Welcome to Lesson Four, everyone. I hope you have been studying and practicing the spells you have learned thus far, since several of them will be needed in order to effectively combat the creatures we will be discussing over the next several lessons. Today will be a great day for those of you who are tricksters at heart, since one of our creatures is a natural trickster. The other is a natural guardian and spends its days living in trees that have known magical associations. In fact, these creatures effectively represent the two sides of Defense Against the Dark Arts, but more on that in just a bit. Today we will be learning about imps and bowtruckles.
However, before we delve too far into the wonderful world of magical creatures, it is important that you all understand exactly why we call a beast what we do. There is much history to be found and information that will clarify the confusion that will arise if we simply discuss the beasts themselves.
Beasts and Their Classifications
As you will see through our lesson, magical creatures have native origins all over the world. Some are isolated to specific locations while others have migrated and adapted to new environments. In the same way that humans do, creatures look for new environments that allow them to expand and thrive, which is why we see these migrations happen.
The Ministry of Magic regulates and controls the location of all magical creatures, making note of where they are located and keeping detailed records. They also have set the definitions of what a beast is. At its base, a beast is one of the three categories of life forms as recognized by the Ministry of Magic. The three defined categories are:
For the purpose of this lesson, we will not delve into too much detail about beings and spirits. For now, simply be aware that the Ministry defines a being as “any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws” and a spirit is a special classification that was created for ghosts when they felt it was an insult to classify them as beings.
We then turn our attention to beasts. According to the Ministry of Magic, a beast is simply the opposite of a being - the magical creatures of our world that do not have sufficient intelligence to understand nor assist in shaping the laws of the magical community. However, there are certain exceptions to these categories. Merpeople and centaurs are sentient creatures that have demonstrated intelligence that could be extremely beneficial to the development of the laws of the magical community; however, they are classified as beasts by personal choice. Both races claimed it would be an offense to be categorized as a being alongside certain other creatures, such as hags and vampires. There are also creatures, such as the sphinx and the Acromantula, that could qualify as beings, but due to their bloodthirsty nature, are considered to be too violent to be categorized as beings and therefore are seen as beasts. Some people have attempted to take it a step further and categorize Muggles as beasts. This has never been entertained by the Ministry and nor will it be entertained in this classroom.
The current definition of a beast was developed in 1811 by the Minister of Magic at the time, Grogan Stump. Once the definition was established, the beast division was formed within the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
Each creature that is categorized as a beast is also given a classification. There are five levels of classification that range from “boring” to “known wizard killer.” As the classification increases, so to does the level of difficulty in handling the creature. The classifications are as follows:
As First Year students in this first Defense Against the Dark Arts course, we will mostly be studying creatures that are classified as XX and XXX. These creatures are fairly easy to deal with and, with the proper training that I will provide, you should have no problems handling them.
Now that we have discussed all of the technical information surrounding Beasts, let us begin talking about the beasts themselves. We shall begin with a discussion of the imp.
Imps are beasts classified as XX by the Ministry of Magic. Their location of origin is in Britain and Ireland, though they have spread around the globe. They stand at about six to eight inches tall and are often compared to pixies, though the only biological similarity is their height. An imp has no wings and is far less threatening than the pixie.
Imps are known tricksters. They tend to stick to marshy areas, where it is easy to lure a target astray. In most cases, the imp will only do minimal harm to a person: tripping them, dropping branches on them, etc. However, there have been several instances where a prank an imp has pulled has gone dramatically wrong and the victim ended up dead. These pranks are seen primarily as an offensive tactic.
Imps also have minor magical abilities. Though it is clear that they do not have the capability of casting many, if any, spells, there are recorded instances where imps have been observed apparating (a form of travel where a witch, wizard, or creature disappears from one spot and appears in a different location). This would require, at minimum, a small amount of magical ability.
Assuming you can recognize and discover the location of the imp you are battling, they are relatively easy to handle. All someone has to do is cast the Knockback Jinx (a spell I will soon teach you) on them and the force of being pushed backwards will momentarily stun the imp. While the imp is stunned, you have the opportunity to escape. You can also use the Verdimillious Charm, since the sparks will startle the imp and distract it long enough for you to escape.
One final note about imps. There have been a few instances where imps have allowed a witch or wizard to keep them as a pet. However, an imp will only stay with a witch or wizard whom they believe to be a true prankster at heart. For example, I believe that, prior to the Battle of Hogwarts, George Weasley would have had no difficulty attaining an imp as a pet. He may still even be capable of it, though he may not find it as easy as he once did.
Just as the imps are our representative of an offensive creature, bowtruckles are our representative of a defensive based creature. Bowtruckles are short, measuring no taller than eight inches, and are classified as XX. They are incredibly difficult to spot, since they essentially are tree creatures and their natural protection and defense system is to blend in with the tree in which they live.
It is important to note that Bowtruckles will not live in just any tree; they will only live in trees that are capable of producing wand wood. This is one of the many methods that expert wandmakers will use to determine whether a tree will give them high quality wand wood.
Bowtruckles are not dangerous creatures as long as you keep your distance from their tree. They are completely unaffected by magic, so the only method of defense is placating them with their favorite foods. Bowtruckles love woodlice and, as a delicacy, fairy eggs. If you approach a tree that houses a Bowtruckle and need to get away, offer the Bowtruckle woodlice and/or fairy eggs. They will begin to eat the offerings and will no longer be paying attention to you.
If, though, you are unfortunate and have no delicious offerings for a Bowtruckle, your best chance is to get as far from their tree as possible. Despite their small size, they are vicious creatures and their fingers, which they only have two of on each hand, can dig deep into a person’s skin. This leaves some serious marks, though the Bowtruckle will let go immediately if you get far enough away from their tree.
Before you all leave for today, I want to further explain a statement I made at the beginning of this lesson now that you will fully be able to understand it. After studying these two creatures, you have been given your first experience with both sides of defending against the Dark Arts. Learning to take the defensive, such as the nature of the Bowtruckle, is critical, but it is also important that you learn when it is best to go on the offensive the way an imp does. A Bowtruckle is a guardian and will only take to the offensive when it absolutely has to. An imp, on the other hand, will attack just because it can.
That leaves us with one final thought. Which type of witch or wizard are you? Are you the type who will go straight to the offensive or will you stay back and defend, attacking only when necessary? Being able to answer this question will serve you well as you move forward and will be placed in more difficult situations where you will need to know how you normally react in order to best determine the most effective defense for yourself. Defend or attack?
The Knockback Jinx
Whether you are the type of person who tends to go on offensive or more the type to hold back and defend, there will always be a need for offensive spells. The spell I will now teach you is one of those basic offensive spells that will help protect you from most of the creatures you will learn about this year. The spell is called the Knockback Jinx and, as you may have guessed from the name, it pushes a target backwards when cast properly.
This spell is generally an easy spell, though it requires more concentration than you might be used to, since you need to be able to concentrate completely on the effect and the target; if you do not, you may find that another target is getting pushed back instead of the intended target or that the target does not move at all. You will only need enough willpower to push the target as far as you want it to go, so less willpower means less strength in the force pushing the target backwards. Finally, you will need to move your wand in a downward diagonal to the right, followed by an upward diagonal movement to the right and ending with a swish while saying the incantation “Flipendo” (fli-PEN-doh).
If cast correctly, a blue light will shoot out of your wand towards the target. The target will feel as if they have been punched in the chest (if they can feel such a thing, since this can be cast on inanimate objects that have no feeling) and will be knocked backwards due to the impact, hence the name. Below you will find your spell block for the Knockback Jinx.
Spell: The Knockback Jinx
Incantation: Flipendo (fli-PEN-doh)
Wand Movement: A downward diagonal to the right, followed by an upward diagonal movement to the right and ending with a swish
Willpower: Low to moderate
You will find that there is a quiz and an extra credit essay option for today’s lesson. I look forward to seeing your work and seeing you return to class next session.