I can't draw boobies, and I believe in checks and balances on magic and might.
FILFy teacher won the small story poll, but as is usual with this story, a small chapter is subjective LOL. Still, despite this not being the chapter I had hoped (more on that in the afterward)
This has been edited by Nad Destroyer and me with Grammarly, so I can only hope there aren't enough small mistakes to take away from your enjoyment of the chapter.
Given the issues of last night with the site not uploading, I am reuploading this chapter now. Hopefully that will solve the issue.
Chapter 21: Explorations and Recovery
In the aftermath of their victory, Harry and the others had hoped to spend the rest of the day recovering. But much to Harry's chagrin and Rias's amusement, just taking the locals' oath of loyalty and giving his own in turn wasn't quite enough for the locals.
While Harry rested against the root of the tree, his family sat around Harry save for Asia. Asia was still working on healing many of their allies. Of the earther's group, Harry had seen Arthur and Le Fay walking past them up the steps, entering the halls of the Winter Queen. Harry watched them go, his eyes making a note of it, but Harry was just too tired mentally to ask questions. Beyond that, he also noted that Loup was guarding Asia. This was necessary, Harry realized, looking at the faces of a few of the dwarves around her.
With the Winter Court defeated, more than a few of the dwarves and leprechauns were looking at her a little askance, and the Fairies weren't coming close to her, flying away whenever she came near wherever one of them perched. Asia had never stopped wearing her habit, and rosary hung around her neck visible for all to see. Now either memories of their flight to Tir Na Nog or tales passed down to them were beginning to come to the fore. Harry doubted that anyone would actually attack her, but with Loup standing over her, the opportunity would never arise in the first place.
He blinked then, leaning over towards Rias, who snuggled into his side, and had been telling Lily about the battle in a low tone, not wanting to bother Harry in his mental fugue. Yubelluna was on his other side, although she looked almost as out of it as Harry was, her back resting against the root of the tree, possibly communing with it. "Where's Luna and Rolf?"
Rias looked around, frowning. "Huh, Mittelt is missing too. And so are most of the fairies and at least…" she paused, trying to count for a second, but given the targets were so small, and there were so many of them around, it was hard. "I think a few of the leprechauns, maybe a little under a third, aren't here, either."
She looked over to where Aibell of the river was helping several of the dwarves taking down some of the gibbets and other displays of horror around the place, tossing segments of them into the now roaring pyres of the dead. She used her ancient spear to slash at the things, shattering some kind of binding spell, allowing the dwarves to break the mural or tear the gibbet or whatever down. So busy was she on this task, Rias doubted that the woman would've noticed where their missing party members went. "Well, I suppose with the war won, we can afford to split the party, and Luna can see through Fae traps anyway, even if she didn't have fairies with her."
"True, I'm just wondering what she's up to. Can't worry about it now though, I need some rest," Harry admitted trying to push through the exhaustion he was feeling after having absorbed and connected himself to the last of the ward stones and removed all the traps and bits of impressions on the world's underlying magical matrix. "My head is so foggy, even trying to talk to you right now is difficult."
"I'm afraid we're not going to be getting that," Rias sighed.
Harry wearily turned his head to follow her pointing finger and saw Bail Stonebreaker and two of his fellows coming towards them, carrying numerous bits of parchment they had somehow procured from somewhere. They were being followed by two more dwarves, carrying a heavy wooden desk, more parchment, and several ink wells. "Where did they…oh, no..." Harry's words trailed off as what all this meant sunk in.
"Oh, yes." Rias sighed, exchanged a hug with Lily, then left her cuddled into her father's side-stepping forward. As she did, Rias kicked out lightly on at Yubelluna, startling the other woman. "Come on, this looks like a job for the two of us. I think I have a good idea of what this will be about, so if you could go and ask Aibell for a map? We won't want to use the one the dwarves will supply."
Yubelluna nodded, then staring up at the tree, biting her lip. "This tree is so old. It has seen ages, thousands of years, so many years it makes the oldest tree I've communed with back home look like a baby. And since the Winter Court took over, all it has seen or felt is horror. They bent it to their wills so much, I can't…"
She shook her head sadly. "This might seem wrong coming from a bandrui, but I think when we are done exploring this place if we can't cleanse it of those memories, we might want to think about cutting this tree down. In some ways, this tree was connected to the black trees we've seen elsewhere and with the carnivorous trees too. Whenever they fed, it felt it. And if you soak in sin so long, eventually the sin stops becoming something you hate, and becomes something you desire."
Lily looked up at this tree in shock, her bottom lip quivering. But she had learned to understand that Yubelluna's Druid properties could tell her a lot more about the heart of trees than anyone else could feel. "Um, so it's become like Old Man Willow?" Harry and Rias had read the Fellowship of the Ring with her recently, and the comparison made sense to the young girl.
Yubelluna laughed, shaking her head once more and coming out of her own fugue while Harry just chuckled wanly. "That's it in a nutshell, Lily. It doesn't have the power any longer to act on its dark feelings, it can't move under its own power, but it has become rotten inside. And with one of the fal stones inside it, I don't want to think what residual magic might allow it to do in the future."
"Then I better get to climbing it now before everyone tries to cut it down, shouldn't I?" With that, Lily resolutely hopped to her feet. Koneko moved to her side, nodding her head firmly. She'd wanted to climb this giant skyscraper of a tree the first moment she'd seen it, and she'd been dodging a giant's punch at the time. "I'll come too."
Lily paused before racing off, looking back at her father. "Daddy, do you think that I could call for Titan now? I've missed him, and he will probably like climbing that tree too."
Blinking slowly, Harry nodded. He then gestured for her to come close, and, when she did so, Harry reached out and let a tendril of the energy of the Undertaking flick out into his daughter's mind as he connected it to the existing magical connection between Lily and Titan and, after examining his own familiar bond for a moment mentally, changed that connection a bit, allowing Lily to call on Titan.
The magical ritual was now coiled within Harry, a permanent fixture within him. Normally someone would need to use a ritual in the presence of one of the fal stones, even Harry. But coupled with Manannán's power already existing within Harry, he knew that it wouldn't matter to him much with practice. But right now, he could only do this because the connection between Familiar and Master already existed.
However, Harry had forgotten that his own Familiar bond was with 'creature', to use the term loosely, who was quite intelligent. Moreover, upon creating that connection, that 'creature' had some control over that bond. She also knew how strong magically Harry was. In terms of raw power, Tiamat actually had a good bit more than Harry at that point.
This had now changed. Dramatically, or at least dramatically to Tiamat's senses. Now feeling that connection shift to allow her across the Void, she instantly opened that connection and came through, appearing in front of Harry before he had finished telling Lily that she could call for Titan now.
Luckily for everyone around, Tiamat had the presence of mind to transform into her human body, although the lashing golden tail behind her and the horns sprouting from her head ruin the image. "WHAT have you done, Harry Potter!?"
While her father was busy blinking, Lily just waved as she summoned Titan, pouncing on the young gryphon who squawked in annoyance even as it wrestled with its master, always happy to roughhouse. "Hi, Tiamat!"
"Hello Dear, I hope you are doing well, but your father and I have to have a discussion right now." Tiamat's tone changed as she addressed Lily, then looked around in this strange new world, before she turned back, glaring hard at Harry, her tail smashing the ground behind her as her tone changed back to demanding. She pointedly ignored the staring dwarves, the weak demigod behind her, although Tiamat took note of the fairies rather warily. Fae magic worked on dragons and could make them a threat to even the strongest. Dwarves, on the other hand, were no threat. And the goddess was so weak Tiamat could snap her in half without even trying so long as they fought here instead of in the woman's territory. And even then, it wouldn't be hard. "Well?"
"…You're going to have to be a bit more specific," Harry began, sighing.
"I felt the change in you, bursts of power and magical strength. Now you are stronger than I am! How is this possible?" Tiamat growled, then seemed to shake her head. "I am not worried or concerned about it affecting our association or anything of that nature. Your nature had not changed only your power. But that alone is so unusual that it has concerned me greatly. And where in the heck are we anyway?"
Tonks grinned, patting Harry on the side of the head. She'd been silent to this point, not having had much to add to anything and suddenly, almost violently missing her son as she watched Rias, Harry and Lily. "I think Harry here's a bit out of it right now. I'll fill you in, dragon-girl."
She moved around Tiamat, tugging on her arm and pulling her away from Harry, shouting out, "Introductions all-around people, this is Tiamat, the dragon. She's Harry's familiar. He couldn't reach out before taking that last stone, but she's here now. An ally," she repeated, making it clear to everyone.
Various weapons were laid down, and spells flickered out of existence. But many eyes were on them for a while as they walked away towards the tree-line. Aibell, in particular, was watching Tiamat with wide eyes.
Harry watched them go off, then smiled as Lily, ignoring the bit of tension still in the air, leaned back to give him a kiss on the cheek before rushing after Koneko shouting, "Wait for me!" Behind her, Titan flapped into the air, racing ahead of both of them with a victorious shriek.
At any other point, he would've been involved in either the discussions with the dwarves or reaching out to the leprechauns before they could pile in with their own demands. He had a few ideas about those little guys or just talking to Brigid if he didn't want to run after his daughters and climb trees with them.
But Harry found himself unable to do so right now. His mind was just too out of it. Too much magic in too little time could normally make a wizard feel a little out of sorts, exhausted or just cause their brain to shut down. Harry was at that point right now. He'd had too much magic going through his mind and body as he removed the various traps and impressions of the dead Tuathans from the web of magic that underscored this planet. Thank all the gods past and present that the Fae can't cross open water! I dread to think what the Winter Queen would have been like if she had been able to corrupt the rest of Danan's magi-sphere.
Sighing, Harry leaned back further and closed his eyes, willing the vague images, impressions and the fugue in his mind away.
His rest was interrupted by Aibell coming over, crouching down in front of him. "I realize that you gave your word, but I need to know more about your plans going forward for this world." She said, somewhat apologetically.
This stopped Harry from cursing her roundly as he opened his eyes to look at her, and at that acknowledgment, she continued. "Brigid seems to trust you, and that is most certainly a mark in your favor. But I can remember the betrayal of the Winter Court. I remember my creatures, myself and my husband, being hunted down, saved only by my power to hide us within the flowing water of mine own river. I will not be betrayed again, no matter how fair that seeming betrayer may seem."
Harry kept his tone as gentle as possible more for his own overstretched brain than anything else as he replied. "I have a whole world to explore. Tir Na Nog is a very small part of this world, in fact. You know there are islands out there, small ones around the larger island of Tir Na Nog? And beyond that, I sensed at least one larger landmass the size of Australia when I claimed the fal stone by the cliffs." He broke off, seeing her look of confusion, and sighed. "Nevermind. Suffice it to say that I and mine will have more than enough to do and space to spread out in without needing to bother you or yours."
Saying this made Harry realize something that had been in the back of his mind since he had taken control of the fourth Fal Stone: that Danan represented something entirely new. Something grand. One word currently bouncing around in the murky mist of Harry's mind was: colonization. The second most prominent term was 'safe haven'.
"And you would hold your people to that same attitude?" Aibell asked sharply. "Are you talking about some kind of wizard colony?"
"Not exactly wizards, not alone anyway. But something along those lines. And as I said, we have no need of this island." Harry repeated, now scowling at the woman and her apparent desire to appear dense.
Honestly speaking, Harry really would just leave Tir Na Nog behind and move on to exploring the rest of the world, ignoring Tir Na Nog as best he could. Trade with its inhabitants was possible certainly, and yes, he had ideas about the leprechauns and perhaps sticking it to the goblins in the near future for their assault on his wife, daughter and packmate. But beyond that and getting the dwarves to help Kala with her attempts to become a Magi-Smith, Harry didn't personally care for Tir Na Nog. He cared for Luna, who he felt would probably be staying here, but that was a different story.
And there was no way he would allow any newcomers to bother the current residents either. If Harry went through with the plans percolating in the back of his fizzing, muddled brain, there would be no need to do so. Any colonists would arrive elsewhere in this world. Wherever Harry wanted them to.
At that point in the conversation, Brigid, the goddess formerly known as Fawkes, appeared midair next to the other woman. She was still looking almost-solid, but not quite, and seemed to have been having an internal moment before she decided to intervene between Harry and Aibell.
"Leave off. Harry is telling the truth. Good grief, if I hadn't ambushed him with the whole High King issue, he'd be perfectly happy to just go on his way. Harry won't seek to rule over you. As he said, Harry will intervene in issues between you, the dwarves and the others all of this land. But if you seek a return to the organization and society of the Tuatha De Danan, you will be sorely disappointed."
Having watched all this from one side, Aibell's husband had been entirely silent up to this point. Indeed, he'd very much been in the background since the moment the two of them had met Harry, even in the informal discussions they'd had. But now he stepped forward, reaching out with a gentle but firm hand to grip his wife's bicep. "Give over, beloved. The world's changed, and Harry Potter has his own brand of ruling. It's not going to fit your mold of what kingship is, but does it have to, really? We've watched out for ourselves for a long while now, now. With the Winter Court gone, that won't have to change. We just won't have to hide away in fear."
Aibell turns to look at him and then slowly nodded. "I suppose you're right. It just feels so strange. A High King appears, and wilt not take up his proper position? Wilt not create the structure of government that the Tuatha De Danan used?"
Harry was once again blunt in his reply to this, hoping to end the discussion. "Get used to it. I have too much on my plate already to try and organize some kind of feudal style government! You will rule your realm, but I am not going to give you orders or help you organize your takeover of the rest of the rivers of this land from the Fae or whatever else rules them, and I sure as hell am not going to take the blame for any issues that crop up between you and the rest of Tir Na Nog's inhabitants. Now please, let me rest."
Aibell scowled but nodded, somewhat mollified by the knowledge that she would be able to expand her control to all the rivers of Tir Na Nog without Harry's interference, even though all those waters fed into the ocean, thus falling under his purview just as much as Aibell's. In the Tuathan pantheon, she had been barely a demigod, with a single hill (or rather two Hills) and the river to her name. In contrast, Manannán Mac Lir had been one of the most powerful of the Tuatha De Danan, with lordship over water and travel of all sorts. Moreover, Manannán Mac Lir had been very clear that he controlled the world's waters or, rather, the Irish portion of it, and really, what other portion mattered?
Now that the battle was done and her initial euphoria on that had passed, that knowledge, the memories of dealing with the Man Of The Sea were clouding her ability to see Harry as his own individual. With her husband's hand on her arm, the memory of Harry's vows returned to her, banishing past recollections, and she sighed, realizing she had been rather foolish to push on this point.
"Very well." Aibell bowed from the waist, apologizing for this line of questioning before her face firmed. "But there is one other thing we need to speak about. Young Asia and her belief in that fell bastard she calls Holy Father. You have not discussed religion on Earth with us, but it's clear that the religion which forced us to retreat here is still powerful. I will not want to allow it to gain a foothold here. Regardless of anything else, that is a major sticking point, not only for me but for every other thinking being within the lands of Tir Na Nog."
"Asia doesn't proselytize, and she's the only one among us to believes like that," Harry waved that idea off.
"That is well and good. Indeed, I rather approve of Asia and how you allowed us access to her healing ability. Our losses would have been far heavier than they are now without Asia's skills. Yet it is undeniable that myself and other mystical creatures will lose our strength if…" Aibell paused, staring at Harry and sighed. "Belief warps the background magic of a planet, even if the Fatih in question doesn't use it. It is why gods gain power through belief and spreading their religion. Even the Tuatha De Danan. Here, there is no pre-existing system of belief to combat that. And all of us, from the Fae to myself, would be lessened by that, weakened horribly." She scowled a bit. "The dwarves and leprechauns, not so much, although their runes would no longer have the power they do now."
Aibell scowl deepened. "Furthermore, a religion like that of the 'Holy Father needs enemies. Devils such as are in your party. They could see us as just another group to crusade against, as they did in the past."
Harry sobered somewhat as he listened to Aibell's real concerns but again knew that Aibell's concerns were based just as much on the past as about a future fear. Aibell, like the Fairies, could remember not only the Winter Court's betrayal but the battle against the Christian faith before that. So he would have to be polite here.
"You don't have to worry about that, I think. Again, whatever happens elsewhere on Danan, Tir Na Nog will be inviolate. Further, while Monotheism is powerful on Earth, I doubt that most people I bring here will believe similarly to Asia. If they believe in anything, Wizards believe in the form of ancestor worship. They and Devils will be the first to come across, and neither have a structure of faith like you are thinking of."
"… Very well, I'll take that as word as given," Aibell replied. Then she seemed to sag, shaking her head. "I am sorry. We have been laboring under the Winter Court for so long, hiding for so long, now that we have a chance of the sun, I wanted to make certain that no other problems would rear their heads for a good long while. And frankly, your sudden ability to summon up a dragon, whatever her current form, put me on edge."
Smirking, Harry had to reply to that. "I can understand that, but no matter how well you organize, you know that there will be another problem, right? Just not ones that will force you back into hiding."
Aibell rolled her eyes at that, muttering about how Harry should not try to teach his grandmother to suck eggs, and Harry chuckled before blinking as a flash of transformation magic shown through the trees. "And as for Tiamat…"
A second later, Tiamat appeared in all her draconic glory, launching herself into the air. She flew around once, causing everyone but the Earthers to freeze in horror before she winged away, heading elsewhere. "She's a law unto herself," Harry finished lamely.
Tonks returned then, shaking her head, moving quickly to Harry. "Tiamat says she's going to go flying. It's been a very long time since she could fly without having to worry about Devils getting the wrong idea, she says, and she wants to explore a bit." She looked at Aibell's drawn face and snickered. "And don't worry, she won't be coming back here anytime soon. Says Fairies give her gas."
Aibell stared at her for a moment, then once more, her eyes rolled, and she walked off in a huff. "Humans and their sense of humor! Ugh!"
At that point, Harry was left alone, Tonks heading off to set up the tents nearby, and Harry leaned back, sighing faintly as he felt the sun's warmth on his face. Nearby, he could hear Rias and Yubelluna resume arguing with the dwarves. Dragon or no, he wanted to get some agreements down on paper now regarding what lands would be theirs around Connachtor. And of course, beyond direct land ownership, there were other agreements to be made: what rights they would have in terms of mining, population growth, and what would happen if they came into contact with the leprechauns, some of whose communities were also at the foot of those mountains, and who also mined for gold.
Apparently, many human interactions with the dwarves and leprechauns were based around food and farming. The leprechauns, being magical creatures, didn't actually have to eat but liked drinking (a lot), and they wanted to open up a trade at the very least the Wizarding community on their terms. The leprechauns were also happy to hear that there were leprechauns in the Wizarding World, Lily having let that out over the past few days as they had interacted with the locals. They were also fascinated by the clothing the earthers all wore, the various textiles and, most importantly, the jeans.
The dwarves had anticipated dealing with Harry personally. It was pretty obvious that the two Trade Masters he had brought and Stonebreaker himself had thought to use Harry's familial orientation and good nature to get the best deal they could.
Much to their chagrin, they weren't dealing with Harry. They were dealing with his wife and lawyer. Rias was just as family-first as Harry, but she was also a Devil, whose people had made contracts and agreements into an art form. And Yubelluna was a past master at devil law and understood all of the nuances and verbiage that someone could use to turn a contract on its tail.
Between them, they nixed the idea of direct trade entirely in terms of the dwarves. Whatever interaction would occur between Danan and Earth, Harry would be the one in charge of it. Gold and whatever else they wished to use would flow through Harry and be taxed accordingly, a flat tax of five percent.
The word tax seemed to particularly incite the dwarves, causing much shouting and tucking of beards. But Rias saw through it, knowing that they had realized quickly that such would be the case, and were now using histrionics to prepare for their next layer of resistance to the idea.
To Harry's ears, it sounded as if the two of them had it well in hand, and Harry sighed, happy to leave it to them as he closed his eyes once more. He rested there for a few hours until his mind finally was able to absorb all the magic that had flowed through it earlier that day. Getting up, he moved over to Rias and Yubelluna, giving them both a kiss on the cheek and a, "You're doing great, keep it up," while his hands began to work on Yubelluna's shoulders.
"You don't want to step in?" Rias teased, watching while biting her lip lightly as Yubelluna squirmed under Harry's massage of her shoulders and neck. The dwarves had retreated a moment ago to talk amongst themselves, leaving the two women and Harry to their own devices for now.
When Harry leaned back from Yubelluna, Rias quickly pushed yourself upright, grabbing him by his shirt and tugging him into a heated kiss, which Harry reciprocated eagerly. He pulled back from her after a minute, smiling down at Rias, happy at this wordless show of approval. She had stated before that Harry would make a good king of this planet, but to know that Rias was still one hundred percent behind him despite several hours of dealing with the dwarves was uplifting.
Rias smiled, seeing that thought flashing across Harry's face for a moment, before pressing him lightly in the chest with her hand pushing him away just as she had initially pulled him in. "Go on, Harry, find Luna and the others, would you? I know that you're worried about them."
Nodding, Harry looked up and the large tree, seeing his daughter several stories up in its branches, once more in her werewolf form as she jumped around. Nearby Koneko stood on her own branch, watching Lily carefully. The sight warmed his heart as much as Rias's kiss had, and he smiled, a lot of the trepidation he had begun to feel once his head started to not throb on top of Aibell's argument disappearing. Whatever happened, his family would face it together. He frowned at that suddenly, realizing that they really weren't all here together, were they? Akeno, Yasaka, Kunou, Kiba, Gasper. Even Issei was family, even if he still had his own parents, who knew nothing of the supernatural. And they were all missing from this scene just as much as Mittelt.
He voiced that thought to Rias, who smiled and leaned back, twitching her eyes over to the dwarves who are once more coming back to the debate table. "And what are you going to do about it?"
"Oh, I've already thought of something. After all, Manannán Mac Lir was the Tuathan in charge of transportation and water, and if I can't figure out a way to make that work for me, I will eat my own hair," Harry said, grinning at her. Rias laughed.
Yubelluna and Rias both laughed at this and then flushed as Harry pulled them both into a hug, kissing them soundly on the lips before letting them drop down onto their chairs again. As the girls tried to recover their poise, Harry nodded politely to the dwarves before heading towards Asia.
The dwarves were grinning behind their beards at the two ladies, who still looked back rather flustered before becoming serious, staring at them. "So, have you decided what to do about my proposals?" Rias asked, then smiled thinly. "I honestly don't think I'm asking for a lot when in turn, you would gain so much."
"Bah, you would bankrupt us! Your idea of a flat tax regardless o' the size of the trade good on top of a separate tax on precious metals is unacceptable!" With that, the shouting and blandishments began again, as the dwarves proved once more that they were masters of negotiation and barter.
Coming up behind Asia, Harry gently touched her shoulder as she pulled away from an injured leprechaun, who had been trying to hide his wounds from her. She looked up at him, smiling wanly, but unable to really be happy at present simply because of how many wounded she'd been dealing with since the fight had begun earlier. Seeing this, Harry sighed, realizing once more that his gentlest daughter had been affected by the latest round of violence and particularly the losses among their allies.
Crouching down behind Asia, Harry hugging her gently to him, murmuring into her hair, "Don't work until exhaustion Asia. Remember, you won't do anyone any good unconscious. Let your reserves build back up between healings and let those with wounds which would heal on their own to it without your help."
Asian nodded but replied that she still wanted to do what she could for them and Harry, knowing he wouldn't be able to convince her to take a real break, looked over to Loup, nodding at him. "Thanks for watching her. If you see her start to tire out, sit on her if you have to force her to take a break."
"Father!" Asia said, embarrassed.
However, Loup simply nodded his head firmly. Then pointed out into the woods. "Luna and Mittelt went that way with the fairies. Rolf headed out after them. The fairies were still are all armed with those bows of theirs and looked very grim, while Luna… was Luna. Heck, she was still wearing that yellow dress of hers."
Wrinkling his nose, Harry looked in that direction, thinking hard for a moment, before sighing. "I think my old friend has decided to take this whole queen of the fairies thing seriously."
"They've gone on after any survivors of the Winter Court," Loup agreed with another nod.
"That would be my thinking." Harry frowned. "That's rather a more warlike attitude than Luna would normally have, but I suppose that that Summer Fae city that we stayed in that one night might have spoken to her more than the rest of us."
Leaving Loup to watch Asia, Harry turned back, heading towards the entrance into the tree, only to stop and nearly bump into the giant Cu Sith who had been following him. Harry cocked an eyebrow at it, and he looked up at him with far too intelligent eyes. "Yes, I'll get to eventually. Family comes first, though. And semi-proven allies rather than a new mystery."
The dog chuffed at that but nodded agreeably, standing up and moving to walk beside Harry.
Setting that mystery aside, Harry entered the Winter Court's former hall, finding Arthur and Le Fay there. Arthur was in the process of tearing down some of the Winter Fae's 'artwork' that was around the place, while Le Fay sat in front of the stone that Harry had torn out from underneath the Winter Queen's throne, writing things down on a piece of parchment and occasionally biting at the bottom of her pen in thought.
"And what are you up to, little researcher?" Harry inquired, coming through the doors into the main hall.
Le Fay blinked, while Arthur twisted around quickly, looking at Harry. Harry looked back at them both, one eyebrow rising. "Did you honestly think I forgot about our little conversation Arthur? Rias and I are both very aware of who you normally serve."
"I had hoped that other things would become more prominent in your mind certainly," Arthur answered, slowly and rather unwillingly removing his hand from his sword. While it galled him to admit it, Harry was, if not in terms of skill than in terms of brute power well out of his league, able to ignore Excalibur Ruler's commands. That had been true even when they arrived here, and it was triply true now.
Le Fay sighed, knowing the jig was up. "I suppose you would like to know what I'm doing?"
"I did ask," Harry chided gently.
Le Fay sighed again, then gestured to the fal stone. "All the runes directly on these fal stones are about the dimensional transport from Earth to here. Dimensional travel isn't well understood except to pocket dimensions, like Hell or Heaven. But Danan isn't a pocket dimension, Miss Brigid said as much. Instead, it's an entirely different dimension, one on the other side of the Dimensional Gap. Where Ophis wants to go."
"And you think from examining those rooms you be able to discover a way to send her there?
"To open the doorway, there, maybe. With practice and mixing the Tuathan runic language with some other bits of Norse, Egyptian and Greek. After that, well, I don't know what happens after that, to be honest," Le Fay shrugged, showing no chagrin at that lack of knowledge. "I know that Ophis wishes to use the Khaos Brigade to kick the Great Red out of the Void and reclaim her spot, but I don't know how that fight would go."
"Luckily, I doubt that the Great Red is going to use illusions and misdirection as we ran into here," Arthur added dryly. "That will be a much purer contest. Although I have no idea how that will go."
Harry frowned, moving past Le Fay and touching the fal stone once more. Beyond the runes starting to glow a deep blue, nothing much happened in the physical world. On the magical, however, Harry felt out the connection between Danan and Earth, testing it. Finally, after several silent minutes, he said, "I don't believe that anyone but myself could reopen the road between Danan and here. The lock, as it were, only reacts to my magic now, whereas before it was wide open for anyone stupid enough to try to cross over when the connection was so horribly frayed."
He then looked sharply at Le Fay. "However, just because I think that way doesn't mean that someone with enough power could brute force it or reverse engineer the Undertaking somehow without access to Manannán's powers. I am not comfortable with anyone knowing about Danan or anything concrete about the Undertaking. As such, I am going to demand a few things before letting take this knowledge away."
"And what would those things be?" Arthur interjected before his sister could say anything.
"A magical Oath," Harry said simply. "Can Ophis somehow shatter those if they are made on an individual's own magical power?"
"I, I don't know," Le Fay murmured. "She doesn't use them often, if at all, and those are always tied into the, erm, the magical tattoos which house her power when she Blesses someone. Erm, I don't think she could break it, and I don't think she'd much care if we come to her with a way to get into the Dimensional Gap."
"You want us both to swear not to tell anyone of Danan, then?"
"And I am going to obliviate both of you of the runes which concern Danan, I.E., one of the two destinations," Harry said firmly, staring Arthur down as he made to object. "I like you both somewhat, but this is security for this place and for my family. So these points are non-negotiable." He then smiled and added a bit of carrot to his stick. "In return, I am willing to give you both the means to teleport to here, using the concept of fal stones and my new powers. The stone will be tied to the both of you via blood wards, but beyond that, they will be able to teleport you both across the dimensions to here from anywhere on Earth."
Le Fay bit her lip, holding up her hand as she thought furiously. She didn't like the idea of having a portion of her memory Obliviated. That was not fun. However, she knew that the fal stones Harry was talking about were based on an entirely unknown magical type. Even after studying the Fal stones extensively, she wasn't certain she understood them, and that was the point. To create a ward to block a type of teleportation magic, that type of teleportation had to be known by the individuals creating the wards.
For example, Le Fay could create wards that could stop Apparition, teleportation and portkeys. She understood how each of them worked on the Arithmantic level. But she couldn't do the same to the Gremory teleportation tunnels. Similarly, it was why the emergency circlets Ophis had created could get high-ranking Khaos Brigade members out of trouble wherever they were, regardless of if they were in the Underworld or on Earth: no one else, Fallen, Angel, Devil or human, understood Ophis's method of teleportation.
Actually, Le Fay had a few ideas in that direction, but nothing solid enough to act on. And certainly no chance of having the magical power to do so.
Regardless, the fact remained that what Harry was offering was a priceless escape plan for the two siblings if things went sour. "I, I think we should agree, brother-dear," She said, looking over at Arthur. "It, it makes a lot of sense. On both our parts."
Arthur scowled. "I don't like the idea of anyone messing with my mind like that."
"The alternative is to have you both remain here." Harry shrugged. "With the Fae's proven ability to ignore your sword's special powers, you would be no threat to them, and I'd wager the dwarves would be deucedly hard to find once they head back into the mountains. You wouldn't be mistreated or anything like that, but you would still be a prisoner, and that would be a gigantic pity, Arthur, for someone of your proven skills or your sister's proven brainpower."
While Le fay flushed at the compliment and the wink Harry sent her, Arthur sighed, his anger receding. He still didn't like the idea of someone messing with his mind like that, but he had to admit it was for a good cause. As my sister says, for both of us. One to get us away free and clear of the Khaos Brigade, and on Harry's part defending his new lands and his family. "Very well, I agree. So long as I go first. I do have magic of a sort, to enhance my physical abilities and work with Excalibur ruler and one or two other minor magics, so I will be able to take the Oath."
Harry agreed, and the three of them started to work on the wording of the Oath. After that would come the Obliviation of the runes labeled as Tir Na Nog in the runic array, as well as Le Fay's attempts to create a wider vocabulary of the Tuathan runes than the fal stones allowed for. Le Fay pouted outrageously at Harry when he added that, but the father of three daughters was unmoved, merely pulling out a bag of jelly babies from nowhere and giving it to her. The sugary sweets worked on Le Fay just as well as they would have on Koneko, although the instant he opened the bag, Koneko practically appeared out of nowhere, her big eyes soulfully staring up at Harry, causing him to sigh and Arthur to snicker at his sudden predicament.
After that, Harry went to find Aibell. She had a spell to teach him and owed him. Big time. He found Aibell with her husband going over a map of the island with a few fairies and one lone female leprechaun, her orange hair and general stance almost reminding Harry of a young Ginny for a moment. They looked up at him as he came close and Harry, disdaining subtlety, pointed at Aibell. "Tell me how to use the water transportation spell."
Aibell nodded, shooing away the others. "Very well. And if you are wishful to travel this world, I should tell you that there is another Tuathan survivor out there who might help you. Len the Shipbuilder is still alive and well as far as I know. Although getting him to help you might be an issue. He's a bit of a recluse."
"Tell me more," Harry answered instantly. "Deals can be made even with recluses after all." He didn't know about Len, but that didn't matter much. If the man could add more speed to the water transportation, Harry was all for trying to at least meet with the man.
Eventually, Harry was, alas, called back to the conference table again, as more fairies and other types came forward, scattered surviving communities who hadn't been hunted down by the Wild Hunt or the Winter Court. Swan Maidens and Sylphs came froward together with one representative. Now that the Winter Court was gone, they were determined to make certain that the other surviving races couldn't trespass on their lands and turned to Harry as king and to Luna as Queen of the Summer Court to make certain that was the case. The Bluecaps, mining spirits composed of blue lights, wanted to make an alliance with the dwarves but seemed to have a hate-hate relationship with the leprechauns. They also wanted help to hunt down the redcaps, goblin-like monsters who were Winter Court through and through, though none had come out of their mines to aid the Winter Queen.
It was clear that Fairies and their ilk had long memories, even the dwarves, who weren't nearly as long-lived as the rest. Apparently, four-hundred to five-hundred years was the most a dwarf could be expected to live, whereas fairies of all sorts were practically immortal, and leprechauns age only when they want to.
Finally, however, Harry convinced them that he would only step in to deal with territorial disputes and little else unless they wanted something from Earth, which, thankfully, only the dwarves and leprechauns did. None of the fairies wanted anything to do with humans, although they joke about wanting to kidnap Le Fay, saying they loved her dress sense too much.
"Hah, well, I won't stop you from trying, but her brother might take offense. And I would think Luna and her dress would be more your kind of thing," Harry said with a laugh as one fairy made this joke near the conference table.
"Oh, it is. The queen has an amazing dress sense, and we love her earrings! But she doesn't have a hat, and that's a travesty," the fairy quipped.
Once the dwarves finally went away and the leprechauns retired, Harry looked over at Rias and Yubelluna. The bandrui was organizing with a flick of her finger the various agreements and treaties they'd been working on while Rias was finishing up on a master map of the island, which would be copied and shared out with the leaders of the various races. "Thank you for your help, both of you. If you haven't helped me here, I would still be working on this when the new moon rose."
"What are wives for, Harry? Although I'll admit, compared to bargaining with the dwarves, those short-stacked skinflints everyone else was much easier than dealing," Rias laughed. Then, done with her work on the map, she copied it out, shrunk the original until it could fit in her pocket and then kissing him gently on the cheek before hopping to her feet and moving towards where Loup had set up the tent. "Now, I think it's past dinner time, and it's my turn to cook."
Harry looked after her, his eyes tracking down to her swaying hips, shivering a little as a jolt of lust went through him. Since they'd come to this world and the battle against the Winter Court had begun, they hadn't had time to be husband and wife. What little free time they had of an evening was spent with Lily acting as mother and father, and while Harry would never begrudge that, some needs had just reared up unrepentantly at that sight.
"Ooh, you have it baaaad, Harry Potter," Yubelluna teased, drawing Harry's attention back to her.
When Harry looked at her, that spark of desire did not fade from his eyes, and Yubelluna began to blush, her heart hammering in her chest. Harry gently reached out, tugging at the piece of hair that covered one of Yubelluna's eyes, gently tucking it behind her ear to look into both her eyes while his finger trailed down to her chin, lifting it lightly. "True. But not just for Rias, you know. I have it bad for all of my lovers, and for you."
With that, he leaned forward, and Yubelluna met him halfway, her mouth parting eagerly.
Their make-out session was interrupted by a cough from nearby, causing Yubelluna to scowl and for Harry to growl in annoyance as he turned, hoping against hope that it would not be another group of fairy creatures coming forward after the others had finished their business with the Earthers. Instead, Luna and Rolf and Mittelt stood there, with Mittelt wearing a somewhat manic looking grin.
Harry had learned over the past few weeks that Mittelt was a bit of a combat junkie. she just liked inflicting pain and challenging herself, so once a bit of blood was spilled, she seemed to flip a switch from being snarky and obstreperous to full-on berserker. The other two looked much more normal, with Rolf looking extremely tired, and Luna looking like Luna, smiling daintily at Harry.
"And where have you three been?" Yubelluna asked.
"Hunting down some of the survivors. Don't worry, we asked him to surrender first. It is not our fault that none of them listened," Luna said, smiling at Harry. "All done with the boring paperwork?"
Mittelt bit back a cackle at that, looking away for a moment. Yes, they had offered their enemies a chance to surrender, for about five seconds. And it surely wasn't their fault that none of them had been fast enough to say the words, was it? I rather like Luna's concept of offering quarter.
"You know as the self-professed Queen of the Summer Fae you should have been involved in that too, right?" Harry drawled, shaking his head.
"Why should I have been, when I trust you, oh high king, to get it right without my need to interfere?" Luna asked seriously, though her lips were twitching as she said it.
"Well, thank you for your faith in me, I suppose. And I'm glad that you think that way since I'm going to be leaving you in charge of Tir Na Nog."
Luna blinked, looking far less far away as her eyes zeroed in on Harry, and her mouth dropped open while Rolf and Mittelt began to laugh. "Wait, what?"
Harry did not answer, instead turning to Yubelluna, holding out his arm to her. "I do believe that Rias said something about dinner. Could I prevail upon you to accompany me to see what manner of repast she has chosen for tonight, my Lady?"
"My dear sir, I would l be delighted," Yubelluna replied in kind, tucking her arm in his, amused by the use of such formality to further bug Luna, whose eyes were now bulging quite a bit more than normal.
"Harry! Get back here!" Luna said, rushing after them, waving her hands in full histrionic mode. "I'm not a leader! That's precisely why I decided to bow to you! You're the leader, not me!"
"Better get used to it! If I have to do something I don't want to be doing, then you better believe I am going to be sharing that particular pain."
Luna looked back at her husband, who was still laughing at her. "Rolf, you tell him, I'm not leadership material!"
"I think being a leader for fairies is a much different prospect most of the time that being a leader for humans. And you did just say that you trusted him to make the proper decision, my love," Rolf replied.
Mittelt just kept on cackling, moving around the others and heading towards the tent.
By the tent, the dog waited, his brows furrowed as it stared at the tent that looked as if it shouldn't even hold three people comfortably. And yet the dog had just seen a lot of different people enter the tent one after another. Its tail was down on the ground, and it's snout furrowed in either confusion or distrust. It was impossible to tell which.
Harry paused, bowing Yubelluna into the tent before him, and then smirked at Luna, who glared at him before kicking him in the shins. She then hopped on one foot while leaning on a now laughing Rolf, with Mittelt following them as all three entered the tent. "Come on, boy, the tent won't eat you. It's just an expanded space, that's all."
The dog seems to roll his eyes as if saying 'oh really, that's all then?' but willingly followed Harry into the tent.
Everyone was a little too tired to celebrate their victory that night, something everyone had known earlier. A big party to celebrate the fall of the Winter Court would instead be held the next evening. This meant the night ended quietly. Harry and Rias took turns to read The Color of Magic to Lily, something that everyone else there, even the dog, seemed to enjoy. It didn't seem to like the depiction of the heroes for some reason, though.
As they were tucking her in, Lily murmured, "You know, that's something we haven't done in a while, Daddy."
"What's that?" Harry asked, ruffling her hair lightly as he stood up from the bed to get unchanged himself. Rias was already in her nightclothes and scooted into the bed on Lily's other side.
"We haven't had a 'Magic is Marvelous' day in months. We haven't really had to with all the wards and the parties and Koneko being awesome, but…"
"But after the past few weeks, where we've been using magic predominantly for combat, I think that's a lovely idea, Lily-luv," Harry said, giving her a kiss on the cheek as he got into bed again side her. "Although I think we might wish to put it off for a bit. After all, not everyone in our extended family is here at the moment."
Lily smiled happily at the implications of that, as did Rias, remembering Harry's comment earlier that evening. It was time to bring their whole family together again.
The next day, found Asia being among the first to wake, shuffling out of the bed she shared with Koneko. The tent had not been set up for this number of people, so there just wasn't enough floor space to allow for enough beds for everyone.
Successfully dodging around the other pullout beds and sleeping bags, Asia headed outside. She moved unafraid through the bit of forest separating where the tent been set up and the large clearing around the massive council tree. There, Asia knelt in prayer as the sun began its journey out of the east. A bear few minutes into her prayer, Asia felt people coming up behind her and a hand resting on her shoulder as Lily's voice murmured 'wow' behind her.
Harry smiled back at Lily, who he was currently carrying on one shoulder, while his other hand rested on Asia's, as he too took in the view over the forest. Whether or not it was the Phoenix blood that flowed through his veins, his connection to Manannán or simply personal preference, Harry enjoyed watching the sun come up. There was something powerful, almost cleansing, in the sight of the sun rising like that.
Lily and Harry were silent as he finished the prayer, with Harry resting his hand on her shoulder in silent support. When she ended her prayer, Asia turned to Harry, looking up at her. "I couldn't save everyone who was brought to me during the battle. As powerful as the power that God has gifted me is, I, I couldn't save everyone. Again."
"No," Harry replied, shaking his head. "But you can save everyone you can. You can give your all, and that is what you did."
"I didn't know them. I barely knew a few of the dwarves as individuals, let alone the Fairies or leprechauns. Yet it still hurt losing them as much as it hurt losing some of Shinsengumi or Youkai who I knew. May God forgive me, but I didn't expect that," Asia confessed.
"That speaks of your heart, Asia," Harry said, now sitting down next to Asia, and drawing her into a sideways hug, while Lily hopped off his shoulder and raced around to come at Asia from her other side, squeezing her with all her might. Thankfully she wasn't in her werewolf body, or this might have defeated the purpose. "But I repeat, so long as you do your best, that is all anyone, even your God could ask of you."
"Does it ever get any easier, not saving people? Knowing that you can't save everyone?" Asia asked, tears coming to her eyes as she remembered one particular fairy who had been teleported by Rias along with two of her friends back to Asia. Asia had been able to save her two friends. But the one fairy had been practically turned to paste by the blow from the giant which had caught her friends glancing blows. Before Asia could get to her, the fairy had expired right in front of the young nun.
Harry thought about it for a moment and then shook his head. "As a healer, so I don't know if your experiences will match mine. But no, Asia. It doesn't get any easier. And it shouldn't. As long as we keep caring for those we try to help, losing them will always hurt. And it always should, so that we try harder, push further next time."
Asian nodded slowly at that, then spent a few moments just hugging him back, letting the tears flow as she felt Lily burrow into her back. Harry conjured up a handkerchief for her, and eventually, after several minutes, Asia was able to put her grief to one side and just enjoy the hug and the Dawn with her loved ones.
As they heard other people coming out of the tent behind them, she asked, "Do you think Dawn Healing can achieve Balance Breaker, like Ddraig has with that armor?"
"I think if anyone could evolve your Sacred Gear further, it would be you, Asia," Harry replied encouragingly.
Asia smiled again at that, then nodded her head firmly, twitching her shoulders back resolutely as she got to her feet, giving Harry and Lily a final hug before heading back to the tent.
Harry stayed there for a moment, smiling after her, before hopping to his own feet, as Titan came out after Lily. "Come on, Mischief, breakfast time. And then you and Koneko are going to be on your own for the day. Rias and I will need to check-in back on Earth and return Arthur and Le Fay as well."
"I like Le Fay, she's funny. And she's got a great hat," Lily said, hopping to her feet and moving over to mock pounce on Titan, who dodged nimbly to one side, then bumped his master off-balance enough to send her sprawling.
Shaking his head at his daughter's antics, Harry moved over to the tent as Rias and the others brought the food outside. None of them was willing to stay inside the tent on such a glorious morning. With Yubelluna and Le Fay on breakfast duty, the meal was pancakes with sausage links and hashbrowns, the last of each in fact that they had brought with them from Earth.
As he sat down to eat, Harry discovered that they had a visitor. Tiamat had returned from her exploration, having already chosen her new domicile. It was an island to the north of Tir Na Nog and, according to her, was around the dimensions of Wales if it was chopped off from the rest of Britain. She felt this was somewhat amusing, considering her relationship with the Red Welsh.
"And is that all you did?" Harry asked, looking askance as Tiamat piled her plate with at least half of the sausage links they had left. "I thought you said you were going exploring, not house-hunting."
"And if you move here, what will happen to the Familiar Forest? It was your ambient magic that coaxed all those unusual creatures to make their home there and to remain mostly at peace with one another as well." Rias asked quickly. She hadn't heard that Tiamat had wanted to move to Danan full time before this.
"Nothing will occur for several centuries at most. The amount of ambient magic I released over centuries will take almost as long to dissipate from the area. Certainly, there will be enough time for Devilkind to figure out a means to keep the ambient magic high enough to interest the various magical beasts. The peace factor? That I will admit will fade once I remove myself full-time from there," Tiamat admitted. "Still, it isn't as if it's natural for those animals to be so peaceful to one another."
She took a chomp on several sausage links at once, looking far more draconic than her human appearance should've allowed for before chewing, smiling happily at the chefs, and then answering Harry's question. "I did do some exploration. Would you like to know what I found?"
"There are a series of islands out there to the north, some of them so small that they couldn't support human life, whereas others are almost as large as Tir Na Nog. Another one about a full night's flight from Tiamata to the southeast, where I would estimate Brittany would be on Earth. But it's another island here."
"Tiamata, really?" Tonks drawled, shaking her head.
"Quiet you," Tiamat growled back. "Coming up with names is hard, okay!?" She huffed, throwing her rainbow-colored hair, which utterly fascinated Luna and a few Fairies who had come to sit around her, over her shoulder before pointedly ignoring the Metamorph. "All of those had life on them in terms of forests and animals. Indeed, I think many of them had more animals than are here on Tir Na Nog."
Loup grunted, nodding his head as did Harry. "The Winter Court hunted every predator or animal larger than a squirrel they could for sport," Harry practically spat the word. He then turned to Luna, cocking an eyebrow. "Do you think you and the others would like us to reintroduce some of those animals here?"
Scowling at once more being reminded that Harry was basically going to leave her in charge of Tir Na Nog, Luna still replied in the affirmative and Tiamat's report continued. Harry asked the question one point about a specific island he had felt the edge of that resided in the far, far west, out towards what would have been in the open ocean on Earth. Tiamat replied that she had not seen any island from the air, which startled her somewhat, but then she smacked her forehead and shouted, "Of course. How would you like to bet that another survivor of the Tuatha De Danan is out there?"
"Since the goddess stated such, no, it wouldn't surprise me. We'll have to stop in later. But did you spot anything dangerous out there?"
"To you and yours? No!" Tiamat laughed. "Oh, there are other places out there. I can sense something to the far southwest, some kind of nascent magic, but nothing dangerous."
"Good, very good indeed," Harry said with a smile. He and Rias went into a huddle at that point, Deciding on the course of the day. Thankfully, none of the locals had shown up again, evidently happy to return to their own lands to prepare for the evening's celebration by the cliffs, although Harry could see a few more fairies fluttering around nearby through the woods, following Luna who had already skipped off with a chuckling Rolf chewing on his last pancake as he raced after her.
They were interrupted by Tiamat, pointing a finger at the dog currently chewing on several sausages of his own to one side of the table. "And what is that?"
Asia smiled slightly as she reached over to pat the large dog's head, the head as tall as she was sitting on its haunches. "That's Father's new dog."
The dog chuffed that, sounding amused, before locking eyes with Tiamat. Tiamat stared back, one eyebrow rising. "No, I don't think that's just a normal dog. Nor is it a Cu Sith, as it would appear."
"Tell us something we don't know," Harry groused, staring at the dog. He had been shooed away earlier by Rias and Le Fay, and in so instead of helping with breakfast, he'd investigated the dog, only to find himself unable to make much headway. Yes, it certainly wasn't a normal dog, and its intelligence matched that of a human being. But beyond that and the obvious strength and power of it, which was certainly magically enhanced, he couldn't tell anything else about it. It was as if the magic within the dog was a kind of blank spot to his senses.
Tiamat cocked her head thoughtfully, staring at the dog. "Hmm, I believe this creature was Cursed."
"You're not talking about Dark Curses like wizards use, are you?" Tonks asked, frowning in puzzlement.
"No, I am not. I'm talking about a Deity's Curse. Like the blessings, they are part of the Deity System of magic, I suppose you could call it. But instead of being positive, it is negative. It's that simple, really. But whereas a Blessing is… well, shiny. Makes a splash in the world, so to speak. A curse is like a matte black surface. It creates a sort of hollow around itself and can only be felt if you know what you are looking for. I haven't run into a truly Cursed individual in millennia."
"It was being controlled by the Wild Hunt and had some kind of Imperio-type spell on it, which I shattered during my fight with it and Gwyn Ap Nudd," Harry murmured. "Could Nudd or the Winter Queen have put that spell on it?"
Tiamat frowned. "I do not know. I do not think that Gwyn Ap Nudd was that powerful a deity to use such Curses. But perhaps."
"If one God cursed the creature, then shouldn't I be able to reverse it?"
"No." Tiamat shook her head firmly. "That kind of thing is beyond the power of most deities. Indeed, unlock a blessing or curse that another God has laid down is something I believe only the Monotheistic deity, and perhaps Indra could do. You could consider it like a specific kind of computer program, locked to the user as it were. You need the password to be able to unlock it. And that password in terms of a curse like this? Who knows what it could be?"
"But there is a way to banish the curse?"
"Possibly. When deities use curses, they mean it to be a punishment for some specific fell deed to teach the being thus Cursed, or as an example to others. So I cannot tell you if this curse could be broken or no."
Nodding at that, Harry looked at the dog thoughtfully, who had been very obviously following the entire conversation, and now seems to be grumbling to itself in annoyance, its ears flat to its head and its tail laying on the ground.
"He reminds me of your tales about Sirius, Daddy," Lily said, plopping down next to the dog to pat it on its flank. It narrowed its eyes at her and then huffed and looked away, even as it allowed Lily to continue to scratch behind its ears, it's traitorous back leg thumping happily.
Harry chuckled dryly at that but shook his head, sighing faintly. Sirius Black had been the only real father figure he'd ever had in his life, but Sirius had died during the war on one of their raids on Malfoy Manor. He'd killed the senior Malfoy and several other dark wizards but had been caught out of position when Riddle himself appeared on the scene. Harry had been busy, dueling with Bella and her husband at the time, and hadn't been able to come to his godfather's aid before Riddle killed him.
"I wonder who he was in life, and which Tuathan changed him into a hound," Rias murmured. There was something about that niggling at the back of her mind, but it couldn't come to the fore for some reason. "Still, he seems friendly enough, and we've already seen how good a fighter he is. The question will be, will we be able to take him through to Earth, I think."
"Almost certainly," Harry nodded. "The transportation won't be an issue. What happens to him after we get there will be a mystery, so I'll have to be ready to transport him straight back here just in case." Whoever the dog had been, Harry felt it was important they keep him alive.
Breakfast broke up soon after that, and with Luna and Rolf once more off playing with the fairies, and Yubelluna eager to see if she and Asia combined could somehow cleanse the Council tree, Rias teleported the others to the fal stone overlooking the cliffs. There, they left Koneko in charge of Lily. Loup and Tonks were eager to finally explore without the need to watch every shadow, and Mittelt seemed interested in the idea as well.
Le Fay and Arthur joined Harry and Rias to return to Earth. They needed to give their extremely abbreviated report to the British government, and then they had to head back to the Khaos Brigade. Indeed, Arthur was somewhat worried by this point. "We've spent what, nearly a month here? That's two weeks longer than we told Ophelia we would be gone for."
"But you forget a certain power of the Fae brother dear," Le Fay said, smiling at Arthur and squeezing his hand as she looked over at Harry. "Time is something that happens to fairies only when they want it to when they interact with our world."
"Exactly," Harry replied simply, although he wasn't certain how this was going to work.
For this first transfer back to Earth, Harry wanted to use this fal stone because he had felt the deepest connection with it thanks to where it was on the island: overlooking the ocean, where Harry had first understood that the magical underpinning of Tir Na Nog was but part of the whole of Danan. Looking over the edge, Harry could see that Koneko had already flown Lily down to the shore far below. As Harry watched, they began to wave at the Dolphins, who quickly began waving back at them. At the same time, he noticed the stones underneath the ocean and along the shoreline glowing faintly with a healthy blue-green color.
After waving down at them, Harry waved his hand on the fal stone and concentrated. It astonished Harry how quickly the connection between the two sides of the teleportation spell came to him then, and a second later, he saw images on the other side of all seven of the sending stones that were connected to this one receiving stone. Harry flipped through them, almost like someone mentally going through different channels on a TV until he found one they could use with the least amount of trouble on the other side.
It was on top of the hill overlooking a deep river of some kind in Ireland. There was a series of houses and small boats moving along the river, but there was no one nearby, which was not the case with the others, each of whom was in a national park or historical site, like Grimspound in Devon, and Fort Navan. In contrast, this one was in a small local park, which didn't seem well-known.
The English one was also tempting since Harry couldn't see anyone nearby, but the one overlooking the river would allow Harry to try out water transportation in the future if he felt he needed more practice. With that in mind, Harry also sensed something else through the spellwork connecting one world to another: time flowed very differently from one world to another and going to, and fro, Harry could choose when to insert them to a certain degree.
But not quite entirely free of interference. For one thing, the interface between the worlds seemed to have defaulted to four days per some obscure Tuathan measurement of time, clocks not having been invented in Ireland at the time. Moreover, many things that occurred on Earth had been directly involved with what Harry and the others doing here, in this case, keeping the nonmagicals from figuring out what was going on at the various areas interconnected by the Undertaking. So he couldn't take them back to the very moment they had disappeared. The best he could do was the afternoon on the day after they had originally entered Tir Na Nog.
After a moment's thought, Harry set the interface – his mind kept on using that term despite it not quite working in terms of describing the magic of the Undertaking – to a two to one ratio, thinking of ways to figure out precisely what that base measurement of time was soon. Regardless, this would allow them to spend the rest of the day on Earth dealing with things there, and then come back to half another few hours before evening.
A moment later, fog flowed out from the stone to create a doorway to one side, and Harry smiled. "Arthur, ladies. After you."
Imagine the magical background of a planet is a rubber sheet surrounding the original planet. In the past, it was far, far thicker than it was now, the creation of a planet being both physical and spiritual in nature. Now, it was both thin and in no way uniform, sticking up in some places, sinking in others. Since Ophis had arrived in the world and the remaining gods had begun to act out, this issue had been exacerbated by the fact that those like Ophis, The Indian Gods Indra and Shiva, Hades, a few other survivors who created, by their very existence, magic. Magic, which impacted the world around them in myriad ways, controlled or not.
While magical power and magical perception did not equate, many of the most powerful beings on Earth were aware, if vaguely, of the overall flow of magic within the world. For example, Indra knew of Ophis's presence in the world long before he knew who specifically was impacting the world so much, although not her physical location.
Now in their separate homes, hideouts or wherever, many of those gods froze in whatever they were doing. Ophis raised a hand, halting Vali in his speech as she sniffed the air, interest flashing in her eyes as she tried to localize the feeling. In his own portion of the parasite dimension that was Hell, a one-eyed divinity looked up with wide eyes and a fierce, dangerous grin crossing his face as he pondered on what this new development might mean.
The two most powerful Indian divinities also felt this strange occurrence of a new God appearing, although their responses were markedly different.
From where he was laid out in his private beach Indra looked up, one eyebrow rising in question. But beyond that, he didn't care overmuch. Instead, he was far more interested in reading the report about Bikou that Sun Wukong had passed on to him.
Shiva, meditating with his wife, suddenly began to grin so widely Parvati (the original) smacked him on his thigh, asking, "And what mischief are you planning, Oh Lord of Destructive Mischief?"
"Something groovy!" Shiva said with a laugh, hoping to his feet and pulling Parvati into his arms, feeling the goddess of harmony, love and devotion hugging him back, now getting caught up in his enthusiasm. "Oh yeah, baby, something groovy just happened out there, and I already got an in with the New God on the block, Hahaha! We, you and me, oh my sweet wife, will have to follow up on this. You have some followers among the wizards, yeah? We might want ta get in touch with a few…"
The four heading back to Earth came out, precisely where Harry had wanted them to, overlooking the river down below, through the intervening trees. From there, they walked down the hill, and Harry made a point of going into a gas station to check on the date the newspaper to make certain his mental spellwork had taken. Smiling faintly, his report to Rias, telling her what he had done with the Undertaking's spellwork. "Time really doesn't flow between the worlds as we anticipate. All that work we were doing here, and after a bit of work, it appears we were gone only a day and a half or so."
Rias's smile was blinding as she thought through all the implications, of which there were so many, that she didn't know where to begin beyond her need to let loose a somewhat Mittelt-like cackle. "BWAHAHAHAH!"
This should have drawn looks from the locals, but those locals were already having issues with Harry's presence, although he hadn't noticed before. Everyone around them seemed to be having trouble staying on their feet. The men looked as if they were trying to kneel without really understanding why, while the women were either staring or curtsying without having the least idea of why towards Harry.
Cursing, Harry realized that his 'godly aura' had grown exponentially since they had arrived in Tir Na Nog, and he had let his control of it slacken as well. Grumbling Harry closed his eyes, slowly drawing his aura of command back into himself, grimacing as it felt a bit painful for some reason, like pushing a powerful spring down. "If you could work on erasing their memories, I don't think we want people to wonder about why an entire town suddenly began to kneel to a random Brit," he requested through gritted teeth.
Giggling, Rias began to do so, wondering idly how far Harry's aura had spread. It turned out to be quite a lot, but after about an hour's work, Rias was done and met up once more with Le Fay, Arthur, and Harry, who had spent of that time reining in his power. On the other hand, the two siblings had spent their time buying phones for them, all of their electronics having fried during the ritual near Ballycroy National Park.
Reporting on this as she returned, Rias shook her head. "I have to wonder why Rolf didn't seem to react to it. Le Fay, Arthur and even Luna, I could understand not reacting to it if your aura of power grew gradually. But Rolf? He is the most normal of us all and should have reacted to it."
"Heh, he's not normal at all, Rias. First, he's married to Luna, which would challenge any wizard. Second, he's a Scamander. Their family has never, to the best of my knowledge, been able to even find the word normal in a dictionary."
Once they were all together again, Harry promptly teleported them all to the tiny wizarding island of Inishshark. Once there, Harry sent a message via messenger owl to Shacklebolt, telling him to organize a meeting with his nonmagical colleague and the Irish equivalent. Once out from under the Notice-me-Not array of the town, Arthur did the same thing with the Pendragon's cousin Daniel. After that, the group broke up. Le Fay wanted to find a computer to type out her report. The mundane government would want a formal document of some kind.
Strangely, Rias would have to do the same thing for her brother and the other Maou. But she wasn't under any time frame for it.
For themselves, Rias and Harry wanted to retrieve the SUV, then do a bit of shopping. Or really, a lot of shopping.
"We might even want to buy an off-road vehicle of some kind in the future, you know. Something you and Loup can tinker with," Rias said as they appeared by the fairy tree, which had served as the center of the ritual to take them to Tir Na Nog. "If we are going to spend time exploring Danan anyway." She smirked over at Harry as her teleportation circle faded around her, Rias having done that segment of their travel. "A whole world to explore, without interference, enemies or anything else getting in our way? Sign me up!"
Harry chuckled and nodded. "It is an amazing idea, isn't it? And not just for the possibilities, but the sheer fun of it." He sobered then. "Still, it's the future that concerns me."
"True," Rias murmured, her own mood becoming serious for a time until Harry pulled out his broomstick. Since neither could remember the area around the SUV or the coordinates, neither could teleport to it. Still, that was fine with Rias as she snuggled into Harry's back, smiling as he zoomed along a few feet off the ground.
When they arrived at the SUV, Harry took down the wards around it, and Harry opened the door for Rias, who gave him a languid kiss on the lips before hopping up into the copilot seat. "This big car, and only the two of us to use it," she mused as Harry started the engine, one hand resting on his thigh, gently kneading the muscles there, before her fingers started to stroke up and down his jeans covered leg.
Harry chuckled and rested his hand on her own knee. Rias had chosen to wear a skirt today, the first time in several weeks. The skirt came down to her knees and was perfectly acceptable to wear in public, but the feel of her bare skin under his hand was intoxicating. Harry's hand soon became a caress, moving upwards and carrying her skirt up with it. "True, and it is a rental. We wouldn't even have to clean up, would we?"
"Oh, that's bad!" Rias said with a laugh, shaking her head. "Would you do that to the poor young man who has to clean it?"
"If that was the price I had to pay to have some quality time with you, most assuredly."
Rias laughed and leaned over, not at all coincidentally allowing his hand to ride further up between her thighs as she kissed the side of his neck. "Nice idea, but no, thank you. What the equivalent of a quickie in the back of a car does have some appeal, I would rather not. Besides, we have shopping to do and calls to make."
At that, Harry nodded firmly, his hand moving away from Rias with manifest reluctance before he pulled his phone out and began to dial Akeno's phone number. Over the next forty minutes, as they drove the car out of the park and towards Dublin using its various spells to cover the distance as fast as possible, Harry and Rias called home.
On the other side of the phone, Akeno sounded a little annoyed as she answered the phone. "Hello, this is Himejima-san? If this is an 800 number or some equivalent, I'm going to be most put out."
"I've been called a lot of things, but not a spammer," Harry replied, hearing Akeno's sharp intake of breath as he went on. "Everyone here is all right. We were able to get into Tir Na Nog in part thanks to your songs. Let us say that time and that place have as little to do with one another as possible. So it has been several weeks for us since last we saw you or the others. It does my heart good to hear your voice again after so long."
"I see, but you all are all right," Akeno repeated Harry's words back to him, and then seemed to shake herself. When she spoke again, Harry could practically feel the smile in her voice even as she did not question what they had been up to further. "Excellent! Give the others my love and tell Rias that quite a bit of backlog work has been piling up for her."
"Why don't you tell her that yourself?"
With that, Harry handed the phone over to Rias, who asked, "Paperwork? And I love you too, Akeno," she said teasingly.
"Oh, hush, Rias-chan," Akeno admonished, although even so, Rias felt she detected a bit of a tremor in her voice. Akeno and Yubelluna and probably Kiba and Issei had undoubtedly been very worried, knowing how their King and their family had been heading into danger without them. "I didn't realize how much paperwork or other nonsense you had to deal with as King here in Kuoh. Even with the work split between you and Sona, it's still quite a bit, and all of it is now landing on my poor shoulders."
"And those shoulders are already dealing with quite a lot of weight, aren't they," Rias taunted, and the two girls were off, teasing one another as they always did. Since she hadn't been separated from them for too long from her own perspective, Akeno didn't quite understand the need she kind of sensed in Rias's tone, but she was willing to go along with it, her own relief at their return from danger making up for it.
For his part, Harry took Rias's phone and used it to call Yasaka.
Yasaka didn't bother with niceties, simply going straight to the threat. "Very few people have this phone number, and if you've got it from one of them, I will willingly speak to you. If you just randomly punched it in, however, be prepared to have your life become a living hell in a way only a Kitsune-Kami could contrive."
"You did give this phone number to me, although we usually prefer to talk in person, don't we?" Harry answered, allowing his tone to go throaty for a moment. "How are you and Kunou doing, my love?"
Yasaka chittered happily, and after exclaiming his name, answered his question quickly. "We're doing fine, but I was told that you were heading into something dangerous and into the unknown on top of that. I take it that since you are talking to me and willing to use that tone that everyone is fine?"
"Battered around the edges but yes. I had a quick question. Do you have any plans for the next few days? You and Kunou?"
"No, I don't, at least nothing I can't change around. Meetings and such like, you understand. But I know that tone. I've used that tone a lot. You're planning something, Harry," Yasaka announced. She didn't really enjoy being the one who was teased like this. Foxes were supposed to be the one doing the pranking. But for Harry, her Harry, she was willing to make an exception.
"I am indeed. I don't know if I'll be able to pull it off, especially your aspect. But we'll see. I don't want to get your hopes up, but I do think you should keep your schedule open for the next few days."
"Now, you have me very intrigued!" The two of them teased one another for a time before Harry and Rias switched phones back so that Yasaka and Rias could talk. He and Akeno flirted for a few more moments, but then Kalawarner came in and took up Harry's time again. She wanted to speak to Asia and was not happy to hear that that wasn't going to happen, but she took Harry's word that Asia was fine. Meanwhile, Rias called her family to pass on a message to her brother about how they were nearly done in the United Kingdom and would be moving on to Egypt soon.
Unfortunately, with the time zone difference, it was in the middle of the day there, so Yasaka was quite busy with her own work as the Youkai Association's leader. So she had to leave the discussion soon. Akeno and Kala had more time to talk, and the two of them and Harry flirted for most of the journey, with Rias interjecting here and there and getting rather hot and bothered by listening to all of it. Eventually, the phone conversation ended as Harry and Rias parked the car back in the hotel they had checked into on their arrival in Dublin a few days ago local-time. From there, they turned their attention to other things.
First, they broke apart to do some shopping. Harry went back to Inishshark to send a message to the local leprechauns, telling them he wanted a meeting, although he was told by the local Owl-postmaster that it would be days before they replied. The Wizarding World's leprechauns lived like gypsies and had so many leprechaun type confusion spells on their little caravans that owls could only rarely find them. After they received the message, though, a representative would be able to get back in touch with Harry as best they could.
Meanwhile, Rias picked up various foodstuffs and other supplies, most of which were to help grow their own food in Danan. She also bought several other things, a laptop, the most expensive and most insulated one that Rias could find, enough portable solar chargers of various types to fill the SUV, and the best map-making software as well.
Meanwhile, Harry first teleported himself to Clonakitty. There, he spent around forty minutes examining the site's sending stone, which had been hidden in one of the passage tombs with its now very obvious runes for those with eyes to see them. In other words, Harry or someone else connected to the Tuatha De Danan pantheon. He was looking for the runes detailing where, geographically speaking, this stone had to be in the Undertaking.
After he was certain it wasn't there, he smiled, leaning away from the stone. That's still surprising to think about: that position doesn't matter within the Undertaking or any physical connection one ritual site to another. Thanks to the Tuathans involvement, only the priMittelt numbers seven to five matter. And now for my next trick…
Harry held out his hand, and with a Wingardium Leviosa, he pulled the stone up out of the ground. A moment later, he pushed it into one of the bottomless pouches that Rias had bought during her shopping spree in the Wizarding World. He then replaced the stone with a simple rock he had brought along from Tir Na Nog, placing it in the ground where the sending stone had been. A bit of Transfiguration, and it would fool people for a while. Long enough, at any rate.
Retreating into the nearest bit of peat forest, Harry began to carve out a new array on the bottom of the stone. Linking a Latin and Norse runic array into the existing Celtic was impossible, something Harry had known from putting together the blood-lock array last night after he and Rias had put Lily to bed. While some of the structure was the same, the Celtic runes were just a little too difficult to easily add something new into an existing array. And frankly, adding more magic, especially blood magic, no matter how small-scale, to the Undertaking would be a very bad idea.
He and Rias had talked about that last night as well. Instead, Harry would blood-lock the rock. Only Arthur and Le Fay would be able to see the stone at all, and even then, only when one or the other was holding it. It wasn't a trick that could be used on something of any appreciable size, and Blood Magic was frowned upon in the Wizarding World even when used like this.
That portion of his work for the day took several hours, the runic array being very finicky. Once he was finished with that, he headed to the UK via a series of portkeys. There he bought four brand spanking new wizard tents, each of them capable of housing at least eight people so that their group could spread out and even grow without feeling crowded. Something of them had begun to feel of late after Luna and Rolf's tent had been destroyed in one of the battles in the ruins of the Summer Fae capital. Then he absconded back to Dublin as fast as possible before anyone could notice him or get word to Shack and Neville that he was in town. He wasn't going to be meeting them on their territory but on neutral ground.
The two of them met up for lunch in a small café, where Harry became the envy of many a man there as Rias leaned against his shoulder, he put his arm around her waist. After reporting to one another on their various purchases, they were quiet, just enjoying one another's company and the peaceful atmosphere of the café.
Eventually, Harry's phone, and he picked it up with some reluctance. "Yes, this is Harry."
"Mr. Potter, This is Shanae Leary. We've been able to organize the meeting you requested," an Irish voice began. "The Prime Minister of Britain isn't going to be available, but he is willing to send one of his chief advisers, who like me is a squib and is already aware of this particular issue. Both Minister Shacklebolt and Head Speaker Longbottom will be there and a few others from the Irish and British government. Will you and um, they were called Special Agents Pendragon be able to meet with us at six pm?"
"I did say that we all had the entire day free. That should be fine. It's someplace in Dublin, I presume?" Harry asked, looking over at the clock. It was only two now, which meant… Harry began to smile, his arm tightening around Rias as she whispered the information in her ear. She got the implications immediately, and her face lit up as her breathing began to deepen. "As for the other two, I'll give you their phone number so you can call them directly." Harry did so quickly, eager to end this conversation as quickly as possible and get on to more important things.
"I'll get right on that, and you would be correct, sir. Apparently, your fellows are going to be doing the transportation for the British party. We are meeting in Croke Park. Security is already there, making certain there are no listening devices on the technical side. And I understand that magicals will also provide security."
"Perfect. We'll see you there." Harry hung up, and then negligently tossing the money to pay for their meal, and a fifty percent tip on the table stood up, reaching a hand back to help Rias to her feet only to find her already standing, moving into his arms to give him a long kiss. Then she moved off, the swish of her hips leading Harry out of the café.
The two of them were soon back at the hotel, heading up to the suite, making out intensely in the elevator. As the door opened, Harry gripped Rias's bum with both hands, lifting her up off the ground and onto one shoulder in a fireman's carry before racing down the hallway. Laughing wildly, Rias mock smacked him on the back and head. "Let me down, you brute!" But her laughter told the one person, a young man coming out of one of the other suites, that she wasn't serious about it. Rias even waved at him cheerily as Harry paused to open their door.
Seconds later, Rias found herself on the sofa, the bed being just a bit too far for Harry to stand right now, and they were kissing again, their tongues twisting in Rias's mouth as she whimpered and bucked beneath him, causing Harry to groan in reply. "Would you mind transfiguring us some clothing for the meeting?" Rias asked as she pulled back to breathe.
"Not at all, love," Harry grunted, already pulling off his shirt with one hand. The other hovered about his crotch for a moment, glowing a deep, chilly blue.
"Good." However, Rias disdained such, and with a careful application of magical power, tore their clothing to shreds. "Much quicker this wayYYY!" Her words devolved into a loud moan as Harry, already fully erect, slid into her wet honey-pot, the vestiges of the Blueballs spell still visible for a second. She continued to moan as she humped against him, and Harry only silenced her again by leaning back down and kissing her once more, his hands moving to play with her breasts.
Four hours and two calls from the concierge office asking them to tone down the noise later, Rias reluctantly pulled herself off of Harry, shifting to stand up, their mixed juices running down her legs in a thick, viscous trail. "Darn it, did you have to remind me of our meeting? Surely with the spells you placed on them, Arthur and Le Fay could give this presentation. It's not like we're going to tell anyone what we found over there."
"True, but I want to ask Shacklebolt a question, my love. And frankly, not leaving the locals with any more questions will be a delicate dance I don't think we can leave to the two Pendragons," Harry answered sadly, closing his eyes to shut out the image of Rias standing there in all her nude, sweaty glory. If he didn't, they'd never leave this room until the Muffilatio he'd tossed up after the second noise complaint failed.
He stood up, gesturing towards the shower. "You have a real shower. I'll use spells to clean myself and make us some more clothing." Opening his eyes, Harry made sure to look at Rias's ahoge instead of the rest of her nude form. "Come on, love, politics beckons."
"Politics does not beckon. It is just something we must all deal with, like going to the bathroom or passing gas," Rias grumped, but she moved away from Harry and towards the nearest of the suite's many bathrooms.
They picked up Arthur and Le Fay on the island, where Le Fay had been using the time to write out a report for the government. Ophis wouldn't need such a thing, but their current human employers would undoubtedly prefer that kind of formality. Moments later, they were back in Dublin and walking toward the meeting hall, where they were met by two security personnel, who ran several metal detectors over them all, discovering nothing. Even the small items space that Arthur kept his sword in was immune to electronic discovery.
Le Fay's witchy outfit caused some confusion and some amusement from the Aurors who were also there, all of them dressed like the rest of the security team. They didn't even bother to search them, though, knowing that if Harry wanted to trouble, they certainly weren't strong enough to stop him.
Moments later, they were ushered into the meeting room. This was a circular table so that no one person could claim precedent – an important point between the Irish and British - and the men gathered there all stood up, nodding as Harry and his party entered. Neville nodded to Harry, glanced at Rias, and then looked at Le Fay and Arthur, scratching at his chin thoughtfully. "So you two would be the Pendragon siblings. I have to say when I heard that the mundane government had access to a magic-using family and that the family had kept itself aloof from the Wizarding World, I didn't know what to think. I still don't."
"Nor do I, but I suppose that there's little we can do about it now," Shacklebolt said, nodding his head to the two of them, those his own attention was on Rias. Not just because she was gorgeous, but because his old Auror senses were tingling, telling him this woman was extremely dangerous. "And this lovely lady is…?"
"Ah, forgive me. This is Rias Potter-Gremory, my wife," Harry said, his pride in that statement coming through, as he pulled out a chair for Rias, who smiled at him as she sat down while Le Fay sat next to her on one side Arthur set next to her. "She is an Onmyouji, a Japanese style magical. And as for the Pendragon twins, they have been kind of help. Le Fay is a crackerjack magical analyst, and Arthur is extremely competent when it comes to combat situations."
"Ah, now there is that classic British understatement that I've come to know so well in my dealings with you lot," another man said, thumping the table gently with one hand. "Introductions first, and then I think we all need to know right away, Mr. Potter, if this trouble with the white fog coming out of historical sites and all is finished." When Harry nodded, the man went on. "I'm Terrance Newborn, and this is my secretary, Andrew Bictain. Andrew is a squib, I believe the term is, and my daughter proved to be magical several years back. I was transferred into Division Q, which deals with interactions between the Wizarding World and Ireland. My superior, the Tanaiste, or Deputy Minister knows about magic, but has no wish to interact with it personally, hence my presence."
It was clear that despite being in this position for years that Terrance did not like the fact that the Irish on the magical side had willingly allowed themselves to stay under the control of the British magicals. Harry didn't really see why. After all, you couldn't really have a magical government with only enough people to fill a small town.
As Terrance finished speaking, two of the unknown British men spoke up. "I'm Agent Ashford, and I'm the head of the MI division, which deals with magic in British territory. Beside me is Daniel Craig, the man who reached out to the Pendragons for us recently when more formal communications failed thanks to the siblings' estrangement from their immediate family."
Once everyone had introduced themselves, Harry began their tale, though he didn't tell them everything. First, he told them about the research that had led them to the Fae tree, leaving out the church side of things since it served no purpose. He did not tell anyone what they found in Tir Na Nog, only stating blandly that, "On the other side, we were faced with another issue entirely. Instead of research, we were faced with archaeology, trailblazing and exploration through a country set up to be anemic to magical and nonmagical alike. Eventually, we were able to find the other side of the magical issue here. And closed it down."
By this point, Neville and Schack looked a little annoyed, both of them able to tell Harry was keeping a lot back. Before they could say anything, Harry went on. "The problem was being caused by a group of Fae. I am certain I don't have to tell anyone here what those are?"
"You mean like the fairies and everything? Stealing away babies, curdling milk? So forth?" Terrance asked, rolling his eyes.
"That, and far more dangerous things. Tricking lone travelers into bogs and watching them drown. Causing fires to go awry in a peasant's hut to burn it all down. Becoming mortal, finding a hapless man or woman, stringing them along until they are completely under their power. At which point they are taken and made sport with. Think something from the Inquisition, only done with giggles and moans of delight from the torturers," Rias explained coldly.
At that image, the British magicals shivered, with Neville adding that "That pairs with what we know of the Winter Court of Ireland. There were pockets of them among the Picts and Celts who twisted many druids to their way of thinking during the creation of Wizarding Britain. To most of the Fae, humans are simply toys to be played with however they wished."
Terrance and his secretary still looked dubious, and Rias went on gesturing down at the man's ring finger, which bore a silver band.
"Would you like to never be able to recognize your wife, sir, or make love to another woman thinking it was your wife, only to discover it wasn't, and she would never forgive you? Or perhaps find yourself lost in the woods somewhere, with the baying of hounds on your heels?"
"And unfortunately, even against normal magicals, fairies have a lot of power. Their mind magics don't work quite as well on wizards they would work on normals, but they would still work, especially their illusions," Harry added. "Their illusions can be deadly, actually tricking your mind into thinking the arrow stuck in your side is real, so good that your mind shuts down in response to the imagined pain."
"How did you deal with them?" Shack asked, looking at Harry with a frown on his face. He knew they still weren't being told everything, but the look on Harry's face told him they weren't going to get much more.
"We dealt with the one group that was causing the white fog in their effort to come back to Earth, but we found ourselves outmatched by the rest of the Fae. Knowing how dangerous the Fae could be, I decided to close down the magic between Tir Na Nog and Earth, cutting off the two worlds permanently. It was the only way we could stop magic from leaking into the world and possibly any Fae incursions in the future."
"This magical potential that we were told about, which the fog represented, that's what you're talking about, correct?" Ashford began, looking from Daniel to Le Fay and then back to Harry. All three, and Arthur, nodded in unison, and he sighed, shaking his head. "So you've been able to stop it, so this won't happen again? I want to be very clear about this. We have been balanced on a knife's edge of letting the secret of magic get out ever since this fog phenomenon began, and that would have been a disaster. To say nothing about the rumors coming out of Egypt."
"No, it won't happen again." That was a gross oversimplification, but Harry was positive that no one here really needed to know more than what he was telling right now. Eventually, maybe. But not right now.
Andrew sighed and leaned back in his chair, looking relieved. Terrance and his secretary also looked pleased, while Neville and Schack were watching Harry thoughtfully.
The discussions continued for a while from there, the nonmagicals questioning the magicals closely on a few points. They needed to know if other magicals could activate the fal stones even if they couldn't travel to Tir Na Nog, and they closely questioned Shacklebolt and Neville on the Unspeakables and that group's apparent desire to deal with this issue on their own. The idea of being held to so many magical Oaths that they contradicted one another or overrode your common sense was appalling to all four men while knowing the Unspeakables had basically been defanged was a good step forward.
On the magical side of things, Shacklebolt questioned Harry closely about his report on how the Obliviate spell seemed to be fading from nonmagicals, while Neville asked Le Fay and Arthur questions about their role in this, getting the impression of endless traps, battles, and hard slogging. He also asked questions about their family.
But really, the most important thing for the nonmagicals was the fact that the Obliviate spells might well be losing some of its power. That made no one very happy since Harry couldn't connect that spell's weakness directly to the fog. If stopping the fog did not, in turn, let the spell return to its normal strength, it could have immense ramifications in the future to the security of the Wizarding World.
Seeing this, Harry smirked internally and decided it was the best time to ask one of the two questions he had wanted to pose. "I see by your faces that you don't like this idea. I'm afraid I don't have any crumbs of comfort for you, but I do want to ask if worse comes to worst and magic does become known, would the world survive that knowledge coming out into the open? I'm certain you all have a better idea of how your citizens would react to that."
"No, it wouldn't," Terrance, Ashford and their aides all said as one while Neville and Schack just looked horrified at the very idea.
Ashford continued from there, explaining what he thought of as simple facts to Harry. "For one thing, you're asking governments across the world to openly acknowledge that there are places within their borders where they are not sovereign. That can't happen. Second, knowing about the Wizarding World would toss a lot of what we know about the world wars on their heads, and there would be a lot of questions asked. To say nothing of the knowledge that magical monsters, beasts and animals are real. Then you have the people who simply would never believe that magic is real, the Church and many other religions who would be up in arms about it. Magic is closely tied to Satan, after all. And finally, you would have the sheer shock and anger at the fact that magic was hidden for so long. I wouldn't predict any huge, world-wide anti-magic movement, but I could certainly see lots of small wars and a shite ton of chaos erupting everywhere."
"To say nothing of our side," Neville said, shaking his head. "Our society believes in the separation between the Wizarding World and the normal world like it's a religion, just as much as most of us view muggles as lesser than those of us with magic. Given what I know we have done to keep that secret, there is scant little that our citizens wouldn't do to keep the secret. It would be bloody, and it would be insanely chaotic. I don't think we could ever control it."
Rias nodded at all this, exchanging glances with Harry and the others who knew about the Three Factions and the Khaos Brigade. Nodding back, Harry said simply, "That is why I chose to close the connection between Tir Na Nog and Earth. We can all hope that in so doing, we have halted that degradation."
"And what about Egypt, Mr. Potter?" Terrance asked. "Are you going to be looking into that issue as well?"
"…If I have to for the good of the world and if no one else can, perhaps," Harry sighed, shaking his head. "For now, however, I suggest that we have all reached the end of this particular discussion."
So rattled by Harry's question and the implications of it, not even Neville felt up to questioning Harry about whether or not there was more to their tale, getting up and saying his farewells with the rest of them. Shack, on the other hand, did. He began circuitously. "So, will you ever be moving back to Britain, Harry?"
Harry's polite smile of farewell disappeared into a thin scowl, as next to him, Rias's aura flashed into being for a moment before disappearing. "I believe not Shack. Let's just leave it at that."
Nodding and not backing up like all his combat instincts were telling him to, Shack assayed a thin smile of his own. "Well, I suppose that's a good thing in the long run. It, there's something, something new about you, Harry. Something that makes a little piece of information that the, the Unspeakables were forced to share with me. If in the future, you need access to your gold, I think I would like some warning ahead of time."
If he expected Harry to flinch or back away from that subtle attack, he was mistaken. Harry just nodded and waved him away. While he had plans to make his anger plain with the goblins in the future, the money didn't matter to him. Not thanks to what Harry had already removed, what Rias had done with it and everything else, money itself didn't matter to him. Nor was there anything or anyone in Wizarding Britain that he would need or would miss. "Farewell Shack. Hope you have a nice life. And just remember, after this, you lot are going to have to solve your own damn problems."
Shack grimaced but nodded as the hit went home, while Harry mused that, if Seamus was right, Shack would probably be losing a large number of his constituents in the next year or so. Many other things would have to happen before that, however, and with that in mind, Harry turned to Arthur and Le Fay as the door closed behind Shack, and Rias threw up the Devil-type of privacy charm. The mokeskin pouch disgorged the sending stone, setting it down on its top. "Here is the fal stone. I need some of your blood dripped here and here," Harry pointed to the two specific points on the array Harry had created earlier.
Le Fay eagerly leaned forward, and Arthur and the married couple exchanged grins at her eagerness to learn new things. "I really must introduce you to Tsubaki, Sona and Hermione. The four of you would be a dream team in terms of research."
The young witch of the Pendragons smiled at him before cocking her head to one side, her fingers tracing a few of the runes. "It looks like it will conceal the stone and then only be visible to myself and Arthur. And you can't read more people into it afterward. But why not put it under a Fidelius?"
"Oh, I will," Harry admitted glibly. "But I have no idea if a dragon, particularly a dragon deity's senses can be fooled by that kind of thing. This, though, will hold."
"We Devils have the same kind of array, although it's built around security rather than concealment," Rias added.
Le Fay nodded and watched as Harry cast the Fidelius. This took a bit out of Harry since it basically erased knowledge of the stone from everyone who had seen it. And considering it had been part of a historial site open to the public, that was a lot of people. But the spell still took after a second. There was the normal moment of confusion before Harry read them all into the secret of the stone, but afterward, she and Arthur pricked their fingers and let their blood drip into the correct runes on the new array. A second later, the array glowed with a faint reddish light and seemed to disappear to Harry and Rias's senses, doubly protected.
"Well, that's done, and I think this is where we part as well." He held out his hand to Arthur, who shook it firmly. "Good Luck, and I hope to see you sometime in Kuoh soon, hopefully without Ophis breathing down your neck. But if not, well, at least you have another way out."
Arthur chuckled at that, nodding, and Harry was surprised when Le Fay darted forward, hugging him and Rias both before returning to her brother's side. "I hope to see you both soon too! I am just dying to see what this school you're going to put together will look like! Especially given recent events."
"Heh, me too," Harry replied, watching them go before turning back to Rias. "That went well, I think. Don't you?"
Rias nodded and then asked, "Are you planning to do that with any other sending stones?"
"Well, I want to pick one up before we head back to Kuoh. But otherwise, slowly, yes. I don't want to remove them too quickly. Just in case it creates instability in the Undertaking's magical web. But eventually, I'll remove each of those stones from where they are, to wherever I want them to be."
Harry and Rias took the SUV back to the hotel they had been staying at previously, leaving it there for now before Harry, with Rias next to them, began to meditate on the connection between himself and Danan. He was astonished at how easy it came to him. Harry realized that perhaps with practice, he wouldn't need to use the receiving stones to transfer from one world to another. No one else would be able to do that, but Harry could, thanks to the powers of Manannán he had absorbed. But that would take training and experience. Once more, Harry felt the image of the stone on the cliff's edge forming in his mind. When it was fully formed there, Harry opened his eyes before holding out his hand to Rias. "Ready to go?"
Rias smiled, took his hand in hers, and a second later, the two of them disappeared from the suite.
Instantaneously they appeared in the world of Tir Na Nog, and Harry smiled, happy to see that he had been right about the time-conversion coming back to Danan. They had been gone for nearly an entire day, it being nighttime when they left the hotel. Here, it looked as if it was a little after lunchtime.
However, that thought did not stay in Harry's mind as he stared all around him, his jaw dropping. From where she stood next to him, Rias gaped as well. Because above them, where several gryphons flying to and fro. A few other gryphons were on the ground, and Harry recognized one as Titan. They were mock pouncing and play fighting among themselves and Lily and Koneko. And elsewhere perched on various trees, other gryphons were watching this with parental concern. No one else was around except for Loup, who was wrestling with some of the larger gryphons.
Harry and Rias exchanged a glance, and Rias bit back laughter at Harry's rather annoyed look. "Why do I think that Lily is the cause of all this?"
"Because you know her so well?" Rias replied, shaking her head, linking hands with his.
The two of them moved towards where Lily and the others were, and Harry clapped his hands loudly, magnifying the impact with magic. Everyone there, including gryphons, turned to him. An instant later, Lily popped her head up from behind a small gryphon pushing it out of the way. "Hi, daddy!" She said, smiling winsomely up at him. "Look, some new friends flew in."
Her attempt to act cute didn't work. Harry cocked an eyebrow at her, then looked over at Koneko, who was resolutely looking out over the ocean instead of at Harry and Rias. "Does anyone have anything they want to be telling me?"
Feeling rather like she had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, Koneko began their tale.
Lily watched as her Mum and Daddy disappeared, teleporting back to Earth. Hmm, should there be another word for traveling from one dimension to another? Teleporting seems a little too blah. Ooh, how about shifting!? She thought before grinning and moving over to Titan. She pulled up a scarf she'd put up around his neck, and the bird looked up from where it had been gnawing on a bone. "Why the heck are you doing that anyway? Wolves and such chew on bones so that their teeth stay strong, but you have a beak."
Titan grumbled at her, and she smirked, ruffling his head. "I wasn't saying it's wrong I was just wondering. Are you up for some flying?"
Titan had grown since Lily had bonded with him and now was about as long as she was tall, even though his shoulders barely came up to her own. But that didn't mean that Titan was strong enough to carry her, and the look of confusion her familiar gave her caused the lead to giggle. "Don't worry, I figured out that part too."
Titan squawked at her, and as easily as if Lily understood the Gryphon language, Lily understood that he was asking her what they were going to be doing.
"I told you about there being gryphons around here? And how they didn't come forward to help Daddy and the others fight? Well, I'm going to go searching for them, and I'm going to give them a piece of my mind!"
Titan blinked and then nodded. That made perfect sense to him, and he could see what his person had up her sleeve, and Titan had been hoping to go flying around her in here. He'd been stuck in the familiar forest or in the clan's backyard for his whole life, so seeing something new was a very exciting prospect.
Lily giggled at that and then patted her chest with one hand, closing her eyes, and she concentrated before hopping off the ground, pouting as it didn't seem to work. Harry had been teaching her some spells, but this was one that she had learned watching him and the others use, the Featherweight Charm. Lily had tried it on a few logs and things before but hadn't used it on herself previously. It took her a few tries to get it right, not being able to really see the effect. But eventually, when Lily hopped up, she kept on going quite a bit higher than she normally had.
When she came down, Koneko caught her, one hand resting on Titan's head while her other arm snaked around Lily's legs holding her in the air as the catgirl looked up at her. "Are you up to some mischief?"
Lily laughed. "Yep! But I suppose you can come with me."
Koneko frowned at that but then nodded. After all, If she went with Lily, she wouldn't be in any real danger. "Can you do that charm on me too? I want to know how long it lasts, just in case," Koneko ordered, reflecting that she really needed to start practicing more spell work. She had concentrated on the shield spell, and a few attack spells before this, but Koneko knew she needed to enlarge her repertoire.
In reply, Lily tapped Koneko on the chest, and Koneko promptly tested it out, bouncing over Titan's head nearly knocking her head into a tree limb above before she raised her hand hastily, pushing back down to the ground, where she made a bit of a divot rise upon impact. The featherweight charm simply lightened her body. It didn't do anything to Koneko's basic strength. Lily moved over to Titan with a grin, getting on its back, then wrapping her arms around his neck for a moment. "Ready?"
The gryphon had watched all this with interest. Now feeling no weight on his back from his mistress's body, Titan flapped it's his wings and nodded eagerly.
Koneko twitched, her shoulders twitching as her Devil wings appeared there.
Lily pouted at that, muttering "show off" as Koneko took to the air, with Titan following on the Rook's heels. Once in the air, Lily oriented herself, pointing along the coastline to one side. "Somewhere along the edge here is where the gryphons make their home, some kind of really tall spire I think it was the word the dwarves used when they talked about 'em. Not certain what 'spire' really means when you're talking about a mountain, but I figure we'll know it when we see it or when we start to see gryphons in the air."
This last prediction proved prophetic. Within forty-five minutes of flying as fast as Titan could go without tiring himself, they started to see gryphons in the air. And it was very obvious right away that they too had been spotted. Several gryphons flew towards them, crying out challenges. But Titan challenged them in return, his squawk far less strident but just as challenging.
Hearing that, several of the gryphons peeled away, while one of them dove down towards them, at an angle that made it clear he wasn't aiming directly at Titan and his rider. The Gryphon hovered in midair to one side of them as Lily and Titan came to a stop, with Koneko hovering protectively above and behind them. She glared down at the Gryphon, who ignored her in favor of looking at Titan and Lily. It squawked several times at Titan, and Lily realized with a start that these gryphons might well be as intelligent as the ones in the familiar forest, not at all like the variety she had been told about in the Wizarding World kept alive for potion and wand ingredients.
Titan replied in kind, and the Gryphon didn't seem to like his response. It growled now, an odd sound coming from a beak, even one matched to a lion-like head and flexed his talents in midair. Koneko made to move forward, but Lily, who had followed Titan's side of the conversation, shouted out, "My name is Lily Potter! My Dad is the new High King of Danan, and I have come to speak to your chieftain!"
Other gryphons had been spiraling towards Koneko preparing for a fight, but all of them heard Lily's shout and paused, including the one facing her. It moved above them in the air slightly to stare hard into Lily's face, and Lily stared back, crossing her arms, completely unafraid and not just because she knew Koneko was there. She might not have shown it, but she had been really annoyed ever since they had learned that gryphons were here, and none of them had come forward to fight with her Daddy. That seemed very not-gryphon behavior to her. And it made her angry.
The gryphons began to move aside, and the one that had been talking to Titan turned, guiding Lily and her big sister forward. Soon they came within sight of what looked to Lily like someone had taken a giant mountain, squished it like so much clay to make a long tube-shaped mountain instead of a normal one, and then stuck it on the edge of the cliff. It reminded Lily of the tail on a plane or something like that, only much steeper all around, it's top disappearing into the clouds.
The gryphon in front of them started to ascend through the air, and Koneko and her charge had to follow them. By the time they arrived where they were going, Lily felt she was short of breath and realized that must have been just as much of protection for the gryphons as the ability to fly at all.
In front of them, the clouds parted to show a side of the mountain facing out to the sea, opening slightly into a small valley hidden near the top of the mountain. Its grounds were lined with grass and a few trees even, and at the center, there was a spring of some kind. And all around them, young gryphons were sticking their heads out of their nests or hopping down to come closer to the newcomers, staring at them with interest, as well as wariness. The oldsters were mostly wary, but none of them were apparently willing to start anything beyond squawking seeing Titan with them. That, and Lily's earlier challenge to see the chief.
That chieftain was old. It was big too, at least half again the size of any gryphon that Lily had ever seen before. Its plumage was mostly white, with a bit of blonde hair mixed in with its mane, and one eye was missing, clawed out in some ancient battle or other. It glared at Lily, then squawked angrily, it's mane ruffling as it bared its claws and arched its back in a threatening gesture.
Lily hopped off of Titan, patting him on the head and ruffling the area where feather met for her, which Lily knew he liked. Then she squared off against the chieftain, crossing her arms as behind her, Koneko landed. The Nekoshu too crossed her arms and then made a point of pulling out the Boosted Gear, where the gem flared to light. Feeling the Boosted Gear's draconic aura, all eyes of the gryphons twitched to her, and she let a tiny smirk appear on her face. "Play nice."
As she said it, Ddraig became aware of what was going on, and, seeing through his gauntlet's limited senses, Lily staring down a giant gryphon, sighed theatrically. "I really hope that when she grows up you lot let me bond permanently to that girl. I really, really do. That kind of courage and will, with my power? She could become one of my strongest partners ever, and I mean that. You and Harry are great, but there's a difference between partnering with someone and being bound to your partner, if you see what I mean."
Hearing Koneko's words and Ddraig's, Lily was amused, but she didn't let it stop her. Heck, seeing all the gryphons around them who were probably fighting age simply made her and more annoyed with them all and eager to share that annoyance with them. She canceled the lightening charm as she stepped forward, glaring up at the old Gryphon. He glared down at her, which she replied to by transforming into her werewolf form before she bared her teeth. "You talk a big talk now, but where were you in my Daddy, and our friends helped fight the Winter Court! The dwarves, the leprechauns, even the fairies came forward!"
That wasn't exactly a denigration against Luna's fairies. Lily just knew that they were the least warlike of the Fae. "Where were you when we won!"
That statement sent a shock through all the gryphons there, as if many of them hadn't heard of the Winter Court's defeat before this. Lily didn't care though, she marched straight up to the chieftain, glaring up at him, daring him to attack her as she shouted in his face. "All along, we've had trouble fighting their conjured monster crows in the sky, all along that's one area which always causes us a lot of trouble. And then we hear about there being gryphons, and I think, wow! Now that they know, they'll come and help! Instead, you all sat up here! Like, like ostriches sticking your head in the sand!"
Lily didn't know if these gryphons had any idea of what an ostrich was, but apparently, enough of the insult got through to make them very angry. All of them shrieked and cawed, scratching at the earth with her claws, and the chieftain squawked in her face, raising a paw.
Before Koneko could move, Lily raised a hand and bopped the chieftain right on the beak, causing it to stumble backward. "Oh, that's brave of you! Threatening a kid! That's just proving that I'm right!"
That caused all of the gryphons to stop squawking except for the chieftain, who turned his head to one side to glare at Lily even harder with his one remaining eye.
At that point, Lily's tone changed. "I know what it's like to be scared," She said, patting his beak now as if he wasn't large enough to tear her limb from limb. "I know that sometimes running away is the best option. But if you keep on hiding, if you keep on keeping to yourselves like this, you'll never grow beyond it." She looked around at the dale. "Look at how crowded you all are! Wouldn't you like to spread out? Well, thanks to my Daddy and the rest like Koneko, you can. But you didn't help that! And I think it would be a really good gesture if you came and met with my Daddy and Luna, the great-granddaughter or whatever of the Summer Queen, Titania."
That name seemed to strike a chord with the gryphons, and even the chieftain backed away, staring at her in shock.
She just smiled up at him beatifically, using a line Lily had heard her Daddy use occasionally when he talked about how backward the Wizarding World was in their understanding of the nonmagical world. "See what happens if you don't interact with the world around you? You get surprised."
The chieftain looked at her then over to Koneko, who cocked her head to one side, her tail swishing behind her. Koneko had been in her natural Nekoshu form since they had arrived in Danan. It squawked again, and thanks to her being a devil and thus speaking all tongues, she could understand him. "It's true," she affirmed. "We beat the Winter Court, and one of our friends Luna, is apparently related to Titania."
The clan of gryphons began to squawk and jabber amongst themselves, the adults beyond a certain age gathered around the chieftain as Lily backed away back to Titan, noticing several of the youngsters had hopped down from their nests and made their way forward. For some reason, she felt they were commenting on his bright red scarf, which made her smile, before rubbing his head again.
Eventually, the chieftain moved over to loom above Lily again along with Titan. Lily crossed her arms again and glared up at him. "Well, are you going to try to bully me again?"
Behind them, Koneko also prepared herself to rush forward just in case, while Titan simply glared up at the older Gryphon, his smaller claws gripping the ground as he began to hiss a continual sound of warning. But finally, the Gryphon just nodded his aged head, once, and dozens, then hundreds of gryphons flapped their wings, taking to the air and moving out of the dale.
Listening to this, Harry kneaded his face and then shared a look with Rias, who just nodded back in silent agreement with his thoughts. "Well, since Koneko was with you, I won't get too angry about this. Still, you agreed to take her along, but you didn't search her out to come with you. And, Lily, you deliberately waited until I was gone to do this since you knew I would forbid it. So while you won't be punished as much, I am still going to have to punish you a bit."
Lily pouted at that, kicking at the ground, but eventually nodded. "Fine, Daddy, what kind of homework do I have to do for this?"
"No homework. Instead, I think I am going to have the punishment fit the punished. You and yes, Koneko, you as well. You should've known better too. You are both going to sit on the cliff face for two hours. Without moving from that position. Without games or anything else. You're just going to sit there and stare out over the ocean."
Lily's eyes widened in horror as Koneko's ears flattened against her skull. "What!?"
"I agree, Lily," said Rias, reaching forward to pat the girl on the head. Then taking her chin and moving her face upwards to look Rias in the eye. "I realize that we are rather horrible examples. Your father more than me, admittedly. But," Harry Rias went on, ignoring Harry's mutter of 'Oy!' "you willingly put yourself in danger when you didn't have to just because you are angry and annoyed that gryphons like Titan didn't fight for themselves. I can understand that, but that isn't exactly an important big-time deal, nor were you acting very smartly. So while I am proud of your courage, just as I was proud that you knew your limitations and still wanted to help in some of the fights against the Winter Court, you will still be punished for not thinking things through and for going behind your father's and my backs."
Put like that, Lily scowled but couldn't argue. Koneko too looked a little sheepish, although Harry made a point of rubbing her head just right, causing her eyes to close and for her to headbutt his hand in Nekoshou heaven. "It isn't that we don't trust you to watch over her Koneko, but that we also want you to be a role model of how to act, okay?"
With that, Harry removed his hand and let it fall to her shoulders, pushing her lightly towards the cliff as Rias did the same with Lily. "Now go on. The faster you start your punishment, the faster it will be done."
Once the two girls were sitting about 6 feet apart staring out into the ocean, and Rias had confiscated a Game Boy that she knew that Koneko always had in her pocket unless she was anticipating a fight, the two lovers turned their attention to the others. Harry sought out the Gryphon chieftain, who was waiting to one side, something of a smirk on his face. At the same time, Rias began to pull out all of the food they had purchased.
During this time, Yubelluna and Asia returned from their attempts to cleanse the Council Tree of the Winter Court's influence. With Asia's continued help, Yubelluna brought out all the accouterments from the tent that they would need for a cookout, only for Loup to halt his wrestling, shifting back into his human form. Pushing Yubelluna lightly out of the way around the portable grill. "I've got this," he said very firmly. "You prepare the side dishes."
Yubelluna rolled her eyes but responded in the affirmative, and soon Luna, Rolf, Tonks and Mittelt showed up from their own explorations. The three Brits started to put up wizard lights as Mittelt moved over to join Rias, working with the mapping program.
Staring out to sea, Lily heard all of this behind her, but stuck in place by a Sticking Charm, she couldn't even turn her head to look. She could only turn her neck, so much, and couldn't look directly behind her. "What's going on?"
"Well, you know how yesterday we were still busy with negotiations and everything? We couldn't very well celebrate our victory then, or even that night, we were so tired. Now, however, it is a time to party." Harry paused, then continued on. "And just think, if you hadn't run off, you could be participating right now."
Lily's groan was music to his parental heart.
Still chuckling, Harry turned his back to the discussion with the Gryphon chieftain, who wanted to mark out a portion of the forest as his people's own. The gryphons were fine with sharing land with the fairies, but not the dwarves or the leprechauns. They didn't want the dwarves anywhere near their mountain, which was fair enough. Harry had already noted where the dwarven lands would be, and very much doubted they would ever be able to spread that far.
The leprechaun issue was a bit thornier, built around past personal issues between a few individuals on both sides. As was what Harry wanted from the gryphons as king of Danan: a Gryphon Guard. Sixty gryphons to be used as a guard force for Kuoh and if it ever came to it Danan. The idea of those guards being armored and armored was a fascinating one, but the old gryphon chieftain had an issue with the idea of letting his people be sent back to Earth like that.
Eventually, the old chieftain agreed in return for food animals, pigs, sheep, moose and such, being brought back into Tir Na Nog, specifically the gryphons territory. All the gryphons were tired of squirrels of fish. Indeed, it was only through extremely draconian population control and the ability to hunt out over the ocean that the gryphons had been doing as well as they had. So long as the gryphons could access the weapons the Gryphon Guard would be given, Harry would have his guards.
By the time he finished explaining all the other agreements to the Gryphon chieftain, many of the dwarves, leprechauns and others had already arrived, with Luna leading a troop of fairies, all of whom sat on her shoulder's, head or on Rolf, while others flitted towards where Lily sat, buzzing around her and Koneko, asking them why they were sitting like this. When Harry shouted at them to leave the two alone for that they were being punished, the fairies to a woman giggled and laughed and cavorted in front of Lily and Koneko in midair, before disappearing to either side and then proceeding to make loud noises and shouts of "Oh, this is so much fun," and so forth.
This showed that despite Being Summer Fae, they still enjoyed playing tricks on humans.
Of course, Loup couldn't cook for everyone, and soon enough, dwarves and leprechauns came forward, creating several charcoal pits here and there across the edge of the cliff. The smoke and smells of the meat cooking wafting out to the ocean. And coincidentally, making Koneko and Lily groan again.
About 30 minutes before time really expired on their punishment, Harry and Rias exchanged a glance over the heads of everyone else preparing for the feast. Harry nodded at Rias, who smiled and moved through the crowd, crouching between the two girls.
She then lightly tapped each of them on the shoulders, dispelling Harry's sticky spell on them. "I think you've both learned a lesson. One, don't go behind your parents, and two, don't go along with the crazy," She said, winking at Koneko. "Like Harry said, you're supposed to be not just a protector, but a voice of reason too."
Koneko grumbled, muttering that "if that's the case, I'll either be out of work because no one listens to me, or too busy to do anything else!"
That night, much of the party was for the people of Tir Na Nog, who wanted to let their hair down and push the past horrors of being under the Winter Court behind them. This meant the party was exceedingly raucous, busy and sprawling. Luna danced the night away surrounded by Fairies, who glowed different colors as they spun and played flutes that only they could hear. Luna was partaking in some kind of drink that the fairies had, and her eyes were glowing like a rainbow was shining through them as she danced around. Rolf was nearby, talking to a group of gryphons that had opted to stay and partake of the festivities.
Most had retreated. Gryphons had excellent hearing, just like the lions their bodies resembled. Hearing the various fairy bands tuning up had been enough to convince most of them to take flight.
Over there, Mittelt and Rolf tried to explain football's rules to a group of dwarves, Aibell and her husband. All of them were trying to explain some kind of sport of their own, all of them deep in their cups. Cups that were filled with dwarven mead, more alcoholic by far than even Devil-made wine. Harry was waiting for the heavy drinkers to realize that the dog, who had yet to be named, had been stealing from their mugs every time one of them sat one down.
Lily had fun at first. This whole setup reminded Lily of the impromptu street festival that had occurred after the wards back in Kyoto had been empowered. But she really was starting to miss her best friend Kunou, however. And frankly, the amount of partying and simply raucous bellowing and shrieking that the fairies, dwarves, and everyone else was doing had, while being cool at first, quickly become overpowering. So despite having Koneko, Asia and Titan around her, Lily decided to head to bed early. Titan flew off to join a nearby pride of gryphons, while the two teenage girls both also wished to turn in Harry, and Rias too decided to head to bed. They'd had their husband-and-wife time. Now it was family time.
Thanks to Harry buying several more magical tents, everyone was able to spread out. Harry and Rias guided Lily to a brand-new one that Harry had bought with this purpose in mind. It had a massive king-sized bed that looked to Harry as if someone had taken a king and queen-sized bed and stuck them side-to-side. When Asia and Koneko decided to join them for some quality cuddle time, this proved a worthwhile investment.
Yubelluna watched them go and then yelped as suddenly Harry disappeared from where he had been walking beside the others too right in front of her, lifting her up over his shoulder. "You didn't think we'd leave you out, did you?" He teased. "I don't think so, Yubelluna."
Yubelluna smacked him on the back ineffectually as Harry carried er over to the tent in a similar manner to how he had carried Rias through the hotel hall earlier that day. But like Rias before her, Yubelluna was laughing as she did it.
Over with the heavy drinkers, Loup and Mittelt both watched this in amusement and then turned back to a few more somber dwarves. Hours later, Mittelt cackled, throwing her arms up as the last of the dwarves succumbed to the drink. Loup hadn't even lasted an hour. "That's right, assholes! Fear the goth loli!"
A loud bark from one side caused her to stare at the dog. Sitting on its haunches, it's head was a good foot over her own. And next to it was one of the dwarves' large barrels of mead. Looking inside, she saw it was about a quarter full. The dog then, still locking eyes with her, leaned in and loudly slurped up more of the mead, then hopped up, twirling around on his tail, and then leaping up and over her before racing back to his original position. There it looked back at her, cocking its head to one side challengingly.
"Oh, it's on, doggie!" Mittelt growled, grabbing up her stein again and dipping it into the barrel. The two of them glared at one another, then began to drink once more.
Who won none but the two of them could say as they had continued to drink even after the party started to subside, the various races retreating to their own areas of the sprawling campsite. Regardless of if Mittelt won or not, Mittelt was not happy to be roused by someone shaking her, "Come on, everyone! Up on your rears, it's time to do some exploration!"
Mittelt opened her eyes from where she had fallen asleep on the crass to glare over at where Harry was smiling at her and Loup unrepentantly. "Bugger off!" she growled out,
"Oh no, we're all going on an adventure tonight, Mittelt. Up and at them," Rias added, already bringing out breakfast with the help of Tonks.
The smell of the food hit Mittelt, and she groaned, twisting to one side, her face going green. Nor was she the only one.
After laughing a bit at Loup and Mittelt's misfortune, Harry moved back towards the other, absently noting that the dwarves and leprechauns had left, to their own private miseries. Luna and Rolf were also nowhere to be seen, something that concerned him a bit, but he figured that together they would handle anything out there now with the Winter Court gone.
Looking around, Harry noticed that Tonks and Koneko were both vibrating in their seats eagerly, while Asia looked interested as well. After all, all of them had already felt what water transportation in a river was like under Aibell's direction. But the ocean was so much, well, more! Chuckling, Rias, who had noticed the same thing, gestured to the food. "We don't have to wait on the drunks, everyone, eat up. We've got a big day ahead of us."
Loup grumbled for a bit, but thanks to his werewolf constitution, even the mead of the dwarves could not curse him with a hangover for very long. Mittelt wasn't so fortunate and kept alternating between glaring at Rias, Harry and, for some reason, the giant Cu Sith as breakfast was devoured. In turn, the dog looked faintly smug, even as it was trying to figure out what all the group was up to that had so many of them looking like they had ants in their pants.
Everyone was soon down on the shoreline, with Titan having been shrunk to half his normal size by Harry. This made it easier for Lily or one of the others to corral him if curiosity got the better of him.
All eyes there turned to Harry as he waded out into the water until he was waist-deep. Beyond the breakers, several dolphins had begun to swim closer, while all around them, the fal stones that Manannán Mac Lir placed here glowed at the closeness of Harry and his powers.
Closing his eyes, Harry began to shape the spell as the goddess had told him he would have to, and smiled as portions of this water underneath and all around him started to solidify, dipping down as it glowed a light blue. The water touched by his magic became solid like it had become ice, except it wasn't cold. A moment's more concentration enlarged the area and then provided seats for everyone in two rows. Satisfied with his work, Harry called out, "All aboard everybody."
Everyone else clambered in, but Lily had a question. She was still in a kind of off mood, thanks to missing Kunou, something she gave voice to now. "Why are we doing this instead of heading back to Earth and then trying to get back to Japan, daddy?" She knew that Harry had no intention of taking her into Egypt with him.
"Because I want to practice here a bit with this first Lil. And I want to make certain that spell can't be interrupted either. Besides, there's someone else out there who might be able to help us go even faster than we would normally."
Lily nodded, but she still looked a little morose. Turning from where he was at the front of the streamlined roller-coaster tram, Harry pulled her into a hug, sitting her in front of him at the direct front of the watery vessel he had created. "Don't worry, lovey," he whispered. "You and Kunou will have a lot of time to spend together, I'm sure of it. I've also been thinking about ways to help Yasaka and her transportation problems too."
Lily perked up at that and perked up further when the watching dolphins, after getting over their surprise and retreating a bit, came back with a vengeance. Several of them hopped up and over the now slowly moving bit of water underneath Harry and the others, while others swam alongside or underneath, then flipped themselves up and over it.
Having no need to hide, Harry hadn't added that aspect to the water transportation spell. Instead, they were skimming through the water at about head height.
Seeing the happy-go-lucky creatures, Lily laughed, hopping to her feet and almost crushing Harry's boy bits with a misplaced foot to shout out, "Hello!" waving her arms frantically. Asia was also grinning wildly, waving at the magnificent creatures. Koneko was smiling her normal small smile, but sitting nearby, Rias could tell that she was having a lot of fun too by the twitching of her tails. Even Mittelt was slowly getting over her earlier bad humor, staring at the dolphins with a whimsical expression on her face.
Seeing all this, Harry smirked suddenly and reached into the spells matrix, giving it a bit more juice and direction.
Everyone screamed as Harry suddenly banked the water cart then sped up before diving deeper into the water, the area of water under his control enclosing them up above as had been previously when Aibell used it. They dove down almost until the water was too dark to see through, staring at the various fishes and dolphins who were racing along still beside them.
"They have to be magically enhanced," Rias murmured, watching as the dolphins kept up. "There's no way they could be keeping up with us. Unless you've slowed us down, Harry?"
"The twists and turns do slow us down a little, but we're still going pretty darn fast, I estimate something like two-hundred nautical miles per hour? Maybe twice that in a straight line?" Harry laughed, shaking his head in exaltation. "And we could be going even faster if I pumped more of my magic into the spell structure."
Water travel wasn't instantaneous, certainly not over any kind of distance. But it was still immensely fast, far faster than anyone could even fly on a broomstick, let alone with their own wings like the Devils had, or even through technological means if Harry pushed it. But Harry, seeing everyone enjoying the trip, saw no need to do so.
The only one of them who didn't seem to be enjoying himself was Titan. Unable to ignore his instincts to pounce, Titan tried to poke his head through the water to grab at a tasty fish several times. But each time, his head bounced off. Finally, Lily grabbed him, and the journey continued without the annoying squawking noise he had been making.
About an hour after the trip began, Rias started to frown, looking around in some confusion. The solid water of the transportation spell had broken the surface again, but beyond their water source, there wasn't anything interesting around them to see just now. "Where are you taking us, Harry? I feel as if we just started to hit some kind of ward. It's warning us off, trying to make us turn back."
"That doesn't surprise me. Aibell told me that there was an island to the west of Tir Na Nog out to the open sea back in our own world. An island that might have another surviving Tuathan living on it. Apparently, he was something of a recluse and made the transfer to Danan long before the battle against the Christians had begun their takeover of Ireland. But he was a demigod who looked to Manannán Mac Lir as his Lord, and I hope to do some business with him."
At that point, Tonks used a spell to try and figure out how far they had come magically. Luna and Rolf had put it together, teaching Tonks the day before while Rias and Harry were away. "W, we've gone around nine hundred nautical miles. Shite, that's about halfway to America in a straight line!"
"Exactly. That means that even heading home would be a trek, and I want to see if this man can give us anything to heighten the speed of water transportation further. Or at the very least make it more comfortable."
"Comfort would be good," Loup murmured, shifting in his seat.
A moment later, Harry frowned as everyone else began to perspire and look around, with Mittelt and Tonks going so far as voicing a desire to turn aside. The only ones who didn't were himself, Lily and Asia, although Asia was also looking a little concern at the moment.
Closing his eyes, Harry reached forward, using the Danan's web of background magic to reach forward into the ward ahead of them, discovering that the ward was taking power from the background magic rather than the individual who had created that, Harry could easily either disconnected or read them all into it, which he did quickly.
Instantly, everyone felt better, and soon enough they came within sight of the island housing the ward's source.
The island, Harry estimated, would be somewhere halfway between America and Ireland in their world. Not on a straight line, more on a slight downward accent towards the south. And as they moved around it, Tonks, the most well-traveled of the group, murmured, "It's a tiny thing. About the size of the Isle of Rum maybe, or perhaps smaller still."
And yet for all of that, it was heavily forested. Trees seemingly covered every bit of the shoreline, the depth of the forest impenetrable through their trunks. And these were big trees too, as big as the ones on Tir Na Nog. Harry whistled as he took them in, the transport moving ever close to the wooded shoreline. "Well, I think we have learned now that plant life on this planet is going to be quite a bit bigger than at home."
Lily looked at the plants and then looked around her father, who had once more put Lily in his lap for this last bit, uncertain of how to well land them, to look over at Asia. "I wonder what kind of cherries a cherry tree in this world could make."
"Oooh, that's a thought," Rias said with a nod, "we haven't seen much in the way of fruit in Tir Na Nog yet beyond peaches and grapes. Could be a good trade resource." To one side, Asia had lost herself in a fantasy of a cherry the size of her head. If they let her, the girl would eat cherries as a main meal every day.
Harry nodded firmly, pulling out a scroll from his mokeskin pouch and writing down on it for a moment before Harry put it away and slowly ended the spell.
Being at the far back of the cart, Loup was still a little too far out to sea, and he grunted as the water underneath him suddenly realized it should be a liquid rather than solid, dumping him to his shoulders in saltwater. The others were much closer, and Lily laughed as her father tossed her with a bit of added magical help up to grab onto a tree limb where she flipped herself upwards, followed quickly by Koneko and Tonks. Next, Harry helped Yubelluna and Rias up onto the nearest tree-limb, rather than the very thin bit of sand that separated the trees from the ocean. Then he leaped up after them, transforming into a werewolf to get an added push, as Loup did the same nearby. For her part, Mittelt disdained all of these maneuvers and simply flapped her wings twice to rise into the air. She was now perched on top of the tallest tree nearby, looking smug while the others struggled in the lower branches.
Past the island's outer edge, about fifteen minutes of scrambling and climbing allowed the group to push through what was obviously a kind of crude barrier into a more open area of the forest. As they came out, the earthers startled several wolves, who were gnawing on the corpse of an antelope. The five wolves bared their fangs at the humans and Devils, causing Rias to cock her head thoughtfully. "Intellectual evolution, I believe, is the phrase, these wolves don't seem to have any of the native intelligence I would have assumed they would being in such a magically charged environment."
Harry, Lily and Loup all transformed, snarling back at the wolves, who quickly put their tails between their legs and raced off, whimpering into the trees. Unlike fox's and Kitsune, wolves did not get along with werewolves. Anything about werewolves and wolves getting along was just fallacy. According to Yasaka, this was because, "Wolves are just smart enough to know that werewolves are not like them, and not smart enough to see the joke."
Harry frowned, staring all around the, having gotten turned around a bit as they climbed through the trees. He tried a Point Me spell using the name the goddess a given him. "Point me, Lan!" When it didn't work, he scowled. "Of course not. That would make it too easy".
"Mittelt?" Rias asked, tilting her head up to shout at their aerial expert. "What can you see from up there?"
"There is a house out there," Mittelt's voice filtered back down to them through the canopy of the forest, sounding somewhat dubious or perhaps amused. She dropped down towards them, landing on a nearby tree limb right over Rias, looking down at her and Harry. "There's a house, but it's more of a shack than anything else. I swear, I could knock the thing over by blowing on it, let alone actually attacking. But at the same time, right next to it, is this an even larger I don't know woodcraft place? Where they build ships before putting them in the water?"
"Drydock," Tonks supplied.
"Right that. There was a boat there too, about halfway finished, I think, and while I don't know much about boats, it sure as heck looked a lot better than the hut!"
"That makes sense given what the goddess told me about this guy," Harry said with shut shrugged his shoulders. "Which way?"
Moments later, a growl sounded from one side of the path they were taking, almost artificial in tenor, like it was coming from some kind of instrument rather than a living throat. The next second giant bear creature, which made a Kodiak bear look small, rumbled out of the woods, charging towards them, trying to convey the same ponderous unstoppable nature as a tank. Behind it came several other wooden automatons, and Harry looked at them closely, while the others all spread out. None of them were afraid of this attack simply interested. After the past few weeks, a direct assault like this was not any kind of threat.
The creatures were made of wood for the most part and stone in places, their paws and snouts, the areas of highest wear and tear. They were magnificent constructs, each different, covered with different carved out images and Celtic runes.
Seconds later, they charged forwards only to be stopped by Koneko. She bounded forward and grabbed the swiftly attacking paw of the bear thing, halting in its place. "Toys should play nice," she murmured, tossing it up and over the woods in the direction they had been traveling. Harry laughed at that but then using the Immobulus spell on the others. "We don't want to destroy these things. I don't want to get on Len's bad side any further than we already will be by interrupting his solitude."
"Yes, you did say that this man was kind of a hermit." Rias moved forward, grabbing up two of the smaller wolflike automatons with Demonic strength, and then looked around at the others. "Well, pick them up. We should at least return his toys to him, shouldn't we?" she mock-admonished.
Moments later, they pushed through the forest carrying their burdens, to find the owner of the island facing them with a frown and a massive hatchet in one hand. As he stared at them, his anger slowly subsided into wary interest as he, pointing at Harry. "You're not Manannán Mac Lir, although you feel somewhat like him to my senses. Regardless, I don't like visitors, unannounced or otherwise."
Harry shrugged. "Did you like your nearest neighbors then? The Winter Court?"
"Be serious," the man scoffed, spitting to one side. "I'd had no truck with them either. Or any other," he added pointedly. "Leave me alone."
"Even if I come to you with a commission?"
The man thawed very slightly at that, crossing his arms and glaring at Harry, while the others observed him silently.
Len was an old man, but he wasn't old as a man or Devil would be. Rather he looked old like an oak tree or a piece of granite perhaps aged over time. His eyes were the same color as a maple leaf. His hair was dark green, chopped almost viciously short with an equally short beard. His hands were large for his size but looked dexterous with long triple-jointed fingers. His outfit looked like a typical druid's outfit almost, accompanied by a workman's pants, but both were badly soiled, patched here and there with leaves rather than cloth. His tools, on the other hand, which were on his belt and impeccably well-maintained, as was the belt itself.
"It depends on what kind of commission you mean. I build boats," Len said firmly. "Everything else I build is for me alone. I'll not make you automatons, I will not help you put up a house," he snarled the words as if they personally offended him, "and I won't help train you in the use of the boat I build for you or my woodcraft. Moreover, beyond the size of it, I won't take any advice on how to build it or ought of that nature, from useless landlubbing cunts who think taking womenfolk out to see can mean anything but disaster."
"I am the High King of this world through the right of conquest," Harry said softly, "and I would ask you to keep a civil tongue in your mouth while you are talking to my family." He glared hard at the man, and in his hands, a spell began to appear as Fragarach appeared in his other hand. "Do I make myself clear?"
Len saw that, took in the ages of Lily and Mittelt (apparent age rather) and nodded, mumbling, "It isn't my fault if it's true that women are bad luck." He then sighed. "What kind of boat were you looking for me to build for you?"
"One that can handle the ocean waves, one that is comfortable, small, and one that will work with my water transportation spell," Harry rattled off.
Nodding, Len grunted and gestured them to follow him. The man led them away from his house and to what had looked to Mittelt from the air like just another bit of forest. Instead, it was an overhang, which concealed a small cove which led out to the ocean, the entrance of which was also cleverly concealed.
From the overhang down to the ocean, it was around five stories. They wound down a flight of single-story steps until they paused at the sight of the head of them.
Because along the walls of that cover in countless little alcoves, there were ships. Hundreds of ships placed in alcoves carved out of the rock, shrunk down to the size where they could fit in little containers all around.
It was hard to tell in the overpass's shadow, but once more, all of them realized that they were looking at amazing examples of the shipbuilders' art. Indeed, some of these ships seemed to have been made out of one piece of wood, or perhaps every piece of wood that went into them had been melded together. Harry thought that was an interesting concept, wondering if the spell to do that was something he could learn and pass on.
Len looked at each ship one after another after another, then went up to one seemingly at random and nodded. "This is the one." Len looked back at Harry, his face taciturn. "You'll pay me in foodstuffs and cloth. I have no hand for the growing of vegetables or fruits. Any sausages or meats you have on hand that doesn't come from deer or elk I will also take. And then get off my island."
The boat was a slightly large ketch with two sails. Every line of it was perfectly designed, with a fresco of waves and mermaids on the side. At the back, the wood shifted into some kind of stone so smoothly you had to look very hard to see the seam, and while there was a wheel, there was no rudder. Instead, a few bulbous glass bits were sticking out at the end, rimed with runes. The lines of runes moved up into the ship both inside and outside the tiny two-person room that was the only internal area of the ship.
Len pulled it out of the bottle, set it into the water, and then enlarged it by running a thick finger along the top of the ship before stepping back sharply to the back of the walkway. The ship grew, and he hopped aboard. A few minutes of work followed while Rias and Tonks pulled out food from their newly refilled supplies and a six of Harry's jeans. When the god of shipbuilding told them to come aboard, they noticed he had removed the foremost mast entirely, along with all of the sailing rigging, while installing several chairs of the lounge variety. The bits of the ship he had removed was hovering in the air to one side, shrunk back to the size they had been in the bottle.
He looked at the food, grunted and hopped off the ship. A single levitation spell had the trade goods hovering in the air ahead of him, and, without another word, he stomped up the stairs back to his hovel.
Harry, Rias and the others all looked at one another and then shrugged, and Harry moved over to the wheel, taking it in both of his hands before once more calling upon his water transportation powers.
Moments later, as his magic began to push them along faster than even the fastest boat could've moved, faster even than a plane or jet, Harry quipped. "Well, everyone, this is a much more comfortable way to travel, don't you think?" He estimated now that they were doing around 500 nautical leagues, maybe more, in forty minutes. That was pretty darn good, and this was nowhere near as fast as Harry knew they could go.
"Where to now, husband mine?" Rias asked, leaning against his side for a moment, watching as Lily and Koneko sat on the prow of the boat, with Tonks next to them, grinning all the while.
"I want to see if Tiamat was right about there not be a continent where Europe should be. I'm pretty certain she's right, though," Harry answered, his tone turning wry. "While it has some features that looked a lot like Earth, those cliffs could have been copied directly from Dover, Danan most decidedly isn't earth. For instance, at this position, it's a lot warmer out here than it should be."
Rias blinked, looking down at herself and then around at the others. indeed, this far out to sea, and with them having gone north to Len's island first, it should be much cooler than it felt right now. "I thought that was an aspect of water transportation."
Harry shook his head. "No, the temperature is natural. Beyond that, I just want to do a bit of exploring. We need to figure out what all is out here in this strange world. Rias nodded and then looked at the fal stone from the cliff where Harry had set it down in the center of the ketch's deck. "And what about that?"
"At the moment, I'm the only one who can teleport between Danan and Earth, but soon, I'm going to have to give you and the others the ability to do so, like I did Lily so she could call Titan. But regardless of where you're coming from, you'll need a fal stone to come out here."
"And that's why you brought along another sending stone from Ireland along with the receiving stone from the cliff face. To put down in our compound in Kuoh to facilitated that travel." Tonks guessed from behind Harry.
"Exactly. That way, when I go to Egypt with Tonks, and whoever else is going to be accompanying me, you and the others will still be able to come to Danan."
Rias grimaced at that, knowing that that one of those people would not be her. They'd not even been away a week, but Rias knew that as Akeno I told her, her work was piling up on the Devil side of things. There were certain talks, contracts and other things to see waiting for her that even as her representative, Akeno couldn't do herself. True, Sona was there, but even so, the duties of the two King of Kuoh, as Devils recognized things, were both busy and important.
"Land-ho," came the shout from Mittelt, who was situated up top on the crow's nest of the ship. Everyone else stood up from where they had been lazily lounging about, the various chairs dotting the deck to look at the new land. The land soon came into view over the horizon, a wide looking island d that looked like it was mostly sandy from here. When the ship began to skirt around its edges, they found the island was generally L-shaped, with a little hook on the shorter end to create a natural inlet. Beyond that, it looked more like a sandbar than anything else, but there were a few scattered trees of immense size, something like redwoods. And from each of them flew equally large flying creatures. But these were not birds. They were instead something much more exotic.
Staring up at them, Mittelt mused, "Are those wyverns?"
"They certainly are. Are those wyverns smart enough to leave us alone, do you think?" Harry asked, also looking up.
"I wonder if we'll see any other mystical creatures," Mittelt mused.
With nothing of interest on that island, Harry had the ship move on, still heading back to where Europe would be. Specifically, he was aiming to hit the European coast further south than Tiamat had gone. That way, they were still trailblazing.
From Tonks's estimation of their distance and course, they soon began passing through the European continent. But instead of finding even the rump of a continent, they soon began to see still more tiny islands. Each of them was close together, creating an archipelago where the Gulf of Biscaya should have abutted France and Spain's shores. These islands were larger than the last one, but not as big as Tir Na Nog, yet they seemed as dominated by forestry as Len's island had been.
Soon they started to see other creatures. Harpies came out to look at them from one island and got close enough that Mittelt flashed out her wings in preparation for a fight, and Rias sent off a blast of power as a warning shot. The harpies instantly got the message and veered off screeching diatribes back at the boat.
The next two islands seemed to both contain different types of flying horses. One was the normal type Harry had seen once or twice in the Wizarding World, the winged Aethonians, white or gray-colored horses, with white wings. The others were oddly ghostly in the air and seemed to run across the sea as if it was solid ground. Many of this version raced out to see the boat, then raced away. When they touched down on solid ground, their bodies became just as solid as a real horse, with black skin and manes that looked almost iron grey.
"Enbarr," Rias named them. "Famous steads of the Tuatha De Danan, particularly those who traveled to other islands like Manannán Mac Lir."
After everything else they had seen in this world, flying horses just wasn't all that surprising. They were still cool to look at, but the wyverns were much more interesting. Next, though, came a group of Banshees and flying birds. The flying birds transformed into fairies as they came close to the boat. The Fairies spoke aloud, shouting, "Hail, King of Danan! Is it true you brought with thee from earth a human with the blood of Titania, our queen?"
While wondering how the heck that word had spread so quickly, Harry shouted back that this was true, adding, "She remains with the other survivors of the Winter Court's vile assault on Tir Na Nog. From what Luna has told me, she intends to rebuild the old Summer Court capital. If you wish to speak to her, you will need to fly there."
The fairies grumbled at that, and more than one of them muttered about perhaps tricking Harry into taking them there, but the banshees let loose a little wail at the fairies, who Yubelluna called pukas. In response, the pukas raced off, the banshees shepherding them away. The banshees didn't look nearly as old or crooked and gnarled as the hag-like variety they had fought as part of the Winter Court.
But those two Fae species seemed to be intelligent ones that had escaped from Tir Na Nog, able to fly for long periods without rest. The group saw dozens of more islands, but none of them were inhabited. At the same time, animal life was evident all around them.
Occasionally, Loup and Tonks reported that they spotted sharks in the water, and at one point, Loup swore up and down that he saw what looked like a giant manta ray down there. And while they couldn't see them, Loup, who was in his werewolf form, reported smelling bears, wolves, and other animals on the breeze. It was now evident that whatever depredation the Winter Court had committed on the larger animals of Tir Na Nog, the rest of this planet was alive and vibrant.
After the archipelago began to peter out, Harry decided to turn the ship out to sea. "So, I don't think comparing this world to Earth is at all useful any longer. Anyone disagree?" That won Rias a round of chuckles, and she smiled and leaned back, smiling as she took in the everchanging view again.
They traveled on the boat for about two hours at the same speed as before they spotted another island. And as they came closer, Harry began to feel it. Here was another place of some ancient magic from the Tuatha De Danan. Gone now, or rather decayed like so much of their magic, but still leaving a mark which he could feel. Unconsciously Harry began to pump more magic into the transportation spell, sending the ship forward faster and faster.
The instant they got close enough to see the island, Mittelt gasped from above them. "Holy shit…"
Asia pouted, looking up at the crow's nest. "Mittelt-san, I really wish you wouldn't say things…like…that…" her voice trailed off as the island came into view and shouts of delight rang down the ship from one end to the other.
Like the others, this island looked like a forest. But unlike those islands, this one seemed to have a lot more variety in terms of its trees. Those trees were more spread out, not so heavily packed as to be somewhat intimidating. The island was built up around a single mountain. There was a river leading deeper into the island, lined with trees of different colors and types from all over the world.
Rias began to mutter about Japanese trees, in particular the Japanese Red Maple. "Yasaka and Akeno will love it here. That's their favorite tree right there," she murmured, staring at the trees along the river while Harry looked over at the others, also seeing them entranced. Perhaps they were feeling it too, a kind of residual general goodness coming from this island.
A second later, the flat bottom of the ship ground to a halt and Harry hopped over the railing, canceling the spell powering the ship's forward movement as he splashed into the water, which came up to his knees. A grin of delight on his face, feeling the honest goodness of this place, Harry turned back to the ship. "Who's up for some exploring!?"
Even Asia gave a whoop at that, and with a shout, Lily leaped after him, followed by Koneko, Loup, Tonks, and Rias, with Asia and Mittelt following up just as quickly although not nearly as light on their feet as the werewolves and the Nekoshou. Yubelluna was last, having the presence of mind to toss a rope down to Loup, who moved ashore quickly, tying the ship up there.
"So, what do you two think?" Harry asked, looking at Asia and Yubelluna. Given that they had been the first two to technically connect to Danan along with Lily, he wondered what they felt from this place.
"I feel here the same sense of adventure and goodness that I felt in that dreamscape father, before the reality of the Winter Court closed in on us," Asia said instantly, her eyes wide as she looked around.
"I agree with Asia. But here, it's a little stronger, and far, far older, I think." Yubelluna murmured, her eyes glowing for a moment as she reached out with her bandrui powers to the trees ahead of them. "Old yes, and it isn't so much connected to the trees as the land. It wasn't… I don't think it was something deliberate either. I think…"
When she stumbled, Asia spoke up, looking up at her father's face as he helped her through the sea-spray to the shore. "A Tuathan felt a great joy here. Great, monstrous, wondrous joy."
Harry nodded, indicating that he felt much the same, while Rias led the way deeper into the interior of the island, finding the river quickly enough from where they had anchored it.
Soon all of them were there, taking in the site, staring. The river didn't just meander down to the sea. It was, for one thing, large, splitting the island in half almost, Harry could barely see the other side. Further, while the water moved slowly, the river had waterfalls, eddies current, and vast rocks sticking out of it here and there, where the water crashed into them, creating a cascade of noise and rainbows, rainbows everywhere.
The trees on either side were bright with bloom, dominated by the Japanese Red Maple's crimson leaves. Here and there, mighty oaks rose behind them further away from the river, towering over their smaller cousins like an adult over a small child, big as redwoods.
And everywhere they looked, they could see birds flying this way and that, accompanied by the sound of chattering squirrels. Perched on a rock overlooking one of the last, tiny waterfalls, Lily sniffed the air, announcing that she could smell badger nearby. "I've seen one or two of them around the Rookery."
As she spoke, the first person to do so upon their reaching the river, heads began to appear from the riverbed. Dozens of Dobhar Chu, like those that had followed Arden's orders during the war, looked at the humans. Then they seemed to shrug, returning to their business while Loup transformed, using his nose to determine if there were any larger predatory animals around. "I can smell scales, either wyverns or alligators, as well as bears. No wolves. It's a little too hot for them here anyway."
None of that mattered to Rias as she stood at the base of one of the larger waterfalls in sight, having flown ahead of the others. Here, rocks jutted out and to either side of the river, creating a small but thick boulder wall, with more trees, smaller ones, sticking out here and there. "This is…" she shook her head, looking around her. "Good grief, I love this place!" the Gremory heiress laughed, shaking her head. "It's amazing!"
Harry nodded, moving up behind her and putting his hands over to either side of her waist, causing her to lean back into him with a sigh of pleasure as Lily raced past them chasing Koneko, who was leaping from rock to rock, then splashing down into the river where, here, it was slow enough that she could swim. Lily splashed in after her, howling in the delight of the chase.
"Here," Harry said in a near whisper, intense emotion in his voice and face, as Asia, Tonks and Mittelt followed the two youngsters. "Here is where we build our home in this world, I think."
Rias laughed gaily, turning and hugging him tightly. "By Heaven and Hell, yes!" Then she pulled back, smiling at him. "So, we are going to be moving here eventually?"
"Oh, yes. After all, we never did say that the Academy would be in Kuoh, after all. Only that we would be the ones building it. We can use the school as an excuse to start to gather more people and then just transplant them and the academy here over time. It would be slow, but it would also solve a lot of problems we can all see rearing up in the near future if we can't stop magic from continuing to spread throughout Earth. Eventually, it will come out into the open, and Danan can serve as a refuge for our family and those who look to us for leadership."
"That would really make you a King, you know," Rias teased gently, knowing that Harry had no real desire to lead.
Harry sighed. "Maybe eventually. But not for a while yet, and I doubt I'll ever be a king like the nonmagicals would understand the term."
For the rest of the day, the group explored the island to their heart's content, and everyone agreed it was easily the most beautiful place any of them had ever seen. There were a few bears and a few wyverns, but both species were smart enough to leave the group alone. One because of its nose and one because of actual intelligence. The day ended with all of them once more together at where the river began, a caldera that covered the top of the mountain filled with deep blue water fed by something deep in the ground. "So are we agreed? This is a place for us?"
"It's hard to imagine a place that would be more beautiful," Tonks said after a minute, shrugging her shoulders. "It's not exactly my kind of place, you know, not the kind of place I'd want to live. Not enough shopping, or people around, and no power either. But it definitely has possibilities."
"Perhaps more than that," Harry chuckled.
Tonks looked at him quizzically, and Harry shrugged his shoulders. "Remember what I passed on about what Shiva told me. Too much magic is coming into the world, too many old gods waking up. I got the definite impression that when he said that he wasn't just implying conflict or magical war, he really meant that the world itself was in danger from all that magic. Luna also mentioned how the Statute of Secrets was going to fall, which is just part of the larger issue. And well, with my recent power up…"
Harry shrugged once more as the others turned to him. "I think I am on the 'generate magic into the rest of the world' level of things too. Here there's so much ambient magic that it doesn't matter. Back on earth? He shrugged for a third time. "It might matter a lot."
"But we can't move here yet," Lily said, seeming to not care about Tonks's worries about shopping or food or anything like that. This place was just too darn fun! And she wanted to share that. "Yasaka and Kunou aren't here! Or Akeno or Issei or Gasper or Kiba or…"
"And that's why I'm asking about whether or not we should make this our home," Harry interrupted her gently as he glanced towards the distant boat and gestured with one hand. Instantly those who could see spotted a small something rising from the boat, coming towards them quickly. It soon resolved into one of the fal stones, which Harry grabbed out of the air with both hands, setting it down. He then began to concentrate, and the ground around it swiftly softened enough to slowly sink down into the ground before solidifying into something approaching concrete.
"With that, and setting the other stone in Kuoh, I'll be able to travel back to Earth. And, now that I've experimented with water transportation, we'll be able to head to Japan within an hour, maybe even faster."
Rias nodded, eager to see her friends again after what had been nearly a month to her. Everyone else just nodded, save for Yubelluna and Loup. Loup was eyeing a bear that had just trundled out of the forest below, while Yubelluna was just looking around, trying to figure out why this pool felt even more, well, Holy than the rest of the island. Whatever had happened here had been so, well, GOOD that it was near to flooding her senses with it.
Asia was one of the most affected, happy and cheerful and, joining in Lily and Koneko's games for the first time, racing after the two of them and the dog. Rias too seemed to be affected by it, but instead of simply being happy, she became cuddly in the extreme, something Harry had gleefully taken advantage of numerous times during their exploration of the island.
"Good. In that case, I think that I want to try another experiment. Try to get a bit more of a handle on this 'demigod' thing." Harry folded his legs, placing his hands in the lotus position, and began to reach out into the magical sphere all around him, specifically around this island. It responded to him once more with an alacrity that surprised him, but there was a sense of something else on top of that. An enneagram, a memory of a god's mind, hanging within the island's background magic. Harry could feel it, just out of sight, perhaps, but there.
Reaching out to it, Harry was surprised that this remnant of an ancient Tuathan did not respond as the others had. When Harry had bound himself to the fifth receiving stone, he had removed the remaining bits and pieces remaining like magical residue within the Undertaking. Those bits and pieces had not had any kind of sentience. They were just bits of the ancient gods' power trapped in the moment of their betrayal.
This was much more deliberate. A god or goddess had left a memory of themselves hanging within the background magical matrix of the island, perhaps deliberately, perhaps not. It would not respond to him, though, so Harry had no way of accessing it. Like the curse on the dog, that bit of memory was locked away from him.
Regardless, it was a very happy memory, and Harry realized that it was possibly why the whole island felt so simply good to all their senses.
Setting that mystery aside, Harry began to sink his magic into the island's ground from one end to the other. He imagined what he wanted to do: what he would have to move, shift, transform, create and bolster.
Meanwhile, Rias, Yubelluna, Asia and Tonks, the most magically sensitive of them, began to look around, feeling the power welling up all around them. The dog too shifted uneasily, staring at the ground under him to the sitting Harry.
As she saw sweat begin to appear on her husband's forehead, Rias placed her hands on Harry's shoulders, wordlessly giving Harry her support. She didn't know what he was trying, but that didn't matter, really. Whatever it was, she was here for him.
Feeling that, Harry smiled and buckled down further as sweat began to pour from his face. This wasn't so much difficult, as incredibly intricate, a balancing act with multiple things going on at once. The power was also immense, but Harry handled it, and eventually, he smiled, pulled his hands apart from where Harry had been clenching them, before clapping them hard together as words came to him almost unbidden, just part of the rest of what he had been doing. "I bless this island so that my family may find peace, prosperity, and love here."
With those words, the magic around Harry became visible to everyone, flashing out and through the entire island in a riot of colors. There was a sound of rocks grinding together, the entire island shivering under their feet. This was accompanied by crashing noises, thunderous crashes, and the sound of animals suddenly becoming quite distressed while veritable clouds of birds rocketed out of the trees hovering around the island squawking indignantly to one another.
The wyverns that Loup had smelled before also made an appearance, roaring angrily and scattering the birds further. One of them flew down to stare at the humans, some instinct or some small portion of his brain telling him that they were to be blamed for what had just happened. However, another part of the wyvern's brain kept it from attacking, which was undoubtedly the wisest decision it had made in its life since Mittelt had already prepared two Light Spears and was glaring at it before it turned away with another roar that sounded far more like a squawk than a roar.
The noise and the echoing creaks and groans from across the island lasted several minutes before slowly subsiding.
"Harry, what did you just do?" Rias asked, still holding her hands on his shoulders as she looked around, noticing the changes to the area around them. The top of the mountain had changed, shifting like clay under Harry's direction. Several smaller pools had suddenly grown out of the main pool behind them separated by small walls, their bottoms smoothed out like that of a pool. A portion of the rest of the caldera to one side of where they now all stood had been enlarged to act like an overlook of the rest of the island.
Coming out of his trance, Harry turned and took those hands, kissing each in turn before getting to his feet, smiling around at the others. "I told you, I wanted to play around with blessings. I'm still not certain if I'd be able to do it in a pinch, or off-the-cuff, I suppose, but I was able to use it this time. And I think all of you will be very happy with what I did."
He hopped to his feet, looking down at Lily. "Come on mischief," he said as he hefted her onto his shoulders and bounded down the mountain, leaping from one rock to another as he shouted over his shoulder. "Come and see what I've done."
What he had done was to create a home. Here, in this somehow sanctified, untouched island, Harry's magic had created a series of stone houses in a small area around the river, situated mainly in the area around the boulder field. Some houses looked like they were modeled after hobbit homes, almost alongside a few normal houses on top or alongside. It was situated right by the water, among the red trees and the massive oaks. And indeed, one of them was built into one of the oak trees, like a longhouse, a treehouse of immense size.
The largest building was situated right next to the waterfall on top of one 'hobbit house'. When Rias opened it, the interior showed a small kitchen, good for two or three people. There was a small room to one side, and on the leftmost wall away from the kitchen area was a king-sized bed. On the wall opposite the main door were two trapdoors, leading up and down.
It was crude. For example, the kitchen was just a large partitioned out area with a sink-like formation set in the outer wall and a table that rose out of the stone rather than an actual piece of furniture. The bed followed this example, being a raised portion of the stone floor.
Yet for all that, Rias loved its potential coupled with the island's sheer, raw beauty. Of the entire enlarged clan compound really, just as much as she enjoyed the compound they had made back in Kuoh. Here though, there was a lot more space to spread out in without the need of expansion charms, and there weren't any of the flaws (too few bathrooms, too small a kitchen) that the Potter's house had.
And like those trapdoors showed, the houses themselves were internally connected, having little trapdoors, small internal stairwells or tunnels, and multiple entrances. Lily was already exploring, racing through all of them. The doors too, were made of stone and wood, Harry having created them during his spell work earlier.
And everywhere, the feeling of 'home' had been heightened still more.
Everyone was delighted with it all except for Tonks, who kept her mind on the more important point. "This is nice and all, but various appliances and so forth inside the houses would be nice, and so would power. Magic is great, but not as nice as electricity, computers and a TV."
"We have numerous small waterfalls right here, we have the solar panels and the batteries, and I did put in little kitchens here and there throughout these homes. Not so much on a one-to-one basis, since I know some of you don't cook, but more than enough to go around once we stock them with appliances. "
"Kunou would love to this," Lily interrupted as she popped out of the house directly underneath the main one. It was perhaps the most 'hobbit-like' of them all and had several entrances, a few of which were animal-sized along with the trapdoor up to the main house.
Harry gestured down to the river. "I even flattened some of the more dangerous stones in the river and enlarged one section of the waterfall, to one side. I figured that would be the best place to put a hydroelectric plant of some kind, but I have no idea how to actually do that."
"Harry, I think I can speak for us all when I say you've done more than enough!" Rias said, shaking her head as she watched Asia coming out of another house, this one with a slanted sunroof. It had a series of beds formed stone bedsteads jutting out of the rock, and she shook her head with a faint smile, waving at the others.
"We'll have to create a lot of…" Rias paused as her eyes widened, and she smacked her forehead. "Wait a minute, no, we won't! Get out the tents," she ordered. "Let's shift all of the furniture from inside those out. We'll leave the kitchen stuff alone for now, since the tents are already powered by magic, and that's finicky rune work, but everything else we can shift into these houses."
Everyone went to work with a will, with Lily helping her father and Asia pick out where to put the various things. She had already claimed the hobbit house under the house Rias liked best for herself and for Kunou. With its connections to both the separate houses and the main house, where she knew her daddy would be with Rias, Yasaka and his other girlfriends, it was perfect. "Or are they all wives now?" She voiced this question.
Yubelluna blushed hotly, while Rias shouted back, "Wives!"
"Wives would need rings or vows exchanged. The only one I've exchanged vows with so far is you, Rias," Harry demurred. He looked around, smirking a little as he saw his simple houses being transformed into real homes. "I suppose I could create rings, but I feel that such things should be worth more than a wave of my hands, and certainly unique to the individuals in question."
"Make Yasaka's a choker," Koneko intoned simply.
Harry blinked at that, looking at Koneko in confusion. "Why?"
She shrugged as if it was obvious, a smirk on her face. "So it will be visible on all three of her forms, human, kitsune, and fox. To show the world she has a mate again."
"I didn't think that foxes would like that kind of thing. It smacks too much of domestication."
"But haven't you already tamed her," Tonks chimed in instantly, grinning mockingly at her friend.
Harry rolled his eyes at that, while Rias, remembering the first time Harry and Yasaka had gone all the way, and the mess of Yasaka Harry had made, laughed riotously. "Too darn true!" she shouted between her guffaws.
It took them a while to get everything set up, the rest of the day, in fact. It had been early afternoon when they arrived. The lack of light didn't bother most of them, although Lily had played herself out, as had Asia astonishingly. The two of them joined Mittelt in one of the tents and watched a video on Rias's laptop while Harry and the others kept working late into the night.
Of course, most of this work was not simply moving stuff from inside the tents to the various rooms. That work Koneko, Loup, and Yubelluna could do easily, with Tonks giving directions and help when needed. Harry and Rias barely decided what bits of furniture they wanted in their house before turning their attention on two more projects: one, defensive wards around the housing complex to block out the ambient magic so they could use electricity. Tonks wasn't the only one who wouldn't like to live without their TV shows or games. "Gasper and Koneko would both stage a revolt if they didn't have their RPGs," Rias laughed, something that Harry agreed to with a laugh.
This was hard, time-consuming work, but nowhere near as hard as the next bit of work they had to do since that entailed Arithmancy, runes, Rias's Gremory Teleportation skills, and Harry's connection to Danan's ley-lines: figuring out a way to solve Yasaka's travel troubles.
This took almost the entirety of that night and well into the next morning, while Loup and Tonks, the only two of the group who knew anything about plumbing, went to work on everything that needed it. Lily and Koneko worked together to put up the various solar battery panels within the new anti-magic wards' limits. Mittelt and Yubelluna looked around the island, making note of what kind of fruits and vegetables there were, coming back with several new varieties of mushrooms that weren't, astonishingly, poisonous.
Harry and Rias didn't order any of that. Yubelluna had ordered it all without their input, considering how busy the two of them were at present. Eventually, they could do the portion of the magical experiment that they could do here without Yasaka being in front of them. This was moving one of the hundreds of ley-lines crisscrossing the world for a moment, linking it into another, not by crossing the intervening distance, but by using a mix of Celtic runes, Gremory-specialized Ankhsera and Harry's power. It was hard, difficult work, and they were not certain if it would really work, but with Harry being able to Bless Yasaka to embed one end of a dimensional tunnel within her, and the other in the Dragon Nest, which was the name of the mass of tangled ley-lines under Kyoto, it was a possibility.
By that point, the work on making the houses livable, if not overfull with modern amenities, were done, and the second evening on the island had stolen up on them. Loup and Tonks had begun to create an area for a cookout, while Mittelt and Yubelluna headed to the ocean to go fishing. Well, they called it fishing. It was more Yubelluna using Bombardier to explode segments of the ocean, and Mittelt heading out to net the fish her explosion had stunned. Or stab the sharks that came by to feed on the offal of the fish caught in the actual blast radius. Mittelt wasn't picky, and shark tasted pretty darn good. Regardless, everyone was preparing for a massive party, and now, with their experiments done, Harry and Rias were more than willing to head back to Earth once more and bring their friends through to Danan.
"Do you think I should go and get Luna and Rolf before Akeno and the others?" Harry asked, looking at Tonks. "If we're going to throw another party, it seems kind of rude not to include them."
"Don't bother," Tonks shook her head. "The two of them told me in confidence that they were going to take a bit of the honeymoon before getting back in touch with us. Rolf didn't show it, but I think the constant warfare against the winter Fae wore him down. And, there's Luna's whole assumption of Queenship for them to talk about too. Luna needs to figure out what being the new Summer Queen really means, and they need to work out what it means for the two of them. I've no doubt that the two of them will work it out, but we should let them alone for another few days, at least."
Harry nodded at that, then looked over at Rias, who smiled tenderly, if somewhat exhaustedly. Their experiments throughout the day had really taken it out of her. "In that case, I think that Harry and I will go back to earth and retrieve the rest of our family."
This is not the full chapter I wanted to post. I hoped to show Yasaka's problem being solved, her rewarding Rias, Harry and Akeno moments, the party and… the aftermath, specifically much more on why this island is so special, and what it would mean for Harry and his ladies. Alas, the bit with the dwarves sort of took me by surprise, so did the rest of the recovery segment, and finally… I threw out my back. It is awfully hard to concentrate on writing while your back is throbbing in agony.
On top of that, I had to work on the next chapter of Making Waves for my patty on fans, and my latest little project over there, LOL. Anyway, that means that FILFy will be back in the small story poll for November despite being updated here. Yet despite this being more of a prep chapter than a full one, I hope that you all enjoyed it.