AN: Thx for the reviews. Please keep reviewing as feedback is vital for the progression and improvement of the writing.
Sorry for not updating for so long, the Manipulator has been eating away at my spare time.
It was dark by the time the post arrived. Tom would have preferred to be at the Black Rose catching up with news from some of his more shady acquaintances. However the assignment came first.
The barn owl was positively regal in its posture and demanded an inflated delivery rate. When it had finally accepted what it deemed a suitable salary it took off hooting indignantly into the night and Tom was left in peace to read the letter in his office. The letter was incredulous enough, plain yellow parchment with the official seal of the department of intelligence and espionage in red wax. The cursive script was too regular to be hand written but the signature at the bottom was real. The letter was short and concise,
"We have received reports of an increase in dark activities. The focal point has been identified as a dark movement led by MILO CARRION. The subject has no previous convictions, or conjunctions. Reports state, however, that the subject has familial links to numerous people previously convicted but not charged with practise of the dark arts.
Members of the revolutionary group have yet to be identified but considering the extent of the subject's connections they will be from varied backgrounds. The movement's security is still in low levels due to the need for recruitment.
Assignment: gather further background information on the dark movement. Infiltrate the movement and gain information first hand regarding the aims and methods of the party.
Report: WrittenDeadline: None"
Tom carefully folded the letter and placed it in his safe deposit box for future reference.
Milo Carrion, he had heard that name several times before from the severely drunk at the Black Rose. Under the influence of alcohol most patrons at the bar had rather interesting things to tell about the revolutionist. His mother apparently was a pureblood witch who married beneath her for a reason Tom had yet to decipher from the drink-induced babble. His father, Carrion, had been simply a small merchant until his marriage but using his wife's money he had managed to elevate himself through the business circles. Upon his death Milo Carrion was left with a considerable fortune and had decided to implement some of his mother's more radical ideas. The movement had been steadily gaining momentum since the beginning of last year and now it seemed the organisation had grown considerable big enough for the ministry to start taking an interest.
The department of Intelligence and Espionage had the sole purpose of obtaining information. No actions were taken by the department to remedy situations, it existed as an observer to watch but not speak. Useful and relevant information would be passed onto the department of Law Enforcement if deemed necessary, but considering it was Rookwood who made the decisions, very little information ever filtered through. The public was often blissfully unaware of the reports that were filed inside the department's main office.
Tom hastily pulled some money into his pocket; with the help of a few rounds the patrons of the Black Rose would be able to tell him more than he would ever want to know about Milo Carrion.
The Black Rose was experiencing a slump in trade tonight. Small cobbled floor space between the door and the front bar was conspicuously empty. The habitual drinkers were still there though, attempting to drown themselves in cheap alcohol. There were seven of the so-called "regulars" sitting in front the bar in various states of incoherency, one Tom recognised as Darius who was his usual source of information. A quick survey of the rest of the pub revealed several crossbred goblins lurking in the furthest table muttering darkly to each other and a veiled hag sitting in full view under the torches apparently doing nothing. It was too quiet right now to do anything reductive so Tom dutifully ordered a pitcher of Ice Wind with two glasses and settled down to wait for the midnight surge.
The midnight surge did not occur, as most people would think, at midnight. Instead the casual traders packed up for the night around ten in the evening and they along with their customers congregated in the pubs for a relaxing drink… in theory. Usually the surge in customers meant duels, brawls and broken furniture. The Black Rose had long since stopped putting unbreakable charms on their furniture and windows as it simply served to agitate potentially lethal and discontented customers. Business would taper off by two in the morning when most patrons would have become incoherent with drink and they would wander out in twos and threes throwing random coins on the counter to pay for their drinks. Usually they paid more than they should but the barman kept all the supposed tips.
Currently it was ten past nine by the large brass clock hanging on the wall and the barman, Serge, was wiping the stained and dirty bar top with an even dirtier looking cloth.
"Bad business tonight?" asked Tom in the way of conversation. Serge looked up and shrugged in an apathetic manner. His muscular shoulders strained through the fabric of his dark robes.
"Quieter than usual, you're the first toff I've seen these few days. What happened hey? All out attending yer parties these days?" Serge inquired and then resumed wiping several glasses with his cloth.
"Well there was the Mid Summer Serenade…but it's over now," Tom said as he poured himself a glass of Ice Wind, a special cocktail consisting mostly of plant extracts that numbed the tongue and prevented the taste buds sensing anything but the taste of alcohol.
"Yeah…big event for you toffs. Weren't born into riches, me…no silver spoons for me 'n' my brothers. Had to scrape up a living down 'ere 'n' with the damn ministry nosing around…can't get more work than this. I got a family to feed yer know, three kids and me old man. He's on medication 'n' that darn't come cheap…" Serge's rant came to faltering halt as he stared out of the bar window with apprehension.
"What is it?" asked Tom nonchalantly; it was probably a forbidden patron walking past the window. As Serge continued to crane his neck in hopes of getting a better view, Tom paused to study him. Serge was well built as was expected of most bar tenders. Dark, intelligent and deep-set eyes peered out from under the heavy ridge so that it seemed his eyes were permanently in shadow. Personality wise Serge was fairly trust-worthy. Without any interests to look out for he functioned quite simply and the spurt of self-pity was probably induced by real emotions.
"Ah, it's nothing. I thought for a sec that the Aurours were at the door," muttered Serge.
"Aurours? Why would they come here?" inquired Tom now mildly interested. The officials feared Knockturn Alley and not even the bravest ever dared to venture so deep into the heart of Dark Magic.
"There've been raids, like…all on our patrons. I reckon that the ministry have got it in for our kind. Run by mudbloods it is, mudbloods and halfbloods, jealous of our kind. They want to wipe out our way of life, starting with people like me. It's alright for you toffs." for a moment Serge's voice became almost reproachful but then it calmed, "You've got your lands and money but we're oppressed by the government, pushed in dark corners like this," he waved his hands to emphasize his predicament. "We can't get decent jobs anywhere else 'course the ministry check yer background and if yer pureblood they stamp you unemployable!"
"The ministry cannot employ such blatant favouritism." Stated Tom. He himself had faced prejudice throughout his life, first for being an orphan and then for being a Slytherin but the discrimination had been subtle not outright.
"You don't know, they work behind the scenes 'n' that recent legislation making sure that anyone with a previous criminal records can't get more than the minimum wage. They're out to get us, the mudbloods and the muggles too. The ministry culling and sterilising all those animals just 'course the darn muggles can't handle seeing them. Its getting worse yer know…with Carrion running round. Not that I mind his ideals but he's got to do more than talk…yer known take action. If he took actions I'd join him, I'd join anyone."
"Surely he does more than talk," said Tom sceptically.
"He does this and that but mostly he just hold meetings. Too scared of the ministry he is, coward but popular with the middle classes," replied Serge. He was now busying himself with arranging the display of illegal alcoholic drinks on offer.
The Black Rose not only served what other people termed "normal" customers but also a diverse range of species, all of which would be considered highly dangerous by the ministry. The drinks therefore needed a little extra spice in them to please the more exotic patrons. Most contained substances that would kill any wizard within the hour and some even continued extracts of human. Tom could only guess as to where the manufactures obtained the necessary ingredients.
The midnight surge was nearly upon them by the time Tom had finished his cocktail and Serge had finished gearing the pub up for the influx of customers. Their conversation warmed up as Serge stacked a toppling pile of plates near to the wine rack,
"I reckon they'll be 'ere in a couple o' seconds now. Anyone yer meetin' tonight, a lady friend perhaps?" asked Serge as the indistinct sound of a large crowd drew nearer.
"I'm engaged now Serge, no more fun around town," laughed Tom as he held out his pitcher for a refill.
"Ah, there's still time left, aye but yer know there ain't no pleasure out there than to have a happy marriage. It's a man's greatest treasure…" the sound of Serge's voice was drowned by the door opening with a bang that shook the window panes and a hundred voices all clambering for attention. Tom sipped his glass of ice wind and patiently waited for the commotion to die down.
It was twenty past nine before all the customers were happily settled and Serge only had to handle the regular requests from hard nose drinkers. The pub was now full to the brink with creatures of all kinds. A suspicious looking half vampire was peering at the empty glass beside Tom's pitcher.
"So yer wanna here about Milo Carrion?" Serge asked in a slightly hushed voice. Tom mentally jumped in surprise; had Serge guessed his intention so quickly? However the question, Tom realised, was not directed at him but at the vampire sitting next to him.
"And what would you know?" it countered in a high pitched, wheezy voice.
"Yer tend to hear things here. I talk to all kinds, toffs," at this the vampire turned his attention back to Tom, "criminals, taxmen…"
"Yes alright but what of Sir so and so over there," it lifted a gnarled leathery hand in gesture towards Tom.
"I'm sure what ever you have to say will not disturb me in the slightest," countered Tom, this could be his chance to gain some real information.
"Tom here leads a double life. Posh parties one minute 'n' then down here the next. We all know Tom here, no need to be so cautious," said Serge as he turned his head to check that the group of crossbred goblins were not about to start a fight with a green skinned humanoid. The vampire snarled next to him but evidently gave in. Serge turned around and became absorbed in his narrative.
"It was a few years ago when I first heard his name. Never struck me as anyone important at first, 'cept he seemed a magnet to the discontented. I dunno, first I heard of him he were just another upstart to most people many never quite believed he would amount to much. He gained popularity though, quickly too,"
"He mustn't be all that popular I ain't never heard of him 'til now," growled the vampire clasping his empty hands together.
"Yeah well, I'm coming to that. Milo was bought up a proper guy, yer know what I mean. Mother was rich, old money sort and real snobby lady from what I gathered but she had the right idea. His father, now there was a cunning man if I ever saw one. Somehow he got Atica Montague to marry him, dunno how but some say she had a "sweet on the side" with old Carrion and ended up marrin' him out of shame," Serge paused to rub his chin thoughtfully,
'Then old Carrion started his own business with some of his wife's money. Smart businessman he was made several thousand in the first year of opening his historic artefacts shop. Hell, he was even selling copies of old prophecies but I reckon it was all a hoax. After all who would be believe he had the genuine script of the Emerald Eye!"
Tom's ears immediately peaked up in concentration,
"What exactly is this prophecy?" he asked. Serge shook his head and laughed,
"Some guy suddenly came up with this old piece of fake parchment about how the Emerald eye made his final prophecy. O' course we all know that no one heard the final prophecy o' the Emerald Eye cos' there was none. Nah, all a load o' rubbish from where I stand."
"But really what does it say?" persisted Tom. Serge shrugged apathetically,
"Old Carrion says the seer prophesised the Dark Messiah will come by at the end of this century and bring about a gold age of old wizard kind 'n' all that. Funny thing is though, Carrion never claimed to be the Messiah. Weird that, I would o' thought a power hungry guy like him would make the most of what he's got. Anyways Old Carrion reckons that he's laying the foundation for the said Messiah." Serge broke off his monologue to fill up a patron's drink and then returned to his attentive audience.
The vampire had taken Tom's question session as an opportunity to fill up the empty glass by the pitcher with Ice Wind and was now happily slurping away. Tom gave him an exasperated look and proceeded to order a glass of Caucasian Delights.
"I reckon," growled the half vampire as he put the empty glass down, " that Old Carrion knows more than he lets on about this prophecy of his." Serge gave the vampire the best patronizing look he could muster and said,
"Really, all these damn men always have more up there sleeves than on their faces." Tom raised an elegantly arched eyebrow at Serge's unorthodox sayings.
"Seriously, Serge, our friend here may have a point," said Tom gesturing to the vampire for emphasis.
"The name's Liebechnekt, Polish immigrant," supplied the vampire as he poured himself another glass, "my mother moved here from Ireland and my father was a polish vampire. Met in a pub and left to marry in Poland, that was before all these ministry decrees came about." The alcohol seemed to loosen up the vampire more than it should and his brief account of family history was more than interesting.
"Carrion intrigues me, I would rather like to meet him myself," said Tom addressing Liebechnekt. He snorted with amusement,
"What you wanting to do, toff, sponsor him. Wouldn't do your respectability any good you know. They say the ruling families won't stoop as low as acknowledge that Carrion even exists."
"Rumours are often blow into disproportion. The ruling classes may not accept Carrion as one of their own but they do not shun him to that extent. In fact some have expresses their sympathies for his cause," stated Tom causing Liebechnekt to growl in disapproval. However before he could reply a large smooth hand landed on his shoulder.
"I heard someone wanted to meet Milo Carrion," the man, for he was definitely human, had a deep resounding voice that boom across the cacophony of noises in the pub. Liebechnekt was less than happy to acknowledge the presence of the intruder.
"This ain't none of your business what we're talking about," hissed the vampire but the man with ebony black skin was unperturbed. He leant his dreadlock covered head down so that is was on level with Tom's ear and whispered conspiringly,
"I heard you want to meet Carrion, all can be arranged…for a small fee," The white of his eyes showed clearly behind the thick dark skin, he was by no means a wayward drunk.
"I have indeed expressed an interest to see Milo Carrion but how would I know that you have the necessary contacts to help me?" asked Tom.
"I happen to be one of the members of our little party, shall we say, and Carrion is always looking for new members…or sponsors. No obligation necessary, just come along and see if it pleases you."
Tom rubbed his chin rather doubtfully but mentally he trusted this man. He was blunt and to the point, the party needed sponsors and Tom, no doubt looked like someone they could tap into.
"I suppose so but what about your…fee, as you so eloquently put it?" said Tom with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. He would not get too friendly yet; there was still room for bargain.
"A small commission really, no doubt nothing that you couldn't afford," whispered the man in an oily voice, "five galleons," Tom snorted in amusement,
"You believe that I would pay five galleons for your services. I say no more than three, one galleon now and two after I finish meeting Carrion,"
The man considered the offer shrewdly and his dreadlocks danced as he tilted his head to regard Tom from a different angle. Seemingly coming to the conclusion that three galleons was the best sum he would make that night he nodded in agreement.
"Now's if you'd like to follow me, sir, Carrion's got his own meeting hall upstairs," Tom rose from his seat and was about to follow the dark man when Liebechnekt spoke up,
"Hey, gullible, how do you know if he's not going to drag you upstairs and kill you? He'd get more than three galleons of your person that way,"
Tom gave the vampire a withering glare but he could see the ulterior motive behind the insulting words.
"I am quite capable of defending myself should the occasion call for it but you are welcome to follow if you want," stated Tom in a superior tone that left no argument as to whom was going to be in charge. The dark man shrugged nonchalantly and beckoned for them to move quickly.
Up a flight of winding stone steps with no barrister on one side that elevated them above the noise of the main pub and onto a long dark landing lit only by the moonlight filtering through a cracked pane of glass.
"Which one is it?" hissed the half vampire impatiently and shifted from one foot to the other. Apparently half vampires did not possess nocturnal vision. The tall dark man was visible as only a partial blurred silhouette against the grimy window.
"The third door on the right," he whispered, "and be sure to slip in unnoticed, Carrion is holding an important meeting," Tom felt rather than saw Liebechnekt's frown behind him as the specified door creaked open of its own accord and a rectangle of yellow light spilled onto the dark landing.
Inside was a huge hall filled with standing people all with their back turned to the door. The high vaulted ceiling was painted white and sparsely decorated only at the vertices. It was the Opus Hall where the Black Rose catered for large parties but today it seemed that the ancient charm on the room had been evoked to accommodate all the people. The audience must have apparated in, as Tom could not imagine such a crowd trudging through the main bar.
From his view point he could see other a feel untidy rows of head until his vision was blocked by what seem to be a large group of part trolls scratching their heads stupidly.
"Carrion is about to give a speech," whispered the dark man so that Tom had to strain his ears to hear the words over the excited yet hushed murmur of voices in the room. "It's an informative speech only, so it won't last long. You'll get to meet him soon." Suddenly there came a great cheer from the front of the hall and it spread like wild fire to the back where the group of part trolls ululated in approval.
"Ladies and gentlemen we are gathered here today to witness a great event, the induction of your latest supporters into the cause!" the voice was what Serge would have called "highly smug 'n' proper like". It had a clear ringing quality to it that only professional orators obtained through years of training.
"What do new members have to do?" hissed Tom to his guide while Carrion waited for the crowd to settle down again. The dark man struggled apathetically without even looking at Tom.
"The ceremonies have already been preformed so all that remains for me to propose a toast to our newest members," evidently Carrion and some others had glasses of wine at the front but Tom's view of the stage was still very much blocked by the large square heads of the part trolls.
There was raucous applause and suddenly the lines broke to reveal small square tables with what looked like party dishes spread on top of their smooth white surfaces. Evidently the audience had not been standing amongst the tables and now they moved cheerfully in groups towards the food and drink chatting in restrained tones as if it was a twisted version of a cocktail party.
Tom's view cleared as the party trolls loped off to attack what looked like the non-human sector of the party. There, a few yards after the small tables ended a long low stage crafted simply from cedar wood occupied the rest of the hall. In the centre of the stage stood five people, all of whom could still be classified as adolescents. However Tom was more interested in the figure descending the stage with a regal air.
Milo Carrion at a first glance seemed the epitome of well-bred society. Tall, handsome with some wise grey hairs adorning his temple he flashed a charming smile at a group of witches who were waving to him. He walked amongst his guests and twisted in and out of conversations very much like a certain Ignius Black. Tom saw his chance as Carrion approached the edge of the dining area. Liebenchnekt had disappeared into the throng with the guide in the hopes of snatching some free food leaving Tom standing on his own.
Appearing casual and friendly but not eager Tom made his way across the distance between them but there was not need to catch Carrion's attention as the man had already noticed him.
"Good evening, my friend," Carrion said in way of a greeting as he cross-examined Tom.
"Good evening, Milo Carrion. I am Voldemort Salamir and I congratulate you on your superb oratory,"
"I am most honoured to meet you and accept such high praises. I am so glad that you have decided to attend a meeting," said Carrion smiling as he bowed in acknowledgement. Tom nearly stiffened, how could Carrion have been expecting him? Most likely it was because he had generally made his sympathies for the preservation of blood known. He was after all a very likely candidate for Carrion to approach.
"I was very intrigued by your work, Mr Carrion. Forgive me if I abandon formalities for the moment but do tell me more about your works. I heard from certain sources that you obtained the original script of the last prophecy of the Emerald Eye,"
At this Carrion smiled in a satisfaction,
"Of course, my father had an affinity with antique collecting. He managed to procure the written record through nearly twenty years of searching. However it was not one thousand years old," Carrion paused to laugh, "that would have disintegrated by now, but my father obtained a medieval copy of the prophecy written by the famous scribe Uther Undulous. There are recorded to have been three copies of the prophecy written by Uther but I am quite certain that only one survived…the one is my possession."
"I did hear once - there is one being held at the British Scholaric Library," said Tom in calm and measured tones.
"Ah, yes that I can assure you is not the original copy from Uther Undulous. The copy currently residing at the museum is what one might call pirate version of the original made by twelfth century scholars as part of a book designed for financial gain,"
"I see, so this prophecy, it is not well known, what does it contain?" asked Tom with an air of polite curiosity.
"The prophecy was made by the Emerald Eye at the very end of his life, his last prophecy. It documented the rise of a new dark order sometime towards the end of this century. It is said in the actual manuscript that the new messiah will be born 'as the silver serpent flies once more across the night sky'. I, myself, believe that the prophecy should be taken literally. The silver serpent is most likely a comet of some sort, a comet with a regular orbit that can be seen very millennia or so," explained Milo Carrion with a little smugness.
"A comet, that is indeed a most plausible theory. However due my amateur interest in astronomy, I am reasonably informed and I have yet to come across predication of a comet," said Tom hoping to draw out more information.
Milo Carrion smiled. It was more of leer, sharp and twisted.
"The comet will come in due time, the astronomical society are not disposed to predict the path of the silver serpent."
"Yes, it is perhaps a tragedy that professions are ridden with politics," said Tom, with an air of refined apathy.
"Now that we are on the topic of politics, my dear friend, Mulciber tells me that you have expressed an interest in joining our organisation," said Carrion with a flourish, a genuine smile spread across his feature. Mulciber, Tom's dark guide seemed to appear of the crowd precisely on que and stood behind Carrion with a glass of red wine in his hand.
Tom decided he had perhaps pushed his luck enough for one night and nodded appreciatively.
"Yes, it has been my intention for some time to become a part of your organisation. To meet you was a great honour," Tom inclined his head towards Carrion. "I suppose there is a lot we need to discuss."
"Oh no, Voldemort, I trust you. We need more of your kind in this movement and formalities are not necessary. You are most welcome to join us. Of course your official induction will be later on but I cannot express my gratitude towards you," said Carrion taking Tom's hand and shaking it warmly.
"The feeling is mutual, Milo Carrion. Am I right in assuming I will be notified by post of further arrangement?"
"Of course, Voldemort, I shall look forwards to officially congratulating you on your excellent choice later on,"
Feeling that the meeting was over, Tom bowed before leaving the cramped and noisy hall. The group of half giants were chatting to someone suspiciously familiar and on further inspection the cloaked figure turned out to be Liebechnekt. Unfortunately, Liebechnekt also saw Tom and took the opportunity to slip away from his rather aggressive and much larger companions.
"Did yer find anything useful?" he asked while munching on a piece of flaking pastry. Tom absently dusted the crumbs off his shoulder.
"Perhaps, I am satisfied enough."
"Always talkin' in riddles you," grumbled the half vampire as they made their way down to the main pub.
For several months afterwards, Tom spent nearly all his spare time compiling intelligence on Carrion from his background to his current dealings. Names, locations and patterns were meticulously recorded without incurring the suspicion of anyone.
The job really was too easy for Tom, a seasoned spy from his own school days. Carrion was mediocre to the last level, his sense of pride far out stretched his abilities as a leader and by the late summer Tom had compiled enough evidence on the Carrions' movement to incriminate over half of its members.
It was a relief, then, from hard work when Tom received a formal invitation to dine with the House of Slytherin. His first chance to truly impress his future in-laws.
AN: Please review, thxs.