Hogwarts Origins Chapter 9: The Need of the Times

The chamber was dimly lit, a lone smoldering candle in the middle of the table the sole source of light. Darker than the room was the expression on Cardinal Erasatz’s face as he stood up to address his fellow priests.

“The times are indeed dark, Brothers. All that we have feared have come to pass.”

He was greeted by a pall like silence.

“The evil Morgana and the demon spawn Mordred have declared us criminals. Can you imagine the audacity? That whelp Mordred has issued a royal decree declaring the church illegal and sent out the royal guard to arrest all the members of the clergy.”

“Really, Holy Father? Have things taken such a grave turn? This was unexpected even from the likes of them.”

“Nothing is impossible where agents of the devil are concerned. Our kingdom is now under the reign of the fallen angel himself and these are but regents of the Father of Lies.”

“So what do we do, his Holiness?”

“Not all is lost, Brothers. We have made our plans. The church shall stand firm against this abomination. As will the faithful.”

“May I intercede, Cardinal?”

“You have leave to speak, Brother Benford.”

The large man rose from his seat. “Aren’t we men of the Lord? Isn’t our realm the kingdom of heaven? Is it right for us to stain our hands in the evil realm of the earth?”

“Brother, Benford – I understand you. This is as painful to me as it is to you. How I wish I would spend my days in contemplation of our Lord’s glory. But then that is not to be. This is all a trial by Him to test our faith. We need to do what needs to be done however painful we may find it to be. “

They were interrupted by a knock on the door. It was a gentle knock but it reverberated in the silence of the chamber.

“Open the door, Brother Gregory. I believe it must be the Lord’s own Sword and his Holy Companions.”

A fierce man with flaming red hair entered followed by seven more. Brother Benford knew them all – they had all been Knights of the Round Table.

Godric bowed to the Cardinal. “Greetings, your holiness. We are at your command.”

“Tell us, Sir Godic how things go at the palace?”

“As you know Mordred now sits on the throne, his evil mother by his side. The Knights of the Round Table refused to countenance this travesty of the kingdom’s established order. So they have dissolved the Round Table and we have been declared enemies of the state. We were all individually approached by agents of Morgana with offerings of gold and power. Few of us defected to their side. But as you see the eight of us have stood firm and here we are before you. Many of the lesser knights are also disturbed by interdict and are eager to win back the favor of the church.”

The Cardinal nodded. “Any news of little Geraint?”

“It seems as a last act of magic, Merlin somehow managed to spirit him away?”

Brother Benford scowled at the mention of Merlin. The evil serpent. The one who was the root cause of all the evil that being wrought upon this kingdom.

“I think we should direct all our efforts towards locating Geraint. Once we find him, we shall march upon Camelot. Do you think we are well prepared?”

“We have the strength in numbers, his Grace. The Knights of the Round Table stand with us. As do most of the lesser knights. The commoners are also huddling in the fear of the Lord since the interdict has been declared. The church has to but call out to them and they shall come in hordes to stand with the church to receive His Almighty’s blessings. But…”

“Is there a problem, Sir Godric?”

“The wizards.”

“What about the wizards? The church has differences with Merlin. But surely he does not stand with this evil realm.”

“Merlin they say has gone into an unnatural trance. He sits like a statue shut inside his castle. They say he does not move nor speak. A living vegetable he has become they say.”

“So in the absence of leadership, all the wizards of the kingdom have gone over?”

“Yes, my Lord. We don’t know what manner of evil magic they can summon. We are not afraid to face anything. As you know we will gladly lay down our lives for our God and the true king - the representative of God on earth. But as a leader of men I can’t use lightly the lives of men who trust me. So I have to think about the dangers.”

“I fully understand and appreciate, Godric. Even God does not suffer fools lightly. God wants you to win glory in his name, not lay down your lives in defeat for him. We should plan how we shall counter the magic. Your sword has the power to deflect magic. So magic can’t hurt you.”

Godric’s stony face winced slightly at the mention of the sword. A heavy price indeed he had had to pay to gain it. Benford still was not sure if whatever happened was really the way of the God. But Cardinal Erasatz was his superior. He probably knew the mind of God better than him.

The Cardinal continued. “I was planning to provide similar weapons for our army. But the goblins still need time to forge the weapons. And the events have moved too fast and we did not have time to fully prepare. So we need to take temporary measures.”

“Yes, His Holiness. We need to do something to counter the magic of the wizards. Or our brave men will die in vain.”

“Repugnant though it is to me, I wonder if we need to forge a temporary alliance with some of the wizards.”

“That is Good thinking, Cardinal. But the wizards know of the church’s antipathy towards them. None would side with us. Maybe if Merlin had his powers…..”

“I know. Though we detest all forms of use of magic, King Arthur’s alliance with Merlin did serve its purpose. Maybe we also need to compromise with evil for the time being for the greater good.”

Brother Benford rose abruptly from his seat. ”Holy Cardinal. Do you suggest we consort with the acolytes of Satan? I have been going along with your unconventional approaches. But working with wizards goes against all our doctrines. I would rather give myself up to Morgana and rot to death in prison defending my faith.”

“Brother Benford! Brother Benford! How could you think this of your Cardinal? Would your Cardinal ever lead you away from the path of the Lord?”

“That is what I always believed, your holiness. But your suggestion of forging an unholy alliance of the sort Arthur had forged has me doubting you.”

“My dear Benford, you are right in the limited vision that has been revealed to you. But to me, the Great Lord has revealed greater portion of his plan. The way I see it, you cut a diamond with a diamond. You remove a thorn with a thorn. You need to use sin to root out sin and then discard it. The very human birth is a wage of sin. We can’t stay free of sin while we live in this world. As long as we keep the greater good in mind and do the will of God, the sin won’t taint us.”

Benford was not fully convinced. But the Cardinal did sound sincere.

“So my dear Godric – do we know of any wizards who would fight on the side of righteousness?”

“None of the wizards of our kingdom would go against Morgana unless they had a leader like Merlin.”

“Can one such as Merlin be found?”

“There are rumors of Merlin’s bastard son. He is known to be a powerful wizard and Morgana is said to have sent assassins to end his life. I am not sure if he still lives.”

“If Morgana wants him dead, he surely would be a good ally to have. It pains me to have any manner of dealings with wizards. But maybe that is God’s will. Maybe God’s grace will fall on him and cleanse him of his sins as well. We shall have time to deal with this wizard whichever way he goes after we have defended the kingdom from this evil sorceress and her whelp.”

Brother Benford could read a tinge of sorrow in Cardinal’s voice. He seemed to be doing this out of the necessity of the time only. He felt ashamed for having ever doubted him.

“So do you want us to find this wizard, his Holiness?”

“Yes. Find him and bring him to me! He will serve us well till the holy weapons are forged. Once we have the weapons, we shall have no need for magic.”

“We shall leave no stone unturned to find him, my Grace.”

“We also need to find Geraint. Send out your men to look for him as well. Unless we find Geraint, we shall have no cause. Bastard though he is and born of incest, Mordred will be the true heir to the kingdom if Geraint does not live. So it is essential to find him.”

“I shall, Cardinal.”

“Our enemies would also be looking for the two of them. But I know you are bravest and most resourceful men in the kingdom. And you have God’s blessings. You shall wade your way through the darkest hour and emerge victorious.”

The cardinal then bade all the others to raise and they chanted in unison. “Go forth, Holy knights of God and bring glory to the name of the Lord.”

The knights departed.

Click for other Chapters: Chapter 1  Chapter 2  Chapter 3  Chapter 4  Chapter 5  Chapter  6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8

The Magical Cave XIII: A stranger and an escape plan

The moment they heard the word "run", they all ran. They looked neither left not right. They just kept running. They had to put as much distance between themselves and Omnius. They did not want to spend the rest of their childhood serving a megalomaniac machine. They had run for close to half an hour when they finally stopped to catch their breath.

"Welcome to the Ominus' employee quarters." Rattus stood in front of them, a sly smile forming in the corner of his lips.


"Did you think the ones before you have never tried to escape? You thought Omnius did not know what was going on in your puny minds?"


"How did you end up exactly where exactly where you were trying to run away from?"

They just stood looking at him with their drooping faces.

He continued on. "In this place, all roads lead to Omnius. No matter which direction you run, you will always end up where Omnius wants you to be. Enough talking. Come! Let me show you to your bunks. You need to get up early tomorrow morning and start on your tasks. Twenty years service has been promised to Omnius and every minute of it shall be called to account."

They were lead to a large hall with rows of three tiered cots lined up from end to end. People of various ages, genders, nationalities lay asleep completely oblivious of the newcomers. They were lead to the end of the room where stood four empty cots. Rattus motioned them towards the bed.

In a few minutes they found themselves all alone.

"What do we do now?" Ajay was all a bunch of nerves.

"From what Rattus says, escape seems impossible." Ramya always had the penchant for stating the obvious.

"Maybe he is lying. We should try to break out again." Vinod as usual was the enterprising one.

"No. He was not lying."

They turned towards the new voice coming from the bed next to theirs. A skeleton of a man lay there. He had shabby matted hair and a long shaggy beard - a Jesus of sorts just before his crucification. An older one at that. As Jesus would have looked if he had been crucified twenty years later than he had been.

"Sorry if I startled you. Let me introduce myself - I am Pashumathy Madanapalli Vamsi Ramakrishna"

"Excuse me."

"My name -  I am Pashumathy Madanapalli Vamsi Ramakrishna"

"Do we have to call you that entire thing?" asked Navneeta.

"You can call be Krishna or Krish."

"So what were you saying?"

"That Rattus was right. There is no escape from here. I would know. I have been here for 42 years."

"42 years? That is really a long time. Didn't you get released after serving out twenty years? Didn't Omnius keep his promise to you?"

"Yes and no. "

"What does that mean?" asked Ramya. "How can the answer be both yes and no?"

"Well, my dear, that is how life is. There are no black and white answers. More so with Omnius. He is the master of the grey area."

"We don't understand what you are saying. Can you please elaborate?"

"It is a long story my dear girl. A long long story! I need to start right at the beginning from before I landed up in this accursed land."

"Yes, please do," said Ramya, who always like a good tale.

"You kids! You would stop to listen to stories when we are in such grave danger! I should have never ventured out with kids."

"Come on, Grumpy. We are trapped here with no clue how to escape. We have to gather all the information we can find. Maybe his story will give us some ideas on how to escape."

" Achooo! Achoooooo! I agree with Happy. Achoooo!"

Suddenly the room was filled with a pleasant smell like burning incense. It kind of seemed to clear their minds. "Smelly?"

"Were you with us all this while, Smelly?"

A large ginger cat began to materialize in front of their eyes.

Vinod suddenly spoke up. "I think Omnius and Rattus may not have seen Smelly. Maybe he can escape."

"But how will that help us? Or him? We will continue to be trapped here and he in our world."

"But he can get help, Ajay."

"Do you forget he cannot communicate with anyone?"

"He can communicate with Brock. Maybe Brock can dig us out the way he dug us out of the land of Odors."

"I don't know. Will he even understand?" Ajay still sounded doubtful.

"Why do you always have to be such a wet blanket, Ajay. We can at least try. I think it is a very good idea, Vinod."

Completely ignoring Ajay's angry glare, Ramya continued, "Navneeta - I think you can communicate best with Smelly. Why don't you try telling Smelly to return to our land and bring back Brock."

"Let me try." Navneeta turned towards  Smelly. "We are in trouble, Smelly." She tried to fill her mind with strong emotions of worry and fear.

Smelly purred and rubbed against her legs. "We need your help, Smelly. You are the only one who can help us." She stoked his fur gently and tried to fill her mind with feelings of pleading and helplessness.

"Bring Brock here." She tried to form an image of Brock inside the hall as she spoke.

The cat did not move. She tried to form the image of Brock more clearly. "Please bring Brock to us."

The cat nodded its head and slowly began to disappear, body first. The head hung in thin air for sometime and then completely disappeared.

The old man spoke up. "What was that thing with you?"

"Ours is a long story too. You tell your story and we will tell you ours while we wait for our friends Smelly and Brock."

The Magical Cave I: A Cave in the Hills  <<<<    The Magical Cave XII: Omnius  >>>> To be continued.......

The Magical Cave XII: Omnius

The roads were becoming narrower and dirtier. He was leading them rapidly through so many side lanes and gullies it was becoming difficult to keep track. They were now fully at his mercy. No way would they be able to return to the hole without his help.

Soon they were in a ramshackle hut that looked like it would collapse any moment.

"Where have you brought us?" asked Ramya.

He did not reply. He just pointed towards something that must have once been a door but now looked more like a termite nest. Ajay shifted his feet nervously. Where had this fellow brought them? In their disappointment at not getting the information they sought, they had followed this stranger and now they were hopelessly lost in the shadiest by lanes of this land. If this had been back on their land, they were good as dead. Or worse. But hopefully these magic worlds were kinder. Anyways they had come all this way. Now only way was to go through with it.

They gingerly stepped in. They were hardly prepared for the sight that greeted them. Computers! Computers! Computers everywhere! The place looked like a grave yard of discarded computers. There were models from various times. There was even something that looked like the one that used punching cards that they had studied about in history of computer science at school. There were wires running criss cross across the room connecting the various machines. The place was so cramped - there was hardly room to move their feet.

"What brings you to the humble abode of omnius?" They were startled to suddenly hear a mechanical humming voice out of nowhere. They looked around for the source of sound and their eyes fell on a large rectangular machine that stood in the middle of the room like a little tower with six rectangular lights glowing on top.

"We.. we..," Vinod stammered. Having seen so many strange lands, a talking computer was not something that should have surprised them. But there was this strange uncanny feeling about this whole thing.

"Omnius shall not be kept waiting. Please answer."

They looked around for their guide. But he was nowhere to be seen. "We.. we wanted information."

"What illegal information do you seek that official channels can't provide that you come seeking Omnius."

"We wanted to know how to get our friend Smelly back to the land of odors."

"That is an answer you seek - not information. Computers are not Gods or seers."

"You can't help us then?"

"Did I say so? I said computers are not Gods or Seers. But I am no computer. I am Omnius."

"Please tell us how we can get him back?"

"And what will I get if I do?"

"We have only thirty thousand credits with us."

"What need does a God have for useless mortal currency?"

"We can share information about our world?"

"Ha Ha Ha!" The computer seemed to vibrate violently. The four children huddled close together.

"You puny creatures presume to have information that Omnius does not have? I am Omnius, the omniscient and omnipotent. There is nothing I do not know."

"Then what do you want?"

"Gods want nothing. But only things puny humans can offer is their worship. For their own good. Wisdom has value only if truly earned. Will you be the devotees and promise to proffer unfaltering service?"

"We will," said Ramya hastily before the computer could finish.

"For the next twenty years. For twenty years, you shall be mine and shall run errands like old Rattus here."

The shady man who had lead them had returned.

"Your have new companions, Rattus. Take them with you and explain their duties to them."


"Omnius entertains no Ifs and Buts. Complete your service and return to me. You shall have your answer."

The man motioned them to follow him.

"What do we do now?" he whispered as they emerged out of hut.

"Let us run"

"But can we find our way?"

"Doesn't matter if we can't. We will get somewhere. Things can't get worse than they are."

That was true. Ajay could not imagine too many things worse than being stuck in a weird land, running errands for a megalomaniac machine."

"When I say go, run like crazy. But take care to stick together. If we are separated, we are doomed," whispered Vinod.

As soon as they had taken a few steps, "Go" yelled Vinod.

The Magical Cave I: A Cave in the Hills  <<<<    The Magical Cave XI: The Land of Knowledge  >>>> The Magical Cave XIII: A stranger and an escape plant

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces