Keith Lewis Keith Lewis 2 2 2003-07-14T17:47:00Z 2003-07-14T17:47:00Z 13 7736 44096 367 88 54152 9.2720 6 pt 2 2
Chapter 9B Labyrinth (Part 2)
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
The four walked into the middle of the chamber and looked around. "This is not a golden section problem," said Hermione. "I can see nothing that indicates that."
"So is it 'The Light of the Righteous' rule?" asked Ginny. "There's no light here."
"I really don't know," said Harry as he slowly let out his breath.
The four sat on the floor to think, looking around the chamber seeking inspiration - none came.
After a few unproductive minutes of thinking, the four jerked up their heads at a low moaning sound. It was quiet at first, but then became gradually louder. It was coming from the left-hand tunnel.
They stood up in nervous anticipation and looked at the dark entrance of the tunnel. The grey, shimmering form of a young woman of about twenty-five appeared from the darkness and looked at the four.
She hesitated, and then sat down on the floor, her moans of despair filling the small chamber. She continued to wail pitifully and then Ginny cautiously approached her. "Whatever's wrong?" she asked, looking sorrowfully at the ghost.
The young woman looked up at Ginny's face and said, in a halting pitiful voice, "I am lost in this terrible labyrinth. I became separated from the man I love and I can't find him. He had a map and I know that he's found his way out, but I can't follow. I don't know which way to go."
"How long have you been down here wandering these passages?" asked Ginny.
"For a long time, such a long time," the ghost replied. "Do you know the way out? Can you help me?"
"Wait just a moment. I'll speak to my friends." Ginny walked back to the others. "We've got to help her - she's in such torment. I think we should lead her back to the entrance to the labyrinth."
"But what about our quest!" Ron exclaimed. "We've come so far, we can't turn back now." He looked at Harry and Hermione questioningly.
"We can't leave her like this," said Hermione. "I agree with Ginny. We've got to help. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if we just left her."
"Look, I'll take her back," said Ginny, "and you three go on with the quest."
Harry thought for a moment. "No Ginny, that won't work. How would you get across that raging underground river? No, we'll all have to go back together. We'll just have to come back tomorrow and start again."
Ginny looked gratefully at Harry and then turned and walked back over to the young woman, who had been sniffling pitifully as they spoke.
"My friends and I have agreed to help you. We'll take you back to the entrance of the labyrinth. Come on, come with us." Ginny beckoned to the ghost with her hand and turned to go back up the tunnel.
"Wait," said the ghost. "What about your quest?"
"That can wait - there'll be another day for that."
The young woman then stood up and her demeanour changed. Hers was no longer the pose of a pitifully distressed young woman but of a noble lady, full of confidence. "You are filled with compassion for those less fortunate than yourselves," she said in a loud, purposeful voice. "You have proved that you have within you the light of the righteous. Continue your quest and find the secret." She raised her arm and pointed to the exit tunnel straight ahead. She turned around then, and walked silently back into the left-hand tunnel, leaving the four friends gaping after her.
"It was another test," said Harry, "like the last ghost we met."
"And we've passed with flying colours, so it seems," said Hermione. "Come on - lead on Harry."
Harry led the others into the tunnel, which sloped downwards and bore gently to the right for about sixty yards or so. He called a halt as he spotted something up ahead. "Put out your lights," he said over his shoulder as he extinguished the light from his wand. Darkness enclosed them, but up ahead they could see a very feint light reflecting from the left-hand wall of the tunnel. They moved cautiously forward, their wands still extinguished, and as they rounded the bend they saw the tunnel exit no more than ten yards away. And beyond, the light was much stronger. They walked out into a large, natural cavern, which was bathed in a cacophony of coloured light. They looked with awe at the reds, blues, greens, oranges, lilacs and every hue in between. It was beautiful. They looked up at the walls and ceiling, some thirty feet above, and marvelled as a million pinpricks of light sparkled, bathing the cavern in a breathtaking glow of colour. There were numerous stalagmites and stalactites, each one a beacon of beauty as they glowed with their strange inner light.
"Oh, it's so beautiful," breathed Ginny. "What are those lights?"
Hermione walked over to the rock wall. "They're fluorescent minerals, Ginny," she said. "They give off light when they're stimulated by something - usually ultraviolet radiation. But there's none of that here so deep underground. It may be some sort of chemical or mechanical action - perhaps the rock strata are moving very slowly against each other."
"Whatever it is," said Ginny, "I could watch this for ever. It's amazing."
Ron and Harry, meanwhile, had made a circuit of the cavern and walked back to the spellbound girls. "There're no exit tunnels," said Harry, "but come and look at these." He motioned to the centre of the cave and led the way.
"Look at these pools," said Harry. They looked at the floor of the cavern to see several roughly circular natural rock pools, each about five feet across, filled with clear blue-green water. There were four of them randomly spread around the centre of the cavern.
"Look over there," said Ginny, "there's another one." They walked over to see yet another rock pool, about ten yards out from the centre.
Hermione looked around the cave floor, turning as she moved her gaze from left to right. "There's more of them," she said. They walked around the cave and found another three pools, each one further from the centre than the one before, but scattered around in a seemingly random way.
"What do you think, Hermione?" asked Harry. "Are these pools another part of the puzzle?"
"I don't know, Harry," she replied, still looking around her, trying to fathom some order from apparent disorder. They sat down on the floor and looked at the display of coloured lights, as Hermione lapsed into deep thought. She looked up at Harry with the light of inspiration in her eyes. "I wonder?" she breathed quietly to herself, "Harry. Can you transform to your Animagus eagle and take me up to the ceiling?"
"Uh, yes of course - but what for?"
"I'll tell you that later. Something's just struck me about these pools," she said.
She pulled the rucksack from her back and pulled out a blank piece of parchment and a pencil. "Ready?"
"Are you going to keep your eyes open this time?" asked Ron with a smirk. Hermione glared at him with disdain, but said nothing.
"Ok, Hermione," said Harry, hesitating. "You're not going to choke me this time are you?"
"I'll try not to Harry," she said with mounting impatience.
Harry transformed and Hermione climbed onto his back, clutching the soft feathers at the back of his head. Harry rose majestically and flew around the cavern before rising to its highest point. He flapped his wings slowly as he hovered close to the ceiling.
Hermione tightened her grip with her legs as she gingerly took her hands from Harry's neck. She placed the parchment on top of his head, holding it with her left hand, while she gazed at the floor and started drawing.
"Ok, Harry. I'm finished," she said after about five minutes. Harry glided back to the ground and Hermione jumped down from his back. He immediately transformed and stared at his friend.
"Well?" he said.
"I think I'm onto something," said Hermione as she sat on the floor and spread the parchment out in front of her. She had drawn roughly, the shape of the cavern and, more carefully, the eight rock pools they had found. She studied her drawing for a while and then picked up the pencil once more.
"Look at this," she said as she started drawing. She placed her pencil on the pool at the centre of the drawing, and then started to draw a curve. When she had finished, she had connected all eight pools with the curved line. Then she rummaged in her rucksack and brought out the ruler. She started to measure the distances between the pools in the drawing, along the curved line, and did various calculations on her calculator.
When she had finished, she looked up at the others in triumph. "Yes! Solved."
"Uh - would you mind letting us in on the secret, Hermione?" said Ron looking confused.
"It's a spiral, Ron. Look at the curved line." She looked back up at her friend.
"It looks just like those diagrams of spiral galaxies you see in Astronomy books," commented Harry.
"That's right, Harry. It also looks like the swirls on the shell of a snail. Don't you see? It's the golden section again. Remember what I told you before? It's the most common and powerful geometric force in nature. Each of these pools is a multiple of phi away from each other, radiating from the centre."
"So does that mean that one of these rock pools is the way forward?" asked Ron.
"Yes, of course it does," she replied.
"But which one?" asked Ginny.
"That's easy, Ginny. We go to the starting point, where the spiral starts to grow - the centre of creation. The rock pool at the centre." She pointed to the pool in her drawing.
She then got up and walked over to the pool and looked down. The others quickly followed. "Uh, it looks pretty deep," said Ron as he gazed into the blue-green water. "How do we know how far it goes - will we be able to hold our breath before we come out of it?" He looked at the other three nervously.
Harry sat on the floor beside the pool and started to take off his shoes. "There's only one way to find out. I'll go down first and see where it goes. You three wait here 'till I come back."
Ginny looked frightened and knelt beside her friend. "But Harry, it could be dangerous. You might drown."
"If this is the right pool, I don't think anything bad is going to happen - I should come out the other side fairly quickly, I think."
"But there's no need to take any chances, Harry. Here, tie this around your waist." Ron reached into his rucksack and pulled out a long piece of thin rope. "There's nothing like being prepared," he said.
"What made you bring a rope, Ron?" asked Hermione, a look of respect in her eyes.
"I don't know, really," he replied. "I thought it just might come in handy."
Harry finished taking off most of his clothes, just leaving his shorts, and piled them at the side of the pool. He took the end of Ron's rope and tied it around his waist. "If I tug on the rope three times, pull me back - but quick." He picked up his wand and muttered, "LUMOS."
As he turned to go into the pool, Hermione put her hand on his bare shoulder and Harry looked into her concerned, hazel-brown eyes. She flushed slightly and whispered, "Please Harry - be careful."
Harry grinned and then took a deep breath and jumped, feet first, into the pool. The others watched as he quickly sank out of sight.
Harry opened his eyes and looked around him as he slowly sank further. All he could see was the solid rock wall. He looked down but all he could see was inky blackness, the light from his wand not making much impression in the cold water. There was no sign of the pool levelling out at all. He must have gone down about twenty-five feet before he became aware of the first tendrils of fear forcing their way into his mind. He fought a deep desire to tug on the rope and be pulled to safety. He had a far stronger desire - of wanting to succeed, not to give up.
Another five feet - then his toes touched rock. He looked down to see that the pool walls ended in a flat rock floor. He started to panic - where was the exit? He looked about him frantically, circling in the water. He went through two full revolutions before he saw it. In the light from his wand, he could just make out the shape of a tunnel entrance right in front of him. He reached out with his hand, and felt the cold air as it emerged from the water. He leant forward, pushing with his feet against the floor of the pool, and suddenly emerged into a tunnel. He gasped loudly as he sucked in the sweet air, bending and leaning his arms on his thighs until his breathing returned to normal. He straightened and looked back behind him. He was amazed to see a wall of water, seemingly suspended in front of him, covering the tunnel entrance. He marvelled at the magic that must be in play to keep the water suspended like that - he was even more amazed to find that he was completely dry, even his shorts.
He was literally pulled from his reverie by a sudden tugging at the rope around his waist. He realised that Ron and the girls must be worried, after all they didn't know he could breath now. He tugged on the rope once, and then walked back through the magical entrance and into the pool and rose, without any help from himself, back to the surface. He emerged to see three very worried faces looking at him. He heaved himself back into the cavern and stood up. He felt himself and found, once again, that he was completely dry.
"Where the bloody hell have you been?" asked Ron with panic in his voice. "We thought you'd drowned."
He grinned at his friend. "No, although I did start to get worried at one point." He turned to Hermione, and was startled to see tears in her eyes. "Don't worry, Hermione - you were right. This is the exit. And it's magical, look - I'm dry. It's just like an elevator. You don't have to swim or kick your legs - you just let it take you to the bottom or the top."
As he dressed, he told the others what he had found and what they could expect when they went into the pool. "I'll go first again. But follow, one at a time, straight behind me. I'll direct you to the tunnel entrance when you reach the bottom. Don't forget to take a deep breath first, and don't panic!"
He jumped back into the pool and sank straight to the bottom, where he waited for his friends. First came Ron, and as he sank to the bottom, Harry caught hold of his arm, twisted him around, and gave him a firm push in the back, propelling him in the direction of the tunnel entrance. Ron was quickly followed by Ginny, then Hermione, who both got similar treatment as they were heaved through the water into the tunnel.
Harry joined his three friends and they all sat on the floor and rested while they regained their breath, looking around the tunnel. It was obviously man-made, the rock being scarred by ancient tools, now long gone. It was about seven feet high and five feet wide, and the floor was fairly smooth. It curved down and around to the right, into the blackness beyond.
After a few minutes, they started down the tunnel, which after a short distance straightened out. Harry and Ron led the way, the tunnel being wide enough to allow them to walk two abreast. When they had walked only about fifty yards, they emerged into a narrow, natural cavern, about thirty yards long and eight yards wide. They looked in wonder at the milky-white limestone formations that decorated the sides of the cave, looking like buttresses supporting the rock walls.
They walked into the cavern about half way, and raised their lit wands high to see if there were any exit tunnels. They saw one exit at the far side of the cavern, opposite the one they had just come from, and one on each side, directly opposite where they were standing.
"This is nothing to do with the golden section," said Hermione.
They continued to look about them and then Ron stiffened and looked intently towards the tunnel at the far end of the gallery. "Can you hear that?"
They all strained their ears and could just make out the sound Ron had heard. As they watched, it grew louder. It sounded like something heavy was being dragged along the ground. They stepped slowly back towards the tunnel they had just come down, never taking their eyes from the opposite tunnel entrance.
The sound grew louder, and then they looked in horror as a very large snake, about forty feet in length and twice as thick as a man's body, come slithering towards them. It opened its mouth to show two large incisors protruding from its top lip. Ron, Hermione and Ginny backed away more quickly as the snake approached, but Harry stood his ground.
The three looked on fearfully as the snake approached Harry and opened its mouth. A loud hissing noise accompanied the flicking forked tongue. Harry, of course, understood what the snake was saying.
"Which way do you follow?" asked the snake.
Harry hissed back, "We follow the rule of gold and the light of the righteous."
"What do you seek?" hissed the snake.
"We seek the truth and the secret of Rhedae," answered Harry.
"Who are you?"
"I am the Anima Summa, and the other three are my brave and trusty helpers."
The snake looked at Harry with its beady eyes, appraising him, before hissing, "Your way lies straight ahead - go to the tunnel from whence I just emerged. Take great care - there is danger ahead."
With that, the snake turned to its right, and slithered into the left-hand tunnel.
"What did it say?" asked Ron as the others ran up to Harry.
"It asked me a few questions. And I suppose I gave the right answers, because she told me to take that tunnel at the far side of the cavern."
"She?" asked Ginny.
"Oh yes," he answered, "the voice was definitely female. She also said that there is danger up ahead. We'd better be on our guard from here on."
They walked across the chamber and entered the tunnel, Harry and Ron again to the front. The tunnel was again wide enough to take them two-abreast. They cautiously looked around every twist and turn the tunnel took as they made slow, but steady, progress. After about fifty yards, Harry and Ron both stopped at the entrance to another chamber. Harry turned and gestured to the girls to stay in the tunnel while he and Ron went to investigate. The two boys slowly walked into the chamber, peering around intently. When they were sure that there was no danger present, Ron called for the girls to join them.
They looked around to a see an almost perfectly square chamber, obviously man-made, with four exit tunnels leading from it - one at each corner of the square.
"Hermione - is this another golden section problem?" asked Harry.
"I don't think so, Harry. There's nothing I know concerning phi relating to squares with points at all four corners."
"We'll just have to wait and see what happens. The snake said there was danger - I wonder if there's something dangerous going to come out of those tunnels? Hermione - you and Ginny go back and wait in the tunnel we just came down. We'll stay in the middle."
"But shouldn't we all wait in the tunnel?" said Ginny.
"No," answered Harry. "If there's no one inside the chamber, maybe nothing will happen at all and we'll just wait forever."
Hermione and Ginny retreated to just inside the tunnel and waited, looking at each of the four exit tunnels intently. After fifteen minutes, nothing at all had happened and the four started to get impatient.
"Hermione, Ginny - come back please," called Harry.
"We're getting nowhere fast," he said as they approached. "There's only one thing I can think of - we've got to explore all four tunnels - there's no other way. Ron - you and Hermione take the one in the near left corner. Ginny and I will take the one in the far left. If we don't find anything, we'll check the ones on the right. Check your watches - I make it 3.38 pm. Now whatever happens, we'll meet back here in twenty minutes - not a minute longer. Ok?"
The other three checked their watches and nodded in agreement.
"And be careful - don't take any chances. Run back here and wait if there's the slightest hint of any danger." With that, the four split up and went their separate ways.
Harry and Ginny found themselves in a fairly narrow tunnel, which allowed them to walk only in single file - Harry to the front. The tunnel frequently twisted in different directions and sloped slightly up all the way. The two proceeded with great caution, checking all the while for any fissures in the rock on either side, in case there was something hiding there.
They had been walking only for about four minutes when they heard a faint noise in the distance. They stopped, listening intently, and then heard it again.
"That's Hermione's voice," said Harry with alarm. "They must be in trouble. Come on."
Harry and Ginny ran as fast as they could back down the tunnel and quickly re-entered the square chamber. They ran along the wall and went into the tunnel that Ron and Hermione had gone into five minutes earlier. The sounds of shouting and screaming were now much louder, and they increased their speed but stopped dead when they came to a small cavern, lit with flaming torches in rusty iron holders. The scene before them resembled one of those old fantasy movies - Jason and the Argonaughts came to Harry's mind in a flash.
Ron and Hermione were against the left-hand wall, back to back, trying to fight off about a dozen skeletons. The bony nightmares were brandishing thick clubs, trying to get close enough to clobber the two teens, who were pointing their wands and yelling 'FLIPENDO' with increasing frequency.
The curses were hitting the skeletons, flinging them back and breaking bones, but they would immediately repair themselves - the bones joining back seamlessly - and rejoin the fray.
Ron and Hermione were getting tired and the skeletons were getting closer to them all the while. One got close enough to Ron to swing its club, which just scraped the side of Ron's head. He staggered back, putting his hand to the graze and feeling the warm blood. It was at this point that Ginny and Harry weighed into the fight. Ginny started flinging FLIPENDUS curses from the cavern entrance, while Harry circled slightly to the left, towards his two friends. Harry felt a powerful rage come over him as he saw his friends in such great danger, and this was reflected in the power of his magic.
'FLIPENDO' he raged as he aimed at one of the skeletons that came up to him. The denizen was struck by a powerful bolt of energy and went hurtling to the back wall of the cave, where it splintered into a thousand pieces. It tried, but couldn't manage to reintegrate itself. After a short while, it gave up the struggle and collapsed into a pile of white powder on the floor.
Again and again, Harry sent a skeleton to a crumbly end, and after about five minutes of fighting, twelve piles of white powder littered the floor of the cave.
Hermione rushed over to Harry and flung her arms around his neck. "Thank God you came," she cried, hugging him tightly. "I thought we were finished there."
Harry slowly caught hold of her arms and eased her gently away from him. He looked into her eyes and said softly, "I'm sorry. It was my fault. I nearly got you and Ron killed." He looked miserably at Hermione and Ron.
"But how, Harry?" wailed Hermione. "It wasn't your fault. How could it be?"
"I should never have split us up like that," he said. "Our strength is in our combined powers, and when we split up, our strength was weakened. I should never have done it." He continued to look dejected as Ron and Ginny joined Hermione and placed their hands on his back in support of their friend.
"Come on, let's go back to the cavern," said Ginny. "We need to rest before we check the other tunnels."
The four trooped slowly back and flopped onto the ground. The fight had drained their powers more than they realised and they needed to take time to recuperate.
The four chatted quietly amongst themselves as they rested, and Harry looked at his watch. "It's twenty past four," he said. "What do you think is happening outside? Do you think they've been able to hold off Wormtail for nearly four and half hours? I'm worried about them."
"Don't forget what that voice said, Harry. I'm sure they're all right," said Hermione gently.
Harry sighed and started to get to his feet. "Come on, time to go. Let's try the tunnel Ginny and I went down first - all of us together this time."
As he stood, he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. "What?" he yelled as he turned to his right. The others jumped to their feet and turned in the direction Harry was looking. Above one of the tunnels - the one in the near right corner - was a shining Templar cross - the cross paté glowing with a silvery light.
"The light of the righteous," breathed Hermione. "That fight with the skeletons must have been another test - a test of our strength and bravery - and we're being shown the way now that we've come through it unscathed."
"Are you all up to going on?" asked Harry as he looked at his slightly bedraggled friends.
"Lead on, brave Sir. We shall follow," said Ron in his best theatrical voice.
Harry and Ron led them into the tunnel, which curved first to the right and then sharply to the left, and then continued straight ahead for about forty yards. They slowed as they saw a chamber open up just in front of them. It was faintly illuminated with an eerie green glow. They cautiously walked into the cavern, which was roughly oval in shape and saw that there were a lot of boulders strewn around on the floor. It was about thirty yards long and twenty yards wide, and about twelve feet high.
Hermione and Ginny let out a yell of protest as they bumped into the backs of the two boys. Ginny looked at her brother, who was staring to his right, eyes wide and mouth agape. She followed his gaze and saw what he was looking at. Her hand shot to her mouth to stifle the scream that threatened to emerge.
There was one exit from the cave, off to the right-hand side. The problem was that a very large and hideous creature, which looked like an overgrown scorpion, guarded it. It had a flexible tail, which bent back over its deathly-white body, and ended in a nasty looking stinger, which dripped a greenish coloured liquid.
The creature was facing in their direction, its two huge front pincers opening and closing with sickeningly loud clicks, moving its head from side to side as if searching for something. It made a sudden movement towards them, and they rushed back inside the tunnel from which they had just emerged, eyes wide and panting with fear. The creature was too large to follow them into the tunnel, and after a few moments it turned and went back to guard the exit tunnel.
When they had calmed down a bit, Ron voiced what the others were thinking. "I don't think that's a boggart, so how are we going to get past it? I don't like the look of that stinger one bit!"
"Harry," said Ginny shakily, "why don't you try to stun it or something? Those Flipendus spells you threw at the skeletons were very powerful."
Harry nodded and crept slowly to the cave entrance and saw that the monster was back guarding the exit. He took a deep breath and stepped purposefully into the cave, aiming his wand at the creature's head.
"STUPEFY," he shouted. A powerful red beam of energy left his wand and hit the creature squarely on the head. The creature shook its head and then turned in Harry's direction, ready to charge. Harry's eyes went wide as he saw that the spell had no effect, and rushed quickly back into the tunnel just before the monster reached him.
"It didn't work," he said to the others. "It just bounced off. That thing must be one powerful beast!"
"Perhaps you didn't use your full power, Harry," said Ron.
"I gave it everything I had, Ron. No, I think we've got to use something other than brute force to get past it."
"But what?" asked Ginny.
"I think we've got to use our heads, Ginny," said Hermione. "We're going to have to use a bit of guile to get through this one."
Harry nodded and looked thoughtfully at his friends. "Up to now, the monsters we've encountered have had some sort of weakness. We've just got to find out what this thing's weak point is and exploit it."
"What do you suggest we do, Harry?" asked Hermione nervously.
"I don't know. Look, I'll inch slowly into the back of the tunnel - but not so far that I'll get trapped - and you three keep an eye on it and see if you can spot anything."
"Oh, be careful, Harry. That thing looks deadly to me", said Ginny fearfully.
Harry slowly edged to the tunnel entrance and peeked cautiously around the right-hand corner. He looked back and called the other three when he saw that the scorpion was back at the exit tunnel, about fifteen yards away. He slowly and quietly stepped over to the left-hand corner of the entrance and started to tip toe around the back wall of the cave. Ron, Hermione and Ginny took his place at the right-hand side and looked intently and unblinking at the monster.
Harry kept his eye on the creature as he slowly edged his way along the back wall. The creature, meanwhile, started moving its head from side to side, as before, as if it were trying to detect a target with some sort of internal radar. Apart from that, it made no movement from its position in front of the exit tunnel
Harry had gone about four yards around the back wall before something happened. He was so intent on keeping a close watch on the creature that he didn't spot the small rock in front of him. With a loud crash, his left foot hit the rock and he tumbled forward, just saving himself from falling by bracing his hands against the rock wall.
The creature's head snapped up and it charged - straight at Harry. Hermione let out a cry of warning and the scorpion hesitated, stopped in its charge, and turned its head towards Hermione. The hesitation was all that Harry needed. He turned and rushed back towards the other three. The monster was quick - very quick. It raced after Harry, its stinger hovering above its head, primed to strike.
As it closed on him, Harry made a desperate dive and flung himself into the tunnel, just as the stinger crashed down with awesome power just behind his right foot.
His friends helped Harry to his feet, and he dusted himself off. "Phew!" he breathed. "That was too close for comfort. That thing's as fast as lightening."
He looked expectantly at the others. "Well - did you spot anything?"
"Yes," said Ginny. "Did you notice that it didn't attack until you tripped over that rock - and it stopped and turned when Hermione yelled? I think its blind and it detects its prey by the sound it makes."
The others looked at Ginny, and then at each other. "It makes sense," said Ron. "Hang on a minute - I'll take a closer look."
Ron slowly walked to the entrance to the cave and peeked around the corner - he saw that the creature was back in its guarding position at the exit tunnel, moving its head from side to side in the now familiar way. Ron looked closely at it for about a minute and then went back to the others. "Ginny's right. I got a close look at its head - it hasn't got any eyes. It's blind, all right."
"So we've found its weak spot," said Hermione, "but how are we going to use it? It makes up for its lack of sight with keen hearing and blistering speed."
After a few moments, Harry looked at his friends. "I think I've found a way - I'll tip toe around the back of the cave, keeping my eye on the ground, this time, so I won't trip over anything. You three move very quietly towards the exit tunnel, but not so far that you can't get back if anything goes wrong. When I get to the far end, I'll make a noise and draw it away. When it attacks, you three move quietly and go down the exit tunnel. When you're all inside, make a noise to distract it away from me."
"That's fine Harry," said Ron, "except for one big flaw. We'll be in the tunnel and you'll still be stuck outside with no way to follow us."
"I've thought of that, Ron. I'll creep back to the entrance tunnel and throw a rock to the far side of the cave. When it charges over, I'll make a dash for the exit."
"So why don't we do that now, Harry?" asked Hermione. "There's no need for you to risk going over to the far end of the cave."
"Uh - I hadn't thought of that." Harry looked embarrassed as he stared at Hermione, but then bent down, rummaged around on the floor, and picked up a rock about the size of a cricket ball. "Ready?" He walked to the tunnel entrance, followed by the others, and then flung the rock at the far corner.
They all tensed themselves, ready to make a dash for it, as the rock sailed through the air and hit the far wall with a resounding crash. They looked at the creature, waiting for it to race over to the sound. It jerked up its head - but made no move.
"What!" exclaimed Ginny.
"I think it must be able to tell the difference between the sound of its prey and the falling of a rock," said Hermione. "It makes sense, really. There must be a lot of small rock falls in this cave - look at how the floor is littered - so it's learned to tell the difference in the sounds."
"That's great!" groaned Ron. "What do we do now?"
"We stick with my original plan," said Harry with determination.
"No Harry, you can't!" exclaimed Hermione in disbelief. "You'll be stuck here, and there's no point in us three going on without you - you're the Anima Summa!"
"I'll find a way - I'll think of something. Look on the bright side - at least we'll be three-quarters of the way there."
"Harry!" she said, her voice full of exasperation. She looked at the others for support but they just shrugged their shoulders.
"If Harry's made up his mind," said Ron, "you should know that there's nothing that will stop him. And I can't think of any way to get past that thing - can you two?"
The two girls shook their heads glumly.
"We'll wait for you just inside the exit tunnel," Ron said to Harry. "Just shout if you want us to do anything to help. We won't go on without you."
Hermione and Ginny both hugged Harry as he made to go towards the cavern entrance. He nodded at them both, and then crept slowly into the cave, keeping his eyes firmly peeled on the ground in front of him. In a few minutes he had reached the far left-hand end. He waved to his friends and motioned for them to start to edge towards the exit tunnel.
He waited until they were within about 10 yards of their goal and then waved and motioned for them to stop. He stamped his feet and started shouting. "Hey! Over here - come and get me."
The creature jerked his head in Harry's direction and rushed towards him, its pincers held high and snapping in anticipation of the kill. When it arrived, it struck - the stinger was a blur as it plunged down and - buried itself in the soft floor of the cave. Harry was no longer in that spot. As soon as he'd finished making a noise he'd silently edged away and was now standing about three yards away from the monster - standing stock still against the rock wall.
The creature jerked its stinger out of the floor and again moved its head from side to side in confusion, trying to detect where the target was. Harry was afraid even to breath. He concentrated on holding his breath and not moving a muscle. He looked at the hideous form, so close to his left-hand side, willing it to move away. Then he heard a commotion over by the exit tunnel. He moved his eyes to the right and saw Ron stamping on the ground and yelling, "Come on you ugly bugger - we're over here!"
The scorpion jerked around, its hind part just missing Harry, and sped off with frightening speed towards Ron, who dashed back inside the exit tunnel to join the two girls. Harry let out the breath he'd been holding and relaxed his muscles - the plan had worked, and his friends were safely inside the tunnel.
By this time, the scorpion had once more taken up its familiar pose, guarding the exit. Harry thought about what he could do. He slowly and quietly edged back the few yards to the place he'd been standing when he'd attracted the creature towards him. He looked about him and up at the ceiling, just six feet above his head. His jaw set with grim determination - then he silently transformed into his Animagus form.
He looked at the creature with his keen eagle eyes, steeled himself, and then started stomping on the floor and screeching loudly. The scorpion charged. When it was just five yards away, the eagle pushed powerfully with his legs and glided silently to the right. Harry was careful not to flap his wings for fear of drawing the creature towards him. He then veered to the left and floated quietly towards the exit and landed just outside.
He looked back over his wings, now folded, and saw that the monster had heard his claws land on the floor and was charging back towards him, just fifteen yards away. Harry just had time to transform back and dive into the exit tunnel. He was lucky that his legs were spread as he dived. As his friends caught hold of his arms and hauled him inside the tunnel, the stinger crashed down between his legs. The creature reached out its right pincer and made a grab for Harry's foot - but the vice-like claw closed on empty space - Harry had been pulled just out of its reach.
He looked gratefully at the three as the adrenalin flow started to ease. He was breathing rapidly and his face was red from the excitement of it all.
"Am I ever glad to see you three," he breathed as he was hauled to his feet and grabbed with great relief by his three friends.
With a last look back at the hideous creature at the tunnel exit, the four quickly continued on their way, this time with Ron and Hermione in the lead, and Harry, with Ginny holding under his arm, bringing up the rear. They walked for fifty yards or so before the tunnel bent sharply to the left.
Harry looked at Ginny as she stopped. "What are you doing, Ginny?"
"I'm mapping this turn on the parchment, Harry. Haven't you noticed me doing it before? I've been drawing our progress from the time we left the church. I've been pacing out the lengths of these tunnels, and judging the angles of the twists and turns, trying to draw a fairly accurate map of the labyrinth."
"Sorry, Ginny. I've been up front till now so I hadn't noticed."
She finished drawing on the parchment and grabbed Harry's arm as they followed Ron and Hermione. Harry looked and could see Ginny silently moving her lips as she counted the steps she was taking. After another fifty yards, Ron and Hermione stopped. "There's another cavern just ahead," Ron whispered over his shoulder, "Stay here - I'll go and see if there's any nasty surprises in there."
After a few moments, Ron called back, "It seems to be empty, and I can't see any monsters or anything."
The others sighed with relief and followed Ron into the cavern. They raised their lit wands and looked around them.
"They're up to something. It's too quiet." Remus called over to where Sirius was taking cover just inside the Calvery.
"Yes, you're right. They haven't sent any curses for at least five minutes," he answered. "Charlie, Ceri, Nadine - keep your eyes peeled. Something's going on out there."
They all looked in the direction from where the last curses had been flung, but could see nothing. "Do you think they've given up?" Nadine said to Ceri.
"No way, Nadine. They've got too much to lose to give up - like their lives. 'You Know Who' isn't a very forgiving person. No - they're up to something all right."
They continued to survey their surroundings, trying to detect a sound, a movement, a disturbed blade of grass, anything that would give them a clue concerning the strategy of their opponents. They could detect nothing.
His heightened state of alertness lent Remus a sixth sense. He didn't hear anything and didn't see anything. He just felt a prickling at the back of his neck.
He moved quickly to his left - and that saved him from serious injury, or even death. As he turned, he spotted Wormtail about thirty yards away - and the ball of energy that he'd sent hurtling at his exposed back. It caught Remus on his upper right arm and flung him into the stone monument behind which he'd been sheltering. He let out a groan as the pain laced through his right arm, and his wand dropped from his stiffened fingers.
Wormtail had earlier transformed to his rat Animagus and run silently behind the church to come up behind the defenders. He'd transformed back to see Remus Lupin's back exposed to his gaze. He couldn't believe that his target had managed to avoid the full brunt of the Flipendus curse, which he'd aimed at his exposed spine, but he grinned evilly as he saw that Remus was now at his mercy.
He pointed his wand squarely at Remus' chest and took careful aim. He started to utter the killing curse when he was thrown to the floor as a hastily-aimed spell from Sirius' wand exploded just in front of him, sending clodges of earth into his stomach. Wormtail immediately returned to his rat form and ran quickly behind the church.
The activity signalled the start of a furious bout of curses from the other Death Eaters, who had used Wormtail's distraction to change their positions. Charlie was forced to move from his now vulnerable hiding place, and he run frantically towards Remus, just avoiding the curses that followed his progress.
He dived behind Remus' cover and looked at the ashen face of the DADA professor as he clutched his right arm. "Where are you hit, Remus. Are you ok?"
Remus groaned through the pain, "I think my arm's broken. I was lucky it wasn't more serious."
In response to Sirius' urgent calls, Charlie told him Remus' situation, and that he wasn't badly hurt. Sirius grunted with relief as he flung yet another spell at the Death Eaters. "Charlie - see if you can get behind the church. I saw Wormtail's rat run there after his attack."
Charlie dashed to the side of the church, and eased his way around the corner to try to find Wormtail. There was no movement at all. Wormtail had escaped back to his bunch of thugs.
Charlie returned to Remus' side, and asked, "Can you fight on, Remus?"
"Yes, I can use my left arm - I won't be very accurate or powerful but at least I can make a nuisance of myself as far as the Death Eaters are concerned. You go and find a better spot - I'm ok here."
Charlie looked around and saw a good place just this side of the Calvery - behind an old horse-mounting stone. He dashed over during a lull in the firing and settled down behind it.
It was another natural cave, roughly circular, about thirty yards across and twenty feet high. They examined the walls, ceiling and floor but could find no exit tunnels at all. The only light in the cavern came from their wands. Apart from a few stalagmites jutting up from the ground, the cavern was otherwise featureless - just bare rock walls all around, immovable and challenging in their starkness.
"Do you think we've taken a wrong turn back there somewhere?" asked a dejected Ron.
"I don't think so," said Hermione. "Why would that scorpion be guarding the last exit if there was nothing to protect? No - I'm sure we've come the right way."
"Hey - perhaps this is the place," said Ginny suddenly. "The end of our quest - and we've just got to wait for something to happen."
"Well," said Ron, "If we've got to wait, I'm going to wait in comfort. Let's finish our food - I'm starving!"
"Again!" Hermione exclaimed with disbelief. She looked at her watch. "Oh, it's five o'clock - I didn't think it was that late."
"See Hermione," he said. "We haven't eaten for ages." With that he flopped down on the ground and started to take out the remaining food parcels from his rucksack. He was soon joined by the others. Despite her earlier incredulity, even Hermione felt hunger pangs once she started to think about the food that was left. And after all, it was teatime!
"Any more pizza left?" mouthed Ron through a great chunk of Cornish pasty.
"No Ron," answered Ginny. "You polished it all off the last time we stopped for food. Don't you remember?"
"Oh yeh - just checking in case you held some back."
After they finished all the food, Hermione heated the remaining two flasks and poured them all a hot cup of tea. They all felt a lot better after that - they were now ready to resume their journey. They all stood and again looked about the cavern. "We must have missed something," said Harry. "Let's spread out and examine the walls more closely - there's got to be an exit somewhere."
They each picked a section of the cave to explore and slowly walked around the walls, stopping from time to time to examine even the smallest flaw in the rock. After ten minutes, they gave up. "There's nothing here," groaned Harry. "What're we going to do now? I don't fancy going back to face that scorpion again!"
"All we can do is wait, Harry," said Hermione. "Something will turn up I'm sure."
They all sat back down on the ground and waited, looking around the cavern for any sign. They waited for another fifteen minutes, and then, high up on the wall, they spotted movement.
"Look," shouted Hermione, "do you see that?"
High up on the wall, just beneath the ceiling, they saw 7 circular lights dancing slowly around each other. There was no sound, just the slow movement of the seven lights.
"It must be something to do with the light of the righteous," said Hermione. "But the last time we saw that it was a silvery-white colour. None of those lights are silvery or white. See if you can detect any pattern in their movement."
After a little while it was evident that the movement of the lights was completely random.
Suddenly, Ginny slapped her thigh in recognition. "Of course - look, it's a rainbow. It's the seven colours of the rainbow - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. What do you think it means?"
The three looked at Hermione, hoping for some answer. She studied the lights again for a moment and then brightened. "Yes. I think I've got it!" She turned to her friends and started to explain her idea.
"Think of the sunlight shining through a prism - it disperses the white light into the seven colours of the rainbow. The sun is the source - the white light - and we've got to find the source of these rainbow lights. It's got to be the light of the righteous."
She looked at the others, who nodded their agreement with her assessment of the situation.
"I think we've all got to do this together - at the same time. We've all got to be involved in finding the source. Point your wands at the lights, and when I nod, say the incantation 'Ostendo Origo.' Ok?"
"Where did you get that one from Hermione?" Asked Ron.
"It means 'Show the source.' I read it in that book you bought me for my last birthday. Ready everybody?"
She looked to see that they were all looking at her, and pointing their wands at the moving lights. She nodded her head.
'OSTENDO ORIGO' they all shouted at the same time. They watched in fascination as four silvery blue lights sped towards the top of the wall. As they neared the lights, they merged into a single, powerful beam of energy and then struck dead centre - in the middle of the seven lights.
They waited in anticipation as the lights immediately stopped moving. They then started to move again, but this time in towards each other - to the spot where the spell had just struck the wall. The seven lights merged into one - and a silvery-white light shone brilliantly. It then slowly moved across the top of the wall to their right, and then down. It stopped about five feet above the ground, immediately to their right.
"Come on," Harry said to the others. He walked up to the waiting light, held his wand against it and uttered, "ALOHOMORA."
He stood back as the silvery light intensified, then started to get smaller and smaller until it was just an intense spot on the wall in front of them. Then it disappeared all together, and in its place, a small hole appeared. It became larger and larger until an exit tunnel was revealed.
Harry looked at his companions and then stepped into the tunnel. The others quickly followed, holding their wands above their heads to show the way. Ron moved up and walked alongside Harry.
After a short while, the tunnel curved sharply to the left, and then straightened. It meandered along for about 150 yards before curving sharply to the right again. They stopped and saw that it gently bent around further to the right.
"I don't believe this," gasped Ginny. She had just finished mapping the latest leg of the tunnel.
"What?" asked Ron.
"We're nearly back to the place we started. Much deeper than that, but I estimate that if we continue to move to the right, we'll be underneath the church again in about a hundred yards."
"Are you sure, Ginny?" asked Harry.
"Well, I tried to be as accurate as I could, and I'm probably out a bit. But we're not far from the church - deep under the church."
They looked at each other dubiously, and then continued down the tunnel. Harry called a halt when he detected a faint yellowish light coming from somewhere up ahead. "Kill your lights," he whispered.
The yellow light was slightly brighter when their wands were extinguished.
"I think I recognise this place," said Harry suddenly. "It's very similar to the tunnel I was in when I had those dreams."
The others looked at him hopefully. "Perhaps we're getting close to the secret," said Ginny.
They walked slowly forward, the glow getting slightly brighter with each step, and then they suddenly emerged into an irregularly shaped cavern.
They looked around and immediately saw the source of the yellow light - six ancient-looking torches were perched in their holders around the rock walls. The torches were not lit with any natural fire - it was definitely magical. The eerie yellow glow seemed to soak into the rock and the walls themselves added to the glow.
They all jumped at the sound of a loud, challenging voice coming from the far end of the cavern, over to the right.
"STAY. HOLD STILL. DO NOT MOVE."
They looked and saw an amazing sight. Harry gasped, "It's the one in my dream - the one that's been calling to me."
In the yellowish gloom, they saw a tall, very old man dressed in the uniform of a Knight Templar. His large and lethal-looking sword was raised above his head. He slowly approached, and they inched backwards, back towards the tunnel. He stopped about ten yards from them, and said in a strong, authoritative voice, "WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU SEEK."
Harry stepped forward and replied, "Lord Knight, greetings. I am the Anima Summa that you have summoned, and these are my 3 brave and trusty helpers. We seek the truth and the secret to aid us in our task against the Dark Forces."
He looked at the knight as he waited, hoping that he'd said the right things.
The knight looked at Harry, and then beyond him at his three friends, appraising them with a practiced eye. He lowered his sword to his side and then spoke once more, "YES. I SEE THAT YOU ARE WHOM YOU SAY. WELCOME. I HAVE WAITED LONG. BUT I DID NOT EXPECT ONES SO YOUNG. FOR SUCH A TENDER AGE YOU MUST INDEED BE BRAVE TO HAVE COME SO FAR THROUGH THE LABYRINTH."
He then seemed to pull himself taller, and raised his head slightly. "I AM THE SPIRIT OF JACQUES DE MOLAY - THE LAST GRAND MASTER OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR - THE DEFENDERS OF THE SECRET OF RHEDAE. IT HAS BEEN MY TASK, FOR THE LAST EIGHT HUNDRED YEARS, TO GUARD THE SECRET OF RHEDAE. BUT I WAS ALSO GIVEN ANOTHER TASK ALL THOSE YEARS AGO. I WAS AWAKENED FROM MY SLUMBER OF VIGIL BY A GREAT EVIL - AN EVIL THAT THREATENS THE PEACE OF THE WORLD. IT IS MY DUTY TO SUMMON THE ONE WHO CAN DISPELL THIS EVIL - THE ANIMA SUMMA. AND SO YOU HAVE COME. MY TASK IS NOW DONE AND I CAN YET AGAIN SLUMBER. BUT YOU CANNOT. YOU ARE JUST BEGINNING YOUR JOURNEY."
He paused, and then continued, "YOU ARE ABOUT TO WITNESS THE SECRET OF RHEDAE."
He walked back over to the wall and raised his sword once more. He placed it against the rock and uttered something in an unfamiliar language. The rock seemed to shrink away from the tip of the sword, and then parted to reveal a long corridor. It stretched ahead darkly, beyond the vision of the four friends who had walked up alongside the knight.
The knight gestured with his sword. "COME. GO TO THE CHAMBER AND WITNESS THE SECRET OF RHEDAE."
He stood to one side as first Harry, and then the other three, entered the corridor and walked slowly into the darkness.
Author's Notes (2) : Don't forget to review - I really do need to know what you think about this fic, even if it's only a one-worder (from rubbish to brilliant and all points in between). Grateful thanks to those who have reviewed so far - it's appreciated, especially informed criticism - it's the best way for a writer to improve.
Here's a link to my photo album with 3 images that are relevant to this chapter - Feel free to have a look at them, and in return please tell me what you think about this fic. The images show :
- Ginny's map of the labyrinth
- Inside the church
- The Jesus window, which cast 3 on the 4th.