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It felt so weird to set foot on American soil. Of course I had been to several states on the American continent before. Then again, no known European had seen America before me. It was so confusing, but it felt great.

We had landed somewhere on the Atlantic coast of Mexico, on a stretch of Caribbean beach. It was warm, and the air was filled with flowery scents.

“So this is America?” Caius Antonius asked me.

“Yes, this is America,” I confirmed, “Just don’t let that name slip… I don’t want to cause more paradoxes than necessary.”

“How can you be sure that America will ever be named ‘America’ if I don’t pass it on?”

“Oh, stop it, please! I’m already sufficiently confused,” I answered wearily.

“As you wish… What do we do now?”

“We need to go to a city called Tikal, and then we need to convince the people there to let us take a certain animal back home,” I explained.

“Who lives here?” the Admiral wanted to know.

I sighed. I hadn’t planned on leaving ancient Roman with that kind of knowledge… but it looked as though that couldn’t be helped.

“They call themselves ‘Maya’, and their culture is already quite highly developed. Although of course it will develop further over the next centuries.”

“And what kind of animal are we talking about here? How do we get to Tikal, and who will we contact once we arrive?”

“So many questions… And I wish I knew all the answers. The animal is called ‘Phoenix’, and strictly speaking, it’s not an animal. It’s one of the most powerful magical beings on Earth. Tikal… well, that’s a problem. The city is quite far away from here, and the way we’d have to go leads through jungles for most part. I had planned to go alone, and by, erm, not quite usual means.”

“I’ll come with you,” Admiral Antonius said immediately.

“I don’t think that’s such a great idea. You shouldn’t meet any Maya, and the same goes the other way around,” I objected.

“Just for the sake of your timeline?” Antonius asked.

“For the sake of our timeline,” I corrected.

“No, your timeline; it’s not mine, seeing as most things that are past for you are future for me,” he answered.

“Whatever. You shouldn’t do it.”

“What if something goes wrong? You might need my help. Plus, if you get lost, how do we get back to Rome?”

“I’m not planning on getting lost, but that’s a point,” I admitted. After all Antonius actually might prove to be useful.

“How do we get there? You said something about unusual means of transport,” Antonius wanted to know.

“It’s a technique known as ‘apparition’,” I said. “But what about the ship?”

“Well, it’ll lie on the beach until we return. I’ll make up a story for the crew, something about having to find out exactly where we are. Don’t worry about that,” the Admiral replied.

“Hm, I guess I’m running out of arguments here. Okay, come with me if you must. We’ll set off tomorrow morning. But I need to find some herbs first.”

“What kinds of herbs?” Antonius asked.

“Well, I need to brew a potion that will allow us to understand Maya language and talk in it ourselves.”

“You’re right, we obviously need that. Are you sure we’ll find the herbs you need here? I wouldn’t want to go back to Rome to fetch them, you see,” Admiral Antonius remarked.

“No, they should grow here. At least they did grow here when I last came here,” I said.

“When you will come here, you mean?”

“You think it’s funny, eh?”

“I’m sorry. If you told me what we’re looking for, I could help you find these herbs,” the Admiral offered.

I explained what the plants looked like and which places they were most likely to grow in, and we set off to search for them.

When the sun set over Mexico we had found everything I needed, and I lighted a fire outside the ship. The crew was staying on the ship, positively scared by now. Antonius went to fetch a cauldron from the galley.

“Do you have to be a sorcerer to brew a potion? Shouldn’t that always work as long as you use the right ingredients?” he wanted to know as I set to work.

“Well, some potions could be brewed by a non-magical person,” I admitted, “But most can’t. Don’t ask me why it doesn’t work though, but there have been tests. Of course, some potions involve actual incantations, and need to be a sorcerer to use them.”

“I see. Can you tell me more about those Phoenixes we’re looking for?” he requested curiously.

“They’re a species of birds. No one really knows where they came from, or how they developed,” I began my explanation. I told Antonius a little more about the magical powers of Phoenixes, and about the magical properties of their feathers. I also tried to explain what Grindelwald had been up to, but I tried to give away as little actual information about our time as I could.

“That sounds interesting; I think I can see why knowing or not knowing them would change your history – my future, that is – quite a bit,” Antonius commented.

“Indeed. We need to convince the Maya sorcerers to allow one of their Phoenixes to come with us, because that’s what already happened.”

“Well, what could possibly go wrong? If it already happened, it has to happen again, doesn’t it?”

“Theoretically yes. But practically? I don’t want to rely on it,” I said.

The Translation Potion was now beginning to shimmer in a metallic shade of light green, and pinkish fumes rose from its surface. I thought it would work; at least the colours were looking the way they were supposed to be.

“The potion seems to be ready now,” I informed Antonius, “It has to cool down slowly for several hours which means we can sleep now and set off tomorrow.”

Antonius looked at the potion and said, “Hm, looks interesting. Yes, let’s get some rest first.”

We both went back to the ship which was lying at anchor a little off the shore to sleep in our quarters. When I woke up the next morning and went on deck, the Admiral was already giving instructions to his officers. I went off board to take a little morning stroll.

After a while Caius Antonius joined me.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

“I think so. I just hope the ship will still be here when we get back,” I replied.

“It will; we shouldn’t waste too much time though, you never know what kind of ideas my crew dig up. There are no towns anywhere near, are there?”

“No, at least none that I know of.”

“That’s good. So, how do we get to Tikal?” Antonius wanted to know.

“Just take my hand,” I instructed the Admiral, “We’re going to vanish here and re-materialise in almost no time in another place.”

“Sounds fascinating,” Antonius remarked and took my hand.

We disapparated, and apparated again in a small group of trees outside Tikal.

We stood on a low hill and had a magnificent sight upon the city. Tikal was built of stone houses, and with such skill that Rome looked like a provincial town compared to it. Of course I didn’t share this opinion with Antonius. Even though the classical period of the Maya culture hadn’t yet begun, the city already looked very majestic. And it was big.

There was a temple in the shape of a pyramid at the very centre of Tikal. I knew that the priests’ houses would be grouped around it, and that these priests were most likely all sorcerers. They were the ones we would have to contact. Unfortunately I had no idea of their religion and couldn’t possibly tell who we had to talk to. I knew I should’ve done more research, but I had to leave our own time in a hurry, as you know.

“That’s absolutely amazing!” Caius Antonius exclaimed, looking down at the city.

“Oh yes, it is,” I agreed, “Now let’s first take the Translation Potion, and then we have to find out where we can get a Phoenix in this place.”

I took the two little flasks out of the pocket of my robe and handed one to Antonius.

“I’ve been wondering,” Antonius said, “Do people still speak Latin in your time? Because you didn’t need this potion to talk to us.”

“Most of us don’t; many languages we know are related to Latin, but quite different. I always found Latin fascinating though, and that’s why I learned it when I had the chance.”

After we had both swallowed our potion, I got out my old Invisibility Cloak. Admiral Antonius was very much impressed by it.

“Why do we need it though? Can’t we just pretend to be visitor?” Antonius asked.

“I wouldn’t feel well about that,” I replied, “We have to influence these people as little as possible if I still want to recognise the time I’ll return to.”

“Yes, that makes sense,” Admiral Antonius admitted.

Under the protection of the cloak we went down into the city.

We had to be extremely careful not to run into anyone as we tried to get to the temple on the shortest route. Antonius must have been absolutely fascinated by seeing all these people whose existence he had never known of, and who were wearing strange clothes and working with strange tools. Luckily he had enough self restraint not to stop and stare.

It wasn’t possible to avoid colliding with a few people, the streets were all very crowded. But no one paid much attention to it. It still took us about an hour to get to the centre of the city.

“What do we do now?” Antonius whispered to me.

“We need to find someone who looks like the head of the sorcerers,” I replied.

“Sure, can’t imagine any easier task,” Antonius muttered.

The temple was built in the middle of a large open place. On one side of the place there was a row of houses; the magic detector I had brought with me showed strong signs of magic in these houses, and I assumed they were the place where the Maya sorcerers lived and worked.

“It’s here,” I muttered to Admiral Antonius.

He nodded. “Yes, I can feel it. And what do we do now? Just walk in and say hello?” he asked ironically.

“Basically – yes,” I confirmed.

“You’re mad, Moody,” he commented.

Yes, I thought, I had really been mad to consider this whole expedition at all. I found myself worrying more and more about the consequences for our timeline. What would the world look like when I came back to our time?

But of course it was of little use to think about that right now. Albus had been right; what Grindelwald had done had to be changed back again.

I took a deep breath and steered Antonius to the largest of the houses.

Still under the cloak, I knocked on the door. A moment later we heard footsteps from within the house and the door swung open.

But we couldn’t see anyone.

“Definitely magic,” Antonius whispered.

I nodded to him and said aloud, “We wish to speak to the high priest!” I hoped I had used the correct title.

Apparently I had because a moment later a man in a long robe appeared from the darkness of the house.

“Show yourselves!” he commanded.

Naturally, I had no intention to do that. Instead I just walked into the house, dragging Antonius with me, and slammed the door shut behind me.

The Maya priest, who clearly wasn’t used to being treated with such a lack of respect, jumped in surprise and began muttering some completely senseless spells, probably in an attempt to impress us.

My eyes had soon adjusted to the twilight in his house, and I could see our surroundings fairly well. The priest was a short, slightly overweight man of maybe around forty years of age. He looked a bit intimidated but was trying to keep his composure.

“For the last time, who are you?” he insisted, but his voice betrayed a severe lack of conviction.

I pulled the cloak off us in what I considered a theatrical fashion and announced, “We are sorcerers from a place so far from here that you don’t even know it, travelling a long distance just to visit you, and this is the way you treat us?”

The Maya priest looked even more intimidated and answered, “I’m sorry. You see, I’m not used to visitors who have the cheek to behave that way around me.”

“Yes, I understand,” I said half heartedly, then went on, “We need to talk to you.”

“As you wish. Come with me.”

He led us on into a room that was serving as his living room. It was richly furnished, and an exotic scent was hanging in the air. The priest guided us to an assemble of sofas, and we all sat down.

“What do you want to know?” he asked.

“We’re here to find a creature we desperately need,” Antonius started the explanation.

“And what would that be?” the priest inquired.

“A Phoenix,” I replied, hoping that the Translation Potion would be able to find the Maya expression for the name.

The priest seemed to know what I was talking about, because he said,” A Phoenix? And you want to take it with you to wherever you came from?”

“Yes, that’s the basic idea,” Antonius said.

“No way,” the Maya objected with determination.

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