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Anima Summa Book 2 - As Above So Below by Anima Summa

Anima Summa Book 2 - As Above So Below

Anima Summa

Chapter 13

A Prediction Realised

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.

Harry and Hermione led Ron and Ginny through the gate into the fifth hour of the Duat - the realm of Sokar. It closed loudly behind them. They stood with mouths agape when they saw what lay before them. They stood on a rocky floor that sloped down towards two large stone sphinx-like statues, each about eight feet high. The place was dark, but they could clearly see the extent of the realm in the red flames that shot up from a fiery abyss that stretched from the stone statues right to the far side, where they could see the sixth gate in the distance. The place was completely enclosed by rocky walls that rose from the edge of the flames to the ceiling, and just below where they stood and the gate on the far side was a narrow rocky bridge, the two statues guarding it, that twisted and turned as it wound its way above the fires.

"I don't like this," squeaked Ginny, clutching Ron's arm as she looked at the narrow path across the flames.

"Stay close to me Ginny," he said gently. "I'll make sure you won't fall."

"We'll have to cross in single file," said Harry. "I'll go first, you behind me Hermione, then Ginny and Ron can bring up the rear. Ok?"

They all nodded and started down towards the bridge and the two statues. They stopped and looked in horror when the statues started to move. The heads of the sphinxes, each a hideous demon gargoyle sitting atop a lion's body, turned and looked in their direction and roared loudly.

"Bloody hell!" exclaimed Ron. "How're we going to get past those?"

The sphinxes didn't move from their stone bases; they were clearly anchored to the rock at the entrance of the stone bridge, but their heads could easily reach anyone who ventured across their path.

"Any ideas Hermione?" asked Harry, hopefully.

She shook her head slowly. "Sorry Harry, none."

"Could you fly us over them one at a time and land beyond their reach?" asked Ginny.

Harry looked at the flames churning into the air and the narrow band of rock that was the bridge. He shook his head. "I don't think I'll be able to fly in all that turbulence, and even if I could, I don't think that bridge is wide enough to land safely."

"So what do we do?" asked Ron. "What about your protective shield?"

Hermione shook her head. "Although we'll be protected by the shield, they might still be able to push us, shield and all, into those flames."

"Try to stun them Harry," said Ginny.

Harry looked doubtfully at the sphinxes. "They're made of stone, Ginny, but I'll try."

He raised his wand and sent a powerful stunning spell at the statue on the left, but it didn't seem to affect it in any way, it just roared even more loudly. Harry shrugged his shoulders in defeat.

Hermione looked up at the others suddenly, her eyes alight. Then she frowned, shook her head, and looked back down at the ground. "What!" exclaimed Harry. "You've thought of something, haven't you Hermione?"

"Yes," she whispered, "but it's too dangerous."

"Tell us Hermione," said Ron. "Then we'll decide if it's too dangerous."

Hermione pursed her lips, then whispered, "We could try to Zapparate past them."

Harry blinked. "What's the rest of it Hermione; what about Ron and Ginny?"

"That's where the risk comes in," she replied. "If we walk up to those statues and they strike at us, we'll have all the urgency we'll need to Zapparate away from there. Ron and Ginny can hold on to us, but we don't know if they'll Zapparate with us."

It was Harry's turn to frown. "You're right - it's far too risky to try that."

Ron looked at Ginny then at his two friends. "There's no other way around them is there! Ginny and I are willing to give it a go."

"Ron, if it doesn't work you'll both be killed. I'm not going to risk it," said Harry with determination.

Ginny reached out and held his hand. "Ron's right. It's the only chance we've got to get past, and since it affects us two more than you the decision's ours. We haven't got any other choice."

Harry looked pleadingly at Hermione, who held her head in her hands, wracking her formidable brain for another solution to the problem. "I can't think of any other way Harry. We've go to try it."

"We won't get a second go at it if it fails," said Harry looking forlornly at the two redheads.

"Come on," said Ron moving slowly towards the two roaring sphinxes. "We've got to try."

"All right!" exclaimed Harry. "Look, there's a loose stone about fifteen yards along the bridge, well out of reach of those two things. We'll aim to Zapparate to it, Hermione, but we'll have to be careful not to slip over the edge of the bridge when we materialise. We'll all have to stand very close together and Hermi and I'll have to hold our ring hands. So I'll go in front with Hermione behind me. You, Ron, stand in between us and hold my free hand and you, Ginny, stand behind Hermione holding her other hand. Come on, let's get into position and walk down to the statues."

They walked slowly towards the two sphinxes who roared even more loudly in anticipation as the four drew near. Harry reached out to Hermione with his thoughts, 'We'll have to do this very quickly, before they can touch us. We'll have to start to concentrate before we get to them. Ready?'

Harry stopped just out of reach of the lunging sphinxes and waited to give the word to the others for the dash into danger. He watched the sphinxes very carefully, seeing that they reared up after each lunge of their monstrous heads, giving them about a two second leeway before the next strike. He waited until both the sphinxes reared up and then shouted, "Now!"

They ran quickly between the two statues, Harry and Hermione closing their eyes in concentration and Ron and Ginny fearfully watching the sphinxes start to strike at them. They struck down wickedly, opening their stone jaws wide and closing them over the space where the four had stood only a second before.

They all breathed a sigh of relief as they looked back at the confused sphinxes from their precarious perch on the stone bridge about fifteen yards away. "Well now we know it works!" exclaimed Ron.

Hermione shuddered. "That was terrible! I can't help thinking what would have happened if it hadn't worked."

"Don't worry Hermione," said Ginny, stroking her friend's back. "It did work and we're all safe."

The two sentinels had now returned to their original inanimate pose, looking towards the fifth gate in their tireless stony gaze. Harry turned and surveyed the narrow rock bridge before him, bathed in the eerie red light of the fiery hell below. "Come on, we'll take it slowly - stay close behind me Hermione."

They took their first faltering steps. Ron, who brought up the rear, held onto Ginny's arm, who likewise held onto Hermione's. They could all now feel the heat rising from below and they frequently had to duck down close to the path to avoid the tongues of flame that shot up into the air around them. They had gone about half way across before Harry suddenly stopped, reaching behind to clutch Hermione's hand.

"Hells' bells!" he exclaimed, gazing at the impossible apparition that rose into the air in front of them, effectively blocking their path. Hermione squeezed his hand tightly and whispered, "It's Sokar!"

The apparition rose higher above them, gazing at the four with a disdainful expression on his demonic, but human, face. Two huge wings, sprouting from the top part of his serpent's body, beat slowly in the flame-filled air. He laughed cruelly, the sound reverberating around the chamber from the high rock walls. "WHO DARES TO ENTER THE REALM OF SOKAR? THIS IS NOT A PLACE FOR MORTALS, BUT YOU CAN BE SURE THAT YOU WILL NOT REMAIN MORTAL FOR MUCH LONGER. YOU WERE FORTUNATE TO EVADE MY SERVANTS IN THE LAST HOUR OF THE DUAT, BUT YOU WILL NOT EVADE ME HERE!"

Harry gazed up at Sokar, forcing himself to speak with a purpose and authority that he certainly didn't feel. "We are the Anima Summas and their helpers. Let us pass!"

Sokar raised his head and roared with laughter, then his expression changed and he floated closer until his huge head was no more than ten yards away. "NO ONE TELLS SOKAR WHAT TO DO IN THIS REALM! BY WHAT AUTHORITY DO YOU PRESUME TO INVADE THIS PLACE?"

Hermione sent her thoughts to Harry, 'Use the Eye.'

Harry reached into his robes and pulled out the Eye, holding it up to the nightmare in front of him. "Our authority comes from Horus, and this is his Eye. Let us pass!"

Sokar flew up and spread his wings, beating them powerfully, his serpent body thrashing around below them, sending gusts of heated air over the teens. He roared loudly and leaned forward, preparing to sweep the four into the fiery abyss. Then the crystal at the centre of the Eye grew bright, covering the four friends in a silvery radiance.

Sokar raced down towards them and swept his right wing across the rocky bridge as he drew near, intending to sweep them off into the fires below. He roared once more, this time in frustration, as his wing hit the radiance and bent backwards, slewing him around to the side. Ron gulped loudly as he held tightly onto the cringing Ginny. "Come on - let's get moving."

Harry led the way as quickly as he could across the bridge, all the while holding the eye up above him. Sokar continued to rage above, swooping down repeatedly but failing to dislodge them. They arrived at the sixth gate, perched at the end of the narrow bridge, still covered by the protective radiance of the Eye of Horus.

Harry turned to Hermione. "What do we do now? I've got to put the Eye in the gate - will it still protect us?"

Hermione looked up at Sokar still hovering above them. "We haven't got any choice Harry. We won't get through unless you do that - we'll just have to hope that it'll keep Sokar at bay."

Harry slowly lowered the Eye and placed it in the depression in the gate. They were all relieved to see that the crystal still glowed, covering them with its radiance. Harry and Hermione quickly said the spell and the gate swung open, the Eye floating back to Harry. The four dashed through and the gate slammed shut on the fiery realm of Sokar.


It was strangely quiet in the canyon and the defending Aurors felt very uneasy. They knew that the Death Eaters were still hidden among the rocks around the bend in the canyon because of the yellow glow that illuminated the rock walls behind them.

"What are they waiting for?" whispered Katie. Oliver shook his head slowly and continued to keep a steady eye on the Death Eater positions. Dave, meanwhile, watched the other end of the canyon, waiting for the attack that would inevitable come from that quarter quite soon.

Then, as if waiting for a prearranged signal, the Death Eaters at the bend to their left opened up once more, firing curses in quick succession at the three teams of Aurors opposite the cave and at the two teams defending the far end. The sky was lit up even more as a hundred Death Eaters charged around the far end of the canyon, firing curses primarily at the two teams closest to them. They quickly found cover among the many rocks scattered around the cliff walls on both sides and continued to pour curses at the thirty or so Aurors defending that area.

Dave directed one team, now of only fourteen Aurors, to aim their fire in support of their badly outnumbered colleagues to the right, while he and the remaining Aurors tried to prevent the enemy to their left from making any further progress towards their position.

Dave groaned with frustration when he saw three Aurors fall from the cave to the rocky floor below, hit by curses sent by the newly arrived Death Eaters. The Aurors knew that they were badly outnumbered and their position was quickly becoming hopeless, but they fought on bravely, knowing what the consequences of failure would be.


"He was a nasty bugger!" exclaimed Ron as he stood just inside the sixth hour of the Duat. The crystal at the centre of the Eye had lost its brilliant radiance soon after the gate leading out of Sokar's realm had slammed shut.

Now they stood in complete darkness, and they raised and illuminated their wands to try to see what faced them in the sixth hour of the Duat, but the light didn't seem to penetrate very far. They looked down to see a rough, gravely floor that stretched to the limit of their vision, which was only about ten yards. The temperature was quite mild, in stark contrast to the heat of Sokar's realm, and there was no hint of any breeze.

They walked over to a flat rock just to their left and sat down, glad to take the weight off their weary feet. "What now?" asked Ginny. "I don't fancy walking out there until I can see what's in front of us."

"Let's just sit here for a while," Hermione answered. "We could do with a breather. Perhaps we might be able to see a bit more when our eyes get accustomed to the darkness."

"I hope so," said Ron, scrutinising the ground around where he sat, checking that there were no monsters of the eight-legged variety crawling around.

"There's something over there!" whispered Harry, pointing out into the darkness where he'd just seen a very dim glow. They all looked intently in the direction where he pointed, but all they could see was utter blackness.

"It is not usual for mortals to come to this place."

They all jumped and stood up at the sound of the voice that came from their right. Slowly, a figure emerged from the gloom and stood about five yards in front of them, his eyes shining in the light from their wands. He was quite old, dressed in a long white cloak, his white hair falling around his shoulders. His face was dark, revealing his Egyptian ancestry, and he grinned wryly at the nervousness of the young people before him.

"This is the sixth hour - half way through the night and the darkest part of the Duat. What brings you so far into the netherworld?" he asked.

"We are on a quest in search of the great wisdom of Thoth," said Harry. "We have been guided here by the Light."

"You must be the Anima Summas and their helpers," he raised his arm and pointed at them. "You have a great and terrible responsibility, one in which you must not fail."

"Wh… who are you?" asked Hermione.

"I am the spirit of the sixth realm. It is my duty to council the souls of the dead and guide them across to the seventh gate."

"Can you guide us across?" asked Ron.

"Your souls have not yet been parted from your Earthly existence," he replied, "so I cannot give you council, or guide you across this place. You must find your own way, and I wish you well."

"But can't you help us at all?" asked Ginny, staring wide-eyed at the spirit.

The spirit grinned sadly. "All I can do is give you a choice of paths." He raised his right arm and pointed out into the darkness. Slowly, a faint light sprung from the rocky ceiling high above, giving a light similar to that given by a moonless, but starry, night sky. "One path leads to renewal of the soul and the other to eternal darkness."

They could now see two rough paths stretching out into the gloom, one wound to the left of a central mass of rock and the other to the right.

"Choose wisely, children of the Light, for much depends on your efforts in the Duat."

The spirit slowly stepped back into the gloom and was soon lost to sight. "Wait…" shouted Harry, but the spirit had gone.

The four walked onto the path up to the place where it diverged to the left and right, and stood looking in both directions. "How the hell are we supposed to know which is the right path to take!" exclaimed Ron, slapping his leg in frustration.

"Come on Hermione," said Ginny. "You're good at things like this. What do you think?"

Hermione looked at her friend, frowning in consternation. "He didn't give us much to go on did he? What did he say - one path leads to renewal of the soul and the other to eternal darkness, and he asked us to choose wisely."

"What if we walk down each path in turn for a short distance and see if one is lighter up ahead than the other?" asked Ron.

"I don't think so Ron," said Hermione. "It's got to be a bit more subtle than that. He said to choose wisely, so that's telling me that there's something around here that'll tip the balance in favour of one of the paths. But what is it?"

They all shook their heads then Ginny shouted, "Harry! What if you fly up ahead and see where each one leads?"

"No, Ginny," said Hermione quickly. "I get the feeling that once we choose a path, we'll have to stick to it - there'll be no going back. We've got to work it out before we take one step, or one wing beat."

"Well I don't know about you lot," said Ron, "but I think a lot better on a full stomach. Let's go back to that rock and eat a few of our sandwiches while we work it out."

"It wouldn't be a problem you can work out with that golden thingy, would it Hermione?" asked Ron as he munched on a Cheddar cheese sandwich.

"The Golden Section?" asked Hermione rhetorically, thinking hard. "I can't see how. The paths wind around to either side of that central rocky mountain in exactly the same way. I can't see any difference in the paths at all, apart from their direction."

"What about the mountain itself?" asked Harry.

"What do you mean?" asked Hermione.

"Well, perhaps it's got something to do with the mountain. I don't know - maybe there's a sign on one of the sides or something."

"It's worth checking," said Ron, "but it's too dark in here to spot anything on the sides of the cliffs from this distance, and we can't walk down the paths to get a closer look."


"I think you might be on to something Harry," said Hermione, deep in thought. "There could well be a sign, but I don't think it'll be on those cliffs - it'll be somewhere we can find without stepping onto the path. Let's take a closer look up where the path branches."

"What've you got in mind?" asked Harry as Hermione led them up to the path.

"Let's look closely around on the ground by the start of each of the two paths." Hermione lit her wand and held it to the ground just where the paths branched off to the left and right. The others followed her lead and knelt on the ground either side of her, brushing away the dust and gravel.

"I've found it!" Ginny shouted, sitting up and holding her wand close to the ground, just to the side where the left-hand path started. The others walked over and looked at the curious carving etched into the rock floor.

"That looks like Kilroy!" exclaimed Ron. The carving, about six inches long, showed a semi-circle sitting on top of a horizontal line.

Hermione laughed. "I don't think so Ron. There's no nose or hands."

"Of course!" shouted Ginny. "Don't you see? It's the sun sitting on top of the horizon - it's a sign for the sunrise!"

"Or the sunset," said Hermione. "I think you're right Ginny; it's depicting the sun on the horizon, but is it dusk or dawn?"

"Let's see if we can find a carving on the other side," said Harry, walking over to the start of the right-hand path. He swept away the dust and loose rocks at roughly the same relative position where Ginny had found the other sign.

"Yes!" he exclaimed as a rock carving came into view.

"It's exactly the same as the other one!" said Ginny, her smile changing into a frown.

"Any ideas Hermione?" asked Harry.

"Oh yes Harry," she replied ruefully. "One represents the sunrise and one the sunset. The sunset leads to darkness, as the sun disappears below the horizon, and the sunrise leads to renewal as the first rays of dawn signal the birth of a new day. But which is which?"

"That's easy," said Ron, the others looking at him with surprise. "What are you lot staring at! Don't you think I can have a good idea now and again? Anyway, it's obvious which is which - the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. We have to go on this path." He pointed to the right-hand path.

"Brilliant Ron!" said Hermione. "But… uh, what makes you thing that that way is east?"

"Well, east is right, west is left isn't it?"

"Only if you're facing north Ron," Hermione replied, "and who knows which direction we're facing - we've come through six gates and for all we know, we've been going in circles."

"Well we can soon find out," said Harry, laying his wand flat on the palm of his hand.

"POINT ME," he shouted, and watched as his wand started to swing to the left. When it stopped he looked in the direction it was pointing - directly at the central rocky mountain that divided the two paths. "That's north. Ron was right - the right-hand path is the dawn path."

"Well done Ron," said Hermione, grinning at the broad smile on Ron's face.

"Follow me!" said Ron as he stepped theatrically onto the right-hand path.

The going was easy as they walked across the gloomy realm, the faint illumination from the rocky ceiling still giving them just enough light to proceed without having to light their wands.

"What's that scratching noise?" asked Hermione. They could all now hear the persistent sound, exactly like a quill scribbling on parchment. Ginny, who was walking beside Hermione, suddenly stopped and screamed, lifting her right leg and swatting at her foot repeatedly.

"Something just crawled over my shoe!" she shouted. "It was horrible!"

Harry, who was bringing up the rear, lit his wand and held it close to the ground.

"Aaarrrhh," shouted Hermione and Ginny together as they saw hundreds of small, black beetles scurrying around on the ground, trying to get out of the light.

"Beetles - I hate beetles!" wailed Ginny, hopping from foot to foot trying to avoid the small black creatures.

"They're all over the place!" exclaimed Ron as he shone the light from his wand onto the path ahead. "There're millions of 'em!"

"Oh no," Ginny continued to wail. "I'm not going any further!"

Ron grinned at his sister who stood on tiptoes, clutching her robe tightly against her legs. "I didn't know your greatest fear was beetles Ginny?"

Harry smirked, "You'd better keep a close eye out Ron - there might just be a few spiders crawling around amongst them."

"What!" he shouted, stepping back a pace and gazing at the ground.

"I'm only kidding Ron," said Harry as he stepped forward and took the lead. "Come on - let's get going. Keep your wands lit and hold them close to the ground, they don't seem to like the light. Are you ok Ginny?"

"Yes," she squeaked quietly as she held onto Hermione's arm, stretching her wand out in front of her close to the ground.

As they went further along the path, skirting the rocky cliff to their left, the light from the ceiling became a bit brighter, and it became progressively so the further they walked. The beetles had now disappeared, and they could clearly see the path as it wound to the left up ahead. As they came around the bend, the light suddenly burst into startling radiance, making them shield their eyes against the glare.

"The gate!" shouted Harry, pointing to the cliff face on his left. "Come on."

The path led directly up to the bronze gate, which was sunk into the rocky cliff face, and Ron and Ginny waited until Harry and Hermione went through the usual process of opening it.

"Well we're half way through the Duat," said Ginny as she followed the other three through the gate. "We've had a few scares but we're still all in one piece. I'm beginning to wonder whether Margot's dream was just that, and not a vision of the future."

The others didn't reply - they didn't want to tempt fate.

They looked around the seventh hour of the Duat in surprise. It was so unlike the others they'd come through - the floor was completely smooth and grey, as was the ceiling and the two walls that disappeared into the distance on either side of them. The strange place was completely featureless, and it stretched before them as far as they could see. It was a fairly gloomy place, but the diffuse light that sprung from the walls and ceiling allowed them to see without any restriction.

Ron reached out and touched the wall. "It's cold," he said, "and completely smooth. I don't think it's rock or anything - I haven't a clue what it's made of."

The others ran their hands down the wall and then felt the floor. Hermione shook her head. "It feels a bit like cold steel, but I really don't know what it is."

"Which way shall we go?" asked Ginny.

"Straight ahead, I think," Harry replied. The four stepped into the seventh hour and walked across the smooth floor side by side, the two girls arm in arm in the middle.

"What's that?" said Ron suddenly, pointing straight ahead. Low down on the horizon they could just make out some movement. They stopped and stared, waiting to see if whatever was out there would come any closer - and it did.

"Oh hell!" shouted Ron as the form drew ever nearer. He reached out and pulled Ginny and Hermione behind him, then stepped across to stand beside Harry.

"That's one hell of a snake!" gasped Ron.

"And it's no ordinary snake!" Harry added. The large form slithered quickly towards them, too quickly for the four to make a dash back to the wall, and in any case there was absolutely no cover to hide behind.

The snake came to within twenty yards of them and then reared up into the air, its tongue flicking grotesquely out of its mouth. The head was that of a completely bald man, which was why his snake's tongue was so shocking to see. But then, it was no more shocking than his very long and thick body.

The snake spoke with a low, gravely voice, "You are trespassing in my realm. You will be devoured."

"Wh… who are you?" asked Harry.

"I am Apophis, the god of serpents, and you should not be in this place. I will allow you a short time to prepare before I strike."

"Bugger that!" shouted Ron as he raised his wand and sent a stupefy spell at the snake's head. Apophis raised his head to the ceiling and laughed loudly. Harry, Hermione and Ginny also sent spells at the snake, but had the same negative result as Ron. They edged back slowly, and cringed when Apophis stopped laughing and struck down with his head, stopping only three feet from the four.

"Your efforts are pitiful. Do you think you can hurt Apophis?" Again he raised himself up into the air and roared loudly with laughter.

"Wh… what're we going to do?" whispered Ginny. Harry and Ron shielded the two girls as they edged further back away from the snake.

"Hold onto us," whispered Hermione. "Harry, let's Zapparate - concentrate on the horizon straight ahead." Ron and Ginny held onto their two friends as Harry and Hermione closed their eyes and concentrated. When they opened them again, it was to see the dreadful sight of Apophis looking down at them with disdain.

"You cannot use your puny magic to transport yourselves through my realm! Only I have that power here. Now prepare to die!"

Then, Apophis lowered his head and fixed the four in a deadly gaze, whispering, "I tire of your silly games." He opened his mouth wide, revealing two deadly fangs, and stretched himself up, high into the air. Then he struck powerfully down. The four closed their eyes, waiting for the crunching pain that would send them into oblivion.

Five seconds later, Harry was still waiting for the impact. He slowly opened his eyes and gasped at the incredible sight before him. Apophis was still above them, his fangs no more than five feet away from them, but he was completely still, frozen in the act of his deadly strike. Twenty white-cloaked figures, their heads completely covered by their hoods, stood around the snake, their arms raised towards him. One of the figures turned and slowly walked up to the four friends.

The figure stopped and bowed slightly, then looked at each of them and spoke in a soft, gentle voice, "We have been sent to protect you through this most dangerous of hours. We have certain… powers… that can suspend time in a localised area. Apophis has been isolated for the moment, but he will soon realise that something is amiss and will exert his own formidable powers to escape from his time cocoon. I strongly recommend that you make all haste to the far side and quickly enter the next gate."

"Who are you?" asked Harry, unsuccessfully trying to see the face hidden behind the hood.

"We are of the Shemsu-hor, spirits of the light allied to Horus and Hathor - it is they who watch your progress through the Duat. We were summoned by them to give protection through this hour, but be warned that ahead lies a place where you cannot be protected. In that place, you can survive only by your own actions. But you must hurry - Apophis will soon have to be unleashed. Go now!"

"Th… thanks for your help," Harry shouted as he ran, closely followed by the others, across the featureless ground towards the horizon.

They ran quickly through the eerie silence, spurred on by the warning, hoping against hope that they'd reach the gate before the roars of an enraged Apophis reached their ears. "There it is," gasped Ron, pointing to the bronze gate sunk into the wall slightly to their right.

They rushed up and Harry hurriedly placed the Eye in the depression at the centre just as they heard the sound of the raging snake in the distance. Harry and Hermione said the spell to open the gate as Ron and Ginny looked across the featureless plain in horror where they could see Apophis streaking towards them. The door slowly opened - very slowly - too slowly for their liking.

Ginny squeezed through first, quickly followed by the others. They turned just inside the eighth hour and watched the door, which was still swinging open. Apophis raged right outside the door, but he couldn't enter - he couldn't leave his realm. They sighed with relief as the gate swung back and closed, shutting out the terrible roars. Then they turned and looked into the eighth hour of the Duat.


Voldemort paced backwards and forwards across the canyon floor, listening to the sounds of fighting. His mind was focussed on retrieving the spells from the cave and he hissed impatiently, waiting for one of his minions to tell him that the battle had been won. He stopped when Lucius trotted around the bend. "Well?"

"We've got most of them my Lord. We've cleared the Aurors defending this end of the canyon but there's about thirty still covering the cave from the opposite side, and there's still about ten Aurors in the cave itself. They've chosen their cover well, so it's going to take time to winkle them all out."

"Show me where they are Lucius," he said as he strode down the canyon. They stopped at the bend and Lucius pointed to the left, where the remnants of the three teams were at the base of the cliff. Voldemort scanned the cliff face behind, illuminated by the many yellow-glowing Death Eaters below.

"There!" he said suddenly, pointing to a section of overhanging rock at the top of the cliff. He raised his wand and closed his eyes as he gathered his powers. Then he sent a powerful beam of energy to a spot just below the overhang. It hit with ferocious power, sending a shower of rocks to the ground below. Then the overhanging rock sagged, stopped, and then sagged again, teetering precariously while loose rocks fell to the ground amongst the terrified Aurors below. Some of them panicked and ran away from the cliff base and were quickly dispatched by the waiting Death Eaters, but Dave, Oliver, Katie, John and a few others ran towards the cliff and dived between a jumble of rocks protruding from the canyon floor, hoping to find some sort of cover when the mountain fell on them.

Then the massive rock above gave up its battle to stay where it had rested for countless ages and toppled into the canyon below, bringing with it a shower of rocks of varying sizes. Most of the Aurors below were crushed, some managed to avoid the rocks but were picked off by the Death Eaters, and a pitiful few were huddled up against the base of the cliff where there was some semblance of protection.

Oliver pushed Katie to the ground and covered her with his body when the deluge of rocks struck. They were protected from the ravages of the larger rocks that fell by the surrounding rocky cover, but were quickly covered by the smaller rocks and loose dirt and sand that rained down from above.

The ten Aurors remaining in the cave looked on with horror as they saw the fate suffered by their colleagues opposite, and they were filled with a rage that gave them the courage to continue defending their hopeless position. For the next fifteen minutes they gamely prevented the hundred or so remaining Death Eaters overrunning them, but their number was gradually being whittled down. The last of them died at the hands of Voldemort, who flung the killing curse that sent him tumbling out of the cave to the rocks below.

Then, at last, silence rained in the canyon. The Death Eaters rose from their positions and gathered around their master below the cave. Voldemort looked up at the cave and then back down at his followers. "We have won a great victory here tonight. I am proud of your efforts and you will all be rewarded." He pointed up at the cave. "In that cave lies the final piece of our great quest, the spells that will activate the Disc of Gates. Savour the moment, my loyal servants, the moment when the Dark Side finally emerges from its slumber and brings order to the world. No longer will the Earth suffer the indignity of Mudbloods - it will rejoice when the superior gaze of Purebloods looks on its surface and the Dark reigns supreme."

The gathered Death Eaters roared their approval and looked rapturously at their leader, who swept his arm around the canyon floor. "Lucius, pick five of my followers to join us in the cave. The rest of you scour the battlefield and revive any of your colleagues who are stunned. Then guard the Portkey site - try to identify and destroy the Portkey, but if you can't, make sure that any Aurors who come through are stopped - I need time to retrieve the spells. Now go, quickly."

Voldemort led Lucius, Wormtail, Travis, Crabbe and the other five Death Eaters up the ladder that had been reset in place, then stepped over the bodies of the Aurors towards the back of the cave, holding his wand before him. He'd set the detection spell and walked in the direction where the dark green light glowed brightest. He reached the back of the cave and saw a low, narrow tunnel. He bent his head and walked slowly into the corridor. He walked for only about ten yards before he came up against the bare rock baring any further progress, but he knew he was very close, his glowing wand had gradually increased in brightness the further into the tunnel he walked.

He looked at the ground and saw the footprints in the sand leading up to the almost invisible entrance low down in the rock wall. He quickly lay down on his stomach and crawled through to the chamber beyond, staring intently at the centre of the floor where the white cover stone lay exposed. He stood and walked over, nodding in satisfaction as he saw the glowing silvery script written on the stone.

He pointed his wand at the stone, breathing deeply as he concentrated, feeling his magical powers build. "KU KUR - GAZ NURUM" he shouted and watched the dense black light hit the stone. He quickly crawled back down the connecting tunnel and into the narrow corridor, not wanting to be near when the terrible sounds of battle between the ancient spells began.

He walked back into the cave, hearing the distant screeching that signalled the first phase of the battle to uncover the spells. He sat on the ground beside his close servants while the five Death Eaters kept watch at the cave entrance. Soon, the distant screeching was replaced by a deep pulsing sound and Voldemort knew that it was now only a matter of time before the spells were his.


"Well there's not much doubt about which way we've got to go," said Ron, looking into the eighth hour of the Duat. The gate had just closed behind them, shutting off the raging Apophis, and they stood looking at the immense wall of rock about fifty yards in front of them. It rose right up to the ceiling, about thirty yards above, and stretched to left and right until it met the rocky walls of the realm. A sandy path led from the gate right up to the base of the rock, and disappeared into a cave of about fifteen feet high by eight feet wide on the outside.

They stared intently around to make sure nothing moved before Harry led them onto the path towards the cave. They walked quickly, their experience in the realm of Apophis making them a bit nervous of open spaces, but stopped suddenly just before they came to the entrance. The air at the centre of the cave entrance shimmered and a tall figure, dressed in a long white cloak, appeared. His age was uncertain, but his demeanour was that of an academic, his sparkling blue eyes bearing the unmistakable aura of great wisdom.

He smiled benignly at the four and held out his right hand towards them, speaking with a calm, assured voice, "Have no fear, I come to help not to hinder. Listen carefully to what I have to say." He paused as he dropped his hand back to his side.

"This is the hour of eight. Beyond these rocky walls are eight sealed gates, each protected by eight armed guards. The guards will allow passage through the hour only if you correctly say the name of the god that each gate represents. Prepare yourselves before you proceed into the tunnels and do not falter, for the guards will not look on you kindly if you speak the wrong name."

The spirit shimmered and disappeared, leaving three confused friends looking in one direction - directly at Hermione.

"What," she said nervously. "You think I understood all that?"

"Well if you didn't," said Ron, "you can imagine how much the rest of us understood."

Harry sat on the cool sand outside the cave entrance. "Come and sit down and let's look at this logically."

"I should be the one saying that Harry," said Hermione, smiling at her boyfriend as she sat down beside him.

Harry put up his hand to stop the expected comment from Ron. "I know. You can think a lot better on a full stomach. Let's see what we've got left." He rummaged in the rucksack and pulled out four packets of sandwiches and four pasties, which he passed around to the others.

"Now let's see," he mumbled through a mouthful of pastie. "We've got to go through eight gates."

"And there's eight guards at each of them," said Ginny. "What do you think he meant by them not looking on us kindly if we give the wrong answer? You don't think they'll try to kill us do you?"

"I wouldn't put it past them Ginny," said Ron, "so we'd better make sure we give the right names. And talking of that, I don't even know eight gods, let alone their names!"

"I assume they mean Egyptian gods?" Harry asked.

"I think that's a reasonable assumption Harry," Hermione replied, "but which eight?"

They stared glumly at each other as they finished off their meal, all of them deep in thought.

"Wait a minute!" exclaimed Harry. "It's got to be something to do with the number eight! This is the eighth hour; there are eight gates and eight guards at each one. What do we know about the number eight and gods?" He looked expectantly at Hermione, hoping that she could think of the thing that nagged at the edges of his mind.

"Of course!" Hermione exclaimed. "You're absolutely right Harry. Eight in ancient Egyptian is Shmun, right?" Harry nodded.

"And Shmun is the ancient Egyptian name for Hermopolis," she continued, thinking rapidly. "Now apart from being the place where Thoth was worshiped, Hermopolis is also the place where the Egyptian Creation myth originated - the Ogdoad. The Ogdoad consisted of eight personified primeval forces, or gods, conceived as four couples of deities. Each of the four male gods had a female counterpart, or wife."

Harry smiled at Hermione. "I knew you'd get it Hermi. There was something lurking on the edge of my mind and now that you've said it, it's come back to me. I remember reading about it when we did the research into Hermopolis. Can you remember the names of the eight gods?"

Hermione screwed up her eyes in concentration. "Now let's see. There were the gods of the primeval waters, Nun and Naunet, the gods of boundlessness, or infinity, Heh and Hauhet. Now who were the other two pairs… yes, there were the gods of darkness, Kek and Kauket, and the gods of the air, or invisible power, Amun and Amaunet."

She smiled widely as the other three patted her on the back, but frowned when Ron ruffled her hair.

"Now all we have to work out is which gate belongs to which god," said Ginny.

Hermione's face fell. "There's no way we can work that out from here. We'll have to see if there're any clues when we come to each gate."

"And if there aren't?" asked Ron. No one answered.

"Come on then," said Harry, getting to his feet, "let's get to it."

They walked side-by-side into the cave and had to light their wands as they moved further into the darkness. After walking straight for about twenty yards, the path wound to the left, where they came to the first gate. The path widened as it approached the gate, and they stopped, staring at the eight burly guards that stood four to each side of it. The gate was not unlike the gates that led into each hour of the Duat, but there was no depression in the shape of the Eye of Horus at its centre. The guards hadn't moved as they approached, they just stood looking inscrutably at them, holding their lethal-looking spears at their sides. Apart from loincloths and odd-looking helmets, they were quite naked.

They walked a bit closer, gazing at the gate and the rock walls, looking for any clue that would tell them to which god the gate belonged, but they could see nothing that could help.

"What about those funny helmets they're wearing?" whispered Ginny. All eight guards wore the same shaped helmet, a round metal hat with a crest on top in the shape of an eight on its side.

"That's the universal sign for infinity," whispered Hermione. "So it must either be Heh or Hauhet."

"But which one?" whispered Harry. "Those guards are male, so do you think it's Heh?"

"I think so Harry," said Hermione. "If it was Hauhet, there'd probably be the standard hieroglyph for female on the crest."

"Shall we risk it?" asked Ron.

They looked at each other worriedly; then Harry took a deep breath and walked closer to the gate. The eight guards stepped over to bar the way, but they still said nothing. Harry glanced back at the others and then turned once more to face the guards. "Heh," he said loudly, tensing ready to spring back if the guards showed any aggressive tendencies.

But the guards stepped back to each side of the gate, which swung silently open. Harry nervously walked forward, glancing from one side to the other in case a spear came in his direction, but he was allowed to pass through. The others quickly followed and the gate closed silently behind them.

The next gate was immediately in front of them, no more than ten yards away. The gate was exactly like the last one, and so were the guards who stood four to each side of it. The only difference was the crest on each of their helmets - an ellipse on its side and a half moon above it.

"That's the hieroglyphic for female," said Harry pointing to one of the helmets. "But that's all. There's nothing to indicate which female."

"Since everything is exactly the same as the last gate apart from the female sign," said Hermione, "I think it must be Hauhet."

They all looked around the walls, the floor, the ceiling and the gate in case there was any other indication, but there was none. Harry again stepped up to the gate and again the guards moved to bar the way. "Hauhet," he said loudly.

The guards moved to the side and the gate swung open, allowing all four to walk through.

"Two down, six to go," said Ron.

They walked on along the sandy floor and followed the path to the right where they came to the next gate. This time the guards, four on each side of the gate, weren't wearing helmets, only the brief loincloth that the others had worn. They held the same wicked-looked spears at their sides and stood unflinching as the four approached.

"There's got to be something on the walls, floor or ceiling," whispered Hermione. They all scrutinised the entire area but could find nothing. There wasn't any sort of inscription or sign on the gate either.

"This is crazy," said Ron. "There's got to be something here. But if there is, it's bloody invisible!"

Hermione's eyes opened wide. "Brilliant Ron! Invisible - they're not wearing any helmets like the last lot of guards. Their helmets must be invisible - invisible power is one of the attributes of Amun and Amaunet. And I think this must be Amun's gate since there's nothing here to suggest a female."

Harry again walked up to the guards and said, "Amun." The guards stepped back and the gate swung open.

The next gate wasn't immediately on the other side - the path stretched ahead into the gloomy distance. They walked on for another fifty yards before they came to it. This time, the guards wore helmets, but there weren't any crests at the top. They also wore loincloths, but this time there were symbols decorating the fronts.

"The hieroglyphs for female," said Hermione. "But which female?"

Harry held his head to one side, listening intently. "Can you hear that?" He walked a bit closer to the gate and the sound grew a bit louder. "Come here and listen."

"That's the sound of running water," said Ginny.

Hermione nodded. "You're right. So this must be Naunet - the goddess of the primeval waters."

This time, Hermione stepped up and the guards moved to bar her way. "Naunet," she said. The guards moved to each side and the gate swung open.

"Half way through," said Ron as they walked on along the sandy floor.

The next gate was forty yards further on, around a right-hand bend in the path. Again, the eight guards had the symbol for a female on their loincloths, and they also wore helmets, but without a crest on top.

"Do you think that's Amaunet?" asked Ginny. "The crest's invisible."

"I don't know Ginny," said Hermione. "The guards at Amun's gate didn't have any helmets at all, so I'd expect the same for his wife."

"The only other female's gate we haven't come through, apart from Amaunet's, is Kauket," said Harry. "Do you think it could be her?"

"It may well be Harry," said Hermione. "Perhaps there's a crest on those helmets but we can't see it because it's hidden by the dark - darkness is the attribute of Kauket."

Harry walked closer and peered intently at the helmet worn by the nearest guard. "There is a sort of blackness there," he said, then spoke loudly, "Kauket."

The guards stepped aside and let Harry pass through the open gateway.

The next gate was different. There were no guards standing to each side.

"Perhaps they're on their tea break," cracked Ron.

"I really don't think so Ron," said Hermione. "I think they're there, but we can't see them. And if that's the case it must either be Kek, the god of darkness, or Amaunet, the goddess of invisible power."

"If it's Amaunet, there'll be a female symbol somewhere," said Harry.

He walked up to the gate for a close look, and jumped when he felt bear skin brush against his hand. He quickly stepped back. "You were right Hermi. One of the guards brushed against me when he stepped across to bar the way. But I didn't see any area of blackness like I did with Kauket."

"So it may be Amaunet then," said Ginny. "Perhaps the female symbol is invisible too."

"What do you think Hermione?" asked Harry.

"I'll go along with Ginny," she replied. "… I think. No wait; let's not be too rash. We'd better scrutinise every bit of surface around the gate first, just in case there's the female symbol somewhere."

They spent the next ten minutes looking at every inch of wall, floor and ceiling but they couldn't find a female symbol, or any other symbol. Harry again stepped close to the gate and stared intently at the area where he knew the guards would be standing. He could see absolutely nothing. He shook his head slowly, his mind filled with doubt, and walked back to his friends.

"Oh bugger it!" exclaimed Ron, stepping up close to the gate. He closed his eyes and said loudly, "Amaunet."

The gate swung open. Ron grinned as he looked back at the other three, but soon lost it when Ginny stormed up to him and caught him a hefty slap on his arm. "You bloody great idiot," she shouted. "You could have been killed and you wouldn't have seen it coming."

Harry and Hermione stepped gingerly around the siblings and on through the gate. "Are you two coming?" said Harry as he looked back.

Ginny stormed away from her brother, who followed more slowly. "Well somebody had to do something didn't they?" he said pleadingly.

Hermione shook her head. "This is a dangerous place Ron. It doesn't always pay to take chances."

Ginny was still fuming as they walked up to the seventh gate. "What have we got left Hermione?" she asked.

"Nun and Kek," she replied.

This time, the guards were visible and all wore helmets with crests at the top. The crest was a very large and ornate arrangement, showing a human figure with his arms raised above his head, supporting a boat that looked very much like the barque of Ra they'd sailed in earlier.

"I think it's Nun," said Hermione. "I'm sure I read somewhere that he was sometimes depicted exactly like that crest, and the boat signifies water - the primeval waters of Nun."

Harry stepped up and said, "Nun." The guards stood aside and the four walked through the open gate and immediately came to the final gate, which opened after Harry said the last name - Kek - to the guards.

They emerged from the realm of gates, still walking along the sandy path, and out from a cave into the sunlight. They saw the ninth gate of the Duat about fifty yards away, sunk into the rock wall. Five minutes later they stood just inside the ninth hour, looking with disbelief at what was before them.

"I didn't expect to see a jungle down here!" exclaimed Ron, looking at the densely packed trees. An overgrown path led into the confusion of vegetation and disappeared into the dark interior of the forest.

"What jungle!" exclaimed Ginny. "You need to see an optician Ron! All I can see are lush green meadows and temples!"

Harry looked oddly at his two friends. "You both need glasses. There's a big lake out there! Hermione?"

They looked at Hermione, who stood with her eyes tightly shut. She whispered, "There's something in here trying to confuse us. What I saw was a land of tall craggy mountains and canyons. I think that something's getting into our minds and making us see different things. Quick, close your eyes and come close." She reached out her hands and gestured to the others.

They stood in a tight circle, holding each other tightly, while Harry and Hermione joined minds and reached out to their friends, mentally bringing them into the protective fold of their joint consciousness. Somewhere in the distance, they heard a terrible wailing noise. Hermione sent her thoughts to the others, 'I think we've upset somebody or something. I think we've managed to thwart the confusion. Now open your eyes and say what you can see - you first Ron.'

Ron opened his eyes and slowly looked around the ninth hour. It was a brightly lit desert with sand and rocky outcrops all over the place. A rough path led into the wilderness, winding away into the distance, and where the path disappeared over the horizon he could see a faint reddish radiance dancing over the sand. One by one, the other three opened their eyes and confirmed that they saw what Ron had seen.

"Do you think that this is the real landscape?" asked Harry.

"If we can all see the same thing, then I think it is," Hermione replied. "But we'd better remain in contact as we follow the path, just in case it tries to confuse us again."

"What do you think it is Hermione?" asked Ginny.

"I really don't know. There was nothing in the Amduat about this, but whatever that reddish haze is I don't think it's very friendly."

"Come on, let's start moving," said Harry. They held onto each other as they slowly walked into the desert, all the while keeping their eyes on the dancing red glow on the horizon. The wailing noise had stopped, but they could now hear faint moaning sounds coming from all around them. They looked around fearfully, but they could see nothing.

They walked on along the path through the ninth hour, but the dancing red glow always seemed to be on the horizon in front of them, not getting any nearer. The moaning sounds became louder the further they walked, but still nothing was in sight that could be causing it.

"Do you think it's more of those lost souls - shades?" asked Ron.

"Might be Ron," said Hermione, "but if it is, they're not showing themselves like the ones we came across before."

"That red haze seems to be moving away from us," said Harry. "It's always on the horizon, almost as if it's trying to lead us into a trap or something. Let's close our eyes and concentrate again."

They stood as before, concentrating on a clear image generated by Harry and Hermione. Harry opened his eyes, but saw the same landscape as before, the path winding into the distance and the red haze dancing on the horizon.

They moved on, now sure that their minds weren't being confused again. Then there was a change. The moaning sounds stopped and the dancing red haze disappeared. The land became deadly silent, not a sound could be heard.

"This is just as bad as the moaning," whispered Ginny fearfully. "It's a bit like the calm before the storm."

They all looked around the parched desolation, feeling very vulnerable, but nothing moved. They walked on in silence, their fears slowly building as they went. The silence was palpable, the absence of movement frightening. Hermione stopped, clutching Harry and her two friends tightly to her. She closed her eyes and sent her thoughts to the others, 'Whatever it is, it's using a very subtle form of attack. It's trying to play on our natural fears of the unknown. We've got to remain positive - try not to think about what might or might not be out there. Just try to keep focussed on getting to the other side of this hour.'

They walked on, concentrating on what Hermione had said. Then the wailing and moaning started up again, this time louder than before. The dancing red haze again appeared, but this time over to their left hand side, and its movements appeared almost feverish. All around, they could just make out the dark shapes of shades at the edge of their vision, moaning in torment.

The red haze began to take on a more distinct shape - the shimmering figure of a very large man with grotesque features, his mouth wide open and drawn down at the edges, portraying the personification of torment as he wailed into the desert sky. He moved closer to the four, but then stopped and moved back, his wailing filling the air.

"We're winning," Hermione shouted above the noise. "He can't touch us! As long as we remain together and focussed on our target of getting through this hour, he can't do anything to us."

They concentrated hard as they walked across the desert, their fears now completely dispelled. They climbed a gentle slope and reached the top of a low ridge where they stopped, elated to see the tenth gate only a hundred yards or so in front of them. They moved quickly towards it and stopped, looking back at the tormented red man who gazed down at them from the top of the ridge. The dark shades stood at his side, now defeated in their attempts to halt their progress. The shades slowly moved back down the far side of the ridge and disappeared from sight, and with a final wail, so did the red man.

Harry and Hermione opened the gate and they all walked through.


Oliver groaned as he slowly regained consciousness. He slowly opened his eyes but could see nothing. At first he thought he was blind and moved his head in panic, but felt the relief wash over him as he saw a dim light filter through the rocks, sand and dirt that covered him. He raised himself slowly, feeling the weight of the debris, and struggled to free himself. He turned and lay on his back, methodically moving his arms and legs to ascertain if anything had been broken, and sighed when he felt that everything seemed to be in working order. He held his hand on the back of his head and felt a large lump and the wetness of blood, evidence of a glancing blow by a rock that had fallen from above.

Then he froze, his mind in panic as he thought of Katie. "Katie…" he croaked quietly, turning on his side. Katie lay unconscious, her body clear of debris but with a nasty gash high up on her forehead, the dried blood matted in her hair. Oliver put his left hand behind her head and slowly raised it towards him, desperately searching for any further injuries.

"Oliver," she whispered as her eyes fluttered open. He pulled her tightly against him, smiling with relief.

"Try to move your hands and legs Katie," he whispered. "Make sure that nothing's broken."

After a few moments, Katie whispered, "I don't think anything's broken, but I've got one hell of a headache!"

"Me too," Oliver replied. "We've got to see if the others are ok. Can you move?"

Katie nodded and lifted herself slowly. They looked at the jumble of fallen rocks that lay all around them, and just to one side the huge boulder that had been dislodged from the top of the cliff. Katie gasped when she saw an arm protruding from beneath the boulder, and turned her head away, trying not to think about the state of her colleague who'd been caught beneath it. They both turned when they heard a groan coming from their other side, and dragged themselves over to where the sound was coming from, clearing the debris as best they could.

"Dave!" said Oliver quietly, as Dave Henson lifted his head, sending a shower of dirt down around his face. "Are you all right?"

"I think so Oliver," he croaked. "Nothing's broken anyway. What about the others?"

Oliver slowly shook his head. "I don't know Dave, there's a hell of a mess around here; I think the whole cliff face came down on us. We'd better look around and see if anyone else is still alive."

Dave nodded. "Before we start moving around, let's see where the Death Eaters are."

Ten minutes later, they'd found John Ballot and six other Aurors who'd survived the rock fall. John's left arm and right leg had been broken, and three of the others also had broken legs or ankles. The other three, like Oliver, Katie and Dave, were lucky to have escaped with only superficial injuries and were able to move about with only slight discomfort.

They made the more badly injured as comfortable as possible, propping them up against some of the larger fallen rocks, and then moved quietly forward through the debris to get a better view of the canyon floor and the Spell cave. They saw that the canyon was now empty, but could hear the sounds of talking and movement from around the bend to their left. They could also see the five Death Eaters sitting at the edge of the cave, talking together, and not appearing to be very interested in watching the canyon below.

"They probably think we're all dead," whispered Dave.

"What's that low pulsating?" asked on of the Aurors.

"It's coming from inside the cave," said Dave. "It must be 'You Know Who' trying to uncover the spells."

"We've got to do something Dave," whispered Oliver. "We can't let him get his hands on those spells."

Dave grinned wryly at Oliver. "Look at us Oliver, six left still standing out of two hundred. What can we possibly do to stop him! I can't ask you to do any more than you've done already - it'll just be suicide."

"It'll be certain death for us all, and far more than just the few of us if he gets his hands on those spells," said Oliver. "I'm willing to try, but I think Katie should apparate out of here and try to get back home. The ministry needs to know what's happened here tonight."

"No way Oliver!" hissed Katie. "I'm not leaving you here. If you're willing to try then so am I."

"Oliver's right Katie," said Dave. "It doesn't look as if our man got through to bring back reinforcements. We need to get word back to headquarters."

"Then send John Ballot back," she persisted. "He can't fight but I can."

"What about you three?" he asked the other Aurors. They nodded their willingness to try one final time to stop Voldemort getting at the spells. They all moved back and sat besides the four injured Aurors.

Dave spoke quietly to John and the other injured aurors. "I want you to apparate out of the canyon and lay low until the Portkey site is clear. Then get back to headquarters and tell them what's happened. We six are going to make a final attempt to stop him getting at the spells."

"That's madness Dave," said John. "You'll all be killed."

"Our minds are made up," Dave replied. "Now get out of here - that's an order."

The colleagues solemnly shook hands and the four injured disappeared, Apparating to the gully that ran outside the canyon to await their chance to use the Portkey back to Salisbury Plain.

"We'll split into two groups," said Dave. "You take one group Oliver - Katie and Will - to the left-hand side of the cave and I'll take you other two to the right. You fling a spell up at the Death Eaters Oliver, and when they look down to return your fire, we'll take them from the other side. After that, well, we'll just play it by ear."

They moved to the edge of the tumbled rocks and then started crawling along the canyon floor to their respective positions, being careful not to make any noise. Oliver, Katie and Will reached the base of the cave at the left and waited for Dave to give the signal to start their assault.


The four walked into a watery tenth hour of the Duat, the gloom of night lit only by the shining light on top of the boat that waited at the water's edge.

"It's the barque of Ra again," said Harry.

"And it looks like we've got the same driver," said Ron, gazing at the cloaked ferryman at the rear of the barque, whose face was still completely covered by the large hood. The ferryman lifted his right arm and pointed to the middle of the boat.

"He wants us to get in, come on," said Hermione, leading the others down to the shore and stepping up onto the wooden plank and into the boat. When they were all on board, the ferryman pushed off into the calm waters of the lake, using his pole as he'd done before in the second hour of the Duat.

They gathered at the front and tried to see where the ferryman was taking them, but they could see only about fifty yards ahead, the smooth water shimmering in the light cast from the top of the mast. Soon, the water became a bit more choppy and they felt the boat move slightly from side to side.

"We've just entered a strong current," said Ron, looking down at the water in front of the boat. Ginny moved over and leaned out over the side, looking down at the swiftly moving current.

"Aaarrrggghh," she shouted, and quickly stepped back into the centre of the boat. "There're bodies in the water!"

The other three looked out over the side of the boat and saw a number of bodies, floating on their backs, their deathly-white faces staring up at the rocky ceiling with sightless eyes.

"I read about this in the Amduat," said Hermione with a shudder. "They're the souls of the drowned who were denied a proper burial. They're being guided by Horus towards the next hour of the Duat."

"Where is he?" said Ron, looking around.

"He's not here, Ron!" said Hermione. "He just makes the current flow to the next gate so that the drowned people will be sucked towards it."

"Well at least they're not trying to get at us," said Ginny.

The barque of Ra sped quickly on to the far shore of the lake, and soon a wooden jetty came into sight. "I don't believe this," said Ron. "All we've had to do in this hour is climb onto a boat. Where're the shades, the demons, the puzzles?"

"Don't knock it Ron," Harry replied. "Just enjoy the ride."

The ferryman brought the boat smoothly alongside the wooden jetty, and held it steady while the four youngsters climbed out. Then he pushed off once more, heading back to the far side of the tenth hour.

"I wouldn't fancy spending a night down the pub with him!" exclaimed Ron. "Not exactly the talkative type is he?"

"What makes you think it's a him Ron?" asked Ginny.

"And what makes you think he, she or it can speak?" added Hermione, grinning at the confused Ron.

"Come on," said Harry, chuckling, "let's find the eleventh gate." They walked down the small pier, stepped onto the shore and walked up to the rock wall. They now had to light their wands, the illumination from the barque of Ra having diminished to nothing as the ferryman poled the boat further and further back across the lake.

"There it is," shouted Ginny, pointing to her left. Harry and Hermione opened the gate in the usual way and waited for it to swing open. They walked through and entered a chamber about fifty feet long by thirty feet wide. The floor, walls and ceiling were made from shining white marble, in which were etched carvings of scenes from ancient Egypt.

They jumped when four muscular Nubian guards approached, two from either side. Each of the guards carried a spear, similar to the ones held by the guards in the eighth hour. One of them gestured with his spear towards the front of the chamber, and started walking slowly forward. The four looked nervously at their escort, but they didn't seem to be that unfriendly, merely workmanlike in their manner. When they reached the far side of the chamber, the leading two guards opened a large door and gestured for the four to enter.

They walked into a smaller chamber but the guards didn't follow, the leading two merely closing the door behind them. The chamber was similar to the previous one, with scenes etched into the marble walls and ceiling, but at the far end was a raised dais on which stood five golden thrones.

The four looked curiously around the chamber as they walked towards the dais, but they couldn't see any way out of the place, apart from the way in which they'd just come. Then suddenly, a bright light sprung from the ceiling directly above the thrones, and five figures walked from what must have been a concealed entrance on the left.

The four teens looked wide-eyed at the five figures, who walked towards the thrones and sat down. All five, three men and two women, had the head of a different animal, but human bodies. The one at the centre, the man with the head of a jackal, stood and spoke.

"This is the hall of judgement, and I am Anubis. I, and my four fellow judges will determine whether you should proceed to the final hour of the Duat. We shall do this by assessing your actions in the previous ten hours of the Duat."

All five figures raised their right hand and sent five beams of yellow light at the four. The five beams merged and then spread into four white beams that covered the heads of the youngsters for several seconds before fading.

Anubis again spoke, "You have been judged and you have not been found wanting. You will be allowed entry into the last hour, but as with all things, the choice is yours."

He lifted his arm and pointed it at the wall to his left. The marble in the centre section of the wall shimmered and two bronze gates were revealed, both identical and both bearing the depression of the Eye of Horus.

"You must choose," said Anubis. "One gate leads to the Light and the end of your quest, but the other leads to darkness and death. I bid you fair passage."

Anubis led the other four judges back out of the hall of judgement and the four youngsters were left alone, gazing at the spot where they'd disappeared to the side of the dais.

"Phew!" exclaimed Ron. "They don't hang about do they? We didn't even get a chance to ask a few questions - like how do we choose which gate to go through."

"So Thoth must be behind one of these gates," said Harry. "But which one?"

"Let's see if there's any clues in here," said Ginny. "Do these carvings mean anything to you Hermione?"

Hermione walked around the walls and closely studied the carvings, which all seemed to follow the same theme. "I think they're all showing judgement scenes, like the one we just went through. They seem to follow on in sequence, ending in this one that shows the two gates."

They all clustered around the carving of the gates and peered at it closely. Hermione shook her head. "I can't see anything that'll help us. If only there were some hieroglyphics in the chamber."

They walked back over to the gates and scrutinised the area surrounding them, but there was nothing that indicated which gate was the right one to go through.

"See if the Eye will help us Harry," said Ron. "Perhaps it will glow brighter or something when it gets near the right gate."

Harry pulled the Eye from his robes and walked up to the left-hand gate, where he held it above his head, but the shining crystal at the centre of the Eye didn't increase in brightness. He moved over to the other gate but had the same result. He lowered the Eye and stared at the two gates in consternation. "I don't know!" he exclaimed.

The others walked up and stood beside Harry. They stared at the two gates intently, willing them to reveal the true nature of what lay behind them, but they just stood in stark, enigmatic silence.


Dave looked over at Oliver on the other side of the base of the cave and raised his hand. Then he dropped it swiftly in the signal for the attack to begin. Oliver stood back from the base of the cliff and pointed his wand at one of the Death Eaters who stood with his back to the canyon.

"STUPEFY" he shouted, and saw the Death Eater drop to the floor of the cave, stunned. The other four leaned over and saw Oliver below, then raised their wands, but Oliver ran back underneath the protection of the cliff face before they could send any curses in his direction. They leaned out of the cave, trying to pinpoint where Oliver was hiding, but all four fell to the canyon floor when Dave and the other two Aurors fired stunning spells from below the right-hand side of the cave.

"Come on," shouted Dave as he made a dash for the ladder. "You wait here at the bottom and I'll see what's happening inside the cave." He climbed quickly to the top and peaked over the edge into the dark cave. When he saw that no one seemed to be inside, he gestured for his two Aurors to follow him up the ladder. The three stood at the top, wands held before them and peered into the gloom. Oliver, Katie and Will started up the ladder, ready to join them.

All was strangely silent as Dave slowly walked into the cave, trying to see into the darkness. All that could be heard was the weird low throbbing that came from somewhere inside.

Then, without warning, three sickly green beams sprayed out from the darkness at the back of the cave and Dave and his two companions fell to the ground, their staring but sightless eyes testimony to the killing curses that ended their brave lives.

"Get back down," shouted Oliver after he'd seen the fate of his colleagues. They scrambled back down the ladder and over the jumble of rocks at the base of the cave, taking what scant cover they could find behind some of the larger rocks there. Travis Wormtail, Lucius and Crabbe lay on the floor at the edge of the cave and started flinging curses down at the three Aurors, who returned stupefy curses that stunned both Crabbe and Travis.

Oliver pulled Katie closely towards him as Lucius and Travis peppered the rocks around them with curses, and then Voldemort strode into view, his face a mask of anger. He pointed his wand at the three hiding below and sent a powerful Flipendus curse towards them, blasting the rocks they were hiding behind. He sent two more powerful energy beams down at the three and hissed with satisfaction as he saw them roll down to the bottom of the canyon, where they lay unmoving and silent.

Then Voldemort laughed. "They dared to challenge me and lost. Revive those others Wormtail, and keep a sharp look out in case there are any more Aurors lurking around down there."

Wormtail did as he was bid and he, Crabbe and Travis kept watch over the dark canyon below, while Lucius and Voldemort sat further inside, making tentative plans for the future.

Travis and Crabbe chuckled when Wormtail told them what had happened, pointing down to the place where they could just make out the still forms of Oliver, Katie and Will.


"What are we going to do?" asked Ron impatiently. "We can't just stand here forever looking at these two bloody gates!"

"Harry," said Hermione. "Let's see if we can feel anything coming from behind them."

She reached out her hand for Harry to hold and then they both walked up to the left-hand gate. They closed their eyes and concentrated, trying to feel behind the bronze gate, trying to pick up any emotion or psychic vibration that would give them a clue as to what lay beyond.

Then they moved over to the other gate and did the same. After a few minutes they broke their connection and turned back around.

"Well?" asked Ginny.

Hermione shook her head. "Nothing very decisive, but we both felt that what lies behind the left-hand gate gave off slightly the better aura. But there wasn't a lot of difference between the two, in all honesty."

"Shall we risk the left one then?" asked Ron.

"Well I can't see what else we can do," said Harry. "Are we all agreed?"

They all nodded and Harry walked over and placed the Eye in the depression at the centre of the gate on the left. He then joined hands with Hermione and they said the final spell that opened the gate. Hermione still worried about the twelfth spell, but mentally shrugged - it was too late to work out what it meant now.

They all walked into the final hour of the Duat and the door clanged shut behind them.

"Oh Lord," breathed Hermione as she surveyed the landscape of the twelfth hour. "I hope we haven't picked the wrong gate!"

The rocky walls were close on both sides, seeming to press in on them. They glowed and flickered with an orangey-red light that lit up the otherwise dark realm. Columns of rock rose from the ground to the ceiling and they could see several pools of molten mud churning and bubbling between them. The narrow valley stretched before them into the distance, and they all shuddered at the stark cruelty of the landscape.

"Well there's only one way to go," said Harry.

"I just wish this place didn't remind me of what hell must look like," said Ron.

The ground was cold and hard as they walked along the bottom of the valley, their nostrils detecting the terrible stench of sulphur rising from the churning pools of mud. They looked around them fearfully, wondering if anything would attack them in this dreadful place. Hermione glanced at Harry walking beside her, his glasses reflecting the flickering light that came from the cliffs on either side, and she suppressed a shudder. She was beginning to get a very bad feeling about this place, and she moved closer to her boyfriend, clasping his hand in a tight grip. They walked on into the darkness.

From somewhere up ahead there came the sound of hideous laughter, and the four came to a stop, pulling their wands from their robes. They looked around intently as they walked on, their dread building slowly.


They all jumped at the powerful voice, and looked in horror at the man that stood before them.

"It's Seth," whispered Hermione. They all stared at the large and hunched man that blocked their path. His head was horrible - the head of an animal that none of them could recognise. His large, red eyes stared at them unblinking, and the slobbering mouth revealed a terrible set of fangs when he spoke.


"Quick Harry," shouted Hermione. "Use the Eye. If anything can beat Seth it's the Eye of Horus."

Harry quickly pulled the Eye from his robes and lifted it above his head, pointing it directly at Seth.

Ron shouted in defiance at the horror before him, "Horus took your left one, and now we'll take the other!"

Seth roared with rage and pointed his right hand at Harry. A powerful red beam shot straight at him and hit the Eye at the centre. Harry gasped when the Eye suddenly disappeared


"Harry quick - let's try to Zapparate. Hold onto us you two."

Harry reached out and held Hermione's hand, but it was too late. Before they'd had time to Zapparate, another powerful red beam flung by Seth caught all four of them at the same time.

Harry looked at Seth with horror, eyes wide, as he felt the life slowly draining from his body. He turned to look at Hermione, trying to connect their minds, but he was powerless to do anything. His last thought was one of despair as he saw the look of shock and horror in the eyes of his beautiful girlfriend. They all fell slowly to the rocky floor, as if in a dream, and lay side by side as they died - friends in life and friends in death. They were dead by the time that Seth turned and walked back into the depths of his realm, and all lay still and dark in that terrible place of death.

Further back down the valley, the astral glow that was Margot watched in horror as a cry of despair escaped from her taught throat. She lifted her hands over her mouth and gasped as the tears streamed down her anguished face, looking at the four prone figures as they lay, unmoving and lifeless, on the cold, hard floor.

Author's Notes - I know, I know! It's one hell of a place to finish the chapter. Please take a few moments to leave a review - I really do need to know what you think of this chapter (If you want to vent your frustration - feel free to do so!). Many thanks to those who've reviewed so far - it's much appreciated.

There's a few images relating to this chapter on my picture board :

- The Realm of Sokar as depicted in the Amduat

- The eight gods of the Ogdoad from temple wall relief

- Anubis - the jackal-headed god of judgement

- The Hall of Judgement - Anubis is the last in the row of four gods

- Seth - the demon god who killed the four friends

Coming soon - Chapter 14 - Thoth.