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Entry #6

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 room was bare.

    Almost
    .

    A stone arch stood alone in the center of the room, surrounded on all sides by steps. A veil drifted below the arch, stirring without wind. It seemed wholly ancient to their modern eyes. Two cloaked figures gazed upon it from the foot of its dais.

    One figure pulled back her hood, revealing a mass of black curls surrounding a delicate, pale face. Rosy lips frowned in discontent as she paced in front of her companion. She would stop and stare at the stone archway for a moment, before tossing her head and continuing to pace.

    A bell chimed, and she quickly wheeled in front of her companion. “Is it happening?” Her eyes were wild with anticipation.

    Her master sighed and retrieved a pocket watch from the depths of his robes. He seemed to glean some meaning from the golden planets whirling around its ebony face. “Soon enough, Cassie,” he said placatingly.

    “It’s just, it’s been seventy-five years.” She threw her head back. “Seventy-five years of the Dark Lord. I can’t believe you’re able to wait even a second longer.”

    “Hard to believe, eh?” The taller figure offered a weak smile. “I was a fair bit younger than you when he came to power. Only seventeen.”

    “The old Ministry was still around back then.” Cassie's eyes darted around the cavernous chamber. She knew this had been its seat of power for generations. Everything else was gone, but the arch remained.

    He nodded. “That was before the Commonwealth.” His eyes seemed to stare. “I remember the day it all began.”

    Cassie could almost see the Dark Lord execute the Minister before Gringotts. Her fingers turned white around her wand. "You're about to see it all end."

    "Don't be flippant." Thin lips twisted into a grimace. “The Dark Lord is mad. His unimaginable power has twisted him.” He drew closer until she could see haunted grey eyes above sunken cheeks. "But you, of course, know the risks."

    “The chosen one—” she asked. “You knew him once?”

    “You could say that.” He shrugged. “I’m not sure if anyone really, knew, him.” He rubbed his jaw for a moment. “He wasn’t a good man, not by any means, but he’s the only chance we have.”

    “Anyone is better than the Dark Lord,” his companion said firmly. An image fixed in her mind, fingers wrapped around a long, pale wand.

    It rang again, loud as a church bell. Excitement broke onto her master’s face, even more wrinkles somehow carving themselves into his leathery skin. He sliced his hawthorn wand through the air, motes of brilliant scarlet light streaming from its tip and sinking into runes surrounding the archway, lingering like liquid deep in the stone. He glanced back down at his pocket watch.

    “It’s soon to begin,” he murmured. Cassie glanced to her master nervously.

    “And he’ll help you?” she asked. “To overthrow the Lord?”

    “He’d better,” he responded grimly. “An old prophecy said that he’s the only one who could.”

    A gong sounded throughout the chamber. Pluto was almost in alignment. The time was nigh, and she felt anticipation bubble deep inside her. She could see a bead of sweat wind down her master's face.

    “And all the arithmancy is correct?” Cassie asked, looking nervously at the arcane charms surrounding the archway.

    “Do you have so little faith, Cassiopeia?”

    She cringed at the name and shook her head quickly. “No, of course not!” She responded. “I just hope the Dark Lord doesn’t know.”

    He laughed. “He doesn’t. He couldn’t. He has not dared to explore the depths of magic that I have. Not travelled the deep paths.”

    “Divination.”

    “The most powerful of magic,” responded her master approvingly. “To twist the very threads of fate…” he trailed off. “It is a magic I teach only to you.” He winked and Cassie couldn’t help but grin.

    “I just don’t know why he wouldn’t have just killed him,” she said. “You know, face to face. Honorably.”

    “He couldn’t!” cried her master. He waved a finger at his apprentice. “He tried. Several times he cast him down. But the Dark Lord couldn’t kill the chosen one…” He pointed at her again, almost poking her on the chest. “You don’t kill someone when you cast them through the Veil of Death. You do not sunder their soul from their mortal body. You cast them wholesale from the mortal plane. Straight to Hades. It might seem the same… but it isn’t!

    “When the planets are in perfect alignment, we can bring them back!” A final gong sounded and a wild grin slashed its way across his face. “And now that time has come… Cassie, the chant!”

    “Right!” Behind him, Cassie began to chant. “Gabo Aliwet… Gabo Aliwet… Gabo Aliwet…!” She felt something almost bursting from her lungs, as if scalding water had been tossed down her throat; but she kept chanting. The runes surrounding the archway began to glow brighter and brighter as the air of the chamber stirred, beginning to swirl around the chamber.

    Finally, her master cried out, the wind tearing his hood from his head. “Gabu-dal Onku…!”—The runes shined so bright that Cassie was forced to shade her eyes. Even through the brilliance and the pain she kept chanting. The wind in the chamber picked up, so quickly that it was as if they were standing at the center of a tornado. In the arch, the veil began to bend and twist, whipping forward and back; the whispers within its depths turning to screams of fury.

    A man began to emerge from the archway, grasped by a skeletal hand. They continued chanting. Slowly they wrested the figure from the grip of death. Tore each bone finger from its perch until the pale man was left lying on the floor.

    He stood and looked down upon Cassie and her Master, inhumanly tall and thin. Almost petrified by the reptilian glint of his red eyes, she only managed one word.

    Voldemort.”
     
  2. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    Huh, hadn't expected that twist. Voldemort being brought back to deal with some other Dark Lord - Harry himself, I'm thinking - is a really neat concept.

    You manage to stick the landing, too. You build up expectations that they're going to "resurrect" Harry by referring to their subject as the chosen one, the prophecy, etc. I could have, admittedly, done with more hints that it's the Big V they're bringing back from the not-quite-dead, maybe in how they refer to the Old Ministry and so on.

    In terms of dialogue it's pretty decent. No real bangers of lines that stand out, but nothing that stands out as being really obnoxiously bad either. There's some minor technical errors, but again - nothing egregious.

    3/5.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2020
  3. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    ~999 words - well done, hah!
     
  4. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Veil of Death looks like. And looks like canon was 70ish years ago.

    Lots of foreshadowing implications in this line with how the tense changes: “He wasn’t a good man, not by any means, but he’s the only chance we have.”

    Good characterizations. I really liked the “He’d better” line. Description is good though perhaps a bit heavy at the very start.

    The dialogue sounds good, but some of it seems like things they already know and would have no reason to say. Presumably both of these characters already know what when the planets are in perfect alignment they can bring someone back. That’s why they’re here.

    Fantastic concept here. Lead us to think that they’re bringing back Harry to deal with Voldemort when in reality it’s the opposite. Not sure why you went with 75 years instead of 70 but still works out well enough. I expect this story to do well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
  5. soczab

    soczab Groundskeeper

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    Hah. I loved the twist at the end there! A good play on things. And I like the concept of calling on voldemort to save them from Harry.

    Mmm. Constructive criticism some of the interactions/dialogue at the start is a tad clunky. Doesnt read like people talking naturally. I think you could smooth it out a bit and would make the story grab you even earlier. Dont worry about trying to have the characters explain the world, its enough to give the barest hint and let it unfold.


    A+ for idea and twist though! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this
     
  6. bking4

    bking4 Second Year ⭐⭐

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    Overall I like this. Nice little twist at the end – you do a good job of keeping your language in check so that there aren’t any real hints that they’re talking about Voldemort, but when he’s the one who shows up I’m surprised but not confused.

    Technically well written. Only issue for me is character consistency, and the dialog feels a bit wooden. You are writing the master, who is purposefully kept vague, as a mysterious all knowing teacher/mentor type. He is sly and aloof, and then he randomly bursts out in emotion:

    It feels like a non sequitur. I would have like to see that be more of a teachable moment:

    Something like that, to keep it more in line with his character.

    3.5/5 – I’d call it a 3/5, but it gets an extra .5 for divination being the strongest magic. Well written, nice little twist at the end, but I think the characters could be smoothed out some.
     
  7. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Minister of Magic DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    "What did it cost?"

    "Nothing," said Draco.
    Ok, so it is Draco right?

    I think the clues you give us to that end don't quite match up with what we know of him. This is clearly an AU, but set seventy(five) years later, that's a double-mumbo jumbo fault in my mind. If you're divorcing is from canon you can do us in time or you can do us in AU, and expect us to extrapolate. I think doing both, hinting at canon relationships, but really leaving your readership no appreciable way to interpret that canon relationship is a bit of a pip.

    I think there's a few of problems therefore:

    1. Draco don't talk right - assuming he had any level of Death Eater interaction with Voldemort, in a manner that we see him interact with Voldemort in canon, he doesn't seem to have the proper amount of concern. I get that Godzilla threshold has been passed. But that doesn't mean you think Godzilla won't crush you in passing. There should be that element of a fatalistic 'evil be thou my good'.

    2. Draco and Cass don't talk right together - they're saying things for us that it seems weird they would say to each other. It's a little too on the nose.

    3. The intensity builds nicely, but not evenly. The most intense part, and the climax should be really clear in a fic this short, and this focused. I am suprised that you didn't try and hint more about the world by having Draco push his apprentice through in an exchange, or sacrifice himself to bring Voldemort back. Whichever option would've allowed Harry's victory to be guessed at (sacrifice or treachery or whatever, in mechanism). It would've been a good twist. I like where you ended it at, but it would've given you that extra beat to show Voldemort's reaction to it, and had cass's horror more appreciable.
    Didn't like this. Just the incantation of how you did it. It lost the serious tone.

    Anywho, I liked the twist, I liked the essential point, and purpose. I think you could've just pushed it to extremes more, and I think you could've made that interpersonal aspect of Draco's characterisation a little more impactful for us the audience.
     
  8. Gaius

    Gaius Fourth Year

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    hmmm... another dark future, but with a twist.

    the first sentence is such an important entry to a story and you have a habit of contradicting something for effect, eg with the description: the room is bare—almost; the arch is alone—except for two people next to it.

    Some interesting ideas but I feel like it was mostly a set up for the final line, and some details detracted from the believability of the ending for me. For example, the use of titles such as chosen one and dark lord—I can’t see why Harry would adopt the title of V, even if he has gone mad.

    Cassie’s name feels a little prosaic but when her partner calls her Cassiopeia I liked the Tonks-vibe. You missed an opportunity with the name Cassandra though since they practice divination.
     
  9. WierdFoodStuff

    WierdFoodStuff Sixth Year

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    Alright the twist was unexpected and enjoyable.

    Not much else to say, good writing, bringing someone back from the veil is a little unoriginal but passable.
    The chant took me out of the story, remind me of the office scene "Gabagool" but I'm not holding it against the story lol.

    Altogether a solid story!
    A light 4.
     
  10. Selethe

    Selethe normalphobe

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    I really liked this one and the twist was fantastic. The premise, though, is built on shaky foundations. Namely, how on earth did the Dark Lord fall through the Veil? I feel like there should be some mention somewhere, even if it's vague, of something occurring. Maybe Cassie recalls the 'final battle' happening in the Hall of Prophecies (when Harry was 15)?
     
  11. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    I really enjoyed this entry. Nice little twist at the end, baiting us with bringing back HP and then turning around and using Voldemort as the resurrected character. Dialogue, prose, pacing, all that was quite serviceable. You had an idea, you executed it well, and you stuck to your landing. What more is there to say? 4/5.
     
  12. M.L.

    M.L. Groundskeeper

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    It’s interesting that the chant got so much criticism, it was actually one of the things I spent the most time in on this story. I had originally written it in a much more sinister Sumerian, before I realized that they were in England, and that I had already said it could not be moved, so I had to find a proto-Celtic dictionary. The very unthreatening dialect is probably why I should have just said chanted in Celtic or something like that honestly.

    @Blorcyn that was indeed Draco, and I’m very impressed that you picked up on that. A lot of what you said comes down to the fact that it is a flash fiction. Cassie was also saved by the word limit.
     
  13. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    I applaud you for looking up the words in a proto-Celtic dictionary to make it work for your story.

    There's something to be said for it not really needed in this instance, but there's something more to be said for the fact that you did your homework to get it right.
     
  14. soczab

    soczab Groundskeeper

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    Yup agreed with Ched. Thats one of those little details that will go over a lot of readers heads, but those who DO catch it will appreciate it all the more. Sorta sets your story ahead a little bit.
     
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