Hey friends and fans! Kairomaru is bringing you another chapter of Harry Potter and the Artificer Legacy! The Japan Vacation is coming to an end. A few last minute things and then it's back to Magical Britain for Harry and family. What will be waiting for them when they return?

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Chapter 53 – Vacation End, Return to Britain

"Ah, Harry, welcome back." Tōshū smiled at the Artificer happily.

"Nice to be back, Tōshū." Harry chuckled as he and the others were lead to a large outside area on the grounds of the Yōkai Buki Seisaku guild. They'd been invited by Tōshū to come visit once more before they left Japan. Apparently the weaponsmith had gotten into contact with the owner of one of his best creations. The other Wizard had agreed to come and demonstrate the weapon that Tōshū had forged for him long ago. Harry was very eager to see it, whatever it was.

"Harry, this is Sawagejō Chō, the Wizard that commissioned one of my best creations to date." Tōshū introduced the Wizard that was sipping tea and having a snack of some kind on a bench. Chō looked around his mid to late twenties, but with Wizards and Witches looks were often deceiving. He had blonde hair that was spiked up and a black headband around his forehead. He wore a simple red haori with black pants and leather boots.

"A pleasure to meet you, sir." Harry gave a polite bow to the man.

"A pleasure." Chō stood up and bowed back. "Tōshū tells me you're interested in seeing one of his best creations."

"I'd love to!" Harry responded with a smile. He briefly heard snickering behind him from his family, but chose to ignore it.

"Very well," Chō grinned as he stretched a bit and turned to Tōshū. "Can you get me some suitable targets?"

"Way ahead of you." Tōshū laughed as multiple apprentices joined them, each with a dummy made from what looked to be a mixture of rolled tatami and wood.

The dummies were set up, each human-like effigy set on its two 'feet' as the apprentices pulled their wands and animated them. As the tatami dummies moved and picked up wooden swords from a nearby box, Chō was grinning as he drew his arms into his sleeves and then shrugged off his haori top. The cloth fell around his waist to reveal what looked like metal bands wrapped around a piece of armor worn around Chō's waist.

"Whenever you're ready." Chō eyed up the animated dummies as they surrounded him. His right hand went behind his waist as he waited for the attack to begin.

The first tatami dummy charged from behind with its wooden sword in hand. Harry blinked as the steel bands around Chō's waist seemingly came alive and unwound at speed. A flash of steel and the charging dummy's sword was split into thirds, both arms were severed above the 'elbow', the head was decapitated, the torso bisected, and both legs severed.

"What the hell?!" Tonks couldn't help but exclaim at the instant 'death' of the animated dummy.

"So fast…" Penny blinked at not having seen the full motions.

"I missed it." Marlie shook her head, wondering what she'd just seen.

"…" Fleur seemed to be at a loss for words as her blue eyes watched the dummy fall to pieces.

"Is that a sword?" Sirius uttered out, still shocked, when the weapon stopped moving.

"Yes," Tōshū nodded with a smile at seeing his creation again. "That his Hakujin no Tachi, the 'Thin One', a sword of my own creation.

The group watched on as multiple tatami dummies rushed the Wizard swordsman. The thin, almost whip-like, blade of the magical sword responded to the barest movements of Chō's hand and wrist. With only one hand, the blonde man had complete control of the weapon. Every single dummy was sliced to pieces by the ever-moving blade. The wooden swords were turned to kindling by the magical blade and the dummies were all cut into no less than seven pieces each. In mere moments the demonstration was over as all of the dummies lay scattered across the area. But, Harry noticed, not a single scrap of wood or tatami was in a perfectly clear three meter radius around Chō himself.

"That was incredible!" Tonks clapped with a wide smile on her face, her hair shifting through vibrant colors in her excitement. The rest of the family quickly joined her in applause and Chō gave a bow to them. The blonde man grinning with a slightly proud look on his face when he stood back up to his full height. The blade of the Hakujin no Tachi floating around his feet, just a little off the ground.

"How long is the blade?" Harry couldn't get an accurate measurement by eye with it bent and coiled around as it was. "How did you forge it so thin? How could you have maintained uniform steel integrity on such a long length? No forge is that long for you to do it straight like that. Not to mention the edge…how could you keep such cutting ability while also giving it flexibility like that? What is its Magical Base?" He was awash with questions after having seen the Hakujin no Tachi in action. It was so different to literally anything he'd considered before.

"Chō," Tōshū called to the Wizard swordsman. The blonde man looked the weaponsmith's way to show he was listening. "Can you straighten the blade out? Harry wants to see how long it is."

"Yeah, sure thing." Chō moved the handle of the sword as he fully extended his right arm to the side. The Hakujin no Tachi's blade quickly straightening out to reveal its total length.

"How?" Harry could only stare at the absurd length of the sword blade. "That's at least ten meters!"

"Thirty-three shaku," Tōshū nodded to the Artificer as he looked over his creation. "Almost exact at ten meters."

"Such a long blade…how could you have forged it?" Harry looked at the more experienced weaponsmith in confusion.

"Magic." Tōshū chuckled at the teen. Harry felt Fleur's eyes and smug grin on his back. She seemed amused at his go to answer being used against him. "The base for the Hakujin no Tachi was a yōkai known as an Uwabami. A snake yōkai that can alter its shape and length as it needs, though they usually prefer to stay long and at a large size since they love to eat."

"Snake…" Harry nodded after watching Chō let the sword wrap around his armored waist again. The blade certainly wound around its master like a serpent, that was for sure. "So, you imbued the blade with the Uwabami's flexibility during forging, and that's why it can move like it does?" He theorized while Chō but his haori back on, once more hiding the magical sword from view.

"That's part of it, yes." Tōshū wasn't about to give up his secrets so easily. "The Hakujin no Tachi is one of my best creations to date. But it's not the only sword I've forged from an Uwabami, right Chō?" He chuckled at the blonde man.

"Tch, waste of a good sword." Chō huffed as he went back to his tea and snack on the bench.

"Sounds like a story." Fleur giggled at seeing the Wizard swordsman's reaction.

"The other sword is Keijō Hebi, the 'Shape Snake' and it makes use of the Uwabami's ability to alter its shape. It can extend, change the features of the blade, alter the curve and the cutting edge, it's a very versatile blade and one of my best." Tōshū laughed happily at getting to talk about his creations. "It belongs to Chō's friend."

"We're not friends." Chō denied, cutting Tōshū off as he looked away. The blonde man roughly ate the last of his snack before sipping his tea again.

"Yes, yes." Tōshū waved the younger man off with a grin. "Keijō Hebi can't come close to Hakujin no Tachi's length or range, but both swords take skill to wield to their fullest potential."

"The Hakujin no Tachi is already incredible; the other sword sounds crazy." Harry could barely wrap his head around a weapon that freely altered its own shape at the user's will. Tōshū was once again proving that he was vastly more experienced and that Harry still had a long way to go when it came to Creature Craft.

"Ah yes, I did want to give you a small gift before you went back home." Tōshū nodded as he opened a small bag on his hip. From it he pulled a rather thick stack of paper and placed it in Harry's hands. "Some basics of the forging methods we've used in Japan for centuries. Things like differential hardening and such, I'm sure you'll put it to good use."

"It's a little big, isn't it?" Harry briefly flipped through the heavy stack, noticing tons of texts and some drawn pictures explaining various different processes.

"You'll have it memorized soon enough!" Tōshū laughed at the look on the Artificer's face.

'Memorized my foot!' Harry denied in his mind as he finished flipping through the stack of papers. "Thank you very much, Tōshū." He gave a bow to the older craftsman. "I'll do my best to learn from this experience and the information you've given me."

"You'll do great things, Harry, I'm sure of it." Tōshū nodded to the teen with a grin. "Why don't you all stay for lunch?"

"Thank you for the invitation." Sirius gave a short bow to Tōshū.

"I could eat." Tonks grinned as she watched Harry stash his new book's worth of notes into his Storage Cloak.

"Could we ask a few questions over lunch?" Penny requested as she motioned between herself and Fleur.

"Please, I'm very curious about some of the work done here still." Fleur had a bright smile on her beautiful face as her eyes nearly glowed with curiosity.

"Coming, Harry?" Marlie smiled at her soon-to-be surrogate nephew. Her warm grey eyes filled with joy at seeing the group happy.

"Lead the way, Tōshū." Harry trotted after the group with a chuckle.

-Japan Ministry of Magic ~ Day of Departure-

"We hope you've enjoyed your time in Japan, Lord Black, Artificer Potter." Okada gave the group a bow as they stood on the International Portkey platform.

"Please, feel free to visit again in the future." Matsumoto smiled as she also gave a bow to the group.

"It was great, we'll probably be back in the future." Harry nodded to the two Ministry workers.

"I wouldn't mind coming back to see some more of the islands." Sirius agreed with a grin.

"It's about time." Marlie noticed the clock on the wall.

Everyone grabbed the length of rope they'd been given and watched the clock. Right as the second hand hit the twelve, they all felt the familiar 'hook behind the navel' feeling. The six of them were whisked away in a swirl of colors, heading back home after their time abroad. The tunnel of colors was as disorientating as always to Harry, but a few moments later and they landed on a wooden platform again.

"This way, this way, please!" A Witch behind a nearby desk called out to the group after giving them a moment to collect themselves. Thankfully none of them had fallen over from the rough drop of the portkey.

"Sirius Black and family, returning from Japan." Sirius pulled out their parchment work and handed over to the Witch.

"Ah, welcome back Lord Black." The woman smiled at the group. "Or perhaps 'Good Morning' would be more appropriate?" She tittered at the time zone joke.

The Witch looked over their documents and then sent them towards a group of Wizards to have their souvenirs checked over for anything illegal. The differences between the various Ministries of the world could see a common item in one place considered contraband in another. Thankfully, everything passed the inspection point without issue and the group was allowed to head back to Wood End Cottage. What they didn't notice was the young secretarial assistant that quickly wrote a note onto a piece of parchment. The note was folded into a paper plane and then sent off to a very specific Undersecretary's office.

-Wood End Cottage ~ Later-

Harry yawned as he dealt with the shift in time zones. His internal clock would need a day or two to reset from Japan time. Fleur had used the Floo to return home to France and see her family. The Veela wanted to give them the souvenirs she'd bought for them and tell them about the trip. Penny had left not too long afterwards to see her family for much the same. She'd left after a long kiss with Harry and a flash of green flames. Tonks had happily crashed with them, borrowing Harry's bed with a grin before taking a nap.

"Hey, Harry, your O.W.L results came in while we were gone." Sirius informed his godson with a smile. Tayla had been collecting the mail in their absence and Sirius had found the letter from the Ministry among the small stack of mail.

"Well, that seems important." Harry chuckled as he accepted the envelope. Tearing it open, Harry unfolded the parchment inside. He grinned after looking over his scores.

Charms – Outstanding

Transfiguration – Outstanding

Herbology – Exceeds Expectations

Potions – Exceeds Expectations

Defense Against the Dark Arts – Outstanding

Astronomy – Acceptable

History of Magic – Exceeds Expectations

Ancient Runes – Outstanding+

Arithmancy – Outstanding

Care of Magical Creatures – Outstanding

"I think I passed, what about you?" Harry joked as he handed the parchment over to Sirius.

"Wow…ten O.W.L.s, you really are a nerd, Harry." Sirius teased with a laugh.

"Don't be jealous, Sirius." Marlie teased him as she entered the living room with a grin.

"Ah, my love, how could you wound me so?" Sirius declared dramatically with his hand over his heart.

"I'm sure you'll be fine." Marlie leaned forward to kiss his cheek. "Congratulations on your results, Harry." She beamed at him proudly. "You're the youngest graduate of Hogwarts that I know of."

"I still need to take the N.E.W.T.s later, but this is good enough for now." Harry smiled back at the Healer.

"The Trace should've been lifted off your wand as soon as these results were given." Sirius nodded to Harry. "So, you can freely do Magic now." He chortled, as if Harry hadn't been doing Magic outside of Hogwarts since he was a child.

"What a relief!" Harry joined in on the laughter. Wandless Magic made the Trace a moot point after all.

-Night-

"Hmm?" Harry cocked his head as a feeling of chill washed over him. He was in his smithy and going over a few of the papers that Tōshū had given him. Just a bit of reading before bed, honestly. But the sudden change in temperature had him on alert. "What in the world?" He pulled Aethereum from within his Storage Cloak that was hung up near the doorway. Peeking outside of his smithy, he noticed that the chill was much sharper outside. The grass was even frosting over, which most definitely shouldn't be happening in the summer.

"Harry!" Sirius yelled from the back doorway of the cottage. "Get inside! It's Dementors!" He had his wand in hand and was aiming it towards the sky.

Harry exited the smithy and rushed towards Sirius. He glanced up into the dark sky and with the light of the moon, he saw them. They were humanoid in shape, around three meters tall, and were covered in dark hooded cloaks of long ripped black cloth, which made them closely resemble wraiths. Two Dementors hung in the air and only upon Harry moving from the smithy towards the cottage did they descend. Both were clearly heading for the teen specifically for some reason.

"Expecto Patronum!" Sirius cast and a thick billowing cloud of silvery mist blasted forth from his wand. The Dementors let out rattling breaths as they retreated from the spell for a moment. The mist seemed to quickly fade in their presence as the biting chill returned and the Dementors moved forward again.

"Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them... Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life, and you will just be an empty shell that lost its soul." Harry recalled Remus' lesson on Dementors from Defense Against the Dark Arts. He'd been given a more comprehensive study of them while learning the Patronus Charm from his surrogate uncle. Seeing the two closing in, Harry unsheathed Aethereum and called upon the power of his Artifact Sword. "EXPECTO PATRONUM!"

Aethereum glowed with silvery light before a massive version of Harry's Eastern Dragon Patronus roared out of the blade. The two Dementors let out a horrific sound that was somewhere between a screech of pain and a deathly wail as the jaws of the dragon snapped closed on them. The spectral guardian wound through the air, higher and higher into the sky. It looked like a ball of brightly shining light in the night sky by the time it began to fade. The two Dementors were seen fleeing as specks of black against the moonlight once the Charm had worn off. It was clear they wouldn't be coming back after several long moments. The strange wraith-like creatures may not be killable, but such a powerful Patronus Charm could certainly injure them in at least some form.

"Inside, Harry." Sirius pulled Harry into the cottage and locked the door behind them. Several intricate waves of his wand and Harry saw the walls glow faintly for a moment. "That should strengthen the wards a bit. Stay with Marlie, Harry, I need to make a Floo call." He rushed towards the fireplace and Harry, Aethereum still in hand, sat on the couch next to the frightened Marlie.

"They're gone now, Marlie." Harry assured the Healer with a smile. He understood why the woman was terrified. Dementors were the stuff of nightmares, even for Witches and Wizards. Marlie wasn't the combative type at all, much preferring to help and heal others rather than cause harm. It was why she'd gone into her chosen profession after all.

"Yes, I know what I saw!" Sirius raised his voice at the fireplace, the flames had someone's face in them, but Harry couldn't quite see who. "Dementors! Two of them in fact! They came right after Harry as soon as they spotted him!" The other person said something that Harry couldn't make out. "Yes, I know they can't actually see with no eyes, it was a figure of speech!" Sirius shouted back at the person. It was a few moments later that Sirius turned to face Marlie and Harry. "Aurors are on the way to investigate." He smiled at them both. "I'm going to call Dumbledore and let him know what happened." The flames flared again as Sirius tossed in more Floo Powder.

A short time later and multiple cracks rang outside. Hearing the telltale sounds of apparation, Sirius peeked out of the door to see the red-robed Aurors. A flick of his wand and the main ward preventing their physical entry was lowered. The Aurors, all four of them, made their way to the door quickly.

"Lord Black," The lead Auror, the semi-familiar form of Kingsley Shacklebolt, greeted Sirius. "Can you show us where the Dementors were?" He asked professionally.

"Right out back," Sirius motioned for the Aurors to follow him to the backyard. The five men headed outside and to the back lawn as Harry headed for the backdoor to watch from the nearby window.

"The ground is still frosted over." One of the Aurors mentioned as they stepped onto the semi-frozen grass with a crunch. Lumos Charms were on the tips of every wand to see in the dark.

"But the Dementors don't leave Azkaban without orders." A younger looking man, but still older than Tonks, shook his head in confusion.

"You ever been to Azkaban, rookie?" The older Auror, more grizzled-looking than the others, looked at the younger man. "The whole place is practically covered in layers of frost all the damn time from those monsters."

"Unless Lord Black froze his own backyard as some kind of hoax, then I think we should treat this seriously." Shacklebolt's deep voice ended the discussion as he looked over the frosted ground. "Get word to Senior Aurors Moody and Scrimgeour, as well as Madam Bones. We need a count of the Dementors of Azkaban."

"On it, sir!" The young man saluted his superior. "Lord Black, may I borrow your Floo?"

"Follow me." Sirius led him towards the backdoor.

"What the hell is going on?" The fourth Auror questioned heavily as his Lumos Charm showed more frosted ground between the cottage and the smithy. "Dementors don't just leave and go after specific people."

"Something illegal is what it is." The older man grimaced as he brushed his hands against the wall of the smithy, frost coming off from the contact. "Our job is to find out who and why."

-Ministry of Magic ~ Early Morning-

"There were WHAT at the residence of Lord Black?!" Amelia Bones, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement nearly bellowed. The redheaded woman with her usual monocle was looking over the report of the first Auror's on the scene. Frost everywhere in the middle of summer, eye witnesses that had been attacked, this could be a hoax, but the evidence wasn't pointing in that direction. What reason did Lord Sirius Orion Black and Artificer Harry Potter have to lie about such a thing? "What about the count of the Dementors in Azkaban?"

"The first count that we ordered them to do via Floo came up at ninety-eight." Moody nearly growled at the information. There were exactly one-hundred Dementors in Azkaban and had always been since the Ministry had seized the island and decided to make it into a prison back in 1718.

"So, we have two missing Dementors and a report of an attack by two Dementors…" Amelia let out a heavy exhale. "What the hell is going on?"

"I could give you my best theory, but the Minister and his lackeys won't like it." Moody snorted from his seat in front of her desk. The two shared a look, both having served back during Voldemort's first rise to power.

"What progress have we made on that since yesterday?" Amelia questioned the Senior Auror.

"Still nothing much." Moody grimaced at the lack of information and leads. "No one is going missing. No one has been attacked, until now if that's what this is. None of the same tactics he tried back in the Seventies."

"Without hard evidence we can't just go around kicking in doors of homes and demanding answers." Amelia remarked of their current situation. She'd love to, in a heartbeat if she had the authority, but their hands were tied without evidence of some kind. "Plenty of 'Imperiused' Death Eaters that we could question or get raids signed for if we could only get the evidence necessary first."

"Madam Bones," The Floo flared and Rufus Scrimgeour's face could be seen in the flames. His lion-like visage familiar to both of the people in the office.

"Scrimgeour, what's the onsite count of the Dementors?" Amelia asked first and foremost.

"One-hundred, fully accounted for, ma'am." Scrimgeour reported the count. "However," He looked like he was thinking for a moment. "The time between the appearance at Lord Black's residence and the time between counts would potentially let the missing two slip back in." His face showed that he was thinking of why the first count could still have been correct and not a miscount.

"Search the damn things." Moody suggested after a second of thought. "Artificer Potter supposedly hit them with an overpowered Patronus from that Artifact Sword of his, right?"

"My thoughts exactly." Scrimgeour nodded to his fellow Senior Auror. They may not see eye-to-eye all the time, but they were both damn good at their jobs. "I'll need your order first, Madam Bones, but then we can search the Dementors one by one for any signs of damage that could be caused by spellfire."

"You have my permission and the order will be in your hands in just a moment." Amelia quickly got out a blank form from her desk, along with a quill and inkpot. She was filling the form out quickly, but legibly, so that there would be no delay in the investigation. "Tell the Warden to cooperate fully, this is now a full investigation. Something is going on and we will get to the bottom of it."

"Yes, ma'am!" Scrimgeour nodded firmly. The investigation order was passed through the Floo a minute later to the Senior Auror. The call ended right after as Scrimgeour went to carry out the new orders.

"Moody," Amelia breathed deeply before letting out a sigh. "If this wasn't some plot of Voldemort…who else in the Ministry can get a requisition for temporary control of Dementors?"

"There's a few…but even Cornelius isn't stupid enough to just sign one." Moody was clearly already compiling a list of names in his head.

"If this was an inside job, then someone is either a mole inside the Ministry, or we have a third factor operating on their own agenda." Amelia looked stone-faced at the prospect.

"We need to establish who among those that can get a requisition have any reason to go after Black or Potter." Moody nodded in agreement. "That's still a few people by my reckoning."

"Then we'll have to look into each one and find the truth." Amelia began filling out a different form on her desk. "I'm going to place you in charge of the internal investigation, Alastor. I want the people with access to be investigated and questioned. Something is going on in the Ministry and I refuse to be hamstrung again like we were last time."

"I'll find them, don't you worry, Amelia." Alastor nodded, his grizzled features like stone as he accepted the signed and stamped form. "They can try and cover their tracks, but I've seen through worse people." His prosthetic eye spun in the socket for a moment as he stalked towards the door.

-End Chapter-

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Dementors! Nasty sons of so-and-so!

Harry blasts them away with an overpowered Patronus through Aethereum! That might just leave a mark! Something that could be used as evidence!

Someone is about to be in trouble when this investigation wraps up!

We got some last minute fun in Japan too. Harry is quite prodigious, but a thousand years of specialization from the Yōkai Buki Seisaku adds up! Tōshū has almost lived there for the majority of his life and was prodigious himself. His skill in making Creature Craft Weapons is very advanced!

Harry passed his O.W.L.s with (mostly) flying colors! We all knew he would, right? It would be pretty embarrassing to pack up and say goodbye to everyone only to fail after all.

Things are certainly beginning to come together!

What's Harry's next project?

Keep reading to find out!

Current Mana Levels

Harry – 22,324

Tonks – 20,982

Penelope – 15,636

Fleur – 16,468

Until I get your reviews, later!