Search Home Read Write Forum Login Register
Ruthven’s wife must have anticipated their arrival as there was a steady fire burning in the hearth of his library. The gentle flicker of the flames was the only light in the room as Arthur walked along one of the grandiose bookcases. Every time he came to Ruthven’s library he seemed to find new things, little treasures that Ruthven would pick up on his travels and expeditions. The newest addition was a small stringed instrument, and upon picking it up Arthur could identify it as a mandolin.

“That was a gift,” said Ruthven, easing himself into one of three dragon-hide armchairs that adorned the room. “From a Russian friend of mine, very nice fellow. Not only an outstanding wizard, but also a very talented painter.”

Arthur returned the mandolin to its place and took a seat opposite his mentor. “Forgive me my silence,” he stroked his chin, “but after this evening’s events I feel that there is nothing I can do but wait and listen.”

“And you would be correct to feel that way,” said Ruthven, removing his pipe from the small silver box that had been sat on the table before him. He wadded up his tobacco and balanced the pipe between his lips to light it. “I promised you a certain number of answers earlier, but I’m afraid that even the most knowledgeable of living wizards would not have many to offer you, or myself for that matter.” He let out two puffs of smoke that drifted over to surround Arthur. “What we are dealing with is old, very old indeed. Old magic.”

Arthur remained silent and rested his hands on his knees. He felt that any question, or even any sound or nodding of the head was unnecessary. All he should do, and all he would do, was listen.

“I have been your teacher now since you were nineteen years old, Arthur,” he sighed, “and I only wish I had found you earlier. There were many years of history and information that I glossed over for I felt it was not important compared to your practical studies. I suppose I shall have to make up for those years of tutelage this evening.”

As Ruthven leaned over the table to set down his pipe the door to the library opened and they were joined by his wife Beatrix who was carrying a large silver tea tray. She was a few years younger than Ruthven, and displayed every characteristic one would imagine in a wife and mother. Arthur stood up and took the tray from her to pose it on the table.

“I thought the gentlemen might be needing some tea,” she said, folding her arms and smiling at Arthur. “Arthur, I swear, every time I see you you are a little bit more handsome.”

Arthur blushed and sat back down, but not before giving a glance to Ruthven who was already pouring himself a cup of tea.

“No need for jealousy,” said Beatrix, putting her hand on her husband’s shoulder.

“I’m not jealous,” Ruthven responded matter of fact-ly, “I simply enjoy my infused beverages and thought I ought not to disturb your embarrassment of my pupil.” He lifted the cup to his mouth but the moment it touched his tongue he spat it back out.

“Honestly Ruthven, with your amount of wizarding knowledge I would have assumed you would have known that tea is hot,” Beatrix walked back over to the library door. “It was nice seeing you, Arthur,” she said, smiling warmly at him one more time before leaving.

“Women are more trouble than they’re worth, Arthur,” said Ruthven, still nursing his burnt tongue, “and you would do well to stay away from them. Especially now.”

Ruthven composed himself before speaking further.

“Now where was I?” his voice had drifted away from its serious tone of earlier, Beatrix’s interruption had thrown his sensibilities.

“History,” said Arthur, taking a biscuit off of the tray.

“History, yes,” said Ruthven, leaning back in his chair. “Do you recall the name that was spoken this evening, the name of the wand?”

“Helsmoor,” said Arthur without hesitation, “but I don’t know much about it. Though you might not believe me, I have read several books on magic, but the history of this item is not one that springs quickly to my mind.”

“Well it is not a person, it is a place my dear boy, I would have thought the suffix of –moor would have been an indication in that direction?” Ruthven smiled.

“My geography was never the stuff of wonders,” said Arthur, not returning the smile, “go on.”

“Helsmoor is in the North, and it used to be home to a place where wizards would go to learn from other wizards, a school of sorts, but not like Hogwarts. This school was for experienced wizards, and the tests that would be administered there were not the kind that called for pen and paper. Duels were held, and it was not uncommon for a failing mark to be akin to a student’s death.”

Arthur took another sip of his tea but kept his face stern.

“There was one wizard who spent much of his time at Helsmoor, a very skilled wizard indeed. He was about your age when he began his time there as a tutor.”

“I don’t quite understand,” Arthur interrupted. “If one could be killed in a test, how would one learn and proceed to being a tutor?”

Ruthven’s face broadened into a smile. “You have an interesting point there, my lad. That would be very difficult to do indeed, but the wizard of which I speak did just that. The secret is as obvious as words written on a page. He never failed.”

The tea cup made a soft clink against the saucer as Arthur rested the empty vessel on his lap.

“He was very gifted,” Ruthven continued. “Of course this was all very long ago, long before I was born even. Most of what I am telling you now was told to my father by his uncle who did a brief period at Helsmoor. Herodotus Crove was his name, a bit of a notorious character himself, but I digress. Herodotus had the unpleasant satisfaction of meeting this young man early on in his studies. His real name was Julien Daumièrges.”

“A Frenchman?” said Arthur.

“Indeed, but that was not the name he went by. He called himself Benjamin Graves, I suppose he thought it sounded more English.” Ruthven paused for a moment. “I believe that Julien was a refugee from France, he did not come here of his own volition. There was much persecution in those days, Arthur, and I speak not only of religious intolerance but also of intolerance amongst wizards. There exists a hatred that goes beyond blood and that exists between practitioners of what we now call Traditional Magic and Dark Magic.”

“Traditional Magic being what we practise?”

“Precisely. Traditional Magic is the oldest form of the art that exists, though it has changed names over the centuries, and it encompasses the true ‘dark magics’. Dark Magic as it is classified against the Traditional is a relatively modern concept, beginning in the twelfth century. Am I going too fast?”

Ruthven noticed the look of confusion on Arthur’s face. It was a great deal of information for one young man to take in over the course of an evening, and it was rather late in the evening at that.

“Perhaps I should continue this tomorrow?” he asked.

“No, please go on,” said Arthur, “I am all right, only a little tired, but I am still able to listen. Go on.”

“As you wish. The groups of Dark magicians started to hold their own gatherings, to the point where they organised their own Council in an attempt to overthrow our own. They used all of the normal tricks, secret codes, spies, bribery, and every now and again even an assassination. This was always something expected of Muggles but sneered at by the wizards of the world. Perhaps its occurrence within our own community was inevitable. As you have probably already deduced, Graves was a highly active member of this society, as were many of Helsmoor’s most frequent visitors and patrons.”

“And the wand?” Arthur asked with a tone of intrigued that almost bordered on impatience.

“The wand was an anomaly, and it still is. It has no owner, and it never has had. It is composed of several of the most potent natural elements in the universe, and yet no wizard has ever been able to use it,” said Ruthven, picking up his cup, “and that is also what made Graves so furious. He dedicated his life to trying to use the wand, but to no avail.”

“I don’t understand,” Arthur stood up and began to pace. “If this wand cannot be used, why does it pose such a threat? Why are grown wizards, well respected wizards, trembling in their boots?”

“For that precise reason, Arthur,” said Ruthven, his smile from before had not quite left his face, “its capabilities are great but it is not known how to use them. I can say one thing, however, it would not exist were it completely useless.”

Arthur had stopped pacing and was back at the bookshelf where he had been before, examining the mandolin. Its details were so intricate, down to the lines of gold that adorned the bridge.

“What do you propose we do?” he said, his hand stroking one of the mandolin’s strings. “We know nothing of its whereabouts, and you are hardly conversing with a seasoned thief.”

“For now we shall wait,” Ruthven lifted the tea cup and took a sip. “Blast it all!” he shouted.

“What’s wrong?” Arthur turned around quickly.

“My tea is cold.”

Track This Story: Feed

Write a Review

out of 10


Get access to every new feature the moment it comes out.

Register Today!