Chapter 1 - That Odd Muggle Girl

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Glimpses of a thin exoskeleton sort of armour, made from a toughened, woven fibre, were just visible from underneath his tunic. It had a reddish metallic sheen and covered the caps of his shoulders, all of his vital organs, his spine and the back of his neck up to his skull. To each of his forearms were strapped some type of frightful looking automatic weapon, resembling mechanical archery guards; they were made of metal and the same type of fibre as his exoskeleton. There was a vicious looking dagger on show in a holder on his belt and although it could not be seen from under his tunic, in a holster of the exoskeleton, there was a long-range lazar handgun (rather innocuous looking, yet lethal) as well as several other bits of hidden, murderous mechanical artillery.

Although he smiled more readily than the blond haired man, he had a similar sort of sadness that came from within. In spite of his exterior, there did seem to be a depth of tenderness in him (although the sympathetic opinion might simply have been one that others afforded him because of his uncommonly pretty face)... Nevertheless, for all his fearsomeness (and even discounting his beauty) he had a stoicism that radiated a feeling of calm to those around him in his favour.

The man with the white-blond hair had been complaining at length that he was certain that the lemon coloured, extra light cadmium yellow paint he had ordered, was:

'rather more orange hued than promised, which he had specifically noted he did not want when he ordered it from the maker in London! Outrageous! The poxy paint was clearly ordinary cadmium yellow, which he bloody well would have ordered, had he planned on painting grapefruits!' He grumbled on that: 'The paint was nothing like, as brilliant as it should have been and was probably contaminated with selenium, or ochre, or something – which was absolutely criminal, considering they had prepared it specially.'

He spoke with a polished, old-fashioned, English accent. Attractive to some ears, but considering the era (obvious from the modern jeep and quad bikes parked nearby) it seemed somewhat unnatural and hinted at a life of privilege and deep respect for tradition... To others, it might have just sounded snobbish and out-of-touch.

'Was it any wonder he couldn't ever think of anything new to paint, when these bloody LEACHES! were undermining him? The leaches had charged him a fortune for a few tubes of poxy paint, which they took forever to produce and then couldn't even get his order correct! What's more, he didn't understand how he was supposed to "live for the present", as one of the feeble minded "therapists" had advised, when everything was so bloody exasperating.'

"And this bloody collar! I can hardly!... BREEEATHE!... Wandless – FFFECKS," he snarled under his breath. Wincing, he slid his finger between the metal choker and his neck to get some airspace between the thing and his skin. He gulped and made a small gasp for air looking like a fish out of water. Holding his neck, he then rotated it and his eyes around theatrically, breathing in and out a few times through thick, laboured breaths.

He then went on to bemoan the lack of comfort that his chair provided and was inquiring whether the man-horse had seen his House-Elf Bibsey that morning, so he could call her to tell her of his predicament, when the man-horse who had been propped up against a tree, pretending he was listening to the blond man's diatribe against life, suddenly stood alert, looking concerned. The man-horse touched a place on the weapons at each of his wrists and pulled the hood of his tunic over his head. Armed.

A short distance away, another man-horse dressed similarly to the first, appeared out of the wild undergrowth. Also alerted, he looked at the first, who apparently didn't have an answer to whatever the disturbance was. The blond haired man quieted at once and stood up. Ready. A third part-man-part-beast, appeared from another direction in the undergrowth and it was now obvious from their starting positions that the fantastical beings had been stationed at points which formed a triangle around the blond man. All four stood silently, scanning the surrounding area.

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