The Magic Quill #152: The Whispering Cloak


 by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: greyniffler Runner-up: Rehannah “Don’t touch it! Everyone, back away carefully…” In the infirmary at Isola Indietro, a clutch of teachers stopped squabbling and warily widened the gap between their feet and the crushed remnants of the falcon figurine. Two students remained on hospital beds, one of them staring fearfully over the edge of his sick-berth, the other lying still under a sheet. A portly, middle-aged man peeked around the edge of a nearby screen, giving free rein to his Quick Quotes Quill while, behind him, a younger man with a large, smoking camera jostled for a view. Only Ilona remained close to the fragments. She pointed her wand at a small, gleaming object among the shards of hard-baked clay. As the wand tip lifted, so did the little bright thing, rising up off the floor until it hovered in front of Ilona’s face, an arm’s reach away. Into the hush came a quick, stifled gasp. No one looked round to see who had done it. Everyone in the room felt the same way. For hundreds of years, the falcon figurine had been reckoned indestructible. But now it had shattered into hundreds of pieces. Who would ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #151: The Knock-Knock Joke of Doom

The Second Task

by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: TWZRD Runner-up: greyniffler Merlin and Miss Pucey watched the water on the steps after Rigel swam away. When it had grown quite calm, Merlin smiled thinly and said, “Well, Miss Pucey, we’ll want to make the best of our lad’s diversion and move on before the merhags come back.” “That sounds very well,” said the pretty young witch, “but I don’t see a door.” “It will be well concealed,” Merlin admitted. He laid his lit wand on the palm of his hand and said, “Point me.” The wand spun of its own accord. It came to rest pointing back over Merlin’s left shoulder. As he turned to face that direction, the wand continued to point toward the same featureless wall. “I reckon it’s this way,” he said, trying to sound confident about it. “North?” said the witch. “What makes you think the door is on the north side of the vault?” “I don’t,” said Merlin. “This is a special wand, made by a friend of mine. The troll nose-hair core makes it point the way out of any place underground.” “Hmmm,” said Miss Pucey. “I suppose it’s as my mother always says.” “What is?” “You ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #150: Warp and Weft


by Robbie Fischer ROBBIE’S NOTE At last, the “third season” of the Magic Quill has come to a much-delayed close. The time is ripe for another 50-chapter digest. If you’ve tuned in late, it may also help to read these capsule summaries of the first and second seasons, as well as this handy guide to the characters in the first 100 chapters. The real pleasure is in the details, though. It pays to read all the chapters in full!  A lot has changed for the Magic Quill. When this column started in May 2004, readers were invited to send me their story ideas through the MuggleNet feedback system. This proved to be too open-ended, even with a 150-word limit. As of Chapter 73, this changed to submitting answers to specific survey and contest questions, via the Chamber of Secrets forums. As recently as Chapter 145, things changed again with the arrival of the Magic Quill blog, where survey and contest answers can be submitted as comments.  I would like to hear from you about which method of participating in The Magic Quill works best for you. For now, either leave a comment or send me feedback through MuggleNet, indicating whether you ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #149: The Fruit Troll


by Robbie Fischer Contest Winner: Quercitron Runner-Up: TWZRD Spanky gasped as his broom approached the grounds of Mangeford Manor. He was so staggered that he missed his footing and landed face-first in a pile of uprooted shrubbery that had been gathered up for burning. His eyes gleamed with tears when he stood up, partly because of the pungent scent of the leaves. But only partly. He looked around at a scene of devastation. Sir Lionel’s beautiful, exotic gardens were no more. Instead there were heaps of earth and gravel, plowed up by large machines that now stood idle. One area had been paved with an interlocking pattern of bricks, and already several shiny, expensive automobiles stood on it. The wall surrounding the estate had been breached, and from the painted stakes and taut lengths of string that divided it up, it was evident the land was being subdivided. Shaking his head, Spanky trudged round the back of the manor house, past windows whose glass had been replaced with wooden boards and “DANGER: KEEP OUT” signs. As he rounded the end of a heaping-full waste container, he spotted one wing that appeared intact. Only, where the garden shed had been, there ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #148: Between the Lines

fat lady

by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: greyniffler Runner-up: Linda Carrig MINISTRY OF MAGIC Department of Magical Law Enforcement Improper Use of Magic Office Form IUM-21: Report of Belatedly Discovered Violation REPORT BY: Lysippus Bean, junior apprentice obliviator REPORT ON: Possible violation of Statute of Secrecy DATE: Agnes Onslow (we’re just friends) LOCATION: Miss Onslow’s art studio (she makes talking portraits). SECURITY LEVEL: MoM Eyes-Only confidentiality, secured by spells to repel unauthorizedOi. You there. I need help readers. DESCRIPTION OF VIOLATION (Attach additional rolls of parchment as needed): While waiting for my Aunt Eunice as she sat for a portrait, I started to browse through some books on Muggle painters and their weird, non-moving Hello? Is anyone there? I could use a bit of help getting out of here pictures. I was struck by some of the images, and after talking with Agnes and analyzing them a bit further, I have become convinced Look, if you could contact someone at the RMB, Blokebury on Rye office, have them tell Agent Spankison or Agent Dalrymple that I’m stuck in here. The name is Sadie that painters from our world have been mingling with Muggle painters, resulting in a horrifying breach of magical secrecy. I found the strongest evidence ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #147: The Hexischoleiad, Part 2

Rita Skeeter

by Robbie Fischer Contest winners: Everyone! DISCLAIMER: Due to a three-way tie in Chapter 145’s Survey, the solution to our “whodunit” may seem quite preposterous. You can help future chapters work more smoothly. Simply take part in the Double Challenge at the end of this post! Continuing his coverage of the Hexischoleiad Final, Bo Dwyer reports for Broomstick and Wand… My interview with Bruno Fenoglio, disqualified from the final round of the late Hexischoleiad Tournament, was abruptly cut short by a screech from the catlike marsupial that rode everywhere on my photographer’s shoulder. “Skreep!” it yowled. “You’ve got mail!” “Did that thing just talk?” Fenoglio squeaked, looking pale as death. “No worries, mate,” said my photographer, whose name I forget. “This is only my PDQ.” Fenoglio squinted at the odd creature. “What is a PDQ?” “Parchment Delivery Quoll,” said What’s-His-Name, drawing a tiny scroll out of the animal’s pouch. “And this is an IMP.” The boy shuddered under his towel, showering me with drops of water from his still-wet hair, and stammered, “Th-they come in all sh-shapes, I reckon.” “No, not that kind of imp, ye muggle’s squib! I-M-P, as in Irruptive Memorandum Parchment. It’s going to replace owls, you’ll see; ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #146: The Merhags


by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: TWZRD Scarcely had Rigel handed both brooms to the parking valet and offered his arm to his date when a Wizarding Wireless presenter shoved a wand in his face. He squinted as a hovering lens focused the light of a blazing candelabra on his face. Evidently he was expected to speak into the wand-tip. “Er,” he hemmed. “Say again?” he hawed. “I said,” the presenter said with quite as much grin but half the sincerity, “Isn’t this your first public appearance since suddenly arriving at adulthood?” “I suppose so,” Rigel said sourly. “I mean, I’ve been an adult before, so…” “And who is your lovely date?” “Er,” Rigel stammered, glancing at the woman beside him. “Th-this is Lucretia Pucey. She’s actually my…” “Miss Pucey, now that you’re dating one of wizarding London’s most eligible bachelors, how does it feel to know that he’s already been through his second childhood?” The woman on Rigel’s arm blushed and covered her mouth. “I really can’t say,” she mumbled. “We’re not dating,” Rigel said forcefully. “Miss Pucey is my governess.” The presenter tittered naughtily. “Well, be that as it may, you’re all grown up now, aren’t you? With a ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #145: The Hexischoleiad


by Robbie Fischer Contest winners: Dragonic and Linda Carrig The Hexischoleiad SEVENTH HEXISCHOLEIAD ENDS IN SUCCESS…AND TRAGEDY Only Two School Champions Killed — A Record Low Bo Dwyer reports exclusively for Broom & Wand…Until this year, few British sport fans have followed the Hexischoleia Tournament, held every sixth year since 1972. This is not extraordinary, seeing that none of the six schools competing in the Hexischoleiad are in the U.K. What is extraordinary is the level of enthusiasm this year’s tournament generated among British witches and wizards. Six schools, six champions, six challenges, six countries – and at every stage, a contingent of loyal supporters from our fair isle.   Our own Algernon Nutwicke, Interim Minister for Magical Games and Sports, offered me his explanation during the tense buildup to the Fifth Task: “Since the downfall of You-Know-Who, our lot have felt a weight lifted off them. There is a greater sense of freedom to travel, and a growing openness to foreign folk. Plus, after that Diggory chap bought it in the last Triwizard Tournament, there hasn’t been much joy in the international sport line, if you follow me.”   When I asked Mr. Nutwicke to place that last remark ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #144: Jude the Insecure


by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: Quercitron The Out of This World Outfitter was certainly out of the way. It lay three turns out of Diagon Alley, in a dingy cul-de-sac lined with boarded-up shops and littered with broken roof tiles. It was situated below street level, its entrance hidden behind a gruesome, never-melting ice sculpture depicting the beheading of the Gang of One, the hydra who had terrorized the neighborhood during the Lawlessness that had followed the Third Goblin Rebellion. Its entrance was marked by three signs, falsely identifying it as Ermengarde’s Weevil Shop, claiming to be closed for structural repairs, and warning trespassers to beware of Acromantulas. To get through the outer door, one had to knock three times using one’s elbow, because anyone touching the dragon’s head knocker risked getting a faceful of forgetfulness powder, and anyone whose knuckles touched the door would fall through a trapdoor into a ticklefish-infested pool guarded by a dwarf named Jeremy, who would only let them out if they guessed his name or paid him a sickle. Through the first door was a small courtyard with a fountain and a second door on the other side. One had to throw one’s wand ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #143: Enormity in Action


by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: Linda Carrig The cupboard door effectively hid her, while the holes carved into it in an elaborate design enabled her to see every move of the duel. This, she thought wryly, must be the reason Aunt or Uncle Leslie wanted to load up on calories. It began with the sound of thunderous footsteps growing ever closer. Sadie had hidden before the door even opened. As the enormous witch or wizard passed through the broad archway at one end of the room, the space was suddenly filled with a blaze of light that made Sadie’s eyes water. It came from mirrors hung all around the walls, and showed that the room was furnished only with a sturdy bench under the center of each long wall and an enormous dresser at the end opposite to the arch. Several other ornately carved doors stood around the room, similar to the cupboard door in front of Sadie. Aunt or Uncle Leslie paced, his or her body quivering with each step. It was impossible to read the expression of his or her bloated face. Meanness and hunger always seemed to be there, and there was precious little nuance the tiny ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #142: Madam Solfeggia


by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: TWZRD Concept contributed by: greyniffler The Snookerfield Quartet were in the full fury of a Beethoven fugue when the knock came. At first, nobody heard it. When it was repeated, rather louder, the quartet played on without missing a beat; but the lady of the house noticed. “Fifi,” she shouted over the music. “Fifi, there! Yoo-hoo!” Fifi had her ear-plugs in, so she heard none of this. She only noticed that her mistress wanted her attention when a stream of sparks arced over her shoulder, spouting from the lady’s wand and very nearly igniting the feather duster Fifi was running over the piano. She turned, pulled out one wax ball, and screeched: “Your pardon, ma’am?” Ma’am waved both hands toward the front hall, where the knocking had been replaced by a magically magnified voice booming, “Queen’s business! Is anyone at home?” while the quartet sawed away, oblivious. “The door, girl!” the lady yelled. “Answer the door!” A moment later Fifi returned to the parlor door and shrieked: “Agent Dalrymple and Agent Spankison of the R.M.B., if you please!” Two wizards strode in with their pointy hats in their hands. One was tall, thin, and dangerous-looking. ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #141: The Gift-Giving


by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: greyniffler Merlin rocked on his feet impatiently. As if the queue to turn in his room key hadn’t been moving slowly enough, now it seemed an Elvis impersonator was having fisticuffs with somebody disguised as Einstein. The wizard-of-fortune rolled his eyes, fingering the last of the probability-magic-proof chits with which the Aladdin’s Cave Consortium had paid him for his work. It wasn’t enough, he reflected, that he had lost all the money he had earned testing the casino’s security system; but now that they had recouped everything they had paid him, the Consortium was threatening to cancel his exemption from the Do Not Pass binding unless he started paying for his room and board. Merlin gritted his teeth, wondering for the eleventh time what it would have felt like simply to break out of the vault and take everything with him when he had the chance, rather than reporting to the Consortium how he had gotten through their spelltraps. It was just as well that he was on the list of people prevented, by a magical binding, from crossing the threshold of Aladdin’s Cave. It would be too easy, he knew now, to get away ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #140: Persephone’s Yak

Dormitory Room

by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: Quercitron “Dad, there’s a yak under my bed.” “Very good, dear. Go back to bed.” “I said there’s a yak under my bed!” “I heard you. Since it’s not on top of your bed, you should still fit. See you tomorrow.” “I can’t sleep with a yak under me!” “Persephone, yaks live at high altitudes and extreme cold. I’m sure he is no happier about this situation than you. Do I see him coming in here to complain?” “Mum! Dad says I have to sleep with a yak!” “Spanky, I’m sorry that I must do this, but…” ZAP! “Yow! What happened? Who’s on fire?” “You were, dear. I’ve put you out.” “Is that Persephone there? What do you want, girl?” “I’ve already told you, there’s a yak under my bed.” “Well, let’s have a look at it, then. Let me lean on your shoulder. My whole leg is pins and needles.” (Long pause.) “Persephone, there’s a yak under your bed.” “I know, Dad.” “It’s awfully big. How did it get there?” “I don’t know. I didn’t do it!” “I’m not saying you did, but…did you have a fight with that Tibetan kid at school?” “What ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #139: Don’t Kid a Kidder


by Robbie Fischer Contest winners: Dragonic and Linda Carrig Joe Albuquerque showed his key to the goblin in charge. The goblin looked up the number of the key in a huge ledger. “This vault is retained by a Bette Noir,” the goblin sneered. “Would that be you?” “Albuquerque’s the name,” said Joe. “I inherited the vault and its contents from Ms. Noir.” “Making a withdrawal, are you?” the goblin pried, glaring at Joe suspiciously. “Only, you made a deposit yesterday.” “My mother-in-law was visiting,” Joe said smoothly. “Never goes anywhere without that niffler of hers. We simply wanted to put a few things out of the niffler’s reach until she had gone, which she has.” He smiled blandly, which irritated the goblin even more. “Sprocketlip will escort you,” the goblin in charge replied, muttering something foul under his breath. “Thank you,” said Joe, as a goblin with astonishingly large ears stepped forward and beckoned to him with a brusque gesture. Sprocketlip did not make much conversation until they reached Vault 1036, where he squealed: “Key!” Joe handed it over. Using the key together with a number of secret gestures known only to goblins, the creature released the locks and booby ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #138: Einstein vs. Elvis


by Robbie Fischer Contest winners: greyniffler and Linda Carrig The date: Ten months before the theft of the Ring of Count Matthias. The city: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The beat: Aladdin’s Cave, a casino catering exclusively to wizards, witches, and any other magical beings capable of betting. An Elvis Presley impersonator has just wrapped up a six-song set in the Lizard Lounge. The audience, though small, is amazed. “That was much better than yesterday,” says one of the regulars, a witch wearing tinted eyeglasses in oversized tortoiseshell frames and sipping a cocktail with a paper umbrella. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Polyjuice was involved – though I couldn’t say where they came up with a bit of the King…” His Majesty, sequined and marcelled, pushes through the crowd on his way out of the lounge, heading out for his break. He winks, nods, and says “Thank you!” in a booming voice to everyone who accosts him; he signs an autograph or two, puts a few knuts in a cheap slot machine, and finally reaches his goal, the buffet. The cashier shakes her head knowingly as Elvis loads a tray with food, hands over three sickles, and spreads his haul over ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #137: Death by Aromatherapy


by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: greyniffler Joe Albuquerque had walked around the hogshead barrel in the late Bette Noir’s vault for the 100th time, occasionally pausing to knock on it or to try some other means of guessing what it contained (short of opening it), when something started to happen in the very corner where he had been hiding when the barrel was delivered. Sadie stepped away from the pile of enormous money bags and joined Joe on the far side of the barrel. Together they watched from behind a rack full of fur coats as the jumping-juniper barrel rocked itself back and forth. Nearby, a sack writhed and shuddered as if someone was trapped inside it. Sadie chewed the end of her veil. Joe watched with his fists clenched. A few minutes earlier, he had been disguised as a money bag only a few feet from the one that was now coming to life. Now his attention was focused on who might be coming out of it, focused to razor keenness by the hope and dread of seeing a woman he had loved and lost many years ago. So when an entirely unknown person came out of the bag, ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #136: Fistley Confunded


by Robbie Fischer Contest winner: Dragonic Titus Fistley lay giggling on the floor of his cubicle, surrounded by laughodil bushes. As his mirth subsided, he lifted a leaf on a nearby plant and read aloud from its underside: “Question: How many Dark Lords does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Answer: Three – one to try and do it with his best curse, and be stopped by an infant; one to try and do it by possessing a willing minion, and be stopped by an adolescent; and a third to take matters into his own hands and screw in the lightbulb . . . which then falls out and steals his wand! Ah, ha ha ha ha ha!” Tears ran down his face. By this time of night, faces had stopped appearing in the doorway, looking in on his breathless laughter with a mixture of concern and revulsion. The wall torches had dimmed, and the hovering light-bulb plants had drifted off to some shady corner to rest. There was barely enough light left for him to read by. So when an owl flew into the cubicle and perched on the corner of his desk, Fistley did not see it. ... Read More »

The U-Bend #46: Where Did All the Ron Rons Go?


by Andrew Lee “You know. You still want me.” – Ron Weasley (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) Welcome to The U-Bend! Dim the lights, close the blinds and shut the door. Today you are about to learn the truth about a horrifying Harry Potter secret that J.K. Rowling didn’t want you to know. Many bothans died to bring us this information and only the mind of a genius (i.e. me!) could decipher it. Now a quick warning: The information you are about to read has the power to change the very nature of the ending of the entire Harry Potter series as we know it. Prepare to have your mind blown! First, it all relates back to a key scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Approximately two-thirds of the way through the book we learn something very important: Other characters can learn to beat Harry, because Harry is predictable. In this case, after years of stunning Quidditch defeats and savage spell attacks on the train ride to Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy finally manages to beat Harry Potter by using years of knowledge to his advantage. This is very important because it teaches us two things: 1. Other characters learn from Harry’s actions, and ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #135: The Spy Who Jinxed Me


by Robbie Fischer Concepts contributed by Dragonic, greyniffler and Linda Carrig The house-elf looked in at the bathroom door and uttered the filthiest oath it knew – which translates into English as “Socks!” The steady drip of water from the pipe that ran along the ceiling was falling on the floor that the elf had mopped not half an hour ago, while the bucket that he had placed under the drip stood bone-dry, eight inches away from where the drops were falling. The creature grumbled as he mopped up the puddle and repositioned the bucket so that each drop fell in its center: TINK . . . TINK . . . TINK. Then it went about its previous errand of picking bits of ash and dust off the priceless Persian rug in Master’s study, which had to be done by hand, speck by speck. The house-elf grumbled about this, too. He liked to grumble, actually. He grumbled about the absurdity of Master’s explanation of why Carpet had to be picked rather than swept – something about the sweeper causing wear and tear on the rug’s ancient, delicate fibers – when it was manifestly obvious that Carpet was of the flying ... Read More »

The Magic Quill #134: Hot Ice


by Robbie Fischer   Contest winner: Quercitron Mrs. Ahmed scouted ahead (by sticking her head through the outer door of Harvey’s flat) and reported: “It’s a jungle in there.” “That many of them?” Joe Albuquerque growled in his disguise as General Patton. “It won’t take them long to wreck the place.” “No,” said Mrs. Ahmed, her vague form flickering with irritation. “I meant, everything has been taken over by vines. Grape, by the look of it.” “Oh,” said Joe, suspending his mental calculations about potential casualties on both sides. “That’s a hippogriff of a different color. What about people? Did you see anything going on?” The see-through lady shrugged. “Just one bloke, it looked like, pulling down vines and rifling through the cupboards.” The word was passed, and Harvey came forward. “Well?” he said. “I think a frontal assault will do,” said the general, pitching his whisper so it could be heard all the way down the hallway – the recently constructed hallway off the back of the lobby of the high-rise apartment building known as the Drains – the hallway where each door led to a different floor, so that stairs and elevators were no longer needed. The people ... Read More »