And here's the big one! One more to go after this! :D
Chapter 25: A Ritual
Thump. Thump. Thump.
A quiet pounding, slow and steady, brought Kai back to consciousness. His foggy brain took a minute to realize it was his own heartbeat thrumming in his ears. He felt slow and focus came with difficulty. He opened his eyes only to almost gasp in shock.
He was tied down in the center of a stone ritual room, location unknown. Lines were carved in the floor all around him, forming runes connected in swirling patterns. His bare back felt cold uncarved stone beneath him. A glance at his wrists showed them chained down to the start of the lines in the pattern. His wrists were cut, blood flowing from his wrists into the lines. The runes nearest him were already red with his precious lifeblood. Looking at the size of the pattern, the mage knew he'd be bled dry before the runes were completed.
His head jerked to the side as footsteps approached him. Still foggy, he flinched slightly away from the aura of the dark lord. The red-eyed man chuckled darkly as he knelt by the assassin's head.
"Can't have you dying too soon, mage."
Long fingered hands grabbed the mage's chin and a blood replenishing potion was poured down his throat. Kai choked on the liquid before swallowing. He hoped it would be enough for him to live to the end of this. Or live long enough to figure out how to stop it.
He reached out with his senses tentatively only to have them stopped at his skin. A dampening field enclosed his section of the floor.
"Foolish child, I am not stupid enough to fall for your tricks twice," Voldemort crooned, leaning over his head. "Now sleep and do not disturb me. Preparations still need to be made."
The long fingers touched his forehead and he knew no more.
The tracker felt strong in Riker Anaconda's hand as he stood outside the wards. One at a time team members popped into existence around him. Further away Order members appeared as a group.
Dumbledore approached the group of Rikers, "The signal is still strong?"
"Yes. He's here and he's alive. Hopefully Tonks as well. You know your part?"
"Yes, we're to clear out the upper levels, capture or kill any Death Eaters we encounter," the old man said. "I understand that your group is headed for Voldemort. Could I not travel with your team. I have a great deal of experience fighting him."
"This battle may be the final battle of the war. We cannot risk failure. You are a good fighter, Professor, but you are, at heart, a light wizard. That will be a weakness in the hours ahead."
The headmaster's eyes pinched in stress. Casting his eyes back to the fortress ahead, he sighed in regret.
"Then let us finish this."
Kai awoke again, his whole body throbbing now, and couldn't hold back a quiet groan of discomfort. Chanting voices surrounded him. A quick glance to the side showed the runic pattern glowing red with his blood and ritual magic. Voldemort stood right in front of him wearing black linen ritual robes, his hairless chest painted with the rune for containment.
Keeping his breath even and his eyes mostly closed he looked around him. Twelve known death eaters surrounded the ritual room. Each man's eyes were closed and voice raised in a simple repetitive chant that Kai was too disoriented to translate.
His eyes travelled down to his wrists, still cut and bleeding slowly. He focused his magic just under his skin, aiming healing magic at his wrists. The youth hoped that he could keep the healing unnoticed and therefore deprive the ritual of having exactly what it needed. He knew he couldn't use magic past his skin due to the magic dampening field but he could still use magic internally. Kai's mind spun trying to figure out what he could do.
He forced his mind to concentrate. He asked his hands to become small and child-like. His magic responded, shrinking his hands small enough to slowly and subtly pull from the hook chaining his wrists to the ground. Once by his side again, he returned his hands to their normal size. Green eyes closed briefly, focusing his energy on determining the status of his body. It felt tired and slow, the blood loss clearly evident, but his magic was free and full.
Opening his eyes, he spotted the room's exit and determined the best path through the Death Eaters to make his escape. Kai waited until the dark lord turned his back on his captive before rolling to his feet and sprinting towards the Death Eater circle. His legs felt like jello as he ran but he forced himself to keep moving. He heard the dark lord yell after him in...amusement?
The assassin found himself flat on his back in front of the Death Eaters. An invisible physical ward barrier surrounded the ritual circle. The Death Eaters were on the outside. Kai was trapped on the inside and the dampening field prevented any use of external magic.
He forced himself to back his feet. If he was going to die it'd be fighting to his last breath. He refused to die in a half cocked ritual being run by a madman.
"I shouldn't be surprised that you've managed to get back on your feet," the hissing voice chuckled at him.
'At least Voldemort should also not be able to use magic?'
Kai weighed the cost and benefits of trying a physical attack. The dark lord's current body was young and strong though, as far as Kai knew, the dark lord did not practice any martial art.
"You cannot stop the ritual now assassin, it has already begun. Your blood sacrifice fuels the magic and soon your death will seal its power."
Kai glanced towards the center of the runic array, eyes widening as a spinning column of power formed. As it solidified the Death Eaters stopped chanting, their part completed. Kai could feel the wild magic lashing off of the column. He could feel it's tentacles reaching out and pulling magic out of the air…out of him. It felt like the last experiment with his dagger of power.
'He must be using my dagger. That's the only explanation.'
Knowing that wild magic would not hurt him, he bolted towards the column. The draw on his magic became stronger and stronger as he got closer. Luckily he had a great deal of magic to spare. Meters from the column he spotted a dagger, red with blood, sitting in the center.
A black shoulder connected with his side, throwing him off course. He skidded to a stop and turned to face the dark lord. Evaluating his chances, he lunged at the man, throwing a kick into the man's chest.
Riddle stumbled before catching himself and lashing out with a punch that Kai ducked.
'Maybe the man does have some physical training. I suppose he was raised nomag.'
Both men were momentarily distracted by shouts from outside the circle. A vicious fight was happening between the Death Eaters and his team. Heart full of hope, Kai grinned as he saw Anaconda take his whip to the neck of Lucius Malfoy.
"They cannot save you mage," Riddle hissed, "They cannot break the circle until the ritual is complete. By then my power will be insurmountable and you will be dead."
Kai slipped the man's defence, grabbing an arm and flinging him away from the column of power. The assassin then quickly rolled away and through the column of power. He struggled to a knee on the other side, his dagger of power in his hand. The power drain passing through the circle was intense, but his task here was almost done.
He quickly cleansed the blade of blood, hoping to stop the power channeling. To Kai's surprise the blade felt dead in his hands and the channelling continued. He'd be had.
"Haha, good try mage. I'd be foolish to leave such a tool where you could easily reacquire it."
'He must be holding it on his person. The dagger must be somewhere in this circle for the ritual to work.'
Kai attacked the dark lord again, striking him repeatedly in the stomach before darting back out of his defence. A leg sweep sent the man sprawling onto the floor. Kai put a foot on the man's throat and he quickly searched for the dagger in the man's loose robes. Nothing. Where was it?!
"Kai!" came a call from outside the circle. "What the fuck is going on?"
He looked up from the dark lord to see Anaconda looking at him. The man was standing with his team surrounded by the bodies of dead Death Eaters. Kai quickly stepped away from the dark lord, maintaining eye contact with him as he yelled to his mentor.
"It's a wild magic drawing ritual. Trying to shore up a fault in his resurrection ritual using my blood and power dagger to lock in wild magic. I need to find the dagger before the ritual completes!"
The dark lord laughed maniacally. "You won't find it."
The man stepped closer to the power column as its power intensified. Kai quickly circled the space, looking for any clues to how to end the ritual that would undoubtedly kill him and quite possibly all of his men outside the circle as well. A slight distortion in an unscored part of the floor caught his eye. He bolted to that area and threw back an invisibility cloak to find an unconscious Tonk bound and bolted to the floor.
Next to her head, coated in blood, was his dagger. He could feel the power emanating off of it. As soon as he touched it he stopped feeling the draw from the column of power. He had joined the ritual in its mind. He spit on the dagger and use the invisibility cloak to wipe it clean, removing even the smallest amount of his blood.
The mage looked hopefully towards the column, hoping to see it diminish but it didn't. The dagger continued to draw magic to the column. Kai growled. What could he do?
He could destroy the dagger.
It would mean destroying a part of himself. There was a chance he would never be able to make another one. The gods may not gift him this power twice. It would leave him incredibly vulnerable.
But to not destroy the dagger would be to condemn them all. It was a sacrifice he was willing to make.
As he watched the dark lord step into the column, his eyes cocky with victory, Kai fell to his knees.
"So as it has been given, shall it be taken away. Made of my bone I break it. Cured in my blood I burn it. I forfeit this tool and this power that has been given to me."
In his lap the dagger glowed, cracks forming on its surface. With his final words the dagger shattered and crumbled into dust through his fingers. Kai shook slightly with the knowledge of what he had just done to himself.
In a single moment the column exploded, sending it's collected power soaring through the room and the floor.
Instinctually Kai reached for some of the wild magic as it passed by, thinking this may be the last time he could feel it. Some of the magic surprised him however, by coiling around him and settling on his shoulders.
To break free you must break it free.
Words spoken by his ancestor weeks ago rang in his head. Could he possibly have succeeded?
He pulled again to replenish his spend magic supplies, almost smiling in joy as magic sang once again in his veins. It couldn't replenish his lost blood but he could forget about that for now.
A scream of frustration sounded from where the dark lord stood, "You fool! What have you done?!"
The assassin stood tall, putting his body between Tonks and the dark lord. With the ritual failed, the dark lord could drop the suppression field and attack with the blackest of magics. A preemptive strike may be the best to take him out.
Kai darted in the direction of the dark lord, magic hardened fists ready to strike. He felt the suppression field fall half way to his target, causing him to have to quickly dodge a killing curse thrown his way. He continued to dodge and shield, getting closer and closer to the man. Once close he flung out a few curses of his own, distracting Riddle.
Then he felt it. He felt the wild magic holding Riddle's magical core in his resurrected body. With a vicious grin the mage pulled.
The dark lord screamed in pain and dropped to his knees, hand gripping his chest.
So he kept pulling.
The wild magic bucked in his hands, Riddle trying to claim it back, but a wizard cannot claim wild magic. It is solely the domain of the mage.
Slowly and steadily he pulled. Like picking out the stitches on a garment gone wrong, he pulled apart the seams that the wild magic made holding the man's power together. Kai could feel sweat pouring down his face with the effort needed, but he could hear the dark lord's screams getting louder.
He felt the wards fall around him and Riddle's control of his power began to slip. His team swarmed the ritual area, vanishing his blood and reviving his unconscious lover.
His sense started to tunnel as he focused on nothing but the unwinding. Soon he had opened up enough that it began unwinding itself, flying apart with a push of magic that sent Kai to his knee.
The man that was the dark lord fell, the magic in his body dissipating into the room. With no magic left to hold him together his body crumbled into dust.