By Scandella Bliss
Unity. An ironic theme for a dueling exhibition, if I do say so myself. At least, it does seem ironic to me to have a theme of wizarding kind working together and supporting one another whilst duelists compete with the most intense and aggressive spells they can manage.
And they are aggressive. In a slinky but stylish outfit designed by famous French designer Isidore Gagnier featuring a corseted pencil skirt that is to die for, your darling reporter, Scandella Bliss set out to have a word with the talented duelists ready to magically gouge one another’s eyes out at the Unity Festival to be held this weekend courtesy of the Ministry of Magic Department of Magical Games and Sports. Never did I imagine to be witness to such hostility from duelists volunteering their time to what is meant to be such a noble cause.
The first duelist I managed to catch up with is a young rookie who just graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft of Wizardry by the name of Bonnie Nishi. I cannot lie, readers, I was surprised to find myself with a pretty young lady who seemed quite refined despite her… rather suggestive street attire. There is more to Nishi though than just a sweet face and a clever mind. The rising star belonging to the Manchester Mandrakes has a ferocious temper hiding behind those starry eyes- to be expected of a former member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, I suppose.
Moving into the interview, I asked Nishi to introduce herself for those who are wondering just who this newcomer to the League is and she had this to say:
“Right, I’m Bonnie Nishi. […] Let’s see… I’m 19 and just really happy for the support I’ve been getting from all the Mandrake fans. I’m really excited to be part of the club and just want to make sure I take every match one day at a time. I’m from the area so I grew up with the Mandrakes and this is a dream of mine!”
Moving on, Miss Nishi expressed her excitement for the upcoming festival and her feelings about the theme saying:
“I think it’s going to be fun. I just want everyone to have a good time at the festival and use this as a chance to bring us all together!”
Isn’t she sweet? Don’t let it fool you, however, as it was when I asked her opinion on her opponent that Nishi’s claws came out. There have been rumours that Robin Ross has called Nishi a green nobody with no hope of coming out of this and going anywhere but St. Mungo’s. When I asked her about this, Nishi had this to say:
“[…] Alright. Look. If I’m going to St Mungo’s, it’s to take her flowers. Maybe she should spend less time obsessing over me and more time trying to claw her way into a ranking that doesn’t require 3 digits! And while she’s at it maybe she should try to get out of her ‘I peaked in 7th year so I’m just going to wear this scarf all my life’ mentality.”
Vicious words from the Mandrake Rookie! Believe me, readers, I was every bit as surprised as you were! Still, it does make for good writing, doesn’t it?
Next, I caught up with duelist Harper Nicholson of the Orkney Warlords. Nicholson, not to be confused with Harper Williams of the same club, is known to be something of a critic when it comes to those she considers to be dueling disappointments- even when those disappointments are on her own team. Needless to say, I was eager to have a word with her for your reading pleasure!
Starting out, I asked Nicholson to introduce herself in her own words. Here’s what she had to say:
“My name is Harper Nicholson – The Lady of Fire. I will be representing the Orkney Warlords at the upcoming Unity Festival in Hogsmeade. There is not much to be said about me – I work hard, and I win.”
Say what you want about Nicholson, the fiery duelist is certainly confident and without fear of jinxing herself or looking an absolute dunce if she suffers a loss. Next, I asked her if she had any feelings around the upcoming exhibit.
“There is nothing to feel about it. It is only an exhibit, yes, but the fans – and the world – will see what the Warlords are made out of. There is nobody out there that works as hard as us and, let us be honest. There is none out there as skilled as we are. While they joke around and play their games, we WILL sweep victory right under their laughing noses.”
I’ll be honest, readers, I had no opinion on the Warlords before this interview but after hearing Nicholson’s words, I can assure you I will not be heading out to obtain any of the club’s merch [not that I would be caught dead in a dueling club tee anyhow.] That said, if anything is going to be packing the crowd around the exhibition stage this weekend, it is the Warlord’s opinion of her opponent. Perhaps Nicholson’s reputation for setting fires is truly more about the fuel she pours over the rivalries in the League when speaking of fellow duelists. What do I mean, you ask? Well, Nicholson had this to say of Bristol Boggart, Crush:
“Ha! Fitting, that she chose the name Crush – that is exactly what I will do to her. That silly charade my “opponent” and her team call a gimmick will come in useful when they are forced to retire and must earn coin by whatever means. Do you really think there is more to her than her mouth? She belongs in a Circus – and I am going to send her back there.”
Certainly harsh words from a brave soul. For those of you unaware of the reputation of the dueling gang known as the Bristol Boggarts, they are no joke. Judges and fans alike have been known to show up in St. Mungo’s after speaking words just like this and I would be unsurprised to find that the money raised at this festival ended up paying Nicholson’s medical bills. Lastly, I asked Nicholson if there was anything she wanted to say regarding unity in the wizarding world. Despite volunteering her time to this exhibition and it’s cause, Nicholson had this to say:
“The only Unity I concern myself with is the Warlords’.”
I am not one to be left speechless, but readers, Nicholson accomplished rendering me utterly tongue-tied without the use of her wand. I left Nicholson with haste to catch up with Bristol Boggart Crush next and what a meeting that was.
Crush of the Bristol Boggarts is a character if I have ever met one. The only word I can conjure to mind when describing her is this: loud. Loud in appearance and loud in nature. Crush was found in the Snitch and Wand in Little Lamplight guzzling a firewhisky down before drawing her wand and directing the glass it had been in across the room and into the head of one unsuspecting patron. Cue the first bar fight I’ve ever been witness to, which ended with Crush on top- quite literally- of the unconscious patron. Not even the owner of this establishment dared to throw out the pink haired duelist in leather- the logo of the Boggarts displayed proudly on the back. Regardless, as things settled down and Crush eventually released her brawling partner, she moved into a booth with me to have a word. Like the others, I asked Crush to describe herself for those of you new to keeping up with dueling. A disclaimer, however, Crush’s responses have been edited to remove the profanity to appease my editor.
“Ain’t nothing to say, love. I’m a [redacted] Boggart in all senses of the [redacted] word- I [redacted] duel and when I ain’t on stage, I’m on my [redacted] broom with my brothers. I’m going ta be representin’ the [redacted] Boggarts in this upcomin’ exhibition and I’m going ta be [redacted] winnin’ for the club. Ain’t no [redacted] doubt about that.”
As she was the one to bring it up, I asked Crush how she felt about the upcoming exhibit in Hogsmeade. She had this to say:
“It’s real [redacted] sad to hear about that lot gettin’ [redacted] injured at the Spring Open, really. I think this [redacted] festival’s a good [redacted] idea, gettin’ the [redacted] Wizardin’ lot together to show them [redacted] goblin protestor [redacted] that we won’ be stopped and we ain’t goin’ ta [redacted]fall apart at the seams, yeah?”
Reasonable words coming from the Bristol Boggart. Wanting to save the juiciest question for last and also not wanting to risk a glass flying at my own head, I decided to ask Crush if there was anything she wanted to say about Wizarding Unity next.
“Well, of course, there is. Unity’s real [redacted] important, innit? Wizardin’ kind needs to stick together especially in [redacted] times like this. That lot would learn a lot from the Boggarts, we’re thicker than [redacted] thieves, even if we have a [redacted] go at one another sometimes, yeah?”
An interesting sentiment. And the perfect fuel for the fire Warlord Harper Nicholson started. Waiting until the bartender had served the Boggart another drink, I took the opportunity to tell the pierced duelist just what her opponent had said about both her club and the perceived outcome of the upcoming exhibition match. Now, I would never be allowed to publish everything Crush said in response, but I am sure you will get the sentiment.
“[…] That [redacted] absolute [redacted] scrubber really [redacted] thinks she’s got any [redacted] chance? I’ll [redacted] so far up her [redacted] she’ll be spittin’ [redacted] splinters for the rest of her life. What an [redacted][redacted], wait ‘til I’ve got her on [redacted] stage, I’ll [redacted] her [redacted] with my [redacted] boot, she’ll have [redacted] shoe laces coming out of her [redacted] […]”
I’ve never heard such colourful language, let alone coming from a witch sporting a Hufflepuff scarf, readers. Nevertheless, your darling reporter managed to make it out of the pub without glass or boots embedded in her person, leaving Crush behind just as the owner served her a round of shots to sedate her I’m sure.
That left only one duelist for me to track down, one Robin Ross of Godric’s Glorious. Readers should be quite familiar with Ross even if they aren’t the sort to keep up with dueling, given her status as a part-time model. Of all the duelists on the list, I was quite eager to meet with Ross and perhaps interact with a powerful and beautiful woman that I could actually relate with. What I got instead was an unintelligible Scot- easy to look at but believe me, readers, it was quite difficult to understand her. Fortunately, my Expeditious Excerpt Quill was able to make something out of what she had to say.
As with the others, I asked her to introduce herself for whatever readers we might have who have lived under a rock for the duration of her career.
“Ach! Ye’re a bonny one tae be askin’! The name’s Robin Ross of Godric’s Glorious and ye’ve ne’er seen a finer bunch. We’re all old Gryffindors and we care about preservin’ the legacy of Good Godric himself, which is to say Darin’, Chivalry, and Nerve. I’m the one that’s steppin’ up this weekend so ye’ll have a show, no question!”
Of course, as a Ravenclaw, I felt no stirring of emotions at this clearly over rehearsed speech, but they’re very pretty words once you realise what it is you’ve just heard. Moving on, I asked Ross how she felt about the upcoming exhibit.
“I’ve been visitin’ Hogsmeade since I was a wee lass, aye, and I’m thrilled tae be representin’ the Glorious on Sunday. There’s a lot tae look forward tae and ye can be sure I’ll be arrivin’ early an’ stayin’ late. It’s past time Hogsmeade got a taste of Pro Duelin’ and I’m honoured tae be so near the old stompin’ grounds again.”
Another prepared speech from the graduated Gryffindor. In fact, your favourite reporter did begin to wonder if Ross has a unique thought rattling around inside her pretty little head. Still, we pressed on with a question of how Ross felt about her opponent. After an initial practiced quote from the Glorious duelist, I thought to inform her of the things the Mandrake Rookie had to say about her in return. Unfortunately, this question too was answered in the most dull and practiced way.
“Ach, and isn’t it cute of her tae say it. Ye know we in the Highlands like tae be affable when we can but as my kinsmen and women are wont tae say: them’s are fightin’ words. Now, of course I’ll be understandin’ why a wee hen would be intimidated by a lass of standin’, ’tis only natural aye, but I’m nae concerned about the pecks of some bright young bird just flown the nest. Bonnie’d be better served tae smile at the pretty lioness but mind her claws as well.”
I must say, it is impressive to see how she blunts even her threats down into something with less edge than butter knives. Smiling pretty, the toothless lioness closed up with these final words about Wizarding Unity.
“There’s lots I’d say if ye felt like sittin’ down fer a dram o’er the weekend, yeah? I’d go on and on about my time at Hogwarts and later on the circuit but the most important thing tae remember is that yer match is only as good as yer opponent’s gonna let it be. We all want tae put on the best show we can and that means we need our Mandrakes and Banshees, our Kelpies and Krakens and Celts.”
Eager to escape this droll interview, I thanked Ross for her time before returning to the office. Despite the rather disappointing ending to a day full of otherwise enticing aggression, this writer can say this: Readers, Sunday’s Unity Festival promises to be an exciting one full of fiery rivalries and delicious drama. I believe you would be foolish to miss it as it will provide gossip for weeks, I am sure. Ta-ra. ♥
Editor’s Note: The Unity Festival will be held in Hogsmeade on Sunday, March 28th, 2028. Proceeds will be going to St. Mungo’s to assist in the care of those duelists injured during the Goblin Attack on the Spring Open Dueling Tournament. Events include a dueling exhibition seeing Nishi vs Ross and Crush vs Nicholson. Also featuring a Broom Race against noted Quidditch pros such as Vitrac of the Holyhead Harpies and Sterling of the Ballycastle Bats, Qhroma, and more. Brought to you by Fizzie Hard Pumpkin Juice and the Ministry of Magic.