Harry Dresden, The River
"That all sounds rather boring," Clark, who was really Harry Dresden, said, and Lincoln shrugged. "I mean, compared to your father's work."
"Yeah, well, that's the point, Clark. Science isn't a great big wonder anymore. Discoveries are made in the lab, not the jungle…"
Harry heard this and he absently twitched his fingers, sending out a subtle electric current to the air around him, determined to show the kid that he was wrong, and that there was still wonder to be found in the world around him.
One dragonfly, then two…and then they surrounded by them, their iridescent blue wings shimmering in the dappled light that filtered through the trees above them.
Harry grinned, and then smiled when he heard Lincoln say, "Okay, that was pretty cool…"
And they rounded a corner on the river…and they saw it.
The Magus was there, sitting nestled on a bank, almost as though it was meant to be there, and had been there for quite a long time. Harry quickly made a mental note to thank Bob for the lessons on getting his British accent just right, and also thanked him for reminding him to take all of his talismans with him.
He had a bad feeling about what they would find on that boat.
Much later they had opened the door into the panic room…and that was when Harry saw it.
The pictures, the statue, the markings on the floor in front of the low table that was also littered with several more mementos. It was a shrine; crudely put together, of course, but a shrine nonetheless. There was no mistaking it.
Discreetly, he took a close look at the markings, and he immediately recognized them. They were for a protective spell of some kind, but some of the elements of the spell had been changed.
Yellow turmeric made up the circle with the cross through it, and something had been placed in each section.
Some native leaves, a stone, some branches, and a red stain that he assumed to be blood.
Using blood in a spell, if it was your own, was to protect yourself from something. Considering what happened only moments later, causing the missing producer's daughter to get injured, Harry assumed that it was for Emmet.
If it had been for him, then he was afraid that it hadn't worked.
Later on, he quietly sat in the shadows of the editing room, listening to Valenzuela over the camera system as he recounted what one of the previous men had told him, talking to Emmet's son…
"Before he fired me, your father started to spend a lot of his nights off of the ship…" He bent down, looking over the supplies left in the panic room. "All night, by himself. No food, no gear. I told Doc I start to worry about him, he said, 'Don't. He's protected.'"
Lincoln asked, "By a gun?"
That was all that Harry needed to hear, but he would have to keep up the pretense of being more interested in making the show than in finding Lincoln's father, when, in fact, that was the only thing that was on his mind.
A little while later they found the rafts slashed, and Harry's gut plummeted, as he realized that whatever had been released from that room must have originally been in a containment spell. It was possible, very possible, that a demon had been living free and unchecked in this part of the Amazon for centuries, and that they had tried to contain it…
…and now he, and the people he was with, had let it loose.
And it had seized its chance for more blood and had destroyed their only transportation back to their working boat.
Suddenly, Lincoln turned on him.
"Did you do this?"
At hearing that, Harry was tempted to hit the kid and tell him to shut up so he could think, but he had the feeling that that wouldn't go over well with the kid's mom, so he restrained himself and quickly answered.
"No, of course I didn't!"
Some of his natural accent slipped through and he prayed no one noticed it.
"Then who did?"
"I have no…" Harry was cut off by a strange sound off in the brushes just beyond the ship and his blood ran cold.
Silently he was praying that he was wrong, and that it was simply just a wild animal, but in his gut he knew that it wasn't. He scanned the reeds around the boat, and then looked out to the water, and then he heard Jahel Valenzuela say, "No lo quiere nosotros dejar. Se ha probado sangre. Quiere mas."
It doesn't want us to leave. It has tasted blood. It wants more.
It seemed that Jahel was going to be the only person that would be willing to help him with what needed to be done. She was the only one who saw things for what they were.
If he told her the truth, that it was a demon, she would believe him, and that was what he needed.
But, as it was at that moment, it was Demon: 1, Harry: 0.
Oh, boy. This was going to be fun.
As he watched the tapes that Lena Landry had found and told them that Emmet had instructed her to destroy them if anything should happen to him…well, let's just say that they told him everything that he needed to know except where to find Emmet.
The walking on water, the native ritual, the spell, the fire in his hands…all of it was exactly as he'd partially suspected.
He knew of this tribe, he'd read about them in his studies when Bob had still been teaching him.
The magics they were using were powerful, nature centered magics and they were also very unstable. Unpredictable. And all consuming.
He continued to watch the footage, knowing that everyone else was most likely shocked and completely in disbelief about what they were seeing, except for him. The footage then went to Emmet inside of the ship saying that the engine was dead, that it had killed half of the crew…
…and then he said two words: corpus hago.
He'd been afraid of this. There was only one way to trap them, and Emmet was holding one of the traps on the footage.
They had it themselves, but Harry was afraid to use it, unsure of what else it might do.
The footage then cut off, and Lincoln said, "There's magic out there," and Harry found himself slightly speechless at the statement, surprised that the young man was so willing to accept what was right in front of his eyes. Most people would try to find any other explanation, but Lincoln did not.
"He was looking for real magic," Lincoln finished and Harry nodded.
"Yeah, well, looks like your buddy found it."
Lincoln then turned on his mom, and Harry waited for the storm of accusations, and he wasn't disappointed.
"And you didn't tell me about any of this?" She stared at him and silently shook her head, and then said, "I shouldn't have let him go." And then she simply walked out of the room, leaving everyone else feeling confused, but Harry with even more clarification.
Magic was seductive, and used wrongly could destroy the person wielding it as well as anyone that crossed its path.
Lincoln then stormed out as well, slamming the door in his wake.
"Pop another tape in, would you, AJ?" he asked the camera man, and AJ complied. Harry turned back to the screen and carefully watched and listened to every little thing that went across the screen in front of him, determined to find out what had happened.
"We're so close to the source," said Emmet on the camera, and Harry latched onto that. The source of what?
"And we have to keep going, we have to…and the further we go up the Bouina, the more…the more physics breaks down. Reality is so much…bigger." He laughed. "I have to see it."
Harry suddenly had a thought as to where they were and what was happening to them.
What Emmet was describing, the physics breaking down, the whole idea of reality becoming bigger…they were near a thin wall that was close to the NeverNever. When that happened, those who didn't have magic saw it as reality breaking down or expanding.
Considering that the man had recently been in contact with magic, Harry would assume that meant that Emmet had seen it as something more amazing, but it had most likely had driven his crew members crazy, unable to cope with the breakdown of natural laws.
He sighed as he continued to watch, unconsciously mimicking Bob's usual thinking position. Right arm across his body, right hand propping his left elbow, left hand up near his mouth.
The last place that he wanted to deal with. The score now was, Demon: 2, Harry: 0.
He decided to stay in the editing room, even after everyone else had left it, and he took the time to go over everything in his mind.
Emmet had found the natives and they had allowed him into their village, and then he'd had an experience that defied all normal explanation; he'd experienced magic. Real magic. But something had most likely latched onto the surge and caused serious damage, not only to him but to everyone else.
After checking that he was completely alone, Harry reached down into his bag and pulled out a skull covered in runes.
"Bob, coast is clear. Come on out."
In a haze of black smoke and red ash, he appeared, perfectly attired in his usual layers that made Harry hot just by looking at them.
"So, what sort of trouble are you in this time?"
Harry rolled his eyes and quickly pulled out a tape that he'd hidden before everything had occurred and then waggled it in Bob's direction, raising his eyebrows at the ghost's haughty tone. He then slipped the tape into the deck and showed Bob what he hadn't let anyone else see.
"I need you to tell me what you think of this…"
The tape showed all of the footage that had been edited out; all of the ceremony leading up to the footage that he'd already seen on the tape that everyone else had viewed.
Bob leaned in and Harry could see the wheels in his mind turning as he analyzed it.
Suddenly, Bob said, "There! Pause it."
Harry hit the pause button and waited for Bob to explain what he had found. Bob's hand was close to the screen, but, of course, left no shadow, and Harry then noticed that Bob was pointing at something on the screen.
Harry leaned in…and then he saw it. The runes on the natives face.
Bob quickly explained.
"This shaman is wearing runes that are indicative of a summoning spell, and a very dangerous one at that. I believe it's one that your Uncle was interested it, but was never able to find all of the necessary elements to put it together to make it work."
Harry leaned back in the chair, crossing his arms over his chest, mulling things over in his mind, and then started to think out loud, but quietly, aware of the fact that sound carried easily on the Magus.
"So, the shaman performs a summoning spell for Emmet, but it ends up summoning something much more powerful than he expected. The creature it summons, this corpus hago that Emmet mentions, and then starts to feed off of Emmet, but wants more, so it starts to feed off of everyone else as well, killing a few in the process…"
Bob looked at him in shock, and said, "Did you say corpus hago?" Harry nodded, and then the ghost's visage went dark.
"Harry…are we in the Bouina?" Harry nodded again, slightly surprised that Bob knew about it.
"How did you know that?"
Somehow, Bob's look turned even darker and more grim, and he then said, "Because your Uncle tried to find it a few years before you came into his care."
Harry could think of no response to that, and Bob continued.
"About three years before he, well, took you in, he was searching for a ritualistic summoning spell that was briefly mentioned in one of his obscure volumes on Black Magic. They referenced a place along the Amazon River that was called the Bouina, and he spent months searching for it…but he never found it."
He fell silent, and then Harry suddenly had an epiphany.
"Wait a sec…is that why he encouraged me to go to South America, instead of joining the Council immediately? He thought that I would find it, and then just…just give it to him?"
Bob nodded, and then Harry let out a long sigh, and Bob finished his explanation.
"There was a rumor about a creature called a corpus hago, and your Uncle thought that it was an uncontained demon, and not a spirit as the natives believed it to be. However…I have another theory entirely."
"And that would be…?"
"It's a spirit, yes, but it's created using the summoning spell on a dying man. Because it holds the dying man's desperate will to live, as a spirit it would be absolutely deadly, killing with just a touch. Blood would fuel it, of course, as it fuels all spirits brought back through the Black…and it will try to kill everyone on board."
Harry nodded, and then whispered, "Cam Travers. No lo quiere nosotros dejar. Se ha probado sangre. Quiere mas."
Bob gave him a confused look, and Harry explained.
"Jahel said that earlier…and I think she's right. This thing isn't simply going to let us go. It wants more blood. It wants to be alive again…"
He summoned Bob back to his skull and slid the skull back into his pack, and then sat in the editing room for a long time, simply staring and observing the other people on the boat over the security camera system, wondering how long he should wait, and then he felt himself getting restless, so he left.
Harry walked up into the steering quarters and approached Emmet's wife.
"Hi. One hour 'til sunrise, two hours to the Ute," she said, steering the boat with expert ease. "I think we can make it."
"Yeah. Listen, Tess, I…I keep thinking, if that thing, if it is really Cam Travers, it could know about Emmet," he said, pausing for a moment. "If he's dead, or alive."
She said nothing, and he let her think about it, hoping that her mind just might change about what was happening. He needed more people on his side before he sprung his theory on them, because he knew that it wouldn't go over well.
Suddenly, the whole boat was hit something. Something large.
They were hit a second time, and Harry knew what was happening.
"Oh my god, it's following us…"
There was crashing and then his other cameraman came running up the staircase and said, "Oh my god, he's dead…!"
Tess yelled, "What?! What do you mean he's dead?"
"He's, he's dead! I don't know what happened-"
Harry shook the man by the shoulders. "What the hell happened?"
"He was just there, and now he's gone!"
Harry's gut clenched once more, realizing the severity of what had just happened. Cam Travers had just claimed a life and was now fueled with more blood. He could hear it as it circled the Magus, trying to find another victim to claim.
They were suddenly hit a third time, throwing him to the side, and all he could think was, Really? Rocking the boat? Any other clichés you want to use?
He rushed outside and yelled, "Anything?! Can you see it?"
Lincoln then stumbled up the ladder, the old container for the spirit in one hand, which he put on the ground, and a knife in his other hand.
"Lincoln! What are you doing?"
"It wants blood," he said, digging the knife into his palm, a line of red appearing and turning his hand scarlet, looking almost black in the lack of light.
"No, no, no, wait!" Tess protested, obviously unable to deal with seeing her son hurt himself in such a way. "Wait! Lincoln! We need it! It can tell us!"
Harry slid up behind her, trying to see exactly what was going on, suddenly very aware of the firm weight that rested on the inside of his lower leg: his blasting rod, prepared to lean down and put it to good use should the need arise.
Lincoln then yelled, "Come on! Come on! You want blood? Take mine! Come on, take it! Come on!"
Harry watched in terror as the kid pressed his bleeding hand it to the inside of the container that had previously held it. Harry then realized what Lincoln was trying to do and he knew that it was probably going to work, but at great risk.
Tess lunged forward, a wallet in her hand, and she yelled, "Here! Here!"
"Mom! Get out of here!"
And then she did one thing right, the one thing that Harry himself would have done. She used its name.
"Your name is Cam Travers!"
Then the other camera man yelled to them, "It's coming around!", and Harry lunged forward, yelling, "Get away from it!" and wrapped his arms around her waist and dragged her down to the floor, briefly noticing that it went straight for the blood that Lincoln had offered.
Tess pulled away from him and lunged back to her feet.
"Your name is Cam Travers!" she yelled a second time, more fearless than Harry had ever seen anyone be in his entire life. "Is Emmet still alive?! Come on, tell me! Scream it if you have to! Is Emmet still alive, Cam? Once for dead! Twice for alive!"
The spirit whirled around them and Harry grew ever more nervous.
"Come on, tell me! You son of a bitch!"
Suddenly, it whirled around them, hit her down, and then swirled in black smoke and rushed into the container, which snapped shut, leaving no seams.
"Throw it overboard!" someone yelled, Harry couldn't see who, and then Lena ran forward and did just that, throwing it into the river, and Harry inwardly groaned at the fact that he now didn't have the chance to properly destroy it.
The next day, he was going over the tapes, and then saw that Kurt was acting suspicious, covering the cameras in his room.
"Mess with my camera. You little bastard." He moved over to his hidden third camera. "Missed one. Gotcha."
Harry then zoomed in, determined to hear the conversation that Kurt didn't want overheard. He hadn't trusted the man since the beginning; he reminded Harry of Marcone, and that was never a good thing, so he'd been keeping a close eye on him.
As he worked the camera, he was grateful for the fact that Bob had worked out the insulating spell that kept him from messing up electronics, allowing him to keep his cover.
And then he heard…
"Emmet could somehow be resolved. He may be alive. If he is, and if he found the source…" There were those words again. The source. "…I'll put him down."
Not quite believing what he had just heard, he rewound it and listened to it.
"And if he found the source, I'll put him down." He rewound it again. "If he found the source, I'll put him down."
Great, now not only did he have to deal with trying to find the container of the locked up spirit, but he was also having to deal with some sort of conspiracy against Emmet having to do with this mysterious thing called, the Source.
And, on top of that, he needed Bob to spy among the crew, but he had to make sure that he still wasn't seen by anyone.
"So far we've got eight possible sights, but any one of them could be his last recording," Lincoln said to his mom, while Harry was behind the camera.
"Well, that's more than what we had this morning," she said, sounding as confident as she always did. "Pick one and we'll start there."
"Could be dangerous, we should warn the crew."
Harry watched as Tess looked back to the front and then back to her son, her gaze hard and fierce, obviously not deterred by what her son had just told her.
"Everyone on this boat has been to the Amazon before."
Lincoln retaliated. "Well, they haven't been here, to the Bouina. I mean, hell, according to every map ever made this place doesn't even exist. C'mon, anyone who doesn't want to stay, I say we should let them go."
Harry interjected, putting the camera down, making sure that his accent didn't show through in his anger.
"Excuse me, here's reality Lincoln." He drew him aside, biting his tongue as he said his next words. "You let Kurt go, who's gonna protect us? Hm? Emilio and his daughter, they keep this ship running. Everyone is on this boat because we need them, to find Emmet."
Lincoln said nothing, and then Harry delivered his final blow.
"You let any one of them go, you're lettin' your father go, too…"
He hated saying it, but they could not afford to let anyone leave the ship, and he had to keep everyone in one place to make sure that no one else was in on the conspiracy, to make sure that he could keep them all safe. It was the only way he could do it.
And he hated himself for saying it.
They were back on land and Harry was trying not to make himself look like a total klutz while lugging around the camera.
And then they found the graveyard.
"Why would there be a graveyard out here? I thought the locals didn't bury in the ground…"
Actually, Harry knew that the locals didn't bury in the ground; the reason being the fact that they were afraid of the inherent dark magics that still lingered in the soil from years and years of brutal bloodshed from inquisitions in the past.
"They don't," Lena said, shaking her head in disbelief at seeing the headstones.
"Wow…what is this?" he asked, his accent slipping through for a moment as he stepped closer to one of the headstones that towered over the rest. The name read Sir Henry Nevins, "Hero to the Crown", 1842 to 1898. He was only fifty-six years old when he died.
"It seems like Sir Nevins and I are a long way from home," he said flippantly, trying to disguise the unease that filled his frame.
The graveyard made him extremely nervous. All those dead, decomposing bodies seeping with dark, blood magics that could so easily corrupt the nature around it.
But maybe it had already been corrupted a long time ago, and that was the problem.
Either way, he felt an unsettling sensation at the base of his spine and it threatened to make him unstable. Magically unstable.
But then they found all of the dolls, and the unsettling feeling at the base of his spine turned ice cold and rippled up his back and destroyed any hope that he had of finding anything good at all. When any kind of effigy or likeness of a person was around any kind of black magic…well, it meant bad things.
Very bad things.
"I've heard about places like these," Lena said. "They're called spirit trees. When locals believe the woods are home to a spirit, they sometimes leave gifts."
"Why dolls?" Harry asked, and then listened to everyone, but was mentally preparing himself for scary things to happen that night, because he knew that they would be camping there for the night and that meant that the magic would be coming out to play.
A little while later, Kurt said, "The suns going down, we're going to have to camp here for the night."
"Here? With all the dolls?"
Lena's fear was obvious in her tone, but Harry was slightly relieved that they were staying. It allowed him a chance to figure out what was going on.
"Oh, yes, please!" He motioned to his other cameraman. "AJ, let's set up some cameras, let's mine this gold, okay? Some high angles from the trees…?"
He hated doing it, but he had to show indifference, and seem partially cold. He was drawing on his Uncle for inspiration, the first time in his life that the man had ever been truly useful. He would wait until it was late and go just outside of the camp and pull out Bob and have him help out again.
Harry was terrified out of his mind and made his way through the jungle with everyone else. Tess had ended up in the ground and had to dig herself out.
This magic was darker than anything that he'd ever seen before in his life. And he wanted out of the jungle, and wanted to be back in his apartment in Chicago, with Murphy calling him up every other week with some sort of murder.
Give him a murder any day over what he was experiencing here.
Forget finding out what was going on.
He no longer cared that Kurt was trying to kill Emmet. He could deal with Kurt. He just wanted out. He would find Emmet, and that was it.
Emmet was an old friend who knew nothing about the fact that Harry was not Carter, and that he was a wizard.
He was going to save him for him, and no other reason.
END Episode 1 & Episode 2... Part 1/7