Skip to content

Ground War

July 4, 1992, 2:45 PM, Phoenix’ Roost, England

Adam Clarke

I stared at the bright message in the sky for a few seconds before it disappeared, leaving me back in the darkness of the forest.

This was it.

Taking a deep breath, I scrutinized my surroundings again, feeling like there was an enemy lurking behind every bush and thicket. I narrowed my eyes, banished such paranoid thoughts away and began to move forward.

My senses went on overdrive as I felt the cold breeze coursing through the forest— another sign that Grindelwald had done something to this place.

We’re in the very height of summertime. I thought, noting that my breath fogged up a little. and the weather feels like we’re in late October.

My feet squished into the mud, and I felt the cold and wetness begin seeping into my shoes.

I looked down at my feet with a grimace of annoyance. Really? They could’ve at least told us that we were going to be sent somewhere cold and wet instead of springing it on us with no warning.

Even as I had that thought, I knew it to be a little silly. The entire point of the training was so that the recruits could adapt to any situation in real combat, no matter how unexpected.

Being thrown into an unfamiliar territory without the correct gear was just the sort of thing that would make for an excellent training exercise.

Hell, I reckoned that we were possibly even expected to fashion our own equipment; maybe a hidden test? There was no way to confirm.

“Better to set this up, in any case.” I said and began to search for the driest looking spot in the area.

A wave of my wand scoured my shoes, removing all traces of mud from them. I frowned and began to adjust my shoes with what little Transfiguration knowledge I knew. Damn it.

I’d skimped on this subject in favor of Charms, and now the results were showing. I’d learned how to cut and mend my clothes, but I had never bothered with Transfiguring them.

My shoes were entirely too short to withstand the muddy terrain— I needed to change them enough to get that managed.

Now, the Impervius Charm— which I had quickly learned for my work with Hagrid— would do quite a bit of work on that note, but the mud could still reach above my shoes and get to my feet that way.

Meaning, I needed to raise the shoe’s collar high enough so that I would never be bothered by the mud.

I took another breath, my mind whirring as I stared around the area. My eyes settled over a few small trees for a moment before I turned my attention back to the task at hand. “Yes. I can work with this.”

Sitting down, I took one of my shoes off and held my wand above its collar section. Diffindo.

The light passed through the shoe with no resistance, slicing the collar off before it went further down, striking against the muddy earth with a wet plop. I held the sliced off bit and considered it for a moment before tapping my wand against it.

Engorgio. I incanted in my mind, and the collar quintupled in height and width. I frowned at the result and began to mutter in mild approval. “Better than I feared. Worse than I hoped. Still…”

It was far too wide for my calves, but fixing that would be a cinch. I placed the edges of the two parts together and held my wand over them. Epoximise!

The two parts joined together, as if stuck by an adhesive. I exhaled and then gave the shoe’s new, grotesque collar a hard tug. It held in place.

Good, good. Next up… I thought and waved my wand, snapping off a few branches from a nearby tree before Summoning them to me.

With the deft use of a few choice spells, I stripped the branches of their bark and tied them along the shaft of the shoe, winding them right to close it up into a pipe shape in order to fit it better on my leg.

A little more testing and fitting was needed, as I had to make sure my measurements were good enough, but a few minutes later, I was sporting mid-calf-high boots; enchanted with the Impervius Charm and a mild Warming Charm, they would keep my feet dry and warm through this whole trial.

I gave my shoes one last check before moving onto the rest of my clothes. There really wasn’t much I could do there— I was wearing the thin robes provided to me by Gellert’s aides.

They didn’t do too badly at keeping the cold away, but I enchanted them with the same spells I’d used on my new boots, all the same.

“Ready.” I said and began to walk through the area, nodding to myself as the effect of the muddy terrain no longer bothered me.

Worth the time investment.

Praetexo. I smiled and, tapping my wand atop my head, immersed myself under the effects of my Disillusionment Charm before picking a random direction and setting off. I kept my pace slow and careful, doing my best to make as little noise as possible.

My efforts didn’t amount to much. Traipsing through the forest was a lot different than walking the Hogwarts Castle halls.

All I needed to do there was step carefully and no one would notice. Hell, Even when I wasn’t trying to be stealthy, most people weren’t able to notice me anyway.

Here, on the other hand, I felt like I might as well have been honking a horn with the amount of foliage I ended up pressing past, making the branches swing back and forth like air dancers at a car dealership.

More than that, I realized as I looked back to see the long line of footprints behind me; anyone could follow my tracks right to me. Hell, they didn’t even need to be particularly good at tracking; these footprints were far too obvious.

I stopped and tried to recall the techniques I’d seen on the internet in my previous life, but it was so long ago that I wasn’t sure I remembered them right.

A few moments passed before I nodded to myself and waved my wand, snapping many small branches from the nearby thicket, stringing them together before using them to lightly scrape away the prints left behind by my feet.

As I had expected, the process was repetitive to the point of being very annoying; every half-minute or so, I had to stop to remove any trace of my passing through the woods.

It was not pleasant by any means, despite me using magic to do so. I couldn’t imagine how bad Muggles had it when they had to hide their own tracks.

Still, I couldn’t deny the results. The tracks were gone, which eliminated the possibility of someone following me and gaining the opportunity to attack me from behind the moment I lowered my guard.

I was now as stealthy as I could possibly hope for, and this would pay off when the fighting began in earnest.

At least, I hope it does. I thought.

Just as I finished erasing my latest set of tracks, I saw a jet of purple light impacting a tree less than forty yards away, sending splinters and chunks of wood flying everywhere near it.

The tree cracked and swayed ominously for a few moments before falling down into the ground, splashing mud on either side.

I took in a sharp breath and moved towards a tree, making sure to scrape my tracks and discard my scraping tool as I did so, untying it so that it looked like a bunch of fallen branches..

I got my breathing under control and peeked; looking past the felled tree, I saw two figures approaching. Spellfire flew between the two as they unloaded curse after curse at one another.

Their loud cries filled the air, the dark area flashing with red and gold. Several more trees were felled, with one crashing beside me and forcing me to hunker down to avoid being crushed.

“Damn it!” One swore a few seconds later, and I realized with a start that the wizard was on the other side of my tree. The man roared with defiance, the area shifting into a silvery hue as he summoned up a Shield Charm.

I heard the sound of a few spells being absorbed into the stout Shield before a yellow one was deflected upwards, crashing into the tree behind him and filling the air with the sound of ominous cracks.

I need to move. I thought but was forced to keep my position as the man abandoned his own and ran off to my left, trying to use the other trees as cover from the witch’s onslaught.

The tree I was leaning on continued to crack as its midpoint began to slowly tip downwards towards me. I beat down the onrush of panic, knowing that its trajectory would end up with it crushing my cranium like a hammer to an egg.

I blinked and took a breath, an idea forming in my mind. I held my wand up, waiting for the right moment.

I heard the wet plops the witch’s shoes made in the mud as she approached, but I waited, hoping the tree could stay upright for just one second longer… Now! Depulso!

The Banishing Charm applied its considerable force to push the tree to the left, sending it swinging down the opposite side towards the witch. She swore and dove forward, narrowly avoiding being clipped by the falling trunk and getting herself mired in the mud in the process.

I watched her struggle for a single instant before I made my next move. Stupefy!

All she saw was a flash of red light before the Stunning Charm struck her in the face, sending her into blissful unconsciousness.

I stayed exactly where I was, only making sure to keep the woman’s face out of the mud— I didn’t want her to choke to death, after all— and waited until her opponent showed his face again.

A minute passed, and I wondered if the other wizard had simply run away, content to be away from danger.

Still, I continued to do absolutely nothing; it was possible that he was just waiting for the right moment— even as I considered this, I saw the man emerge from behind one of the bushes less than twenty yards away from me.

Yep. I thought in confirmation as he approached the passed out woman.

He poked her with his foot a few times before his gaze turned towards the felled tree for a moment. He looked down again, his once anxious face morphing into an expression of self-satisfied, unearned triumph.

“Heh.” He said, smirking down at the unconscious witch before gesturing at the tree. “After all that chasing and you hounding me every step of the way, it looks like your own spell caused your downfall! What an idi—”

Stupefy. I had to stop myself from laughing as another jet of red light erupted from my wand, striking the man in center-mass and sending him toppling backwards into the mud with a loud slap. That should teach you to stop and gloat, dumbass.

I took a breath and didn’t allow myself to relax just yet. These two idiots were slinging spells left and right, filling the entire area with light and sound. There was no doubt that others would come here, soon.

I had to move on.

That was when I felt another shockwave coming from high up in the false, dark sky. I turned my attention upwards, watching as bright letters of purple flame began to form. They said:


My eyes widened with shock. Fifty four! That means eight other people have been beaten already.

Maybe this place really was as massive as the aides were saying. Even now, part of me wanted to doubt their words, but the fact that I had not noticed all of the fighting told me that I was probably in the wrong here.

Either that, or there’s some kind of obfuscation magic at play.

In any case, I needed to keep going. Sparing my two downed opponents one last look to make sure that they weren’t going to die anytime soon, I moved on, taking my crude tool with me.

Still under the Disillusionment Charm, pressed into the direction the two had come from, figuring I would come across another enemy or something.

It was not to be. The next ten minutes were spent wandering around without any aim whatsoever. I was beginning to grow frustrated, so I decided to change directions.

Another fifteen minutes passed before I was ready to give up, but the faint sound of rushing water in the distance gave me pause.

A river. I thought. Should I investigate?

I didn’t imagine any of my enemies would stop there for water, considering they could simply use the Water-Making Spell if they got thirsty or needed to clean something.

Still, the sound of the roaring river would effectively hide any noise I made, which could help me with my stealth.

Then again, that would also open me up to being snuck up on, so it wasn’t exactly the best of ideas.

I shook my head as I continued to approach, only to widen my eyes as I felt myself step on something that budged and then cracked underfoot.

What the… Was my only thought before something snagged around my ankle and swung me high up in the air. I kept my wand gripped firmly in my hand, even as the world spun around, dizzying me and making me feel nauseous.

A few seconds passed, and I felt my stomach continue to clench in response to the vertigo. Realizing what was about to happen, I gripped my wand even tighter and closed my eyes as I unloaded the contents of my stomach downwards to the forest floor, feeling my throat and mouth burn in protest.

I heard the sound of splashing and did my best to breathe as the last of the vomit dripped out of my mouth.

Fuck. I thought, gargling the remainder and spitting it out to the side. I opened my eyes before being forced to close them again to ward off the sudden case of the stings. Get ahold of yourself, Clarke!

I breathed in and out, in and out a few times before going to work. A quick look above and I realized what this was— a snare trap. I ignored the lingering taste of bile in my mouth and slashed my wand up, slashing through the string with ease.

I twisted my body to cradle my own head, crashing into the muddy earth with a loud plop. The impact hurt a little, but it did not do much beyond rattle me.

Struggling for a moment to get to my feet, I wiped the snot dribbling down my nose and spat out the fresh wave of bile; my eyes scanned my surroundings quickly, and I saw a figure snap off a spell from behind a tree.

I dove to the side, the spell flying wide into the forest before it splashed harmlessly against a tree which had been behind me.

Two spells followed in its wake, one striking the mud a few inches besides me while the other clipped my right shoulder, sending me rolling in the mud, back into my own vomit.

I resisted the urge to hurl again and got back to my feet, pointing my wand at the tree. Incendio!

The trunk went ablaze with bright red and orange, causing the person behind it to scramble away with a yelp of fear. A witch emerged, furiously patting her midsection in an attempt to snuff the flames threatening to consume her.

Aguamenti! I cast the next spell, blasting the woman with a jet of water which put the fire out and knocked her flat on her back. Expelliarmus!

But she rolled out of the way, the Disarming Charm harmlessly crashing into the ground as she leveled her wand at me. Could she see me?

I didn’t have time to consider the implication of her being able to see me despite showing no signs of a detection spell when a tidal wave of mud erupted from the ground, crashing into several trees and snapping them like twigs.

“Shit.” I swore and held my wand aloft. Depulso!

The wave of mud stopped flat, forming a wall between the two of us as it was held in place, both of our spells canceling each other out. I felt her struggle against my spell and realized with a hint of worry that the wall was now inching towards me.

Need to come up with another way to deal with this. I thought, redoubling my efforts and forcing her wall back to its initial position and holding it there.

I held the spell in place for a few seconds longer before abandoning my hold on the mud wall and casting another spell instead, immersing myself in a sense of strength and stoutness. Protego!

A dome of energy appeared, surrounding me on all sides just as the wave crashed into me, pushing the entire shield back and forcing me to bleed off my momentum by rolling around.  Still, I ignored the feeling of my skin scraping against the forest floor and held the Shield up, unwilling to yield to this wave.

Eventually, the momentum stopped and I got to my feet, seeing that the entire Shield Charm was covered in a thick layer of the mud. I wiped my face for a moment before shifting the magic of the shield to my hand, allowing me to cast new spells with my wand again.

“Scourgify.” I held my wand over my eyes as I incanted the spell, not bothering to silently cast it; I doubted the enemy could either hear me under all the mud or would have even cared that I was casting a Scouring Charm on myself.

I winced at the feeling of a brush scraping the sensitive organs thoroughly and weathered through it for a few more seconds before it ended.

I opened my eyes, finally glad to be able to see without either tears or mud forcing them shut. Better.

A wave of my wand, and the mud covering my Shield Charm blasted off in all directions, spraying everywhere, including the witch who was approaching.

I ignored her yelp of surprise and thrust my wand forward, dropping the shield as I did so.

No mercy. This bitch tried to bury me under a tidal wave of mud. I snarled and cast my next spell. Odgovor!

Two chains materialized from the tip of my wand, fueled by my anger and frustration. They shuddered with malicious purpose as they coiled around my target, trying to crush her instantly.

The woman cried out in agony and sudden panic, and then—

A loud crack filled the air as she disappeared, the chains crashing into each other with a loud clang as they met no resistance whatsoever. A few meters to the right, the woman reappeared and fell flat on her face, unmoving for a few seconds before she forced herself out of the mud.

She groaned and moved her arm to cast another spell on me, only for nothing to happen. I blinked in surprise but didn’t waste my opportunity, dismissing my chains and sending a Stunning Charm at the woman, knocking her out completely.

I stood there, watching her for a few seconds before finally lowering my guard.

She was down and out. I let out a deep breath, feeling tired and weary as I made my way to the woman.

Why hadn’t she cast a spell at the end? She’d certainly tried to— Oh… I see.

Her wand-hand was gone. I turned my eyes towards her previous position and saw something there. I walked over there and knelt down, wiping the mud off to see a perfectly normal hand clutching a wand in a deathgrip.

She’d gone and splinched herself while trying to escape the trap, I realized. I shook my head and took the dismembered hand, bringing it back to the woman’s unconscious body. I was sure she’d be thankful for the small gesture, at least.

I stared down at her for a few seconds before grimacing. In a matter of minutes, I’d emptied my stomach, rolled around in who knows how much mud and made enough noise to attract the entire forest here.

Still. I thought, my inner fire roaring with satisfaction as I went about the process of cleaning myself up before moving on. That was a good fight.

I wondered what tricks the others here had up their sleeves, feeling myself smile despite the pain.

Published inUncategorized

One Comment

Leave a Reply