Thank you to everyone that participated in November’s Rewrite Tolkien contest (The Hobbit as written by J.K. Rowling/Harry Potter).   This months winner is: ‘Staff Magic’ by Chris Baker, Oxfordshire, UK.  Congratulations, Chris!  The winning entry will be read this Sunday, December 8th, on TORn’s newest show, TORn Book Club.  Congratulations also go to our two runners-up:  ‘Harry Potter and – No Wait, This isn’t About Him’ by Arlothia  and ‘Accio Arkenstone!’ by Donna DeBoer of Florida.

December’s theme will be announced soon, so stay tuned!



Staff Magic

by Chris Baker (Oxfordshire, UK)

Professor Dumbledore smiled around the packed Great Hall of Hogwarts. “I am sure that you are as eager as I am to start upon our excellent Start of Year feast,” he said, “but I have one more announcement to make before we do. I’m delighted to say that we have been able to arrange a short additional Defence Against the Dark Arts module this year. On the subject of “Staff Magic” it will run for the first part of this term, with its own exam, worth an extra grade for your Defence Against the Dark Arts OWL.  All students wishing to attend this course should see Professor McGonagall after the Feast. I am sure there will be a lot of interest from those of you who are academically ambitious…”, Harry thought Dumbledore’s twinkling eyes were fixed on Hermione, “…or who feel they might be making practical use of the subject. The course will be given by a most exciting visiting Professor: none other than Gandalf The Grey…” At this name, there was a buzz of excited chatter among the students. “Professor Gandalf has also kindly agreed to treat us to one of his famous fireworks shows on November 5th.”

“Who is ‘Gandalf the Grey’?” asked Harry in a low voice. Hermione gave him one of her concerned, kind and yet superior looks.

“Haven’t you read the books or seen the films?” she asked.”He’s nearly as famous in the Muggle world as in the magical one, though Muggles think he’s a fictional character, of course.”

Harry felt like pointing out that the only books in Privet Drive were cookery books; and that if the Dursleys went to see a film they’d certainly leave him behind, most likely locked in the cupboard. But the moment was lost as Ron burst out excitedly from opposite him “Gandalf? The guy’s an absolute legend! Complete celebrity! Muse and Speller even have a T-shirt of him!”

“Gandalf, Gandalf!” intoned Percy pompously, apparently also trying to answer Harry’s question “If you had heard only a quarter of what I have heard about him, and I have only heard very little of all there is to hear…”

“Here, look: Gandalf’s on a Muse and Speller T-shirt!” said Ron, risking tipping everyone else on his side of the table off their shared bench as he half-stood to wrestle a battered Muse and Speller T-shirt catalogue from his trouser pocket. Muse and Speller’s T-shirts had moving pictures and were the height of cool- several of the Gryffindors lent over to see.  Turning a bit pink at the ears and shooting a covert look at Hermione, Ron leafed quickly past the much-thumbed  pages of shirts featuring the witch singer Curvacea Oogleworthy,  industriously looking for the Gandalf garment.

Hermione wasn’t watching though. “It would be wonderful to study with such a very famous teacher of course,” she was saying in Harry’s one ear, while Percy continued to try to fill his other ear with a long account of Gandalf’s exploits. While Percy droned on a good deal about a ring, and a Dark Lord, and something about the end of the world, Hermione continued “…but I’ve heard that Staff Magic is very difficult, especially for people who are good with a wand. And so I’m quite worried that with so little time to prepare for the exam at the end…”

“Here he is! See! Gandalf!” Ron triumphantly held up the T-shirt picture: a powerful old bearded man standing on a narrow bridge with flames behind him. The shirt had a short moving clip in which Gandalf beat his staff on the bridge and cried out as he cast some vastly powerful spell.

Hermione had gone pale, her knuckle in her mouth, looking aghast at the Gandalf T-shirt. Suspecting one of Fred and George’s unkinder tricks, Ron looked hastily down. But it was just a picture of Gandalf. He stared at Hermione in confusion.

It took Harry a moment to realize what had upset his grade-obsessed friend. Under the picture of the stern, shouting wizard on the bridge the T-shirt bore the caption “You Cannot Pass”.


Harry Potter and—No wait this isn’t about him


Lord of the—Holy smokes that’s a big spider!  by Arlothia (Washington State)

The cold, misty November night provided the perfect setting for a monster hunt. The hunters in question were making their way through the Dark Forest seeking a giant spider that had been sighted by frightened students. So far the Defense Against the Dark Arts and Care of Magical Creatures professors had had no luck in finding the spider over the past few weeks. Prior to this they had made their searches during the day, but with the ever—increasing homework load they had to grade and the fact that the creature seemed to run to ground during the day had led to Gandalf and Radagast making this escapade during the night.

“We aren’t going to hurt it, are we?” asked Radagast as he untangled his robe from the underbrush. “I mean, it could just be lost or scared for all we know. It hasn’t hurt anyone.”

“It hasn’t hurt anyone yet,” countered Gandalf. “Don’t forget that we are dealing with a giant spider and spiders have venom. For one like the size the children have described it could be quite deadly to us. We would be no more than flies to it.”

“But still, that doesn’t mean we have to kill it,” Radagast reasoned, finally freeing himself from the bush. The two wizards set off again on their search.

“Then what do you suppose we do with it?” asked Gandalf, exasperated. He had been listening to his companion’s litany of conversation all night and he was about at his wits’ end. “Would you have us make a pet out of it? Keep it on a leash and teach it tricks?” A thoughtful expression came over Radagast’s face and Gandalf knew that look. “Don’t even think about it,” he said and the glint in Radagast’s eyes quickly turned into a pout.

They continued on for some time, Gandalf grateful for the silence that had come over his friend but he knew that it was leading to yet another question. So when he heard the brown-robed wizard suck in a breath to speak he prepared himself for another useless question.

“Where do you suppose it came from?”

The sharp retort that had been forming in Gandalf’s mind stopped short.  That was actually a question worth thinking about.

“It could be a creature from a distant land I suppose. Or merely a normal spider that has somehow found a way to grow to such a size. Stranger things have happened in this forest. But my guess is that this is the work of a student’s prank or a spell gone wrong. And if that’s the case then I plan on finding whoever did this and giving them so much detention they’ll have to stay here for the holidays. Why shouldn’t they have to spend as much time reaping the consequences of their actions as we have cleaning up their mess?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Radagast ventured. “I think this is all rather fun.”

Gandalf rolled his eyes and turned to face him. “Of course you would—oh!”

A low hanging branch had knocked his hat clean off his head while he hadn’t been looking. But as Gandalf straightened back up after retrieving his grey hat he saw that it was not a branch at all. It was a thick, white cord stretching between the two nearest trees of the clearing they had walked into.

Both wizards stared at the line, their eyes wide at the sheer size of it. And as they brought their gazes up to look around the small clearing they found more of the same. Line upon line of spider silk, for it couldn’t be anything else, running between the trees, creating webs in the branches above.

Gandalf and Radagast brought their wands up to the ready and instantly started looking for the beast that had produced all of this silk. After a few minutes of searching they still hadn’t found anything.

“It’s probably off in the forest,” Radagast whispered. “Now that we know where its nest is we should come back in daylight.”

“I think you may be right,” Gandalf whispered back, feeling like little more than a fly for his part.

But just as they were about to leave, a rustling in the branches behind them brought them swinging around, wands held out, illuminating the monster before them.

There, up in the trees, sat a gigantic black spider. It’s spindly, almost-hairless body gleaming in the light of their wands, giving all eight of its eyes a hard edge as they stared at the two morsels on the ground. Gandalf released a blinding ball of light which the eight-legged creature easily dodged, skittering across its webs, escaping another spell that came from Radagast this time as it dashed out of the clearing.

The two professors stood back-to-back, circling around with wands at the ready.

“Do you think we scared it off?” Radagast asked, his voice quavering.

“I highly doubt it,” Gandalf replied. And as if to prove this a dark shape dropped from above, knocking the wizards off their feet, wands flying from their hands. With only the wan light of the moon filtering through the dark trees and mist, they couldn’t find where they had fallen.

But as they struggled to regain their feet, fighting off the monster as it tried to clamp them in its two dripping pincers, their searching hands found not their wands, but instead two branches that had broken from the canopy when the spider had fallen upon them.

Wielding them like staffs, Gandalf and Radagast were able to beat back the giant arachnid enough to stagger upright. But unable to search for their wands without taking their eyes off the spider, they were forced to improvise and hope for the best.

The creature lunged at the same moment as two spells sprang from Gandalf’s and Radagast’s lips, traveling through their staffs, and filling the clearing with a deafening crash and a light to rival the sun’s.

To say that both spells worked wouldn’t be a lie, but the results were not quite what the casters had intended, which is only to be expected when working with something other than a functioning wand.

Radagast’s shrinking spell had worked to reduce the spider back to an egg, a harmless white orb lying there on the ground. But the outcome of Gandalf’s transportation spell could be seen by the absence of any wizards in the clearing. They were gone away to lands unknown, never to be seen again in this world.

 Students and staff alike had always said the Defense Against the Dark Arts position was cursed so no one was too surprised when Gandalf turned up missing. But when Radagast didn’t return by morning, one student took it upon himself to search for him.

 “Uncle Radagast!” a young Rubeus Hagrid called as he wound his way through the Dark Forest. He had spent many disheartening hours searching until his eyes fell upon a small piece of brown cloth snagged on a bush. “Uncle Radagast!” he called again. “Professor Gandalf!” But of course there was no reply. It only took a few minutes more for Hagrid to find the clearing entwined with spider silk. Gazing around like the two wizards before him had, he almost missed the egg on the ground until his foot nudged it.

Looking down, he bent to pick it up, cradling it in his wide hands. For one so large his touch was surprisingly soft and that gentleness was an extension of his heart.

 “Well ‘ello there,” he crooned. “And who might you be, eh?” Hagrid had a kind soul and once he saw the poor lonely egg abandoned there in the clearing, he couldn’t find it in his heart to leave it there.

 With one more glance around, still unable to find either professor, Hagrid shook his head and turned to leave, completely missing the wands lying discarded on the ground.

 “Shouldn’t be too worried about them, don’t you think?” Hagrid asked of the egg. “I mean, sure Uncle Radagast isn’t the brightest candle of the bunch but Gandalf’s a good wizard. He’ll look after them both until they come back, just you see. But what am I going to call you? I suppose I shouldn’t name you ‘till you’re hatched, not knowing if you’re a boy or a girl an’ all, but what do you think of…Aragog?”


Accio Arkenstone!

by Donna DeBoer (Florida)

Bilbo’s sudden shout took the dwarves of the Company by surprise. They were all tired from trekking up the long mountain path to the secret door that hid the high entrance into Erebor. It had been a perilous climb even for a dwarf, with stones crumbling and shifting underfoot and the bitter wind seeming like it wanted to tear them off the way. After waiting a while for the proper time and almost fumbling their chance with the key, the portal was opened. The clutching northern wind did nothing to dispel the odours of sulfur, mildew… age, gold and death… rolling out of the dark opening.

For a moment Balin stared in astonishment at the figure of the hobbit, his pack still slung on his back and his arm raised high with a slender vine wood wand firmly in his hand, framed against the utter blackness of the long passage ahead.

He shook his head in resigned sorrow and walked over to Bilbo. “That isn’t going to work, laddie, though I commend you for trying it.”

Bilbo lowered his arm and turned around with an earnest look on his face. “Why not? Isn’t this the easiest way to get what you really want out of there? I’m the burglar and this is the best way I know how to get it with minimum fuss. Not to mention danger!”

“Shhhh, for Durin’s sake lower your voice,” Balin whispered, loudly and urgently. With another look at Bilbo, he sighed. “I agree about the fussing bit, but it’s the worm himself that prevents the charm from working as you wish. Magic works differently around dragons of his kind. His very aura overwhelms it.”

Bilbo was curious despite the terrifying fact that his brilliant idea had failed and he was still going to have to personally sneak into the mountain to face said worm for the dwarves’ most precious prize. “But I’ve heard about magic being used around dragons before. There was this one Triwizard tournament…”

Suddenly Balin grinned. “Aye, Gandalf was always a tricky fellow with his power.” With a glint in his eye, he continued, “I saw that very tournament to which you are referring. He didn’t kill the dragon, though. I was just a young dwarf then, sent to study in the great fortress school of magic in the Misty Mountains, where we learned what formidable opponents dragons could be. Especially the very old ones.”

His amusement faded as he patted his weskit pocket, where he kept his own oaken wand. “Never did I think I would experience such a calamity myself. Did you not think we haven’t tried this method before? That charm was the first thing I did when we were fleeing Erebor, before the doors were sealed by that cursed evil thing. With ours failing, the elves’ older magic might have succeeded in helping us, and they chose not to do so.”

Thorin, who had been listening to this conversation with some impatience, now abruptly interrupted at the mention of elves. “Enough talk. Time for the hobbit to do what we have contracted with him to do.”

Balin slowly turned to face Thorin. “His name is BILBO,” he said with great emphasis.