A/N: Sorry for the wait! Was it two weeks? Anyway, this one came a bit longer so hope this will save me from your wrath. -hides-
Non beta-read version.
Song: 'Joushou Kiryu' by Aqua Timez
Ch. 26: The Pure Heart and the Dark One
Harry's gaze hardened at the words the phoenix priestess had pronounced. He trusted all of his companions except one, but he wanted to trust Damnian all the same. Damnian was, after all, Angelus' younger brother. He couldn't be bad, could he? Why would Damnian be bad when his older brother had helped them so much? Damnian had also helped them defeat fiends and he didn't seem like someone who would work for Nebureth.
"You're time is almost up, ancient Al. Be brave and don't lose heart." The words had woken Harry from his temporary lapse and he stared at Al, just like everyone else did. Neville held Luna in his arms protectively, but his eyes were on his headmaster. Like the others, Neville waited for Al's response.
"I'll be ready, whatever comes. I know my time will come sooner or later and I will be ready to face my destiny. My only hope is that it won't be in vain and everything will be for a good cause."
"It will be for a good cause, ancient one. It will be. Do not fear." The priestess approached Al and gently moved her winged arm above Al's head, a calming spell befalling upon the boy. He glowed golden as the spell traced itself around his body and then the priestess left him, her head low. "Go to Fajishmla. Everything will be revealed there."
Soshlan gasped when he heard the name of the land they would head for. Harry gave him an inquisitive gaze and the elven fairy spoke quickly, gesticulating with his delicate looking hands. "Fajishmla is the land where my mother was born, the land of the faeries. I've never been there in all my life."
The altar darkened and the adventurers were no longer able to see the priests and priestesses that had been there only seconds before. A golden light surrounded them and the last thing they heard was the priestess' voice yet again, saying: "You will continue your journey. We bid you farewell. Remember, if the pure heart is chosen correctly you will receive a summon that has never been obtained before."
Surprised, they found themselves outside the city's gates, the priestess' last words still echoing in their minds. The Kokoshyon was there, waiting for them, and Harry couldn't help but think that everything in Larakain was magical in a very strange way. He walked with his friends, many thoughts on his mind. He didn't even notice when he boarded the airship and sat next to Dianeia, who was also deep in thought.
"Harry, I have a very bad feeling."
Harry was abruptly brought to reality by the young woman's fears. "Why?"
"I don't know." Her face showed uncertainty, insecurities, unleashed fear. "I just think that something will happen and we will never be able to see each other again." Her hands were fumbling nervously with the silvery tunic that covered part of her silvery coloured trousers.
"Don't say that. Everything will be all right. We will finish Nebureth and then I'll take you with me to my world. You have nothing to worry about." Harry squeezed her right hand to reassure her, but could feel her hand quivering in his.
"What about my family? Will I ever see them again? Will I be accepted in your world, Harry?" Her gaze was intense and almost overwhelming, but Harry wanted to remain calm.
"Well, I traveled here, didn't I? There will probably be a way for you to see your family. You'll see. We'll work something out." Harry placed a quick kiss on Dianeia's lips and tenderly caressed her right cheek. "Trust me, Dia." The girl nodded, but her eyes were still clouded with doubts and confusion.
A while later, everyone had gone into rooms after Angelus announced that they wouldn't reach Fajishmla until the next day. For a complete hour, Harry watched Dianeia sleep while thinking about her fears. Was there a chance that she could be right? The truth was that he had a very bad feeling too, but he wanted to think that the uncertainty came from paranoia rather than from crude reality.
Neville watched over Luna that night. She had told him she was fine and that he shouldn't worry much because she felt all right, but he preferred to remain vigilant no matter what. Neville thought the latest events that had unravelled with them shouldn't be taken lightly. He couldn't help worrying about her and he had good reason to act like he did. He loved her, even if he hadn't found the time to tell her properly. He suspected that she knew. Luna was, after all, a girl who knew many things. Neville was sure she had figured his feelings out, but hadn't commented on them.
"Neville? Still awake?" Luna's beautiful eyes studied Neville with a curious glint in them and he couldn't help smiling at her.
"You can sleep. I'll keep a watch on you."
"You should rest too. I have a feeling that we'll need all our strength very soon. Try sleeping. I already told you I feel perfectly fine." Luna's voice was quite soothing with the dreamy touch it always had. Neville lowered his gaze and shook his head, but she placed a hand on his left shoulder. "Rest. I'll appreciate it."
"Luna..." The girl had removed her right hand from Neville's shoulder and had quickly used her index finger to shush him. Both stared at each other and the awkward silence started to make Neville uncomfortable. He wanted to take the first step into telling her how he felt about her, but for some reason, the Gryffindor bravery wasn't helping him in those matters. He had been able to increase his courage in great measures ever since in 5th year he had gone to the Ministry of Magic. His abilities had develop even more in Larakain. Neville could easily use magic, shoot fiends with his guns, or use powerful kicks and punches in close combat; but he couldn't mutter three simple words to the girl in front of him. To make matters worse, Luna was smiling at him. It was almost as if she could read his mind.
Neville was shocked when he suddenly found Luna's face closer than ever, her smile never leaving her lips. He didn't know what made him do it, but on impulse more than anything else, he brushed his lips against hers. In an instant his eyes were closed and her lips were his. She didn't break the connection and that gave him more confidence, but after a little while they separated. He could almost feel the room spinning, but then he decided sleep was definitely a good thing to do. Smiling back at Luna, Neville lied down beside her. He grabbed her hand, his heart bursting with joy. Less than half an hour later both Luna and Neville were sleeping, their hands still joined.
Screams in the airship woke everyone all of a sudden. It was still way too early to get up, but the screams wouldn't stop. Full of alertness, Harry ran out of the cabin he was sharing with Dianeia looking for the source of those screams of pain. His face encountered Kroy's. The man looked as startled as Harry did and both ran to the cabin that projected the piercing noise. It was the cabin Soshlan shared with Nemaisse.
Kroy flung the door open and Harry's gaze hardened when he saw Janryu holding a screaming Soshlan. Nemaisse was crying out of fear and Harry shook his head thinking badly of the young vampire, but Janryu quickly defended himself. "It's not what you're thinking!" Janryu yelled between Soshlan's screams. "I simply arrived here first because my room is the next one!"
"It's true," Kroy confirmed. He had been sharing a cabin with Janryu, but Janryu had been faster in getting to the source of all the screaming.
Angelus and Al entered the room then, the rest of all the crew behind them. They were too many to fit inside the small room.
Janryu kept trying to control Soshlan's body, but the elven fairy was having unexplained seizures. He had stopped screaming and Nemaisse started to explain, "It was all of a sudden! His screams woke me up and I just couldn't figure what was wrong. I tried to calm him, but it's almost like he is trapped inside his own mind!"
Soshlan's golden hair was messy and his eyes were open, but they were completely white. He started to cough through the seizures with Janryu holding him firmly. Al moved towards the pair, a frown on his face. "I've never seen anything like this. Angelus?" Al turned to the man standing at the door. Angelus removed his right glove, approached the convulsing boy, and placed his hand on Soshlan's head. In seconds, the boy stopped trembling and went still in Janryu's arms. All eyes were on Angelus then.
"What has just happened?" Harry asked, full of uncertainty.
The least expected person to answer started mumbling, eyes closed. "Tr-trying... To kill me. He is trying to kill me. Help..."
As if expecting everyone to lash out at him, Janryu started to defend himself yet again. "I'm positive he is not talking about me. I don't have any psychic powers to get into anyone's mind to kill him."
Ignoring what the vampire had just said Al asked Soshlan, "Who is trying to kill you?"
Soshlan opened his eyes, shrieked, and pushed Janryu away. "You were in my mind, you freak! You were strangling me while in that hideous demonic vampiric form you take! I couldn't even wake up! You were killing me in my dream!"
Janryu paled, if paling was possible for a vampire like him. He shook his head in disbelief, a look of deep hurt in his light violet orbs. His lower lip trembled and he stared at Harry. "It's not true! I--"
"I believe you," Harry answered expressionlessly. Janryu had passed the test in Xaphan. He couldn't be a traitor, but everything was too confusing. Harry could hear the words of the phoenix priestess echoing anew. "One last word, young travelers. Beware of one of your companions." Harry lowered his face, but then scanned his surroundings looking for a particular person and found his objective. Angelus' younger brother was at the doorframe with Neville, Luna, Dianeia, Sailka, Aklashya, and Kayshi. All of the faces were staring into the room.
Harry wasn't the only one looking straight at Damnian. Al was doing the same thing and Harry noticed a slight fury in Al's bright blue eyes. "Al?" he asked confused.
The change in Al's demeanor was astounding. Al smiled cheerfully at Harry and the usual twinkle of his eyes was there. He passed by Harry's side and placed a reassuring hand on Harry's shoulder before whispering, "Things are all right now. The truth will be revealed very soon."
Harry nodded, but at the same time there was something nagging at him. Al knew, but wasn't telling him anything. He saw Al about to step out the door, the others stepping aside to give him space, and Harry jogged and grabbed Al's shoulder. "Tell me! You know something!"
Al's mouth opened as if to tell Harry what Harry wanted to know, but the mouth shut. Al closed his eyes and then opened them, a determined gaze upon Harry's face. "You will find what you need to know in due time. I shouldn't be here in the first place. I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry too," Harry blurted a bit angrier than planned. Even looking younger than him, Dumbledore would still hide things from him. Harry knew the headmaster was wise, but sometimes he wondered if leaving him ignorant was correct on Dumbledore's part.
Al look saddened and Fawkes came seemingly out of nowhere, singing a calming tune before perching himself on his human's right shoulder. The fourteen-year-old looking boy then continued his pace towards the cabin he had been sharing with Angelus.
It wasn't until late in the afternoon that the airship finally landed in front of what looked like giant white and gray rocks put together. There was nothing neither there nor in the distance that would resemble a city. Nemaisse kept looking at the rocks as they descended from the airship and asked aloud, "Is this the right place? I only see what looks like a wall of rocks."
Kayshi stared dumbfounded at the many rocks in front of where he had landed the ship and retorted, "Everything indicates that Fajishmla's entrance should be exactly where those rocks are." The pink-haired boy hadn't really gotten out of the Kokoshyon, but was standing at the airship's entrance with his mother.
"Well, you could have gotten this location wrong. You are a child after all..." Nemaisse said sympathetically.
"I may be a child, but I'm one goddamn pilot. I don't err stupidly," the boy admonished angrily.
"There's something written in the rocks." Luna pointed her finger at some strange symbols in one of the giant rocks and everyone gathered in front of the white rock that was different from the others. "I cannot read that." The girl looked disappointed as she gazed at the unusual symbols that were like letters.
"Can anyone read it?" Harry looked at his comrades and everyone shook their heads except for Soshlan.
"I can," the elven fairy stated, enthralled. "It says: 'A melody with harmony will uncover what you seek.' This is fairy language." A smile adorned the boy's lips. "It seems we have to use music to open the rocks. I think we are in the right place and Fajishmla is hidden. Only fairies or people with knowledge of the fairy language would be able to read this."
Harry glanced suspiciously at Al and thought he saw a sly grin on Al's face. It was obvious Al knew they were in the correct place, but had refrained from stating so. Harry then turned to Dianeia. "Maybe you can sing something. In that way we can open those rocks."
Dianeia's cheeks burned crimson and she rapidly shook her head. "I can't sing. I only sang that one time when we needed to escape from those bandits, but I don't want to embarrass myself here."
"Why not?" Neville inquired confused.
Nemaisse and Luna started to laugh and Luna spoke dreamily, "Because she sounds like a cat meowing."
"Thanks Luna," reacted Dianeia smugly.
Harry decided not to insist, but glanced at his companions. "How are we going to open the rocks then?"
"Don't you play a tiny flute?" Janryu had turned towards Soshlan and the elven fairy almost jumped with fright at the question, but quickly composed himself.
"Yes, I can play," Soshlan replied before removing a small object from his dark green tunic shirt. He placed the little flute to his lips and started to play a nice melody, but nothing happened. Fawkes also produced a song, but nothing happened either. "I think we need harmony," Soshlan pointed with a frown. "And I don't think that me playing with the phoenix singing will work. I think the melody and harmony must be done by people, no offense to your phoenix, Al."
Al laughed. "It's all right. You won't hurt Fawkes' feelings." Fawkes trilled gleefully and flew in circles around them before landing on Al's left shoulder. "The problem is," added Al, "that we need someone to sing while you play. I can't sing, not harmoniously. We need someone to hum or play another instrument in a harmonious way, together with the music from your flute."
Many eyes looked at each other in silence and Soshlan raised an eyebrow. "It's not possible that we are so many and no one can do harmony."
Janryu, who seemed as if he had been holding his breath suddenly sighed in frustration. "I can." His voice was bitter and there was a tinge of pink on his cheeks.
Soshlan cringed, but decided he had no choice than to play and have Janryu hum. "Okay, I'll play the melody and you'll do harmony. Listen to the melody first." Soshlan then played the tune and glanced at Janryu. "Ready?"
Janryu rolled his eyes and nodded. Both started at the same time, Soshlan playing the tune and Janryu humming the same tune, but some octaves over it, creating the much needed harmony. Everyone was impressed by the vampire's sweet humming, but the biggest surprise came when the rocks started to tremble and move apart from each other. At the same time, both Soshlan and Janryu stopped their playing and humming to stare intently at the shifting rocks.
An entrance formed in what had previously been giant rocks put together and Harry took the first step towards the cave-like opening. The others followed suit, still wary about entering what looked like a cavern to them rather than a city.
Damnian was the last to enter the cavern and in seconds the entrance shut behind him. Just when the last glimpse of the late afternoon sunlight was cut, the grayish cavernous surroundings rippled and transformed revealing a wondrous city. Like his companions, Harry looked enthralled as the glorious city was revealed. There were trees, plants and flowers of many species, small animals that hid behind bushes, a bone white coloured brick road, houses, lamposts, and even transportation devices. The city was quite colourful and people walked around and shopped normally. Above the city were thick dark blue lines with cable cars of many shades that went from side to side transporting people. Between the many houses to the far sides, it was obvious that they were in front of an urban area with a shopping district.
Soshlan looked amazed, gaping as he watched the city where his mother was born. He swallowed every detail with his gaze and almost looked like he would burst from excitement. He was swelling with joy, but started to feel uncomfortable when people started to approach them. He quickly wanted to get behind someone, anyone, or even change into something or someone else, but was stopped by a voice.
"You're a halfling." The girl was staring at Soshlan intently, but with a bright smile on her face. She had copper coloured hair down to her waist, very big silvery eyes that reminded of insects even when they were shaped like human eyes, and was dressed in a long robe-like pink dress with long sleeves.
Other people joined the girl and a man with short brown hair frowned at the newcomers. "How were you able to enter our city? Only people from our kind may be able to enter or invite foreigners in. None of you is from our people, not even you." The man glanced at Soshlan when he said the last.
"I was able to read the symbols. My mother taught me the fairy language." Soshlan spoke softly, but sure of himself, even when his voice faltered a little. It was like he was trying to gain courage.
"Your mother did well then," the man replied monotonously. "Follow me."
Harry expected for them to be escorted to a temple like in Phaxeram, but instead they were escorted into a palace that was completely pink and glittery. Harry almost felt it was ridiculous to see a palace of such colouring plus its brilliance almost blinded him. The man spoke again, "This is where the Fairy Queen dwells. I am taking you to her. She will decide whether you are welcome in Fajishmla or not." Harry was about to interrupt the man, but Al's hand grabbed his shoulder. Green eyes locked with blue and Al shook his head, making Harry understand that it would be better to remain quiet for the moment.
After some minutes walking inside the place, they were in front of a golden throne where a beautiful childlike woman sat. She had long wavy bright yellow hair that covered her white robes like a cloak and fell to her sides, covering the lowest parts of the throne. A golden tiara with an amber coloured stone in its center crowned her head. She studied the visitors cautiously and smiled warmly. "Four of you have come from the other world, but one shouldn't be here. There is deep evil roaming between you, but there is also a pure heart." The queen stood, her hair looking even more like a cloak over her as it fell, touching the floor. "The pure heart should remain in this city. It will be for the pure heart's protection. We will save it well."
"No." The queen's smile faded as if she had been slapped and she looked at Harry, the one that had spoken. "None of my companions will remain here. We will stick together."
"But it will be for the pure heart's sake. There is much purity in this kingdom. The pure heart will not be corrupted here, but if it leaves it might get stained eventually. Do it for your companion, please. You must understand. The pure heart should always be left behind with us."
"And I insist, your majesty, in my statement. I won't leave anyone behind."
The queen sighed and lowered her face. Her huge emerald orbs rose then and there was determination on her features. "We'll bargain then. If you truly are worthy of keeping the pure heart with you, you will tell me who has the pure heart within your group. If you choose wisely I will bless you, letting you keep your companion and not only that, I will also give you a summon never obtained by anyone before. But if you fail..." The queen's eyes opened widely. "...the pure heart will remain here with me."
"What if I refuse to bargain?" Harry asked defiantly.
"If you don't know who has the pure heart, you are not worthy of such a companion," the fairy stated sadly.
Harry wanted to refuse, but at the same time he felt she was right. He had to know his companions closely and he couldn't fail in choosing. He looked at Al and saw confusion in Al's eyes. Al quickly whispered, "There was no pure heart within my group so I never experienced this, Harry. Precisely, because there was no pure heart between my companions, I was never able to get the secret summon hidden here. In your case is worse because you wouldn't just lose the summon, but one of your companions too. I'm sorry to be of no help here."
Angelus remained silent when Harry sent an inquisitive gaze in the man's direction. It was evident Angelus was not going to help either so Harry took a deep breath and started to analyze his friends. The first time he had been told about a pure heart he thought it had to be Nemaisse, but now he wasn't sure and worst of all, he couldn't make a mistake. There was only one chance.
Everyone waited for Harry to choose and the queen sat again on her throne, smiling. It seemed that she didn't mind if Harry took a long time choosing. She would wait patiently for Harry to choose wisely.
Dianeia looked at Harry, confusion in her eyes. He looked back at her and thought about her. He loved her very much and he would have liked for her to have a pure heart. She was good and loyal, but he was sure she didn't qualify as a pure heart. She wasn't someone who would love everyone equally and even when she wasn't as prejudiced as her older brother and many of her kind, there was still prejudice in her in small quantities. Harry was sure that if he hadn't been from the other world, Dianeia wouldn't have even seeked him.
Sailka was very new to the group, an elven warrior that Harry hardly knew and as he had been told about the pure heart before she joined them, she was not the one. The same applied to Al, Angelus, and Damnian. Those were easy to eliminate.
Taking another deep breath, Harry continued studying his friends. He gazed at Soshlan. The boy was nice and gentle, but there was still too much prejudice in him. He had accepted his dark companions, but just that morning his prejudice against Janryu had resurfaced.
Janryu stared at the floor while Harry studied him. Janryu was a great companion, but had also rejected Dianeia the first time he saw her and sometimes acted awkward around the light companions. He was better handling prejudice, but he didn't possess the pure heart that Harry seeked.
Nemaisse was young and innocent in many ways, but she had almost rejected Kroy when she met him. When it came to Kroy, the man was mysterious in Harry's opinion. The problem with Kroy was that he was too much of a follower and probably unable to voice wise decisions. The almost quiet man was definitely not the owner of the pure heart, as good and well mannered as he was.
At that moment, Harry realised something. He had just eliminated all of his companions from Larakain. Only Neville and Luna remained and Harry swallowed with dread when he discovered this. He stared at both Neville and Luna, his hands feeling extremely sweaty all of a sudden. His breathing quickened and he got very nervous as he studied his two remaining companions. Luna was smiling at him and Harry was about to choose her, thinking that females were usually purer than males, but something restrained him. His two friends weren't perfect either, but it wasn't perfection that made the pure heart. The pure heart was simply pure because even when feeling terror it wouldn't lash at anyone. It preferred getting hurt rather than hurting others. It was able to stand everything and in truth was full of bravery and was a true Gryffindor, just like Harry. It was very strange, but Harry suddenly saw a light surrounding Neville. The boy looked nervous and almost trembled as he looked at Harry. Without thinking further, Harry grabbed Neville's right arm and with a nervous voice said, "He has the pure heart. I don't understand how I know, but I am sure I'm not wrong."
The fairy queen paled and she stared at Harry incredulously, but recovered from her momentary shock. "You do know your companions well. He is not perfect and may even be frowned upon by others, but he is the owner of a true pure heart. Here." The queen lifted her right palm and a diamond shaped fragment came out of it. It was dark red and sometimes changed to pink and sometimes to white. It floated towards the group and instead of choosing between Harry, Neville, and Luna, it divided itself into four pieces. One of the pieces entered Harry, one entered Neville, one entered Luna and the last one, surprisingly entered Al. Al was taken aback by what happened and looked at Harry perplexed.
"Now," All eyes fell on the fairy queen. "I have gifts for you." A golden staff appeared in Luna's hands and the silver one on her back vanished. Then, golden guns appeared in Neville's belt, replacing the silver ones. "Farewell."
Still dazed about what had happened in the palace, Harry and his friends bought food in the city and abandoned it. It was already night and they were extremely relaxed while heading towards the airship when a gasp made them turn around. Harry's eyes widened in horror when he saw Sailka's form falling to the ground, her eyes open in a deathly stare. Blood started to come from her mouth and Al ran to her. "Sailka! Sailka!" But nothing could be done. The elven warrior was dead and a sudden laugh caused goose bumps in the group. Al's eyes were filled with tears and he yelled at the one laughing. "How could you? How could you, you monster!"
"I've gotten bored of all of you already. Pure hearts? Please! And you, little Al, even though I have nothing against you and I'm certainly not allied to that idiot Nebureth, I'll do him a favour," Damnian laughed yet again and then rolled his eyes.
Al prepared his whip and Fawkes trilled, waiting for Al's signal to combine, but Damnian was very quick and produced transparent threads that held both Al and the phoenix. The threads wrapped themselves ridiculously around Al and even created bows and ribbons that turned thick and red. "Wrapped as a gift for a Dark Lord that desperately wants you. Bye bye, little Al."
Harry was unable to do anything but watch Al and Fawkes disappear in front of his eyes. His breathing was ragged and his heart was beating extremely fast, but he readied his sword and attacked Damnian screaming, even if the attack turned out in vain. Damnian easily produced a shield of threads in front of him and with more threads trapped Harry's golden sword. He then pushed Harry magically against the nearest rock.
Dianeia used her rod to soften the rock before Harry crashed against it, accomplishing her task, but Damnian threw her kiss and then sent her flying against a tree. The evil being then laughed aloud when Neville started to shoot at him with his golden guns and Luna tried using her staff against him. The rest also attacked, but no one was able to lay a single finger on Damnian and were thrown away by a repelling force. There was only one person who wasn't doing anything and it was Angelus. The man simply stared with grief in his eyes.
With a horrendous cackle, Damnian enjoyed his power over the adventurers. Slowly, his beautiful features started to disappear and his body started to enlarge itself like Kroy's did when the half-Draconian turned into a dragon, but it wasn't a dragon that stood in front of the defeated fellowship that was scattered on those grounds. It was a giant black demon that was nothing like the bat demon form that Janryu could take. This monster was gigantic and had black spiral shaped horns. Its eyes were dark violet and it had what looked like spiked wings. The monster had an enlarged muzzle and a tail with a sharp end. A golden ring adorned its nostrils and there were more golden rings hanging from its spiraling horns. There was armour around the monster's chest and more armour formed following a pattern, covering the wings and the four creature's legs. Even when the creature stood on four legs it also had enlarged black monstrous arms with claws instead of hands. Every one of the monster's limbs ended up protected with armour, including its head, which obtained a helmet. The armour shone with a silver colour that contrasted with the pitch black of the creature's skin.
Harry straightened himself in front of the softened rock. If it hadn't been for Dianeia he would have probably had several broken bones. He stared at the monster, his lower lip trembling and the monster's eyes fixed on him. The monster started to laugh in an echoing horrible voice and enlarged its right arm to grab Harry with its claws.
Thanks to bandgsecurtiyaw and lovenotknown.