Hours later in a dark moldy house on the edge of the marshland, Lord Voldemort put several of his Death Eaters under the Cruciatus Curse. The men and women lay withering in agony as their body twitched on their own from the pain. The smell of fear and sweat could be smelt heavily in the room as he paced back and forth across the creaky wood boards.
"I want to know, who was responsible for the attack?!" Lord Voldemort roared as no one dared to speak.
However, the doors swing open to reveal the tall, thin figure of a dark-haired man with ice-cold eyes. "My apologies, Dark Lord for my tardiness," Rodolphus Lestrange said. "I was acquiring news so to speak as instructed."
"How utterly convenient," S.R. Wilkes interjected as his uncle at his side glared at his nephew for being so brazen. "And just where were you, Lestrange, during the attack?"
"He was at my side, Wilkes," Voldemort coldly hissed. "It is not your place to question my own! Remember your place!"
"My apologies, Dark Lord," S. R. Wilkes sincerely said as he bowed. "I presumed otherwise." Though notably, Wilkes did not apologize to Lestrange.
"Dark Lord, if I may speak?" Rodolphus Lestrange asked again.
"Speak!" Voldemort hissed in fury as he whirled around to face him again.
"It is my understanding that the culprit for tonight's attack was solely compromised of Alphard Black," Rodolphus calmly explained. "My contacts in the ministry confirmed that he was the one responsible for the fire at the manor-."
"I want him found!" Voldemort interrupted. "I will kill him myself!"
"That may be impossible, Milord," Rodolphus said earning himself a dangerous look from Voldemort. "What I mean to say, Dark Lord is that I was given to understand that Alphard Black was killed by one of us."
"What?!" Voldemort shouted in utter surprise.
"Indeed, Milord," Rodolphus said with a bit of dark amus.e.m.e.nt visible in his dark eyes. "He was found dead killed by the killing curse, his wand snapped, and the dark mark cast overhead. Though I do not know to whom that glorious honor belongs too."
"Who did it?!" Voldemort snapped as no one dared to claim the glory that wasn't there's, to begin with.
"It was me," a cold haughty voice said. The death eaters all whirled around including Voldemort to see the vicious cold-hearted face of Antonin Dolohov.
"I killed him," Antonin lied with a straight face. "It was easy, while everyone was fleeing I merely apparated behind him and killed him after he'd said the counter curse."
"Crucio!" Voldemort snarled as Antonin Dolohov feel withering to the floor. "That was not your honor to be had, Dolohov!"
The crowd of Death Eaters is deadly silent as those were starting to get second thoughts, really had them now. If the Dark Lord was willing to curse an old friend. What's to say, something worse wouldn't happen to them?
But it was too late for those that had already been marked. However, those yet unmarked could still flee and beg sanctuary from the Prince's. Surely, the old Prince would happily receive the news of their betrayal! But more importantly, they'd be safe! Yet the biggest question remained, how?Voldemort whirled about leaving Dolohov gasping harshly on the ground. However, a cold bloodthirst glint could be seen in Dolohov's eyes. The type of glint where a famous Roman Emperor had once in utter disbelief uttered, "Et Tu, Brute?"
It was only an hour before dawn when a plumb raccoon makes its way out of the forest. Far away enough from the burned down manor and the Auror's, the raccoon transforms into a round fellow with a bushy beard and bowler hat to hide his baldness. Gittins hastily apparated away to the outskirts of a dark alley and scurries into the pub called the Monarch.Gittins fidgets as he nervously removes his hat to reveal his gleaming bald head. Clutching his bowler hat tightly in his hand he ignores the festive mood of the pub. Plenty of drunks where merry-making and singing carols. A couple even had wenches off the streets on their laps. The woman didn't seem to mind the public fondling very much as they'd be in for a very generous tip given the holiday.
Gulping, Gittins scurries forward to the back of the bar, where Sanderson looks unusually annoyed. An old weathered man with neatly cut white hair and a Christmas knit jumper impatiently taps his fingers on the table before him. "Gittins, you better have a d*m good reason for being so late," Sanderson growled, while the bulky figures of Hyde and Floyd standing guard crack their knuckles in emphasis.
"I do, sir!" Gittins hesitantly glanced around, before dropping his voice to a whisper. "Tis important, sir!"
"It better be," Sanderson's wolfish eyes screamed, before saying out loud, "Everyone OUT!"Instantly the merry atmosphere in the pub is gone as drunks are dragged out by friends. While the others stumble out the door to find the nearest pubs. And street girls in utter amazement are dragged away to finish the night's work elsewhere. Those still unconscious are ceremoniously thrown by Hyde and Floyd out onto the streets. The cold tends to wake most of them up and for the few that don't at least their cloaks were thrown over them to keep them warm.
"Impress me, Gittins," Sanderson coldly stated leaving little doubt to the meaning. If Gittins didn't provide a reasonable explanation for tonight, heads would roll. And that was not just figuratively.Gittins gulps as he unconsciously rubs his neck with one hand. "Sir, I waz hiding out in 'em woods as told too. But to my surprise, Alphard Black showed up! Yes, he did!
Sanderson impatiently taps his fingers on the table as if to say, "Get on with it."Gittins hastily says, "Err, as I was saying, I saw the whole thing! Black burned down the manor of dem dark wizards! And then a wizard with a stone white mask showed up! He killed, Black, yes, he did!"
"And what of that?" Sanderson flatly said as Hyde and Floyd stood up. They could tell Sanderson's patient was at an end.
Drops of sweat can be seen pouring off Gittins' pale shiny head. "And the masked man said, and I quote: Though I must admit I've been rather annoyed as of late, but you are not to blame for that, Mr. Black. It's the Prince's. I thought for sure I'd killed the last of the founder's descendants as well as that of Merlin and the Percussor's. And yet low and behold I just had to get the one single family where not one, but five wretched bloodlines of my enemies still live on.
But I digress, I am rambling, it is enough to know that they will be taken in hand and destroyed. Can't have any more children with their troublesome bloodline popping up, now can I?"The temperature in the room drops as Sanderson leans forward with a dangerous glint in his eyes. "And what else did this masked wizard say?"
"Nothing else, sir!" Gittins replied, but quickly adds, "But he waz right fierce at Black sending a glowy sparrow with a message. He killed Black for it."
"And what was that?" Sanderson asked with an impatient growl.
"Black said, the Hydra is confirmed," Gittins gravely said. "Dat's all, sir, I swear!"
"You did well, Gittins," Sanderson slowly said as he leaned back. "Bertram pay him."
Gittins bearded pudgy face brightens up as he scurries forward and takes the bag of coins from the gray-haired lean bartender, Bertram. "A pleasure doing business with ya, sir," Gittins tipped his bowler hat at Sanderson before happily scurrying out of the pub. It was going to be a wonderful Boxing day!
Sanderson's eyes remain in slits as though lost in thought. The gray-haired bartender, Bertram slowly says, "This Hydra-. He sounds dangerous."
Sanderson didn't immediately respond as he had not missed the word, He, that Bertram used so confidently. Putting that thought away, for now, Sanderson slowly says, "If that statement given by Gittins than it is an incredibly long-lived wizard, who's lived ever since the founder's era. But worse, he's solely responsible for the death of all those descendants. And we are now stuck right in the middle of it as good old Prince has called in my life debts."
"True, but no one is truly immortal," Bertram slowly said as he picked up a glass to polish it clean. "I'm sure that the Rain Man would know."
"Yes, he would know," Sanderson said with a frown as his eyes flickered over Bertram. "It looks like I'll have to look for the Rain Man in person. I trust you'll keep a look on things for me, Bertram, while I'm gone?" Bertram inclines his head in an answer to the question.
"I'll be absent for a while, but not before I put my affairs in order. I'll be leaving no later than the start of summer," Sanderson explained as he arose and put on his coat with a sigh. "And now to tell the wife, why I missed Christmas dinner."
Bertram chuckles and says, "I'd hate to be in your shoes, Sanderson."
"Neither would I," Sanderson sighed, before leaving for the night. He'd be lucky if he got to sleep on the couch tonight. More than likely he'd be forced to sleep on the hardwood floor with a blanket. At least there were still cushioning charms for that.