Author Topic: Chapter 1  (Read 10390 times)

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Offline Daen

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Chapter 1
« on: November 21, 2022, 12:49:24 AM »
Though late in the evening, the streets of London were still packed with Nomaj revelers. Brinks kept his hood up and his cloak carefully wrapped. The last thing he needed was for them to spot him and start asking questions. Fortunately they looked pretty sauced right now, and were too busy getting even drunker to notice anything but their own mugs.

Brinks ducked into an alley, now in sight of the red telephone booth. That was supposed to be the visitor’s entrance, but he wasn’t exactly a visitor. Carefully, almost fearfully, he whispered the name. “Tupper?”

There was a crack of displaced air, and the strange little creature was at his side! Brinks had to work hard not to jump, even after all this time. “Tupper is here, sir!” The squeaky little voice spoke out.

His companion was definitely not human. Far too short and stooped for that, he was instead a house-elf. Brinks had never actually seen an elf before meeting Tupper, but he’d heard of some of them back home. The little freak had powerful magic to be sure, but he was a little off-putting. Maybe it was all the ‘sir’, or ‘master’ stuff he was constantly spouting.

“You’re sure you can get us in without them finding out?” Brinks asked quietly, making shushing gestures as he did so.

“Oh, yes sir!” Tupper responded, thankfully a little more quietly. “The Ministry doesn’t consider elves to be important at all, so their defenses were not made with Tupper in mind!”

Brinks shrugged. This would be their most dangerous heist yet, but it had the greatest potential for profit, too. “All right, let’s go.”

He braced himself as Tupper grabbed the corner of his cloak, and they magicked themselves downwards. A second later they were in a dark corridor, laced with glittering black stone. They’d made it! “Good job, Tupper!” Brinks said after a moment. Somehow, he’d expected to be splinched the moment they tried this.

“Master is too kind, sir!” Tupper squeaked, looking back and forth down the passage. “But Master shouldn’t stay here long. Tupper has broken the spell to keep Master from Apparating away, but there are many wizards here. Tupper remembers patrols down this area, and Tupper can’t take Master any further down with magic.”

“Come on then,” Brinks led the way. Tupper had gotten a floor plan of the place about a week ago, and he’d been poring over it ever since. This was the beating heart of the British magical world right here. It was like he was knocking over the Smithsonian, or the MACUSA or something.

He still felt ridiculous just being here in England, even though he’d been here for more than a week. He’d barely even been out of Boston his whole life, and here he was an entire ocean away from home. Still, it was the right time for it. This place was in shambles right now, and it was the perfect time to rob it.

Some months ago, Brinks had been running from some angry wizard after stealing a gold-plated wand case, and suddenly this little creature had been there, running with him. Tupper had zipped them away safely, even recovering his wand in the process. Though he’d let go of the wand right away, as if it was painful to the touch. As Brinks had learned later, house-elves weren’t allowed to own wands, or even to touch one. The little guy had explained that he was between masters at the time, and he’d seen that Brinks was in trouble.

Tupper had proposed a criminal partnership, which Brinks had listened to in amazement. The idea of a criminal house-elf was almost unthinkable, but there that little critter was, calmly laying out floor plans and magical defenses for any number of banks, money-changers, museums and mansions. Obviously the little freak had been around the block a few times.

It had been a profitable partnership, certainly. Just like here, their targets back home weren’t built with elven magic in mind, so Tupper could just bypass most of it, bringing Brinks along. What defenses Tupper couldn’t handle, Brinks could, and then they got away with the loot! Tupper didn’t even care about the gold, either, which was a good thing for Brinks. He had… a lot of debts to pay back home.

One paranoid old Wall Street wizard had even chained up a Dementor in his vault. Brinks had never had to face one of those black-robed soul-suckers before, and the idea itself terrified him, but Tupper hadn’t been worried. He didn’t know the spell to ward off a Dementor either, but he was able to steal a book that described the process. After a few weeks of practice, Brinks had mastered the spell, and he and Tupper robbed that place as well.

Hopefully, this job would make all other jobs easier, even if Tupper moved on to his next master. “So this is the Department of Mysteries?” At the end of the blackened corridor, was a large open room, and it was a mess. Enormous bookshelves had been blasted aside by some kind of explosion—apparently a long time ago from all the mold growing on the cabinets. A strange purple light was emanating softly off to the right, drawing his eyes. It was around a corner for now, though.

“It is, sir. One of Tupper’s former masters brought Tupper here many times, running errands back and forth. Tupper remembers it well.”

“Quiet!” Brinks hissed, pushing the little elf down to the side, out of the way of the passage. He’d seen another light source, walking up behind them in the distance.

Fortunately, it seemed like whoever was following them had neither seen nor heard them. Brinks quickly picked up Tupper, who weighed little more than a large cat, and carried him behind one of the blasted bookcases.

Two people came up the corridor, with wands out, but they didn’t look that alert. Their wands were emitting light, as they walked into the open chamber and tossed the balls of light up in the air. In the increased light, the full devastation was fully visible. “Blimey, wha’ a mess,” one of them said, his eyes wide.

The other just shrugged. “Well, when the most powerful Dark Wizard in history is running the place for the better part of a year, you’d expect a few things to get knocked over. Come on, let’s get to the other side.”

“Yeh can say ‘is name now, yeh know,” the first one went on, as they started picking their way through the devastation. “’e’s been gone mor’n a month. That ‘arry Potter did him in, yeh know. The ‘ole world knows that!”

His taller companion grimaced. “I believe he’s gone, but old habits die hard. Why don’t you go first, Gor? Go on, say it. I won’t mind.”

Gor hesitated, on top of one of the piles of wood. “I call ‘im… Lord Vole!”

His companion gave a scornful laugh. “Lord Vole? Come on, you can do better than that.”

“What? It’s wha’ I call him, see?”

“How about something a little more colorful, like Lord… Moldy Wart. That sounds, good, doesn’t it?”

Gor laughed out loud. “Aye, it does. But wit’ a face like that… an’ ‘is skin? Where would yeh find any warts? How abou’… Lord Moldy Fart? Eh?”

His friend laughed in turn. “All right, that is better. I admit it.”

“Cuz ‘e coulda et anythin’, yeh see?”

“Yeah, I get it. Come on; we’re late already.”

They picked their way through the debris, and the lights above flew back down and attached themselves to the tips of their wands. A moment later they were gone through the passage on the far side, and Brinks let out a sigh of relief.

“Master is very stealthy,” Tupper put in, mercifully quietly.

“Years of practice,” Brinks said, peering over the bookcase again. “Was he really that bad; this… Lord Voldemort?”

Tupper winced and grabbed for the scarf around his neck, lifting both ends of it to his ears. “Ah! Even now, it scares almost everyone just to hear the name, sir! Master wasn’t here during the Dark Lord’s reign, sir! He doesn’t remember what it was like, with people disappearing nearly every day, and skulls with snakes in the mouth appearing in the sky. Tupper was, and Tupper does not miss those days!” Hesitantly, he lowered the scarf again. It was his most treasured possession by far, so Brinks assumed it had been the item that had freed the little elf. Elves were only given clothes when their service was done, but after that, they could wear whatever they wanted. When not on the job, Tupper had a… flamboyant sense of fashion.

Brinks shook his head. He’d certainly heard stories, even as far away as he’d been, of the terrifying, unkillable wizard on this side of the ocean. It had always seemed unreal to him, though. The benefits of distance.

Once they were certain there would be no other visitors, they skirted the devastation, going around the large room towards the purple light he’d seen. According to Tupper, this destruction had been caused well before Lord Whatever took over here. There had been orbs containing prophecies here, and they’d all been shattered during a firefight down these halls. But they weren’t here for bits of broken glass and wood. They were here for something much more impressive.

The next room was the source of the purple light he’d seen earlier. Like the last room it was huge, expanding far up into the air despite the fact that they were inside some hidden chamber somewhere deep underneath London right now. Floating in the air in the middle of the room, was an undulating mass of energy. It was purple in color for the most part, but shifted in shades, becoming more red, or blue, or green or yellow, at times. The devices that had made this… thing, had all been destroyed a long time ago, and their energy had congealed together into this mass in front of him. More shattered glass lined the walls, having apparently been left here by wizards too afraid to get too close. Brinks was scared too, but the potential gain outweighed the immediate risk. By a lot.

This room was a remnant of another casualty of that battle: the time-turners. British magicians had developed a way to actually reverse time for a single person, and even used it for a while. Unfortunately such devices, while small and easily concealable, were also very fragile. The explosions going off in here had claimed all of the time-turners, or so the Brits had claimed. According to Tupper, a few of them had been away from here, being repaired by one of his former masters, when this had happened. They’d been brought back and hidden here after the fact, because the whole area had been deemed off-limits by the survivors of the battle. “Over here, sir!” Tupper squeaked at him.

There was a desk on the far side of the room. Carefully stepping away from the writhing mass of floating time magic, Brinks hugged the wall and came over to where Tupper was calling. There was a desk, but there were no drawers in it. Tupper was just sitting on top of the desk in his weird cardigan, smiling at Brinks.

“What is this? Where are the time-turners?”

Tupper just winked at him, and then pointed a finger. Brinks had a momentary premonition of danger, but it was too late. A light expanded from Tupper’s finger in the blink of an eye, blasting him away from the desk, and thudding him into the wall!

Sparks burst from behind his eyelids, swarming across his vision, and Brinks slumped to the ground. He couldn’t see anything for a moment. He heard a voice say the words, ‘at last’.

More words followed it: an incantation that Brinks didn’t recognize. It was hideously complicated from the sound of it, and all in Tupper’s voice! It wasn’t squeaky at all, though. It was moderate in tone, if very intense right now.

Brinks grimaced, and fought his way through the pain. His skull might have been fractured, and his stomach heaved from nausea. He probably had a concussion, but that would have to wait. Tupper, for whatever reason, had betrayed him. The Brits had probably sensed Tupper’s spell, and were already on the way. He had to get his wand and zip out of here, now! He just hoped that Tupper hadn’t been lying about removing the anti-teleportation spell. If he had been, Brinks was stuck here.

He stood up slowly, and when he could finally see again, Brinks made out the tiny form of Tupper, silhouetted against the purple light in front of him. The little freak was holding Brinks’ wand, waving it as he spoke the incantation! The light itself seemed to be shifting as well, in response to Tupper’s chant. It contracted a little, narrowing in shape and getting redder and redder!

Underneath his fear and desire for self-preservation, Brinks’ rage rose supreme. “You little rat!” He yelled, charging forward.

“Too late!” Tupper exclaimed and dropped the wand, jumping backwards into the light. In an instant he was gone, as if he’d zipped away, but there hadn’t been any crack of displaced air. Brinks’ outstretched arms passed through empty space. He grabbed for his wand, but his head was still spinning, and it skidded away from his clumsy grasp. Then he froze.

The light had stopped, dead. The patterns of color and shape were still and unchanging. It was almost like the light itself was staring at him. Then it expanded again at lightning speed, enveloping him, and the whole world went white.


Tupper felt like his insides were being squeezed by a huge hand. At once feeling like an ancient, decrepit old elf, and a newborn just opening his eyes for the first time, Tupper spun and twisted through time like a leaf in a windstorm! He caught glimpses through the roiling mess of light around him: images of what the times had been like. German bombers flattening parts of the city, Big Ben under construction, a fire sweeping through whole blocks filled with people, and bodies stacked up on top of each other during the Black Death. Each image from a different era of the city’s history.

Then, suddenly, it was over! Tupper smacked into the ground, facedown, and felt like his nose had been broken. But he was out of the light, and it was gone, too.

Jumping up to his feet, Tupper looked around nervously. He was surrounded by trees and tall grass, waving in the night breeze. He wasn’t actually in a city anymore, but that was to be expected. The city had been much smaller in this era, so he was now in farmland outside of it. He touched his nose tentatively, confirmed that it was still intact, and then tried to gauge his other surroundings. He seemed to be alone at least. That idiot wizard hadn’t been able to stop him from getting into the timelight.

It was dark—very dark. Even the Muggle lighting was gone, and Tupper didn’t dare make a light of his own, for fear the people here would see it. He had to remain hidden. You must not be seen was the mantra of every time-traveler in history.

Then he realized. It was the only voice in his head! The words were gone!

Hesitantly, unbelievably, Tupper closed his eyes and thought the words, but they didn’t stay! Was it real? He hadn’t expected this, but even so… was it a side effect of time travel? Or maybe because he’d come back so far?

What did it matter? He was free! Not just seen as free by others, but truly and incredibly, free in his mind as well! Tupper let out a tremendous shriek of joy, echoing out, before suddenly clapping his hands to his mouth again. His joy was undiminished, but he held tight, muffling more noises as he jumped up and down in elation! Free! Free! Free!
« Last Edit: November 21, 2022, 12:57:09 AM by Daen »