Author's Notes: It appears that last chapter's Author's Notes got misplaced before posting, somehow. Peculiar. Well, it's back up, with the link to the character sheet. Milo's build still isn't quite finalized (mainly I just need to pick a few more spells for Spell Mastery and clean up his skills) but that won't affect the story noticeably. Enjoy!
Today's Character Sheet: myth-weavers com/sheetview php?sheetid=553596
Chapter Two: Nicked
"WHAT THE EFF IS GOING ON HERE?" Vernon roared, climbing to his feet and brushing dust and crème brulee out of his impressive mustache. "WHO THE—"
"Nope," Milo said, using his magically-enhanced fencing ability to slice off the left half of Vernon's exceptional mustache.
"Who is this 'Harry?'" asked Mrs Mason, who seemed to be taking the situation remarkably well, all things considered. "There's no Harry here; I'm afraid you have the wrong house."
"Harry Potter," Milo clarified. Pelor, but these people are dim. "He does live here, does he not?"
"He's... our nephew," Vernon said, glancing hesitantly at the Masons. "Left in our care after his criminal parents died. He's very disturbed, but we do what we can—"
"So he is here," Milo grinned. "Now hand him over before things get ugly."
Vernon turned back to Milo and drew himself up to his full height, brushing splinters from the shoulder of his ruined jacket. He seemed to be two completely different people, depending on who he was talking to—ingratiating to the NPC couple, brash and boisterous to Milo. Peculiar.
"Do I look like the sort of man who can be intimidated?" he asked, his face growing even redder. Milo looked him up and down. Well, yes—if I had ranks in Intimidate. But, seeing as how I do not...
"I was thinking less 'intimidation' and more 'business arrangement.' You give me Harry, and I give you a house."
"A—a house?" Petunia perked up from the corner.
"Well, following the principle that a silver piece saved is a silver piece earned, if I refrain from levelling this pitiful excuse for a house around you with magic, you are, in effect, gaining a house."
Vernon seemed to be debating his options—on the one hand, he wanted nothing more than a convenient excuse to be rid of his troublesome nephew, but on the other hand, he didn't want to be seen backing down in front of his wife and son (and, more importantly, potential business partners)—while, in the corner, Mrs Mason was fiddling with some sort of doodad on the wall. It didn't seem to be a weapon or wand of any sort, so Milo ignored it. If one of the Muggles was a wizard in disguise and did try a curse, Milo could always cast Greater Mirror Image. If they pulled a dagger or sword, well... Milo would introduce them to the meaning of 'Linear Fighter/Quadratic Wizard.'
He heard a muffled crash and what could possibly be voices from upstairs, though it was hard to make out what they were saying. If everything went well, Ron and Fred had found Harry upstairs and were ferrying him out the window to the Anglia, which was parked out front—just out of view of the remains of the Dursleys' window. Milo only had to maintain his distraction for a little while longer before bailing out. That meant he had to change the topic.
"So, Mr Derby," Milo said to Vernon in his most menacing voice, "I hear you've been treating my friend Harry a mite... poorly."
"What?" Vernon exclaimed in exaggerated offence. "We give him three meals a day and put a roof over his head! And what does he do—"
"Saved your lot's measly lives, if I remember things correctly," Milo said. "Defeated a dark wizard hells-bent on causing havoc for you Muggles."
"No, we're the Masons, not the Muggles," Mr Mason said. His eyes were unfocussed, and he appeared to be in some form of shock.
"Now," Milo said in what he hoped was a tone of deadly quiet, "We're going to talk about what you and your family can do to improve things for my friend Harry..."
"I hesitate to ask," Harry said, passing Hedwig's cage carefully through the open window to Ron, who was waiting on broomstick to take his luggage. "But is there any chance that this was Milo's plan?"
"Yup," Ron said cheerfully. "But from what I've heard, it sounds like no more than those Muggles deserve."
"Well... true," Harry agreed, pushing his school trunk out the window. He hadn't bothered to unpack it after returning from Hogwarts. "Still, I can't help but think this plan will end in disaster."
"Nah," Ron said optimistically. "You're just saying that because they always do."
"And I will guarantee that he eats the same food that we do..." Milo said.
"And I will guarantee that he eats the same food that we do," Vernon repeated impatiently.
"And I will give him his fair share of the loot," Milo continued.
"And I will give him his fair share of the loot," Vernon said. He'd long since given up questioning some of Milo's more exotic terms. Petunia, in the corner, looked more and more horrified with each swordpoint concession.
"Where 'fair share' is defined as 'one over the number of people involved.'"
"Where 'fair share' is defined as 'one over the number of people involved.'"
"And I will pay any and all gold necessary to Clerics to cure Harry in the event of injury or death..."
"Yes, Ron," Harry sighed. "That's exactly why I said it."
"Well, I think it's brilliant," Fred said, helping Harry onto his broomstick. "Milo can use magic over the summer, and it's not like we have to worry about the Muggles finding out—that lot already knows about us."
"I suppose," Harry said doubtfully, pulling his Invisibility Cloak over them as they flew the short distance from the window to the car. "Wait," he said suddenly, his hand on the door. "Did anyone actually tell Milo that we have to keep magic secret from the other Muggles?"
It was then that he saw the police cruiser fly around the corner at well past the speed limit.
"...And I will actively prevent glass cannons from achieving a flank position on Harry through appropriate deployment of tanks and battlefield control," Vernon said, bored.
Little Whinging, being an idyllic, upper-middle-class suburb with an extremely low crime rate, had a police response time second to none—an unfamiliar concept to Milo, who was used to a city watch response of roughly 1d6 rounds (if the PC did it) or 1d100 hours at best (if it was anyone else).
A blue-uniformed, tanned man with close-cropped blond hair kicked entered through the unlocked front door, club in hand. His cap and reflective sunglasses hid most of his face, but his expression was grim.
"Drop the weapon!" he shouted.
Unarmoured man with a club? Milo thought contemptuously, this must be the militia. Clearly, no threat whatsoever. Just as clearly, however, the situation was rapidly getting out of control. He could fight his way out, but then he'd get reported to the local magistrate, and might have to deal with a more competent response. Untrained, level one Commoners had a more easily exploitable weakness, however.
"How does three gold pieces sound?" Milo asked. That was roughly a month's wages for the Myra (cityoflight!cityofmagic!) city watch.
"Just put down the weapon," he insisted, "and we can talk after." The guard took another step towards Milo.
"Twenty gold," Milo said. No, wait, the Muggles don't use gold as currency. But I haven't got any pounds on me. "Five hundred pounds of salt?" The Player's Handbook does state that commodities—which includes salt—are often usable as currency.
The city guardsman gave Milo an odd look.
"Is this a hoax?" he asked the adults.
"No!" Petunia shrieked. "Arrest him! He's deranged and dangerous!"
"Right," he said, turning back to Milo. "Put the weapon down, and come with me. Now."
Milo sighed. It looked like it was going to be one of those situations.
"Evard's Black Tentacles." Hundreds of thick, sticky black appendages burst out of the floor, ceiling, and walls to grab the guardsman. The spell was too large to fit into the dining room without also grabbing Milo, so it spilled out into the front hall and lawn.
"Oh bollocks," Ron muttered.
"Should we help him?" Harry asked.
"Nah," said Fred. "We can't do magic without getting expelled—he can."
"So we'd best wait in the car and be ready to gun it," George finished.
Miss Figg knew this day would come, though she'd hoped it wouldn't. Peering out of the front window, she saw black tentacles—dark magic, if she'd ever seen it—attack the poor Muggle policeman. It was clear what was happening: despite Dumbledore's assurances, the Death Eaters were making an attempt on the Boy-Who-Lived's life.
She grabbed a pen and quill and hurriedly began to write. As a squib, she couldn't simply Apparate to the Ministry, or otherwise use magic to communicate. She just hoped that her owl was fast enough that the DMLE could get a team of hit-wizards there in time...
Milo debated his options briefly. Obviously, he couldn't kill a member of the city watch. As it stood, he could do what most PCs did—evade the law until he could convince the local mayor or lord of his innocence, generally by killing his resident Evil Vizier in the main hall of the palace. On the other hand, if he could prevent this guardsman from reporting, it would simplify the issue greatly. But, without access to Enchantments or an incredibly high Diplomacy bonus, that was a nearly impossible task without resorting to murder.
Milo heard a sudden, muffled squeak of wood from behind him, and spun around to see yet another club-wielding member of the watch, who, aside from gender, looked much the same as the first. She had shoulder-length brown hair, a slight build, and a set to her jaw that told Milo (who had finally invested a few ranks into Sense Motive) that she meant business. If she was surprised to see her partner being wrestled to the floor by magical tentacles, she hid it well.
"Look—" he began. In no mood for discussion, the officer, with deceptive strength, grabbed Milo's sword arm at the wrist and roughly shoved him to the ground. The weapon clattered to the ground, and she kicked it away across the room. Milo heard the characteristic click of handcuffs clasping around his wrists as she pressed him against the ground with a knee.
Well, I'm an idiot, he thought to himself. How did I see a warrior without armour or weapon to speak of and not immediately think 'Monk'? Stupid, stupid, stupid.
"Right," she said. "I don't know what the hell is going on here, but listen to me very carefully: call off the whatever-that-is right now." She spoke in an accent that, like McGonagall's, reminded Milo of the dwarves back home.
With his hands literally tied behind his back, Milo's options were limited. Most of his spells had Somatic components, meaning they required intricate hand gestures—difficult in armour, impossible in handcuffs. He could Benign Transposition to switch places with Mordy, but he'd still be cuffed. Unfortunately, the handcuffs now counted as part of his gear, meaning they'd go with him wherever he teleported. Still, he'd get a pretty decent head start—maybe enough to make it to the Anglia and escape with the Weasleys and, hopefully, Harry.
"Okay, okay!" Milo said as his familiar slipped out of his pocket. The tentacles abruptly vanished, dropping the grappled constable to the ground. With wide eyes and a pale face, he stumbled backwards into the wall, where he sagged to the ground shaking.
"Don't trust him!" Vernon urged, stepping forwards menacingly.
"Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to stand back," the officer pinning him said to Vernon, pulling Milo to his feet. "Evan—dammit, Evan! Pull yourself together and call this in!"
"Benign Transposition!" Milo spat, his face pressed up against the floor. Despite managing to get the Verbal Components out properly, his Concentration fizzled out—casting a spell while Pinned was harder than it looked. Fortunately, thanks to a seriously overpowered Feat, Uncanny Forethought, Milo could give the spell another shot. Uncanny Forethought allowed Milo to leave some of his spell slots reserved while preparing them in the morning, and, on the fly, cast a spell mastered with Spell Mastery in its place—of which Benign Transposition was one. Alternatively, Milo could spend his whole turn (meaning he couldn't also move) and cast any spell in his spellbook from a reserved slot at -2 caster level (a trivial decrease in spell power). In short, Milo had most of the best aspects of being a Sorcerer while maintaining the versatility of the wide spell selection available to Wizards.
"Benign Transposition," Milo cast again, and reappeared in the hall just outside the door. Unfortunately, Benign Transposition required direct line-of-sight and line-of-effect to the target, meaning that Milo had to have an unhindered path from himself to Mordy in order for them to switch places. This severely limited the practical range of the spell indoors.
"Dammit," the policewoman cursed, falling to the floor as the boy she was pinning down was replaced by a rat. Milo awkwardly stumbled to his feet and hobbled towards the exterior door. "Oi! He's making a runner!" she shouted, though her partner—Evan—seemed to be in a state akin to a Barbarian hit by a Ray of Stupidity, sitting against the wall with his head in his hands.
Milo had almost reached the front door when the policewoman hit him like a truck. He tumbled down the front steps and was dragged to his feet again.
"Right," she said again, "Where was I? You're under arrest for breaking and entering, hostage taking, carrying of an offensive weapon, and resisting arrest. You have the right to remain silent, but anything you do say will be taken down and may be used in evidence."
"If it's all the same to you," Ron said as the bars slammed shut on them, "could we maybe, you know, forget to mention this to Hermione?"
"What," Fred asked, "that we got nicked by the Muggle please-men?"
"What should we do?" Harry asked. He looked panicked. "The Muggles will all find out about magic!"
"Sorry, what?" Milo asked. "You mean they don't know about magic?"
The Weasley boys and Harry stared at him in silence for a few seconds.
"You mean you don't know?" Ron asked. "Everybody knows!"
"We have to keep magic a secret," Fred explained. "If the Muggles found out, it'd be a disaster. There are two camps on the matter—the first says that we'd get no sleep because Muggles would constantly be bothering us for magical answers to their problems—"
"—which is fine by us, because we could make sacks of galleons helping them, for a small fee—"
"—and those that think they'd try to burn us."
"What," Milo asked. "Seriously? Burn you? Is that idiomatic in your local dialect of Common?""
"No," Fred answered. "They mean, literally burn us. It's happened before. All the real wizards and witches were fine, of course, because they had magic to protect them. But a fair number of Muggles they mistook as us weren't so lucky. You'll learn about it in History of Magic."
"Weird," Milo said. From what he could tell, Muggles were some sort of nonmagical subrace of human with, if that policewoman was any indication, superior physical stats to make up for their clearly deficient mental processes. You'd have to be as dumb as an Orc to try and set fire to someone you thought was a Wizard, he mused. "Well, so much for that. This lot are bound to tell the rest. Sorry about blowing your secret world."
"Nah," George said. "This happens all the time. Before you know it, the Ministry will send a team down here and Obliviate everyone, and likely send us off with a warning." Milo noted that George seemed surprisingly unconcerned. He wondered if, perhaps, the Weasley prankster was speaking from experience.
"Oh, happy birthday, Harry," Ron added.
"Don't mention it."
"Now, PS Smythe, would you tell me why the bloody hell there are four kids in Hallowe'en costumes in the bin?" Inspector Hannigan asked angrily.
Hooboy, Fiona thought. This will be hard to explain...
"Well, three of them were driving well underage in a Ford Anglia—"
"What, all three? One for each pedal and another on the wheel?"
"No, sir; only one of them was at the wheel."
The inspector groaned audibly. "Have we alerted their parents?"
"I've been unable to determine their identities," she admitted.
"And the remaining boy?"
"He... was somewhat different," she admitted. "He had a weapon."
"Did he now?" the inspector was surprised. "Kids lately... regardless. What was it—a knife, or a gun?"
Fiona swallowed uncomfortably. "Well, it was sort of like a knife, only a bit larger..."
"A machete?" The inspector's eyes widened. "I'm glad no-one was hurt."
Ah, close enough. Somehow, she didn't think that 'he came at me with a prop from The Princess Bride' would particularly enhance the credibility of her story. "Which brings me to the matter of why Constable Travis has requested a meeting with psych. What exactly happened to Evan in Little Whinging, sergeant?"
Well, best get this over with as quickly and simply as possible. Fiona straightened her back and set her feet before taking a deep breath.
"Yes, sir. Magic."
"You mean PCP?" The department tried to keep ahead of kids' drug slang.
"No, sir. I mean sorcery. Enchantments. Witchcraft. Like in the books."
The inspector leaned back in his padded leather chair. It had been in the office for over a century, and he liked to believe that, no matter how shocking or horrifying the report that came across his desk, some inspector in the past had seen worse and dealt with it. It lent a sense of weight and responsibility to the office, a tradition to uphold.
Somehow, he doubted many of them had had to deal with magic. Of course, on this, he was incorrect—he himself had seen similar reports before, not that he had any way of knowing this.
"You're putting me on." It was not a question.
"No, sir. Tentacles reached out of the walls and attacked my partner, and the boy himself changed places with a rat."
"Yes, sir—or possibly a mouse. But it was still magic."
The inspector began to see a glimmer of hope. "You realize, sergeant, that the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was repealed in 1951?" He wasn't sure why, but he had vague recollections of researching this in the past. "There's no law against a little conjuration here and there, meaning, if you understand me, that it can be left out of your report." As far as he was concerned, the sergeant's apparent belief in the impossible only became a problem if committed to writing and viewed by his superiors.
"Stick with the machete and the underage driving. We can let the other two go with a warning once we find their parents."
"Oh, and Sergeant—you're dealing with this mess. I expect a full report—a proper one. On The Machine, no less."
Inspector Harrigan hesitated. Fiona had always seemed to have a solid head on her shoulders, though she sometimes had a hard time picking up on hints. Behaviour like this was decidedly... odd. "And I'll be giving medical a call. I think you and PC Travis should have your blood tested, just in case you were exposed to something... odd... at the scene."
"Yes, sir." Inwardly, Fiona groaned—she hated needles.
'The Machine' as it was called, or, more often, 'that Damn Machine' referred to the shiny new Compaq running Windows 3.1. It was the first computer in the Surrey Police, and one of the first in the force nationwide. It had arrived a few weeks ago as an experiment before being employed by the police force on a wider basis, but, despite being called the 'way of the future,' they all knew it would never catch on. Being forced to file a report on the Machine, which was held in a cupboard labelled 'Computer Lab,' was considered a minor, unofficial reprimand.
While waiting for the Machine to boot up through MS-DOS—a process which generally took within the vicinity of a quarter hour—Fiona mentally planned out her report. Let's see... on the 31st of July, 1992, a 999-Emergency was called in by one Mrs Mason... suspect was a minor carrying a large edged weapon... suspect employed methods of a supernatural nature (which, by itself is perfectly legal after the Witchcraft Act was repealed) to assist in resisting arrest... field of ten-foot rubbery tentacles... sounds about right. Says everything that happened while pointing out that it was not the magic that was illegal.
She had just saved the document to a floppy when the Obliviators Apparated into the room. Fiona leapt to her feet as a half-dozen robed witches and wizards appeared with staccato popping noises, wishing briefly that she was armed. She doubted aikido would be much good against what were, quite plainly, wizards.
"Who the ruddy—"
"Obliviate!" Arnold Peasegood shouted, then turned to his men as she sagged back into the chair. "Gumboil, check on her boss; Harley, go find her partner. And someone, go find Arthur Weasley." Three Obliviators vanished with loud pops, and Arnold took a look at the computer on the table. "Anyone know what the hell that is?"
"My aunt's a Muggle," Milton said. "Saw one when I was a kid—that's an eclectic typewriter. It's used for writing."
"A typewriter? Are you sure?" Arnold was surprised. He'd seen them before, but they'd looked very different then. Muggles astounded him more every day.
"Yeah, you can tell because they all say Qwerty on them—that's the name of the Muggle who invented 'em."
"Peculiar name," he mused, staring at the machine.
"He was French."
"Ah. Any chance she wrote about what happened?"
"Could be," Milton mused. "No real way to know."
"Can't be too careful," Arnold said, picking up Fiona's nightstick. With a heavy swing, he smashed the computer's monitor straight to hardware heaven. "That ought to do it. We'll have to work this into their memory somehow—a fight with a dangerous criminal, maybe. Now let's go find those boys."