"Will Macbeth and Venus please enter the arenus? 'Arenus'? Get it?" Pierre Salisbury said, making an awful attempt at a rhyme.
Everyone in the audience settled down with their popcorn and root beer floats, eager for this match between a tragic hero in Shakespeare and the goddess of love to commence.
Mostafa blew his whistle.
"I will allow the woman to go first," said Macbeth.
"As you wish, hottie," said Venus. "I'll summon the Queen of Hearts!"
"Did that goddess just call her rival hottie?" someone in the audience asked, incredulously. "I didn't think Venus was a teenager."
"She can be anything she wants to be," said the person sitting next to the latter speaker. "If it weren't for her, there'd be no love."
"What does being 'hot' have to do with love?" asked yet another person.
"Quiet in the audience!" Pierre Salisbury shouted over the loudspeaker. "We don't need your bickering to harm the combatants' concentrations."
"Against your Queen of Hearts, I'll summon Toto!"
A Welsh terrier appeared in Macbeth's area. Some people in the audience stared.
Toto barked and ran for the Queen of Hearts' dress. She kept saying, "Off with your head!" and running around in circles. But Toto got a bite of her heel, and she kicked him, causing him to fly high in the air and fall crashing to the ground.
"Toto is out; Queen of Hearts survives!" Mostafa exclaimed.
"Okay, then, as thane of Cawdor, I summon Lord Voldemort!"
A tall man wearing black robes with slits for eyes appeared on Macbeth's side. He held a wand in his hand.
"Off with your head!" the Queen of Hearts yelled, as Voldemort said, "Avada Kedavra!"
The Queen of Hearts dodged the first beam of green light that went for her, but the second hit right on target. She fell down in a lump, screaming "Off with—"
Mostafa blew his whistle. "Venus, choose your next character."
"I choose Dustfinger!"
A man with light blond hair appeared. He had burns on his face, as if he had been around a lot of fire.
Voldemort yawned, pointed his wand at Dustfinger and said, "Avada Kedavra." The spell caused a wolf of fire that Dustfinger had created to dissipate. Voldemort's second spell hit a fire-spider, the third a flame-hippopotamus, and the fourth a blaze-giraffe. These animals of fire confused Voldemort, and it wasn't until Dustfinger's hands were on the wizard's neck, and he caused his own body heat to reach 5600 degrees that Voldemort turned around and said, "You done?" after which he aimed a final spell at Dustfinger.
"Well, that was...interesting," Hassan Mostafa said. Some people in the audience were muttering about how much they loved that battle. "But now we come to Venus' last and final character. What shall it be?"
"I choose Bellatrix Lestrange!" Venus exclaimed, clearly thinking that no one would kill someone who loves them. The witch she chose had lines of misery from all her years spent in Azkaban, but she smiled seductively at Voldemort.
"You stupid Muggle-hater!" Venus shouted out. "Bellatrix loves you; why do you want to kill her? Wait, I know! Bellatrix, use a Time-Turner to take you back to when you looked beautiful!"
"I am beautiful still!" Bellatrix snarled, barely evading Voldemort's most recent blast of green light. "And a Time-Turner would take forever!"
"You are not allowed to tell your character what to do!" Hassan Mostafa bellowed. "Didn't they teach you the rules before you entered this tournament?"
Venus shut up and watched helplessly as Voldemort killed Bellatrix with his spell. The goddess of love hung her head and almost missed the last shout of "Avada Kedavra!" that would be heard in a Fiction Tournament for a long time.
The last jet of green hit the thrane of Cawdor square on his chest. He fell down in a heap and Voldemort Disapparated.
Hassan Mostafa and the audience stared in disbelief. "This is outrageous!" Pierre Salisbury said over the loudspeaker. "Macbeth won the battle, but he died afterward. Mostafa, report to me. A panel of judges will decide how we will handle this unprecedented situation. This break may last longer than twelve minutes. Venus, don't count yourself out of the tournament just yet."
Venus walked back to the meeting room, where Thursday and all the rest of the combatants were.
"So Macbeth is hot, isn't he? Am I hot too?" Frollo asked.
Venus didn't know whether to shake her head or laugh.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to hit on you. I just want a little Esmeralda…a gypsy girl. Her dancing is too luscious…oh, now I'm talking like a madman. Excuse me."
Thursday patted Venus on the shoulder as Frollo ran out. "I bet Voldemort will be banned from competition in all future Fiction Tournaments. The ordeal you were put through was just too much."
"I think Macbeth got what he deserved!" said the Mermaid.
"Now, now, Mermaid. No need to judge someone because he used a uberly powered character that isn't banned yet," Thursday said.
"Wow, that Voldemort character is worse than the kraken!" Bastian exclaimed.
"You're right, Atreyu," said Humbert Humbert.
"I'm not Atreyu. I'm Bastian Balthazar Bux. Atreyu has green skin; I do not."
"Oh, well," said Humbert. "What do I care if I get little boys' names mixed up? All I like are little girls."
"Macbeth is no hottie," Lydia said, putting her arms around Venus. "I'll show you some real hotties. Like my boyfriend, Wickham."
"What are you girls babbling about?" Fagin asked, though he didn't care.
"None of your business," said Lydia.
"'The chief business of America is business'," Babbitt quoted.
"How long will it be before they make a decision? If it's too long, I'll be late for a tea party," the White Rabbit said.
"You're late for everything," Thursday commented.
"I know, but I thought that for once it'd be nice to be on time."
There was knock on the door and Thursday went to answer it. A fat guy wearing a gypsy outfit and pushing a hot-dog cart came through. "Paradise Hot Dogs for sale!" he said.
"I'll take one," Bastian said, pulling out some money.
"I'm not selling to you!" the fat man exclaimed, after looking Bastian up and down. In fact, the only person the fat man agreed to sell to was Frollo, though he ate about six hot dogs himself before leaving the meeting room.
"Announcement!" Pierre Salisbury shouted over the loudspeaker. "We have decided to not continue this year's Fiction Tournament. It's too dangerous. Please go home."
"What?!" several people said.
"But I'm supposed to win this tournament!" Fagin said.
"I'm already late for a tea party! If I had known this tournament wouldn't go on, I'd have gone to the party instead."
"I haven't kissed Lucy Pevensie yet!"
Thursday pulled a whistle out from beneath her bodice. "Everybody quiet down! I'll go talk to the emcee and the referee and get this whole thing straightened out."
Thursday traipsed around the arena and saw some people leaving the building. "Hey, don't go yet!" she shouted at them.
"But Salisbury said that it's over."
"Once I get through with Salisbury, he'll be a pound of steak," Thursday muttered to herself. Out loud she said, "Just stay put. I'm sure there'll be an announcement very soon saying that the Fiction Tournament is back on. Then you'll be sorry you left."
She hurried away from them toward the Oval Room in which sat Pierre Salisbury, Hassan Mostafa, and a few others.
"Thursday, what a pleasant surprise," Pierre Salisbury said, sounding anything but pleased.
"Stuff it, Salisbury. I think the Tournament should continue."
"But under the circumstances…surely you must see what will happen? Everybody will use Voldemort against one another. The first Voldemort to win will defeat the other two characters the opponent conjures. Then he may do what he did to Macbeth. We can't have that."
"Harry Potter could overcome Voldemort," Thursday pointed out.
"So he may. And perhaps some creature unaffected by magic. But Thursday…surely you see the problem here? The audience will get bored seeing the Voldemort-Voldemort match-ups, and then Harry Potter conquering Voldemort. The only thing the audience will find interesting is who the combatant chooses to fight Harry Potter. We're facing something far worse than the Smaug-Bilbo tedium that we see almost every tournament."
"Just ban Voldemort, then."
This time Hassan Mostafa spoke. "Miss Next, I'm sorry to tell you this, but the present committee has no authority with banning a character from a fictional tournament. Besides, the kraken is supposed to be the only banned creature. It has been that way for decades, and we want to keep a status quo, see?"
"The only thing I see here is belligerent corruption," Thursday said. "Even if you don't have the power to ban Lord Voldemort forever in tournaments, you can ban him from this tournament. Even if you don't ban him, do you really think anyone out there would use Voldemort after what the last one did to Macbeth?"
"Yes, we do think so," said one of the other people in the room, who was wearing an oddly-shaped hat. "Some people out there just want to win. They don't care if they risk losing their lives in the process."
"Couldn't there be a barrier between the combatants and the area in which their characters fight, so that anything aimed at the combatants won't harm them?"
"No barrier that could be constructed in an adequate amount of time," said the referee.
"Look, you are breaking people's hearts by ending this Fiction Tournament just because of one little problem. There probably won't be any audience next year, because they'll expect it to get called off again. Do you want that?"
Everybody except Pierre Salisbury shook their heads. "Thursday, it really isn't…practical for us to just ban Voldemort for this tournament. The Fiction Battles Committee in Jurisfiction will see it as an act of insubordination. I might lose my job."
"Salisbury, if you don't reinstate this tournament, I will ensure that you lose your job. There'll be no 'might' about it."
Pierre glared at Thursday, but grabbed a microphone next to his desk, which was connected to the loudspeaker. "The Fiction Tournament is back on, with one amendment to the rules. Lord Voldemort is banned. Audience, please return to your seats outside the arena. Someone in the basement, go count how many empty seats there are in the audience area, and go sell tickets at a nearby grocery store or something, since assuredly some of our audience has left. The next match will commence in half an hour, or whenever all of our seats are refilled. That is all."
After Salisbury put down the microphone, Thursday asked him, "What about Venus?"
"What about her?"
"Macbeth obviously can't continue in the Tournament."
"She lost; she's out."
Hassan Mostafa interrupted her. "Thursday, if there is no tie, Venus can go on. If there is a tie, she cannot."
Thursday nodded, not quite satisfied but supposing this answer sufficed. She left the room.