Panic in the Wizarding community was common. Whispers of Voldemort and his Death Eaters grew everyday. No confirmation would come from the Ministry and it only allowed things to escalate. Being part of the Order gave an advantage on knowing what rumors were true. It was a matter of time before the Ministry stopped denying the Dark Lord returned. That day was coming closer if one read the newest Daily Prophet.
The occurring event that was dubbed the 'Jaded Night' had people in near hysterics. Sightings of unidentified dark creatures, jewel encrusted coffins, streets spattered with blood and a mysterious illness didn't help. The Ministry was doing its best to assuage the people's worry, but they could only do so much. Earlier, they got word from Kingsley about a case the Aurors were investigating. Traces of strong magical residue from a ritual was putting them on edge. Whatever happened was long gone except for the foreign magic and unsettling feeling around the crime scene.
The whole case had the department worried. A few known Death Eaters were suspects but without conclusive evidence, there was nothing they could do. That piece of news wasn't published in the paper for fear of someone trying to recreate the ritual. That was understandable with how things were going on. In truth, Sirius wondered if he should be taking his job more seriously. What could he do stuck in his ancestral home and babysitting?
Dumbledore called it being a watch guard though it felt a lot like babysitting. He observed his two charges from his comfy seat by the bedroom door. The kid -teenager, please call him Ryoji Mochizuki- laid quietly next to his unnamed companion. Not for a lack of trying, mind. They tried to pry the name out the teen during the night to no avail. The kid was adept at giving vague answers that didn't answer their questions.
Low tones of a foreign language reached his ears, Ryoji filling the silence with a calm if melancholy atmosphere. He pegged him as a Metamorphmagus when he first changed his appearance. The information they were told during the meeting changed his opinion. To think it started out well until Pharos dropped those bombshells on them.
"Do you know why Voldemort would want you and your friend, Pharos?"
The friendly smile that was on the boy's face disappeared. An expression that had no business being on a child made its home there. Pharos made eye contact with everyone at the table as he drummed his fingers on the wood. They waited in anticipation of what he would say.
"We were a mistake. He summoned something that was never to be in this world. It was connected to us somehow." The frown deepened as a myriad of emotions flashed in those teal eyes. "The Great Seal is gone and the Fall will descend upon the earth. Your Voldemort has damned this world."
No one knew how to respond to such grave words. There was a surety there as if the child experienced it all before. If so, was the boy even human? A feeling of dread started to settle over the meeting. Dumbledore reached out and cut the tension by placing a gnarled hand on Pharos's shoulder. The cold facade changing to a cheerful demeanor was sudden.
"Oh, but I have questions of my own, Dumbledore-sensei! For one, where am I? What about those pointy sticks and weird words I keep hearing? Maybe we can have an exchange of information..." Pharos used both hands to grasp Dumbledore's and gave him a bright smile. "We can make it a game of questions!"
The Dark Hour, the speculative explanation of what Voldemort accomplished, the so called events of the Fall and knowing the kid wasn't human was a lot to swallow. He was still digesting the conversation and trying to make sense of it. He didn't have a problem with non-humans seeing that Lupin was his best friend and he spent a chuck of his life as a dog. Sirius hoped that Pharos was a werewolf or maybe a veela but was shot down when the kid didn't have a clue what the creatures were. When Dumbledore tried to get to tell what he was, the kid went evasive and steered the topic in another direction. He wasn't sure if he would be able to spot whatever the kid was but he would try.
"Hey Canary, what language are you speaking?" Sirius asked as he let his gaze drift to the busy daytime streets.
Bed covers shifted as Ryoji rolled over and tugged his scarf up, yawning. One weird thing with the whole shift was the clothes changed with him. He'd ask about it later.
"Canary? Well...I've been called worse. It was Japanese. I could know every language if I had to. I'm not sure about Makoto though."he said.
Sirius tried the name on his tongue and filed the language tidbit for later. Canary seemed like a good name with garish yellow scarf around his neck. He couldn't call him Stripes. Pharos was Stripes because of his pajamas that just popped up a few nights ago. Ryoji probably didn't want to talk seeing as the days passed, the more worry he got about his friend. The teenager was still asleep and the only thing to do was wait for him to wake on his own. He spared a glance to the sleeping occupant in the bed.
"He's your mate, yeah? Got any clue when he is gonna wake up?"
Ryoji rolled back over and replaced the covers on Makoto, tucking him in. One of his hands went to the sleeping teen's hair and carded through it. Sirius felt like he said the right and wrong thing. He sighed and leaned on the headboard as he got comfortable. The situation was starting to get to him.
"Makoto is not my mate, Sirius-san. It is more complicated than that. He is...everything. I can only pray that he wakes up soon. He has to."
Harry was not sure he could explain the night any different. It was a confusing and terrifying experience that he'd rather forget. Just like the farce of the trial he had to go through earlier in the week. The year was shaping up to be a strange one. The attack, the weird stuff that happened at night and their new guests. He assumed they would meet them after the Order meeting. Neither him, Ron or Hermione caught a glimpse of what they looked like.
Everyone from the Order was acting like they didn't exist. When one of them asked about them, their questions were deflected or told they it was on a need to know basis for the time being. Even Sirius who was usually forthcoming with Order business was tight lipped.
"Why can't we see them yet? I heard you talking to one of them last night." Harry asked, bumping into his godfather in the stairwell the night before.
Sirius sighed and ruffled Harry's hair as he continued up the stairs. "I know but it's really complicated, Harry. Stripes will decide on being social when he feels up to it."
His godfather's words left him with more questions than answers. What was complicated? Voldemort was a problem but shouldn't they be included in the conversation? His prior school years was enough evidence of that line of logic. Then again, maybe not. Dumbledore had to save him from getting expelled; his own feelings to his mentor aside, it would give the Ministry a reason to further discredit him.
"This is unheard of! I can't find anything in these books. If we were at Hogwarts, I could maybe find something." Hermione closed the book she was reading in growing frustration. "Could he be using a foreign creature? Old magic?"
Sharing a look with Ron, they tried to finish dusting the library shelves. If Mrs. Weasley checked on them again, they could at least look busy. They lucked out getting the room when she started handing out chores. Hermione wouldn't give up after what they learned last night even when the afternoon rolled around. None of the books they picked out mentioned a 'Dark Hour' in the context they were looking for. That was part of the problem too. They had no clue what they were looking for.
They didn't even start on what spell Voldemort could be using change the nighttime. Ron suggested that it was an elaborate curse to make the night turn green and coffins appear in the street. Harry was tentative to agree knowing that the man might be a monster but he was not obvious. Hermione pointed out that the amount of magic to keep pulling of a feat would take hundreds of wizards to do. One person couldn't do it and it was just a mass of growing confusion. How was he doing everything then? Harry watched Hermione open another book as he dusted off a new shelf. He sneezed as a cloud of dust coalesced around him and dirtied his glasses.
"Maybe? I've never heard of anything like it before. It doesn't make any sense." he said.
Ron threw his duster to the side and flopped down in one of the chairs, sending up a cloud a dust. He glared at the pile of books on the table and folded his arms.
"Forget that, what about the sky being bloody creepy at midnight? Sirius wouldn't tell you anything?"he asked, frowning as Herimone closed another book and started on another muttering under her breath.
Harry tried to continue cleaning but threw in the towel just like Ron when one of the books tried to bite his hand. He did not sign up for this. He sat down on the dust free couch and took off his glasses. He sighed and used a clean spot of his shirt to wipe them. Ron's question made him shrug with a exasperated huff.
"He ignored my questions. Said it was 'complicated' and Stripes wasn't feeling social."
That earned him a confused look and he shrugged again. It wasn't like he knew what it meant either. Both of them jumped when Hermione pushed herself away from the table, slamming a book closed. Her research was coming up empty and without access to Hogwarts, they would have to put their investigation on hold. Their options was to wait for school to start and wait to be introduced to the strangers. Regardless, there was a lot of waiting involved.
"This is baffling. We can't ask the Order any questions or ask Pharos if he isn't up to talking to anyone. We don't even know where his room is or what he looks like." she said, taking a calming breath and joining Harry on the couch.
As always, she was right. The meeting hinted that Voldemort injured them somehow. It would be rude to scout the little boy out because they were curious. They would just have to be patient.
"Enchanted food? I thought you humans couldn't get more interesting. Wizards are an interesting type of human. I'm literally playing with my food!"
The Chocolate Frog in the chaos entity's hand let out a loud croak as it tried to get away. He let it escape his hand to hop away a few paces before snatching it up. Smears of melted chocolate coated his fingers as it squirmed in his grasp. Snapping off one of the legs off, Nyarlathotep lifted his mask enough to pop the treat in his mouth. Creamy milk chocolate and foreign magic melted on his tongue as he grinned in delight. He let the frog free again and repeated the process until the treat had no legs to spare. It tried to hop anyway and managed a pitiful flop. A weak croak left the frog and Nyarlathotep laughed like someone told a hilarious joke.
"I can taste the growing despair in your body, simple golem. Your futile escape and will to live amuses me."
He flicked the frog onto its side and watched it wriggle to roll over. He picked up the wriggling body and gave it a contemplative look. With unnatural speed, the frog was crushed in the entity's fist. Chucks of chocolate dropped onto the dining table, the rest smeared on his palm.
"Alas, as is the fate of all lesser beings, you are destined to be consumed and destroyed." He ate the chunks off the table and savored the taste. "Too bad you don't have the taste of flesh and ruin."
The collective group of Death Eaters watch the entity with silent apprehension as they worked on their own assignments. Nyarlathotep grabbed another Chocolate Frog from the unopened pile on the end of the table. Empty boxes were thrown on the floor with chocolate flakes and smears making a mess of the table. That would mark the eighth frog soon to share the fate of its predecessors. The entity let it make a break for freedom and then grabbed it at the last second. Dark gravelly laughter followed, limbs snapped off and consumed and its body crushed. No one was sure what their Lord was planning with such a heinous monster.
The entity ignored them for the most part, content to wander the manor or ask questions about the world if it ran into one of them. It never missed a chance to insult, frighten or stare at them with its eerie white mask. The mask was lifted to the side or pulled up but never removed. No one was stupid enough to ask again.
"You ever gonna take off your mask? Don't have a face under there, Nyarlathotep?" Goyle asked during their trip to destroy evidence of the summoning circle.
Nyarlathotep didn't pause in their trek through the woods, leading the group. He turned his head slightly to show that he was listening. His golden crown slipped down his head and black monarch butterflies crept out from his curls to push it back in place. Lucius and Yaxely discreetly kept their distance at the growing sense of unease and tempered their own curiosity.
"I believe my name was to be Akinari Kashihara. Kashihara, to you. What is so strange about my mask? The question should be can you handle my true visage. Few can stand the sight of The Crawling Chaos." he replied.
Goyle scoffed at the words. "Sounds like a load of bollocks. Ain't no such things as the stuff you been spouting."
The entity slowed to a stop and turned to walk to Goyle, dark butterflies flying in a lazy loop around him. The shadow of the trees that gave the illusion that the insects were actually tentacles coming from the entity's shadow. He came to a stop in front of the man with a hand on his mask.
"Oh? Then allow me to show you what chaos the world holds, child of man."
Lucius would never forget that night. Nyarlathotep turned his back to him and Yaxley when he lifted the mask. Whatever Goyle saw turned him into a gibbering screaming mess and tried to claw out his eyes. A quick Oblivate took care of the memory but their comrade noticeably changed. The man was more paranoid and reverted into the mess from that faithful night whenever the entity was around. It was a frightening experience.
Especially as it was prevalent that the entity made sure to turn up whenever Goyle was around and make it worse. With the experience fresh in everyone's minds, they silently watched the entity torture Chocolate Frogs with unbridled glee. The awkward tension in the room drew to a close as Voldemort strode into the room with Nagini close behind. It took a single look and the small group left the room. Nyarlathotep didn't pay the man any attention, too busy licking his hand clean of chocolate. When the Dark Lord sat across from him, he looked up with a satisfied smile shadowed by his mask. He placed it back properly and wiggled his now chocolate free fingers in greeting.
"Well met, Lord Voldemort. Are we to finish our discussion from earlier?"
Voldemort leaned back in his chair with the posture of a bored king. It was a testament of his own power that the ritual succeeded. Nyarlathotep knew a plethora of knowledge known to a few. His eyes were opened up to a new way of magic. He knew of soul magic as he was the foremost expert on it even if it was categorized as Dark. The emotional aspect of magic was nothing new. Strong emotion and will was the basis of the majority of magic.
To know that there a whole other category of soul magic that he was only privy of, he could use it to his advantage. He let the silence settle between them and collected his thoughts. The prior conversation about Shadows and the previous world was intriguing. Shadows were a trifle for wizards to defeat and they would do better than negotiating with Dark creatures. The entity promised to tell him about the power of Persona and finalizing their deal. Affecting an air of nonchalance, Voldemort let his fingers stroke Nagini under the chin as she wound around his seat.
"Yes. Personas are to be our topic. A weapon that is not so easily dispelled by magic would speed up my plans."
Nyarlathotep tilted his head at the giant snake curling around her master. "Pesky things they are. Personas are the manifestation of one's thoughts; a mask to face life's hardships. Either you have potential or you do not. Shadows and Personas are two sides of the same coin. You humans can be forced to awaken but who knows what will work with you wizards?" he said as he flicked a empty chocolate box off the table.
As he expected, Voldemort knew such powerful magic could not be used by common people. He watched as he was studied by the entity before being ignored in favor of candy. A Chocolate Frog box was ripped open and the enchanted treat was played with. He didn't trust Nyarlathotep even with the offer to help. The scrolls warned of the monster's cunning and things to come if summoned. It would be useful for its knowledge regardless.
Nagini coiled into his lap and flicked out her tongue as his fingers trailed over her head. He was gaining an advantage that Dumbledore could not combat. He didn't forget about the missing children either. They were still out in the open and needed to be captured.
"I see. We will test to see who has this potential in my followers in the future. Forcing the Personas will be a last resort. We need to finalize the terms of our contract. You will submit to an Unbreakable Vow." Voldemort said, a sneer growing on his face as the treat hopped towards him.
"An Unbreakable Vow?" Nyarlathotep held the frog back by a leg with a thoughtful hum. "...Sounds interesting. My terms are simple. I will give you control of the Shadows and give the power of Persona to those who can do so. I only wish to see this wretched world fall to ruin. " he said as he let the frog loose again.
Voldemort narrowed his eyes and went over the words to spot any loopholes. He could not find any. The offer was genuine. He couldn't perform Legilimancy on the entity to confirm his findings either. The Vow would protect him from any kind of betrayal the monster would try.
"I accept. In return, I will bring about the Fall, remake the world in my image and you will have to obey my every command."
Nyarlathotep smashed the frog to pieces with a fist and stared at the human across from him. There was brief spike of a malevolent presence that was gone as quickly as it appeared. Voldemort narrowed his eyes in suspicion and called for one of his Death Eaters to perform the Vow. Nyarlathotep followed the ritual in silence and tilted his head at the threads of magic that bound their arms. They disappeared as they let go and he could feel the foreign magic work itself into his body.
The threads tried to latch onto something and found a swarm of butteries that were a part of him. It was a curious feeling. If he focused inward, the foreign magic would start to unravel. He smiled behind his mask as their conversation delved into the Wizarding world. The human thought he was in control and he would keep the illusion. The play upon the world's stage was about to start. It was going to be exciting with the actors coming together. The Fall would not be stopped this time.