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The Aurors: Rise of The Heretics

P.J. McKrafty

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Iceland is cold at the best of times. At the beginning of winter, it was viciously frigid. Ewan wound his coat around him tightly, keeping his head down so his collar would protect his exposed neck against the wind. He walked quickly through the costal town of Sauðárkrókur, a town that was not only hard to pronounce, but hard to find on a map. This made it the perfect location for the IMU headquarters. There was no tourism, and the population couldnâ??t have been more than two thousand strong. Ewan trudged up the hill scowling as flecks of snow stung his face, slipping here and there in the light layer of slush carpeting the landscape. He was met with another sharp gust of wind as he crested the hill, making him groan and wrap his arms around himself even tighter.

The manor stood above the city, long abandoned by its original owners. At least that is how it appeared. Its actual owner was a figurehead in the creation of the IMU and one of the first casualties the organization took, leaving his manor in the hands of the Union.

Ewan cautiously stepped into the courtyard of the estate. A cobblestone path lead up the center and was flanked with what used to be fountains, which were now just a huddle of cracked stone filled with stagnant water. Hand now tucked into his jacket holding firmly onto the handle of his wand. Each step on the cobblestoned path echoed off the high walls, putting him on edge. He climbed the landing, drawing his wand. Ewan went to knock on the door, but was interrupted as an unseen force from behind shoved him into the door and knocked the wand from his hand. He then felt the familiar stab of a wand at the base of his neck.

[b]â??State your name and business.â?[/b] Demanded a disembodied voice that was thick with a Russian accent.

[b]â??Finlay, I was called to summit.â?[/b] Ewan replied in an agitated voice.

A tug on his shoulder spun him around and three forms appeared from under invisibility cloaks. A woman with a stern face held her wand mere inches from Ewanâ??s nose. Two men came up behind her, one had his wand drawn as well and was watching the courtyard closely, the other came up with what looked like a gyroscope in one hand and a golden rod in the other. The woman looked and him and gave a slight nod, he stepped forward and waved the rod over Ewanâ??s person.

[b]â??Iâ??m not picking up any glamours or charms, heâ??s clean.â?[/b] He report to the dour woman.

She lowered her wand. [b]â??Finlay is it?â?[/b]

Ewan nodded glaring at the woman as he straightened out his coat.

[b]â??Youâ??re late. Itâ??s the third hallway on the right, fourth door.â?[/b]

Ewan turned sharply and entered the manor. The inside was the exact opposite of the outside. The floor was a black marble and the walls were a bright crimson and lined with silk tapestries. Ewan meandered down the hallway admiring the tapestries. A sudden snap made Ewan jump and draw his wand. He brandished it down the hallway towards where the noise came from. A small head poked around the corner at the end of the hallway and darted back behind the wall.

[b]â??Flower is to guide you.â?[/b] Squeaked a small voice.

Ewan lowered his wand, and a dainty house elf stepped from around the corner. She was small even by house elf standards which made her eyes and ears seem that much bigger. She wore what look like a dress she had put together with scraps of rags she had scavenged.

She walked up to Ewan and curtsied. [b]â??Flower at your service.â? [/b]

Ewan stared for a moment not knowing how to react. He gave a small bow and gave her his hand. She grabbed it and started dragging him down the hallway. They passed down the corridors of the manner and realized why they had sent Flower to guide him. It was a veritable labyrinth of a building. Ewan secretly hoped that Flower would be able to guide them out of the building. Flower led him to a heavy oak door that stood out from the others he had seen. Without a word she turned to Ewan, curtsied once again, and with a snap she was gone.

Ewan eyeballed the door and pushed his way through. The room looked more militant than the others before. Around two dozen people filled in some chairs lined up in the center of the room, facing a podium. Ewan skulked into the closest chair and tried not to make eye contact with anyone else.

It hadnâ??t been a few minutes before the door slammed open. A severe man stood in the doorway. He eyeballed the room before marched up to the podium. The man named Percy Weasley looked nothing like he had before. The red hair that his family was known for barely graced his head, cut excessively short and marred by a scar running from the back of his head, across his scalp, to just over his left eyebrow. He looked tired, the lines on his face deeper than a man his age should have, and dark bags hanging from his eyes. Though he was a young man at twenty-nine, he looked as though he could be fourty. He wore an olive drab coat with the right sleeve pinned at the shoulder, where he had lost an arm during an encounter with a band of Snatchers during the Battle of Edinburgh.

He set down a manila folder on the podium. With a groan he reached behind his back, pulling his wand from his beltline and giving it a flick. The manilla folder opened and the contents flew up in the air, sending a piece of paper to each of the people seated in the room.

[b]â??We received this message two days ago,â?[/b] Percy sighed, giving the room enough time to read the letterâ??s contents.

[b]â??Until two days ago, I had thought I was the only one who survived Hogwarts,â?[/b] HE continued. Pacing in front of the group. [b]â??Apparently I was wrong. Longbottom survived, and apparently has figured out something we can use.â?[/b]

[b]â??Mr. Weasley, are you sure thereâ??s a chance that Longbottom is still alive? There have been dozens of traps set up like this, how do we know we wonâ??t be walking straight into an ambush.â?[/b] someone in the back chimed. Ewan turned back to see a well dressed middle-eastern man, arms crossed waiting for a reply. There was a moment of silence as everyone waited for the commander to respond.

[b]â??There is, Mr. Bakrâ?[/b] Weasley started slowly, thumbing through a pile of dossiers. [b]â??But thatâ??s a chance we have to take. Any information that we can use at this point is our only bet at getting a leg up. Otherwise, we might as well just wait for Him to come kill the rest of us, or send us off to Azkaban.â?[/b] There was another moment of silence as the commander let the reality of his words sunk in. He slammed his fist down on the podium making everyone jump. [b]â??We are on the brink of losing this war! And with it the world shall fall!â?[/b] His voice echoed through the room.

He looked around the room, as if expecting someone to chime in with a rebuttal. He rubbed his eyes and leaned on the podium. [b]â??Iâ??m sending in a team of international Aurors to investigate this. Those of you going were already informed by owl.â?[/b] He said gesturing to the crowd. [b]â??The rest of you will run support for the team, and will wait in the wings if they need you for anything. You are the best from your respective countries, and now itâ??s time to prove it. [/b]

[b]â??You will start at the source, the ruins of Hogwarts, and continue from there, hopefully following the trail of Longbottom.â?[/b] At this Percy picked up his wand from the podium and flicked it again, this time a picture landed in Ewanâ??s lap. It was of a gaunt young man with awkward features looking around nervously.

[b]â??I am the sole remaining member of my family line,â?[/b] Percy said, his tone turning somber. [b]â??But I do not wish to be the last. What you Aurors do on this mission might well determine the fate of all those who oppose those who seek our destruction.â?[/b] There was yet another pause. [b]â??You are dismissed.â?[/b]

Ewan stood to file out with the others as they all went for the door. [b]â??Will those of you who were assigned to the field team please stay back, I would like a word with you.â?[/b]

Ewan froze in place and slunk back into his seat. After all the others left it was just Ewan with five other Aurors. Percy eyeballed them for a moment before making for the door. [b]â??Follow me,â?[/b]


The six of the followed Percy through the winding halls and he led them to a study with a fire already roaring, a number of aged armchairs were sorted in a semi-circle basking in the glow of the fire. Percy took a seat in one with the highest back, and the rest found one suitable to them. As they sat each chair gave off a plume of dust making some choke and sputter for a moment

[b]â??Look around, this is your team.â?[/b] Percy said sitting in a chair at the front of the room. [b]â??Allow me to introduce everyone. Akil Mohamed Bakr, from Saudi-Arabia, will be your acting team leader.â?[/b] Percy said referencing a dossier and pointing to the well dressed man from before. [b]â??Alexis LeCross, from France. You will be working as the teams tracker, I have read you are quite adept at picking up the scent of dark wizards.â?[/b]

A stark lean man with a scruffy thin beard nodded. [b]â??I would say that is a bit of an understatement of my abilities.â?[/b]

[b]â??We will see LeCrosse.â?[/b] Percy shot back, returning to the dossiers. [b]â??James Anthony Heartwell, from Texas, Stateside.â?[/b] He gestured to a short stocky man. [b]â??You have some of the best figures I have seen from American Aurors. Youâ??re our combat specialist; letâ??s see if you Americans fight as well as you say.[/b]

[b]â??Anselmo Cidolfus Lucientes, from Spain. His potions expertise has influenced many academics working for the IMU. For lack of better words, you'll be working as our medic.[/b]

[b]â??Mai Lee, from Australia.â?[/b] The team turned to a young woman with obvious Asian heritage, a cat weaving it's way between her legs. [b]â??I hope that your premonitions can keep this team out of trouble. You will be our seer. And last but not least we have Ewan Finlay, from Scotland.â?[/b] Percy gestured to Ewan sitting behind the rest of them. [b]â??I heard you were one of the men leading the Scottish forces in Edinburgh.â?[/b] Ewan replied with nothing but a small nod. [b]â??Ewan is an exceptionally skilled Animagus, and will be running the teamâ??s reconnaissance.[/b]

[b]â??Now that we know our roles, you will be leaving tomorrow via portkey that should land you on the outskirts of the school grounds, or what is left of them. I suggest you use the time being to get what rest you can.â?[/b] Percy stood and paced towards the door, leaving the rest of them seated. He stopped and turned to them at the doorway. [b]â??I know times are dark, and that leads to us using whatever we can to survive. But I donâ??t want any of you using Unforgivable Curses. It is the only thing that separates us from them. Any of you use even one of the Unforgivable Three, you will be answering to me.â?[/b] He said sternly. And with that, he turned and left through the door.


OCC: Sorry for the delay (computer issues and all that jazz), your first post should be you getting to know the team. The IMU manor is huge, so feel free to take some liberties with the layout, it's just like every other magic building ever written about, vague and confusingly huge. Edited by P.J. McKrafty
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[b]OOC[/b]: To be honest, I'll do a small snippet due to the fact I'd like to see if our other posters will be using another language or not, just to be on the safe side.

James sat in his chair angry at the comment made by Mr. Percy Weasley, the forbidden use of the Unspeakable Curses would set James back in combat in the event that he or his team mates were to be attacked by Death Eaters. This would be a huge blow to his tactical assaults as well to surprise his enemies and use the curses to retrieve vital information. The cold room chilled the American to his bones, but due to his own fault of coming to the meeting barefoot and in light clothing, his jean shorts and light black hoodie was something he regretted now that the circumstances. Still, receiving the urgent message from the American Magical Government on such short notice left the man with no option but to travel immediately. But the news that Longbottom could possibly be alive was somewhat uplifting, but the concerns that it could be another trap set up by the Death Eaters made their curse use restriction even more dangerous if they were to fall into their ploy. James looked around at the rest of his supposed team, a roulette cast of members from all over the world, the dossiers in front of the man described their skills and history with magic use, but with Weasley's short description of their abilities was enough. James stood up from his chair, the wooden legs scratching against the floor loud enough to get the other members attention towards him, the man grunted in rage as he grabbed hold of the back of the chair and flung it to the ground in a visible show of rage. Dust scattered and lingered in the air as James walked towards the nearest window, placing his hand on the ledge as he tried his best to calm himself. The Asian woman Mai gasped slightly as the cat nuzzling her ankle flinched for a moment, the french man name Alexis raised an eyebrow, taking his eyes away from his own reading as he spoke.

"[b]Monsieur?[/b]" He spoke lightly, James immediately flicked his wrist, his wand released itself from his sleeve pocket and into his right hand as it gripped the handle tightly. The other members too caution as they stood from their respective chairs; Ewan, Akil and Anselmo drew their wands, but they did not lift it in the air. They felt worried, but if James was suppose to be their Combat Specialist then they had hoped he would calm himself from doing something reckless, especially with 5 other Aurors in the room. "[b]What troubles you Monsieur...eh, Heartwell?[/b]" James finally looked back towards the table, seeing what his rage has caused the others to do.

"This is maddening, I use Unspeakable Curses to defend my life and others who are in need of help. We have muggle born magic users being hunted daily by these monsters of the night, and now they're reach has gone so far that they've begun hunting during the day to get to these families and children. Now we have someone calling us together to go on a dangerous assignment, yet we're not allowed to defend ourselves from people trying to kill us. It's maddening" James gritted his teeth as he gripped onto his wand handle harder.

"[b]You must understand the reason why, using curses makes us no different from the Death Eaters. We must be like the Ministry of Magic before us, disciplined and merciful, yet strong and a force not to be reckoned with[/b]" Mai stated, she felt confident enough to sit back down in her chair as the cat laid in between the heels of her feet, the others began to relax a little, but still remain alert and ready.

"My lady, we're at a time of war, I doubt the pleasantries of wizardly respect. We are but a few surviving organizations, ever since the MOM was taken over, we've been scattered and surviving however we can. All I'm saying is that when need be, they're not so Unforgivable" James smirked, showing a slight smile to the group.

"[b]Por ahora, tenemos una única misión de hacer. Esto es para asegurarse de que Longbottom está vivo y bien que nos diga las cuentas que se produjo años atrás, y la forma en que ha vivido tanto tiempo sin ser capturado ... Si esto no es una trampa que es[/b][b].[/b]" Cid spoke, but Jame's knowledge of other languages was unknown, not something he was accustomed to in the states. Lifting his want to his temple lobe, he spoke a spell.

"[i][b]lingua [/b][/i][i][b]res[/b][/i]" A sudden pulse slapped against James skull, the mans vision blurred for a moment, but the spoken words mentioned before became clear to him now as he remembered what Cid had said. "I understand, but still...it leaves us a bit handicapped"

"[b]Au contraire[/b]" LeCross spoke then. "[b]There are other ways to deal with our enemies, and make sure they do not return[/b]". Akil nodded as he holstered his wand.

"[b]Agreed, you've probably been to active on your own before coming here, I can understand the need to defeat your enemy. But, we're doing this by the books, again. As acting team leader, I value your skills and expertise in combat tactics and maneuvers, but I will not accept deaths by Curses, I hope you can understand my terms, because I do not repeat myself[/b]" Akil took his seat as well, James grunted through his teeth, but he knew he was defeated for now. The lack of sleep was getting to him, and he feared he caused a horrible first impression to the rest of his team mates, the man felt weary.

"If ya'll will excuse me, I'm mighty tired. Excuse my outburst, it was unprofessional and inexcusable, excuse me" Turning his heels, James heavily stepped to the door as he left. "But, I will speak to the Weasley about his rule and hope he can see my point of view. if not, I will abide by his terms, and yours as well...ummm..."

"[b]It's Akil Mohamed Bakr, I look forward to working with you Mr. Heartwell when you are well rested[/b]" He smiled slightly. James gave a nod in return.

"James, likewise. Excuse me" James opened the door and left the room to find Percy, placing his free hand on his forehead as he searched the corridors. A simple talk and then find his quarters for some well needed rest. The others returned to sit in their chairs as they continued to discuss the matters at hand, the Longbottom mission and returning to the runes of Hogwarts, a delicate matter for much needed planning was needed.

"[b]At least for now, we shall make this a simple reconnaissance operation around the grounds of Hogwarts. When we are are well rested, we should be one-hundred percent ready to face any challenges that may come at us[/b]" Bakr stated as he closed his dossier packet.

"[b]But if we eventually do find Longbottom, what will happen then?[/b]" Anselmo spoke then, everyone had a general idea of what might happen, but their main goal for so many unanswered question might be finally answered.

"[b]We'll finally find out what happened that caused the fall of Hogwarts, the complete fall. Also....what happened to Harry Potter[/b]" Ewan licked his lips when he finished, giving everyone a small moral boost by simply saying his name.
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[font="'Book Antiqua"][size="2"]Cid slouched back in his seat, with mingled emotions. Percy's statement had affected Cid negatively as well, although he felt more guilt than anything else. He had blazed a path of vengeance across Europe, slinging Unforgivable Curses at every Death Eater who stood between him and his father. Although he had left those curses behind with his father, he couldn't help but feel that Percy had directed the demand at him moreso than the others. It made Cid so upset he had accidentally spoke Spanish to the angry Heartwell, despite knowing that the others weren't fluent in Spanish. Although the Harry Potter comment had perked up his spirits a little, his guilt was still lingering in the back of his mind. At least no one had commented on--

[b]"Anselmo Lucientes. Any relation to the Death Eater Ignacio Lucientes?" [/b][i]Damn[/i]. Cid's lips tensed as he locked eyes with the speaker, Finlay, the animagus. Cid had hoped that the conversation might keep away from the issue of his lineage, but his teammates, even if they didn't already know of is past, would find out sooner or later.

[b]"Yes, actually. He was my father," [/b]he responded as casually as he could manage. The french Auror, LeCrosse, responded next.

[b]"Family reunions must be awkward for you, ey?" [/b]He said with a laugh. Cid grinned in response, easing up a little.

[b]"More awkward than you know. All of my living relatives are Death Eaters and they worshiped my father as a god. I imagine they took it rough when I killed him," [/b]he stated with a dark grin. Bakr's eyebrows raised slightly as the comment, and he leaned forward to address Cid.

[b]"You murdered your father? No small feat, I imagine," [/b]his mused with his melodic voice. The similarity between Bakr's exclamation and one of the last lines Ignacio said to Cid caused Cid's skin to crawl for a second. He clutched the arms of his chair and took a deep breath. The seer, Ms. Lee, looked at him nervously.

[b]"You're not going to flip a chair too, are you Mr. Lucientes?" [/b]She asked apprehensively. Cid laughed despite himself and relaxed his grip. Across the room, LeCrosse shook his head and stroked his chin.

[b]"Who would have guessed that the best Aurors every country had to offer were also the most unstable?" [/b]He said with a shrug. Cid ran his hands through his hair and chuckled.

[b]"Yes, well, perhaps the sane Aurors could not be convinced to embark on what is most likely a suicide mission," [/b]he said with a smile. LeCrosse tilted his head in agreement. Finlay stood up and turned to exit the room.

[b]"Just don't get in the way of the mission," [/b]he growled coldly, cutting through the humorous air in the room. [b]"And if I discover that you're really a Death Eater..." [/b]He paused at the doorway, and Cid could hear his knuckles crack even at that distance. Finlay then left without another word. Cid frowned and shuddered slightly. [i]Cínicos y los locos... [/i]he thought humorously. The others in the room were equally silent, although Bakr quickly acted as leader again and spoke.

[b]"Perhaps we should follow Mr. Finlay and Mr. Heartwell's example and return to our quarters as well. We have an unquestionably dangerous mission ahead of us, and the better rested we are, the more likely we are to get along and formulate a plan that will allow us to survive," [/b]he quipped. The other Aurors voiced their agreements and began filing out of the room, Bakr first, who held the door open for the others. LeCrosse stood up next and bowed his head to Cid and Mai before leaving. Cid rose up from his chair and made a sweeping motion, offering for Mai to go first. She smiled and trotted off, her kneazle following behind. When Cid exited, Bakr placed his hand on Cid's shoulder to get his attention.

[b]"Don't worry over the opinions of the others. If you weren't a reliable figure, the IMU wouldn't have chosen you for this mission. I know we can trust you, and I have no doubt that your skill with potions and your knowledge of the Death Eaters will prove invaluable," [/b]he said reassuringly. Cid smiled and clasped Bakr's hand.

[b]"Thank you, Mr. Bakr. But I understand the other apprehension and agitation of our teammates. This journey will change everything. Either we return with hope or we are resigned to our fates," [/b]he replied. The smile on Bakr's face widened.

[b]"There is no better pursuit than the pursuit of hope, Mr. Lucientes. Don't worry--all will be well. And please, call me Akil" [/b]he said amiably. Cid smiled again and nodded at his leader, before departing for his room.[/size][/font]

[font="'Times New Roman"][font=arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif][size=2][b]OOC[/b]: I hope this is fine for everyone, and that I portrayed your characters adequately. I thought it would make more sense for the characters to all go rest since Heartwell departed, and the whole team should presumably be present when a game plan is constructed.[/size][/font][/font] Edited by Vongola
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LeCrosse bowed his head to Mai and Cid as he left, and slapped a hand on Bakr's shoulder as he exited the room. He was excited about working with other Aurors again, he had been on his own for a long time, but at the same time he was nervous about visiting Hogwarts. He leant against the cold stone wall and took a deep breath, closing his eyes for just a second, and when he opened them again, Mai was standing just in front of him.

[b]"Everything alright, Mr LeCrosse?"[/b] she asked, her dark brown eyes wide as she looked up at the taller man.

[b]"Please, [i]madame[/i], just call me LeCrosse,"[/b] he replied, shifting his body away from the wall, [b]"I can't stand all this formal stuff."[/b]

[b]"Apologies,"[/b] Mai replied, [b]"Is everything ok, LeCrosse?"[/b]

[b]"It is nice to be working with others again. I have been alone for longer than I would have liked to be, and while I am no stranger to my own company, I started talking to myself. Turns out, I'm actually quite annoying!"[/b] LeCrosse said with a smile as he began sauntering along the corridor with Mai alongside him. Mai laughed, and responded softly.

[b]"It certainly is unusual in these times for such a large group of Aurors to be working together,"[/b] she replied, [b]"The IMU seems to believe that the Death Eaters will realise something is happening and mobilise against us with everything they have. An understandable concern. But that isn't what is concerning you, is it?"[/b]

[b]"You are perceptive, Mai,"[/b] LeCrosse replied with a chuckle, [b]"I worry. About many things, these days, as we all do, but particularly about Hogwarts. I have been to a great many battles, I saw the destruction of Arcadius manor, I was present when Beauxbatons was attacked, and I fought alongside many good men who died at the Battle of Edinburgh. I have been to the sites of battles, seen the destruction and the death, and each and every moment of those battles has stayed with me, ingrained into my mind."[/b]

[b]"And you worry what seeing the site of the Battle of Hogwarts will do to you?"[/b]

[b]"Not exactly,"[/b] replied LeCrosse, [b]"I worry that it [i]won't[/i] do anything to me. Many people died at Hogwarts, it was perhaps the greatest and bloodiest battle in recent wizarding history, and I will be able to feel them all. But I am concerned that these deaths do not affect me any more. There are only a few steps between the man who doesn't care about death, and the Death Eater."[/b]

Mai stopped walking and turned to LeCrosse, who stopped walking and faced her.

[b]"Then you will just have to do everything you can to avoid that fate,"[/b] she said firmly, [b]"The Death Eaters can't recruit you simply because you have been desensitised to death, it takes more than that. And you will just have to make sure your will is not broken. I will hear no more of this, LeCrosse."[/b] LeCrosse threw his head back and laughed, a hearty, booming noise that echoed around the cavernous hallway.

[b]"As you wish, [i]mon cherie[/i],"[/b] he replied, bowing his head to her. She nodded, a smile on her face, and opened the door behind her, stepping through into a room with a warm glow emanating from the doorway, and closing the heavy oak door behind her. LeCrosse watched as the door closed, then looked around the corridor and realised he was lost - Mai had led him into a part of the manor he was not familiar with. He rolled his eyes, reached into his inside pocket and pulled out his wand. He held his right hand out, the palm turned upwards, and placed his wand in his outstretched palm, then leaned his head in close and whispered:


The wand began to spin in his hand, before settling on what would have been North-East on a compass. He smiled and followed the direction the wand was pointing in, which in theory should lead to the room he had been given.
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Akil sighed slightly as the rest of his team left the briefing room. How did he get picked to lead this team of trigger-happy wand wielders? He leaned against the wall and closed his eyes, thinking about the conversation he had with Percy the night before...

[b]"Where is the rest of the team Mr. Percy?"[/b] Akil said as he walked into an empty briefing room. Empty besides one other person - Percy Weasley.

[b]"You're here a day early Mr. Bakr. I need to talk to you alone,"[/b] Percy replied, his eyes wandering around the room. He flicked his wand and a heavy file flew across the table to land in front of an empty seat on Akil's end. [b]"Please, take a seat and look through that dossier."[/b] Akil sat and began flipping through the file, his eyes widening slightly at some points, but otherwise his calm demeanor firmly in place.

[b]"So, what do you think?"[/b] Percy asked after a minute or two. His haunted gaze was now fixed upon Akil, the intensity of the years boring through. Akil looked up and held his gaze; his years of negotiating had taught him how to meet any gaze and appear its equal.

[b]"It's an impressive record of talented, if not slightly unstable, aurors. The instability is understood considering how much each individual has seen during the war,"[/b] Akil replied evenly. [b]"My question is this - why are you showing this to me now?"[/b]

[b]"He, I heard you were quick,"[/b] Percy cracked a ghost of a smile which quickly faded. [b]"I'm putting together a mission, the most dangerous and probably the most important in this whole war. I'll reveal more at the briefing tomorrow. My question tonight is this - will you lead this team?"[/b]

Akil blanked for the briefest of moments, then regained his composure. [b]"Am I really the person to do this Mr. Weasley?"[/b]


[b]"Force of habit, sir. But truly there is someone more experienced, older, that can lead this team."[/b]

[b]"The war has robbed us of that luxury, Akil,"[/b] Percy sighed. [b]"And I've read your file, what you did before and during the war. You've a silver tongue on you sir, one that could reel in and keep this 'trigger-happy wand wielders' pointing their wands in the right direction."[/b] Akil sat silent for a moment, then nodded slightly. [b]"Good,"[/b] Percy said getting up from the table, buisiness-like as usual. [b]"I expect to see you at the briefing tomorrow."[/b]

Akil shook his head and walked out of the briefing room, commit ed to his new task. He had talked down magical versions of jihadist, negotiated for hostage releases, and even acted as a middle-man for a treaty negotiating once. Living in the middle-east had taught him that there were two ways to solve his problems - with a steady wand hand or a quick tongue and Akil prided himself on both, though he preferred to use to second when he could. Looking up from his thoughts, Akil noticed where he was in the massive labyrinth of a house and also noticed that Scotsman, Ewan Finlay, was coming from the other direction down the corridor, swearing slightly under his breath, most likely due to the confusing nature of the house's halls. Akil smiled his patented grin at the Ewan.

[b]"Mr. Finlay, I see you share my confusion of magical dwellings. You would think by this point in the magical history we wizards would of thought of a better way to navigate our own homes."[/b] Akil waved at the door to his immediate left. [b]"The house's tavern is right here. I hope I'm not playing into the stereotype, but care to join me for a drink? I've just discovered alcohol and am finding that it calms the nerves quite well in these type of situations."[/b]

OOC: Saudi-Arabia has strict prohibition in place
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It was understandably cold in the expansive manor, especially since it was located so far north. She knew that this was likely the last night she could afford a comfortable sleep and so Mai quickly changed into a sweater, pajama pants, and her fuzzy slippers. Mogul rubbed against her leg and jumped into the bed, selecting the most comfortable location before curling up. He looked at Mai expectingly.

[b]"Sorry, I can't sleep just yet."[/b]

The cat made a puffing noise and closed its eyes.

Mai's first task was to begin packing. She had expected a large trip such as this one the moment she received the letter from the IMU, but Mai wanted to wait for the meeting, if only because she had secretly hoped it would be something else.

As she used her wand to summon various items (spell books, medical potions, sleeping tent, etc.), she wondered about what Mr. Weasly had said during the meeting.

[i][b]"I hope that your premonitions can keep this team out of trouble."[/b][/i]

Mai doubted it; her premonitions had never been reliable and she thought back to the attack in Australia. If only she could have had a premonition that night, more people would have survived. Good men and women that she knew and respected. Mai hoped that she could be of more service than just as a seer.

Mai finished packing her handbag and took a seat at the small desk by her bed. She opened the dossier and flipped through the files. Her coworkers certainly were not pushovers. She had heard of their names throughout the years, and she was almost certain she had met Texan before during her time at school in North America. And Mr. Lucientes's work was a great source of inspiration for Mai when she developed her dream reading spell.

Fortunately, the dossiers also had the dates of birth for all of her new coworkers and Mai took this information to draw a natal chart for each of them. Drawing natal charts for her friends and acquaintances was almost a hobby of Mai's. She had learned to do it early in life and found it interesting to see how the astral bodies of space influenced their life.

Of course, she knew that every form of fortune telling was circumstantial and never 100 percent accurate. Still though, she found herself captivated, flipping through thousands of ephemerides with her wand, searching for some key to the future. Afterwards, she cast the chart for the planetary alignment at the time of their departure for Hogwarts and cross-referenced the two.

The results were just as she suspected; the planets were not in favor of any of the aurors tomorrow. Pluto adversely affected an important aspect in each of their charts. While it couldn't necessarily be appointed to near-death experiences, it couldn't be ruled out either. But what worried her the most was the activity of Mars, which indicated a time of distress or struggle awaited each of them.

Mai leaned back in her chair and yawned. She had been up much longer than she intended and her bed suddenly looked amazing. She packed up her ephemerides and closed the dossier, placing each of their natal charts behind the report. She laid down and fell asleep almost instantly, her kneazle readjusted and rested across her neck.
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A drink sounded mighty pleasing to Ewan. He made a sweeping gesture for Akil to lead the way. The room is how you would expect a traditional pub would be. Almost every surface was made from exotic hard woods. Carvings graced the bar, all depicting Norse mythological tales where etched deep into the dark wood. A variety of mounted heads were lined along the walls, oddly of only normal game. Behind the bar stood a shining wall of liquor bottles, many of vintage that Ewan couldnâ??t even recognize.

Akil took a seat in one of the many bronze bar stools with a pleased sigh. Ewan retreated behind the bar. Eyeballing the bottles, he passed quite a few that struck him as odd, being made from all sorts of ingredients ranging from the mild wheat, to the exotic batâ??s blood. He finally settled on a simple bottle labeled Green Knoll Whiskey. He pulled two glasses from below the bar and poured both men a drink.

Akil grabbed the glass, raising it in a toast and took a deep swig. His face twisted, as his palette was not familiar with this alien drink. Ewan took back the whole glass in one pull without as much as a blink.

[b]â??You westerners donâ??t fool around with your liquor.â?[/b] Akil said staring at the contents left in his glass.

[b]â??What are ya used to?â?[/b] Ewan asked dryly, refilling his glass.

[b]â??Well, not much to begin with, so we savor it more than you do.â?[/b] Akil gestured to Ewanâ??s drinking method as he downed yet another glass. [b]â??We usually are able to get our hands on a nice wine, or fig brandy. If we are lucky we can get our hands on some arak,"[/b] Akil trailed off smiling. [b]"Smoother than a fine womanâ??s leg.â?[/b]

Ewan grunted returning to the wall, producing a bottle of red wine. [b]â??Would this be more to yer fancy?â?[/b]

Akil waved a hand with a gracious smile. [b]â??My thanks, but this will be fine.â?[/b] He took another swig, this time without the grimace. [b]â??So, are you familiar with Hogwarts at all? Youâ??re file claimed it as your alma mater.â?[/b]

[b]â??Yeah, I was sorted into the Hufflepuff house. Long before Harry Potter came to the school and all that **** with giant-ass-snakes, dementors, and Death Eaters went down.â?[/b] Ewan answered jabbing a finger at Akil. [b]â??As far as my familiarity, I was as familiar as one could be with that castle.â?[/b]

[b]â??What do you mean?â?[/b]

[b]â??The architect of that place was a sick bastard. Everything shifted, some rooms existed and didnâ??t exist at the same time, half the place needed a password to get into. In other words, it was a clusterfuck of a school.â?[/b]

[b]â??Well then you will be our guide.â?[/b] Akil said with a toothy grin. Ewan did not reciprocate the enthusiasm. He instead forwent the glass and drank deeply from the bottle of whiskey. He finished with a grunt and burp. He handed the bottle off to Akil heading for the door.

[b]â??If thatâ??s the case I should start sleeping off what I drank.â?[/b]

Ewan stepped into the corridor squinting in the dim light. A snap resonated down the hallway and Flower came around the corner.

[b]â??Would Mr. Finlay like me to lead him to his quarters?â?[/b] She asked meekly.

Ewan nodded offering her his hand.


Most of the team had assembled in one of the sitting rooms, munching on the last scraps of breakfast. Percy and Mai had yet to arrive and they settled in to wait. Akil was slouched in a large armchair holding his head, unaccustomed to the aftereffects of western liquor. Maiâ??s cat Mogul came padding into the room followed by the woman herself. She settled into the chair nodding to everyone, Mogul hopped up into her lap, promptly curling up, making itself comfortable.

Percy marched into the room without a word, and set a wooden mallard on a table in the center of the room.

[b]â??There isnâ??t much to say. Good luck.â?[/b] Percy said bowing his head. [b]â??The portkey will take you to the grounds. And it will return you after you have done your reconnaissance. Keep it on you in the meantime, we donâ??t want anyone else tailing it back here.â?[/b] He pulled a pocket watch from his jacket and flipped it open. [b]â??You have just under a minute before it goes active. I suggest you all get a hand on it.â?[/b] He clasped the watch closed, tossing it to Cid. [b]â??You have four hours by that watch. I apologize for the rush but it was the best we could do with the portkey.â?[/b]

Ewan stood first, placing his hand on the wooden duckâ??s head. One by one the Aurors grabbed hold. They all swapped uneasy glances at each other, waiting tensely for the jump. The longer the distance traveled, the more uncomfortable the jump. Over an ocean meant that this would not be a fun experience at all.

The world suddenly blurred, throwing all of the Aurors in a spinning vortex. They held on tightly to their bags, Mai holding Mogul to her chest in a death grip. The whole experience was like being pulled through a whirlpool with a rope by your stomach. What must have been a few seconds felt infinitely longer.

Release came as the group went tumbling in every direction. The forest floor was merciful, breaking their fall with thick grass. Ewanâ??s first action was to roll over and heave all of the breakfast he ate out of his body. Akil followed suit, in part due to the churning, and in part to the hangover. After regaining composure the rest assembled their belongings.

[b]â??Where are we?â?[/b] Cid asked Ewan in a hushed voice.

[b]â??Probably the edge of the Forbidden Forest.â?[/b] Ewan shrugged.

[b]â??You donâ??t know?â?[/b] Mai chimed in.

[b]â??Well the name â??Forbidden Forestâ?? isnâ??t exactly the most inviting moniker.â?[/b] Ewan shot back at Mai with a sharp tone. â??That and the stories of Centaurs kind of dissuaded any exploration for me. My apologies m'lady, I am not entirely familiar with it, no.â? The angered sarcastic tone garnered looks of disdain from the rest of the group.

â??Finlay.â? Akil called scornfully. Ewan sighed turning to the acting captain. â??You know the area, why donâ??t you get a preliminary look before we go much further.

Ewan let out another heavy sigh, letting his bags fall to the ground and laying his jacket on top. [b]â??If you guys run into any of the inhabitants here, donâ??t refer to them as â??half-ANYTHINGâ?? and stay very cordial. That being said, keep your wands on them, and don't make eye contact.â?[/b] With that Ewan shifted and his form became that of a barn owl. His feathers ruffled a bit and he took off in a white blur.

Cresting the tree line, Ewan saw what was left of the school. The astronomy tower was just gone, in its stead a pile of rubble. The main courtyard was just a crater. The rest had been ravaged by fires and explosions, leaving very little of it left standing. Even the poor Whomping Willow was split in two, as if by some tremendous axe, and lay still as stone. The bridge leading to the main hall barely stood, and the covered bridge was lying at the bottom of a ravine, making the main bridge the only possible entrance.

Ewan soared back to the Forbidden Forest, flying low below the branches. His commotion had put the others on edge. When he came upon them they were standing in a circle with their wands extended outward. He came down with a flutter and shifted back to his human form.

[b]â??Report.â?[/b] Akil commanded as they relaxed.

Ewan scoffed picking up his jacket. [b]â??Yessir. The grounds are in shambles, the only way we are getting in is over the main bridge. We are going to be wide open for an attack while crossing it. But from what I saw, the grounds were abandoned.â?[/b]

Akil turned his back to the team thinking this over.

[b]â??There would be plenty of places to hide inside, no?â?[/b] Alexis suggested to the group.

Ewan had taken a seat at the foot of a tree. [b]â??You have no idea. Even in the shape it is in, itâ??s still a ******* labyrinth.â?[/b]

A crack of branches and the fluttering of a spooked bird set everyone to their feet again wands at the ready.

[b]â??Weâ??ve been here too longâ?[/b] Akil said warily. [b]â??Letâ??s go.â?[/b]


OCC: We have made it to the grounds of Hogwarts. Your posts should be about exploring the grounds and us making our way into the eerily quiet and empty castle. This is the team in action, your quest has begun, so this is really to get a feel of the group as a dynamic unit.
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Worry engulfed the Auror's as they made their haste to exit the "Forbidden Forest", the alerting sounds of the wildlife and the reputation of the ancient forest gave no comfort to anyone as they made their haste. Akil lead the group as he pushed past thick vines and thick evergreen plant life, Ewan and Cid close behind as they paved a path for the others to follow. Alexis held onto Mai's hand as he lead the way for her to follow, feeling the whip lash of twigs and branches striking his face, but it bothered him not as he held on tight. Mai huffed as she tried to keep up with the groups speed, their mad dash to get to an opening was worth the risk of whatever seemed to be following them in the shadows. Heartwell felt the stings of the forest on his legs and feet, going on a mission in shorts and barefoot was always comfortable in the states, wishing he had thought harder about his personal clothing apparel before coming, he trudged on and followed the others. There were loud movements coming from behind the group as they drew closer to a bright opening, the more they drew closer, the more they continued their pace.

"[b]Ewan, you've shifted into numerous animals, mystical and non-mystical alike. Can you tell the sound of whatever is following us?[/b]" Cid spoke as he batted away a large leaf plant, Ewan doing the same as they drew closer to the grand bridge opening that lead to Hogwarts.

"[b]Sorry to say, but it's something that I can't recognized, it seems familiar but just can't put my fingers on it[/b]" The man huffed as he turned forward, only to roughly bump into their group leader Akil, soon Cid bumped into the two as well. Mai and Alexis stopped short before running into them, her feline Mogul held in her free arm, cradled in the hook of her elbow. Both members breathing heavily as they tried to catch her breath, from the rear, Heartwell came running until he skidded on the dirt below as he looked up. In front of the group, a large spider stood strong on it's back legs, legs extended in the air as its fangs arched in the air, in perfect striking position. Akil held his hands outwards on both ends to hold the group back, for more spiders came from behind the largest, Mai and Alexis slowly grasped their wands and held it waist high, Mogul hissed at the large creature furiously.

"[i][b]Nobody make a move, we can get rid of these quickly and make it to the bridge. Once there, we run like hell and get to the other side, if need be, destroy the bridge[/b][/i]" Akil spoke softly, but the vibration of his voice brought life to the giant spider as his legs twitched and curled in the air. Heartwell drew his wand slowly, but the noise that was chasing them was now upon them, turning his head slightly, he could see more spiders make their way slowly wards the back of the group. Alexis and Mai turned, seeing their new enemy emerge from behind.

"[i][b]I think we need a new plan, oui[/b][/i]?" Alexis held onto Mai's hand tighter as he stood in front of the woman, she turned her back to his as she faced off the large spider in front of Akil and the others.

"[i][b]How far is the bridge from here?[/b][/i]" Heartwell whispered as he lifted his wand in front of the closest spider that came near.

"[i][b]Only a couple of feet away, the bridge is right across from a meadow of tall grass after we exit the forest.[/b][/i]" Ewan spoke softly, Heartwell smirked as he backed up slowly towards Alexis and Mai, he had and idea in hand, he just hoped the others would follow along.

"[i][b]Hey y'all, ever been to a rodeo before?[/b][/i]" Mai raised her eyebrow at the comment.

"[i][b]Is this a good time to be asking-[/b][/i]" She paused for a moment as a sudden feeling of fear and worry crept through her body, he turned around and saw the Texas beginning to flick his wand. "[b]NO DONT!![/b]"

"[b]INCENDIO[/b]!!" Heartwell gripped his wand tightly and held on tight as a powerful bolt of red light shot from his wand and towards the spider in front of him, instantly it was engulfed in flames as the creature screeched in pain. The spiders that followed close behind now moved backwards to avoid the ally covered in hot flames. Akil had not choice but to go off the hint.

"[b]Stupify[/b]" He yelled towards the large spider, a single shot to its abdomine sent the creature on its back, legs curled inward. Cid and Ewan followed as they cast their own spells towards the other spiders to clear their path. "On the double, let's move" the group took no time to waste as they made a quick dash out of the forest and into the thick grass clearing, almost as if they were in a corn maze, but their path was set thanks to Ewan guiding Akil towards the bridge. It only took seconds, but they group finally made it out of the thick grass and saw the runes of Hogwarts, and their only way to get to the grounds was crossing the once mighty structure of a bridge. In itself, it looked like a death trap to set foot on the pathway, but it was their only choice now to cross.

"[b]We have to hurry, I can hear more coming[/b]" Cid spoke, he was right, rustling noise could be heard coming from the tall grass behind the group. Everyone made their move, Heartwell turned around for a moment and drew his wand.

"[b]Incendio[/b]" Another blast shot towards the grass, instantly it caught fire as more screeches could be heard from inside the maze. The Texan smiled as he turned around to follow the others. The bridge was on the verge of falling apart, large portions of their walkway was missing or crumbled together from the battle years ago, and the aging of time did no help to the mighty structure. More spiders came from the pillars of the bridge, almost a dozen as they climbed with great speed to get to their next meal.

"[b]Stay close together, wands at the ready[/b]" Akil shouted angrily, not one bit happy about their current situation on their first mission. Heartwell caught up next to Mai as they ran.

"[b]How could you put us all in danger like that?[/b]" She huffed, holding onto her feline Mogul like she would a child.

"[b]We needed offense, so I gave it. Not that fanciest plan, but heck, it worked mighty fine ma'am[/b]" Heartwell grunted as he jumped over a large stone arm that held a battle axe.

"[b]We're already on tight ropes even coming here in such a group. You need to stop thinking like a loner and work as a team member[/b]" Mai gasped when she saw the legs of spiders coming from the side of the bridge. Heartwell thought about her comment and guilt settled in for a moment, but he would have to worry about that for later, right now survival was their objective.

"[b]We're only half way and they're still advancing on us....Expulso[/b]" Ewan pointed his blast towards a crater on the side of the bridge, blasting off the edge before a spider could attach itself onto it to come up from their side as the group ran. The weight of the team was hard enough for the bridge, but now with the added weight of the spider armada, the structure shook violently as pieces of the pillars and foundation cracked and fell down into the deep chasm.
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[b]"سخÙ?ف Ù?Ø®Ù?Ù?Ù?ات Ù?رÙ?Ù?Ø©,"[/b] Akil swore in his native tongue, blasting the Acromantula with spurts of red sparks. Slowly they were starting to overwhelm the bridge; the company would be overrun in mere minutes.

[b]"Stop the damn stuns and fire spells,"[/b] Akil shouted to the group as the adrenaline hit his nervous system and his brain ramped into over drive. [b]"Use 'Arania Exumai', dammit."[/b]

[b]"Arania Exumai?"[/b] Ewan questioned in between casts.

[b]"Bit of specialized magic. Just do it!"[/b] Akil yelled back. Ewan nodded and waved his wand, shouting the spells name. A white light burst from his wand and hit the spider in the torso, lifting it off the ground and sending it flying into the chasm the bridge spanned. The rest of the group began to catch on and started hurtling the spell at the spiders as well. Spiders began flying through the air at regular intervals, but still more swarmed at the group. They were beginning to crawl on sides of the bridge and the Aurors were in danger of being flanked soon.

[b]"Take the flanks, I'll handle the main group,"[/b] Akil shouted.

[b]"There's too many of them in the center for you to fight off!"[/b] Mai shouted. The other Aurors shifted slightly, torn between the command and common sense.

[b]"Dammit, just do it!"[/b] Akil yelled. [b]"I've a plan that should do the trick, insha'Allah."[/b]. Akil waited another second to make sure the team shifted out of the center and started blasting the flanks before squaring himself towards the main hoard. He held up his wand and pointed it.

[b]"VANA SOMNIUM!"[/b] A second passed and the spiders in the center stopped moving. Another tense second passed as the spiders remained motionless on the bridge. The other Aurors cast furtive glances over their shoulders in between castings.

[b]"Wait for it,"[/b] Akil muttered, strain creeping into his voice as his face began paling. There was another second and suddenly the Acromantula in the center of the bridge turned and ran as fast as their furry legs would carry them. The group managed to blast the remaining few on the flanks, but without the main hoard to feed the sides the numbers dwindled quickly. Akil dropped to one knee and held a hand up to his nose where a small drop of blood was falling.

[b]"What the hell type of spell was that?"[/b] Ewan gasped asked in between breathes. Akil looked up at him and grinned.

[b]"Vana Somnium? It's a jinx. Causes hallucinations within the target's mind. It's rather weak when spread over so many targets, though. The only reasons it worked was because they were animal minds, less complex then a human, and I played on their natural fear."[/b]

[b]"And what do giant spiders fear, if I may ask [i]mon ami[/i]?"[/b]" LeCrosse asked as he stowed his wand.

[b]"On thing - Basilisks. Their eyes make them vulnerable to the stare. They all thought they saw one and-ugh,"[/b] Akil groaned as his head started to spin. He dropped to both his knees and the blood coming out of his nose intensified slightly. [b]"Perhaps now would be a good time for one of you to haul me into one of the remaining chambers so I can have a second to recover. Apparently the spell took more then I thought it would."[/b]

[b]"We don't have time to waste,"[/b] James grunted.

[b]"And we wouldn't have had to deal with so many spiders if you wouldn't of lit them on fire,"[/b] Akil retorted. He kept his tone light, the the comment was obviously meant as a chastise. [b]"But alas, past is past. Let's just get inside and plan our next move."[/b]
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LeCrosse rushed forwards and ducked under one of Akil's arms, hauling him to his feet and providing support as the group moved forward. They reached a large wooden door set into the crumbling stone of what used to be an inner wall of Hogwarts Castle, and as Ewan placed his hand against the door, it swung slowly open.

[b]"Huh, gone are the days that Hogwarts' security was the best in the world,"[/b] Ewan muttered, raising his wand, [b]"[i]Lumos[/i]."[/b] The tip of Ewan's wand lit up, casting pale white light across the darkened chamber the door revealed. He moved slowly into the chamber, trying his best to illuminate as much of it as possible. The rest of the team followed him in, and as the pair reached the chamber, LeCrosse helped Akil ease himself into a chair by the door, and looked around.

There were tattered, faded-blue banners hanging from the walls, covered, like everything else, with a thick coating of dust and grime. Smashed splinters of wood and twisted metal were scattered across the floor, empty picture-frames hung awkwardly on the walls and everything was pale with dust.

[b]"What is this place?"[/b] asked Cid, looking around, his own wand illuminated at the end like Ewan's.

[b]"The Ravenclaw common room,"[/b] replied LeCrosse, [b]"A place of knowledge and intelligence, forgotten. There should be dormitories above us, this is the base of the Ravenclaw tower."[/b] The Frenchman bounded over to the spiral staircase in the corner of the room, leaping over an overturned bench that was blocking his way. He illuminated the end of his wand and made his way slowly up the stairs.

Clutter and debris was scattered across the staircase, forcing LeCrosse to pick his way carefully over the objects in his way. Eventually, he reached the top of the stairs, and they opened out into a high-ceilinged room, with the broken shards of what used to be four-poster beds scattered across the floor, and everything covered in an even thicker coating of dust than downstairs. Faded blue fabric poked out of the rubble here and there, but the most obvious detail of the dormitory was an enormous hole in the wall, opening out onto the cold air. LeCross looked up, staring through the hole, and saw the shapes of the mountains in the distance, and the tiniest of smiles crossed his face.

[b]"Something big must have happened here,"[/b] said a voice from behind him, and LeCrosse spun round to see Cid standing behind him, surveying the damage surrounding them.

[b]"Many things happened here,"[/b] replied LeCrosse, [b]"Presents were opened on Christmas morning, children leapt out of bed eager to start their first day of classes, friendships were formed, and ended, all in this room. But I suppose you are referring to the hole in the wall, [i]oui[/i]?"[/b] He shot a devilish grin at his comrade, and moved over to the hole, shining the light from his wand around the edges of the hole.

[b]"Any idea what could have caused this?"[/b]

[b]"I will in [i]un moment[/i],"[/b] LeCrosse replied, raising his wand to his mouth and whispering [b]"[i]Nox[/i]."[/b] The light extinguished itself, and he aimed the tip of his wand back at the edges of the hole.

[b]"[i]Manifesto[/i]..."[/b] he said, his voice clear and distinct, and a faint blue light shone from the end of his wand. He traced his wand around the edges of the hole, and a faint red glow began to emanate from the jagged, broken stone. LeCrosse moved a little closer, and ran his hand through the soft glow, feeling the make-up of the spell that caused it, and suddenly a tiny spark of crimson lightning shocked his hand, causing him to flinch away. He shook his hand and smiled a little as he took a close look.

[b]"This was a powerful curse,"[/b] he said, without taking his eyes away from the newly-Revealed magical energy, [b]"Very powerful. I can't tell, but I would assume that it was fired during the initial assault on the Castle, probably by one of the higher-ranking Death Eaters. Possibly even Voldemort himself."[/b] He raised up from his crouched position and turned to the rest of the room, moving his wand in a wide arc across the room, the faint blue light causing patches of different coloured light to blink into existence, Revealing the residue of all the spells that were cast in the room during the final battle. LeCrosse registered the faint yellow light of Shield spells, patches of bright red Stupefying Charms littering the ground, and a number of bright green trails, formed from the unmistakably energy of the Killing Curse. He walked around the room, running his fingers through the energy left over by spells he couldn't distinguish simply from the colour of the residue, and sweeping his boot through the dust, feeling shards of wood and metal underfoot that he knew without looking were the remnants of students' wands.

[b]"This is pretty impressive,"[/b] said Cid, although LeCrosse knew the Spaniard wouldn't be able to see the trails as vividly as he could, [b]"Hey, are you ok?"[/b]

LeCrosse turned to his comrade, who was pointing to his nose, and the Frenchman reached up and felt his nose, his fingers coming away wet with blood. He grinned a little at the spots of blood on his fingers, then, with a wave of his wand, dismissed the Revealing Charm and watched as the trails of light dissipated. He staggered backwards a step, the memory of how strenuous the Charm was flooding back to him.

[b]"I'm fine,"[/b] he replied, [b]"The Revealing Charm requires a lot of effort, but it provides useful results. Come on, let us rejoin the others."[/b] He gestured for Cid to head down the stairs, and then followed him, pausing for just a moment at the top of the stairs to look back at the dormitory.

[b]"Such a waste..."[/b]
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[font="Book Antiqua"]Cid rushed down the stairs to check on Akil. They hadn't been here any longer than 10 minutes and already they had been attacked, and two of them were bleeding. He scaled the staircase, trying his hardest to ignore the devastation all around him. He had never seen Hogwarts prior to this, though he had heard tales about it from his cousins on his mother's side. They talked often of its beauty, its magnanimity, its awe-inspiring wonder. He had grown up idolizing the school as [i]una torre de la esperanza[/i], and Professor Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter as [i]salvadores[/i]. When the Aurors lost the Battle of Hogwarts, he lost faith. Seeing Hogwarts in person now, lifeless and decrepit, he could feel a sense of hopelessness returning. What hope did they stand against una fuerza de pura maldad?[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"How are you holding up, Akil?" [/b]Cid asked as soon as his leader was in sight. Despite the sinking feeling in Cid's stomach, he did not have the luxury to fall into depression. Not while there where others depending on him.[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"I'm quite alright Cid. No serious damage has been done, I'm simply a little fatigued," [/b]Akil stated with a weak smile. Cid frowned and shook his head disapprovingly.[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"Well, given the situation, we need our fearless leader to be a little better than 'fatigued', no?" [/b]Cid said smiling. He reached into his pocket, searching for a particular set of vials, when Alexis strolled down from the staircase. Cid rolled his eyes and continued searching.[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"Y tu, supongo," [/b]he muttered under his breath. Alexis raised an eyebrow at the Spaniard as he passed by him.[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"Oui?" [/b]he said, sensing the sarcasm in Cid's voice despite not understanding the language. Cid smiled innocently and threw something at him. Cid caught Alexis eyeing the object quizzically as Cid handed another vial to Akil. [/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"A strengthening solution," [/b]Cid stated as he continued to leaf through his pocket, [b]"it should bring you back to full strength. Don't waste your new-found strength, though. No tengo mucho, and its easy to develop an addiction to the solution." [/b]Akil and Alexis downed their potions, and could immediately feel it warmly coursing through their systems, rejuvenating their spirits. Akil handed his vial back to Cid and nodded appreciatively.[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"Much obliged Cid," [/b]Akil stated. Alexis made a face at the taste of the solution and tossed his vial back as well.

[b]"Merci," [/b]he said despite the bitter taste in his mouth. Cid bowed his head to him.[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"Je vous en prie," [/b]he responded, having learnt a bit of french from his mother. She taught him the basics of a few languages, and that information had always stuck with him. Alexis smiled and patted Cid on the shoulder. [/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"Well?" [/b]Interrupted James' and Ewan's voices. They eyed each other warily, before Ewan continued talking.[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"Now that we're all in tip top condition, we need to get moving. I'm sure the commotion from the bridge has caught the attention of every creature on the grounds. If we want to avoid more pointless brawls, I suggest we get moving. Leader?" [/b]he said impatiently, turning to Akil. Akil took a deep breath, either from agitation or to regain focus, and began speaking.[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][b]"Mr. Longbottom was a member of the 'Gryffindor' house, so our objective is to search every inch of that room for clues. From there, I suggest we attempt to discover the so called 'Room of Requirement'. Unfortunately, if there are traps waiting for us here, they are most likely to be in these two places. Be on your guard. So, if you wouldn't mind Mr. Finlay, lead the way," [/b]he stated authoritatively. Ewan simply spun on his heel and began walking in the direction of the Gryffindor common rooms. Akil and the others followed suit, with Cid bringing up the rear.[/font] Edited by Vongola
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The group gathered together and made their way towards the 'Gryffindor' lodgings of Hogwarts, everyone at the ready as they stayed in a tight formation as they traveled through the desolated halls of the once proud academy of witchcraft and wizardry. The dark corners lit brightly as all their wands fueled light at their tips from their combined "[b]Lumos[/b]" spells, their formation now seems like a large candle, roaming about the halls in one smooth motion as the ominous noises sent shivers down several membersâ?? spines, but they had to move on and reach their location. Bits and pieces of their search were spread throughout the school grounds, their hardest assignment would be to locate the elusive "Room of Requirement" that has been said to aid those who are in need of solidarity or aid. The room would show itself to its user, but such things were thought to be a myth, at least to James as he thought back on hearing about the battle when he was younger, how it had such an impact on the wizard world knowing that their supposed savior, Harry Potter, would eventually rid them all of the all powerful Voldemort...how their hopes fell high from their delusions and dismay knowing years later he would take full charge and control of the Ministry of Magic. It was sickening to say the least. The group finally managed to fan out from their formation when they came upon a single room full of stair cases, some connecting to one another going high and low; others stuck in mid air as they froze, almost forever in time to change the course of the travelerâ??s path.

"[b]Amazing[/b]" Akil spoke as he marveled at the workmanship and complex design of the grand staircases. "[b]I can imagine this would be awfully confusing to first year students[/b]" He snickered for a moment as he looked around, though some of their pathways were clear going upwards, beyond that they were missing sections to ascend upwards to their destination.

"[b]By old accounts[/b]" Ewan broke the silence as he made his way to stand next to Akil. "[b]The 'Gryffindor House" should be around the lower to mid section of the stairs, seems like a straight shot besides a couple of leaps upwards where the trail ends[/b]". He was right, but thankfully the task wasn't too difficult for the team of Auror's. Akil nodded as he lead the group upwards, the stairs that once shinned of sleek marvel now resembled broken down concrete, slabs missing from immense battle that took place years ago. As the group walked, they could see on the walls various burn marks and dents on the side of the wall as they made their climb, definitely this is where a pivotal battle was fought, whoever had the upper hand would have been those on top shooting down on their enemies. But, as ancient wars have stated, being on top of the hill is not necessarily the best place to be, blast marks proved so as James looked upwards to see more damage done above to top of the grand staircase of the room. Needless to say, half of the roof was completely gone from sight as crows and other animal entered through the ceiling. It took some time and team effort, but the group finally made it in front of the Gryffindor chambers, the empty picture frame in from of their lodging was a bit eerie, but with an easy unlocking spell casted, they were able to make it inside, still weary of the possible traps that may be laid out, it would have be a calculated strategy to attack in the well known and admired house of Harry Potter and the old Order of the Phoenix, but luck was on their side for now. The group made their way into the middle of the common room, everyone looked at the condition of such a large area; couches and chairs destroyed and flipped over, glass and wood mixed together on the ground, and books scattered all about the place.

â??[b]Alright, weâ??re here. Search for any clue you think Longbottom could have left, I donâ??t want anything left unturned or unnoticed, thereâ??s got to be something we can find hereâ? [/b]Everyone nodded as they spread the search, now that Akil and Alexis were back to top form, they both made their way towards the northern wing of the room. Cid and Ewan this time went upstairs to look in the dorms of both the males and females. The light from their wands slowly vanished as they traveled upwards the stairs.

â??[b]We should keep watch on the door while the others are searching, we donâ??t want to leave our only exit wide open for something to come through[/b]â? Mai stated as she turned to Heartwell.

â??[b]Agreed[/b]â? he nodded as he took a couple steps towards the doorway in which they entered, pointing his wand at the entrance as he took a couple of breaths. â??[b][i]Protego Totalum[/i][/b]â? The tip of his wand glowed white, they both looked towards the door as a sleek, transparent wave of light dropped from the top of the door until it reached the ground. The waves remained still as it took the shape of the passage entrance. â??[b]A decent spell, not too powerful to deflect hexes, but enough to mask our presence here, for now[/b]â? James cleared his throat as he spoke, the dusty air of the school was getting to him slowly, though he was not allergic in any way, it was still hard to breath in the environment for the longer they stayed.

â??[b]Here I thought you were more defensive[/b]â? Mai joked.

â??[b]This oleâ?? dog knows some tricks[/b]â? James smirked.

â??[b]I bet this place was once thriving with ambitions, hope and dreams of becoming a powerful wizard or witch, such a shame it no longer even feels like it[/b].â? Mai raised her wand and pointed towards the door as James lowered his wand. â??[b][i]Murus Deflexus[/i][/b]â? A combination of white and yellow danced slowly towards the barrier James placed, almost masking it completely until it vanished in thin air, and James looked towards Mai with an eyebrow raised. â??[b]You mask us, Iâ??ll protect us from Hexes[/b].â? She held her want forward as more light flashed more towards the door, it seemed her spell needed more focus and time to prepare. James looked around at the bookshelf next to the duo, looking at the empty shelves, only a few books remained. Simple potionâ??s spells and manuals of the school code and conduct, it brought James back to a distant memory from long ago as he spoke softly.

[b]â??I wonder what house he would be in...â?[/b] Mai picked up on his words as she added the final touch to her spell.

[b]â??Iâ??m sorry, who is â??[i]He[/i]â??â?[/b] She questioned quickly as the woman held the handle of her wand tightly in her grasp; it caught James by surprise she was able to hear him so clearly.

â??[b]My sonâ?¦Dmitri. I was just pondering what house he would be in if things hadnâ??t turned out as so. Heh, itâ??s kind of fun to think about at time, getting my little buckaroo all his school items and sending him off to one of the best academies in the world.â?[/b] James smiled slightly as he spun quickly after hearing noise coming from upstairs, sounded like something falling onto the floor.

â??[b]I didnâ??t know you were the family man kind of person, itâ??s kind of a surprise to know now[/b]â? Mai took her free hand and began to message the back of her neck, that last spell was more demanding than she remembered.

â??[b]Iâ??m not anymoreâ?¦he was killed by a Death Eater when they came to Fort Worth, my home town. I stalled too long and those cowards took me without breakinâ?? a sweat[/b]â? James grunted as he narrowed his eyes, Mai fell silent at the news, but she listened intensely as James. â??[b]They killed him in front of my eyes, short and quick with an â??Avada Kedavraâ? curse, and that was it. Help came from my fellow Aurorâ??s in the state, but too soon too late for my son[/b]â?. James coughed as he felt his throat tighten, looking away from the woman as he walked towards the center of the room.

â??[b]Iâ??m sorry for your loss, but weâ??re here to hopefully find a means to stop all of this madness once and for all.â?[/b] Mai turned towards the man.

â??[b]Iâ??ll be glad when we do, because I know the name of the Death Eater who killed my son, and when I find him, not even Percy Weasley will be able to stop me. Iâ??m the best in the states because I act first and kill without second thinking, I know those bastards would do the same. So itâ??s fair game[/b]â? James sniffed through his nose quite loudly, Mai frowned at the statement.

[b]â??Then in all talk, youâ??re no better than they are. Remember, we all have a history, good and bad, but restraint will always show us how strong we really are. Times are hard, but weâ??re in this as a team, not as an individual.â?[/b] James nodded slightly.

â??[b][i]Maybe[/i][/b]â? He muttered softly, clearing his throat once more, but still his coughing continued as the stocky man covered his mouth with his arm to muffle the sound. Their barriers would stay in place, but they didnâ??t hide them completely from sound or quick movements, just staring from the other side could show shadow movements in the air. Akil and Alexis came back from their search, Alexis holding some papers in his hand, they looked brittle like bone, but the French Auror held the documents delicately as the peered towards the others. â??[b]You two *[i]cough[/i]* find anything[/b]? â?? James tried to control his breathing, but still the air was becoming thicker to him, and he felt himself growing weaker as the moments passed.

â??[b]No Mon ami, but we did find some interesting notes, scattered about. Possibly a clue, no?â?[/b] Alexis replied, Mai nodded at the news, it was somewhat helpful if they can gather all the pieces and leave the Gryffindor house to continue their search. James turned back towards the door and walked closer, feeling his muscles weaken with each step he took. Akil raised an eyebrow at the sluggish movements of his team mate, but James raised another barrier as he raised his wand towards the entrance once more.

â??[b]Protego Totalum[/b]â? He spoke once more, adding more power to his cloaking shield as they waited on the others. The Texan still held his arm over his mouth, muffling the coughs that almost came violently now as he concentrated on his barrier.
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[size="2"]Mai was in awe at the size of Hogwarts castle. Even considering the amount of damage it had sustained, the paths were still unbearably complicated to navigate. Even for Ewan, who had attended Hogwarts as a youth, seemed to lose his way every now and then.

The Gryffindor common rooms didn't seem to reveal anything either.

[b]"This is going to take forever!"[/b] Mai sighed, after looking at the same newspaper for the umpteenth time.

It was an article from the Daily Prophet with a picture of Harry Potter and the words "Undesirable No. 1". The article was charred and decaying from age, but Mai found some comfort in the image. She hoped that her group would finally be able to finish what he started.

[b]"Are you alright?"[/b] Cid had approached Mai from behind, startling her.

[b]"I'm fine,"[/b] she folded up the newspaper photo and put it in her pocket; a memento. [b]"I just feel like we're running out of time and we haven't found anything."[/b]

[b]"Akil said you're a seer. Have you seen anything?"[/b]

[b]"I wish, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way."[/b] As the words left her mouth, Mai felt something. It was a cold chill that ran up the length of her spine.

[b]"Well perhaps--"[/b] Cid started to say, but trailed off when he realized that Mai wasn't listening.

She felt a strong force towards in her handbag and as she reached inside, her fingers came across the tarot. She revealed the cards. Cid and Heartwell were now gathered around, curious about her actions. She approached a table and laid out all the cards in a straight line. She randomly chose four cards from the spread and flipped them over: The Magician, Strenth, The Wheel of Fortune, and Death.

[b]"I don't know the first thing about predicting the future,"[/b] Heartwell shifted his weight from one leg to the other. [b]"But that last card doesn't look too great."[/b]

[b]"The cards aren't always straightforward."[/b]

[b]"And what do you see in these?"[/b] Akil asked. The rest of the group had approached the table, cautiously eyeing the death card.

[b]"The magician represents us and this castle; the four houses corresponding to the sword, wand, cup, and pentacle. And this one, strength,"[/b] She said, pointing to the card depicting a woman and lion. [b]"shows us where we are now; the lion represents the Gryffindor house."[/b]

[b]"So then, this card here,"[/b] Alexis picked up the Wheel of Fortune, [b]"Means we'll find what we're looking for?"[/b]

[b]"Not necessarily,"[/b] Mai took the card, examining it closely. [b]"It's a game of chance. We could find what we're looking for or we might not."[/b]

[b]"Well I could have told you that."[/b] James said with a sarcastic tone.

[b]"What about this last one?"[/b] Cid asked.

[b]"The meanings are various. It could be literal death,"[/b] She paused, mostly for dramatic effect. [b]"But I think it represents a descent of some sort, the same way that the wheel is constantly descending and rising again.[/b]

[b]"But if you look at the symbols in this card--the black robe, the snake, the stone walled surroundings--I think it's describing a physical location where we might try our chances next."[/b]

[b]"The dungeons!"[/b] Ewan said.

[b]"But what about the room of requirement?"[/b] Alexis asked. [b]"Wasn't that our next goal?"[/b]

[b]"Maybe we should split up?"[/b] Mai suggested?

[b]"I really don't think that's a good idea."[/b] Akil said.

[b]"How much time do we have left before the portkey activates?"[/b] James was visibly excited. Mai wasn't the only one who was growing restless just sitting around.

Akil looked at his pocket watch and sighed. [b]"Not long."[/b]

[b]"Okay then!"[/b] James was already halfway out the common room door. [b]"It's a no-brainer. One group should go to the dungeons and the other can look for this room of requirement, if it even exists."[/b]

They all looked toward Akil for some kind of confirmation. He stood there for several seconds, his arms folded across his chest.

[b]"Fine,"[/b] he finally said. [b]"But if there's any sign of danger, send a patronus immediately."[/b]

They all agreed. Now it was only a matter of splitting into groups.[/size] Edited by Darren
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  • 3 weeks later...
[b]"Mai, LeCrosse, you will come with me to the dungeons. The remaining will search for the Room of Requirement. If you find any sign of Longbottom, or trouble, send word,"[/b] Akil issued the order and waited for a second to see if there were any protests. Seeing that there were none, he nodded, then turn around and began exiting the common room with Mai and Alexis following him. As they got to the stairs, Akil began heading down, taking whatever staircase that hadn't crumbled already.

[b]"I thought Finlay was the only one who knew the layout of this castle,"[/b] Mai said as Akil lead the group downwards through the twisting staircases.

[b]"He is, which is why he's looking for the Room of Requirement,"[/b] Akil replied with a slight smile. [b]"Dungeons are easy - keep going down and then you find them."[/b]

After traveling along the staircases for a few more minutes, they came to an archway that led even more downward. There was a noticeable draft coming through the archway, the cool air raising goosebumps on the back of Akil's neck. [b]"See, just go down,"[/b] Akil murmured. There was an eerie aura emanating from the dungeons, one that made Akil nervous to even enter them.

[b]"I think we might find our clues here,"[/b] Mai said, a shiver running up her spine. Obviously the odd aura could be felt by the whole group.

[b]"Well, let's get this over with,"[/b] LeCrosse said, drawing his wand. The other two drew their wand and altogether they walked into the passage. They passed a old classroom or two, then a few other corridors, but decided to stay on the main path. They continued walking, and after another ten minutes the passage opened into a large chamber. In the middle of the chamber was a large pit, one that looked endless, with the remains of bridges on either side of the pit ((OOC: [url="http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Dungeon_Pit"]This room[/url], slightly modified)). It appeared that at one time the pit had been passable, but the bridges that once allowed that were gone. Akil walked to the edge of the pit and looked down.

[b]"Why put this in a school,"[/b] Mai asked as she walked to the edge of the pit with Akil. LeCrosse walked over the the remains of the bridge and casually looked over the remains.

[b]"I'm not too sure, to be honest,"[/b] Akil said. [b]"Hogwarts is a mystery to me, even more now that it lays in-"[/b] Akil stopped suddenly and arched his head, pointing his ear towards the pit. [b]"Do you hear that...? It sounds like a person..."[/b] Akil said in bewilderment. [b]"Stand back and be ready for what comes out."[/b] Akil waved his wand and said [b]"Accio."[/b]

Nothing happened for a moment. Then an object flew out of the abyss and landed in Akil's hands. Akil stumbled back a step as he caught it and looked at what he held. It was a picture frame. There was a name engraved into the plate mounted on the bottom of the frame, but time had destroyed many of the letters, reducing it to only "~~bu~ ~um~le~o~~". Akil looked at it for a moment, then inhaled sharply. [b]"This is...wow, this could actually be the lead we are looking for, this is...wow,"[/b] Akil said, for once in his life at a lost for words. He continued looking at the empty portrait in the frame until he heard something else coming out the pit, carried by his spell.

A black robe flew up and landed on the edge of the pit. Mai knelt next to it and prodded it. She turned back to face the other two. [b]"This robe is newer, there's no signs of wear on it like everything else in the castle."[/b]

[b]"Meaning someone was here recently..."[/b] Akil said, the nervous feeling from before returning and extinguishing his excitement.

[b]"Hey, [i]patron[/i], the spells that broke these bridges...they're fresh,"[/b] LeCrosse called tentatively. [b]"I think this would be a good time to go find the others. You tell us about that picture when we find-"[/b] LeCrosse abruptly stopped as something else came out of the pit, carried by Akil's Accio spell. It landed with a clatter next to Mai and the black robe.

A silver mask, shaped like a skull, with intricate designs worked into it around the eyes. ((OOC: [url="http://i968.photobucket.com/albums/ae163/Pete-SSS/Harry%20Potter%20Spellbooks/DeathEaterMask27.jpg"]Mask[/url]))

[b]"اÙ?Ù?رف."[/b] Akil swore. [b]"We need to find the others and leave. Now."[/b] Edited by Makurayami
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