Michael woke up, feeling not exactly refreshed, but definitely not as exhausted as he was after the ritual. He was absolutely famished, however. A quick call to Blimpy solved that situation, as the House-Elf was ever so happy to assist him. Michael also had the option of asking the RoR to open up an exit that led straight into the kitchens of Hogwarts. He could do that, in fact, the room could open an exit to almost all places in the castle. The only places it refused to open one were the personal rooms of the students and the Chamber of Secrets. Sadly, once he left the RoR, the only way to return back to it was through the seventh floor. That seemed to be the only entrance it had.
This ability of the RoR was how he easily got his hands on the Marauder's Map. He had studied every inch of the map, but unfortunately, he didn't find Peter Pettigrew anywhere on it. Either one couldn't detect a Marauder with it, or the rat was simply not in Hogwarts. Probably the latter, as Dumbledore had been subtly checking everyone's pets, specifically any rats. Finding Peter would've made Black's situation very easy to handle, but they had to find another way of taking him out of Azkaban. Or Sirius could simply escape with his animagus form. Though, Michael wasn't sure how Black would swim through the ocean, considering how malnourished he was supposed to be. The movies never really explained that.
Either way, Black's situation was to be dealt with in the future, and Michael was currently focused on the now. He had to raise his stats and skills, and thankfully, the RoR offered him the perfect opportunity. With it, he could work on all of his stats and a few of his skills at the same time, that's how magnificent it was.
After he finished his meal, Michael just wished for a book on wandless magic, and the room provided it to him. As long as it existed somewhere in Hogwarts, the RoR could conjure it for him without any problem. He could stay in the room for the next seven years and never even have the need to leave. Michael had no idea how the founders had created it, but it was by far the most impressive piece of magic he had seen. He really hoped Nicholas could find a way to replicate it, so he could create one for himself where he went next.
Half an hour later, Michael closed the book and an invisible pressure assaulted him. Only a single dummy with a sword in hand appeared, and he grabbed his own with his right hand while holding his wand in his left. His Aura shrouded him just as the Expert dummy rushed him. They exchanged blows for some time, and whenever Michael disarmed, or even chipped the dummy's sword, it would simply repair itself in an instant.
Feeling confident, the pressure in the room intensified, making it harder for him to keep up with the dummy. A few strikes slipped past his guard, hitting him and draining his Aura. If this continued, the dummy would end up exhausting his Aura in a dozen minutes, and that just wasn't good enough.
Michael focused hard and swiped his left hand down, casting the Shield Charm with his wand, and holding it in place. He used it as if it was a physical shield he was holding, deflecting and blocking the dummy's attacks. It was hard, and Michael had to struggle to keep both the Shield Charm and his Aura active, but that was very good way to work on his Mind stat. Not to mention, the other stats and skills he was training at the same time.
On a few occasions, he lost his focus, loosing either the Shield Charm or his Aura, but he simply kept reusing them again and again, until he was drained. Michael still had enough Aura and magic to continue fighting, but his body gave in. He was still somewhat exhausted from the previous night's ritual.
The moment Michael stopped fighting, the dummy did as well, simply going limp. He took a few deep breaths, calming his beating hart as the room transformed to his desires. Removing his clothes, he jumped in the large bath and settled down, but he didn't stop using his Aura even for a second.
'How do I develop my own ability?' That thought was on his mind as he enjoyed the warm water. He'd been thinking about this for some time now, but he wasn't sure what to do. Michael felt pretty confident in his basic Aura abilities, and he even had success with some of the advanced ones. Mostly with Shu, the ability to cover an object with his Aura, as he always used it whenever sparring with the dummies.
Gyo, the ability to concentrate a larger than normal portion of one's Aura into one specific body part, and Ken, a combination of Ten and Ren, where one must maintain Ren for a prolonged time, were the two other advanced abilities he had success with.
There were four more advanced techniques that Michael knew off, but he hadn't had that much time practicing them. In was basically the advanced form of Zetsu, but it didn't stop his flow of Aura. That one could be useful against Mind Readers like Perenelle. However, he had no idea how he was supposed to train it.
En was one technique he had an idea how to practice it and would definitely do so. It was another advanced combination of Ten and Ren, however, he was supposed to extend his Aura further than normal. Usually, En creates a sphere around the user, letting him feel the shape and movement of anything within the area covered by his Aura.
Ryu was a combination of Gyo and Ken. A user had to be able to keep a constant use of Ren while increasing the output of his Aura in specific body parts, to either block or attack, but never dropping his shroud.
Then there was Ko, which was a combination of Ten, Zetsu, Hatsu, Ren, and Gyo. Gyo focuses Aura on a part of the body, while Ten prevents it from dispersing. Zetsu completely stops the flow of Nen in all other parts of the body, increasing the output in the desired area. And Ren increases the amount of Aura even further.
The way Michael saw it, an Enhance like him could simply learn Ko and call it his Hatsu, his special ability. He could deal devastating damage with that alone, but he wasn't satisfied with that. How was that a special ability if any other Aura user could replicate it, although much weaker. There had to be something else he could create as his Hatsu.
Closing his eyes, Michael started working on En, figuring that was a good way to train his Aura Manipulation, while also thinking about his special ability. He was an Enhancer, someone who enhanced himself or objects. Maybe he could try to enhance his weapon, but again, this was still an Aura technique, just taken to the next level.
'Enhance… enhance…' Michael kept thinking over it and remembered how he discovered his Aura type. The water in the glass had started overflowing when he focused his Aura around it.
'Maybe… that's a path I can take.' Michael didn't even need to focus entirely on the fact that he was an Enhancer. He could still use other types of Aura, with Emission and Transmutation being the two he had the highest affinity for.
Michael's thoughts turned to Transmutation. If he could change the property of his Aura into something else and then enhance it… then that could be something else, something worth calling a special ability. But what could he change it into?
Killua in Hunter X Hunter transformed his own into lightning, but he had been trained to endure large amounts of electricity since he was a baby and was familiar with the element. Michael, however, didn't have the same thing going for him. Or did he?
'I've spent the last month in the RoR, training with increased gravity.' His eyes opened up, shining brightly. That was his path, and again, the RoR of provided it for him. Knowing what he wanted to do, he just had to figure out how to mimic gravity with his Aura. Michael wasn't sure if his manipulation skill was high enough, so he focused on that for now, and working on En should be one of the best ways to do that.
With his path set, Michael trained with even more determination. For the following weeks, he focused solely on En and his Aura Manipulation while getting even more familiar with the increased gravity in the RoR as he kept it active no matter what. Only when he was undergoing the rituals he deactivated it, as he wasn't sure how the two would interact. Plus, his body felt exhausted after each one. Michael even amplified the gravity even further, getting more familiar with it and experiencing more growth in his Body, which was getting harder and harder to raise. The only downside was that he got slightly disoriented whenever he left the RoR.
Finally, Michael completed the last ritual from the first set and got to see his first reward for it. As usual, he was exhausted after the ritual, but when he woke up, he felt strong. Not as strong as he was in his peak in Liorderat, but he was getting there, slowly but surely.
An instant increase of two to his Body after completing the first set was a good sign. They were only supposed to prepare him for the next one, which increased his body's potential. That was the more significant one.
His other stats had also grown during his training. Soul due to how much he focused on his Aura Manipulation, and Mind due to his meditation sessions he did after he exhausted his Aura, thinking about gravity and how to mimic it.
Michael's skills hadn't increased during the past three weeks, but he felt he was very close in leveling up both Aura Manipulation and Meditate. He just needed a small push, and he was sure he would get there. Reaching the Expert rank in a skill seemed like it was way harder compared to how easily he level-upped Sword Mastery to it. Although he did have previous experience already, so that had certainly helped there.
After Michael recovered, he summoned the Expert dummy and picked up a sword. Without even activating his Aura, he rushed at it. Blow after blow, Michael exchanged with the dummy, easily matching it and even overpowering it. Activating his Aura just for a test, he cut down the dummy with his first strike, slicing it in two.
Michael felt so confident in himself, he considered fighting against the Master-ranked dummy. With his Aura, he was certain he could take it down. However, he didn't rush it. There were a few other things he wished to handle, now that he wasn't a complete weakling. After showering and dressing himself, Michael left the RoR, exiting right into Dumbledore's office.
"Is there something that you need, Michael?" Asked Dumbledore, his eyebrow slightly twitching in annoyance at how easily someone could enter the Headmaster's office.
"I want to go to the goblins." He stated simply.
"For the cup? Or for a weapon?" Questioned Dumbledore, knowing about Michael's conversation with Flitwick.
"Both." Replied Michael. His body still hadn't grown enough, but wished to request a weapon from them. Or at the very least, get the goblins on his side. They could be invaluable allies in the future. Unlike the wizards, they were united and could become a fearsome army, one which he needed against the demons. And if he unlocked their Auras? Well, wouldn't that be a sight to see? An entire army of goblins with unlocked Auras. And if some of them develop special abilities before the demon invasions…
"I see." Nodded Dumbledore. He called one of the House-Elves, asking it to send a message to Filius. It would be better if Michael was seen with the Head of his own House rather than Dumbledore. Plus, Filius had goblin blood, so he might be able to pull some strings with that. After all, he was someone the goblins respected, considering he had his own weapon made of goblin silver.
"How are you feeling after completing the first set?" Dumbledore questioned him afterward.
"Very good." Answered Michael simply.
"That's good, that's good." Repeated Dumbledore before asking. "And your Aura? How is your progress with that?" The Headmaster had been asking him about it every time the two met. He wasn't even being subtle about it.
"I'm close to developing my special ability. In a few months, I might be able to unlock someone's Aura." Dumbledore had been supportive since the moment they met, so he had no reason to lie to him. The old man smiled, hope burning inside his eyes. There's been little progress on safely removing Tom's soul fragment from Harry using magical ways, so an Aura ability was his only hope.
Filius soon entered the office, looking over at Michael first before turning to Dumbledore. "You called for me?"
"Yes, Michael wishes to meet with the goblins." Answered Dumbledore.
"Do you think you are ready?" Filius asked him with a grin. They've spared a few more times since Hogwarts started, and he had been impressed by how someone so young had so much power in his body. However, a goblin was no to be underestimated. Unlike wizards, who ignored their bodies, focusing on their minds and magic, goblins placed more importance on physical strength. Despite their short appearance, they were fearsome warriors.
"I am." Nodded Michael, confident in his abilities.
"You have your weapon with you?" Asked Filius.
"Yes." Michael confirmed, touching one of his pockets. He always carried a small branch with him, one he could use the Engorgement Charm before transfiguring it into a weapon. His spells wouldn't last for a long time, but that was more than enough for a single fight.
"Then let us be on our way." Filius clapped his hand in excitement. "You wouldn't mind if we use your fireplace, Headmaster?" He turned to Dumbledore, who nodded. "Not at all."
Using the floo, they arrived at Diagon Alley, and Filius led Michael towards Gringotts with a skip in his step. At the entrance of the bank, Michael saw goblins for the first time in this world. They were short with pale skin, and had long limbs for their stature. There was barely any hair on their heads, and they had pointed noses and ears. In their hands, they head weapons made out of goblin silver.
Both goblins grinned at Filius, revealing their sharp teeth. That was their 'friendly' greeting to those they respected. Everyone else was on the receiving end of threatening grunts and hisses, enjoying the way wizards flinched every time they did that. The goblins tried the same with Michael, but he grinned back at them, revealing his white teeth. The two looked confused for a moment, wondering what gave this kid the confidence to do the same.
The two entered Gringotts, leaving the two perplexed goblins at the entrance. Filius led Michael over to one of the free tellers.
"Aglock." He greeted him.
"Filius." Aglock greeted him back. "What are you here for?" He then asked, getting straight to the point.
"Just accompanying my student." Filius replied, pointing at Michael.
"And what does he want?" Asked Aglock with a growl, showing his contempt for wizardkind. What else could the boy be, considering he was in Gringotts of all places?
"I have to requests." Stated Michael. "Preferably asked in private."
Aglock looked over at Filius, who nodded to him, before the goblin grunted. With a frown, he called out. "Ranlig!"
Another goblin ran over and Aglock instructed. "Take them to Kragnok!" He then turned to the short Professor. "This better not be a waste of our time!" Aglock growled out before looking away from them. He had nothing else to speak with the two.
Ranlig quickly led them deeper into Gringotts before stopping at a door. "Kragnok's office." Ranlig simply said and opened the door for them. The two entered inside, where a goblin sat behind his desk, looking at the two with a frown.
Once the door shut behind them, Kragnok said. "You got a private meeting with me, only because of Filius." He was looking at Michael with a dangerous glint in his eyes. "So speak truthfully and quickly. Otherwise, I can't guarantee you will leave here with all your limbs attached your body!"
"I'd like to see you try." Michael growled back. His Aura was bubbling inside him, wishing to be released, but he kept it at bay.
Kragnok blinked his eyes a few times before looking at Filius. "Did this wizard kid just threaten me?"
"You are speaking with me, goblin! And I don't remember saying I was a wizard." Michael stated while stretching out his fingers. From what he knew about the goblins from Filius, he would be looked down upon if he didn't have a backbone. He couldn't rely on others to speak for him, not that he wished for that.
"Oh? Then what are you?" Kragnok asked with a somewhat interested expression.
"I'm a warrior, and I will be treated like one." Said Michael as he slammed his fist on the deck, breaking the wooden furniture in one hit.
The door of the office immediately burst open afterward, with goblins rushing in. All of them were ready to jump at them, but Kragnok waved them off. "Leave us. Now!" Without a word, the goblins left the room, sending a few curious gazes at Filius and Michael.
"Now this is interesting." Kragnok mused, looking at his broken desk. 'A kid did this with a single hit?' He looked at Michael, studying him carefully. 'He does hold himself like a warrior, but he doesn't seem to have goblin blood like Filius. Hmmm.'
"What's your name, warrior?" Kragnok asked him.
"Michael." He answered.
"And what you want with Gringotts, Michael?" Questioned him Kragnok.
"Two things." Michael raised his hand with two fingers pointed up. He took down one of them and said. "The first, is one of those free vault rooms, where I could leisurely spend my time for however long I want."
"Gringotts is not an inn!" Kragnok roared, spewing saliva as he did. "This is a bank! We do not offer vaults where one could stay! Only vaults where one could store his possessions! And nothing is free in Gringotts!"
"Oh?" Michael tilted his head. "Really? But how come I know of a vault where a soul of someone has been leisurely spending his time for almost a decade?"
"Impossible!" Kragnok yelled. There was no way that was the truth.
"The Lestrange Vault. Tom Marvolo Riddle's soul lies in Helga Hufflepuff's Cup, his horcrux if you may. If you don't recognize this name, you might recognize his pseudonym. Lord Voldemort is what he called himself." Michael quickly said, before the goblin could get another word in.
Kragnok narrowed his eyes, starting intently at Michael. "And how do you know of this?" He still wasn't sure if that was the truth, but he could easily check the vault to confirm. For that, there was no point in making up a lie like that. Michael obviously hadn't come to ask for a free vault form them, but to point this out, maybe even request for the cup.
Gringotts had no qualms about dark artifacts and didn't care if wizards stored them in their vaults. However, a horcrux was a different story entirely. As Michael put it, someone was basically staying in Gringotts for free! That just couldn't be! There were certainly no clauses in their contracts that allowed wizards to stay for free in their vaults.
"I have my ways." Michael replied. "Now, can I get one of those vaults as well? Or do I have to do something to earn the privilege of one?"
"Ranlig!" Kragnok yelled out instead of answering him. "Go to the Lestrange vault and bring a Curse-Breaker with you. I want you to search for a cup. Return when you find it and inform me of the Curse-Breaker's findings." Ranlig nodded and left.
"If you lied and wasted our time." Said Kragnok turning to Michael. "I will personally kill you."
"I'd like to see you try." Michael replied, grinning at the goblin, almost hoping he would try.
Kragnok growled at the kid that dared to talk back at him, but he had to admit, at least Michael had some backbone. Filius had not spoken once during the entire conversation, and he was handling it on his own. That much he could respect.
"Humph. While they check the truth of your words, speak what else you want. And make it quick!" Kragnok practically demanded.
"I want a goblin made weapon." The moment those words left Michael's mouth, Kragnok turned red from anger.
"Out of the question!" Roared the goblin, turning to the Professor with a furious look. "You should know we will never give our weapons to his kind!"
"You are speaking with me, goblin!" Said Michael with clenched teeth. "And did I not already say I'm not a wizard? Stop wasting my time, goblin!" Kragnok was taken back by that. Usually, goblins were the ones accusing wizards of wasting their time.
"I've come here knowing you won't give a goblin silver weapon to a wizard." Continued Michael before Kragnok could even open his mouth. "To prove myself, I would simply fight against one of your own. Without using my magic." Michael grinned at him. "Or are you, goblins, afraid of a child of all things?"
"You dare challenge us in a fight without magic?" Kragnok couldn't believe it. No wizard would ever issue such a challenge, but then again, Michael did say he was a warrior.
"Do you dare accept is the question." Michael stepped closer to him, and without fully activating his Aura, he let just a little of sip out.
Kragnok felt a sense of terror he had never expected to from a human of all things. His eyes quivered in fear, but he suddenly mustered up his courage and said quickly. "A fight to the death! You can't use your magic before or during the fight! If you win, we will bestow upon you a weapon made out of our silver. If you lose, well, our dragons have been hungry as of late."
"What?!" Filius exclaimed, not expecting for this. "N-." He was interrupted before he could say anything else. "I agree." As Michael accepted the challenge.
"Humph, follow me then." Kragnok hopped from his chair, quickly walking out of his office, as if too afraid Michael would reconsider.
"Are you sure about this?" Filius asked him as they followed the goblin. He wasn't sure who he was worried more about. Michael was strong, especially with his Aura, but the goblins were no slouches as well, their strength was well beyond their short stature. He didn't expect things to escalate to this, and certainly didn't wish for someone's death. "We could try again at a later date, or maybe visit a different Gringotts branch."
"The quicker I gain their respect, the better. We need allies, and we need the goblins on our side." Michael replied, not caring that the goblin could hear him. Kragnok turned around with a raised eyebrow, looking at them skeptically, but he didn't say a word and continued walking ahead of them. They soon found themselves in front of a cart, leading deeper underground.
"Jump inside, unless you chickened out." Said Kragnok as he entered the cart, looking challenging at Michael. He scoffed in response and joined the goblin inside, with Filius following after. The cart started on its own the moment all of them were seated, leading them deep underground.
"Remember what I said, you aren't allowed to use magic before or during the fight!" Kragnok said as the exited the cart. They were in what looked to be a goblin city, with the buildings made of the same white bricks Gringotts was and many of the pale creatures walking about, all of the giving them suspicious looks. When Michael nodded, Kragnok into an arena that looked like a small colosseum.
"Take out all of your magical items and hand them over." Said Kragnok. Michael took out his wand and branch and gave them to Filius. The goblin humphed, but didn't stop him and pointed towards the entrance. "Go inside. One of our own will enter after you."
"Good luck." Said Filius with a worried look on his face.
"He will need it." Kragnok declared as he walked away.
"We'll see." Michael said as he entered. The arena wasn't very big, but it had enough space for two to freely fight. There were stands, which goblins started filing up. Filius was already seated, watching him nervously.
Soon enough, a goblin walked out from the other side of the arena, and the crowd roared his name. "Grukrod! Grukrod! Grukrod!"
"Kill the human!"
"Chop his head off!"
"Spill his guts!"
The goblins cheered in excitement. Grukrod raised his axe in the air, pumping it alongside the roaring of the crowd. Apparently, he was allowed to have a weapon, while Michael was forbidden from using his magic. Grukrod's axe was even made out of goblins silver, but he wasn't worried. Michael just had to avoid getting hit. Pretty simple.
When the crowd quieted down, Grukrod turned to him with a snarl on his face. "Time to die, wizard." The goblin then rushed at him, and the crowd started roaring once more.
'He's faster than the Expert dummy.' Michael thought just before the Grukrod reached him and swung his axe sideways. 'Just as skilled as it as well.'
Michael allowed himself to grin as he turned his body sideways and stepped forward with his right leg. His left hand reached out, grabbing the axe by its handle, gripping it tightly and stopping the attack entirely. His right elbow shot out at the same time, hitting the goblin in the head and stunning him from the power behind it. Giving him no time to recover, Michael grabbed onto Grukrod's arm and flipped him over, slamming him on the ground.
Silence filled the arena as the goblins watched their own being manhandled by a child. They came to see the blood of the stupid human that dared challenge a goblin in a fight to the death, yet Michael took down Grukrod with ease. They watched in shock, as Michael placed his foot on Grukrod's head and slammed down. There was the blood they came to see, but it came from the wrong fighter.
"I expected more of a challenge." Michael said, popping his neck. He was stronger than he expected. 'The rituals were worth it, and I have only completed the first set. I have to thank Perenelle next time I see her.'
One of the goblins jumped down from the stands, looking at him in pure anger. Ragkras was absolutely furious. When Kragnok came over, telling him about the human child that had challenged one of their own, he scoffed thinking it ridiculous. Kragnok warned him there was something weird about Michael, but he disregarded it and decided to send one of the weaker members of his squad. Grukrod still hadn't tested blood in a real combat, so this seemed like the perfect chance for that. Now his squad member's headless corpse, that had been popped like a balloon, filled the arena with blood.
"Ragkras stop!" Kragnok yelled, desperate to stop the squadron leader. He made a deal with Michael, but if Ragkras attacked him now, it would be breaking said deal. Not only that, but it would also ruin his honor. Ragkras, however, had no intention of stopping as he charged at Michael.
Filius was also ready to jump in. His wand was in his hand, tightly grasped between his fingers. He was about to fire a spell towards the charging goblin, when he suddenly stopped. Michael's Aura burst forth, his menacing purple cloak shrouding his body. Filius had seen it before, many times even, but there was something different about it this time. It was so much more and even denser. Michael was barely visible inside it and it covered a small part of his surroundings, about one and a half meters around him.
The rushing Ragkras halted just for a moment before letting out a battle roar and continuing his charge. The purple Aura looked menacing, but he ignored it, thinking it nothing but a wizard's party trick. However, he was very wrong and realized it the moment he stepped inside the Aura as an invisible pressure assaulted him. It wasn't enough to stop him in his tracks, but it slowed him down just a bit.
Ragkras watched with terror stricken eyes as Michael easily pushed his weapon away before reaching out towards his head. He wanted to raise his arm and pushed the hand away, but the pressure slowed him down just enough to prevent that. Ragkras couldn't even plead as Michael grabbed his head and tightened his grip, crushing his skull with his Aura enhanced strength.
The goblin crowd had been silent after Grukrod's death, but now they didn't even dare to breathe. All of them watched as the human with the demonic shroud turned his gaze over at them, more specifically the goblin he had an agreement with.
Looking at him now, Kragnok finally realized why Michael called himself a warrior. His strength was one thing, but this demonic shroud was an entirely different thing. Kragnok had no idea what it was, but he had a feeling it wasn't magic. It also dawned on him in what kind of predicament he was. Kragnok made a deal with Michael, even being tricky about it, not mentioning that his opponent would bring a weapon. However, Ragkras interference after the fight wasn't part of the deal. He suddenly didn't feel as confident, staring at the purple shroud.
I'll take my time writing chapters for this story. They will be at laeast this long, but I will upade 2-3 times a week. I'll be writing a short story to the side whenever I get stuck at a certain point. Helps me take my mind off of this one and give me some ideas. Anyway, thanks for reading!