Read Zak Turner - A Twist In Time Online
Authors: Noel Pogson
Sir Philip found Zak and Tallion in adjacent beds in the main ward of the infirmary. He’d been in these very beds on a number of occasions during
school career, usually after a particularly bruising Balayage match. He winced to see his son in here though, before he’d even been through his house selection ceremony!
Nurse Salvae told the baronet that she was going to let the boys rest until five thirty, to give their bodies a natural rest, and then, if their magic was showing signs of recovery, they would revive them in time for the Welcome Banquet and the house selection process.
“Sometimes we just need to let nature take its course Sir Philip. I can’t believe that these two have been at death’s door yet again! At least it wasn’t their parents’ fault this time!”
The baronet wasn’t so sure about the last bit, but settled himself down on a chair that he’d conjured between the boys’ beds, and decided to just wait there with them. He wasn’t usually someone to sit waiting by a bed, but he’d found himself in this situation twice now since Zak Turner had burst into his son’s life.
* * *
Antares Malchus was unpleasant at the best of times. At the worst of times, he was downright dangerous. To say that he was a little bit annoyed with the outcome of his attack on the Middlehams was putting it mildly; he was positively seething, his eyes flashing dangerously.
What should have been the simplest thing to achieve, the killing of an unsuspecting adult and a defenceless child, seemed to have gone completely awry! He could
reconcile himself with Sir Philip having bested his placemen at the Wizard Council. Almost, but not quite. No-one failed Antares Malchus in such a way and went unpunished.
But to have failed to kill the boy?! That was pathetic beyond belief! His spy at Kirkstall had relayed what she’d seen of the battle, but she hadn’t witnessed the scenes in the cloister. Malchus therefore didn’t know that it was Zak and Tallion themselves who’d withstood his experienced assassins, but assumed it must have been some other wizard protectors. His spy had also relayed news about the aftermath, and the arrival of Sir Philip himself at the scene.
He hadn’t heard from any of his assassins since the attacks either, and was therefore missing plenty of crucial details. He was beginning to realise that they must have been killed or captured themselves otherwise they would have returned. If they
survived, they’d feel his anger following such an abysmal failure!
He stood up and hurled an Obliterate spell at the wall, smashing a hole right through into the next room. Why was everyone so WEAK!
He closed his eyes and stopped pacing the room, breathing deeply. This was the first time that anyone had withstood him since he began to walk this murderous pathway to paganism, and he was determined that it would be the last! The Middlehams would now become an almost impossible target, as extra security would spring up all around them. He’d have to carry on his campaign in a different manner, for the time being.
He’d get them both in the end though, their survival this time only made their eventual destruction all the more inevitable.
* * *
Professor Trell used the portal to Raby Castle, and then ported to Kirkstall Abbey, straight to the Warming Room outside the hidden cellar. He arrived just as the construction wizards started to clear things away so that they could restore the collapsed roof above the cellar. There was about an hour’s work ahead of them to return it all to its former ruined state.
Their first act was to free Ross Burns’ body from the rubble, and with tears running down his cheeks, the headmaster levitated his former student onto a stretcher and conjured a sheet to cover him. This young man, who held such promise, who’d been so selfless and loyal, had now left them, pushed into the world beyond. As a wizard, Orion Trell knew that death was but a doorway to the next life, but to cross the threshold so young was still a tragedy in all respects.
There was a solemn silence as everyone present paid their respects to Ross, and then the headmaster tenderly moved his body to one side. The construction wizards rapidly set about levitating and magically fixing the Abbey stonework, putting every stone back in place. They were about fifteen minutes into the job when they uncovered a foot protruding from the rubble, and paused.
“Professor Trell, there’s another body in here. It has to be a wizard, there’s no way anyone else could have been in the room.”
“Keep going with the restoration Remus, I don’t know who it is, but I know why he was there, and what he did before the roof collapsed. We’ll get him out in due course.”
“Right you are boss!”
The headmaster watched the construction wizards lift the rock and rubble piece by piece, and fix it all back in place, slowly revealing the body in the cellar. Although he was badly injured, Federic Gelert’s face had somehow survived almost unscathed. The headmaster recognised him as one of Malchus’ henchmen, and knew him to be a skilled fighter. Strong emotions ran through the headmaster’s mind when he thought about what the man had been doing when he died, but mixed in amongst them was admiration, if not awe, that the two eleven-year-olds had withstood such a notorious assassin!
The workmen magically pulled Gelert’s body from the rubble and laid it to one side as the restoration work rushed onwards. Time was of the essence, and they had to get everything back to normal as fast as possible so that the non-magical community didn’t realise that something was going on. Shadow-wizards were patrolling the abbey grounds surreptitiously casting charms on passers-by who showed too much interest, and concealing the activity in the ruins. The headmaster spotted the assassin’s wand amongst the rubble, and summoned it, pocketing it deep inside his robes.
A few minutes later a hand was uncovered, but this time the construction wizards simply glanced at the headmaster who gestured for them to keep going. It wasn't long before Niall McNair’s corpse was revealed, and he too was magically dragged from the rubble, together with his wand. The workmen laid him next to his fellow assassin, and his wand joined its compatriot inside the headmaster’s robes. Both would be regressed by experts at the Wizard Council to identify the crimes these men had committed not just that day, but during their whole adult lives.
The restoration was almost complete when the headmaster sent a messenger to the clerk of the Wizard Council asking him to convene a special meeting that night at eleven p.m. to discuss the events of the day.
“That’s it Professor Trell,” announced a satisfied looking Remus Pollard, the leader of the team of construction wizards. “It’s as good as new, well, as good as newly ruined!”
“Thank you Remus, it certainly looks as decrepit as before! I’ll recreate the portal and the false wall into the hidden cellar. The bodies of these two will be taken away by the shadow-wizards, who will be on guard until we’ve left.”
“Right you are Professor, we’ll be off then. Come on lads, time for a pint an’ a bite at the Howling Hound in London.”
Before they left, the construction wizards lined up and bowed their heads once more towards the body of Ross Burns, a few tears leaking down the cheeks of those who were parents. Then with a final nod towards the professor, they ported away with a series of whooshes.
* * *
Nurse Salvae checked over Zak and Tallion at about five thirty, and the pleased look on her face told Sir Philip, even before she opened her mouth, that they were already recovering.
“Normally I’d have left them here overnight Sir Philip, however, we want them to go through the selection process, and no doubt it will be politically expedient for them to show their faces at the Banquet? Before I revive them though, I want to do a thorough inspection of Tallion’s back. He got the full blast of the Libra Mortis, and I’m at a bit of a loss to know how he survived.”
Professor Trell arrived just in time to see Nurse Salvae cast a skilful levitation spell on Tallion, lifting and turning him over so that he was lying on his front. She then pulled down the bed sheet and lifted up his shirt.
All three adults made a sharp intake of breath as they saw that Tallion’s back was now raw and blackened, with a jagged scar developing between his shoulder blades. It was obvious now that the curse had definitely hit him, but somehow he’d survived!
“Good heavens!” exclaimed Nurse Salvae. “Why didn’t these injuries show up when we used the Revelio charms earlier?”
“It’s the first time anyone has survived a Libra Mortis, Honor, therefore it may well be the first time anyone has ever
The headmaster leaned forward and cast some more Revelio charms over Tallion’s back, and sure enough, the charms revealed nothing!
“Extraordinary...” muttered the headmaster. “Did you look at his back when he came in Honor?”
“Yes Orion, and there was nothing visible at all, this has all developed in the last hour!” exclaimed the nurse, in quite a flap about it.
“We should check Zak too,” said Sir Philip turning to the next bed. “I understand that he was close to fireplace too.”
Nurse Salvae nodded, quickly performed the same levitation spell on Zak. She pulled down the sheet, and lifted his shirt as they all held their breath. There was some mild inflammation, and some flash burns, but there was no blackness or scar.
“Well, I guess
was only hit by the magic from the exploding portal, which must have been free from the more lethal elements of the curse. I think I can heal this with normal magic,” affirmed the nurse, and proceeded to wave her wand over Zak’s back. Sure enough, the inflammation and the burns faded away, leaving no sign of injury. After a few more Revelio charms, she pronounced herself satisfied that Zak was fine, apart from his magical energy having become totally depleted.
a bit of a mystery though! Tallion we could maybe explain by saying that the curse drained his energy, but Zak…?”
Sir Philip was pretty sure he knew what had happened and looked at the headmaster with raised eyebrows. The headmaster nodded, but said nothing. Nurse Salvae, however, was a very clever mediwitch, and glanced up at Sir Philip as she spoke.
“It’s almost as if Zak shared
magical power with Tallion, but that would require some kind of magical bond if I’m not mistaken?”
“No-one must know Honor, please,” said the baronet quietly, glancing round to see if any of the other students might have overheard, but they were all magically asleep courtesy of some restful sleep potions.
The school nurse nodded, several things were now slotting into place in her mind. “Well, be that as it may, I still don’t understand how Tallion survived. Orion, have you any ideas?”
The headmaster appeared to be deep in thought, staring at the injuries on Tallion’s back. The scar, which had been a faint pink line when they first saw it, had already grown more vivid just in the last few minutes. Sir Philip was looking lovingly at his injured son, and shook his head slowly.
“Magical theory states that the Libra Mortis drains all the life energy from the victim,” said the headmaster thoughtfully, “and that’s why they die. It is possible, I suppose, that it only drains a certain amount of energy, and that if you have more than that amount then you’ll live. Because no one else has ever been hit by the curse and lived, that theory has never been seriously advanced or investigated. It’s not exactly something that you can test. We seem to have decided that Zak supplied all his magical energy to Tallion, so maybe between them they had enough for Tallion to survive?”
Nurse Salvae wasn’t aware of just how overwhelmingly powerful the two eleven-year-old wizards were, so it seemed like a rather fanciful explanation to her, but Sir Philip and Professor Trell knew, and were pretty much convinced that the theory must be right. A magical first!
“Honor, it’s very important for the boy’s safety that it does not become known that Tallion was hit by a Libra Mortis.”
The headmaster was looking at the school nurse in a very penetrating manner, and she almost flinched as she nodded in response.
“That absolutely must remain a secret between the three of us, and the boys of course, but I’ll leave you to tell them Philip.”
The baronet just nodded.
Nurse Salvae looked enquiringly at the headmaster, and asked, “Do you want me to try and heal him? We need to revive them both very soon if they are to attend the Banquet?”
“Yes please, do your best Honor.”
Nurse Salvae treated Tallion as well as she could, but the flesh injuries were very stubborn, and didn’t really respond to her magic. It was almost as if the skin around the scar was cursed! A lot of research was going to be needed to work out how to heal this injury.
Professor Trell then revived the two boys, along with the other students who’d been seriously injured, and by six o’clock, the infirmary was empty, and everyone’s attention focussed on the Banqueting Hall for the new first years house selection ceremony.
Nurse Salvae took Zak, Tallion, and the other injured first year, Tommy Smith, into one of the ante-rooms next to the Banqueting Hall. Tommy had been going down the stairs when the Kirkstall Portal exploded, and had been crushed by people falling on top of him. The other first years were already waiting in the ante-room, and turned to stare at the three newcomers as they walked in.
The first-years from Upper Nettleton recognised Zak and Tallion, and smiled at them. Robert, who was standing next to Sartrina, looked particularly pleased to see them, and Sartrina grinned as she surreptitiously waved them over to join her. The deputy headmistress had been explaining how the selection process worked with the Divining Orb, and turned as the door opened.
“Ah, boys. I’m glad you’ve managed to join us, I trust that you’re all feeling better after your rather abrupt arrival at the school?”
“Yes Miss,” Zak and Tallion replied in unison, followed just half a second later by Tommy, all of them going a bit pink as they answered. Zak and Tallion had never met the deputy head before, even though they’d been to the school several times during the summer. They scuttled over to Sartrina and Robert, whilst Tommy shuffled off to join the other first-years who’d come with him from Hawkstone.
“Good, good,” continued the deputy head. “I’m Professor McCathie, deputy head and potions teacher. I’ll be looking after you here until the selection ceremony is complete, and then later I’ll be taking your potions lessons.”
The deputy head walked over to another door in the room, and opened it to reveal the Banqueting Hall with nearly nine hundred chattering students sitting at the long benches. The Divining Orb was placed prominently on the circular platform in the middle of the room. The first years’ hearts sank, and they began to panic as they realised that they had to walk all the way along the platform to the Orb, and then go through the selection process right in the middle of the room!
Even Sartrina turned a little pale, but she was determined to go through with it, come what may.
“Remember, when I call out your name, just walk along the platform to the Orb and place both hands on it like I showed you. It will speak into your mind and tell you which house you’re in, and will also glow with the house colour.”
“There are six houses, as I’m sure you’re all aware, and when the Orb has made its selection you should descend the steps from the platform towards your house table. A prefect will stand up and welcome you. Don’t forget that everyone in the school has been through this same selection ceremony themselves, so they know exactly how you’re feeling about it! Does anyone have any questions?”
A bright-eyed but tiny Welsh boy put up his hand.
“Please Miss, what are the names of all the houses?”
“Aquila, Taurus, Lyra, Leo, Moncero and Draco. The houses group people together based on certain characteristics, but just because you’re selected for one house doesn’t mean that you don’t have the traits of the other houses within you too. We don’t tell students which house favours which characteristics in advance because that might influence your selection.”
Professor McCathie knew full well that the students with magical parents would mostly know which was which. Some parents even encouraged their children to ask for a particular house when they took hold of the Orb, but most realised that their children would be happiest in the house which matched them best. Forcing the issue tended to make life hard if you got it wrong.
The headmaster had entered the Hall and was now addressing the older students asking them to make their new housemates welcome.
“We’re ready for you now,” said the deputy head with a smile at the first years.
She walked out of the room and onto the main platform, then turned back to face the door and called out loudly,
A small thin girl with dark hair walked forward towards Professor McCathie, who motioned her to walk to the centre platform. She was nervous but determined as she put her hands on the Orb and everyone watched intently. The students furthest away all stood up so that they could see what was happening.
A smile broke out on the girl’s face, and the Orb glowed gold. A new ‘life’ student went and joined her housemates at the Lyra table.
A mousey-haired boy pushed his way through the other first years, marched confidently along the platform to the Orb, and quickly placed his hands on it. Within about two seconds the orb was glowing red, but it was another half a minute before the grinning Ben lifted his hands and jumped down the steps. His housemates at the Leo table cheered as another ‘student of courage’ found his home.
A swarthy boy with dark curly hair stepped forward, and made his way purposefully to the Orb. It took a bit longer this time for the orb to glow, but the green colours of Taurus lit up the eleven-year-old’s smiling face, and he made his way to where his new housemates were cheering and applauding, sitting down next to the prefect who greeted him with a handshake and a clap on the back.
The procession of students continued, with a surprisingly even split between all the houses. Of the Upper Nettleton students, Reuben Daniel joined Sebastian Azartus in Taurus, Robert Garnham joined his academic housemates in Aquila, and Emily Horton joined Tammi Andrews in Lyra.
A hush fell across the room as the very confident eleven- year-old marched towards the Divining Orb. Everyone knew the name ‘Malchus’, and what Shaul’s father stood for, and a fair number of students had suffered at the hands of his elder brother and sister here in the school. It was with some trepidation that they realised
Malchus was joining the school!
Zak and Tallion hadn’t realised they were standing within a couple of feet of Antares Malchus’ second son. The boy had looked around disdainfully at the other first years in the ante-room, and hadn’t spoken a word all the time they were there. Zak watched carefully as the rather solidly built, dark-haired Shaul reached out towards the Orb, and could have sworn it turned red even before he touched it!
“That’s a surprise,” murmured Tallion, “his father and brother are both Taurus, and I was sure that he’d follow them.”
Zak glanced round at the professors who were also watching intently, and saw a good number of them exchange raised eyebrows. Clearly they’d all thought the same! He noted one grey-haired professor near their end of the teachers table close his eyes and shake his head.
“Probably the head of Leo House,” murmured Tallion who’d also been watching the professors’ reactions. The Orb had very little to say to Shaul however, and less than ten seconds later he was stepping off the platform heading towards the Leo table. There was a muted cheer from the house, and the eleven-year-old more or less ignored the prefect who stood up to greet him and sat where he wanted.
Zak felt a jolt of emotion go through him as Tallion flinched at the sound of his name. Zak was feeling nervous, but had thought it was all his
feelings. Now he understood that he was experiencing Tallion’s feelings too!
Be strong Tallion, why are you worried?
Now everyone knows who I am Zak. The Middleham name is well-known, but hardly anyone would recognise us!
Tallion was right. Another hush fell over the hall as the students who’d been muttering about Shaul going into Leo now stopped and looked up at Tallion, nudging each other and muttering. No-one knew of course that the young blond-haired wizard had just survived an attempt on his life by Shaul Malchus’ father, but the irony of his selection coming immediately after Shaul’s was missed by very few!
Zak’s companion gave no outward sign of nervousness as he walked confidently along the platform to the Orb, ignoring the craning necks of those eager to glimpse the new aristocrat in school.
He was another one for whom the Orb had no difficulty in making up its mind, and within seconds a strong white light was illuminating Tallion’s hands and face. He didn’t let go for some time though as the Orb spoke to his mind, and when he did he had a worried frown on his face. Zak knew why, too. He’d heard what the Orb had to say to his friend because of the magical bond between them, and the talk of difficulty and danger ahead was hardly comforting!
Blimey Zak, no-one told us it was going to make a prophecy about our future!
If it said that about you, Tallion, what on earth’s it going to say about me?!
Whatever it says is fate’s choice Zak, we can’t change our path in life, we just have to follow it and do our best…
Tallion’s apparently genuine smile re-attached itself to his face as he approached the Moncero table. No-one there seemed to have had any doubt that he’d be joining them, and he was warmly welcomed. As Zak surveyed them from the privacy of the dimly lit anteroom, he realised that
students looked somehow very at ease with being in school, and confidence seemed to hover over them!
He was suddenly worried. He didn’t have that kind of confidence, he wasn’t a natural born leader, he was nervous whenever he was out of his own environment, and he shied away from being centre stage. The Orb would
put him in Moncero, he was sure of that. He suddenly felt very alone as he saw his friend almost absorbed by his new housemates.
Neither boy had noticed the venomous look that crossed Sargas Malchus face as Tallion stood by the Orb. They didn’t see him reach inside his robes for his wand either, although in the end he didn’t draw it out. The headmaster saw it though, his hand already wrapped round his own wand. He’d been watching Sargas closely from the moment Professor McCathie had called out Tallion’s name, and his original surmise about the attacks on the Middlehams was confirmed, as were his fears for Tallion’s safety at the school.
The list of names continued, and slowly but surely the crowd of waiting first years dwindled away.
Hafrith Proudfoot would have felt aggrieved by the response from the rest of the school to her daughter’s call for selection. The muted murmuring amongst the older students didn’t abate, and the hush that had accompanied the selection process of Shaul and Tallion was not repeated. Sartrina, however, didn’t notice, and she self-consciously walked to the Orb and placed her hands purposefully either side of it. It was about thirty seconds before the Orb started to glow red, and a surprised look crossed both Sartrina’s and Tallion’s faces!
thought the blond-haired wizard to his companion,
I would never have expected that!
I don’t think Sartrina expected it either, judging by the look on her face!
Heck, I hope she’s okay. Some people get in a right state if they’re put in a house they didn’t expect!
Sartrina gathered herself and took her hands off the Orb as the red glow faded. She took a deep breath, and turned to face the Leo girl prefect who’d come to guide her to her seat. The two exchanged a few quick words, and the prefect smiled as she put her hand on Sartrina’s shoulder as they walked back to the table.
Augusta Rhenton was placed in Taurus, and Gemma Tarleton ended up in Draco where she was greeted with a knowing smile by the rather spooky looking prefect who’d stood up to welcome her even
the Orb turned purple!
Zak felt his stomach lurch, and his legs started walking towards the Orb seemingly of their own accord. The last few minutes had been very difficult for the first-generation-wizard as he became more and more convinced that he was going to be separated from Tallion.
Zak, be strong,
came Tallion’s voice in his mind.
You have no need to fear. Of all the students here, you are destined to be in Moncero.
I’m no leader Tallion. You know that!
The best leaders are those who don’t seek it Zak, your pathway is not your choice, it’s fate’s choice.
Zak, like Sartrina, wasn’t getting too much attention, as he took hold of the Orb. He was surprised to find it warm to the touch, and it felt to be almost
under his hands, not really wriggling, but somehow very clearly moving! A soft, gentle, and yet powerful woman’s voice spoke slowly and calmly into his mind as the sights and sounds of the room faded away.
Ahh! The one with the power to withstand all. The one with the courage to attempt all. The one with the vision to lead all. Long has
appearing been foretold!