It is never quiet here. Tranquility is disturbed by the clucking of chickens or the screech of a hippogriff. In the yard, all manner of creatures are kept penned and quartered in their stalls or the corrals. Unsurprisingly, there is a strong stink of manure in the air. Several small buildings and silos of stone with roofs of thatched straw flank the barn. Constructed from rough-hewn logs, river stones and slate tiles, it is deceptively small on the outside, but enchanted to distort space and easily accommodate all of the animals within.
Cooler weather and frequent rains have brought green back to the barnyard, and the grass grows as quickly as the animals can graze. The scent of fresh-cut hay is strong within the barn's loft, where it is being stored for the coming winter.
Night has fallen, and the skies are dark and deep. All that stirs now are the nocturnal creatures, and in general, they tend to resemble long, slinking shadows. A chilly wind blows from the west, driving dark clouds before it and blotting out the stars in patches overhead.
Classes have been progressing as per normal for the students of Care of Magical Creatures. They have their own projects according to their year. For the younger students, there are fairies and imps to study. For the older ones, there are hippogriffs. Today, however, a general class has been called. There are hives set up around one of the empty paddocks, where there were once lots of nettles. Professor Hunter stands about at the gate to said paddock, tucking a pair of work gloves into a pocket of his coat.
She has to get back to the castle post haste, but Chase Drake hasn't forgotten something. She carries something with her, covered in cloth as she walks closer towards the Barnyard. Hopefully Professor Hunter doesn't mind the short-notice visit, but with the war in full swing and everything going crazy in the Order, she didn't have time to send her notes as always. She was just glad RCMC was willing to release the specimen to Hogwarts School.
That and the kids would probably like it.
She emerges from the other side of the school, wearing her trench-cloak with the collar turned up, and pausing at the fringes. She already knows she's interrupting, she doesn't want to just -barrel in there- like a mad rottweiler.
Gerry is here. She comes running, earrings swinging. She couldn't have dropped this class for all her talk. She loves Professor Hunter like an uncle too much.
John has yet to decide whether his choice to take this class was a good one or not. Sure, the animals are interesting, especially considering his lack of experience with magical ones, but they are a bit messy to deal with. Wandering down to join the rest of the class with Professor Hunter, he fixes his eyes on the teacher and waits for the lesson to begin.
Jeremy is in his OWL year, so he's all excited and ready to learn more about magical creatures! Bouncing into the scene, he looks about eagerly for whatever glumbumbles are. "Hi Professor Hunter!" he exclaims, and you can probably /imagine/ little flowers and smiley faces dancing around him because of how darn happy he is. Chase is blinked at, however. Who's that?
Selina wishes to join you. Type +bring within the next five minutes to teleport her to your location.
Briar is looking a bit more peeved than she usually does. Perhaps it's the couple of students making their way in front of her gossiping about the latest lakeside gossip that has her agitated. "Idiots." Is a whispered hiss as she brushes past the few gossiping students to get to class faster. Once there she gives a smile to Professor Hunter and tries to get a peek at what today's lesson might be on.
Seeing the kids coming on up, Hunter looks up and smiles. "Good afternoon!" he says brightly, and in drawing breath, he stops short to stare at this very tall student approaching. Wait, she's not a student at all. "It's.... Miss Drake," he says after a moment. He never forgets such a pretty face as that! Clearing his throat again, he waves his hands at the kids, and he gestures towards the hives. "Today, kids, we're going to be beginning a year-long project. Glumbumbles. Miss Drake, this is quite a surprise. Is there something I can do for you?"
"I'm a delivery girl today, Professor Hunter," Chase laughs, walking closer to where his class is convening. "Hi kids. This isn't exactly official auror business, but it's a little related. You see, Professor Hunter helped us all on a very big, and very important case. In fact if it wasn't for him, many more people could've died. Soooooooooooooo." She sets the squarish, covered object down on a nearby table. "The MLE pulled some strings with the RCMC and we managed to release a very special specimen, taken from the very case Professor Hunter helped us out with, for study exclusively for the Hogwarts School."
John's eyes turn to the hives when the subject of Glumbumbles is mentioned. He has no idea what those are, but from his curious expression, he clearly wants to find out. But his interest is somehow diminished when this woman, Chase, plays the suspence card. He glances her way eagerly.
Selina sits and watches the covered object with expection. Hopefully she wil like the animals under the cover.
That cage clearly has the professor intrigued. He steps forward and rests a hand on top of it, smiling at the lady Auror, before he bends to pluck up a corner of the cover for a peek inside. "I feel like a kid at Christmas," he says cheerfully. "What is this?"
"Can't be very big, if it can be carried in that little cage. So I'm guessing it's not a Hippogryff or Chimera or Sphinx." Jeremy giggles.
Chase grins and gestures for the professor to go ahead. And once he does? He'll find...
A little wire cage. And inside? Is a cute feathery ball of golden fluffness...that zips around the cage spastically. Light. GLORIOUS LIGHT. Eh? Where is this?
The Snidget, an endangered creature, extremely rare, and the reason why Quidditch is Quidditch in the first place, pauses for a moment on its perch....and starts zipping around spastically again.
Why is Cormic here? Cause he can be here! He's watching, and all kinds of curious. Blinking owlishly at Chase as she arrives, and then peeeeeeering towards the cage. Then he blinks once, then blinks again. "Oh...wow..." He murmurs under his breath as the Snidget is revealed.
"Oh /wow/," Geraldine says, her eyes flying wide. Pause. Beat. "Finally, something /cute/ in Creatures Class."
"CUUUUTE!" Jeremy squeals. Judging by his expression, he wants to grab it and hug it! Which is probably why it's endangered in the first place. Jeremy's pretty much a snidget himself, the little spazz.
Hunter draws away the cover and steps back, eyes wide. He holds his breath in his throat, staring at the Snidget the way a man might stare at something as glorious as the keys to a Corvette being pressed in his hand. "Holy.... Merlin on a pogo stick," he breathes. Very gently he lifts the cage, and he turns to present the Snidget to the class. "Boys and girls, I'd like you to meet.... Jalepeno." Yes, he's got a /name/ for this little guy already. "You all recognise what this is, yes?"
Selina looks at the cage and smiles "It is so cute but I am not sure what it is.
John cocks an eyebrow in Jeremy's direction at the outburst, but he can't fault the boy. Fixing his eyes on the little creature, he edges closer to get a better look. But he shakes his head slowly, having no idea what it might be.
"Dude. That's -awesome-," Ana murmurs, nudging at Cormic. "I thought they were all -dead-," she whispers at him. Yes, she's here as well. Watching.
The Enforcer grins, and claps Hunter lightly on the shoulder. "Enjoy. And thanks again for all your help," she murmurs. She waves to the kids in class, before she starts to head out. Time to save the world.
He's so excited and gleeful he has to set down the cage again, looking apt to start jumping up and pumping a fist in the air. Hunter manages, somehow, to contain himself. "This, ladies and gentlemen, is called a Snidget. This little bird is the reason why we have Quidditch..." He pauses to look up at Chase and smile brilliantly at her, saying fervently, "Thank /you,/ Miss Drake. I'll be in touch later!" Then he looks back, continuing his lecture. "They are extremely agile, extremely fast, and extremely rare. Nearly brought to extinction because of all of the Quidditch games, it took the work of... oh blimey, some Wizard's name I've forgotten, to enchant an artificed substitute that we still use today."
"Bowman Wright!" Jeremy pipes up immediately, being a bit of a birdlover. He stares at the bird with a look of GLEE on his face!
"No no, there just endangered!" Cormic whispers back towards Ana, his eyes still fixed on the little spaztic bird. He blinks once, then again. "...Jalepeno?" Thats a wieeeeeeeerd name. Thats alright then. Hunter is wierd.
"....damn. That's not even right," Ana comments to Cormic. "You mean they batted these little fluffballs around?" She plays Quidditch. She knows Quidditch is a violent sport. She visualizes dozens of Jalapenos getting salsa'd by hungry beaters, and turns a little gray on the face. "Th...those bastards~!" Twitch. Twitch. Absorbed in her own imagination.
Hunter points at Jeremy. "That's the bloke. He's got his own Chocolate Frog card if I remember rightly. Two points, Mr. Pritchett, and let this be a lesson to the rest of you to study your choccie frog cards more." After setting down that cage quite gently, he claps his hands and rubs them in glee. "But! Today's lesson will be on glumbumbles, so let me go ferry this little bugger off to the barn, and when I come back, we'll be discussing our new project." He gently hoists up the little Snidget again, preparing to go walking quickly away to get the birdie into the warmth of the barn.
YOU BETTER BE GLAD YOU GOT THAT ONE TOO HUNTER. DRAKE SAD FACED FOR IT!
Briar comments dryly towards Ana leaning against a paddlock post, seemingly not in the good mood she usually is in in this class. "Not batted. Just -squeezed- to death. You seen how Snitches are treated? You snatch any bird out of the air and it's going to be injured or dead. Ala these birds are nearly extinct. Got to love being human at times like this? We're lucky the Giants haven't come up with a game where humans are the Snidgets."
Selina watches as the professor puts the cage away. "You mean they used to chase those birds and catch them like we do with a snich now? I can see why they are almose extinct.
John looks disappointed when Hunter takes the Snidget away, but only because he has no idea what on Earth a glumbumble is. After eyeing his classmates briefly for some clue, he then returns to waiting for Professor Hunter to return, trying to contain his impatience at learning what this seemingly interesting project is going to be about.
Jeremy looks briefly unhappy when the Snidget is taken away, but that wasn't what they were learning about today anyway. "Yeah, those mean Quidditch players! Snidgets are really friendly to people too I read!"
It doesn't take Hunter long. He sets the cage down in his office and figures Jalapeno will be all right till the end of class. Back he comes, striding across the barnyard with his coat billowing out behind him and a cheesy grin on his face. "All right, class, are we ready to learn about some /GLUMBUMBLES?/" He says this like it's the greatest thing in the world and should be accompanied by a roar and more fist-pumping. Yeah, getting a Snidget has made him exuberant as a little kid. "Now, who can tell me something about these things?"
Anything with the word 'glum' in it cannot be as much fun as a snidget. And Molly would have been careful! She raises her hand when the real lesson starts though. "They're either insects or mold, I get them confused with the other thing."
"They're furry insects, the mold is bundimun." Jeremy tells Molly helpfully. "The glumbumbles cause melancholy." Jeremy nods sagely. He's superexcited when it comes to animals.
"No no, it was a snitch, not a bludger, they didn't get splatted!" Cormic says, patpating Ana's had as he tries to reasure his friends. "But its not like that anymore." He blinks then before looking back towards Hunter. What the hell is a Glumbumbles? Is it cute. ...no...prolly not.
Selina stands and listens as an answer is given by Jeremy. She is not sure she wants to see what a grumbumble is.
"Right again, Mr. Pritchett! Take another two points for yourself." Hunter points at Jeremy, then turns to face the hives that are in the paddocks. "Glumbumbles are grey, fuzzy insects that resemble bees, save for their colour and extremely slow speed. They take over honeycombs, and the fluid they make produces melancholy, which is an excellent antidote to the hysteria brought on by alihotsy leaves. For the next year, kids, you are going to be bee-keepers! The student who...."
This is where Christopher Hunter trails off into an uncertain and uneasy silence. In the distance, just over the horizon at the gates, he can see something not-right. Something black, heavy, and creepy. A very dense, thick, black fog.
Geraldine looks up and up as well, frowning. "That...doesn't look like a raincloud." She stares around. "What do you want me to do Professor?" She now enters full on Prefect mode.
Quany has been here. Really! Just quiet. Quany looks up at the darkness when Hunter goes quiet. Well, if the darkness keeps them from having to be bee-keepers? Quany is totally and utterly for it! BRING ON THE BLACK THUNDERCLOUDS! Oh, wait. Those might be bad thunderclouds....
Jeremy blinks at the cloud. "That was...kinda sudden. I didn't know clouds could form that fast."
At least they're not raising mold. Molly follows Hunter's gaze to the fog and stands up facing it. "We should probably get inside the barn, it's closer than the castle." If it's rain, they'll be dry. If it's not, they'll have defendable position.
John seems less than impressed with the description of the glumbumbles, but only because his attention is fixed on the black fog in the horizon. "Do glumbumbles do that?" he asks quietly, wondering if this is a part of the lesson.
"...um...is something wrong Professer?" Cormic asks as his eyes widen and he looks from Hunter too the way that he's stareing. Um. Thats just not right is it. He takes a step back, not really realising he's doing it. "...maybe...we should go back inside the castle..."
Selina looks in the direction that everyone else is and stares."i don't think Grumbumbles can do something like that." Looking at the professor she askes with a smal;l voice "What do we do Professor?
Hunter stares at the darkness a moment longer. Barn is closer, but.... "No, that's not normal. Looks like class is cancelled, boys and girls. We're going back to the castle, right now, where the protections are stronger. Right now!" He reaches into a pocket to draw his wand, sending off a silver Messenger Spell dart up to the castle, where it's going to make its way straight to Dumbledore.
The darkness catches those eagle eyes, Ana whirling around and looking up to see darkness start clouding over the sky. That? Is not normal. "....Cormic, Quany..." she whispers to her fellow yearmates. And then? She doesn't waste much time. She tries to grab both boys's hands, and starts booking it for the castle.
Dumbledore is working on something in his office when the silver messenger spell reaches him. He listens, and calmly stands up, sending other silver messages to the rest of the faculty - one to a certain resident ritualist in particular.
John frowns at the dark mass outside the Hogwarts grounds, suddenly worried as he realizes that this is not a part of the class. He hesitates momentarily though, staring at the fog with fascination, wondering just what it is.
"Accio broom! Accio broom! Accio broom!" Geraldine starts summoning all the school brooms from the shed. She tosses them to the other kids. " Lets go," she says. "These will be faster! Briar, help me get brooms to everyone!"
"The school?" Jeremy asks in a small voice, eying the cloud, then he starts pushing some of the kids schoolwards. Well, at least he's not freaking out and running screaming to the school like he might've a previous year. Wow, even Jeremy grows up eventually, even though he still looks like a first year.
Selina grabs a broom as it is handed to her and rides it toward the school making sure that everyone has a broom before she takes off. "Lets get there as fast as we can.
You don't have too tell Cormic twice! He's alright running right towards the castle. He'll grab the broom though, that makes him go faster. Faster. Faster. Must go faster!
Quany resists Ana a bit and grabs an extra broom to toss to Ana. "Take this!" he calls to the girl. Then? He's zipping off to the castle. WHOOOSH!
Briar nods to Gerry and she moves to tuck her wand into her braid it looks sort of like a plume-less war feather stuck in her braid like that and sort of conveyer belt like she takes a broom from Gerry and starts to help pass them out. "Go. Go. Go." She's staying pretty calm but her eyes are always on that cloud.
When those brooms come zipping around, Hunter catches a couple to pass off to the kids. "As fast as you can! Go!" He stops short for a moment, turning to stare back mournfully at the barn with all of those Creatures inside. Then he steps towards them, and after a sharp breath, he looks back over his shoulder. "Mercedes! See to all the kids! Get them inside!" He's going back for his Jalapeno.
The archer snags the broom, getting on it and trying to yank Cormic on the broom with her if he hasn't gotten a spare broom yet. And then? Ana takes off after Quany, yelling at every kid she finds along the way. "GET INSIDE! GET INSIDE!"
"Right!" Geraldine gets on her own broom, taking up the rear. She flies after the kids, all the way to the castle.
John finally pulls his eyes away from the fog with the realization that everyone is running. With a gasp, he takes off as well, tearing off towards the castle.
Jeremy grabs a broom and FLIES AWAY OMG!
Molly jumps astride a broom, wishing for one newer than she is. Hunter's voice causes her to look back and she yells while zooming off, "Summon it, don't run all the way back there!"
Briar eyes go a bit wild as she realizes something and just before she mounts up onto her own reserved broom she calls to the professor. "Turn them loose Professor, it's what's done during a hurricane in the States!" She herself seems to be sticking around to help him do what ever he decides to do with the animals. But at least she's going to makes sure that they save, "The Snidget!"
"Go to the castle!" Hunter roars, turning to look back over his shoulder at any kids that remain. "STOP WORRYING ABOUT ME AND THE CREATURES. GO!" He has a rawr face on. He really means it.
A crackling sound is heard as the PA microphone is turned on.
Gerry announces over the PA: "All students make their way inside the castle. All students should make their way inside of Hogwarts Castle."
The silence is deafening as the PA is turned back off again.
As cavernous as any gothic cathedral, the entry hall of Hogwarts castle stretches out across a broad space, and its lofty ceiling cannot be clearly seen through the murk and gloom of shadows. The chill of grey stone predominates, from its smooth walls to its highly polished floor of marble. Numerous doors and archways branch away into other sections of the castle, and the east wall is dominated by a wide, sweeping staircase which leads up to the first floor.
Though solemn, the spacious chamber is not without colour or warmth. Polished suits of armour stand at attention in various locations, given to creaking with occasional movement. Four banners hang from the walls, each emblazoned with the colours and emblems of the House it represents. There are no windows, save for one, and so light comes from an abundance of brasiers and torches mounted in wall brackets.
Massive double doors of heavy, carved oak dominate the west wall. Above them is the only window in the hall - an elegant circle of stained glass. Little of its glory can be seen, for the night has reduced it to a mess of darkened colours.
The double doors of the castle burst open, Ana speeding in with Quany and Cormic. Her eyes are wide, her heart is thundering in her chest. What's happening? What were those things? She practically leaps from the broom and grabs her wand, spinning around to point it towards the door. She's scared. She's shaking. But damn it, she'll cover her classmates if ....whatever it is tries to get them!
Jeremy is like a millimeter behind the trio of third years, and he jumps off to the side, still gripping the broom in one hand. "What do we do now?!" he exclaims. "Should we go get the professors?!"
"Everybody calm down, line up, and wait for the professors to arrive and give us some instruction!" Gerry calls, once they're in the entry hall. "Organize yourselves by House in case they just want us to get to the common room."
Professor Christopher Hunter comes striding into the castle carrying a covered birdcage in one hand, looking more than a trifle worried as he glances over his shoulder. Somewhere out there, in the courtyard, there are a bunch of loosed creatures now being herded around by Hagrid to somewhere safer. "Let's keep calm now!" he calls out, as he starts to walk amongst the students. "Do as Mercedes says! Get together with your house, keep quiet, keep calm! Everything is under control!" God, he hopes.
Cormic is rather quiet here as he glances back towards the entrance. He's not shaking though, mostly because Ana is scared, therefor he /can't/ be scared. Thats just how it works isn't it. If one is scared, the other isn't allowed too be. He just nods towards Hunter solemly as he looks up towards the Professer.
Geraldine heads over to Ana and puts a hand on her shoulder. "Ana. Please," she says softly. "He'll be safe, and you'll be safe, but right now we really need you to line up and wait for some instructions." She looks down into the younger girl's eyes. "Come on. You have to have organization in a crisis."
Professor Cressman comes down the stairs in the entry hall and looks at all the gathered students. There is a look of panic in hsi eyes, however he does his best to pass it off and be a professional here. Making his way to Hunter he speaks in a low voice. "WHat the bloody hell is that?" He only saw it rolling in from the classroom above.
Tyler makes his way through the crowd of students to stand silently at Professor Hunter's side. Chewing absently on his lip for a moment before taking not of the action and abruptly ceasing it, he looks up at the man silently as if waiting for instructions.
And there it was. The mirror. Logan was already eyeing the darkness with a scrutinizing glare just as the mirror rings. He picks it up, and looks surprised. "....Soong...?"
He pauses, letting his partner tell him something.
The doors slam open, and he's running down the stairs, wand out and looking about to kill something. Worth. Worth was BACK. Which means the thing speeding towards the castle? Is alive somehow. And going back to the discussion he had with the kids the other day, the protections in Hogwarts are ancient. But that doesn't mean there can't be anything that can breach them.
This could be one of those anythings.
Which is why the Headmaster steps out of his secret PHOENIX CAVE. Because bats are ugly and phoenices are awesome. The tall wizard moves up towards the courtyard, converses with the snarling Drake. After conversing, both turn to start heading deep into the bowels of the castle. "Christopher," Dumbledore says, turning to Hunter. "Please watch the children. Logan has a concern and I'm afraid we must check on something first before we can be assured this thing doesn't breach our walls. Rally the rest of the faculty if you can. If things go south, we might have a long night ahead of us."
At Gerry, Jeremy, and the older's student's cajoling, and Cormic's calm hand, Ana's wand slowly lowers. She takes a deep breath, and looks at Cormic with narrowed eyes. "Don't be like me," she tells him, fighting the urge to cry. "Don't do anything stupid." And with that, she lets go, and lets Gerry and Jeremy take her to the rest of her housemates.
Nerys comes in, holding up her skirts as she runs. Snape comes sweeping after her, the habitual sneer on his face betraying real worry. They draw to a stop at the hall, both potions professors still smoking from some potion that went wrong when a startled ,scared student threw it.
Hunter glances briefly at Briar and shakes his head a moment - not yet - before his eyes turn up towards Gabriel, then Dumbledore. "Yes, sir," he says briskly to acknowledge the Headmaster, while he rests a broad hand atop Tyler's head. Hi, kid. Keep an eye on the kiddos.... yay, fun. He draws his wand, about to cast off spells for the other Professors, when he notes Nerys and Snape. For once, he doesn't sneer at the Potions Master. He turns to the children, calling out, "Stay with your houses and remain quiet for the moment!" Then he approaches the others, and beckoning to Gabriel, he says quietly, "I'm not sure what's going on, exactly. This sentient, yellow-tinged black fog came rolling in at the gates, and the students have been brought inside. The Headmaster and Professor Drake are investigating now. We're to rally and stand ready, in case we have to assist."
Tyler gives Professer Hunter a barely perceptible nod before moving over to the rest of his House. "It's going to be okay," he mumbles, his eyes flicking to a few of the kids, including Cormic. But though he manages faint smile for them, he seems to be trying to reassure himself just as much as anyone else.
Uncharacteristically, Jeremy rolls his eyes at Alfie. "Does that involve telling people useless info?" this is as close as Jeremy'd possibly get to telling Alfie to STFU.
Mimi glances towards Alfie as he calls over towards Jeremy, blinking once. "You really think this is the time for that, Alfie?" She runs the fingers of one hand, the one not having the death grip on her wand, through her hair, looking around wide-eyed. She's a master of the helpless puppy look, this one, and is obviously scared beyond belief.
The double doors of Hogwarts shake. The dark tendrils can be seen slowly coccooning the school, slithering along the windows like a myriad of black snakes. There seems to be a golden tinge to them - which may be familiar to a few in this castle. The Castle was safe, right? All these centuries of Ancient Magic guarding it...
But what if the force was older? More ancient? What if it had existed before wizards even discovered their potential?
This is why when the fourth boom sounds? The doors CRACK. Spiderwebbing starts appearing in one of the windows, inching outwards slowly. While the protections still hold, it's clear before the eyes of people in the Entry Hall that their worst nightmares have come true.
In this situation, they weren't enough.
Waving a hand dismissively toward Jeremy, as if wholly unafraid of the tentacled darkness hovering outside the castle, Alfalfa Preston Scrounge chooses to focus on his Housemate rather than the Badgerscot. "Don't worry," Alfie says, quietly, toward Mimi. "Do you really think I'd let anything hurt you?" He says this with such calm as to suggest he may actually believe he can handle whatever's outside the castle walls. "You'll be fine." And then, just like that, the doors crack. "Cripes!" Alfie squeaks, cheeks going severely ashy as his left hand snaps down to flip his wand into his grasp, pointing it directly at the entryway into Hogwarts. However, the panicked little squeal is replaced by a fixed frown and narrowed eyes that look to be intently focused upon what can only be, in Alfie's mind, an evident threat of the highest magnitude.
Jeremy squeaks when the doors start cracking, and leaps back to go run to the far wall, peeking behind him at the windows and doors. "I-I thought Hogwarts was p-protected?" he stutters.
"...I don't think you have a choice," Cormic replies as his eyes snap wide as he watches the cracks on the doors of the entry all widen more and more. He takes a step back, before he swollows slowly. "...maybe...we should...yes. What he said!" He says sinceabily as he back away from the door.
Snape does this batwing thing where he's flaring out his robes in front of children and pushing them back. Nerys fires off a patronus -- a little pissed off squirrel thing starts yipping at the door crack and shaking its little fist at it. Geraldine pales and takes a whole lot of steps back. She ends up death gripping Zeke's arm, apparently losing her leaderly edge.
"It is..." Ana says softly, watching the doors with wide eyes. Her wand is out again, grabbed onto Jeremy but pointing it at the door. "...but nothing is foolproof. Even Hogwarts Castle."
Mimi looks up at Alfie for a moment before shaking her head, forcing a weak smile of thanks. "No, I guess not..." And then the doors crack, and the room descends into even greater chaos than it was in before. She quickly aims her wand towards the door, not that she has any clue what use that would do, and jumps back, sticking as close to Alfie as humanly possible. "I guess the protections are kaput... Funny, we were just talking about that in the library, too.." An odd thing to think about at a time like this, but there you have it.
Briar's voice is at a slight tremble that she tries to gulp away as she starts to back up guiding the other Puffs as well using the broom in her hand like a gentle shepherd's crook. "Rule #1: There's -always- something bigger and badder than you are...anyone see how -tall- this stuff got, maybe getting up over it would be..umm...good? Like the highest tower?"
"Back away!" Alfie hisses toward Mimi, reaching out with his right hand to try to take hold of her arm and, if successful in this effort, to yank her back away from where she's pointing her wand. Never mind that he's keeping his wand fixed on the doorway. Voice cracking both with latter-day pubescence and fear, he lets out s squeaking bark of criticism: "Do you see? See what happens when somebody like Dumbledore's in charge?" He says this as if the Headmaster wasn't even remotely near.
Tyler continues to stand by with his House, trying to lend them any support he can, though he hardly feels up to the task. His eyes continuously flicker to the Professors, wondering if he should be doing anything more to help, but he can't imagine what.
In answer to a squirrel, there's a Patronus of a Clydesdale stomping up to the doors and then beyond, fired from Christopher Hunter's wand. He's gone a shade paler himself, but his jaw is set with a growing fury. If that fog breaches the castle's doors... it's over. He turns his head, and he calls out, "Any student who can! Cast a Patronus!" He has no idea if it'll work, but... he's not going to have the kids just stand there and let themselves be attacked.
Zeke turns a moment towards Gerry as she clings to him, and he reaches out to ruffle her hair. "Steady on there," he says quietly. He lifts his own wand, and he calls out, "Expecto Patronum!" But.... well, he's not that great at the spell. All that comes forward is a silver spurt of light that goes pfft.
Mimi lets out a small squeal as Alfie catches hold of her, pulling her back away from the door. She's too surprised to resist, and ends up behind him. She doesn't mind having him between her and whatever that thing is, and doesn't complain, instead trying to cast a patronus, since Hunter says to. She's never succeeded, but there's not time like the present, right? "Expecto Patronum!" And, as is to be expected, nothing happens. A little flash of silver, barely visible, then nothing. The girl scowls at her wand, trying again to the same outcome.
SLAM! A powerful patronus crashes into the door, sending the black shrieking away from the cracks for now.
When that's done, Dumbledore walks up to the front. He doesn't seem to be afraid of the doors, standing in front of his students and teachers with his back to the cracks.
"I want everyone to listen, and listen carefully." He pauses. "The darkness we see outside isn't just moving shadow. It is a living entity. If you must have a picture in your minds, it is this. It is Living Death. It is alive. It can think. And even if just one smudge of it touches you, it will kill you. This thing, from what information outside has been able to tell us, comes from something that is very, very old. Something that might predate the building of this castle. Which is why our protections aren't holding as well as they should. So this is what we're going to do. Professors, each of you will take a group of children, from fourth year and up, those who wish to volunteer. Those who can cast a patronus would be helpful. There are locations in this castle that need to be protected at all costs and I will detail them. Use your patroni to drive them back. If it gets too much, I want you all to evacuate that area immediately. No questions."
He pauses. "I also need five volunteers." He pauses. "...the most stubborn ones we can find."
Zeke Thornton firmly pulls his arm away from Gerry, gives her a brief hug, and then he goes striding forward to volunteer himself. He's stubborn! ...... Just ask Professor Drake.
Hunter listens in silence and nods his head briskly. He doesn't yet speak, but he does glance through the crowds of kids, looking for any who might be watching him and be potential volunteerees for his group.
Tyler glances around nervously at the call for volunteers. Though he doesn't consider himself particularly stubborn, he does want to help, and so he shuffles over to Professor Hunter. "I might be able to cast a patronus," he quietly offers. "I've never tried though."
"Expecto _Patronum!_" Alfie casts a Patronus, but anyone looking at his posture and body-language can see it has very little to do with anything the Headmaster might have suggested. He is not moving to protect the Castle, to volunteer. He is casting a Patronus to protect himself, and the look in his near-black eyes suggests a profound desperation. Despite this, love of self is still love of a sort, and so it is that Alfie is able to dredge up his own Patronus. Most of the students assembled might think it's a dog, but those who are more familiar with creatures other than the Magical variety might recognize the rounded muzzle, the batlike ears and the scruffy mane as belonging to a rather vicious-looking hyena that gnashes fiercely as it springs to silvery life from the end of Alfie's wand, tearing at the air in front of it with starved abandon.
And Cormic, though he does think about pushing ana forwards, and he does nudge her, the young man squares his shoulders and steps forwards. "...I'd like too help...if...if I could."
Because Prefects were ordered to take the kids to common rooms, Gerry takes the first and second years, regaining her calm. "Straight line, orderly fashion, lets go," she says softly, bringing them all the way up.
Nerys is obviously there to help, and she sets her mouth into a grim line and steps up next to Hunter in a flurry of skirts.
Jeremy gulps and moves forward. "Do we have to know how to cast a patronus?" he asks. Because if they need to, he'll just go stand back with the other students again.
Ana steps forward, fists clenched. "For the greater good," she says simply. Dumbledore nods, and ushers Zeke, Cormic, Ana, Temperence, and someone else down the hall. "Follow the hall," he instructs. "And do what Professor Drake tells you. Ms. Piper, you can lead your motley crew there." And with that? Dumbledore turns to take a step forward, his wand out. He will be aiding the professors in driving back the dark, always there in the front lines when needed.
He will dispatch Hunter to the side of the West Tower, Nerys in the East with her team. Sprout to take the north part of the castle, and Snape to the south. Dumbledore will remain in the middle. Five points to be protected at all costs.
Temperence will find herself being pointed to the direction of.....the Underground Auditorium?
Zeke glances briefly at Professor Drake, and for the first time ever, manages not to scowl at him. He does, however, look a bit skeptical. Still, he has his wand in hand, and he quietly says, "What do we do?" He's ready. And even if he weren't willing to do this for the greater good, he's /more/ than willing to do it to make it clear he's more than just some weaselly punk.
Hunter draws a breath and nods. "Everyone who wants to come with me, let's go! West Tower!" He very carefully sets down his Snidget in a covered cage, levitating it to the Great Hall to rest it on a table, and then he turns to go striding up and away. He glances over his shoulder, to see who's comin' with.
The tendrils? Keep trying to come in. Since Dumbledore is staying right in the heart of the castle, where most of the things are trying to get through, he'll remain where he is, casting powerful, silvery spells to make sure that they hold back. When the teams get into position, they'll find that ....it's the same everywhere. The icky, gooey darkness tries coming in. In the West Tower....it's particularly bad. The dark is already trying to eat its way through the windows, the glass getting thinner, and thinner. Hogwarts protective magic is strong indeed, which is why the things haven't just surged into them yet.
Alfie's hyenas manage to discourage other tendrils into coming in. However, if one is looking at the windows, they'll just......veer past, to try and look for another entrance. Scout and Snape head their teams to their designated positions.
Snape whirls around and heads to the South. Not even he has a pithy little comment for the moment. If anyone's coming with him they'd best hustle.
Mimi tries for a third time to produce a patronus, and again, gets nothing. She swears quietly under her breath, biting down on her lower lip. Giving up on this, she opts instead to take the easier route, clinging to the back of Alfie's robes for dear life with one hand, keeping her wand at the ready in the other. He said he wouldn't let her get hurt, and she's holding him to that. She watches as volunteers step forward, and there's a slight twinge of guilt in her stomach, but she puts it out of mind. What help would she be, anyway? The fact that Alfie seems to be more concerned with himself than the rest of the students at the moment definitely makes her feel better about not helping out.
Tyler pulls his wand out again, but it gives him little comfort. Though the prefects were told to take the first and second years, he gives Professor Hunter a questioning look, thinking that he should lend his help to protecting the castle if he can.
Temperence nods her head to the Headmaster and turns twoard her 'Motly Crue.' "Right then." She says quietly, following the broody Professor Drake to wherever he plans on going.
We want to eat you, kiddies....
The dark continues to slither around. Hunter's area is particularly concentrated, and so is Nerys's. The front doors keep getting bashed in, but Dumbledore is holding it back with a few blasts of silver from his wand.
When Hunter comes up the stairs to the West Tower, a thin tendril punches through the hole in the glass. It slithers around for a while, feeling around on the edges. Oooooh look! A suit of armor! Sweet!
Nerys's area would have the creepy crawlies trying to push its way forcibly through the window, the window sill's wood cracking under the strain.
Christopher Hunter is going up the stairs with any kid who's volunteered to go with him, to combat the darkness with a well-placed spell or two. His wand remains out in his hand, and his expression is set in grim lines, as he ascends the stairs. "Stay behind me," he says to Tyler. Though if the darkness breaches... it won't matter where the kid's standing. It'll be over. "Focus on every happy thought, every happy memory. Think about what you love most, and concentrating, put all of that into the incantation of Expecto Patronum." He raises his wand, and he calls out, "Expecto Patronum!" to send a blast of silver that shifts into a Clydesdale, which gallops forward to attack. Attaaaaaaaack!
Jeremy has tried casting a patronus before, but maybe there just wasn't a good enough impetus for him to do one now. Or maybe he needed to have some idea of what animal it would be. At any rate, Jeremy finally manages one...and wouldn't you know, he made a silver Jalapeno. Thanks, Hunter! Jeremy blinks at the /silver/ snidget and beams delightedly. Small, round, happy, and spazzy...yep, that's Jeremy all right. He follows up after Hunter, his little snidget looking /really/ puny compared to Hunter's freakin' GIANT HORSE.
Hunter could probably now attest to Briar's stubborness as she was going to be damned to high tail it until it looked like him and the animals were safe. She looks around in the crowd for someone. But there's no chance for a good-bye, this isn't the movies where the couple has one last brief moment for a sappy, 'if I don't come back, know that I love you' hogwash. So without further adeu she follows after Sprout. It takes a few tries finding a happy throught, but a weekend in a cave is enough to get her smiling wide dispite the situation and finally a bald eagle soars out of her wand and starts to attack the tenticals like the famous images of the eagle attacking a serpant.
Nerys stares at the stuff for a moment, and then lets out a snarl. "Expecto Patronum!" she shouts, sending her little rabid squirrel after the tentacles. She looks back at her team of children -- which ever kids that may be, and says, "With me now!"
Tyler follows Hunter up the stairs, his wand held out defensively in front of him. He glances sideways at Jeremy as he comes along too, but he quickly looks away again and focuses on summoning his own patronus. Concentrating on the happiest memory he can think of, something he rarely does as it is, he raises his wand and firmly says, "Expecto Patronum!" A brief flicker of surprise crosses his face as a silver raven bursts from the tip of his wand, but he quickly gets to setting it on the breached area.
Mimi notices the fact that Alfie's slowly retreating towards the commons, and she tugs at the back of his robes. "If it gets in, hiding's not going to help," She says, speaking just loudly enough to be heard about the banging on the doors and the overall noise. "We've got to..." She lets go of him, closing her eyes as she tries to conjure up a happy memory despite her fear, finally settling on one from when her mother was still alive, their final vacation before her death. Her face is intense with her concentration, and when she attempts a patronus again, she finally manages it: Silver pours forth from her wand, taking the shape of a fennec fox. Mimi opens her eyes, staring at it happily as it yips and growls, ready to go.
The Clysedale SLAMS into the dark tendril trying to worm free into the school, and Hunter could swear that he would hear it screaming - a disembodied noise of both malevolence and evil. It thrashes around until Jeremy's snidget blasts it backwards, sending that window clear. But now that the tendrils know that life is lurking behind the walls of the tower, they attack it full bore, trying to worm their way through the breach that they managed to create. More cracks start appearing into the glass.
Nerys's window is blasted by blinding, silver light, when the children with her use their own efforts to drive back the dark. There is a loud shrieking, shrill, nasty, and horrid, the dark tendrils flashing stubbornly around until they're forced to let go of that area. But this doesn't last.....once the patroni fade, they SLAM back into the window.
Carter, the Head Boy, appears in the tail end of Nerys's group, blasting his own patroni towards the windows.
Sprout's team make their way south. Briar's bald eagle manages to actually SLAM into a tendril that's managed to sneak through....and drive it away completely, shrieking like the rest of the mass that's covered the school.
Well that's one way Jeremy's snidget is different from him. It actually /fights/ and doesn't cringe when someone looks at him wrong. Jeremy stands back, staring wide-eyed at the darkness, and sends his snidget fighting.
Hunter swipes his wand through the air, directing the movements of his Patronus with a snarled spell beneath his breath. Then he turns his wand to the glass itself, hastily casting Reparo spells and spells to reinforce. Or so he hopes they'll work.
"Keep at it," Nerys says softly, as she slams the tentacles with more patroni. "All we can do is keep at it, team." She doesn't have the strength to cast repair charms too, so she keeps at the patroni and leads the children in doing the same.
Tyler sends his raven at a broken window, using all of his mental energy to keep the silver patronus as strong as he can. Having nothing to spare for any other spells, he glances at Hunter, glad the professor is doing something about the breaches, and then returns to directing his spell.
Alfie seems, on some small level, pleased that Mimi is distracted from her earlier panic, which he obviously found quite distasteful. "Depends on if the thing you're fighting likes fire." He grits his teeth, clearly struggling with the effort it takes to maintain the Patronus. He's putting his all into it, quite possibly because it appears to be the only thing stopping Death at the moment. "I'm going to be immortal, Mimi - Death is _common._" Perhaps he's speaking in these rhetorical terms to keep himself confident and focused, because as he says the word 'common' the hyena becomes even more focused, as if the power of his spell increased, like his happiest thought was somehow magnified.
Hunter manages to repair the glass, while his team of kids keep the patronus back. Whatever happens, Dumbledore says....they cannot, absolutely cannot, breach the five points. Hunter's team do a good job....and one tendril manages to snag onto Jeremy's snidget, and tries to squeeze it to death, but the MIGHTY HABANERO will not be pwned......since Tyler's patronus backs it up and both drive away the snarling, dark horde.
Patroni from all levels are cast, fight it out, and proceed to drive back the black. It's only going to hold them at bay. Eventually, it will drain their stamina - the way Nerys is already feeling. There had to be some more, there had to be more to this..."
And then, they'll see it.
Hunter's group will see it first. The thrumming. As if the very stones themselves are resonating with something. There's a strange vibration in the air, felt by everyone casting magic, by everyone willing their wands to drive back the darkness and defend their turf. It was strange. It was as if the castle itself is coming to life.
Dumbledore's eyes snap open. Yes. He turns to his own group of children. "Fight!" he declares, blasting another patronus. "Move forward!"
"....Professor Nerys..." a fifth year whispers, pointing to the window they're blasting. "Look..."
The thrumming intensifies, a very faint, gray-white glow suffusing into the stone as every Patroni cast? Starts getting absorbed into the walls themselves, taking in everyone's effort to strengthn. To unify.
"You can't be-" Mimi begins to say something, but stops herself quickly upon realizing that his patronus becomes more focused after he speaks. Best not risk having it weaken by pointing out that he's got to die sometime. "I didn't mean an actual fire," She points out, biting hard at the corner of her lip, staring intently at her patronus fighting back the living death, trying to keep thinking happy thoughts. It was tiring keeping it up, but the adrenaline was keeping her going, at least for now. Dumbledore yells for them to fight, and she obeys, shutting her eyes in concentration to keep up the spell.
"Good!" Nerys cries. "Keep casting! Keep doing it! It can only help! Expecto Patronum! Expecto Patronum!" She's sweating and shaking, but she casts again and again, galavanized by seeing something /happening/.
Jeremy squeaks when The Mighty Habanero is caught and squeezed, but then the castle starts fighting with them. As his snidget is absorbed into the shield wall thingie, he starts summoning more snidgets, maybe a flock of them to join to it! FLY MY PRETTIES FLY!
And thus, the universe smirks as Avis 2.0 gets a round of vindication.
Hunter looks momentarily startled, his wand slowing in midair as the castle glows and takes on a life of its own. He draws back his wand and then casts another Reparo. It's then that his Clydesdale is absorbed into the walls, and so he casts another to send another horse. "Expecto Patronum!"
"Yes, I can ..." Alfie's answer might sound glib to some, but he's dead-serious, and this too causes his Patronus to flare even brighter, even as the hyena seems to get wilder and angrier. "I don't know _how_ yet ... but there's a way out there." He stands close to Mimi, pressed up against her if she'll let him, as if wanting to make sure she doesn't suddenly disappear on him while he's focused.
Briar looks in awe and amazement, as this is the first time she's seen her Patrouns, let alone seen it in action. "Whoah." Is her only Keanu Reeves like response as she watches and tries to concentrate on keeping it going.
Tyler soon feels his strength draining, and when his patronus gets absorbed by the castle, he thinks it finally has. But then he notices Hunter and Jeremy continue to create patroni to send over and over again, and he raises his wand to send another raven as well.
"Expecto patronum! Away from me!" Molly yells, conjuring a second dog as the first is absorbed by the castle. She's not outwardly surprised by the thrumming, taking it in stride and following Nerys' lead.
Mimi hesitates for a second at Alfie's response, then she nods her head, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. "Lemme know when you find it, 'kay?" She smiles weakly, then casts another patronus, holding on to Alfie's sleeve with her free hand so he can't run away on her.
"Quite - but only for people who work for me." Alfie seems to notice the effects that are coming from the multiple Patroni, and redoubles his spellcasting efforts, though his Patronus is still primarily focused upon protecting Alfie and, perhaps curiously, Mimi for the moment.
Molly wipes sweat off her face and kneels on the ground as she starts to tire out. "Expecto patronum," she says again, quieter this time but no less determined.
And then, it's as if the world slows. All patroni cast are absorbed in the walls as Hogwarts awakens, a sleeping giant infused with magic of the ages, all the more galvanized by the will to defend, the love produced, all the happy memories by dozens and dozens of students and teachers housed within its walls feeding it strength.
Dumbledore points his wand up, standing directly above the ritual circle below where Logan and his children are doing their work. Somewhere in the underbelly of the castle, there is a cacophonous union of voices of six people completing the ritual.
Light starts pouring out, slamming upwards in a collumn of light around Dumbledore. With his wand pointed up, he passes on the energy, the beam shooting further up.....and in those five sites? They will see it. The collumn of light once it hits the pinnacle of the school and splits off into four other separate beams. For a few moments, the entire castle is bathed with light. Something clean, pure, and powerful.....that miraculously doesn't sear off any eyeballs.
There is a deafening roar. The black recoils, shrieking and screaming as it is forced to pull back a few feet from the school as light pours out of the windows, kept clear by the teachers and their groups. This lasts for a while....
And when it fades? The silvery glow remains on the walls, infused deep in the stones, and powered by everyone's happy memories, well wishes, and the hope and care and love for others....and yes, even themselves, so despite Alfie's selfish pretentions, he too, ends up helping. ;)
Hunter slowly lowers his wand, watching all of what comes to pass with slightly widened eyes. "I think," he says quietly, "that we've done it." He turns quickly to look back at the kids. "Is everyone all right?"
"Is it over?" Jeremy asks timidly, hands clapped to his ears at the last shrieking roar. "I'm fine, but I think I'm going to go hide under my bed now."
Briar tilts her head and watches the castle fight back in awe of it all. Then when her eagle's fueled by a certain memory just keep getting absorbed she looks around and comments out of the corner of her mouth to the closest round her age student in Sprout's team. "Dude I hope we don't lose points for the memory we used..." Cause yeah, last thing she wants is somehow the castle sharing with the staff her happy memories of snogging her boyfriend. She chuckles dryly at the thought as she slides against a near by -solid- wall and just pants. "This Hero stuff is hard work. The movies make it look so easy...think...think this will last awhile? Cause I could use a refueling of the good memories about now."
Tyler staggers back a step, letting the arm he holds his wand with fall to his side. Taking a deep, shuddering breath, he nods weakly at Hunter and mumbles, "I think so." He then stares hard at the walls, worried they might suddenly break apart despite their efforts.
Molly can't help but smile. She can /feel/ all the good in that light. When it fades she takes a huge gulping breath, sort of surprised they all made it through that stuff.
Nerys grins. Gives the thumbs up to her team. Opens her mouth to congratulate them and...promptly faints. The woman does /not/ have good stamina.
Mimi blinks a few times, then lowers her wand, her breathing noticeably shallower as she struggles to not hyperventilate. She's trembling slightly, still, and she looks around the room before asking quietly, "Is that it?"
Molly's there to catch Nerys, bracing the woman from smacking herself on the floor. The professor is lowered safely and quickly because Molly is pretty worn out herself and touching teachers is weird.