The Magic Quill #43: Trussed, Mussed, and Imperiussed

by Robbie Fischer

Spanky’s tale continued:

“After they extracted me from the Pensieve, Orel and Eustace roughed me up a good bit. I had been feeling almost sorry for them until then, especially as Orel was so sure that You-Know-Who was going to fry him. But they were, after all, a couple of pure-blood twerps–no offence, Harvey, old man–who enjoyed nothing better than stomping on a half-blood upstart who had, besides, made their bosom friend Shmedly look bad at the Owlympics. ‘This one’s for blowing it for England,’ said Orel, as he did something that made me cough up blood. ‘And this one’s for carrying two wands, like a great show-off,’ said Eustace, who was working me over with a sort of riding-crop that had a breathing-mask attachment, presumably for taking Abraxan horses to high altitudes. ‘And this one,’ cried Orel, ‘is for being a filthy spy, saboteur, and mudblood,’ after which I saw stars.

“I remember dreaming of Ilona then. I dreamed that I had found her and rescued her, and we were going to be together for the rest of our lives. I felt peace and happiness for the first time in months. It was cruel to awaken from that dream.

“When I woke, I found myself bound inside a dark, suffocating sack. I managed enough wandless magic to loosen my bonds, then wriggled and squirmed until the sack I was in rolled over. I felt myself falling, then I hit the floor hard and saw stars again.

“When my sight cleared, I felt cool air on my face and saw a bit of light–not much. It hurt to breathe, because I had evidently broken a rib or two. And my eyes weren’t too pleased with the sight they beheld, either. For glaring down at me with a mixture of bloodcurdling savagery and bureaucratic disdain, were four of the ugliest goblins I had ever seen.

“‘It’s awake,’ said one of them. ‘It must be alive, then.’

“‘That can be fixed,’ said the second goblin.

“‘So put it back in the sack and let’s get on with it,’ said the third. ‘The tracks are blocked all the way back to the thirty-fourth switch, and there are loads of deposits to be interred before business closes.’

“‘We can’t deposit this in a vault now,’ said the fourth goblin.

“‘Alive, dead, no difference,’ said the second goblin.

“‘Make up your minds quickly,’ urged the third.

“‘I think it’s trying to speak,’ said the first goblin.

“I bubbled out a few phrases about needing medical attention and being an agent of the RMB. The goblins weren’t much impressed.

“‘Listen, wizard,’ said the second goblin. ‘We have a sevenfold auditing system here. We have to account for every half-knut piece, or equivalent value, that goes through our hands. If we let you go, we’ll be short the amount of value that was claimed on this deposit bag. If someone put you in a deposit bag to get you out of the way, that’s an awful shame, but it’s not our concern once the deposit has been put on the books…’

“‘How much did they claim on the deposit slip?’ I asked, as clearly as I could while trying not to breathe. ‘Perhaps I can pay you for my own ransom.’

“‘What have you got that’s worth anything?’ the third goblin scoffed. ‘Surely your captors picked your pockets. Put him in the vault!’

“I felt about in my robes. The first thing I found was a wad of pound-notes which I kept about me for emergencies–and any time I would need Muggle money would have to be an emergency. Apparently Eustace and Orel had ignored it because they didn’t know what it was, or anything soiled by Muggles was not worth taking from me. After counting it, and figuring an exchange rate ridiculously in their favor, the goblins said I only needed to give up another fifty galleons’ worth.

“Next, at considerable cost in pain, I retrieved not one but two backup wands which I kept hidden in the lining of my robes. It was a wrench giving them up, after Orel and Eustace had snapped my regular wands, but that brought me within fifteen galleons of buying my freedom. Finally, having given them all clothes off my back except a suit of thermal underwear, the fourth and quietest gnome made an observation.

“‘This human has a curse on him,’ he said. ‘Indeed, he has two curses on him. One is fresh…’ The goblin sniffed me cautiously. ‘Yes, it was just put on him recently. It could be worth something.’

“The second goblin sniffed me too. ‘Nah,’ he said. ‘That’s an unforgivable curse. You remember how the wizard ministry came down on us last time we trafficked in that kind! Back in the sack with him, then.’

“‘No, wait,’ said the first goblin, whose nosehairs had been tickling the back of my neck since the fourth goblin spoke up. ‘Smell this other curse. He’s been soaking in that one for ages. Months, possibly even years. It’s a very odd kind of curse. I don’t think a wizard put it on him. This could be worth mi–er…’

“I looked round at the second goblin, who was glaring at the one who had almost said ‘millions.’ Finally it barked, ‘You, Pikestaff, get the milker. There, now, wizard. Once we get this curse sucked out of you, we’ll be all even, and you can go.'”

“The milker?” exclaimed the wizard Merlin, as he returned to his chair after a long trip to the lavatory. “What did I miss?”

“Shut up,” said Sadie, Endora, and Joe Albuquerque in unison.

“Do go on,” Harvey said, addressing Spanky.

“Well,” said Spanky, “I don’t want to go into vulgar details, but after they lifted the curse, and had it appraised, the goblins were in such a good mood that they even sent me to see a goblin healer, free of charge. Then I withdrew a few galleons from my own vault on the way out of Gringotts, visited Mr. Ollivander–who was severely miffed to see me buying two wands again–and Madam Malkin, who laughed when I showed up in thermal underwear. Robed, armed, and refreshed by a stiff drink at the Leaky Cauldron, I rented a fast broom and made my way to Godric’s Hollow with all dispatch. I didn’t know what Orel and Eustace had up their store for Lily Potter, but I meant to stop them if I could.

“Unfortunately, I hadn’t given enough thought to what the fourth goblin had said. You know, about the recent unforgivable curse which was still on me…”

+++ Pause for RIDDLE TIME! +++

Thank you all for continuing to mull over my riddles, and submitting new ones:

Maria of Denmark has an interesting theory about Riddle #27, or “How did Snape and Harry meet inside Snape’s memory in the Pensieve?” Her guess is that while Harry’s head is in the Pensieve, he only imagines himself to be walking around inside the memory he finds there. So when Snape grabs his arm and pulls him out of the Pensieve, Harry perceives it as though Snape was there with him inside the memory. But in reality, “Harry’s mind is still clouded by what he saw,” and it takes a while for him to recognize that he is no longer in the Pensieve. What do you think?

Reader Kara is desperate to know the answer to Riddle #26. Really, I don’t know the answer! It’s open for discussion! If you see Kara on the Forums, please be nice enough to share your theories with her about what a boggart really looks like.

And now, I am pleased to share the first few riddles that have come to me in response to my call for new and old riddles (not necessarily about Harry Potter) for us to share and enjoy. If you get a riddle out of a book, though, please tell me the name of the book’s author and title, so they can share credit with you!

Thanks to Barbara for this riddle:

I have thousands of eyes, yet I live in darkness, I have thousands of ears, yet only two lobes, I have no muscles, yet I rule two hemispheres, What am I?

And here’s another riddle that an anonymous reader passed along:

I am the undisputed owner of a piece of ground, on which anyone trespasses at his own risk; I will not answer for the consequences. However, there are three strange things about the land I own. First, though it is always the same size and shape, its location is always changing; it is never in the same place from one moment to the next. Second, it only belongs to me while I am doing my job; the minute I stop working, my property is taken away. And third, I can never set eyes on the land I own; for as soon as I can see it, it is no longer mine. What work do I do?

Come again next week for the answers–and hopefully more riddles!

What happens next? Send us your idea in 150 words or less, and tune in next week for another installment of the Magic Quill.