(1938-07-02) The House of Nightmares
Details for The House of Nightmares
Summary: Aurors Cohen and Sykes visit Azkaban prison to speak with one of its inmates, Martus Vengal.
Date: July 2, 1938
Location: Azkaban
Related: Plot: Forgotten Shadows

The boat ride began as a calm affair. The ocean was probably quite lovely, not that the passengers could tell from the confines of their locked, windowless cabin. Given the small sailing vessel's destination, one might think they were prisoners, rather than Aurors on a mission. As they drew nearer to the Unplottable island that hosted the British Isles' wizarding prison, it became clear how much rougher the sea was becoming by the obvious pitching and tilting of the cabin itself, and the roaring and crashing of waves beyond the four walls they could see.

At last, the boat comes to a relative stop. Though still rolling on rough waves, the movement is no longer so violent. Heavy footfalls announce the approach of Salty, the vessel's sole crewman, a gargantuan man with a thick grey beard tangled with seaweed. The cabin door swings open, and Salty rumbles, "We be here. Hope ye got all yer affairs in order."

Graham looks decent for his first boat ride the end not being the best. He looks over to the other auror "Thank you again for agreeing to come, you can still change your mind if you like stay on the boat till I come back?" The young man pushes up from where he'd been seated he isn't saying anything about the courage or skill of the other just giving the option should it be wanted. He grabs his items though few his file folder mostly.

Katherine on the other hand does not look good. Her skin has a definite green tinge and she's probably kept from barfing all over the place by sheer steel willpower. As she starts almost running off the boat she can be heard muttering, "I can summon, fire, water, earth, and even a Patronus. I can go toe-to-toe with the bad-asses of the magical world. Why can't I master a damn anti-sea-sickness charm?"

The young man frowns slightly at the others discomfort. Graham looks up towards the perched prison and fights back a cold shiver at what they are about to do. He knows this is important and must carry on. "It's not a weakness just happens." he offers to the other auror.

Salty steps off the boat with one long stride, causing the vessel to heave dangerously. He lays down a plank and offers a trunk-like arm to assist the Aurors in stepping onto the dangerously rickety dock.

As soon as Salty has the plank in place Kat is on the dock, bent at the waist with her hands on her knees, taking deep breaths. And in no mood to be placated which means its a good thing that what she says between those deep breath comes out as more of a growl than words because Graham would probably not be very flattered if he could understand the actual words.

Looming ominously above them, the top vanishing into roiling fog, is an enormous, stark building of stone and iron. Azkaban. Possibly the most dreaded place in Wizarding Britain…perhaps the world. "Best be quick about yer business," Salty warns. "If ye aren't back in two hours, I'll be leavin' and yer on yer own."

The young man nods towards the other at the planks placement before he too steps down onto the dock. He hears the growls and gets the hint all the same giving the other time to feel better while he takes a few cautious steps forward he stops turning back to the boat at the voice. "Thank you, we shouldn't be more then an hour. Thank you." Graham explains though taking a few more steps now knowing that this fear wont serve him well he tries to shake it off.

Somewhere above, a shadow hovers through the mist…watching…waiting.

Katherine takes a final deep breath then pushes decisively off her knees to stand fully erect and glare at the foreboding edifice of Azkaban. "Well, lets go. The quicker we get this over with the quicker we can get the trip back over with and the quicker I can go get drunk to forget I was sea sick."

Graham nods to the other auror "We'll be quick as possible." He glances up perhaps not seeing but feeling the first affects of the guardians of the prison. He reaches to his sleeve and grips his wand though doesn't draw it just walks at the ready steadily towards the imposing prison to gain admittance.

There is no obvious entrance, nor even a path leading to the prison. Just jagged, rocky terrain and vast stone walls. As the Aurors come nearer, the air gets colder — the sort of cold that crawls under the skin and penetrates to the bone. Appearing as softly and suddenly as a whisper, a form emerges from the shadows. The large, cloaked figure hovers, its robes slowly flowing as if moved by some air other than the whipping sea winds. Its face cannot be seen, but a skeleton-thin hand points toward the prison, to a place along the wall where the shadows are impossibly dark.

Katherine keeps her hand away from her wand and her head held high, simply refusing to give in to the whole scary environment. Helps to still be kind of queasy because it gives her something to be angry about. But even all her determination can't keep her from taking a few steps sideways away from the apparition while mumbling, "I wonder how many inmates those things gobble up every year that the Ministry just hushes up?"

Graham doesn't halt as the form comes out of the darkness he nods at the motion but doesn't say anything to it. He is still walking towards the motioned place though it does scream for nobody to enter it's necessary. He will wait to light his wand until he see's if there will be darkness or any sort of light here.

The Dementor follows, hovering several yards in their wake…at least it was. When next they see it, the creature is mere feet behind them. Its breath can be heard rattling, as if it were trying to inhale more than just air. But as they reach the wall, the Dementor disengages, moving to touch the stone. But its scabby hand merely passes through the shadow. With its other hand it gestures invitingly, as a gentleman might welcome his guests for tea.

Katherine seems to find this 'Gentleman Dementor' highly amusing so she busts out laughing, probably a strange sound on this island and curtsies to it as a true lady should in these circumstances. But as quick as it comes the gaiety leaves and she walks into the tower, keeping as far away from the dementor as she can. Once inside she stops to let Graham take the lead.

Graham sighs as things so far have been both fearful and a little odd. "Said the spider to the fly." he says under his breath likely drowned out by the others laughter. He moves onward deciding to pluck up a bit "Have you been advised who we are here to see?" he's not expecting a verbal response but anything which will help get them on their way to the one they seek.

The moment the laugh leaves Katherine's lips, a half dozen other shadows come to life. That rattling breath permeates the air all around as the Dementors swoop toward the Auror, claw-like hands reaching out. Even as she passes into the shadow, their "guide" leans in with sudden speed, and a deathly cold penetrates Katherine.

Katherine falls to one knee first, then the other. Tears start flowing from between tightly shut eyelids but she refuses to let her emotions (or the Dementors) get the best of her. Slowly she forces hand to wand and once she has it she tries to summon her Patronus.

Graham turns back as the rushing of what he figures out quickly must be other dementor's which must be focused not on him this still sends a chill through him like being out in the cold and trying to warm up after, but the other auror. The wand which he'd been holding onto is out in an instant, and the next he's focusing his will and a memory strong and fresh comes to mind despite where he is. He calls out the patronus spell as well not being able to see well enough if her's will chase them off alone.

In the blackness of the shadow, two points of light appear. Meager at first, they spread into glowing bursts of ethereal vapour. The Dementor hovering over Katherine follows the vapour, inhaling deeply in that rattling breath, as is driven back into the darkness while trying to feed on that light.

"Shouldn't laugh," comes a raspy voice from…somewhere. "S'like tossin' raw meat in a pit o' wolves." By the sound of the voice's echo, the duo are inside now, but other than the fading Patronuses, there is no light to see by.

Katherine spins around. Or tries to. Being on one's knees makes something like that rather hard so instead of spinning around she ends up on her back. At least she's facing in the voice's direction when she calls out, "Lumos!" clearing away some of the darkness. Then she says in a more normal tone of voice, with a little growl prowling underneath the words, "That would have been good advice before the Dementors attacked us."

Graham lowers his wand back to his side though turning back to where the voice comes from. "So we've seen. Who is there?" he calls though he's moving already to the other auror "You okay Kat?" he ask before offering a hand to help the other up if she's steady enough for it just yet.

In the glow of Katherine's Wand-Lighting Charm, the area starts to come into view. The Aurors are in a long, narrow hall of stone, lined on both sides with heavy iron doors that seem to be comprised of shifting parts, like a puzzle box. Each sliding piece of iron is engraved with a rune. The Dementor still hovers nearby, its back pressed to the solid wall that the Aurors apparently just passed through. It seems sated for the moment, no longer menacing Katherine.

The rasping voice comes again. In the light it is easier to discern that it's emanating from the tiny window in the very first door on their right. "Nobody. I'm nobody. Better not to have a name. Names don't mean nothin' here."

Katherine grabs Graham's offered hand and pulls herself up with his help, keeping her wand lit while she hides lingering fear ehind anger by turning her head to look at the Dementor, or at least somewhere close to it, "One of these days, Kissy Face, I'll make you pay." Empty threats, probably, but they make her feel better. Turning back to Graham she asks,"Where to now Graham. To answer your question from a while ago, no. The only information about today I've received has come from you."

Graham nods and helps the other up "Good, well now I guess we ask?" He turns back and makes his way towards the door and the tiny window, to see who is inside. "I imagine that our answer is hear else wise why would they allow him to speak to us or interact?" He glances back to the Dementor who guided them as if he'll get an answer. "I'm looking for Martus Vengal." he says perhaps testing his thought.

Without missing a beat, the man in the cell lets out a high pitched wail. What little Graham can see through the little opening showed a man in tattered rags, his hair long and dirty. He is curled up in the far corner of his small cell, rocking back and forth, screaming. Meanwhile, the Dementor has continued on down the hall. It pauses a moment, glancing back at the Aurors…at least it appears to be looking back. There are no visible eyes to be seen under its hood.

Katherine taps Graham on the shoulder and points at the Dementor,"I think we're supposed to follow him. And no more laughing. That was very… annoying."

The young man nods at the reaction hmm always a good sign.. not really. Graham turns back nodding "Good plan and drinks are on me when we get back." He says before he continues onwards following the guiding dementor as it moves through the passageway.

The Dark creature leads them through the halls of Azkaban. All the way, they are chased by distant screams, gibbering whispers, and pleas for mercy and promises to repent.

The prison turns out to be quite the labyrinth, full of unexpected and often impossible turns, intersections, and stairs. It is difficult to determine how long they've been walking when the Dementor finally stops in front of one of the many identical cells. It reaches a grey hand out to touch the door, and the runed panels start to slide of their own accord, shifting about into new configurations. Finally, openings begin to appear where the panels were, as the door seems to unfold itself out of existence.

Inside, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the tiny cell is a rather large man. Though aged and tattered like so many prisoners, he retains a thick, muscular form. He makes no movement when the door opens, sitting perfectly still in meditative silence.

Katherine keeps her wand lit the whole walk down to the cell the dementor is guiding them to. Once she sees how the doors work she turns to Graham with a slightly worried look. "I don't know about you but I don't feel comfortable with the idea of stepping into one of those… Maybe you should interrogate him from out here?"

The young man moves down the corridor following a long the whole span of the prison is like a weight even without the dementor's here. He can see why nobody would want to come here, he's just bookish enough to ponder why anyone would do something to earn a spot here if this is the result when they come to the right cell at last. He turns back to the other Auror at her words nodding "Probably not a bad idea." he looks over the one in the cell a moment taking only a few steps to the edge where the door was. "Martus Vengal? I am with the auror's office." he says trying to get the others attention.

"Aurors," comes the man's baritone voice. His tone is even and unwavering. "I thought the Dementors were torment enough. Speak, then leave me to my misery." He doesn't look up, keeping his eyes fixed on the floor before him.

Since she's here to provide company and support to Graham Kat stays quiet, working as a living lamp for the moment, and letting Graham ask the questions. In a pique of whimsy thought, she points her wand at the prisoner, angling it so the light is hitting him square in the face.

It's better then he expected to get from the prisoner. He stands silent only a moment as he moves over his file folder and finds what he's looking for. "I've read your file, and an odd one indeed but I've come to ask about your family. Callus specifically." Graham figures perhaps right to the point might be best though he'll await a reaction before continuing with his next question.

Martus involuntarily winces at the light. It's clear enough that the prisoners here get very little of it. His lip curls in a growl, revealing teeth stained with plaque. He turns the snarl on Graham, finally looking at the man. He rises to his feet. There is something primal about this man, made all the more apparent at his rather impressive height. "My son will feed you your entrails, Auror."

Katherine glares at the prisoner, "You might or might not have noticed but the light that is currently blinding you is indeed coming from a wand. And this has been a very annoying visit to you charming prison already so I wouldn't test my patience if I was you…"

Graham watches as the man in the cell stands he figures that showing signs of weakness will likely not help. The auror stands his ground though his wand is still out it's only readied for usage at his side. "Mr Vengal, I mean no harm to your son. But the family is in trouble they may be able to avoid joining you HERE if we can resolve it peacefully." he makes the note for here given what this place has done to the other it may make his point.

Martus stares straight at Katherine, squinting against the light. "You sound pretty. Come a little closer and we'll find some other use for that wand." He turns his beastly gaze on Graham. "How's my boy? Making his dear old Da proud, I wager." He takes half a step closer, sniffing at the air between them. "How pure is your blood? It's so hard to smell anything through the stink of rot in this place." The Dementor's breath rattles a bit louder, and a chill can be felt up every spine. Even Martus cautiously steps back again.

Katherine growls at Martus makes advances at her. Swishing her wand through the air aggressively she calls out, "Flipendo!" sending a bright ray of energy flying at the man. "I told you not to try my patience! I wouldn't give you a chance if the only choice was between you and a disfigured goblin! Now answer my partners questions or I'll get really nasty!" Her glare is in the megawatt range now and she's clearly lost all patience she might have been clinging to.

The young man watches the prisoner closely for any sign of aggression. Graham sighs at the words towards the other auror but takes a deep breath to calm himself. "I do not know, he has been seen threatening to kill a student and is wanted for theft and possibly murder." he pauses at the next question "I'm half-blood. Is that what this is all about?" He doesn't wait for a response. "Back to the point of our visit." he is about to say more when the other blasts the prisoner. He doesn't take his focus off of him "We are short of time, let us help your family. Where are they?"

Martus tries to evade the incoming spell, but even as fit as he is, two decades in this hell have slowed him. The Knockback Jinx throws him against the far wall of his cell with a heavy THUD.

A sensation like an icicle being slowly thrust into her skin is felt at Katherine's shoulder, where the Dementor has laid a grey, withered hand. When it pulls away, actual ice crystals are left behind on her robes.

Martus grunts, pushing himself to his feet again. "You've got spirit. But you won't earn my respect like that." He lets out a hacking cough. "You're wasting your time, mud-kin. Whatever my son has planned for you, you're outmatched. Run. Run while you still can."

Katherine grinds her teeth against the cold of the dementors touch but the message is received. Taking a deep breath she calms herself down. "Had nothing to do with earning your respect, which I don't need, and everything to do with putting you in your proper place. You have to come from much better stock to even think about making advances on me." Frowning at the man she takes a small step back, more for the dementor's benefit than Matrus'.

"Martus, the pure-blood of us two is who just blasted you. I cannot run, you understand having a job to do of course. If i'm so out matched what's the harm in telling me what I want to know?" Graham says trying a different tactic now to gain the information about the family.

Martus snorts. "Better stock? How pure is your blood, woman?" Graham is mostly brushes aside now, save for a quick glance when the man confirms that Katherine is a pure-blood. "What's your name?" Martus steps forward, again sniffing in her general direction. But he doesn't again cross the threshold of his original position.

Katherine looks over at Graham, frowning while she thinks. She really hasn't been much help up to now so she finally decides to change this and looks back at Martus, "The name is Sykes, Katherine Elizabeth Sykes, daughter of Jancarlo Sykes. I am sure you know the name and the family if your own claim of being a pure blood is true." She still doesn't involve herself in the questioning itself, since Graham is the one that knows all the details about the case.

Graham goes ignored for the moment but decides to remain quiet as perhaps this will warm the other up to their way of thinking. He looks between the two at the verbal joust. He is running through some of the things in his file folder to try and catch an angle which he can use to gather the information.

"Sssssykes," Martus hisses, chuckling. But the moment the chuckle leaves his lips, the Dementor lurches forward past the Aurors. Martus backpedals fearfully against the wall, lowering his head and repeating, "Worthington… Shacklebolt… Worthington… Shacklebolt… Worthington… Shacklebolt…" His lips pull back, revealing an angry snarl, though his face remains fixed on the floor. The Dementor slows before reaching him, and drifts back, though remains in the cell for now. Finally, Martus looks up. "Sykes. Good, proud pure-bloods. You should be helping my son, not working with this tainted wretch." He jerks his head toward Graham indicatively.

Katherine arches an eyebrow at Martus and then frowns a bit, "There are ways to deal with mud-blood and blood-traitors that are perfectly within the bound of the proper laws of civilized society. You son is breaking the law and he must pay for his transgressions. If we didn't have laws how are the old families going to remain in their proper social place when they go through a generation or two of weak spellcasters?"

Graham takes only a step back to be out of the dementor's way as he moves towards the prisoner, but disaster is averted. "This tainted wretch is an auror." he says a bit of pride showing in his voice but the other auror's words bring him short but no time for this turning back to the prisoner. "So as I said if I stand no chance what's the problem of giving me the information i'd say you were afraid of this half-blood."

Martus lifts his chin proudly, but carefully maintains a neutral expression. "How? Us. The old families would have withered away long ago if not for my clan. WE keep the blood strong. WE protect the magic of the world. VENGALS!" His voice rises, and his deepening breath heaves his barrel chest. He turns a snarl on Graham. "Even your filthy existence is thanks to us. But the simpering bleeding hearts are ever undermining the work necessary to protecting the magic. Stronger actions are necessary. Yes, my son knows this, and he'll show you. HE'LL SHOW YOU!" Martus bellows, pulling violently at his tangled beard in a primal display.

Katherine turns so that her back is to Martus for a short moment. In that moment she rolls her eyes so that Graham can see it then puts herself back in a position where she can keep an eye on the prisoner while leaning in close to Graham so she can ask, in a low voice, "You didn't think to bring any veritas serum, did you?" This would be so much easier that way, after all…

The auror returns in the same lowered voice. "Not sure i'd want either of us near enough to give it to him." Graham turns back to the prisoner and even nice guys have their limit of keeping their silence "Yes Vengals and do you know how history will remember your family if at all? As thieves.. murders. You Martus will not be remembered at all your file is sealed and rather empty." he's unimpressed with the other man "Since you wont help me, your son will end up here as well." he shrugs. The whole time his voice is calm.

Martus' fit of rage settles to a simmering boil. He stands facing them, arms at his sides, fingers curled like claws. "Your attachment to legacy and memory is what makes you weak," he growls. "We are the scourge. It is a sacred duty, and we do not do it to be remembered fondly, or at all. We do it because no one else will. But that is a form of honour even the vaunted Sykes clan cannot hope to understand."

Katherine shakes her head regretfully and sighs, "So be it. You're dooming your son to the same life you're living right now. But if your 'mission' is more important to you than the well-being of you family then so be it." Looking over at Graham she adds, "Do you have anything else you want to say to the prisoner?"

Graham sighs to the other auror as she asks if he's done with the investigation but he's been thinking about some of the clue's he's gotten before and may have an idea where to continue. "I don't think we'll get anything out of him unless by force." He looks back to the prisoner shaking his head "Perhaps but i'd rather be remembered for doing some good." with this he nods in the direction to the dementor.

The Dementor turns its attention toward Martus, and hovers nearer. The prisoner shakes his head. "No…no! I spoke to them!" He backs away, cornered by the Dark creature. "Worthington… Shacklebolt…" he repeats again, but this time his mantra has no effect, and the Dementor lunges in, sucking raspily at the air. Martus' goes silent as he is caught in the Dementor's power and his face twists with utter despair.

Outside the cell, the temperature drops. Another Dementor has appeared, looming near the Aurors. It points down a hallway — notably not the direction they came in from — and starts hovering that way.

Katherine turns away from the activity in the cell, half dismissive, half in disgust. And in turning away catches sight of the new dementor. "looks like we have a new guide. This still part of the original plan?"

He turns away as well, he may not care for the prisoner's well being but it's hard to watch the cold which has been creeping in on him since he got here increases as another dementor approaches. "I hope so." He moves to catch up with the other auror. "It wasn't a waste I've learned more about the family then I did and have a good idea where to go next." Graham says and begins to follow the dementor though wand still held out at his side.

Once again, the Aurors are led through the twists and turns of Azkaban. Though everything seems to indicate they are continuing to climb up and up again, when the Dementor guides them through another impossibly dark shadow (which even their wands cannot seem to shed light on), they emerge back on the stony landscape of the island, where they first entered. Several more Dementors drifts about visibly now, turning to take note of their emergence. The raggedy dock is visible in the distance, and the enormous Salty can be seen on the deck of the boat.

Katherine sighs, "Well, I'm glad you got something out of it." She doesn't rush her steps, just because she refuses to show just how much the dementors are making her skin crawl. But she is willing to at least say, "At least I learned that I definitely don't want to end up here as a prisoner. The descriptions just don't do it justice… I'm even looking forward to the boat ride back."

Graham agrees with her description and takes much effort not to shiver even as they leave the prison. "I cannot see why anyone would break the law." he sighs and he keeps his pace with the other as the move onwards towards the ship. He's glad to be leaving even if he didnt get all the information he would have liked.

Salty is there to help them cross from the rickety dock to the boat. "Get yerselves settled in down below, and we'll be on our way. Can't put this place behind us fast enough. Hope ye got what ye came for, cuz I ain't never heard o' no one but me comin' to the House o' Nightmares more'n once." He starts to untie the boat as the Aurors make their way down to their cabin, and as quickly as he is able, he shoves off and they are soon on their way back home.

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