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Entry #5

Discussion in 'Q1 2019' started by Xiph0, Mar 16, 2019.

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  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

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    The night was slowly approaching and most of the shops in Diagon Alley were already closed. With the horrible weather on top of that, it was a perfect opportunity for the other, a little less well-known and just a tad less safe alley, to strive.

    A black kitten wailed loudly, just to be kicked by a half-destroyed, smelly shoe of a rather smelly himself individual.

    “Fuck off, you filthy animal,” the man said and spat on the ground, his spit mixing with the heavy rain that kept pouring over the shady, crooked buildings.

    Two cloaked figures passed the man by, walking at a slow pace.

    “What a lovely place,” one of them said in a hushed voice.

    The other figure sighed. “You didn’t have to come with me, you know that.”

    The pair walked in silence for some time, staying clear of the most crowded places.

    “So, how exactly do you think we’ll find the right person?” the smaller figure asked.

    “Oh, we won’t,” the other voice responded.

    “Albus, this isn’t the time for your games.”

    The pair passed by a crowded place selling food of a rather suspicious origin.

    “Sorry, I know,” Albus said. “The right person must come to us, that’s what I think.”

    His brother only shook his head, making the rain splatter around him. “We shouldn’t do it. We shouldn’t do it.”

    Albus nodded. “We shouldn’t, I agree with you Aberforth,” he said. “But we have to do it,” he added.

    They continued walking in silence, both seemingly deep in thought.

    Aberforth started to notice some of the stares that went their way and he instinctively got a little closer to his brother. When he noticed what he was doing, he cussed but didn’t change the distance between them.

    “Do you think …” Aberforth started, “do you think she would hate us if she knew what we were doing?” he asked, his head pointed at the wet ground under his feet.

    Albus took his time to respond. “I’m not sure,” he said, ending the conversation on his part.

    “Maybe we should stop?” the younger brother asked, his voice barely audible over the rain and the alley’s noises.

    If Albus heard him, he chose not to respond.

    After a few moments filled with silence, the pair was stopped. A man stood before them, looking more pitiful than dangerous. He reeked of alcohol, and his clothes have clearly seen better days. Just like his face.

    “What are you two doing here?” he asked with a look of immense concentration on his face, probably trying not to stumble over his words.

    Aberforth discreetly looked around, noticing they were mostly alone. A perfect spot for an ambush.

    “Oh, just taking a stroll, enjoying the pleasant weather,” Albus said, smiling politely at the filthy man.

    The man spat on the ground and wiped his mouth with his dirty hand. “Pleasant weather, my ass,” he mumbled and looked at the pair standing before him.

    “Aren’t you two a little too young to be walking around here?” he asked, eyeing them carefully. “You know, you might get hurt.”

    “And how would we get hurt?” Albus asked, his smile still present. Does he know how irritating he is? Aberforth thought to himself. Of course he does.

    The drunkard grimaced. “Well, I don’t know, you two look like a pair of spoiled brats looking for an adventure or something equally ridiculous. Someone could rob you, you know,” he said and tried to take a sip from his empty bottle. When he realized he had already drank all of its contents, he cussed and threw the bottle onto the ground. To Aberforth’s surprise, it didn’t break.

    “And who might that be?” Albus asked again, patiently looking at the man.

    The man sighed and raised his hand, a wand appearing in his palm. “You’re really fucking clueless, kid, you know that?”

    Ugh, I hope you know what you’re doing Albus.

    Albus looked confused, his terrible acting enough to convince the drunk man. “What do you mean?” he asked.

    “What I mean, kid, is you’re getting robbed,” the drunkard said. “Give me your money and your coats, or I’ll take them myself.”

    Aberforth looked around himself once again. No witnesses.

    However, Albus evidently still wasn’t done. “Oh, then are you a criminal?” he asked with a light smile, further frustrating the filthy man.

    “Yes, I am a fucking criminal, and if you don’t shut up, I’m also going to be a murderer.”

    Albus nodded at the man, seemingly satisfied. “Great,” he said.

    “The fuck do you—” the man started, but was interrupted by the bottle he emptied earlier smacking into the back of his head. This time, it broke into several pieces, one of them stuck inside the man’s head.

    Before he fell to the ground, Albus had already taken out his wand and pointed it at the falling man’s body.

    “Stupefy,” he said quietly, and the man lost consciousness as his face smacked into the cold stone ground.

    oOoOoOoOo

    “So … what do we do now?” Aberforth asked as he sat opposite his older brother. The house felt empty, only two of them inside.

    Well, there’s also our guest, Aberforth mused.

    Albus glanced up from the notebook he was reading. “I need a day or two, just to be certain,” he said. “And then, we will do it.”

    Aberforth nodded. “Are you sure this will work?”

    Albus sighed, his young face looking far older than normally. “I think so, Aberforth. We have to try it,” he said.

    He doesn’t know, Aberforth thought. Merlin, what are we doing?

    “Can you at least tell me where did you get that notebook?” Aberforth asked. He had his suspicions, of course, but was willing to give his brother the benefit of doubt. Surely, after what had happened, he wouldn’t try anything his … friend left in his possession.

    Albus didn’t look like he’d answer anytime soon, which only served to infuriate his brother.

    A barely audible cough saved them from the awkwardness. “He’s awake,” Aberforth said and they both stood up from the table. Albus opened the door to the guest room, his younger brother just a step behind him.

    “How are you feeling?” Albus asked as they entered the small room. The man looked around slowly, grimacing as his head moved. He tried to get up, but his body was pinned to the comfy bed that he lay on.

    “What the fuck is this?” the man said in a quiet voice, his throat barely working.

    Aberforth glanced at Albus. I’ll leave the talking to you, he thought, waiting for his older brother to speak.

    Albus smiled at the man. “Oh, you’re being kidnapped,” he explained. “Would you like some water?”

    The man stared at them, not really knowing how to respond. After a minute, he nodded his head slightly. Albus glanced at his brother.

    “Okay, I’ll be right back,” Aberforth said and left for the kitchen hurriedly. He came back a moment later, a cup of water in his hand. He offered the cup to the man and stepped back to stand beside his brother.

    After the man gulped down the water, he tried speaking again. “This … is a kidnapping?”

    Albus nodded again. “Yes.”

    The man sighed loudly. “Look … I’m sorry kids, I shouldn’t have done that. But I really needed the money, and you two looked like easy prey,” he said. “It seems like I was mistaken though,” he added, meeting their eyes for the first time. “But why in the world would you two kidnap me?” he asked, his face a mixture of amusement and annoyance.

    “Why?” Albus seemed to be thinking deeply about something. “For money, of course,” he said after a while.

    “Is this a joke?” The man sighed. “You kidnapped a homeless drunkard for money?”

    Albus nodded. “Well, surely you have a family or someone who would miss you,” he said.

    The man only shook his head with a grimace. “I don’t,” he said. “So, you can go ahead and free me now, there’s no way for you to make money out of this.”

    “We’ll think about it,” Albus said. “Get some sleep now,” he added and left the room, Aberforth closely behind him.

    “Are you fucking kidding—” the man’s voice was muted as Aberforth closed the door to the guest room.

    oOoOoOoOo

    It was already morning when the door to the guest room opened again and Albus entered, this time alone.

    “Where’s the other guy?” the man asked, seeing one of them alone for the first time.

    Albus sighed quietly. “He had to leave,” he explained. “We had a small disagreement of opinions.”

    The man chuckled at that. “So, have you two dumbasses decided what you’re going to do with me?” he asked, eyeing the older one of his kidnappers.

    Albus nodded. “Yes, we will let you go,” he said and smiled. “But before you go, you should eat something,” he added and the man noticed a bowl was in his hands. “Think of this as an … apology gift,” Albus said.

    The man eyed the bowl suspiciously but gave in to his hunger after a moment. “You kids really shouldn’t try anything like this ever again,” the man said and chuckled. “Merlin knows, you’re terrible at it.” He started eating from the bowl, a little too fast due to his hunger, making him cough when he nearly choked.

    Albus stood near the bed, staring out of the window at the first beams of a new day. He opened it, letting in sounds of birds chirping and singing in their garden. Albus closed his eyes, letting the melody of birds mix with the sounds of a man eating his meal hurriedly.

    He listened with his back turned towards the man, as the sounds of a spoon hitting the bowl started to reach his ears with less and less frequency.

    “I’m sorry,” Albus whispered and opened his eyes, staring directly into the rising sun. He heard a loud thump and turned around. As his eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness, he saw that the man’s head had fallen into the bowl, splashing some of the soup on the bed.

    oOoOoOoOo

    The wind was howling, sand flying around the beach. Midnight was approaching and the Moon was the only source of light, making it hard but not impossible to see one’s surroundings.

    Midnight … end of one day, beginning of another …

    Albus stood on the beach alone, staring into the Moon’s reflection on the water. His robes were simple, dark, clinging to his body in an attempt to keep him from the cold breeze. After a moment, he turned around and took in the sight of the beach.

    This damned, cursed beach.

    The last time he was here, Ariana had died. Ariana was killed, he corrected himself. She was killed by someone… By whom? Albus let out a sigh. It doesn’t matter. After this, it won’t matter.

    He looked to his right. A man’s body was laying there, his naked skin slowly getting covered by sand. A necessary sacrifice. For the greater cause. For the greater good.

    Albus turned his head slightly to the left of the body. There, runes were carved in the sand, a great lot of them, protected from the wind by his magic. It took him hours to draw them, copying everything from the notes he had been given. If this works … if this works, I’ll forgive you.

    Albus didn’t look to the left, where he knew Ariana’s body was laying. Taken from her grave. His eyes watered and he closed them for a second. She won’t have to return there ever again. She won’t.

    He took a deep breath and held his wand in his palm, feeling the warmth of magic singing through it. The warmth of life, he thought. It’s almost midnight. It’s time.

    After checking the time once again, Albus walked up to the runes drawn on the beach earlier. He focused fully on his surroundings, almost feeling the magic not only in him, but around him, in everything. And with a deep breath, he began the ritual.

    It seemed almost too easy to be true, but Albus didn’t care about that. His friend had delved into this kind of magic way deeper than he did, and Albus was ready to trust him one last time. For the greater good.

    Albus began to chant softly, his mind completely focused on casting the spell. It was draining, but he could handle it. The spell he needed to use now was fairly straight-forward. He needed to draw the runes once again, this time with blood of someone he had killed. As Albus focused on redrawing the complicated pattern, a weak stream of blood was constantly flowing into the ground from the tip of his wand, painting the sand in red.

    After almost an hour of drawing, he was done. The runes were now completely redrawn with the dead man’s blood. Albus took a deep breath, sweat running down his neck. It wasn’t too tiring, but he needed to draw the whole thing in one go, which required immense focus. If he did any mistakes, all of this would be for nothing.

    The first stage of the ritual now complete, he began the second phase. He silently levitated the man’s now nearly bloodless body onto the runes he had drawn. He did the same with the body of Ariana, laying it close to the other one. As soon as Ariana’s back touched the sand, the runes began to glow slightly with a greenish light.

    And now for the truly exhausting part.

    According to the notes, he needed to pour as much magic as he could into the runes and they would take care of everything else. Gellert clearly stated that he had achieved some sort of success with this ritual, and Albus knew that these kinds of experiments were the reason for his friend’s expulsion from Durmstrang.

    But did he ever actually resurrect a human?

    Albus shook his head. I can’t go back now. I have to try it.

    He took a deep breath once again, and focused on the feeling of his magic. He crouched and touched the grand rune pattern with the tip of his wand.

    And then, he pushed. He pushed with all his strength, feeling the magic pulsing through his wand onto the runes, their light glowing stronger and stronger with every second until he needed to close his eyes or be blinded. He gritted his teeth and continued, until his wand was seemingly ready to explode and the glow was clearly visible even with his eyes closed.

    And when he was about to collapse, his palm burning from the warmth of his wand, his body covered in sweat, he stopped. He stopped and fell on his back, trying to fight the darkness that was trying to succumb him. I can’t faint, not now.

    With a loud groan, he sat up, opening his eyes only to find the light gone. The runes were no longer glowing, the beach enveloped in darkness once again.

    Panic and despair suddenly present, he looked at the two bodies laying on the beach.

    They both looked… dead.

    Albus stood up, hurriedly running up to Ariana’s body. He kneeled next to her, feeling for a pulse with his hand.

    There’s none.

    He checked once again.

    There’s none.

    She’s dead.


    But at this moment, her mouth suddenly opened and she drew a deep breath, a raspy sound accompanying it. Her eyes were now also visible, but something about them was wrong. They were completely black.

    Albus looked at his sister with a shocked expression, his mind too busy to notice that her skin had a sickly, almost green colour and her eyes were so terribly not … human.

    “Ariana,” he said, at first quietly, like a whisper, afraid that he might wake up at any moment and find his sister still dead.

    “Ariana!” he said, now louder, almost screaming. “It worked, it worked, oh Merlin, it worked!”

    “It’s alright, it’s alright, I brought you back,” he rambled, taking her hand into his own, crying with joy.

    And then he was hurled back, flying for a second and landing painfully on the cold sand. He lay on it for a moment, his mind not quite processing what had happened. He glanced up at his sister, only then realizing that something was horribly wrong. She slowly stood up, flexing the muscles of her skinny body, still looking sickeningly green. Albus noticed that she wasn’t actually standing up. Her feet were flying slightly above the ground, not touching it at all. Her black eyes weren’t looking at him. In fact, they didn’t seem to be looking at anything. They just were.

    “Ariana?” Albus asked, panic striking him once again. “It’s me, Albus, your brother.”

    For the first time, she seemed to notice him and her head snapped into his direction. Her eyes locked with his and at that moment, Albus had finally realized.

    This isn’t Ariana.

    Oh Merlin, what have I done?


    His thoughts were interrupted by something smashing into his shoulder, blood splashing onto the sand. And with the feeling of hot liquid leaking onto his robes came the cold realization.

    I didn’t bring her back. Whatever I did summon, it isn’t her. And I can’t let that … thing have her body.

    The monster that looked like a horrifying caricature of his sister clearly didn’t want him there either, as she attacked him again with a ball of pure magic shooting out of her hand.

    Albus, now starting to pull himself together, jumped out of the way, standing up immediately after his rather ungraceful maneuver.

    He aimed his wand at the monster’s body and froze. I can’t destroy her body, he thought.

    His train of thought was interrupted again, his body dodging another attack almost on its own. The monster was sneering at him mockingly, flying a little bit above the ground.

    But I also can’t die.

    He focused and waved his wand in an intricate pattern, transfiguring some of the sand into a spear made out of sharpened glass. He launched the spear, aiming it at the monster’s heart.

    The monster sneered and simply grabbed the spear with her hand, halting its fly mere centimetres from her chest. Albus made a sudden motion with his free hand and another spear crushed into the monster’s back, a surprised screech filling the air. The transfigured weapon penetrated the greenish skin and Ariana’s body fell onto the ground with a quiet thump.

    oOoOoOoOo

    A thousand thoughts ran through Aberforth’s head as he left their house. He couldn’t keep himself calm and apparated here in the middle of the night, only to find everybody’s gone.

    He walked outside in the direction of the beach, curiosity taking the better of him. However, he never got there.

    A quiet sobbing caught his attention and he turned towards the cemetery. He walked a bit closer, until he could recognize the person who was crying uncontrollably.

    Oh no …

    He took in the sight of his brother, kneeling near the gravestone of their dead sister.

    Our still dead sister.

    Aberforth stayed there only for a moment, looking at his brother with an unreadable expression. Then, he turned around and left, never alerting Albus to his presence.
     
  2. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    I love the idea, I really do. Albus not being convinced that the idea of the "Greater Good" is wrong just yet but teetering on the brink, and betting everything on a desperate attempt to resurrect his sister? Amazing.

    However, I do have some problems with the execution. The intro with Albus and Aberforth trying to find a man they can kidnap and murder without too much moral complications is too lengthy, IMO. And while Aberforth says multiple times that "we shouldn't do this", Albus is entirely too glib for what he's about to do. I can definitely buy Albus rationalizing his acts after the fact - but it felt too much like he didn't consider the kidnapping and the murder that bad, at least not in the intro.

    Second, why would Grindelwald have studied how to resurrect the dead? This doesn't quite make sense, especially considering he was fascinated by the Hallows. It doesn't quite seem within his field of expertise, honestly.

    Third, the fight scene feels forced. I do agree you needed a way to show that the resurrection had failed and that it was not Ariana in her body, but the fight is over so quickly and so meaningless that I think you'd be better off without it. If you do decide to keep it, you might want to make it more central. Also maybe if Albus doesn't want to damage Ariana's body, he shouldn't be throwing spears at her? Bit of an odd decision, that.
     
  3. H_A_Greene

    H_A_Greene High Inquisitor –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    So from the start, you made me hate the soon-to-be-killed thief. Huzzah. He really wasn't a particularly appealing individual.

    Once I realized that this was a young Albus and Aberforth, things made more sense, and the Fullmetal Alchemist vibes clued me into their intention long before Albus actually murdered him. I knew they were going to try and pull Ariana back from the grave, and I even allowed myself the faint hope that they would succeed. But alas.

    I think you captured a younger Albus and Aberforth at least passably well, perhaps a bit more hopeful and I daresay younger in tone than canon would have them.

    On the note of demon~Ariana, she did go down rather too easily. Albus poured everything that he could into her, and she is brought down by a spear in the back. I'd have liked to see more of a fight there. Possibly have Aberforth roped into it as well, and just to rub salt in the wound, have him grievously injured or killed to magnify Albus' guilt over this whole stupid stunt.

    But let's move on from what-if's and back to what-is. The writing is fairly good on the whole. There were some errors here and there, generally the wrong word used, as mentioned in the spoiler, but I think you did well. I do like this. A bit more polish and you'd have a solid entry on your hands, but it does fall short.

    I'd have suggested 'looking down' instead, since this just gives a weird imagery.

    'much deeper than he had'.

    'After almost an hour of work' given you mention drawn/drawing/redrawn so often in relatively quick succession around this point of the story.

    'if he made any mistakes'

    'he was trying not to succumb to'

    'snapper around in his direction', 'Albus had finally understood'.

    'halting its motion/progress/advance'

     
  4. Sorrows

    Sorrows Queen of the Flamingos Moderator DLP Gold Supporter

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    Great idea. Nice use of kicking the dog to set up the drunk and I liked it took a bit of time to realise this was a young Albus and Alberforth, even if it was prefaced by a conversation that seriously abused the pronoun game. I think not the best choice considering everyone knew who 'she' was the moment you had those two working together. It was so obviouse I thought you were going to do a bait and switch and actually mean someone else.

    That being said, the charecterization of the two of them was not bad but it was weak. They were entirely too glib about what they were about to do, particularly Albus. Their objections or hesitations were barely lip service considering the stakes of what they were doing and the sacrifice needed. They also feel too young, Albus was 18 when Arianna died. Here they both feel in their early teens at best. Finally, their relationship feels wrong, it must have been at its most complicated and contentious just after Arianna was killed and yet here Albaforth is barley irritated by his brother's mannerisms and his terrible plan.

    That being said there were a few lines about Grindlewald I liked.

    The charecterization of the drunk was better, I liked the fact you started to humanise him to make his murder more effective, though I think you could have delivered that kick a bit more effectively if Dumbledore had appeared bothered by it at all.

    I also agree it was portioned out poorly. I get the feeling you are uncomfortable writing action scenes, this one felt quite mechanical, and so got it over with as quickly as possible. As a climax is sells your setup short.

    Overall I like this one, you have a flair for visualisation and this is a decent go at the theme. I think you could have gone deeper with both your concept and charecterizations but that does not detract from a decent effort.
     
  5. ChaosGuy

    ChaosGuy Unspeakable

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    So as a fan of Full Metal Alchemist, I loved the FMA vibes I got from this. That said the set up went on a bit too long and the scene with the possessed (zombie?) Arianne was a tad too short in my opinion. Also yet another mugger who has the worst instincts and targets the wrong mark. Overall though I liked this one.
     
  6. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    Some nice Full Metal Alchemist vibes from this one - the whole plot about resurrection, and why wizards ought not to meddle with things not meant to be meddled with.

    As a piece, this was quite smooth to read thanks to good use of paragraphing and spacing.

    The use of an animal in the beginning to characterize the unnamed mugger was a good one - from such a simple act you give us some insight into who he is as well as a reason to immediately root against him. This was further reinforced by the dialogue, and it was really quite important that you never gave us room or space to sympathize with the mugger or it would have made Albus a tad more unsympathetic, and therefore, weaken the emotional impact of your final scene.

    Pretty early on it was clear to me what was going to happen. It had that feels of a failed resurrection story (again, the FMA vibes), the only question really was whether it would be able to hit hard emotionally. To an extent, it did, but I feel you may have mistepped with demon-Arianne.

    What might have hurt more is if the ressurection had turned her into a being in perpetual pain rather than an outright malevolent creature. The demon was all too easily defeated and detracted from the scene really, whereas Albus for whatever reason being forced to put her down would - to me at least - hurt a lot more.

    That said, this was a decent effort and I liked it a lot.
     
  7. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    I like Albus' smarmy ass in this, especially since I'm reasonably sure he's barely out of Hogwarts at this point. Guessing he and Abe are about to try and do something reckless to get Ariana back? But lines like this, coming from what I'm envisioning to be a 20yo Albus, make me imagine him with a shit-eating grin. And that, in turn, makes me smile.
    Not to mention that this is about the only time period in Albus' life that I can see him doing something like this. Before Ariana died he might have been on board with the Greater Good, but something like human sacrifice might have been too much for him when he was so young and just starting out in his idealogy. Wait a few years after her death and he'll have chosen his path and would likely stay upon it, leading to the Headmaster we know from canon. But those in-between months or years? I can see this being a remote possibility, given his mindset and abilities.

    The thoughts as italics feel... sloppy, somehow. I'm not sure if it's formatting or what, but while I like using italics for thoughts something about your use of them feels off. I can't pinpoint it. Just FYI. I think maybe you're putting things into italics that don't need to be in italics? We're in a close 3rd POV and you can convey a lot of that without resorting to it being direct thought. For example:

    The fight scene was well thought out, but I didn't feel a sense of urgency or despair as a reader for most of it. Here's the part that worked for me:
    After that I could follow the action easily enough, and it made sense from both the perspective of the fight and from a pacing standpoint, but it just didn't catch me emotionally with either the anguish Albus was feeling or the horror of what was happening.

    Good ending conceptually. Though I think you could also imply that this is when the break between the two brothers was cemented. They obviously fought and were upset when Ariana died, but I personally like the idea that it's when Albus 'failed' to bring her back that Aberforth washed his hands of his brother.

    Great idea, execution could use some work. But do an editing pass and toss it in WbA for another round of comments and I think you'll have a great little oneshot here. It's just not quite there yet for me in terms of the writing itself, even if the idea and pacing are solid.

    Oh, and yeah - glad to see another 'short' entry. I'm personally a fan of stories this length for one-shots.
     
  8. Newcomb

    Newcomb Minister of Magic

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    I'm about halfway through this and my main issue is that Aberforth doesn't seem to really have any, like, defining characteristics. As a PoV character being bland isn't a deal-breaker, but I'm not really finding something to latch onto.

    Right now I'm just along for the ride, I'm not hooked.

    O...kay? I'm willing to calibrate to a younger version of Albus but this just really doesn't sound like him.

    This is pretty solid. I'm buying this more as a younger Dumbledore, and though I'd guessed what they were up to already, I was wondering how you were going to sell it, and this is workable.

    "way deeper" is a pedestrian phrase that has no place in a section like this, and it stands out, I stumbled over it. Replace it with something like "far deeper" and I wouldn't even blink at it. It's the small details like this that are holding you back here, IMO.

    I feel like there was a more elegant, more Dumbledorian way to express that sentiment.

    ___

    It's a solid concept, I think. I see what you were trying to do with a younger Dumbledore, and there was that one section I quoted above, where he's talking himself into it, that I thought worked quite well. Sadly that was kind of the exception to the whole - I just didn't really "buy" either Albus or Aberforth - even if it's a novel idea that something like this could have happened, and I believe maybe it could have, the way it played out just didn't really draw me in.

    Biggest issue is the kind of pedestrian phrasing, I think. It would have kind of worked if you'd been playing with a "they're young enough that they don't really grasp the gravity of what they're doing" theme, but there weren't any signposts to that, you were kind of playing it straight, and playing it straight, there wasn't enough meat on the conversational bones for me to really feel it.

    Felt like this could have maybe been a little longer. Not too much longer, but enough for Albus/Aberforth to get into a bit more of their complicated relationship.
     
  9. Zombie

    Zombie Black Philip Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Another story with a solid concept and good execution. That's a good trend for this competition. I was really wary going into all these with the topic being death, its why I didn't submit something this time around. I couldn't come up with one defined idea that I felt like I could stick with.

    The start of this is a bit heavy. I felt like I was watching a scene from In Bruges, but with Wizards. There is a bit of dark humor here that I don't think you intended for, yet whether accidental or not, it works. It has more to do with the fact that Albus is considering murder as a means to revive his sister, and then casually discussing it with Aberforth.

    There are so many things I like about that I can't even list them here. It plays on our existing knowledge of character, and then further extends it by putting us in a situation where we have to rationalize the sheer insanity of what Young!Dumbledore could be.

    I like this a lot and want more. Thank you for writing it.
     
  10. Raigan123

    Raigan123 Banned

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    I guess we can place this in an AU universe, because Aberforth apparently doesn’t hate Albus.

    The opening line is okay so long as you ignore the mistake (“strive” should be “thrive”). It was really jarring to read at first. The dialogue between the brothers seems awkward, which is what you were going for I guess. The more I read the more I liked this, even if the first interactions didn't seem to make sense.

    Albus’ naïve trust in Gellert’s notes showed his desperation quite well. It’s his casual attitude towards premeditated murder that’s off. Once I realized why they kidnapped the stranger his behavior seemed uncharacteristic. He shouldn’t have been so relaxed about it.

    The fight seemed rather unnecessary to me. It didn’t add to the stakes and I didn’t get the feeling that Albus was in any danger at all. The shortness of the fight didn’t allow any of that to build up.

    I liked the ending. Showing Albus’ despair from an outside perspective was fairly effective. The last line should be removed though. “Our still dead sister,” would have been a fantastic final line.

    All in all it’s an okay story. It just lacks nuance, I think is the right word.
     
  11. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

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    My biggest issue here was that I couldn't entirely believe that Albus would do something like that. AUs are fine, and between that and the fact that he and Aberforth are on speaking terms, this clearly is one, but it just doesn't seem likely at all. Perhaps it's more about the tone than what's happening, precisely; a bit more seriousness in that scene on Albus' part might sort it out. That said, I did feel that you captured his lighthearted tone quite well, it's just misplaced here. Aberforth didn't feel like he does in canon, especially, but then he's so different that that's not really a fair critique. Chalk it up to AU and move on.

    That issue with the premise aside, it's interesting, not something I've seen done before. It's solidly written, nothing that leapt out as being particularly worthy of comment on either side of the scale, but I did wonder about the difference of opinion between the brothers. Is it just about what they're doing? Presumably so, but there's little to actually suggest Aberforth changing his mind - he has misgivings, yes, but they're never followed up on. There's something to be said for subtext and leaving this to be inferred, of course, but a line or two even in the final scene would have worked wonders there, IMO.

    Finally, the fight felt a bit...unnecessary, I think. Not long enough to be thrilling, not emotional enough to really engage - he's shanking his unsuccessfully resurrected sister with a spear, but it didn't really have any weight to it, for me. There are more elegant ways to resolve it, I feel.

    All that said though, I did quite like this. Decent length, solidly written, interesting idea. Not bad at all, for all that I've focused on negatives here.
     
  12. Jeram

    Jeram Elder of Zion ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    So immediately the dialogue is off, simplistic and immature and anachronistic, e.g. "Great". I can buy the concept, even the interplay and motivations in a certain way, if you tweak Albus a bit more. But the characterization is heavily off here in most places for the Dumbledores. I understand that this is a young Albus, but that doesn't excuse it all, nor his flippancy at necromancy. Yes, he likes his japes and jokes, but at the expense of one he is murdering? Harder to buy into.

    Abe too doesn't feel right, because although he exits the plan, his mild "we shouldn't do it" phrases are milquetoast meaninglessness. He thinks to himself (a breaking POV issue) how annoying Albus is -- perhaps instead he should morose, depressed, angry... any of that would feel more valid than "Oh, that Albus, always planning some Dark magic. When will he learn?" If there is secret subtext, it is too hidden.

    The underlying motivation to bring back Ariana to alleviate his guilt makes a certain amount of sense, as is the potential connection to Grindelwald, who certainly had an obsession with death and the Hallows. As a technical matter, the prose flows well, making it an easy read. The ritual is a bit generic and not so interesting, nor is the "monster" particularly interesting either. Albus' ease in killing it is fine, but it's not enough of a seeming threat to make the juxtaposition meaningful.

    So would would I change? The dialogue must be fixed, and the characterizations improved. The POV needs to be streamlined and made consistent, and the timeline more carefully considered. Additionally, I'd like to see the ritual made a bit more ominous and dark -- it's fairly mid grade horror as it is now. And I'd make the monster more weird and haunting and hard to fathom, less generic and "I'm angry because I'm evil".

    Hope that helps!
     
  13. Stealthy

    Stealthy Groundskeeper

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    I didn't like this one very much. Albus' attitude is a big problem, because while this works for a young Albus, he's still going to treat this situation seriously. He's killing a man for ritual fuel, he's not going to be flippant about it. I'm not sure if his argument with Aberforth should be included or not, as we can easily fill the blanks in ourselves, but it could help.

    Having the unnamed sacrifice (I do like that we never get his name. Adds to his "worthlessness") kick the kitten is a good intro to him, but the way you cut away from him makes the line feel completely unnecessary on a first read. Didn't even make the connection that it was him at first.

    As everybody's said, the fight with Ariana's possessed body is far too short. This is your climax, and you resolved it so quick you robbed some of the impact. Your pacing is all around off, and in different ways. I think most of it is how you more or less only used dialogue for the first half of the piece, and it just didn't work. The encounter in Knockturn Alley dragged, while the scenes where the sacrifice was captured were too short. That doesn't mean the Dumbledores meeting/capturing the sacrifice needs to be a shorter scene, but it needs to feel shorter rather than being tedious. Yeah, dialogue-only for long stretches works in many situations, but it wasn't engaging enough to work here. You need to use the rest of the toys in the prose toybox.

    It's rather telling that the best scene in this entry is easily Albus performing the ritual, because you let it breathe. Some overuse of thought-speech, but you actually wrote the scene out with all the details. I finally found some tension with Albus, and parts where he really sounded like Dumbledore. I had a sense of the place and mood. I felt like I was actually in the Harry Potter world. You clearly have the talent to make this piece what it could be.

    "Morally good character commits evil in a desperate resurrection attempt that goes wrong" is not a new idea. Not surprised that it showed up in the competition. But this is a good application of that concept, and there's enough of a framework here where despite the piece's other flaws this never feels like a retread. There's a good foundation in this concept and how you've developed it, and it's probably the biggest strength of this entry.
     
  14. Selethe

    Selethe normalphobe

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    I'm assuming this the same guy who kicked the kitten. It also takes a while to establish whose pov we're following-- it's a puzzle until the "Aberforth started to notice" line because the first person introduced is the cat-kicker, and the 'his brother' of the "his brother shook his head" line could refer to either Dumbledore.

    As for Aberforth, I'm surprised we don't see any of the resentment towards Albus that he had in canon. Even in the final scene, when Aberforth spies Albus crying over Ariana's grave, he doesn't have a 'all sense of hope draining out of his body' reaction. If anything, he uncharacteristically indulges Albus by, 1) Helping him kidnap/murder someone? (why does Albus even need him there?) 2) allowing him to desecrate Ariana's grave and body with foul Dark magic given by the very man Aberforth vehemently hates.

    The greater good... of his own personal feelings of guilt, haha.

    Wrong word here. There are quite a few strange phrasings in this story, but nothing a decent beta can't fix.

    I 100% agree with Halt here. Introducing the idea of a demon, who can cast powerful balls of magic wandlessly and silently is a huge can of worms you're just resolving a few sentences later. It's unsatisfying.
     
  15. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Let me try to be fair. I can forgive a lot in terms of technical shortcomings if the story is interesting.

    You had a pretty fucking great idea. Young Albus Dumbledore, still high on Greater Good, his relationship with Grindelwald broken up, but his interest in dominating the world in every way that matters still teetering on the brink. He's young, he's desperate, he's wildly talented and prone to thinking he's better than other people. I can totally see him attempting necromancy to return his little sister, perhaps even more to erase his mistake than for the sake of Ariana herself.

    However.

    You execution just... sucks. Right off the bat, writing is amateurish. You completely butchered everything there was to butcher in dialogue. Wording, tags, beats, paragraph spacing. I was immediately taken out of the story, and nothing in the rest of the story pulled me back in. You blitzed through scenes without any setup, and thus the payoff at the end is hollow. I would expect some internal strife in Albus, and perhaps in Aberforth as he watches what unfolds--knowing what his brother wants to do, terrified, but unwilling to stop it because it might work.

    So you had a great idea, but ideas are a dime a dozen. The magic is in how you execute your idea, and execution here fails on pretty much every level. Pacing is shot because you rush through the whole thing, so there's no weight to any of it, and this is some serious shit--it needs to have weight. Characters are absent. Like, alright, there's a glimpse of GreaterGood!Albus here, but it's not explored. The whole thing leaves a sour taste.
     
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