Anna Grayson and The Dragon's Lair

The Limping Man

ONE

Doctor Pearl was waiting on the other side of the curtain. She had a palm-size crystal bowl with what looked like a lump of blue clay smoldering in its center.

“Another balm, Doctor?” the Minister asked her. “Surely you’ve salved and poked my niece enough by now, haven’t you?”

Pearl looked surprised. “Your… niece, Minister?”

The Minister stowed her wand. “That’s right. Anna Grayson is my niece.” She looked up at a sea of stunned expressions all around her. “Didn’t you know?”

“No, ma’am. I… I didn’t.” Pearl stammered before looking down at Anna again with bulging eyes.

Anna smiled coly and then gave a slight nod in agreement.

“So what is this?” The Minister said, peering down into the bowl again.

Pearl frowned and looked down, almost forgetting what she was holding. “Um… I was going to tell her father in private, but… well… since you are a member of family, I suppose I should tell you as well.” She took a deep breath. “Anna has a particularly troublesome wound on her stomach that I’ve had some difficulty healing. The balm is something I hope will show more promise.

The Minister looked down at Anna. “A wound?” Anna looked surprised as well.

“Yes, ma’am,” Pearl added. “In fact… I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.”

The Minister sat next to Anna again. “I would see this wound.”

The doctor sat the bowl down, pulled a cloth curtain around them for privacy, and came around to sit on the bed. She then pulled the covers down and raised Anna’s shirt up to reveal a thick set of bandages on her stomach. Anna was suddenly worried.

“Are you in any pain, Anna?” Pearl asked her, as she pressed down gently on her bandages.

“Some. A little burning and what I thought was a stomach ache,” Anna replied, wincing slightly as the doctor lifted the bandages away. The Minister gasped and Anna was shocked when she looked down. There in the center of her stomach was a deep cut in the shape of a lightning bolt. The skin around the wound was badly swollen and looked to be burned.

“The normal techniques for healing haven’t worked and I’m at a loss to understand why,” Pearl explained. She reached over to the bowl on the end table to apply the salve.

“Wait!”

Pearl and the Minister looked up to find Thordarson peering down over them with a worried frown. He was staring at the wound as well, as he slowly came around the bed to sit next to Anna on her other side. “Anna,” he whispered, quietly, “will you permit me a closer look at this… injury? While my specialty is that of being a healer of the human mind, I am a healer nonetheless.”

Anna looked at Pearl and then nodded.

“Thank you, my dear.” Thordarson removed his dark glasses and then leaned over to examine the damaged flesh. After a full minute of inspection, he raised himself up and put his glasses on again.

“I have seen this wound before,” he said, worriedly.

“You have?” Pearl was surprised.

“Only one other time.” Thordarson looked at Anna again. “It would seem that you were struck by a killing curse, were you not?”

Anna looked glum. She looked at Pearl and the Minister again and then nodded.

“But… if Anna was hit by the unforgiveable curse…”

“Why is she still alive?” Thordarson looked at Anna. “I should think her already knows the answer, but I would suspect she was not hit directly, otherwise she would surely have been killed.” They all looked at Anna once more.

“It rebounded off of something else before hitting me,” Anna explained, hissing loudly as Pearl applied the salve.

“One of the dragons?” Thordarson asked her, as Pearl applied a fresh dressing and then pulled the curtain back.

“Yes, sir. In fact it was Taurus.” She looked at Captain Hayman standing at the foot of her bed. “The dragon I took from the limping man. The dragon had a gem embedded in his chest.”

Thordarson smiled as Captain Hayman came forward. “You mean this gem?” He pulled out a large red ruby from out of his robes. “One of the Crimson Guards found it in your hand when they brought you back from the Shadowed Forest.” He looked back at Dunning.

“It’s obvious now this same dragon was the one who broke into Anna’s room the night Miss Bell was cursed.” He peered down again at Anna. “The creature probably imprinted on you as its mother since the smugglers took his egg from the nest before he hatched. His instincts pressed him to take the gem for protection after climbing through your window and destroying your room looking for you. After escaping from your brother’s care, Eric warned us he had already began stealing precious objects anytime you were out of his sight.”

Anna looked wearily over to Sarah Bell’s parents. “It was Sugianto that used the unforgivable curse on Sarah that night.”

Sarah’s mother covered her mouth in horror and then reached out to sooth her unconscious daughter once more.

“I’ll return the ruby to your father once our investigation is complete,” Hayman added, dropping the stone into his pocket again.

Anna jerked back against her pillow. “Oh my — that hurts!” she complained as Pearl applied another healing enchantment over Anna’s wound with her wand.

“I’m afraid this might put a damper on your summer holiday,” Pearl replied, working to ease Anna’s pain.

The Minister looked at Thordarson. “You said you’ve seen this wound before; you’re talking about the boy who lived?” Thordarson’s expression became redolent and the Minister rolled her eyes.

“Yes… I know… you always said Harry Potter would be vindicated,” she added, turning to Anna again.

“Your father was in England last night in a meeting with Minister Fudge about some Gringotts investments. I spoke with him via the Flu an hour ago and told him what happened in the Shadowed Forest last night. I have recalled him from his duties and he’s on his way home. I expect he’ll be by your side sometime tonight.”

Anna settled back in her pillows again. “Thank you, Minis…” the Minister raised a testing eyebrow, “errr… I mean, Aunt Helen.”

The Minister remembered something important again. “I should tell you that your father also saw He-Who-Shall-No-Be-Named last night.

“What!” Anna quickly rose up as the pain in her stomach raged again.

“He was with Fudge when the alarms sounded at the Ministry in London. Fudge, your father and a number of Aurors saw the fiend Disapparate a few seconds after they arrived. Apparently, he had been locked in battle with Albus Dumbledore. Your father then helped the Aurors and Dumbledore capture the Death Eaters left behind.”

The woman turned. “Gillian!”

A man began pushing his way through the crowd from the back.

“Yes, ma’am. I’m here, Minister.”

“Gillian… has Boris Grayson acknowledged his recall?”

“Yes, ma’am. Director Grayson has already Apparated onto U.S. soil again and is waiting for the next ship out at Loon’s Lagoon.”

Immediately, every cell within Anna’s body ignited as she rose up in her bed to glare at the man they called Gillian. Her eyes fell down to his hands; one held a quill at the ready while an open roll of parchment hovered in the air next to him. In his other hand he held a wooden cane. She remembered the day she saw the Minister and her secretary visiting Chancellor Thordarson in his office to warn him off supporting Dumbledore and the strange thumping sound that followed the Minster down the staircase that day. Anna’s eyes followed the wood of the cane down to the man’s leg and she growled.

“Very good,” the Minister continued. “His sons are making their way down to the docks now, but I want a runner waiting to send us word when his ship arrives. I want to insure…”

“Anna! What are you doing?”

The Minister stopped to look around and found Anna standing in her hospital robes next to her bed.

“You should be in bed,” Doctor Pearl scolded her.

The healer came forward quickly as Anna hinted at toppling over. Her face was pale as she peered under a lowered brown and through a matted curtain of hair at the Minister’s personal secretary. Her lips quivered and a wave of deadly anger rolled uncontrollably across her growing fangs. Suddenly, she found Pearl and the Minister holding her up.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Pearl said. “Get back into bed. You’re too weak to think that you might…”

“Please…” Anna said, as the two women moved to push her back, “I must speak to him.”

“Anna?” her Aunt suddenly looked worried. “What are you talking about?”

“I have to speak to him. Let me go!” And with a surprising amount of strength well beyond her stature, Anna freed herself from the two women and slowly came forward.

“Anna Grayson… stop!”

“Anna?”

The second voice made her jerk to a stop and when she looked up she found the Chancellor standing next to her looking concerned.

“What troubles you, Guardian?” Thordarson said kindly, stepping in front of her.

He reached down and gently pushed the hair hiding her face to the side and peered over his dark spectacles to look in. She looked up at him and the wizard immediately felt a wave of power moving through his skull. Her stare darkened and the whites of her eyes seemed to pour away, leaving them liquid black. And then something happened that the Chancellor of Castlewood would remember for the rest of his life: it was the first time a Guardian of magic spoke directly to him and in a way that no other witch or wizard could. Two unspoken words sliced their way into his mind to sound a clear warning.

Step aside!

Surprised, Thordarson thought quickly and then tried to reply in kind. ‘Can you hear me, Guardian?’

Anna’s growl was her only response.

‘We do not wish to interfere with the work of the Guardians, but creation has set a scheme in place for us all.’ Her lip curled as she stared back at him. ‘Every life is born to struggle until the time it takes its rightful place in the world, but that journey cannot be shorten without abandoning the moral virtues of patience. You still need time to become what it is you are, Sithmaith. Until then… let us help you.’

Anna frowned. The words coming into her mind reminded her of something her father told before the start her second year at Castlewood: ‘Your job is to remain patient… until our good work has a chance to take hold.’

The wave of pressure in Thordarson’s mind was at once away and he smiled down at Anna in response. “Patience, Guardian. Please… let us help you.”

Anna’s eyes looked passed him to the man standing with the quill. She thought about the Chancellor’s offer and then slowly nodded.

“I would to speak to him, Professor.”

The Chancellor turned to look back and then moved to allow her to pass. Anna flinched as she moved toward the man, suddenly aware of the pain in her stomach once again.

“You are the Minister’s secretary?” Anna asked him with a grimace owed her wounds.

The man seemed surprised she was speaking to him. “Why yes, I am.” He bowed slightly. “Gillian Munt — at your service; I am the personal secretary to the Minister of Magic.” His quill fluttered importantly, as it zoomed from his hand and up to the parchment at his shoulder, as if wanting to take her statement. His smile was both friendly and ingratiating. “You might recall we have already met; at the end of last summer you and your father arrived at the Ministry to meet with the Minister.”

Anna stepped forward again and then leaned in very close to smell him. She then growled ominously. Anna got closer still, moving her nose up through his chest without actually touching him and then down his shoulder and forearm to his hand opposite the cane. She closed her eyes to concentrate hard as the man pulled back.

“Can I help you, Miss Grayson?”

Anna opened her eyes again and then stepped back. The alarm bells banging into her ribs hurt so badly, it took all of her strength to remain upright.

Doctor Pearl stepped forward as if to retrieve Anna again, but the Chancellor motioned her to stop and then put a finger to his lips when she looked to protest.

“You’ve recently had a dragon egg in your possession? Why?” Anna asked the man.

Gillian seemed surprised. “A… dragon egg?” The man laughed. “Young lady, the unauthorized possession of a dragon egg is a class C felony, punishable by a fine of one hundred galleons and incarceration of up to…”

“Vipertooth eggs,” Anna said, cutting him off. “You’ve had a least three in your hands within the last week.”

The man suddenly seemed uneasy. He looked around at the Minister and then the Chancellor. “No…I afraid you are mistaken, Miss Grayson.”

Captain Hayman immediately stepped in. He leaned to the side of Anna and whispered, “Anna… what are you doing? Do you realize you are accusing a member of the Minister’s personal staff of a crime?”

Anna looked at the captain and then leaned in to whisper something into his ear. Hayman listened intently and everybody in the room could see his surprised expression growing at what she was telling him. He finally straightened again to look down at her.

“Are you sure?”

Anna looked at Gillian again and nodded. “Positive. By the Order of Merlin… you have my word on it.”

Hayman thought for a moment and then turned to face the Minister’s secretary who looked absolutely dumbfounded by the outstanding accusation.

“Mister Gillian… how long have you been in the Minister’s employment?”

“Why… I came under the direction of Minister Barkelnap eighteen months ago.” The man looked at the Minister and smiled. “The Minister was very generous in offering me the post my Uncle Orfius held before he passed away. He was the Minister’s previous secretary for more than twenty years.”

Hayman looked back at the Minister of Magic. “How long have you known this man, Minister?”

“I don’t understand this line of questioning, Captain,” Barkelnap complained. “Gillian is most trusted. He wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize himself or my office.” She came forward to stand next to her man. “Why… the very thought of his being involved in anything underhanded is completely absent from his good character.”

“Aunt Helen… he’s not what you think he is,” Anna growled.

Gillian looked nervous. “I must protest these accusations and treatment, Captain.” The quill floating next to his shoulder seemed to nod in agreement and then scratched the work unfair on the parchment.

“I would never…” Gillian started to say, but suddenly stopped when he saw Anna staring him down. He could feel her mind propping his, digging deep into the folds of his past memories. He covered his eyes with his forearm to protest.

“PLEASE! It is unlawful to use Legilimencywithout a court order!”

“You are the only one in this room with a wand in your hand, Gillian,” Hayman told him.

The man opened his eyes and found his wand pointed at Anna.

“What are you doing, Gillian,” the Minister protested, pushing his wand hand down. “How dare you raise a wand on my niece!”

“Minister… she was attempting to probe my memories. It is both unlawful and unconscionable!”

“Show me your left forearm,” Anna demanded.

The man stared at her disbelievingly. “My… my what?”

Anna stepped forward and grabbed Gillian’s wrist and tried to wrench his sleeve up, but he quickly yanked back.

“Get your hands off of me!” All the decorum the man carried up to that moment was now gone.

“He carries the Dark Mark on his arm,” Anna snarled.

“What…?” Gillian shot back, suddenly appalled. “Ridiculous!”

“Anna! You will stop this immediately.” the Minister said, as the captain tried to push the Guardian back.

“Make him show you!” Anna yelled out, as she made a grab for Gillian once more. “He’s with Voldemort!”

She grabbed his sleeve again and the man yanked back. The robe ripped and Gillian and Anna both fell to the floor in the scuffle.

“Unhand me!” Gillian yelled back, shoving Anna to the side and scrambling back to his feet. “I will not be harassed in this way by a child. Minister… I know she’s a member of your family, but I must protest this abuse and lack of respect for authority!”

He looked up and suddenly realized something was wrong. Everybody in the room was now frowning at him.

“Gillian?” The Minister said, staring at him with a look of disbelief. He saw her eyes moving to his arm and the man looked down to see his sleeve had been ripped open, and beneath, for all to clearing see, was a blackened brand; the Dark Mark.

Anna was on her feet again as well, but crouched low, ready to pounce. She slowly rose to stand straight, glaring back at the man.

“Death Eater!”

Gillian looked up again and, quite unexpectedly, he smiled. “So it would seem I am finally caught.”

He watched three of the Crimson Guards slowly moving for their wands and he immediately responded. In a flash, he whipped his wand around and blasted one of the guards off their feet and then turned to Anna. His sharpened quill suddenly shot forward and then stopped just inches from her face. Suspended there, it shook and quivered, struggling to deliver the killing blow to Anna’s skull. The Guardian sneered as her chin jerked forward and the quill burst into purple flames and was turned to ash.

“Nobody move!” Gillian screamed. He was holding the Minister of Magic with his wand to her throat.

“What? Gillian… what is this?” The Minister complained, “Release me at once!”

The man jerked her back hard to hide behind her. “Shut up! Nobody move… or the old woman is dead! And that especially goes for you, Chancellor.”

Thordarson nodded worriedly. “As you can plainly see, I am unarmed.

Gillian peered over the Minster’s shoulder. “Sure you are!”

Thordarson shrugged. “I am not in the habit of carrying a wand inside my own school.”

The man smiled wickedly. “You’ve always been a stupid fool… in that much… this old bat was right about you.”

“I don’t understand. Why are you doing this?” the Minister shuddered. “Orfius would be so ashamed.”

“He doesn’t care about his uncle, Minister,” Anna answered back. “In fact, I’m almost certainly he killed your first secretary to gain your sympathies and take his job. He was told to get close to you for his master’s sake.”

Barkelnap’s eyes widened. “No…” she whispered.

Anna wouldn’t tell them she had seen the man’s crimes and flashes of murder in his memories. “He’s the one the Guardians have come to call the limping man. I only wish I had seen his face the day I found the smugglers’ headquarters, because I’m sure now I would have recognized him. We all thought the limping man was working for the one they called the collector, Sugianto, but it was the other way around. The collector showed the thieves a safer route to the Dragon’s Lair and then looked to sell the eggs to a Death Eater as a way to rejoin with Voldemort and make his escape from the plateau.

Gillian was backing away. “Everybody get in front of me. Don’t force me to hurt her.”

Thordarson slowly turned to face the guards. “Let’s all move back, please. He’s right in saying we don’t want anybody hurt.”

“I should have realized it was somebody close to the Minister,” Anna continued. “I smelled the scent of dragons the first day I met you at the Ministry and then again when you and the Minister were together in the Chancellor’s office. All along I thought the Minister was somehow involved with the taking of the eggs, but it was her close proximity to you I was sensing.” Anna looked at the Minister and smiled. “Aunt Helen, I apologize for suspecting you.”

“Quite understandable, my dear,” Barkelnap replied, bravely. “We both have made mistakes this year, starting with my hiring this retched man as my secretary.”

“Enough! I want everybody’s wands… now!” the Death Eater demanded, yanking the Minister back again.

Thordarson turned to face him once more. “That, I’m afraid, I will not permit.”

The man wrenched on the Minister’s neck. “I thought you said you didn’t want to see anybody hurt?”

“That is correct, but I will not put more lives in your hands even at the risk of the Minister of Magic.” He looked at Barkelnap. “I’ve known Helawena long enough to know she would agree.”

“Quite right, Elimar,” the Minister squeaked out. “I appreciate what you’re doing, but enough has already been done on my behalf. No more!”

Gillian began choking her harder. “Are you ready to die then, old woman?”

The Minister was turning red in the face, but said, “To keep others safe… by all means… yes.”

“Stop it!”

Gillian looked up and frowned when he saw Anna coming toward him. He pointed his wand at her.

“Halt, girl… or die with her!”

Anna stopped to snarl back. Then she thought for a moment and an idea suddenly came to her. She tried to calm herself even as she watched the Minister struggling.

“You’re such a fool…” Anna told him, “you don’t even know who you’re holding there, do you?”

Gillian frowned again. “Oh I think I do… and if you don’t want to see her dead then I would suggest…”

“No… I really don’t think you do,” Anna retorted flatly.

Hayman frowned. He could hear Anna beginning to whisper under her breath next to them. “Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap…”

Hayman cautiously leaned in to the Chancellor. “What’s she doing?”

“I… don’t know,” he whispered back.

“Who is it you think you’re holding there?” Anna asked Gillian, whispering under her breath again, “Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap.” To Hayman, it sounded near enough to a prayer.

“The Minister of Magic, of course. And unless you all do exactly as I say… you’re stupidity is going to get her killed.”

“WHAT IS HER NAME?” Anna yelled back and then continued to whisper quickly, “Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap.”

“ENOUGH OF THIS!” Gillian roared in reply. “Chancellor… you will lower the spells on the castle so that we can Apparate away.”

“HER NAME, FIEND! WHAT IS HER NAME?” Anna insisted.

Gillian looked at the Guardian and frowned unknowingly. “Shut up! We all know this is Minister…”

“Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap, Barkelnap,” Anna whispered in rapid succession.

“Barkelnap!” Gillian and Anna said simultaneously.

At once, something began to howl loudly throughout the room and Anna smiled in response as two lengths of red ribbon began to scream forth from out of the Death Eater’s wand. Gillian watched in horror as one of the ribbons left his wand and the other turned to face him. His eyes widened as a clawed hand opened wide to show a mouth full of sharpened teeth hissing back at him.

“What is this?” the man yelled.

Anna smiled again and then whispered, “Jinx!”

The first ribbon flew over everybody’s head and then quickly turned to zoom down at Anna, bearing its howling teeth and bloody claw. It was almost upon her when Anna calmly breathed, Finite Chirotha!” and the ribbon evaporated in a cloud of bloody ash.

“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?” Gillian screamed as the other claw came at him, screaming and howling hideously.

He pointed his wand and tried to hex the thing. “Avada Kedav...” but it was too late. The claw slammed onto his face and sent him flying into the wall behind him. He dropped his wand and his cane fell to the floor as he reached up and desperately tried to free himself from the hand’s vice like grip. He pulled and tugged and was picked up off his feet and thrown flat against the ceiling. He seemed frozen there above their heads, his eyes bulging in terror. There was a flash, a loud crack, and the man was suddenly gone.

Chancellor Thordarson reached down to help the Minister back to her feet. “Are you alright, my dear?”

The Minister looked more confused than injured. “Where did he go?” She asked, looking up questioningly.

Anna smiled and then shrugged. “He forgot to say Jinx.”

Thordarson smiled as he moved to one of the windows. He twisted the lock and pushed the glass open to look down.

“Gregory… I believe the Minister’s secretary is now swimming in the castle moat.” He looked at Dunning and grinned. “He doesn’t have his wand, so I would suggest we help him before the grindylows get too excited about an early dinner.”

Lieutenant Dunning hurried over to look down. “Guards!” He pointed out. “Arrest that man immediately! Take him to the dungeons and triple the guard!”

“Yes, sir!”

“Are you alright, Minister?” Anna asked, taking her gently by the hand.

The woman shook her head. “Thanks to you, my dear, only my pride has been injured. I cannot believe my own secretary… a Death Eater. I’m afraid my disgrace and humiliation are now complete.”

Anna smiled. “No ma’am… I thought you were very brave.” They smiled at each other and then they embraced as Doctor Pearl bustled forward.

“Minister… let me make sure you are uninjured. The way that terrible man was wrenching your neck…”

“Oh tish-tosh, Margaret. I’m fine. Just the thing, really. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a good row.”

THREE

The Spellsburg Seer - June 18th

HE-WHO-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED RETURNS

In a brief statement Friday night, England’s Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, confirmed that He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named has returned and is active once more. "It is with great regret that I must confirm that the wizard styling himself Lord - well, you know who, I mean - is alive and among us again," Fudge told reporters. "It is with almost equal regret that we report the mass revolt of the dementors of Azkaban, who have shown themselves averse to continuing in the Ministry's employ. We believe that the dementors are currently taking direction from Lord - Thingy. We urge the magical population to remain vigilant. The Ministry is currently publishing guides to elementary home and personal defense that will be delivered free to all wizarding homes within the coming month."

The statement from England’s Minister came as a complete surprise to the wizarding community, which received Ministry assurances both overseas and in America that there was no truth to the rumors that You-Know-Who had returned. Reports from England say that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and a few followers called Death Eaters broke into the Ministry of Magic in London Thursday evening. Albus Dumbledore, newly reinstated headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was at the scene to assist in the capture of some of the Death Eaters, but was unavailable for comment.

Reports coming out of Spellsburg are also confirming He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and several Death Eaters were seen within the security perimeters of the plateau and in the Shadowed Forest earlier the in the evening Thursday night and before the break-in in London. These reports were corroborated by Chancellor Thordarson of Castlewood Academy this morning who also confirmed three Death Eaters were capturing trying to break into the castle. No students were in any immediate danger at the time, and the Crimson Guard was immediately called upon to secure the grounds, the city of Spellsburg and the Shadowed Forest.

The Spellsburg Seer - June 19th

MINISTER BARKELNAP RESIGNS

In light of the recent reports of You-Know-Who’s return, the North American Minister of Magic has submitted her resignation to the Ministry. “It is with personal regret that I step aside for the sake of new leadership in the face of this threat,” Barkelnap told a hastily summoned group of reporters in Washington DC. “I have also informed the Muggle U.S. President of my decision to remain in office long enough to transition my duties to the new Minister as soon as their selection has been announced. We expect the announcement of a new Minister will be forthcoming within the next twenty-four hours.

Readers were enflamed yesterday by the news of You-Know-Who’s reappearance both in the Shadowed Forest around Spellsburg and then in London on the evening of the eighteenth given the efforts by the Ministry and especially Barkelnap’s office to deny early reports and warnings of his impending return. “The failure on my part to heed the warnings from both Chancellor Thordarson and Albus Dumbledore can only be rectified by my exit, so I feel it best for the sake of the wizarding community if I step aside. It has been an enormous privilege to serve as your Minister of Magic, and I will remain available to the new Minister as we prepare for this threat to our way of life. Goodbye and God bless you all.”

The Spellsburg Seer - June 20th

ESCAPED DROGO PRISONER IS KILLED

After the astonishing report of You-Know-Who’s return and eye witness accounts of his being seen in the Shadowed Forest prior to his break-in at the Ministry of Magic in London, additional revelations have recently come out of Mayor Prower’s office in Spellsburg today. “It would seem that the reason You-Know-Who was in the Shadowed Forest was because he and his Death Eaters were working with a band of local smugglers stealing dragon eggs from the Cliffs of Knowtor,” the mayor told the assembled press corps late yesterday afternoon. “The plot was uncovered by the Crimson Guard who fell into battle with the smugglers inside the forest, a battle that quickly escalated when a number of Death Eaters joined the fight and eventually You-Know-Who himself.”

Asked why You-Know-Who would want the dragon eggs in the first place, the Mayor could only speculate. “We surmise he was planning to use the dragons as he did some fifteen years ago, in his attempt to terrorize the wizarding population.”

These details come just two days after the announcement in London about You-Know-Who’s return and the North American Minister of Magic’s resignation yesterday. After the Crimson Guard forced the Unnamed-One to flee the Shadowed Forest, the body of Arief Sugianto, an escaped prisoner from Saint Drogo’s Hospital for Incurable Lost Causes, was found dead at the scene. It had earlier been reported that Reginald Carter had escaped from the Prison, but the Mayor’s office is now contradicting those early statements, calling them “a mistake” and, in fact, “it was Mr. Arief who had escaped one year ago.” Asked to explain this terrible error that sent the entire Wizarding world looking for the wrong man, the Mayor explained that a fire in the prison at the time of the escape caused the misidentification of the dead wizard named Reginald Carter as that of Arief Sugianto.

“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the brave members of the Crimson Guard who fought so valiantly against He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and his followers,” the Mayor said today. “Their courage and heroism is an inspiration to us all and something in which we can rely on in the challenging weeks ahead.”

In an unrelated story, the Personal Secretary to the Minister of Magic has been arrested and charged with espionage. No other details have been made available by the Ministry.

As of this printing, the Ministry of Magic has not made any further announcements regarding who will be the new Minister of Magic after Minister Barkelnap’ s resignation yesterday.


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