DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction written purely for amusement. I am not making any money on this. Copyright on all Harry Potter characters (except Denga and Bode Righteous) and the world, etc. belongs to J.K. Rowling. Thanks for letting me borrow them, J.K.R., they're a barrel of laughs!
It hurt even Lord Voldemort’s ears, after all this time. It was too quiet. The noise of his apparition reverberated strangely through the grasslands of the African plain, an oddly civilized noise at odd variance with its disturbingly calm wildness. Had anyone noticed?
No. There were none here now to contest the will of Lord Voldemort. Even those ignorant tribal Muggle savages were miles away, grubbing in the dirt for worms, or whatever it was these creatures ate. Lord Voldemort did not care to waste his thoughts on analyzing the habits of the animals. No, he had come for a different purpose entirely. Wormtail had tracked the signs here, down to this very place. At first, Voldemort had refused to believe that such a powerful artifact would be found here, in this hole of a country. But when he had examined the signatures himself, he had had to accept it.
Someone, somewhere in this African plain, had found a way to defeat death. Here, in the most unlikely of places, a dirty filthy Mudblood had done what Lord Voldemort had failed to do.
Voldemort fingered his wand, and wordlessly uttered a general magical tracer spell. Golden sparks flew into the air, in a haze of brilliance, and lingered. They lit up a trail for him, which showed traces of magical use. It was not far now. Voldemort stalked after the golden trail. As he passed each point, he toyed with the idea of erasing it. No. That was boring. Just for fun, Lord Voldemort turned the haze behind him into invisible poisonous smoke that would turn any Muggle or Mudblood that passed through it into just the sort of delectable lizard which was the favorite comestible item of the tribal Muggles living here. Voldemort liked the delicious irony of this unsuspecting cannibalism. But whether these transfigured dead died by blowgun or not was a matter of indifference to him. There were plenty of other predators around.
And around him, it was unusually quiet. Too quiet, thought Lord Voldemort. His sharp eyes and ears could sense the movements of all the witches and wizards around him, and it was just as good for keeping track of small animals. There were none around. Voldemort decided that the nature of the grassland suited his humor. He knew well that the seeming peace was misleading. It was quiescent now, but beneath and behind it all, he knew that predators stalked. Numerous small animals died behind the placid face of it, slain by predators. It had a savage underside, this place; behind it, was a wall of carnage. Dog eat dog. Lion eat deer. Snake bite human.
Ah, yes. He liked the sound of that last one. This place was a parallel of his own ideals, he decided. Here, there was no room for the weak. The strong soon killed those who were…undeserving.
He did not have far to walk. The signals increased in intensity, finally puddling around a seemingly innocent looking boulder, in a haze of brilliance that almost rivaled the light of the hot, hard eye of the sun up above.
Ah. Here it was. His eyes piercing through the shadows, Lord Voldemort could see the huddled form of the little boy who was the source of the death magic. The boy’s body lay like something lifeless, and a dirty, grubby length of stick clutched in his hands. Even as he looked upon it, Voldemort could feel the magical enchantments placed upon the boulder. Voldemort sensed them with his mind, probing intently. Basic things: charms of invisibility, disguising of smell, of deflection of perception, distraction filters, and…one more. He smiled grimly to himself, though it was not a happy smile, but one of proud arrogance. A lesser wizard would have immediately whipped out his wand, and used it to attempt to break through the enchantments. But Voldemort was a highly skilled wizard, and he immediately recognized the principal charm that knitted together all the lesser charms of protection. It was a Ward of Magical Potential, and possibly the most powerful one he had seen to date. This spell was very specifically tailored. If it detected any sense of magic beyond the protective enchantments, it would immediately deactivate the wand of the marauding wizard. Even the Spirit Dreamers were only safe because they were, for the most part, Muggles.
But Voldemort knew how to circumvent this. The spell worked mainly by detecting the use of wands, after all, because almost every wizard under the sun needed to channel their magic through something. But Voldemort had learned the art of channeling his own magic through any implement. He rarely used it, for even he had to admit that the difficulty of the thing was almost beyond him, but it was a useful skill, and one that had served him well.
Extending his hands, and feeling the curves of the universe under the rock in his palms, Voldemort closed his eyes and wordlessly concentrated on a single spell. And silently, like sheets falling from a washing line, he felt the spells dissolve around him and dissipate, leaving nothing behind but a lonely little rock baking in the sun, and a seemingly dead body.
Lord Voldemort no longer needed to eat, for he had early dispensed with that human function (and also other, less pleasant, but equally necessary human functions). He had dismissed them as being inefficient, and now used several spells of photosynthesis to gain energy directly from the sun. Being so, he no longer had salivary glands.
But if he had, he would have drooled.
Showing a rare sign of reverence for something other than himself, Voldemort bent over, and gently prized the ugly old stick out of the boy’s hands. It was his! Here it was: the thing that had separated this boy from the other Spirit Dreamers, the missing piece that would have enabled him to break the final link, and defeat death once and for all. Voldemort sneered down at the seeming corpse. Stupid, ignorant little fool that it was, not to know of it! The child had thought it was only a stick after all, or else it would not now have been so easy. Did this little Mudblood, this pitiful filth of humanity, even realize that it had been-for lack of a better word-a wizard? No! It never knew the power of the thing it held.
The power of the thing that would have saved him from what was about to happen.
Lord Voldemort fingered this new stick, and felt the power of it running through him like a river of lightning through the veins that he had long since replaced with plastic tubing and liquid nitrogen. Was it even worth it, he wondered, was it even worth it to kill the boy now? Here would he live for the rest of his life, never knowing what it was he had lost. He would return from the spirit world, and find the thing he had never known was a wand gone. He would not have a chance to obtain another, not here, where wizards were unknown.
No. Lord Voldemort never took chances. Besides, it had been at least five minutes since he had killed something, and he knew what Doctor Bellatrix said, with a long sigh, about repressing unfulfilled desires, although he hadn’t been sure then that she had been talking about killing things exactly. He flourished his powerful new weapon, and pointed it straight at the boy.
There was a bright flash of green light, but Lord Voldemort never saw it.
He was already gone.