So, I recently found, on an old laptop, a whole bunch of these stories I wrote for fun back when I was in high school, now years ago (I'm 28, btw ) There was one I was gonna put up here before, but it's just too damn violent and gruesome, and I just don't feel it's appropriate. But this is one of my, if I do say so myself, unfinished masterpieces. Some of the characters are obviously from J.K. Rowling's wonderful novels (and movies). The setting, magical Buyan island, comes from ancient Russian mythology, and the magic school Tibidokhs - from "Tanya Grotter", a Russian rip off of Harry Potter The Cyclops, Bogatyrs (medieval Russian knights, the "33 Bogatyrs" are a part of the story of Buyan Island too; and especially the mythical five headed dragon, Goryn All are famous staples of Russian folklore and mythology, and all also are referenced in Tanya Grotter, more about which you can see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanya_Grotter In my story, the school is based on Tibidokhs, but I didn't like the name, made up a different one, less silly one ("Tibidokhs" is just a Russian magic word, like "Hokus Pokus" in English or something lol) The Admininstrators also my own invention, as is naming them all after ancient Slavic pagan Gods haha Well, and I gave Voldemort that huge army, even Orcs from Warcraft (not the much weaker LoR ones ) Epic battle. I never did finish it though. May be will now. We'll see. For now, hope you enjoy. Sorry about weird spacing and such, hard to copy from Microsoft Word. *** 30th Kingdom Magic Arts Academy was an enormous school. It had some 42,000 students, aged from 7 all the way to 18, along with 850 teachers. The huge fortress had its 30-tower, 20 metres thick, 150 meter high wall circling the whole island, Buyan, where it was situated. The wall and the entire fortress were reinforced with magic spells. 30th Kingdom Magic Academy had a security force of 2,000 big, powerful Cyclops, armed with wooden clubs; as well as a reserve of 330 Bogatyrs that rose from the sea when called upon. As a last resort, the 100 marble Titans that held up the ceiling of the dining hall could come to life and defend the school. Not that anyone ever actually tried to attack 30th Kingdom. The muggles would not even know of its existence. There were powerful spells that made sure of that. 30th Kingdom Magic Arts Academy was a magic school, the only one in Russia and the Former Soviet Union, where little witches and wizards from that region went to study and refine their skills. Ratibor was one of those gifted children. When Ratibor was 7 years old, he was sent to 30th Kingdom Magic Arts Academy. His parents, an enormously rich family, oligarchs, came from long line of powerful witches and sorcerers. He knew of his abilities early on. Ratibor was, in fact, thought to be more powerful than his five siblings combined. He was thought to become the next patriarch of the Tikhomirov clan. As his name suggested (‘rati’ – soldier, warrior, ‘bor’ – from ‘borba’, fight, struggle), Ratibor was trained since young age in the art of a warrior. Sure, in 30th Kingdom they teach how to defend yourself, especially using magic, but Ratibor could also fight the conventional way: he knew a dozen different martial arts, and could use many different types and makes of weapons with skill and finesse that only comes from years of dutiful practice. When he first arrived at the Academy, Ratibor was shocked and shaken by both the sheer size of the place; and its solemn splendour. He was awed by the sky high walls, and the even taller towers whose tops seemed to disappear in the clouds. He marvelled at the different magical creatures that inhabited the island: mermaids and vodianoi water spirits in the ponds and the big lake; leshiy tree spirits in the forest area; and the thousands of ‘little people’ one could sometimes come across in the dining hall, corridors, classrooms (after hours), and even in the dorm-houses, always busy cleaning up, setting tables, making beds, and otherwise making the lives of Tibidokh’s students and educators easier and more comfortable – domovye, house guardian creatures. They were not often seen, however, because one of their main powers was invisibility, and they used it quite often. Domovye preferred not being seen or heard. They showed themselves through their work and the results of it. What many students did not know, though, was the domovye’s other use by the school administration: as a surveillance tool. Another job of the ‘invisible servants’ was to look for any trouble, and disorder, and report it, immediately. Besides going invisible, domovye could also shape-shift, which meant they could be used to impersonate troublemakers and infiltrate their groups if and when necessary. That was not the only way the Administrators of 30th Kingdom Magic Arts Academy kept an eye on their students however. For example, every ‘lamp’ in every area of every building, along with mirrors, vases, ponds, basins, and every other glass or water surface, were magic ‘security cameras’ of sorts, though they worked much better than any muggle device. ‘Live’ portraits were used similarly, as were spy ghosts. If necessary, the Administrators could very clearly see and hear every part of the school. In the main keep, far down below, was the Dungeon. This is where some particularly ‘bad’ students were placed into solitary (usually) confinement as punishment for especially serious offenses. The Dungeon cells were guarded by Cyclops, and there was a powerful spell over the whole area blocking any and all magic. Accommodation was simple: small, one-room houses with 6 students staying in each. Each house had beds, a closet, a desk for studying, and shower and toilet rooms. Ratibor was not scared of the Cyclops, like many of the kids; or of the constant surveillance; or of the Dungeon; and he was fine with the dwelling space. It all excited him, in some strange manner. Then, there were the dragon. The Academy had the biggest one around. Goryn had 5 heads and one breathed fire like a volcano; while another spewed a ‘cold’ blast that would cover a victim with ice and have him frost-bitten in seconds; third one emitted lightning strikes; fourth – ultra-sound waves that would cause excruciating ear pain and even bleeding to the unfortunate victim, not to mention wind breath powerful enough to blow a person easily off their feet; while the fifth wielded poisonous fangs and released a cloud of green smoke that when inhaled put one into a deep, long sleep. The game of Dracoball was something Ratibor had looked forward to his whole short life. Flying on, in his case, a 1981 Ural motorcycle, throwing the ball into the mouth of a dragon, what could possibly be more exciting? Now 16, and in Grade 10, Ratibor was a Dracoball star, captain of the Academy’s Wolf Pack team. Under his leadership, the Wolves have beaten teams from China, India, Africa, and Latin America to capture the World Championship twice. Before Ratibor, the Bolts had won 12 Championships, including three in a row. Recently, they utterly destroyed a new Combined East European team, and now were to face off against another newbie crew from Britain. Ratibor did not think much of the Brits. He figured: they all were used to playing a game called Quiddich, a much milder activity that did not involve as much physicality as Dracoball, nor used the mouth of a fire-breathing dragon as the goal post. They also flew around on brooms, which in a Dracoball game would be not only slow, but perhaps even dangerous: in an impact with his Ural, Ratibor would bet on the bike. On top of that, while the Hogwarts team knew about fire breathing dragons, they were yet to meet Goryn’s “secret weapons”. And even besides that, the inexperienced team was also divided. Gossip told of violent quarrels between the captain, Harry Potter, and another prominent player, Draco Malfoy. So, Ratibor was pretty confident. He now made his way to the main hall, where the British delegation was to be greeted. Ratibor quickly found his place and ordered his favourite food from the Magic Tablecloth. The Tablecloth could make appear any delicacy one wished for. Then, they were all asked to stand, as the British guests made their way up onto the stage. As introductions were read out, Ratibor observed the team. He counted 6 male and 6 female players. The girls were pretty; they were smiling, waving, happy to be here. Potter looked concerned, and Malfoy was frowning. Clearly they just had another disagreement. Mikola, Ratibor’s second-in-command, bent over to him and whispered: “That... Herminone Granger, she’s not so bad, da?” Ratibor grinned: “That is all you ever think about, eh, Kolya?” “I’m just saying...” “Sure.” As the Brits left the stage, Ratibor saw some of them approaching his and the team’s table. Potter was the first to come. “Hallo. I’m Harry, Harry Potter.” “Yes, I know, you are the captain.” “That’s right. Listen, I know you guys don’t think much of us, and maybe that’s justified, but I just want to let you know now, whether we win or lose, we are planning to give you a run for your money.” “Great. It would not be fun playing against you otherwise.” Malfoy scowled “Yeah, great job, Potter. ‘We’ll give you a run for your money.’ You realise what you just said, you idiot? ‘Oh, we’ll lose. We’ll just try our best not to lose too badly!’ Thanks, for conceding defeat on all our behalf before we even began playing, you bloody moron!” Pelageya, another of Ratibor’s players and his girlfriend spoke quietly “Wow... I guess respect for the captain is not a part of that team’s rules...” She spoke in Russian, but the universal translator spell was in action already, so Malfoy heard and understood her, and retorted “Respect must be earned!” Potter was angry now too “You are one to talk of earning respect, Malfoy!” The girl who earlier introduced herself as Herminone intervened “Enough, Draco! And you, Harry! Why are you two embarrassing us all like this here?” “Having Potter as captain is what’s really embarrassing...” with that, Malfoy moved off. So did Potter, with Hermione whispering to him soothingly. “Well, now you know what we have to listen to all day... No wonder we keep losing. And now we are up against a powerhouse like you guys... And judging by your captain, we have our work cut out for us.” It was another Hogwarts player, a good-looking Asian girl, Cho Chang. Ratibor saw she was smiling at him. So did Pelageya, who responded with a withering look at both of them. Cho kept smiling. “You are Pelageya, right, am I pronouncing that correctly? That’s a beautiful name.” “Thanks...” “I’m Cho.” “Yes, we all heard you introduce yourself.” “Okay. Well, looking forward to the first game. Should be great! See you all there.” “Yes. See you then.” After she left, Ratibor grinned at Pelageya “You don’t like her, do you?” “I have nothing against her...” “You don’t like competition.” She laughed and so did he. “Fair enough, I guess I don’t. But she is no ‘competition’ for me in Dracoball. And definitely has no chance with you!” “Oh...” “’Oh’? What the hell does ‘Oh’ mean?” “Nothing, I am just fooling around. Let’s go, we need to practice.” “Right...” *** On game day, they were all assembled in their change-room, next to the field. The Healers gave them anti-burn and anti-freeze potions, as well as apply a special magic cream to exposed areas of their skin that would harden and thicken it and protect it from any blows. Their uniforms were covered in electricity resistant material, and enchanted with protective spells. Their helmets and pads were also magically enhanced in strength, durability, and reliability. Keeping in mind Goryn’s “gifts”; and not knowing the British dragon’s capabilities, they were ready for anything. Their magic rings were hot on their fingers, they knew they may have to use magic in the game to either save themselves or help a teammate. Ratibor wondered how the British made do with their long, clumsy magic sticks, “wands” as they called them... In a moment of danger, it would take several priceless seconds just pull one out. Too long, too dangerous. And if the wand should break, that was that. One was left helpless. No, he thought, the rings are far better. His own ring, worn on his left hand, was black, shaped like a raven, his family’s animal symbol. Finally, it was time to go out there. Ratibor put on his black leather gloves (he was all clad in black leather, from the jacket to the boots, with shining gold buttons and chains, and a snarling Wolf logo on the sleeve patches, and the belt buckle; the team did not have a set uniform, as long as you had the logo you could dress as you like). He got onto his bike, Pelageya jumped on behind him, and he felt her arms close around his waist (they always rode together, it was not against the rules of the game; Ratibor felt better that way, having her close by, where he could protect her from anything; and it did look great, them zooming around the field together, looking the perfect couple). She looked great tonight: leather boots, like his, he gave them to her as a birthday present recently; dark stockings; short black leather skirt, with same belt buckle, black top, and black leather jacket, also like his, with same sort of patches. Her head was covered by a striking red bandana which showed under the small, also black helmet. From behind, she pecked him on the cheek, and up they went, followed by the other Wolves, all on vacuums, except Rinat Akhmedzhanov on a flying carpet, Ilya Muromtsev on his oak lumber peace, and a couple others. Ratibor felt in the right side compartment, his hand instantly closing on his bat. Pelageya hung on to him tightly. Suddenly, the air was filled with the roar of thousands of fans. They were flying into the stadium, over the audience amphitheatre. There were only about 500 Hogwarts fans, the rest of the 24,000 seats were filled by locals. When they saw him, there was whistling and cheering all around, and the cries of “Ratya, davai (lets go)!” shook the walls. Looking over to the other side of the field, as they approached, Ratibor noticed Potter staring at him for a moment with something akin to envy in his gaze. The two teams lined up opposite each other. The anthems were sung, first the countries’, then the schools’. Finally, the call went out from the tribune to “Release the dragons!” The British clearly have never seen anything like Goryn before. He was almost twice the size of the Hogwarts beast, five heads roaring in unison, trembling the building, and the island itself. Ratibor was glad to note fear and uncertainty in the eyes of his opponents, even Potter, who, though, tried to compose himself, for the sake of his team. The match was on. The ball was tossed high in the air. Neville Longbottom of the Hogwarts team tried to go for it, but Rinat beat him to it, smashing it with his bat, in Ratibor and Pelageya’s direction. They saw Malfoy dive to intercept, but suddenly a column of bluish steam covered him. Goryn was helping out his team with his freeze-breath. A second later, they saw Draco, all blue, falling off his broom to the mat flooring below. Ratibor, meanwhile, moved for the ball, with Pelageya grabbing the bat with her right hand, ready to hit, while holding on to his belt with the left. The ball flew toward them. Ratibor shouted “Pelya, you ready?” “Yes.” He twisted the bike’s handles to speed up. Flames erupted from the twin exhaust pipes. The fans cheered. Suddenly, George Weasley appeared next to them. He swung at the same time as Pelageya did, and their bats collided. Both used as much force as they could, she smashing the ball toward the English dragon, he – away from it. Pelageya’s steel bat broke George’s wooden one in half, while the Ural crushing into his broom also cracked it in two and sent him flying into the audience. Before he could fall into the hard floor and chairs, and seriously hurt himself, Ratibor managed to grab one of his arms, pull him back, and drop him safely onto the mat. When he looked back up, Ratibor saw that Ilya and the Buryat, Bair Badenov (flying on some big, guitar-like musical instrument popular among his people) had closed in on the ball, and were vying with Ron Weasley and his other brother Fred. Ilya, with his sheer size, and that of his flying oak, pushed through the Weasleys, and through a wall of fire the Hogwarts dragon spewed at him, and hit the ball, sending it into the gaping mouth of the British beast. There, the ball exploded into many colors, and the spell inside it took effect, sending the dragon into deep sleep. The mighty creature folded its wings and settled down onto the ground, nodding off. The first game was over. The Wolves had won this round. *** After the mandatory handshakes with the other team, and the crazed cheering, clapping, and pats on the back from the home crowd, the Wolves were back in their change-room. Everyone congratulated each other, a bottle of champagne was summoned out of thin air, along with glasses for all but Ratibor, who drank from the bottle, “like regular people”; and the team had their own little celebration. Ratibor sat at the ‘head’ of their imaginary table, naked from the waist up, champagne bottle in hand, with Pelageya, herself in just skirt and bra, on his knees. He said a toast, “To Victory!” and they all shouted back “Ura!” and drank up, then Pelageya turned to him and the two locked lips. That was when there was a knock on the door, and Ron Weasley and several other members of the Hogwarts team looked in. Ratibor had to smile at the shocked look on their faces. Clearly, this sort of celebration was unheard of in Hogwarts. He beckoned them in, “Come, celebrate with us.” They came in, unsure of themselves but already smiling back at their hosts. Ron said “Listen, I wanted to thank you. You may have saved my brother’s life out there...” Ratibor waved him off, “I only did what I am sure most of us would do in such a situation.” “Not all of us...” “Oh?” “Malfoy wouldn’t...” “Draco Malfoy? Your captain and he do not get along, do they?” “It is rather difficult, to get along with Malfoy...” “I see. Alright, then... moving on. Champagne?” Hermione, who came in after Ron, asked in a somewhat irritated tone “So this school allows alcohol?” Pelageya answered her “No, but it does allow its Dracoball team to celebrate their victories. As long as we don’t take anything too hard, or too much, and do not cause trouble, it is fine.” “I suppose I should have expected that, this being a Russian school and all.” “Why, thank you. I am glad we did not disappoint you.” Everyone laughed. Someone else came up with a new toast, “To Dracoball!” and all present raised their glasses. Suddenly, they heard Malfoy’s voice. “Well, well, Weasley, Granger, and their friends drinking champagne with the enemy. Why am I not surprised? Pathetic...” Pelageya said “So, this is Mister Malfoy. Well, I can see why your own team dislikes you, dear... You are an ass.” Malfoy wheeled around at her. “What did you call me? You piece of mud-blood scum! You think you can...” he gasped, doubled over, and fell to his knees. That was Ratibor. As Malfoy started to attack his girlfriend, he wasted no time on spells, just turned and dealt him a right hook in the solar plexus. Then, he reached over and pulled out Malfoy’s wand from his pocket, before Draco could go for it himself. As Malfoy struggled back to his feet, he glared at Ratibor. “What are you doing?! Give me my wand back!” “I will, when you apologise to my girl.” Malfoy tried to come at him, roaring with rage. Again, Ratibor did not use magic, but instead sent him flying back with a powerful kick to the mid-section. When Malfoy again regained his footing, and tried to go for him a third time, Ratibor sidestepped him, tripping him up, while at the same time grabbing his right wrist, and twisting Draco’s arm behind his back, hard, while slamming him face-down onto a bench and holding him down with a knee on his back. “Stop struggling. I will not let you up until you apologise to Pelya.” “Never!” “Have it your way”. Ratibor twisted Draco’s arm more, making him howl in pain. “Apologise. Now.” He twisted again. Malfoy screamed “Alright! Fine! I’m sorry!” “Good.” With that, Ratibor picked him up by the shoulder and the scruff of his neck, and threw him out the door. He then threw Draco’s wand that after him. As he turned back, Ron Weasley laughed and suddenly embraced him. He withdrew embarrassed, as he saw Raitibor raise a surprised eyebrow. “Sorry. It’s just... I waited a long time to see someone do something like that to Malfoy. A very long time indeed...” “Well, there you go, enjoy. Alright then...” With laughter and pats on the back, everyone filed out, back to their dorm-houses. *** There were seven thousand dorm-houses, with six students in each. Each house had a bedroom with six beds, a bathroom, and a storage closet. In the bedroom, there was also a large table and six chairs, for studying, eating or playing board games. For the next couple of weeks, the members of the Dracoball team had to cram themselves as extra beds were added to their houses: they were to accommodate their English guests. Ratibor was no exception. Normally, he shared his house with Rinat, Ilya, Mefodiy Nesterov, Danila Nikitin, and Vanya Valyalkin. Now, the British captain, Harry Potter, as well as Ron Weasley were also staying with them. Ratibor didn’t mind: both of them seemed like good company. As they came in, still laughing and cheerful, lights out horn sounded. All the lights, indeed, went out. Ratibor said ‘Wow, we just made it.” Rinat agreed “The Cyclops will be going on patrol now.” Harry asked “Can they see in the dark?” Ratibor nodded “Just like cats, only with just one big eye, instead of two small ones.” “So even if you don’t sleep, you can’t get out until morning?” asked Ron. Rinat and Ratibor both looked mischievously at their new friends, while Ilya shook his head at them “Come on guys, don’t tell them... They will try it and screw up and get caught, and guess who will get blamed?” Harry was curious now and Ron outright excited. “Please tell us!” Ratibor gave up “Okay. The Administration blocks most transporting spells in here, especially during the night. But we have a little... secret. The teachers and our esteemed Administrators know about this thing, they use it regularly themselves; but I suppose they think it is too sophisticated for us young ones, so don’t bother blocking it.” The Brits listened attentively. Ron particularly seemed fascinated. Ratibor went on. “We call it The Pipes. You see, the Administrators, they use mostly their big fireplaces for this. We don’t have any fireplaces, possibly by design, to prevent such silliness in the first place.” He winked, and everyone grinned. “But we figured out how to apply this spell to the plumbing system. And by ‘we’, I mean the Wolves, nobody else knows about this and we like it that way. You are first whom we told. Hope you brothers can keep a secret.” Ron and Harry nodded enthusiastically. Rinat snorted “Ratik especially enjoys the system. He and Pelageya go visit each other every damn night...” Both of the Hogwarts boys’ faces went red. Ratibor laughed out loud. “What, you guys don’t have any of that in jolly old England?” “Not really...” “I wish...” “Well, while you are here, we can maybe make something happen for you two.” “Oh, God...” “Anyway, you want to come along with us on a Pipe? Some of the girls are expecting us, and I am sure we can find some company for you two.” “For real?! Sounds great!” “Awesome. Then let’s move.” They all moved into the bathroom. Ratibor grabbed a tube of toothpaste and drew a cross-like symbol around the bathtub drain-hole. He then stood over it, and pointed his ring at the hole, while everyone else joined hands along with him. Ratibor recited a long spell in Old Slavonic, and suddenly his body stretched, became thin and liquid-like... and went down the drain, along with everyone else holding onto him. The whole transportation took a few seconds, and then they were hurled out of a different drain in a different shower room, but with the same symbol drawn in toothpaste around that drain-hole. As they picked themselves up, the Russians quickly waved their rings over themselves, drying their clothes, fixing hairdos. They were used to this. The British - not so much. Harry seemed okay. But Ron looked a little sick. Ratibor gave him a magic nausea pill, like ones he used when he was first learning The Pipes. After that, he seemed to be feeling better. After everyone was in order, Ratibor turned the knob and they stepped out into the bedroom, where Pelageya, five other Russian girls, as well as Cho and Hermione were all waiting, with both of the Hogwarts girls looking completely shocked when they saw the guys. Pelageya stepped forward: “You boys got here alright?” “Yes, no worries. Our guests here enjoyed the experience. Right, Harry?” “Uh, yeah, absolutely.” “Well, come on in then.” As everyone entered the bedroom, Ratibor said to Harry, “You just saw the obvious drawback of our system there.” “What’s that?” “It takes two sides. Someone has to draw Peresvet’s Cross on the receiving end. That works fine when we just travel between our houses, with pre-arranged visits. But, say, we have to get into some of the other buildings?” “Why would you?” “Well, suppose we would. What then?” “What?” “Then we’d have to bribe a domovoi.” “Of course...” The Russians laughed. They knew bribing one of those creatures was damn nearly impossible. The British did too, not really understanding the joke, but not wanting to be left out of it either. Pelageya came toward Ratibor. “I am sure the party here will be amazing, but I have a special present for you. What do you say me and you return to your dorm-house.” He smiled, “Sounds nice, I can’t wait...” They turned to the others. “Hey, guys, we’re heading back. Just the two of us, I mean that. You all stay here and have fun.” With that, they both disappeared into the shower room. Hermione asked the girl next to her, Ulyana, “What are they going to do?” Ulyana replied, with a snicker “What do you think? They are going to... celebrate. Together.” Hermione blushed as she understood. “Oh, dear...” After that, the night was a blur. The British learned to party the way only Russians can. Until the sirens started going off. *** Ratibor was in his bed, and Pelageya lying under him, when they heard the sirens. Ratibor said “Damn... all-island alert. I wonder what’s happened out there.” Pela pressed him closer to herself “Who cares? Come here, keep me warm...” “Pelya... This could be serious, you know!” “Come on...” That’s when an Administrator’s voice blared out of the walls. “All dorm-houses entertaining Hogwarts students will now be searched. I repeat, all dorm-houses with Hogwarts students, be ready for immediate search!” Now they both jumped up, trying to quickly find their clothes. “Crap! Damn!” As they rushed toward the shower room, the other boys came piling out. Even as he sent Pelya on her way back to her dorm house, Ratibor began asking questions. Nobody knew what had happened and why there was suddenly a house to house search going on. Then, there was a loud knock, then the front door swung open and Administrator Koshei Bessmertniy came in, along with three very large, hairy, scary-looking Cyclops, dressed in their usual animals’ skins and armour and carrying huge wooden clubs on their shoulders. The Cyclops had to stoop and bend their necks in the confines of the dorm-house, cramped, for their immense size. Ferocious fangs stuck out of their big mouths. The Administrator himself had on a dark, hooded shroud, with a black, formal-looking tunic and trousers underneath. He carried his magic staff. All the Administrators had those. The staffs were much more powerful than most rings (save, perhaps, for the Tikhomirov clan’s Ring of Fire) or the British wands. The Administrators only carried their staffs on emergency occasions, like when the school was in danger, and they needed the extra magic ‘firepower’. So, why did Bessmertniy have his staff with him now? Ratibor said “Hello, Administrator.” He nodded at the Cyclops “Boys.” Ratibor asked “What is going on? Why the search in the middle of the night?” The Administrator looked grim “A member of the Hogwarts delegation has gone missing.” Harry stepped forward now “Who is it, Sir?” “A young man named Draco Malfoy.” There was a stunned silence. Ratibor said “I just spoke to him a few hours ago...” Bessmertniy replied “You two had a physical exchange, haven’t you.” Ratibor answered carefully “Well, yes. I...” Harry jumped in “Malfoy had insulted his girlfriend. I think he was trying to pick a fight, Mr. Administrator. But Ratibor simply disarmed him and threw him out.” One of the Cyclops growled “It is true, Comrade Administrator. We have reviewed surveillance footage from the change room areas. It shows a brief altercation in the home team’s room, between Tikhomirov and that British one, Malfoy. We were even going to respond at first, but it was brief and it seemed nobody was injured, so we did not bother.” “I see...” the Administrator said, “So, what do you think? The boy ran away from the humiliation? Could he have left the island without our knowledge?” “Not likely, Comrade Administrator, with our level of security” “Exactly. The Administration suspects dark forces at work. More precisely, Mr. Potter, British dark forces.” “Sir? I beg your pardon?” “Mr. Potter, I know you are familiar with the one you call Voldemort.” Harry shuddered. Ratibor saw understanding in his eyes, understanding and... fear. “He is coming? Here?” “Mr. Potter, please, there is nothing to fear. If this Voldemort does indeed intend to come here and attack us, we have plenty to fight him with.” “Do not underestimate him. Voldemort has very powerful magic at his disposal. He has a lot of nasty tricks.” Administrator Bessmertniy smiled back at him, and they all saw an intimidating sparkle in his eyes “So do we, Mr. Potter, I assure you. As an Administrator of the 30th Kingdom Magic Academy, I swear to you all that any enemy that dares come under these walls and threaten our students, will be attacked and destroyed, with every weapon at our disposal.” *** Ratibor and the other Academy boys had changed their uniforms to camouflage, standard procedure during an attack on the school, which they had drilled and rehearsed many times. The Hogwarts students were still in their regular dark outfits. As they ran down a path to the Central Square, the boys saw the whole school was assembling there. After everyone was separated by class and lined up, Head Administrator Perun directed all the pupils below Grade 10 to line up in the middle of the square. A big, shiny hole opened in the ground in front of them, and on Perun’s command, they all began marching into it. Harry asked Ratibor “Where are they going? What is that...?” “They are moving into the Shelter. It is a sort of parallel dimension the Administrators created just for this kind of situation. Everyone under the age of 16 will be hidden there until the danger has passed. The rest of us must mobilise and stand ready to defend the Island. Do not worry, my friend. We have drilled all of this many time. We receive full combat training since Grade 3, you know.” Harry could not help but be amazed and a little frightened at the display of organisation and power opening up before him. It was like these people spent their whole days just preparing for a magic war, for exactly something like this. He saw more Cyclops on duty, and they were no longer armed with silly old wooden clubs. Instead, they held sinister looking weapons, like big AK-47s, but with a horn-shaped amulet instead of a magazine. Ratibor saw him staring and whispered “MAKs, like regular AKs, but they fire explosive death spells instead of bullets. 300 per minute. One direct hit and you are gone.” On tower tops, more Cyclops manned even bigger weapons of similar design. “MKMs. High calibre machine-gun version of MAKs, essentially” said Ratibor, “Fires 800 shots per minute”. The Cyclops also worse some sort of shiny armour. “Spell-resistant, and bullet-proof”, Ratibor explained helpfully. “Leave it to you Russians to weaponize the hell out of magic...” whispered Ron Weasley next to them. Ratibor grinned back at them. Besides the Cyclops, there were huge men in knight-like armour with same sort of weapons in their hands, but also swords on their belts and big, tear-shaped red shields. “They’ve called out Bogatyri. The Oceanic Guards...” Ratibor said, whistling. Suddenly, the sky looked darker, farther away, even the sun seemed to shrink back, grow smaller and meeker. “The Cupola has been brought up”, said Ratibor. “The Cupola?” asked Harry. “Our magic shield, a protective field; very powerful, covers the whole Island. No enemy spells should be able to penetrate it.” Harry sensed pride. It was not misplaced. The Academy’s defences looked impressive indeed. Meanwhile everyone around them was putting on what looked like Kevlar body armour and solders’ helmets. They were handed those as well. “Spell-resistant also”, Ratibor told Harry who nodded and put his on. They were also given a small beacon each of a light green liquid, which everyone drank. “Devil’s Tears” said Ratibor, “Enhances our magic power and also protects from enemy spells.” That was when Pelageya and the girls made their way to the guys. She said “We are on Tower 17, all of us.” They headed to their post. Tower 17 was on the outside wall, facing east. It gave a beautiful view of the ocean. Suddenly, thousands of boats appeared west of the island. In the air above them, was a giant swarm of wizards and witches, dressed in black, flying on brooms. “Voldemort is here” said Harry. Everyone calmly readied themselves for battle. *** On the largest boat, Voldemort stood with Lucius Malfoy at his side. Malfoy spoke quickly, nervously. “My Lord, their defences look formidable. And we, it seems, don’t have the luxury of a surprise attack, as they are clearly prepared to fight with all they have. Perhaps it would be wiser, Sire, to negotiate with them instead?” Voldemort turned to him, “Negotiate?” “Yes, my Lord. Perhaps, they will simply give us Potter and his friends?” “Hmm... Very well...” *** In the sky above the Academy, an evil, noseless face appeared. It was the face of Voldemort. It spoke in a booming voice “We know your defences are powerful, you are all skilled fighters, and would make a truly worthy opponent in battle. We would like to offer a way to avoid unnecessary loss of life on both sides. Just give us Harry Potter and the other Hogwarts students, and we will leave here, forever. Your priority is to protect your own students, which Potter and the others are not. Do any of you want to die for their sake? You have one hour to decide!” Harry looked around, not knowing what to expect, but was relieved when he saw his new friends smiling at him, and Ratibor clapped him on the shoulder. Suddenly, a new face appeared in the clouds, looking down upon the enemy forces. This one belonged to Administrator Perun. His roaring voice carried across the waves as his Academy cheered “As you see, Brother, I can do this sort of cheap trick too. That is not going to scare anybody here. As for Potter and our other friends from Hogwarts, on behalf of the Administrative Council and all of 30th Kingdom Magic Arts Academy, they are our guests here, and they are under our protection for the duration of their stay. If you want to try taking them by force, please, go ahead. Be warned: we fear none, we will fight you and we will destroy you!” The walls roared with cheers, whistling, and clapping. Harry, meanwhile, felt Voldemort. He felt rage. The Dark Lord did not enjoy being humiliated in this manner. He could not help, but smile. *** Voldemort was, indeed, fuming. The Dark Lord had never been treated with such arrogance, such open lack of respect. He was used to seeing fear in people’s eyes. His name alone inspired horror. But not among these brazen warriors, it seems. Very well, they would have to be shown the error of their ways. He turned to Malfoy and commanded "Order all our forces to attack. Concentrate on the spot where you believe Potter and his friends are." Malfoy hesitated, but did not dare object "Very well, my Lord. As you wish." A voice in their minds, the Administrators telepathic communicator, instructed all to stand ready for battle. The enemy was finally coming in to engage them. As a cloud of Death Eaters came flying toward the fortress on their brooms; an armada of airborne defenders on what looked like motorcycles with steel shield-like contraptions in front, leather seats and, steering handles rose to meet them. At the head of the formation was Ratibor, who had disappeared earlier, called back by another telepathic transmission, a secret one, from Perun himself, audible only to him. Ratibor sat in a saddle atop... Goryn. The enormous five-headed monster was roaring simultaneously with all of its mouths. With a side-glance, Harry saw Pelageya squealing with pleasure at seeing her man in his full glory. Harry also saw that even the Death Eaters seemed understandably frightened of the huge beast that had suddenly appeared before them. However, they were probably frightened of Voldemort even more, so they continued their attack. The first wave of Death Eaters was quickly decimated. One of Goryn’s heads froze some with its “ice breath”. Another incinerated more with tornados of fire. Others were picked off by both the Academy fighters in the air and those on the ground. The few left turned and fled back toward their own lines; but Ratibor and his fighters chased after them, crashing head on into the main Death Eater group. That is where the real battle began. *** Ratibor was in the heart of it all. He tugged Goryn’s straps roughly, making the dragon whip around its huge, spiked tail, knocking 5 Death Eaters into the ocean and impaling another on the spikes. A spell hit him in the side, by his magic-resistant armour did its work, as Ratibor turned and fired back with an explosive spell, blowing a Death Eater to pieces. The fight raged all around him. With sadness and anger, Ratibor saw a couple Academy people he knew, get hit and knocked down into the sea, probably to their deaths. Enraged, he directed Goryn into the mass of the attackers, the beast’s five mouths spewing death and destruction and its claws and tails tearing enemies to shreds at Ratibor’s command. This was a skill he had developed earlier, controlling the dragon, becoming fused with its mind. He and Goryn were one now, a huge, powerful killing machine. The Death Eaters’ spells, lethal to a human wizard, bounced off Goryn like pebbles. They did not hurt the dragon, they only enraged it further, and Ratibor as well, by extension. Ratibor rammed one of Goryn’s massive, horned heads into a group of Death Eaters, wrecking many of their brooms, sending them crashing down to certain doom. He hurled a fire spell at one of the survivors before the young man could react, instantly engulfing him in flames. Ratibor did not care how much pain, misery, and suffering he caused these people. They came here, to attack his school, his home, to hurt and kill his friends. But he, Ratibor, will not let that stand. He will hurt and kill them back. He felt no pity, no mercy, no remorse, as he directed Goryn to grab a Death Eater in its huge clawed paws, and rip him in half. Finally, the battle seemed to be winding down. What was left of the attackers retreated to their boats, while Ratibor and the defenders were ordered to return to the fortress too. They had lost 8 good people, friends, classmates, comrades. But those ones did not die in vain, for they were well avenged. No less than 200 Death Eaters died along with them. It was a proud day for the Academy. *** Voldemort was seething. He was furious. His forces were not just beaten back; they were trounced, mowed over, demolished. It was the most humiliating experience in his very long life. For this, they will pay dearly. He, Voldemort, the Lord of Darkness, will destroy this wretched fortress; erase it from the face of the Earth and from the pages of history. Nobody shall even remember the name of 30th Kingdom Magic Academy. He turned to Malfoy "Bring all our forces here. I do not just mean the Death Eaters. Dementors, trolls, I want them all put on ships and assembled here, ready to attack." "Very well, Sire, as you wish..." *** As Ratibor climbed down from Goryn, he felt tired. Happy, victorious, but, nonetheless, very, very tired, exhausted. A firm, yet feminine arm slipped around him in support. Ratibor glanced and saw Pelageya beside him, smiling. She pulled him toward her, kissing his lips "My hero. Master of the Dragon: that is what we will call you from now on." "Please do not do that." "Oh, come... You were magnificent!" She laughed as they walked off toward the dorm houses. Behind them, their friends looked on. Ron couldn’t help but nudge Harry "Bet you wish your heroics were... appreciated this way?" "He’s earned it all though." "Sure did. Imagine, flying that thing..." Later in the evening, there was a feast in the main hall, a celebration of victory. However, everyone was still in battle gear and ready for action. They knew Voldemort was amassing his forces nearby, and they must be prepared for more assaults. They had won a battle, but not the whole war just yet. *** Voldemort, Malfoy, and several other high ranking Death Eaters assembled on the Dark Lord’s ship to plan their attack on the fortress. As angry as Voldemort still was, he was also not stupid. He saw that blind charging will not succeed against this opponent. They needed a well-thought-out, well-set-out plan. First, they had to find a way to deal with that dragon. Malfoy had ordered 20 dragons of their own brought out here. Death Eaters were training to fly them right that minute. Voldemort hoped that would be enough. Besides the dragons, they had 2,000 Dementors; 6,000 trolls and ogres; and, now, 40,000 Death Eaters assembled and ready to attack. They would, this time, attack both from the ground, landing forces on the narrow shores of the fortress; and from the air, like last time, but with the dragons at the front, in the lead. *** Even as the feast was still going, the alarm sounded, and they were ordered back to their posts, to prepare for battle. The enemy was advancing, from several fronts this time, far more numerous now, and better organized. Ten huge formations of thousands of Death Eaters on brooms each headed by 2 big, white-coloured dragons attacked from the air. At the same time, boats full of big green trolls and ogres and shadowy figures Harry said were called “Dementors” advanced toward the island from all sides. Ratibor, having rested a little, climbed back onto Goryn. As he and his fighters rose in the air, the attackers came at them from all sides. But they fought back, skilfully. Ratibor manoeuvred Goryn to ram head on into 2 enemy dragons, throwing one of their riders off. The other tried to fire a death spell at Ratibor with his wand, but the Russian warrior was faster, an explosive spark shooting from his ring, incinerating the enemy rider and sending the badly injured dragon crashing into the waters below. Meanwhile, the other dragons were either attacking the fortress or, some, heading toward Ratibor. So far, neither the dragon’s fire nor the Death Eaters’ spells were able to penetrate the Cupola. The Academy’s airborne fighters and the Death Eaters were locked in a brutal aerial battle. As Ratibor saw a burning sky-bike hurtling to the ground, the anger from the previous battle overcame him once again, and again, blind with rage, he sent Goryn chest-to-chest with an enemy dragon. The much smaller creature was sent flying backward by the blow from Goryn, its rider screaming, thrown off to his death. Ratibor did not stop there. At his direction, Goryn attacked the enemy dragon with one of its heads, the green one; its poisonous fangs biting deep into the other beast’s neck. The dying dragon went down and disappeared beneath the waves. That was when the hot blast hit him, the fire from yet another enemy dragon. 5 of them closed in on him and Goryn now. Ratibor’s armour and anti-burn magic cream saved him from the flames, though his hair was still singed, and holes burnt in his sleeves and pant legs. He ordered one of Goryn’s huge paws to swipe, hard, at the face of the other dragon, and then the blue head to fire a ray of freeze-breath at the rider. The Death Eater, now a solid block of ice, slid off the dragon and fell into the sea. *** At the fortress, the battle raged with no less intensity. The Cyclops and Bogatyri fired their MAKs and MKMs, and the others – spells from their rings, or, in Harry’s case, wands, at the attackers circling overhead on brooms and dragons. They also noticed many boats full of scary-looking green creatures (“trolls and ogres”, Harry explained) and strange, shadowy forms (“Dementors”) coming in to try to land at the fortress. Harry saw two dozen Cyclops and about eight Bogatyri take position at the portion of the outer wall right over where two of the boats were attempting to dock. From there, they blasted the boats with their MAKs. Harry saw a dead ogre, half its head blown off by the explosive spell the MAK fired, sliding overboard into the water. Another soon followed; a huge, burned hole in its chest. The others quickly took cover behind their overturned boats. Meanwhile, building-sized fireballs began to rain down onto the fortress, rippling the Cupola, though it held still. But not for long: the fireballs created holes in the protective barrier, and Death Eaters on their brooms rained down through them. When the barrier finally gave out altogether, the ogres and trolls rushed toward the wall, even as two more fell under the MAK fire; and started hammering on it with their huge wooden clubs. The Dementors remained covered behind the boats and waited. The defenders on the walls fired madly at the Death Eaters, who fired back with equal intensity. Finally, some actually landed on the walls, including where Harry and his friends stood. That was when the close combat started, wand vs. ring and hand-to-hand. The Academy students and defenders had a clear edge there. Harry watched in disbelief as Pelageya first blasted one Death Eater with a fire spell from her ring; then, as another ran toward her, leaped in the air and kicked him in the chest, his wand flying out of his hands. She then turned gracefully, delivering another savage kick, to the attacker’s head, sending him crashing off the wall. Harry saw another Eater, and quickly drew his own wand and hit him with a death spell, putting him down for good. In the corner of his eye, he watched Cyclops and Bogatyri leap off the outer wall onto the heads of the ogres and trolls who were trying to break through. The rest was a mess. The Cyclops used the butts of their MAKs as clubs, battering them into the heads of their opponents. The Bogatyri drew their short, wide swords, and one quickly chopped off a troll’s head. A Cylops fell under an ogre’s club; but another quickly avenged him. It was a battle to the death. The Dementors had joined the battle. One was quickly chopped in half by a Bogatyr’s magically enchanted and enhanced sword; but another took the warrior down with the Kiss of Death. Harry knew how dangerous the Dementors were. Suddenly, however, Goryn appeared above them, Ratibor atop it. The five heads opened up on the Dementors simultaneously, with fire, ice, poison, lightning, and hurricane ultrasound wind. Afterwards, only one determined Dementor was left standing, but it too quickly fell to a fire spell from someone on the wall. The Cyclops and Bogatyrs, meanwhile, made short work of the remaining ogres and trolls, who may have matched them in size and physical power; but were disorganised and untrained for battle. *** It felt good, first tearing to shreds two more enemy dragons and riders, and then destroying those vile dark creatures, whatever they were. After disposing of the... what did Perun call them? “Dementors” Ratibor flew Goryn back out to the sea, and rammed and overturned another boat full of disgusting ogres and trolls along the way. Through the rage though, Ratibor could feel the exhaustion coming back. He was losing focus, surrendering more control to the dragon. He knew that was not a good thing, but there was nothing he could do about it. 3 more enemy dragons flew his way; and, suddenly, a huge fireball fell out of the sky and landed right on him. Some of it even got through both the armour and the cream, burning his skin. The enemy dragons, meanwhile, attacked. Goryn, even without Ratibor’s guidance, quickly froze one with the ice breath from the blue head. As the dragon and rider, now a giant block of ice, fell into the sea with a mighty splash, Goryn had engaged the two others paw-to-paw. *** On the walls, the battle was similarly brutal. More Death Eaters had landed, engaging the defenders. A burning carcass of an ogre boat lay overturned at the beach, bloodied green corpses floating nearby. More had landed after them though. Cyclops, Bogatyri, and students fired at them from the adjacent wall, and many went down, but others got through to pound at the wall, uselessly thus far. More dementors had arrived also. Harry saw the Russians destroy them their own way: with a powerful spell that resembled a solar flare, a blinding flash of light, and the Dementor disappeared. Light always defeats darkness, of course. The battle raged all around him. Harry saw the big Siberian native Bair blast one Death Eater with fire from his ring; then rush at another, pick him up, in some sort of wrestling move, and throw him off the wall. He saw a Death Eater get one Academy defender with a death spell, but then himself be engulfed in flames from the ring of another. He saw George Weasley dodge a Death Eater’s spell, answer with one of his own, and get his man. He saw Ilya, Ratibor’s right hand, even bigger then that Bair, simply grab the wand from an Eater’s hand, break it in half, and stab each half through each of the shocked enemy’s eyes. It horrified him, for he had never seen such violence before. Similarly, he saw Pelageya attack a Death Eater from behind, slam him into the wall of a nearby tower, knee him in the groin, throw him back-first to the ground, and then calmly blow his head off with an explosive spell. Hermione came up next to him. She looked as shocked as he was "You know... I am just very grateful those guys are on our side." "Indeed..." That was when a Death Eater on his broom crashed into the wall next to them. Both Harry and Hermione barely managed to jump out of the way in time. Another Eater came up behind them, but before Harry could react, Ilya had him down with a huge kick to the midsection, then, in one quick, smooth motion, twisted and broke the man’s neck. He actually smiled, when looked up at them "Do not worry. Ratik told us, me, Pelya, and Bair there, to protect you, our English friends." Harry wasn’t sure how to answer that. Hermione did find the words "Well, thank you then." "No problem." *** Goryn was battling the two other dragons, when Ratibor saw another fireball, bigger than the last, coming toward them. At that point, he knew he had no choice. If that one got him, he was done. Ratibor pulled off his right glove, exposing three rings on his fingers. One was his own, regular ring, in the shape of a black raven. The second one was a plain, round gold band, and had engraved writings on it, in the secret language of the most ancient magic wielders of them all, the Elves. Powerful Elf elemental magic could be accessed by this ring, the forces of Fire (Life), Darkness (Death), Earth, and Sky, at his disposal. There was also a third ring, silver, with a dark stone with runes on it. This ring and its stone had a constant link with the Tikhomirov familial stone, which had stored the magic powers of every member of the clan dating back more than 1,000 years, to the time of ancient pagan Russia. When Ratibor opened his mind to the two rings, he felt power, huge, heavy, almost God-like power. Nothing could stop him now; he was undefeatable, invincible, and maybe immortal. Ratibor raised his right hand high in the air, and shouted out an Elf shield spell. The fireball, almost on them now, smashed into the counter-spell and shattered like glass. Before Ratibor could stop himself, he aimed at the nearest enemy dragon and rider, and his lips uttered another spell in the forbidden tongue of the Ancient Ones. A wall of blue fire came over the opposing wizard, and then he and his beat, only skeletons now, were falling toward the sea. The other Death Eater, fear in his eyes, turned back to flee, but it was too late. Another Elf spell, and suddenly rider and dragon became engulfed by the same blue flames, and plummeted into the sea, now just bare bones. *** Voldemort was stunned. He sensed power, enormous power, greater than even his own; ancient, older than any magic he knew of. It was the power of the Elves, he realised. But the Ancients were long gone, extinct, wiped out in bitter wars among their own rival clans. And yet here it was before him, spells forgotten for hundreds of thousands of years suddenly being used against his forces. For the first time, the Dark Lord felt frightened; but he also felt a strange excitement. If he could somehow gain control of that Elf power, he, Voldemort, the Lord of Darkness, would be truly invincible and unstoppable. He called Malfoy "Direct all our forces to attack that fellow on the dragon. And bring me our biggest, meanest beast." "You will be going to battle, Sire?" "I think the time has come for the ultimate showdown, don’t you, Malfoy? If those esteemed Administrators of theirs choose to hide behind some young boy, why, that is up to them." "Very well, my Lord." *** Everyone was attacking him now. Death Eaters came at Ratibor on all sides; but they were all no match for him and Goryn. He did not even bother using magic on the enemies, simply letting the dragon do his worst unto them. Finally, a huge enemy dragon came barrelling toward him, with a cloaked figure atop it. Not a Death Eater, someone far more powerful. But in his current state, fear did not exist inside Ratibor Tikhomirov. There was no fear, only rage. So, he directed Goryn into a counter-charge at the new opponent. Clearly, the other rider did not expect such boldness, for he had not manoeuvred in time and the two huge beasts collided in mid-air, chest-to-chest. Ratibor let loose on the enemy with all of Goryn’s five heads, and then several powerful Elf Kill-Spells that suddenly sprung from his memory. The opponent parried much of it, but was still thrown off his dragon, and would have fallen into the ocean had another enemy dragon rider not caught and saved him and quickly carried him away to safety, while Ratibor and Goryn finished off the cloaked man’s dragon, Goryn finally tearing its head off. The lifeless, headless corpse quickly sank beneath the waves. One of Goryn’s heads still held the enemy’s dragon’s head in its teeth as he flew back toward the fortress. He saw that the enemy was in a hasty, disorderly retreat. That was the last thing Ratibor saw before he blacked out. *** Ratibor awoke in a bed. Looking around, he realised he was in the Academy hospital. Pelageya was sitting on a chair next to his bed. The others sat or stood nearby too. His rings lay on the bedside table. Ratibor’s head hurt, and his muscles ached as if he’d pulled and strained every single one of them. He asked, in a weak voice “What happened?” Pelageya brushed his hair and cheeks with her soft hand, and planted a big kiss on his lips, tears of relief in her eyes. “Thank God you are alright. Goryn brought you back in, unconscious. I thought you were dying...” “Why... Did I faint or something?” Administrator Perun, walking over to the bed, answered, smiling warmly “The Ring of Elves, son: it was too powerful for you. The Elves who wore such rings were far more powerful than us, in terms of magic. That ring would have overwhelmed and killed you, if you did not also wear your family ring, which greatly amplified your power with that of all your relatives and ancestors.” “No wonder my whole body hurts...” “Indeed.” “Was it all worth it?” “Oh, yes. With your help, our forces badly mangled the enemy and forced them to withdraw and retreat.” “So, they are gone.” “No, they are still out there, on their boats, trying to decide what to do, I suppose. I think they now know they cannot take us by storm; especially since we were now able to bring the Cupola back up.” “So, what will they do then?” “Good question...” *** Voldemort watched the remains of his attack force retreating in chaos back toward the boats, in a stunned silence. He did not expect any forceful resistance today, let alone a defeat like this. No matter. Vengeance will be his. He, Voldemort, the Lord of Darkness, shall call upon every likeminded force in the world, to unite, converge upon, and crush that pathetic fortress and its foolish inhabitants who think they can openly challenge him. *** In the fortress, Perun and other Administrators were discussing the situation inside a top secret meeting chamber accessible only via a special spell. Administrator Veles was speaking. “The enemy is bringing reinforcements. More dark wizards are arriving every hour onto their boats, including followers of their Death Eater movement from all over Europe and elsewhere. They are also bringing in more ogres and trolls, as well as orcs, werewolves, and other dark creatures. They are also bringing in more dragons to restore their forces. And more of those awful Dementor creatures. They are preparing for a new attack.” Perun spoke up. “We can still take them. Our walls are thick and our fighters strong and determined. Have no fear, my brother.” Administrator Jarilo said “Don’t forget the boy, Ratibor. He is our most dangerous weapon.” “Indeed... Is he in good health?” “He is in fine shape. Good enough to go to battle.” “Very well then...” *** On the horizon, ten thousand large boats could be seen. Boats filled the view everywhere. On the largest, the command boat, Voldemort and the dozen of his most powerful Death Eaters readied themselves. Those arrogant Russians may have won a battle, but they started a war they will lose disastrously. He, the Dark Lord, will make sure of that. On his signal, Voldemort and his cohorts let out a combined spell. Fireballs rained down upon the Cupola. Within minutes it would be overwhelmed again. At the same time, dozens of their attack boats, filled with Death Eaters, ogres, and others of their forces suddenly rose up in the air and flew toward the fortress. Dementors and Death Eaters on brooms and dragons flew alongside them. More boats moved in on the water. It was a beautiful sight. *** In the hospital, Ratibor was getting dressed, when the attack alarm sounded. Pelageya, still sitting with him, jumped up as Ilya ran in, followed by Harry and Hermione. “The enemy, they are attacking again!” Ratibor headed for the door. “I must get Goryn.” But Pelageya caught him by waste, wrapping her hands around him and kissing his lips. “No! This time, I ride with you!” Ratibor looked into her eyes and saw hard determination combined with a burning love. All he could do was nod. They ran out the door hand in hand. Harry shook his head in wonder, and probably a little envy. He wished he had a girl like that... Hermione must have read his thoughts, as she rolled her eyes while pulling him along. “Come on then, don’t just stand there! Didn’t you hear? We are under attack!” “Right...” *** The enemy’s plan was very simple: as soon as the Cupola, again, fell under Voldemort’s fire, their attacking forces would storm in from the water and the sky and overwhelm their defenses. The reality was a bit different. Two of the boats were downed right away; exploding from the defenders’ firebomb spells. The others did reach their destination, but by the time they did, several were full of corpses, as the defenders, protected by specially designed sections of their wall, peppered them with death spells from their rings or magic guns. The out of control boats crashed into the walls of the fortress, shattering into splinters and spilling bodies into the sea. More came after them though, and attackers spilled onto the walls. More were landing from the sea and preparing to either blast through or scale the walls. Harry, Ron, and Hermione ended up in one of the “hot zones”, where the fighting was heaviest and bloodiest. Academy students not only used their rings, they drew short, dagger-like swords as well, and wielded them with skill. Hermione watched as a young man in the Academy uniform attacked a Death Eater who’d just landed. Before the man knew it, the Academy boy chopped off his hand that held the wand; then, in a spin, cut through his right leg; and then, with the Death Eater kneeled in front of him, hacked off his head. The three friends also saw Ratibor’s teammate Ilya emerge into the battle, dressed in a mesh/plate suit of armor, with a heavy shield in one hand and a huge battle axe in another. He quickly swung his weapon into the side of an attacking troll, and then, dodging its own enormous wooden club, stepped around the beast, and axed it in the back this time, severing its spine. He then shoved the dying troll off the wall and went on, chopping an unsuspecting Death Eater in half from behind. Another managed to fire off a spell at him, which he deflected with the shield, shooting off one of his own from the ring on his axe hand. The Death Eater was suddenly engulfed in flames and jumped off the wall into the sea. Just then, an enemy spell whizzed toward them. Harry managed to draw his own wand and counter it just in time. Hermione and Ron drew their wands as well, and fired back at the Death Eater, throwing him off the wall as well. Somebody patted Harry on the back. It was the Mongol-like Bair Badenov. He grinned and shouted “Not bad! Maybe you will all be worth something in battle after all!” and then moved fast as lightning, one hand gripping an elegant bow, the other grabbing and shooting arrows with superhuman speed in the direction of incoming enemies on the beach under their section wall. Each arrow magically turned into ten of them, so that a swarm of them rained down upon the three boatfuls of trolls and two of Death Eaters that had just arrived there. Five Eaters and a troll fell immediately; while others overturned their boats to use for cover. Two other boys had joined Bair. They looked just like him, his triplet brothers, realised Hermione. They too had whipped out their bows and were sending clouds of arrows at the enemy. One fired up at the sky, and a Death Eater fell off his broom, no less than five arrows pierced through his body. The boys’ arrow bags must have been enchanted too, since they never ran out of arrows. The three brothers whispered a spell in their native Buryat and their arrows turned to flaming projectiles as they flew toward the enemy hidden under their wooden boats. As the several dozen fiery arrows hit, the boats went up in flames. Ron grabbed his friends and pointed excitedly. Not far from them, three enemy flying boats approached a section of the wall. Just then, Goryn rose from behind the wall to meet and greet them, Ratibor riding atop him, Pelageya tightly gripping his waist with one hand while blasting away at the enemy with her ring on the second, right one. Goryn hit one boat bodily; his powerful, clawed paws breaking it apart, Death Eaters sent flying in all directions. Pelageya brought down another Death Eater on a second boat, with a spell; while Goryn’s blue head blasted that boat with his freezing breath. The boat, now a solid chunk of ice, crashed down into the water below. Meanwhile, Goryn’s red head spat fire at the third boat, which was bigger than the first two and full of trolls. Some, burned by the flames, jumped out into the sea, only to drown. Meanwhile, two flying boats full of Death Eaters, and a cloud of Dementors were coming their way. Harry yelled out an alarm, but saw the others around them were already prepared. The Buryat triplets unleashed their arrows upon the enemy boats. Meanwhile, Harry, Hermione, and Ron raised their magic wands in unison and shouted “Expecto-Patronum!” There was a flash of blinding white light and the Dementors were gone. The battle was in full swing. From the boats, a Death Eater let loose with a spell that knocked Bair Badenov off his feet. Hermione saw he was clearly injured, bleeding from the ears and nose as he tried to get back up. She rushed over and grabbed his hands, and began dragging him to safety inside, as his brothers nodded gratefully. They turned to the attacking boats, and suddenly Harry saw a sight he never glimpsed before. Their eyes, momentarily full of vengeful rage, were suddenly filled with orange fire. They raised their hands, palms out, and growled something in their native language, an ancient spell. Suddenly, a bird-like figure composed of the same fire as that which glowed in their eyes, appeared and fell upon one of the boats. Screams of Death Eaters filled the air around them and so did the acrid scent of burning human flesh. That spell, or whatever it was, took a lot out of them however, Harry could clearly see that. Their breathing was labored, heavy sweat rolled down their faces, and their hands were shaking like those of old men. And many more enemies were advancing upon the fortress, in the air and on water. Just then, Perun’s voice boomed in their minds. “Everyone is to retreat off the outer walls. I repeat, full retreat from the outer walls. We will use defense strategy number nine.” Confused, Harry and Ron moved inward with the others. Ron was shaking his head. “What’s this ‘defense strategy number nine’?” Chingiz Badenov, one of the Buryat triplets, who was walking next to them, explained. “There are too many of them for us to hold them out here, at least without large losses on our side, which is what the Administrators want to avoid. Instead, we will draw them in, to their deaths. This whole place is designed to help us defend it and to hurt anybody trying to attack or invade. If they go in with us, it will be hopeless for them.” *** Voldemort saw, with satisfaction, his forces finally taking over the outer walls of the fortress. The Dark Lord wasn’t stupid, and he knew it was not yet time to celebrate; the battle was not nearly won. However, the fact that he was now able to make the arrogant swine retreat improved his mood greatly. *** The fighting in the stairwell was brutal, mostly for the enemy. Chingiz was right: the fortress was built to aid in its own defense. The spiral stairwell was no exception. As they moved downward, there were triangular barriers growing out of walls, which offered perfect cover to defenders and disappeared as they moved on. By the time they reached the bottom, the force of Death Eaters who’d followed them into the stairwell was reduced by no less than a third, with only a couple additional wounded on their side. But more invaders were coming on the heels of their comrades, they all knew that. They had to keep moving, fast. They rushed out from the tower and into a thick forest. Death Eaters and trolls chased after them. As they ran, occasionally firing back, Harry saw the branches of the trees grow and expand, enveloping and strangling their attackers one by one. Defending themselves, the Death Eaters responded with fire spells, setting some trees aflame. Chingiz turned and released five arrows toward them, which then turned into 50. Six Death Eaters fell, pierced through-and-through. Another turned to fire back at them, but branches wrapped around him, pulling him, screaming, up and out of sight. Harry and his new friends ran on. Something else nagged at him. “Say,” he asked a Russian girl jogging next to him, “where are all those Cyclops and those giant knights of yours? Why aren’t they fighting with us?” “They are all in the middle area, defending our houses.” Harry understood what she meant. He saw the layout of the fortress before. There were two huge citadels, and a smaller keep; one big one on the right side, where most of the classes were held; and the keep where the hospital was; the other – where the Administrators were based, and where the Grand Hall was located, where all the important events took place. Between them, was a vast middle area in which all the little houses for students were located. Once the enemy made it over the outer wall, the houses were vulnerable unless specifically defended. Still, it was going to be hard to take on those trolls without them. Just then, one charged at them through the trees, torn branches hanging off him, and one of Chingiz’s arrows sticking out of what used to be his right eye. Chingiz went to draw another arrow; but Ilya was already in motion, colliding with the troll head-on. He must have had some giants in his ancestry, for he was only a bit smaller then the troll, and seemingly just as strong. He was also much better armed. The troll’s wooden club bounced off harmlessly from Ilya’s shield, while his battle ax chopped deep into the monster’s leg, right at the knee. As the troll fell to a kneel, Ilya finished him with a brutal chop to the head. They could hear the roars of more trolls coming toward them... *** Hermione had just led Bair to the hospital when she heard the retreat order. The head healer, Yaga, told her to stay. The enormous steel doors of the hospital slammed shut, with several dozen heavy deadbolts falling across them. Inside, the six gigantic stone Titan statues that were “holding” the ceiling before, now came to life, and stood on guard at the doors. Across the hallways, the internal doors closed too. They were also heavy steel, with a mighty deadbolt. And Yaga and her assistants, along with Hermione, quickly assembled a barricade in front of it. Looking up through the narrow, reinforced windows, Hermione could see large men in combat armor pacing on the battlements of the hospital keep, the “Bogatyri”, as their hosts called them. A young man with a face familiar to her came to stand alongside her. She realised it was Ratibor’s friend and teammate Mikola Bulba. He was a tall, muscular boy, with blue eyes, and a bald head, save for a flock of brown hair that hung over his forehead. Pelageya told her earlier it was a Cossack haircut. Mikola, she said, was a proud Cossack. Today, he also carried a short, curved sabre on his belt, and a shorter dagger. Cossack weapons, Hermione realised. She had done research on Mikola’s people, wanting to learn more about him, especially after Pelageya told her he liked her. Now glancing over at him, Hermione felt her face reddening: she seemed to have an effect on Slavic men, first Viktor Kram, now this guy. Mikola was smiling back at her. “Who would have thought we’d end up in here together, yes?” “Yeah... What a coincidence...” “Not coincidence. Magic... Fate...” “You think?” “I know.” Suddenly, he drew her closer, and their lips locked passionately. “Ekh-khem...” It was Yaga, her hands on her hips, gazing at them with a sardonic-sort of disapproval in her eyes. “May I remind you two lovers that we are under siege here? Afterward, you can find yourselves a room, if you wish, but right now, we need you.” *** Ratibor and Pelageya cruised atop Goryn above the middle area. Their job was to act as air support and help the Cyclops and bogatyri protect the student houses. Several dozen Tibidokhs sky-bikers were in the air along with them. They engaged enemy broomstick and dragon flyers and also firebombed Death Eaters and trolls who’d landed on the walls. Two enemy dragons rushed at them. Pelageya dispatched one of the riders with a death spell from her ring; while Ratibor froze the other for eternity with Goryn’s ice breath. Looking toward the Great Forest, Ratibor saw, with sadness, and anger, that it was burning. He knew it would quickly grow back later, but, still, he thought it a travesty to burn such a natural wonder, one of the symbols of Tibidokhs. Enraged, he sent Goryn into a dive in that direction. *** There were five trolls coming at them. Harry could also smell smoke and burning wood. The enemy were burning their way through the forest. Suddenly, a huge shape was hurtling through the air above them: Goryn, with Ratibor and Pelageya saddled on top. Each of Goryn’s huge paws grabbed a troll and bashed them together, again and again, pounding their heads to mush. Ilya chopped another troll across the stomach with his axe, killing it too. Another fell with three or four of Chingiz’s arrows sticking out of its chest, throat, and head. Harry, recalling how he had defeated a troll once before, used a Levitus spell to tear the club from the hands of the last troll, before a sword, hurled by one of the Tibidokhsians, buried itself in its throat. The troll gurgled, blood pouring from the wound in its neck and its mouth, and went down to the ground. But, more enemies were coming their way, burning through the Great Forest. Ratibor sent a few fireballs and ice rays from Goryn’s heads in the attackers’ direction, but he heard telepathic communication in his head, that he was badly needed elsewhere, so, had to fly off. They were on their own. Harry saw hundreds of Death Eaters and dozens of trolls now coming toward them, battling through the trees that tried to grab them, setting them ablaze. Ilya shouted “Quickly, let’s go! We must retreat to the Blue Lake.” Harry and Ron had no idea what he was talking about, but ran along with their Russian friends. They reached the lake soon enough. Ilya commanded “Into the water, jump, quickly now!” They did. Harry saw Death Eaters running out of the trees, following them, as they rushed across the lake. As the Death Eaters, and a couple trolls, waded into the water after them, suddenly, figures began rising from the bottom of the lake. Mermaids and murkily-transparent creatures the Russians called vodyanye. All were armed with harpoon-like weapons. They impaled Death Eaters, one by one, before the enemy realised what was happening. A dozen Eaters were dead over next couple minutes. Chingiz took out five more with his arrows. Harry saw one of the Russians fall beside him, from an enemy death spell. The others fired back. From their wrists, suddenly expanded heavy round shields; those apparently were magic resistant, and protected them from enemy spells. As the two forces came together, the battle turned, once again, to hand-to-hand combat, and the Tibidokhians, once more had the clear advantage. They, once again, drew their short swords, and went to work, chopping, slashing, stabbing, and smashing the Death Eaters. One of the trolls fell with three harpoons sticking out of its stomach. Another batted a mermaid aside with its club, but more came up behind it, driving their harpoons into its huge back. *** Jinny Weasley and Cho Chang ended up with another group of Tibidokhsians. They all rushed into a short but wide tower that served, they were told, as the Tibidokhs Armory. There were suits of armor lining the walls all around them, armed to the teeth with swords, axes, spears, daggers, crossbows and vicious looking maces and clubs. More such weapons hung on walls. As Death Eaters poured in after them, the suits of armor suddenly sprang to life and attacked. The Eaters’ magic was seemingly powerless against the suits, which speared and cut them down, or shot them with their crossbows. The Tibidokhians pitched in, sending death curses at the Eaters with their rings, or grabbing crossbows off the walls and raining arrows upon them. The crossbows were magic too, never running out of arrows. A new arrow always appeared in place of the one shot out. Soon, the floor of the Armory was littered with black-cloaked corpses of Death Eaters. Many of those still alive were wounded and they were running back for the exit doors. *** Voldemort saw his forces were taking huge losses, and saw no reason to waste any more of his Death Eaters. He gave the order to pull back, and secure the outer wall. Meanwhile, He had tens of thousands of orcs, truly vile creatures, brought in as the battle raged. They were plentiful and expendable. It was them that the Dark Lord now ordered unleashed into the castle. *** Ratibor and Pelageya hurtled through the air atop Goryn, knocking Death Eaters down from the outer wall as they went. The Eaters were clearly more used to performing aerial assaults than defending against them, and were suffering more losses as a result. Most simply rushed into the towers and huddled there, hoping for safety under the roof. Then, he saw more flying boats, filled with dark, disgusting-looking creatures armed with swords, spears, axes, and crossbows, approaching the wall from all sides. Ratibor sent Goryn swooping down on one boat and forcing it down and into the water, where most of the creatures quickly drowned, and Pelageya fired deadly spells at those still trying to swim. Other boats arrived safely though, and countless thousands of orcs began making their way down the towers and into the castle. Most of the remaining trolls and ogres were sent to battle along with them. They were met by the Academy’s various defenders, including Cyclops and bogatyri, students, vodyanye, mermaids, fighting trees, warrior statues along pathways, which sprang to life and attacked, etc. Everything in the castle was going to battle against the invaders. The orcs who descended into the Great Forest were attacked not only by trees, statues, and human defenders, but also strange part-bear part-tiger creatures, and other with tiger and wolf features, and those with parts of wolf and bear. The Forest was also full of cleverly hidden deadly booby traps, which were also magically enchanted to only work against the invaders, so the defenders could move past them safely. In half an hour, half the orcs were dead. Many others were wounded and out of action. Those who could still move fled back up the outer wall. The enemy’s advance was, once again, stalled. Meanwhile, Ratibor and Pelageya, astride Goryn, continued to harass the enemy on that wall, knocking them off, killing them with spells, frying, freezing, or poisoning them with Goryn’s various mouths. They kept on flying circle after circle above the wall, inflicting round after round of casualties upon the enemy. They were now aided by a dozen sky-bikers, plus bogatyri firing their magic AKs and PKs at the enemy on the wall, from the towers inside the fortress. The enemy was being decimated. *** Voldemort was furious. His forces were unable to overcome the defenders inside the fortress. In fact, they were barely hanging on up on the outer wall. Malfoy spoke up suddenly "Do not despair, my Lord. We can still turn this around." "What's that, Malfoy?" "There is away, Sire. My son is inside the castle even now. I've been in communication with him this whole time. He has learned a way deep inside, past their defences. We can strike at the heart of the enemy, Sire, at their so-called Administrators." "Hmm. Good. Get on with it then." He, the Lord of Darkness, shall have his victory yet.