Before we start we need to clear up some confusion that I got in many PMs, this fic uses both book and game cannon meaning it will follow the games but will continuously reference the books. So for those people who haven't read the books or played the games or even done both, there are a few things you might not be familiar with as I write this with the assumption that my readers have either read the books and/or played the game.
However fret not as the Witcher wiki has some excellent articles available to clear up anything you are confused about as well as a timeline article so you can familiarise yourself with some of the things that are referenced. And if you can't find anything there then just leave your question in a review and I will do my best to respond.
And so without further ado…
'One foot in the front of the other. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other.'
Ciri repeated the words in her head reverently, the mantra almost a prayer to her body not to give up as she ran into the darkness and away from the burning ruins of the gate. Her heaving breaths were almost as ragged as her body, a dozen consecutive interdimensional jumps and battle wounds beginning to take their toll. Her hand was pressed to the most recent addition to her body, a long slice from an Elven sabre running across her stomach. Long and shallow, it thankfully hadn't gone deep enough to hit anything vital but the steady of trickle of blood from between her hands would do her flight from the Wild Hunt no favours.
A large house loomed ahead of her, a mansion really and rather beautiful in its design. It possessed none of the ostentation and garish decoration like other stately houses she had seen before but was rich in a tasteful and minimalist fashion, the edifice designed to blend gracefully with the landscape and not clash with it.
And it was not the sight alone that distracted her. There was something strange about the building, the sight tugging at her soul like a magnet, calling to her magic like a moth to a light. Perhaps if she had completed more of her lessons with her Mother or Avallac'h she might have been able to identify the feeling, but her tutelage under the first had been too short and the second was more concerned with teaching her how to control the Elder Blood than comparatively 'mundane' magic. She would have paused to take in the sight and sensation if the heavy crunching footfalls of her pursuers behind her hadn't forced her to press on.
As she ran, repeating her mantra and feeling her strength slowly drain from her exhausted limbs she lamented the situation she once more found herself in. Under any other circumstances she would never have run towards someone's home for refuge. The Wild Hunt was merciless as it was unrelenting and Ciri had learnt the hard way the perils of seeking refuge with anyone other than Avallac'h. The awful memories of the burnt ruins of half a dozen homes and villages ran through her mind before she forced the thoughts away, not wishing to think of the kind souls that once inhabited them.
Unlike then, this time she hadn't chosen this house by choice. It had been either lose them in the grounds of this estate and hope that the lack of lights meant no one was home or hand herself over and endure a fate worse than death. She had chosen the former and her usual bad luck had struck again, the vanguard of the Hunt spotting her with the navigator taking an unusually violent potshot at her fleeing form.
'Perhaps they've finally had enough and decided to cut their losses. Gods know I'm tempted to let them if it would avoid that.'
Now all choice had been taken from her, being herded more than fleeing into the front yard of the palatial mansion. She took in the area with a quick glance, heart sinking as she saw nothing that could be of use to aid her in her escape such as a stables. Worse yet the yard was enclosed on all sides with the large oak door of the house being her only exit, in reality not an exit at all if it would lead to a sleeping family.
Before she could make her decision the gravel beneath her feet exploded, the force sending her flying into the oak door with a cry. Stunned from the blast and dazed from her head striking the door she tried to climb to her feet only to find the last of her strength gone as she collapsed against the steps. Bleeding from gravel stone shredding her body and a dozen other wounds her body finally gave up, willpower no longer being enough to sustain her. Not even at the height of her training at Kaer Morhen had she felt such bone aching weariness. Was this the magical exhaustion her Mother had warned her of?
"Finally! Truly you lived up to your name Zireael. I believe a Swallow would be easier to catch than you. I will be well rewarded for catching you I think."
The Navigator who had spoken entered the yard with his minions filtering in behind him, the ice cold mist that always accompanied the Hunt following on their heels. Ciri didn't recognise him, some no name student of Caranthir no doubt. She grimaced as blood began to pool in the corner of her mouth from where she had apparently bitten it from her fall.
"Rewarded for what? Getting lucky? How many Navigators are still conscious after all those jumps? Two? Three?" Ciri hissed, bitterness filling her.
"Three including I of the twenty aboard Naglfar. But you must forgive me Zireael. Not all of us are lucky enough to be born with your gift. At the very least it will soon be back where it rightfully belongs, Elder Blood running through Elven veins, and not the body of a lesser race. Mayhap that will be my reward? I do not share our late Kings aversion to Human females after all..."
Revulsion filled Ciri and she spat the blood in her mouth at the Navigator, soiling the robes around his waist.
"Try and it and I promise me you won't be a man for very long!" She spat, crawling back weakly against the steps.
"Tch." The navigator wiped the blood off his robes without success. "Human blood is always a pain to wash out. I promise before I return you to King Eredin I'll teach you the meaning of pain you glorified broodmare. I'll start with the legs I think. You won't need those w-"
"Lord Navigator." One of the warriors interrupted. "Someone is approaching. Human it appears."
Ciri and the Navigator looked past the group to the entrance to the yard. A lone figure had indeed arrived, form looming out of the mist. A man if his stature was to be believed his form was shrouded in a great coat, a hood serving to hide his face in the shadows of the night. Ciri's heat sank as the warriors turned to face him. Not another one. Not another innocent dying because of her.
The man suddenly shouted something in a strange tongue, the language more pleasing to the ear than common speak though not approaching the like of Elder Speech. None of the Elves replied to the man, not that they would even if they had understood him.
That didn't stop Ciri at least trying to give the man a chance.
"Run! Go, get out of here!" She had no doubt the man didn't understand a word of her language, foreign as it was to his world, but hoped fervently her obvious panic and situation would drive the man to flee. Her hopes were dashed however when he simply remained where he was. Frozen and confused no doubt. The Wild Hunt was a terrifying sight.
"Shut. Up." The Navigator hissed, a vicious kick into her wound eliciting a scream out of her. Fresh blood seeped from between her fingers.
"A local. Dispose of him. Erridil, shackles if you'd please."
One of the warriors broke off from the group and began to stride towards the man whilst the rest turned back to Ciri. The white haired woman tried to back away but could offer no resistance as her arms were wrenched together and magical shackles were brought to her wrists to be clamped together. She turned her head and shut her eyes, trying and failing to stop the tears coming to her eyes yet unwilling to let her now captors see them. She mourned that a fate she had once escaped would be hers once more. She mourned that another innocent would die on her account.
She mourned that she would never be able to see Geralt or Mother again. To say sorry. To tell them how much she loved them.
However it was not the cold enchanted dimeritium of the shackles clamping down on her wrists that interrupted her thoughts as she expected but a flash of light so bright that she felt it even from behind her clenched eyes and an almighty clatter of metal that resounded around the yard. She opened her eyes and blinked at the incredible scene.
The man was still alive and was still standing exactly where she had last seen him, form still cloaked in the mist and shadow of the foggy night, though now in his right hand lay a stick of all things. The nameless warrior of the Hunt however lay prostrate in front of him, form twitching and gasping. It was only when she saw the expanding pool of blood around his head that Ciri understood what had happened. The Warriors throat had been cut. He was drowning in his own blood.
"Sorcerer." The Navigator hissed, answering Ciri's unasked question. At the word the Warriors tensed and drew their swords, spreading out into the yard with practised efficiency. Hope surged and flared through Ciri like a lightning strike in dry grass. A sorcerer! Or whatever this world considered one. Ciri had had bad experiences with their kind before but she would surely take an uncertain fate at the hands of the unknown stranger than the certain chance of imprisonment, rape and death with the Wild Hunt and Eredin.
At a sharp command from the Navigator, the six warriors of the Wild Hunt attacked, surging as one to overwhelm the sorcerer as was their style when facing a practitioner of the magical arts. Rather than trying to put distance between him and his opponents Ciri knew was the preference of Sorcerers, the Stranger instead surprised her by advancing, long loping strides taking him towards the charging Elves. The man's arm came up and with a flick of the stick in his hand chaos erupted. The vines that elegantly trailed up the side of the house writhed to unnatural life and seized the two Warriors close to them, the duo being carried into the air with panicked shouts.
With another flick of his wrist and stick, a purple orb erupted from the now clearly magical instrument. The two closest warriors it had been aimed at leapt to the side, elven elegance making them move in their plate armour with a speed and agility that would shame all but the greatest of Human warriors. The orb however froze in mid air and blazed with violet light. The two warriors who had since continued their charge against the stranger were jerked back as if pulled by an invisible rope, flying through the air to collide with a violent clatter of metal, both stuck to the orb like a magnet as it visibly flared between their struggling forms.
The last two warriors had finally closed within striking distance of the magic user and Ciri's breath hitched, knowing that a Sorcerer had little defence against such a close foe. The first raised his sword high to cut down the man in a decapitating strike only to stare with confusion at his empty hands as they came down with no sword. Looking around, the Elf glanced up only to freeze seeing his own weapon floating over him like a guillotine blade. The blade did not plunge down however but instead flung itself at the warriors comrade who was himself set to end the Sorcerers life from behind. The blade speared itself through the warriors visor with a sickening crunch and the Elf fell like a puppet with its strings cut.
Shouting in grief and rage the disarmed Warrior drew the viscous, serrated dagger at his hip and swung it at the Human only for the man to block the weapon with an outstretched arm, sparks erupting from the cloak of the man as if the blade had just struck metal armour and not soft leather. The Sorcerer didn't give the warrior another chance to strike for a more exposed part of his body and with a swish of his stick a red light plunged into the chest of the Elf, the metal breastplate imploding like it was made of wet paper. The Elf fell without a sound, blood seeping from his armour in rivers.
The remaining warriors were not fought as much as they were slaughtered. With a snap of the Sorcerer's fingers the purple orb which still held the two warriors together exploded, a blinding purple energy enveloping their forms like a miniature sun being sun. When Ciri finally managed to blink her eyes clear of the bright light she looked towards where they had been trapped only to find nothing, nothing but steaming chunks of metal, flesh and blackened leather. Another Elf, one of the warriors who had been captured by the vines who had managed to free himself and retrieve his sword, was picked up by an invisible force and smashed repeatedly into the ground and walls, his corpse flung away like trash after a half a dozen fierce blows against the stone walls of the house.
He didn't get back up.
Ciri gaped at the scene, the foot soldiers of Eredin flying around the yard in bloody heaps. The unknown magic user hadn't just killed the warriors of the Hunt, he had destroyed them. It would not be impossible for a Sorcerer of her world to achieve a similar feat but not with such speed or efficiency. The magic of her world was a tempestuous force, moulded and used with careful and considered application. Only the most basic of spells could be cast quickly and only the most powerful of Sorcerers and Sorceresses could achieve more than that.
The stranger however wielded magic like an artist wielded a brush, almost literally with his wooden magical instrument. No incantation or shouted spell phrases, just will and power. It would have been mesmerising if not for the violent result.
The Navigator chose that moment to enter the fray, staff impacting the ground with an almighty bang, the power contained at it's tip rushing towards the Human. A glowing blue shield erupted around him and his hood turned towards the new threat.
"Filthy beast! You dare to strike down your betters! I shall make an example out of you that will be burned into the genetic memory of your race!"
The foreign sorcerer said nothing back, instead launching his own attack at the navigator, the magical bolt dodged by the Elf who was no less slow or agile than his subordinates.
The duel that followed was titanic. Lightning and fire was thrown by the Navigator, his attacks scattering and scorching the gravel of the yard as they splashed harmlessly against the unflinching defences of the stranger. The stranger in turn sent out spells the like of which Ciri had never seen or heard of before. Sizzling red bolts and sickly green sickles of energy crashed with ear piercing screeches and bangs against the Navigators own shield and the wall of the house. Dark iron chains conjured themselves out of thin air and tried to wrap themselves around the limbs of the Elf who responded with waves of power thrown from his staff which blew the chains away and turned the courtyard into a storm of gravel. At one point the stranger even transformed common objects into animals, a wave of his hand turning garden pots into barking dogs and stone benches into snarling Wolves, all of whom did their best to savage the Navigator before he brought them down.
Vision swimming from the pain of her wounds and exhaustion, Ciri could still see that despite the might on display the duel was a foregone conclusion. The strangers magic was the equal of the Navigators in power but more importantly was far quicker to summon. For every attack the Navigator sent against his foe three were returned and the strain was clearly showing on the Elf as he slowed, several attacks that he once dodged now clipped his robes and armour which itself was ragged and warped almost beyond recognition. The taunts that the Navigator had once shouted had ceased, though if that was because of exhaustion or because the fool had finally realised the pointless nature of goading someone in a language they couldn't understand Ciri wasn't sure.
Crushing the head of a black wolf with his staff the Elf launched an almighty attack towards the stranger, a fierce firestorm erupted from his hand as he howled incantations in Elder Speech to keep the onslaught going. The power behind the spell was such that it forced the Human back, the man slowly retreating towards the wall of the yard, both hands bracing against his conjured shield. The barrier held however and after a minute the stream of fire petered out, the Navigator slumping against his staff in exhaustion from the power he had put into the spell. The almost foreign feeling of hope surged within Ciri as she saw the Navigator falter. Could the foreign sorcerer actually win?
It was then that Ciri saw it, the glint in the shadow of the wall and realised that the Navigator had never intended to defeat the stranger but instead force him towards someone who could. The remaining warrior had managed to free himself from the vines that had ensnared him and was even now thrusting his dagger towards the unsuspecting Human.
It had been a trap.
"Behind you!" Ciri screamed. Her warning echoed around the yard and the sorcerer miraculously seemed to understand her warning, spinning around and catching the blade that had aimed for his neck in the shoulder instead, the blade slipping past the apparently strange cloak he wore. Snarling with pain the stranger grasped the wrist of the warrior with one hand and twisted, the body of the Human and Elf collapsing in on themselves as if sucked into a magical singularity and disappearing with a sharp crack.
Before the two shocked witnesses could even process what had happened the sorcerer and warrior appeared again, their forms spiralling out of a mid air in the middle of the courtyard. The Elf fell to his knees, retching and gurgles echoing from his skull faced helm, fingers scrambling at the straps that held the helmet in place. The stranger standing above him grasped the dagger embedded in his shoulder and wrenched out the blade with a painful gasp and foreign curse, looking down at the Elf at warrior of the Wild Hunt as he finally managed to pull the helmet from his head and violently vomit all over the gravel.
The sorcerer did not even wait for the Elf to finish emptying the contents of his stomach over the ground before he fired red spell into the warriors head, the Elf slumping over ignominiously into his own bodily fluids.
The Navigator didn't waste any time. Staff now more of a crutch than the magical tool and badge of office that it was, the Elf stumbled away from the stranger, Ciri apparently forgotten as he opened a gateway to flee, the courtyard flooded in bright light from the interdimensional portal. The Sorcerer didn't seem content to accept his enemies retreat and ran after the Elf, spells flying. The attacks impacted the hastily erected shield of the Navigator and it seemed that he would escape, one outstretched hand bare meters away from salvation. That was until one of the spells, a sizzling yellow beam that seemed to burn the very air around it pierced the Elf's shield and flew into the blazing rift. Time seemed to slow, an unnatural silence descended on the world. The portal contracted, warped, spasmed as two fundamentally different magics met for the first time.
Then the rift in space and time detonated.
A shrieking maelstrom of white and yellow magical power engulfed the Navigator and spiraled outwards in a shockwave that covered the courtyard with the force of a thousand dancing dream bombs. Ciri was powerless to avoid the exploding portal, body exhausted and power drained and could only watch it rush towards her with wide eyes. But with a crack of displaced air the stranger was there once more, his form covering hers as his glowing shield flared into existence over them both.
The magical storm howled around them, gravel whipping through the air like missiles. Such was the strength of the two competing forces that the earth cracked and the very stone around them melted as two different magical energies, never designed to interact, lashed out at the world around them. The shield held however and the ground it covered turned into an island of normality in an ocean of chaos and destruction.
As destructive as the carnage around her was however Ciri only had eyes for the man crouched above her, the shrieking magical storm but a distant echo as she studied the face of a the face stranger now revealed to her without the shadow of his hood to conceal him.
He was...young. Very young, around her age if she made a guess. Emerald eyes a shade darker than her own stared back at her and studied her in turn. A messy head of dark curls framed said eyes, a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt peeking out from behind his fringe. Handsome to be sure, the eyes especially. But it was not his looks that drew drew her attention, she had seen many handsome men in her time after all and knew better than to allow herself to be distracted. No what drew her attention was his...aura, for lack of a better word. There was something about him. Something about him that called to her as Geralt had once done but far differently and in a far stronger fashion.
For what felt like an eternity the two examined each other, nary a word passed between them and yet more was exchanged in that moment than any spoken language could communicate. If either had been more familiar with the mysteries of creation they might have known the significance of what happened at that moment of their meeting. As it was they could do nothing but stare at each other in confusion at the strange feelings running through their souls.
The magical storm coming to a close drew their attention from the other and after a moment to make sure it was no longer needed the sorcerer ended the spell that shielded them. Hot air immediately rushed in to the now exposed pocket they had occupied, a testament to the strength of the magical conflagration that had taken place. As the dust slowly cleared the duo looked down at the crater where the Elf had once been.
It seemed that the Navigator had indeed made it to the portal. The top half of him at least. His legs and groin left lay at the edge of the crater, Elven blood soaking into the charred rock and soil.
They were dead Ciri realised. They were all dead. More would come no doubt, they always did, but for now Ciri was safe. She had hope.
Hope. For the first time in days she felt that almost foreign emotion, the heady feeling making her head swim like she had drunk a gallon of Markham ale and she slumped down against the steps, her head coming down to gently rest against the stone. If she had thought she was tired before the wave of exhaustion that rose over her taught her a new meaning of the word. She didn't even have the strength to lift her arm and contented herself with simply staring up at unknown stars of a new world through the dust that hung in the air.
The emotionless analytical side of her mind that had been drilled into her during her training as a would be Witcher recognised that the adrenaline that had been keeping her conscious was leaving her body. The rest of her mind told it to shut up and go to sleep.
The last thing to pass through her mind as darkness claimed her were the green eyes of the stranger.
Why were they so familiar?
She was still breathing Harry noted with a sigh of relief as he kneeled over the Ashen haired woman. A quick diagnostic spell showed that she was in no danger of dying. Her heart rate was weaker than normal but steady, a combination of blood loss and exhaustion responsible for the trip to dreamland.
Some of the readings were off however. The read on her magic was completely haywire, simultaneously seeming to show she was a squib and then a moment later flying off the charts with activity before calming again. Recasting the spell showed the same results.
'Mysteries on mysteries.'
Quickly applying some first aid ingrained into ever Auror, he cleaned her wounds with whispered spells before conjuring bandages to stop the bleeding. Many of the cuts were small and shallow punctures caused by the sharp gravel that had been blown around during the fight. There were however quite a few large lacerations obviously inflicted at the hands of her pursuers that he took extra care with. Whilst they were all shallow and non life threatening, the sheer amount were astounding. How she had managed to keep running with so many wounds he didn't know.
'Adrenaline's a hell of a drug.'
Talking of drugs he pulled a vial from one of his pockets in his Basilisk skin coat, popping the cork with his teeth and carefully feeding half into the ash haired woman's mouth before swallowing the rest himself. Standard issue Auror healing potion that combined pain relief and tissue regeneration properties in a single bottle. It wasn't a miracle cure but was damn useful and would slow the bleeding significantly. Turning to his own wound he packed the left over bandages into his shoulder before securing the makeshift dressing against his coat to hold it in place.
Sighing in relief as the pain in his shoulder receded to a dull ache he gave a final look over his patient with a critical eye. Healing had never been his speciality and he had only ever mastered the basics. Further treatment would have to wait until he got her inside and took a look in his potions cabinet.
Turning away from his mystery guest and climbing to his feet he looked around at his devastated courtyard. Where once there had been pristine gravel there were now craters, corpses and blackened earth. A classic case if there was ever one that no plan survives contact with the enemy.
He had not gone into the battle planning to kill and kill with quite the prejudice he did. In fact he had been planning to take them alive and use lethal force only if needed. But that had quickly changed when he had approached the two that had been left at the destroyed gate as the rest chased after the girl towards his home. Words had failed, the duo seeming to not understand his language and his stunners had bounced harmlessly off their armour, some form of enchantment allowing it to resist them. As there was obviously a limit to how powerful he could make the Stupefy spell he had been forced to turn his spells lethal, curses powered by the Eldar Wand being far more effective at cleaving through their macabre armour than stunning spells.
Even with his stun first and ask questions policy evolving into a bloodbath he had made every effort to take a few alive for questioning. The first had been the two he had caught with the vines, though he had underestimated how much the buggers could wriggle. The second had been the two he had immobilised in the Orb of Zi Wei but unfortunately he was forced to detonate it when the enchantments in their armour had begun to weaken the Orb sufficiently enough that they were in danger of breaking free. And the third had been the one that he stunned after taking him on a side along joyride. And he..well...
Harry looked down at the corpse at his feet, the one he had stunned lying in an ignoble heap, body burnt to a crisp by the power of the magical vortex that had ravaged the front of Harry's home. His loss was unfortunate as that now left the Wizard with too many questions and no answers.
Not the least of which was that his enemies weren't even Human.
Harry knelt down in the blackened gravel and studied the face of the attacker using the tip of his wand to turn the burnt face from side to side, confirming what he had seen when the being had taken off his helmet to vomit. At a glance the stranger seemed Human, two eyes, a nose, a mouth lay in all the right places but upon closer inspection this notion was dispelled. The face was too narrow, cheekbones too high, chin too pointed to be natural on a Human face. And then there were the ears. Tapered to a sharp tip.
It was like Elves had stepped out of Lord of the Rings and right on to top his doorstep. Except rather than be wise and benevolent beings they were villains dressed in bone armour, incapable of speaking his language and using magic unfamiliar to him.
'What the actual fuck have I gotten myself into?'
Harry's wand whipped towards the sound only to lower it immediately when he saw it was only Weeny. To Harry's concern however the House Elf was distraught, looking around with wide eyes, long fingers grasping at her uniform in tight fists as if she was looking upon a waking nightmare.
"Weeny? What's wrong?"
"They're real! They're actually r-real! Weeny mean- W-W-Weeny never thought t-they would c-come...back..." The House Elf stammered, hyperventilating as she stared down at the corpses, especially the one without the helm.
"Weeny, you need to calm down. What are you talking about?" Harry implored, grasping his friend by her arms as she began to wail and claw at her long ears.
"It can't be! It can't be. Don't let it b-be them. Don't let it be t-them!"
"Weeny! Breathe for Merlin's sake!"
His words had no effect on the diminutive creature as she continued to panic, wriggling furiously as she tried to escape his grasp, tears streaming from her large eyes. Harry had never seen her in such a state. Even Dobby in one of his panicked fits had never acted like this hysterical.
"Weeny, I order you to calm down and breathe!" Harry yelled, hating himself for using the ingrained magic of their bond as he said it. The results however spoke volumes as she immediately stilled, blinking away her tears and staring up at him with watery eyes, panicked breathes slowing.
"Weeny...Weeny is sorry Master Potter but...but...Weeny is sorry." The House Elf whispered. Harry pulled her into a hug, the House Elf barely coming up to his shoulder even when he was knelt down..
"You've nothing to apologise for. Absolutely nothing. Do you know these people?"
"They're...they're bad people. Very, very bad people. They did awful things to House Elves, long, long ago. Then they left. It's been so long, we...we never thought they would return." The House Elf explained, voice muffled by his shoulder.
Harry had never heard of such a thing. The history of House Elves was rather a mystery despite their kind being widespread across much of the world. All that was well known about them was that they had been there alongside Mankind since the earliest records began.
"Weeny I need you to tell me precisely who they are. What they are." Harry asked gently. The House Elf pulled her head away from his shoulder and hands returned to scrunching her uniform.
"Weeny can't. Weeny shouldn't. This is...this is a part of Weeny's people we don't share with the Masters. Our history is one of the few things House Elves have for themselves." Weeny whimpered, Harry's heart aching at the sound. He didn't have the luxury of allowing her secrets however. He needed answers.
"I respect that Weeny. I told you when I took you in I would never order you to do something you didn't want to do. But our lives are in danger, mine, yours and...whoever she is." Harry added with a glance towards her unconscious form. "I'm sure the other House Elves would respect that."
Weeny was silent for moment, turning to look at the burnt corpse below them, steam still rising from its form. She turned back to him, apparently decided.
"They...they are called the Aen Undod. They are Elves, real Elves Weeny means, we…we only adopted the name after they created us, created House Elves."
The words now spilled from her lips as if a floodgate had been opened.
"They were cruel, awful, horrible beyond even the worst of Human masters and mistresses! They treated us like animals, experimented on us, hunted us for sport so that they could enjoy chasing smarter prey. They...they created us the way that we are, warped our magic so that we would have to bind ourselves to magical beings, to the Aen Undod...otherwise...otherwise our magic would consume us."
Listening to her words Harry's disdain for the newly revealed Elves grew to greater heights. Wizards and Witches had committed some atrocious acts over the millennia since magic become widespread but Harry didn't think he had ever heard his kind as doing anything as hideous as creating a slave race to torment for fun and sport, a race designed to die without them.
It was altogether evil.
"And then one day they left. Our song keepers tell of great and terrible battles between Aen Undod and Humans though we do not remember why or who won. All Weeny's people know is that we never saw the Elven masters again and later we bonded to Wizards and Witches to survive."
Harry's mind was racing at at the information he was being given, boggling at the timescales that Weeny was referring to. Nearly all modern Wizarding records and more specifically records of House Elves went back to the late Kingdoms of Ancient Egypt some three thousand years ago. For what Weeny was saying to be true meant that these...Aen Undod Elves came some time before then. Which was saying a lot as that still left a period of some two thousand years of history between the rise of civilisation and the latest possible date that they could have disappeared.
For each question that was answered two took its place. Why had Elves and Humanity fought? Were the Elves who attacked them the same as the Elves who were alive then? Where did they go?
Forcibly Harry turned his mind from the intriguing and mildly worrying mystery to Weeny again, the House Elf continuing to talk even as Harry poured over the world altering information she had just given.
"...all these tales the song keepers told us and Weeny almost couldn't believe they were true. But you should have heard them say what they would do to that lady! They're as awful as the stories say!" Weeny hissed, her anguish turning to anger as she glared at the dead Elves. Weeny's words suddenly clicked with Harry.
"Wait...you understand their language?" Harry asked, astounded. Weeny nodded.
"The stories say we were born with nothing and they gave us nothing. What we inherited from them we took, one of which was the speech of Weeny's people."
"I could kiss you right now!" Harry praised with a laugh, rising to his feet and dusting the dirt of battle off his clothes. "We could actually get some answers. I-"
"Master Harry, you're bleeding!"
Distracted, Harry looked down at to see a steady trickle of blood flowing down his shirt. There was only so much a basic potion and sloppy bandage work could do. He pressed a hand to his coat to keep more pressure on the wound.
"It's fine, one of the buggers just nicked me, I can manage until I've got everything in order again." Harry assured her. His answer didn't seem to satisfy his diminutive friend however.
"Oh no. Mistress Hermione warned me about this! Weeny she said, take care of Harry and don't let him tell you he's fine when he's really not!"
Harry rolled his eyes and sighed. Of course Hermione had given secret instructions to his House Elf. He loved the woman like she was his sister but she really could be a mother hen sometimes, a trait Harry was sure she had picked up from Mrs Weasley despite how often the two contrasting women clashed.
"-on't let him run off to do his saving people thing without letting me know first, don't let him 'forget' to reply to his work letters, don't let him sneak off with her bondmate to go to the-"
"Weeny." Harry interrupted in a firm voice, the House Elf ceasing her repetition of the secret list of commands Harry's friend had given her.
"This really isn't the moment for this. I know I've a tendency to get...carried away on occasion" Harry admitted reluctantly. "But this isn't one of them. We've got a limited amount of time to get the wards back up and something more substantial in place before more uninvited guests turn up. I can't go back inside and just rest this off."
Weeny's face began to scrunch of he talked, the dreaded pout beginning to emerge. Harry prayed she never discovered her puppy eyes could be more effective than any logical argument. He raised his hand to cut off her questions and pout.
"Take our...guest to one of the spare rooms, treat anything I might have missed and make her comfortable. But place some wards on the doors so she can't just wander around and so we know when she wakes up. Then come back out so and you can treat this wound whilst I work."
"Should Weeny be worried about her?" The House Elf asked, objection now seemingly forgotten as she glanced at the woman. "They were saying such awful things. Surely the white haired Miss can't be that bad if the Aen Undod Elves don't like her."
"Don't worry, we're not keeping her prisoner. Just...making sure she stays in one place until we can get some answers about what the hell all this was about." Harry explained, motioning to the carnage around him. "Now get going. Sooner you're done the sooner you can treat this little thing."
The House Elf was still clearly torn but thankfully understood the gravity of the situation and apparated away with the stranger in tow. Silence once more returned to the courtyard.
For a moment his mind stayed on his departed friend. If what she said was true her home had just come under attack by what the House Elf equivalent of Satan and the Nazis combined into one. He had faith in his friend to stay composed and alert but he would keep an eye on her irregardless. She wasn't made for this life and he had already lost one House Elf dear to him.
"Priorities Potter. Priorities." Harry whispered to himself. Taking a deep breath he cleared his mind of questions and mysteries with some difficulty.
Priority number one, defence. None of these world shattering revelations and ashen haired girls mattered if friends of the dead Elves turned up. He had to get the wards back up and install some serious barriers. For a moment he toyed with the idea of taking the girl and retreating to a safer place before immediately discarding the idea. Going elsewhere meant involving others and if there was one thing Harry hated it was others getting hurt because of his problems. The Ministry and Auror office was also a bust. The Elves had demonstrated some serious teleportation spell work capable of penetrating magical barriers. As long as an army didn't turn up the Aurors would likely be more than capable of fighting them off but too many innocent Ministry workers would be caught in the crossfire.
The shattered door of his storage shed caught his eye. The oak door was hanging off its hinges but it wasn't the damaged woodwork which drew his eye but the stones that lay inside. Ward stones, two dozen of them, enough to cover his entire estate in one very specific spell. The Fidelius charm.
He had begun the process of cloaking his home in one of the most powerful spells in existence several years ago when the media attention had become too intolerable. His court case against Gringotts, being one of the most eligible bachelors in all of Europe, his promotion in the Aurors, all serving to drive the media into a frenzy and destroy any illusion of privacy he had built for himself in the Lake District.
The tale of how he had ended the media siege of his home was a long and boring one, filled with mind numbing court battles, back room deals and admonishments from Hermione for thinking of cutting himself off from the world. But it seemed his seemingly wasted effort in creating them would now save his life. The hardest, most expensive and most time consuming part of the Fidelius Charm was the Ward Stones needed to anchor it. With them in place he could have it up within a few hours.
There was no guarantees that it would work. But there was no other ward more powerful than the Fidelius in all the Wizarding World and as his old Auror mentor said...
Against an unknown enemy there's no such thing as overkill.
"Looks like I've got a plan." Harry muttered to himself, a flick of his wand floating the twenty four large stones out of the shed to rest in front of him. "Now I just need a secret keeper."
Luckily he knew the perfect person.
The Wild Hunt and Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon were not the only visitors to Harry's home that night. High above on the cliffs over the Potter residence stood a sight that would have astounded even the well travelled Harry. A lily white Unicorn mare, as stunning for it's beauty as it was for its rarity.
The magical creature watched as the Wizard far below flicked his wand, a shining silver stag emerging to bound off into the distance. The mare huffed as if in approval.
A gentle breeze rolled over the Unicorn and it's long mane drifted gently in the breeze. It turned it's head, not fooled by the attempted stealth of the observer.
"You are too late young Ihuarraquax. Your Ciri's life has already been saved."
The now revealed Ihuarraquax trotted forward, pace slow as if wary. He did not look down at the events below but rather kept his gaze locked on his fellow Unicorn.
"You are Laruthrax. I have heard many a story of you from my herd."
"I'm sure you have." The newly revealed Laruthrax acknowledged with a snort. "Tell me, do they still call me 'Laruthrax the time addled'? I always did like that one.'
"They did when I first joined them. Recently...recently many have began to re-examine your theories."
"Oh, theories is it? And what do you think Ihuarraquax? Do you believe that my warnings and prophecy are mere theory?"
Ihuarraquax did not reply immediately and instead stepped closer to the edge, nostrils flaring as he breathed in magical energy and smoke coming from below. Many unfamiliar smells come to him but also familiar scents, the unique musk of Cirilla and fresh Aen Elle blood, the handiwork of the Wizard below if he wasn't mistaken. Ihuarraquax like all Unicorns was slow to trust but any slayer of Aen Elle and protector of Ciri would certainly be well on their way to gaining Ihuarraquax's.
"In my short years I have learnt that nothing in this cosmos is certain. I am not sure what to think."
"Then you are already wiser than most." The mare replied quietly, watching as the stones Harry had arranged in front of him began to float off into the distance. The ways in which the Humans of this world had crafted their magic was truly wondrous. It was not the most powerful she had ever seen but most certainly the most versatile in its application.
"That being said...I believe that our Elders minds are clouded and stymied on this matter. An opportunity in this Wizard and Ciri has arisen to break a cycle which has long gone unbroken. You, our greatest seer and Mistress of Time tell us that we cannot miss this chance that the Hallows present us and our Elders not only dismiss you but insult you behind your back despite time and time again your predictions coming true."
"And yet that isn't the only reason is it?" Laruthrax observed. "Speak freely young one. You are in the company of open minds here."
"Ciri...she saved my life when I was but a foal. I in turn saved hers many a time to repay that life debt but knowing the fate that awaits her...I...I would be a poor friend to leave her to her fate simply because my Elders tell me that it is a necessary and unavoidable sacrifice. Especially when those same Elders once almost refused to aid her simply because she possessed what they considered too much power."
For the first time Laruthrax tore her eyes from the Wizard below and looked at Ihuarraquax, nodding, satisfied with his answer. It was refreshing to speak to one of her own kind that was not a slave to the direction of the ancient Elders. Perhaps she would take this stripling under her mane. She did not think he would be adverse if she presented an opportunity to help Ciri.
"The Elders are terrified of the power of Chaos in other races because they do not wish to see another society like the Aen Elle rise. But this fear has evolved from a warning to be held in mind to a paralysing terror that controls it. They have become inflexible and resistant to any change beyond ancient out of date wisdom and strategies that do nothing but delay the inevitable. I warned them of this. Warned them that their only through great power could great enemies be defeated and our people and the peoples of the cosmos be saved. You know the result of that. So I took the initiative myself. The meeting of these two souls is the culmination of that work. Should the Lady of Space and Time and the Master of Death succeed a blight on creation will finally be defeated and many smaller ones extinguished forever."
"And if they fail?" Ihuarraquax whispered.
"If they fail...well if they fail then our long defeat will become a quick one, but I would consider this a blessing also. Better to burn bright but short than to fade away for eternity and go screaming into the long night."
Tossing her mane and turning from the cliff face, Laruthrax's horn began to glow.
"Come, your Ciri will be safe for now and there is but one thing left to do, to buy Harry Potter some time. It has been decades since Aen Elle blood has wetted my horn and I would no longer deny myself the pleasure. Will you join me?"
The air echoing with Ihuarraquax's eager whiny of agreement two glowing portals tore open on the cliff face and the Unicorns galloped through.
Fate had been forever altered that night, the board of the cosmos flipped into the air and the pieces scattered. Fools would say that she played with dangerous forces, tried to control Destiny, the only force in the cosmos that could not be controlled. The wise would know better, know that Laruthrax had in fact altered fate with the happy and eager consent of Destiny.
Only time would tell what moves the players would take next and Laruthrax, Mistress of Time and Elder of the Herd that Roams Free could not wait.
Let the games begin.
First off thank you to everyone who reviewed the previous chapter. It's immensely humbling to see the scale of positive reaction I've had to this fic and I hope I did that justice with this long awaited chapter. In future I'll try to make an effort to respond to those with specific questions in their reviews, a lack of time and pressing circumstances preventing me from doing so before.
On other matters I'm going to nip a question a lot of people have in the bud, i.e. Holy shit, he just mopped the floor with them, is this an OP/god like Harry? Answer is solid no. Harry is powerful to be sure. Just like Ciri is going to be an unparalleled fighter due to her powers and training, Harry is going to be a strong af Wizard, both due to his natural ability, fighting every year of his life since he was eleven and his possession of the Hallows. But he's not going to be top dog and will have plenty of equals under most circumstances.
So why did he just mop the floor so handily with the Wild Hunt? Because on top of that fact that his magic is more versatile, quicker and completely unknown to the Wild Hunt, the Navigator who found him isn't a particularly strong example of his kind.
Continuing last chapters AN, the show was honestly better than I expected though I still had a lot of sticking points. The casting was 50/50 for being either perfect or completely trash tier with people such as Geralt, Yennefer (a surprise to be sure) and Ciri on one side with the rest of the sorceresses being on the other. A lot of the plot was awesome, especially the Blaviken arc but there was also huge dumps taken on the material such as the Brokilon forest debacle being as bad as the Dorne arc was in GOT and the Nilfgaardians being transformed into one dimensional religious fanatics.
Sooooo better than I feared but worse than I hoped pretty much sums it up. Henry as Geralt and Jaskier carried a lot of the show for me if I'm being honest. I'll definitely watch a second season, seeing the development of the family relationship between Geralt, Yen and Ciri grow would be reason enough.
Again, this is my opinion so if you disagree keep it civil.
As always reviews are encouraged and appreciated, no matter the length or composition (trolling and flaming obviously not included). I hope you enjoyed and I'll see you in the next one.