Shruikan opened his eyes by a hair's width as the door soundlessly opened, and promptly closed them again as his master approached. He wondered why his master even bothered. After all, he'd been laying here for centuries, pretending to be asleep, and would most likely continue on like this for centuries more. He failed to see what another spell to enhance his strength would accomplish. But Shruikan didn't wonder for very long. There was no point in thinking either.
Rejoice, my steed, for today you will become more powerful than ever, his master thought to him. As expected. He waited for a tendril of thought to look into his mind for a reaction, but none came. There was hardly anything to see, in any case. Whatever coherent thoughts he had was drowned out by black rage and the fiery thirst for destruction. It had been with him since he was a child, had grown as he grew, and had become as familiar to him as his name.
It didn't mean he liked it.
Shruikan was helpless as he felt the spirits reach up to him, their icy touch assaulting his mind. Instinctively he tried to push them away, but he knew it was a matter of time before he would be overpowered. As the last of his defences shatter, he begged with all his will for the spirits to be kind, and spare him the little sanity he had left…
Ritual completed, Galbatorix checked his dragon for any signs of change. He was not entirely surprised, though mildly disappointed, to find none. Shades have never been created from dragons before, after all. Still, there was no reason that he couldn't be the exception. He always had been, after all.
If he had left the chamber a second later, he would have seen the pair of blue eyes snap open.
Drifting through the timeless emptiness of the ether, the one known in life as Harry Potter felt the barrier between himself and the living realm open yet again. Yet another imbecile was attempting to tap the spirits' power for his own gains, but spirits were never so easily manipulated. Already, the darkest, cruelest spirits swarmed toward the beacon. It was not difficult to predict what would happen next: the call would be answered, then the summoner would be crushed into oblivion.
He was about to direct his attention elsewhere when he caught a glimpse of the mind on the other side. This one was different, he noticed. This one was far from pure, but surprisingly innocent. Almost like a child that grew up too soon. It did not struggle or try to move away, yet it was clearly held there by someone else's will. It had not interest in the spirits. It did not want wealth, or power, or any other things that the living souls often demanded from the spirits. Yet, the one thing it wanted, and had always wanted, was something the spirits could not give.
Or was it?
The Master of Death reached for the tortured mind, easily parting the maimed fragments of souls that tried to grope their way back into the world of the living. In life they were the most vicious, the most powerful, the most terrible beings, whose name no one dared to mention. In death, however, they were mere wisps of smoke. Barely existing, yet not quite gone.
Spirits cannot remember in the underworld, but they begin to recall things in proximity to the living realm. Something about this soul was reminding him vaguely of a very familiar story, and he would hate to see it become a vessel of evil. The child on the other side, a puppet of fate, would be manipulated no more.
Whispering a gentle reassurance, he merged with the light.
The first thing he felt was anger. Unfocused anger laced with fear and revolt swirled around him, blocking out his senses and preventing him from thinking clearly.
Next came the memories.
The life of the body he inhabited slammed against him like Fiendfyre. He was stolen as a hatchling by the Oath Breaker king. He had a perverted sort of "bond" forced upon him with dark magic. He was the test subject for many twisted and painful experiments, all to make him more destructive as a weapon. And he was forced to obey, even assist in the slaughter of his own kin. When the last of the memories settled, he had no more doubt that the anger was his own.
Peace, he told the other presence – no, more like another part of himself – we must stay calm if we're to do any meaningful damage. Habitually, he established a mental agenda similar to the ones aurors used on missions.
Step 1: Find my bearings.
He was unbound and free to move, although the ceiling was too low for him to stand at his full height. Neither could he find any magical wards upon prodding his surroundings. There was a time, he recalled, when the king would force his way into his mind and will him to behave. Then when he was slightly older his true name had been discovered, and that alone sufficed to keep him docile. But he could feel that something was different now. As a merger of two souls, his purpose must have changed. In other words...
His blue eyes widened as he realized its implication. Surely his name would've changed as he had changed! He carefully strengthened the thin shield in the innermost part of his mind until it became an impenetrable sanctuary, for his new identity and the precious speck of hope.
The large window in the dragonhold was warded against intruders like the rest of the castle, but it was hardly designed to prevent his exit. He wobbled slightly as he rose to a low crouch. There was a dull ache in his legs and wings. When was the last time he'd moved them?
Step 2: Escape.
He had to fight down the burning desire to provoke the Oath Breaker into a confrontation, which in his current disoriented and weakened state would've been most unwise. Silently, he pushed off and vanished into the night sky.
AN: The premise of this story is inspired by the HP+inheritance fanfic "Last Wish and Testament", by Silent . Storm. You'll find it if you take off the M rating filter.