed his Master of the good news.

"Excellent work, Severus." Voldemort had a mirthless grin on his lips. "At least I still have some competent Wizards among my followers." With his inner circle soon to return to his side, the ritual could take place perfectly on schedule.

With a swish of his black robe, Voldemort approached the gathered foreign Wizards and began to speak. He welcomed them all, complimented their wise choice to serve him, and then began the Pureblood spiel that he'd perfected during his first rise to power. Like the majority of the riffraff that Lucius had been able to recruit, these Wizards and Witches were from old families that had lost their status over the years. Their families had spent the last of their inherited fortunes, leaving them destitute. None of them were willing to demean themselves with the work of the lowborn or the mudbloods. Their situations would not improve in a slowly changing Magical World that had started moving away from such ideologies outside of some of the staunch traditional countries.

'It's almost sickening how easy it is to manipulate them.' Voldemort thought to himself as he saw the looks of agreement and reverence these cretins quickly gained for him. All he had to do was tell them what they wanted to hear. It wasn't their fault that they were broke and living in squalor. It was the mudbloods fault! Bringing the ideas and beliefs of the muggles into their World! Not knowing their place and upsetting the established order and traditions that the Magical World had lived by for centuries! But once Voldemort was in charge things would change! The true Wizards and Witches of pure blood would be elevated back to the positions of their ancestors, while the halfbloods and mudbloods would return to their place beneath them. The fact that it continued to work (and so quickly) never ceased to cause Voldemort an odd mix of feelings, mostly amusement and disgust.

In mere moments of explaining the barest functions of his mark, the entire gathering of new recruits had their bare forearms offered up to Voldemort. Bringing his wand to bear, the Dark Lord began the process of giving the Dark Mark to the first of the fools. More 'property' for him to possess, and therefore perfectly acceptable for him to sacrifice for his own gain in the exchange that the ritual would entail.

-Maracaibo ~ Venezuela-

"It still seems odd that Magic has little to nothing to do with this." A woman looked on at a raging storm that let off continuous lighting strikes.

"Nature is a magical thing on its own." The man with her chuckled as he watched the storm with her.

The storm they were looking at had many names, Maracaibo's Lighthouse and the Never-Ending Storm of Catatumbo being two of the most well-known. It was a place that received upwards of one million lightning strikes per year. With over two-thousand-seven-hundred lightning strikes a day, on average, the spectacle held immense wonder for the Non-Magical. And for the last few generations, it was useful for their purposes as well.

"Harnessing this much power let us increase our rate of construction." The woman smiled at the storm. "We were able to catch up to the others in a much shorter time frame."

"We were lucky that our ancestors figured out a way to channel this raw power into a Magical form that could be used." The man agreed with her. Their group had only made contact with the others in the last century. But with the power this place offered, they'd been able to get caught up and on track with the rest of the groups involved. "We were the first to be completed, even though we joined last."

"What're they doing with the excess now?" The woman was curious. Once their work had been completed, the elders had redirected the power to a different purpose. What that was, she didn't know, but her companion might since a few of the elders were his family.

"They're planning to use it to work a Great Magic once things settle down." He smiled at her, taking her hands in his own. "They're going to restore the forest and all that has been destroyed from it."

"All of it?!" The woman couldn't help but nearly gape at him.

"Yes, all of it." He laughed as he twirled her around in an impromptu dance. "All of the damaged and degraded land, all of the Magic that it still holds, and all of the species that are barely hanging on."

"That's incredible…we could barely do anything without attracting the attention of the Non-Magical." She stepped with him, joining him in the little dance. "To think that we'll not only bring back what was lost over time, but that we'll be able to restore what has been damaged too."

"We can't trust the ones that're in-charge on either side to do what is necessary." He pulled her into his chest and held her.

"So, we must do it ourselves." She looked into his eyes with conviction.

The two shared a kiss as the continuous storm raged in the distance.

-Akhmim ~ Egypt-

Bright red lightning sparked as materials changed their very existence under the intense Magical power being produced. The castoffs from farming were easy to acquire with Magic and served as the easiest base to work from. Using his mastery of the Branch of Magic that he'd created, Zosimos transformed withered leaves, stalks, chaff, and other such plant material into pure flour.

"I'll prepare this for preservation, Master." One of his many homunculi bowed and with a wave of both hands, the massive pile of pure flour formed into a cube. This white cube was then split into smaller uniform cubes that were each packaged and sealed. The now packaged flour was levitated away to be put under Preservation Charms.

"The next batch, Master." Another homunculus levitated a large mass of plant cast offs inside the Transmutation Circle that Zosimos stood in front of.

"How much does this make?" Zosimos questioned the homunculus that was keeping track of everything off to the side.

"We're at ninety-nine point eight percent of the goal you set, Master." The homunculus answered promptly.

"Good," Zosimos activated the Transmutation Circle again and the red lightning quickly broke down the plant material into its base elements before restructuring it into flour. "Once we reach the goal there will be enough to feed everyone for a full year." As much as he'd like to save the entirety of the world, the population was simply too large for him to do so. For now, he needed to focus on his homeland first. Once that was taken care of, then he could make more to try and share with the neighboring lands to prevent fighting over food at least. "Water is much easier. I can conjure more potable water than they need with little effort."

Gamp's Laws of Elemental Transfiguration stated that food could not be made with Magic. The Master of Transfiguration was indeed correct, filling food was impossible. But transmuting other things into food was a different matter. One could also increase the size of a food item without ill-effects, though some claimed that food that was magically enlarged gave less energy overall. But to provide for the hunger that he foresaw in the coming times, Zosimos would mold the physical world to his desire and provide for those that would suffer the most.

"I'll take this for preservation, Master." Another homunculus once more gathered and packaged the flour before taking it to be preserved by Magic.

"Do you need a break, Master?" The homunculus bringing the next pile of plant material questioned.

"No, such a transmutation barely registers to me." Zosimos waved off the concern of his creation. It was true though. Zosimos had more mana than any other Witch or Wizard in the world. Alchemy was literally his invention and he was the greatest master of the art. Even if he transmuted enough food and other supplies for his entire homeland, he would probably only be winded by the end of it. "And at that point, I'd just rely on you." He looked at the ever-changing red jewel set into the golden ring on his right hand. The red lightning appeared again as another batch of plant cast offs was quickly transmuted into flour. It would eventually be made into bread that would fill the stomachs of his people during the coming time of hardship.

"If you keep up at this rate, Master, you'll be far ahead of schedule." Novus commented on his creator's constant work.

"If I have to work constantly for the next year straight, I will do so." Zosimos watched as the new pile of flour was collected and packaged. "If I have the time, then I'll do what I can to feed the entire Mediterranean and every neighboring region of Egypt." Left unsaid was the ancient Alchemist's own feelings of guilt for allowing the coming change. Zosimos didn't want to watch others suffer, but he'd lived long enough to notice patterns on a global scale. This change was necessary for the future of Humanity. If he had to work himself to the bone and exhaust his Magic for months or longer, then it was a small price to pay to save all the lives that he could.

"Tima's report has come in as well, Master." Novus reported after another round of transmutation.

"Are the farming lessons going well?" Zosimos questioned as he took a short break from the constant transmutations.

"Yes, the new homunculi that you've made have all become fully functional and taken to learning the Magics that you instructed." Novus confirmed and enjoyed the smile he saw on his creator's face. "By the estimation that you gave us, we anticipate that each one of them will be capable of tilling, fertilizing, sowing, and tending to a hectare of land per day. The expected crop yields will be much higher than normal once they start."

"Very good." Zosimos felt a little tension leave his shoulders. He'd created one-hundred new homunculi specifically to turn them into Magical farmers. Once the initial chaos that he predicted settled down, then they could have one-hundred hectares prepared and planted everyday until they reached a sustainable size to feed the population. He'd send them across the lands to reestablish farming in whatever was left of the world after the Change. "Food is life. Without it, people are little more than animals scrounging for their next meal. With food available, however, they turn their minds to thoughts of creation and building."

"Yes, Master." Novus bowed his head in acceptance of his creator's words. "Aere is sending back her own reports on areas that will reach the most people once food production is reestablished."

"That is good, the faster we can get the people settled back into a routine of life, the faster that we can unify again." Zosimos was hopeful that things could be as they once were again. Even if he greatly lamented the path required to get there. 'For all the power that I have, there are still facts of existence that cannot be changed. The division caused suffering, but it made them think and advance. They found their own ways to move forward. But then they became so advanced that they were no longer challenged. A lack of challenge led to complacency, laziness, and a weakening of understanding. Now we're on a path that only a great change can alter. I only hope that we can all come together again, and live better, like it used to be.' Zosimos shook his head and refocused on his current task. There would be time for hopeful daydreaming later. For now, food needed to be secured so that people could be saved.

Red lightning sparked again as another transmutation took place.

-Paris ~ France-

"Hmm…no change in the Lum to Thaum?" Fleur remarked after measuring the Magic that had just taken place. "It is odd when two different spells share the exact same efficiency." She marked down the findings with perfect accuracy.

"Yes, it makes one wonder how many spells of the same type are merely the same spell in all but name." Madam Aveline smiled at her former student and now fellow Scholar and Magical Researcher.

"We've noticed more variation in spells that have distinct purposes, even if they're of the same type." Fleur hummed thoughtfully as she recalled yesterday's experiments. "Locomotor-based spells and Mobili-based spells both have distinct differences in their efficiency even though they do the same thing overall."

"That's what makes the matching efficiency of Flipendo and Depulso so odd, yes?" Madam Aveline grinned since she'd been the one to cast both spells a moment ago. Like most Magical Scholars, she couldn't be more thankful to Harry Potter for developing his method for measuring Magic. Her career field had become more active, and full of discoveries, in the last few years than it had been in a century beforehand.

"Indeed." Fleur let out a small chuckle. Her blue eyes looked over the data they'd collected today with a mix of interest and longing.

"Something seems to be troubling you." Madam Aveline had seen that look on Fleur's face many times over their years as teacher and student. "I'll listen, if you wish to share your thoughts with me."

Fleur let out a heavy sigh and her shoulders sagged a bit before she met her old teacher's gaze. "It's the situation with the Dark Lord that mispronounces our language for his false name."

"Ah," Madam Aveline nodded and quickly summoned two chairs that were by the wall. "Let's take a break. We can talk while we do so."

"Thank you." Fleur gave her a smile as she sat down.

"Now, tell me what has you so worried." Madam Aveline waved her wand and then flicked it. Her handbag floated over to her and from within she pulled out a bottle of wine and two glasses. Following that came a covered plate of small baked sweets.

"I see you are as prepared as always." Fleur giggled, reminded of their talks in Madam Aveline's quarters at Beauxbatons.

"Of course," Madam Aveline smiled as the wine bottle uncorked itself and poured the two glasses without being touched. "So, what is it about the English Dark Lord that has you concerned? Is it because your beau seems to be his target for some reason?"

"That's part of it." Fleur nodded as she accepted the glass of wine when it floated over to her. "The other part is that none of us understand how it is that a man thought dead for so long suddenly returned. We suspect truly foul Magics to be involved, of course, but we have nothing more beyond speculation." She sipped at the wine, but could barely appreciate its flavor with her thoughts once more turned to the threat against her family.

"It is very odd." Madam Aveline agreed as she sipped her wine and then adopted a thinking look. "There are many rumored Magics that can keep one from death. But most are merely fanciful tales that have been misrepresented or outright made up." The older woman looked at Fleur for a moment before speaking again. "Among the only Magics rumored to exist that prevent the death of the Wizard or Witch in the event of destruction of the body, one tale stands out."

"Which tale is that?" Fleur leaned forward slightly.

"Have you ever heard the story of Herpo the Foul?" Madam Aveline questioned the Veela.

"I believe so?" Fleur had to really think back to recall where she vaguely knew that name from. "We learned about him briefly in History of Magic, if I recall correctly?"

"Yes, you do." Madam Aveline nodded to Fleur; her face still serious as she continued. "Herpo the Foul was a Dark Wizard from Ancient Greece. He was infamous for being a pioneer in the field of the Dark Arts. Herpo was the first known Wizard to create a Basilisk. It is known that he was born a Parselmouth. That gave Herpo the ability to communicate with snakes. Every surviving record and tale of the man says that he spent his life studying the Dark Arts, inventing many vile curses in that time. Over the course of his life, he acquired a great understanding of the nature of the soul, and how the act of murder affected it. Armed with his knowledge and ruthlessness, he deliberately committed murder with the intention of splitting his soul, and is said to have subsequently sealed the broken fragment inside an object with Dark Magic."

"I do not recall this from History of Magic." Fleur shook her head slightly. Her blue eyes were sharp though, picking up on the path their conversation was seemingly taking.

"You wouldn't, only Herpo's horrible actions are mentioned as a Dark Wizard." Madam Aveline seemed to believe that was all that needed to be taught to children. "However, the Magic that is spoken of in his tale has two names, one known to the Non-Magical, and the other only known to those that delve into the more obscure History of Magic or the deepest recesses of Spellcraft."

"Phylactery…" Fleur pieced together the concept after going over the new information in her head. "The 'Soul Container' from the old tales?"

"The name that was hidden from the Magical World was Horcrux." Madam Aveline stated with clinical detachment. "Known only as the foulest of Dark Magics, you'll likely find no written records on the actual process. But it is a possibility to this Dark Lord's seeming ability to rise from the grave."

"If it is the same as the old horror tales of the Lich, then without destroying the phylactery, they cannot be killed." Fleur's eyes widened at the thought of an unkillable Voldemort.

"Yes, only when the 'soul container' is destroyed can the Lich be killed." Madam Aveline nodded to Fleur. "However, Herpo the Foul was rumored to have lived for almost nine-hundred years before he died. But no one had ever destroyed his body before then. The years it took this Dark Lord to return may hint that while the spirit is attached to the mortal plane, the destruction of the body reduces the threat posed by them."

"We would need a way to confirm that this is what Voldemort did." Fleur was thinking of any way that her family could prove such a thing. Her eyes were filled with worry even as she thought and Madam Aveline spoke up to break her out of it.

"This has all been speculation and hypothetical talk, you understand, Miss Delacour?" Madam Aveline raised an eyebrow and noticed when Fleur got the hint.

"Yes, of course." Fleur agreed, sipping her wine again. She knew her old Professor wouldn't have looked into the Dark Arts or so deeply into the History of Magic with any intention of trying to replicate what Herpo the Foul had done. But any talk of such Dark Magics could make others suspicious and cause no end of problems for the one talking about it. Such inquiries only invited the worst kinds of misunderstandings after all.

"In the privacy of your home, I'm sure you can share such theories freely." Madam Aveline smiled lightly before taking a sweet for herself from the tray.

Fleur would make sure to do just that. Her family may have their first lead to putting Voldemort down for good.

-Hogwarts ~ Dumbledore's Office-

"I appreciate you coming back on board, Horace." Dumbledore thanked the rather rotund Wizard sitting across from him.

"Well, you know I did always like teaching." Horace Slughorn replied to his old friend. In truth, the man had been living on the run for the last while. When the Dark Mark had been seen in the sky above the Quidditch World Cup, Horace had immediately started moving from place to place. "It's too bad that young Mr. Potter has graduated early. I would've liked to meet him."

That was the most truthful thing Slughorn had said since he'd been tracked down and nearly hauled back to Hogwarts. "I'm sure something might be able to be arranged." Dumbledore knew that Slughorn loved to collect connections to brilliant, talented, and influential people. "But with the state of things, I thought it best to offer you a position in the safety of Hogwarts."

"Yes, yes, I'm much obliged, Albus." Slughorn nodded to the Headmaster. There was truth to Dumbledore's words after all. At Hogwarts with Dumbledore was probably the safest place that Horace could think of in all honesty.

"I would like to speak on the troubled young man we both knew back in the late Thirties and Forties, if you'd indulge me, Horace." Dumbledore leaned forward slightly, the twinkle that was so often in his eyes was noticeably absent. "I think we both know what Voldemort has done." With those words, a ragged diary with a hole through it was pulled from a drawer in Dumbledore's desk and placed in front of Slughorn. The heavyset Wizard's eyes widened at seeing the object.

"I never meant…" Slughorn started but stopped when Dumbledore held up his hand.

"You're not here to be accused of anything, Horace." Dumbledore assured the Potions Master. "I merely need confirmation of what you two spoke about. I fear Tom Riddle did something most would never consider. You are the only one that he ever spoke to with any truthfulness. I require your honesty."

"Y-Yes, Albus…I…I suppose it's time to stop running from my mistakes." Slughorn sagged, seeming to age ten years in seconds just from how morose his mood had become. "It was Nineteen Forty-Two, winter had just set in as I recall…"

-End Chapter-


Work begins in earnest to try and beat the clock.

Who will reach their goal first?

We see more stirrings in the wider world.

Those that're planning truly are spread across the globe.

Zosimos is making food and supplies in massive quantities through transmutation. All to save as many lives as he can in the coming chaos that he foresees.

Meanwhile, Fleur gets a lead from her old teacher and now fellow Magical Researcher, Madam Aveline. It turns out Horace Slughorn isn't the only Professor in the world that knows some Dark things that they perhaps shouldn't.

Speaking of Slughorn…Dumbledore tracked him down early and brought him to Hogwarts. Putting physical proof in front of the old Potions Master has broken his walls. After all, it's very hard to feign ignorance or innocence when the results of your actions are placed in front of you.

What's next for our Artificer and his family?

Keep reading to find out!

Current Mana Levels

Harry – 28,528

Tonks – 23,766

Penelope – 17,984

Fleur – 18,412

Until I get your reviews, later!