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Entry #1

Discussion in 'Q2 - April Flash Competition' started by Xiph0, Apr 20, 2020.

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  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

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    The Eternity Crypt

    No-one knows where the names came from. The Eternity Crypt, the Tomb of Years, the Nightmare Vault.​

    The last one, at least, was understandable. The dreams came and went, strange images from a forgotten time. A time before the rise of the Magical Empire, before the bewitching. The dark age of magic.

    In summer, the dreams were quiet; chased away by bright skies, and the warming sun.

    Halloween, seventy years ago, was when it all started.

    My grandfather remembers that first night, when images of war and suffering, death and pain came to the village in the night. Screams of terror filled the air, and the streets were filled with men, women, children, all blind with panic at what they had seen.

    The glorious Emperor, the Wizard King, in battle, and surrounded by the bodies of his foes. Surrounded by the corpses of children.

    Impossible, I thought, but when we saw him, great and terrible in his victory, everyone believed. The Lord of Enchantments is kind, but in that moment? Everyone believed him cruel. A foul curse, I hoped, the machinations of his shadowy enemies.

    When morning came, the visions were gone. They were always gone, like morning dew before the sun.

    How do I know?

    I know because those visions kept coming. Every year, without fail, those visions arrive with Halloween, and don’t leave until the summer comes. Like my father, and grandfather, I have seen them. They do not leave you.

    We just wanted to stop it. You can understand that, right? We had to stop it, the profane blasphemy of it.

    Even before the nightmares came, no-one went near the cave on the hill by the lake. Too many never returned, or so it was said. I never believed, not really. Even before my grandfather’s time, they said it was a tomb for something best left buried. A demon, or a monster. But I never believed.

    Maybe I should have believed.

    We went out to the cave. Garret, Ada, Will and me. We knew we shouldn’t, everything our parents ever told us, our grandparents too, everything told us not to go. But we went. We just wanted the nightmares to stop.

    I don’t know where, but Garret was able to get his hands on an explosive runestone. One of the ones the Enforcers use to destroy the fortresses of the Enemy. He said it would be easy. We take it down to the deepest level of the caves, and we set it off.

    No curse would survive that.

    So, we went. I waited ‘till Patty had put the kids down for the night. Told her I was going for a walk. Never told her where, as the Lord is my witness.

    As we got closer to the cave, we started to feel it. Like, the nightmares were trying to push their way into our waking minds. You’ve never been up there, you don’t know, but it’s like every part of you just wants to scream and run. We didn’t though. We should have, but we didn’t.

    I don’t think any of us made it to the entrance without pissing ourselves, but we kept going. We’d lived in Hogsmeade our whole life, we wouldn’t let the Cave win. We couldn’t. For our children.

    There were more visions. Different ones. Not just the battle. They didn’t make sense though. Some had the Eternal Emperor, but the others? None of us understood them.

    A cup, a locket, a snake, a book, a tiara, a ring, and a boy. A boy that destroyed them all. Those objects, though, were as dark and terrible as any of the nightmares I’ve seen. Each was possessed by a shade of dark malice and terrible rage. But the vision said they were made by our Lord.

    Lies, they could only have been lies. We pushed on.

    Will was the first to die. As we went deeper, there were these… people? I guess. Like statues, frozen in time. Every one of them screaming, silently and endlessly in the darkness. Will touched one. For a moment, he saw whatever it was the frozen people saw, then he joined them. Fixed in that moment of terror for eternity.

    There were others. A man ran by us. He cried at us to run too, mad with fear, then disappeared around the corner. Then he ran by us again. Same direction, same fear, same cry. Locked a perpetual loop. Cursed by the demon of the crypt.

    There were more of them. Women, children, sealed in their final moments of terror for all time. We couldn’t help them; we couldn’t help Will. We left them to their torment.

    We reached the bottom. There was a huge featureless block of dark stone. We could barely stand to look at it, so terrible was its presence. The Vault of the Demon. Yet, it was perfect. Nightstone, like the King’s Citadel. Smooth and perfect. A galaxy of stars turned slowly in its endless depths.

    Garret threw his runestone at it, and we all tried to run. The running was supposed to be the easy part, but somehow, I tripped. I fell behind a statue of black stone, a perfect image of our Lord.

    The runestone exploded, and the nightstone cracked. The blast rocked the cave, and rocks fell all around. Ada died, then. Her head stoved-in by the falling stones. She rolled down next to me where I hid, sheltered by the Lord.

    When the blast cleared, the Crypt was gone. In its place was no demon, but an old man with black hair, and green eyes. The explosion must have caught him too, because he was nearly dead by the time I reached him. Blood stained the ground.

    He said only one thing to me before he passed. ‘And so ends the last’, he said. His final breath.

    Then, he was dead, and the statue of the Emperor fractured and crumbled.

    Lord Voldemort fell, and everyone remembered Harry Potter.
     
  2. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    I remember there was a Wizard King thing in a previous competition. I wasn't a fan of that one, IIRC, because it just didn't feel like HP. At least in comparison to that there's no more no-maj nomenclature.

    One issue here is the inherent dissonance between an old man recollecting and a child actually experiencing the events. At one point you have "Like, ..." - an unmistakably teenage expression - contrasted with "For our children" - an (overwrought) old man sort of thing to say. It takes already not stellar writing and compounds the issue.

    "Will was the first to die. As we went deeper, there were these... people? I guess." That just doesn't really work. You want to do horror but the writing style doesn't seem suited. It didn't really keep my attention too well.

    I guess this is Harry caught by Voldemort, imprisoned in some of bizarre cave as his final Horcrux, and by accidentally killing him they allowed Voldemort to be killed? I don't really get what the visions meant either and I didn't find myself being too curious either. I think it might've been more hard-hitting if Harry'd been imprisoned in Dread Hogwarts instead, but that might be difficult to get across in as many words.

    2/5 for decent concept and mediocre execution.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2020
  3. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    ~996 words

    (will review afterwards)
     
  4. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    This didn't feel much like a Harry Potter story but I still enjoyed it. Things like Runestones instead of wand waving, for example, make me feel like we should be 700 years off not 70.

    Like BTT I struggled to keep my attention focused.

    Seems like Voldemort cast a... worldwide? spell on everyone to alter their memories. The MC here and his family have dreams more like what really happened.

    They went exploring 'the cave' which really should have been better guarded by Voldemort and ended up freeing Harry, which lead to his death, which led to Voldemort's downfall and everyone remembering what actually happened.

    Kudos for taking the prompt literally as well, setting the story 70 years after canon events. I'm guessing most people will twist it around more.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
  5. soczab

    soczab Groundskeeper

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    Hmm. You are a good writer, but I have to admit I think this was just a bit too obscure for me. I had to read it 2-3 times to get a grasp at what you were hinting at. Which may say something about me as the reader lol. You set the tone very well...sort of dread mystery... but it was just a bit TOO opaque. Maybe if it was a first opening chapter to a longer story it would fit well.
     
  6. bking4

    bking4 Second Year ⭐⭐

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    I think I can boil down my issues with this piece into 3 main categories. Pacing, consistency, and engagement.

    I like the tone that you’re going for, that kind of surrealist, far future dystopian feeling. You’re doling out information about the setting slowly, leaving the specifics of what happened 70 years ago vague. But it makes it difficult to read. Did Voldemort win 70 years ago, or did the dreams start 70 years ago, or are those the same things? I would think not, considering that people thought Voldemort was a good ruler. But I felt lost on my first (and second) read through of this. The introduction is made more difficult because it's being repetitive. You focus more on the dreams that came and went, which is a really cool idea, and less on establishing exactly what’s going on. You’ve set up that the visions come and go and people were surprised by it, and then you say “How do I know?” and continue to explain that he knows because he’s personally experienced everything he just explained. It’s repetitive, and a jarring switch from third person to first person which doesn’t help. We get a brief glimpse of some kind of Emperor, but where we are in time is not firmly established and that makes the rest of the story hard to follow for me.

    Then it’s consistency. You start with “Dreams haunt us and they show us terrible sights of our overlord and we all just have accepted it for 70 years, but now I’m fed up with it, it’s too emotionally straining for me.” Then you go to “No one goes to this creepy hill by the lake and everone speaks badly of it, but I don’t believe it’s actually a threat, and maybe I should have listened.” If he is personally experiencing these weird nightmares and has experience with his grandfather telling the truth about the nightmares, why doesn’t he listen? This seems like a contrived reason to get the main character to that cavern. Also, why does his father or grandfather need to tell him about the dreams at all if he’s experiencing them? Additionally, you set up the two as being connected, the dreams and the Nightmare Vault, but then explain how no one has ever been to the cave? So how or why does anyone think they’re connected?

    Lastly, engagement. You introduce three new characters, and I have no idea who they are and no reason to care about them. I have their first names, and that’s it. And we’re 70 years in the future, I get these are characters that wouldn’t have been in canon. But they die and it has no emotional impact for me. The characters feel less like characters and more like a literary device to show how dangerous the cave is.

    Overall, this is a really cool idea. Harry and friends destroy all the Horcruxes but at the Battle of Hogwarts Voldemort discovers he’s a Horcrux and spirits him away to keep him alive for ever. Implied that he’s maybe put under Fidelius or forgotten as part of a massive memory charm, not sure. But either way, we then get to see a story of how the world changes under Voldemort’s reign, and then there’s the dreams that are likely being broadcast by Harry to try and get people to realize or remember the truth. You drop some really great bits and pieces of worldbuilding here and there, like the Enforcers. I think that this would have done much better as a short story, rather than flash fiction, with more room to let the setting breath and slowly unfurl in a much neater and more streamlined way.

    2/5 – no glaring technical issues, awesome idea, could use some work on the execution.
     
  7. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Minister of Magic DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    So I like the grand feel of it, I like the concept. It lends a grandness to Voldemort's victory that comes across quite well and is suitably aggrandising for him.

    However, there're few bits that I felt let it down a little.

    Firstly, the second person/first person question bits. It felt like it was being told to someone, but it wasn't. It was just being told to the reader. I think if you're using the second person as a framing device then it should be framing. Let us know why the narrator is telling us this. Even if it's just bookend sentences in the end. There has to be a goal in a story that is presented as someone telling a story. A motive.

    Secondly, for a flash fic, the substance should surely be their going into the cave. But you spend a long time expositing (and it's nice, but it doesn't serve such a short story), and it means that the events that should shine don't shine. What I'm imagining is this story, but you keep the very beginning and far more quickly progress to the caves. You use more on-the-body description, and you focus on physicalising the psychic system, so that in as short a story as this it doesn't feel rushed. And so that, with very few sentences, we can feel it.

    This is a nitpick, but when I see Patty it really feels like a name that shouldn't be in HP. That may vary from person to person, but it seems really American to me. I guess she could be American, but yeah, I noticed it. Does she contribute anything to be named? Is he telling this to someone who cares about Patty? No idea.
    This is a nice sorta classic fantasy feel, but it's so quick and so passing, and the dialogue is in the middle of the sentence, with a comma outside the quotation marks, and there's a sentence that can be summed as 'he said' and then you still use the tag 'he said', which I am not a fan of. I just think any story lives or dies by its ending, and you could've put more here, by taking more of the exposition out at the start. We know it's Harry. But it's not punchy, it's a cameo. It doesn't truly mean anything to the narrator (except that 'everyone remembered Harry Potter'. But you're just telling us. I don't believe you. I don't see why they would.
    This confused me a little. At first I thought we were dealing with a teen listening to their grandfather, but then this makes it feel like they were there and are a grandfatherly figure who saw the battle, but then Patty tucks (?)their kids in. I don't have a firm grip on the MC. I get the tone, I get the setting.

    Character and endings should be your jam. Concrete scene-setting and quickly building intensity (you can't do slow build in 1000 words) not grandiosity. A good concept, poorly executed.
     
  8. Gaius

    Gaius Fourth Year

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    I feel like this should have been your first sentence:
    Harry as a Horcrux whose continued existence breaks through Voldemort’s enchantments and causes nightmares was interesting (reminded me of Bobika’s story) but I feel like there is too much going on in this piece. The 70 years mark itself is confusing for me—why do the nightmares start on Halloween? how soon after Voldemort’s victory does Harry exert this power? there are a lot of throwaway bits that are too vague for the length of this piece, eg: The name of the vault, the grandfather (whose experience you don’t discuss or return too), & the introduction of the narrator’s friends who don’t add anything to the plot.
     
  9. WierdFoodStuff

    WierdFoodStuff Sixth Year

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    He said only one thing to me before he passed. ‘And so ends the last’, he said. His final breath.
    Great line, unfortunately the only thing that gripped me in an otherwise average story.
    A lot of it is just too vague, it didn't interest me.
    A strong 2 to a light 3.
     
  10. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    This one didn't really capture my attention. A lot of exposition spent on this post apocalyptic scenario and telling us about Voldemort's reign rather than the cave itself. I would have thought the cave would have been the main focus rather than the afterthought. Could have spent those words better describing the challenges, allowing the dynamic and dialogue between the four friends carry the story + explain why they're there, rather then telling us and then letting the cave be a sidenote.

    2/5.
     
  11. Selethe

    Selethe normalphobe

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    Hmm... this is totally "telling instead of showing", which can be done well, but this story has so many original elements (I assume, or if there's crossover bits, I'm not knowledgeable on where they're from). Instead of giving us a short story, you're giving us a full on story compressed into 1k words, which is where I think it falls short. I did enjoy the concept. I would just like to see it written with a larger budget.
     
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