Welcome back to "Road to Power". Once again, I'm not dead, just unmotivated. Add the fact that the last few MCU movies didn't really spark that interest, and that's how we got here. Anyway, I didn't see the new Antman yet, but I had been thinking about the plot for this story, and after a few days, I came up with some interesting ideas. Yeah, I had to change some of the already existing pre-planned plots, but at least now I want to write it out.
Anyway, thank you for being patient with me. The next chapter will come out in 2 weeks, plus or minus a few days. There I will have a few announcements for you regarding my writing in the future. As for now, please enjoy the chapter.
Chapter 28. Deal
I waved her off, "I wouldn't worry. Laura is a pretty light sleeper, and it is only a matter of time before she comes here. It might even be for the best, as I wanted to ask you something, in private."
The ancient woman raised a lone brow, "Truly? Please, then, ask. I will answer to the best of my ability."
Steeling my nerves, I took a deep breath and gazed her straight in the eyes, not wavering for even a second.
"What is the price of your assistance...
The moment those words left my mouth, Ancient One's eyebrows raised ever so slightly as a small smile climbed onto her lips. "I'm afraid I don't know what you mean, Mr. Hunt," she said, her voice as calm as ever. "As I mentioned, the two of you were dealt a terrible hand by people who had no clue what they were messing with. I'm only righting the wrongs."
A sigh left my lips as I dropped my sandwich back onto the plate. "We both know that's only partially true," I returned, my eyes on the ancient woman. "I don't doubt that you want to help us, but I have lived through enough to know that this isn't all you want. I dropped the farce of being a clueless child, and while I'm not in a position to demand, I would rather know what I'm getting into before we accept your full assistance."
"Forgive me," Ancient One chuckled lightly, her smile stretching. "When you live as long as I do, you tend to see things differently and handle some situations in a way that might not be the best for all parties concerned... Just another proof that no matter the age, we humans will never be perfect."
I nodded absently. Dumbledore from books was similar in many ways. I truly believed the old man had the best of the Wizarding World in mind when dealing with Voldemort. It was just that his way of doing things left much to be desired.
"Understandable. Most wouldn't even admit to that much," I finally responded with a shrug. "So what exactly am I signing us for?"
"Two simple requests, Mr. Hunt," she stated instantly. "One is about a subject we once spoke about, while the other is something much simpler."
Shit... To this day, I could remember perfectly our previous conversation and know precisely what Ancient One wanted from me. Has my opinion really changed?
My eyes darted to the door, and I instantly knew the answer. Of course, it did... I might never become a true hero, I just ain't built for the job, but it doesn't mean I can't help when the world is on the brink of destruction. Or when some idiot decides to blast Earth out of existence.
I shuddered. God knew that Marvel had enough beings that could do that and more without even breaking a sweat. Hopefully, MCU ended soon after my death and didn't add any more of those overpowered fuckers.
I just jinxed myself, didn't I? Fuck...
After all, why would it end all of the sudden? MCU, in my world, was like a cow that shit gold. They were gonna milk it until the cinematic universe died, and even then, they would sell the corpse for parts. Hell, they probably already added new all-mighty villains that could erase me from existence with a snap.
And no, I didn't even include Thanos in that list. Compared to some of the beings I read about, the big purple guy wasn't even scary, especially not without all the infinity stones...
Shaking my head to clear it of those random thoughts, I glanced at the Ancient One... Aaand why was she watching me like I was some sort of an exhibition? What the hell?
Right, I just totally spaced out.
Clearing my throat, I nodded. "I guess my opinion has changed somewhat since we last spoke. While I am still not planning to become a hero, I won't let our world die if I can do something about it. Not that Laura or I really have enough power to make a difference."
"Indeed, currently you don't," Ancient One nodded. "But make no mistake. I can feel the power of time and space coursing through your body. When combined with the magic of your people, you, Mr. Hunt, will grow into one of the most powerful individuals I had the pleasure of meeting."
Well, that confirms my speculations about my powers...
"The same goes for your companion," she continued. "We might not know everything about Obscurials, but their power cannot be underestimated. If young Laura were to learn how to control and channel this power correctly, she would become a force of nature."
I grimaced, not liking the sound of that. "I thought we were trying to separate the Obscurus from Laura. That's what you mentioned yesterday."
The frown on Ancient One's face was almost unnoticeable as she responded. "I want to kill its consciousness and, yes, if possible, eradicate it completely. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that it might not happen, and we will need to find another way to solve this problem. Total control is one of them."
Sagging in my seat, I murmured, "I guess this is what you wanted to talk about with us? We didn't get into the details yesterday."
She nodded, "Exactly. Klyntar and finding a way to control the Obscurus should be our last choice. However, we still need to discuss it, especially considering your friend's special condition. A connection between powers will not be broken easily, not without much pain or the host's death. I doubt you wish her such fate."
I clenched my fists, teeth grinding. I had already expected this, but to hear it from someone more knowledgeable hurt more than I wanted to admit.
"Of course I don't," I almost growled out. "Laura had suffered enough at Hydra's hands. I'll spare her unnecessary grief if I can, but she's a tough girl, and how we address this situation will ultimately be her decision. I won't take the choice away from her."
Ancient One smiled, "Well said, even if I don't fully agree... Now we can come back to this subject once your friend joins us. For now, I would like to explain my second request. It really is quite simple."
Anything to get my thoughts away from that mental trap... I withheld a scowl and motioned the ancient woman to continue.
"As you might or might not be aware," she began, her smile growing. "My successor will, in a few years, join the ranks of the Masters of the Mystic Arts."
Oh dear... Nothing about Dr. Strange is simple, woman, quite the contrary!
"His entrance to our ranks won't be easy, and in times like those, everybody needs an ally. I want you to be that person, Mr. Hunt, for I fear that without me, Dr. Strange might be lost at times and perform some questionable acts before he can fully mature into his role of Sorcerer Supreme."
Fuck me... She wants me to play a babysitter to a man that has an ego similar to Tony Stark pre all Ironman movies? What in the flying fuck is simple about this?!
Suddenly Ancient One chuckled loudly, "I see you're familiar with the esteemed doctor."
"You could say that," I grumbled before releasing a deep sigh. "So what is my role exactly? Fix his mistakes? Stop him from doing them? Full-time babysitter?"
Ancient One shook her head lightly, a little grin pulling at her lips. "Nothing like that, Mr. Hunt. It would take way too much of your time and never allow Dr. Strange to grow if you led him by the hand. No, I'd like you to intervene when his position in the Order is called into question too strongly or when a dangerous situation becomes close to unsalvageable."
I blinked. "That's... not too bad, I guess. Although is it really necessary for me to assist Strange with the Order? He is to be your Successor. Shouldn't other Masters accept your choice?"
"Even now, the situation inside the order isn't perfect, and with me gone, it will only get worse," she replied with a sigh. "Dr. Strange will need to prove himself to be fully accepted as the Sorcerer Supreme. However, a single voice of reason from a person respected by other Masters can go a long way."
"Okay, that makes some sense, but still," I quirked an eyebrow. "'A person respected by other Masters?' From what I understand, only you and Master Drumm are aware of my existence."
"While that might be the truth today, we have a lot of time to change that, don't we, Mr. Hunt?" she replied, her eyes glinting not dissimilarly to Dumbledore's.
I guess my schedule will be packed for the next few years if I agree... Normal magic, Mystic Arts, Time-Space, and god knows what else. I might not plan to participate in each canon event, but this universe is so stacked that I will have my hands full anyway. Meh, it could be worse.
Shrugging, I nodded and decided to ensure I had understood everything correctly, "That we do. I assume that this means that Laura and I will be trained in Mystic Arts, and then you will introduce us to other Order members?"
"Not exactly, Mr. Hunt," she replied after taking a sip of her tea. "If you agree, I would like to take the two of you to Kamar-Taj and have you learn there along with other Novices. I'm aware that trapping you in our headquarters would only harm your growth. As such, once you learn how to, you will be able to come and go as you will."
I hummed to myself. This wasn't a bad offer, quite the opposite, to be honest. I understood perfectly that there was no way for me to come back to Hogwarts as a student. Too many questions, suspicions, and who knew what else would await me if I ever decided to appear in Wizarding World without any disguise.
I had killed, been a subject of Hydra's experiments, and now I even wield a new power. No, coming back wasn't an option. Although, I could really mess up some of Hydra's plans if I managed to pass some information on Dumbledore or Fury. I just had to find a way to do it without risking my safety.
Oh well, I could always walk straight into Dumbledore's office. Say what I need to say and then teleport out once I cover long distances... Definitely, a thought for another day.
Still, there was one thing — well, two really — I had to do before accepting Ancient One's offer.
"I have nothing against staying in Kamar-Taj, and I doubt Laura will oppose it after I explain everything to her. It will definitely improve our current situation. Although, before we even go there, I would like to visit one place if you don't mind giving us a lift," I finished with an easygoing grin.
I highly doubt many people alive ccould boast about having a casual conversation with the Sorcerer Supreme. Much less having them as a means of transportation. What has my life become?
"Oh?" Ancient One raised an eyebrow. "What is this place you want you speak of? From what I understand, Mr. Hunt, you want to stay hidden for the time being. Otherwise, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
I nodded, "That's true. Thankfully, the Chamber has many hidden entrances. So if you could drop us near the edge of the Forbidden Forest, I can get inside without anyone noticing."
At this point, Salazar must have gone mad, either from worry or anger. Most likely, the latter. Already, I couldn't wait for the rant the old man would definitely give me. Damn, I miss the old bastard...
While Laura was definitely the only living person I trusted and cared about, Salazar was a different case. He knew almost everything about me and swore to help me achieve what he liked to call "greatness".
Not that I minded. Having a wise old wizard — even if he was a portrait — sped up my education by a large margin and gave me someone to talk to about things others wouldn't understand. Or rather, things others shouldn't ever learn about...
Shit, I spaced out again. Coughing awkwardly, I cut in, "Sorry, could you repeat? I got caught up in my thoughts."
The ancient woman smiled, "Nothing to be sorry about, Mr. Hunt. I often find myself in similar situations. Now as for what I just said. I understand that you meant the fabled Chamber of Secrets, yes?"
"Yeah, there are a few things inside that I would like to take with me for our stay in Kamar-taj, as short as it probably will be," I replied.
There was no point hiding the existence of the Chamber. If Ancient One already knew about it, then I doubt there was much that could stop her from getting inside. Salazar's wards definitely wouldn't.
"Hmm, while I was aware of the Chamber's existence, I never had a chance to uncover its secrets," she elaborated. "If you wouldn't mind, I would like to see it one day. Ancient sites like this always piqued my curiosity."
"Fine by me," I shrugged. "Not that there is much to see there, but there is no harm sho...
Before I could finish, the door to the kitchen opened slowly, and my gaze instantly snapped to the small girl that almost tumbled inside the room. Her sleepy eyes blinked a few times when they registered that I wasn't alone here.
"Laura," I grinned. "Finally slept enough?"
The girl scowled and mumbled something under her breath. Not even my slightly enhanced hearing picked it up. Someone is grumpy after one night of sleep in a good bed. Not that she even used it correctly...
"Not really," Laura murmured a little louder as she approached my seat. Her gaze kept jumping between me and Ancient One, and I could see the question written on her face.
Deciding to spare her the trouble, I spoke up. "Ancient One here decided to stop by and continue yesterday's conversation. Oh, and she also prepared us some food. Come on, sit down and eat up."
Laura scrunched her brow as her eyes landed on the plate of sandwiches. At least I wasn't the only one initially surprised...
"They are good. I already tried them, kiddo," I chuckled, ruffling her disheveled hair even more.
With a mumble of "Okay," Laura plopped down onto another chair, and after one more glance at Ancient One, she grabbed a sandwich.
"Thank you," the girl added with a nod and dug into her food.
The older woman smiled softly, "You are welcome, Miss..." She paused suddenly, a light frown marrying her face. "I'm sorry, but I can't remember your last name from yesterday."
And just like that, the world almost froze around me. Hold up. My gaze snapped to Laura. What is her last name? How the fuck did I never ask her about it?
As if hearing my thoughts, Laura straightened a bit. "It never came up," she explained, her voice firmer than before. "But my daddy's name was Kinney."
Of course, it was... Although from the look in her eyes, I can clearly see that there is an issue here. Gonna need to ask about it later.
Clearing my throat to stop any possible escalation of this topic, I proceeded to explain what Ancient One and I spoke about. I left nothing unspoken except the part about the deal with the older woman. I would rather discuss it without Ancient One present.
As soon as I finished, Laura's brow furrowed, and in the corner of my vision, I spotted one of her fists clenching slightly. "So we might be unable to get rid of the Obscurus?" She uttered.
I moved to speak, but Ancient One beat me to it. "That might be the case in your situation, Miss Kinney. We will try, but the Obscurus might have to stay, just in a different state than it currently is in."
It took a moment for Laura to respond, but I breathed a sigh of relief when she did. "I guess as long as it stops fighting me, it can stay. I just want to be done with it." Her eyes quickly turned to meet mine. "When are we going to this Chamber and then Kamar-Taj?"
Quick change of subject? Okay, I will bite. I shrugged, "Ancient One?"
"As soon as we finish here, you can gather your things, and we can depart. I take that is acceptable with you two?" She replied, settling down her tea.
"Fine by me. Laura?" The girl nodded and took another bite of her sandwich. "Okay then, I guess that's it?"
"Indeed," Ancient One said as she rose from her seat. "Once we arrive in Kamar-Taj, I will explain the first phase of the plan to deal with the Obscurus. For now, I will meet you two downstairs in fifteen minutes."
Without any further ado, the woman strode out of the room. As the door closed, I turned to Laura. "So what do you think?"
The girl finished her last bite and leaned back in her chair, her posture finally relaxing. "You were right. She really seems genuine. Weird, but genuine."
I chuckled. "I prefer the word quirky. And trust me, a lot of powerful individuals are like that. I think that's just a part of the job."
Laura grimaced. "You are kidding, right? There is no way 'quirky' and powerful is a good combination. That sounds like a receipt for a disaster."
"Oh, trust me, it is," I snorted. "Thankfully, they have that power for something, and usually, they can deal with those disasters. Usually..."
Laura looked at me with the most deadpan expression I had ever seen on her face. "Anyway," I quickly spoke up. "Let's finish here and get going. We got another long day ahead of us..." I feel like I'm saying this a lot lately.
Silence fell upon the room as we worked on finishing our small feast. In the end, the silence didn't last long as Laura couldn't stop fidgeting.
"What is it, Laura?" I asked, rolling my eyes.
"You still haven't told me what 'the Chamber' is," she pouted.
A grin bloomed on my face. So that's what has been on her mind. Should have expected this.
"Ah, ah," I waggled my finger. "I'm not saying a word. It is a surprise, so you will have to wait, kiddo. Sorry not sorry."
The instant growl I received in return was like music to my ears. This is gonna be fun.
And that's it.
Thank you all for reading. As I mentioned earlier the next chapter will be out in about 2 weeks. Apart from that remember to visit my discord server and try out my original story. It is called "A Universe of Bloody Evolution," and you can find it on RoyalRoad.
Have a good day/night everybody.
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