The Magic Quill #93: The Rheosaurus Diversion
by Robbie Fischer
Concept contributed by: Angelbot
Contest winner: jatibbal
“What was that name again?” asked the goblin behind the teller’s window.
“Dr. Duane Mossy,” said Slavik, in a nearly perfect approximation of an American accent. He twitched his fake mustache and adjusted his fake eyeglasses. “You’ve heard of me, perhaps? I’ve been all over the papers. They call me Mundane Duane, and sometimes the Vanilla Gorilla. I just finished five years of living as a Muggle, among Muggles, studying them. That’s why I’ve come here, to take over the Muggle Studies section at your Ministry.”
“Our ministry?” the goblin asked pointedly.
“I beg your pardon. I only meant your country’s ministry. It’s important work, I’ll tell you. Though it’s not true, what they say about me going native. I never forgot that I was a wizard – folks must be thinking of John Badsome, who really did renounce wizardry after his seminal study of…”
“All I know is, we don’t have a vault in that name,” the goblin insisted stubbornly.
“That’s why I’ve come,” Slavik grinned. “To set one up, you see? Just some of my larger specimens, and only until the ministry knocks down a couple of walls so I can…”
“All right, then,” the goblin snarled, pulling out a large sheaf of parchment. “Fill this out while my undergoblins collect the crates. Where are they, now?”
“On the roof of the Leaky Cauldron. Couldn’t find anywhere else to fit them, you know.” Slavik got busy scribbling false information on the goblin’s parchment. He was still scribbling when a party of goblins, sweating with effort, floated a series of enormous crates through the front doors of the bank. One of the crates had holes drilled in it on all sides, and out of the holes shone a light that rose and fell in intensity from blindingly bright to nearly dark. Something inside the crate seemed to be alive, scrabbling around on heavy claws.
“What in the name of Undergrim is in that?” asked the goblin across the desk from Slavik.
Slavik beamed. “That’s one of my greatest discoveries – the Rheosaurus. My paper on it is due to be published any day now. You see, the Muggles have domesticated some breeds of dragon that have lost their magic, and they have also invented devices that can cause eclectic lights to grow brighter and dimmer by degrees. My tests on the komodo dragon’s vestigial fire glands and on the rheostat were on adjacent laboratory benches, until an unanticipated interaction re-activated a dormant…”
“Feeding and poo removal will be added to your monthly fees,” the goblin snapped, as the other goblins used their magic to test the crate for the presence of concealed wizards or witches.
“That larger, heavier crate contains a heretofore nondescript advancement in Muggle technology. It will revolutionize the medical world, when it becomes more widely known and used. The Muggles call it a re-frig-er-a-tor, which I believe is derived from the Sanskrit words for ‘potion-free fever reducer.’ Once the healers at St. Mungo’s hear about this, they’ll insist on having eckeltricity installed…”
“Please initial next to the paragraph that says Gringotts will not be held responsible for equipment that is lost, damaged, eaten, banished to Saturn, or dropped in a lake of molten sulfur,” said the goblin.
“And that third crate,” Slavik continued, “is packed with beakers of Dehydrated Water. A very trustworthy specimen traded them to me for a proportionally tiny pile of Muggle currency – though I’m not sure I recall correctly what number was on the bills…”
The goblin sniffed. “Also initial by where it says Gringotts is not responsible for water-related damage.”
“And that last, smaller box contains a Muggle torture device known as the Karakoke Machine,” said Slavik, wincing at the memory. “I believe it is the duty of the wizarding world to put a stop to such practices, as soon as we have mastered the…”
“Finger,” said the goblin.
Slavik looked startled, then extended his right index finger toward the goblin, who slashed at it with one of his sharp claws.
“Ow!” yelled Slavik.
“Sign quickly before the bleeding stops,” the goblin advised. “Here is your key. You may follow your boxes down to the vault, if you like.”
“That won’t be necessary,” said Slavik, conjuring a copy of the signed contract and stuffing it into his robes. “I really must get back to the Ministry before that fellow with the plug collection makes off with my lucky extension cord.” He cast one last glance at his four crates and the goblins floating them along, before they passed through a door leading to a torch-lit passage roughly hewn out of stone. Then he hurried out of the bank and caught the first Floo from the Leaky Cauldron to Durmstrang.
Soon the goblins had loaded the crates onto a line of ore carts and were hurtling through the caverns and tunnels beneath Gringotts. The goblins in the first cart began to notice problems only a few moments after the carts began to roll. The flashes of light coming from the Rheosaurus’ ventilated crate were becoming brighter, frequenter, and more erratic. The scratching noise, now accompanied by disgruntled hissing sounds, grew louder and more agitated. The goblins looked at each other in alarm as the crate started rocking to and fro.
“We need to slow down,” one of the goblins screamed.
“You know bloody well these carts have only one speed,” shouted another.
“There’s a switch up ahead,” shrieked a third goblin. “We can go up a side track and stop, while the other carts go on ahead.”
“Good idea,” said the second goblin. He pointed a long claw toward the approaching switch. “Wait for it…wait…now!”
The switch slammed back and forth. The front cart went off on a side track while the following carts stayed on course.
“Stop!” screamed the first goblin.
The cart slowed to a halt, but the rattling and rocking of the Rheosaurus’ crate continued.
“How are we ever going to get this thing to the vault?” moaned the second goblin.
“Only one thing I can think of to do,” said the third goblin.
The third goblin pulled out a wand and stunned the second goblin with it.
“Thank God!” gasped the first goblin, ripping off the goblin mask and revealing Rigel’s face underneath. “I thought I was going to asphyxiate.”
“Don’t – you fool!” muttered the other goblin as the mask went flying into the darkness. No longer disguising his voice, he sounded like Joe Albuquerque. “We might need that mask for our escape!”
“Never mind,” said Rigel, tugging the goblin-hand gloves off his fingers. “I’ll look for it in a minute. Shall we let the Rheosaurus out now?”
“Yes, they must be very tired of staying in there. Quiet down, you lot! We’re opening the box!”
A moment later an end flew off the crate, and five half-visible children spilled out onto the pavement beside the track. Each child said Nox to a Cheshire-cat-whisker-core wand, which they had taken from Jaan’s shop. This ended the Lumos spell that, from each wand, had flared and faded continually from inside the crate. The older children helped tie up the stunned goblin and stuff him into the crate.
“It’s a good job Spanky was right about you kids eluding detection by goblins,” Rigel remarked as they sent the cart roaring back up the tracks toward the surface level of the bank.
Joe stood guard, waiting for a sign that the goblins had reacted to the message they had sent upstairs – a wizarding message that meant, “Marlinpike and the others sleep with the Rheosauruses.” He didn’t mind not having to look at the Spankison children as they played hopscotch on the pavement behind him. There was something not quite right, to his mind, about the sight of five pairs of disembodied legs hopping and skipping along, with nothing visible above the tops of their socks. He hoped they would all become completely invisible when the time came….
“Here they come,” said Joe. An outcry from above grew louder by the minute. “Dozens of carts of them, from the sound of it. They’ll be searching every tunnel that splits off from below this point. Aloysius! Elfrigga, and the rest of you – stealth mode is go!”
The children obligingly went invisible, but one problem remained: Rigel still had not found the goblin mask he had thrown aside.
“What are we going to do?” Rigel groaned.
A shout from nearby – a screech of cart wheels – then a party of goblins arrived at the point where Joe and Rigel stood.
“What happened to the others?” barked a particularly gnarly goblin.
“I don’t know,” said Joe. He grabbed Rigel’s arm and pushed him toward the shocked and bewildered goblins, adding, “I’ve captured this impostor, though.”
+++ THIS WEEK’S DOUBLE CHALLENGE +++
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