It was the Sunday night after Thanksgiving when Willow had another disturbing dream. In it, she was standing in the forest grove, watching it burn. In the midst of it was the giant American Indian, screaming a word that sounded like ‘Peshtang!’ That was the only word he said, as he just screamed it over and over. She woke up in a sweat. Peshtang? I wonder if that’s a dark curse too? It took her a long time to fall back asleep, the silhouette of the man against the flames seemed etched on the back of her eyelids.
The following day at lunch, Willow, Lef, Incheon and Sib were all sitting together. Lily had gone off to work on some of her new Quidditch moves with the Featherpenny team.
“Lef, I need a favor,” Willow said to her. “I need you to ask Mr. Zolock about something I heard.”
“Okay. Why can’t you ask?” Lef questioned.
“Well, I got in trouble last time, so I’m afraid to ask again,” Willow said.
“So you want me to get in trouble instead?”
“No, it’s...I just think that if someone different asks, he won’t get upset.”
“Alright,” Lef said, unconvinced. “What do you want me to ask him?”
“What ‘Peshtang‘ means,” said Willow. The three others stared at her. “What?” Willow asked them. “What did I say?”
“Where did you hear that?” asked Lef, her eyes fixed on Willow's.
“It...it was in a dream” said Willow.
“With a giant American Indian in the middle of burnin’ woods?” asked Sib.
Willow looked at Sib. “How did you...how is that even possible for two people to have the same dream?” she asked.
“Not two people,” said Lef. “I dreamed it too. He just kept screaming ‘Peshtang’ over and over. It was creepy.”
“Wait, so we all had exactly the same dream?” asked Willow, looking at Incheon.
“Yep,” said Incheon. “Me too. That is too weird. Did you guys also have the one where the giant pickle in underpants chases you with a bologna sandwich?”
“Uh....no?” said Willow.
“Oh,” said Incheon. “I guess that one was just me.”
“What do you think it means?” asked Willow, turning to the others.
“That I’m hungry for a bologna sandwich?” said Incheon.
“She means the dream about the burning woods, Incheon,” said Lef.
“Oh...right,” he replied. “I have no idea.”
“Did you have any of the other dreams?” Willow asked the others. Everyone nodded their head.
“There was one where he shot a glowing arrow from his bow,” said Sib.
“I wonder if anyone else had them? asked Willow. "I’m going to ask Norbert. Each of you should ask someone too.”
Nobody seemed to have had the dreams besides the four of them. Willow was able to confront Norbert in the Hammersmith homeroom the next morning to ask about the dream, but he didn’t know anything about it. In Care of Magical Creatures, Lef told Willow that she checked with two of her first-year housemates and neither of them had the dream. Likewise, after Nomaj Studies, Sib told her that neither Oliver nor Otto from Featherpenny had the dream, and Incheon said nobody in Suncorn knew what he was talking about when he brought it up, and that -more importantly- nobody else had his pickle-in-underpants dream either.
Willow, Lef and Sib met at the library after scarfing a quick lunch. Incheon was still eating his meal, and told them to start without him. Lily wasn’t with them as she was spending every free hour practicing with the Featherpenny team in preparation for their upcoming match against Murgatroyd.
“Now we know that only the four of us shared the dreams,” said Willow. “And we were the ones who were unsorted. While we’re looking for anything on the school’s founders, we should probably keep our eyes out for the word ‘Peshtang’ too, since Mr. Zolock didn’t know anything about it when you asked, Lef.”
They went into the archive section of the library and started searching the shelves. All of the books in this section were hundreds of years old, and the room smelled of slowly decaying parchment. Willow looked at the titles of the books: ‘Historia Herbologia’; ‘A Treatise of Magical Nature; ‘The Compleat Potion Master’; ‘Arithmancia Universalis’. Nothing looked like it was useful. After five more minutes of searching, Sib found something.
“Hey,” he said “look at this.” He had a book entitled ‘A General History of Gampton Hall and its Environs’.
“Great,” said Willow. “You check that out while we see what else we can find.”
Over the next half hour, they all found something to look through. Sib was still going through the book he had found while Willow was looking through ‘The Book of Gampton Hall’ and Lef was reading ‘An Account of the Lives and Works of the First Settlers of Gampton', which referenced the nearby wizard village which was settled at the same time as the school.
“This is useless,” said Willow after looking through the whole volume. “This book’s first chapter starts in 1765, but we know that Gampton Hall was founded in 1720. It’s like the first forty-five years didn’t happen at all.”
“I know,” said Lef. “There’s nothing in here about the founding of Gampton Hall, or ‘Peshtang’ or ‘Pathfinder’. What have you found, Sib?”
“Nuthin’,” he said. “When they wrote ‘A General History’, they meant it. This book’s got no details at all. It don’t even say when it was written.”
Incheon walked in with five minutes to go before they had to leave for their next class. “Wummmf I miff?” he tried to say through a completely full mouth, his cheeks puffed out in a comical impersonation of a chipmunk.
“Incheon, why did you stuff your face so full you couldn’t talk?” asked Lef.
“Weww I caww eee iww wuh wiwawy”, he said, still working his way through whatever he had stuffed in there. The rest of them watched as he spent the next thirty seconds chewing and swallowing a mouthful of food.
“Now why did you stuff your face so full you couldn’t talk?” asked Lef again.
“Well, I can’t eat in the library,” he said. “And I’m not throwing away a perfectly good sandwich. Now, am I too late to help?”
“Yes,” said Willow. “We didn’t find anything here.”
“Perfect,” said Incheon.
As Willow and Sib headed off to climb the North stair to Astronomy class, Willow was wondering what to do next. I wonder if Mr. Z would know anything about shared dreams?
“Shared, you say?” questioned Mr. Zolock when Willow stopped by to see him before going down to Care of Magical Creatures Club. “That sounds like something Penelope would know.”
“Penelope, sir?” inquired Willow.
“Miss Pyx,” said Mr. Zolock. “She’s the Mysticism teacher.”
“You think she can tell me what it means?” asked Willow.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” replied Mr. Zolock. “But if anyone can, it’s her.”
“Before I go,” said Willow, changing the subject. “A group of us went to the archives to look for information on the founding of Gampton Hall, but we couldn’t find anything. Do you know why?”
“I’m afraid all the books relating to the history of Gampton Hall before 1764 were lost in the fire,” said Mr. Zolock. “The remainder of the original collection is there, but strangely enough, not a single history text remains. It’s tragic. I’d just die to know what those first years were like.”
Willow was able to stop in the Mysticism classroom the next morning instead of going to the Hammersmith homeroom. She walked into the classroom and saw Miss Pyx setting crystal balls out on tables around the room.
“Hello, Miss Pyx,” said Willow. “Mr. Zolock suggested I come find you. Could I ask you about something?”
“Certainly,” said Miss Pyx, setting down the crystal ball in her hands and coming over to where Willow was standing. “Although I don’t think we’ve met.”
“I’m Willow Carter.”
“Of course,” said Miss Pyx with a smile. “Well, that’s one mystery solved.”
Willow looked at her with a puzzled look. “Ma’am?”
“Well,” said Miss Pyx, ”I start each day with divination. Today I saw in the crystal that I would have a very important visit from a tree, which of course didn’t make much sense at the time, but here you are. Now, Willow, what important news do you bring?”
“What does it mean when a group of people share a dream?” Willow asked.
“Do you mean a vision or an unconscious dream?” asked Miss Pyx.
“While we’re sleeping,” said Willow.
“Well, that’s extremely rare,” Miss Pyx said. “There have been cases, but...” She paused and looked at Willow. “Is this a hypothetical question?”
“Actually, no,” said Willow. “Three of my friends and I shared the same dreams.”
“Wait,” said Miss Pyx. “Dreams, plural?”
“Yes,” replied Willow. “Three of them.”
“Well, Willow,” said Miss Pyx. “You have my attention. Please, sit down and tell me about what you dreamed.”
After Miss Pyx and Willow sat down at one of the tables, Willow told her about the first dream, where the American Indian said he was a hunter and the second one in which he said that he had been looking for them and then shot out the glowing arrow. She then told Miss Pyx about visiting Mr. Zolock and finding out what the figure had said was a dark magic curse. Miss Pix’s eyes opened like the Cheshire Cat's when she said this, but she asked Willow to go on. Then Willow relayed the third dream with the American Indian screaming ‘Peshtang’ in the burning woods. Miss Pyx hung on every word. When Willow finished, the teacher looked down at the table for a moment before she looked back up with a troubled look on her face.
“I don’t know what your dream means, Willow,” she said. “It doesn’t have the normal symbols and references that I teach in oneiromancy…” She saw Willow’s confusion and clarified; “…it’s the study of a dreams’ meaning. I’m also troubled about the reference to Dark Magic, which you shouldn’t know anything about...not even in your subconscious mind.” Miss Pyx turned and started staring out the window “...path of darkness...” she muttered to herself.
“Miss Pyx?” said Willow. “Are you alright?”
Coming back to the present, she turned her head to look at Willow. “Who else has had these dreams?” she asked.
Willow rattled off Lef, Incheon, and Sib’s names for her. “Are we in trouble?” Willow asked.
“No, I...” Miss Pyx stopped and took a deep breath. “I have to talk to the Chancellor,” she said. “Can you come with me? I’ll write you a note if you are going to be late to your next class.”
Willow nodded and followed her down the main staircase three floors to the Chancellor’s office. What’s going on? thought Willow as they approached the Chancellor’s door. Why are a bunch of weird dreams so important? They entered and addressed the secretary.
“Andrea, I have to see the Chancellor,” Miss Pyx said to her. “It’s urgent.”
Urgent? Willow was trying to figure out what was happening. I had these dreams months ago...it’s not like it’s the end of the world or anything.
“I can delay his morning meeting,” the secretary said. “Go on in, Penelope.”
Miss Pyx turned to Willow. “I need you to wait out here,” she said. “I’ll come get you in a few minutes.”
The secretary directed Willow to the waiting area while Miss Pyx crossed the room and entered the Chancellor’s office, closing the door behind her. Willow tried to overhear the conversation, but it was too muffled by the closed door. She heard the Chancellor remark “dark magic!” and “my goodness!” and then later, “go?” from Miss Pyx, but the rest was lost.
He certainly sounded hot and bothered about it, thought Willow. I hope we’re not in trouble. After ten minutes, both Miss Pyx and the Chancellor emerged from his office. The Chancellor left without even a glance in Willow’s direction, but Miss Pyx came over to talk to her.
“Come back to my office, Willow,” she said in a low voice. “I have some information for you.”
“There is a prophecy,” started Miss Pyx when they got back to her office and she had closed the door. “This prophecy relates the exposure of the magical world to the nomaj, the downfall of the current magical government, and the endangerment of everything the magical community holds dear.” She took a deep breath and continued. “No one outside of the highest government officials knows the entire prophecy. Nobody here at Gampton Hall knows more than a few pieces of it. We have been instructed by MACUSA to enforce their ban on Dark Arts, and to inform them immediately if we determine that the fifth house has started at Gampton Hall.”
“The hat…” said Willow.
“Yes,” said Miss Pyx. “When I told the Chancellor about who had these dreams and about their dark magic content, he agreed that MACUSA should be informed.”
“Why are you telling me all this?” asked Willow.
“Because the Chancellor also decided that the four of you should be expelled from the school.”
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