There were once three brothers, great wizards all. These three brothers grew up and studied their arts together, and they were happy. Their parents were quite young at the times of their births, so they had their parents for many years, and looked forward to many more. One winters night, when the brothers were just old enough to be becoming independent, their parents were killed by a marauding giant. This caused the brothers to be sent to spend their last few years of childhood with their surviving pair of aged grandparents, grandparents who had disagreed on many points with their children and so had never before met their grandchildren. Nevertheless, the family got along as well as they could, and the brothers were filled with grief when they saw their grandparents also die, though they died of age. The brothers set out across the world wide, journeying together and adventuring together. They joined armies and studied their arts to still higher degrees.
And so the three brothers, through their travels, came to see and know their own mortality, came to see how horcruxes could fail, how the soul sundered is a weakened thing. This truth, the truth of their inevitable Deaths, made them afraid. And as any witch or wizard knows, a fearful man is a most fearsome beast. The brothers set out to find a way to keep safe their souls from the touch of Death forever. They read through ancient texts, sought out the oldest and most knowledgable ghosts, tortured spirits and beasts and beings, they committed horrific acts.
Then, after all their research, they began to piece together hints and whispers of how what they sought could be achieved. They resolved to create a ritual, not one to prolong their lives, nor to tie their souls to this world. No, these brothers three sought a far greater prize than that: they sought to snare and trap Death! They would make a sacrifice to forge a bridge from our land to the land of Death. A bridge across that river no mortal may cross alive.
To go about this, they determined, they would need to fashion a gate to the realm of Death. No simple matter this, it would require much preparation and effort. The brothers assembled many precious metals and stones, built implements of ritual and seals of power, and engaged in many rituals of cleansing and strengthening. After their preparations were done (which on their own took many years), the brothers gathered an army of vicious men and magical creatures. They took their army and set out across their homeland and the surrounding realms, killing and burning and laying waste to all in their wake, they left nought but a barren desert where those lands had been with the fury of their armies; and the whole way they gathered the bones and blood of as many of their victims (human and not) as they could. When there was a circle seven hundred miles wide in which no being lived but their armies, they brought their warriors together and set about slaughtering them all.
Once this terrible deed was done, the brothers collected once more all the blood and bones of their dead, and used these things to build an arch of bone, doused in blood. This arch towered over nine stories tall, and before it was a platform of compacted bone on which the brothers began their true ritual. They bathed in the blood they had gathered, ate of the flesh of their final kills, and called forth the realm of Death itself through their gate of the dead. Their gate opened wide, for their campaign of annihilation had brought that grim land close in that place with the constancy of the killing in there. On the other side was a place of formless void, an abyss without limits, their minds were nearly shattered by the sight, but their preparations and steadfastness stayed them and held them sane.
Upon the opening of their gate, the third step was begun: the brothers three began exhorting, summoning, evoking, and calling Death to appear before them, they said words in languages long since extinct, in tongues that were young in those days, and in tongues that have not yet elsewhere been heard. Their gate was a trap, a snare that had yet to be set, for they completed this ritual with a sacrifice too great for Death to ignore or disobey the demand of: they fully and irrevocably (for such is the way of magical rituals) sacrificed the three things that they had needed to complete their campaign of extermination. The gave up, in order from the eldest to the youngest, their strategic brilliance, their will to destroy life, and their ruthless determination.
After the completion of this ritual, they saw summoned into the heart of their gate a figure of unnatural proportions and unwholesome angles. This figure grew until it filled the gate. The figure bent its head and gazed upon them, "WHO WOULD SUMMON DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS, BRINGER OF FATE, MASTER OF MORTAL BEINGS?"
The eldest of the brothers, and the most proud, said, "We three have summoned you, oh Death. We wish to bargain."
Death gazed upon him and replied, "AND WITH WHAT SHALL YOU BARGAIN, MORTALS?" Which caused the brothers to grow fearful, but only briefly, for they held Death contained.
"We would bargain with four things," replied the middle brother, who was the most cruel, "We would bargain with the three things we offered you to bring you here, and also with your freedom from the gate you are bound within."
"We ask three things of you, O Death," added the youngest brother, who was the most cunning," we would each ask a token, a thing, that shall forever mark our pact with you. We would ask that you never take our souls without our giving you leave to, in full knowledge of our giving you such leave. And we would ask that you keep safe our minds and bodies from the ravages of time so long as our souls are bound to them."
Death replied, "AND IF I BESTOW UPON YOU THESE THINGS, YOU SHALL FREE ME, SACRIFICE AS YOU HAVE SWORN TO, AND AGREE TO MY RECOMPENSE?"
As the older two began to agree, the third brother halted them and asked, "And what recompense would this be? Were not the souls we sent you enough? Is not our sacrifice and your freedom enough?"
Death laughed, a fearful and cold sound, and answered in full and amused humour, "MORTAL, YOU CANNOT IMAGINE THE SHEER UNRIGHTNESS OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE. YOU HAVE COMMITED AN ATROCITY BEYOND HUMAN IMAGINING AND SEEK TO BREAK THE ORDER OF NATURE. THIS CANNOT BE PAID FOR WITH MERELY THE BLOOD AND BONES AND SOULS OF MERE MORTALS, NOR BY YOUR OWN STRENGTHS. AS RECOMPENSE I SHALL FREE UPON THIS PUNY WORLD BEINGS OF GREAT AND TERRIBLE POWER, REFLECTIONS OF MY VERY NATURE. THESE SHADES SHALL FEED UPON THE SOULS OF THOSE THEY MEET, THEY SHALL BE AS GRIEF AND ENTROPY, THEY SHALL STEAL JOY AND LIFE AND SOUL." As he spoke, Death's voice grew greater and more terrifying, until the ashen landscape of the desolation of the brothers shook and danced with its reverberations.
The first brother swiftly said, "we shall agree so long as these echoes of yourself may never do us harm!"
"IT SHALL BE SO" replied Death in a more normal tone.
After some conference between the three, the brothers turned to Death and all three assented.
"THEN NAME YOUR TOKENS, AND THEY SHALL BE GIVEN TO YOU. MAY THEY BRING YOU MUCH JOY."
The eldest brother, in his pride and having sacrificed his aptitude for strategic forethought, loudly said, "I would have a wand that can be bested by no other, a wand of power unmatched, that can kill any and dominate all others." And Death gave to him such a wand.
The middle brother, in his viciousness and having lost his will to destroy life, called out, "let me have a key to the locks on your gate, to call forth the soul of any being that has passed through it. An item that gives to me the power to bring forth and speak to any who have died." And Death gave to him a stone and said that it would do such thing as was demanded.
The youngest brother, in his cunning and unhindered yet by his lost determination, calmly said, "I would have a cloak that hides me from all should I wish it, a cloak that means even you cannot pursue me if I wear it, and that none may know my course when I wear it." And Death, amused, gave to him such a cloak.
"NOW YOU HAVE YOUR ITEMS, YOUR TREASURES, AND TIME SHALL NOT TOUCH YOU. SO LONG AS YOUR SOUL IS BOUND TO YOUR BODY, I SHALL NOT TAKE ANY OF YOU THAT YOU DO NOT WILL IT SO, AND NEITHER SHALL MY MORTAL ECHOES. TO THESE TERMS DO YOU AGREE AND IN AGREEING BIND YOURSELVES AND ME?"
And the brothers agreed.
"NOW RELEASE ME!"
And the brothers, still feeling a great sense of triumph, broke the seal of blood and clay that had bound Death betwixt the worlds within their gate. Death immediately vanished, and the gate swiftly fell to ashes. From these ashes, however, rose cloaked figures in their thousands who then flew off across the skies. And so the first dementors were born.
the three brothers, being wizards, then swiftly traveled out of their desolation. They traveled across many lands, saw many wondrous things, and then split to their separate paths. The eldest went and enjoyed life's pleasures; duelling and fighting, drinking and whoring, gambling and carousing. One evening, a thousand years after the brothers' ritual, he was drunk in a tavern after having just won a glorious duel. He bragged loudly of the power of his wand, how it could never be beaten for it had bested Death itself. That night his throat was slit, freeing his soul and it was snatched instantly by watchful Death.
The middle brother, when the three split apart, had gone off and settled in a village. He lived privately, studying from the dead, impervious to their suffering when summoned back to this world. He learned many secrets long lost, he created the first philosopher's stone and wrote many journals of his knowledge. One day he met a woman, they began speaking and laughing together, they met many times and fell in love. They were soon married, and they lived happily together. The brother used his philosopher's stone to keep his love alive, and after many centuries of happy life, finally told her of what he and his brothers had done. She killed herself that very night, destroying his philosopher's stone and burning his books. He brought back her soul to ask her why, and slit his own throat at her disgust with him. Death likewise took him the instant his tortured soul fled his body.
The youngest brother lived longest, after the three divided down their many paths, he went off and amused himself with many pursuits, from making intriguing discoveries to playing great games of strategy and wit. As the centuries built up, he became more and more bored. His lack of determination held him back from most serious pursuits, and it led to a marked loss of will to live as he got bored. He simply wasn't determined enough to go on. So finally he gave in, gave his cloak to his most recent son, and went off to a distant hillside.
"Come out, you old bastard." Called the youngest brother, "I know you're always at my shoulder, I've learned that in these centuries I've had."
"IT IS AS YOU SAY, I AM EVER HERE. WAITING" Said Death as it stepped from his shadow, "HAVE YOU GIVEN UP THEN? YOUR BROTHERS NEVER DID."
"Yes, well, my brothers are more determined than I." Said the youngest brother mournfully.
"AND YET THEY ARE DEAD BEFORE YOU, FOR THEY WERE NOT CUNNING ENOUGH TO AVOID THE SNARES THAT FATE, AND I, SET THEM. YOU, THOUGH, YOU WERE COLD ENOUGH TO AVOID THE PAIN OF LOSS AND HUMBLE ENOUGH TO AVOID THE ENVY AND HATE OF YOUR FELLOWS"
"Well, I always was the coward, as my brothers would have put it." He said with a wry smile
"AND YOU ARE NOW READY TO DIE?"
"I suppose I must be."
And with a last wistful glance back at his most recent home and family, the youngest brother's soul departed with Death into the unknown realm.