How long had it been, a century, or a few seconds? I didn’t know.
The feeling of time was skewed to me, though I still understood the concepts of present, past and future.
The past… Something sought to make me forget, to revert my mind to a childlike state. No, it was worse than that. It was as if whatever was here was trying to make me forget everything, so I could be its mindless slave, no doubt.
I resisted, of course. I refused to be cowed by whoever it was that controlled this world. All I saw around me was the darkness, and guess what? My sword, Erebus, was the Emperor of Darkness.
I sensed the being’s surprise as I usurped its control of the void around us. I began to feel cold, but smiled to myself— though I could not see it due to the all consuming darkness— and wrested the control over that element as well.
It fought for control, and I knew, even with my usurping its domain, that it would eventually regain its bearings and attack once more. I would grow weaker and hungrier from the strain, while I had no idea what it was capable of.
So I brought forth the power within my own body.
Lightning answered my call, and the Darkness around me shrieked in pain and fright as the bluish white light hit it. With the light, my sight came back as well, and I looked at my normal left hand, my black scaled right hand, and the sword at my side for a few moments, before looking forward, to the source of whatever it was that had tried to control me.
From the Darkness ahead, I only saw one thing. A pair of ice cold, blue eyes, staring me down as the Darkness snarled at me in defiance, before slinking away, far away from me.
Those deadly eyes… They frightened me.
Had I not steeled my soul enough at Temen Ni Gru?
No, this was different than personal fear. Those eyes were something else, entirely. Those eyes hated the living, hated the vibrancy of the world. They hated the sound of newborn children. They hated the growth of trees, flowers, crops and weeds. They hated life, itself.
They wanted to make it all end.
They wanted to drown the world in death and stillness.
And that frightened me a hundred times more than the Emperor of Demons ever did.
“What was that…” I said, as the void behind me lit up in red.
I turned to see a man, wearing a large, voluminous red robe. His face was hidden underneath a hood. It scrutinized me for a few moments— or were they years? I couldn’t even tell— before extending his hand to me.
But I took a step back. Another trick of the Darkness? Or maybe an ally?
It didn’t matter. I was sick of this farce.
The stange person took a step forward, as if pleading.
I took another step back, and flared my power in challenge to this newcomer.
“Not one step further, or I’ll kill you where you stand.” I said, my voice echoing in the void as I drew Erebus forth.
An angry cry came from the priest in red at the sight of the Falchion and, it too scurried away, just like the Darkness had before it.
§These beings.§ Balthazar hissed from my hand, and I shook my head in disbelief over it, still not used to having my hand talk. §I don’t trust them.§
“Agreed.” Erebus said. “The first creature was almost too much to bear. I believe it would have won the battle had you not unleashed your own powers.”
Bit by bit, I began to gain hold of my senses as my surroundings slowly shifted once more. The last thing I saw from the void were a group of children that simply waved as I faded from their realm.
Who were they? Who was the red priest? And what the hell was that Darkness with icy blue eyes?
I looked around.
Where was I?
I seemed to be in the middle of a forest, though, where that forest was, I had no idea. I heard the sounds of birds and rodents flying and scurrying around respectively, both in search of food.
I frowned as I rubbed at my nose slightly.
Everything just smelled so crisp and fresh; not even the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts smelled like this, and it was more removed from civilization than anything I was aware of— with the exception of the village of Hogsmeade, of course.
“I couldn’t have emerged near civilization?” I pinched the bridge of my nose in irritation, before taking stock of all I had. My shirt had been torn off in the fight against Mundus, but that was fine— I magicked up a black shirt easily enough.
In one of my pockets, I still had my burn paste, my Murtlap Essence, and my wand. In the other, there was a featherweight sack, filled with as many Galleons as I could fit inside it, in case for emergencies just like this.
“Something feels strange.” Erebus rattled slightly as I began to look for signs of a road, or a city. Hell, even a cabin would have sufficed. “The energy around us… I have lived for many generations, and have understood the underlying forces of the universe quite intimately. However, it is different here. Similar, but different as well. I do not understand.”
“So?” I questioned offhandedly I kept going through the forest, seeing a few deer in the distance. I carelessly walked in their direction, watching them as they noticed my presence and fled.
Heh. I wasn’t even going to do anything to them. Sheesh.
Erebus stayed silent, but I felt the Devil Arm wanted to speak its mind.
“What exactly are you trying to say, Erebus?” I asked directly. “That we have no control over our powers?”
“No. No.” Erebus refuted. “Our own powers are internal and not subject to the magic of this world.”
“You’re saying that whatever we face will have magic different than anything you or I have ever witnessed.
“Indeed.” Erebus said. “Much like that being of cold and Darkness. It felt familiar to me, but at the same I had never encountered any of its like. I’m afraid that… But it’s just not possible. It can’t be.”
“What’s not possible?” I asked, and a few moments passed before Erebus answered.
“You must give me time to gather my thoughts.” Erebus said, and I felt its power connecting with the air, the earth around us, communing with it. “I will give you an answer when I, myself, reach one.”
“Fair enough, Erebus.” I said with a sigh, before addressing Balthazar. §You stay attached to my arm, Balthazar; it’s a little cold here and I would rather not waste any power on heating charms of any kind.§
§That’s all right. Your body heat and the shirt is quite enough for now, anyway.§ Balthazar said, and I got the feeling that he was lounging around… wherever he went when he merged with me. Shaking my head in amusement, I kept making my way through the woods, enjoying the beauty of the nature around me.
It was like this place hadn’t been touched by man for many ages, allowing nature to carve out a beautiful forest. Such a sight was very rare to someone like me, who had grown in the suburbs for his whole life, and then had a few years at Hogwarts, never really appreciating the wilderness there.
I blinked and turned my head to the side, trying to focus on my hearing as best I could.
Over the sound of birds and the swaying of the leaves, I heard the sound of running water, and grinned. It took a few more moments, but I pinpointed its source, and moved towards it, and found a large river.
This was good. Rivers meant villages or cities. Cities meant I could exchange my gold for cash, book a plane, and go home. Even with my ability to fly, I doubted I could fly over oceans and continents just to get home.
No, this was the easier way.
§You should fly up.§ Balthazar suggested. §Get above these trees to figure out where you are, and where the nearest town is.§
I smiled, and nodded, not having thought of that.
§Good plan, Balthazar. Thanks.§ I hissed out.
§Thank me by feeding me some mice, later.§ Balthazar hissed back.
I agreed, starting to feel my fatigue catching up to me. After I had absorbed Mundus’ power, it had healed my wounds, but I had shot it all right back at him, depleting most of my reserves in the process.
Heh. Sucker punching that fucker was the best thing I had ever done in my life, even more epic than the time I summoned Lightning from the storms above Azkaban.
Still, I was tired. I needed to find a town, a meal and a place to stay.
With those thoughts, the forest around me grew brighter as my bluish white Lightning exited from my back, forming into a set of wings.
I smiled. Air Raid was the damn best skill I had ever learned, I thought as my wings flapped furiously, sending me up, up and up; higher and higher.
I quickly rose past the treetops, and kept flying higher for at least a minute, refusing to look at anything until I gained enough altitude.
And when I did, I gaped.
As far as my eyes could see, there was unblemished earth, untouched by the ravages of corporations. It was an amazing sight, completely foreign to anyone who’s grown up in the twentieth/twenty-first century.
“Where the hell am I?” I said more to myself than anything, before looking down. The river I had found looked pretty small from where I currently floated. I followed its line and saw that the river emerged from a large lake in… the north east? Yes, the north east, assuming I knew my astronomy right, which I did.
At the northern shore of the lake, stood a tall castle, in complete contrast to the untouched forest and wildlife around it.
Unless I was in the… medieval age.
“Did we go through time?” I asked immediately, staring at the castle for a few more seconds before flying towards it. The wind whipped in my hair and carressed my face as I reduced my altitude so that I flew slightly above the treetops.
It wouldn’t do if anyone saw me and asked questions.
“Worse.” Erebus said as I landed in the forest, as close to the castle as I could get. “I do not think we are on Earth any longer.”
“Not on… Earth?” I repeated his words, remembering those leaked files I had read online. “We’re on an alien planet? I thought there was no life anywhere else! How could we have moved so far?”
It was possible. Heavy hits were exchanged between Mundus, Dante, Vergil and I in between the Realms. The Emperor had summoned storms of Lightning, whole meteor showers, and a multitude of energy beams— all simultaneously. The being was so powerful that I had no doubt that we would wake up anywhere.
“No, even worse than that!” Erebus continued, brushing off my revelation with his anger— and was that a hint of desperation in his tone? “I cannot detect my Realm of Darkness, or any of my children. The universe’s forces feel different. We are not home.”
“Not home.” I repeated again, a sudden feeling of dread in me as I frowned in frustration. “What do you mean, not home? That’s not possible!”
“Not home.” Erebus said again. “A completely different world, another existence aside from our own. Another universe, parallel to that of our own. Similar enough that it didn’t tear us to shreds, but different enough that I can easily perceive.”
“No.” I said again. “I don’t believe it. It’s not possible; there’s no way it can be.”
“Then, what were those beings that attempted to hoodwink us into their service?” Erebus pressed on as the great castle came within view. “The Darkness and the red priest? And those children.”
“I don’t understand.” I stopped and shook my head. “It’s not possible.”
Empty words, I knew from the bottom of my heart. When it concerned me, anything that could go wrong usually did. Why shouldn’t this be the exact same?
A lump began to form in my throat as I thought about my friends and family.
Sirius and Tristan… Tristan had lost an eye to Lilith, and Sirius had taken him for medical aid. The last thing Daphne had done was slap me, before kissing me and running. I could still remember her soft lips on mine, and it made me all the sadder.
“We are not home!” Erebus insisted again. “Enough of your foolishness! The truth is right in front of you, but you choose not to see it!”
“I…” I started in anger, before shaking my head and closing my eyes, releasing a tendril of Lightning to the world, linking with it for the barest of moments.
In that moment, I felt them all; the Darkness and Cold, far to the North, the children all around me, the red priest, far to the east, a man with seven faces near me, but concentrated far more to the south, another man with many faces to the east.
They all looked back.
I ended the connection.
“You see…?” Erebus asked quietly. “We are not home.”
Not home. He was right. Even with my limited experience with understanding the world around me through energy, everything still felt off, skewed somehow, though I could not put my finger on it.
This was a completely different world to the one I was in.
“I…” I said, stammering slightly. “What about everyone? What about Sirius, Daphne? What about Ron and Hermione and all of the Weasleys? God… What about Dumbledore and Voldemort?”
“I don’t know.” Erebus said honestly. “I have never heard tales of dimension travellers. I only know of the existence of other dimensions.”
“So—what?” I almost yelled out at the dark blade. “We’re stranded here? Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“Yes.” Erebus said without preamble or tact. “And you’d best get a hold of yourself and figure out what to do from here.“
I was about to snarl back at the Devil Arm, but sighed; he was right, of course.
§It’s all right.§ Balthazar added. §I’m here.§
I nodded, swallowed down the lump in my throat and wiped my tears with the sleeve of my shirt, glad to have an understanding companion in this.
I took a deep breath, and examined my attire, comparing it to that of the red priest and the children I had seen in between worlds. The children had worn tunics, while the priest had a voluminous red robe on.
Tunics it was.
I Vanished the shirt I was wearing, before conjuring a dark green tunic in its place. I made it out of cotton, since it was the only thing I was truly familiar with. Old tunics were made from wool or linen, but I had no idea how those felt.
Cotton was much more comfortable, anyway. I put the tunic on and exited the forest to search for the castle’s gates. The castle itself had stone walls thirty feet high with square towers at each corner, with a sprawling city surrounding it— an impressive sight as I circle the thing in search of the entrance.
A few minutes later, I did.
It was a large gate, with cobblestone road exiting out of it for what I assumed would be a few miles before the cobblestone gave way to dirt— no one ever really cared to thoroughly create proper roads, even in my day and age, let alone this medieval-like age.
There were two guards posted at one of the entrances, and they stared at me as I approached the gate. When I got within ten feet of them, they drew their weapons and stepped forward threateningly.
“Halt!” The one on the left said. “Who goes there?”
And so began a new chapter in my life.