A/N: This continues from "Stormseeker: Myriad Destinies", however no prior reading should be required, as I've tried to make this accessible if you haven't read the previous several novel-length fics.
This is based on the "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling, and the video game "Dragon Age: Origins" by BioWare, and the video game "Geneforge" by Spiderweb Software.
Chapter 1: New Lives
My name is Lexen Chelseer. The Stormseeker, the Elkandu call me, but that's a pretentious title I rarely use myself. I'm an immortal time traveler. I don't need any pretentious titles.
I wake in Torn Elkandu, use my Time Magic to age myself up to twenty-five, get dressed, and head outside. I make my way to the Nexus and travel to Wizarding Earth, and retrieve Tom Riddle, Gellert Grindelwald, and the house-elf Rispy.
"So, where are we headed next, m'dear?" Tom asks once we're back in Torn Elkandu.
"Someplace new, I think," I say.
"Ah, good," Gellert says. "I think I've broken out of Nurmengard as many times as is amusing, by this point."
"Let's see what Keolah has available," Tom says. "We've got six hours to decide, after all."
Six hours before the Dark Elkandu come sweeping through this city again, slaughtering everyone in sight.
The voices of my young cousins, screaming as Sedder kills them slowly, draining their very life away...
I shudder involuntarily at a memory that I can never forget. It's why I'm doing this, after all. Why I'm seeking power and knowledge across the multiverse.
"Where would you like to go today?" asks Keolah, suddenly noticing us.
The way the silver-eyed elf woman stares off at nothing while supposedly monitoring the Nexus, it's easy to forget that she's even there, especially considering that she forgets anyone else is there as well.
"We're looking for a school of magic," Gellert says.
"There's one just down the street," Keolah says, pointing off in the direction I just came from. "The School of Thought."
I shake my head. "Not that one. We're looking for alternative perspectives."
In my early loops, I'd tried to explain to Keolah the danger she was in. But she took it as she did anything else, without any real alarm. I've long since given up on bothering.
"Oh, I see," Keolah says. "Here, I'll find you some options, then."
In a moment, swirling images of distant lands appear in the air before her, depicting towers and castles and buildings of all sorts.
"I really don't care where we go or whether I get to learn or use any magic at all," Rispy says. "I'm just glad to be out of that world."
"I thought you'd wanted to free the house-elves, Rispy," I say.
We make for a strange team. Two former Dark Lords, an elf of a completely different (and much shorter) species than Keolah, and one time traveler who can't die and just goes back in time instead. With the souls of the others tied to me so that they get dragged along behind me like so much flotsam in the seas of time.
"If, after eighty years, they still don't want to be free, I don't think there's anything I can do about it," Rispy says with a sigh. "If they choose to be slaves, the best I could do was make sure that they weren't mistreated."
Tom smirked. "Perhaps you will be something else entirely in the next life."
Rispy snorted. "Maybe you will be, too. It was awfully disorienting merging my memories like that, when it turned out there were two Rispies trying to occupy the same space."
"What should we do if that happens to any of us again?" I ask.
"Try to keep our cover, but we should contact each other to at least find out where we're all at," Gellert says. "But failing all else, we'll be able to meet up again later and compare notes."
"And if any emergency arises, Lexen will be able to tell that we've died, and be able to reset the day," Tom says. "At least Rispy's now the only one of us that can't cast a Patronus Charm, so we can send a message if necessary."
I give a nod. "I'll keep an eye on our soul bonds and force a reset of the day if anyone dies. Or if anyone requests one." That is, kill myself in order to go back in time. I should probably be more squeamish about that than I am, but I have a strange existence.
"We should probably try to avoid getting separated," Tom says.
"No kidding," I say. "And I can't go back further than the last time I slept - or fell unconscious - unless I get hit with a Killing Curse. And I doubt I can cast one on myself. I don't hate myself that much." I smirk.
Gellert snorts softly and shrugs. "You get too caught up in the events of any individual world. You really ought to relax more. It doesn't matter what's happening around us, so long as we get through it all. And most importantly, that we can gain power from it."
I don't even bother to glare at him. "Just do try to avoid killing people before I've had a chance to at least try to talk my way out of things?"
"Right, right," Gellert says, smirking. "I know how much fun you have fighting with words."
"That's not what I- oh, never mind," I say, sighing and rolling my eyes.
"Alright, Lexen," Tom says. "You get the honors. Pick a school, any school."
"Hmm," I say, looking over the images more closely. "How about this one?" I point to a tower on a lake. "Kinloch Hold, the Circle Tower in Ferelden, on the world of Thedas."
"Towers," Gellert says. "Classic."
"Anything we ought to know about this place, Keolah?" Tom asks.
Keolah shrugs uselessly. "No idea. We don't really have much information on this world. Hmm, let's see. There appear to be humans, elves, and dwarves, at least."
"Very helpful," I say dryly.
"And there's mages," she adds. "In that there tower. And some other places like it, too. Ooh, what are those weird horned guys? Oh, hey, this place can't be all bad, there's dragons here!"
"Great!" I exclaim, clapping my hands together gleefully.
Gellert just looks at me strangely. "I don't know what is up with your unhealthy fascination with dragons, but before we go, I'm going to make a bet that one or all of us gets eaten by one at some point."
"I don't bet," I say.
"I'll take that bet," Rispy says with a smirk.
Keolah raises her hands, and the glowing runes on the Nexus flicker for a moment. "I have the Nexus calibrated for your destination for you," Keolah says. "Have a nice trip. Whoever you guys are."
"Thanks, Keolah," I say, stepping into the Nexus along with my friends.
Keolah activates the Nexus, and glowing mists surround us to take us away.
When the fog clears, I find myself standing on the shore of a lake. Alone. Well, it would appear that not one, but all of my companions have an equivalent in this world. I didn't really expect that, but I suppose we prepared for that possibility.
Alright. I appear to have landed out of sight of anyone nearby. There looks to be an inn nearby, and a ferry at the shore of the lake to take people across to the tower, which is situated on a small, rocky island.
I do a little spying around first, and spot some commoners milling about outside the inn. I scurry out of sight and carefully transfigure my clothing to look more like theirs. No sense in confusing the locals with my blue jeans.
I almost have to envy my companions. They'll be able to blend in easy, what with having been born into this world. Why don't I ever run into equivalents of myself? Maybe I will eventually. Or maybe there's only one me. I don't know.
Now, to see how things are handled here. I go up to the ferry. There's another man in common clothing there, as well as one clad entirely in heavy plate armor. He's probably the more important one. I go to address the armored man.
"Pardon me, sir," I say.
"Oy, what do you need?" asks the man. If this weren't another world entirely, I might think he were from London.
"I was wondering what age you normally take mages," I ask.
"As soon as we can get them, generally," he replies. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, I've brought my son, you see," I say. "He's only six, but he's already started doing accidental magic."
"Ah, good that you've brought him, then," the man says. "Don't want anyone to get hurt or anything. Bring him here, and we'll get him squared away, don't you worry."
"That sounds sensible," I say. "I'll send him right over. His name is Lexen."
I head over out of sight to do the old switcheroo, shift my age down to six years old and transfigure my clothing appropriately, then come back out to approach the armored man again.
"Hello there, son," says the man. "You must be Lexen. You look just like your dad."
I wave and nod to him shyly, shifting from foot to foot and trying to play the part of a six year old kid as best as I can.
"Come along, then. You'll be safe with us."
I'm taken across the lake in a boat. I'd forgotten how everything seems absolutely enormous to a six year old. I just hope I can remember how to act like a six year old.
Once in the tower, I'm quickly shuffled along to quarters for young apprentices. My heart leaps when I hear that one of the other apprentices around my apparent age is named Gellert. That can't be a common name around here, can it?
Sure enough, he certainly looks like I remember, as a little kid at least. Surprising, really, given how different Rispy was in each world, but I suppose it stands to reason if he were actually able to be born as the right species.
"Hello?" Gellert says tentatively, eyes widening as he sees me.
I smile at him brightly. "I'm Lexen Chelseer."
"My name is Gellert Amell," he replies. He glances around furtively, and makes a gesture and mutters, "Muffliato."
Good idea, I think. Best to get back into the habit of casting spells for privacy whenever we discuss any sensitive information, to make sure that we're not overheard by anyone unfortunate. The wrong people finding out about the time travel business can lead to some very unpleasant situations.
"I see you got in here alright," Gellert says. "I was a little surprised to find myself already here. Rispy was right, this is disorienting. Well, at least this six year old version of me didn't have many memories to conflict with mine."
I give a nod. "I don't suppose you know anything about what to expect here?"
"Not really," Gellert says. "Little six year old Gellert was young and confused, got shuffled off to this tower the minute somebody saw him - me - do accidental magic. I haven't really been here long, myself. Where's Tom and Rispy?"
"No idea," I say. "They weren't with me when I arrived, so I assume they also wound up in other versions of 'themselves'."
"We should try to figure out where they are," Gellert says. "I don't fancy blindly mucking about until we run into them by chance."
"You're right," I say. "Let's see if we can find some privacy and get messages off to them."
"We don't know what sort of situations they might be in," Gellert says. "How about I stun you, and we send the messages off, and then reset so that nobody else will remember seeing them?"
"Good idea," I say.
Some of the other children were looking over toward us curiously, as if wondering what we were up to, but they wouldn't be able to understand anything through our privacy charm. Ignoring them, we head off to find a place where we can safely summon glowing spirit animals without being noticed. There's no way that normal six year olds should be able to do that, if that spell is even known in this world.
However, few places in the apprentice quarters allow for any privacy. There are no doors on any smaller areas, no private rooms, and the closest thing we can find is a large wardrobe. That'll have to do, I suppose. We climb inside, pushing aside robes to make room for ourselves.
"Good thing we're little kids," Gellert mutters. "And to think, it's been a long time since I've bothered to hide the fact that I'm gay, and here I am, in the closet again."
I pull out my wand and set up every spell I know in order to ensure that we're not disturbed and that hopefully no one will detect any surges of magic use from our vicinity. Once that's done, I nod to Gellert to stun me. He lifts a hand, and a flash of red light blacks out the world for a moment before he revives me again.
"Alright, let's do this," I say. "Tom first, since he can actually reply." I think of the rainbow after the storm over the Black Lake. All strife will pass. All troubles are fleeting. Life goes on. "Expecto Patronum!"
Silvery, translucent light erupts from the tip of my wand and coalesces into the form of a spirit duck, glowing faintly and looking to me expectantly.
"Alright, ducky," I say. "Can you find Tom, and ask him where he is? Maybe he doesn't look exactly like I remember him, but you can find him anyway, can't you?"
The duck gives me a look as if I'm silly for doubting its capabilities, and then spins around in a tight little circle before darting off into nowhere.
A few minutes later, a transparent silver snake appears in the wardrobe between Gellert and I. It opens its mouth and speaks in Tom's voice, "I am uncertain as to my exact location at the moment. My name is apparently Thomas Hawke here, and I am eight years old. I have a family. A mother, father, two younger siblings... My father is a wizard, and my mother is not. It would appear that I'm a half-blood again, but the other way around this time. My father is teaching me about magic. Where are you, my dear?"
I summon my duck again and send a reply. "Tell Tom that Gellert and I are in the Circle Tower like we'd planned. We're not sure where Rispy came in yet. Will you be alright wherever you are?"
The snake comes back once more and says, "I'll be fine. It'll take some getting used to, actually having a family like this. A family of my own. So strange. But anyway, my father wants to teach me himself and keep me out of the tower. We could get two different perspectives on how magic is used here? Keep updated on any major happenings and compare notes later?"
"Will do," I reply. "We might be in this tower for a while, ourselves. If you get the chance, can you see if you can find Rispy? I'll pass along any information I get about him."
"Alright." The spirit snake vanishes one last time after delivering its message.
"My turn," Gellert says, grinning and brandishing the Elder Wand. "Expecto Patronum!"
The bird that emerges from his wand is arguably more majestic than my duck. His Patronus is a shimmering silver phoenix. Just like Albus. I wonder, if someone's Patronus typically matches that of their lover, why are Tom's and mine different? That's not a question I have an answer to right now, though.
"I want you to find our dear friend, Rispy," Gellert tells his Patronus. "I know he's not going to be a house-elf in this world, but you can still find him, right? Of course you can. He shares a bit of our souls. Anyway, give him this message. Lexen and I are in the Circle Tower like we planned, and Tom is somewhere out in the world. I know you have no way to immediately contact us, but if you can find some way to get a message to the Circle Tower to let us know where - and who - you are, that'd be great. Good luck, Rispy."
As the phoenix Patronus zips off to deliver the message, I just have to say, "Are you trying to doom him?" I smirk.
"Just because you think luck hates you doesn't mean all of us think that fortune will never favor us," Gellert says, smirking right back at me.
"I just don't like to rely on chance," I say. "If I could control every aspect of how something would turn out without having to rely on unknown factors, I would."
"Bah, what would be the fun of that?" Gellert says.
"What's the fun of getting your plans ruined by things you couldn't predict?"
"It beats getting your plans ruined by things you should have predicted but weren't willing to acknowledge the possibility of actually happening." Gellert shakes his head, and dismisses the momentary melancholy, returning to his usual cheerful expression. "Rispy should've gotten the message by now. Let's go back to when I stunned you, just in case poor Rispy was in public when my Patronus showed up."
"Right," I say. I focus on my Time Magic to change my age, this time turning it down as far as it will go. My body rapidly shrinks until I wink out of existence. A much less painful means of committing suicide than drinking poison or something.
I wake up in the wardrobe again. This way, they will have gotten the messages still, and remember them because they were dragged back with me, but no one in this timeline will have had a chance to intercept them.
"Hope those two don't run into any problems," I say.
Gellert snorts softly. "They'll be fine, I'm sure. They're big boys. They can take care of themselves. They'll know where to find us if need be, and Tom can send his snake Patronus at us again if he wants to get in touch."
I'll miss them, to be sure, but I guess I can handle not being around them constantly. I nod. "Let's just focus on learning what we can about how they use magic here - and the world itself."
"We've got a lot to learn," Gellert says. "Exciting, isn't it?" He grins mischievously.
"You're going to be no end of trouble, aren't you," I say dryly.
"Who, me?" Gellert says innocently, going to undo the privacy spells and climb out of the wardrobe. "This is going to be fun!"
I'm adjusting to life in the tower. If anything, being a young child is easier since I'm not expected to know much of anything, and nobody will think it odd if I ask some strange questions at times. Since they seem to be more welcoming than the Shapers in Terrestia were, I decide to do some exploring and test where the limits of their tolerance might be. That will also, most likely, be more likely to slide now than when I am older.
And along with my explorations, I take a piece of parchment and start casting increasingly complicated charms over it. First the basics, to prevent it from being easily destroyed, but then once those are in place, I start trying to craft a version of the Marauder's Map for Kinloch Hold. Sirius's charms were very complex, however. How did he and his friends manage something like this when they were actually Hogwarts age?
"Muffliato," I murmur, approaching Gellert and getting him relatively alone in a corner of the apprentice dorms, hunched over a large picture book. I pretend to be looking at it, but I slip the parchment down on top of it. "Can you help me with this?"
"Oh, hey, you're making one of those maps?" Gellert says. "Great! Yeah, let's see what you've got here, hmm..."
"I got the contingency spell to activate it and blank the paper again working," I say. "But I'm having trouble getting dots identifying people's locations to show up."
Gellert taps the parchment with the Elder Wand and says, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good." He smirks at the words and lines that cover the parchment. "Stormseeker presents, the Marauder's Map: Kinloch Hold edition?"
"Yeah," I say. "What do you want your Marauder name to be?" I grin at him.
"I thought you hated that title," Gellert says.
"Eh," I say. "Sure, it's a bit pretentious, but it is my title."
"You could always pick something else," Gellert says. "You could call yourself whatever you want."
"Yeah, but that wouldn't really be me, would it?" I say.
"Why not?" Gellert says. "You're as much you as anything. You're always you. What you're calling yourself at any given moment won't change that."
"I dunno..." I say.
"Call yourself Ducky!" Gellert says with a wild grin.
"Ducky," I repeat flatly.
"Sure! Why not?"
"How about not?" I smirk.
"Fine," Gellert says, rolling his eyes. "Well, if you're going to be pretentious, so am I. Put me down as 'Phoenix', then. Because, you know, I was reborn out of the ashes and saved from being a Dark Lord by the power of love, and all that rot."
"You totally weren't," I say. "But let's just go with that." I snicker softly.
"Or you could just go with Ducky, and I'll pick something less pretentious."
"Phoenix it is," I say, carefully adding that to the charms.
"Face it, you actually like being pretentious."
"Do you know how to get the dots to show up?" I ask, changing the subject.
"Let's see what I can do."
It's even more difficult to do delicate charms with our fingers or with wands strapped to our wrists, but we don't dare risk anyone noticing that we have them and taking them away from us. There's no way we'll be able to get replacements in this world. While we're perfectly capable of using wandless magic, they're still useful tools to increase power and precision. It's like finger-painting as opposed to using a suitable brush for the job.
Gellert grumbles a bit. "Are people staring? Bah, I'm going to take this into the wardrobe to see about doing some work on it."
While he goes to do that, I head off to do some more exploring. This place is extensive, but it's probably going to be a lot easier to map out than Hogwarts. It doesn't seem to be quite so eager to move around or make spaces that connect to one another magically, or are larger on the inside than the outside. Still, there's a lot to see here, nonetheless.
The libraries in the tower are massive, and not even just to the eyes of a six year old. I think I could probably spend an entire lifetime in here and not manage to read everything, even with the speedreading abilities I'd picked up in Terrestia. But, it would be suspicious to do too much reading at this age, so I just skim over the titles at the moment. I'm eager to learn, but as Gellert said, I have to be patient.
I wind up wandering into what looks like someone's office. There are probably some interesting and doubtless private things in here. I go to poke around, skimming the titles of the books on one shelf. They sound far more advanced and dangerous than most of the ones in the main libraries. As I look around, I hear the door open and someone come in behind me. I spin around in alarm, looking wide-eyed to the old robed man who just entered.
"Well, hello there," he says. "And who might you be, young lad?"
"Lexen," I reply, looking up at him. "You?"
"I am First Enchanter Irving."
"Oh," I say. "That sounds important. Is this your place?"
"I'm the head of the mages in this Circle," Irving says with a gentle grin. "And yes, this is my office."
"This tower is big!" I say.
Irving chuckles softly. "Yes, a little boy like you should be careful where he wanders. There are things tucked away in here that a child was never meant to see."
"Like mages lifting up their robes to one another in the corners when they think nobody's looking?" I say innocently.
Irving clears his throat. "Um. Yes, like that." He chuckles in embarrassment. "Why don't you run along now, Lexen? I hear Hazel is making cookies down in the kitchens."
"Ooh! Cookies!" I exclaim, and run off.
I might only be playing the role of a little kid, but still, cookies! And I haven't been in the tower for very long yet, but I already have made sure to note where food can be found around here.
Sure enough, the woman working in the kitchens at the moment has just pulled out a fresh sheet of cookies from the oven. Delicious smells waft out down the corridor, bringing a broad grin to my face.
"The cookies are still warm," says the woman in a strange monotone. "You should wait for them to cool first."
I'm taken aback by her strange way of speaking. Would it be rude to point it out and ask about it? Maybe it's just her own quirk. Maybe I'm just imagining things.
"I'm Lexen," I say. "Are you Hazel?"
"My name is Hazel," she replies, still speaking slowly and emotionlessly. "Well met."
I'm six years old. I can afford to be bold and rude. "Why do you talk like that?" I ask.
"It is because I am Tranquil," Hazel says.
"What's that mean?" I wonder.
"It means that I have been cut off from my magic," Hazel explains.
"Oh..." I say, blinking at her, my blood running cold at the very thought that this is even possible. "I don't see what that has to do with it, though. Lots of people don't have magic and don't talk like that."
"The process also cuts off all emotion," Hazel says.
"That sounds horrible," I say.
Hazel cocks her head at me. "I feel no horror. I am quite content with my lot."
That just makes it all the more horrible. I shudder involuntarily, but bite my lip. "Why was this done to you?"
"It was by my own choice," Hazel says. "I was never a great mage, and the idea of being put through the Harrowing terrified me. I did not believe I could succeed. And so I chose this instead."
"Well, I guess it's not so bad if that was your choice," I say reluctantly.
I don't understand why people make the choices they do sometimes. Why someone would voluntarily do something like this to themselves. But then I've also seen people who would sacrifice their own lives for the sake of others. And I've seen people who would reject immortality...
I close my eyes at the sudden thought of Cassie, like a hole in my heart that will always feel like something is missing. But I push it aside. I can't look back. I can travel through time and turn back the clock, but I can never reclaim what has been lost forever.
"Yes," Hazel goes on, oblivious to my reaction. "Although some of the Tranquil employed by the Circle were not necessarily such willing participants. It has been used as a punishment for apprentices who have committed severe infractions of various sorts."
And that, I'm less than okay with. I feel sick at the thought of it. Would this sort of thing be permanent if it happened to me or my friends? Should we just leave this world right now rather than risk it?
No, I think. That would be overreacting. It's not like I avoided Wizarding Earth just because it had Dementors that I was afraid would suck out my soul.
"I... see," I say hesitantly.
"Would you like a cookie?" Hazel asks suddenly. "They should be cool enough now."
I shift awkwardly, and then say, "Yes, please. May I take one for my friend, Gellert, as well?"
I take two cookies and quickly leave the kitchens, returning to the room I share with Gellert and a handful of other apprentices.
"Hey, Gellert," I say, doing my best to feign normalcy. "I brought you something." I grin and hand out the cookie to him.
Gellert surreptitiously snatches the cookie from my hands with a grin, peering about to make sure none of the other children noticed our delectable bounty.
"Muffliato," I whisper, making small gestures with my fingers and also glancing around. "Gellert, I found out something... interesting today."
"What is it?" Gellert wonders, munching on his cookie.
I take a deep breath, trying to figure out how to say this. "You can't get expelled from the Circle, Gellert."
"You can't?" Gellert says. "That's great news."
I shake my head vehemently. "That's not what I mean. You must not do anything that would have gotten you merely expelled from a school like Durmstrang or Hogwarts."
"What do you mean, then?" Gellert says, raising an eyebrow and crumbs falling from his fingers.
I let out a heavy sigh and stare down at the cookie in my own hand. I'd been genuinely excited about the simple treats only a short while ago, and now I feel like there's a heavy pit in my stomach instead.
"They... they can take away your magic," I whisper.
"They what?" Gellert says, half-eaten cookie slipping from his fingers and falling to the ground. After a moment, he glances down, picks it up, and brushes it off, frowning deeply.
"They call it 'Tranquil'," I say quietly. "They can make you a Squib. Worse than a Squib - No magic, no emotions, nothing. I've never seen anything like it."
"That's... that's..." Gellert stammers. "Why would they do such a thing?"
"I guess that's one way of keeping mages under control," I say. "I don't know which is a more horrible prospect. The Dementor's Kiss, or living like... that."
Gellert sighs. "We're going to have to be damned careful."