About Me

I find it incredibly hard to talk about myself sometimes, but here goes: I am a student that's deeply involved in my studies. I play several games and I love to write. Enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Star Spangled Spells; Silent Night

Silent Night

Headmaster Severus Snape's eyes bore into Jason. Amycus and Alecto Carrow stood behind him to his left and right. "So he told you he was a half-blood?" Snape finally questioned, shifting in his chair in his Headmaster's office. "That's funny, Mr. Crowe, your old record documents you as having two magical parents. Excuse me for assuming, but you do know that two magical parents makes you, as it were, a pure blooded magical wizard."
    Jason bit his cheek. How much could Snape actually know about his parents? "I guess in the States this kind of information doesn't carry much weight. Moxie must have--"
    "I do not care what Vivian Moxie may or may not have done. I will give you one more chance to redeem yourself. Are you or are you not of pure magical blood?" Snape snapped. His greasy hair rose from his forehead as he lifted an eyebrow.
    Jason looked away from Snape and out the window. The moon was high and bright. There had been no housing ceremony or grand feast. All first years were Slytherin. Anybody not smart enough to lie about their blood status was put into Slytherin. Now Snape and his deputies were investigating anybody suspected of lying, starting with Jason Crowe. Jason stayed silent.
    Snape's lips curled in disgust, "Very well, then. I have no choice but to leave you in charge of what's left of the other houses. Liars taking care of liars, oh how times have changed. If you all insist on staying in such unworthy houses, who am I to argue?" Snape was smiling at his own logic at this point. Jason wanted out of here.
    "Alecto, escort him out. I trust as Head Boy he knows where his new duties lie. The Gryffindor password is Unworthy, in case one of your little friends hadn't already told you," Snape said dismissively, waving Jason and his chaperone out of the room.
    Alecto couldn't hold her comments to herself once she and Jason were halfway down the staircase, "You're going to get yourself in an awful lot of trouble this year, aren't you? Yeah, Severus 'as told us all about you. Says we've got to keep a close eye on you, that's why he made you Head--"
    "Mr. Crowe? Professor Carrow. How nice to see you out and about at this time of night," Professor McGonagall called from down the hall, "I trust Jason has not already gotten himself in trouble?"
    "The Headmaster just finished--" Alecto began to croak
    "Oh, wonderful. Severus explained that Jason would be assisting me as well as the other Heads of House. Mr. Crowe, come with me. We have schedules to deliver. Come along," Professor McGonagall interrupted, urging Jason to come with her.
    Alecto stared with her mouth open as Jason followed the Professor. "Thank you, Professor."
    "Oh, don't thank me. We really do have schedules to deliver. Miss Parkinson insisted that she was far too tired to assist," McGonagall spoke quickly. She disappeared into the Staff room and reappeared with a bundle of scrolls under her arm. "I have already taken any Gryffindor schedules to my office. I will head to the Hufflepuff commons, you please deliver this bundle," she handed Jason the largest bundle, wrapped together with an emerald ribbon, "to Professor Slughorn. Afterwards report directly back here and I'll send you to bed with the Ravenclaws'."
    Jason nodded quickly trying to remember the route to the dungeon. He turned and sped down the hall, stopping only to hear Professor McGonagall's last instruction, "And Mr. Crowe--do be slient about it."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Star Spangled Spells; First Day of the End

It has been a long time, but here's the next chapter of Star Spangled Spells!

First Day of the End
    Jason twisted the sleeve of his robe. He was nervous. Nervous about the first day of school. Snape had named him Head Boy--but had given all Prefect positions to Slytherins. Snape had personally approved his Transfiguration and Charms individual and advanced studies--but had given almost all other classes a serious level of remediation or some other curiculum rewrite.
    Jason's carriage, the lead carriage which carried the Head Students and the Prefects, snagged a bump in the path and shook Jason from his thoughts. The others sneered at him. He would definitely not be utilizing the Prefects' bathroom this year. "So..." Jason muttered uncomfortably, "How did your parents feel about you being Head Girl, Pansy?"
    Pansy Parkinson sneered and looked toward the lake. Jason could see the lanterns bobbing somewhere near the middle of the body of water--the first years. Jason felt nothing but pity for them; for some reason, he could only see Hogwarts being the least magical experience of their lives. At least they would be greeted by Professor McGonagall--scratch that. Amycus and Alecto Carrow would "greet" them.
    The carriage came to a slow halt before the rusted metal gates of the castle. Three figures, two rather short and dumpy, the last towering above them, waited just beyond. Jason could hear the bickering over the whining of the carriage as he climbed out. "Amycus, let me do these lists, you do those. You know very well you can't keep track of that many things at a time!"
    "Sister, I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself!" Amycus hissed through yellowing teeth.
    "Will you both stop your quarreling. The students are arriving," McGonagall's voice rang out above them both. Jason could hear the annoyance, and he saw it in her eyes once he got close enough to the gate. "Ah, Mr. Crowe. If you would, form a single file line. Profess--Headmaster Snape is implementing a new..housing method.."
    The Slytherin Prefects, along with Pansy, quickly formed a line, their noses pointed in the air. Oh, this was going to be a fun year. Alecto  scuttled from behind a the metal gate, clearing her throat as she brought her clipboard to her face, "Name, Blood Status, and Current House."
    "Pansy Parkinson, Pure, Slytherin." Jason didn't like where this was going. A new housing method? A sudden inquiry about Blood Status? Current house?
    "Professor?" Jason whispered sideways to Professor McGonagall, "Are they... are they trying to rearrange the houses?"
    "Sadly, that would be my guess," she answered, looking cautiously at her surroundings, "Severus insists that all of those files were lost with Albus's death, or were somehow found untrustworthy under the last board of governors. Jason, I must tell you something that I was only made aware of this morning. No Muggle-borns have been admitted to the school this year. I--I fear any who dared return will have their wands confiscated and be left to fend for themselves. I will tell Amycus to sort all the students in line by house; he will, undoubtably, place the Slytherins in the front. That will give us time to help anybody foolish enough to risk coming a chance to escape. Amycus!"
    Jason allowed his head to stop spinning  while Professor McGonagall presented her idea to Amycus. He could tell it was hard for her to have somebody other than Dumbledore above her. Amycus quickly claimed the idea as his own, and as the Professor had expected, all Slytherins were hurried to the front of the line. Gryffindors second, Ravenclaws third, and a much smaller Hufflepuff house gathered at the end of the line.
    "Where is the Head Boy?" Alecto croaked, squinting to see the list in front of her, "Jason Crowe?" McGonagall shot him a look and Jason quickly hurried to the front of the line. "Ah, there you are," she smiled. Her teeth, like her brother's, were an unpleasant shade of yellow, "Blood Status and Current House?"
    Jason's pulse raced. He was Pure Blood. He was Ravenclaw. But if he said he was Pure Blood, he was sure he'd quickly become Slytherin. That had been Snape's plan; he could name Jason Head Boy and still keep Slytherin students in all leading roles, because Jason's house would be changed. But Snape had said the reconds were untrustworthy. This was where Jason would get the upper hand on Snape. Not only that, but Moxie would be ashamed if he didn't show some Salem Spirit in the face of danger.
    "Ravenclaw," Jason said quietly.
    Alecto waited a moment and slowly looked up from her papers. Her lips were curled with subtle fury, "I believe I asked for your blood status, first."
    Jason's eyes met the shorter woman's. He could feel the defiance oozing out of him. If there was one thing he was going to do this year, it was that he was going to make Amycus and Alecto's jobs very hard. "Half blood," Jason more-or-less shouted. He looked around; he caught a small smirk from Professor McGonagall.
    Alecto stared at him blankly. "Did you need me to repeat something?" Jason said curtly, "Half-blood. Ravenclaw. Head Boy." He gave a cheeky smile as Alecto scribbled his words down and he walked back to Professor McGonagall's side. Away from the crowd, Jason shuddered with a deep sigh, "Please tell me Moxie would approve."
    "Oh, Jason," McGonagall said, trying to contain her amusement, "I think you may have outdone Moxie with that one."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; Letters About Letters

Sorry this took so long; busy, busy! I expect we'll get back into the flow of Wizard101 things soon with the announcement of Zafaria--might I just say that I see a Mammoth pet in Ice's near (-or-very-distant) future! ;)

Letters About Letters

When Jason appeared outside the Institute, he saw Moxie leaning over a pile of packages and letters, "Now we know why Boreas was late."
    Jason smiled as he picked up a pile of letters addressed to him. One from Luna Lovegood, a few from his roommates, and a fairly lengthy one from Hermione. He would read them later, when he would be able to write fresh replies. He had received a blue and silver knit scarf from Mrs. Weasley, a blanket from Grandmother Matilda, a small silver wristwatch from Luna (she said it was customary in the British wizarding world), and oddly enough, a very large book of Charms from Professor Flitwick.
    "No Prophet though," Moxie concluded, sorting the letters into stacks for Jason and stacks for her. "It looks like I need to meet with the President in person today," Moxie muttered from behind a piece of paper, "Wants to discuss how I'm going to handle this Death Eater take over. So you and Diana will be here by yourselves for a bit--where did that girl get off to?"
    There was a loud crack and Diana appeared on the pavement. "Sorry, wanted to stop at home. Mom and Dad wanted to give this to Jason," she explained, handing him a brown paper bag. Jason ripped it open impatiently and what he found confused him. "It's a watch, I think," Diana muttered, "Dad said it's made of Crop Watcher straw and Mom said the glass marble in the middle used to be in one of her old Divination books. She bewitched it to tell time--I suppose she thought it'd be funny... or meaningful?"
    Jason was honestly touched. The watch Luna had given him was nice, but Jason thought he'd wear this one more often. It was a watch from home; from people he considered family. "Oh, look at the time," Moxie snapped, looking into the sky, "I'd better be off."
    There was a crack and the next instant she was gone. "Your parents have any news?" Jason asked, tapping his wand on the Institute's white wooden doors. A weak click escaped and the door swung open.
    "No," Diana admitted, "but Mom didn't look herself when I stopped. Wasn't exactly pleased I passed my Wizarding Exam without her there, I think. Dad was happy though, and he told me he was invited by the President to that meeting Moxie left for--wouldn't tell me what it was about, of course."
    "Moxie said that he wanted to know how she was going to deal with the Death Eater take over," Jason said, "Probably wants to convince her I should stay here for the school year."
    "She'd never let that happen; you told her what your dad's letter said," Diana nodded to herself. Jason was positive Moxie would rather chew on a raw Bezoar than let the President tell her what to do, anyway.
    Jason and Diana had planned to go to the library and do some quick studying, but Jason stopped in front of the Feast Hall's doors. Something was scratching on the door from the inside. He nodded quietly to Diana and pulled his wand out, "Alohomora!"
    The door popped open quietly and a small letter floated out. "Thank you," it said simply before floating toward the stairs, "Oh, I suppose I could ask you. Is Vivian Moxie available?"
    "No," Jason said, bewildered, "She--she had to go speak with somebody."
    "Ah, well, I am a howler from..."
    "Peter Halliwell," Diana said darkly, "I recognize your voice. You can give us her message." She looked defiantly at Jason and shrugged.
    "Very well," the Howler made noises that Jason figured was it clearing its throat, "I hereby resign my post..."
    "Incendio!" Diana hissed. The letter exploded in flames, though the message seemed to echo for a few seconds until the letter was completely reduced to ash. "I think that was putting it lightly compared to what Moxie would've done with it," Diana said simply.
    Jason tipped his head curiously at the dining hall's door. There was still a small sound coming from within the room. With his wand held out in front of him, he gingerly prodded the door open.
    Thousands of howlers spun in midair to face a very startled Jason and Diana. The floor had a carpet of non-enchanted letters and a steady stream was still flowing in from a paper jammed fireplace. "Colloportus!" Jason shouted, backing out of the room as the howlers floated toward him.
    The great white doors slammed behind him. Chattering and the ripping of paper filled the air as the magic letters flew into the doors. "We'd better get a hold of Moxie," Jason said breathlessly.
    There was a loud crack from outside and the door flew open, sunlight flooding the dark entrance hall. Moxie walked in quietly and froze in the doorway. Jason looked puzzled, "Well come on in, don't act like a stranger." He turned and saw Diana, wand outstretched toward Moxie, "What are you doing? It's Moxie, Diana!"
    "Dad told me exactly what was going on at that meeting," Diana said quietly enough so that only Jason could hear her, "The President was checking leading officials in the wizarding community for Imperious Curses or Polyjuice. He told me I should be extra cautious."
    "Roger's right," Moxie said calmly, "Go ahead, Diana. Verify my identity."
    "My middle name?" Diana said shortly.
    "You told me you didn't have a middle name.." Jason hissed. His best friend pointing her wand at his closest thing to a parent wasn't easy on his nerves.
    "Diana Selene Moone," Moxie answered. Diana's arm fell to her side and she released an exasperated sigh. "Though, honestly, we don't teach much past Reducto in your year. It would have been interesting to see how long you would have made it," Moxie commented, smirking.
    "You'd be surprised by how much we learn in passing, then," Diana smiled. She gave her blonde hair a flip and pointed to the dining hall, "You've got quite a bit of mail to go through."
    "I had a feeling. How many howlers do you suppose?"
    "More than ten," Jason smiled. He looked past Moxie into the daylight and saw an owl quickly approaching, "Incoming." The owl wasn't one Jason had ever seen before, but it clutched a golden envelope in one talon and a rolled up newspaper in the other.
    "About time," Jason and Moxie said in unison, holding out their hands to retrieve their respective parcels. The bird, however, dropped both items into Moxie's hand, spun around their heads and flew away. "It must have been confused," Jason explained, reaching for the golden letter.
    "No, Vivian Moxie," Moxie said quietly, reading the face of the envelope. She looked at the Prophet and the golden letter dropped to the ground, her hands more concerned with scouring the paper.
    "Did I just see...?" Diana spun around to Moxie's side, her eyes immediately running up and down the paper.
    "Yes," Moxie said grimly, "Severus Snape named Headmaster of Hogwarts." She dropped the paper on the ground. The picture on the cover was the familiar, smug face of Professor Snape. Jason had an overwhelming feeling of doom; there was no hope for his private requests now.
    Moxie bent down and ripped open the golden envelope, "Severus Snape... Governor's unanimous choice... Seventh Year schedules to be mailed soon... Sincerely, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, Deputy Heads. If they've sacked Minerva they will have me to deal with, those cowarding--"
    A hooting filled the hall as yet another owl flew over their heads. It was wind battered and had punctured the note it gripped in its talon. This time, however, the note was dropped on Jason's head. He grabbed and unfolded it in the same movement, "It's from Professor McGonagall.. She said she got my requests to the governors before the Ministry switched the members. They had reached and finalized a decision, she's not sure what that decision was though. Also, she wants you to calm down. She'll talk with you later; she's off to discuss the details of... the disappearance of Hermione, Ron, and Harry!"
    Jason looked up to find that Moxie and Diana were already rushing up the wooden stairs to Moxie's office, "We'll use the shortcut; don't want to keep Minerva waiting!" Jason shook his head absently and trotted after them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; When It Happens, You'll Know

Sorry this is so delayed. The next couple of chapters will have a bit of a time warp on them; I want to move things along. Enjoy!

When It Happens, You'll Know

    It had been nearly two months since Jason read his father's letter. As Egan promised, Moxie had explained everything. It was a long and confusing tale, but Jason noticed that once she had gotten it all out, she was back to her usual self. The week after, Moxie whisked Diana and Jason to Canada for a month.
    When July rolled around, she returned them to Salem for the annual Independence Day festivities. Moxie noted that Gladys had already been replaced--after a thorough investigation of her office--by her Secretary, Madeline Pike. She was a strong headed girl, though she had been Imperioused by Gladys for quite some time. Moxie assured the other Cardinals and the President that Maddie was fine now and that no Wizarding Revolution would take place.
    In Canada they had found a replacement Divination teacher, though some changes needed to be made at the Institute. A Mermaid, Ghrendahline Mhrillch, had agreed to relocate and teach the subject, so long as she had an underwater room.
    But Jason could not help but feel the looming Death Eater take over getting closer. It was August now; a month until school would start, and he still had not gotten a letter from Hogwarts with at least his needed supplies. The mail had been slow all summer; a quick hello from fellow students, the Daily Prophet every other weekend, and an invitation to Ron's brother's wedding which had been delayed. The wedding was taking place the day the letter finally got there, and Moxie said it was too late for her to arrange anything.
    Jason had told Diana about the letter his father had written and expressed his worry more than once. "Don't worry about it, Jason," she would tell him calmly, "When it happens, I think you of all people would know. Your dad said your Inner Eye would be super powerful, maybe it's not too late to embrace it?"
    But Jason had tried that. He could teach himself Arthrimancy, but every time he attempted to read a Divination text book he found himself feeling silly and getting frustrated. His Eye was no longer an option, and he would have to rely on "good old fashioned wit" as Moxie called it.
    But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Jason birthday was tomorrow, August 2nd. He would be a wizarding adult and able to practice magic freely--though when they were with Moxie, she never protested when he used spells for menial labor. Moxie and Diana were being very quiet about their plans; they didn't bother lying that they didn't have any because Jason knew that they always did something special for him.
    So Jason rolled over on his side and fell asleep in his bed. He slept deeply that night. He didn't hear Moxie running up and down the halls, the portraits screaming to each other, or the storm that had suddenly appeared over the Institute. He only woke the next morning due to Diana's shouting at President Jefferson.
    "Now, young lady, you have no right to tell me what to do!" Jefferson shouted as Jason pushed open the portrait door.
    "In case you haven't heard, Women's Rights became an actuality in the last century!" Diana hissed. She grabbed Jason's night robe sleeve and pulled him toward Moxie's office. "Malleus Maleficarum," she said quickly before Tituba could start a conversation.
    The portrait swung open and Jason saw Moxie. She looked a mess; her hair was going in all directions and her eyes were red with lack of sleep. "The Ministry's fallen," she said simply, looking up from the Daily Prophet, "Everything will change. Pius Thicknesse will replace Scrimgeour, with a ProMagic regime all the way. There is no news on Hogwarts, as of yet.. I worry that the governors are probably feeling weak and the school has little hopes."
    "Well," Diana commented, "That beats any surprise we had planned for you." They all laughed, though Jason felt uneasy. He must return to Hogwarts. "Anyway, let's all get ready," Diana said excitedly, "You've got a Wizarding License to test for!"
    And they were off. Moxie and Diana had actually pulled out all of the stops and were dressed and ready before he was. "What exactly did you mean by test?" Jason asked as he followed Moxie and Diana out of the Institute.
    "The Exam Master will test you on the basics of magic; Practicality, Knowledge, and finally Defense. I don't think you'll have any problems," Moxie explained, "They teach some pretty advanced stuff over at Hogwarts; this should be nothing more than review for you. Unfortunately, I'm not permitted to teach the subjects at the Institute; they want to catch students on the fly."
    Moxie gave the sky a sweeping look; she was worried about Boreas, as she hadn't seen him since she sent out the staff newsletter. With no sign of the bird, she hooked her arms around Diana and Jason and Apparated with a crack. They reappeared in a dark, damp alley.
    "Well, this is lovely," Diana muttered, stepping out of a puddle of what she hoped was water.
    "Sorry," Moxie said quietly, "Had to shift course at the last second. Space is so crowded around here. Point Me!" Moxie's wand spun in the palm of her hand toward the crowded street ahead of them.
    After several minutes of wandering and Moxie consulting her wand--which no Muggles seemed to notice--the group finally found the Office of Wizarding Affairs, cleverly disguised as a run-down DMV to the Muggle eye. A single, lumpy faced witch sat at a desk toward the front of the very cramped building.
    "Jason Crowe, here for his Wizarding License Exam," Moxie told the woman. She didn't seem happy to have customers, but she pointed to a door to the left and instructed Moxie and Diana to wait there. With another grunt she led Jason through a door to the right and slammed it shut behind him.
    "I am Sophia Prax and I will be your Exam Master for today," Sophia rattled off; Jason figured she had given this speech already today, "In order to test your ability we will be putting you through three tests: the test of Knowledge, of Practicality, and lastly, of Defense. If at any time you feel incapable of completing the task at hand or I have reasonable doubt in your abilities, the test will end. You may begin... now."
    The room Jason stood in lit up suddenly, momentarily blinding him. He had his wand drawn, but realized he did not need it once his eyes had adjusted. A figure of stone stood at the wall opposite Jason; when he got close to it, it spun on its platform and looked Jason up and down, "Which came first: the phoenix or the flame?"
    Jason looked oddly at the statue. This was exactly a question the Bronze Eagle had asked him around Christmas last year. "Uh.. a circle has no beginning," Jason answered.
    The stone man nodded curtly and spun again on his pedestal. The room shifted around Jason and he now stood in the middle of a box painted in the starkest of whites. "Congratulations on completing the test of Knowledge," Sophia's voice boomed monotonously, "You will now be testing on your Practicality with magic. Your task is simple, yet difficult. You must change the color of the walls to their direct opposite. A color wheel will not be given to you, and any colorblind wizards should speak now."
    Sophia coughed awkwardly, "Very well, you may begin... now."
    "Simple yet difficult?" Jason said to himself. He held up his wand, cleared his throat and spoke clearly, "Multicorfors!" Immediately the walls in the room shifted from a bright white to the darkest of blacks. Moxie was right; this test was extraordinarily easy.
    "Very well," Sophia said, boredom evident in her voice, "The test of Defense will now commence. If at any time--"
    "Just get on with it!" Diana's voice sounded through the air.
    There was a crack and scratching in the darkness. Jason lit his wand and wove it in the direction he heard the sound. The lid of the container popped open when the light hit it. Slowly a hand pulled a body out of the deep chest. A head quickly followed, and the face it had caused Jason's heart to skip a beat.
    Harley Charleston now stood before him with the stupidest grin on his face. Jason noticed that he was holding his wand funny, and upon further inspection, noticed that the wand was really nothing more than a stick. It looked like something Jessica had blown up on accident and donated for use here.
    "Dah!" Harley shouted, a jet of light shooting way over Jason's head. Jason quickly realized what was going on; this was not Harley Charleston, this was a Boggart. The Doppelganger Harley shot another spell at Jason, which he blocked with a quick Shield Charm.
    "Riddikulus!" Jason shouted. The creature's figure hunched and dropped the wand. This Harley had aged significantly and was babbling nonsense.
    "Very good, Jason!" Moxie's voice called out. "Well, it was nice seeing you, Sophie. Where do I sign?"
    "I'm afraid it's not that easy, Vivian," Sophia said darkly. Her voice was much deeper, and she seemed to be convulsing in her chair, "Expelliarmus!"
    The wand on the floor of the testing room shot at Jason, causing his wand to fly somewhere behind him. "Drink it now, you idiot!" a man's voice shouted from Sophia's body.
    "No!" Moxie shrieked, "Not you, too?" She lifted her wand and sent the Polyjuiced Sophia flying into the wall. Diana rushed to the viewing window. The Boggart had pulled a vial of the darkest liquid she had ever seen out of its pocket and swallowed all of it in one gulp.
    Cold instantly filled the entire building. A sickening rush of air caused Jason to look up into the hooded face of a Dementor. He was instantly reminded of his father, and he would have cried had the tears not frozen before they could get out.
    Diana's voice brought him back to a quickly saddening reality, "Expecto Patronum!" She had somehow run back through the building and was pulling Jason out past the stone man while her Long-horned bull Patronus rammed into the Dementor-Boggart. It gave a wail and quickly retreated into the chest, which was sucked into the wall. Jason grabbed his wand and stood, running out of the Exam Sites with Diana ahead of him.
    Moxie ran past them, mumbling complex spells under her breath. Minutes later she joined Jason and Diana in the lobby, accompanied by a very tall, slender woman whose hair was pulled back into a tight bun. Her glasses sat lopsided on her nose, "Please forgive me, Vivian! He ambushed me when I was opening this morning, absolutely demanded to know if his appointment was today!"
    "Not your fault at all, Sophia," Moxie commented, handing Sophia a tissue, "He must have been in a terrible rush with that Polyjuice Potion for him to be so disfigured."
    Jason cleared his throat; he was very annoyed. Being attacked by a Dementor and another person out for his life wasn't exactly what he was looking forward to on his birthday, "Who exactly was he?"
    "Professor Halliwell," Diana muttered. She looked lost, "That's two teachers now. How are they getting past you, Moxie?"
    "I knew about Louise. Peter, on the other hand, that's surprising. It does explain why he broke down crying when we announced that Dumbledore  was dead--tears of joy," Moxie too looked a little sick to her stomach.
    There were several minutes of silence before Sophia finally snapped to a realization, "I nearly forgot! You passed--both of you!"
    Jason and Diana smiled, though Diana's quickly turned into a frown, "I'm not of age for three more months, though!"
    Sophia giggled, "Nobody really cares, dear. There's no Magical Enforcement Squad here in the States; we really just keep this office open so that there's some sort of records out there!"
    Moxie smiled and gave both of her pupils a hug. They sat and talked with Sophia for a few more minutes before her next appointment arrived, "Again, congratulations. I'll send an owl out as soon as I'm done with this one." She smiled sweetly and led the nervous looking boy and his mother toward the back of the building, "We're doing a little reorganizing in the back, so we'll just see how you are with a Written Test..."
    Diana nudged Jason and laughed as they all exited the building. "Owl.. that reminds me! The Prophet was releasing a special edition this afternoon. That would explain why Boreas was gone. We'd best be quick getting back; he's a thick bird and won't wait around for long." Moxie Disapparated with a crack and Jason almost worried for a minute. He was too accustomed to Side-Alonging with her.
    "See you there," he said cheerfully as he Apparated with a snap, leaving Diana grinning widely on the sidewalk.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; Seeing is Knowing

Seeing is Knowing

    Gladys led Jason into an overgrown field of what looked like corn. Jason flung random curses and jinxes toward Gladys as they ran; however, none seemed to meet their target. The Dark Mark had faded away from the sky, but Jason still saw the jets of black soaring overhead.
    He stopped dead in his tracks. This was not his best judgement. Death Eaters were flying around above him and he was more worried about whether or not his Curse of the Bogies hit Gladys. Jason spun around, looking to retrace his steps, but found that he was lost. Every stalk of the plant looked the same, and Jason felt that the fields were probably enchanted.
    A rustling from his left caused Jason to snap his wand into the air. The point was nearly an inch from the face of a Crop Watcher. It looked nothing like the one Jason and Diana had fought in the Forest; this one had a sad look in its hallow eyes, and was not nearly as thin.
    "Help me," Jason whispered to the beast. It swayed with the wind and a crooked smile formed on its face. The Crop Watcher began to cackle madly--Jason had done something wrong. He spun on his feet and ran in the opposite direction, looking back only when he felt a blast of heat from behind. Flames were flying into the air from Gladys's wand; she had Metamorphed into a Crop Watcher to trick him.
    "Oh, don't be afraid, Jason!" she screeched. The jets of black were now circling them just above the tall plants. "We don't want to hurt you," Gladys said calmly. She looked much younger than earlier, which made Jason feel uneasy.
    "Expelliarmus!" a blast of red light threw Gladys onto her back and her wand into the air. Charlie ran up and planted himself ahead of Jason just as one of the black jets materialized before them.
    "Brother," a voice said cooly from the column of smoke, "Long time no see."
    Charlie grunted a reply. He was white as a sheet and Jason could feel the hatred between the two. They looked almost identical, except for the fact that Harley stood a few inches taller than Charlie. "Mother's been asking about you," Charlie said matter-of-factually.
    "Finally getting over that Confundus?" Harley jeered, "Should've made it stronger."
    A jet of red light flew from Charlie's wand, but Harley deflected it at the last second. "Ah, still a sensitive subject?" Harley smiled. He rose his wand and Jason saw his lips move, but whatever he said was drown out by a loud gong-like ringing. Moxie appeared behind him with her wand outstretched; a glowing, silver Shield Charm was vibrating with power.
    Harley looked less than pleased and rose his wand to his throat. "Ah, another old bat I should've finished a long time ago," his magically enhanced voice boomed.
    Jason looked to Moxie, "Where's Diana?"
    "Right here," she whispered from right behind him. She was invisible, probably by Moxie's doing.
    Moxie let out a hallow laugh, "And what makes you think you could've finished me? I've known your plans since that night, Harley. You're like an open book to me."
    A very angry white light began shooting at Moxie's Shield. It was not coming from Harley's wand, and Gladys was still unconscious on the ground behind her partner. This spell was coming from a very slender woman in very frilly black robes. "Ah, Louise. I was wondering when you would be getting here," Moxie commented.
    The woman spun, her dress billowing around her. Jason and Diana gasped when they saw that it was Madam Louise from the Institute. "Don't tell me you've got the Inner Eye, too, Viv?" Louise's smile was vicious.
    "I'm afraid only two of the assembled have that ability, Louise. I'm just gifted with the terrible ability to smell a rat when I see one," Moxie spat, "You didn't honestly believe that asking him those questions every summer didn't go unnoticed?" Her wand was down, but the shield was sustaining itself.
    Madam Louise scowled, "Honestly, I thought I had you there." Somewhere in the conversation Harley had found the time to wake Gladys, and they now had their wands poised on Moxie and Charlie, too.
    "Do not draw your wand," Diana whispered into Jason's ear as his hand slid to his side. He felt her hand wrap around his forearm and Diana snapped into view, "Canarius!" A spiral of yellow light shot through the bubble, the deafening sound of  birds filled the quiet dusk. Louise and Gladys fell to the ground in surprise, but Harley was wiser. He tried his hardest to break the Shield, but his spells only pierced it once Jason and the other three had Disapparated in four loud cracks.
    Jason had no idea where he was going. Diana had Apparated away with him as soon as her Taxi Summoning had left her lips. His feet hit firm ground and his knees buckled as his body found itself. "Mom!" Diana's voice rang in Jason's ears, "Mom--the Dittany!"
    Jason took a deep breath; both of his lungs were there. He opened his eyes--yes, those were there too. If it wasn't for him, then it was for someone else. Moxie; it was the only thought that ran through Jason's mind. He had so many questions.
    Jason sat up straight, greeted by the face of Diana's mother, Lucy. "Hi Jason! Having a good summer?" she said cheerfully. Even in very depressing times, Lucy seemed to be extraordinarily happy, like somebody had removed her ability to be sad.
    "Not him, Mom!" Diana hissed. She was kneeling next to Charlie, "He's got a nasty cut on his face--just give it to me!" She ripped the bottle from her mother's hand and began dripping it over Charlie's forehead.
    "Thank you, Diana," he muttered, rubbing his temples. "You need to practice that with them, Vivian," he added jokingly. Moxie was staring out the window and nodded weakly.
    Jason walked up behind her, "So... where are we?"
    "Moone Ranch, somewhere in Texas. Roger refuses to tell me specifically where," she answered absently. She spun and looked Jason square in the eyes; her's were watering, "There's something you need to know. I know you have questions, but I can't answer them... yet."
    She pulled an envelope out of her purse and hesitated before offering it to Jason. "No, Moxie!" Charlie snapped, "Egan said to wait until his seventeenth..."
    "Egan said that as soon as he needed to know," Moxie hissed, "He should be told." She shoved the letter into Jason's hand and stared at the paper with disgust. With a sweeping look at Lucy, Diana, and Charlie, she left the room.
    "I'll get her something to drink," Lucy said quietly, but with a very wide grin. Charlie also stood and excused himself, though he stopped and stared at Jason as he passed through the doorway.
    Diana climbed into a chair and looked expectantly at Jason, "If you thought I was going to leave you were sorely mistaken."
    Jason grinned and opened the letter. The smell of wildlife filled his nose as he removed a piece of yellowing parchment.
    "My dear son," Jason read, "I know that at this time you probably do not think very highly of me. I also know that you have many, many questions. And now the most prominent is how do I know all of this if I am supposedly dead. I am sure that you, like your mother, do not think highly of the Divining arts--but they do exist, Jason.
    "Your Grandfather Crowe was a bearer of the Inner Eye, a trait that runs very deep in our blood. Grandfather's was not a powerful Sight, but mine is. Believe it or not, yours is even more powerful than mine. The Eye grows stronger as it passes through generations. We say that we know very little of Divination, that it is a very obscure art. This is, for all extensive purposes, a lie.
    "If anybody knew the true power of Sight, Seers would never live the quiet life that everybody is entitled to. But that is not the point of this letter. You have a very powerful Inner Eye, Jason. An Eye that is capable of Seeing wonderful or devastating events.
    "And again, I realize that you do not fully appreciate the Divination arts, and I thank you for that. By not accepting a gift you didn't know you had, you have successfully squashed all usefulness Harley Charleston sees in you. That is why he acted the way he did so many years ago.
    "I had Seen him coming months ahead of time. Moxie may have mentioned my extreme nervousness when your mother announced she pregnant. I was not worried about you being a Squib; I loved your sister for everything she was, not what she should have been.
    "I was heartbroken I could not save your sister and mother, but I knew I had to get you away first. You were a much too powerful weapon should they ever get you into the hands of the Dark Lord. When he realized that I had moved you, he was furious. He chased me to the Canadian border where he Cursed me beyond limits I thought possible.
    "I am only sane when I am Seeing things. Through the years I have developed the ability to ignore my Sights and write these letters. Moxie and your Grandmother have both found and read theirs by now, and I have one final warning before I leave you to wander the abyss I have been thrown into.
    "You must, above all things, return to Hogwarts this year. It is vitally important you are kept under the school's control, and though your Grandmother will protest, she knows what must happen. The Death Eaters will gain control of the British Ministry and Hogwarts--this is information you must not share with anybody. Why walk right into their trap, you may wonder.
    "You are less of a threat to them when they have a mock control over you than when you are here, with Moxie. She will answer any further questions you have; I feel my time writing this letter coming to an end. Lovingly, Egan Cro..."
    Jason looked up at Diana, his eyes burned with held back tears, "It ends in random scribblings. He couldn't even finish his name because of... because of Harley." Jason dropped the letter and sobbed. He had felt nothing but hatred for this man, his father, because of the cowardice his actions were described as. Now Jason couldn't help but hate himself.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; Rigorous Rivalry

Rigorous Rivalry

    Jason was amazed at how quickly the assembled witches and wizards could organize and raise the dueling tent that stretched through the center of the area. Inside, a long platform ran through the center of the tent. On either side bleachers had been set up and people were filing in. Diana seemed more concerned with four large thrones that had appeared at the back of the tent.
    "Those are the Cardinal's Thrones!" she hissed into Jason's ear, "All four; that means they'll all be watching, except, you know, for Gladys.."
    This entire occurrence didn't sit well in Jason's mind. It was almost as if Gladys and the people at the Market had been expecting Moxie to arrive. But Jason felt that Moxie would win this; she was one of the most acclaimed witches in the States, after all.
    Three loud cracks drew applause and cheer from the assembled crowd. The other Cardinals had arrived and were waving with wide smiles to the people. "The round one--with the top hat--that's the Eastern Cardinal, Paul Quinn," Diana said, pointing to a very squat man in a black suit and matching top hat.
    "Which one is she?" Jason asked, pointing at a woman in a pale yellow sun dress.
    "Morgan Tracey, she's the Western Cardinal. Spends too much time in California; I think her brain's been sun dried," Diana said with some venom in her voice, "Passed a decree last week that put a quota on the amount of Southern beasts allowed into the area; Dad was furious."
    The final Cardinal, the Southerner, was not standing and waving to the crowd. Instead, he had seated himself in the chair and had a very sour look on his face. In fact, it was this sour look that seemed to jolt something in Jason's memory, "What's his name?"
    Diana looked sideways at Jason and back at the Southern Cardinal, "Charlie Charleston." Jason tensed immediately, his hand hovering over his wand. "But don't worry, Jason," Diana whispered urgently, "Charlie's nothing like Harley--he even issued a public statement on behalf of the Charleston family when Harley was accused; Harley was disowned and the Charlestons submitted themselves to a full search. Moxie was one of the investigating witches.."
    "Okay," Jason said quietly, nodding to himself. He turned on his heels and sat on the bench closest to Moxie's end of the platform. There was an ominous ringing and the crowd fell silent. The three Cardinals stood, each with their wands raised.
    "Do you both, under an Unbreakable Vow, agree to duel cleanly and in accordance to rules established by the First Magical Council of Statesmen?" Charlie recited clearly. Jason noticed that he didn't have the accent that most Southerners had, but he sounded very eloquent.
    "I agree!" Gladys squealed, turning her back on Moxie.
    "Yes," Moxie nodded grimly and also turned away from Gladys.
    "On my count, you may begin dueling," Morgan said dreamily, adding a completely unnecessary giggle, "Three, two, one!"
    Paul's wand erupted with a golden light that sounded like fireworks. Moxie and Gladys spun on their feet. The golden light seemed to circle around the duel and caught wayward spells before they could affect anybody in the audience. Gladys was playing offense, sending numerous flaming spells at Moxie.
    Moxie had, however, taught Charms longer than any other at the Institute and was expertly deflecting them with a combination of Shield Charms and quick Transfigurations.
    "Same old, Viv," Gladys taunted, sending a rather nasty flame at Moxie, "Always playing it safe!" The platform under Gladys's feet gave a sickening crack as she threw a ball of blue light at her opponent.
    "Protego!" Moxie shouted. A wall of light blocked Gladys's spell and sent a deep ringing through the tent. "Just thought I'd let you get the big ones out first, Gladys!" Moxie called back. She twisted her arm in an unnatural fashion and her Shield Charm rocketed toward Gladys. It slammed into the Northern Cardinal with a force so strong that she was thrown onto her back.
    Jason and Diana cheered as Gladys struggled to stand again. "Nicely played," Gladys chuckled, shifting back into her dueling stance, "But I can do better--Expecto Patronum!" Silvery light spiraled from Gladys's wand and quickly formed her large bear Patronus. "This is something I learned from a man over seas; I think you'll like it. Incendio!"
    The Patronus bear exploded into flames as it stood and lumbered over Moxie. "Now show her what you can do, my pet," Gladys seethed, rolling her wand between her hands. Moxie's wand was a blur as she began to weave spells together; Jason could hardly make out what she was muttering to herself.
    "Cor Amoveo!" Moxie called as the bear swung down upon her. Before the fire made contact with Moxie, the bear fell into itself and reformed facing Gladys. It gave an ugly, fiery roar and charged for her.
    "Arrgh!" Gladys screeched. She wove her wand over her head, the fiery bear was sucked into a thin stream that gathered at its tip. With a grunt, she threw the jet of roaring fire back at Moxie.
    "Duro!" Moxie's spell Transfigured the flames into a long shard of stone. The magic continued to go up the flames and did not stop when it reached Gladys's wand. Gladys screamed as her hand and the sleeve of her robe changed to stone and the spell finally halted.
    "Why did you do it?" Moxie shouted. Jason noticed she was trembling.
    "Do what?" Gladys cried in obviously forced innocence. She gave a hallow laugh and looked around at the crowd, "And this is the woman you want to lead you in your Revolution; a crazy old bat that makes the most ludicrous accusations..."
    Moxie's wand danced in the air and Gladys's mouth magically snapped shut, "Don't act like you haven't played a part in the events as of late, Gladys. You seem to forget that our government--the one run by Muggle and Magic alike--requires that all Animagus and Metamorphmagus be documented.
    "Anybody that speaks with me on a daily basis knows that I would never side with such an extremist view, and many were perplexed when I agreed to lead the charge. You see, Gladys, I did some research when I was suddenly named the leader of this campaign. A little birdy told me that they had seen your name on a list of Registered Metamorphagi, so I dug deeper.
    "Now, I admit I have no privileges to government files, but I knew a man with a functioning Pensieve and he suggested that I take a trip down memory lane. And then I remembered when this whole rivalry started--our sixth year at the Institute, when we shared the Lincoln suite. The term we studied Switching Spells you made us all obnoxiously aware of the fact that you were a Metamorphmagus."
    "That means nothing here, Vivian!" Gladys laughed.
    "Oh, it means everything! There are ancient laws prohibiting a Metamorphmagus to steal another person's identity; we all know, however, that when you were named Northern Cardinal, you put yourself above the law--why else would you feel the need to differentiate your regulations from your colleagues?" Moxie said, pointing to the three other Cardinals, all of whom were watching with rapt attention.
    Paul stood from his throne, his brow wrinkled causing his face to look even smaller, "Is this true, Gladys?"
    The Northern Cardinal's head was on a swivel as she looked between her colleagues and Moxie. Jason thought she might cry when her face twisted into a hideous grin. There was a sickening crunching sound as Gladys's arm shriveled to her side and regrew, free of it's rocky tomb. She held her wand into the air, "Morsmordre!"
    The golden bubble of light evaporated instantly, and a huge hole was ripped into the ceiling of the tent. People scrambled from the stands and Morgan and Paul Diapparated with loud cracks. "Cowards!" Charlie hissed, his warped and crooked wand shooting spells toward Gladys.
    The Northern Cardinal had found new strength and was blocking numerous spells at a time, all while grinning at the large skull and snake in the sky. Black jets of smoke began to spin in the sky, and Jason had difficulty counting them all, "Are those... American Death Eaters?"
    "Don't stick around to find out," Moxie said urgently from behind them. How had she gotten there? "Diana, take him to the ranch," she whispered, taking a cautious look at Charlie, "I have a feeling the fruits of another rivalry are about to sprout..."
    A jet of red light slammed into Moxie's back and she fell limply to the ground. Gladys was smiling menacingly a few yards away. "You!" Jason shouted. He felt a hot rage growing in his temples. Gladys spun and ran off, Jason immediately taking off after her.
    "Jason! No!" Diana shrieked. She knelt down by Moxie and pulled her wand out, "Rennervate!"
    Moxie's eyes snapped open and she sat bolt upright, "Got me from behind didn't she?" Diana nodded her answer. "She never was much used to going by the rules," Moxie commented, "Better get rid of that quickly.."
    Moxie's wand produced a gust of wind that blew the mark out of the sky, though the swirling back jets of smoke remained. "Is Jason already at the ranch?" Moxie asked, the amount of concern in her voice startled Diana.
    "Uhm, he... Well.. Jason ran after Gladys when she Stunned you."
    Moxie's jaw clenched and her eyes took on a frantic expression, "Charlie! The field--they're luring him to the field!"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Star Spangled Spells; A Skip, A Hop, and A Jump

A Skip, A Hop, and A Jump

    Jason slept through the graduation ceremony, but Diana told him that he hadn't missed much. The entire ceremony was more or less Moxie just signing everybody's Wizarding and Witching Licenses and giving them their final grades.
    Some time into the afternoon, Jason walked into the Grand Hall. It was bare in comparison to how it had been in the past. A single table with three chairs around it was in the center, with Moxie and Diana occupying two of them. "I see you finally decided to join us?" Moxie smiled over her tea.
    Jason didn't return the favor. He was still preoccupied with what had been written in that letter, and his Grandmother's sudden turn on Dumbledore. In the past, Matilda had fully supported Jason's attending Hogwarts. Her change of heart coupled with Moxie's troubling meeting with the President didn't sit well with Jason--something was up.
    "Oh, this came for you," Diana said, pushing a bundle of mail towards Jason, "The owl flew in the middle of the ceremony. Dropped the bag right on Lee Schnider's head." She was exceptionally cheerful this morning, and it almost bothered Jason. But he pushed his annoyance behind him and looked at this mail.
    A couple of letters from his roommates, inviting him to various activities. One letter held a notice from the Howarts library, explaining that he had never returned a book about magical boils. Finally, Jason ripped open a golden envelope and read the letter aloud, "'Dear Jason Crowe, The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry staff would like to extend a congratulations to you on another wonderful school year. We are proud to announce that Hogwarts will again be open during the 1997-1998 school year. At this time, staff announcements are still up for debate. With this in mind, please presume that all teachers will hold their post for next year when signing up for your classes. As a Seventh year student you are permitted to choose all of your classes. Keep in mind that to attend any N.E.W.T. level course you must have acquired the proper O.W.L. testing results. Included is a form that should be completed and returned as soon as possible. In magic, Hogwarts.'"
    This had lifted Jason's mood, but seemed to put a damper in Moxie's. "Staff positions are up for debate," she muttered, "Nothing mentioned about Minerva being Headmistress?" Jason scanned the letter again, but found nothing. None of the attached papers said anything either, and the requirement for N.E.W.T. level Transfiguration was still at Professor McGonagall's Outstanding level.
    "Have a pen on you?" Jason inquired. He wanted to fill out the forms quickly; the sooner he got everything in, the better the possibilities he could get an independent study. Moxie summoned one and whipped up the New York Times to scour the wizard articles (rose colored glasses had to be worn).
    It took Jason a little over an hour to write up his requests and additionally his inquiry for solo studies. He had achieved the highest O.W.L.s in all of his subjects, so he would undoubtably get those, but the solo studies made his stomach uneasy. They would need to be approved by the Head of the school, and if that was Professor McGonagall, he would have it in the bag. If it were not her, well, he had to hope his marks did the talking for him.
    "So Moxie," Jason said, tucking the letters into the return envelope, "What do you have planned for us this summer?" Diana looked up from her summer homework intently, too.
    "Oh, I thought we'd keep it simple this year," she muttered from behind the newspaper. Diana looked completely disappointed. "And then I remembered that's not us at all," Moxie said happily, dropping the newspaper.
    Diana perked back up immediately, "Something exciting, I hope. You know, I haven't been to Europe. Or well, anywhere outside of the Institute and Texas, that is.."
    "Seeing as Jason's birthday is coming up next month, I'm afraid we can't go too far," Moxie explained, "He'll need to get a Wizarding license right away. And there are certain... developments in Wizarding law that I need to keep a close eye on."
    "Like what?" Jason asked unflinchingly. Moxie looked slightly taken aback, and then her features softened. Jason thought that, in that second, Moxie looked very old. Her vibrancy seemed to escape her.
    "With recent events in mind, the government would like more control over the wizarding world here in the States. They would like to begin that with more control over the Institute," Moxie sighed. "For its entire life the Institute has been run free of the judgement of the Muggle government. Because of the open communication, the wizarding community here in the States saw no need for two separate governing systems: one for Muggles and one for wizarding kind.
    "Many leaders in the wizarding community are now calling foul on the President and would like to separate. Of course, they have christened me as the leader of this charge--without my knowing. The President was furious, but I can't say I blame him. With Voldemort on the loose and now Dumbledore dead, even the Muggles know that something terrible is going to happen," Moxie released a defeated sigh. Jason and Diana looked helplessly at each other.
    Jason stretched a hand to Moxie, and she accepted it with tearing eyes. Diana held in a cry and began laughing, "Oh gods, look at us. We used to be the biggest trouble makers and now we're all wallowing on about laws that can't be written"
    Jason and Moxie joined in the laughter. Diana was right; they couldn't dwell on such depressing subjects at a time like this. They talked for a few more minutes about school and plans for the next year; Diana tried several times to coax her exam results from Moxie. Conversation could have gone on for hours, but was interrupted by an opening window and the hooting of an owl.
    It was Moxie's owl, Boreas, and he had a Daily Prophet clutched in his talons. Moxie yanked the paper from the bird and Jason immediately gave Boreas his letters, "Straight to Hogwarts. Don't let anybody stop you." Moxie skimmed the Prophet, and finding that there was no Wanted notice in her name, closed it up.
    "I think the first leg of our journey will be to the Midwest," Moxie plucked her glasses from her nose and dropped them into her purse, "I'd like to find out who let those Crop Watchers out of their sight."
    "Ugh, I hate Apparating to the North," Diana whined.
    Jason knew that the states were magically divided into four sections, with a Cardinal Witch that usually set the magical standards for each. From what Jason had heard about the Northern Cardinals, he knew that it wasn't just Southern rivalry that made Diana feel the way she did. The current Northern Cardinal, Gladys Winshire, insisted on everything being done in three's. So to Apparate to the Northern states, one had to hop, skip, and Apparate in mid-jump to pass the magical boundaries. It usually did cause people to look ridiculous.
    "Yes, and we'll have to get Jason familiar with the area before we can leave. Incredibly dangerous to Side-Along into the North," Moxie said, waving her wand in the air. In seconds, a large book was soaring towards them and landed softly on the table. "Tap this page with your wand," Moxie explained, opening the book to the page she wanted on her first try, "That should help your wand guide you."
    The picture was a large cornfield surrounded by small farms. "The Farmer's Market," Jason read. He tapped the picture with his wand and felt it vibrate slightly in his hand.
    "We'll go first, so you get the general idea," Moxie nodded to Diana. There was small circle of flames behind them; Moxie had opened a small Apparation field. Diana glided toward the ring, skipping a step in front of it, hopping into the ring, and finally jumping and Disapparating with a snap.
    "Looks simple enough," Jason commented as Moxie stood. She approarched identically as Diana had, but when she Disapparated there was a much louder crack. Jason stood, shook himself of worries and repeated, Apparating away with a sharp snapping sound.
    The Farmer's Market was a very small village. The layout was similar to that of a fairground; one building had a large floating sign that read "Portkey House" and Jason heard the whooshing and flashes of blue light that usually followed Portkey travel. The ground was covered in hay and the sound of conversation and animals filled the air.
    Diana and Moxie walked up behind Jason. "If they aren't wearing a hat, they probably shouldn't be trusted," Moxie commented, giving a very dirty look to a man covered in hair, "People will try to sell anything here."
    "Well it is the season for duels, Vivian!" a shrill voice called from behind. Jason felt Moxie's grip tighten on his shoulder.
    "Gladys!" Moxie called back with obvious mock surprise. The two women embraced, allowing Jason to take in the infamous Gladys Winshire. She was a tall woman who appeared to tower over Moxie's petite stature. Gladys's hair was long and braided, but very white and Jason suspected magic in its roots.
    "Oh, Vivian, it's been too long!" Gladys smiled, "Remember when we were school girls? Goodness, we haven't seen each other since the last reunion! Remember everybody's face when they saw that you were in charge! Oh, and how they all simply died when they found out I was the Northern Cardinal's undersecretary?"
    Moxie nodded with the fakest of smiles on her face. Jason suspected a rivarly between the two women, one that Moxie had long past let go of. Gladys, however, seemed to be holding on for all it was worth. "Oh, it was a grand time, wasn't it?" Moxie commented, pulling herself from Gladys's vice-like grip.
    "You know," Gladys's eyes became slits, "We never did get that dueling rematch. Like I said, I had a cold that day!"
    "Oh, Gladys. I don't think so, not today. I've got Jason and his friend with me and we were just about to go see about some..."
    "Nonsense!" Gladys shouted, her nostrils flaring, "Have the dueling stands set up immediately and alert the media; the Northern Cardinal and the Headmistress of Salem are about to duel!"