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Entry #2

Discussion in 'Q2 2021' started by Xiph0, Jun 21, 2021.

  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

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    The Baron leaned back in his mahogany seat, his emerald robes flowing over the only good chair in the entire pub. There was nothing like a good wine he thought as he pressed a battered goblet to his lips. Placing his cup down, he scanned the remaining patrons. Plenty of fear and discomfort in their posture he noted as the people avoided his gaze.

    With grim satisfaction, he noted the pool of blood on the floor. The scoundrel may have gotten away, but he wouldn't live to see the light of day again.

    He then picked his bloody knife up off the floor, and began cleaning it with a rag. It had been a gift from his father. Enchanted so that any cut it made would never close. Of course, it was goblin-steel, so no magic would work on it.

    Then hastily he put it away as a harried woman barged the silent pub and tried to approach his table. It was the messenger he had been waiting for. Of course, however, his men stopped her immediately.

    "Let her through," he said. Wands were sheathed, and the woman (her name slipped his mind, perhaps it was Margaret?) curtseyed and presented a small piece of paper to him without preamble.

    He took it— Theth, Albania it read. He arched his eyebrow expectantly.

    "The paper itself is a portkey m'lord," said the woman nervously, "It was made immediately after the information received last night."


    The Baron nodded and carefully fingered the worn parchment. For the past month, he had been tracking his love Helena Ravenclaw on the behest of her mother, Rowena. He had sworn to her that he would have Helena back in a day. Unfortunately, it had been far more difficult than he had anticipated —Helena proved to be quite adept at covering her tracks. But after chasing several false leads and an unpleasant encounter with a particularly nasty werewolf, he was sure that this time he would catch her.

    He turned the note over and read the word on the back. Helena.

    "Thank you, madam," he said, "Also let Lady Ravenclaw know that she will have her daughter back soon."

    The lady bowed and exited quickly.

    "Hugo!"

    "Yes, milord?" the servant replied as he stood at attention.

    "I will be off. There is no time to waste."

    Hugo watched in surprise as the Baron stood abruptly and marched out of the pub, presumably to take the portkey. The men-at-arms looked at one another in confusion.

    "My Lord, would it not be best to wait?" called Hugo as he watched the Baron adjust the knife on his belt. "We can owl for our reinforcements and begin in the morning."

    The Baron looked up into the night sky, then shook his head. "No. I will not let her slip through my fingers again. Watch over my lands Hugo, I leave you in charge."


    Hugo nodded mutely, and the Baron shouted, "Helena" and vanished from view.



    The Baron landed hard on the ground and muttered a few choice curses as he vanished the mud off his face. He truly despised portkey travel. Then with a quick wave of his wand, he transfigured his robes into something more appropriate for... hunting.

    Standing, he then took in the surrounding landscape. There was a quaint little village far off, just over a hill, and a large forest directly in front of him. It was quiet. This was the kind of place Helena loved.

    He took a few paces then knelt and prodded the ground with his wand whispering the incantation for a spell he had created a long time ago. After a pause, there was a hiss and shadowy footprints began to materialize on the wet grass. He squinted through the slight fog and felt a small rush of adrenaline once he saw the trail enter the forest before him.

    He cracked his neck, lit his wand, and began following the trail of footsteps. The hunt was on.

    After walking for some time, he approached a grove of trees where the trail of footprints had stopped.

    "Homenum Revelio," he whispered. He felt his heart speed up as he saw the outline of a pale blue figure up in a tree.

    "Helena!" he called out softly as he walked towards her. "I know you're up there."

    The Baron stopped as he approached the base of the massive oak, the figure of a person still visible in his eyes.

    "Helena, please, I know we have had our differences, but I am only here to bring you back to your mother."

    He felt a flare of anger at the silence that greeted his words but bit back the emotion. It wouldn't do, he thought, to repeat the last incident.

    "My love," he tried once more, "please come down."

    The wind whistled through the grove, and the Baron clenched his teeth in frustration.

    "Fine then," he said as he aimed his wand upward. "I made a promise to your mother, and I intend to keep it. Stupefy!"

    The jet of red light struck the figure, and it tumbled out of the branches. With a quick wave of his wand, he stopped her fall and laid her gently on the ground.

    "Why did it have to come to this my dear?" said the Baron as he picked her up brushing, the hair off her face. Then with a startled cry, he recoiled when with his touch, the body disintegrated, leaving only a small pile of rocks. He cautiously prodded the rocks with his wand. He knew only a handful of wizards who could do such an advanced transfiguration and fewer who could—

    "If it isn't the bloody Baron. How dare you?" said a high voice.

    The Baron spun around, his thoughts scattered. "Helena. A clever trick."

    Helena Ravenclaw stepped forward, her bronze and blue robes glistening in the moonlight.

    "Why have you come here, Baron? I clearly remember telling you that I never wanted to see your face again."

    "You wound me," said the Baron, placing his hand over his heart in mock-hurt, "However, your mother is truly ill and wishes to see you before she passes."

    Her face hardened.

    "Whatever sick game you are playing, end it now," she said as she turned away, "I am not so easily fooled."

    "Helena!" he called, running up to her and grabbing her shoulder.

    She turned and blasted him off of his feet. "Do not touch me! You may have this misguided notion that I belong to you, but I do not. Leave me alone!"

    The Baron rose slowly and pulled his wand out, only to be blasted back again.

    "Enough!" he shouted, as he picked himself off the floor again. "Helena, listen to me. I may have tried to court you in the past, but your mother is truly on her deathbed now! That is what is important now!"

    Helena sneered. "I am done with your lies. You deceived me once, I will never fall for your words again." With that, she flicked her wand, and an arc of blue light shot out of her wand.

    The Baron rolled away and steadied his wand. "Stupefy!"

    Helena batted away the spell and replied with a curse of her own.

    "Lacero!"

    The Baron snarled as the spell grazed his thigh, leaving a small cut. He looked around and ducked behind a large stone for cover. Then waving his wand intricately, he began animating the dirt. A large golem rose from the dirt. He flicked his wand and it began storming towards Helena.

    He watched in surprise as she began firing a large torrent of hot wind at the golem, effectively baking it until it shattered. Then with startling speed, she directed it at him, throwing him back.

    With a shout of surprise, he rose into the air and he desperately began groping for his floating wand.

    "The mighty Baron, helpless at the end of my wand. It appears that dreams can come true," said Helena lightly as she kept the Baron suspended. Then thick chains began to spurt out of her wand, slowly inching up his body.

    Dark red splotches entered his cheeks as he felt his anger rise.

    "You stupid bint!" he shouted in anger. He tugged his knife out of his belt and then threw it at her, hoping to distract her.

    He then watched in horror as the knife embedded itself in her chest.

    Helena whispered an "oh!" in shock then fell over. The spell failed and the Baron tumbled onto the grass.

    "No, no, no," he muttered as he desperately rushed over, pulling some of the chains off of his upper body. He pressed both hands on her chest, trying to staunch the bleeding, knowing in the back of his mind that he did this all in vain.

    Helena opened her mouth.

    "I told you to leave me alone," she whispered.

    Then she slumped further and her hands gave way, the life leaving her eyes.

    The Baron cried aloud as Helena Ravenclaw died in his arms, her blood mingling with his robe.

    "No," he said as he pulled the knife out, a crazed frenzy in his eyes.

    "I will never leave you alone."

    Then with a guttural cry, he stabbed himself in the chest and fell next to Helena Ravenclaw.

    Thus ending and beginning the tale of the Bloody Baron.
     
  2. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    How-to-Vote
    1. Leave a 200+ word review for each story (in the story thread)
    2. Distribute 5 points between the stories as you see fit (in this thread)**
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    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
  3. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    This is way too dry to register as an actual tragedy. You need a little more than things happening and cliché words being spoken. Descriptions, maybe, or showing the characters feeling emotions.

    And, honestly, the feeling I'm largely left with after reading this is a sense of "that's it?" Like, the Baron kills himself because he can't stand living in a world that doesn't have Helena Ravenclaw in it. Decent plot point. Great, even.

    So why doesn't he express love before that? He sees a body that could be hers and doesn't panic, he doesn't really think about her appearance, no: all he thinks is Helena has to come home because her mum's dying. Man's a bit of a blunt instrument, isn't he? We don't really get a sense for anyone's personality, I think. Not the Baron, not Helena, and they're basically the only characters in this piece. The manservant is a one-line throwaway character who doesn't matter.

    I think the whole thing is kind of tenuously linked to the prompt, too. Yes, they become ghosts but we don't see them as ghosts. If you read this without knowing canon you'd be wondering what the fuck any of this had to do with ghosts.

    1.5/5.
     
  4. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

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    Very quick repetition of 'he noted'; it would generally be considered good practice not to repeat yourself like that, but it's not the end of the world.

    I know that goblins have magic of their own, so I get what this is saying, but it's a little clumsy at first pass, and wouldn't be too much trouble to clear up.

    barged into

    This feels gramatically inaccurate/clumsy, although I'll be honest I'm not entirely sure what a strictly correct version would look like - personally, I'd do something like "and the woman - whose name slipped his mind, but could well have been Margaret - curtsied." (And also, curtsied, not curtseyed)

    information was received.

    I feel like there's a noticeable uptick in quality once the Baron leaves the pub and arrives in Albania; I'm not sure whether that's just a personal feeling brought on by getting to the meat of the story, whether it's that the scene plays more to your strengths, or just that you focused more on that bit when writing/editing so it had a bit more polish. Whatever the reason, it definitely feels better.

    However, while it is better, it's still all a bit bland. The duel is kind of interesting, with the contrast between the Baron shanking the - to us certainly, and possibly to him as well - complete stranger earlier and his refusal to cast anything more perilous than a stunner, but there isn't a whole lot here to get across a love (or obsession, perhaps) strong enough that he'll kill himself to be by her side again. I'm also raising an eyebrow at a) the Baron being strong enough/good enough at knife throwing to bury the knife hard and deep enough into her with a single throw, especially given that, as a wizard, it's likely not his primary weapon, and b) that he can do that in spite of not actually trying to hit her with it. Like, I get the irony that you're going for, but he's suspended in mid-air and half wrapped in chains.

    I'd also say that there's not really much here that isn't already in canon. I'm certainly not against fleshing stuff out in fanfic, but other than the bit in the pub, there's not much more to this than the way Helena describes it to Harry, from what I remember.

    It's a somewhat deft combination of the two possible prompts, which I respect. Other than the above points, it's technically OK, but on the whole, unmemorable, I'm afraid.
     
  5. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Competition Winner CHAMPION

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    This was a good, fun read, well done! This works really well as a prequel-type, cut scene from canon, it’s got an interesting main character and it’s a good length for the plot you have. The highlight for me was how the Baron hints at how he understands Helena, knows that she’d like a quiet forest, and then when he tracks her down the dialogue and the way they duel tells the reader that he doesn’t know her at all and shows us what their relationship is actually like. I enjoyed the way you wrote duelling in general and I liked the ending.

    If this was my story, I’d change two things. First, and this makes me a hypocrite because I struggle with this myself, but I’d cut out some adjectives and adverbs. The ones left would be much more potent that way. There were a few clumsy phrases in here as well, but another read-through and edit would fix that.

    Second thing I would do is add something to the Baron’s person(ality). He isn’t bad at all, but he’d be more memorable and engaging for the reader if he had a quirk or a hobby or something about his appearance, expected or unexpected. You mention hunting a lot, so maybe something connected with that, like is he an amateur taxidermist and does he have compulsive thoughts about what she’d look like stuffed once he’s (un)successfully hunted her down and she’s dying? Probably a bit too fucked up, but for something sweet, maybe he’s a keen gardener and impatient to get back to his estate because his favourite rose (maybe a crossbreed of his own design with bluish, copperish petals) is about to blossom and he doesn’t want to miss it. Something like that would make this particular reader more interested in hearing his story.
     
  6. Zerg_Lurker

    Zerg_Lurker Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    So right off the bat we’re introduced to The Baron, a pool of blood and a town in Albania, so we’re already given the premise and the ending of the story. Unfortunately that had me looking for some sort of twist or canon divergence that never appeared. Instead all I have is a rudimentary sequence of events; introduction, fight scene and death.

    The most built up tension is in the beginning, setting the scene in the pub and shaping the atmosphere with silence and dread, but the tension all bleeds away before there’s a real climax. The dialogue with Hugo creates a sense of urgency in the baron but doesn’t make sense. He’s got men-at-arms and a servant right there, why doesn’t he take them with him?

    There are a number of odd word choices such as mahogany ‘seat’ instead of chair or throne, which also begs the question why there would be mahogany furniture in a pub. There’s also a few redundancies; lacero grazing his thigh is enough to know that it leaves a small cut. Likewise, ‘effectively’ baking the golem doesn’t need to be said when you’re telling us the effect.

    As for the characters, Helena has the strains of a fleshed out character with the tone of her dialogue, but the diction reads very much like a child trying to sound impressive and archaic, especially with her ‘How dare you’ apropos nothing. The Baron, on the other hand comes across as simple, both in prose and in mind. I don’t get much sense of his personality other than his obsession with Helena.

    Overall, you’ve done a good job fitting canon details in the right places but the entry lacks a hook and lacks depth. Everything that’s written on the tin is in the tin, and it’s largely telling without showing. Telling us he intended to distract her by throwing his knife is especially contrived. I can appreciate the simplicity and straightforwardness but I don’t find it particularly good.
     
  7. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Chief Warlock DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    It's an interesting enough place to take the story, and you had ghosts(to-be) and duelling.

    The bad:

    Your formatting was off, in a few places. It's really simple, but really affecting. Triple paragraph spaces where you don't meant to break the scene is distracting. Curtseyed rather than curtsied. Would've benefitted from a double checking before submission. At one point you slip your perspective briefly so that we are watching the Baron from the perspective of Hugo for a few paragaphs, and this is definitely not intentional (and if I'm wrong, then it shouldn't be).

    Your dialogue is clunky, and you rely on 'telling'. "He felt a flare of anger", rather than "Anger flared", 'he felt his heart speed up', rather than 'his heart sped up'. You have trouble subsuming your narrative in your narrator. This is a mild thing, and in truth, labelling it anger would still not be a fix, but it's just the one I can remember without going back to quote stuff. You need to look out for places where you're dictating what your character is feeling as a judgment. Bah, I'll go back:

    How would I go deeper into the perspective here?

    "The ground was loose soil, with sparse lichen and a few wet blades of grass, cold on his knees as he examined the ground. It would do. He jabbed his wand into the earth and shadowy footprints appeared, crunching away into the forest. His heart beat a little quicker, and his mouth was dry. She was his."

    The duel between Helena and the Baron was interesting, if a bit modern, including ?bint. I suppose it all felt a bit modern. The revelation that Rowena was on her death bed was something that I wasn't sure if he were lying about or not. It's a twist for Helena, not for us surely, so we should know whether he's lying or not.

    The good:
    It was a short and sweet story, and I think it set up a good arc for him wanting something, and getting it in a way that he didn't want. I can't say I particularly cared for them by the end though, it was just a bit too shallow for that. But it was logical and intelligible and I understood what was happening. It knew what it wanted to do and got in and out, which is always a commendable achievement.
     
  8. haphnepls

    haphnepls DA Member

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    Eh, I understand this is mostly personal rather than a valid objection, but something about the stylistic part of this rubs me in the wrong way. It seems like something with the tempo of the story is off, as if there are too many commas missing.

    The narrative isn't personal enough for my tastes, as I kinda think that tragedy is always personal. It isn't in the rationale of following the love of your life around and then killing her, but rather the selfishness of it, the sheer refusal of letting go, the stubbornness to suffer alongside each other for eternity... It's an obsession and twisted sense of love, in my opinion, that you've wanted to highlight here in order to make the whole thing more intense, chilling, and ultimately, tragic.

    But aside from my feelings about how this should be done, you did fairly well. It has all the right components of the story, and it doesn't leave me hanging, confused or unsatisfied. The whole knife motive is excellent, and that detail where Baron tried to stop bleeding even though he knew it was in vain is exactly what I am talking about. That's the strongest point of the whole story, as it's both absurd and tragic at the same time, and gives the story the depth that is missing. The following dialogue is then okay, and that I'll never leave you alone is dramatic enough, but the tragedy of the whole thing could be highlighted with the concept of freedom.

    It's what Helena wanted, and it's what Baron denied her. Free of her Mother. Free of him. But unable to. Now and forever, even though he is the one in chains. A beautiful opportunity, right there, alas...

    Now, don't get me wrong, this is fairly good, and I enjoyed the idea, but as you can see from my review, I'm kinda seeing what it could be and I'm pissed af that I didn't write it first :p (Not that I could write it better, but I just like the idea.) Anyways, cheers.
     
  9. Niez

    Niez Seventh Year

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    A minor point. He noted, he thought, anything that indicates thought or reflections, just like dialogue, should be preceded and followed by a comma.

    Ex:
    There was nothing like a good wine, he thought, as he pressed a battered goblet to his lips


    More importantly; this is the whole of the Baron’s story as per DH. It’s less than two hundred words.
    Does your fifteen hundred word story add or improve this in any sense? Because if not, you might have to go back to the drawing board. (Hint, instead of just showing the scene the Grey Lady narrates, you should go back a little bit more. Why was Helena not willing to go with him? Why was the Bloody Baron so despised? That sort of thing.)

    It’s decently written, a few typos aside (and no ‘bint’ plx), don’t get me wrong, but there’s almost nothing there.
     
  10. Shouldabeenadog

    Shouldabeenadog Order Member

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    It was solid, but the crux it falls on is missing a critical line. Why does she not do anything in response to a knife being thrown at her? Does she not raise a shield? Dodge? blast it out of the sky?
    Presumably, given that its goblin made and you set it up that it was unable to be affected by magic, she should try to deflect it or block it with magic, and be surprised when nothing happens. That's what I think you were trying to set up.
    From calling her a bint to her surprise stabbing could have a whole paragraph of new information, her reaction to his name calling, her deflection attempt. I get that we are seeing it from his perspective, but it would be great to have some of her verbal response.
    Also, bint doesn't feel very old englishy swearing. Etym online puts it at 1855, which is fine, but it certainly was a jarring shift.
    The bones of the story are solid, the Baron's character is well established by the opening setup. some more flavor in the forest, animals, wind, leaves, smells, the night sky, would be nice. It's helena's favorite kind of place, what makes it her favorite?
     
  11. Majube

    Majube Order Member

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    Technically, doesn't fit ghosts since they're not ghosts yet :p But I really like it anyway.

    It's an interesting look at what a founders era fic could be. The bloody baron's characterization is decent. He's arrogant, violently angry, and greedy. What little we see of canon ghost!him is arrogant/remorseful, quiet and angry. Not as awful as here pretty much. His death changing him of course makes sense but perhaps having him think more about what he's done, showing more of the horror and regret he's feeling before he kills himself, would add more to the story. Picture him feeling remorse, thinking about how he never meant for this to happen, his honest love for Rowena, him thinking of killing himself to make up for it. The audience will start to feel for him, he's had a bit of a redemption. But then the greedy small twist at the end with his, "I will never leave you alone." would make more of a punch to the reader. It hits harder than him just having crazy eyes.

    The beginning could be spruced up more. It's a lot of cliche words being used like scoundrel and arched eyebrow and yet he's just a cartoon-ish bad guy without even any of the pizazz. He picks up his knife from the floor and cleans it with a rag and sure he cares about his knife a lot but he couldn't summon it or anything? Not to mention 'hastily' putting it away. He's a bad guy, a noble? wizard, yet he's acting sheepish and not arrogant or with much presence despite you trying to aim for that with him, I think. With stuff like 'drinking out of a battered goblet', maybe have him transfigure it or add a bit more to why he's not complaining about how shit the pub is? There's just a lot more you could add to his character even in a snippet just by changing how he acts and careful word choice.
     
  12. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Lots of 'telling' at the start. You can 'show' us that he loves his wine and you can definitely 'show' us the fear/discomfort he seems in postures without stating it outright.

    That's not really a problem, it's just extra noticeable because it's in the very first sentence.

    Another nitpick is the use of an adverb - in this case, 'hastily' - where really you can convey the action with a stronger verb. Instead of "he hastily put it away" perhaps say that 'he shoved it under the table' to imply he did it quickly and was hiding it, at the same time? But again this is minor. I only mention it because it's something I've struggled with and I have found comments like this useful for myself.

    Ah ha, this is about the Bloody Baron! Got it.

    This reads like a bit of period drama, and I like that. I also think it's what you were going for. It's highly original, so kudos there, and meets the prompt about Hogwarts Ghosts.

    But I admit that when he called her a stupid bint and killed her, I sort of... laughed, instead of felt more serious emotions. Something about the dialogue and actions feels a bit slapstick/humorous, and I don't think that's what you were going for.

    That said, the "I told you to leave me alone" actually does hit with genuine emotion. "No" is a complete sentence, Baron. Then as now. That line might not have made an impact because of your story but it did make an impact in terms of modern events, and you deserve a few points for the feels it gave me.
     
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