"You've got the cloak, Harry?" Niki asked quietly when the quartet met up after dinner in the Gryffindor common room.
"Yeah. You've got some musical device?" Harry responded.
"I was just planning on humming or singing." Niki whispered back.
"Well, hope you can do it well." Ron responded. "I'm not sure you can."
Niki punched him at the same time she stomped, hard, on his foot.
"OUCH!" Ron yelped.
"Well, come on!" Niki said, imitating Hermione's bossy voice. "We're wasting time here, I thought we wanted to rescue the world?"
"I don't sound like that!" Hermione said indignantly.
"The fact that you just automatically assume that I was imitating you makes this so much funnier." Niki said, grinning.
"Well, come on." Hermione sniffed. "This stone isn't going to save itself."
The quartet covered themselves with the cloak and slipped outside. Creeping quietly to the third floor, Niki started humming quietly, until they opened the door and realized that a harp was playing softly.
"Well, I guess I don't have to sing." Niki said, an attempt at humor that fell flat. "Okay, fine. Help me move this paw so we can go down this trapdoor."
Working together, the four friends managed to move the massive paw that held the trapdoor shut. Then they turned to look at each other.
"Well, who goes first?" Ron finally asked. "It won't be me."
"Coward." Niki said, and jumped into the pit, falling for almost a full minute before landing with a 'thump' on something soft. The square of light that was the trapdoor was no more than a postage stamp.
"Niki?" she heard Harry's voice call down. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." Niki said, looking around. Harry jumped. Hermione followed. "I'm in a thicket of Devil's Snare."
"What?" Ron shouted down. "I'm not jumping down now, no way." There was suddenly the sounds of vicious snarling, barking, and growling. Fluffy had woken up, and Ron soon joined them.
"What were you saying, Ronald?" Niki asked. She seemed remarkably unconcerned, given the fact that she was covered almost entirely, leaving only her head visable, in Devil's Snare, that was working it's way up her neck. The other three were fighting hard against the plant, but Niki just sat there.
"You do know that you have to relax, or it'll only kill you faster." Niki informed the trio.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Niki!" Harry snapped. Niki gave him a commiserating look, and was pulled down under the Devil's Snare.
She fell out the bottem and landed in a dark, extremely small room. There was a table lined with nine keys sitting in front of her, and a locked door behind and in front of her.
"Relax and you'll be fine!" she called up. She could hear the other three screaming. "Relax and it let's you out, I'm in a different room now!"
She heard Harry and Ron yell Hermione's name. "Did Hermione go under?" she called.
"Yes, Niki, where are you?" Harry shouted down.
"Just relax!" Niki heard Hermione's voice echoing up. "Do what we say!"
Then the top sealed closed, at least for Niki, and blocked out any noise. She turned instead to the table and noticed for the first time the riddle sitting on it. She sat down on the floor and read it.
*So you've made it past the Devil's Snare.
And now, here you are.
But be warned, because this room, is slowly losing air.
Before you sits nine simple keys.
Now which one do you choose?
Only two will let you live.
The others? Well, you lose.
To help you to decide which one to choose,
We will give you clues.
There are several monsters here.
As well as, other things.
One will get you forward.
The other, back to school.
As for all the others, well,
None of them are cool.
You'll notice that they're most the same.
But three of them, conspiciuously different.
(I've given up on rhymes)
If you want to go forward.
You wouldn't want any of these.
Three right from the left
And three left from the right
Will probably kill you,
So watch out.
Now on the left of poison gas, and on the right of mandrake
Is the one you need.
If you would go forward, that is.
The different ones will help you now.
Find the one you need.
Because one is gas, one is troll, and one takes you behind.
Now, seeking out the mandrake will not be very easy.
But know that it is three to the right
of taking you back to school.*
Niki sat back and studied the keys, muttering to herself and pointing. Finally she selected one of them, and put it in the door in front of her. It opened, and she skipped happily out into a larger chamber, where the other three were waiting.
A/N: Hey, guys. I know that riddle was terrible, but I'm not very good at creating puzzles. In order to figure it out, you have to have a lot of logic, which luckily Niki does. It is possible, though. If you want to try, know that the first two on the left are "conspicuously different" and so is the one that is the third to the left of the far right is different. Does that make sense? Probably not. Anyway, I'm gonna go at least start writing the next chapter. It will probably be up soon.