This is an AU fic.
Chapter One: The Death Card
Symbolizes transformation, passage and change
Harry gathered the papers spread over his desk into a pile, sighing. It was his last day, though he alone knew that. Working as a highly respected Unspeakable and being reluctantly decorated war hero had it perks, so he had been able to conduct his research in complete secrecy. He hadn't even been questioned when he told Kingsley that he wanted to spend some time in the Death Chamber, and since Kingsley was the Minister, anybody who might have disagreed with his request kept their mouths firmly shut.
Harry had been going over the older notes on the Veil one day a few months back, and had been surprised and dismayed when he realized that no research had been conducted on the Veil since before Crouch Sr. time. Deciding to see if he could find out anything more about the Veil and where it lead, he'd begun investigating. Apparently the Veil was not, as was generally believed by the workers in the ministry, a portal to the Death Realm, but something else. And it was that 'something else' that Harry had been so eager to pin-point.
After several months and a lot of secretive over-time, Harry found a tentative answer to his question. The veil was a gateway- to everywhere and nowhere. The gateway was a map between the different realms, which people under certain circumstances could pass through. He'd been unable to find anything but vague answers as to how this worked and had summed it up the way most muggle-raised kids did when confronted about the inconsistencies and over-all strangeness that was Hogwarts- it was simply magic. In its most magical form.
Because most people did not have these special circumstances they died when passing through the Veil and beyond, their bodies disappearing to Merlin-knew-where. This was what had made it such a popular execution tool in the past. Just throw the criminal in there and 'poof' (well, not really) they were gone; typical of the lazy bureaucratic wizards of the Ministry to choose such a simple solution, despite not having all the facts. Out of sight, out of mind.
At any rate, eventually, the idea that had been tickling the edges of his thoughts for almost as long as he'd been working on this little project slammed to the forefront of his mind like a sledge-hammer, throwing his semi-routined after-war life into invisible chaos. He carefully maneuvered around his remaining friends questions as he turned things over in his mind. It would be a selfish decision, he knew. The most selfish one he had ever made, should he actually go through with it.
But really, his friends were safe and sound, planning weddings and babies (Ron and Hermione) or Snorkack/herbs hunting trips (Luna and Neville) - they had each other, and that was where their thoughts were focused. Harry knew they did not mean to pay him less attention than they payed each other, and like Hermione had so often chided him about, he did a tendency to pull away and go off on his own more than most people.
They'd miss him terribly if he left, and he'd miss them like a hole in his heart as well. But Harry was sure that they would be able to move on- surely holding him in their hearts, the way his heart still held Sirius and everyone else that had been lost to the war- as long as he assured them that this was what he wanted.
He would say his goodbyes by letter, not out of cowardice, but because otherwise they'd never let him leave- they might even feel obligated to go with him, despite the fact that their whole lives where irrevocably bound to this realm.
Harry didn't fit in here; he'd known that for a while now. He never really felt like he had, perhaps because of the Dursleys or possibly because of all the ugliness he had been confronted with since he first entered the wizarding world. The wizards in general were so very fickle, so willing to abandon him at the drop of a hat, but he had loved them anyway. Loved them with the intensity of a non-existent childhood and Gryffindor obstinacy and loyalty- and it wasn't enough. His childhood was long gone, his Gryffindor tendencies faded and burnt out with the progress of the war. He was tired.
His friends had been enough for him. Knowing that they had his back no matter what had kept him going. But the war was over and his purpose spent, and his friends evolved into people he couldn't quite follow. Maybe it was their happiness and lack of worry that got to him, or maybe it was their carefree smiles that radiated a peace and contentment he himself couldn't find. Maybe he was jealous.
Or maybe it was the fact that when together, they were starting to spend more time in awkward silence than the chit-chatter that had filled their days at Hogwarts. He did not want to drift apart from them all, and that was what was happening, slowly but surely. And that knowledge was like a slowly twisting knife in his heart.
It wasn't that he wanted a newr purpose as dangerous as the one he had fulfilled. If he'd wanted that he could have joined up with the Aurors, like he had originally planned to. Rather it was the fact that his friends- and the wizards in general- could still be so naive in their worldview. The so-called Light-oriented society gave him a headache.
So many of the other races, the supposed 'lower' species, were still suppressed and looked down on. The werewolves. The house elves. Even the veela. How it hurt his head to see the wizards treat Remus' kind like filth, despite his bravery in the war. How it made something in him ache at the thought of the Centaurs- Firenze, who had stood by them when none other of his kind were willing to- still being seen as basically worthless in comparison to human wizards.
This was not the conclusion he had been fighting for. This was not what he had wanted, or expected. And he was tired of it. He didn't want to go on another crusade, force another revolution and watch the world burn around him in battles and bigoted words. You couldn't force kindness and fairness onto people.
Harry finished his letter and put it on the top of the precariously balanced pile of overdue paperwork on his desk. He hoped this would be enough, because he was passing on the baton- to Hermione, first and foremost. She could fight with words in a way he had never been able to.
I am leaving the wizarding world. I think you understand why without me explain myself. If not, ask 'mione, you all know she's too perceptive for her own good.
Hermione, remember S.P.E.W? (Ron, stop sniggering.) I think this world needs a S.P.E.W for all races. I know that if you're motivated, all of you, you can change things. Not that I'd blame you if you too have had enough.
I know you'll eventually figure out where I've gone and how, but you'll also understand that you can't follow.
This is the fruit of my selfishness, my weakness and my world-weariness. I'm sorry, but I've had enough of the hypocrisy that fills this world.
I love you all, always.
Without any more preparation he exited his office, closing and warding the door as usual, and walked along the winding corridors of the DoM towards the Death Chamber. He waved casually to a few coworkers, covering up the light trembling of his hands by putting them into his pockets.
Harry wouldn't deny that he was nervous – scared - but he didn't have to outright acknowledge it either. It was enough that he knew it in the back of his mind. That's what he'd done during the war, and it was a habit he'd never broken out of. The political scene in England after the war didn't permit him to show his fear or grief openly, because heroes didn't cry.
The door to the Death Chamber was inconspicuously conspicuous; just a normal-sized black door with a golden handle. Compared to the lavishness of most other entrances in the ministry it was practically invisible. But then, that suited this particular door perfectly.
The Death Chamber looked like it always had, empty except for the archway with its tattered curtain blowing in the non-existent breeze. The same urge that had called both Harry and Luna to it years before enfolded him. The whispers called out, sweeping by his ears like an echo.
He stepped up the few steps to the platform upon which the archway was standing and spent several seconds just gazing into its half-hidden depths, trying to glean something from the invisible space the tattered black cloth covered. He was afraid. The eerie voices and the coldness that enveloped him the closer he moved towards the archway made his heart beat faster, and he took a discreet breath to calm the rush of blood in his ears.
He wasn't sure why he felt like he had to hide his fear from the veil. Perhaps it was its oppressive presence that reminded him of standing in the Headmaster's office at Hogwarts or of the graveyard in Little Hangleton, making him have to force himself not to step backwards. Like there was something there, looking at him, judging him. Maybe threatening him in some dim way he could only perceive like a shape in the corner of his eye.
He shook his head slightly and strengthened his resolve. He knew that this was what he was going to do. He had been planning it for months and he wasn't going to let this fear stop him. Even if the fear wasn't irrational. He was still a Gryffindor. Recklessness was in his blood, even if he didn't let it control him as he once had.
Inhaling deeply, he let a devil-may-care grin twist his lips, and ran.
The tattered cloth caressed his skin like mist, and everything went black. Suddenly he was choking, sputtering, flailing in the blackness seeping into him, under his skin, into his bones to pierce at the core- at everything that was Harry. Every memory, every laugh, every tear, laid bare to the blackness.
He was being watched. The blackness saw him, he could feel it. The painful memories of the final battle flashed in front of his eyes, forced as if by legilimency, and he could do nothing to fight it.
Years passed in a few seconds, and Harry floating dazedly, fatigued, in nowhere. He was almost resigned to death claiming him after all, as he apparently wasn't going to move from this place, when he heard a voice.
It was the whispers, only now they seemed to have multiplied and heightened into sound that reminded him of church bells or a choir, coming from every direction at once. The voices blended into a cacophony and Harry spun his head uselessly to locate their source.
Harry Potter… You have come to us… to find your place… you are…deserving. You have fought long…selflessly. We will grant you… your wish.
From the darkness a small flame appeared. It flared and pulsated, twisting around itself like Saturn's rings as the voices spoke. Its color was too purple to be considered red and too red to be considered indigo. Instead, the core burnt magenta, while the flames sparked auburn… and for some reason, it reminded Harry of a human heart. The light and its shape was strangely comforting, and Harry felt some of the tension drain from his air-suspended body.
"You will?" his voice sounded small and strangely flat next to the inhuman chorus. The darkness was radiating something that felt almost like safety, and Harry waited for it to continue, for once not caring about what exactly the voices actually was.
You are tired…of magic…your place is not within…this world's magical community…
Harry nodded redundantly, agreeing.
…and yet, your magic is too strong for you to leave it behind…but the balance must be maintained…should you leave… your magic will not remain the same…
The balance… balance… the balance must be maintained…
The voices echoed, apparently emphasizing the importance of this. Harry felt a clenching of fear; his magic was a rather large part of what he was. It was his security blanket if nothing else… but he had been prepared for this. Somewhat. If he left for a world without wizards, he hadn't quite expected to be able to keep his magic. And yet, being confronted with it like this…
Fear not, Harry Potter…your world is the only realm so deeply involved…with magic, but it is not the only magical realm in existence…the world you may now join is one governed by…shinigami, gods of death…
Harry felt his mouth fall open slightly. Gods of death?! For all the weirdness in his own world, gods had never been involved in the happenings as far as he knew- though prophecies must come from somewhere, he supposed.
Harry started as the flame flashed brightly. For a moment it seemed to be pulling in on itself, but then a sudden shower of sparks cascaded upwards. A series of pictures began playing like a movie inside the fire, made glowing by the flames.
A desert landscape, inhabited by ugly, vaguely humanoid creatures. They were gathered in groups, crouched down low to the ground, seated on piles of bones, or flying in a greyish sky with wings as tattered as the cloth that hung in the Veil's archway.
The picture drew closer to one of the shinigami, providing a clear shot of a black book with a row of ominous-looking signs he couldn't decipher written on the cover. Harry listened tensely as the voices briefly summarized what the Death Notes were, and what they were used for. He couldn't say he really liked the idea of being killed because his name was written down by one of the shinigami.
…fear not, Harry...You are…out of this world… the Death Notes…may not touch you…
Harry admitted quietly that knowing his death would not be determined by the whims of the shinigami reassured him. He wouldn't have wanted to plop down to that world, only to suddenly die. His internal musings were interrupted by the flame's voice-
Should you enter this world…your wizard magic will be forfeit…but in its place you shall receive gifts.
What do the 'muggles' know of magic, Harry?
Harry considered the question, feeling like this question was an exam of sorts. Muggles didn't believe in 'fairytale' magic, but was there any other kind? He racked his brain, trying to remember if he had read anything about magic before coming to Hogwarts.
Slowly a few memories returned to him; Dudley speaking about a TV show so long ago, before Vernon and Petunia forced fear of the 'unnatural' into him… What had it been? Something along the lines of "Extra-something-perception"… E.M.P? E.L.P? …No, E.S.P! Extra sensory perception!
The flames flared again, in what Harry almost saw as an expression, as a smile.
…In the 'muggle' part of the world, Extra Sensory Perception and Psi abilities also…
… somewhat inaccurately includes…
…telekinesis… clairvoyance… water scrying… empathy…
…and these gifts shall be yours, together with…
…heightened intelligence… eidetic memory…
…perfect eyesight and hearing…and perfect muscle memory…
…in exchange for all your magic, should you accept…
Harry spent a few minutes in silence, thinking over the offer, which was a lot more generous than he had been expecting. Not that there was much to think about, really. His decision had been made long ago. Even if the voices had told him that he would be stripped of all his magic without receiving anything inexchange, he would have accepted.
He cleared his throat quietly. "Does this mean that there are other people with these abilities in that world?" he asked carefully, not sure what answer he was hoping to receive.
… Very, very few… it is…doubtful that you will ever meet any…even if you should, they will likely not be as powerful as yourself.
Harry nodded, feeling kind of exhausted. He would have asked how powerful he was, but if he was the most powerful of the few that did exist, then there wasn't much point in doing so.
"And that world is completely muggle? I'll end up in muggle England, where the ministry is in this world?"
Yes, that realm is the same as your own, with very few exceptions…but because its lack of magic… and time-turners, in particular...its timeline runs faster than your own, so…you will find yourself a few months ahead of this time…
Harry blinked. Time-turners slowed down time? That wasn't known to the wizards, or at least he hadn't known… he shook his head and straightened as much as he could in his position. Never mind that, now.
"I accept." As the world dissolved in black smoke, he felt the flames embrace him. The blackness that had reached into him before grasped at something inside him and pulled. Harry screamed hoarsely – the pain was blinding - and fell backwards. The agony built and reached its peak within seconds, and Harry promptly passed out.
He awoke in darkness, blinking dazedly. He was lying on cold, hard concrete and small stones were poking his back uncomfortably. It took him a few minutes of confused staring to remember what had transpired, and he shifted uneasily when he remembered his magic being forcibly torn out of him. The pain easily transcended the Cruciatus Curse. He hadn't even known how deeply rooted his magic had been in him, and the loss was like a hole in his chest. Like a void inside his body, like he was missing a piece of his heart or one of his limbs.
Harry swallowed, wondering if he had made the right choice after all. He hadn't expected it to feel this bad… hadn't expected to feel so incomplete, hadn't expected to feel the loss so clearly. He swallowed once more, working down the lump that was forming in his throat. He'd made his choice, and breaking down minutes after coming here would be both thankless and potentially dangerous.
He stood up carefully, surprised to find that his body was without pain, even if it felt slightly strange in its movements. He stretched his arms out, squinted, and frowned. Hadn't his arms been longer than this? It was hard to see much in the near complete darkness, but they looked even thinner than what he was used to.
He jumped up and down, feeling the way his calves shifted to adjust to his weight… which most definitely was not the weight of an adult. His body was small and light in a way it hadn't been for a very long time, and suddenly Harry had a feeling that he should have stopped and asked a few more questions before he accepted the flames' deal. Damn Gryffindor impulsiveness.
His clothes were hanging on him like potato sacks, slipping off his shoulders and hips. Harry shivered as the draft chilled his skin and went to tighten his belt (to the last hole, which even then was a bit too large for him). He pushed the disconcertion to the back of his mind for the moment, concentrating on the temporarily more important matter. Getting out.
He licked his index finger and held it up to feel for where the air was blowing into the building. Hopefully he'd be able to locate the exit this way.
He thought he the draft felt stronger to the left and walked in that direction unsurely, trying to navigate around the random junk spread across the ground by his feet.
Reaching the far left of the room, Harry finally noticed the gigantic metallic doors from where the wind was blowing in. Now that he was standing do close to the doors, he heard them rattle in their hinges slightly, and the very faint light coming from beyond the threshold at the very bottom.
The doors were fortunately locked with a simple clasp, and he easily pushed it up above the holders, causing the door to groan as it opened. The light was harsh to his eyes and Harry blinked blearily, trying to adjust. It took almost a minute for the dancing spots to disappear from his vision, but when they did, he immediately slipped into Unspeakable mood to categorize his new surroundings.
What he had not been prepared for, however, was how quickly his brain would assimilate the collective impressions to form a cohesive picture of the sunbathed outside.
After a few seconds he had realized that he was in some form of junk yard, littered alternatively with scrapped cars and gigantic containers. Everything was clad in dirt and grease, but he could also smell something salty in the air, thus presuming that he was near the sea. He immediately measured the containers to be 3 m tall and 6 m broad respectively and that though they at first glance might seem to be placed out haphazardly, they were in fact spread out 20 m apart and rotated ca 1.5 m to the right per container.
Harry closed his eyes, pressing his fingertips to his temple to try and stem the overflow of information assaulting his brain. But closing his eyes did nothing to making him forget the look of the junkyard. He knew without needing to reopen them that to his immediate left were 6 discarded cars, and to his right there were 12, arranged in no particular way. He felt his blood flow to his head, the dizziness heightening his impending headache.
He knew what was happening, of course. He just hadn't expected it to be so painful and distracting. Was this how Hermione felt, always..? No, that was ridiculous, so he discarded the notion straight away. His body was probably just struggling to keep up with his brain's 'rewiring', and would take a while to adjust.
He exhaled slowly, massaging his temples in circular motions. He didn't know why he had expected it to be easy, because everything came at a price. He had known that since early childhood.
Well, his first early childhood. Harry frowned, looking at his tiny fingers through narrowed eyes. This was seriously messed up (just like most things in his life turned out to be) but instead of the internal temper tantrum he might have thrown in the past, his first thought was how to acclimate himself to it.
He didn't really notice the change in his thought-process until after he had come up with several scenarios where his smaller body could be worked to his advantage, also immediately realizing that it would require him to relearn his fighting skills, since his body wasn't even nearly up to par strength-wise. He had always been a rather short guy, so his fighting style had been geared towards speed and endurance rather than power, but his now shorter reach would hinder him should he attempt to fight without having gotten used to his body.
Harry paced, measuring his strides and the movements of the leg muscles. His steps were about 1:2 difference in length from his older body, he guessed. He was also a bit shaky, though that might have been from his now pounding headache. Pacing back and forth a few times, he eased into his walk and the flow of his movements. His body was a lot more uncontrolled than he remembered it, though he supposed that came with this body's young age.
Harry walked around the empty junkyard for around an hour before he felt confident that he wouldn't fall flat on his face in public by tripping over his too-large clothes, and then attempted to locate the junkyard's exit. It wasn't as hard as it had been from inside the dark container, since this time he could navigate towards the sound of cars in the distance.
As he walked towards the humming noise of the streets he reviewed his options. He had been cautious enough to bring a small sum of money with him through the veil, leaving the rest to Hermione and the others, but that money wouldn't get him very far. It would not ensure his safety.
Harry stopped, tilting his head to look at himself in one of the car's rear-view mirrors as he thought. A small part of his mind noted how …well, young, he looked, while the rest of his mind whirled with half-shaped plans, discarding many and puzzling a few together to be observed from other angles.
First, whatever he decided to do afterwards, he needed to check on his location. Being aware of one's surroundings at all times was important no matter where you were. He'd work from there.
The slim wall that separated the yard from the rest of the world had several half-opened doors at even intervals, and Harry chose one near a large pile of stacked cars - which he could use to hide behind, should it become necessary for whatever reason - and approached it cautiously.
The street noises grew louder, growling car engines coupled with intermingling voices and electronic buzzing. Harry briefly turned his gaze heavenwards and followed the electrical cords that obstructed his view with his gaze. It sparked and crackled ominously, and he wondered if it was still in working order. Was this a poor neighborhood in this world?
Across the dirty street stood a rusty, askew sign proclaiming "Portsmouth harbor, 1 km", with the arrow pointing diagonally towards him and to the left. So that was why he could smell sea water; the breeze must be carrying it from the port.
He wondered how he'd ended up at the edge of Hampshire, whether it was coincidence or served some as of yet unknown purpose. He took a few steps outside, holding up the door behind him as he turned his head from side to side to make sense of the street. A few pedestrians shot him odd looks, some pitying, some disdainful, and Harry ducked back into the yard before anyone decided to talk to him.
He crouched down on the ground beside the door and clasped his small hands between his knees as he thought. He had seen a metro station sign to his left, but not much else that could be of use. And before he even contemplated going on the metro, he needed to know where he was going and why.
Harry tapped his fingers on his knuckles, making a mental list of what basic objectives he should be working towards to establish himself in this new world.
1. A base, preferably an isolated one
4. Information source, preferably a public library
The problems he expected to encounter were really only 'helpful' people, who might inform social services or the police of him, thinking that he was a homeless kid (… which he technically was, but that was beside the point).
After a minute he had a few tentative starting points for his goals.
1. He could stick to the junkyard as a base, for now, and sleep in one of the semi-whole cars.
2 and 3. The second point was the most problematic one, since no trustworthy person would hire a kid to do anything without their parents' permission, but Harry knew of a nearby homeless shelter in his old world that hopefully existed here as well, where if he was careful, he could get free food and clothing.
4. The only reason he knew where the public library in Portsmouth was located was because of Hermione. During the war she had ordered several books on Old English (Anglo-Saxon, futhorc) and ancient Greek from the specialized section of this particular library, when they had been trying to decipher some older scriptures.
They had spent weeks (and one Memoriam potion each) learning the two languages, with Hermione as the rather demanding taskmistress. Coupled with Latin and Gaelic, those were the two languages mostly used for the older magic texts. At the time, he'd moaned and groaned about having to learn, but it had come in very handy when deciphering the wards around Voldemort's headquarters and later, Gringotts.
Since Latin was still very commonly used in wizarding society, you were required to learn it during your time at Hogwarts, or you'd end up not understanding some of the more advanced class work- and with Latin came Gaelic, since the true 'traditionalists' (that was to say, the stofil purebloods) wrote in an amalgamation of the two.
In the end, at the completion his Unspeakable training, he was fluent in the four languages –both in written form and spoken- with the addition of Old Norse (futhark), Celtiberian, Gaulish, ancient Egyptian, Cuneiform (script), Sanskrit, Sumerian, modern Arabic and Hindi-Urdu. The only actual magical languages he spoke besides Parseltongue were Mermish and the elvish Quenya.
It was an unspoken requirement that one should use at least a year of Unspeakable training to study different languages, especially if the Unspeakable in question was aiming to work for the research department, like Harry had been.
Since pretty much everything they studied in the department was very, very old, you had to learn at least a few of these otherwise completely useless languages to be able to properly study whatever artifacts or scrolls you came across in their work. Most of the serious researchers had mastered more than a few- the department head, Giuseppe Mezzofanti, spoke over 70 different languages and dialects- both very old and modern ones.
Still, it wasn't like those languages would be of any use in the present situation. Harry snapped out of his reverie and shook his head. Focus on the here and now… Right, first he needed to find the library and read up on this world's present history. Then retrieve food, and return here to find a place to sleep for the night. He rose up clumsily and stalked out through the door with as much confidence he could muster.
Harry blinked at the newspaper in his hands and drew one finger across the date written at the front page: May 19th, 2000. He really had jumped ahead in time by several months. Harry turned his face to the ceiling and rested his head on the chair's back, sighing. He wasn't really surprised, and it wasn't like it even mattered… still, there was something very ominous and irrevocable in the way those hard black letters glared up at him from the paper.
He massaged his temples again, feeling his headache worsening at his rushing thoughts. He put the paper down blindly and rubbed his face. There was a lot of information to take in so rapidly, and Harry was surprised (and pleased, despite his headache) to find that he could both completely comprehend and remember everything he read after reading through it only once. It was a very useful skill to have.
He had found his way to the library with ease, hiding first in the rushing masses that occupied the metro and then play-acing a happy child when he came to the library. It was all in the body language, Harry knew- if he didn't behave like a homeless orphan, there was a large chance he wouldn't be seen as one either, as long as nobody looked too closely at him.
He shoved the newspaper to the far end of the table and picked up Notable events of the past decade, glancing over the index before cracking it open at the first page. It was a newly written book, and Harry suspected it was exactly what he needed. He'd never really been very aware of what was going on in the muggle world, so he could honestly say that he was curious what the people who hadn't been fighting a magical war had been up to.
Throughout the decade there had been a lot of killed politicians and apprehended gang leaders, but very few crimes that surprised Harry. There were a few events, however…
One of the more recurring things over the later chapters was the name (…or title, or denomination) 'L'. There was a whole chapter dedicated to the "mysterious super-sleuth" who had been solving seemingly impossible cases for over half a decade. The title page held a picture of a gigantic gothic L, the only 'face' anyone had ever associated with the detective. It was intriguing, especially coupled with the detective's very long known list of solved cases.
But it was a relief to find that not many things had changed (at least he didn't think they had, he wasn't sure if there had been any anonymous super-detectives in his old world) and that everything seemed to be moving according to the same timeline as before. Plus, no mentions of any unexplainable deaths that could have been attributed to the Killing curse for those in the know… and no mention of sightings of those Shinigami creatures the flames had shown him.
Harry frowned and opened one of the books on mythology he had retrieved from the 'Oriental Cultures' sections, frowning harder at the inaccurate picture of the Gods of Death depicted on one of its pages. He doubted any books would be of help for this particular subject, which was an incredible shame, since he was rather curious, and not a little wary, of the creatures.
Harry sighed again, failing to notice the pair of curious eyes that had been resting on him for the past half an hour.
A/N: Tell me what you think! This is only the prologue, so not much happens, but I'll introduce some other characters – and get the plot moving - within the next few chapters. If you have any questions, please ask.
Giuseppe Caspar Mezzofanti was an actual person. He lived from 1774 to 1849, and fluently spoke 38 languages and about 40 different dialects. There have been even more impressive multilinguals in the past; Emil Krebs fluently spoke 68 different languages, and Sir John Bowstring could reportedly speak in over 100 (plus some 200 dialects).
Many thanks to 'wyrm, who encouraged me to post this.
Tarot meanings from: www . aeclectic tarot / learn / meanings /
(Chapter polished 7/3-14.)