Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Darkness Revealed

Donal entered his father’s study, slightly nervous and with a little trepidation. He was about to find out what it was to become a Seer, to know things that others would not. His father, Lord Borric, sat behind the desk, his grandfather Arutha seated on a chair next to the desk. Another chair, in front of the desk, was vacant. That chair was for him. As he closed the door, he suddenly wondered just what was going to happen. The servants had been given the day off, the house elves as well. Even his mother had “some personal visits to make,” and was away for a few days. There was just the three of them here…

His father gestured to the chair, and Donal sat down. “The time has come,” his father explained, “for you to become a Seer. You will first learn what it is to See, and then you will understand what it is to know things, to truly know some things that can never be revealed to anyone outside this family. I have great trust that you would not betray us Donal, but this requires more than trust. It will be impossible for you to reveal a small number of things to those who either cannot or do not need to know. If you attempt, or are perhaps forced, into telling this information, magical means, powerful magical means, will prevent you from doing so. It is not a curse, although it may seem as such, because it is the price we pay for becoming Seers.”

His grandfather stood. “We have all accepted this gift, and the price we pay, willingly, for countless generations, but you must be willing to do this. If you do not wish this, then the Talmorra line ends. Here.” His words were spoken softly, but with an intensity that shook Donal. He had never heard his grandfather speak with such gravity before.

“But I thought Seers didn’t have a choice. I thought they either could See or not,” Donal enquired. “How is it that we can choose?”

His father smiled a little. “Most Seers do not have choice. They simply have to accept what they are. The Talmorra line, however, has a choice, albeit a limited one. We can either embrace the gift with its conditions, or we can live the rest of our lives without it. But if we refuse the gift, then not a single Talmorra descendant will have that choice again. I cannot tell you why it is so, you will realise that for yourself if you decide to accept.”

But I wish I could, so that you could make a more informed decision.

Donal could almost hear his father’s thoughts. But what are you not telling me? he wondered. He knew that both his father and grandfather expected him to agree, perhaps even wanted him to. They, after all, had accepted the gift, and had not often expressed regrets. It unnerved him to think that he might know the future, but it made his pulse quicken with excitement at the possibilities.

He pushed aside the thoughts of what was expected from him with a little difficulty, he was his own person after all. The thought of being a Seer was enticing, but what were the downsides? He had known his family had secrets, some secrets that were never shared even between themselves because of the gift. But no one had gone mad, as far as he knew, and his father seemed to have few doubts about the decision he had made. He nodded to himself. He would accept.

His father smiled as he watched Donal reach his decision. “I’ll accept,” the boy replied, “even though there may be things I can never tell anyone. I’ll accept the gift because it appeals to me. It’s expected, certainly, but I know that. You have brought me up with the expectation that I will become a Seer, and I have that expectation of myself. Until today, I never knew there was an alternative choice, but even knowing that, I accept it because it’s what I want.” Donal felt himself become more confident even as he spoke. It was the right decision.

“Very well,” his grandfather answered. “We will perform the ceremony this evening, after dinner. Some things may be strange to you, but do not fear, you will come to no harm.”

You will be frightened anyway. At least I hope you won’t fear more than necessary.

Lord Borric rose and Donal knew that this meeting was over. He stood, nodded at his elders, and turned to leave. “Donal,” his father said as he reached the door. “Enjoy today,” he said with an odd tone the boy had never heard before. “Tomorrow will be very different.” Nodding without understanding, Donal left the study and headed off into the grounds.

Arutha turned to Borric after the boy had gone. “Did we do the right thing?” he asked. “Will he cope?”

Borric nodded, knowing what the older man meant. “He made his decision, just as we made ours, and for perhaps better reasons. He did not try to claim altruism, for the ‘greater good,’ or ‘to help others’ as I know I did, even though I wasn’t sure it was true. He accepted simply because that is what he wanted. As to coping, I have little doubt on that score. My sources from within the school–” he smiled wryly at Arutha’s raised eyebrows “–yes, I have them, and not just staff or students, but my sources tell me that he is doing acceptably well academically, and exceptionally well in other areas. That is, as long as he keeps within certain bounds, and doesn’t get himself expelled in the process. That might be awkward, but for now I think he has it under control. Yes he will cope. Probably better than I did.” Borric shuddered a little at the memory of the many dreams and visions that had bombarded him at the time he had accepted the gift.

Arutha stood, and walked towards the door of the study. “But did we do the right thing?” he asked again. “Is it right we should continue this line like this? Perhaps we should have never given him the choice, and allowed the gift to die with us.” He turned and walked out, shaking his head.

Lord Borric answered to an empty room. “Perhaps we should have. But, even knowing what we know, I will not end the line. Doing that has a much greater price than I would pay.”

He reached for the telephone on his desk. Muggles, he thought as he lifted the handset, have an interesting way of doing things, but sometimes very practical ways.

There were arrangements to make.

——-

Donal returned to his father’s study with his father and grandfather after dinner. There had not been much conversation during the meal, Donal occupied with his own thoughts on what might happen that night, his father and grandfather attempting to make light conversation, but they too lapsed into long periods of silence, their own thoughts pre-occupying them. They entered the room which was dimly lit with a single candle by the door. Lord Borric crossed the room to his desk, and picked up something from it, Arutha gently restrained Donal from entering further into the room. “Do not be frightened, Donal. You will not be harmed,” he whispered into the boy’s ear. Donal half turned towards his grandfather with a confused expression to ask what he meant, when his father stood again in front of him, holding a blindfold.

“You need to wear this,” his father gestured with the blindfold. Somewhat confused, he allowed his father to put it over his eyes and secure it behind his head. “Trust me, Donal, it is better this way.” The two adults led him across the room to what Donal judged must be near the back wall, near the large mirror. A quiet light grating sound was heard for a few moments, and the smell of cold, moist air wafted into Donal’s face.

There must be a secret door behind the mirror!

“Be careful of the stairs,” his father cautioned. “There are fifty-four of them,” he added, allowing Donal to work out when he would reach the bottom. Lord Borric proceeded down the stone steps, leading Donal, Arutha behind the boy steadying him from falling. As they descended, Donal counted the steps he took, becoming aware of a slight smoky smell that grew stronger as he continued. Eventually they reached the bottom, their footsteps echoing slightly more as the proceeded along a corridor. Occasionally, something dripped onto his head, startling him. He reached out and touched the wall. It was damp, very damp. Probably water dripping on him then. His father slowed his pace, footsteps echoing far more now as they entered what Donal guessed to be a larger space, perhaps a cave of some sort.

Lord Borric carefully led Donal to a deep shaft in the middle of the large room, stopping the boy half a step before the edge. The smoky smell was quite strong now, seeming to rise up from the shaft. “In front of you Donal, is a deep hole. In a little while, you will step into it, but do not fear, you will not be hurt.”

Arutha stepped up to a lectern that was set off to one side, and began to read aloud from the book that was placed upon it. “I, Arutha Talmorra, Seer and servant, invoke the ceremony of gifting for my grandson Donal Talmorra. I, Arutha Talmorra, Seer and servant, call upon those in attendance to make their presence known.” Donal heard various shuffling sounds and footsteps from what must be a number of other people near him, and voices softly speaking single words, such as “Here” or “Present” or “Aye.” A few simply grunted. He thought he recognised one or two, but could not be certain. His father’s voice then spoke in a commanding tone, reading from the lectern Arutha had vacated, “I, Borric Talmorra, Seer and servant, father of Donal Talmorra, call upon those present to bear witness to the ceremony of gifting. I, Borric Talmorra, Seer and servant, father of Donal Talmorra, invite Him to make his presence known to us, and to present my son, Donal Talmorra, with the gift.” Donal heard a slithering, scraping sound from inside the shaft in front of him. Something was climbing up towards him. Somewhat apprehensive, despite his grandfather’s reassurances, Donal subtly slipped his wand into his hand. Just because he was blindfolded didn’t mean he couldn’t prepare for the worst. The sounds paused, and then the smoky smell became a stench as something breathed on him. He suppressed the urge to cough, trying to breathe as shallowly as he could. Instinct made him stand very still, even though every nerve in his brain was shouting RUN!. To run would be to fail, possibly dangerous. He felt something place itself on his head, some kind of paw perhaps, but with long fingers, or claws or perhaps talons. Sweating with near panic, he recalled his grandfather’s words: “Do not be frightened, Donal. You will not be harmed.” But could Arutha be certain of that fact? He began to understand why his father thought the blindfold necessary. Perhaps whatever it was was terrifying to look at. His father spoke again in that commanding tone. “I, Borric Talmorra, Seer and servant, father of Donal Talmorra, ask that you present to my son Donal Talmorra your gift. He is of the blood, in direct descent of the line of Talmorra, in order with The Accords.” In a quieter voice he added, “Donal, step into the shaft and accept the gift of Seeing.”

Donal hesitated. This was something completely unexpected. Accepting the gift and the conditions that went with it was one thing. Stepping into a possibly bottomless hole with a creature he could not see, trusting his father who had never spoken to him of any of this was madness! Just what were The Accords? He knew his family had an assortment of contacts and dealings, some of which he thought the Ministry of Magic would not approve, but this was a completely different league! What on earth was his family truly involved with?

Suddenly, amidst his panic, he had a moment of clarity. This was a test. A test of what, he wasn’t sure, but it was a test. It had to be. Almost everything he had experienced from entering the study, certainly everything from passing through the secret door could be easily conjured to fool his senses. That was why he was blindfolded, so that he had to rely on his other senses. Sounds and smells, easily conjured. He had touched only water and stone whilst down here, and they could easily be real, no need to conjure them. The paw or claw or whatever was on his head could easily have been made, a stage prop of some sort. The rest was illusionary, had to be illusionary. Therefore it was a test of trust, of loyalty. This was not how one became a Seer, it was simply a ruse for something else.

Removing the blindfold would perhaps give some answers or confirmations, but it would also show a lack of trust, and perhaps indicate failure. Keeping the blindfold on might show a certain amount of stupidity, but would not breach trust. He began to doubt whether there really was a hole in front of him. He would not be harmed apparently. If there was no hole, he would be fine. If there was a hole, he had his wand, he could float down without harm, or someone else might even levitate him back out. He would walk forwards and find out. That was how to pass the test.

Calmer now, his breathing slowed. There was no danger. With a slight grin, he stepped forward confidently.

The ground beneath his feet disappeared and he felt himself falling. With a sudden moment of panic, he realised that there was indeed a hole, and terror overtook him as the smoky smelling thing embraced him, pinning his arms to his sides, as they fell down the shaft locked together…

——-

Donal stood on a mountain with the sun nearly setting. Shadows were long in the valley, and growing longer and darker as the sun continued to sink into the horizon. His companion spoke, the voice sending shivers down his spine, “The sun will below the horizon soon, and then darkness will cover everything.” Donal felt as though his companion was a danger, but he was safe. For now, anyway. He nodded in agreement as the shadows grew longer, but the creeping night chilled his soul.

“What happens when there is no light?” he asked.

His companion smiled in anticipation. “When there is no light, then everything will be covered in the dark.” Donal shivered again, but not from cold. “Once everything has been covered with the dark, the darkness will infuse into it, until all becomes one within the darkness, and there is only the darkness.”

The shadows were on the mountain slopes now, the valley already nearly dark. A numbing chill ran through his body as a finger of shadow touched his foot. He stepped away from it, and the chill passed. “Will everything fall to darkness?” he asked.

His companion nodded. “It is the way of things. The world, the universe, even creation itself will end, consumed by darkness.” The sun was almost below the horizon now and the horrific blackness of the night was almost total. The darkness was all around him, closing him in, touching him with its numbing cold and sinister chill.

He gasped as the darkness seemed to seep into his very being, the sun now gone, and tried to fight against the freezing terror. He felt like he was drowning, being pulled into the blackness. “No!” he cried. “Father promised I would be safe!”

His companion chuckled, if something that had no form could chuckle. “And so you shall, my young Talmorra. In line with The Accords, you shall stand within the darkness but remain yourself. Stop fighting, it is your own fear that consumes you. Stop fighting and See!”

Donal, in desperation, fought harder to push away the darkness, to push it out of himself, but quickly grew weary. It was hard to fight something that was so insubstantial, so vague. As his struggles ceased, his panic eased as he realised that the darkness did not seem to be harming him, other than its cold chill. He was safe, albeit imprisoned, within the darkness. But was he actually even imprisoned? There was nothing around him, no ground, no mountain, no valley, nothing but the total and complete blackness.

“Why is it so dark?” he asked, a strange question, but the only one that made any sense now.

“At the end, it is always dark,” the darkness replied. “Everything will die and fall. Things die because they become corrupt. Life itself dies because the processes to maintain life become corrupt through illness and age, until eventually they stop. People’s hopes die, because the harsh reality of the world corrupts their dreams.”

“Will I die?”

“Eventually, yes, but not here and not now. And if you should survive until this moment comes to pass, unlikely though that may be, the darkness will not kill you. But eventually, even you would see no point in continued existence in a place like this, so you would choose to die.”

“And in order that we can survive in the darkness, we have the ability to See?”

“Yes. You can See, even here, even at the end. That is why you can survive. And from here, you can achieve some of you greatest visions. But be warned, they will not always make sense to you at the time.”

“So because we can See, we can survive in the darkness. But Father called himself Seer and servant. Your servant?”

“Yes.”

Donal gulped. He wanted to See, but he needed to See something good, something positive, after this revelation. He closed his eyes, even though he was surrounded in darkness, and let his mind wander. The image of Avery entered his mind, although this was an older boy, probably a sixth or seventh year. Avery was smiling, and polishing a badge. Head Boy? Donal grinned to himself. Surely not. The image was replaced with that of Agatha Swales, but now a young woman, wearing the badge of the Head Girl. The scene cut to the Great Hall, and what he saw next shocked him. Avery and Agatha were holding hands! Recoiling in surprise, the images in his mind ceased.

“It will happen,” the darkness commented, and Donal knew that it was true. He couldn’t explain it, but he knew everything that he had Seen here would happen. The darkness spreading over everything, but he alone able to stand within it, even the images of Avery and Agatha.

——-

Donal awoke in a dark room with a gasp. He was still trapped in the darkness! Then he became aware he could feel that he was sitting in a chair, his wand still in his hand. He steadied his nerves, and looked around. The room was not pitch black, and he could make out enough to know he was back in his father’s study. He heard voices nearby, just outside the room, probably his father and grandfather. He stood, and crossed to the door. As he opened it, both men turned to towards him from the hall beyond. His father nodded and smiled. “It’s late, and I suggest that you sleep. We can talk about what happened in the morning. I’m sure you have questions.” Recognizing that his father meant it as more than a suggestion, he nodded and headed toward his room, suddenly realising just how exhausted he felt.

——-

The Story
Chapter 2: Bugger Off
Chapter 4: New First Years

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