Alright, as I mentioned in the Devil of Zero update, I'm going to be putting the Author Notes up here instead of down at the bottom. So...I suppose I'm going to be talking less about the chapters themselves to avoid spoilers.
Eh, I'll figure out a balance.
But, obviously, this chapter is a crossover with Harry Potter. If you didn't guess it by the title left in the last chapter's author note, I'm officially ashamed of you.
Also, for anyone asking questions about how Death and the Peverells are able to understand each other, let's go with the idea that Death and other Darksider entities have the same kind of ability that Thor and the Aesir have in Marvel comics, eh?
Anyway, the next and final chapter in this three-parter will be The First Reaping: Death Doesn't Cry
Memories of Death
The Second Reaping: Hallowed Death
Back in the time before the False End War, the Horsemen rode on many missions assigned them by the Charred Council. Several of these dealt with the Old Ones, races that predate the birth of Angels and Demons, and far more ancient than Man. On one of these tasks, the Charred Council passed Judgement on the race of Elder Dragons, the incalculably old beings that inspired the lesser images of them in Angel, Demon and Man alike.
Each Elder Dragon was an ancient beast of the primordial elements, more than a match in both intellect and might for all but the mightiest of High Devils and Seraphim Lords. With this power came an arrogance that led to continual violations of the Balance, incursions into Celestial and Infernal Realms that sparked unending conflicts. All answered with a warning from the Council, out of respect for fellow Old Ones.
Until they discovered proof of a millennium of draconic interference on Earth.
The Council issued no warning, no ultimatum. They simply sent their best.
The Horsemen Rode. And after a mere five centuries of apocalyptic warfare, the last Elder Dragon fell. And from then on, all that was left of them were the Infernal Realm's twisted mockeries of their form, and the legends of Man.
Eons later, the home realm of the Elder Dragons, long barren, became the host of new life: Resurrected Humanity.
And soon enough, Death found that a part of the Elder Dragons lived on...
– Kingdom of the Dead, The Eternal Throne –
Again, existence found Death in a foul mood.
This time, no convenient foe existed for him to eviscerate in a fury of emotional cleansing. However, Death doubted anything but the current vexation his senses were focused upon would satisfy him.
He felt it in his bones.
A Watcher was active.
Those ancient Angelic sinners had once been the Edenguard, beings long entrusted to guard the young race of Man in Eden from the deprivations of the Infernal. However, as Man developed over the eons, the Edenguard faltered...and many of them forsook their duties to cavort with the mortals in Eden.
That indiscretion had birthed the Nephilim, and began the events that made Death what he was now.
The aftermath of the Trinity War saw the Edenguard slaughtered until only a few remained, those remnants cursed and marked by the Creator itself as punishment, the Charred Council set to watch them.
Several of them had, through one way or another, proven themselves repentant and the Council saw fit to grant them leniency in return for their service. One of those had been assigned to watch War during his imposed sentence.
Death wondered to this day whether those had truly earned their relief, or if the Council had seized upon an opportunity to gain some willing servants.
At any rate, having replaced the Council, the Horseman had assumed all their duties - including Watcher duty. However, many of the Grigori had slipped their leashes, including Kokabiel, who had previously been interred in a fortress in the Kingdom of the Dead. Much of Death's rides were focused on hunting them down and recapturing them...or executing them.
In some cases, Death had aid.
"Antioch. Cadmus. Ignotus. Come." He ordered. Three shades arose from the floor of the throne room, each appearing as a skeletal figure clad in pallid green robes. One also wore rotten leather armor, designed to be loose and allowing unrestricted movement. Another had a ring upon one of its skeletal phalanges. The last draped a thin, decayed cloak about itself.
"A Watcher is active. Seek it out, and report back to me when you find it." Death commanded, and the shades nodded before flying away, heading for the Tree of Death to begin their search.
It had been centuries since Death had met the mortals those shades once were, and while they had proven rather disappointing to his initial expectations, their use these days was great.
– Realm of Dragons, About Seven Hundred Years Ago –
Despair's hooves pounded the packed dirt of the road, the undead stallion galloping tirelessly at its rider's will. Atop, the Horseman Death was shielded from the sight of mortals by one of his shrouds as he hunted his prey.
A Watcher was foolishly throwing about Celestial energy on this Realm, despite the fact that the Grigori knew that overly powerful displays would draw the Horsemen to them like sharks after a bleeding swimmer. Death sensed the makings of a trap about this, but it would not be the first time he or one of his siblings had thwarted a foolhardy being's attempt to ensare them, and given the arrogance of Celestial and Infernal alike, it wouldn't be the last.
The source of Celestial energy fluctuated wildly then, and Death knew he had the Watcher. Despair's pace quickened, Death pushing him forward to catch the arrogant Watcher before he regained his senses and fled. Cresting a hill, Despair reared as Death brought him to a halt, and stared, astonished, at the sight before him.
Miles away, a river coursed through the area, and standing in the midst of it, his back to Death, was the Watcher. An Angel with dark gray feathered wings, dull and tarnished silver armor, and chains wrapped around all six limbs faced three humans. All were clad in robes, one with leather armor over his.
Death recognized the Watcher, Bezaliel, one of the rare Angels of Shadow. As the Horseman recalled, Bezaliel had sired over a hundred Nephilim, all of whom had shared his dark powers. They had been tricky to exterminate. Death was jarred from his remembrance however, when Bezaliel lashed out with his hand, a tendril of shadow following his motion to strike at the leather-armored mortal. Death was resigned to the man's death, when a wall of stone leaped up out of the earth and blocked the shadow-lash.
The armored human nodded at one of the others, who had an arm extended grasping some sort of wooden stick, before drawing a stick himself and gesturing with it. To Death's bemusement, a bolt of fire leaped for Bezaliel. The Watcher contemptuously slapped the attack aside with a wing, before raising his fist, shadowy matter coalescing about it. Before he could complete the spell though, a whip of water lashed about his arm and pulled it back, the shadowy blast vaporizing a part of the riverbank instead. To the side, Death noted the third human with his stick outstretched, making motions mirroring that of the whip. Bezaliel, however, was distracted when the armored mortal attacked him, summoning spears of stone out of the ground to strike at his head.
It took only a few more such exchanges before Death confirmed his theory. The trio of humans were working in admirable concert, the armored one leading the head-on offensive strikes while the third one launched stealthier attacks, all the while the second one turned back Belaziel's assault. Admirable use of tactics, and they seemed well-suited to working in concert. Long-term comrades of battle? It seemed likely.
However, it wouldn't last. Even from such a distance, Death could tell that Belaziel was marshaling his full power. A laborious process for one of his abilities under daylight, but it was progressing. The shadows lengthened under the noonday sun. The Horseman's intervention was needed, and soon.
He may as well make an entrance.
Dismounting Despair, Death let his Wrath suffuse his body, and the transformation took him. Moments later, the hooded, flying Reaper floated where the Nephilim had stood. Silent flaps of his bony wings propelled him forth, and soon enough he heard Belaziel boast.
"-at's right! Cower you fool mortals!" And indeed, the mortals were cowering. But Belaziel failed to notice they were looking behind him. "Now prepare for-"
"Hello Uncle."It was simply delicious, the way the Watcher froze, mid-taunt. He turned, slowly, to face Death. The vision of the Reaper, wings outstretched and soul-harvesting scythe in hand, appeared too much for him, judging by how he collapsed at the knees. Death helped him stand, by grabbing him around his throat and lifting him up to the Horseman's eye level.
There was a lurch, and a ripping noise, as Belaziel tore his right arm entirely through Death's chest. Death felt a ripple of amusement, although given the state of his face in Reaper form, he doubted Belaziel knew that.
"Er. Right. Sorry. Had to try and all that."Belaziel said weakly, withdrawing his arm with a squelch.
"Indeed. At any rate, I'm sure the Citadel of Light has been wondering where you've been all these millennia. They'll be ecstatic to see you again."
"Wait, wait! Don't send me back there!"
"Do you have something to offer? Perhaps my dear father's location?"Death queried. Belaziel notably flinched at the thought.
"Samyaza! I haven't seen the madman in eons! He had a mad notion Death - something about breaking into the White City!"
Madman indeed. The Seraphim would rip Samyaza into pieces and nail him, still-living, to the Gates of Hell for the Demons and Devils to jeer at. What Michael would do to the Arch-Watcher was too horrid to contemplate.
"A pity. I shall be coming by to check on you in a century or so."And with only a horrified squawk of protest from the chained angel, Death tore open a gateway with his scythe and tossed the Watcher through.
Below, the trio of mortals cowered as Death descended and transformed back into his normal shape, landing with a light thud. It was always strange meeting humans, as Death and the other Nephilim always towered above all but the largest of them.
"Peace mortals. My duty here is done."Death said, much to their apparent relief. "I simply wish to congratulate you for surviving a battle with a Watcher...and to thank you for delaying him until I came."
"A-ah...you're welcome?" The second one offered.
"More than mere words."Death chuckled lightly - something that would have made anyone or thing else look at him strangely. "I offer each of you a boon - ask for it, and I will grant it if it is within my power."
"A wand!" The armored one burst. Then he looked nervous, and his two brothers glanced at him. "Er, I mean, if you would not mind, Sir Death, I would like a wand of great power, able to defeat all others!" His voice rose as he spoke, apparently gaining confidence when Death did not strike him down for his temerity. Death stared at him for a moment, and then called out.
"Dust! Bring me a branch of that tree!" The ancient crow flew down from the height where it had been circling, swooping past Death and the three mortals to snag a small branch off of an elder tree growing by the river, returning and dropping the piece of wood in Death's hand before perching on the Horseman's shoulder. Holding the branch up before him, Death channeled his Wrath into it, warping and changing the wood until it came to resemble the wands the mortals held. Death held out the Elder Wand to the armored mortal, who stepped up cautiously, taking the wand from Death. "And what do you desire?" He asked, turning to the second mortal.
"I would like the ability to resurrect the dead." The second mortal requested, more confident and with a tone best described as 'distinguished'. Death snorted at this, making the man step back.
"True Resurrection is beyond my ability."He told the mortal. "But if you will settle for a seeming of it..." Bending, Death plucked a pebble from the riverbed. As with the wand, he infused the stone with Wrath, binding it with a spell. Holding it out, Death dropped the stone into the mortal's outstretched hand. "Turn it over in your hand three times, and those you wish to see will appear before you...but not alive." The mortal swallowed audibly, trembling, and nodded.
Death turned to the last mortal.
"And what is your desire?"
"If you would not mind, I would like your cloak." The other two mortals gasped, but the third stood firm, staring at Death.
Under his mask, Death smiled. And in a single, flowing motion, he removed his shroud and wrapped it around the mortal, the other two gasping again as he disappeared from their sight.
"Use my gifts well." Death said, before Despair erupted from beneath the earth, whinnying loudly as Death rode off.
– Kingdom of the Dead, The Eternal Throne –
Despite what he'd said back then, Death had not in fact, just handed three mortals artifacts crafted by his own hand as a reward for distracting a mere Watcher. No, he had been greatly curious as to their abilities, and bound the three artifacts to their souls, with enchantments built into their beings to relay information back to him.
Thus, he had been greatly irritated when he learned the first mortal, the eldest of what turned out to be three brothers, had died a mere week after his encounter with Death. More so when the second one committed suicide only a short time after that.
The third brother, however, lived long and used Death's shroud many a time. And Death gleaned much from his soul.
It seemed that the Elder Dragons were intent on leaving their mark on Creation for a long time, as much of their ancient energy suffused these mortals' souls. It was worrisome indeed, for if their influence after their execution proved too great on Man...then the Horsemen would ride on that Realm a second time.
As the centuries passed and Death received no indicators of further issues however, he let the Realm slip out of his mind as further problems appeared, the most recent being this new Watcher activity.
He was surprised then, when Ignotus' shade returned with news of Sparda's son in a Realm far removed from where he should be.