Changes in a Time of War
By Miranda Flairgold
From the author that brought you bloodmagic, demons, ice dragons and thunderbirds here isthe sequel to my fanfic A Second Chance at Life. If you have not read it, do so. This fic takes up where that one left off.
I own nothing you recognize, and everything you don't.
Rating will be PG-13 to R (I think rating depends on your personal opinion). This rating is for violence, not sexual content. Expect sadistic graphic violence, as anyone reading this has read the first in the series you know what to expect.
There will be several very short term pairings with original characters (I mean short, as in one-nighters). Both m/m and f/m, nothing too graphic and most of it has little to do with the main character. I believe I said in the last fic that this would not be slash – as in the main character in a homosexual relationship, I also believe I mentioned that it wasn't het either. I don't want to have to repeat this anymore, I'm not changing my mind so please don't beg for your favorite pairing, it isn't happening. The main character has no long term pairing of any sort and, actually, gets very little action, it's mostly the other characters.
If it goes higher than R I'll move it to another website and put up a link.
If you wish to use any of this in your own fics please do so, just add a note saying where you go it from. Thanks.
So serving Voldemort did not suit you. Rahkesh asked, eyeing the asp viper coiled in his armchair. Xasseri was an old snake, but not at all slowed by his age. Not terribly venomous, but smart enough to know where best to bite. Rahkesh had pegged him at once as a clever old beast. The snake was much like some gnarled old soldier. A very tough fellow, but smart enough to choose his battles with care. Experienced in everything with few illusions left about how the world worked. Xasseri would be very useful as an ally, but he was only loyal so long as he agreed with what was going on, and he was not inclined to let just anyone plan his life for him.
Not at all. I do not appreciate being talked down to, and Nagini was…ssss…a problem. He was also incapable of listening to any advice but his own. Xasseri replied. Rahkesh suspected he'd been about to say something more descriptive. Xasseri would make a good advisor, and the cunning old snake was a decent sort, at least on the surface. Rahkesh suspected his sense of humor might be rather darker than what he liked but that wouldn't hurt. He also suspected that Xasseri was probably quite manipulative when he wanted to be, and extremely independent. That was fine, though the first part might be an issue.
Rahkesh refilled his tea cup with the black verbena tea, he'd been drinking the stuff by the pot, letting its healing effects help wash away the last few days. He let the snake be for the moment and leaned back into the other armchair, looking out the window across the field of wildflower outside the cottage – it really was too small to be called a house. It was evening, three days after the battle at Lord Hadrian's manor. Alastor and Regulus had left not long after Nagini's destruction. Both of them had been reluctant to leave after seeing Rahkesh collapse, something Rahkesh wished they hadn't witnessed. But he wasn't good enough to obliviate them both. Alastor, as usual trusting Rahkesh to handle himself, had left with only a little argument, Regulus however had been deeply concerned, eventually Alastor had dragged him off. After Rahkesh's Basilisk form got annoyed and started stirring. The magic catching Alastor's attention and warning him that Rahkesh was not in control and the snake did not appreciate the well-intentioned concern. Basilisks were notoriously independent, especially Rahkesh's subspecies, which left its mother at birth and never saw another of its own kind again expect for territorial battles and mating. In the case of the latter the pair would bond for upwards of a month, and then often as not get so sick of having another being around that one would kill the other before a week was up. Rahkesh was just glad that it had been the basilisk, not the thunderbird, to wake up first. That one was even more temperamental.
Finding out that he was the last missing horcrux had been the worst shock Rahkesh had ever had. The horror of knowing that he was keeping his worst enemy alive, through a mechanism built with the deaths of his parents…Rahkesh blocked out that train of thought. He wasn't ready to deal with it yet. He would of course have to find a way to remove and destroy the horcrux, if it was possible to do so without killing himself…if not, Rahkesh wasn't sure what he'd do. He liked being alive, especially since he'd started schooling at Akren Mountain School of Magic. Did he want to get rid of Voldemort enough to commit suicide? Hopefully it was a question he'd never have to answer. There had to be a way to remove it.
A stinging sensation in his wrists made him flinch; he picked up a bowl filled with black liquid from the floor. The Akren version of final exams had been the opposite of most Hogwarts exams. Not particularly stressful mentally, but extremely so physically. Writing essays was all well and good, but could you actually apply what you had learned without having an essay question to prod your memory? It had been obstacle course exams for the most part. He'd done well. He knew he had. The last part had had him brewing a counter to a poison for Potions Master Strawlime, then being told to drink the poison and filter it out of him via bloodmagics. The counter was in case he spilled any of it onto himself. It had to go out the bloodmagic runes at the release points without touching any skin. The skin would rot away in seconds to the bone, and wouldn't stop until it consumed him. So if anything went wrong with his bloodmagic he had the counter to fall back on, assuming he'd brewed it right. Strawlime hadn't checked it. Rahkesh supposed survival was enough proof. No one had told him the potion bubbled madly when exposed to open air, making it certain it would get on his skin. The only way to survive was to manage both the counter and the bloodmagic part.
Drawing a simple un-enchanted knife he made a cut on his left wrist and began to concentrate. Slowly the bloodmagic responded and Rahkesh began to pull the last of the poison out of him. In addition to drinking it Strawlime had also injected it into his leg muscles. Which was why he was only now filtering out the last of it. Removing poison from muscle tissue took time.
The last of the poison, inky black, dripped into the bowl. As his wrist healed Rahkesh grabbed the counter he'd brewed and a cloth, wiping the viscous metallic blue liquid over the already rotting skin on his wrist. He waited until it was dry, and began casting healing spells. His counter hadn't been perfect, barely enough to get the job done. He would never make potions master, unless he wanted to spend his life on it, but he'd done enough to survive. That was all Akren really required. He hoped his friends had managed okay, he had seen them before leaving and they had looked healthy enough.
The Akren break was short, enough time to heal from the final exams and take a quick vacation. The school was open during the summer and a lot of students just stayed all year, spending their summers hiking in the mountains and maybe visiting the centaurs. Rahkesh had wanted to get away for a bit, both because Akren's vicious competition could get tiring and because he wanted to be more involved in what was happening to his homeland.
Sygra entered the room, followed by Siraka. The two female snakes joined Xasseri on his chair. Sygra draped over the back and wound through the wooden backrest – built to resemble elk antlers. Siraka coiled up next to Xasseri, she seemed to have made a friend there.
Why the snake hadn't simply taken off into the forest Rahkesh wasn't sure. Possibly he'd been around humans for so long that he found life without them tedious and boring. That was entirely possible. He'd been with Voldemort nearly a year, planning and recruiting and giving bold and often annoying advice that had on more than one occasion gotten him cursed. He said what he thought rather than what you wanted to hear. Rahkesh liked that.
Well Xasseri you're welcome to stay here for now. I have a few weeks off in the summer before the next school year starts. Rahkesh said. And I would truly appreciate your advice in my dealings with Voldemort. He is an embarrassment to snake-speakers and an insane and dangerous wizard. He has been attacking his own kind and starting wars, I am attempting to counter him.
I'd like that. Xasseri replied after a moment of thought. Rahkesh nodded and asked Siraka to show him around and introduce the other snakes. He didn't have to tell her that Xasseri was not to go in the greenhouse where his Dyalnos tree was currently growing. He didn't trust Xasseri that much yet. He also asked Siraka to tell the snake a bit more about what Voldemort really was. Siraka knew all about the horcruxes so she could explain them. The idea of a split soul was repugnant to snakes and killing for reasons other than for food or in self defense, or in battle for a mate wouldn't fit with Xasseri's view of the world. The old serpent would likely be angry with his former master.
Rahkesh sensed the wards stir and closed his eyes, seeking them out and allowing his two guests to enter. Daray and Ally had agreed to stop by after the final exams, though Silas was still recovering from his finals, and wasn't up to traveling yet.
Daray, in full demon form, loped through the open front door, spotted the couch (an exact replica of the one Rahkesh had at school) and leaped onto it. Ally followed him in, one arm in a sling.
"You'd think after a full year he'd get over his obsession." She growled, enlarging another chair since Daray showed no sign of making room on the couch.
"One would think so." Rahkesh agreed. The big black demon twisted its head around and flicked its tongue at them, before transforming. "Any change?" Rahkesh asked with real concern. There had been a possibility of the stress of the finals causing a shift in Daray's already unstable condition.
"No. My skin itches and my joints ache and I've been having minor head aches, but nothing new." Daray replied, "Grandmother, Namach and that dragon researcher whatever her name was…Mariah? asked me to tell you they're coming over in a bit."
"Did they say why?"
"I'd assume with the ancients its something about the battle three days ago or some such. Mariah however wants to talk to both of us."
"Just great, I hope she hasn't found another of those paintings Vera did of everyone. Anything new Ally?"
"Yeah, I grabbed a few of the fae while they were moving out of their rooms. I don't know if it's the message you sent through Rianae's mother or what but they've decided against all out war on mortals. For now they're moving their people out and protecting their homes with magic so they can't be damaged while they're away. The fae have always been a bit standoffish but they're going to stop that and start mixing more with mortals, vampires and werewolves. So there's some hope there, a complete mixing of the races in all of the peaceful locations. However the fae have ruled that they will execute any mortal that sets foot on their property while this crisis lasts. They do still own the land and if anyone tries to pass a law taking it away the fae will have plenty of assassins standing by to deal with them. If the anti-magical beings groups start looting it could get real ugly."
"Naturally they will invade the fae's land as soon as they're gone. And if they don't do it on their own the vampires will manipulate them into doing it." Daray said. "The general consensus is that we want this war. The more people killed the better. The goal after all is to deplete the populace until they can't fight, then we rebuild our society with all the magical beings, and then graciously allow the mortals in."
"A goal the centaurs agree with, their herds here will be showing themselves, coming out their forest lairs for once. They're hoping to be attacked so that they have an excuse to counter attack." Ally reminded them.
"What about everyone who can't leave but who doesn't agree with the new laws?" Rahkesh asked.
"Too bad for them." The vampire growled.
"The fae are considering bloodmagic, marking those few people with something vampires, werewolves, centaurs, fae, something they all can sense. Maybe it would minimalize casualties for those who really can't get out. But then of course the questions are: who's lying about their reasons for staying and who's telling the truth…and who's just being patriotic or ignorant?"
"Most of those who are staying are probably doing so because they have family who can't leave and want to stay with them." Rahkesh point out, remembering the Weasely's. Molly was unlikely to desert Ron, though Percy might be another matter…but he was already gone.
"There comes a time when your own survival is more important. If your children or parents are bigoted fools you're going to lose them anyway, no sense in dying yourself. Familial loyalty is all well and good, but is it a reason for suicide?" Daray asked, "I don't really know how you mortals work but we vampires know a lost cause when we see one."
"I don't suppose the vampires would listen if the Ministery's surrendered?" Rahkesh asked.
"Not a chance." Daray replied, "and they can't, they're politicians and the public is anti-vampire. You think our plan for removing the humans and then integrating them into a mixed society won't work?"
"I think it will work." Rahkesh said, not adding that this was the problem. The loss of life could wind up being tremendous. But it could work, it could work very well. If given a few decades, and vampires thought long term. "Voldemort?"
"Not really my area." Daray replied "As it is I'm not invited to the attacks on the Unspeakables and anti-vampire groups because of my demon form."
"Too out of control?" Ally asked.
"Yeah. I'll let you know what's happening when it happens but Voldemort isn't currently my concern. The family is working on the general public. Of course if big bad and dark shows up we'll help out, but I think hunting him may end up being grandmothers job, or Namach. I don't know what they've got planned."
"Alright, I'm heading home. I'll keep you posted on what's happening." Ally said. With a wave she was gone. Once she had left the property entirely Rahkesh turned back to Daray.
"How bad is it really?" He asked. Daray scowled at him then shrugged.
"I transformed twice during my finals, couldn't help it. I didn't attack anyone but the pressure is getting much more intense. Namach has a place where I could go through whatever metamorphosis this is safely, so does grandmother, but I don't know how to do it." Daray growled, frustrated. The vampire flinched suddenly and stopped breathing, Rahkesh put his tea aside and drew his wand, just in case. Abruptly Daray convulsed and transformed. The demon twitched, then gasped and shuddered. "Damn it." Daray muttered, "I can feel what has to happen, but it's just out of reach. Like trying to see something through fog or mist. Too blurry to describe, but there all the same."
Rahkesh hummed and reached out mentally, breathing deeply and sinking into a half meditative trance. Giving the vampire a mental tap on the shoulder to warn him he then waited until he had a strong hold over his telepathy and began examining what magics the demon vampire was giving off. Abruptly his bloodmagic flared and with it his magic began elevating his senses. A dark spicy scent followed by a wave of alarm screaming danger, Rahkesh brushed it aside. Blood, death, and a dark purring magic. Then uncontrolled magic swirling around Daray, and though Rahkesh's eyes were closed he envisioned sparkling lights like fire dancing over the demon. The magic was pulsing steadily, then the steady beat switched, becoming and unsteady erratic thumping against his telepathic senses, that would be the demon trying to transform. Sparks and a swift brush of pain, sizzling energy that was trying to do something, but had no guidance from its origin-which was Daray.
"Interesting." Rahkesh said aloud as he reigned in his magics and awakened himself. There was something about that…it had felt a bit like Namach's magic, and not the vampiric part. Did Namach know demon magics? Highly unlikely, but they felt a bit similar. Perhaps one of the ancient vampire's other animaguses was closely related to a demon. A Hellhound maybe? Or perhaps Daray had been right and the ancient did have a death dragon lurking in his soul. That last seemed most likely. "Very interesting. What are you doing over break?"
"Originally I was supposed to help the family here in Europe. But with my condition" Daray sneered, "I'll have to stay out of most of the action. We don't actually have decent base here yet, I'll be getting maps of the area and doing background searches on the leaders of some of the anti vampire movements. Some undercover work with uncle Grath disguised as mortal wizards."
"What about Silas?"
"He'll be working with uncle Grath all summer. He's got a knack for disguise and deception. Maybe he gets it from Nuri, the cat can hypnotize people after all. Or maybe Nuri gets that from him. Either way he's better at acting like a mortal than I am." Daray said. Rahkesh chuckled at the idea of Daray acting like a mortal. That would be amusing to see.
The wards shifted and Rahkesh felt a touch of telepathy breeze across his mind. His guests of course had simply slipped past the wards, they could have done so without being noticed, but they were being polite. When you're that powerful there's no need to show off or be rude. The Akren vampire students might bully, none of his guests had any need to, their positions in the vampiric hierarchy were very secure. He pulled another chair off the shelf and enlarged it, since Daray's demon form took up the entire couch and then some, the long powerful tail dropping off onto the floor.
"They're here," he warned Daray, since the demon probably wasn't in the best shape mentally right now. Daray sniffed the air and growled.
"Have you been that way since the finals?" Namach asked from the doorway. Cyala appeared seconds later and followed him in and took the other seat. A minute later Mariah arrived…and following her was a very familiar looking blond.
Rahkesh relaxed and evened out his breathing, trying not to show his shock. He'd wondered of course what had happened to Draco Malfoy…but he'd never thought he'd been captured by the vampires. Why hadn't he got word of this? The elder Malfoy currently belonged to Farov – Rahkesh almost had to pity Lucius…almost – but when and how had Mariah wound up owning Draco?
Mariah took the last chair, Draco sitting down by her feet, keeping his eyes on the floor. Rahkesh was quite certain that Draco wouldn't recognize him, he'd changed an awful lot, and especially since the dragon magic had changed his eyes, never mind the height difference between him and the Harry Potter that Draco had known. All the same the presence of his old school rival made him uncomfortable.
"Someone we should know?" Daray asked, flicking his tail over the mortal's head.
"My newest slave, had to replace old Linus. This is Draco Malfoy, I'm headed over to Hadrian's after this, Draco here was a death eater so Hadrian asked for any information he might have."
"Malfoy eh?" Rahkesh said, "I've heard that name, Farov's been going on about another of that family, his father probably." Rahkesh watched as Draco's skin went grey and he choked.
"Ah, that explains a lot. When Farov found out I had this one he tried to buy him." Mariah said. Now Rahkesh couldn't help but pity Draco, Farov wasn't the type to give up easy, and he kept stables of pretty young male slaves around. "I haven't actually said no yet, you see this one has been a problem. That is why I'm here now. He is intelligent enough and much more than average for a mortal in power, it is the inner workings of his mind that are a problem. Draco, wait outside for me." Mariah ordered abruptly, nodding towards the door. Draco rose and left, Mariah closed the door magically, a move that sent up all the silencing and anti-eavesdropping wards automatically.
"You are asking for help getting his mind back on track?" Rahkesh asked, knowing the answer already. Mariah sighed nodded.
"I usually put little effort into my slaves, but this one is unusual. I do not know all that happened to him before I captured him, but he was a death eaters, and failure at that. I know he was tortured extensively for that failure. I do have a mastery in mind magics and when I look beyond the immediate I see some far reaching mental issues going back many years. I also sense an innate intelligence quite beyond what I have found in most other mortals. He must have an exceptionally high IQ, and he's powerful and capable, but I haven't seen any sign of any of that being put to use. With old Linus dead I need an assistant I can rely on in my research. Being a slave I can force his loyalty, but I want to awaken that mind. He's also got a phobia of vampires; possibly caused by being tortured by Voldemort's followers, its formation is that recent, and that apathy has to go." Mariah finished, watching Rahkesh.
Rahkesh thought it over, he owed Mariah a lot. Had she made that painting she had discovered public it would have been one of the biggest finds in magical creature research in centuries, and it would have been very bad for Rahkesh. She'd given it to him instead. She'd also been helpful in suggesting how to incorporate his new dragon magic to his bloodmagic early on – dragon pressure points unique to the bloodline Enireth hailed from to aid in the place of runes in his bloodmagic rituals. He wasn't quite sure what she wanted, but he did owe her. And as much as he disliked Draco he knew he wasn't a complete lost cause. His inability to kill Albus Dumbledore did stand for something. Rahkesh was sure Draco's life had been much like his own before leaving Hogwarts; his life controlled by others, used as a weapon and tool in power struggles he didn't really want a part of but had been heavily trained to willingly participate in under the direction of someone else.
"What are your plans for him?"
"At this point I'd like to break whatever mental block he's got, it's self inflicted. And based on what happens after, either train him personally as my research assistant or have him trained at Akren." Mariah replied, shocking Rahkesh, and clearly Daray as well. Since when did anyone go through that much trouble for an assistant?
"Why so much effort?" Rahkesh asked. Mariah didn't have to answer, but his tone of voice indicated that if she didn't he might refuse.
"Because if he turns out to be exceptional enough I might turn him and adopt him." Mariah replied calmly, shocking Rahkesh yet again, his mind instantly went into overdrive. Vampires did not just adopt human slaves and turn them into vampires. And Mariah was old; she had to be pushing two thousand, maybe a bit more. Namach was over three thousand, Cyala (according to Daray) was only a few centuries less than him. Rahkesh had checked historical records after meeting Mariah and his best guess was that Mariah had to be at least eight centuries younger than Cyala, but not much more than a thousand years younger. Her family was her self and two others. Both of whom had been slaves she'd turned into vampires. Whoever had created her was dead, along with any siblings or older relatives. She was the head of her bloodline. No one could control whom she chose to turn except for those more powerful than her. Mariah wasn't immensely powerful, less than most her age actually. A lot less. She hadn't been a mortal when turned nor had she been a squib, but she certainly hadn't been a powerful witch. Probably a bit less than average. But she held enough awards from vampiric weapons contests to make anyone think twice about taking her on. More than anyone else her age had. And she was brilliant.
And she saw some sort of potential in Draco. It was her way to train slaves and then turn them as adults, so that wasn't unusual at all, for her. Linus, her old slave, had been trained at Akren, but she hadn't turned him, had he not been good enough? She certainly had standards. She had been the first vampire to educate human slaves to University degrees. Of her slaves half had earned PhDs. Mariah was an oddball and completely bizarre, every news article he'd found on her had said so. Her fellow vampires didn't know what to make of her, and therefore left her alone. She had no allegiances, and no enemies. All she wanted was to conduct her work in peace.
"Why would you do that?" Rahkesh asked curiously.
"I could just hire a recent graduate, but I'd prefer to have control over what classes they took. What I'd like is an actual apprentice, perhaps vampire perhaps not. But I need the ability to kill them easily should it ever become necessary. And I have all my slaves educated. With Linus's demise I need another to take his place and none of my other slaves are suitable. This one meets all the requirements, but for whatever mental issues he has. He has also shown a keen interest in my work, and he's quite clever."
"Hmmm," Rahkesh replied, thinking it over. "And a fear of vampires." Well there was an easy solution to all of this.
"Very well, he can stay here for a few weeks, I'll see what he knows and see how well he learns. Daray, you're going to be around anyway, how about you stay here as well for a bit, I'd like your help waking up whatever tougher side he has." Rahkesh knew from the looks that older vampires were giving him that they all thought he was completely insane, getting Daray to help a mentally damaged mortal with a fear of vampires. Daray grinned and purred, showing all the demon fangs.
"He is awfully nice." Daray agreed, eyeing the mortal through the window, who was staring at a thestral outside. "Probably tastes good too." Cyala shook her head, Namach looked over at Draco, back to Daray, then to Rahkesh. The ancient eyed Rahkesh, he knew Rahkesh wouldn't hand another mortal over to Daray, knowing as he did the vampire's more vicious tendencies, unless he had a plan. Rahkesh winked, Namach looked back at Daray, then at Draco. Who had a glassy permanently dazed look about him, it was rather morbid and clearly showed some definite mental damage.
But Rahkesh had a hunch, and he trusted his instincts. He also knew Draco, an added advantage. Draco had never been one to back down or give up, he had a fiery streak, that was all that was really missing right now. If he could get that side back, the part that would curse someone who bumped into him, then he could solve anything else bothering Draco easily. What Draco needed was a challenge. Daray, who was eyeing Draco like he would a particularly tasty meal, would do that naturally. Rahkesh's job would be to rein Daray in and keep him from seriously traumatizing Draco until Draco woke up and fought back.
Namach caught the thoughts off the top of his mind, like skimming water off a pond. Rahkesh let him hear his plan, but kept back the part about knowing Draco, too much information. The ancient pondered for a moment, then nodded his agreement, there was a good chance it would work.
"Thank you Rahkesh, keep me updated?" Mariah asked. Rahkesh nodded his agreement.
"Send him over tomorrow." Mariah nodded and with a nod to the other two old vampires she swept out of the room. Catching Draco's shoulder they both blinked out silently.
"Have you been stuck in that form?" Namach asked, turning back to Daray once Mariah and her slave were gone.
"No, I've transformed back to vampire twice, couldn't hold it." Daray said. "Perhaps with a little rest."
"Well you've got a few weeks." Cyala said.
"Any progress finding Auzric?" Rahkesh asked. Short of finding Sharahak the missing vampire who no one knew anything about was Daray's best hope.
"No. Nothing." Namach said, Cyala shook her head, the matriarch of the Ateres family looked personally insulted, it wasn't often the Ateres assassins failed.
"Perhaps we should start looking at areas of elven activity." Namach said after a moment's silence. "I can't shake the notion that when we find Auzric, we'll find the elves involved. They and the demons are always at war, and if Auzric had anything to do with demons the elves will certainly not have let it pass. The fact that they never made any statement makes me wonder if they aren't involved in something they'd rather we not know about."
"When you start down that road you get into their war, and possibilities of demon invasion, and there's so much that could have happened to Auzric there…" Cyala trailed off. The possibility of a demon invasion was enough to make Voldemort faint from fear.
"And I'm afraid we're not going to have much time for looking around, we're starting on the Unspeakables soon and after that the anti-vampires cult/clubs/unions whatever you want to call them."
"What about Voldemort?" Daray asked, Rahkesh nodded, glad he hadn't had to ask that question.
"Well he lost a significant portion of whatever forces he has at the battle at Hadrian's manor. And failing to actually destroy the manor didn't look very good." Namach said, "he must have never considered the repairing bloodmagic built into the homes of the city masters, or indeed any old vampire."
"He also got a good look at the opposition, you can bet he'll plan better in the future." Rahkesh said. The two ancients chuckled and Mariah smirked.
"Needn't worry about that. We've got a few tricks left." Cyala smugly replied. "Actually that attack fitted very well into our plans," she added, nodding at Tristan, "we both like to show off a little every century or so. It's been about five centuries since anyone outside the family saw my dark angels at work, about time to remind everyone."
"What happened to those basilisks?' Rahkesh asked, not bothering to hide his knowledge of the battle.
"I preserved the corpses and have them at one of my castles." Namach said, "and what exactly were you doing there anyway?"
"Helping Alastor Moody with his part in stopping Voldemort." Rahkesh replied, "he needed a parseltongue for it, and he wasn't comfortable contacting the few others hanging around. Most of them try to pretend they're not parseltongues, the others are vampires he doesn't know, he's a bit paranoid about meeting new people."
"While we're on the topic, what is this Alastor Moody doing exactly?" Cyala asked.
Rahkesh eyed the two vampires, and made a snap decision. He had no doubt that they both knew who he was anyway.
"There was a theory, fact now, that Voldemort had created horcruxes." He said. Drawing a shocked gasp from Cyala and a startled look from Namach. "Six of them, with the seventh fragment being Voldemort himself" Both vampires gave him blank stares.
"Six?" Namach finally asked. "Good grief, that must have taken years, and with all the unicorn blood he would have needed…it's a wonder he has a functional soul in any form or fragment."
"Yes six. Moody's got a small group with him, they've been tracking down the horcruxes, but most of his crowd is under Ministry surveillance, and Voldemort's got the Ministry infiltrated."
"So he checked the Akren records and saw you were a local." Cyala said, Rahkesh nodded. Let them draw their own conclusions.
"No old wizarding connections, and being home schooled I'm not really on record, a footnote at best. He explained the situation to me, and I've been helping out ever since." Rahkesh lied through his teeth, neither vampires called him on it.
"Six horcruxes." Namach muttered, "why?"
"Best guess? Immortality." Rahkesh replied.
"He's very powerful, why not just get a vampire to turn him?"
"Not the right type of immortality. And he'd be tied to whoever created him. And you can bet anyone with an ego like his couldn't take having to listen to his elders well." Rahkesh said. "Or maybe he did and it didn't work, Moody's got it from a reliable source that he's been drinking unicorn blood." That got another set of shocked blinks.
"I know he'd need it for the horcruxes, he's not well enough trained to do it the other way, but not to drink. Why would he do that?' Namach wondered, "using for the horcrux creation causes enough damage…What has Moody told you about the horcruxes?" Namach asked after moment.
"Everything he knows. Moody's been tracking down horcruxes and stealing them to be destroyed. Of the seven three are officially dead. Of the remainder one is a locket – which is missing – stolen by someone else, one is a gold cup – we have it, and the last is unknown, then there's Voldemort. We were pursuing the idea of a particular black unicorn horn, but that's fallen through."
"You say one was retrieved?"
"Yes, only we don't know how to destroy it." Rahkesh said. Cyala glanced at Namach, who hummed softly to himself for a moment.
"I can help with that." The ancient said finally. "Though not at Akren. I have other places better suited to this."
"Is there a way to search for the others using soul magic?" Rahkesh asked.
"Unlikely. Horcruxes weren't all that rare back in the day. Especially when they were first invented, they've been around for nearly two thousand years. There are many out there, pieces of furniture inhabited by souls of wizards whose bodies got destroyed. A lot of so called "enchanted objects" that can't be unenchanted, are actually horcruxes. I'd say you could scan all of Europe and find maybe a hundred of them. And maybe twice as many improperly created ones that still register. They've fallen out of favor since the death penalty stopped; they were created by dark wizards so that they could survive their executions or by people worried about being killed during witch hunts. Most wizards die during the creation of them so unless you can see your death coming it isn't usually worth it. Besides, if someone steals a piece of your soul they can gain complete control over you. Though that doesn't work if there are multiple horcruxes, you'd need all of them."
"Is there any way it would be possible to find them all?" Rahkesh persisted.
"A blood relative might do it. And it might be possible to use one to find the others, I doubt he found out the correct safeguards against that, even if he did learn how to make them. Making them is the easy part."
"No blood relatives. But we've got one horcrux." Rahkesh said, making the decision then to talk to Namach privately afterward and tell him about the horcrux he carried.
"I could try that then. Which one were you after at the battle?"
"He turned his pet snake into one; we were trying to get her. I killed her with a parseltongue killing curse shortly afterward."
"He used a living creature?" Namach asked.
"Interesting, perhaps he knows more about them than I thought. There's a slightly different process. But I suppose anyone clever enough and deep enough into dark magics could figure it out. Did it explode when you destroyed it?"
"Yes it did, not even any pieces left." Rahkesh said, Namach paused, thinking that over.
Cyala and Daray both closed their eyes, getting a telepathic signal. Cyala twisted a gem on a bracelet until it glowed blue.
"We're off then, I'll be back tomorrow I guess." Daray said, following Cyala as she suddenly vanished. "Aunt Tashanna has a new potion she thinks will stop the transformation for a little while." Once outside Daray leaped skyward and apparated in midair.
"It would almost be worth the whole demon thing, to be able to fly like that." Rahkesh sighed. Namach chuckled.
"There is such a thing as partial animagi transformations. You're probably a year away from that, both in bloodmagic and because your forms haven't settled yet. However in a year or so you might be able to just call up the wings. It's a ten ritual process, and very dangerous." Namach told Rahkesh.
"I always seem to do the best with the most dangerous ones, the "easier" ones are always harder." Rahkesh complained. He should have been pleased, but it was aggravating. It meant he couldn't use other's opinions to gauge how dangerous any ritual was and whether or not he should wait a month or two between steps.
"You also do best in those that involve bringing yourself closest to death." Namach replied calmly. Rahkesh turned and blinked at him. "Now whether that is because of having a horcrux dwelling alongside your own soul or because you survived a killing curse I'm not sure, but you have a very keen sense of where the line between death and life is. You managed the ritual for poison removal with little difficulty and unlike nearly everyone else your exit marks are perfect. Most people have great difficulty figuring out exactly how deep they need to cut to almost kill themselves, but not actually do it."
Huh. So the vampire knew about both secrets. Hardly surprising but still…Rahkesh was way too into the secrecy thing. Of course it wasn't paranoia if there actually were people out to get you right? Clearly Namach had known for a while, and didn't care at all beyond the bloodmagic and necromancy potential involved in having a connection to death like his. But that didn't reassure Rahkesh any.
"Should make necromancy much easier." He agreed calmly, not letting any surprise or upset show. He had been expecting that after all, at some point.
"Yes. You have a rare potential for that." Namach agreed. "I'd suggest not looking at the horcrux you carry, I've got a library of soul magic and I know there are a few other accounts of people being used as horcruxes. Don't even try to examine it until I've had a chance to review those."
"Very well. And thank you."
"It isn't every day you get a student with your possibilities." The vampire grinned, eyes sparkling. Rahkesh wondered if he should be flattered or frightened that Namach enjoyed teaching him. "You know that if you have part of Voldemort's soul he might have part of yours?"
Rahkesh could feel his blood freeze and his skin pale. He hadn't thought of that. Namach saw the look on his face and looked sympathetic.
"It might be possible to get it back, I'll need to examine my records. But then again it might not be possible. However, it may be very useful one day."
"Every person is capable of destroying their own soul; you just have to destroy that piece of it and not the rest." Namach supplied.
As the vampire left to check his libraries Rahkesh realized that Namach had just handed him the key to Voldemort's destruction.
Horcruxes, wars, vampires, demons oh my! Okay how many people didn't get it in the last fic that Draco had ended up as Mariah's slave? Got to catch the hint folks. I known a lot of you saw that.
OK tell me what you think. I know I ended the last fic rather abruptly but that one was about Harry becoming Rahkesh and about Akren. This one has a slightly different focus. Voldemort will be gone by the end of it, but no fear, I hope to continue with the story, there's plenty more to come after his demise.