Unfinished Journeys, Untraveled Roads - 1 - The Horror Below
A selection of unfinished tales that have been abandoned.
Each 'chapter' represents a single story.
Ongoing warnings for smut, language, character death, bashing, torture, mutilation, religious/social iconoclasm and reader brain damage. Brain bleach is highly recommended.
All fiction is derivative and fan fiction doubly so. I make no claim to own any part of any of the following, all I have done is an attempt to put together the elements in a novel fashion, using words and ideas like Lego ™ bricks.
There is no money involved – all I do is to share what I do for my own amusement.
Unfinished Journeys, Untraveled Roads - 1 - The Horror Below
The world of Harry Potter joins with the worlds of HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, and H. Rider Haggard's Alan Quartermain stories. Surprisingly, they aren't as incompatible as they seem.
Chapter 1: The Horror In The Cell
Things had gone from bad to worse. After Albus Dumbledore had revealed the nature of the prophesy to Harry, and the fact that Voldemort had made not one horcrux but several, the quest had begun
The trouble was that only one horcrux had actually been dealt with. Riddle's diary.
Slytherin's locket, when they found the original, had proven to be a dummy. The dark enchantments were designed to camouflage the fact that the locket was, essentially, harmless. The same had been the case with Hufflepuff's cup and, presumably, Ravenclaw's diadem, but that had been destroyed by fiendfyre when death eaters had attempted their first entry into Hogwarts,
The ring had been truly magical, one of the Deathly Hallows. The curses had been easily disarmed, but the ring itself contained nothing more sinister than centuries of dirt and grime.
The upshot was a band of desperate wizards and witches hunting an unknown number of dark objects of unknown form and in unknown locations. Any lead or guess was being followed, and they were getting desperate. They had prices on their heads, Harry and Dumbledore being the most valuable of them all.
"So this is where Tom Riddle lived?"
Dumbledore nodded. "This is where I interviewed the boy sixty years ago. I have to say that being left derelict has improved the flavour of the place."
Harry had to agree. The place was depressing and forbidding. Located in a Victorian workhouse, the red-brick structure exuded a miasmic mood not unlike the presence of a dementor at a funeral.
Sirius, using a set of Muggle bolt-cutters sliced through the padlocks, gaining them entry into the forbidding building. Their highly tuned wizard senses caught the wisps of sensation and emotion telling them that there were the ghosts of magical people present.
Deep inside the decaying museum of misery, they found themselves in the cellars.
"Somewhere ahead … I feel … oh …"
The seeress shook her head.
"The unquiet dead, Albus. They are … unfulfilled. Too young …"
The rest of the party understood all too well.
One of the arched alcoves in the tunnel was filled with bricks subtly different from the others. It was shallower.
"Here … a side tunnel … it's …"
The blond witch was pale as death.
"Two murders, Albus. And a mystery, A deep mystery. Darkest evil, too …"
Four blows with his sledgehammer and Sirius had broached the obstruction. A fetid breath of ancient graveyard stench, and they were able to enter the tunnel which sloped downward. With their magical sense of direction, they knew that if the tunnel carried on, it would emerge in the West India Docks.
The floor was getting wet and the walls were wreathed in fungal mats when they found the hunched remains of a child, now little more than bones and rotted scraps.
There was a movement and two silvery forms glided out from the wall. One was instantly recognised by two of the party.
"Tom? Tom Riddle?"
The boy nodded. "Professor Dumbledore? Is that really you? And you …? I'm sorry but …?"
This was nothing like the arrogant Slytherin head boy Harry had encountered in the chamber those painful years past. And if this was Tom Riddle, then who was Voldemort?
Harry and Dumbledore looked at each other, the same question in both sets of eyes.
"What happened, Tom?"
The ghost shook his head.
"I'm not sure. It was a few days after you came to see me. I came looking for my friend, Jane Sawyer, here. She was laying right here, crying. There was a blue flash, and she fell silent. I felt a shove and a falling sensation, and then I saw myself legging it back up the tunnel. I've stayed with Jane ever since."
"Tom, you need to know things, but can you help us? Help us to avenge the both of you?"
The two ghosts nodded. "Yes please, but I don't know what I can do."
Harry's heart was torn by how much the girl sounded like his Hermione.
A continued search of the tunnel proved fruitless, and there was no residue of persistent dark magic anywhere in the building itself. The party departed, returning the following day with the … materials necessary to obtain the help of the two ghosts.
"Jane, Tom. These are the soulless shells of two young people who were attacked by Lord V's dementors. If you enter their bodies, you can take possession of them, control them, use them much as your own bodies."
"And our magic? Will we finally be able to learn to use it?"
Dumbledore smiled. "That is the great secret, Jane. You will have access to the magic that the previous … tenant had. Lord V doesn't know that we can do this. It is one of the few weapons that we have to maintain our numbers."
The two ghosts slipped from view and the sightless eyes of the dementor-kissed teens lit once more with intelligence. They looked at each other and kissed tenderly, a gesture that Voldemort would never have made.
"So what were you down here for, Jane?"
"I don't know, but I suddenly came to myself digging just here …"
She pointed at the lower half of the tunnel wall.
Neville scraped away the fungus with his dragon-hide gloved hand, sweeping a curtain of grey and black mould from a shallow hole.
A torch beam showed a smallish hole at the back of the larger hole.
Gently removing the girl's last mortal remains from harm, they dug out the wall, providing an entrance to a stone-walled chamber. The tris-decagonal room exuded a sense of unmitigated evil. The stale air gave the electric torch-light a putrescent feel. Harry was glad that Ron wasn't here, his sensitivity to such miasmic environments was painful to behold since his encounter in the Department of Mysteries those many years before.
The stone was black basalt, massive blocks with barely a razor's edge between them. The floor was inlaid with some reddish stone, forming a complex series of rune-strewn concentric patterns.
"It's a magical cell, a containment."
Albus nodded. "And, I would suggest, it finally ceased to operate after the last of the mages guarding the site abandoned their duty. Or were killed."
"The war, Albus? Grindelwald's war?"
"Yes, Mrs Potter. Grindelwald's war. Now, the question is, what was contained here?"
"That's simple, Albus."
"What makes you say that, Neville?"
"It's body is just here."
The creature was thoroughly mummified, as though the organisms of decay had refused to have anything to do with the thing.
It had stood about three feet tall. It was bipedal with six-fingered hands … fingers with too many joints. The triangular face had a narrow, lipless slit for a mouth surrounded by a number of fleshy mounds. There was no nose but two slit-like nostrils. The eyes were narrow in death.
The cranium was smooth and high-domed without any trace of hair. There were the buds of what resembled nothing less than a pair of fleshy horns arising from where a human would have a hair-line.
Even in death, the creature radiated a malice and sense of evil that made the war-hardened mages shudder.
"Severus would know, but I don't think so. Is there anything else here?"
They looked around carefully, scanning every inch of the room.
When they left, they set delayed fiendfyre grenades behind to cleanse the chamber.
Studying the memories of the chamber in a pensieve back at Grimmauld Place, they were able to trace back the arithmantics of the warding patterns, and Hermione was able to trace words inscribed in one of the walls.
"Albus, one of the stones had an inscription. This is it, as best I can manage."
The sketch was passed around.
"Any ideas, anyone?"
"It's a pretty sinuous script. Cursive scripts are usually pretty late, but the chamber reeks of being pre-roman … or even pre-Celtic."
The last to see the sketch was Harry.
"Ashathh ichhh tahhhh sahhh nisss …."
"It's parseltongue. Let's see…
"The thunderbolt that rent the sky rent also the land, and from it came the sucking death controlled by … there's a word that doesn't translate. Demon perhaps. The lesser evil was destroyed by the force of spirit, but the greater evil was confined only by trickery and self-sacrifice. We who have done this thing give warning of this evil that it never be let loose upon the world."
Below the text was a symbol, a kind of branch with three twigs. It had a runic appearance.
"An evil from before time and from another world."
Harry nodded. "And have you noticed how much our dead demon and Lord V resemble each other?"
"What about the symbol, Hermione?"
"That's an oddity. It's known as the Elder Sign, and features in a whole series of muggle fictions by HP Lovecraft."
Dumbledore looked up. "Lovecraft? He was a fellow of Miskatonic University, the American lore-research college."
"Not fictional then?"
The ancient mage shook his head. "Not at all. He wrote a lot of genuine lore into his so-called fiction, hiding it in plain sight and, incidentally, defusing a lot of its power to do harm."
"So how do we fight this evil?"
Harry shook his head. He had a phrase from the chamber running through his mind, but he couldn't place where in the text it stood.
Chapter 2: Seen Through The Singular Eye
The Potters re-visited the pensieve memories of the chamber. Eventually, Harry froze the memory and examined the room in minute detail.
"Hermione? Take a look at this, please?"
She followed his finger. Incredibly, the Elder Symbol was carved so that the outline was made up by a series of minutely finished parsel runes.
"Micrography, Harry? I've never even heard of it being used in a stone inscription. What does it say, Harry?"
"It's the activation spell for the elder sign. A ritual chant…"
His voice trailed off as he continued to read. He seemed to be reading for hours, but it was probably only a few minutes.
At last he looked at her. "I know how to make the elder signs, 'Mione. I also know what that thing was called."
"Not here. Let's go?"
They released the memory and swung out of the pensieve.
"That thing is a C'thach'k-Pfthalu. Lesser spawn of the ancient ones …"
Harry grinned. "Parseltongue is a remarkable thing. It hasn't changed significantly since before mankind was even an ape. It's probably almost the ideal language to write messages across time in."
"And what do the ancients have to say on this creature?"
"Not much. They managed to confine the greater evil, but were unable to destroy it. We need to do research. We need all that we can document on that chamber without using detectable magic. Hell, if we hadn't burned it out, I'd be down there using some of Albus' instruments on that room. I may do anyway."
As they wrote their reports, sketched their sketches and drew their figures, the Potters marshalled fact after fact. The words, once begun, simply flowed. It was unusual that harry was actually the one handling the rune work, but as the only available parselmouth, his input was unique.
At length the text was complete. A thousand pages of text, description, analysis and figures accompanied by photographs taken within the pensieve were bound into a single, heavy volume.
"Harry? Hermione? You do realise that this is probably worth sending to Miskatonic, don't you?"
"I'm sorry, Albus?"
"There is enough to get you both doctorates here, as well as providing some valuable material for our own research."
The two Potters looked thunderstruck.
"Look, you have done original research, and this thesis may contain the key to ending the war, destroying Him. We need to take this further, but my guess is that the basis of our best hope lies within these pages. Since we can perform magic undetected within these walls, please make a dozen permanent copies of your book and we'll send them to Professor Derleth at Miskatonic. They're the world's premiere centre for pre-glacene lore, after all."
After sending six shrunken copies of their text along with a covering letter from the former headmaster, Harry was leading Hermione to their bedroom when he directed them toward the old Black Library.
"I've had a phrase from that chamber running through my mind since we saw the parsel runes. We need to look it up, it seems familiar, somehow."
As they entered the library, Harry said, "That which is not dead can eternal lie; and with strange aeons even death may die."
There was a quiet cracking sound and a glow from one of the shelves. A series of sinuous runes appeared up a shelf-end. Harry read them out loud and suddenly an extra block of shelves elbowed their way into view.
"Harry, what was that spell?"
"It's a quote. It says, in his house at drowned R'lyeh, dead Cthulu waits dreaming."
"So this is a shelf of lore on …?"
Harry nodded and shouted for Dumbledore who promptly arrived in his nightgown. No further sleep was slept by anyone that night. Sirius was amazed at the extra books that had appeared. The library of Pleiades Black, a wizard who's disappearance was still quoted as a warning to not dabble in the deepest of the dark arts.
"There's one here for you. It's in parseltongue."
The book was bound in a thin, pale, tan leather that made Harry's flesh creep. The cover sported an inked design and a gilded symbol in the centre of the cover. An Ourorobos surrounding a rune like an inverted script 'n' with a dot in the centre.
Hermione glanced and shuddered.
"It's man-skin. Tattooed man-skin. I recognise it from the Holocaust Museum at Dachau. The symbol is the world snake surrounding the rune 'sepra', the sun."
Dumbledore looked up. "It looks like a stylised eye?"
Hermione and Harry nodded.
"The singularis ocularis. There are supposedly no copies remaining of that book. Just opening it, we're told, is to risk madness."
Harry shuddered. "Just handling it, too. It … feels … evil. Before I start to read, what are we told is inside?"
"So, what you're telling me is that I am going to have to read a book that describes … things … from the time before life on Earth, Things that make my worst nightmares seem like cute, fluffy bunnies. And that this may be the original, unexpurgated edition written for demons, devils and face-eating monsters from the cthonic planes?"
"I'm afraid, Harry, that is precisely what I am saying. This is certainly a more ancient text than the Latin, Greek and Arabic texts that have been described. Having read part of the commentaries on Al-Hazared's Necronomicon, this is one of the texts he mentions. It's even mentioned in the Pnakotic Manuscripts by name, the singular eye.
"This may be the darkest book on the face of the planet, and there are probably just two beings who can read it. I'm sorry Harry, and if I thought that I could read this, even in translation, without going dark, I would. You are the chosen one for a reason."
He looked at his wife.
"Please don't do any work of this text unless you're fully rested, no more than an hour at a time, and only with two others in the room with you."
He nodded. "I understand. This is a task to not take lightly in the least."
The book was opened and by the third page, Harry knew that he had hit paydirt. He read on, accepting that there were spells that were being activated by his reading. None felt particularly unwholesome.
"Hermione, it says here, C'thach'k-Pfthalu grashni t'linga-u pflar' h'ni doc'h marni; Y'm anathi agnata om t'tfalu ohn. The Greater Spawn of the abyss between spreads its corrupt contagion by the possession of its victim. Pain and anguish mark its presence."
"Harry, that wasn't Parseltongue."
"I know, 'Mione. The first pages of the book taught me to speak two other languages. Sumerian and Sunnaic, I think. Most of the text is actually in the Sunnaic sliding snake-runes."
"Really? So what is the book?"
Harry grinned. "It's a fake, actually. It's an ancient book about the darkest of magic disguised as a text of that dark magic. It's a defence text."
Albus Dumbledore entered. Tonks looked embarrassed, having slipped out to fetch the old mage.
"Albus, this is exactly what we wanted. It's a six-thousand year old defence text. The spells and charms described are … scary. Very … blunt and to the point. There is even a description here of a suitable container for the C'thach'k-Pfthalu. We've already seen one similar. It does say, however, that there is an even more ancient … text that may be of help, but the author has no idea how to find it."
"More ancient than …? Where would … ?"
"The text says that some race called The Great Old Ones knew how to deal with this evil. There are references to Leng on The Forbidden Plateau, and to a great and ancient fortress within The Mountains of Night. It also speaks of The Peak of Eternal Day, a place more holy and more evil than any on Earth."
Dumbledore had paled considerably as he heard these words.
"The forbidden Plateau of Leng has been approached by eleven expeditions. Only one returned, and of the twenty three members, eight were insane, three suffered terrible nightmares and twelve died while still on the plateau.
"The Mountains of Night are unknown, but I suspect that they may be known now as The Mountains of Madness in Antarctica. I suspect that the Peak of Eternal Day is there also. There are mountains, yet unexplored, a few hundred miles from the Madness Range, high enough, perhaps, to never fall into the Earth's shadow … but that is also an evil place … a place of insanity and terrible death."
A contemplative silence fell, filled with uncertainty and dread.
At last Harry spoke. "What can we find out about those places … those expeditions?"
"I will contact Professor Derleth … he will know what is to be known. All I can say is that the script has resisted translation. There are no common terms of reference."
Months had passed and the Order of the Phoenix had studied and learned. The hunt for Voldemort's horcruces was relegated to a lesser order of importance, the search for a means to remove his immediate threat being by far more urgent.
As Albus said, "with what we now know of his true nature, I would suggest that the horcrux hunt is a blind alley. Although we know that one was created, I'm no longer convinced that it was genuinely Lord V's. I suspect that it was created deliberately in the knowledge that it would lead us up a dead-end.
"Right now, we need to neutralise the immediate threat and to hope that any … other … artefacts can be dealt with afterward."
Harry had spent much time translating the Singularis Ocularis text into English, and was intending to send a copy to Miskatonic for inclusion in the Orne Library. He was on the final few pages when he made a discovery.
The elder mage looked up from his own reading.
"There is a section here that wasn't … evident when I leafed through. There are several indeterminate spells in Parseltongue, but there is information which wasn't available before. There is information on …"
Albus waited as Harry squinted slightly, formulating a meaningful translation. They all knew that translation was sometimes tricky.
"… it's a sect, I suppose, known as The Dark Order of The Nine Winds. Perhaps endarkened order would be more appropriate?"
Dumbledore's face was paler than Snape's.
Albus called the ex Death Eater. "Severus? Are you there?"
A grumbling Potions Master entered. "You called, Albus?"
"Harry has just found a reference to an ancient order. I wondered if you might know anything more than their reputation? They're known as The Dark Order of The Nine Winds."
Snape blanched further and said several extremely rude words.
"Yes, I know a very little of them. They were warrior mages, and they make the hardest hit-wizards look soft. No one has the slightest idea about how many of them there are, nor where they come from. They are usually taken to be dark wizards, but I'm not so sure that the name actually means that at all."
"Dark could mean hidden or shadowy rather than the modern meaning of evil. It probably just indicates that they are a very secret society. Why do you ask?"
"Harry has found reference to them in the Singularis Ocularis."
Snape sat suddenly. "Oh," was all he said.