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Phoenix Rising
A Harry Potter RPG
The Last Apple of Hesperides 
23rd-Sep-2006 11:40 pm
sultry
I never knew I could run this fast. Its amazing what being scared for your life can do for your stamina. Even my wet robes don’t seem to be slowing me down, but the further we go the harder it gets to breathe and the more frantic I start to feel.

I can’t believe we got separated from the rest of our group. That was almost the worst thing that could happen. We only have one Portkey and Justin has it! My mind flashes back to being trapped in the water in Peru. My entire body starts to feel heavy and I can barely keep up with Dean’s pace. He’s got the apple and his dad’s notebook, and is practically pulling me along with him.

Thank Merlin Dean still seems to have all of his wits about him; otherwise I think I would have been hit by the spell fire coming at us long ago. At first we were both firing spells back, but now Dean is the only one able to do so. It’s taking all of my focus to keep breathing and keep running. The smell of sulphur is starting to become overwhelming and with every step we take it seems to get colder. The only thing keeping me sane is Dean’s hand holding mine.

I look over my shoulder as we round a corner and gasp as I realize it’s Mulciber chasing us. My heart starts pounding in my chest even louder than before; this is the wizard that killed Ernie.

“Dean,” I whisper, not exactly sure why. He gives me a look that lets me know he’s thinking the exact same thing I am.

He stops dead in his tracks and I run into his side. A wall of black flames erupts in front of us and suddenly we’re trapped. Mulciber approaches us like an animal stalking its prey; he’s moving slowly and no longer actually attacking, like he’s got all the time in the world. I squeeze Dean’s hand and mouth to him that I love him. He squeezes back and says the same before stepping in front of me and starts to fire spells at Mulciber.

I don’t want to die here like this. I want to help; I want to fight. Something, though, has me frozen in place. I feel like I’m back in the water in Peru; my entire body is weighed down. It almost seems like I’ve left my body again.

Like I felt last night.

I shiver and snap out of my trance. There are things worth fighting for in this world.
 
24th-Sep-2006 06:44 am (UTC)
My Dark Mark has led me well. Thomas and Patil stand at the end of the corridor with the concealed Horcrux like a pair of frightened puppies, black flames blocking their escape. Finch-Fletchley, Wood, Bones, and Brown aren’t here to buffer them – they have their own trouble with Amycus, Alecto, Rodolphus, and Rabastan removing the rubble from the blocked passageway with the zeal of the blood-thirsty maniacs they are. Tonight many will meet their end.

As I advance slowly with my shield erected, I take stock. Thomas stands with Patil behind him like he thinks he can protect her. Their frantic breaths form silvery clouds in the cool air, and I know by how frequently they punctuate the air that they are winded. Thomas’ wet robes are ripped and splattered with blood. I search for any obvious injuries to exploit, for a proficient hunter will always find his prey’s weakness.

It is then that I notice Thomas clutching Patil’s hand. I smile and readjust my wand as another spell bounces off my shield. Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten, they are smitten with each other. Love is such a powerful weakness. Now I have everything I need to achieve my goal.

With a flick of my wrist I lower my shield and send a volley of Cutting Spells slicing through the air. Thomas and Patil duck and separate, both of them falling to the ground as the black flames rise around them.

Pruina! Wingardium Leviosa!

My Freezing Curse hits Patil squarely in the chest. Her body seizes up and her limbs snap together as I haul her forward and dangle her over the hungry black flames now jumping out of the wall next to me.

“Padma!” Thomas yells as he stumbles to his feet, his eyes wide and fearful.

“We are in a predicament, aren’t we?” I sneer. “You know what I want, Thomas. I shouldn’t have to ask for it. Not while I have Patil.”

Thomas thrusts his wand at me, its tip shaking with rage. “DON’T. TOUCH. HER.”

I flick my wand and she jerks lower so that the black flames lap at her shoes, coating them in a layer of ice as the leather cracks and freezes. She cannot move or speak, but her eyes grow wide and fill with wetness. I laugh. “I am the one with the power, and you have the audacity to attempt to tell me what I may do?” I say quietly as my magic begins to thrum in my chest. Now for the entertainment before the main act.
24th-Sep-2006 06:44 am (UTC)
I begin to taunt Thomas about young Macmillan’s death, enjoying the fact that it’s so easy to elicit a response from him with my words alone. He stands seething, his eyes darting from me to my prize, unwilling to hex or curse me because I have something he desires. And that is the beauty in this game of manipulation. He knows he could curse me, but he chooses not to. In the end, he will willingly hand over the Horcrux to me because he has no choice but to believe that I will give his little friend back. But I will crush her right before his eyes and let him live. Living with the knowledge that he gave me power to bring the wizarding world to its knees in the form of an apple and was responsible for Patil’s death will destroy him piece by piece, day by day. I do not need to murder when my victims will eventually kill themselves.

Then he begins the tiresome game of bargaining. How predictable.

“What are you going to give me in return?” I say lazily in response.

Thomas pulls out a ragged assemblage of parchment loosely bound together in leather and throws it on the ground between us.

My eyes dart to the small notebook and then back to him. “Hand over the Horcrux,” I command. I have no interest in books.

“That’s much more powerful than a Horcrux,” Thomas says, taking a step toward Patil who I dangle lower, which makes him abruptly stop. “It contains Dark Spells, research, secrets, the correct Horcrux Bonding ritual. What good is a Horcrux, if it can’t be properly used?” he says.

As Thomas continues to talk, I grown intrigued. Apparently Lucius has bonded to Anibus’ Horcrux using an incomplete and faulty binding ritual which was stolen from Ministry research by the Lord Voldemort prior to his first fall. This would explain Lucius’ strange and increasingly unstable behaviour, his irrationality and uncontrollable rage. I doubt that Lucius is aware of his blunder. Otherwise he would be actively seeking the words written on the pages that lie in front of me, for they would be more valuable than a second Horcrux to him. This notebook would grant its owner unlimited power over Lucius.

“I will take your bits of parchment,” I tell him. I float Patil closer to him and grin as I see him reach for her. “Now the Horcrux,” I demand, dangling her like a puppet just out of his reach.

“It’s gone!” yells Thomas, glancing between Patil and myself. “Now put her down!” His eyes flash angrily, but I can hear the desperation in his voice.

I know that he’s lying – I can still feel the Horcrux feeding off of the Dark Mark. How dare he tell me falsities! Young wizards these days lack proper respect for their elders – I will bring him to his knees and teach him manners! I stare him in the eyes because I want to savour the look on his face. “Very well then,” I say calmly.

Thomas hesitates as if suddenly surprised.

I narrow my eyes. Then, with a growl, I twist my wand and jerk my arm forward, sending Patil crashing into the opposite wall filled with flame where she hits with the satisfying crunch of broken bone before rebounding and landing heavily onto the stone at my feet.

A strangled yell issues from Thomas as I step forward and laugh.
24th-Sep-2006 06:45 am (UTC)
“NO!” The scream rips from my throat as my chest contracts and the world beings to spin crazily. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. It grows dark, and my eyes lock on what I can make out of Padma’s still face as horror begins to swallow me whole. I don’t feel anything. Mulciber stands there, his laughter echoing hollowly. And as his voice twists around me, I feel myself fill with something dark and feverish, something alive.

I snap my wand up and bellow, “Avada Ked–”

But I’m propelled backwards and smashing into a wall. Biting coldness shoots down my back as I tumble into the loose gravel and rock of the floor. Hera’s Horcrux falls from my robes and goes tumbling across the uneven ground. It suddenly becomes cold and my robes are stiff with frost as I throw my arm out and yell, “Frangere Facia!”

Mulciber grabs the notebook and then spins into the wall. The curse grazes his shoulder. The sound of flames roaring to life overtakes his yell as he stumbles and falls into the black flames. The left arm of his robes crackles as it freezes.

I stagger to my feet and cough, trying to clear my head of the smell of sulphur. I shake my head and the scene slides back into focus. Padma is lying there stiffly, her eyes shut and looking like…. I catch movement beyond her body, Mulciber is summoning his fallen wand with his left hand, his right dangles stiffly at his side.

Yelling every spell that Ernie taught me in Mulciber’s general direction, I rush forward as his eyes settle on the gleaming apple lying near Padma’s hand.

“Deprivare Visio! Insensatus! Aer Explodere! Stringere!”

“Protego!” he bellows, slashing his arm through the air as he stumbles backwards. The curses and hexes richocet off his shield and are absorbed into the walls. The shadows around me grow long and begin to detach from the leaping black flames. A familiar feeling of dispair overtakes me – it’s the same feeling the Dementors induced during the Hogsmeade battle. My knees buckle and I fight to stay upright. Think of something happy.... My eyes find Padma and I try to block out what I see and replace it with a memory of her.

Mulciber regains his footing, and glances around quickly, no doubt feeling the effects of the phantoms. He narrows his eyes and says silkily, “How does it feel to be responsible for the fate of two of your little friends?” He hold my father’s notebook in the air triumphantly.

I want to beat his face in! “Shut up!” I rasp, my teeth chattering together. A loud sucking sound echos down the corridor.

“It’s time to play.” His mouth contorts into an disgusting sneer. His eyes gleam, and I know that he’s about to use the Imperious Curse.

I thrust my hand into my pocket and feel my nearly numb fingers close around a handful of cool, smooth spheres. With a grunt, I hurl them through the air where they gleam as they reflect the dark flames in the dim light. Pointing my wand, I yell, “DETONARE!”

With a crackling of magic and a flash, they explode. Mulciber rages as tattered bits of parchment cascade through the air. He’s on the ground.

I point my wand at his chest and feel nothing but rage. You bastard! You killed her!

Then something at the edge of my vision causes me to look away. My eyes widen in disbelief. It’s as if the world has suddenly been submerged underwater – everything is moving is slow motion, sound is muffled, I feel detached from my body. Padma turns her head and blinks at me groggily. Our eyes lock. Then her face pales and she opens her mouth and screams.

I’m knocked off my feet as something heavy hits me in the chest. I feel like I’ve exploded as a terrible cracking echoes in my ears. I can’t breathe. Suddenly, the uneven ground is beneath me. Padma is next to me. The shadows have taken form and are descending from above. I rake my hand across the rock...searching for her. My fingers bump against something smooth.

The Horcrux.

I’m barely aware of it rolling away as a warm hand touches mine and everything slides into nothingness.
24th-Sep-2006 06:46 am (UTC)
So I found out what it is like to have a heart attack – at least, that is what I think it was. Whatever happened to me was specific to Szabo’s eighty-year-old body because, as I lay groaning in the grass, the Polyjuice Potion mercifully stopped working and all the pain disappeared instantaneously. I don’t think I have ever before been so relieved that I was me – I, Severus Snape, a sprightly forty-four-year-old ascetic with uncluttered veins! It was then that for the first time I considered to cut out my tobacco consumption. I wonder whether my determination will outlast this adventure…

I got to my feet and rapidly assessed my situation. I was absolutely alone; the garden around me was silent except for the sounds made by the golden creatures and the rustling of leaves. Pulling my robes up a little, I swiftly ran back towards the apple tree. Nothing was left of the wondrous plant but a smoking, charred stump. Its apples were gone, of course. I wondered who had got hold of them, Mulciber or my ex-students… I was not sure from whom I would rather filch the Horcrux.

It was not difficult to guess in which direction just about everybody had departed: the undergrowth looked as if a herd of Erumpents had crashed through it. I deduced that it must be the youngsters who had snatched the Horcrux after all and fled with it, Lucius’s men in pursuit; otherwise there was no reason why they would not all have returned the way we had arrived. The trail led towards a wide, meandering river; golden fish swam in its clear water. Two small boats were discernable on the far-off shore, but the river was shallow enough for me to wade through it, I thought. To be on the safe side, I picked a pebble from the ground and chucked it into the water, which instantly began to swirl and turned an inky black. There was nothing to do but to Summon one of the boats and offer a few drops of blood as payment for my passage, though I did not really like the idea.

I bit my lip. How long ago had the others crossed the river?
24th-Sep-2006 06:47 am (UTC)
I land in a burnt landscape marked by knocked-over trees. Goodness, what have I missed? This part of the garden looks as if a dragon has run rampant in it, or something. It is a good thing that Hera is dead, or she would have devised one of her creative punishments (insanity, twelve horrid works, things involving large snakes – I shudder) to make us pay for the utter destruction of her beautiful garden…

There is more labyrinth on this side of the river. I sigh. It seems unlikely I will be able to trace the Horcrux in there. Still, returning without it would be nothing short of a personal defeat, and that is definitely not something in which I am willing to acquiesce. I snort, take a deep breath, and sprint into the nearest entrance, keeping my wand at the ready.

I have not been searching long when a pang of pain suddenly stabs my left forearm. I skid to a halt. If the Mark reacts, the Horcrux cannot be far away – at least, I hope it is that and not some other kind of Dark object. Stretching my left arm, I turn around and walk a few feet, trying to establish which direction I ought to take. I feel faintly ridiculous using the Mark as a sort of compass, but fortunately there is no one around to witness my silly course of action.

I dash into the third corridor to my right to find an arching tunnel leading to a room with two doorways. I choose the one on the right – the one not recently cleared of rubble – then up a short flight of stairs, and down to the right. Now and then I stop to check the direction by means of the vehemence of the Mark’s throbbing, and I listen for the sound of voices or footsteps. For the longest time I appear to be quite alone; even those strange phantoms haven’t shown their smoke-like forms for a while.

Soon enough I understand where the phantoms have gone off to. The smell of sulphur assails my nostrils as I enter a corridor that is colder and darker than the others. A cluster of the wispy things has gathered there, circling around a black-robed figure. It is Mulciber, who fires frantic spells at them that do not generate any effect whatsoever – that is, the phantoms when hit dissipate in some sort of vapour but then simply pop into existence again. For some reason, the things utterly ignore the young witch and wizard who lie unconscious on the floor nearby. As the phantoms draw closer with each spell Mulciber aims at them, I think I understand what attracts them: pure magic. Mr Thomas and Miss Patil’s being unconscious has saved them, for the moment at least.

Mulciber spots me. “Snape!” he shouts, trying in vain to fight the creatures off. “Don’t stand there – help me!

I do not move a muscle. When the phantoms are finished with him, they will probably come my way; by the time they do, I need to have figured out what will hold them off. I watch as the things start to cast a kind of black flames at Mulciber; the atmosphere around us becomes even colder and their victim freezes to stillness. That is when the phantoms swoop down on him and, Dementor-like, administer their own kind of kiss. What happens next is quite gruesome and I, the spectator, balance between interest and distaste. The things feed on Mulciber’s magic; they suck him dry until he looks like a shrivelled shell of a man. Then, before my eyes, he turns into a phantom himself.

On the upside, he won’t be able to tell anyone that he saw me. On the downside – the thing that was Mulciber seems to have a taste to snack on me now.
24th-Sep-2006 06:47 am (UTC)
As the phantoms advance upon me, I raise my wand. If these things are the Dementors’ siblings, maybe my pretty Patronus will chase them away. Focussing my mind and concentrating hard on last Tuesday morning, I think:

Expecto Patronum!

A large, silvery Phoenix erupts from my wand, with the compliments of Professor Dumbledore. Whether I like it or not, he has always protected me, and in a sense he still does. The Phoenix dives at the smoky horrors and drives them away from me, deeper back into the corridor. They seem to find me less appetising now. I move forward, only to see that the things intend to nibble at Thomas and Patil instead, which especially in the case of Miss Patil (unless I am much mistaken, it is the serious Ravenclaw twin, not the giggly Gryffindor one) would really be a waste. I send my Patronus to charge again, and the phantoms disappear into the walls, though I suspect they will not stay there long.

As I kneel down between Thomas and Patil to look at their injuries, I feel a searing pain in my left arm. Gleaming dully, the golden apple for which I came to Crete lies by Thomas’s side. I pocket it.

Miss Patil has received a blow to the head, and Mulciber hit her with a nasty curse that locks the limbs. I mutter a counter-curse to undo it, but I fear it will take her some time to recover. As for Mr Thomas, he looks badly Bludgeoned – nothing lethal, but he will be well-advised not to laugh or sneeze for some time. I wave my wand to perform a spell that sets ribs when something makes me prick up my ears. It is the sound of faraway footsteps and voices – young voices, Thomas and Patil’s friends who come looking for them.

Something tells me they won’t wait until I open my mouth and explain myself, but will fire away at me on sight. Those two on the ground won’t need me anymore once their friends are here; I think it is time for me to make my exit.

I get up and, on the tips of my toes, continue my way through the corridor, diving into the first passageway I come across. There I take a sip from my flask of Polyjuice Potion and resume Szabo’s semblance again. I must take care to move slowly now, so that, when I have left this labyrinth behind me, I can Apparate to Durmstrang safe and sound. I smile to myself. All things considered, this operation has been a great success.
24th-Sep-2006 06:48 am (UTC)
The entire world is fuzzy around me. I can feel a presence at my side, and instinctively I know it’s Dean. It seems like the past few hours have all been a bad, bad dream… A dream that included Professor Snape? Everything is cloudy in my mind, but I could have sworn I saw my former professor standing over me. I must really be losing my mind. Maybe this is what happens before you die.

I try to sit up, but my head feels like it weighs more than the rest of my body and I’ve got sharp, shooting pains going up my leg. I vaguely remember watching Dean fall to Mulciber. The phantoms… Mulciber was taken away? My heart burns at the feeling of helplessness. I couldn’t help him. I couldn’t save him. And now were both going to die.

“Padma,” Dean whispers. I manage to turn my head to face him and reach out my hand. I somehow find his hand amongst the clouds and hold on as if that will keep us together either here on Earth or in whatever lies beyond. I’m sorry.

I can feel tears streaming down my cheeks, but I don’t have the energy to fight them. I’m sorry for being so angry.

“I should have told you,” he chokes out, slurring his words slightly. “I just didn’t want to see someone I love get hurt again. I’m so sorry you’re here.”

“I’m not,” I whisper. “If I’m going to die, I want you to be by my side.” He closes his eyes briefly, and I wonder if the world is as fuzzy to him as it is to me.

“You’re not going to die,” he finally says. “Neither of us is going to die.”

I try to smile and believe him, but even if we don’t die right now I’m not sure how we’ll make it out alive. I don’t know how much time has passed, but the others could have left with the only Portkey by now. I don’t want Dean to spend his last moments, if they are his last moments, feeling guilty, so I try to I try to look optimistic. I try to remember what it felt like to be with Dean last night, even though it feels like it was so long ago.

“You’re right,” I say quietly as Dean closes his eyes again. “We’re going to get out of here, and we’re going to stay out of the fighting from now on. And you’re never going to leave my side again. We’re in this thing together.” I pause, realizing that I don’t even know what I mean by this thing. Dean’s breathing seems to have calmed down some, though, so I keep talking. “If you want to go to art school, we’ll go together. Whatever it is, I don’t want to spend another night away from you again.”

Dean’s head lulls to the side and I realize he’s passed out. I’d be worried that he died already if I couldn’t still feel his pulse in my hand. I’m crying again, and without Dean to talk to me I feel my forced optimism disappear. I want to be able to stand up and get help, but the longer I have my eyes open the more cloudy things become. I try to sit up again, but don’t have any more success than I had before. I don’t know what curse I was hit with, but I wish my last moments of life were at least spent with clarity.

“I don’t want to die,” I whisper, knowing there isn’t anyone to hear my tears. The clouds blocking my vision threaten to overtake everything in my mind. The only thing I’m sure of is Deans hand I’m still clinging desperately to.

I think I hear a familiar voice yelling, but I don’t trust anything. I’m in too much pain to have hope.
24th-Sep-2006 06:56 am (UTC)
Justin lets out a strangled exclamation as he spots Dean and Padma lying on the ground. He falls to his knees next to them and calls out to Dean.

I kneel next to Padma with Susan right beside me. I can see that Dean had passed out, his breathing is even and deep. Padma is weak but conscious. Her leg is injured and Susan mutters a spell before waving her wand over our fallen friend finding broken bones and burns. She looks at me worriedly and I clutch Padma's hand and croon meaningless words to her, hoping to keep her calm. She's mumbling incoherently, her eyes darting between Dean and I. I notice dried blood on the side of her head and Susan attempts to heal Padma as best she can before moving on to Dean to do the same.

I'm exhausted and I know that Oliver is not holding up very well. He's the most injured out of all of us and I know that each second that goes by is making it worse. We need to get out of here and Oliver needs to see a healer. Justin keeps putting his hand over his eye and I know that he must be in pain as well.

"He took it," Padma slurs, her head moving from side to side. "The pretty apple. It's gone... gone away."

"Padma, who took the apple?" I ask quietly. "What happened?"

"Don't know. He was here, then he was gone. Poof!" Padma tries to snap her fingers, but grimaces in pain and lets her hand fall back to her side. "The other one was carried away by the smoke."

Smoke? I don't understand what she means.

"I think she's talking about the phantoms," Susan has finished with Dean and came back over to where Padma and I are. "Padma? Who was taken by the phantoms?"

"That man... Mulciber... he hurt Dean." Padma's voice is whisper soft and both Susan and I have to strain to hear her words. Her news has shaken me to the very bone and I feel that whatever happened to Mulciber was much more merciful than what Dean or Justin would have done to him.

"I saw him," Padma tells me. "Haven't seen him since Sixth year, and there he was. Funny isn't it? That Professor Snape would be here?"

"Snape?" I say with alarm. "Padma are you sure?" I shake Padma slightly, stopping when I see her wince in pain. I feel the guilt wash over me and I gently lower her back to the ground.

"He was standing over me and Dean. It's hard to forget what he looks like. I took his classes for six years." Padma seems a bit more alert now as she gestures for me to help her sit up.

Susan and I share a meaningful glance with each other and without words we come to an unspoken agreement. Padma was injured and in serious pain it 's possible she was dreaming.

"Why would Snape be here? He hasn't been seen in years. I thought he was dead." I was trying to reassure Padma, and at the same time show her how ridiculous it sounded to have seen Snape.

"Well, he was always like a bat," Susan says dryly. "He probably thought it would make a good home."

I chuckled and even Padma's lips twitched with amusement. Justin came over, Oliver draped across his shoulders.

"We need to get out of here. Susan, the healing spells you've done are enough. We don't want to attract the phantoms attention again."

Susan enneverates Dean and I help Padma stand up. Dean looks around until he spots Padma and he's next to her quickly, holding her against him. Justin adjusts Oliver's weight and we make our way down the corridor. I'm not sure how we are going to find our way out of this maze. It seems hopeless.

"There's the mark!" Justin yells. I see a glowing X on the wall and my hopes start to soar. We're going to make it. All of us.
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