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The Fifth Champion

By Chris King

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Prologue

Prologue

Little Hangleton was a quiet town, nothing ever happened, at least not until that night. The night of that an insignificant mortal was killed, murdered. The man with the golden eyes had seen the old fool enter the Riddle House and knew that he would not come out again. Killers were nothing if not predictable. That was what he was relying on. For the plan to work he needed to appeal to Voldemort's lust for power and he knew just what appeal to that lust.

The house was musty and had long since been abandoned but the man could sense the violence. He could feel the pain, the stench of fear and aguish that eclipsed the reek of decay. But there was something more recent, a surge of power from when the old man had been killed. He smiled. Power was what he needed. He made his way through the dark hall which was lit only by the moonlight that shone through the mullioned windows either side of the huge front door.

He followed the footsteps in the dust up a huge flight of stairs, voices echoed through the old house and when he reached the landing the man discovered their source. Down a long passageway a door stood open, revealing an armchair that had been turned to face the window. The room was lit by the flickering amber light of a fire. The man watched as only moving occupant of the room pushed the chair closer to the fire place. Pettigrew. He watched as Pettigrew drew back from the chair, his voice fearful as he talked to its only occupant the creature, for he could not be called a man, who was his master.

Lord Voldemort.

The man stepped forward almost disappointed. This had been too easy, far easier than he had been expecting. But he had to make allowances, after all, he wasn't even a man but soon, soon he would be and that was who the man with the golden eyes needed. Voldemort would be relying on his idiot servant to do his bidding for now, allowances certainly needed to be made.

He heard the giant snake, which lay on the hearth in front of the fire, hiss as he crossed the threshold. Pettigrew whirled, or at least turned as fast as his fat body allowed him to, the man arched an eyebrow.

"If I was here to kill you," he said unperturbed by the wand that Pettigrew was trying to threaten him with. "I would have done so. I am here on business. I have proposition for your master."

"A proposition?" Voldemort's voice lost some of its chill, shock creeping in. If he had been any less of a man he would have smirked at how easily he had thrown the supposed Dark Lord. As it was he remained still, eyeing the wand that Pettigrew still insisted on keeping levelled at his face. "Leave us, Wormtail."

"But, My Lord -"

"Silence!" Voldemort hissed, his voice deadly quiet, his fury was almost palable. "Leave us, Wormtail or Nagini will be feasting twice tonight."

Pettigrew whimpered and scurried out of the room without a backward glance, Nagini hissed, unfurling on the hearth. Voldemort waited before speaking, letting the silence drag out between them, creating the illusion that he had the power. The truth was the man could kill him in an eye blink, without a body he was less than useless. But he remained still, years of planning had taught him patience, Voldemort may be nothing now but soon he would have a power far greater than most sorcerers could dream of.

"What is it you propose, Sorcerer?"

"There are people that I need to be dealt with." The man said, deciding not mention Voldemort's more than vast knowledge, barely any wizards knew about mages, about the Sanctuary, but Voldemort was not an average wizard. "In return I will give you the most powerful ally you have ever had. In my world she is prophesied to destroy the world. With her by your side you cannot fail."

"Who is she?"

"Darquesse." The man answered simply. It had taken a lot of searching, months had turned into years but he had found her. Argeddion. If it had not been for his Summer of Light the man doubted he would have found her. Before he only had vague descriptions of her, a girl with dark hair who had torn O'Connell Street apart and everything the Sensitive's had seen. But when Cain and Pleasant had stopped Argeddion everything that they had done to those children, it was beyond even the Skeleton Detective's ruthlessness. He had witnesses who had seen a girl fly through the Sanctuary's roof, a girl not too dissimilar to Cain. Cain didn't have that power but Darquesse did. Doctor Nye had confirmed it, after much persuasion. Cain was Darquesse. "I will tell you how to get to her. There is, however, one condition."

"Only one?"

"One." The man confirmed, this time letting the smile pull at his lips as he withdrew the file that he had long ago intended for the Warlocks. "Kill Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain."

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