The orb and its ever-changing voice lead me on an ominous tour of the Dreaming City. Where it not for the mystery surrounding Riven, I would have basked in the beauty of its architecture. I was particularly sad about not being able to spend more time in the library or being able to enter what they called the vault. Apparently the only one that can open it is the master of this city. Perhaps that is for the best. The thought of weapons worse than Bad Juju being left out in the world made my stomach lurch.
Through the Hall of Two Souls, they guided me. Marble so white as to make you think it's not rock but rather the ghost of said rock. At this point I managed to ask a question.
"Where are you taking me?" I asked.
"To the Keep of Voices, my abode in this city. The tallest tower as well." Riven replied, using Hermione Granger's voice.
"I don't suspect your inviting me for tea and biscuits?" I joked.
"I could, all you need do is wish it." Now it was using Grindelwald's voice.
"In all my years I have learned that you can wish in one hand and defecate in the other and know beforehand which one is going to fill up faster." I countered as petulantly as some of my students.
Their laughter seamed to shake the entire city. Once they calmed down, they spoke once again.
"In all my centuries, I have never heard wishes described in such a crass yet accurate way. This alone has been worth the trouble meeting you will bring." It explained, using Sirius's voice this time.
"But if I may ask. What are you?" I continued while I walked.
"To answer that, I will have to tell you what I once was and still am in part. I am an Ahamkara. I cannot tell you what we look like because we did not have any one true form. Though when my kind would meet yours, we would often take the form of fantastical creatures, leading to the title wish dragons." It answered with McGonagall's voice.
"And are you truly a dragon or simply wearing the guise of one?" I asked.
"That depends on your definition of truth and real. We fed from the act of making desire reality. In granting wishes we sustained ourselves, in granting more we grew. Whether you believe our answers to your wishes for knowledge are truth or take the physical manifestations of your desires as real mattered not. Only that your wish was granted, and our bellies were filled." It continued as the deputy headmistress.
"You still haven't answered my question." I pressed.
"Haven't I?" It countered.
After a moment of thought I caught on to its meaning. They had answered my question, but it was up to me to understand it. It does not however, make it any less frustrating. Is this how people feel when talking to me?
"You said were and in part. What changed?" I asked.
"A wish from our mutual acquaintance. One so devious as to have ensnared me far better than Mara Sov ever did. I am both happy and unhappy with the outcome." It answered like Severus would.
"Do tell." I gently demanded.
"This city has two sides to it. The one in which you currently reside and Eleusinia, the once shattered throne. Corruption from Eleusinia seeped into the Dreaming City, trapping it in a loop of time. Our friend laid claim to the Dreaming City as his throne using weapons made from his foes hoping that would break the curse. He was only partially successful." It answered still with potions professor's voice.
"So how did he succeed?" I pressed, the need to know almost manic.
"By accident and shear dumb luck. Our friend couldn't have predicted being able to travel back to this time. Nor could he predict that traveling through time with a throne stuck in a time loop would allow it to travel with him, conveniently breaking the curse." It answered again with McGonagall's voice and a small hint of frustration.
"After he realized what happened he came back here and discovered that he had two unexpected companions on his journey. I was one of them and as soon as he found me, he made his wish." It continued while sounding like Trelawney.
"He wished for me to once again be this city's protector and be nourished from my duty. I did not know that my ability to grant wishes would be taken. I can still give knowledge when asked though I grow no stronger for it. I cannot however make any other desires reality or speak about something I don't already know and leaving this city has become an impossibility for me." It spoke, sounding almost sad.
"But now my existence stands on even ground. I no longer have to deceive others into making wishes to feed myself. The consolation for my freedom. I am undecided if its fair compensation." It continued, still using the divination professor's airy voice as if to show its indecision through character representation.
Riven is an unparalleled storyteller. I was so caught up in their tale that I hadn't noticed we had stopped moving.
We were in a grand hall, well grand for me but small for this city. In its center was a massive armillary sphere positioned in the center, suspended by magic or some other supernatural force. To the right of it there was a tree with sunlight beaming down on it, strange given that there was no actual sun outside. The tree had no leaves, but its bark still had color. To the left shrouded in shade was a crystal like the ones that made up the foundation of this city.
Surrounding the sphere where six black pedestals with glowing rings rising up from them. The ethereal black and white orb was hovering over one to the right closest to me.
"Come here friend, and we will be able to talk face to face." Riven spoke using Tom Riddle's voice. It's like they are trying to put me on edge.
I still made my way to the ethereal pedestal. Despite the unease roiling in my stomach.
My stomach was right.
A bubble of unknown magic kept me from stepping off the pedestal, then after a second, I found myself falling through the floor at a slowed pace, like a feather dislodged from a bird.
That particular detail was overshadowed by the creature before me.
It was massive, easily hundreds of feet from head to tail. The head was hidden behind four triangular bone plates. Six barbed tentacles extended out from the sides of its neck. Its body was shaped like a hairless werewolf's, capable of standing either on two or four legs, the front limbs having hands instead of paws.
The great beast was perched on a floating rock as if it were a monkey hanging onto a tree. A frighteningly alien monkey.
"Now you see me in my truest form." Riven spoke, using my own voice and not coming from everywhere at once but from this monstrous being. It was so loud that the chamber shook with the power imbued in its voice.
"And now I must carry out my duty. I have stalled for as long as I can Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore." They said, using my own mother's voice.
"And what duty is that?" I asked, trying to keep the fear at bay.
"I am the Dreaming City's protector, and you, my new friend, are an intruder." They answered.
The next noise to come out of Riven was so foreign it cannot be described in words. (The noise Riven makes when you run away from her at the beginning of her encounter in the raid.) Its meaning however was quite clear.
The air grew heavy with unseen power. The beast in front of me began to uncurl from its perch. I couldn't move, its presence left every powerful foe I've ever faced before horribly lacking. I always knew that I would not die in a bed with a cough, but I never could have predicted that this would be how it would end.
Riven's head was now only a few feet in front of me. The pause felt like an eternity. In that time, I caught a glimpse of the face and teeth that lay just behind those armor plates. Only one thought flitted through my mind.
Merlin's beard your ugly.
Then as if the universe broke from the absurdity of me cursing, even in my own head. Riven moved away from me. Slowly, as if they had reconsidered how to kill me.
"Now how did you manage to stumble your way into here I wonder?" A distinctly male voice asked from behind me.
Slowly I turned around, still sluggish from my recent brush with death. What or rather who stood before me was much more familiar that what lay behind me.
A man dressed in light armor and a cloak. The design was the strangest and most captivating thing about him.
Overall, it had distinct European influences, grieves, bracers, chest plate and helm had recognizable shapes but upon closer inspection that's where the historical connections ended. All of the steel pieces were far thinner than normal conforming to their wearer like a second skin. Leaving me to wonder what they might be made of. Beneath the armor was no wool or leather. The under armor looked like the materials muggles have been using in recent times. Rubber I think it was called, or maybe plastic, followed or proceeded by the word synthetic I believe. The cloak looked to be woven but from what and how they got the weft and weave so tight and compact eluded me.
The runes that flowed into the decorations of leafless trees and wolves however were far more familiar. Several different languages were used. Norse runes and Sanskrit being the most prevalent. The actual arrays may have been shotty, most likely self-taught but the purpose they served was brutally effective and had no need for finesse.
Arrays for protection, quick feet, strength, vitality, perception were crudely designed from a magical standpoint but masterfully blended into the artistic design. A curious paradox. Almost as if the practitioner had all the time in the world to improve applying the etchings but not the resources to understand what they were constructing beyond fourth year basics.
"Perhaps I shouldn't be asking you, she might have more to say." The mystery man dismissed me like I would a student.
"What game are you playing now Riven? You could have and should have just kicked him out. What could possibly motivate you to try and get my attention in such a crass manner?" He asked the colossal being behind me.
Wait, he referred to Riven as a she. Does that mean that she is a female of her species? The thought of something bigger and uglier then Riven made the pit in my stomach grow just a little bit more.
"I am lodging a complaint." Riven replied, dropping her poetic lilt and using Ms. Granger's voice. The change in tone caught me flat footed.
"What is it now?" he asked flippantly, was this a regular occurrence?
"My lack of social interaction. An entire world of people so very different from what I am used to, and you haven't let any visit save four in almost half a year. Mara Sov was never this cruel to me." The eldritch abomination complained like a petulant child.
"So, what do you want me to do? Open the gates and tell every Tom Dick and Henry 'hey guys I have an entire city in a separate dimension home to a former wish dragon that wants to talk your ear off while you piss your pants?'" He asked sarcastically.
"Ideally, yes but I know you are not willing to do that so how about we start small. Hogwarts should do." Riven offered.
"Magical teenagers are worse. How about just him?" The armored man countered while gesturing to me with his left arm.
"By the end of the week I would be bored, and his brain would be jelly, just the professors then." Riven argued.
"Heads of house and him and if it goes well, I'll let more people in?" He offered.
"By goes well you mean?" Riven continued.
"They leave in the same condition they were in and not trying to kill themselves." He answered.
"What about existential crises or sudden bouts of nihilism?" She asked with the excitement of a small child at a park.
"As long as you actively discourage them from looking into subjects that would cause such things, its their own bloody fault." He replied with the distinctly British curse.
"So, we have reached an accord?" Riven asked, sounding almost hopeful.
"Yes." He agreed and they both nodded to each other in acknowledgement. Riven slunk back to her resting place, becoming as unmoving as a statue once she was comfortable.
"You seem to know a lot about my school?" I asked, stretching the last word to silently ask for a name. He froze for a split second.
"You can call me L, as for how I know so much about your school, well" he finished his sentence by turning into a by now familiar raven.
"A clever use of the animagus transformation, I assume you're unregistered?" I asked rhetorically.
He nodded after changing back.
"Are you a former student of mine perhaps?" I pressed.
"No, I am not a former student." He answered. I could almost hear the smirk underneath his helmet. He knows something that I at this point in time cannot discern.
"Anyways, I am now obligated to give you at the very least directions on how to get to this city from the physical world." He said, changing topics.
"Bit of a handful, isn't she?" I asked lightly.
"You have no idea, if she wasn't so useful and a lot easier to deal with then before then I would never have let her stay here." He answered.
"So, what are the rules of your not so humble home?" I asked, getting back on topic.
"The heads of house are the only ones you are obligated to make aware of this place. I won't bar you from bringing anyone else in at your discretion but if they try to cause trouble, I will deal with them and you, accordingly." He stressed the last part as a clear threat.
"Understood, are there any enchantments that I and the other professors should be aware of?" I asked as a placating gesture.
"If you can't enter an area or room its for a reason, books I don't give permission for in the library will be blank until I give said permission. That's all you need to know for now." L answered.
"And how would I and the professors go about entering this beautiful city?" I continued.
"Are you aware of the Room of Requirement?" he asked.
I was alarmed. The Room of Requirement is not something a student normally finds yet alone an outsider. I never knew of it until I started working as a professor. L must have taken my silence as a yes. He continued his explanation unaware or uncaring of my inner turmoil.
"I left the entrance in a room that comes to those who need to get to the Dreaming City. So those who don't even know of its existence cannot stumble into it." He finished. Giving me nothing that might answer how he knows so much about the castle or when he had time to walk its halls unnoticed.
A direct approach was needed.
"I can't help but find myself wondering how it is that you know such obscure things about Hogwarts?" I prodded, a raven looking for secret paths would draw attention.
"I'm the most benign thing to escape your notice in the last four years Albus. Voldemort possessing a teacher, an ancient basilisk bigger than most dragons running loose in the halls while the professors have no idea what it even is, a mass murderer hiding as a rat amongst the students and Sirius Black half out of his mind waltzes in after him when you know he's coming and now this year's latest debacle. You couldn't even keep a troll out of the place and you're wondering how I got in and discovered some useful things?" He accused.
He does have a point, know matter how much it stings. Hogwarts it's a public institution, I cannot bar every entrance without just cause and even when I do have it, the number of secret passages and hidden rooms in the castle makes keeping someone out about as plausible as keeping jello stuck to a wall without a sticking charm.
But I and the staff's incompetence involving the chamber of secrets was inexcusable. A second-year student figured out what the creature was with our library before we could. It remains to this day our greatest blunder.
"Fair, but you haven't answered the biggest question that I could and will ask you." I declared.
"Oh?" he asked almost coyly.
"Why me? Why approach me with any of this? Bad Juju, your claims of being from the future. It doesn't make sense to reveal all of this to me so why go through all this effort?" I asked.
"The better question would be why not?" He answered.
I was confused.
"You can't stop me from trying to prepare for a future that may or may not happen only help and even if you can become a problem, I just have to lay low for at most another twenty years before you croak and any contingences you make fade into myth. While I learn more things about Earth's naturally occurring magic then I ever could in the despondent future. I saw you inspecting my rune work, we both know that its self-taught." He continued.
"Won't you have passed as well before your dark future becomes a reality?" I asked. Twenty years is a long time.
"I have already lived ten times longer than you and am a lot more spry. I'm not worried about making it to that point in time." He revealed.
I had to take a minute to digest his words. I know of at least two wizards who would chase him to the ends of the Earth to learn his secrets. One will never see the light of day. The other still hides.
"Well, I should get going, I have other matters to attend to. This is still a memory so you should still be able to leave the same way you came in. Ciao."
Before I could stop him to ask more questions he popped out of existence. A typical occurrence when two people enter a memory, and one leaves before the other. I could chase him, but I think it would be a fruitless endeavor. The mysterious tend to not part with their secrets unless they are in a charitable mood, or you have a really big stick to threaten them with. Unfortunately, the Elder Wand does not count in this instance.
"Can I finish the memory Riven?" I asked the still unmoving creature.
The amount of time it took for me to realize the Riven before me was just apart of the memory was long enough to be embarrassing.
That could have gone better but it also could have gone so much worse. Riven making a scene inside a memory was not something that I expected. Our relationship has been going well ever since her ability to grant wishes has been nullified. I thought after leaving the headmaster's office via window and wings.
Maybe she truly is just lonely. I've seen stranger things in my time. Fallen finding sombreros being the most lighthearted. The professors should be able to keep themselves out of trouble. Though I can't help a little petty part of me that hopes Snape finds a little karmic justice while inside the Dreaming City. Is this how McGonagall feels when she watches over her students? This slight unease that I can do nothing about right now would have driven me mad if I had to endure it for decades while teaching little gremlins.
Inviting the heads of house into my Throne World so soon was not what I had in mind, but the upsides may pay off sooner because of Riven forcing my hand. I let Dumbledore bring whoever he wants in so he will not be able to resist using the Dreaming City as a secret meeting place for him and his associates. Provided that the conflict between me and Tom doesn't end as soon as he sticks his head above ground.
Experience though, has taught me to have a backup plan incase things go tits up, both in and out of the bedroom. Tom without question knows more about the dark arts then I do, and that knowledge could without a doubt be the surprise that turns things in his favor.
I was at first dismissive of the notion that wizardry could compete with my light and darkness. Until Moody gave a demonstration of the three unforgivable curses.
The ability to control, torture or kill was not a foreign weapon against the Last City. It was what laid beneath those three spells that made my blood freeze in fear.
A human mouth cannot replicate the native sound, but Eris proved that you don't need perfect pronunciation to use Hive magic.
Imperio, Crucio, Avada Kedavra. All of them were tinged with the corruption that was the Hive's signature.
Neutrino levels slightly elevated with Imperio. Similar to when Taken are nearby.
Crucio stunk of the Hive's general practitions.
But the killing curse was what truly terrified me. Avada was the first word in the Hive's Death Song. A Song that kills all who hear it from start to end and I know it in my gut that Kedavra was the final word in the song. A shortened and less widespread version, but no less effective.
I am not certain I could withstand the killing curse now and yet I somehow survived it when I was but a baby. The-Boy-Who-Lived was supposed to mean the one who survived Voldemort. A title I cared little for. Now it has a whole new meaning to me.
The one who survived the Death Song.
What am I supposed to do with that?
Hey guys and gals. Thanks for your continued support and patience. Making this story has been a challenge of making sure I understand the Destiny Lore as much a possible to keep those aspects of the story as true to the source material we all love. (At least, I like the destiny lore.) Your follows and favs make me smile every time I get the notification. The comments give me feedback on how you see the story. Every comment on what you love fills me with pride and joy helping me get through the brief moments of writer's block. Every criticism shows what I can improve and refine. (provided they use something more descriptive than 'this sucks') So, stay safe or for those of you who play. Eyes up Guardian. Peace.