Disclaimer: See previous chapters.
Arc Two - The Dark Tournament
Chapter Twenty - Assembling a Team
"What do you mean?" screeched Mandela, her blue eyes wide. "The Dark Tournament! You can't Draco! What were you thinking?"
"What's so bad about it?" I asked, helping myself to a piece of toast.
It was nine in the morning and Mia, Mandela, and myself were in the kitchen enjoying a simple breakfast, Mother still sleeping upstairs. I had decided to inform them of my meeting with Donovan, expecting support. Not exactly what I was getting…
"You are going to die!" she shrieked, waving her fork around in the air for protest. "Do you want to know the rules of the Dark Tournament, Draco? There's only one…win in whatever way you can possible. Cheating is legal there!"
"So? I know magic and I have my Spirit powers. How hard can this be?"
Mia, who had been quiet during the entire meal, added her input. "You can't use magic Draco. It's illegal since demons don't attend magic schools."
"But Manda just said anything was legal," I said, slightly confused.
"The Tournament Committee is going to be against you," the pink haired girl said, taking a bite of a banana. "They hate you for what you did to Voldemort and are putting up their own rules for your team."
"But that's not fair!"
"Life isn't fair," Mandela said. "There's something else I'm wondering about Draco. Who is your team? You need at five members per team or you automatically forfeit."
"Well…I'm pretty sure I can get Leila and Zareh to do it," I said, a thoughtful expression on my face. "And Kael and Hoshiko would probably join. And then there's me…so we have five."
"Earth to Draco," said Mandela, tapping me sharply on the head, "you also need a sponsor who will take ownership of your team. Who is that going to be?"
"Sina," I said hopefully. "She's the one who brought me into this whole mess, sort of, so she can own the team!"
"It looks like he has it all figured out," said Mandela wryly, "I can't wait to see him ask everyone." Both her and Mia broke into loud peals of laughter.
"What's so funny?" I grumbled, crossing my arms over my chest in an attempt to look imposing.
"You," giggled Mia. "Come on then…best to go find your team." She and Mandela caught each other's eye and burst out laughing again, myself leaving the kitchen in a huff.
"Stupid girls, they'll see," I muttered, stalking off down the hall. "Everyone will want to be on my team. Why wouldn't they want to be?"
Poking my head into my mother's room, I saw that she was still asleep, her arms wrapped tightly around a pillow. "I'll be back later," I whispered, giving the blonde woman a kiss on top of her head.
Stealing quietly from the room, I went to my own and quickly got dressed in a pair of blue jean shorts and an emerald tee shirt. No way would I ever be seen wearing red…a stupid Gryffindor color.
Mia and Mandela were waiting at the front door, dressed in clean clothes after our long hike yesterday. Mia wore a bright yellow halter-top and a pair of rolled up denim shorts, a pair of yellow sneakers on her feet.
Mandela had her hair pulled back like Mia and wore a navy spaghetti strap tank top and a pair of jean capris. "Ready to go?" Mia asked brightly, her hands fumbling with her birthstone necklace.
"We're going to visit Sina first," said Mandela wisely. "You can ask her about taking ownership of your team then. She might even be able to set us up with portals to Leila and Zareh's house and locate Kael and Hoshiko for us."
Each spirit took one of my arms and I was transported directly to Sina's office, right in front of the dozing Spirit World leader. The little girl was sound asleep on top of a pile of books on her desk, hand still moving the pen across a piece of paper, scribbles the outcome.
"Looks like someone is a bit tired," I joked, pulling the writing utensil out of the navy haired child's grip. "I wonder why."
"You'd be tired if you stayed up all night trying to contact the human world," the girl muttered, picking her head off of the textbooks. The whole right side of her face was bright red from having lain on the hard surface for so long. Her hair was knotted once more and her eyes red rimmed.
"Are you all right Sina?" asked Mia, picking the girl off of the hard backed chair and setting her gently on the plush couch. "I'll go get you something to eat, you must be starving!" The bubbly spirit took off out of the room and I sat down next to Sina while Mandela went in search of a hairbrush.
"Here we go," said Mia, entering the room once more. "Some apple juice, a raspberry pastry, a bagel and cream cheese, and a cup of coffee should have you up in no time. Coffee first," Mia decided, taking in the half lidded look she was getting from the young ruler.
A few minutes later, Sina's hair had been brushed and the ruler was starting to look more like her perky self, now munching happily on the sweet treat that came with her bagel. "Do you know why communication was blocked?" asked Sina, turning to Mandela.
"Yes…a demon named Donovan needed to talk to Draco and didn't want anyone else interfering. He asked him to go to the Dark Tournament and Draco accepted."
"You did what!" Sina exclaimed, spitting out apple juice on Mia. "Why would you do something so stupid Draco? You have no chance of beating Donovan! You can't!"
"What do you know about this Donovan guy?" I asked, curiosity growing. "What makes him so bad? He showed me his strength last night but as I've heard before, strength isn't everything."
"Listen," said Sina quietly. "Twenty years ago is when Donovan first became a threat to us. He was your average demon but he participated in the Dark Tournament. His team won…but he was the only one alive at the very end. He wished for immortal strength."
"Doesn't sound too bad yet," I said, taking a sip of Sina's coffee. "You need to add a little more cream," I said, "it's too bland"
"I like it that way," protested Sina. "Do you want to here the story or not?"
"Yes my lady," I said sarcastically, earning a knock to the head from the child.
"Naturally, Spirit World has no association with the Demon World but we had to involve ourselves after Donovan's first attack. He somehow made it into the Human World and murdered over thirty people in America. Several of my workers went down and told him he had to stop, the humans were out of bounds.
"He agreed and went back to the Demon World while we sealed up the passageway he'd been using. Less then two years later attacks were reported in Brazil and we once again went to investigate. Donovan was there and we sent him back."
"One question," I said. "How did he pass so easily from the worlds? Surely some human would have noticed a demon walking around."
"Not exactly. Some demons are born with bodies that resemble humans while others get demon bodies. Leila and Zareh don't count because they used to be human but Hoshiko and Kael are full blooded demons…they just resemble a human."
"Over the next twenty years he continued to appear in the Human World and commit senseless murders. We lost our temper when he wiped out a whole town in Italy four years ago. He was put into prison in this very building."
"What happened to him?" I asked, voice hushed.
"He escaped," she said simply. "His power is too strong for us to hold down any longer. Since then he's been terrorizing towns all over the globe, murdering for pleasure. He's no longer a just a demon…he's a monster. He lives to kill and destroy, far worse then any demon I know of."
"So isn't it a good thing I'm going to go fight? I mean, we need to kill him!"
"And you think you're going to be the one to do that?" she laughed bitterly. "No one stands a chance against him…I'm honestly surprised he didn't kill you last night. But then again, if anything he does fight fair…no hidden tricks or weapons."
"Well I can't back away now," I said firmly, hands clenching into fists. "If I fail so does the world and I can't let that happen. Besides, I've never backed away from a challenge and I'm not about to start now."
"Are you sure about this Draco?" Sina asked worriedly, the fabric of her large orange shirt twisting in her fingers.
"Yes. But there's one thing I need to ask you Sina."
"Can you take ownership of my team?"
"I guess so…but you are not allowed to die Draco! If you die I'll resurrect you and then kill you myself! Got it?"
"Don't worry about me," I said softly, pulling the girl into a hug. "I'll be just fine."
"We were wondering Sina," said Mandela, "do you know where Hoshiko and Kael are? Draco needs to ask them to be on his team. And a portal to Leila and Zareh's house would be nice."
"Hang on," Sina said, scrambling off of the couch and over to her desk. "Hoshiko is currently in the Demon World…Kael is here. He had to stop by earlier yesterday and got caught in the communication loss…he's still asleep in his room. Once you talk to him I'll set you up a portal to Leila's…after that come here and I'll bring you to the Demon World."
"Thanks Sina!" said Mia, leaping off of the couch. "We'll be back in a little bit." The three of us trooped out to confront Kael and see if he had any interest in joining my team. "He'll be down this hall," said Mia, leading the way down the corridor where I had been housed during my short visit.
"This is his room," said Mandela, stopping outside the fourth door in. "I sense fire behind it." Raising her hand, the girl knocked sharply and we all waited for the Irish demon to open the door.
"Yes?" A shaggy red head poked out of the open door, the green eyes blurry with sleep. "Didja need something?"
"Can we come in Kael?" asked Mia politely. "Draco needs to ask you something."
"Sure," he yawned, gesturing for us to enter behind him. "So I take it the communication link is back then? After all, you three are here," he remarked, flopping back down on his bed and pulling out a recorder from beneath his pillow.
"It is," I said, leaning against the dresser opposite the bed. "It was down because of a demon named Donovan."
A sharp squeak emitted from the instrument and Kael dropped it like it was a hot coal. "Donovan?" he cried.
"That's right," Mia chirped, picking up the recorder and trying it herself. A whistling noise came out and the pink haired spirit happily moved over to the other side of the room to practice.
"But what did he want?" the Irish demon asked, hopping off the bed and trying to regain possession of his recorder from Mia.
"To talk to me," I sighed. "He wants to take over the world like every other bad guy out there."
"Difference is, he probably can," Mandela added.
"And you're not dead because…?"
"Donovan wants to fight me. He says that all of the demons know that I was there when Voldemort was defeated. And that I'm one of the main reasons that he was killed. If he can beat me then he'll be respected greatly by the Demon world."
"Would you quit interrupting?"
"Sorry," Kael said sheepishly, his recorder now safely back in his hands, leaving Mia pouting by the window.
"So he told me that he'd be waiting for me in the Dark Tournament to fight. It was either accept the offer or he'd start killing thousands of people now. The way I see it is that if I fight him and win, then no one else will have to die."
"And if you lose?"
"Then I guess everyone will die. And that's the reason I'm here."
Kael blinked as understanding dawned on his face. "You want me to be one of your fighters?" he asked, voice incredulous.
"That was my idea, but I understand if you don't want to do it," I added quickly.
"What? No way! I'm ready to go kick some demon butt! When do we leave? What do I need to pack? Is Leila coming? Who else is coming?"
A grin stretched across my face. "We leave off Harshim Port on July eighth. I don't know if Leila is coming…but I am going to ask. Any reason why you wanted to know about Leila though?"
"None at all," the Fire demon replied carelessly. "In July, huh? I'll be good and ready."
"Thanks," I said, grabbing Kael's hand tightly and giving it a shake. "See you then."
With a wave, I left, Mia and Mandela following a second later.
"Now where?" Manda asked, doubling her pace to keep up with my long stride.
"Let's go get Zareh and Leila first. Sina said she'd get us a portal for them, right?"
"Right," Mia bubbled, skipping along beside me. "But they did move, just so you know. I don't think their old home had…very pleasant memories for them," she said, her voice soft. "They're off in their own little spot by a lake now in the middle of a forest."
A forest? I could see both of them liking the location. Leila would have plenty of plants to work with and Zareh had the lake to practice freezing techniques on. And being hidden away in the woods, no one would bother them. Something I'm sure Leila liked quite well.
"Sina, we're back for our portal!" Mia called, once more cheerful. Nothing could keep her down for long.
"I heard that you're recruiting a team for the Dark Tournament. I am getting an invitation, correct?" Hoshiko asked, sitting comfortably in the air next to Sina, for once decently clothed in a long green skirt and a billowy white shirt. "I just arrived back from Demon World and Sina's told me all about it."
I blinked and then shook my head, trying to clear away the little stars that had formed at seeing her.
"Is that a no?"
"No! I mean yes! No?"
Hoshiko raised an eyebrow and Mia giggled.
"Will you be on my team?"
"That's better. Sure, why not? I have to keep an eye on you anyway…you're just a human. Besides, you'll need me if you're going to win. And I can help train you…I don't think the stuff we did is going to get you very far in the tournament. We really need to work on your offensive fighting; purely physical. You have no form at all!"
"And welcome to the team," I said, stopping her before every single one of my faults could be exploited. "We leave off Harshim port on July eighth."
"I knew that already." A vein throbbed in my head and Mandela rolled her eyes.
"Can we get the portal to Leila and Zareh's before someone blows?" the blonde spirit asked, nodding her head at me.
"Do I look angry? I'm not angry!"
"There you go," Sina smiled, a dark blue oval appearing in the air in front of Mia. "Just walk through it and you should be at their new home. But do be careful…Leila did set out a few traps for anyone who comes by…"
"We'll be fine," I said, heading for the portal. "What could I plant demon do?"
"Looks like his mouth speaks before his brain again," Mandela sighed, standing on the ground next to Mia and looking up at the tree in which Draco was suspended in a net.
"I heard that! Get me down! These plants are trying to strangle me!" the Slytherin cried, unsuccessfully trying to remove a red vine from creeping around his neck.
"If you're going to be the team leader you'd better toughen up a bit," drawled a voice from a few feet away. Leaning idly against a tree was Leila, clothed in a pair of black shorts and a black halter top, midnight hair pulled into two buns on the side of her head.
"How'd you know about that?" Draco asked, ceasing his struggling for a minute.
"It doesn't take a genius to figure it out. Why else would you be out here? Besides, Zareh and I know that the Tournament starts in July and that you'd out be getting a team. Am I right?"
"You're right," Draco admitted. "So, both of you coming?"
"Who said I was going? I'm not going near that place."
Draco, who'd managed to break free of the net using a small spirit blast and was now balancing on a branch so that he could hop down (the vines had stopped trying to kill him once Leila came to the scene), fell from his twenty foot drop.
"What do you mean? Why?"
"I don't believe in fighting unless it's for a reason. And some silly tournament isn't a good enough reason."
"But I need you! Donovan came and I told him I'd enter. It's the only chance to beat him before he attempts world domination."
Leila looked pointedly at Draco. "So? For one thing, Donovan isn't going to care if Zareh and I live out here- he won't even know since our energies can't be found by a tracking device. Two, since when did I owe humans anything?"
"Nope. Sorry, Draco. You're the only human I've ever met that has actually been kind. But even that isn't enough. Neither Zareh or I will be joining you so you may as well leave now."
"Quite a turn around from Kael and Hoshiko, isn't this?" Mandela asked as the Slytherin trudged back to the two girls as Leila vanished into the trees. "See why we were laughing?"
"What am I going to do? They're both really good fighters…I need them! Or I have to go find someone else who would fill in…but I don't know any other fighters! And I doubt they'd want to be on a team that's on Donovan's bad side…"
"You could go ask again," Mia suggested. "Try finding Zareh and ask. Or, better yet, let's go have Mandela ask Zareh. I'm sure he'd say yes."
"This isn't my team," Mandela blushed, backing away. "I'm not asking Zareh anything."
"This isn't funny," Draco snapped, pacing angrily back and forth on the ground.
"You could at least give it a try," Mia huffed. "We're only trying to help, you know."
Draco sighed. "I know. I'm sorry. It's just that…I'm the only one who can stop this. For once it isn't Potter or Dumbledore. It's me. And I don't know how to do it."
"It's all right," Mandela said softly, placing a gentle hand on Draco's shoulder. "All you need is a little boost."
"And I've got just the thing! Wait just one moment!"
"Hi there! Remember me? I've got to take you somewhere for a little while."
"No time to talk," the pink haired spirit grinned, grabbing onto the girl's arm. "We have to be somewhere."
"But I'm still in my pajamas!"
"No time to change either. Don't worry- he doesn't care how you look. Hold on tight- here we go!"
"I have brought moral support," Mia beamed, pushing the Gryffindor girl towards Draco. "Now go cheer him up," she ordered Hermione. "And then get him to go face Leila."
"What is going on?" Hermione demanded, stomping her bare foot on the damp, pine needle covered ground. She was dressed simply in an overlarge pink tee shirt with a pair of blue checkered pants on.
"It's a long story," I sighed, pulling her away from Mia and Mandela so we could talk in private. "Last night, some demon named Donovan came to my house. He wants me to participate in a tournament for demons…it's either I beat him in that or he starts trying to take over the world now."
"He wouldn't get very far," Hermione pointed out. "I doubt anyone is just going to be walked over."
"My thoughts too. But he's strong…really strong. He destroyed part of the forest behind the manor last night in a matter of seconds. The only way I can really stop him is to beat him in the Tournament."
"Why did he even bother inviting you to the Tournament if he could just bypass the entire thing?"
"A lot of demons hate me…they see me as one of the main reason's for Voldemort's death. And they liked Voldemort a lot. Donovan figures that when he beats me, he'll gain their respect and allegiance, making things even easier. So, I'm off on my summer break trying to recruit the group you saw training me during school."
"And you need me because?"
"As Mia says, moral support. Kael and Hoshiko said yes right away. Leila just turned me down. Quite harshly too…and she says that Zareh won't come with us either."
"I won't go with you where?"
Hermione and Draco both screamed as the electric blue haired demon came out of the trees, a puzzled expression on his face.
"You really should be more aware of your surroundings," Zareh said, sitting down on the log next to Draco. "If I'd been an enemy you'd have been dead already. What are you doing all the way out here?"
"To ask you a favor, but Leila already gave me your answer."
"Favor? I'd be happy to help. What is it?"
"I…I wanted you and Leila to join my team for the Dark Tournament. I'm not entering it by choice," I continued, raising my hands to block his questions. "I'm trying to…save the world, I guess. Even though that sounds really stupid."
"The Dark Tournament? Are you out of your mind? Do you know how many demons die in there? Hundreds! It's like going to your own funeral!"
"And that's why you're not going," Leila said, jumping down from a tree branch. "I've already told Draco our answer. We have no connections with humans and we'll be fine all the way out here. Come on, breakfast is ready."
Zareh looked uncertainly between Draco and Leila. "But Leila…we have to help him."
The dark beauty snorted. "We don't have to help him at all. What we choose to do is on our own free will."
"But…at the trial. Don't you remember what the judge said?"
"No," she said sharply, although her face was beginning to betray worry.
"He said that our punishment for breaking into Lady Sina's vault was we had to accompany Draco on his missions…and isn't this considered a mission?"
"Listen," Draco said. "What Zareh said is true. But if you truly don't want to go…I'm not going to make you. It'll do no good having someone on my team who doesn't want to fight."
"But I'm going," Zareh declared. "I don't want to fight either. But Draco's my friend. And I'm not going to let him go out there by himself."
"Please, Leila?" Mia asked softly, stepping up to stand next to the plant demon. "Mandela and I are going too…not to fight, but for support. Won't you come?"
A few seconds of silence and then, "Fine. But only to keep an eye on Zareh."
"This is great!" Mia squealed, hugging Leila. "And Kael and Hoshiko will be there too!"
"Kael? In that case, I'm not going."
"You're joking…right?" Draco asked uncertainly.
"Nope. I'm not going if he is."
"You just had to tell her, didn't you?" Draco asked, turning to Mia. The pink haired spirit gulped and dove behind Mandela.
"How about this? I'll go but only if you keep him away from me."
"Deal!" cried Draco, shaking hands with Leila. "We leave at Harshim Port on July eighth."
"…come to think of that, I haven't any idea."
"It should be around midnight," Mandela said. "After all, it will be the witching hour."
"Promise you'll be careful, okay?" Hermione asked, placing a chaste kiss on Draco's cheek.
"Aren't I always?"
And very clearly, five voices said, "No."
Draco smiled anyway and pulled Hermione to him. In a month's time they would be participating in the Dark Tournament. And his team was going to win. He'd make sure of it.
Umm…hi:cowers and dodges angry readers: I know…it's been over a year. I was actually going to stop working on this story. But my darn muse doesn't give up very easily. :P So here the next chapter is, with hopefully the next one a bit sooner.
Another reason for getting this up was seeing the movie Sky High. In it, there's a girl named Leila and her special, super hero power is plants…sound familiar? XD It got be back in the mood.
If you're still out there, mind clicking the little button below and leave a review? I'd love to hear from you.