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Schloss Greifswald, near Thiessow on Rügen (120 kilometres north of Berlin), Monday 19 July 1937, late morning…

"Thank you for doing this for me, Gellert."

The handsome man with the ice blue eyes and the wavy dirty blonde hair could only smile as he reached over to gently grasp the hand of his companion as the black Mercedes-Benz 770 W07 bearing the pennants of the Schutzstaffel made its way up the gravel driveway towards the beautiful Baroque mansion house overlooking the Greifswald Bodden. As the beautiful Schwarzes Mädchen trooper — the Black Maidens were Gellert Grindelwald's personal brigade of bodyguards and a special all-female magical auxiliary to the SS (their being magical made them exempt from the Schutzstaffel's rules about recruiting women directly into the organization) — guided the vehicle to the front door of the manor that had been a prominent feature on Rügen for decades, the Reichsminister für Magische Angelegenheiten gently grasped the hand of the shuddering woman who served as the present Mahō-Shōgun to the Heavenly Sovereign of Japan. Unlike their driver — who was in a modified version of the midnight-black uniform of the SS — both Gellert Grindelwald and Yomigawa Tsukiko were in Western-style civilian clothes regardless that the former had been given the honorary rank of Obergruppenführer in the SS by Heinrich Himmler in 1935…while the latter was an honorary Gensui in the Imperial Japanese Army as appointed by the Heavenly Sovereign himself in 1929. "When you told me what had happened before you portkeyed to Berlin, Tsukiko, I only felt it proper," he stated in German; his current companion was fluent in the native language of the Reich.

Hearing that reassurance from her host, Tsukiko smiled as she gave the current master of the Elder Wand a warm squeeze with her hand, even if her onyx black eyes were still misty with tears she wouldn't publicly shed. "Have you had any chance to convince Freiherr von Taserich in supporting the Führer's cause?" she then wondered.

"I've tried," he said with a wry chuckle as the car came to a stop.

The driver got out to open the door for her master before trotting over ahead of him to open the other door and allow the visiting supreme sorceress from Kyūshū — already, many of her critics in the International Confederation of Wizards were calling her the "Dark Lady of the Orient" for her open, passionate support of magical freedom fighters who were struggling to overthrow the domination of colonial magical ministries all over southern and southeastern Asia, not to mention most of Africa — to disembark. Offering his arm to her — which she took — Gellert smiled as he escorted Tsukiko up the front steps to politely knock at the main doors. They soon opened to reveal an elderly man in a formal servant's uniform. "The Freiherr is awaiting you and your guest in his drawing room, Minister Grindelwald," he announced to Gellert before formally bowing to Tsukiko. "Generalissimo Yomigawa, welcome to Schloss Greifswald. Please follow me."

"Thank you," Gellert stated with a polite nod in return as Tsukiko returned that bow.

The driver assumed a relaxed at-ease pose by the car as the senior magicals stepped into the interior of the lodge. Once inside, Tsukiko blinked in surprise on seeing how SIMPLE the decor in this beautiful mansion was in comparison to the other great lodges across the German-speaking lands of Europe she had seen. While there were paintings and other forms of art like statues, it wasn't in obnoxiously overwhelming qualities, not like several other such palaces Tsukiko had seen in previous visits to Germany. As they ascended to the second floor, the Mahō-Shōgun breathed out, "Um…"

The butler lightly smiled from behind his thick moustache. "The Freiherr doesn't care for such useless frivolities, Frau Generalissimo," he calmly stated as they walked down a hallway towards a pair of doors. "Not like Ministerpräsident Göring for example."

Hearing that statement, Gellert smirked. When he became Minister of Magical Affairs in 1930 under President Paul von Hindenburg shortly after he had stolen the Elder Wand from Olég Grigórjevič Gredénko, the disgraced Durmstrang student — as he was German by birth despite his attending a Norwegian magical school, the fact that Gellert had been expelled in 1898 didn't matter in the eyes of the noble lords of the Zauberrat when they made him Reichsmagieminister — had been invited to the homes of the governmental, business and social elite for many parties and levées. Seeing how crazy some people went to decorate their homes — especially the current Prime Minister of the Free State of Prussia and Minister of Aviation — Gellert had found himself disgusted at some of their excesses. Yes, the Führer had his odd peculiarities — he was a vegetarian, disdained alcohol of any sort and abhorred smoking — but that made him live a simple life when he wasn't parading in front of the masses. As the two worked together to force the magicals of the Reich to accept the National Socialist way, Gellert had come to respect Adolf Hitler for his audacity, love of his adopted country and determination to ensure that Germany would eventually reign supreme over Europe and the world.

Once that goal was achieved in the next decade or so, the master of the Elder Wand knew, it wouldn't take long to finally break down the barriers between magical and normal and allow all to embrace Gellert's vision of the Greater Good.

The doors to the sitting room were opened as the butler came to a stop and bowed to the master of Schloss Greifswald. "Mein Freiherr, Reichsmagieminister Gellert Grindelwald and the Supreme General of Magic of the Empire of Japan, Madame Yomigawa Tsukiko."

"Thank you. You may go."

A deep bow before the butler retreated from the room, closing the doors behind him. Both Gellert and Tsukiko bowed low to their host. "Thank you for your willingness to see us both, Freiherr," the former then stated. "My friend here…"

"Has come from Japan to inform me of what just happened to Hirosuke."

Gellert stopped as a pair of ageless dark grey eyes focused on them, peeking out of a rather ordinary face framed by stylishly-combed black hair with long sideburns, an almost indecently-thin moustache and goatee; the man possessing those features was currently dressed in relaxed civilian clothing common for those of his personal rank and station in the Prussian aristocracy. The Reichsmagieminister relaxed himself as their host walked slowly over to stand closer to them, those ageless eyes scanning both himself and Tsukiko with a frightful intensity neither magical had honestly experienced before. Which was more than understandable, of course. While most European magicals fervently dismissed this man as some mundane fraudster — as they tended to dismiss non-magical metahumans of any stripe, especially if they were one of the ageless foundlings calling themselves "Immortals" as a group — the current master of the Elder Wand knew much differently. Josef Wilhelm Freiherr von Taserich — which wasn't his birth name — was at least fifteen millennia old by conservative estimates; when Gellert first met the man years before, Taserich had explained that he simply didn't CARE how old he was…even if he DID remember witnessing both the rise AND fall of Atlantis!

Given that he had ALSO supposedly created the three Deathly Hallows, enchanting them with samples of the black crystals flowing within his own blood…!

"Hai, Taserich-sama," Tsukiko said with a deep bow of her head, slipping into her native Japanese; she knew her friend and her host both would understand her without the need of translation spells. "It happened two days ago. I sensed it from my office in the Kōkyo, then transported myself to Watari-shima to see what was going on. There, I witnessed an immortal named Uchida Ryūsei behead Hosan-sama after he…"

Her voice then broke as she collapsed to her knees and began to weep. Gellert was at her side immediately, moving to comfort her. Watching her, Taserich seemed not to care at all about such an undisciplined display of emotion…before he held out his hand. A crystal of onyx-black material lept out of Tsukiko's jacket pocket to land in his hand, which made her gasp as she stared wide-eyed at him. Looking down at the crystal for a moment, Taserich hummed. "Is this him?" he quietly asked.

Gellert shuddered on hearing the Arctic-level chill in that voice. He had only heard of the one instance Taserich had displayed his personal power to magicals. This was an incident all the way back in 1878 when members of the Magische Staatspolizei tried to arrest him for "illegally" augmenting wands of normal-born freshmen students of the Nurmengard Academy with crystals drawn from his blood…which effectively boosted their owners' magic a thousand fold AND rendered them virtually invisible to any type of tracking spell like the British "Trace" system used by the local Ministry of Magic to teach normal-born children about adhering to the Statute of Secrecy.

The resultant fight had been brief and embarrassing to the Mastapo; all of them had been teleported back to their headquarters in Berlin stripped of almost all their magic…with a note tied to the leader warning members of the Reichsmagieministerium that any attempt at interfering in Taserich's personal affairs would result in the stripping of ALL magicals in Germany of their power. Save normal-borns, of course.

Naturally, officials of the Reichsmagieministerium left the man alone from then on.

"It is," Tsukiko flatly declared.

A hum escaped the older man's lips as he considered that for a moment before a sparkle of mischievousness flashed in his eyes. "Wolfram!" he called out.

The doors opened, revealing the butler. "Ja, mein Freiherr?"

"Ask the young lady waiting with Herr Grindelwald's car to come in."

The butler deeply bowed. "Jawohl, mein Freiherr!"

He walked off. Gellert and Tsukiko exchanged a confused look as he helped her back to her feet, and then they turned as the butler came back, the Schwarzes Mädchen storm lady accompanying him. She walked smartly, her back ramrod-straight as if she was on parade. Her current master smiled on seeing that; when he had seen the Black Maidens parade before the Führer at his mountain retreat on the slopes of the Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden two years before, Gestapo director Reinhard Heydrich had jokingly asked the Reichsmagieminister if he could borrow a platoon of them to bring the regular SS troops up to SM standards. "Sturmfrau Margareta Hecht of the Schwarze Mädchen, mein Freiherr," the butler politely announced with a bow before leaving the room.

The newcomer snapped to attention, giving her host the Deutscher Gruß. "Heil Hitler!"

Taserich nodded in return; he was not a member of either the government or the Nazi Party…and he was just too damned powerful personally to be intimidated by the sycophants who followed the "little corporal from Austria" — as some people believed the immortal often called the Führer in private conversation — in case any of them tried to confront him for his "lack of respect." "Frau Hecht, did Herr Grindelwald tell you why he invited his lovely companion from Japan to visit me today?" he asked.

A nod as the green-eyed, silver-haired woman — she was twenty years old, having graduated from the Nurmengard Academy two years before — relaxed herself. "Ja, mein Freiherr. Your adopted son, Master Hosan Hirosuke, died two days ago at Watari-shima, beheaded by the immortal adopted son of the founder of the Black Dragon Society. He was captured by Generalissimo Yomigawa and encased in that mesonium crystal now in your hand before he could be beheaded himself by Master Hosan's last student."

"The Canadian who possesses that meson jewel which was buried in that mountain in the lands of the Niitsítapi over the years?" Taserich confirmed. "The one many call the 'Protector of All Life?'" At her nod, he sighed. "Follow me, all of you."

The others fell in behind their host as they stepped out of the drawing room. Within a minute, all were walking out onto the back lawn of Schloss Greifswald, which overlooked the bay of the same name that was nestled between the southern shore of Rügen and the mainland coast of Greifswald and the isle of Usedom off to the southeast. "You need not worry about possible Statue of Secrecy violations, Gellert," Taserich calmly explained. "Nor violation of the veil of secrecy Immortals and their Watcher friends keep over themselves all the time. The defensive fields of my home will hide anything I desire them to hide." He pointed to a rune-covered, flat-topped rock located in the middle of the yard; seeing that, Gellert was reminded of the Altar Stone at Stonehenge laid on its side. Thinking on how old his host might be, the Reichsmagieminister wondered if he had actually been there when the great open-air druid temple on England's Salisbury Plain had first been built over five thousand years before.

The people stopped about ten metres from the stone when Taserich held up his hand. "Put the crystal there, Frau Hecht," he then bade as he indicated the stone. Margareta took the crystal and did as she was told, and then was beckoned back to stand close to her master and his companions. Taserich then gazed on Tsukiko. "If you please?"

The Mahō-Shōgun savagely grinned as she made a gesture with her hand. The black crystal instantly exploded, allowing an aura of energy to produce a dazed Oriental man appearing to be in his mid-twenties, dressed in a kimono and hakama. As he staggered for a second in bewildered shock, he then tried to reach for a katana…and then realized he didn't have one. Gazing at Uchida Ryūsei, Taserich nodded. "Behead him, Frau Hecht," he coldly ordered.

"Jawohl, mein Freiherr! DIFFINDO!"

Uchida didn't even have a chance to cry out in fright before the Cutting Curse ripped into his neck to sever his head as cleanly as a falling guillotine blade. As his body collapsed onto the rock he had been placed on, his head dropped off to one side. Instantly, mystic energy billowed from the ground around the rock as a terrible wind began to blow around them. Lightning then lashed out from the corpse on the rock…though, since there was no Immortal close by to receive the Quickening, it just faded into the sky overhead. Small puddles close to the rock then exploded into vapour as bolts of energy slammed into them. Within a minute or so, the powerful bursts of energy emitting from the decapitated corpse finally faded into nothingness.

As silence fell over the grounds, Taserich sighed. "Why…?"

Tsukiko gazed on him. "Sir…?"

The older man closed his eyes as he turned and walked back towards the Schloss.

Watching him go, the Dark Lady of the Orient would swear on her magic and her life that she had seen actual tears in Josef von Taserich's eyes…


Wizards and Avalonians III:
The Black Maidens and the Rail-Splitter

by Fred Herriot
A side story to Phoenix From the Ashes

Proofreading done by Rose1948, Rashaan Butler and Rorschach's Blot

Plot suggestions made by the DragonBard and Robert Geiger

German translations courtesy of Ralph S. Scots Gaelic translation courtesy of David G.

Based on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, written by Seth Grahame-Smith; Harry Potter, created by Joanna K. Rowling; Ikkitōsen, created by Shiozaki Yūji; Urusei Yatsura, created by Takahashi Rumiko; and Battle Royale, created by Takami Kōshun (as interpreted by Taguchi Masayuki and Keith Giffen).

Including characters and references from Mahō Sensei Negima, created by Akamatsu Ken; Forever Knight, created by Barney Cohen and James D. Parriott; Wraith: The Oblivion, designed by Mark Rein Hagen, Sam Chupp and Jennifer Hartshorn; Kōtetsu Tenshi Kurumi, created by Kaishaku (Ōta Hitoshi and Shichinohe Terumasa); Indiana Jones, created by George Lucas; the Dracula sequence of novels, created by Fred Saberhagen; St. Trinian's, created by Ronald Searle; The Guns of the South, written by Harry Turtledove; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon; and Highlander, created by Gregory Widen.

Phoenix From the Ashes was derived from the fanfic The Bet: Crippled, written by Gregg Sharp. This story also contains characters and situations from the fanfic series Urusei Yatsura - The Senior Year, created by Mike Smith and Fred Herriot; and the Icemaidens series, created by Fred Herriot.


WRITER'S INTRODUCTION

This story starts after the events of Lost Relatives. The teaser hearkens back to the period before World War Two and the flashback scenes refer to events during the sixth year in Hogwarts and in the summer following events depicted in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Among magicals, the time of World War Two was when "Grindelwald's War" was fought across all of Europe…and "Tsukuyomi's War of Liberation" was fought in Asia. This story expands on the hidden societies across Earth by introducing the various types of vampires that have appeared in novels, manga and television series such as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Mahō Sensei Negima, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever Knight and the late Fred Saberhagen's Dracula sequence…and will also include a surprise guest-star who first appeared in Part 57 of Phoenix From the Ashes.


Nurmengard (three kilometres northeast of Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany), the grounds of the Nurmengard Magic Academy, Tuesday 20 July 2010, after dawn…

"You're about a month late, Mac."

Hearing that from the former American Marine who had been saved by an Immortal after his legs had been blown apart by a landmine in Vietnam, Duncan MacLeod chuckled before he stood. His eyes were locked on the small, polished marble memorial located on what had been the quidditch pitch of the magical school serving the Prince-Bishopric of Münster during the years of the Holy Roman Empire…and the site of one of many world-gates that connected Earth with Mars' magical sister-planet of Nerio until 1945.

These days, little remained of the small magical village that had been here for over a millennium…save for the prison built on the grounds of the Academy at the orders of Gellert Grindelwald to house his enemies while he made war against the traditional magical societies of Europe, plus the ruins of the Nurmengard World-Gate. Since the Battle of the Gates in the afternoon of the summer solstice in 1945, small groves of trees had been planted on the grounds to help physically mask this place from normal passers-by living in and around Handorf to the east of Nurmengard, riding the trains on the Wanne-Eickel-Hamburg line that passed through the grounds from the great port city to the northeast of Münster to Herne far to the southwest, or travelling aboard ships on the Dortmund-Ems Canal west of Nurmengard which connected the industrial city that helped form the waterway's name on the banks of the Ruhr east of Herne to the beautiful seaport of Emden on the North Sea coast near the border with the Netherlands.

"Well, I couldn't get here for the actual anniversary day of David's death," Duncan admitted as Joe Dawson — who was wearing a bracelet around his left hand to protect him from the mundane repellent charms that was used to keep this place shielded from any normal person — walked over to stand beside him. "Was busy in Seacouver…"

Dawson nodded. "Yeah, I know. Lynn told me." The elder Watcher's niece Lynn Horton was Duncan's current observer. "What the hell happened, anyway?"

"Some of Jacob Kell's friends who survived his trying to kill Connor and I came to town," the man known among Immortals and those who often involved themselves with the undying foundling swordsmen as the "Highlander" breathed out. "And I thought the first bunch at the turn of the millennium were bad? Still…"

The other man nodded as he gazed on the beautifully-cut piece of granite before his undying friend from Scotland. "'Schwarze Mädchen?' Who were they?"

"Wand-witch warriors who fought with Master Grindelwald to unleash a magical revolution across Europe, Master Dawson. And eventually the world," an airy voice called out from nearby. "All normal-borns. A lot of them were German and Austrian, but there was a considerable number recruited from across the Continent. Even Britain was represented; the last Reichsführerin der Schwarze Mädchen herself was a Hogwarts graduate. As was her twin; she commanded the Vierte Bataillon. Both were from the NEWT class of 1938; they were Professor Dumbledore's best transfiguration students at the time." A sigh echoed over the grounds. "A pity their true story was never accepted after the Battle of the Gates. Then again, even if the Americans and the Soviets did much to repair the damage Master Grindelwald unleashed across Europe, the memories of that war are still too fresh in the minds of the generation that lived during that time period. The sheer destruction of all that had been in magical societies from the day the Statute came into being. The loss of all the enslaved magicals from the colonies…!"

Duncan smiled. "Would you say they're all infested with wrackspurts, Luna?"

A chuckle responded as an invisibility screen was dropped to reveal an amused Luna Lovegood. "Oh, I sometimes find myself thinking that, Highlander," the magical naturalist and newspaper reporter from County Devon mused as she walked over, her hand out to allow him to courtly kiss it. She then gazed on Dawson for a moment before she smiled in delight. "Your recordings in the Watcher Annals are quite wonderful to read, Master Dawson. Unlike the words of many of your friends, they never put me to sleep."

Dawson tried to scowl at her. "I always heard you Lovegoods were crazy…"

"Joe!" Duncan groaned out.

Luna hummed. "He appears to be infested with wrackspurts himself, I believe."

Dawson sputtered as Duncan laughed…before he slightly tensed as a powerful buzz surged through his body. Instantly on guard as his hand reached under his jacket to pull out his katana, he then jolted on feeling a soft hand grasp his arm. "This is Holy Ground, Highlander," Luna warned. "Do you wish to risk what happened to Pompeii years ago to happen here? With all the ley lines that intersect at this place?"

Duncan blinked before he relaxed himself. The first of the rules of the Game — to NEVER fight on any sort of ground that was considered holy, regardless of the faith or religion whose beliefs had sanctified such ground! — was for a good reason. It was Immortal legend that the destruction of Pompeii in 79 C.E. had been triggered when two of the undying swordsmen had fought on the grounds of a temple to Apollo on the southern slopes of Vesuvius. When one fighter had lost his head, the resultant Quickening shattered several ley lines that intersected close to the great volcano, thus unleashing a holocaust that had killed thousands…including the victor of that particular duel. "Yeah. I just hope whoever that is knows that," he mused.

"Knows what?"

The Highlander tensed, and then he smirked. "Methos."

Everyone turned as a lanky man with raven hair and hazel-brown eyes came towards them from the direction of the World-Gate site. Like Duncan MacLeod, the man known to his fellow Watchers as "Adam Pierson" had come to this place armed with his broadsword under his jacket…though he, at least, kept it hidden. "I didn't recognize you," Duncan stated as he shook the new arrival's hand. "Seems that the magic in this place hazes up our senses." He hummed. "You weren't here back in '45. How…?"

A smirk crossed Methos' face. "Davis Wisden was one of the few of us who knew who I was back then," he explained as he exchanged polite nods with Dawson and Luna. "He thought my idea of 'hiding in plain sight' was ingenious. Actually helped me along in a couple places." The oldest living Immortal sighed. "Damn shame about that Dark Quickening he went through before this went down. Still, if he hadn't gone through that, who would have allowed their head to be taken by Dean to destroy the World-Gate?"

"Yeah," Duncan stated before he tensed again. "Damn…"

"Seems to be a bit of a convention today," Methos noted before nodding over towards the imposing fortress nearby which had once housed the Nurmengard Academy and now served as the prison for one of the most feared magical Dark Lords in recent history, not to mention those of his followers who were still alive. "Wonder who came by to visit."

"Let's go find out," Duncan bade.

Everyone then headed down a worn path towards the gates of the old magical school built into the side of a volcanic monadnock that had surged up through the bedrock of the Westphalian Lowlands millions of years before. Gazing on the monastery-like tower built into the south face of Nurmengardberg, Duncan frowned on noting the small crowd of men and women gathered near the main doors, those capped with the banner that had been Grindelwald's rallying cry: FÜR DAS HÖHERE WOHL. Some of the people there, he quickly noted, were in magical body armour with combat holsters for their wands. Bands around their upper arms bore the flags of various European nations, America, Canada and Israel. Noting that, the Highlander nodded. Magische Justizvollzugsanstalt Nurmengard — as this place was officially called in German — was under the administrative control of the International Conference of Magical Communities and not the German Federal Ministry of Magical Affairs. Such would remain in place until those incarcerated here finally died off and the grounds could be ritually cleansed properly before the land would be turned back to the control of the local magicals. No doubt, the guards here had greeted the other visiting immortals upon their arrival; normal-repelling charms had no effect on people like Duncan MacLeod and Methos…not to mention those members of a certain bioroid race that had moved to Earth five months before.

Meeting those Avalonian-Americans who had settled into Seacouver and other such places on Puget Sound had been quite hair-raising at first. Duncan had many ways of dealing with those people who got a little too snoopy when it came to investigating his life.

He had yet to devise a way to deal with a race of touch telepaths!

"Duncan! Adam!"

Both men perked on hearing the cheery voice of Amanda Darieux, and then they exchanged knowing smirks. "She was here?" Methos then wondered as a familiar blonde woman with dark brown eyes walked over from the crowd to join them.

Duncan smirked. "I didn't see her…but given that Grindelwald had moved a lot of interesting magical artifacts here during that war, it wouldn't surprise me that she was here looting it while Albus and his friends were busy trying to take the place."

"Duncan MacLeod! You wound me!" the beautiful, millennia-old Norman thief/adventurer groaned out dramatically as she stopped close to them, and then she shrugged as she winked towards Luna. "As I'm sure Selene's daughter there could tell you, I was under contract by Gringotts to retrieve many goblin-made artifacts that Herr Grindelwald had gathered over the years. Made quite a bit of money out of it, too!"

"I'll bet you did," Duncan stated as he nodded politely towards Robert and Angelina de Valicourt, two of about three dozen Immortals that — in the summer of 1945, a month after the official end of the most devastating war Europe had ever seen — had gathered at Nurmengard to help the Allies deal with Grindelwald and his supporters once and for all. He was quick to spot people such as Erno Jocszak and Alicia Mackenzie, who both had Duncan's back when he blunted the charge of a regiment's worth of potion-drugged therianthropes charging through the World-Gate from Nerio — sent by Grindelwald's last ally in that war, the legendary Mage of the Beginning, to reinforce the German dark lord's faltering troops…but had actually come to help lead a conquest of Earth — that summer afternoon. If it hadn't been for David Wisden and the Black Maidens…

«Highlander…!»

He tensed on hearing that whispered voice in his mind, and then looked around. Luna was quick to see that. "Is there something wrong?" she wondered.

«Help us, Highlander…!»

Duncan blinked several times. "I heard that," Amanda noted.

"So did I," Methos stated as the other Immortals began to look around.

"That sounded like Elizabeth Gibbon," Alicia — a Slavic-looking woman despite her Scottish family name, possessing raven-black hair and deep blue eyes — said.

"The leader of the Schwarze Mädchen, Madame Mackenzie?" Luna wondered.

"Yes," Erno breathed out as he and several others came over to join the Highlander and his companions. "Elizabeth!" the raven-haired Hungarian with the goatee and moustache — he almost reminded Duncan himself of Antonius Kalas, though Erno would never have conceived of trying to expose Immortals to normals like the Roman senator's adopted son-turned-monk nearly did a decade before — barked out. "We can hear you, but we can't see you! Can you tell us where you are so we can find you?!"

«It's so cold here, Erno…!»

"How could she be still alive?!" Robert demanded. "We saw all the Black Maidens disintegrate when they poured their magic into helping destroy the World-Gate after the Life-Maker turned on Grindelwald! There was nothing left of them…!"

"Wait!" Luna said as she drew her wand. "Revideor Elizabeth Gibbon!"

Her wand-tip flared for a moment, and then a bolt of energy lashed out towards the west side of Nurmengardberg. "This way!" the magical naturalist bade as she raced off in the direction the beam of magic was now leading her.

Without hesitation, Duncan ran off after her…


The Avalon bioroid factory (at Lagrange Point One between the Earth and the Moon), an observation dome over Gestation Tower #98, that moment…

Something curious is happening now, Controller.

The young warrior-priestess who had become the master of the Staff of Gihan months before perked on hearing the central computer of the ancient battle staff speak into her mind, and then she looked up. "What has attracted your attention?" she asked.

It appears that a large group of magically-endowed Terran-form Avalonians are now trying to awaken themselves from a considerable amount of time in cryogenic slumber.

Inada Mizuho perked as that sank into her mind, and then she demanded, "WHERE?!"

The magical prison at Nurmengard in Germany; inside a man-made cave to the west of the prison complex itself, the Staff replied. According to what I can perceive of this location, whoever is trapped there have been there for over sixty-five years.

Hearing that, the only Japanese follower of Zoroastrianism — in both the dimension of her birth and this dimension where she had been literally reborn over five months before — blinked before she gazed wide-eyed at the seventeen millennia-old haijo-ju's focusing crystal. "How in the Master's Name is that even possible?!" she demanded.

It appears that the magical societies of Earth — at least one small element of them — were aware of the presence of the many Niphentaxian observers living on the planet at the time of the end of the Second World War. Given that such observers were given the right to possess Avalonian 'assistant observers' at that time…

She groaned. "Take me there!"

At once!

In a flash of light, the Shiroiwa Junior High School senior (class of 2000-2001) and her powerful weapon teleported themselves off the factory…


Nurmengard…

"Hey, Mac! What's going on here?!"

Duncan spun around, his jaw dropping. "Carl?!"

A hearty chuckle escaped Carl Robinson as he moved to give the Highlander his personal handshake, which the Scottish immortal was more than pleased to return. The dark-skinned immortal from Louisiana had just run over from the main entrance into the prison. "Friend of yours, Mac?" Amanda asked as her eyes danced up and down the former slave's well-formed body, her own eyes sparkling with considerable interest.

"A good friend, Amanda," Duncan said…before he gaped on seeing Carl's companion.

Luna was quick to recognize her. "Tsukiko-sensei!" she cried out with delight.

"How are you, Luna-chan?!" Yomigawa Tsukiko — who was dressed in her normal Shintō shrine maiden robes — said as she accepted the British magical reporter's warm embrace, and then she turned to gaze on the other immortals assembled in a group before the location Luna's tracking spell had struck on the face of Nurmengardberg. "May all of you live long and happy lives and may they be always fruitful," she then intoned. "Know that within the shrines of the Kami, you will all know peace and safety."

Sensing the earnest magical blessing behind the words the Dark Lady of the Orient just uttered, the immortals all bowed their heads in thanks. "And may you continue to fight for what is right, Lady Tsukuyomi-no-Tsukushi," Methos returned with a smile.

Tsukiko's pitch-black eyes sparkled in amused recognition. "Adam-san," she said before turning to Luna. "What's going on here, Luna-chan? I felt your spell…"

"The Schwarze Mädchen are possibly alive, Lady Tsukiko," Erno said.

The former Mahō-Shōgun of Japan stopped as her jaw dropped in shock, and then she raised her hand, whispering something in very archaic Japanese. A second later, a bolt of reddish energy lashed out at the craggy face of Nurmengardberg. Striking the rock, it expanded to create a roughly circular field of energy, which then melted into a holographic picture. What was displayed inside made everyone gape. "Oh, my God!" Carl gasped as his dark skin paled with horror. "What the hell happened to them?!"

«Carl…?»

He jolted before his jaw dropped. "Regina…?"

Luna gazed on him. "Regina Mitchell?!"

«Carl…help us…!»

He nodded. "Yeah! Probably the only normal white girl I ever really liked! Never knew she was magical!" he declared. "You hang on tight, Regina!" he then called out. "We'll get you out of…!"

"Oh, my God…!"

Eyes locked on Dawson. "What is it, Joe?" Methos demanded.

He nodded towards the image. "Those are Avalonian gestation chambers, Adam!"

Stunned silence fell…before a flash of energy caused everyone to blink before they gazed once more on the image Tsukiko's magic created. On seeing who had just teleported herself into the chamber lined on both sides by hundreds of standing glass tubes in multiple rows, Luna gaped in stunned recognition. "It's her…!"

"Oh, Wise Master! Have mercy…!"

Everyone jolted before they looked around for the source of that voice. "Is that…?" Amanda began.

"It is she, Amanda-san," Tsukiko stated as the woman who just teleported into the cave hefted an ornate two metre-long staff with a crescent moon-shaped head, holding a crystal the size of the average adult human skull. "The mysterious 'her'…"

The immortals gazed on her. "Do you know her name, at least?" Alicia asked, surprised that someone with Tsukiko's experience hadn't learned something simple like that.

"No one knows her name. The Huldufólk in Iceland and other magical communities across Earth and Nerio refer to her as the 'Friend of Dragons' in their native tongues," Luna confessed. "For the last several months, she's been appearing in magical enclaves on Earth, not to mention frequently visiting Nerio as well. She recently saved the life of Princess Poyo Rainyday of the Daemona from a rampaging griffin-dragon near Ariadne; Poyo's sister Zazie is a friend of mine. She's done much to protect magical wildlife. As her nickname indicates, she's very enamoured with dragons."

Duncan grinned. "I'll bet Hagrid likes her."

"He does!" Luna asserted. "He do-…!"

Controller, there is a problem.

Everyone jolted on hearing that booming voice. "What was THAT?!" Carl demanded.

"What is the problem?" the newcomer in the cave demanded.

The controls that would allow these magicals to be freed from containment have been fused together by what appears to be a powerful life-energy burst, that voice — which reminded Duncan of the voice of God as performed by Charlton Heston in an noncredit role in the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille version of The Ten Commandments — advised as the focusing crystal of the newcomer's staff softly pulsed in cadence with the words. I would recommend moving these unfortunates to the bioroid factory or one of the ships the Avalonians brought to Earth so they could be freed by competent technicians.

"No…!"

Everyone blinked on hearing that hissing voice, and then Methos sighed. "Oh, no!"

"What?!" Duncan demanded.

The oldest Immortal alive sighed. "They're…"

"You will not take our prey away from us, crystal-blood!"

"…vampires," Methos completed…

…as a company's worth of snarling humanoid figures lunged out of the shadows at the newcomer. "Oh, my!" Luna cried out as she moved to level her wand at the place her tracking spell had landed earlier, and then she summoned her magic. "REDUCTO!"

Her Reductor Curse slammed into the rock, ripping a man-sized hole into the granite which was enough to penetrate through to the hidden cave…

…just as a massive burst of energy exploded from WITHIN the cave! Everyone screamed out on being nearly blinded by such a flash of radiance, many of them ducking away to cover their eyes. Silence then fell over the scene as people turned to look back into the hole Luna had made seconds before. Tsukiko was now moving to gaze inside, forging an illumination charm around her hand as she scanned the cave beyond. Luna immediately moved to stand beside her former teacher to look herself…and then she sighed. "Well, I will say one thing about her," she mused.

"What's that, Luna-chan?" the Dark Lady of the Orient asked.

Luna smirked. "She's very neat."

By then, several of the immortals were moving to look themselves. "Okay! So where the hell did Regina and all her friends vanish to?!" Carl demanded.

"We'll have to ask the Avalonians," Duncan mused as they gazed at the now VERY empty cave, which bore no trace of those who had been trapped there.

Much less anyone else…


Docked alongside the bioroid factory, minutes later…

The Freedom was one of the 156 warships of the "Army of Lum" that had been seized back in February by the Avalonians as they fled the Phentax system. A Niphentaxian-built version of a Kashin-class battlewagon, she had been purged of her original crew thanks to intruder control systems by the Avalonian engineering staff, then filled to the deckheads with escaping slaves. After coming to Earth, the Freedom housed its refugees for a month before they were allowed to resettle in various nations across the planet. Once she had performed that task, the battlewagon had been moored alongside the bioroid factory, the warp drive was gutted and the weapons stripped from her hull; the Freedom and her sisterships were allocated for eventual dismantling and recycling.

"How in Lyna's name did all of THEM come here?!"

Fortunately, Freedom did have a security team assigned to her at this time.

One, after all, just NEVER knew…

"I don't know," one of the patrolwomen assigned to the ship said as she shook her head. "I just saw a flash of light from the hangar deck, then looked in…"

"And you found all these," the watchmistress in charge finished as she gazed intently on the gestation chambers that had appeared inside the old main hangar bay.

The younger bioroid nodded. "Yes, ma'am."

«Help us…!»

Both women standing on the deck perked on hearing that plea within their minds, and then the watchmistress walked over to gaze intently at one of the trapped bioroids inside the nearest gestation unit. Noting she was Terran-form and Caucasian — with a head of very beautiful blonde hair framing a well-formed face that made her look to be eighteen or so — the watchmistress then reached out with a hand to touch the glass that was holding her in place. «Are you well, sister?» she telepathically asked.

An empathic wave of surprise answered her. «You're magical?!» the trapped woman asked in a voice that had a recognizable English Yorkshire accent.

«Actually, I'm an Avalonian,» the watchmistress replied. «I'm a bioroid.» She then frowned. «Weren't you programmed with that information when you were templated?»

Confusion and a touch of fear appeared in that mental "voice" as the trapped woman mentally said, «I don't understand those terms.»

The watchmistress looked over. "Get a medical team here, stat!"

The patrolwoman nodded. "HAI!"

She ran towards a nearby communications station…


Nurmengard, a half-hour later…

"Luna!"

Luna looked over, and then she blinked. "Harry!" she called back as a small team of British aurors led by their director came up after travelling from London via portkey.

Watching this from nearby, all the immortals grinned as the Man-Who-Won embraced one of his closest friends. "When you need the best, you send the best," Amanda mused.

"You can say that again," Duncan noted; as many immortals had often interacted with magicals across the planet, the news of what Harry Potter had done in the 1990s to finally put down Voldemort had gained their attention. And admiration.

"What happened here, Luna?" Harry then asked as Luna guided him towards the just-opened cave, which was being guarded by two of the prison's in-house staff.

"Another appearance by our mysterious Japanese dragon-lover with the energy staff," Luna explained as they were waved into the cave by one of Nurmengard's prison staff; the entrance had been expanded by Tsukiko before she went in to do her investigation. "Tsukiko-sensei was here to visit Master Gellert. We've got a convention of immortals as well. Most are veterans of the Battle of the Gates. Master Carl Robinson was here escorting Sensei; he helped rescue her from Japan in 1945 when the Americans moved to save her from the Fat Man bomb. Tsukiko-sensei!" she called out.

Tsukiko — who had been kneeling on the ground as she used her eyes and magical senses to examine what residue remained from whoever had been here — looked over before she rose. "Harry-kun. Did we get you out of bed too early?" she asked.

Harry bowed respectfully to his former teacher, which she returned. "I just got into the office. Anything happening here rates a priority response from all the magical ministries in Europe," he explained as he drew his wand. "What happened here?"

"It appears Gellert's delightful brigade of combat sorceresses aren't as dead as we were once led to believe," Tsukiko stated before she waved her hand.

Harry blinked as a magical hologram appeared around them. He then gaped in shock on recognizing the mechanical devices that had once been inside this cave…and the people trapped within those very devices. "Oh, my God…!" he breathed out.

"Avalonian gestation chambers," Luna explained. "Did you get a total count, Sensei?"

"Forty-four hundred units," Tsukiko answered. "Enough for all the Schwarze Mädchen. I should know; I created the boxes that would be used for their personal effects after they 'died.'"

"But the Avalonians weren't here at the end of World War Two, Mistress Tsukuyomi," one of the prison staff — an officer of the American Department of Magic, Harry recognized by the armband he wore — stated. "How on Earth could the Schwarze Mädchen have been saved from immolating themselves to destroy the World-Gate and become bioroids?"

"The Niphentaxians, I would suspect," Luna answered.

Eyes locked on her, and then Harry nodded. "They've had observers on this planet for decades. They knew about all the magical enclaves, too. How would Ambassador Holmes' father have saved Rose and the others back in the 1980s?" he mused as Tsukiko dispersed the hologram. "The bioroid factory was available to them…"

Luna hummed. "A possible admirer of Master Gellert?"

He nodded. "Possibly." To the prison guard. "Could I speak to him for a moment?"

The American smiled. "Right this way, Director Potter."


Minutes later…

"Harry Potter…"

"Good morning, Master Gellert," Harry said as the frail, elderly man who had been residing inside the topmost cell in the prison tower for the last sixty-five years slowly rose and offered his hand. "I trust the accommodations are pleasant."

Gellert Grindelwald smirked as the young British wizard gave him a firm handshake. "It is what I deserve, Mister Potter," he said in barely-accented English before he smiled with delight at the beautiful woman who had accompanied her old schoolmate to the cell. "Miss Lovegood. As beautiful as ever. My thanks as always for the free copies of The Quibbler you and your father send me," he said as he gently took her hand to give it a courtly kiss. He then blinked in confusion on seeing who else had come in. "Did something just happen?" he wondered as he moved to take his seat, waving his former ally over to sit on the bed. "I hardly hear anything in here these days."

"Something did happen, old friend," Yomigawa Tsukiko stated as she gazed intently at him. "Elizabeth-chan and her friends are all alive."

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

And then…

"Impossible! I saw them die!" a pale Grindelwald breathed out as his eyes teared.

"We know," a strange voice then declared from the cell entrance.

Grindelwald looked over, and then his blue eyes went wide. "Highlander…!" he breathed out before nodding greetings to Duncan McLeod. Even if the immortals who had allied themselves with the mixed Allied team of hit-wizards and the War Hawks had helped defeat him at the Battle of Nurmengard, years of reflection had eroded the deep hatred the former master of most of magical Europe once felt for the undying swordsmen who had been fighting their vicious "Game" for as long as civilization had existed on Earth. "I expected you and your friends to have come here a month ago."

"All of us were pretty busy. The Game doesn't allow us to take breaks to remember old friends," Duncan stated before he gazed at Tsukiko. "We saw them, Gellert. We HEARD them in our minds." He took a deep breath. "Do you know of the Space Angels?"

The aged arch-mage nodded. "The Avalonians. The race of biological androids that was rescued by the Earth Angel and her adopted family some months ago. Some of the female guards here have done body-swaps in the last few months. Improved their magic almost fifty percent in all cases according to that special test that bright young fellow from the Department of Mysteries in Bonn devised back in the 1980s." He nodded to Harry. "Heard what happened when Harry's wives and his mistress were transformed into them as well…and I know about Harry's sister and her friends who went to Meridiana thanks to Madame Holmes. Didn't do Tom Riddle's young supporters in Britain much good. Why?"

"Elizabeth-chan and her friends were trapped within Avalonian gestation chambers, hidden inside a cave in the west side of the mountain, Gellert," Tsukiko answered. "I doubt you would remember meeting strange people with pointed ears when you were the Reich Minister of Magical Affairs in the 1930s and 1940s." At his surprised look, she added, "There were a couple Niphentaxian observers who lived in the village close to Tenmon-jinja. I never suspected they were aliens until those delightful Noukiites came to clear them off the planet in February…and this was after I had spent years training Harry-kun's sister and her friends. They knew about magicals, Gellert, so it would have been easy for them — even in the 1930s and 1940s — to slip in and out of the various enclaves to take close observations of people such as we."

"And their technology was advanced enough to defeat any magical defences against such things," Luna added. "Alicia Holmes told me that once."

"Could Freiherr von Taserich have known of them?" Harry asked.

Grindelwald chuckled. "It's a lucky thing Heather Thompkins called off all the search parties sent by the various European ministries to find that man when she was elected as a Supreme Mugwump in the ICMC in the 1950s." He then sobered. "As Duncan or any of his friends can explain, Harry, Josef von Taserich is a man who — if he ever came to see you as a potential threat — would destroy you totally and utterly…and you wouldn't have any hope of slowing him down. The only people I know of who could stand up to him in an all-out battle are Dean Raeburn and Vladímir Tayčéško." He sighed. "If he knew of the Space Angels' masters — if he sensed observers from there here on Earth — the Rittmeister would have made sure they never became a threat to him."

"So if whatever observers that were in Germany or those parts of Europe occupied by Germany in the Second World War were found by him…and if they had non-templated Avalonian bodies ready to use as deep penetration agents…" Duncan mused.

"The Rittmeister could have seized those bodies, studied the templation process, then prepared replacement bodies for the Schwarze Mädchen. Their souls could have been transmitted into the new bodies the instant their old bodies were vaporized during the Battle of the Gates," Luna finished. At the others' surprised looks, she added, "His sympathy to normal-born magicals was well-known. The Schwarze Mädchen were all loathed and feared throughout Europe because they were normal-born and fanatically dedicated to the destruction of all European-based traditional magical societies in the pursuit of the Greater Good." She smiled. "Being normal-borns gave the Schwarze Mädchen a far wider and more cynical world-view than magical-born fighters would have possessed."

Grindelwald nodded. "Luna is right about the Rittmeister's sympathy to normal-borns," he stated. "There was one time back in 1878 when the Mastapo tried to stop his augmenting the wands of normal-born students with ebony meson crystals from his own blood. They actually tried to obliviate him of all the knowledge he had of various magical societies." As Duncan snorted on hearing that, muttering on how impossible that would have been, the former Dark Lord of Europe added, "They were all stripped of their magic and sent to Berlin with a note tied to one of them, warning the Mastapo to not bother him again." As the others chuckled — learning to deal with non-magical metahumans had always been a difficult thing for magical law enforcement to grasp — he added, "I do recall the Rittmeister taking a particular liking to Margareta Hecht."

"The Sturmscharführerin of the Black Maiden Brigade," Luna noted. "The Brigade's regimental sergeant-major to borrow the proper Army term for such a position."

Their host nodded. "The same. Like all of them, she was top of her class at magical school…but because she was normal-born, she wouldn't have gone far in the more traditional enclaves in Germany at the time. She was my driver when I took Tsukiko to Schloss Greifswald when she came to tell the Rittmeister of the death of Master Hosan in 1937." He bowed his head. "At the Rittmeister's order, Gretta beheaded the man responsible — Uchida Ryūsei, if I recall the name correctly — to see if he had absorbed Master Hosan's memories and life energy." He shook his head. "They weren't there."

"Hirosuke allowed his memories to be passed on to Dean Raeburn," Duncan stated.

Grindelwald nodded. "As we learned later." He gazed on Harry. "What happens now? Will they be forced to face war crimes trials? I would think their actions in 1945 when the Life-Maker launched an invasion of Earth from Nerio would exonerate them."

"We have to make sure they're healthy first, Master Gellert. I won't allow any of them — especially English ones like Elizabeth and Jessica Gibbon — to face prison without ensuring they're physically and mentally fit to stand trial. My counterparts in other nations will do the very same thing for their missing citizens," the Man-Who-Won answered. "Given that they are probably all Avalonians now, officials of the Provisional Government aboard the bioroid factory will have to be contacted about this. Their rights as Avalonians would have to factor into whatever legal proceedings — if any! — are to be initiated against them, even all these years later." He smirked. "If you've collected copies of the Quibbler, Master Gellert, you know of her, don't you?"

"The Friend of Dragons. The young Japanese woman with the energy staff who likes dragons and other magical creatures. Luna and her father have been trying to learn that woman's identity since she first appeared in March," Grindelwald answered with a knowing smirk, and then he blinked as he realized what his guest was now implying. "She was here?!"

"She teleported them out of the cave when the vampires attacked," Duncan stated.

Harry looked at the immortal from Gleann Fhionghain. "Vampires?!"

"Daywalkers by the looks of them, Harry-kun," Tsukiko stated. "All destroyed when our mysterious friend took Elizabeth-chan and her friends away."

Luna perked. "Daywalkers, Sensei? Are you sure?"

"Even if they were in a cave and away from direct sun exposure, normal vampires would still be lethargic at this time of day, Luna-chan," the Dark Lady of the Orient said.

"Daywalkers," Duncan concluded, nodding.

"That's why he's in London."

Eyes locked on Harry, who had a knowing look on his face. "Who?" Grindelwald asked.

The Man-Who-Won smiled. "Abraham Lincoln."


Inside a rented room above a certain pub in London, that moment…

"AH-CHOO!"

"Bless you, Abraham! Are you alright?!"

The near-immortal former president of the United States of America moaned as he reached up to wipe the jarred mucus from his nose. "Someone's talking about me."

The pale-skinned man who was seated at the work desk in the rented room blinked before he sighed. "Well, let's hope it's good talk," Henry Sturges breathed out.

Hearing that from the daywalker vampire who helped train him in his private avocation as a hunter of the undead almost two centuries ago, Abraham Lincoln smirked as he held up his favourite weapon. "If it isn't, I shall be prepared, Henry."

Sturges nodded. "As you've always been." He then took a deep breath as he stood up. "Well, if you'll excuse me, I have to get over to Paris."

"Be safe, old friend," Lincoln bade.

"Always."


Aboard the Freedom, two hours later (London time: After breakfast)…

"What can you tell me about them?"

The senior healer who had come with her team directly from the factory's control tower sighed. "A total of 4,400 Terran-turned-Avalonians, all physically about eighteen years of age. Breaking them down by nationality, forty-five percent of them are German, fifteen percent Austrian, ten percent Italian, eight percent French and Walloon-Belgian, eight percent Dutch and Flemish-Belgian, six percent Danish and Norwegian, five percent Finnish and three percent of a mixture of other nationalities. The group leader, Elizabeth Gibbon, is British." She sighed as she gazed on the group of young women as they enjoyed their first-ever meal as Avalonians. Naturally, such meals were kept to "soft" foods given the many years they had spent in storage; the healer and her team had noted the various symptoms of cryogenic hibernation sickness in all of them even if their magic and the regenerative enzymes in their own blood was moving to heal them as quickly as the damaged cells and tissues could be regrown. "The incredible part of all this is that — as far as they believe — it's supposed to be 1945. The twenty-first of June to be exact." As the watchmistress in charge of the Freedom gaped, the healer added, "And they should be at a place in Germany called Nurmengard, preparing to defend it from an attack by Allied magicals and…"

"Excuse me."

Both turned as one of the just-woken women came up to join them. A pretty blonde, she had blue-green eyes and the most perfect looks either Avalonian — who were both Terran-form, having been born on the factory itself; Terran-turned-Avalonian women wouldn't have been attracted by such right away unless they had been born lesbian or bi or if the right conditions to trigger what was popularly nicknamed "the time of the month" were present — had ever seen on a female of any known humanoid species. Like the others who had just been revived from a slumber of sixty-five years, she was currently dressed in the gestation suit used to help mould non-templated bodies into their final form; quartermasters from other parts of the factory were moving to get them some normal clothes. "Yes?" the watchmistress politely asked.

"I don't mean to sound ungrateful for what you're doing for us, but there are a lot of questions we need answered," she stated, her voice reflecting her Yorkshire ancestry. "What just happened to us? Last thing we remember was being at Nurmengard repelling the Allied attack there…and then we all woke up inside that cave."

"Where is this Nurmengard, anyway?" the healer wondered.

Gazing at her hosts, Elizabeth Gibbon took a deep breath. Whoever these beings were — I'm an ALIEN now?! she thundered to herself once more as the unreality of the whole situation she and those technically under her charge now found themselves in nearly overwhelmed her — they clearly knew about magicals. Much to her inner delight, these beings seemed not to care a whit about that sort of thing…but then, given that Avalonians were all blessed with the ability to sense people's emotions from a distance and actually read people's thoughts by touching them — the healer had explained about that, not to mention explained about the Awakening process — magic probably didn't strike them so odd. "It's just to the northeast of Münster in Germany," the English-born Reichsführerin der Schwarze Mädchen und Generalmajorin der Magische Reichsarmee then answered. "Within the Prussian province of Westphalia," she then added.

The other women nodded. "As we told you when you were all released from the capsules we found you in, this is the year 2010. The twentieth of July to be exact; it's 9:06 AM in London right now," the watchmistress stated after glancing at her iPhone. On seeing the flat rectangular device, Elizabeth had been shocked to learn that such was an actual wireless telephone that was quite popular with all walks of life around the world. "As to how you got into those capsules — much less became Avalonians — we just don't know. We're tracing down the part numbers for the capsules to learn when they were removed from the factory…" — she waved forward to the open end of the hangar deck, which showed the side of the factory and cislunar space around Earth, which was in a waning crescent stage given the Sun's current position vis-à-vis the third planet and its lone natural satellite — "…to see exactly when your new bodies were first procured. Our former masters did have observers in Europe active before the Second World War, so the chances are very good that one of them DID help save all of you."

"Why?" Elizabeth then breathed out.

"Why what?" the healer asked.

"Why would aliens — and aliens with obvious advanced technology at that! — be so interested in us?! Save for our magic, we would present nothing of value to them!"

The other women wanly smiled. "They effectively had no choice," the watchmistress said before she moved to explain the whole story about the natives of Phentax Two…


Level One of the Headquarters of Her Majesty's Ministry of Magic of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (located under Northumberland Avenue east of Trafalgar Square) in the City of Westminster, London, an hour later…

"Harry…if that's a joke, it's not funny!"

"Do I look like I'm joking, Perce?!" Harry asked as he gazed wearily at Percy Weasley. Both were in the latter's office; the Director of the DMLE wanted to give the Senior Undersecretary a head's up before he would brief Kingsley Shacklebolt about the return of Gellert Grindelwald's Black Maidens. "They were all there in that cave! Frozen in time for sixty-five years as Avalonians of all things…" He sighed. "And thanks to her, they're probably up aboard the bioroid factory as we speak."

The third-oldest son of Arthur and Molly Weasley shook his head as he reached into one of his desk drawers to pull out a bottle of Blishen's firewhiskey and two shot glasses. He poured a shot into each, then handed one of the cups to Harry. Both drowned the whiskey and then relaxed as the magically-charged alcohol gave them a gentle buzz. "I assume the press in Germany has already got wind of this?" Percy weakly asked.

Harry nodded. "It's already out on the MagicNet and the Zauberwelt is running a special edition that'll hit the stands after lunch. According to Luna, all the people at Nurmengard have passed on the news to their home ministries. You can bet that the other major European broadsheets are going to have the return of the Schwarze Mädchen on Page One by tonight's edition. Tomorrow morning at the latest." He sighed. "As is standard procedure whenever there's an incident at Nurmengard, I reported what happened there to Supreme Mugwump Ramirez. I'm sure an emergency meeting of the ICMC will be called in a short while. How we'll approach the Avalonians, though…"

Percy shook her head. "Two steps forward, one step back," he muttered as he poured himself another shot of firewhiskey. Harry refused a second serving. "The Avalonians come to Earth and make their desire to live peacefully among the normals and the magicals known," he said after taking a sip of the whiskey. "Two of them saved your cousin from your uncle and aunt because of their abusing her for accidental magic…and that doesn't count what Madame Holmes did to save Rose and the other girls back in the 1980s. Then the Oni and their friends move to invade Earth and the Earth Defence Force has to go deal with them. Hood's commissioning in the skies over London throws everyone into a blind panic, which forced Luna to ask Lady Negako to help restore your wives' magic and revive Dora." He smirked. "Not to mention Ginny." As Harry chuckled, his host sighed. "Bella Lestrange escapes from St. Mungo's and throws everyone into another blind panic. She gets captured thanks to Teddy and is turned into an Avalonian because of the severity of the wounds Mother and Grace gave her in '97. She's turned sane and is banished from the country as a result, going to apprentice under Lady Evangeline in Japan. Now this…!" He took a deep breath. "What would they do? Any ideas?"

Harry sighed. "I talked to Hermione about this. As you might know, she's been a private admirer of the Schwarze Mädchen since we started training together under Sensei." At Percy's surprised look, the Man-Who-Won smirked. "Oh, she hates the fact that they went to Germany of all places to fight with the Nazis, even if Hitler and his lot hadn't initiated the Final Solution back then. Still, the fact is this: They were the first group of normal-borns to have made such a huge impact on magical society in Europe after the Statute of Secrecy was passed. Yes, their actions helped destroy the old International Confederation of Wizards; too many of that generation still despise Elizabeth Gibbon and her friends for doing that. Yes, they could be charged with the destruction of the loyalty anchor stones that enforced the rule of European magic ministries over the magicals in colonies across the planet; that was part of the deal Master Gellert made with Tsukiko-sensei when they allied with each other in 1939 to launch their wars against the ICW. Here in Britain, too many people still look on the Schwarze Mädchen as monsters. Most of Europe — those parts of Europe that were overrun by Grindelwald — feel the same way. Beyond Europe…?"

"They're respected…if not admired," the Senior Undersecretary finished, and then he sighed. "Well, let's go talk to Kingsley. This will be an interesting meeting."

Harry nodded as both rose…


The Isle of Lundy in the Bristol Channel (ninety kilometres west-southwest of Cardiff in Wales), that moment…

"Dead?"

The pale vampire bowed his head to his leader. "Yes, Adam. Wiped out to the last."

"By who?" the millennia-old daywalker — who had been one of the primary instigators of the Civil War in America during the early 1860s — calmly asked. "The Immortals?"

"No, sir. It appears this mysterious woman with the energy staff similar to Raeburn's Power Jewel — the one who's been visiting various magical enclaves on Earth and on Nerio for the last few months — was involved. That was in the reports coming now out of Nurmengard that our friends in Germany are monitoring. It's believed that the Black Maidens were all taken away into space. No doubt, they're…"

"Being turned into crystal-bloods," Adam finished as he took a deep breath. "Damn!"

"They're mudbloods, my friend," Theodore Nott stated as he sipped his firewhiskey. "I doubt someone like you would find even the dreaded Schwarze Mädchen…" — all the vampires in the room were quick to sense the derision in his voice on saying that — "…difficult to deal with in the long term." He then smirked. "Then again…"

"There is Azkaban," Adam finished for his host as the other vampires all smirked.

Theodore nodded. "Yes. There is Azkaban."

Rueful chuckles echoed through the reception hall as the assembled vampires, wizards and witches — who had joined together over the last month or so in an alliance to deal with the rapid transformation of human society since after the start of the year thanks to the Avalonians — all exchanged knowing looks. Watching them from his position near the grand staircase that led to the upper floor of the Nott mansion, Draco Malfoy could only smile as he sipped his firewhiskey. What strange bedfellows necessity forces on people at times, the Marquess of Avebury mused to himself as he considered what he had just learned over the last week from the current Viscount of Torridge. Still, despite the potential loss of the magical power of the Black Maidens to the Avalonians — being five millennia old, Adam knew of some ancient rituals that would drain any magical of their power, transferring same to a willing recipient; it was that which had aroused Draco's interest when Theo informed him of his alliance with the daywalkers — the ultimate success of their campaign against the Avalonians was still assured.

To both groups, the race of alien psychics now settling down on Earth personified the worst possible fate for them all. In the eyes of pureblood British wizards like Theo Nott and Draco Malfoy, the "muggle golems pretending to be human" had the ability to give non-magical psionic powers — the match of any master in Legilimency — that could sniff out a potential threat with gross ease. It had long been concluded that had the Avalonians been in Britain in force back in 1996 without being controlled by their Niphentaxian masters, the Death Eaters' launching of the Second Blood War could have turned into a bloody rout thanks to the aliens' weapons and their ability to sense danger from a distance; what Rose Potter and her sister Meridiana alumni did to help Harry Potter destroy the Death Eaters in 1997 had been bad enough. With the memories of the battles between the War Hawks and the American-led Liberty Legion on the "Allied" side and the Übermenschen Gruppe on the "Axis" side during Grindelwald's War in Europe and North America still fresh in the minds of older wizards — some of whom, even if they weren't here, did support Theo's alliance with Adam Sewell — a "metahuman evolution" of the muggles to the point where magic would be made irrelevant evoked the same type of wild paranoia that drove their ancestors into passing the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in 1689. That, of course, didn't mention things like the Hood

As for the vampires such as Adam and his sister Vadoma, the Avalonians' willingness to welcome normal Terrans into their ranks via body-swapping, blood-transfusion or DNA-augmentation therapy would — if allowed to go totally unchecked — come to eventually deprive them of their primary source of food. To many of them — who had been literally run out of North America after the Civil War thanks to the Rail-Splitter, who was ultimately saved from John Wilkes Booth's attempted assassination on 14 April 1865 thanks to Josef von Taserich and the infusion of ebony mesonium into his blood in yet another "experiment" by the immortal Prussian nobleman to see if there were humans out there who could master the ultimate power of the Atom of True Life — the thought of all normal humans becoming "crystal-bloods" spelled the ultimate extermination of their kind. Like Taserich, Avalonians had particles of mesonium — though diamond-pattern — in their blood stream; these particles helped enhance their bodies' regenerative powers. Such — if ingested by a vampire — would strip said vampire of his/her special powers and restore him/her to normal humanity. And as had been proven when the infamous Angelus, Spike and Drusilla had been "returned to the sun" some months ago thanks to Avalonian-Americans who had learned of them while helping restore Sunnydale after the collapse of the Hellmouth in 2003, the mesonium in Avalonian blood always reverted the recipient to the physical age s/he could have been were that person born a natural Sagussan.

Angelus — born Liam O'Connor in 1727 — was now physically a forty year-old man.

Spike — born William Pratt in 1850 — was now physically twenty-nine.

As for the woman born Drusilla Keeble in 1842, she became an Avalonian thanks to body-swapping; had she undergone DNA-augmentation, she would physically be thirty years old.

For a five millennia-old vampire like Adam Sewell, potential exposure to mesonium flowing within the veins and arteries of a "crystal-blood" was the ultimate death sentence; as the standard Avalonian lifespan only stretched out to eight centuries, those like Adam would be rendered into dust once the mesonium got into his body.

"So how soon can you prepare a force to go deal with them?" a woman asked.

Theo looked over as Camellia Matthews came up to join them. A silver-haired woman with pale blue-grey eyes that some might mistake for an albino, she was a sister Slytherin from Theo's and Draco's year at Hogwarts and the heiress of the Viscountcy of Sutton thanks to the death of her older brother Charles during "Death Eater Season" in the summer of 1997; he had been a supporter of Voldemort only to be brutally taken down by Harry Potter in mid-July of that year. Her father Orion had been avowedly neutral when it came to voting for legislation in the Wizengamot for years. He had deferred to the "dark" families when sensitive matters came up in the years following the Death Eaters' near-total destruction in 1997…until Pansy Black and Mandy Potter got their magic back thanks to the Avalonians a couple weeks ago and assumed voting proxy for the Black and Potter family seats. With the "light" side now in the ascendancy, the neutrals were shifting away from supporting people like Theo and Draco…which had angered not just Camellia but several of her peers from Hogwarts.

One of them was the wizarding guest of honour at this meeting: Achelois Runcorn, the double-heiress of the Noble and Most Ancient Houses of Runcorn of Widnes and Collins of Halton; her maternal grandfather Pierus Collins was the head of the latter house while her father Herodotus Runcorn was head of the former. Camellia's roommate at Hogwarts throughout all their years there, Achelois — a slender woman with cinnamon-shaded hair and chocolate-brown eyes that always flashed with calculation — had been the target of potential suitors since she graduated from Hogwarts in 1998. While she did have two younger sisters — twins Cassotis and Albunea — who could take up the combined house votes separately once Pierus and Herodotus had passed on, Theo knew Achelois desired to consolidate the combined votes in herself and a potential life-mate…

…even if people who could be seen as "acceptable" life-mates — which, given that Achelois was as pure a pureblood woman as could be found in Britain, meant only those of equally pure blood — were rather thin on the hoof in Britain these days.

"We could strike very early Friday morning," Vadoma — an alluring blonde woman with hazel eyes when she was not allowing her vampire side to take over her — noted.

"How many prisoners are there?" another vampire, Halbert Golden, asked.

"At least 2,200 people, Mister Golden," Draco answered. "The purges after the fall of Riddle were thorough and left very little of our parents' generation who supported the cause living free of Azkaban." He grimaced as a touch of real fear entered his voice. "Even better, most of them should be quite docile for you to deal with once you get the Aurors out of the way. All the ones who allied with Riddle and escaped being killed by Potter in the summer of '97 were put into That Place thanks to that half-blood, that mudblood Granger and that Korean bitch Mun convincing the Queen to open it up."

The vampires all looked amused on hearing Draco's oblique reference to the most feared magical prison ever to exist on Earth, Her Majesty's Prison Gonebren. Located somewhere in Bodmin Moor in Cornwall where a dozen ley lines intersected, it had been inhabited for over a thousand years by the dreaded Hollows. Created from the spirits of muggles who had, so some believed, been killed by dark wizards over the centuries by an unknown mage who had been passionately sympathetic to non-magicals — to the utter outrage of pureblood traditionalists, the man most often credited with Gonebren's creation was Salazar Slytherin himself! — the Hollows were said to simply had no love whatsoever for magicals of any stripe. Once a prisoner had been condemned to Gonebren, s/he would have his/her soul savaged via a form of mind-raping no Legilimency master or Avalonian could defend themselves against. Those sentenced to the "Maze Among the Rocks" — as Gonebren was often nicknamed — eventually emerged nearly brain-dead and unable to live their own lives, virtually no different than those condemned to the Dementor's Kiss.

By the time the Statute of Secrecy had gone into effect in 1692, the Unspeakables in the Department of Mysteries had supposedly discovered the means to somewhat tame the mysterious Dementors — according to one legend, the soul-wraiths were supposedly transformed by an unknown Norwegian dark wizard from the spirits of dead wizards and witches who had died thanks to the muggles during the Dark Times of Magic as a symbolic answer of sorts to the wizard-hating Hollows — and keep them caged on an island near the Shetlands called Azkaban. With that — and thanks to a growing belief that condemning criminals to face the Hollows was an effective death sentence even for those guilty of minor crimes — the Wizengamot decided to open a prison on Azkaban Island. After Azkaban was formally opened in 1705, Minister for Magic Eldritch Diggory — in a show of loyalty to the Crown…which many sensible people these days considered an unbelievable act of idiocy! — presented the keys for Gonebren to Queen Anne for the Crown's use.

As was quite well-known to almost all the magicals living in Britain these days, Gonebren — whose very NAME had became something of an unofficial taboo to British wizards and witches in recent years — had been used on several occasions since Azkaban's opening.

The most recent time was in the summer of 1997 when Rufus Scrimgeour was killed and the Death Eaters moved to effectively take over Britain…only to be countered when the Queen issued an emergency Magical Royal Proclamation under Her Prerogative to declare that the new ministry of Pius Thicknesse was in a state of rebellion against the Crown!

Emboldened by that, Harry Potter's and Hermione Granger's Korean-descent technomancer housemate and year-mate Mun Aesup — who, according to some sources, was currently leading a mission of exploration to the planned Vinland colony using a cloaked starship, basing herself out of some Royal Navy unit somewhere — unleashed a mesonium version of an atomic bomb on Azkaban to wipe out the Dementors, thus robbing the Death Eaters of very powerful allies and a place to incarcerate their enemies; this had been done after she had rescued Luna Lovegood and all the other mudbloods and blood traitors that had been sent there in hopes of suppressing any attempts at rebelling against the proper order of things. What was worse, That Place was reopened…and soon began to be filled with unmarked supporters of Voldemort such as Dolores Umbridge, to say anything of the Snatchers, the volunteer militia organized by the Death Eaters to go forth and track down mudbloods and blood traitors to remove them to Azkaban.

Those who survived "Death Eater Season" and the Battle of Hogwarts later that year would spend at least six months there until Azkaban could be used again.

Theo's father Mason and Draco's father Lucius were two who had been so victimized.

For many, it had been a brutal object lesson: Defy the Crown at your peril!

Still, things could be done to restore things back to "normal"…

"Well, we wish you all luck," Achelois then said as she finished her firewhiskey before nodding her thanks as a house elf popped in to take the glass away. Rising from her chair, she walked over to offer her hand to Adam, who gave it a courtly kiss.

"Your support — even if it isn't as much as you wanted to give — is always more than appreciated, Mistress Achelois," the elder vampire stated with a polite smile.

"We fight to preserve our ways of life. Once the crystal-bloods are gone, we can finally put things aright for a change," she returned with a pleasant nod.

"Hear! Hear!" Draco called out as people raised their glasses in a toast…

To be continued…


WRITER'S NOTES

1) To begin, here are some basic notes on the Black Maidens and their internal structure…

The Schwarze Mädchen (singular Schwarzes Mädchen, short-title SM) — like other elements of the Nazi paramilitary forces such as the Schutzstaffel ("Protection Squads," short-title SS) — had their own special ranking system unique to them. I based the SM rank titles on the SS titles…though, as the Black Maidens were all women, the feminine noun ending "-in" was added to the term führer ("leader"). The rank levels (with equivalent NATO rank codes) and translations are as follows (listed from highest to lowest):

OF-6 — Reichsführerin ("Reich Leader")
OF-5 — Standartenführerin ("Standard Leader")
OF-4 — Obersturmbannführerin ("Senior Assault Unit Leader")
OF-3 — Sturmbannführerin ("Assault Unit Leader")
OF-2 — Hauptstrumführerin ("Chief Assault Leader")
OF-1 (upper) — Obersturmführerin ("Senior Assault Leader")
OF-1 (lower) — Untersturmführerin ("Lower Assault Leader")

OR-9 — Sturmscharführerin ("Assault Squad Leader")
OR-8 — Hauptscharführerin ("Chief Squad Leader")
OR-7 — Oberscharführerin ("Senior Squad Leader")
OR-6 — Scharführerin ("Squad Leader")
OR-5 — Unterscharführerin ("Lower Squad Leader")
OF-4 — Rottenführerin ("Section Leader")
OR-3 — Sturmfrau ("Assault Woman")
OR-2 — Oberfrau ("Senior Woman")
OR-1 — Frau ("Woman")

Of course, once the Schwarze Mädchen were mobilized as part of the Magische Reichsarmee ("Magical Army of the Reich," short-title MRA), they were given equivalent rank titles in the latter organization. Again, traditional female noun endings were added to most of the titles here, with frau substituted for mann ("man"). Of course, as the MRA is a magical combat force, equivalent titles to "wizard" and "witch" were used. So:

OF-6 — Generalmajorin ("Major General")
OF-5 — Oberste ("Colonel")
OF-4 — Oberstleutnante ("Lieutenant Colonel")
OF-3 — Majorin ("Major")
OF-2 — Hauptfrau ("Chief Woman")
OF-1 (upper) — Oberleutnante ("Senior Lieutenant")
OF-1 (lower) — Leutenante ("Lieutenant")

OR-9 — Stabswachthexe ("Staff Guard Witch")
OR-8 — Hauptwachthexe ("Chief Guard Witch")
OR-7 — Oberwachthexe ("Senior Guard Witch")
OR-6 — Wachthexe ("Guard Witch")
OF-5 — Oberjagdhexe ("Senior Hunting Witch")
OF-4 — Jagdhexe ("Hunting Witch")
OF-3 — Sturmkampfhexe ("Assault Combat Witch")
OF-2 — Oberkampfhexe ("Senior Combat Witch")
OF-1 — Kampfhexe ("Combat Witch")

So, as the Waffen-SS ("Armed SS") did during World War Two, the Schwarze Mädchen used as their full rank title a long phrase that incorporated their peacetime SM ranks with their wartime MRA ranks, i.e. Reichsführerin der Schwarze Mädchen und Generalmajorin der Magische Reichsarmee ("Reich Leader of the Black Maidens and Major General of the Magical Army of the Reich") for Elizabeth Gibbon.

As an aside, the word Reich itself can be interpreted as meaning either "empire" or "realm"; because of that, it is often translated as "Imperial" when it appears in adjective format as noted above. When used as a noun, Reich can also imply a foreign state of equal status to the various German empires/authoritarian states that have existed from 962–1806 (the Holy Roman Empire, later called the "First Reich"), 1871-1918 (the German Empire, also known as the "Second Reich" or Deutsches Kaiserreich) and 1933-45 (the infamous Third Reich of Nazi Germany). Naturally, because of the application of the term "Reich" in the Nazi state, the word has fallen seriously out of favour in modern Germany, only appearing in adjective format in place names like the Reichstag ("Diet of the Realm") building in Berlin; this was the traditional meeting hall of the Imperial German legislature from initial construction in 1894 until the infamous Reichstag Fire of 27 February 1933. The building itself remained in ruins until it was refurbished in 1992 after the reunification of Germany to become the meeting hall of the modern Bundestag ("Diet of the Republic"), the lower half of the national legislature.

2) Other translations: Schloss — Non-fortified castle or chateau; Greifswald Bodden — Bay of Griefswald; Reichsminister für Magische Angelegenheiten — Reich Minister of Magical Affairs (normally shortened to Reichsmagieminister), the administrative leader of the Reichsministerium für Magische Angelegenheiten ("Reich Ministry of Magical Affairs", shortened often to Reichsmagieministerium); Mahō-Shōgun — Supreme General of Magic; Obergruppenführer — Literally "Senior Group Leader," this was the SS equivalent rank to a four-star general (NATO rank code OF-9); Gensui — Literally "First Commander" though normally translated as "Marshal," this was the Imperial Japanese armed forces equivalent rank to a five-star general/admiral (NATO rank code OF-10); Ministerpräsident — Literally "minister-president," this is the equivalent German title to an American state governor or Canadian provincial premier; Zauberrat — Literally "Magical Council," this is the pre-1933 German equivalent to the British Wizengamot; Kōkyo — Literally "Imperial Residence," this is the proper name for the Imperial Palace in Tōkyō; Magische Staatspolizei — Literally "Magical State Police" and shortened to Mastapo, this is the pre-1945 German version of the Aurors serving the British Ministry of Magic (this was done as a play-off on the normal term Gestapo, which is short for Geheime Staatspolizei ["Secret State Police"]); Deutscher Gruß — Literally "German Greeting," this is the gesture Nazis always made when saluting someone; Vierte Bataillon — Fourth Battalion; Für das höhere Wohl — Literally "For the Greater Good," which served as Gellert Grindelwald's rallying cry; Justizvollzugsanstalt — Literally "Institution for the enforcement of justice," this is the German title for a penitentiary; Rittmeister — Literally "Ride Master," this is the German cavalry rank title for an army captain (NATO rank code OF-2); Zauberwelt — Literally "Wizarding World," this is the title of the German version of the Daily Prophet.

3) Olég Grigórjevič Gredénko is the full name I give to the wand-maker known to Harry Potter fans simply as Gregorovitch, the man who possessed the Elder Wand prior to Gellert Grindelwald who was killed near the start of Deathly Hallows. As he was played by Croatian actor Rade Šerbedžija (born 1946), I borrowed the names from characters he portrayed in the movie Quicksand and the television series 24 to properly flesh out the wand-maker's name. As I stated in my Icemaidens stories, this man always uses his patronymic as his artistic name. His name is written using the Scholarly Romanization system of Belorussian; in the Icemaidens stories, I made him a native of the former Soviet republic.

4) Uchida Ryūsei is — as hinted above — named in partial tribute to Uchida Ryōhei (1873-1937), the founder of the ultra-nationalist Black Dragon Society (Kokuryū-kai) that many attribute as being the organization that prompted the launching of the Greater East Asia War (the Pacific side of World War Two) as a way of enforcing Japanese hegemony on eastern Asia.

5) Fans of Highlander may recognize some of the other Immortals who came to Nurmengard when Duncan MacLeod and Joe Dawson went there. Atop Methos (the oldest living Immortal, who first appeared in the third-season episode of the same name) and Amanda Darieux (who was the central character of the spin-off series Highlander: The Raven; she first appeared in the Highlander first season episode "The Lady and the Tiger"), there is Carl Robinson (who first appeared in the second-season episode "Run For Your Life"), Robert de Valicourt and his wife Angelina de Valicourt (both of whom appeared in the fourth-season episode "'Till Death"), Erno Jocszak and Alicia Mackenzie (both of whom were mentioned in the third-season episode "Courage"). Also mentioned here were Jacob Kell (the villain of the fourth film Endgame) and Antonius Kalas (who first appeared in the third-season episode "Song of the Executioner"). Another character referred to here was Lynn Horton, who is Joe Dawson's niece and the daughter of the infamous Hunter James Horton; the latter first appeared in the first-season episode "The Hunters" (Lynn, however, never appeared in the television series).

6) The incantation Revideor is based on the Latin word revideō (literally "to revisit"). I chose this term as a sort of variation of the Four-Point Spell concept that first appeared in Goblet of Fire and is more popularly known as the "Point Me" Spell. Luna's spell — known in English as the Location Revealing Charm — allows her magic to lock in on something of interest and seek it out.

7) Fans of Negima will know of Poyo Rainyday; she is Zazie Rainyday's elder sister. The tribal name Daemona is my term for the "demon-folk"; Poyo and Zazie are both members of the ruling family of that particular group of shape-shifters. Poyo first appeared at the end of the Negima manga story "Ala Alba, Charge!" (manga story #294). The griffin-dragon mentioned by Luna is the same type of beast that first appeared in the "Magical Girl Yūe" extra episode of the 2009-10 Mahō Sensei Negima! Mō Hitotsu no Sekai OVA series.

8) A Watchmistress (male term Watchmaster) is a junior officer on a Sagussan warship.

9) The Abraham Lincoln who appears here is the character that appears in the 2010 biographical historical novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (ISBN 978-0-446-56308-6). Appearing with him in this part is his friend and mentor, Henry Sturges. Adam Sewell is the chief villain of the movie version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. His family name is my creation; I based it on the British actor who portrayed him in the film, Rufus Sewell (born 1967). His sister Vadoma also appeared in the AL:VH movie.

10) As fans of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series will remember, Angelus (AKA Angel), Spike and Drusilla were all demon-possessed vampires that were encountered from time to time by the Slayer and her friends. Unlike the "daywalker" vampires from AL:VH, vampires hunted by the Slayers were effectively soulless shells possessed by extra-dimensional beings who wanted to make themselves the apex hunter in the worldwide food-chain. However, the souls of their normal selves were — as I see it — deeply suppressed in the subconscious mind of the vampire; how was it possible, after all, for the human souls of people like Angel or Spike to be restored to full control over the body either by gypsy magical ritual (in the former case) or a cerebral microchip (in the latter case)?

As an aside, the family name for Angel's human-self is my invention; he was never given such in BTVS.

11) Camellia Matthews (and her father Orion Matthews), Achelois Runcorn (as well as her maternal grandfather Pierus Collins, father Herodotus "Hero" Runcorn and younger sisters Cassotis Runcorn and Albunea Runcorn) and Mun Aesup are all characters I used in the Icemaidens stories; I created the first version of them in the short story A Technomancer's Drabble for the Yahoo Group website of one of my favourite authors, Seel'vor. I based them originally on three of the unnamed characters that were on JKR's class list which she showed to the audience in the BBC 2001 Christmas special Harry Potter and Me as they were written out in an early reprint of that list; it should be noted that the name "Matthews" never appeared in later reprints of that list. As I mentioned in Harry Potter and the Icemaidens, I modified the character of "Moon" into a Korean-Briton ("moon" is one of the alternate Romanization spellings of the Korean term mun, which means "door" or "gate" and is written as in hanja or in han'gŭl) in tribute to the time I lived in the Land of the Morning Calm from 1996-2005. Of course, the personal histories of Camellia, Achelois, Aesup and their relatives vary differently from the Icemaidens series as the concept of the Magical Sheriff introduced in that series doesn't exist in the universe of this story.

12) Her Majesty's Prison Gonebren — and the Hollows who inhabit it — were first mentioned in The Icemaidens and the Philosopher's Stone.