Prologue
Muggles' Brew

"Quick!" Dejan Ved shouted to his assistant and apprentice, Althea. "Bring me the Selkie scales!"

The young girl rushed from the counter to the bubbling cauldron, the glass jar filled with silvery scales gripped tightly in her hands. She almost felt the urge to jump back as her wild-eyed master snatched the jar from her grasp and threw several handfuls into the bubbling cauldron. The liquid simmered and shifted rapidly from periwinkle to a bright, vibrant purple. The bursting bubbles hissed and almost seemed to shriek as they popped. But it wasn't the violent reactions of the potion that was frightening to Althea.

Dejan's eyes always took on a wild, almost animal-like quality to them, the way they always did whenever he was on the verge of creating a new potion. She had always known that her current instructor was a brilliant Potions Master; it was one of the reasons she had chosen to apprentice under him in the first place. Normally, he was quite calm and rational; but whenever he came on the verge of some new contribution to his already extensive list of created potions, he became an entirely different man.

Someone wild, someone not quite human.

Althea took a fair amount of steps back as Dejan pointed his wand to the fire simmering below the cauldron. The flames grew high violent, bursting with bright reds, oranges, and blues. The drops of potion that had spilled over the sides scorched against the sides of the cauldron, creating a horrible, smoky stench that made Althea's eyes water.

"What are you doing?" she asked, panic filling her voice and confusion rising from Dejan's behavior, which seemed so much more erratic than it ever had before. "These ingredients aren't even remotely close to what the instructions call for!"

"Instructions, instructions…INSTRUCTIONS!" Dejan muttered before seeming to come to a realization. "Get some quill and parchment. Write all this down!"

Not wanting to learn what would happen if she disobeyed her master when he was in this state, she rushed for the desk and began throwing different drawers open, looking for anything she could write with. Racing back to the workstation, she began scribbling madly about everything she saw, trying desperately to remember everything she had seen Dejan do before. While he stirred, she scrolled down the text as she tried to find the place where her master had stopped brewing Draught of the Living Dead and had begun creating this…mess.

"Flask!" he shouted out suddenly, holding out his expecting hand. "Flask, flask; Althea, GET ME A FLASK!"

Althea roamed over the long workstation, searching for anything that seemed remotely fit for use. Eventually, she found one clean flask, even though she could not find the stopper. The impatience in his tone, however, told her not to waste time looking for one. She leapt back to the cauldron, Dejan grasping he wrist painfully tight and plucked the flask from her fingers.

Dipping the ladle into the brew, gingerly, as though he thought it might combust, he slowly poured the now ruby red potion into the flask. He held the glass phial up to the lantern light, looking for any impurities or uneven mixings. But the new concoction shown through the light, clear as crystal. If Althea hadn't had a better understanding of the chemical compositions of potions, she could have sworn she heard it hum.

Dejan stared up at the flask, a now quiet, calm look in his eyes. He regarded the potion with the same fascination that a child might give to a cluster of firefly. Now all that was left was to test it.

A cage set off to the side squeaked and scurried as though they knew what was coming. This was the only part of potion making Althea could honestly say she despised. More than likely because she had seen all too often what could happen to the poor little test subjects when a potion when wrong, especially in the hands of Dejan Ved.

Reaching into the cage, Dejan grabbed one of the squirming rats. It bit and squealed wildly, but Dejan seemed oblivious to the animal's fear, walking around the lab in what seemed like a dream state.

"What is it?" Althea breathed as she gestured towards the humming flask, feeling as though she shared her master's sense of awe. "What does it do?"

"If it does what I think it does," Dejan whispered softly, almost dogmatically, "Merlin help us."