Ness McLeod, Aladren
An invasive pest.
Mon Nov 12, 2018 07:35

Ness peered at the Horklumps, trying to feel enthusiastic. A combination of growing up in the magical world and being the kind of student who spent a lot of time reading the textbook meant that the first year had recognised them immediately. Recognition and excitement were not the same thing though. Horklumps did not seem very fun or appealing. Sure, it was wrong to judge based on appearance, but… well, they didn’t really do much either. So, they were probably going to spend a lesson looking at not-particularly-appealing-to-look-at squishy mushroom things.

The most exciting part by far was when Professor Taransay asked them questions. Ness’ hand shot up to identify the creatures but the Professor called on someone else. This turned out to be one of those days where that was a blessing in disguise. It was always hard to know whether to put your hand up for the first question because it was almost always disappointingly easy and a better question followed. But if you didn’t put your hand up, it looked like you either didn’t know or didn’t care, and sometimes there weren’t any bonus questions. Professor Taransay had three questions today though, and Ness got to answer the third one, about why introducing new species was dangerous.

“Species that are non-native may have advantages such as having no natural predators in the new environment, or being a predator to an existing species which doesn’t know that it needs to avoid them. Additionally, human activity can be disrupted if farmers don’t have methods in place to protect their crops from a given species. There have been instances in both the Muggle and Magical worlds where non-native species have decimated local flora and fauna, and caused significant damage to agriculture. Horklumps would be particularly problematic in this way because they can be very difficult to control even within their native environment,” Ness explained, not really considering the fact that some students lacked English as a first language, or that even those who had it might not routinely use words like ‘decimated.’

Ness liked to answer questions in class, and especially in Care of Magical Creatures. It wasn’t the first year’s favourite subject (although anyone who said it was unacademic clearly wasn’t paying attention to the broader issues raised such as species decemation and conservation, which were both important and complex), and Professor Taransay had had to be demoted to being Ness’ second favourite teacher after Kir had shared the story of Professor Hawthorne teaching the intermediates all about human sexuality. But he was still head of Aladren, and thus impressing him mattered a great deal. Plus he had a really nice Scottish accent. He was also good looking in a really pretty boy conventional way that was not Ness’ type and that totally wasn’t part of why answering his questions well mattered. Except that, underneath the stereotypical adventurer exterior, he had to surely be in touch with his sensitive side if he took care of animals all the time, so maybe it was ok to fancy him just a little bit… So long as it was for that, and not how he looked.

Ness approached the horklumps with a tray of earthworms. Although the first year was vegetarian, this sort of task was not a problem. Horklumps weren’t vegetarian. Things in nature ate each other. That was just how it was. How they were meant to feed the horklumps was an issue though. Ness was well aware of how horklumps ate, but getting the worms to the relevant part of them was going to be a challenge. Ness was still thinking about this when someone moved close enough that it seemed like they might be going to speak to Ness.

“I’m working out how best to get the worms underground,” Ness explained. The last thing the first year wanted was someone pointing out that they needed to do that, on the assumption that Ness was standing there puzzled because of not knowing that. Ness did know that. “The horklump feeds using tentacle root-like structures,” the Aladren added, in case the other person didn’t know, “We could dig up some earth and put the worms down, but they might burrow away when they sensed a predator nearby. It seems unsporting to stun them though. I’m guessing that earthworm species are not vastly different by continent, or that these are at least local to Sonora because if they weren’t, Professor Taransay would have given us stricter instructions on not letting them get away, so that’s probably not a concern. I say we dig up the soil, place them in the small trenches we create so that we can observe whether they horklumps catch them, but don’t stun them because it’s just mean. Though I suppose knowing you’re being eaten isn’t a pleasant experience. If they were stunned, they wouldn’t know. But they also wouldn’t have a chance to escape. What do you think?” the Aladren asked, starting to feel a pang of sympathy and discomfort over feeding one live creature to another. Sure, it was how it was in nature, but normally Ness didn’t have to be involved. It felt a lot more like murder to be the one actively putting the earthworms in with the horklumps.

  • Is it a plant? Is it a mammal? No, it's... [Beginners]Professor Rory Taransay, Tue Nov 6 10:55
    Today’s Care of Magical Creatures lesson was outside, and Rory had made sure to prewarn his class beforehand, so that no one had a good excuse for going to the wrong place. They met by a grassy... more
    • Where is the other one?Heinrich Hexenmeister, Aladren, Tue Nov 13 16:13
      Heinrich recognized the Horklump immediately. His mom had dealt with an outbreak of them in her garden one year. They weren’t unknown in Germany, having spread through most of northern Europe, though ... more
    • An invasive pest. — Ness McLeod, Aladren, Mon Nov 12 07:35
      • I'm proud of your brain, friend. Evelyn Stones, Pecari, Thu Nov 15 20:24
        Evelyn did not know what horklumps were and she did not particularly feel privileged to be finding out. At the same time, Care of Magical Creatures was a favorite class of hers and she was as happy... more
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