122 Chapter 122: Checkmate

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16 March 1993, Hogwarts

The moment he pulled the trigger, time itself seemed to warp around the trajectory of the shot. The air crackled with energy as a beam of light, so swift it was almost imperceptible, lanced forward. A cascade of prismatic particles followed in its wake, a trail of transient beauty hinting at the multi-dimensional reality of the event.

It was hard to describe the Colt's shot. It was so quick, so reality-defying that the English language just felt lacklustre, there were no words to truly describe the extraordinary event in front of them, and for all his visible nervousness, Riddle still looked overawed.

Harry had never expected anything like this, not in a million years, and he was the one who forged the damn thing.

The impact was instantaneous. The beam went through the invincible scales of the world serpent, through the walls of the chamber that was really the serpent's skin, until it reached the core of the World Serpents.

It was just hard to put what a core was in words. It was like the serpent's physical existence was nonsensical, was too powerful, or perhaps it was just too much for the human mind to comprehend, but for anything to exist, to live, its soul needs to reside somewhere, and the Colt is unstoppable until it reaches a soul. Harry could tell the moment it did reach the core; it was a loud gong to his Arcane Hearing that was accompanied by a burst of energy that rippled through the walls, through the floor, through everything.

Jörmungandr, the World Serpent, had always existed outside the universe's conventions. Its form had been folded through myriad dimensions, a safeguard to prevent its very presence from unravelling creation. The serpent's name held a clue to its magnitude—it could encircle the entirety of the planet, a testament to its immense scale. The Chamber of Secrets, in reality, was not a mere pocket dimension; it was a prison, a sanctuary, a manifestation of the serpent's essence. Its walls were its scales, its ground its flesh, and its pipes its bones. It was a living entity, a shapeshifter of the highest order.

Tom Riddle's command over this chamber was not just control; it was a mastery that bordered on symbiosis. Yet, even with his dominion over this sanctuary, he could not breach the barrier that kept the World Serpent contained. It was a truth that frustrated Riddle—the tantalizing prospect of wielding such an entity as a weapon in the external world had eluded him.

Had Lord Voldemort possessed the means to manipulate Jörmungandr's power, the magical world would have bowed to his rule long before. But the serpent's might was insurmountable, an embodiment of the divine that extended beyond the grasp of even the most formidable sorcerer.

And now, as the chamber stood on the precipice of change, of dissolution, Harry's pulse began to steady. The death of Jörmungandr marked the end of an era, the twilight of a legacy. The magic within the chamber pulsed, its resonance weakening as the life force of the World Serpent ebbed away. It was a process that would take time, perhaps years, maybe decades, as the chamber began to contract, as the tendrils of its magic slowly faded away.

This was a divine beast, and yet Harry had just killed it with a weapon he made, even if he didn't really know about the specifics. He was twelve for Merlin's sake, and he had just killed a beast that was considered to be a god thousands of years ago, and Harry instinctively could tell that there would be far-reaching consequences for what he had done, even if he still didn't know them.

He stared at the Colt in his hand, his gaze tracing the lines of its construction. It was an unassuming instrument, beautiful, but seemingly useless at the hand of a wizard that could manipulate the world with a wave of their wand. The ruby at the bottom was almost drained. That shot had taken a while out of the weapon, and it would need to recharge, not that he planned on using it on Riddle. His victory was all but assured now, and he wouldn't waste one of his remaining bullets on something like the abomination in front of him. At least he figured out the fact that he couldn't really fire the gun repeatedly, and that was good information.

Speaking of Riddle, he stared at Harry, his mind unwilling to comprehend what had just happened. The Potter scion gave him a small grin, "Oh, right, where were we? Ah, yes, Rook to King's Rook three, check."

"What?" the older boy sounded baffled.

"We have a game to finish, Mr. Riddle. Rook to King's Rook three, check. Make your move."

"Bishop to Rook Three," Riddle instinctively responded.

"You know, I almost let myself believe you when you said all that crap about Hermione. Even when I knew the type of man you are, how you operate. Even though I knew the truth about your ambitions, I still wanted to believe the truth about what you were saying, about the world you said you wanted to create. When you spoke to Neville, I felt the power of your promise. And I wonder, if that's what Hermione felt when she found you, and you found her. The desperation to have all her pain go away, to have her past rewritten. And that's how it works, doesn't it? The one thing everyone has is regret. You weaponize that, and then you use that weapon against them, to destroy them. Bishop takes Bishop."

Riddle stood up and started to glare at the younger boy, "Rook to Bishop Four!"

But Harry wasn't deterred and continued, "You did it to Hermione and you did it to Neville. You probably did it to Luna, promised her a world with her mother in it, and she fell for it like all others, but you got too attached, you believed your own promise, and you created this goal of a magical utopia just for her. You craved being free, like any bound creature, but your consciousness is that of a newborn. You might have the memories of a teenager and his skill, but you started truly being alive the moment Luna started to write in your diary. Rook takes Rook."

"Stop speaking in riddles, Potter. Pawn takes Rook."

"Bishop to Bishop seven."

"Queen takes Knight's Pawn."

Harry let out a bitter chuckle, "You had the goals you were programmed to do which was to open the Chamber of Secrets to kick out Dumbledore, your own ambition which was to escape the diary and live, and you found something pure that you wished to preserve in Luna. You imprinted on her and wanted to save her innocence. You literally combined all three into a single goal, that you were obsessed with doing. You want to create a world of illusion for Luna, which would help you escape the diary, and you have to do it by petrifying students and kicking Dumbledore out of the castle. You designed the perfect plan for all three, and you executed it brilliantly. And you are a brilliant wizard, don't get me wrong. But just as much as you may have designed an elaborate game, Riddle, you neglected to account for one crucial factor: the human spirit. Revenge is such a primal notion, don't you think? I just wanted you to know that whatever happens next, you brought it all to yourself. You really shouldn't have made it personal, Tom. I pity your existence in a way, but not nearly enough to offer you mercy."

Tom snarled, "This is entirely meaningless. In just a few minutes the ritual will activate. You might have killed Salazar's weapon, somehow, by a disgusting primitive muggle gun of all things, but there's nothing you can do to stop it."

"I could leave the Chamber, find a way out. You know I can do it. You've seen me doing to impossible just a few moments ago."

The older boy's glare turned murderous, "I guess I'll just have to occupy you until it's over. The loss of this place is a shame, a legacy of my ancestor destroyed because of an arrogant child who's too clever for his own good. For all your talent, boy, I am still the better dueler."

"Are you sure about that?" the last Potter answered with a small grin, "You do seem to keep moving. You know, you really shouldn't have gone after Daphne. Maybe I would have had a bone of mercy left for you. Alas, you'll burn, alone and forgotten in this place. Bishop to Bishop eight. Discover check and incidentally, mate."

Riddle snarled in anger and sent a killing curse at Harry, who used a modified spacial expansion charm on the entire room separating him from Riddle. The Killing Curse was still going next to him, but with more space to travel, Harry had the ability to duck.

The Potter scion waved his wand and the floor and walls started to freeze, slowly coming towards Riddle. The older boy, of course, countered by raising a powerful shield to halt the advancing frost. Ice and stone collided in a symphony of resistance, the clash of magic and material reverberating through the chamber. The atmosphere grew tense, an embodiment of the confrontation that played out between the two adversaries.

The smug little smile stayed on Harry's face, even as the heir of Slytherin created a giant beam of darkness and sent it towards him. He conjured a magical circle that telekinetically shielded against the beam, but Harry used his free wand to conjure a bolt of lightning at his opponent, who conjured a lightning rod, redirecting the attack.

His layered telekinetic attack, hidden behind the beam of darkness took Harry by surprise and sent him flying back. With another spell, Harry was disarmed, his wand in Riddle's grasp, "ENOUGH!"

"I don't know what you hoped to achieve here, Potter, but I am not as limited as I used to be before. I don't have to rely on tricks. You know that in a fair fight, you will lose."

Harry was going to create a magical circle, but he felt something ping on the back of his head, and now his victory was confirmed. He literally burst into laughter to the older boy's annoyance who gritted his teeth and snarled, "What is it?"

"Of course, I would lose against you in a fight. Oh, I can give you the fight of your life, pull tricks out of my ass, maybe even take you by surprise and get a win. But did you think for even a second that I would walk into this place willingly thinking about having a fair fight with you? No, I stacked the deck, you just don't see it yet."

"You know what? I don't want to know. Our little game is over. Goodbye Potter, Avada Kedavra!"

Nothing happened. The heir of Slytherin tried again and again, to no avail. Harry had a smug smirk on his face, "Something wrong, old sport. Performance problems. I know you're a little young, but it's nothing to be ashamed about."

"What did you do?"

"You know, I don't know much about rituals. I only ever focused on it when I saw that you were hoping to create one, but it didn't take long for me to understand that you planned to use the petrified victims to power it. It also didn't take me long to see that the blood was more than just for show. Re'em blood has many properties, especially when it comes to strengthening potions, but a little-known side effect is that layers of the blood are differentiated. So, it is technically possible to write runes, to connect the location for each victim, by adding small rune stones on their person, for example. That would make using petrified victims as batteries easier, even if they're in the infirmary."

Riddle's face blanched, "No!"

"Now, what would happen if you removed the powering aspect of a ritual? From my understanding, they're very unpredictable. But I did notice a trend, of sorts. They have a tendency to cannibalize their castor's magic if what's provided is not enough. And well, the only person still connected to the ritual, the only source of magic left, is you. You said that you're a magical construct, aren't you? I had hoped to use it to drain the diary of all magic, killing you immediately, but I don't think there's any reason this wouldn't work with a body like yours. Your magic is slowly being drained until you're barely able to manifest a body."

As he was speaking, Riddle's body started to fade slightly, "Stop this, Potter. No!"

"And with that, your dream of another world is as good as dead. I'm sorry, Tom, but you really shouldn't have gone after Daphne."

"Please, Potter. I only wanted to do my duty. I only wanted to live. Is that so bad?"

Harry shook his head, "I know, but you went too far. You could have been great. Unfortunately, you were shackled by your creator, who funnily enough, has become less human than you, a diary of all things. He would never care for someone like you did Luna. You might be dying, Tom, but you experienced life far more vividly than Lord Voldemort ever did. Goodbye, Tom Riddle."

And with that the heir of Slytherin faded into nothing, leaving a silent chamber. The idea that he was standing in a corpse was more evident than ever. He had won, now, he had to deal with the consequences of that.


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I tend to upload drafts of early chapters on there to get people's opinions of them so you can read up to 20 chapters ahead as a bonus.

Thank you guys for your support in these hard times.

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