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!"