Harry was on the ground. He didn't know why. He didn't remember moving but was truly glad he had when he felt the impact of the troll's club smashing into the flagstones where he had previously stood. Fumbling for his wand, he tried to take stock of his situation.
The troll was close. Close enough that he didn't even need to breathe to be assaulted by the putrid odour of the twelve foot monster. Trolls don't bathe very often. He wasn't happy to relearn that fact but it was hardly the worst thing about his predicament.
The enormous club it was holding might have been, though. And the troll had quickly realised that the tiny man was not squished as it should have been and was taking another swing to fix that, forcing Harry to dive for safety again.
'How the hell did we beat this thing last time?!' Harry asked himself frantically as he staggered to his feet and the troll turned to face him again. The two stared at each other, rage clearly visible in the troll's eyes, wide-eyed fear in Harry's. The troll was close to the door, so there was no easy escape. He would either need to bypass the creature or bring it down. Both options were daunting. Getting past the troll would mean risking getting in range of that club and there wouldn't be much room for dodging. The bathroom wasn't large.
Bringing it down, though? How?! Fist-fighting it would be ridiculously one-sided and the few spells he knew weren't likely to work. It was a terrible option... But that didn't stop it being the best option he had. "Expelliarmus!" Harry exclaimed as he pointed his wand, a red light flying from it and striking the troll.
The troll, in turn, reacted not in the slightest. Except possibly becoming somehow more angry. It knew what the light was supposed to mean. It had been brought into the school by a wizard, after all. It adjusted it's grip on its weapon and snarled menacingly. To Harry, it seemed to be taunting. As if to say 'is that all you have?'
It wasn't all Harry had. He had a multitude of funny little nothing spells at his disposal that were no good to him here. He had the levitation charm – the one used to beat the troll last time – but without a proper distraction it couldn't take the club as it had last time. There was one more spell. Something he had learned for basic self-defense but had no idea of the cost at the time. To an eleven year old boy, it was surprisingly tiring to cast once.
Harry didn't know how many it would take, but he knew very well it would take more than one. It would be a coin flip as to who went down first.
The troll was done waiting for Harry to act. The tiny man had nothing left to fight with. So the tiny man would go squish. It started taking slow, intentionally heavy steps towards Harry, watching the fear build ever greater in the boy's eyes.
"Stupefy!" Harry squeaked, swinging his wand upward as it released a red bolt of light that struck the troll in the centre of its bulky torso.
The troll paused momentarily, touching the spot the stunning spell had struck. It didn't hurt. But something was different. The thing the tiny man said. He had heard it before. It was a weapon. The tiny man had a real weapon.
The troll grinned, a vicious smile that promised pain. It had a real fight now. The tiny man might die well.
The troll was moving again. No more slow, intimidating footsteps. It was intent on finishing, on squishing the tiny man before he could strike again.
Harry panicked at seeing the troll move on him so fast. He swung the wand upward again, sending another stunning spell the troll's way. But the fear had done harm to Harry's aim. The spell had missed massively and the troll was still coming!
"S-stupefy!" Harry stammered as the troll was almost on him. The troll was hit in the shoulder but with a bit more effort shrugged the spell off again.
Harry was in the club's range.
The troll was done playing with the tiny man. It would squish it with one blow. Raising the club high, it brought it down with both hands and a forceful yell. The flagstones shattered from the impact, spraying debris in all directions.
Harry had barely dodged. He was flat on his back, cut up from the shower of splintered stone. The troll was looming over him, raising the club one last time.
Survival instinct is a powerful thing. Whatever you know or think you know about the afterlife, no one really wants it all to end. Even the suicidal, in the split-second before it's over will hope, will wish for their attempt to fail.
Just so with Harry. With all he knew of what would come after, there was only one thought that was racing through his mind as tears were staining his cheeks. 'I don't want to die!'
And so, as a last act of defiance, he raised his wand one last time.
The troll snarled again as the light slammed into it. It had resisted two. It would resist another!
The troll sank to the ground, it's head dropping into a small puddle at Harry's feet.
Naturally, the moment the troll was unconscious, the door to the toilets was thrown open by a breathless Professor McGonagall.
"I don't know what your problem is."
"You... You don't know what my problem is?! Have you completely forgotten why we started this?"
"For fun. Entertainment. I wanted to watch him fight the troll. All that build up and no payoff? Please."
"The entire point of this was so that we could be surprised again! We knew everything past, present, future and alternate in every reality! And you couldn't help but muck it up in the first decade!"
"So I interfered a bit. Big deal. He came out of it fine."
"The point she's making and you're completely missing, you buffoon, is that this entire system is built upon the cooperation of the subject and that we stay out of it. If we push him around, he might push back, and I made sure he's fully capable of that. We'd have to start over from scratch and I am not doing all of this work again because you decided to throw a tantrum! Am I clear? If you want to go back to knowing everything and being bored out of your skull, you can. But don't ruin it for the rest of us, got it?"
"So what do we do, Merc?"
"Hahhh, another mess already. I'll send him an incentive to continue to play ball."
"The quest reward?"
"No, that would cause too many problems. One of the rewards was a life debt and it would mess things up for her to owe one when she wasn't even there. Oh, I know what I'll give him! Neutral to the situation but a bonus for suffering the whims of an imbecile."
"Mr Potter?! Mr Potter are you alright?!" McGonagall asked, shaking the boy by his shoulders in the hopes of getting a reaction from him.
Mountain Troll defeated!
You defeated a HUGE creature!
Your Courage has greatly increased!
"I... I'm alive?" Harry weakly asked.
"Yes, Mr Potter, are you hurt?" McGonagall asked again, already having decided to send for Madame Pomfrey.
"I'M ALIVE!" Harry shouted with pure relief and joy, throwing his arms into the air. "I didn't die... thish time...!" He slurred as his arms dropped and he succumbed to magical exhaustion.
"This time?" McGonagall wondered to herself, before putting the odd words aside for the sake of getting the boy to the hospital wing. The boy was in no state for rational thinking, she felt justified in throwing out the odd statement from her mind.
The hospital wing was rather like he remembered it when Harry woke up. It even had the same odd medicinal smell that most medical facilities seem to have. That had always confused him. Why would a magical infirmary smell like a Muggle hospital?
Harry's wondering about his surroundings and how he got there was rather rudely interrupted, however, when the familiar message light appeared again in his field of view. Knowing it wouldn't go away until he dealt with it, Harry grumbled "Open".
"Say it! And no grumbling about it!" The voice from before said harshly as the message began.
Not long after, a loud sigh could be heard before another voice spoke. "I would like to apologise to the... participant for my thoughtless actions. Happy?"
"Not in the slightest." The first voice answered. "Right. Merc here again. I would also like to apologise for that unfortunate incident you suffered. I assure you, that was NOT supposed to happen and was the result of an idiot interfering for stupid reasons. Now, since what happened was done deliberately, we at MercuNorn would like to make a peace offering. We would give you the quest reward you missed out on but since that would cause issues within the system, we decided on this alternative. The next time you enter the character select screen, you will be allowed one free unlock for any avatar OR origin."
"Thank you for your continued participation."
"Merc, Design Lead of Champion Game"
"Well that was... something." Harry mumbled as he tried to shake off his grogginess to actually think about what he just heard. Free stuff? Free stuff was good. And somebody was being a prick and almost got him killed. Well, in fairness, that wasn't anything new to Harry. And when most did that they didn't give him free stuff afterwards so... He decided to chalk it up as a win so he didn't have to think about it anymore. Maybe then he could go back to sle-
"Ah, Mr Potter! I see you're awake."
… -eep. "Yes." He grumbled in response. "How wonderful."
"Considering what you went through yesterday, I'll forgive your cheek this time, Mr Potter. But don't make a habit of it." The Hogwarts healer, Poppy Pomfrey admonished. "How do you feel?"
"Tired." He answered instantly, hoping the answer would mean she'd let him sleep more.
"I imagine so. You are suffering a severe case of magical exhaustion, Mr Potter. Care to explain how you managed that?"
"Troll." He answered glibly.
The healer sighed, understanding his condition but losing patience. "Mr Potter, I mean what did you do? If first year spells are leaving you this drained it could mean there is an underlying health issue."
"Muh?" Harry questioned intelligently.
"What. Spells. Did. You. Cast?"
"Ohhh." Harry nodded slowly. "Stunner."
"Stunn-" She started to say in understanding as she wrote it down before stopping. "The stunning spell? Where on earth did you learn that at your age?!"
'Bloody Ravenclaws, learning things they aren't ready for!' Madame Pomfrey complained in her own mind. "How many?"
"Four. Can I go back to sleep now?" Harry asked, pleadingly.
'Four times?! Well, no problems with his magic then, clearly.' "Yes, Mr Potter, you may. You should be recovered enough to return to classes by Monday." The matron told him before noticing he had fallen asleep the instant she said he could. With a long-suffering sigh, she let the boy rest.
By Sunday, Harry was rested enough to at least attend dinner in the Great Hall. His return was greeted with a hug from Hermione followed by a stammered apology and babbled – if well-reasoned – list of reasons why she had done it. Harry cut her embarrassed rambling off by hugging her back.
Ant told him what had been going on while he was laid up. Mostly students were speculating what had really happened with the troll. Dumbledore had apparently settled for saying Harry had 'ran afoul' of the troll and was expected to make a full recovery. 'Sure. No need to give me credit for going mano-a-mano against a twelve foot tall wall of muscle.' Harry had groused internally.
Terry and Ant asked what could have caused him to vanish like he had, assuming it must have been accidental Apparation. Harry was about to agree, citing the example of when he had done it before when he was younger but Hermione cut in saying Apparation is impossible in Hogwarts except for specific areas. And even in those areas you can't Apparate elsewhere in Hogwarts.
From there, a feverish debate had arisen as to the mechanics of Apparation and how the Hogwarts wards suppress the ability and Hermione had ingratiated herself with the Ravenclaws without even realising it.
Which brings us to the Sunday night. Harry, barely awake, was looking through his stats, deciding how to upgrade his skills thanks to his level up from beating the troll. Sixteen points to spend on skills. Having had the importance of combat ability shoved into his face, he decided to spend the points in what he gave the title of the magical combat disciplines. 5 for Battle Magic, 5 for Charms and 5 for Transfiguration, the final point going to Mechanics because why not.
Next was perks. The list had some new items on it.
Requirement: LVL 5, INT level 2
Gain an extra skill point when reading skill books
Requirement: LVL 5, Intelligence level 3
+3 skill points per level
Requirement: LVL 5, Battle Magic 20+
One in ten spells you cast will bounce off an inanimate object to hit an enemy
'Not found any skill books yet. But thanks for reminding me to go look for them again.' He mused. He chose the Educated perk, knowing he could save any books if he finds them and read them when he has the perk that improves them. Proud of his 'inspired' reasoning, he accepted the upgrades and once again let his mind switch off for the night.
A/N: Yup. I'm back. I said in my other story my writer's block is gone. This proves it. Finally got this chapter done. So we have Harry now at level 5 and as such, unlocking the second tier of perks. Not that he can access many since this is the point where they start requiring skills at higher levels. The Ricochet perk is actually the first Battle Magic perk, requiring 20 in that skill.
Now, as I keep mentioning and plugging like crazy, the Fandom Flux podcast is still going strong at 15 episodes. Give us a listen. We're entertaining sometimes. Especially Kenchi, he's so dreamy. Don't know why I'm saying that, being straight. Must be that Sex Panther cologne he wears...
A further note, episode 15 had some pretty severe audio issues so if you're a first time listener, try another episode first. They aren't time sensitive or anything. Episode 11 is when we start to hit our stride, quality-wise, I think. So episodes 11 through 14 would be a good place to start.
So... Yeah. Fandom Flux podcast. Link in my profile. Or google it. It's the first result.
Plugging done. I'm told people want to see Harry's stats when they update. So here we go.
Battle Magic: 20 (+10)
Black Magic: 5
Beast Mastery: 5
Elemental Magic: 5
Heavy Weapons: 5
Transfiguration: 20 (+10)
Parselmouth: Can speak parseltongue
Bird of Prey: Expertise in flying vehicles
Ladykiller: Favourable reactions from the female gender
Kneecapper: Combat stat bonus when facing LARGE creatures or bigger
Cunning Linguist: Learn languages quickly
Educated: +3 skill points per level
Hedwig: Stealth Flyer