July 4, 1992, 3:40 PM, Phoenix’ Roost, Forest Battleground
What does one do when they’re sliding down a hill with massive boulders rolling down behind them? Oh, that’s right: blurt out panicked gibberish like a little bitch.
And that’s exactly what I did when realization struck.
“Oh fuck, fuck, fuck!” I cried out in a demented mix of exhilaration and fear as I slid down the hill, hearing the sound of trees being crushed and uprooted.
The trees did nothing to slow the rocks down— let alone stop them. They may as well not have even been there.
I adjusted my position, infinitely glad for having the foresight to use the Impervius Charm on my clothes, as it made my clothes extra slippery, which helped me slide down the hill all the better.
Shifting my weight to the right, I swerved out of the path of a tree before snapping a spell off right behind me. “Reducto!”
The jet of blue light flew into the small boulder, turning it into rubble.
I didn’t have the time to frown at the spell’s low efficacy, as I was forced to shift my weight to the left, this time narrowly avoiding a bit of sharp stone jutting out of the ground.
Normally, that spell should have been able to reduce things to a fine mist, but I’d grown tired; my concentration was waning, and I didn’t know for how long I could keep everything up.
I chanced a quick look behind me, eyes widening as I saw new boulders falling from the sky right at my position.
My foes were lobbing the stones which had lagged behind the others at me. Son of a—
One crashed right through a tree just a few feet shy of my body, sending the massive thing spinning, much like how a child would do with a small stick. Too close.
I raised my wand up high and blasted a few more of these large rocks out of the air before swerving to the left, out of the way of another tree.
“Reducto!” I roared again, blasting through a tree in my path before quickly gauging my surroundings. There was still about a mile’s worth of hill to go down, so there was plenty of room to increase my speed.
This is stupid. I thought, even as a few more boulders crashed into the earth and trees nearby. But I can’t maintain this forever. Shooting down massive rocks and maneuvering constantly— eventually I’ll mess up, and they’ll hit me. No. I need to gain an advantage.
And to gain an advantage, I needed distance; just enough so that I could think for more than a split second.
My mismatched eyes spied two large trees ahead, and a quick, Hail Mary plan formed. I pointed my wand forward and refined my will, giving it power with my incantation. “Odgovor!”
Two chains erupted from the tip of my wand, spearing into the two massive trees and embedding themselves deep within their trunks. With a harsh pull on my magic, I willed my chains to recede from wand-tip to end, propelling me forward.
Perfect timing. I thought as no less than three boulders crashed into my previous position with a loud rumble, obliterating each other and the ground beneath them from the impact. That was clutch.
I heard the far-off cries of dismay and forced down the urge to smile in triumph at having thwarted my opponents again. I needed to focus. This wasn’t over, not by a longshot.
I rocketed past the two trees, dismissing my chains and allowing myself the chance to think. I needed to get to the base of the hill and find a decent spot to hunker down in— perhaps a small recess in the earth?
No, I realized with a shake of the head, even as I swerved left and right, weaving my way around the trees like my clothes were a makeshift toboggan. I couldn’t hide below the ground; something as heavy as those boulders would turn me into paste.
The thundering sound of the rocks falling down the hill increased, and I turned to see that the biggest boulder of them all was speeding up at a rate that was mind-boggling. It was coming right at me, smashing trees out of its way much like how an elephant would with a human toddler attempting to pet it.
If this thing hits me… I narrowed my eyes and turned my wand against it. “Arresto Momentum!”
The boulder lurched as it was slowed down for a moment, only for it to regain its speed— and then some— in the next moment. My three opponents were just playing with me at this point, countering my spell and relishing in my failure.
Fine. If that’s how you want to play it, I’ll break the damn thing instead! I thought and snapped off another spell. Reducto!
The jet of blue crashed into the large boulder, tearing out a small chunk of it— but not much else.
Still, progress was progress; I smiled and cast the spell again, only for the blue light to bounce off of a translucent barrier of silver.
The smile turned into a grimace at the unwelcome sight. I tried a few more spells in an attempt to break through before giving up. There was no way I was going to pierce that shield and destroy the boulder before it reached me. My only remaining choice was to dodge it outright.
But, how would I do that? There was barely any distance left on the slide down, but I reckoned there was still enough to make an abrupt maneuver just before the rock struck me.
It was another ridiculous, harebrained plan, but a wild hare’s swift movement more often than not allowed it to escape from the clutches of the creature who would prey upon it.
I can do this. I’ve survived far worse. I thought and prepared my legs for the pain that I was about to subject them to. I waited for a few seconds, throwing quick glances behind me to see that the humongous boulder was about to overtake me before setting my expression into one of deep concentration.
Pointing my wand at one of the trees standing by the base of the dark hill, I cast my next spell. “Odgovor!”
Just as before, a chain materialized and embedded itself deep into my chosen tree. I pulled hard at it, willing it to recede and speed me up. Still, the large boulder gained on me.
Too bad for them that out-speeding it is no longer my plan. I thought and waited. Just as I was about to pass the tree, I pressed my feet down onto the mud and forced myself upright, sliding down the hill on my feet.
I ignored the wails of agony of my muscles and pressed down harder on the ground, throwing myself into a jump.
The taut chain swung me around the tree, away from the boulder which was about to overtake me— or, that’s what I hoped to see. Instead, I saw it crash through the tree I’d chosen and realized with a sinking feeling that my enemies had cottoned onto my plan from the start and shifted the boulder’s trajectory to compensate. I also understood that, if I held onto the now falling tree, my circular trajectory would bring me crashing into the ground, face first.
And so, not seeing any reliable alternative, I dismissed the chain and let my gathered momentum lob me further over the hill.
I made an attempt to stop my chaotic spinning, but lost further control of myself when I crashed through a few errant branches, sending waves of pain through my body. Throughout all of this, I closed my eyes and focused on nothing but holding my wand and keeping my head safe from injury.
At the apogee of the lob, I managed to ignore my vertigo long enough for me to force my body to stop spinning.
I opened my eyes and saw that I was upside down, looking down onto the ground. It seemed that I was about to reach the base of the hill. Resigning myself to the eventual impact, I began to shift my body and cradled my head in preparation before stopping as everything around me shifted.
The all encompassing darkness suddenly gave way to shining light. Oppressive cold became choking heat and humidity. The muddy terrain disappeared altogether, replaced by a hundred foot drop from a cliffside into a massive lake which was surrounded by what seemed to be a lush rainforest.
Well… I thought as I began to fall down towards the lake. This is not gonna end well.
A fall from this height would kill me, this I knew. Crashing into the water at a high speed would be the same as crashing into concrete. I tapped my wand against myself and kept casting the Slowing Charm over and over.
“Arresto Momentum!” I continued to cry out, calming down as my descent slowed to something manageable. It would still hurt a little, but I would recover well enough from such an impact.
I sighed, happy that this ordeal was finally over— wait.
My head snapped up immediately, seeing that massive boulder dropping straight towards me. “Fuck!”
Without hesitation, I pointed my wand at it, hoping to move it out of my way. “Depulso Maxima!”
The spell did nothing but shift the damn thing’s trajectory by a few measly feet. I gritted my teeth, realizing that I had no other choice but to shield myself against it. Gathering my will and what little concentration I had left, I shunted it all into my desire to defend my very life, my intent to survive whatever more tribulations this contest had left to throw at me.
I roared “Protego!”
The shield flared a bright silver just as the boulder crashed into it, bouncing me off with high speed into the water below. Crashing into the water, I blacked out.
Weightless. That was how I felt when I came to. I groaned and shifted position, only to get a mouthful of water for my trouble. My eyes flew open as I choked and hacked out a lung while I tried to balance myself in the water.
What the Hell…? I thought as I tried to make sense of what was going on. I forced myself not to panic and flail, knowing that would get me sunk very fast. Instead, I relaxed my muscles and let the water current carry me for some time.
Once I got myself in order, I started looking around. I was near the coast of what seemed to be a large lake in a… rainforest? At least, I thought it was a rainforest, judging from all the familiar vegetation I saw in the distance.
My eyes caught the hundred foot tall cliff and widened as a flood of recent memories came rushing back in.
Attack. Boulders. Slide down the muddy hill— I passed some kind of illusion barrier and fell down the cliff? I thought, slowly coming to terms with everything. Or have I been teleported elsewhere?
It can’t have been the latter option; erecting an illusion barrier sounded more like the sort of thing that Grindelwald would have set up. He hadn’t been here for very long, after all.
Whether it was an illusion separating to juxtaposed locations or a portal between two separate ones, I supposed it didn’t really matter. One second I was there, and the next, I was here.
I stopped moving when I had a sudden thought. What if they’re waiting for me on the shore?
It wasn’t an unreasonable one; they were under the effects of the Disillusionment Charm, after all. No amount of scanning would help, as I wouldn’t be able to see their strands from this distance, and my skill with the Human-presence-revealing Spell was a bit— wait.
Where was my wand?
Panic threatened to overtake me again, but I bit down on it with all the force I could muster. Calm down, Clarke. Focus, God damn it! Where is it?
Going through my pockets yielded nothing, though I knew it was pointless to check them, to begin with. The last thing I remembered before passing out was casting the Shield Charm before that massive boulder crashed into me.
The obvious conclusion was that I let it go at some point. I checked down the water for a split second before shaking my head. Wood didn’t sink, after all. Even if it had, the lake was too deep for me to see anything.
So, where was it? I tried wracking my brain for a solution for a few seconds before I nodded in realization. Wood floats, and therefore it’ll just follow the current of the water. It’s far lighter than me, so it’d be easier to move it ahead of myself.
All I had to do was follow the currents; I would eventually find my wand. So it went: I discarded my shoes after a few attempts to swim in them. They would not serve me here.
I followed along the currents of the lake, keeping an eye out for my wand. Minutes of slow, almost painful swimming peppered with various breaks— I was an exhausted, twelve year old child, after all— passed with no luck.
I was about to give up and just go straight to the shore when I finally spotted light gleaming off of something that looked like a shiny black stick in the water. Anxiety and panic gave way to astounding relief.
My wand! I thought and swam as fast as I could towards the wand. I grasped the handle, and my body flooded with elation as my wand welcomed me back like one would an old friend. Let’s try the spell.
I may not have had that particular bit of magic mastered, but I imagined that this situation would provide me with ample motivation to at least get it to halfway work.
I stayed in the water and waved my wand in the general motion of a doodle of a person who was upside down, focusing my desire and intent upon finding those who were here to lay me low. “Homenum Revelio!”
Nothing happened. I stifled the urge to curse and tried again; once again, nothing.
I took a breath and focused my thoughts. Refine my desire; I wish to detect human life. Not only that, but to detect human life around me in a circle.
“Homenum Revelio!” I cast the spell again, keeping my thoughts specifically limited to the one section I set for myself. A moment later, I knew that the spell had worked. It had detected the presence of one person; myself.
I nodded. I would need to refine this spell further in the future, but it would serve me well for now. I aimed it at various sections of the coastline and began to cast the spell.
This one’s clear. That one too. I thought before trying it a third time and detecting two presences. So they followed me all the way here?
I tried a few more locations on the coastline before I found a third signature. And that’s the third one.
Just can’t catch a break, can I?
I slowly made my way to the shoreline, keeping tabs on the three to make sure that they weren’t coming straight for me. In fact, I was surprised that they hadn’t caught me already. If I knew this spell, then there was no real reason they wouldn’t be able to use it, either.
That was how they detected me in the first place, wasn’t it? I pressed my feet against the rough, stony terrain and winced as I felt it dig into my feet. Still, I moved forward, wading out of the water and ignoring the discomfort as well as the strain of my arms and legs.
Taking deep breaths, I sat down on the shore to rest, my arms and legs thanking me profusely for the mercy I gave them. A minute or so later, I checked the area again for any human presence before Summoning my discarded shoes.
A few seconds passed before I heard a smack against the ground before me, though I saw nothing there. I undid the Disillusionment Charm both on myself and my shoes before tapping my wand against myself to dry me and my clothes up.
I shivered for a few seconds before relaxing as the various cold spots disappeared, replaced by the almost uncomfortable warmth of my new surroundings. I put my makeshift boots back on and got up, ignoring the vehement protests my muscles were making.
I couldn’t stay here for long. Soon, they would be upon me— even as I had this thought, I heard the sound of a loud crack from behind me and swiftly turned to see a witch.
Her back was turned to me, and I realized she hadn’t seen me just yet. Without hesitation, I jabbed my wand forward. Stupefy!
The woman swiftly turned. “Prote—”
The jet of red light struck her in the chin like a vicious uppercut before she could react, lifting her off the ground for a split second before she dropped to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut.
“Shit.” I said and quickly rushed her form, taking the wand from her hand and stowing it in my coat. That had been extremely close.
I moved behind a tree and immediately heard the sound of two more cracks in the air, followed by the cursing of two men.
“He got her.” One said with a high-pitched, whiny voice.
“I see that.” The other replied, his voice far deeper.
“What’s the plan now?”
“He can’t have gone far.” The man with the deep voice said. “It’s just a kid— doubt he knows how to Apparate.”
Tapping my wand atop my head, I tried to cast the Disillusionment Charm, only to realize with unpleasant surprise that it failed. What?
The tree I was hiding behind began to crack as a spell impacted it. “There he is! Come out, boy, and maybe we’ll be gentle.”
I didn’t answer, instead wondering why the spell had failed. It didn’t take long for me to figure it out. It wasn’t because I was tired, or that my concentration was waning.
No, the explanation was far more simple. I was tired of playing around, of hiding.
“Come on out!” The guy with the whiny voice said. “You’ve already made us chase you halfway through this damn forest, do you really want to make it any harder than it should be?”
“Let’s just revive her and then we can take the kid down?”
“I don’t care about some fool who got beat by a child.” Came the retort. “As far as I’m concerned, she’s dead weight. Now, come out, kid! I promise I won’t rough you up too badly! Good deal, right?”
Focus, Clarke. No more running. I thought and closed my eyes for a moment, psyching myself up for yet another battle. I emerged from behind the tree with a loud cry of challenge.
“Odgovor!” Five chains flew into existence, swirling around like the writhing auroras of the deep, dark Abyss. One of the chains separated from the others, forming a shield around my free hand. I raised it, challenging them again. “You wanted a fight; well, you’re getting one!”
I sent the chains forward, sweeping them horizontally from both directions and adding blades to every link, enhanced with the Severing Charm. One of them simply Apparated away, while the other conjured a shield. The four chains wrapped around the man’s hasty Shield Charm, ripping into it much like a chainsaw takes to a tree.
A crack sounded from my left, and I turned to face the incoming assault, raising my right shield to absorb the impact of a forceful jet of blue, jarring my arm and forcing me to take a few steps back to bleed the momentum off.
I heard the sound of screaming coming from the opponent trying to shield against my spell and turned to see that my chains had broken through the man’s barrier and were constricting around his body, slicing into every corner of his flesh with no mercy.
My eyes widened, and I released the fool from his bonds— I hadn’t intended on killing him, after all. I only had a moment to see the man collapse before I was struck with another spell, sending my wand flying out of my hand and laying me flat on my back with a harsh thud.
I fought against the pain and got back to a kneeling position, holding my chain-shield forward as it continued to weather the final man’s assault.
“Give up!” He said, laughing. “You’re done for! All you’ve got is a shield, now. What’re you going to do with that?”
Plenty. I thought, but realized that he was right. I couldn’t do anything but defend from his incessant onslaught.
The man was just whittling me down, at this point. A second later, my thoughts were realized as I saw one of the links in my chain-shield crack from the latest impact.
It’s now or never!
I threw myself to the side, avoiding a sickly green spell before I launched the chain forward, hoping to catch him off-guard, in his moment of victory.
It was not to be. He Banished the offending chain away before leveling his wand towards me, a superior smirk on his face. “Stupef—”
The man’s eyes widened as his arms and legs suddenly snapped to his sides. He fell backwards with a thud, stiff as a board. Behind him, I saw someone I hadn’t expected.
“Well, well, well…” Nick Guffries said as he made his way towards me calmly. “Look what we have here…”
From bad to fucking worse. Was the only thought in my mind.