Disclaimer:

Harry Potter, and all things, places, or otherwise physical or non-physical things I mention are property of J. K. Rowling. I mean no harm in uploading this, only to have a little fun taking the characters in a very different direction from where they were taken in Book 6 and Book 7.

P.S. This is a Teen rated fiction for language and content. Hopefully, I don't need to up the rating, but I've not been holding back. Sorry if I offend anybody.

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Gabbers: Thank you so much for your review. And hopefully this chapter has peaked your curiosity a bit more.

The Hand of Sorrow

Elsewhere, a small group of wizards sat outside the entrance to the Bulgarian Ministry for Magic, situated high in the Rila mountain range. Their breath came out in puffs of white mist that floated and evaporated into humid air around them. Cold rain fell upon them, and each pulled his cloak tighter around him in an attempt to keep out the damp forty eight degree weather.

"Damn it, what did we do to pull guard duty?" one growled and spat on the ground angrily.

"Keep quiet, Raev," another muttered from his place leaning against the giant wooden doors.

"What? Like sitting there dumbly will make it any warmer?" Raev turned to the other wizard who only sighed.

"It's not that cold," one of the others replied, quite bored.

"No but it will keep some of us sane longer," the one leaning against the door, Lechkov added.

"It's the bloody summer, and it's what? Six, eight degrees out here?" Raev whined, shuffling on his feet and flapping his hands inside the folds of his cloak.

"More like fourteen, little boy," Lechkov corrected with a sigh. Raev only bobbed his masked head, and more puffs of white air blew through the mouth of his mask.

"Nah ah, can't be; it's gotta be colder," he moaned, causing the other few wizards to all move uncomfortably.

"Bitching about the cold isn't going to make it any warmer."

"No, but it makes me feel better," Raev barked back, and the last wizard to speak only shrugged it off, saying bitterly:

"Whatever makes you feel better then."

"Listen, it could be worse," another of the skeleton masked wizards stated as he looked around at the alpine landscape outside the Ministry.

"Yea? How?" Raev asked, almost as if he was curious at what they could come up with.

"We could be the ones hunting the Red Raptors," Lechkov noted and all of the Death Eaters bowed out with few whistles and sounds of acknowledgement.

"Indeed, I wouldn't want to be doing that," one of them agreed and Raev's masked head went from looking at Lechkov, to the others and back.

"Why not? I think it'd be better hunting those blood traitor sons of bitches than sitting here on our freezing hands," Raev argued as he crossed his arms, partially portraying his obstinacy, but mostly because of the fact he was freezing. The other Death Eaters had to look at each other for a few moments, as if confirming what they had just heard. Then they broke out in laughter.

"Where have you been, boy?" one asked in between peels of a deep throated chuckle.

"Those Red Raptors are animals," another added, and the rest nodded in assent, some still finishing laughing.

"If they so much as suspect they see one of us, KA-POW! Avada Kedavra that blasted space!" the first described, waving his hands and miming the action.

"And if they catch you alive," Lechkov droned, his voice trailing off. "Sure they use the Cruciatus, who doesn't? But no, they use Muggle forms of torture too. Cut off limbs, gouge out eyes, pull out tongues…"

"And they don't Avada Kedavra you if they've got you at their mercy, no, they do it the hard way," Todorov, the one with the throaty chuckle started.

"Beheading, bleeding, hanging…"

"I heard they even took a page out of old Vlad Dracul's book and skewer people on spikes," Lechkov finished and the others seemed finished; an eerie silence settled upon the group of Death Eaters.

"Well, you can't believe all you hear," Raev stuttered out as he pulled his cloak closer around his head. "After all, can't you see what they're trying to do? I bet they just put out those rumors to scare us. They should fear us! Not the other way around," he stated with a resolute nod, seeming to have regained his arrogant confidence.

"Yea?" Lechkov asked and let out a deep breath, the wisps of air curling out from underneath his hood. "Well one thing I do know: they're led by the direct descendent of the Dragon Khan, Khagan," he said in almost a whisper, forcing Raev to lean forwards to hear.

"…the descendent of the Dragon Khan? Who the hell is that?" Raev asked with more than a hint of disbelief in his voice. The others looked at him as if he'd sprouted another head.

"Where the hell are you from boy?" Todorov wondered in amazement. "Didn't you go to school or anything? Take an ancient history class ever?"

"I was home schooled thank you very much!" Raev countered and puffed up his chest. The others just shook their heads and muttered.

"Well, you're parents did a bang up job, didn't they? One of those western sympathizers? Think the western way of teaching is the way to teach? Well, they left out some pretty damn important parts then!" Todorov fumed, flinging his fist in the air as if he could punch the offenders. "The sons of the Il-Khağan as they're called can trace their blood all the way back to the 3rd century and can claim to having a hand in the shaping of most of Europe as we know it. Somewhere along the line, one of their ancestors married with a dragon, and ever since, the family has had powers other wizards can't even imagine. Magical skin, night vision, murderous breath… and those are only the powers outsiders know about!" Todorov explained, running out of breath as his rant went on.

"One of the oldest the bloodlines in all the world, and he's leading the aurors against us. That man should be on our side…" Todorov said with a sigh. "But instead we have to fear his dragon breath and primal thirst for blood," he added with a heavy sense of disdain. Raev shook his head.

"Hang on, you expect me to believe that? That there's a family over 1600 years old that can trace itself, and that claims to be part dragon? That's impossible! Have you ever even seen a dragon? That's not possible, I tell you!" Raev argued with a look of disgust blatant on his face.

"Ancient stories tell of dragons taking the forms of other animals, even humans to interact with the world in a more… down to earth manner. They're talked about as sentient beings, smarter than most humans! It's possible that there were dragons back then of an entirely different category. There's enough credibility to their claims to believe them. They've got ancient magic no one understands. Like how they've managed to keep their castle secreted away from everyone else. People have searched and searched. Hounded suspected members of the family, but no one's found the castle. Where do you think the Red Raptors are hiding out? Khan Castle, where we can't touch them, because we can't find it!" Todorov continued in a strained voice, obviously his patience wearing thin as he spoke as if to a child.

"Fine, fine, so who the hell is it anyway?" Raev conceded with a sigh. That quieted the other Death Eaters and their scoffing at him, and they glanced at each other, with only their visible eyes darting from one another.

"No one… knows for sure…" Todorov muttered. "The family went into hiding some couple hundred years ago, and it's said that they've returned to the public, but just haven't claimed their ancestry openly. We have our suspects, but it doesn't really mater."

"What really matters is that the Red Raptors and this kid that says he's a son of the Il-Khağan are a real threat," Lechkov spoke pointedly at Raev, shaking his head for emphasis. "You see one of them, you apparate as far away as possible, then back home. Don't go it alone. It's not worth it with them," Lechkov warned, waggling his finger. Todorov stuck his hand back within the folds of his own robe and went back to scouring the surroundings as he had been since they were stationed out front. Lechkov once again for emphasis nodded as he leaned back against the door once again.

"Right," Raev replied quietly, having been properly scolded. "…I still think it'd be more exciting though," he added and all of his companions sighed, grunted or shook their heads in disbelief.

"Sure, after all, there is no greater adventure than death itself, yes?" Lechkov remarked, his words a cutting sarcastic whip. "Get to watching the horizon, boy, before we decide to hand you over to the Red Raptors," he warned, taking his hand and forcibly turning the other Death Eater around to face the mountainous landscape in front of him.

"I can't believe this kid…" Todorov muttered under his breath to Lechkov, who was rummaging around in his cloak for something.

"I can. He's never seen the dynasty's castle," Lechkov noted. "Aha," he breathed as he pulled out a bottle from a secret pocket in his cloak.

"What's that? Oh, is that vodka? You best share unless you want to get reported," Todorov laughed as he spoke, and the other Death Eaters visibly perked up at the name of the drink.

"Do not worry, it's a big enough bottle," he said holding up the old, unmarked bottle for all to see. But he withdrew it as Raev turned around. "Not for you. Turn back around. I won't support under age drinking," Lechkov stated firmly and the other Death Eaters chuckled as the youngest of the group turned back around and hunched over, watching the approach to the Ministry. The sloping ascent to where they now stood was barren, except for grasses and bush, for they were already above the tree line. He crossed his arms and ducked down, huddling against his legs.

"Oh come on, it's not that cold," Todorov muttered more to Lechkov and himself than Raev, who ignored it anyway and rested his chin on his knees. The mask pulled and itched something awful in this position, but he didn't move, as his eyes roved over the countryside below them. Something moved along the edge of his range of vision, but he blinked and it was gone. He straightened up a bit, putting his knees forwards on the ground and reaching up with one hand to reposition his mask and rub his eyes, but he didn't see anything again. He turned around to glance at the Death Eaters behind him, but all of them were gathered around Lechkov and his popular bottle. When Raev returned his gaze forwards, he knew he saw something in the distance. Something bright red.

"Whoa!" he breathed and scurried to his feet, withdrawing his wand.

"What are you doing, Raev?" Lechkov called from behind the young Death Eater, who only mutely motioned them forwards.

"A wizard – in red!" was all he was able to muster. The other Death Eaters looked at each other, and laughed.

"What? You trying to get us back for scaring you earlier? Well, it won't work," one of the masked men laughed, his speech already a bit slurred. Lechkov and Todorov glanced at the man in contempt. Todorov moved from his spot in the huddle to Raev's side and put a hand on his brow, shielding his eyes from the sparse rain drops and minimal sunlight.

"Where?" he asked, although his tone was disbelieving. Raev pointed, but realized that was pointless and probably not the best idea.

"Right smack dab in front of me, Todorov. In between those two bushes," Raev tried to describe and Todorov wiggled next to him, trying to catch a glimpse of the tell-tale stark robe. When the older wizard froze in place, the others did as well, sobering quickly.

"I see him. What's one bloody Red Raptor doing coming here?" Todorov whispered, his voice barely audible over the wind. The other Death Eaters came up alongside Todorov and Raev, each lifting their chins or shielding their eyes, squinting to see the red figure down the slope.

"Just one? I've never heard of them traveling solo," one of the Death Eaters spoke in disbelief. Todorov dropped his hand and took out his wand as well.

"Well what the hell do we have people hunting these guys for, when one's just been stupid enough to pop up-" he didn't finish his sentence for he lost all control of his facial muscles as his jaw dropped as he watched the shape robed in red contort and grow a good foot wider and a foot and a half taller. Lechkov grabbed Raev's arms and pulled him back.

"Go inside! Get everybody you can; it's the Khagan! The Khagan's here!" Lechkov exclaimed in hushed tones, as if the far away figure could hear them, and threw the youngest of the Death Eater's back towards the door. Raev stumbled and fumblingly grabbed the heavy brass knocker, and made several loud beats before the large door began to creak open. He slid inside the door before the gap was too large and shut it behind him.

"It can't be…" Todorov breathed as he and the three other Death Eaters lined up, each with their own wand out and watching the red robed wizard move slowly up the slope.

"What in Merlin's name is he doing here?" one of the others asked in an echo of a voice. Lechkov only nodded and stared in wonderment as the hulking wizard ascended towards them. He didn't have long to look however, as a sudden sharp pain tore through his back and he fell forwards with a silent scream. He didn't see the two Death Eaters beside him fall similarly, each struck by a single green bolt of lightning. Todorov dodged, and spun around; the crackling green killing curse screaming over his head and tearing his hood back to reveal his peppered hair. Coming out from behind the mountaintop was a whole group of wizards robed in red riding sleek racing brooms. Each Red Raptor had a wand drawn and aimed at Todorov's chest, and each muttered the same words, avada kedavra, and all Todorov could think of was how startlingly bright the crimson robes were against the grey sky behind them, as he fell backwards down the mountainside.

The last of the Death Eaters guarding the entrance tumbled down the mountainside, but the air squadron failed to hit him with a single curse. While four out of five would be acceptable at other times, Khagan had a hunch it was the element of surprise that had allowed the wizards in the air the quick and efficient strike. He made a mental note on going over moving targets again. Though now he could see why they refrained, for the last Death Eater was rolling down the slope directly towards him. They must have feared they would miss and hit him instead of the Death Eater. Commendable, but too cautious, in his opinion. Khagan took a few more steady steps up the incline, and put out his left foot just in time to stop the quickly spinning Death Eater. For a moment, the descendent of the Khan thought the Death Eater would spew right there in his mask, but as the man's head swayed, his eyes focused on the figure towering above him. Nothing could describe the look that crossed that man's eyes, and just his eyes, the rest of his face being obscured by the mask, conveyed such fear that it brought a certain heaviness even to the Mir Khanzada's heart. He quickly willed those hesitations away however, and slowly and deliberately brought out his wand.

"Avada kedavra," came the deep, brooding voice from the demon-like, scaled visage with glinting red eyes that looked down almost soullessly upon the last of the five Death Eaters out front. Khagan watched the Death Eater stiffen underneath his boot, then stepped aside and let the dead Death Eater start rolling down the slope once again. Looking back up to the entranceway he could see the doors opening and his air squadron darted about like wasps. Soon enough curses were being thrown through the tiny opening even as it was widening. Khagan watched, now running up the incline, as one of his red robed wizards was struck by a curse, and fell off his broom, blood seeping through the heavy red robes at his abdomen. Khagan stopped, probably about ten feet from the entrance, although still considerably far below in altitude, and took a deep breath; he started a long bellow, an almost inhuman yell tinged with the vocal chords of a reptile that reverberated through the valley below and made the very door to the ministry building shake. That got their attention.

A Death Eater ran out of the building and came within sight of the dragon-man. He didn't have time to point though, as he was quickly hit from three sides by killing curses. More followed however, leaving the shelter of the building to take aim at the single man on the ground. As several bolts of magic crackled their way towards Khagan, he whipped his left had out from underneath his bulky robes and brought up a thick shield, which he held up to conceal his face and torso. The curses collided with the shield, sizzled and disappeared, absorbed into the very being of the shield, for it was made of layered dragon scales, more resistant to magic than any other natural or man-made material. Illegal too. But the descendent of the Khan didn't worry about that as he barreled the last few feet and bowled over the Death Eaters near the entrance. Stomping down on throats and growling hexes he held up his shield so its iridescent scales caught what little light there was, and he gave another yell. This time, several dozen red robed wizards on racing brooms emerged from the tree line below and sped up the mountainside, quickly passing Khagan on either side, and blazed into the ministry building.

"Find Dimitrof! Let no one slow you down or block your path!" he roared as they whipped by him, causing his own robes to flutter about wildly in the crosswind. The original squadron that had flown over the building came up behind Khagan, and one presented him with his own ebony lacquered racing broom. Khagan waved the Red Raptor away as he slid his shield around to his back, and took the broom by the handle with his free left hand and mounted it, always keeping his wand out at the ready. Only split seconds after mounting, did he start moving forwards, going from motionless to blindingly fast in the blink of an eye with trained precision.

Khagan navigated through the tunnel-like hallways of the Bulgarian Ministry, dodging the hexes and curses being thrown at Death Eaters and Red Raptors alike without hesitation, and with a practiced ease. He, flanked by the original air squadron, tore through the hallways, passing many of the other Red Raptors who had entered before them and dismounted to engage the dug in Death Eaters. They rounded a corner at break neck speeds and Khagan had to maneuver and boot a Death Eater aside to avoid a collision as they neared entered the straightaway towards the main chamber of the ministry. The doors were shut tight, but Khagan raised his wand, and those behind him followed suit.

"Reducto," he and the dozen wizards behind him commanded and the magic was so heavy in the air for a moment he could feel it in little sparks on his slightly scaled skin. Then the door visibly shrank, almost as if it was being pulled inwards, and then it rapidly returned to its normal size and shattered into a thousand pieces of splintered wood. The Red Raptors already on the ground near the door rushed in, but Khagan was right on their heels, moving faster than the wind on his racing broom. He circled the main audience chamber near the ceiling and looked down at those inside. Many were members of the Ministry, and many were Death Eaters. Some were both. Khagan almost pitied them as they threw down their wands and shot up their hands in response to the wave of red into the room.

Khagan landed with his back to the open door and facing the ministry officials and Death Eaters. He dismounted and took a few steps away from the line of aurors, always with his wand at the ready, holding it low in his right hand. With his other hand he reached up and flicked back his hood, releasing the strap that held it in place. A few of the officials shrank back, others stared abashedly, but a sharp intake of breath could be heard all around. For indeed, the Mir Khanzada's face had patches of scales marring the skin, his eyes were bloodshot red, and his prominent nose and jaw jutted out forming what appeared to be the makings of a beak, or lizard-like snout. Only the broad neck, brow and chunky black hair were still reminiscent of a human being once the hood had been removed. Khagan stood calmly as some of the Red Raptors forced the Ministry Officials and Death Eaters alike into a line. As the room quieted down, fighting could still be heard echoing down the halls, but another Red Raptor entered from the main hall way and approached Khagan's side. He gave a curt bow, and took his position at the man's right side.

"My Khan, the building is secure," he reported although he was slightly out of breath. Khagan tilted his chin up just a bit and he seemed to sniff the air as another scream pierced the building; after that, much of the commotion stopped. He looked at the floor for a moment then took another step towards the line, moving his gaze to the faces of the officials.

"You killed Minister Oblansk," he stated bluntly, as he took a step down the line. "A good man. And now you try to get other ministries to do the same to their ministers, if they do not agree; is this true?" Khagan asked in an oddly monotone voice. None of the wizards lined up in front of the intimidating Khan answered.

"Hm, no? I am mistaken?" Khagan asked and his resonating, barking voice bounded off the walls like a ricocheting spell. His white teeth flashed as he spoke, irregularly pointed. His bloodshot eyes surveyed the line as he neared the end, and a small bead of sweat trickled down his forehead of human skin, and onto the shimmering red scales around his left eye and down the scales on the side of his chin and thick neck. He shook his relatively short mane of black human hair, before whipping around to renew his walk along the line. "I think not!" he bellowed and all of those in the room instinctively flinched, some even going so far as to duck and cover their heads. "DON'T!" he shouted again, bringing up his wand menacingly, and all wizards in the room froze, "move," he added in a voice barely above a whisper. He hurried to the center of the line so he was toe-to-toe with a rather unspectacular man in the robes of a Death Eater, although he seemed to have misplaced his mask somewhere along the line.

"You are secretary Dimitrof; I recognize your 'noble brow,'" the Khan observed with a frightening smirk full of pointed teeth, and a gesture to his own forehead. The Death Eater blinked and Khagan noticed one of the secretary's eyes was a bit off-kilter, as if he were constantly looking over the Khan's shoulder.

"I am afraid I can't say the same for you, Mir Khanzada. It seems your… heritage has caught up with you," the Death Eater, Dimitrof, said with an incredible amount of calm considering the circumstances, as he looked Khagan's overly large and half-scale covered figure up and down. "I can't say it's done much for you," the secretary added and the Khan's right hand shot up., sparks flying from the crooked tip. But the Khan slowly brought back his hand with a grimace masquerading as a smile.

"What's done… is done," Khagan said quietly through his clenched teeth. The Khan froze however, and tilted his frightening head as he seemed to contemplate the man's words. He took a menacing step forwards in order to tower over the surprised secretary. "Do you recognize me?" Khagan whispered and Dimitrof's eyebrows shot up, almost disappearing into his hairline.

"Your appearance has changed, your voice has changed, but you still fly the same, Viktor Krum," Secretary Dimitrof droned with a tone of utmost satisfaction. "If you had planned on maintaining your secrecy, perhaps walking would have been a more appropriate form of transportation. Oh, wait, you can't even do that without being recognized, can you? Your trademark shuffle only reinforced my suspicions the moment you got off your broom," the Death Eater added with a rebellious smirk and tip of his head. The descendent of the Dragon Khan took a step back, shaking his head, and with his barrel-like chest heaving with sparse laughter.

"You really think I'm Krum? A Quidditch player?" Khagan asked in between laughs. The half-scaled face turned towards the wizard at his right. "Bring in Peregrine, will you?" he asked, and the wizard robed in red at his side bowed, and left the room at a brisk pace. Khagan returned his bloodshot gaze to the line of Death Eaters and officials in front of him and clicked his tongue in his grotesque, somewhat beaked snout, before lapsing into a strained silence. A few moments later an explosion above their heads sent everyone but Khagan sprawling and glass rained down from a window that had just shattered. One of the red robed wizards that had bolted out of the forest at the Khan's signal darted in. In one fluid motion the wizard circled the crouching captives and pulled up beside Khagan, dismounting in one fluid motion and kicking his broom up to rest on his slender, rounded shoulders.

"Peregrine, this man thinks I'm you," Khagan stated in what seemed to be an amused voice as he tilted his head back, indicating Dimitrof. Krum, or Peregrine as Khagan called him, stared momentarily at the secretary before shaking his head and shifting on his duck-footed feet. "I suppose I should be flattered," Khagan added with the ghost of a laugh. The other wizard that the Khan had used to fetch Krum earlier scurried back in and Khagan took a step back to meet him.

"Vulchanov, take these men outside and send them on their way. Not-" Khagan instructs, holding up a finger as the Red Raptor begins shepherding the line out, "you," he finishes, pointing to Dimitrof. The other Red Raptor, Vulchanov by name, bowed to the dragon descendent and ushered the rest of the line out grimly, with Krum on his heels. The Mir Khanzada glowered at the single remaining Death Eater from underneath his heavy black brows until the main chamber was empty.

"And now, Secretary Dimitrof, you and your kind pay for what you have done," Khagan stated in a deathly rasp as he stashed his irregular wand in his pocked and flexed the fingers of his other hand, the knuckles cracking as nails steadily and eerily grew from ordinary, short fingernails into talon-like claws. Great flashes of green and violet light pierced the darkness and filtered through the high windows in the room, along with horrible screams to accompany the multicolor lights. Dimitrof's own scream died in his throat as the dragon descendent reached for the Death Eater's throat with one hand and his face with the other.

Less than an hour later, Vulchanov, still dressed in his crimson red robes, stood outside the Bulgarian ministry building. He stared straight ahead, and the rest of the Red Raptors wondered about him, what he was thinking. At the entrance to the ministry stood thirteen spikes, upon twelve of which, twitching, trembling bodies were skewered. The sound of heavy boots coming into contact with the marble floors of the open hallway behind him and a steady dragging reached his ears. He finally turned around when both the footsteps and the dragging stopped simultaneously. The Khan stood in the doorway, his red hood once again drawn up over his head, and the almost unrecognizable body of Secretary Dimitrof clenched in his hand beside him.

"Put him up," came the quiet command from the Khan in red, as he dropped the corpse to the floor and made his way out of the ministry and over to Vulchanov's side. After a moment of silence, the Khan sighed. "He said nothing," Khagan stated as he and Vulchanov gazed out over the countryside. "He maintained that no one has informed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named of our existence – that we were too insignificant to mention."

"Then how do we explain the increase in resistance? We clear out one stronghold only to hear of two more!" Vulchanov nearly shouted and Khagan patted down the air in an attempt at a calming motion.

"Dimitrof said our brutality inspired many waverers to join the Death Eaters." Khagan barely paused, but did long enough to notice Vulchanov's stricken expression. The scaled man shook his head vigorously and didn't allow the Red Raptor to speak. "Don't believe a word of that crap, Antonin," spoke the Khan sharply from underneath his cowl. "We aren't meeting any more outposts," Khagan observed. "There have always been more Death Eaters than us; nothing's changed," he growled and crossed his thickly muscled arms across his chest. Vulchanov did not seem to share the Khan's ease.

"But that's just it, isn't it? Nothing's changed! They just keep coming; there's always another stronghold to burn and we just keep dieing!" Vulchanov roared, causing the other Red Raptors, busy levitating Dimitrof's body onto the remaining pike, to stare. "We lost six today! It should have been none," Vulchanov ranted and Khagan shook his head.

"Stop it; you're making the others nervous," Khagan whispered in French to the Red Raptor raving at his side. Indeed, the other wizards had slowed now, some were milling about aimlessly, attempting to look busy, searching the building and the area.

"Er, they need to be!" Vulchanov stammered, struggling with the language transition.

"This is a war, we are to expect losses," Khagan responded with less than normal vigor.

"But we cannot… cannot…" Vulchanov stammered, in his faltering French. He finally punched the air and continued in Bulgarian. "We can't afford this!" he finished and tilted a bit ahead to glance underneath the Khan's hood. Khagan's second in command looked visibly relieved and his shoulder released as he leaned back. For the face hidden by the cowl of the bright red cloak seemed one hundred percent human. Expressive black eyebrows furrowed over two dark mahogany eyes; Khagan crossed his arms over his chest, revealing his brown, knee-length coat.

"Maybe I should just do it all myself then," Khagan muttered but he moved on before Vulchanov could respond to that. "Did you send the reply?" Khagan asked directing the gap in his hood where his shadowed face was towards Vulchanov

"Uh, yes, I sent your enver and added my own, filling them in just a bit more," Vulchanov reported after hesitating for a second after the Khan's unusual remark. Khagan glanced at Vulchanov quizzically but said nothing. "I can't believe the Order sent that letter to the Death Eaters. I thought you said Dumbledore was all-seeing," Vulchanov grumbled, while shaking his head. He looked right back at Khagan still shaking his head. "How could he have been so stupid as to not realize Oblansk is dead?" Vulchanov asked out of the thin air, more rhetorically than to the descendent of the Dragon Khan right next to him.

"He disappointed me, I admit," Khagan spoke in almost a whisper, as he gazed out at the mountainscape in front of him. "But it just means that he doesn't realize how bad it is over here. He has other things on his mind, I am sure. I have heard their ministry is finally listening to the Order," Khagan breathed as an explanation. Turning back towards the now occupied ministry, Khagan walked back through the wide wooden doors.

Red robed wizards scurried about the building, the foot soldiers wearing brown belted tunics and slacks, overshadowed by their almost oversized crimson cloaks and glinting black boots, and the others, the ones from the Air Squadron, wearing bright red Quidditch wind breakers, matching jodhpurs and all weather cloaks, and similarly shining black boots with thickened shin guards. However, all of the wizards had the same lacquered black, beaked mask hiding their faces.

Standing in the corner next to the locking mechanism of the door was the lanky Viktor Krum, looking out from behind his own beaked mask at the other wizards busying themselves. His own custom made mahogany racing broom leaned against the wall next to him, distinguishing him from the other flyers, as he stood ill at ease amongst the commotion. Khagan approached the former Quidditch player, who straightened as much as his hunched figure would allow him when he saw his leader approaching.

"Don't worry about it," Khagan said quietly once he was near, and Krum visibly relaxed, moving to lean on the stone walls again.

"You really needed me in there?" Peregrine asked in a voice barely above a whisper. No one else was looking anyway.

"He implicated the Krums were the dragon descendents. I had to convince him otherwise," Khagan justified, but the chocolate brown eyes peering from behind the mask were skeptical.

"Even though you were just going to kill him too? You didn't even have to worry about the others thinking the Krums were descendents because you had them killed too," Peregrine argued, raising his voice to just above a whisper. Khagan shook his head in frustration.

"Listen, we're just the hand! The hand! My family has been torn between honor and self-respect, for hundreds of years – doing things we don't want to because every man in the family is bound by our forefather's oath to serve and protect all people in our country from harm. We've served in silence, in hiding for years, suffering the curse of our blood so others could live happily, in bliss. Our sins here are justified!" Khagan countered in an uncharacteristic outburst. Peregrine leaned back into the corner, recoiling as if hit, as the Khan raised his voice. As the human side of the Khan took a few deep breaths of the cool air, he didn't fail to notice the rapt attention that the other Red Raptors were giving him now, attracted by his own voice. He ignored them and spoke to Krum once again in a hushed voice. "It doesn't matter now, they're dead, but they aren't the last ones. There are others who still threaten our country.

"I'll see you back at the castle, Peregrine. Go get some rest. You've been flying for days straight here," Khagan ordered in his normal deep voice. Krum still glared from behind his mask, but he bowed stiffly over his splayed feet, took his broom and swept out the door, mounting and zooming off into the distance. Khagan stared after the young man for a few moments before positioning himself in the center of the hallway once again and turning around to face the inside of the ministry.

The Khan took out his wand and repositioned it in his hand so he formed a fist a first around the middle, with the tip of the wand pointing towards the ceiling. Without a sound, the tip of the curved wand extended, along with an extension of similar thickness wood coming from the end of the handle until it met the floor. With his newly formed staff, Khagan pounded on the hard floor, and the heads of all the wizards turned as they paused and stared.

"Sweep the premises, search for stragglers, hidden passageways, and secret chambers. I know there are at least two passageways out of here with hideouts along the way. If you run into any stragglers, send them on their way. Return to the castle when everything is cleared. Leave a squad of soldiers, and two flyers. Keep an eye out for envers, and any other form of communication they might be using. I expect a report when you're done," the Khan's deep voice rang out through the halls without the need of a sonorous charm, now without the reptilian edge to the sound. He reached up underneath his hood, as if to pat his hair, but instead pulled his hand down over his face, and a great black, beaked mask was drawn upon his face. Shining black lacquer made the wood of the mask shine like obsidian, and the lower jaw of the mask was one like a human's except with long razor sharp teeth, resembling those of a great cat. The jaw moved as he spoke again, and his dark eyes glinted from behind the holes in the mask.

"Be wary, and be quick," he said quietly, and clicked his heels together, coming to attention, and giving a curt bow to the other wizards, before turning on his heel and stalking out with his red robes billowing behind him.

Author's Note:

Second chapter, yay! And it's much longer. I guess that's what I get for only working on one chapter for two weeks. :D

This is a rather different tone than the first chapter; I hope you liked it.

And I also just want to say that it probably shouldn't be that cold in Bulgaria in the summer, but I'm saying it is cold there

a.) because they're on a mountain

b.) because the area around the ministry is enchanted to be uncomfortable to keep intruders away, and

c.) because I'm the author.

Don't hate me…

Please: reviews make me write more. Inspire me! As you might've noticed, Gabbers almost directly addressed some of the subject matter in this chapter. Tehe. Actually, that was just coincidence. I couldn't go past the second chapter without introducing Viktor, could I?

On a side note: while this is not a song fic, there are a lot of songs that I listen to when writing this. There is a song that really fits this chapter, and just this story.

It's called "Hand of Sorrow" by Within Temptation (you'll notice that the title of this chapter is also the title of the song). It's a really beautiful song; I suggest you go a look it up. It is kind of metal-ish though. Pretty metal though. :D

Corrected a few mistakes – silly typos and odd wording and such. (11/13/07)